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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Signs of Life for U.S. Jobs Market; Russia Extends Grain Export Ban

Aired September 3, 2010 - 14:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MAX FOSTER, CNN INT'L. ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Signs of life for the U.S. jobs market, but the unemployment rate is stubbornly high, still.

Russia extends its ban on grain exports sending wheat prices even higher.

And 3D television without the glasses. We get a glimpse of the future. At the Burlington Consumer Electronics Fair.

I'm Max Foster in for Richard Quest. This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Hello there.

Well, unemployment in the United States has risen but there are some signs of life in the U.S. jobs market. The jobless rate in the world's largest economy now stands at 9.6, that is up a fraction from the previous 9.5. A total of 54,000 jobs were lost in August, but that was about half of what had been expected.

The bulk of the losses came from the public sector as the government slashed 114,000 temporary census workers. But private sector hiring was better than expected. Businesses added 67,000 jobs to their payrolls in August. U.S. President Barack Obama is optimistic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The economy is moving in a positive direction. Jobs are being created, they are just not being created as fast as they need to, given the big hole that we experienced. And we're going to have to continue to work with Republicans and Democrats to come up with ideas that can further accelerate that job growth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Well, President Obama will outline new measures for jobs growth next week. Meanwhile the U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis echoed his optimism.

HILDA SOLIS, U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: We're finally coming out of that ditch. It is slower because this is a very hard recession. But I think that the tools that we have been able to implement and the fact that we were able to get recovery dollars to help provide a safety net for unemployed people, especially dislocated workers. That is what I'm in charged of, unemployment insurance, but also equally looking at investments in green technology and training programs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Well, it may not feel like it right now but in historical terms the U.S. labor market is recovery quite nicely actually. Take a look at this. Excluding the impact of temporary census jobs the U.S. economy has added jobs every month since January. Now that is much quicker than previous jobs market recoveries. After the 1990 to '91 recession ended the economy lost nearly 300,00 0 additional jobs in the 12 months that followed. And the 2001 recession was followed by a so-called jobless recovery that lasted for nearly two more years.

Having said all that, the unemployment problem isn't going away. Today's economy is very different. The jobless (ph) drop between 2007 and 2009 was so severe it is going to take a lot more growth than normal to dig the job out of its current hold. Joining me now, live from Milwaukee and the U.S., is Jeff Joerres. He's the chairman and the CEO of Manpower, and he has a good perspective on this, because he's studying it everyday.

Hi, Jeff. Thank you so much for joining us.

Just, first of all, your response to those jobs figures?

JEFF JOERRES, CEO, MANPOWER: Well, I mean, you know, anytime I guess there are kind of two scenarios. Anytime you can kind of beat a consensus, the investors, I guess, feel a little bit better. If we set that aside and look at 67,000 jobs created, then that is really what we should be focusing on. A lot less on the unemployment rate, but those 67,000 jobs, it is better than what most people had expected and in fact it is showing that there is some growth.

I think we do need to put it into perspective, though. For us to make up that 8.5 million jobs lost you need closer to about 250,000 to 275,000 jobs a month for the next 36 months, just to get back to where you were before.

FOSTER: And what we're talking about here is people, but it is also workers. And just explain to us the dynamics of what is going on in market. Because as I understand it, there is a real skill shortage in some areas.

JOERRES: Well, there is a skill shortage, but there is also a demand shortage. And what is happening is that without the demand strong enough to kind of puncture through that sound barrier and make that boom and on the other side hire people, what you are doing is allowing companies to be much more specific in who they are going to hire, much longer process of who they are going to hire, and that is really creating that-it is accentuating the mismatch. Companies are looking for a specific perfect fit. And if they don't have it they are content to wait because the demand isn't so strong that they need that person right now. And that is what is stretching this out longer than what we have ever had before.

FOSTER: OK, for the jobs that are there, what sort of people are being sought? Where is the problem in recruiting for the jobs that are there?

