National / International News

Interest in army base 'significant'

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 22:05
There have been a "significant number of expressions of interest" in a former army base in County Londonderry.

VIDEO: Puma causes havoc in Chile kitchen

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 22:02
Members of a family in Chile had a shocking start to the day when they went to the kitchen for breakfast and found a two-year-old puma in the kitchen.

VIDEO: 'Life goes on' amid Kiev protests

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 20:58
The BBC's Matthew Price demonstrates the stark difference between conditions inside the "protest zone" in Kiev and the rest of the city, where life continues as normal.

Could 3D printing provide new solutions for disabled people?

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 20:44
Will new tech enable disabled people to print access solutions?

Star Trek's Quinto turns producer

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 20:40
Zachary Quinto turns horror producer

Trident cuts 'won't hit deterrent'

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 19:29
The UK could cut its Trident submarine force and save billions of pounds while also maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent, a report suggests.

Knox and Sollecito guilty of murder

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 19:05
An court in Italy reinstates the guilty verdicts against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

Republicans outline migrant reform

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 18:59
Republican leaders in the US House circulate immigration reform proposals, opening a debate within the party and with the Democratic-led Senate.

VIDEO: Singapore's fading joss stick trade

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 18:56
Chinese New Year is a busy time for joss stick makers, but one family business in Singapore is facing an uncertain future.

Home Office bonuses 'irresponsible'

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 18:44
The Home Office was "irresponsible" to pay its staff more than £6.5m in bonuses despite poor performance in many areas, MPs say.

The upside to being let go by Nokia

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 18:14
The Finnish way of losing your job

China discovers the food museum

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 18:13
China's pride in its culinary heritage is reflected in the growing number of food museums opening around the country.

UK university applications rise by 4%

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 18:12
Applications to universities in the UK have risen by 4% compared with this time last year - with many more women than men applying.

Seven surprising facts about vultures

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 17:58
Seven reasons these ugly birds deserve your respect

VIDEO: Scepticism over Yanukovych illness

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 17:48
Ukraine's president, who is faced with ongoing protests and international condemnation, is taking sick leave because of respiratory illness and a high fever, according to an online announcement.

Japan consumer prices rise 1.3%

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 17:41
Japan's prices rise at their fastest pace in more than five years, marking more progress in the country's battle against deflation.

TV doctor infests himself with worms

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 17:41
BBC TV presenter Dr Michael Mosley has infected himself with a series of parasites in an effort to understand how they affect the human body.

2016 goal for Asian vultures release

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 17:33
After the devastation wrought by a veterinary drug on Asian vulture populations, a project hopes to begin releasing captive-bred birds into the wild by 2016.

Global currency traders may be fixing the '4 p.m. Fix'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-30 17:24

Unlike the stock market’s closing bell at the end of the day, the trade in currency operates around the clock. And since there’s no end-of-the-day benchmark, the foreign exchange market draws a line in each day’s trading at 4 p.m. London time.

Joe Marston, a small-time, retail foreign exchange trader, says whatever exchange rates happen to be within a 60-second window become what’s known as the "4 p.m. Fix."

"The 4 p.m. Fix was devised so everybody around the world knows what the price is at 4 o’clock," says Marston. "So that’s the benchmark."

It’s an important benchmark. Multinational companies and pension funds use it as a price to make enormous foreign currency deals.

And regulators suspect traders may have rigged the 4 p.m. Fix to make more profit.

Here's how it works:  On a quiet trading day, Marston shows on his computer screen that the Euro hovers at about $1.35 in U.S. dollars.  But just moments before the 4p.m. Fix was set, the numbers on Marston’s screen start to tick upward.

"It’s moving up a little bit," says Marston. "Sometimes the market can actually move quite violently a few minutes before."

That movement has attracted the attention of U.S. and European regulators.

"Round about exactly 4 p.m., there appear to be jumps in the exchange rate that disappear after a few minutes," says Mark Taylor, a former currency trader who's now dean at Warwick Business School. Taylor says if you look at the 4 p.m. Fix over several months, you see a very suspicious pattern. 

"What it suggests is that people are deliberately trying to manipulate the market around that time."

Traders at some of the world’s largest banks are suspected of collaborating through online chat rooms with names like "The Cartel" and  "The Bandits’ Club," and they’re believed to have conspired to combine billions of dollars in trades to shift the 4 p.m. Fix. It’s what’s known in trader-speak as "Banging the Close".

"It suggests that you’re banging something in order to move it," says Taylor. "And you’ve only got to move the market a small amount for a small period of time for that to translate into literally millions of dollars of profit."

Taylor says the concern is that banks make their profits by charging clients the higher 4 p.m. Fix rate, while really putting currency trades through at a lower price once the market settles down. Richard Payne at Cass Business School says, for the moment, these are just allegations. But this is possible, he says, because the global currency market is largely unregulated, and concentrated among a handful of players.

"There are only a few big banks that control the vast majority of currency trading on the planet, says Payne, "and we can all name them – Deutsche Bank, Barclays, UBS."

That list includes Citigroup and JP Morgan. No bank would comment for this story. But many have already suspended their top currency traders as investigations continue.  And any proof of wrongdoing could bring steep fines.

Quiz of the week's news

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 17:17
The Magazine's weekly quiz of the news, 7 days 7 questions.

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