By Mike Dolan LONDON (Reuters) - Like so much in the investment world of late, it's what financial markets are not doing right now that is most intriguing. Over the course of the past month, conflicts, superpower standoffs and economic sanctions have flared in Iraq and Syria, Israel and Gaza, Ukraine and Russia. Yet the world's main financial markets have barely blinked. Crude oil prices gyrated briefly on the upsurge in the Iraq/Syria violence but net moves have been slight to non-existent.
By Panarat Thepgumpanat and Kaweewit Kaewjinda BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's junta chief could stay in charge of the country as head of a provisional government until elections are held some time next year, a legal adviser said on Wednesday, outlining details of an interim constitution. The military, under army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, said it acted to restore order after months of political turmoil as protesters tried to topple the government of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The military tore up the old constitution. A provisional charter was endorsed by head of state King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Tuesday, allowing the appointment of a parliament, the National Legislative Assembly, which will nominate a new prime minister.
The ex-general who lost Indonesia's presidential election to Joko Widodo will challenge the result in court, his campaign team said Wednesday, a move that could spell weeks of uncertainty for the country. Widodo, the reform-minded governor of Jakarta seen as a break from the autocratic era of dictator Suharto, was named the winner Tuesday, with results showing he resoundingly defeated his only rival Prabowo Subianto. Before the result was announced in the world's third biggest democracy, Prabowo -- who had also claimed victory in the July 9 vote -- angrily announced he was withdrawing from the election race. He claimed Widodo's side had tampered with the votes during the long counting process.
By Ahmed Rasheed BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Islamic State militants seized four small oilfields when they swept through north Iraq last month and are now selling crude oil and gasoline from them to finance their newly declared "caliphate". Near the northern city of Mosul, the Islamic State has taken over the Najma and Qayara fields, while further south near Tikrit it overran the Himreen and Ajil fields during its two-day sweep through northern Iraq in mid-June. The oilfields in Islamic State hands are modest compared to Iraq's giant fields near Kirkuk and Basra, which are under Kurdish and central government control.
Airlines blocked flights to Israel Wednesday after a Gaza rocket struck near airport runways, as the UN chief urged an end to a conflict that has killed 639 Palestinians and 31 Israelis. As the violence entered its 16th day, neither Israel nor Islamist movement Hamas appeared willing to end hostilities, despite days of diplomatic efforts to coax them into a truce. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on a visit to Tel Aviv, appealed on Tuesday for the bitter rivals to "stop fighting" and "start talking.".
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Shanghai police said they have detained five people in an investigation into a Chinese-based supplier of foreign brands including KFC-parent Yum Brands Inc, McDonald's Corp and coffee chain Starbucks Corp over allegations the firm supplied its clients with stale meat. McDonald's and Yum, along with a number of other global brands, have pulled products off their shelves after it emerged that Shanghai Husi Food, a unit of U.S.-based OSI Group LLC, had supplied expired meat to clients in China as well as Japan. (Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
Chinese reports about a giant inflatable toad have been deleted from the Internet after social media users compared the puffed-up animal to a former Communist Party chief. The installation of a giant inflatable duck in Hong Kong's harbour last year sparked a national craze for oversized blow-up wildlife, with several Chinese cities launching their own imitations. The latest, a 22-metre-high (72-feet) toad, appeared in a Beijing park last weekend, but met with mockery from social media users who compared its appearance to that of former President Jiang Zemin. The website of China's official Xinhua news agency and popular web portal Sina had deleted their reports on the animal -- seen as a symbol of good fortune in traditional Chinese culture -- by Wednesday.
Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling filed a new lawsuit as testimony continued in a probate trial on the validity of a $2 billion deal to sell the NBA team. A mess that began in April when recordings of Sterling making racist comments to his would-be girlfriend led to his being banned from the NBA for life by league commissioner Adam Silver, lingers on -- even as an August 15 deadline approaches to complete the deal, or risk having the offer withdrawn. The league began proceedings to strip ownership from Sterling before he gave wife Shelly the power to make a sales deal. She struck a $2 billion pact with former Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer, only to have Sterling file a lawsuit challenging the validity of the forced sale.
IBM's Watson supercomputer is putting its real-world smarts to work helping US soldiers transition back to civilian lives. Virtual intelligence created by IBM and proven in a victorious run on trivia television game show "Jeopardy" has been woven into a Watson Engagement Advisor application to counsel members of the military and their families how to smartly manage shifting to life after stints in the service. USAA, which provides insurance, investment, retirement and other financial services to members of the US armed forces is fielding what was billed by IBM as the first commercial Watson application.