JOERRES: Yes, it really fits into two different categories. We have been seeing, and I'm sure you've talked about over some time, as happening in the U.K. and other markets. It is this kind of bifurcation of the workforce, this kind of loss of middle class. So you have those that are IT professionals, that can create efficiency and productivity in a company. Hard to find, high demand, wages going up, there is that end of the spectrum. Entry-level positions? Entry level positions in manufacturing are moving along nicely. It is just that they don't pay as well as maybe they used to. And then the middle part is what is disappearing because companies are either having those create efficiency and then those having to implement efficiency, if you will. And almost nothing in between.

FOSTER: If people were going to retrain, what sort of skills that you recommend that they get? I know that the professions, thing like carpentry and plumbing, they are still in very high demand, aren't they?

JOERRES: Yes, no doubt. And I think we have kind of coined a term called industry migrant. That is the reality has set in that I'm no longer going to be a supervisor in the shop floor of an automotive company. I'm going to have to do something else. That is a tough decision. Now, if you get into health care, if you get into some of the other areas, no doubt there are some great futures for that.

But it takes a lot of opportunity costs, in other words, two, three, four, five years of schooling-difficult. Only the things that we're seeing is that some skilled trades have an opportunity to fill in, in that next two to three years. And that technical college, that 18-month, two-year program, I think, can be a way that individuals can go. I would also suggest that they stay in the workforce. They need to stay in the flow of what's happening otherwise they're going to have a big break in their CV (ph), and that is not going to be looked upon very well, by a prospective employer.

FOSTER: Jeff Joerres, thank you very much indeed for joining us from Milwaukee.

Export bans and spiking prices will take you from Moscow to Chicago to see how wheat my be sowing a harvest of fear.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: We're learning that a cargo plane has crashed near an airport in Dubai. Don't know much more at this point, but Mohammad Jamjoom is in Dubai, going towards the scene.

What have you found out, Mohammed?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, what we know so far is that at cargo plane crashed in an uninhabited area near the Dubai airport. That is according to the officials news agency here in the United Arab Emirates. Also UPS, which is a U.S. based company, they have confirmed that the aircraft that crashed was one of the company's planes.

Now we have also heard from the head of civil aviation here in the United Arab Emirates, he tells us as well, that it was a UPS cargo plane involved in this crash. And the two men were aboard, although we do not have details about their condition.

Now, we spoke a short while ago to some eyewitnesses. One confirmed to CNN that he saw a 77 UPS cargo aircraft fly about 150 over his house in a complex of villas, which is about four minutes away from the Dubai airport. He hadn't seen any fire emanating form the engines. There was a report that there was fire emanating from the engine. He said that the aircraft looked like it was losing height and the pilot appeared to be slightly banking the plane to the right. But it looked like he had control.

As of now still a lot of details to be worked out. There have been conflicting media reports here in the region that the airplane may have crashed into a highway close to the Dubai airport. Officially they are only saying that it was in an uninhabited area next to the Dubai airport. We are heading to the scene right now to try to find out the latest, Max.

FOSTER: Mohammed Jamjoom back with you as you get more information on that story.

And another breaking story for you. A strong earthquake has struck New Zealand. U.S. Geological Survey says the quake was centered 30 kilometers from the city of Christ Church. There are reports of widespread damage, but no reports of serious injuries so far. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says the quake isn't likely to generate a tsunami.

We are monitoring traffic cameras throughout Christ Church for you. Several of these traffic cam photos were snapped around 20 minutes after the quake hit. And from what we've been able to see the early morning traffic is light but appears to be moving normally, which is a good sign of course.

Now wheat prices have surged for a second consecutive day, raising fears of inflation for everything from the price of bread to meat. Wheat for December delivery is up at around $7.34 a bushel. Prices have shot up nearly 50 percent since last June. That is because of a severe drought and fires in the world's third-biggest export market, which is Russia. For more on all of this I'm joined by Dan Basse, he is president of AG Resource, live from Chicago.

Dan, thanks for joining us. Give us an idea of where wheat prices are heading in the future, which is what you are focusing on there.

DAN BASSE, PRESIDENT, AGRESOURCE: You know it is a boisterous day here in Chicago as we as we have big markets. We believe that world wheat prices, over time, will continue to climb. The Russians don't look like they're having any luck getting their new winter wheat crop planted. That along with the floods in Pakistan, a shortage of seed, and we're taking the Australian and Argentinean crops down, really gives us this low-balling affect as we look forward. So, we think grain price, in general, will continue to climb as we look into 2011 and maybe all the way into the middle of next year.

