News Archive


Dalian Wanda to seek HK approval for up to $6 billion IPO on Monday: IFR


HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese real estate developer Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties, a unit of billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group, will seek approval from Hong Kong’s bourse for an up to $6 billion initial public offering on Monday, IFR reported late on Wednesday citing sources familiar with the plans.

The deal is still expected to happen before the end of 2014, a separate source with direct knowledge of the plans said on Thursday.

“The plan to list this year has not changed,” said the source, who declined to be identified because details of the IPO aren’t yet public.

Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties received approval from China’s securities regulator for the IPO, clearing the way for the company to seek the green light from the Hong Kong stock exchange later this week for the deal, IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication, reported on Monday.

China International Capital Corp (CICC) and HSBC were hired as sponsors of the IPO, with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BOC International, Goldman Sachs and UBS also leading the transaction, IFR said.

(Reporting by Fiona Lau and Ken Wang of IFR and Elzio Barreto; Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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S&P 500 ends at record high boosted by tech shares


NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday boosted by tech shares, with the SP 500 and Dow industrials closing at records, while the energy sector was once more the largest weight on the market as crude prices continued to flirt with multi-year lows.

Hewlett-Packard, Apple and chipmakers were among the largest advancers, with the PHLX semiconductor index closing up 2.1 percent to its highest since June 2001. Analog Devices jumped 5.5 percent to $54.56, leading the sector a day after posting results.

Hewlett-Packard rose 4.1 percent to $39.16 the day after reporting fourth-quarter earnings.

Trading was relatively light, with 4.8 billion shares changing hands compared to the daily average this month of about 6.3 billion. The stock market will be closed on Thursday, while Friday will be a half-day session with the close at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT).

U.S. consumer spending rose modestly in October and a measure of business spending plans fell for a second straight month, but consumer confidence was near a 7-1/2-year high suggesting the economy remains resilient in the face of faltering global demand.

“On balance, data was still supportive of reasonable strength in the economy,” said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments in Lisle, Illinois.

He said the optimism on holiday shopping was a reason behind gains in chipmakers. “PC sales have been a drag and there may be some hope we see a pick-up.”

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 12.81 points, or 0.07 percent, to 17,827.75, the SP 500 gained 5.8 points, or 0.28 percent, to 2,072.83 and the Nasdaq Composite added 29.07 points, or 0.61 percent, to 4,787.32.

The SP’s energy sector fell 1.1 percent, taking the declines in the past three sessions to 3.4 percent. Crude prices fell as after OPEC increased signals that it would hold off making any major production cuts this week.

U.S.-traded Seadrill shares tumbled 22.8 percent to $15.99 after it stopped dividend payments to help it weather a slump in offshore drilling rig market rates.

Apple led SP 500 gains, closing up 1.2 percent at $119 per share. Seven of the top 10 points gainers in the index on Wednesday were in the tech sector.

NYSE advancers outnumbered decliners 1,903 to 1,159, for a 1.64-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,644 issues rose and 1,047 fell for a 1.57-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The SP 500 posted 54 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 104 new highs and 35 new lows.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Nigeria’s parliament says Shell should pay $4 billion for 2011 oil spill


ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s National Assembly said on Wednesday oil major Shell should pay $3.96 billion for a 2011 spill at its offshore Bonga oilfield in the latest assessment of damage to the environment.

The non-binding decision comes after years of analysis by various Nigerian state agencies, which have proposed a range of fines as high as $11.5 billion.

The parliament finally reached a decision based on the report of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), which previously recommended a fine of $5 billion.

Shell declined to comment. The company has previously said it took responsibility for the spill and had cleaned the area.

The parliament’s decision is non-binding as it only has the power to recommend fines to the government and cannot enforce them.

NOSDRA estimated that around 40,000 barrels were spilled when a tanker was loading crude at the offshore platform operated by Shell’s subsidiary SNEPCO. The Bonga field was producing 200,000 barrels per day at the time.

