Friday, March 6, 2009

Empowerment through Microfinance: Pro Mujer Gives Women in Peru “the confidence to keep moving forward”

Elsa Gómez Mamani sits on the ruins of a stone wall on a cold but sunny morning in a field high on the Andean altiplano. We are in southern Peru, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Elsa wears the traditional full skirts and bowler hat of the Aymara culture, and tells me in halting Spanish about her experience with poverty and entrepreneurship.

Elsa Gómez Mamani in her store. A Pro Mujer Peru client, she uses her
earnings to support her family and build up a personal savings account.
Photograph by Jenna Mulhall-Brereton

Thirty years old, married and the mother of one son, Elsa has lived in Perca, a small rural community, her entire life. Because her mother died when she was just two years old, Elsa and her seven brothers and sisters lived with their father, and had to care for the family’s cows and sheep from an early age. She recalls that it was a difficult childhood. “We often did not have enough money for food.”

When Elsa married, she stayed in the community, tending the cows and goats she and her husband kept outside of their small mud brick home. Together they sold the milk, cheese and wool from their livestock in the central plaza of a town several miles away. Although she had left her father’s home, Elsa’s adult life was not that different from her childhood. But two years ago, she decided to make a change.

Elsa had heard of Pro Mujer in Peru, a microfinance institution (MFI) based in Puno, an urban community about an hour’s bus ride from her village. When representatives from Pro Mujer visited Perca, Elsa did not hesitate to become a client, and encouraged other women to do the same. As a result, she became one of the founders of her communal bank - a group of 20 women who guarantee each other’s microloans, and who come together every two weeks to make payments and encourage each other’s ventures. Most of the women in Elsa’s bank use their loans of US$100-$300 to purchase livestock or raw materials for making traditional crafts. Elsa, however, saw a need for a store in their isolated community and opened one in the front room of her house.

Click here to read the rest of Elsa's story

Copper hits three-month high on China hopes

Copper rose 3% to hit three-month highs on Friday as a fall in inventories and a weaker dollar lifted metal markets, while investors sought more clarity on Chinese demand.

Copper for three-month delivery on the London Metal Exchange traded at US$3,725/t in rings, from US$3,680 at the close on Thursday and compared with a session high at US$3,785.25.

LME copper stocks fell 3,175t to 522,025t, in line with falls seen in the past week, with Asian deliveries rising. But canceled warrants -- material earmarked for delivery -- fell to 54,000t from Thursday's 60,775t.

The question on investors' lips now is whether the rises seen in canceled warrants this week are due to improving demand from China or stockpiling.

Click here to access the full article from the Mining Journal

Chinese leaders' Latin American tours boost bilateral strategic co-op

BUENOS AIRES, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Some Latin American diplomats and scholars have spoken highly of Chinese leaders' recent tour of the region, saying their visits will boost the strategic cooperation between China and the Latin American countries.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Hui Liangyu paid separate official visits to Latin America countries in February, the beginning of the Chinese lunar new year.

China Town, Buenos Aires

The Chinese leaders' visits to the region are of great significance to promote China-Latin America relations, said Gustavo Gerardo, chairman of the Asia-Argentina Association.

As a major trade and investment power, China is playing an increasingly important role in the global economy, he said.

The Chinese and Latin American economies are highly complementary to each other. Primary products produced by Latin American countries for export to China help maintain China's economic stability and growth. Meanwhile, China's investment and commodities have strong appeal to Latin American countries, he added.

Click here to access more on this topic from Xinhua News Agency

Chilean & Argentine Law makers Stake Antarctic Claim

Ten Chilean and Argentine lawmakers gathered Thursday in the Antarctic to stake territorial rights after the U.K. laid claim to a wide swath of ocean bottom off the frozen continent, officials said.

The aim of the meeting "is to strengthen our nation's legal position in the Antarctic Territory...and to support all the legal instruments of the Antarctic Treaty System, or ATS, including the (1998) Antarctic-Environmental Protocol," Chile's Chamber of Deputies said in a statement.

Click here to read more on this development from Rigzone

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jim Rogers: The Case For Commodities - CNBC

"When I said to become a farmer I was serious. The world is changing, it is going from the money shufflers to the people who produce real things."

~ Jim Rogers

Energy Markets


ExxonMobil Opens Wallet for Major Long-Term Investments - Exxon Mobile Corp.

Exxon Mobil Corporation has announced plans to invest at record levels -- between $25 billion and $30 billion annually over the next five years -- to meet expected long-term growth in world energy demand.

Galp See Brazil's Tupi Profitable at Current Oil Prices Map - Dow Jones Newswires

Portugal's Galp Energia believes production at the Tupi subsalt oil field in Brazil is viable despite the slide in international oil prices, Galp's chief executive said Wednesday.

