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UPDATE 2-Adecco Switzerland sees a steady recovery as COVID restrictions easing | Instant News


* The company sees steady improvements in early 2021

* CFO sees further recovery when restrictions are lifted

* First quarter earnings tend to be flat

* The company continues its 600 million euro share buyback (Update with share prices, analyst and executive comments)

ZURICH, February 25 (Reuters) – Adecco Group sees a steady recovery in the labor market and does not expect the increase to be thwarted by the latest COVID-19 restrictions across Europe, the Swiss employment firm said on Thursday.

Adecco said many entrepreneurs have learned to overcome social distancing rules and other restrictions, while it is hoped that measures to tackle the latest COVID-19 spike will subside.

The company, whose operations help signal the health of the broader economy, said earnings in January and February were close to returning to pre-crisis levels helped by increased hiring in fast-growing areas such as e-commerce and logistics.

“The risk of pulling back is limited,” Chief Financial Officer Coram Williams told Reuters. “We are clearly at a point where the restrictions have become the strictest and the volume is resilient. We should see further restoration and improvement but only if those restrictions are actually lifted. “

Switzerland on Wednesday said it would ease restrictions starting March 1 and Britain has laid out plans to ease the measures, although shops, restaurants and schools remain closed in many European countries.

In January and February, Adecco’s revenue decreased 2% compared to the previous year, an upward trend from a 5% decline in the fourth quarter and a 15% decline in the third quarter.

“We are a good barometer of the economy and we are close to pre-crisis levels if you look at our earnings,” Williams said.

Adecco’s new confidence echoes rivals Randstad and ManpowerGroup who both say they are seeing a steady increase in hiring.

During the fourth quarter, Adecco’s revenue fell to 5.41 billion euros ($ 6.59 billion), beating estimates of 5.27 billion euros in the consensus views of analysts compiled by the company.

Fourth-quarter net profit of 149 million euros beat estimates of 116 million euros. Shares were up 1.6% in early trading.

Williams said Adecco is expected to post revenue growth during the second quarter of this year after a 28% drop in the COVID-hit second quarter of 2020.

Earnings will likely be flat in the first quarter with “little chance of growth,” Williams said.

The company proposed a 2020 dividend of 2.50 Swiss francs, the same rate as 2019, and said it would continue the 600 million euro share buyback scheme that was halted at the start of the crisis.

$ 1 = 0.8214 euros Reported by John Revill; Edited by Michael Shields and Edmund Blair

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UPDATE 2-New Zealand’s central bank to consider the impact of monetary policy on housing | Instant News


* Housing is added to RBNZ authority, but not mandate

* The RBNZ needs to explain its impact on housing on a regular basis

* Mortgage debt-to-income and interest-only ratio considered (Adding background, comments from analysts and opposition leaders)

WELLINGTON / SYDNEY, February 25 (Reuters) – The New Zealand government on Thursday tasked the country’s central bank with considering the impact of its monetary and financial policy decisions on housing prices, a move to help calm the country’s fiery property market.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) should consider government policies regarding more sustainable housing prices.

“Today’s announcement is just the first step as the government weighs broader suggestions on how to cool the housing market,” Robertson said in a statement. “We know the rapid improvements we’ve seen in recent months are not sustainable, which means many first-time home buyers have a hard time accessing the market.”

The government’s authority ceases to impose new monetary policy objectives in the RBNZ, the first step in the world that RBNZ Governor Adrian Orr warned late last year when the government first pitched the idea.

Orr argued that adding housing to the bank’s mandate could make monetary policy less effective and affect the efficiency of financial markets, adding that monetary policy alone cannot fix the housing problem.

Orr on Thursday welcomed the addition of remits, which take effect March 1, noting that monetary and financial policy is one of the “many influences on house prices.” He also stressed the monetary policy committee’s targets – maintaining price stability and maximizing sustainable employment – remain unchanged.

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden’s government is under pressure to fix the country’s housing crisis, especially after the failure of its flagship public housing program failed. Property prices have skyrocketed in the past six months due to severe housing shortages and low interest rates.

Like many central banks during the coronavirus pandemic, the RBNZ has pushed interest rates to record lows, relaxed mortgage lending restrictions and incorporated NZ $ 100 billion ($ 70.4 billion) into quantitative easing programs.

These measures, while boosting the economy, have sparked an unprecedented housing market boom. In its latest forecast, the RBNZ sees house price inflation rising to 22.4% by the middle of this year, much higher than the November forecast of 7.9% for this year to June.

POLICY REGULATION

The New Zealand dollar touched its highest level since August 2017 following the government’s announcement, as it reinforces the view that monetary policy will be tighter. The ten-year New Zealand government bond yield was 1.82%, the highest since May 2019.

“Paying attention to housing may make the Reserve Bank more inclined towards meeting its inflation and employment targets … that means monetary policy is tighter than expected in the near term,” said Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon.

An immediate impact on the housing market itself is unlikely, said Gordon.

“The thing that is going to lower house prices are higher interest rates,” said Gordon. “It’s still cheaper to borrow now because it’s been going on for decades.”

Under the amendment, the RBNZ will retain autonomy over how its decisions take into account potential housing consequences, but will need to explain regularly how it takes into account the housing market outcomes.

Banks should also consider the government’s goals to support more sustainable housing prices, including by reducing investor demand for existing housing stocks to help increase the affordability of first-home buyers.