NOSDRA has previously said the spill had hurt locals in the area who rely on fishing for their livelihoods as the slick covered an area of around 950 square km.

“Since all efforts by this committee were tactfully rebuffed by SNEPCO, (it) has decided to adopt the damage assessment report submitted by NOSDRA as the lead agency in all oil spill management,” Uche Ekwunife, chairman of the environmental committee told the assembly.

Shell is also being pursued in a class action case for two other spills in the Niger Delta in 2008. In June, it offered 30 million pounds ($51 million) in compensation to 15,000 residents in the Bodo Community but this was rejected.

The United Nations Environment Programme has criticised Shell in the past for not doing enough to clean up spills and maintain infrastructure.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil exporter and an OPEC member but the environmental toll has been huge. The mangrove creeks of the delta region are heavily polluted mainly due to leaks from illegal pipeline tapping and sabotage.

Foreign companies have been selling their stakes in onshore oilfields after becoming frustrated with industrial scale theft and resulting spills, which show no signs of abating.

On Monday, Shell had to shut down a pipeline as a result of a new leak close to where it was removing oil taps.

(This story has been refiled to add NOSDRA attribution for spill size in paragraph 6)

(Writing by Julia Payne, editing by David Evans)

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OPEC heading for no output cut despite oil price plunge


VIENNA (Reuters) – OPEC Gulf oil producers will not propose an output cut on Thursday, reducing the likelihood of joint action by OPEC to prop up prices that have sunk by a third since June and raising the prospect of a global oil price war.

“The GCC reached a consensus,” Saudi Arabian Oil MinisterAli al-Naimi told reporters, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. “We are very confident that OPEC will have a unified position.”

“The power of convincing will prevail tomorrow … I am confident that OPEC is capable of taking a very unified position,” Naimi added.

A Gulf OPEC delegate told Reuters the GCC had reached a consensus not to cut oil output. Three OPEC delegates separately told Reuters they believed OPEC was unlikely to cut output when the 12-member organisation meets on Thursday.

The OPEC meeting will be one of its most crucial in recent years, with oil having tumbled to below $78 a barrel due to the U.S. shale boom and slower economic growth in China and Europe.

Cutting output unilaterally would effectively mean for OPEC, which accounts for a third of global oil output, a further loss of market share to North American shale oil producers.

If OPEC decided against cutting and rolled over existing output levels on Thursday, that would effectively mean a price war that the Saudis and other Gulf producers could withstand due to their large foreign-exchange reserves. Other members, such as Venezuela or Iran, would find it much more difficult.

Brent crude LCOc1 was trading down 73 cents at $77.60 a barrel at 1919 GMT.

Naimi said earlier on Wednesday he expected the oil market “to stabilise itself eventually”, after talks with non-OPEC member Russia on Tuesday yielded no pledge from Moscow to tackle a global oil glut jointly.

The UAE sided with Naimi, saying oil prices would soon stabilise, while ramping up pressure on non-OPEC nations.

“This is not a crisis that requires us to panic … we have seen (prices) way lower,” UAE Oil Minister Suhail bin Mohammed al-Mazroui told Reuters.

“The oversupply came from the evolution of the unconventional oil production … I think everyone needs to play a role in balancing the market, not OPEC unilaterally,” he said.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said some OPEC members, although not Iran, were now gearing up for a battle over market share.

“Some OPEC members believe that this is the time where we need to defend market share … All the experts in the market believe we have oversupply in the market and next year we will have more oversupply,” he added.

The group could opt to roll over output levels but stress the importance of better compliance, while also agreeing to hold an extraordinary meeting if prices keep falling, several OPEC watchers have suggested.

PRICE WAR

Among the members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Venezuela and Iraq have called for output cuts. OPEC’s traditional price hawk Iran said on Wednesday its views were now close to those of Saudi Arabia.

Zangeneh said there was unity inside OPEC to “monitor the market carefully” but made no mention of a cut.

“The onslaught of North American shale oil has drastically undermined OPEC’s position and reduced its market share,” said Dr. Gary Ross, chief executive of PIRA Energy Group.

