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George Soros at his offices in midtown Manhattan
George Soros at his offices in midtown Manhattan

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Why is George Soros selling gold, but John Paulson not? Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Tuesday, May 17. Get the top business stories through the day on BlackBerry or iPhone by bookmarking our mobile-friendly webpage.

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Soros sells most of his gold Those who follow the comings and goings of George Soros might want to take note today of the fact that the renowned investor has sold most of his holdings of gold .

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According to reports yesterday on the securities filing of Soros Fund Management LLC, the hedge fund divested the bulk of its holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, bringing them to just shy of 50,000 shares by the end of the first quarter compared to more than 4.7 million at the end of last year. It has also sold some 5 million shares in iShares Gold Trust. All in all, Mr. Soros has shed almost $800-million (U.S.) in gold.

Mr. Soros also cut his interest in some miners, including shares in Kinross Gold Corp. . His fund now holds 1.4 million shares, compared to 4 million earlier.

"Soros was sitting on a huge profit and like a lot of investors of late, he was happy to take those profits off the table," Gavin Wendt, founding director at MineLife Pty in Australia, told Bloomberg News. "That shouldn't surprise people. Gold has been rising for a decade for fundamental reasons, which haven't gone away."

However, as Mr. Soros sold, fund manager John Paulson continued to bet on bullion, holding not only his stake in SPDR but also increasing his interest in miners such as Barrick Gold Corp. , Bloomberg said.

Markets mixed Global stock markets are mixed this morning, seemingly still troubled by economic jitters and concerns over Europe's debt crisis.

Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei was up just slightly, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped. In Europe, London's FTSE 100 and the Paris CAC 40 were up, though just marginally, by about 7 a.m. ET, while Germany's DAX was down.

Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 futures rose.

"Looking ahead to the U.S. open, at the moment we are expecting the Dow to start around 25 points higher than last night's close," said Anothy Grech, the chief of research at IG Index. "Stock markets still seem to be struggling for any real direction and, although the 12,500 level has been stopping any sell-offs for the Dow Jones, there doesn't seem to be any urgency to take shares significantly higher for now."

HP sees tough quarter Hewlett-Packard Co. stock dipped today after the technology giant reported second-quarter results earlier than expected and revised its forecasts on the heels of a leaked memo with a grim outlook.

HP earned $2.3-billion (U.S.) or $1.05 a share in the quarter, compared to $2.2-billion or 91 cents a year earlier. Revenue rose 3 per cent to $31.6-billion.

HP also disappointed markets with its outlook, which it said reflects "an expected near-term impact from the Japan earthquake and related events, continued softness in sales of consumer PCs, and reduced operating profit expectations" for its services unit.

HP now expects third-quarter revenue of $31.1-billion to $31.3-billion, and diluted earnings per share of about 90 cents. For the full year, it projects revenue of $129-billion to $130-billion, and diluted earnings per share of at least $4.27.

HP was forced today to move up the timing of its second-quarter earnings report after a leaked memo from its chief executive officer warned of tough times ahead.

HP didn't say why it was reporting earlier than planned, but the move followed the disclosure of an e-mail send by Leo Apotheker to 10 executives, in which he urged them to cut expenses and warned of "another tough quarter."

"We must watch every penny and minimize all hiring," Mr. Apotheker wrote, according to a copy of the May 4 e-mail reported by The Wall Street Journal. "... We have absolutely no room for profitless revenue or any discretionary expenditures."



Britain's inflation rate spikes The low in London will be just 13 degrees today, but it's a lot hotter at the Bank of England.

Britain's annual inflation rate climbed in April to 4.5 per cent, the National Office of Statistics said today, putting more pressure on central bank chief Mervyn King. That's up from 4 per cent in March, and the fastest pace since October, 2008.

According to Mr. King in a letter to the country's finance minister, the increase is the result of both higher energy costs and higher sales taxes.

"Today's higher-than-expected jump in CPI inflation in April to 4.5 per cent increases the pressure on the monetary policy committee at the Bank of England to act sooner rather than later with respect to a rise in interest rates," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

"Given recent comments from bank governor Mervyn King about high indebtedness that particular outcome looks likely to be resisted, though it is likely to be fiercely debated."

China eyes Canada China's sovereign wealth fund appears to be closely eyeing Canadian resource jewels.

China Investment Corp. plans to relocate managing director Winston Ma to Canada, Bloomberg News quotes sources as saying today. Mr. Ma will report to Felix Chee in Toronto as well as officials in Beijing, Bloomberg said.

China has made several investments in Canada.

Greece could 'reprofile' debt Here's a new term spawned by Europe's debt crisis, and a very nice way of saying something else: Reprofiling.

Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker says he rejects the idea of a major restructuring of Greece's hefty debts, but EU officials will look at the idea of a "soft restructuring" or "reprofiling," the implication there being pushing out the maturity dates.

"We'll have to see whether we can't proceed to a soft restructuring of Greek debt," Mr. Juncker said today in Brussels following yesterday's meeting of EU finance officials, according to reports. "I am strictly opposed to a large restructuring of Greek debt."

"Yesterday's European finance ministers meetings resulted in approval to Portugal's aid package €78-billion (US$111-billion) while the idea of extending Greece's debt-repayment schedule - a 'reprofiling' of Greek debt - was discussed as well although it was in the initial stages and would only be considered after several other measures, including sales of state assets and further spending cuts, were put in place," said Scotia Capital economists Derek Holt and Karen Cordes Woods.

Some observers, though, believe a full-on restructuring is inevitable.

"The charity of the governments that are supporting Greece's overburdened public finances today will not last forever," said chief economist Carl Weinberg of High Frequency Economics.

"Greece is headed for a catastrophic financial failure without restructuring, and there is just no way around that."

One wonders if the Europeans will next find a more polite term for bankrupt.

LinkedIn increases IPO price LinkedIn Corp. has boosted the value of its initial public offering, upping the price range to between $42 (U.S. and $45, well up from an earlier $32 to $35.

That would value the professional networking site at up to $4.25-billion.

As columnist David Milstead writes today in Vox, LinkedIn's valuation is somewhat lofty, and that was before the increase.

Canadians among world's most active in real estate Canadian real estate investors were among the most active in the world in the first quarter, according to a study into capital flows from international brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle, Globe and Mail real estate reporter Steve Ladurantaye writes.

The brokerage said cross-border, direct real estate investments increased by 25 per cent from a year ago, with $37-billion of deals. The most active buyers were global funds, followed by investors in Canada and Singapore.

In International Business today

Strong growth in rural and inland areas is a crucial element to China's continued economic success. Globe and Mail Asia-Pacific writer Andy Hoffman reports from Chongqing.

BP's move to gain a foothold in Russia's offshore Arctic oil fields through a deal with state-controlled Rosneft has collapsed after it failed to resolve a dispute with partners in TNK-BP, Reuters reports from Moscow and London.

In Economy Lab today

Capital flows are contributing to the appreciation of the Canadian dollar and to our current account deficit. Stephen Gordon examines the issue.

In Personal Finance today

Websites can offer guidance to finding professionals who offer the services you want, Rob Carrick reports.

Rather than send her laptop off so the manufacturer could do another temporary patch job, freelance writer Shelley White decides it's worth it to pay for a fix.

Angela Self reports on a free app that lets couple register anywhere and gives guests online price comparisons before they buy.

From today's Report on Business

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