And the Australian share market looks set to open higher after Wall Street mostly gained following more conciliatory statements by Russia’s president amid the Ukraine crisis and the Federal Reserve chair’s Congressional testimony.


WASHINGTON Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says the US economy is pulling away from its winter freeze, but has warned of risks from the Ukraine crisis and a real estate slowdown.

LONDON The Bank of England is set to leave interest rates at a record low 0.50 per cent, with policymakers keeping the status quo amid Britain’s solid economic recovery, analysts said.

BRUSSELS The European Union and Japan have stressed their common ground on global security issues, highlighted by the Ukraine crisis, promising to step up co operation and seal a massive free trade deal.

NEW YORK The Rupert Murdoch controlled media entertainment group 21st Century Fox says its latest quarterly results were boosted by a widely watched Super Bowl and other sports and cable programming.

NEW YORK Yahoo shares have tumbled on concerns its stake in Alibaba may be worth less than anticipated, following the Chinese online giant’s stock market offering.

NEW YORK US computer giant Hewlett Packard has unveiled an expanded offering of internet “cloud” services, pledging to invest $US1 billion ($A1.1 billion) over the next two years.

MILAN Fiat shares sank more than 11 per cent on Wednesday as investors expressed scepticism over a new business plan to launch Fiat Chrysler Automobiles as a leading global player.

PARIS US giant TripAdvisor is acquiring France’s LaFourchette, an online restaurant booking site with a network of more than 12,000 restaurants in Europe that offers hefty discounts on dining out.

LONDON Britain’s Imperial Tobacco, the maker of Lambert and Butler and Gauloises cigarettes, has posted tumbling half year profits, hit partly by tighter regulation and rising taxation in Russia.

THE HAGUE Leading Dutch coffee supplier D.E Master Blenders is to merge the coffee arm of US food giant Mondelez into a new group to fight for market share in the booming capsule sector, the two firms announced on Wednesday.

E-cigarettes to be licensed as a medicine from 2016 » pan european networks

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UK Electronic cigarettes will be regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the UK from 2016, when the products will be licensed as a medicine after new European tobacco laws come into force.

E cigarettes are designed to replicate smoking behaviour without the use of tobacco. They turn nicotine and other chemicals into a vapour that is inhaled. However, while the UK currently has few restrictions on the use of e cigarettes (despite moves in some countries to ban them), there have been growing concerns about the safety and quality of e cigarettes.

Campaigners have also argued that the growing popularity of e cigarettes could undermine years of anti smoking efforts.

Jeremy Mean of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said We can’t recommend these products because their safety and quality is not assured, and so we will recommend that people don’t use them.

The MHRA had decided not to ban the products entirely but to work towards a position where they are licensed, he said, adding “Smoking is the riskiest thing you can do we want to enable people to cut down and quit we don’t think a ban is a proportionate action.”

The British Medical Association, which has called for stronger regulation of e cigarettes, says health professionals should encourage their patients to use a regulated and licensed nicotine replacement therapy (such as patches or gum) to help quit smoking.

Research suggests around 1.3 million smokers and ex smokers use e cigarettes. Once licensed, they will remain on sale over the counter.