Russia, which produces 10.5 million barrels per day (bpd) or 11 percent of global oil, came to Tuesday’s meeting amid hints it might agree to cut output as it suffers from oil’s price fall and Western sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

But as that meeting with Naimi and officials from Venezuela and non-OPEC member Mexico ended, Russia’s most influential oil official, state firm Rosneft’s (ROSN.MM) head Igor Sechin, emerged with a surprise message – Russia will not reduce output even if oil falls to $60 per barrel.

Sechin added that he expected low oil prices to do more damage to producing nations with higher costs, in a clear reference to the U.S. shale boom. On Wednesday, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said he expected the country’s output to be flat next year.

Many at OPEC were surprised by Sechin’s suggestion that Russia – in desperate need of oil prices above $100 per barrel to balance its budget – was ready for a price war.

“Gulf states are less bothered about a price drop compared to other OPEC members,” an OPEC source close to Gulf thinking said.

OPEC publications have shown that global supply will exceed demand by more than 1 million bpd in the first half of next year.

While the statistics speak in favour of a cut, the build-up to the OPEC meeting has seen one of the most heated debates in years about the next policy step for the group.

“The idea of unleashing a price war against U.S. shale oil seems strange to me. I doubt you can win this battle as most U.S. oil producers are hedging a lot of their output,” said a top oil executive visiting Vienna for talks with OPEC ministers.

(Additional reporting by David Sheppard, Dmitry Zhdannikov and Shadia Nasralla; Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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U.S. regulator orders national Takata driver-side air bag recall


DETROIT (Reuters) – The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday ordered air bag supplier Takata Corp (7312.T) to expand its regional recall of driver-side air bags to cover the entire United States.

Such a nationwide recall would affect vehicles made by five automakers: Ford Motor Co (F.N); Honda Motor Co (7267.T); Chrysler Group LLC, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCHA.MI) (FCAU.N); Mazda Motor Corp (7261.T) and BMW AG (BMWG.DE).

NHTSA gave Takata until Tuesday to issue a recall. If the company does not, NHTSA “may begin proceedings” leading to fines for the Japanese air bag supplier of up to $7,000 per vehicle that the U.S. road safety regulator says should have been recalled.

But NHTSA is limited and cannot fine a company more than $35 million. The U.S. Department of Transportation which includes NHTSA, has asked Congress to raise that limit to $300 million.

The letter follows a Nov. 18 press conference in which NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said the regulator would tell Takata to issue a nationwide recall for driver-side air bags made by the five automakers.

NHTSA has made no estimate of the number of vehicles that would be included in such an expanded recall. The regional recalls have involved about 4.1 million vehicles.

A letter from NHTSA to Takata Senior Vice President Kazuo Higuchi obtained by Reuters said Takata’s previous recall limited to areas of high humidity should be expanded because of incidents reported in California and North Carolina that are outside of the initial regional recall area.

Takata has resisted expanding the recall for driver-side air bags beyond the initial regional “high humidity” area.

Takata’s U.S. spokesman said on Wednesday that the company had no immediate comment to the NHTSA letter.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall, editing by G Crosse)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/jjh5fQEzWPc/story01.htm

Yellen’s ‘optimal’ model calls for rate hike this year, in theory


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has said the tenor of economic data will decide when the U.S. central bank raises interest rates. Surprisingly, a data analysis based on Yellen’s own priorities points to a rate increase by the end of this year.

Yellen has cautioned that the economic models built for policymakers amount to mere guideposts in a complicated decision-making process.

But she also has placed special emphasis on a set of equations for what she dubbed in a November 2012 speech as “optimal policy” or “optimal control.” The equations mimic the churning of a vast economy and project a rate path that gives equal importance to meeting the Fed’s twin goals of maximum employment and stable prices.

Last Friday, Fed economists said in a note that they had updated the model, and the new version suggests the central bank should tighten policy enough to have the federal funds rate average 0.33 percent in the October-December period of this year.

