BRIEF-Winpak Q2 earnings per share $0.39

July 18 Winpak Ltd :* Winpak Ltd says capital spending for 2016 is projected to be between $80 million and $90 million* Winpak Ltd says "Canadian dollar still remains at a lower level versus its US counterpart than a year ago"* Winpak reports second quarter results * Q2 revenue rose 3 percent to $204.1 million * Q2 earnings per share $0.39* Q2 earnings per share view $0.42 -- Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S * Company remains optimistic with regard to volume growth and earnings performance for balance of 2016* Continue to pursue acquisition opportunities in co's core competencies of sophisticated packaging for food, beverage, healthcare applications Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage: Read more

Austrian biotech plans Zika vaccine clinical trials in 12 months

An Austrian biotech company working with the Institut Pasteur said on Tuesday it planned to start clinical trials with an experimental Zika vaccine in the next 12 months, marking a further acceleration of research in the field.Themis Bioscience has signed a license deal with the French research institute giving it extensive rights to the Zika vaccine candidate, which is based on established measles vaccine technology.More than a dozen small biotech firms and other organizations are working on vaccines against mosquito-borne Zika, which has been linked to birth defects and neurological disorders, although most work is at a very early stage.Erich Tauber, chief executive of Themis, believes his company's project will benefit from the proven track record behind the technology used to immunize against measles. French drugmaker Sanofi, the only big drugmaker working on a Zika shot, last week struck a deal with the U.S. Army to speed up the development of another vaccine, which should be ready for testing on humans in October. Global health officials are racing to better understand the Zika virus, which has caused a major outbreak that began in Brazil last year and has spread to many countries in the Americas.The World Health Organization has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika is a cause of the birth defect microcephaly, or small heads in babies, as well as Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disorder. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler, editing by Louise Heavens) Read more

Red, white and extra blue as tight security marks July 4th celebrations

NEW YORK The United States celebrated the July Fourth holiday on Monday with parades, baking contests and picnics draped in red, white and an extra layer of blue, as police ramped up patrols because of concerns about terrorism and gun violence.Millions of Americans marked independence from Britain with celebrations as boisterous as a music-packed party by country music legend Willie Nelson for 10,000 people at a race track in Austin, Texas, and as staid as colonial-era costumed actors reading the Declaration of Independence at the U.S. National Archives in Washington. "It's a good day for reflecting on the positive things about America - the sense of freedom that you can go after and achieve whatever you want," said Helen Donaldson, 48, the mother of a multi-ethnic family of four adopted teens living in Maplewood, New Jersey.Donaldson, a white Australian immigrant, cheered with her two New Jersey-born African-American daughters, both 12 and dressed in red, white and blue, as a recording of the Star Spangled Banner played to kick off a children's relay race. Nearby, in the baking contest tent, 13-year-old Nate Fisher entered his cherry blueberry tart into competition."I have high hopes," he said, flashing a smile.History was made in the traditional hotdog-eating contest at New York's Coney Island when long-time champion Joey "Jaws" Chestnut took back the Mustard Yellow International Belt from last year's upstart winner Matt Stonie. Chestnut set an unofficial new world record by downing 70 hotdogs in 10 minutes - topping his previous record of 69 franks. In the women's division, Miki Sudo successfully defended her title by eating 38 hotdogs in 10 minutes. With the holiday taking place days after attacks in Baghdad, Dhaka and Istanbul, the New York Police Department deployed eight new "vapor wake" dogs, trained to sniff out explosives on a moving target in a crowd.The department's presence this holiday was boosted by nearly 2,000 new officers just days after they graduated on Friday from the New York City Police Academy."You're going to see a lot of people in heavy vests, helmets and long guns and they can respond at a moment's notice to any incident," NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill told a news conference. "There's also a lot you won't see." CHICAGO BRACED FOR VIOLENCEPolice in Chicago, which has seen a spike in gun murders this year, announced a stepped up presence with more than 5,000 officers on patrol over the long weekend, traditionally one of the year's most violent, said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. Local media said that by early Monday evening at least 33 people had been shot over the holiday weekend, most of them in tough neighborhoods on the city's south and west sides. Dry weather forecasts across the country thrilled fireworks lovers, although some spots in Michigan have been so rain-starved that pyrotechnic shows were canceled in a handful of communities near Detroit because of the risk of fires. A 19-year-old tourist in New York's Central Park suffered a severe foot wound on Sunday after an apparent homemade firework exploded when he jumped off a rock and stepped on the device, authorities said.In Compton, California, a 9-year-old girl's hand had to be amputated when she was injured after unwittingly picking up a lit firework, local media said. In New York City, more than a million people were set to pack balconies, rooftops and the East River's banks for the 40th annual Macy's Fireworks display, which the department store said would showcase more than 56,000 pyrotechnic shells and effects.The musical accompaniment features the United States Air Force Band playing patriotic numbers including "This Land is Your Land" and "Stars and Stripes Forever," and Grammy-winning vocalist Jennifer Holliday will sing "America the Beautiful." (Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus and Daniel Wallis in New York, Fiona Ortiz in Chicago, Adam DeRose in Washington, and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Bill Rigby and Phil Berlowitz) Read more