FOSTER: How bad is this compared with 2008?

BASSE: You know, it is a totally different environment. In 2008 we saw a lot of speculative buying and things happening. This is more fundamental in its nature, with the Russians and surrounding countries seeing the world's largest wheat exporters. And now we have the Pakistan problem. And even greater than that, the United States has kind of been an island of grain supply. We have very good crops here this year, but our producer clients are now telling us that the corn and soybean yields are may not be as good as we would expect. And so we're starting to see some decline in those crop totals, which just accentuates the problems that we have in the Black Sea.

FOSTER: Absolutely. And explain to us how fundamental wheat is to the food industry, because you then have this knock on affect, don't you? For other types, I'm talking about meats for example, meat prices go up don't they when wheat prices go up. Just explain how the knock on affects work?

BASSE: Well, in your part of the world the EU, Russia, and that part of Asia, wheat is the predominant feed grain. And, of course, because of high prices that go back over the last two or three years livestock producers, globally speaking, have been liquidating their herds. We're seeing great evidence of that in the EU and here in the United States. So, pork, beef prices and even poultry have started to increase. We think that trend continues, now with these high grain prices there won't be the expansionary push from the farmer.

And as such we think that really even though the wheat and rice increase will only have a modest impact on our food plate, if you will, it is that protein sector that as we look to 2011 and 2012, will become quite dear. And we think food prices globally will rise somewhere between 5 and 8 percent; something that, of course, we don't need in this period of economic woe.

FOSTER: Dan, in Chicago, thank you so much for that. It's pretty depressing, really, isn't it?

Now as we mentioned Russia has announced it is extending its wheat export ban into next year. That is having knock on affect on the rest of the world. And as you have just been hearing, food prices generally. Earlier I spoke to Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance, from Moscow, and asked him about this latest government move.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: What the government is saying is that because it has had such a terrible harvest this year, of its grain, particularly its wheat, it will have to extend its ban that it currently has in force on all grain exports out of the country. That is significant because Russia is one of the biggest grain exporters in the world. And it usually exports millions of tons of barley, or maze, of wheat. But because of the devastating heat wave and the worst drought in this country for the past 40 years, the wheat crops, particularly have been very severely hit, down about 38 percent.

And so Russia is struggling actually to meet its own domestic requirements. It will actually have to buy wheat and other grains on the international markets just to cater for its own domestic demands. And so it simply can't afford, so says the Kremlin, to export any of the wheat that it has harvested, Max.

FOSTER: Is it coming under any pressure, do you think, from foreign governments for stopping exports when actually the domestic market, the bread market, for example, has got enough wheat to survive in Russia.

CHANCE: Yes, certainly, I mean we're not facing any crisis situations here in Russia of the kind that we're seeing elsewhere around the world that are very dependent on wheat imports. And I'm sure that as those crises develop elsewhere, particularly in Sub-Sahara Africa, there will be increased pressure on the Russian government, on the Kremlin, to ease its restrictions. But the government here in Russia has made one thing quite clear. It is not concerned at this stage with the potential instability overseas.

It is concerned, first and foremost, with potential political instability here in Russia. It has elections coming up, local elections, in October, presidential elections in 2012. And there is a mood in this country of unrest, of dissatisfaction with the government, particularly after the heat wave of this very long, hot summer here in Russia. And they don't want to add fuel to that discontent by getting food shortages. So they have made very clear, first and foremost, their priority is making sure there are enough grain supplies, enough wheat supplies here in Russia for the Russian population, Max.

FOSTER: Matthew Chance, in Moscow.

Now soon we'll be able to use 3D gadgets without those glasses. Good news for TV lovers across the globe. From Europe's biggest consumer electronics fair, we're live in Berlin after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: OK, we've been having reports of a strong earthquake in New Zealand. Christ Church is affected. And we're joined from there by Abby Wakerly who lives there.

Abbie, is that right?

ABBY WAKERLY, EARTHQUAKE WITNESS: Yes, I do.

FOSTER: What can you tell us about what you experienced in that city?

WAKERLY: About 4:30 this morning got woken up by very violent shaking. Lots of noise, like, it was just awful.

