• ‘Poor Man’s Oil’ Image Is Ruining Sales in Top Palm Market

    (Bloomberg) -- As the highest ranks of the world’s palm oil industry gathered in a virtual conference last month, it became clear they were anxious about the same issue: The oil has a severe image problem in India.The South Asian nation, home to more than $5 billion in palm sales a year and the top export market, is no longer enthralled with the oil. Demand, mostly driven by the service sector, has dried up due to the Covid-19 lockdowns, and households just don’t want it.The hurdle is that palm is viewed as a cheaper, less healthy option, and households prefer oils made from soy, sunflowers and mustard seed. With restaurants, hotels and school cafeterias -- the largest buyers -- unlikely to return to normalcy any time soon, the industry needs to find a way to change people’s minds.“During the early years, palm was distributed in India through ration shops, which gave it the tag of being a poor man’s oil,” said Atul Chaturvedi, president of the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India. “No attempt was ever made to rectify this wrong perception about this wonderful gift of nature.”In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, state-run ration shops sell refined palm oil to impoverished communities at a subsidized price of 25 rupees (33 cents) per liter, more than a third cheaper than usual. Meanwhile, retail prices of cooking oils such as soyoil and sunflower oil cost between 125 rupees to 200 rupees a liter, giving them the air of being better oils.Bad ImageAs well as the bargain oil image, local media reports that say palm has a high saturated fat content have turned people off. That’s kept a lid on household demand, which account for just 18% of total palm usage.Now, Covid-19 has exacerbated the problem as more people avoid eating out, hurting demand from a service sector that makes up more than 30% of imports. Total palm oil purchases shrunk 31% in the first eight months of the marketing year that began in November, while sunflower grew 17% and soybean oil climbed 13%.To boost household consumption, the palm industry needs to launch a nationwide campaign similar to how poultry farmers began promoting eggs in the 1980s, said Angshu Mallick, deputy chief executive officer of Adani Wilmar Ltd., a vegetable oil processor.Egg ExcitementPoultry farmers began running adverts on TV where cricket players and other professional athletes promoted eggs as a healthy food. The PR campaign worked, with per capita egg demand almost doubling in the last two decades, said Jaison John, a general manager at Suguna Foods Pvt., a top poultry producer in India.As part of the efforts, palm producer Sime Darby Oils and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council will organize seminars and workshops in India to showcase the latest developments in the industry, said Sandeep Bhan, chief operating officer for trading at Sime Darby Oils. But more has to be done, and importers as well as exporters need to work together to jointly promote palm oil, he said.If the palm exporting countries refuse to see the “writing on the wall,” the discount of palm over the other edible oils will be difficult to close, Chaturvedi said.“After a dream run in the last few decades in India, palm oil has now started to see headwinds,” said Chaturvedi. “It’s time for palm stake holders to re-look at their long term strategies.”India’s demand for vegetable oils, including palm, is seen recovering to pre-Covid-19 levels in the second quarter of 2021, according to veteran analyst Dorab Mistry, a director at Godrej International.“I am looking forward to high commodity prices from the second quarter of 2021” helped by a recovery in the global economy next year, Mistry said. Until then “we have to live with low prices.”“If we push up prices unnecessarily we are going to destroy demand,” he said.(Updates to add analyst comment in final three paragraphs)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


  • California reportedly launches antitrust investigation into Google

    According to a report in Politico, California has become the 49th state to launch an antitrust investigation into Google. California and Alabama were the only states that did not participate in an antitrust investigation by 48 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, that began in September and is focused on Google’s dominance in online advertising and search. It is still unclear what aspects of Google’s business the reported California investigation will focus on.


  • TikTok halts Hong Kong access after security law

    Popular short video app TikTok has blocked access in Hong Kong as it comes under increasing scrutiny.


