Ford Otosan sees exports boosting 2010 sales and Greek police use tear gas on protesters

Turkish automaker Ford Otosan (FROTO.IS) targets a near 10 percent rise in unit sales this year, driven by a 14 percent jump in exports to $2.5 billion, its General Manager Nuri Otay said on Friday. The Turkish automotive sector was hit last year by the global economic slowdown, prompting temporary government tax incentives to boost demand. Demand has since picked up and industry data for February on Friday showed automotive sales in Turkey rose 43.4 percent from a year earlier to 31,172 units. Otay told a news confrence that Ford Otosan, joint-owned by Ford Motor Co (F.N) and Turkey’s Koc Holding (KCHOL.IS), would make investments of $150 million this year. “We anticipate exports of $2.5 billion. We expect an increase in Transit sales to Australia and Brazil. We forecast a large market share for Connect (van) in Canada sales,” said Otay, who took over as general manager this month. [Read the full article]

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Greek police used tear gas to disperse a small group of youths near the parliament building during protests against government cutbacks, Reuters eye witnesses said on Friday.

About 50-60 demonstrators had been throwing stones at riot police and engaged in scuffles with other protesters, the eye witnesses said.

A police spokesman confirmed the “limited” use of tear gas, saying that a group of people had tried to disrupt protesters and damage the marble facade of a hotel.

Police said there were about 12,000 protesters on the streets, the majority behaving peacefully.

The spokesman said that the head of the main private sector GSEE union was slightly injured in the scuffles and taken to hospital.

Unions called impromptu work stoppages and protesters marched on parliament on Friday in protest at 4.8 billion euros worth of new spending cuts and tax rises. [Read the full article]

Brazil’s presidential election in October looks less risky to investors than any other in the last quarter of a century and the economy has bounced back after a brief recession, but there are still investment risks to watch in Brazil this year. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s leftist chief of staff, Dilma Rousseff, is the ruling Workers’ Party candidate to succeed him. She trails her main rival, Sao Paulo state Governor Jose Serra of the centrist opposition PSDB party, but opinion polls show her narrowing the gap in recent weeks. [ID:nN28211716] Unlike previous elections, there is no clear market favorite because neither is expected to break with the mostly market-friendly policies in place for the past decade: a free-floating currency, inflation control, and fiscal discipline. Some investors prefer Serra for his party’s centrist stance and his managerial experience. [Read the full article]

Rampant drug violence, a weak economic rebound, flagging momentum on reforms and declining oil output are all risks to watch for this year in Mexico, which needs to keep up investor confidence to maintain its debt ratings and help it rebound from a deep recession.

Since President Felipe Calderon came to power in late 2006 and set the army on drug traffickers, he has had some success in removing cartel leaders, but turf wars between rival gangs have spiralled out of control, alarming Mexicans, foreign investors, tourists and the U.S. government. [ID:nN24194335]

January and February were the deadliest two months since Calderon came to power, with around 1,600 drug gang killings that included gruesome torture, beheadings, bodies strung from bridges and the slaying of 13 teenagers at a party in Ciudad Juarez on the U.S. border. The student slayings sparked angry protests at Calderon’s inability to stem the violence. [Read the full article]

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