The Fed has kept the rate, which governs overnight lending between banks, in a zero to 0.25 percent range since late-2008.

However, it’s clear the Fed is not following this model.

Several top officials have said they are not likely to bump rates up until the middle of next year, and to meet the 0.33 percent average would require an extremely sharp hike at the Fed’s next and last meeting of the year on Dec. 16-17.

Even the note’s authors are wary of policymakers leaning too heavily on their calculation because economic models by nature oversimplify a complex world. The assumptions that go into them can easily prove to be wrong.

“(Optimal control) paths should be treated with appropriate caution as a guide to actual policy,” Fed economists Flint Brayton, Thomas Laubach and David Reifschneider wrote. ((here))

Yellen made waves in the 2012 speech by describing a computer simulation of optimal policy that suggested waiting to raise the fed funds rate until around the first half of 2016 to more quickly push down unemployment. Under this plan, inflation would be allowed to run above target for several years.

But as it turned out, the jobless rate came down more quickly than Yellen or most anyone else anticipated, while inflation has persisted well below the Fed’s 2 percent target.

That has puzzled economists as tightening labor markets are supposed to push prices higher. In a second note, another group of Fed economists said they had tweaked the Fed’s flagship economic model to make inflation less sensitive to changes in labor market slack.

Brayton, Laubach and Reifschneider re-ran Yellen’s 2012 computer simulation with minor changes and using the updated flagship model, which spit out an earlier liftoff for rates.

While they did not release a full methodology of the simulation, earlier this month the Fed responded to a Freedom of Information Act request from Reuters by releasing the computer programs Yellen used to calculate optimal policy in her 2012 speech, which was made when she was the Fed’s vice chair.

Those documents can be downloaded at the following links:

here

here%20Package_zip.zip

(The story is refiled to fix link at bottom of story.)

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Paul Simao)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/ZwKxrSF5WSM/story01.htm

Behind Google’s Europe woes, American accents


BRUSSELS (Reuters) – When EU politicians call for the break-up of Google, it can sound like sour grapes, the anti-American backlash of an aging Europe envious, and fearful, of the wealth and growing power of young U.S. tech giants.

But should any American take time on Thanksgiving to scoff at Thursday’s non-binding vote in the European Parliament, when lawmakers may urge EU regulators to get tough with the search engine Goliath, they should know that behind the EU antitrust probe of Google stand not only Europeans but U.S. competitors.

Indeed, to many in Brussels it is Google’s fellow Americans – such as Microsoft, Expedia and TripAdvisor – whose complaints and big-money lobbying have driven a four-year-old investigation by the powerful European Commission into whether Google abuses its dominance of Internet searches to push favored Web sites.

“The American companies are using the European Commission as a battleground among themselves,” a senior EU official told Reuters. “They are the ones coming to us with complaints.

“They are the ones who are not happy when rivals present concessions and say these are not enough.”

U.S. companies like Microsoft, hit by a $700-million fine last year for foisting its flagging Explorer browser on PC buyers, are well aware of the Commission’s power in the world’s biggest economic bloc. It also may seem more aggressive than its counterpart in Washington, which last year dropped its own case inquiry into Google, concluding the firm had not broken rules.

Three attempts it made to reach a settlement were turned down by EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia, who agreed with Google’s rivals that concessions it offered to avoid a fine of up to $5 billion were not enough. The case is now in the hands of Margrethe Vestager, who succeeded Almunia this month.

U.S. tech firms “are all playing on a little playing field”, said Bert Foer, head of Washington think-tank the American Antitrust Institute. “Naturally they’re going to move fastest and farthest in jurisdictions that have more favorable laws.

“While there’s not a whole lot of difference between American antitrust law and European antitrust law, there is a difference in enforcement style and aggressiveness right now. So it’s not surprising that a lot of the fight is over there. And it’s not surprising that a lot of the companies are American.”

