The Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that the U.S. economy had begun to level off after the onset of the worst financial crisis in decades.

The U.S. central bank decided to keep US interest rates steady near zero (between 0%-0.25%) and confirmed that it would likely stay there for an extended period to aid the continuing recovery.

The Fed statement unveils the recession is nearing an end while many conditions are stabilizing. That means slumped financial markets are healing.

This is the first time since August 2008 that the committee’s statement has not characterized the economy as contracting, weakening, or slowing.

The Fed statement said it believes those actions, along with the stimulus packages passed by Congress “will contribute to a gradual resumption of sustainable economic growth.”

In addition, there are many signs imply a little optimism, for example, the U.S. unemployment is fewer than analysts had expected, the U.S. consumer spending had risen in June, worker productivity had increased, and the U.S. exports had risen.

Source: CNN, Reuters, Federal Reserve

“Dinner Ephemere” held by Limoncello restaurant on Monday 11 August, 2009

A restaurateur of Limoncello, Dr. Roberto Ugolini, 53 years, limoncello is a refreshingly bright and elegant restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating among yatching in Royal Phuket Marina – offerring Italian cuisine.

“We are proudly present  “Brunello Di Montalcino” which is famous red wine from Tuscany where is  one of the best area produce “Brunello di Montalcino”. We have a lot of wine from many areas and we would like our customers enjoy with our best wine,” he said.

As 2009 there are many competitors in terms of producing wine. “Italian wine was one of the best wine in the world, but nowadays you can find many good wine from Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa” he explained.

He is a native of Italy, who often drinks red wine with any kinds of food  (including seafood) which is different from other continents as his explanation ” In Asia – there are very truly different concepts for eating food with wine. And  in Europe – we drink red wine with meat.”

P.S.  you can see more picture @ Dinner Ephemere

Friday, 7th August 2009 – The campaign “Keep Nai Yang Beach Clean” was the collaboration between Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PBMBC) and Phuket Public Health Office (PPHO).

This campaign is aim for tourism around Nai Yang beach because cleanliness is a key for being an attractive destination and we will continue this campaign every month,” The Vice President Aor Bor Tor Sakoo, Khun Pramote Jongsuk on the stage giving the speech regarding to “Keep Nai Yang Beach Clean”.

“For keeping sustainable development in balance of environment is very important for getting travelers back and creating better scenery,” PR Manager Indigo Pearl said.

As everyone had spoken in the same way with this social responsibility activity “We are proudly  to be a part of these people who really care for their own beach, as a staff of Indigo Pearl resort who has taken benefits from natural resources – it is time to give it back,” Mr.Somsak said.

Ms.Sirirak, a local restauranteur on Nai Yang beach, would like to keep the beach cleaning for getting advantages to her own business and beaches are first impressive for travellers who come to Phuket.

The beach cleaning campaign on Nai Yang Beach and National Park will be continued every months for preservation and maintenance.

After reported a loss of $15.2bn, US mortgage finance firm Fannie Mae has requested the Treasury for another $10.7bn.

This is the 3rd time that Fannie Mae has asked Treasury $96bn for aid after had received $15.2bn in March.

The Treasury has made available funds of $200bn each to both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The results were driven by $18.8bn in losses on loans due to the weakening housing market conditions, made worse by rising unemployment.

In 2010, the US government will reveal its plan for both mortgage giant Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The government may keep the companies private or merge them into a government agency.

Source: BBC

Banking group HSBC found its pre-tax profits dropped by 51 percent from $10.2 billion compare to the same period; the first six month of 2009.

Group Chairman Stephen Green said “it may be that we have passed, or are about to pass, the bottom of the cycle in the financial markets”.

“Of all the big banks in the US and UK, HSBC is the one that comes closest to being able to claim – without stretching credibility too much – that it’s a proper commercial operation, not too reliant on finance or insurance from taxpayers,” he added.

HSBC is in the process of closing most of its retail lending operations in the US, having taken hefty losses from mortgages which went unpaid.