FOSTER: Yes, and what can you see now. Is it still going on?

WAKERLY: Well, we've been having aftershocks. It's nearly two hours later so it is still kind of scary. We're still on the edge.

FOSTER: Can you see any damage outside?

WAKERLY: I can't see any myself, but I have heard from friends who have been, you know, showing me, texting me pictures of lots of damage in the city, with split roads, and buildings that have come down. And it's pretty scary.

FOSTER: Has this happened before in Christ Church, as far as you know?

WAKERLY: No, not at all. I mean, we've had very kind of mild ones. And I've always seen in the past earthquakes are kind of fun like, you know, it is a bit different. But not this time. It was absolutely awful. It is the scariest thing that has ever happened to me.

FOSTER: Do you know when you woke up in the morning, just explain how-give us a sense of how dramatic it was.

WAKERLY: It just felt like somebody was shaking me very violent awake, very violently awake. But it lasted for about a minute. And I didn't know-we didn't know what to do. I just kind of woke up and said to my husband, what the heck is going on. And my seven-month old daughter is just still peacefully sleeping as though nothing has gone wrong.

FOSTER: Amazing isn't it?

WAKERLY: Yes.

FOSTER: And in terms of what's going on, you've got your TV signal. You've obviously got electricity going. So what sort of messages are you getting from the media and the official bodies there?

WAKERLY: No, we don't have power at all. I'm just going by the news that I'm getting from my phone on FaceBook and Twitter. And what I'm getting from my friends.

FOSTER: OK. All right, Abby, we are going to continue to monitor this for you. We'll get you information, as well, as soon as we get it. Best of luck with-hopes that there aren't anymore aftershocks and the hope that the damage isn't too bad outside. We're going to bring you updates on that. Abby Wakerly in Christ Church. Thank you very much, indeed, for that.

Now, meanwhile Europe's largest consumer electronics show is in full swing on this continent. Industry leaders of the IFA Fair in Berlin are encouraging consumers to embrace new technology, and of course, spend large sums of money upgrading their current set ups. Let's get more of a flavor of the latest trends. Let's cross over to Fred Pleitgen, who is there.

Hi, Fred.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Max. Yes, and one of the things I found out today when I was at the consumer fair is that plasma TV I bought to watch the World Cup is going to be out of date very quickly. I can tell you 3D technology is making leaps and bounds and is really at the center of development in the technological world. Let's have a look at some of the new things that are on offer at that consumer fair.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN (voice over): Walk across Berlin's consumer electronics fair and it doesn't take long to see what this year's big craze is, three- dimensional television. Almost all big brands have come up with new models.

(On camera): It seems there is no doubt that 3D is the future of television. But in the long run, do you really want to be sitting in front of the tube wearing one of these? Therefore, a lot of companies are trying to develop a 3D TV set without glasses.

(Voice over): A German research lab has developed this prototype. Scanners constantly check the position of your eyes and adjust the frame to give you a 3D picture.

BERN DUCKSTEIN, FRAUNHOFER INSTITUTE: And it is based on a venticular (ph) screen. Venticulars (ph), you most probably know from picture postcards, 3D postcards, or postcards that have alternating content. They have a very fine optical structure on them.

PLEITGEN: The researchers say it will take at least five years before the technology is ready for mass production. By then, you might have already shot dozens of home movies with 3D camcorders, which are just now hitting stores.

JOERG GOHLKE, AIPTECK INTERNATIONAL: We have two lenses. One on the left side and the other on the right side, and two pictures coming in, bringing together in the shape, and then he can recognize it and calculate the 3D image and put two pictures to one picture and make a 3D picture out of it.

PLEITGEN: Berlin's technology fair, the IFA, is one of the biggest in the world and is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Aside from TVs, many other novelties catch the eye, like a whole range of new tablet computers looking to battle the iPad for a market share. And new technology can help you save money with appliances like the smart washing machine that finds out what time of day electricity is cheapest and does laundry in that time window.

But let's face it, at a tech fair we want to see some crazy gadgets. Well, how about the magic kitchen? Where you control the appliances by simply gesturing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The oven is one now, I guess?