  • Tropical Storm Warning Issued for New York as Fay Looms

    (Bloomberg) -- Heavy downpours and thrashing wind are in store for the Northeast from Tropical Storm Fay, which spun up off the coast of North Carolina Thursday.Tropical storm warnings have been issued for the U.S. coast from New Jersey to Rhode Island, including New York, as Fay heads north with winds of 45 miles (72 kilometers) per hour. They are the first such bulletins issued since Superstorm Sandy struck the New Jersey coast in 2012, said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections.The storm was about 105 miles south of Ocean City, Maryland, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory at 2 a.m. New York time Friday. It should clip New Jersey midday Friday before powering up the coast for New York and Long Island Saturday and weakening over Vermont.It will be the third storm to hit the U.S. in 2020 and the record sixth system named so far this year.“Fay will bring a few areas of moderate flooding due to heavy rains, but the storm will likely not cause significant damage,” Masters said.From 3 to 5 inches of rain is expected across the Northeast, with some areas getting as much as 8 inches, the hurricane center said. Flash flood watches reach from Virginia to Massachusetts.While storms that hit in the Gulf of Mexico tend to crimp oil and natural gas supply, often sending prices higher, Fay will likely decrease demand due to power outages and slightly cooler conditions due to cloud cover, said Jim Rouiller, lead meteorologist at the Energy Weather Group LLC.Fay is moving over warm Gulf Stream waters and its top winds could reach 50 mph before it comes ashore. A storm becomes a hurricane when its winds reach 74 mph.(Updates storm location in third paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Shareholders Are Thrilled That The Avingtrans (LON:AVG) Share Price Increased 128%

    When you buy a stock there is always a possibility that it could drop 100%. But on the bright side, you can make far...


  • Hong Kong Shuts Down Schools Again as Virus Cases Surge

    (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong is closing its schools again, as a surge in coronavirus cases within the community after a long stretch without infections forces the financial hub to reinstate restrictions that had been loosened.All schools will break for summer holiday starting Monday, Hong Kong Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung said in a briefing Friday. The Hong Kong Economic Times reported earlier that the city would shut the schools.The benchmark Hang Seng Index extended declines as trading resumed after the lunch break, falling as much as 2.3%. The Hang Seng China Enterprises gauge slipped as much as 2.7%, its biggest intraday drop since May 22.The city reported 34 locally transmitted cases on Thursday, the most in a single day since the pandemic began. The resurgence in Hong Kong, while small relative to outbreaks in the U.S. and elsewhere, comes after weeks of normalized activity as people returned to work and restaurants filled up again. Hong Kong started reopening schools in late May after four months of at-home classes.The new infections have pushed Hong Kong to tighten social restrictions again, with the government announcing Thursday it will cap restaurant capacity at 60% starting this weekend. There will be a limit of eight people per table, while bars will be restricted to four per table.Hong Kong has suppressed two waves of infection in February and April and its total outbreak numbers only 1,365 cases. But this week’s jump in infections is raising alarm, as cases that can’t be traced suggest that hidden chains of transmission have been circulating in the city for some time.Read more: Record Spikes in Hong Kong, Tokyo Feed Fears of Asia Second WaveOther cities in the region that have seen previous success in containing the virus are also experiencing new waves of infections. Flareups in Melbourne, Beijing and Tokyo -- which reported a record day of new cases Thursday -- are a reminder that the pandemic is far from over. Without an effective and widely distributed vaccine, cities are likely to continue in a state of limbo where the easing of social distancing measures or lax implementation will lead to a spike in infections.(Updates with government announcement)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


  • What's in a name? Banks count cost of loans in NMC collapse

    As the crisis engulfing his business empire deepened, Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty met with Bank of Baroda officials in mid-March to discuss the $250 million he and his firms owed. The loans were granted on the strength of Shetty's reputation as a billionaire and his businesses, in particular, NMC Health, the Middle East-focused hospital group he made his fortune from, according to court filings. Shetty, an Abu Dhabi-based Indian entrepreneur, was feted as the Gulf's ultimate immigrant success story and NMC Health, the United Arab Emirates' largest private hospital group, borrowed without having to provide collateral from dozens of banks either headquartered or with bases in the region.