Brexit vote sends new shocks through markets; political chaos deepens

LONDON Britain's vote to leave the European Union sent new shockwaves through financial markets, with the pound falling despite the country's leaders' attempts to ease the political and economic turmoil it has unleashed.Finance minister George Osborne said on Monday the British economy was strong enough to cope with the volatility caused by Thursday's referendum, the biggest blow since World War Two to the European goal of forging greater unity.But his words failed to stop sterling sinking to its lowest level against the U.S. currency for 31 years, continuing the slide that began last week when Britons confounded investors' expectations by voting to end 43 years of EU membership.European bank shares had their worst two-day fall on record and world stocks, as measured by MSCI were on track for their worst two-day fall since the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in late 2008. With the ruling Conservatives looking for a new leader after Prime Minister David Cameron's resignation on Friday and lawmakers from the opposition Labour party stepping up a rebellion against their leader, Britain sank deeper into political and economic chaos."There's no political leadership in the UK right when markets need the reassurance of direction," said Luke Hickmore of Aberdeen Asset Management, expressing the view of many in the City of London financial center.Cameron says he will stay on until October as a caretaker and that his successor should trigger the formal process of leaving the EU. His Conservative Party in parliament recommended choosing a successor by early September.The prime minister sought to calm fears over the fallout of the referendum and said parliament should not try to block Britain's departure. A majority of parliamentarians, like him, had argued that Britain should stay in the EU."I am clear, and the cabinet agreed this morning, that the decision must be accepted," Cameron told parliament, which also faces a public petition for a new referendum.But his refusal to start formal moves to pull the country out of the EU has prompted many European leaders to demand quicker action by Britain, the EU's second largest economy after Germany, to leave the 28-country bloc."It should be implemented quickly. We cannot remain in an uncertain and indefinite situation," French finance minister Michel Sapin said on France 2 television.Guenther Oettinger, a German member of the EU's executive European Commission, said delay would hurt Europe as well as Britain. "Every day of uncertainty prevents investors from putting their funds into Britain, and also other European markets," he told Deutschlandfunk radio.Cameron will join EU leaders for dinner in Brussels on Tuesday, the eve of an EU summit from which Britain will be excluded. EU lawmakers want him to announce Britain's departure then, but a senior EU official said that was unrealistic.MERKEL HAS "NO BRAKE, NO ACCELERATOR"While European leaders would like swift negotiations to end the uncertainty, which is fuelling euroskeptic forces in their own countries, they say they cannot begin until Britain formally notifies the EU it is planning to exit.The leaders of France, Germany and Italy met in Berlin on Monday to plan their next moves and said Europe needed to respond to its people's concerns by setting clear goals to improve security, the economy and prospects for young people. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has appeared to take a softer line on Britain's decision than some European leaders, said she had "neither a brake nor an accelerator" to control events, adding: "We just don't want an impasse".Making clear the exit negotiations would not be easy, Volker Kauder, who leads Merkel's conservatives in parliament, told ARD television: "There will be no special treatment, there will be no gifts." The shockwaves are being felt across the globe at a time when economies are still fragile from the 2008 economic crisis, interest rates are close to zero and central banks have fewer tools than normal to revive demand if countries enter recession.Financial markets misjudged the referendum, betting on the status quo despite abundant signs that the vote would be close.When reality dawned, the reaction was brutal. Sterling fell as much as 11 percent against the dollar on Friday for its worst day in modern history, while $2.8 trillion was