PLEITGEN: Some of these toys will never make it into production. But many of the things you see here will shape the way we use technology in the years to come.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN: Yes, Max, there are some interesting things that are on offer there. On the whole, though, I would say there are some really new novelties there that on the whole it is probably more evolution than revolution. Especially if you look at some of the technologies that are slowly being perfected, things like Blue Ray players, if you are looking at home entertainment. And also, of course, if you are looking in the realm of tablet computers, some of which that we saw there in this report, Max.

FOSTER: Yes, Fred, we also dreading the cost of that 3D TV. But we were discussing whilst the report was on, how more than one person can watch that 3D TV without the glasses. Is there only one person that can watch it? Does that confuse the TV?

PLEITGEN: That is a very, very good question. The one without the glasses, I asked them that question as well. They say right now with the stage of research that they are at, only one person can actually watch it. But they think they'll make a breakthrough to have at least three people be able to watch it and have the scanners catch all of the eyes in about a year or so. So they say the thing could be ready for market in about five years. They're working on that and they believe more than one person, at least three people, will actually be able to watch that TV without glasses in a very short period of time, Max.

FOSTER: Fred, fascinating stuff. Thank you so much for that.

Now, fears of fraud at one of Afghanistan's biggest financial institutions. The country's central bank says that allegations of corruption at Kabul Bank are baseless. But that hasn't stopped customers queuing up to withdraw their cash.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Welcome back. I'm Max Foster in London. More QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in just a moment. But first here are the main news headlines.

(NEWSBREAK)

FOSTER: And we're following breaking news out of Dubai. UPS confirms that one of its cargo planes has crashed on take-off. A UPS spokesperson says the 747-400 was bound for Cologne in Germany from Dubai. Two crew members were on board. Reuters reports that the bodies of the crew members have been recovered, but CNN hasn't confirmed that.

There are also reports that the plane crashed on a highway.

Our Mohammed Jamjoom is on his way to the scene. He's in Dubai. We'll have a live report from him when he arrives.

Police in Southwestern Pakistan say 59 people were killed in a suicide bombing today. It happened in the city of Quetta, between the Al Quds Day rally, one of many held around the world today in solidarity with Palestinians. A second bombing in Northwestern Pakistan was apparently unrelated. The bomber struck outside a place of worship in Ahmadi, killing himself and a pedestrian.

A year's long child sex abuse trial in Portugal has ended with prison sentences for six men. One got 18 years, the others between five and seven years. News reports now say a female defendant was acquitted. The 32 victims said they were raped and abused whilst living in a state run home. Hundreds of witnesses and experts testified at the trial.

A strong earthquake has struck New Zealand. The United States Geological Survey says the quake was centered 30 kilometers off Christchurch. Some residents reported a loss of power. The fire department says damage appears to be minor. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says the quake isn't likely to generate a tsunami.

Fears for Afghanistan's economic future -- the origin of the concern not because of attack from the Taliban but a run on one of Afghanistan's biggest banks. Now, it has 68 branches in 34 provinces, so it is a large organization that handles salary payments for thousands of Afghan soldiers; crucially, also, the police, other public workers. It's reported to hold up to $1 billion in deposits for Afghan citizens. But the chairman and the chief executive resigned on Monday. "The New York Times" claims that there is speculation on property in Dubai, resulting in losses of $300 million in the -- and "The Times" says the bank's assets -- the bank's assets are worth something like $120 million.

Now, the central bank of Afghanistan says it won't allow Kabul Bank to collapse. The central bank governor says allegations of corruption and money laundering reported in the U.S. press are wrong and they're baseless, he says.

Earlier, I spoke to our Atia Abawi.

She's in Kabul and she told me that customers have been cueing outside branches of Kabul Bank over the recent days and many concerned their money has been mishandled.

ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Our own local producer, Afghan producer here in Kabul, went from one Kabul branch to another Kabul branch where he said there were lines and lines of people trying to withdraw their money. By the time he'd make it, there was no money to withdraw.

He made his way to a branch very far away from the city of Kabul, where, in the end, he did take out all of his money from the Kabul Bank. And he says that he's too afraid to invest in any other Afghan bank and he's actually looking into international banks.