HSBC has not had to go to governments for extra cash. It decided instead to ask existing shareholders for more money through a rights issue in April, which raised $17.8bn.

Source: BBC, CNN, HSBC

BP’s second quarter profits have more than halves continued to suffer from a weak oil price and falling demand for energy.

BP reported profits of $3.14bn (£1.9bn) for the three months to the end of June, 53% less than for the same period last year.

Tony Hayward, Chief Executive, said BP expected the “recovery to be long and drawn out” after reporting it made $3.14 billion in second quarter, down from $6.74 billion during the same period last year. That means 53 percent decrease.

BP produced  4 percent more oil during the three months to the end of this June than the same period last year, but dramatic fall in price has savage its bottom line.

Last July, oil price had reached the highest price as ever before at $147 a barrel. And now it’s near to reach $70.

“We are in turbulent times, volatile and uncertain. But we continue to steer a steady course through choppy waters,” said Hayward.

However, he said BP was delivering good performance in a tough environment.

“We have already surpassed the target we set ourselves at the beginning of this year for cash costs but we are by no means complacent. We will continue to push efficiencies into the group and make sure every dollar counts,” Hayward said.

It had already reduced cash costs for 2009 by $2 billion and was expecting to save another $1 billion in the second half of the year, Hayward said.

Sources: CNN, BBC News, Guardian

ML Resort Patong & SFX teamed up for kids

Millennium Resort Patong Phuket & SF Cinema City Jungceylon recently hosted movie and outing trip with orphanage from Sussex House which is supported by New Life Foundation.

This event is under the “Wishes to Share Project” aimed to encourage foundations and charity organizations to continue helping underprivileged people in Phuket and Thailand. Millennium Resort planed to run this project continued throughout the years ahead as well as giving them career opportunities when the time comes.

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“The relationship between the U.S. and China will shape the 21st century” said President Barack Obama, as top U.S. and Chinese officials met in Washington for the first meeting of a “Strategic and Economic Dialogue”.

President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo each addressed the opening session of the two-day meeting.

The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue is expected to focus on working towards economic recovery, climate change, security, the spread of nuclear weapons in North Korea and Iran, crating clean and secure energy source, and the economy all areas where common ground existed.

“The current crisis has made it clear that the choices made within our borders reverberate across the global economy – and this is true not just of New York and Seattle, but Shanghai and Shenzhen as well,” said President Obama.

President Obama also emphasized that the U.S. and China must remain committed to strong bilateral and multilateral coordination.

“The relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world. That reality must underpin our partnership. That is the responsibility we bear,” President Obama said.

“With the furthering of China’s reform and opening up, China and the United States will have even closer economic cooperation and trade relations and (the) China-US relationship will surely keep moving forward,” he said.

Mr Wang added that the opening up of China’s economy could help the U.S. recovery.

The U.S. and Chinese top officials meeting in Washington

But there are areas of contention. The US is expected to push China to rely less on exports and to focus more on encouraging its domestic market due to the U.S. manufacturers can’t compete fairly with their Chinese competitors, accusing Beijing of deliberately devaluing its currency to make its exports seem cheaper.

Simultaneously China is worried about the value of the U.S. dollar because it holds huge amounts of US debt – more than $800bn of U.S. Treasury securities alone.  China also fears that President Obama’s stimulus spending will stroke inflation in the U.S., and of course, eroding the value of the dollar and making the U.S. debt China holds worth a lot less.

President Obama said that although the US and China would not agree on everything, but he believed the two could make progress on pressing global challenges like trade, emissions and proliferation.

On the economy, Clinton and Geithner praised the U.S. and China for taking bold steps to deal with the global economic crisis and Americans must rebuild their savings, strengthen the U.S. financial system and invest in energy, education and health care.

On security issues, Clinton and Geithner highlighted the “provocative actions of North Korea,” stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and economic possibilities in Africa.

Will the new dialogue of the big two countries shape the 21st century? Will Obama administration be a success of enhancing the world economy? Or will it be a failure?

Sources: BBC News, CNN, CCTV