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Economy May Prove Tipping Point for Syrian Regime

Syria's flailing economy could prove the tipping point for the autocratic regime of Bashar al-Assad as he seeks to quell a pro-democracy revolt posing a major threat to his rule, analysts say.

"There are some wild cards left in Syria, and the economy is one of them," said one Western diplomat, speaking from Damascus.

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Nissan Annual Net Profit to Fall 15% After Quake

Japan's Nissan Motor said its annual net profit will fall 15 percent year-on-year after the March earthquake hit output, while it also struggles with high raw material costs and a strong yen.

The nation's number two carmaker said despite lower profits, it saw global sales rising 9.9 percent in the year to a record 4.6 million units, with full production returning in October after parts shortages caused by the quake.

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Ghosn Urges Minimum Wage Increase to LL1,200,000

General Labor Confederation Chief Ghassan Ghosn urged the cabinet to raise minimum salaries from LL500,000 to LL1,200,000 so that the new wages would fit the citizens’ purchasing power.

Ghosn told Voice of Lebanon radio on Thursday that “the policy statement will unveil the cabinet’s approach in dealing with the economic issues.”

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Lebanese Banks Warned Not to Fall in Trap of Syrian Regime

The Syrian Central Bank has opened an account at the Lebanese Central Bank, drawing questions on the timing of such a move, an informed source told al-Liwaa daily published Thursday.

The source said that the account was opened around ten days ago.

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Global Wine Sales Boom Despite Crisis

Drinkers worldwide are spending half a trillion dollars a year on wine and spirits, boosting exports from France, Italy, Argentina and even small producers like Brazil, executives at a major industry fair said this week.

Experts at the Vinexpo trade fair in Bordeaux, the heart of the French wine trade, said Italy had overtaken France in the volume of wine exports and flagged Argentina as a future top contender in the global market.

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Yahoo Approaches Hulu with Buy-Up Offer

Yahoo! has approached Hulu about a potential acquisition of the U.S. online video entertainment site, though the identity of the prospective buyer remains unclear, The Los Angeles Times said.

Hulu has a complex ownership structure, with investors that include News Corp., Walt Disney Co. and NBCUniversal.

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U.S. Tightens Libya Sanctions, Targets Banks in Turkey, Tunisia, Lebanon

The U.S. government tightened sanctions against three Libya-controlled banks in Turkey, Tunisia and Lebanon on Tuesday, ratcheting up the pressure on leader Moammer Gadhafi's support.

The U.S. Treasury Department said it had targeted three foreign Libyan-owned banks, identified six additional companies subject to sanctions, and lifted sanctions against a former Libyan oil minister who defected from the Gadhafi regime last month.

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IHOP to Expand in The Middle East, Including Lebanon

DineEquity Inc., which owns the IHOP chain of restaurants, said Monday it plans to open 40 new IHOP stores in the Middle East with Kuwait-based franchiser M.H. Alshaya Co. in its first major expansion outside of the U.S.

The restaurants will begin to open over the next 12 months in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Egypt.

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Oil Down on Eurozone, U.S. Fears

Oil fell sharply on Monday because of continuing fears over Greece's debt crisis and concerns over the U.S. economy, analysts said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for July delivery, dropped $1.35 to $91.66 a barrel.

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Paris Airshow Opens with Promise of Soaring Sales

The world's plane makers set out their stalls alongside an airfield outside Paris on Monday hoping the biggest event in the aviation calendar will confirm their industry is again ready for takeoff.

Duelling giants Boeing and Airbus and around 2,000 smaller aerospace suppliers, came to the first Paris International Airshow since the end of the global financial crisis eyeing possible massive new airline orders.

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