“It’s simply not about one side of the ocean against the other,” said Thomas Vinje, a partner in the Brussels office of London law firm Clifford Chance. He is advising FairSearch, a group of firms including Microsoft, Oracle and Twenga in their complaint against Google with the European Commission.

“Never has a competition case brought together such a geographical or industrial breadth of concerned parties. There’s just never been anything like it,” said Vinje. “Probably never has any company exerted so much power on so many key markets.”

TRANSATLANTIC SUSPICION

That is not to say that there is no anti-U.S. animus in Europe, among the public and some politicians. It is a fact Google, which declined comment for this article, highlights in portraying itself at times as caught in Transatlantic crossfire.

Last year’s revelations of U.S. spying on the digital doings of Europeans, including even German Chancellor Angela Merkel, heightened mistrust of U.S. power in the digital world – though Europeans still use Google overwhelmingly to search the Web.

Google suffered a setback this year when the EU supreme court upheld a “right to be forgotten”, ordering it to block links to information if people request it. It also faces legal challenges over copyright fees, led notably by German publishers, and over a variety of privacy concerns.

Underscoring a sense of siege following the drafting of the resolution in the European Parliament, the U.S. mission to the EU in Brussels issued a statement appealing for objectivity so that the antitrust case was not “politicized”.

Vinje, however, said talk of anti-Americanism was overdone and accused Google executives of “pushing the line that its troubles are driven by anti-U.S. sentiments in Europe” to gloss over what he said were real concerns about its business.

Antitrust lawyer Alfonso Lamadrid at the Brussels office of Spanish firm Garrigues said the legal troubles of Google, and other U.S. firms, simply reflected their global success: “It is mainly because in most cases U.S. firms are the allegedly dominant players worldwide. I wish more European firms were in a position to be subject to similar investigations in the U.S.”

Michael Marelus, at the Brussels office of Anglo-American law firm DLA Piper which is not directly involved in the Google case, also played down the political elements of the EU inquiry:

“Politics is clearly and heavily involved in any statement made by the European Parliament and very much so in the parliament’s call to consider unbundling Google,” he said.

“It would however be unfair to say that U.S. companies are being targeted as such … It seems that parliament is taking an aggressive stand in considering unbundling Google in the hope of ultimately obtaining a more realistic commitment from it.”

The resolution, being debated in parliament on Wednesday, was proposed by a German conservative and Spanish liberal. While the legislature has no power in the matter, and it does not single out Google by name, the call for the Commission to consider separating searches from other services is intended to increase pressure on antitrust chief Vestager to act quickly.

A Danish liberal, she has sole power to decide and has kept her own counsel. Fellow commissioners with roles in the digital market have given mixed signals, voicing concern about monopoly but also rejecting a break-up.

Backed by members of the main center-right and center-left parties, the resolution was expected to pass on Thursday in a vote scheduled after noon (6 a.m. EST).

(Additional reporting by Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/CtWQ9Q-8_ac/story01.htm

U.S. consumer, business spending data point to slowing growth


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumer spending rose modestly in October and a measure of business spending plans fell for a second straight month, suggesting some slowing in the pace of economic growth.

But other data on Wednesday showed consumer confidence approaching a 7-1/2-year high in November, a reminder of the economy’s relative resilience in the face of faltering global demand.

“Momentum is weakening in the fourth quarter. While there is no reason to be pessimistic, it curbs some of the enthusiasm we had seen after the strong growth of the past two quarters,” said Thomas Costerg, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in New York.

The Commerce Department said consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, increased 0.2 percent last month after being flat in September.

The soft figures suggest anemic wage growth continues to weigh on spending, which economists thought would get a lift from falling gasoline prices. Income increased 0.2 percent in October after a similar gain in September.

In another report, the department said non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, declined 1.3 percent in October for a second straight month.

The drop in so-called core capital goods orders points to an ebbing in the robust pace of spending on equipment in the second and third quarters, and suggests the economy is not fully immune to Japan’s recession and cooling growth in China and Europe.