wiped off the value of world stocks - the biggest daily loss ever. By Monday afternoon, sterling had shed around 3.6 percent against the dollar to $1.3209, despite an attempt by Osborne to ease concerns by saying he was working closely with the Bank of England and officials in other leading economies."Our economy is about as strong as it could be to confront the challenge our country now faces," he told reporters. "It is inevitable after Thursday's vote that Britain's economy is going to have to adjust to the new situation we find ourselves in."U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew also tried to restore calm, telling CNBC television it had been "an orderly impact so far" though he later added: "We have resilience built into our economy, but we're not cut off from the world." Visiting Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it was important that "nobody loses their head" as the EU and Britain deal with the fallout from the referendum.Later, in London, he urged both sides to be driven by common sense rather than a desire to get even, saying the impact on the U.S. economy would depend on how the negotiations go."PENSIONS ARE SAFE"The vote to leave the EU has increased the likelihood of Scotland holding a second referendum on independence, after voters there strongly backed remaining in the EU.Boris Johnson, a leading proponent of a Brexit and likely contender to replace Cameron, praised Osborne for saying "some reassuring things to the markets".The former London mayor said it was now clear "people's pensions are safe, the pound is stable, markets are stable. I think that is all very good news."Financial markets took a different view. The yield on British 10-year government bonds fell below 1 percent for the first time as investors bet the Brexit vote would trigger a Bank of England interest rate cut aimed at steadying the economy. Many economists have cut economic growth forecasts for Britain, with Goldman Sachs expecting a mild recession within a year. The risks affect economies far beyond Britain. "Against the backdrop of globalization, it's impossible for each country to talk about its own development discarding the world economic environment," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told the World Economic Forum in the city of Tianjin.Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed his finance minister to watch currency markets "ever more closely" and take steps if necessary. DIVIDED PARTIESJohnson tried to calm fears over Britain's future trade ties with the EU by writing in the Daily Telegraph newspaper that there would be continued free trade and access to the single market, although EU leaders say that is not a given.He also suggested Britain would not have to accept free movement of workers, aware that many voters chose "leave" due to concerns over immigration. However, single market rules say countries must accept free movement of people as well as goods.Johnson is expected to declare soon that he is running to lead the Conservatives, who have been divided for decades between pro- and anti-EU factions. Divisions within the opposition are also deep. A wave of Labour lawmakers resigned from leader Jeremy Corbyn's team on Monday, adding to the 11 senior figures who quit on Sunday, saying his campaign to keep Britain in the EU was half-hearted.Corbyn, a left-winger who has strong support among ordinary party members, has said he is not stepping down.Discontent with the political establishment in general and the Conservatives in particular was a factor behind the vote to leave, although many Brexit backers focused on immigration, complaining too many migrants had arrived from eastern Europe.Police said offensive leaflets targeting Poles had been distributed in Huntingdon, central England, and graffiti had been daubed on a Polish cultural center in central London on Sunday, three days after the vote.The Polish embassy in London said it was shocked by the "xenophobic abuse" aimed at the Polish community and others. (Additional reporting by David Lawder, William James, Jamie McGeever, Nigel Stephenson, Kevin Yao, Costas Pitas, Bate Felix, Andrea Shalal, Michael Holden, Guy Faulconbridge, David Milliken, Patrick Graham, Michelle Martin, Elizabeth Piper, Paul Carrel, Conor Humphries, Minami Funakoshi and Tetsushi Kajimoto; Writing by David Stamp and Philippa Fletcher; Editing by Peter Graff and Andrew Roche) Read more