But we also have to remember, the majority of Afghans -- this is one of the poorest countries in the world. So the majority of them may not have bank accounts. But those that are trying to make a difference, that do have jobs, that have somewhat of a middle class living, they do have bank accounts. And right now, they feel that they've been violated by those in power, not just at the bank, but also within the government.

FOSTER: So they're losing trust not just in the banking system, but in the government. This is a -- a symbol of that, really?

ABAWI: Absolutely. The shareholders of Kabul Bank, the largest private bank in Afghanistan, the majority of them are connected with very high level government officials, leading on up to President Hamid Karzai himself, his brother, Mahmoud Karzai, had about a 3 percent stake in Kabul Bank. The vice president of Afghanistan, his brother, as well, is said to have had over $100 million that he took from Kabul Bank.

But we're hearing several hundreds of millions of dollars have been taken from Kabul Bank, not even invested inside Afghanistan, but invested outside, in the UAE, particularly in Dubai.

And the Afghans themselves, this is just another sign that they feel that their government -- they just don't care about them. The people in charge that can actually help Afghanistan don't care to help them. And that example that I showed you with our producer here in Afghanistan, who wants to invest in an international bank, that's devastating to Afghanistan's already devastated economy. If he's going to keep going to an international bank, if anyone that makes somewhat of a living here in Afghanistan, will invest their money outwards, as the people in power have been doing, the economy in Afghanistan will never grow. And that is a big issue when it comes to the future of the country.

It's not just the war, it's also the economic situation, which is the number one thing the majority of Afghans throughout the country complain about and says it's the biggest issue of their lives, especially when it comes to poverty.

FOSTER: Atia in Kabul there.

We're going to go to New Zealand now, specifically Christchurch, where we can speak to Shen Mansell, who lives there.

And there's been an earthquake there, Shen?

SHEN MANSELL, CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND: Yes, a really big one.

FOSTER: OK. Just describe how you found out about that.

MANSELL: I found out -- I was woken up. It felt like five or six people were just shaking the heck out of me. There was crashing and smashing noises all over, throughout the house, as things were falling and breaking on the floor. And...

FOSTER: OK. You've taken a couple of...

MANSELL: -- it just kept going on and on.

FOSTER: -- pictures, haven't you?

You've taken a couple of pictures, which we're showing the viewers now.

Could you talk us through those pictures and where we are and what happened?

MANSELL: OK. Well, I've got a few pictures of my -- basically my computer room and my -- my staircase. Everything has been thrown off the shelves. In my computer room, the shelves got broken, as well. You can see that my stove got shaken about a foot away from the wall and I've got a couple outside of just burst water mains and the -- the pavement and roads being cracked.

FOSTER: What did you think was happening when you were taking these pictures?

MANSELL: When I was -- well, the pictures were taken after the -- the main earthquake had ended.

FOSTER: Sure.

What did you think was happening when you -- when you woke up to all of this?

MANSELL: Oh, it was -- it was -- it was pretty -- pretty obvious it was an earthquake. We get -- we get a lot of smaller ones here, but this is definitely the biggest one I've been through.

FOSTER: Yes, that's the point, isn't it?

It's a lot bigger than previous ones?

MANSELL: Yes. And -- and a lot longer, as well.

FOSTER: OK, so, clearly, some damage done outside.

And how severe do you think it is elsewhere, away from your neighborhood?

MANSELL: Well, there's -- there's power outages in a lot of my parts of the neighborhood. I can -- I can smell that the sewage pipe has been broken outside my house. And I guess we're getting reports through the Internet of some roads being blocked and chimneys falling down. It -- it looks like, in my neighborhood, where we didn't get the worst of it.

FOSTER: Are you getting communications from your authorities or is power a problem?

MANSELL: Power -- power is a problem. And the -- the cell phone networks have been overloaded. Most of the communication I've had is -- has just been outside, talking to other worried people, trying to figure out what's going on.

FOSTER: OK. We'll be back with you when we get more information on what's going on there.

Good luck with the power and good luck with finding out what actually -- what the impact is, actually, in New Zealand. We're still trying to work that ourselves.

Thank you very much, indeed for joining us, Shen, and showing us your pictures, as well.