The RBNZ said it was investigating government requests for advice on implementation tools such as debt-to-income ratios and interest-specific mortgages. (Reporting by Renju Jose and Praveen Menon; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Rosalba O’Brien and Jane Wardell)

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Facebook has been ‘tentatively friends’ with us again, says Australia | Instant News


CANBERRA, Feb. 20 (Reuters) – Facebook Inc returns to the negotiating table, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday after the technology giant this week blocked news on its website in the country.

Facebook’s sudden decision to stop Australians from sharing news on the site and strip the pages of domestic and foreign news outlets also deleted some state government and emergency department accounts, causing widespread outrage.

The company has “temporarily been friends with us again,” Morrison said at a press conference in Sydney. “What makes me happy is that Facebook is back on the negotiating table.”

Facebook has publicly indicated there is no change in its opposition to a proposed law requiring social media platforms to pay for links to news content. Morrison was not asked about that.

Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Friday he had spoken with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and further talks were expected over the weekend. It was unclear whether that conversation had taken place.

A Frydenberg representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The standoff comes as Australia vows to go ahead with the landmark law, which could set a global precedent as countries like Canada express interest in taking similar action.

The Australian law, which would force Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to reach commercial deals with Australian publishers or face compulsory arbitration, has been approved by the lower house of parliament and is expected to be passed by the Senate in the next week.

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said on Thursday his country would adopt an Australian approach when drafting its own laws in the coming months.

Google, which initially threatened to shut down its search engine in Australia, has announced a number of previous licensing deals over the past week, including a global deal with News Corp.

Facebook’s move had a direct impact on traffic to Australia’s new site, according to preliminary data from New York-based analytics firm Chartbeat.

Total traffic to Australian news sites from various platforms has fallen since the day before the ban by about 13% domestically. (Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by William Mallard)

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FACTBOX-EU is unlikely to face a Facebook news ban after Australia | Instant News


BRUSSELS, February 19 (Reuters) – Facebook has blocked people in Australia from accessing and sharing news content in a dispute with the government requiring it to share news revenue.

Jurisdictions around the world have enacted rules requiring Google, Facebook and others to share revenue with publishers, including a 2019 directive from Brussels which EU countries will enact into law in June.

So, is the EU likely to face a Facebook news ban similar to the one imposed in Australia? Not. Here are a few reasons:

EU COPYRIGHT RULES

Approved in 2019 to help Europe’s creative industry earn a fair share of revenue, EU copyright rules require Google and other online platforms to sign licensing agreements with musicians, artists, writers, news publishers and journalists to use their work.

The rules do not force online platforms to pay for links posted by publishers to their news sites, Facebook’s main complaint with the Australian government.

In France, which is one of the first EU countries to implement the new rules, news publishers have reached an agreement with Google which, according to the European Commission, the EU executive, is a clear sign that copyright rules are effective in leveling the playing field. .

The so-called Media Bargaining Code is based on Australia’s competition law, which underlines a tougher approach than the EU.

FACEBOOK NEWS

Facebook sought to relieve pressure from news publishers last month by launching Facebook News in the UK and listing new partners Channel 4 News, Daily Mail Group, DC Thomson, Financial Times, Sky News and Telegraph Media Group above other news outlets.

Now they are looking for French and German media companies before launching services in the two countries.

EUROPEAN MEDIA GROUP

European media groups, part of the driving force behind EU copyright rules, do not have the same influence and geographic scope as News Corp, which struck a global deal with Google on Wednesday.

Large companies such as Germany’s Bertelsmann and French group Vivendi dominate their national markets due to language and cultural differences across the block. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Timothy Heritage)

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2-Eni Italia UPDATE beat expectations in last quarter after ‘year like no other’ | Instant News


(Recast, add comments, details, share, graphics)

MILAN, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Italian energy group Eni’s fortunes picked up in the last quarter of this year as firmer oil prices after “a year like no other” saw full-year profits fall.

Adjusted net income for the fourth quarter was 0.66 billion euros ($ 798 million), down 88% on the year but beating analyst expectations for a 0.04 billion euro loss.

But for the full year, it reported a loss of 742 million euros compared to a gain of 2.876 billion euros in 2019 after what Eni Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi said was “a year unlike any other in the history of the energy industry”.

The unprecedented drop in demand triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic saw big European rivals Shell and BP as well as big US companies Exxon Mobil and Chevron report heavy losses for the year.

Eni’s shares fell sharply last year, hitting their lowest level in a quarter century as the health pandemic rocked oil markets.

In the fourth quarter production fell 11% to 1,713 million barrels of oil equivalent per day but the company said full-year production was on target.

Like its competitors, Eni has cut its investments to offset the impact of the pandemic and spent 35% less last year at 5 billion euros.

Adjusted cash flow for the year fell to 6.7 billion euros compared with guidelines for 11.5 billion euros on Brent oil prices of $ 60 per barrel.

“By taking advantage of the actions we took, our adjusted cash flow for 2020 … was able to finance our capex, with a surplus of 1.7 billion,” said Descalzi.

The companies, which said they were well-equipped to deal with this year’s uncertain trading environment with liquidity of around 20.4 billion euros, confirmed a 2020 dividend of 0.36 euros per share.

In a note, Royal Bank of Canada said Eni remains one of the more leveraged names among integrated oil companies.

“We see Eni’s aggressive strategy around the energy transition as posing a risk to shareholders from time to time,” he said.

Eni, like other European peers, is cleaning up his business as investors increase pressure on the oil and gas sector to fight climate change.

It will release its new business plan on Friday.

By 1019 GMT Eni’s shares were down 1.1%, while the European oil and gas index was down 0.5%.

($ 1 = 0.8271 euro)

Additional reporting by Stefano Bernabei; Edited by Edmund Blair and David Evans

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