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* Wants to take advantage of opportunitiesTORONTO, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Bank of Nova Scotia Chief Executive Rick Waugh says he welcomes tighter bank regulations, but harbors concerns about whether new Basel III rules will be applied evenly.”My major concern is a level playing field,” Waugh said in an investor presentation by the bank in Toronto on Monday. Scotiabank is Canada’s third-largest lender.The new global rules for tighter capital and liquidity restraints have drawn criticism from some CEOs - most famously JP Morgan Chase head Jamie Dimon, who called the rules “anti-American” - but have generally been well received by Canadian banks.”I’m all for supervision, regulation, high capital levels, better liquidity, better funding,” Waugh said.He said the new rules have not forced the bank to alter its business model in any “fundamental” way, but said the uncertainty around how the rules will be implemented globally is troubling.”Are the Americans going to go to Basel III? Are the trading rules that are being implemented, are they going to be executed in the same time frame in the United States and Europe?” he said.The new rules - agreed on by global regulators but to be applied by national bodies - will place restrictions on lending and trading that will likely reduce banks’ profitability.Scotiabank, like Canada’s other lenders, did not require a bailout during the financial crisis, and the bank has continued making acquisitions as struggling institutions in the United States and Europe sell subsidiaries to bolster their capital positions.Waugh suggested that could continue.”We’ve demonstrated we’ve been able to do a reasonable job of coming through this. I want to take advantage in a prudent disciplined way of the opportunities, so I want a level playing field,” he said.Scotiabank’s shares were down 40 Canadian cents, oe 0.8 percent, at C$51.84 on the Toronto Stock Exchange amid a broad-based selloff.


Pollan was reported to have a pulmonary illness and been on a respirator since October 7. There were reports earlier on Friday that her condition had worsened.The former teacher became one of Cuba’s leading dissidents after her husband and 74 other government opponents were jailed in a March 2003 government crackdown.The Ladies in White, dressed in white and carrying flowers, began marching in silence every Sunday in Havana soon after the arrests to demand the release of their family members in protests the Cuban government initially tried to stop, but eventually allowed to continue.All of the 75 dissidents imprisoned in the crackdown have been released, most of them following a deal between the government and the Catholic Church last year.


Folic acid is already known to reduce the risk of certain types of birth defects, and both the U.S. and Canada fortify grain products with folic acid to make sure pregnant women get enough of it. But that’s not the case in some other countries, including Norway, and doctors still worry about pregnant women getting enough of the B vitamin — especially in the developing world.”We don’t think people should change their behavior based on these findings,” said Dr. Ezra Susser from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York, who worked on the study.”But it does add weight to the public health recommendation to take folic acid early in pregnancy,” he told Reuters Health.And, he added, it shows that “what you do during pregnancy… is not only important for birth but also for subsequent development.”The researchers gave surveys to close to 40,000 Norwegian women a few months into their pregnancies. Those included questions on what supplements women were taking in the four weeks before they got pregnant through eight weeks after conception.Then, when their kids were three years old, Susser and his colleagues asked the same women about kids’ language skills, including how many words they could string together in a phrase.Toddlers who could only say one word at a time or who had “unintelligible utterances” were considered to have severe language delay. In total, about one in 200 kids fit into that category.Four out of 1,000 kids born to women who took folic acid alone or combined with other vitamins had severe language delays. That compared to nine out of 1,000 kids whose moms didn’t take folic acid before and early in pregnancy.The pattern remained after Susser’s team took into account other factors that were linked to both folic acid supplementation and language skills, such as a mom’s weight and education, and whether or not she was married.The researchers didn’t find any link between folic acid during pregnancy and kids’ motor skills, measured by how well toddlers could kick or catch a ball.The study can’t prove that folic acid, itself, prevents language delay, they wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association. But Susser said the vitamin is known to affect the growth of neurons and could influence how proteins are made from certain genes.”Clearly it plays a role in development that starts very early in pregnancy,” said Usha Ramakrishnan, a maternal and child nutrition researcher from Emory University in Atlanta who wasn’t involved in the new study.However, she added, it’s hard to separate out exactly when during pregnancy folic acid supplements would have an effect on later language development — since women who are taking supplements early are more likely to take them throughout pregnancy.Susser said the results likely apply in the U.S. and other countries where grains are fortified with folic acid, also called folate, because extra supplements are still recommended during pregnancy. But he added that more research is needed to support the new study.”The recommendation worldwide is that women should be on folate supplements through all their reproductive years,” Susser said. Because of that, “we really need to know what the impact is on children, both benefits and risks.”“I think this adds to what’s already known about the benefits of folic acid,” Ramakrishnan told Reuters Health. “It gives one more positive message of potential benefit.”


Poor Russia. After spending six months as the world’s best performing emerging market, the Moscow bourse  has been the big loser of this month’s rout – year-to-date returns of over 10 percent until mid-July have since dissolved in a sea of red, with a plunge of over 20 percent since the start of August. As oil prices fell and the outlook for U.S. and European growth darkened, overweight positions in Russia halved versus July, a survey by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch showed this week. But get this — Russia remains among investors’ main emerging market punts and only Indonesia is more favoured, according to the BoA/ML poll. The reason is that fund managers are still clinging to hopes that an increasingly wealthy Russian consumer will save the day. Unfortunately those hopes are yet to materialise. Returns on domestic demand-based stocks such as Sberbank, carmaker Avtovaz and supermarket chain Magnit have been even more disappointing this year than the broader Moscow market. Even the staunchest Russia bull will have been disappointed with data showing Russia’s economy grew at just 3.4 percent in the second quarter of the year.  That proves the economy was running out of steam even before the August oil price fall and suggests that the Russian consumer is not yet stepping up to the mark. Retail data since then have been more heartening — annual sales rose 5.6 percent in July from 3 percent in June. So which way could Russia go? Some like Russian investment house Aton say another 20-25 percent stock market drop cannot be ruled out if the global economy goes into a tailspin. That sounds overly pessimistic – - as UBS analysts point out the global macro backdrop and the oil price outlook do not look nearly as bad as 2008. Chinese growth too is holding up well.  Three things are in Russia’s favour. One is that prices for oil, the mainstay of the Russian economy, remain over $100 a barrel – that should allow the government to keep spending ahead of elections.  Second, most other emerging markets look uglier. Stocks in fellow-BRIC India may have fared better during the August selloff but the picture is far from rosy. Growth is slowing, as testified by factory expansion that fell for the third straight month in July and car sales that are down for the first time in over two years.  The central bank remains uber-hawkish.  Little surprise then that the BoA survey showed India to be investors’ least favoured market. The clincher could be valuations. Russian stocks, always cheap, are even cheaper after the selloff, trading at just 5  times forward earnings — almost half the emerging markets average. For that reason, John Lomax, HSBC‘s chief emerging equity strategist reckons the current market dip is a buying opportunity. The market will recover if fears of a U.S. double-dip recession prove unfounded, he says.