We'll be right back after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: We're going to cross to the Weather Center now, because we want to get the latest on Hurricane Earl and the impact that that's had over there in the U.S.

Pedram Javaheri is at the CNN International Weather Center for us -- hi, there.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, hi, Max.

It's been a fairly close call here in the last 24 or so hours, going from a major category four just yesterday morning to now just barely hanging on to category one status as it swung by Cape Hatteras in the early morning hours.

And look at it just disintegrate here as of the last few hours, just becoming, again, a very weak hurricane.

But still, being a broad feature, it's still going to cause problems around the atter -- outer portions of the coastal regions of the Carolinas all the way out there toward, say, the New Jersey coastline all the way northward toward New Hampshire and eventually making landfall, we think, somewhere around Nova Scotia on Saturday morning.

But take a look at the swath of winds associated with this category one. Again, this is where you feel the hurricane force winds at 118 kilometers per hour or stronger. Go inland, go out there and face toward the coastal regions still going to feel weak tropical storm force winds and some of those observations coming in right now at about 28 to 22 kilometers per hour.

So certainly it is weaker than the tropical storm force winds, but the cone here does put it in place to where some of those regions could still feel tropical storm force winds of about 52 kilometers per hour as you work your way north toward the coastline of New England, and, again, eventually making landfall as a tropical storm toward areas around Fundy Bay there in Nova Scotia and eventually should lose its tropical characteristics, becoming just a remnant here as it moves its way toward, say, Newfoundland some time by late Saturday night into Sunday.

And if you're curious, yes, we do get tropical storms and hurricanes in that area, named storms, on the order of, say, one to two per year. We've seen them before, since 1950. And that's the average for you. But when you talk about the average number of hurricanes making landfall in Canada, only about .5. And no major hurricanes of category three or stronger have ever made, since 1950, landfall around that area.

So that's the good news.

But take a look. Here's what's happening in Europe right now. Would have a broad storm system finally working its way out across Eastern Europe and bringing some rainfall around much needed regions in Northern Russia. And to the south, another disturbance here producing a few thunderstorms around the Med Sea, of course. If you have travel plans right now for Eastern Europe, it looks pretty good here.

Call it green a go across the board there, with morning conditions being around Munich pretty nice. But if your travel plans are taking you down toward Southern Italy, around Cicely, a few thunderstorms possible, isolated hail, heavy rainfall and also strong winds associated with a storm system to the south. As one storm ejects, notice high pressure will build. So warm temperatures expected across the southwestern end of Europe. If your travel plans are taking you to Dublin, keep this in mind, some showers in the morning hours, but overall, it should have the yellow conditions, which means moderate delays possible around Dublin here for you on Saturday.

And notice the cool temperatures left in place this afternoon around Eastern Europe, as that storm system has moved out. Temperatures in London of 18 degrees. It's 21 in Paris right now and the current conditions farther south, how about that one?

Take that, 36 degrees around Seville and then Casablanca, temperatures in the upper 20s. But the Saturday forecast looks pretty nice. We'll call it mild. Paris, 23; Glasgow, a couple degrees above average for this time of year, 21 degrees. But if you want the cooler readings, you have that across Eastern Europe. Kiev at 19. And you recall just a couple weeks ago, Eastern Europe into Moscow, temperatures in the 30s and 40s each and every single day, finally getting a little taste of fall in the air in their forecast -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Pedram, thank you very much, indeed, for that.

Now, we're going to look at the markets right now.

We want to look at Wall Street, because there's been some relatively good news on jobs -- better than expected, at least, up 1 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average. So it's been taken in a -- in a pretty positive way.

That U.S. jobs report did help push up the Dow, as we just saw. But it also helped push up the European stock markets.

Let's have a look at them. The data is helping to ease investors' fears, really, about a double dip recession. Those three main indices here in Europe all wrapping up the week more than 1 percent higher. So very positive news in Europe and America, America being the largest economy in the world.

In Asia, most of the major markets did finish higher, as well, before that news came out. But trading was tentative ahead of the jobs report.

Among the gainers over in Asia, South Korea's LG Electronics, Japan's Sony just announced it's expanding a video on demand service in Europe. And that was seen as pretty good news.

This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

I'm Max Foster in London.

"MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST" starts in just a moment.

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