"Production at Tupi is competitive, even at the actual level of oil prices," Galp CEO Manuel Ferreira de Oliveira was quoted by the Estado news agency as saying after his company released its fourth-quarter earnings.

PetroChina to Speed Up Pipeline Construction in 2009 – Xinhua News Agency

Chinas' top oil company PetroChina will accelerate building pipelines in 2009, according to China Securities Journal.

Shrinking output / exports:

Venezuela to Cut Oil Contracts As Prices Fall – Dow Jones Newswires

Venezuela said it will seek to renegotiate contracts with oil-service companies, with PDVSA planning to cut its spending on oil-service contractors by 40%.

Pemex gas output to fall for the first time since 2002 - BNAmericas

Mexican state oil company Pemex is forecasting that its natural gas production in 2009 will fall for the first time since 2002.

Output is expected to slip on lower associated gas production at the prolific Cantarell field, which is in its stage of natural decline, Pemex spokesperson Carlos Ramírez said, citing PEP authorities.

PetroChina Cuts '09 Output Targets on Falling Demand – AFX News Limited

Top Asian oil and gas producer PetroChina has cut its domestic production targets for 2009 by 10 to 20 percent at many oil fields because of falling demand, a company executive said on Wednesday.

Iraq's Oil Exports Fall in February – Xinhua News Agency

Iraq's crude oil exports slipped slightly to 1.804 million barrels a day in February, down from 1. 893 million barrels a day in January, an Iraqi Oil Ministry source said on Tuesday.

BP Scales Back Production Growth Plans – AFX News Limited

Oil major BP Plc dropped a key oil and gas production growth target on Tuesday, dashing investor hopes that Chief Executive Tony Hayward would chart a return to output growth after years of stagnation.

Drama in Ecuador:

Ecuador will not confiscate Perenco's Oil Fields Over Tax Debt Burden - Rigzone

Ecuadorean Oil Minister Derlis Palacios said Wednesday that the country will not seize the oil fields of French company Perenco over debts, reports Reuters. This statement comes a day after Ecuador said that it would freeze Perenco's oil income to collect the debt.

Ecuador Attaches Output of French Oil Company – EFE News Services

The Ecuadorian government on Wednesday announced its decision to retain 70 percent of Perenco's output as part of its bid to collect $338 million in windfall-profits tax owed by the French oil company.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

CIC to invest in commodities

China Investment Corp is looking for investment opportunities in commodities, according to Jesse Wang, a senior official with China's $200 billion plus sovereign wealth fund.

Officials have said that CIC wants to diversify its portfolio in the natural resources sector after booking heavy losses on high-profile financial investments in private equity fund Blackstone and U.S. bank Morgan Stanley.

Wang, CIC chief risk officer, said the global recession had just begun, and as a result, bigger price declines in commodities and energy were possible.

"No matter where the company invests, it is always possible there will be book losses in a particular period," he told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of a parliamentary advisory body.

The wealth fund will diversify its investments in the financial and energy sectors, Wang added.

A move into commodities and energy by CIC would add to a wave of investments backed by Chinese state funds in those sectors that topped $50 billion in February alone, including Russian and Brazilian oil deals and investments in Australian mining firms Rio Tinto and OZ Minerals.

For more articles on this topic click the links below

Foreign interest is all win for Australia
-- The Australian
China's CIC Sees Opportunities in Natural Resources -- CNBC
China Investment Corp may diversify portfolio into commodities, energy -- Reuters via Mineweb
China to invest in undervalues commodity markets -- zionistgoldreport

The fate of Copper

Found a informative & interesting perspective on the copper market from Ship Chartering this afternoon.

Ship Chartering is a site which "aims to inform readers on the Shipping Industry with emphasis on Ship Chartering, Sale and Purchase of Vessels, Bunker Cost for Ship Owners, Ship Brokers, Charterers and Traders as well as the Baltic Index."

Some significant and furious activity is happening in China where Copper is concerned. This is not recent and there has been a significant rise in Chinese demand for refined Copper imports since the last three consecutive months.

Imports reached a record 211,527 tonnes in December 2008, up 89 percent more than December 2007 and 49 percent higher than November 2008. Only last month we talked of slowing down of the Chinese economy and these rising imports of Copper don’t match the growth pattern of China.

One of the reasons for China’s sudden rise in demand could be the result of its government’s serious and wide scale efforts to ease bank lending, and hence stimulate domestic business.

The requirement could be for some large scale planned project that the Chinese government has chalked and ready but awaiting funds which the government’s stimulus package will provide for.

Click here to access the full entry from Ship Chartering