Thursday, March 29, 2012

BBC News - Brics summit of emerging nations to explore bank plan

The main emerging economies have met in the Indian capital, Delhi, to look at ways of strengthening their position against Europe and the United States.
Brics leaders in DelhiLeaders of Brics met in India to discuss closer trade links and a new bank
Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa (the Brics group) are proposing an alternative to the World Bank.
Leaders of the five nations, which now account for nearly 28% of the global economy, discussed closer trade links.
In their joint Delhi Declaration, they also said dialogue was the only route to lasting solutions in Syria and Iran.
The summit was held amid Tibetan protests aimed at China's president.
Hu Jintao joined other Brics leaders for the fourth meeting of the bloc of emerging economies. On Wednesday, a Tibetan activist died in Delhi after setting himself on fire two days earlier in protest at Mr Hu's visit.
Brics nations' share of the global economy has risen fast in recent years and is expected to continue to grow. Correspondents say they are also growing in diplomatic clout.
Closer economic ties
On Thursday, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and Jacob Zuma of South Africa joined Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mr Hu for hand shakes and a group photograph at the start of the one-day meeting.
"The Brics countries have agreed to examine in greater detail a proposal to set up a South-South development bank, funded and managed by the Brics and other developing countries," Mr Singh later said.
The Delhi Declaration expressed concern over the current global economic situation, especially in the euro zone.
It said the Brics nations were ready to work with the international community to ensure that the world economy was taken forward, and Europe was given the necessary assistance so it could help itself.
The meeting also agreed to expand the capital base of the World Bank and other multilateral institutions to ensure global economic stability.
But, Mr Singh said that "institutions of global political and economic governance created more than six decades ago have not kept pace with the changing world" and that developing countries needed access to capital.
The five nations, in their closing statement, voiced concern about slow reforms and called on the International Monetary Fund to make its surveillance framework "more integrated and even-handed".
'Unjust policies'
The countries also resolved "to promote greater interaction among the business communities of Brics nations and easier visa facilities for businessmen".
Mr Singh said the Brics group must speak with one voice on important issues such as reform of the UN Security Council.
President Hu said Brics nations should "enhance co-operation and intensify communication in international trade".
Brazil's Dilma Rousseff said the Brics had become "the most important engines of the world economy in the past few years. Together, we will be responsible for more than half of the foreseen growth for 2012, 56% according to the IMF".
She blamed the developed world for hindering other nations with "unjust" monetary policies.
Correspondents say the joint development bank is expected to be established along the lines of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, offering funding outside the current global financial system.
The Brics leaders also discussed the volatile situation in Syria and Iran and stressed the "vital importance that stability, peace and security of the Middle East and North Africa holds for the international community".
"We call for an immediate end to all violence and violations of human rights" in Syria, the declaration said adding that "the situation concerning Iran cannot be allowed to escalate into conflict, the disastrous consequences of which will be in no one's interest".
The Brics nations have radically different economies and political systems and have often struggled to find common ground in the past.
But, they have been looking at ways to increase their trade links and decrease dependency on Europe and the United States.

Reuters News - Exclusive: West wants Saudi Arabia to keep up oil production

(Reuters) - Oil consuming nations may seek reassurance from Saudi Arabia that it will not cut oil production and neutralize the impact on oil prices if consumer countries release emergency reserves, diplomats and industry sources said.
The issue may be raised by a U.S. delegation, led by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which is in Riyadh this weekend to discuss Syria with Gulf states. Clinton will see Saudi King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.
"If they're going to release reserves they need an assurance from the Saudis that they won't offset it by cutting supply," said one industry source familiar with thinking in Washington.
"There's no doubt the measure needs the cooperation of Saudi Arabia," said a diplomat.
The United States, with Britain and France, is considering a release from emergency stockpiles to cut fuel costs. Other countries including South Korea and Japan may join the plan.
Riyadh would not want deliberately to undermine an effort to bring down oil prices. But it might reduce supplies in response to a release of oil drawn from reserves if that were to displace Saudi supplies, particularly in the United States where the national Strategic Petroleum Reserve would provide the bulk of any drawdown.
Oil prices have risen sharply since the start of the year, at one point breaking $128 a barrel, largely because of sanctions against oil producer Iran aimed at slowing Tehran's nuclear program.
Diplomats have said the sanctions aim to meet Israeli demands for action against Tehran by hitting Iran's oil earnings and to prevent the alternative - a military strike by Israel.
"The view is that higher oil prices are a price worth paying to prevent or push back a war against Iran and higher oil prices can be alleviated by using emergency stocks," said the industry source.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi has said publicly that Riyadh wants to bring down oil prices.
But he has also said that Saudi can do no more than meet demand for its crude, which it is already doing, and that the previous drawdown of oil reserves last June during the Libyan civil war did not work.
"That's up to them," he said to reporters in Doha last week of a possible consumer country release. "What I can tell you is that they have done it before and it didn't do anything. You saw what happened in the last release? Nothing."
The concern among Western diplomats is that oil from strategic stocks could displace Saudi barrels, particularly to the United States where Saudi imports have risen recently, leaving net supplies globally little changed.
Last year after the International Energy Agency tapped reserves at the end of June to fill the gap left by Libya's civil war, Saudi output at first remained high, and then fell.
Reuters estimates put Saudi production at 9.85-9.9 million barrels per day from July to September before falling to just over 9.4 million bpd in October and November. It has since risen steadily back to about 9.9 million bpd now.
(Editing by William Hardy)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