“It reflects companies’ increased uncertainty about the impact of slower global growth and stronger dollar on their demand outlook, leaving many to approach capital expenditure plans with increased caution,” said Gennadiy Goldberg, an economist at TD Securities in New York.

Core capital goods shipments, which are used to calculate equipment spending in the government’s gauge of gross domestic product, fell 0.4 percent, reversing September’s gain.

Factory activity in the Midwest slowed in November as new orders fell sharply, another report showed.

HOUSEHOLDS PERKY

The data suggest growth has braked from the third quarter’s brisk 3.9 percent annual rate, with fourth-quarter GDP growth estimates ranging between a 1.4 percent and 3.0 percent pace.

While low gasoline prices have not boosted spending, they are lifting confidence. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index hit its highest level since July 2007 in November.

U.S. stocks rose marginally, the dollar fell against a basket of currencies and prices for U.S. Treasury debt rose.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose above the 300,000 threshold last week for the first time since early September.

But the underlying trend remains consistent with a firming jobs market.

Fresh data also showed that the housing sector continued to muddle along in October, with new home sales rising moderately and new contracts to buy previously owned homes falling.

The moderate pace of consumer spending, combined with falling gasoline prices, is keeping inflation under wraps.

The personal consumption expenditures price index rose 1.4 percent in the 12 months through October, Commerce Department data showed. Excluding food and energy, it increased 1.6 percent, the largest gain since December 2012, but still well below the Federal Reserve’s target.

Fed officials hope their policy of near-zero interest rates helps lift the gauge up to their 2 percent target.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak and Michael Connor in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/P9MUFP-LPr8/story01.htm

Goldman, BASF, HSBC accused of metals price fixing: U.S. lawsuit


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), Germany’s BASF SE (BASFn.DE) and two other big platinum and palladium dealers have been sued in the United States in what the plaintiff’s law firm called the first nationwide class action over alleged price-fixing of the metals.

In a complaint filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, units of Goldman, BASF, HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA.L) and South Africa’s Standard Bank Group Ltd (SBKJ.J) were accused of having conspired since 2007 to rig the twice-daily platinum and palladium “fixings” and the prices of futures and options based on those fixings.

The plaintiff, Modern Settings LLC, a Florida-based maker of jewelry and police badges, claimed metals purchasers lost millions of dollars.

The defendants illegally shared customer data, used that information to engage in “front-running” of expected price moves, and manufactured phantom “spoof” orders, according to the plaintiff.

Platinum and palladium are used in catalytic converters to curb vehicle emissions, and are also used in dentistry and jewelry.

On Oct. 16, the London Metal Exchange said it will on Dec. 1 take charge of platinum and palladium price fixing, and use a new electronic platform.

The Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (0388.HK) unit said the platform would replace a benchmark system established in 1989, and run by Goldman, BASF, HSBC and Standard.

The complaint said such changes “have come too late” for Modern Settings and other prospective class members. The complaint seeks unspecified damages for the defendants’ alleged violations of U.S. antitrust and commodities laws.

Regulators around the world have tightened scrutiny of pricing benchmarks in recent years after uncovering evidence of rigging in currencies and the London Interbank Offered Rate.

The more stringent regulation has spawned new price setting platforms for gold, silver, platinum and palladium. Metals purchasers have filed similar lawsuits this year accusing banks of gold and silver price-fixing.

Goldman spokesman Michael DuVally and HSBC spokeswoman Juanita Gutierrez declined to comment. Standard Bank declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for BASF, the world’s largest chemicals maker, said the group could not comment because it had not been notified of a complaint.

BASF generated 2.36 billion euros ($2.95 billion) in precious metals trading revenue last year. The London-based trading business is part of BASF’s Catalysts division, which is the world’s largest maker of catalytic converters.

The law firm Labaton Sucharow represents Modern Settings.

The case is Modern Settings LLC v. BASF Metals Ltd et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-09391.

(Additional reporting by Ludwig Burger and Frank Siebelt in Frankfurt and David Dolan in Johannesburg.)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/S0PoDejv7Rk/story01.htm