U.S. banks flex capital muscle in annual stress test

Big U.S. banks are proving themselves to be stronger and sounder in an annual regulatory stress test, even as the Federal Reserve changes doomsday scenarios to keep them on their toes.On Thursday, the Fed said each of the 33 U.S. banks that underwent its standardized stress test were able to stay above minimum required capital levels in severe economic and market conditions. Banks that participated last year also passed, but their capital levels have largely improved since then.Overall, the 33 banks would suffer $385 billion in loan losses over nine quarters under the most severe scenario, the Fed said. In aggregate, a key ratio measuring high-quality capital against risk-weighted assets, known as the Tier 1 common equity ratio, would drop to a low of 8.4 percent. That is well above the 4.5 percent minimum set by regulators.(Click here to see how the banks performed: tmsnrt.rs/28QAfLJ)Since the Fed started stress testing banks in 2009, capital levels have risen and credit quality has improved, with bad loans rolling off the books. The Fed creates new inputs for market and economic chaos each year, and shocked investors in January when it included negative interest rates in the worst-case scenario."Today's results are particularly notable given the more stringent test assumptions above last year's test," said Richard Foster, senior counsel for regulatory and legal affairs at the industry trade group Financial Services Roundtable. "Banks now hold extremely high levels of capital and liquid assets as compared with historical averages."However, Thursday's results are just one part of the Fed's annual stress test process, and do not even offer a glimpse at what many investors really want to know: Will banks be able to use more capital for dividends and stock buybacks?This first test – called the Dodd-Frank Act Stress Test, or DFAST – is part of the sweeping financial reform law passed in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis. It relies on standardized assumptions about capital levels and distributions for the tested banks, allowing for a consistent view across the industry. Next week, the Fed will release results of a more nuanced examination known as the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review, or CCAR. That test evaluates banks' individually tailored plans for surviving a crisis.The Fed gives each bank a pass or fail grade for CCAR, based not only on hard numbers, but also on qualitative measures. That means the Fed can fail a bank because it did not approve of how management went about the capital planning process."DFAST is sort of like a dress rehearsal for the CCAR," said Ernie Patrikis, a partner at the White & Case law firm and a former bank regulatory official at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.Thirteen banks have failed CCAR since the Fed began disclosing results, according to research firm Trepp.In an analysis carried out before DFAST results were released, Trepp analysts predicted two-thirds of the banks will likely be allowed to increase their dividends. The percentage approved for dividends has been ticking down from 72 percent in 2013 to 67 percent in 2014, and 61 percent in 2015. "Banks generally are doing pretty well on earnings, so there is capacity to increase their dividends," said Matt Anderson, managing director at Trepp.NEGATIVE RATE PAIN The Fed will announce CCAR results on June 29. Failures are embarrassing, and the Fed allows banks to resubmit capital plans based on DFAST results to give them a second chance to pass. They have until Saturday to do so.Of the 33 banks that took part in DFAST, Huntington Bancshares Inc produced the lowest minimum Tier 1 common equity ratio, of 5 percent, under a severely adverse scenario. Morgan Stanley and BMO Financial Corp produced the weakest Tier 1 leverage ratio - another measure of capital strength relative to assets - of 4.9 percent, under that scenario. Banks also released their own stress test results, based on inputs set by the Fed. The figures did not necessarily match up. For instance, Morgan Stanley's own capital ratios under severe stress were higher than the U.S Federal Reserve test result, as were Wells Fargo & Co's and BMO's.Banks that look marginal in DFAST may well have submitted capital plans that include the issuance of securities that would dramatically affect their capital scores. And, banks with strong numbers can still fail CCAR because the Fed considered the quality of their capital planning faulty.Citigroup Inc, for example, has had surprising results for both reasons in the past. This year, Citi racked up big gains, with its Tier 1 common equity ratio rising to 9.2 percent from 6.8 percent and its Tier 1 leverage ratio improving to 6.9 percent from 4.6 percent.Wells Fargo improved less, possibly because it relies more on consumer deposits for funding and therefore could have been hurt more by the negative interest rate scenario. The Fed generally assumes that banks would not be able to pass along negative rates to consumers by charging them for holding their deposits.Bank stocks rose on Thursday in anticipation of the stress test results, as well as the Brexit vote. Citigroup was one of the biggest beneficiaries, with its shares rising 4.2 percent to close at $44.46, and gaining another 2.9 percent in after-hours trading. (Reporting by Lisa Lambert in Washington and David Henry in New York; Writing by Lauren Tara LaCapra; Editing by Bernard Orr) Read more

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