(Reuters): - U.S. regulators directed five of the country's biggest banks, including Bank of America Corp and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, to develop plans for staving off collapse if they faced serious problems, emphasizing that the banks could not count on government help.

The two-year-old program, which has been largely secret until now, is in addition to the "living wills" the banks crafted to help regulators dismantle them if they actually do fail. It shows how hard regulators are working to ensure that banks have plans for worst-case scenarios and can act rationally in times of distress.

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(Caribbean News Now): -- Barbados will host this year’s XV Inter-American Microenterprise Forum (Foromic 2012), the biggest annual microfinance and microenterprise development event in Latin America and the Caribbean.

More than 1,000 participants are expected to attend Foromic, which for the first time ever will be held in an English-speaking Caribbean country. The event this year will focus on innovative ways to unlock entrepreneurship and will take place in Bridgetown October 1–3. It is being organized by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the IDB Group, in collaboration with the Government of Barbados. 

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New York (CNNMoney):  Prices continued to decline in China last month, clearing the way for the country to ramp up its stimulus efforts. China's annual inflation rate fell to 1.8% in July, the government's National Bureau of Statistics reported Thursday, down from 2.2% in June. That's the lowest inflation rate in two-and-a-half years. Food prices, which account for more than a third of the inflation calculation, rose 2.4% during the month.

The Chinese government has a stated inflation rate target of 4%. China's economic growth has started to slow amid weaker global demand. Last month, the government said the world's second-largest economy grew at an annual rate of 7.6% in the second quarter -- down from 8.1% the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, inflation has slowed dramatically, freeing China's central bank to do more to stimulate the economy. The People's Bank of China has lowered interest rates in recent months, and the central bank has also tried to spur growth by cutting the amount of money banks are required to hold in reserves. "The need for more easing was reinforced by recent still weak economic data," Sun Junwei, HSBC's China economist, said in a note.

The government's index of purchasing managers' sentiment slipped to 50.1 from 50.2 in June, a reading that indicates the manufacturing sector is expanding, but just barely. Even if China chooses to engage in further monetary easing -- something most observers think likely -- significant headwinds remain. Exporters, for example, continue to be hit by weak demand in Europe. And previous stimulus measures appear to have had only a limited impact on economic growth rates. 



Basseterre, St. Kitts (CUOPM): The St. Christopher Club Group of Companies operated  and managed  by Mr. Rafik Doche, President and  Victor Doche  Managing Director, is investing nearly US$40 million in three condominium and commercial complex projects on St. Kitts’ Frigate Bay.

An additional US$2 million has been spent on land and the first of three condominium complexes that is nearing completion at Scotch Bonnet on the island’s South East Peninsula. The St. Christopher Club Group of Companies constructed and sold the existing 58-unit St. Christopher Club and is investing in Manor International, Scotch Bonnet and Vista Villas.

It also owns Remax Realty and a US$2 million factory at Bird Rock that manufactures the pre-fabricated slabs. Managing Director, Mr. Victor Doche   told the Communications Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister (CUOPM) that the US$12 million Manor International project on the hills of Frigate Bay will comprise of 7 buildings with 57 units in all.

The first building with 9 units was completed in December 2011 on the site of the former tennis courts. The second building with 8 units was completed in April 2012, while the third building is presently under construction and should be completed by December 2012. The remaining 3 buildings should be finished by December 2013.

 He said all 9 units have been sold in the first building, all 8 in the second building and all 10 in the third building. One has been sold to date in the fourth building slated to be completed by March of 2013.

 Mr. Doche has expressed confidence that the remaining 29 units will be sold prior to completion. The company has purchased the incomplete Horizon structure for nearly US$3 million and renamed the project Vista Villas and is investing US$6 million in this project. Vista Villas will see the construction of 57 units by the end of 2012. Forty of the 57 units have been sold and to be delivered to the new owners by December 2012.

In association with Mr. Mervin Grant, the Principle of Heritage Plantation, the St. Christopher Club Group agreed to construct a total of 4 buildings on 3 separate lots located at Scotch Bonnet on the South East Peninsula. According to Mr. Doche, US$1.8 million has been invested to date in the construction of the first building comprising 10 units at Scotch Bonnet. The building is nearing completion and three of the units have been sold.


Three more buildings with 10 units in each will cost a total of US$6 million and will be completed by the end of 2013. Mr. Doche also disclosed that the St. Christopher Club, which currently consists of 58 units, is to be expanded on the adjoining 2 acres with a new investment of US$9 million in three buildings consisting of 10 units each in addition to a commercial complex. Construction is to begin in September/October this year and should be completed in 18 months.

The nine-acre beach front St. Christopher Club comprises 4 – three story condominium buildings,   two swimming pools, a pool house, a tennis  court and two restaurants -  Ciao, Italian Restaurant and Rock Lobster. The precast walls of the condominiums are constructed at a US$2 million factory at Bird Rock, St. Kitts, which is fully operated by trained nationals with the intention to eventually export   to other Caribbean Islands. In total, St. Christopher Club Group employs approximately 60 qualified nationals.




New York (CNNMoney): First-time claims for unemployment benefits fell slightly last week, bringing encouraging news for the job market. About 361,000 people filed claims in the week ended Aug. 4, down 6,000 from the previous week, the Department of Labor said Thursday. That was also better than economists' forecasts for 375,000 claims.

Jobless claims are closely correlated with layoffs, so a drop is an encouraging sign that job cuts may be waning. That said, the number can also be volatile from week to week. Economists often prefer to look at a four-week moving average to smooth out the choppiness. That number had been falling since mid-June, but then rose slightly last week.

It will probably take several more weeks of declines before economists are convinced the job market improved significantly in August. The unemployment rate was 8.3% as of July, even as businesses said they added 163,000 jobs that month. It remains to be seen, whether hiring has continued at that pace.

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"The labor market is not riding a positive wave of momentum at the moment and we do not expect that to change any time soon," Thomas Simons, money market economist at Jefferies, said in a note to clients. Meanwhile, 3.3 million people filed for their second week of unemployment benefits or more in the week ended July 28, the most recent data available.