Embattled Australian carrier Qantas' credit rating was downgraded by Standard & Poor's to "junk" status Friday after the airline issued a shock profit warning and slashed jobs. Qantas on Thursday flagged a half-year loss of up to Aus$300 million (US$271 million) and said it would axe 1,000 jobs as it struggles under the weight of record fuel costs and fierce competition from subsidised rivals. Qantas shares closed 3.74 percent lower at Aus$1.03, having lost more than 10 percent on Thursday. The rating puts Qantas in what is known as "junk" status among professional investors, increasing the cost of financing for the carrier and restricting access for investors that do not put their money in lower rated companies.
By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - America's first black president, Barack Obama, hailed Nelson Mandela on Thursday as a source of personal inspiration whose struggle against racism in South Africa jump-started his own involvement in politics. Speaking in the White House press room shortly after the announcement of Mandela's death, a somber-looking Obama said the 95-year-old former South African president left a legacy of freedom and peace. "I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life. "Like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him," he said.