  • AP: After lobbying, Catholic Church won $1.4B in virus aid

    The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid, with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups. The church’s haul may have reached -- or even exceeded -- $3.5 billion, making a global religious institution with more than a billion followers among the biggest winners in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts, an Associated Press analysis of federal data released this week found. Houses of worship and faith-based organizations that promote religious beliefs aren’t usually eligible for money from the U.S. Small Business Administration.


  • AP: After lobbying, Catholic Church won $1.4B in virus aid

    The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid, with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups. The church’s haul may have reached -- or even exceeded -- $3.5 billion, making a global religious institution with more than a billion followers among the biggest winners in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts, an Associated Press analysis of federal data released this week found. Houses of worship and faith-based organizations that promote religious beliefs aren’t usually eligible for money from the U.S. Small Business Administration.


  • California set to become first state to file lawsuit against Trump administration's new international student visa policy

    California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the state's 86th lawsuit against the Trump administration during a virtual news conference.


(ARA) - Tax season is in full swing. Taxpayers receiving a refund tend to file earlier in the year, while those who owe Uncle Sam often wait until closer to the filing deadline. Whether you file now or wait until the last minute, make tax time easier with these tips.

Start by collecting all your tax documents and information, including W-2s, 1098s, 1099s, receipts and a copy of last year's return. Worried about forgetting something? Use a tax return checklist like the one offered at www.taxact.com/checklist.

Take a few minutes to get familiar with key tax law changes and expiring tax breaks. Notable changes this year include an increase in the standard deduction and standard mileage rates, and an end to the Making Work Pay Credit. A great place to start is by reading the one-page section called "What's New for 2011" in IRS Publication 17 at www.irs.gov.

Do your own taxes using an online or downloadable tax preparation solution. Products are designed for both tax experts and novices, guiding you step by step through your entire return, as well as your credits and deductions. The programs do the math, complete the forms and identify possible errors for you. If you need help from a tax expert, top solutions provide easy, in some cases free, answers.

Although these easy-to-use solutions do the hard work for you, remember they can't necessarily catch your data entry errors. Common errors include incorrect Social Security numbers, misspelled last names, and incorrect bank account numbers for direct deposit. Spend an extra minute or two checking this information to avoid rejection of your return.

It's common to spend upwards of $50 for a tax preparation solution, but there are quality free solutions. Compare free products carefully, as there are important differences. Many experts consider TaxACT to be the most complete free federal product, as it includes all e-fileable forms, free e-file, and free tax help. If you're changing solutions or filing for the first time, TaxACT in particular makes your experience easier with data import and fast start options. You can usually try online products risk-free, so you may find it worthwhile to take a couple for a test drive.

Electronically file your return. More than 100 million taxpayers chose this easy, convenient, and safe way to submit their federal returns last year. E-filed returns are processed faster than paper returns, and e-filers receive confirmation when their returns are processed, usually within minutes. If you owe taxes, you can e-file at any time and schedule payment via electronic funds withdrawal or credit card up until the filing deadline. Most states encourage e-filed returns.

If you're among the three out of four Americans who receive a refund from the IRS, e-file and select direct deposit for the fastest receipt. Your refund can be deposited directly into up to three accounts in as few as eight days (instead of six to eight weeks for mailed checks).

The deadline for filing tax year 2011 federal and most state income tax returns is Tuesday, April 17, 2012. Although you have a couple extra days to file, don't wait until the last minute. Rushing can result in data entry errors, and carefully reviewing tax credit and deduction information could end up saving you money. If you've experienced major life changes over the last year, allot extra time to make sure you get all your tax benefits.

If you need more time to file, simply file IRS Form 4868 for an automatic six-month extension to file. Keep in mind an extension does not extend your time to pay, so pay as much as possible by April 17. Filing late will land you a 5 percent per month penalty, up to a maximum for 25 percent of the unpaid balance, and the failure-to-pay penalty is 0.5 percent per month. Call the IRS to discuss payment plans and options if you can't pay your bill in full.

More tax tips and information can be found at www.irs.gov. To learn more about TaxACT and its Free Federal Edition, visit www.taxact.com.Tips for making tax time easier
Category: Business