BBC News - Burma to float kyat in April to attract investment

Burma has said it will start a managed float of its currency from 1 April to attract foreign investors.
Aung San Suu Kyi campaigning in February in the southern constituency she hopes to represent in parliamentAung San Suu Kyi will be contesting a parliamentary by-election also on 1 April
The Central Bank of Myanmar (Burma) said the currency, the kyat, will "from now on be determined by supply and demand".
It is aimed at unifying the country's various exchange rates.
Burma has been implementing reforms since a civilian government, albeit one led by former generals, took over from the military last year.
'Eliminate restrictions'
The current official exchange rate pegs one US dollar at 6.41 kyat.
However, analysts said when it is floated, the currency could be valued around 800 kyat to the dollar, which is the current unofficial or black market rate.
Under a managed float system a currency's exchange rate is determined by the market.
At the same time the central bank publishes a daily reference exchange rate to influence the market.
"A key part of this programme is to unify the various exchange rates, and gradually eliminate restrictions on current international payments and transfers abroad," said the Central Bank of Myanmar in a statement to state media.
Opening up?
Resource-rich Burma wants to attract foreign investment to offset the impact of Western sanctions, however the multiple exchange rates have deterred investors in the past.
Burma is rich in gas, timber and precious stones.
Analysts said this was a positive step in dealing with corruption as well.
"It removes many of the difficulties and corruption incentives that have been in place with this dual [currency] system," said Sean Turnell, a Burma expert at the Macquarie University in Sydney.
Key parliamentary by-elections are also being held on 1 April, in which pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be contesting one of the seats.
Several Reforms
Burma's military leaders refused to recognise her National League for Democracy (NLD) party's election victory in 1990.
A total of 48 seats in parliament are being contested in the 1 April vote.
The elections are unique because for the first time the government has allowed foreign election observers, with representatives from the US, EU and Asean due to observe the vote.
The currency move comes after other reforms by the new government.
In recent months it has released hundreds of political prisoners, introduced media freedoms and allowed Ms Suu Kyi to run for a seat in parliament.
KyatThe currency could be valued around 800 kyat to the dollar when it is floated

Reuters News - China allocates $24 billion foreign debt quota to foreign banks

HSBC logos are displayed inside an office tower in Hong Kong February 27, 2012. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
(Reuters) - China has allocated $24 billion in long-term foreign debt quotas to foreign banks for 2012 to allow the lenders to bring more money into the Chinese economy, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said on Thursday.
Among the banks the quota applies to are the China units of HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA.L)(0005.HK), Deutsche Bank Ag (DBKGn.DE), JP Morgan (JPM.N), Citigroup (C.N), Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp and Bank of East Asia (0023.HK), the economic planning agency said.
The six banks are involved in a foreign debt pilot project, the agency said, without specifying the details of the project.
As the Chinese economy shows signs of slower growth, the government is trying to encourage long-term capital inflows. The move is designed to allow foreign banks to play an active role in promoting China's economic growth, NDRC said.
(The story has been corrected to clarifies that the $24 billion quota applies to all foreign banks, not just the six mentioned in story)
(Reporting by Zhou Xin and Lucy Hornby; Editing by Chris Lewis)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

BBC News - OECD urges eurozone rescue fund boost to 1tn euros

The head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has said that the eurozone needs to double its bailout fund to 1 trillion euros ($1.3tn, £836m).
Protests in MadridProtesters against austerity in Madrid - which some fear will need aid from Europe
Angelo Gurria said the eurozone must show investors they have the "firepower and by God... I'm going to use it".
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she would favour only a temporary increase to 700bn euros.
Some fear that the fund could not cope with another bailout.
So far, Greece, Republic of Ireland and Portugal have been bailed out.
Most recently, Greece was granted its second bailout of 130bn euros after passing some harsh austerity measures and forcing bondholders to write off half of its debts.
But - despite some calming of financial markets over the past few months - some still fear that large countries like Spain and Italy will also need to be bailed out.
"The mother of all firewalls should be in place, strong enough, broad enough, deep enough, tall enough," Mr Gurria said.
The Bank of Spain on Tuesday confirmed that the Spanish economy had fallen back into recession. It contracted again in the first quarter of 2012, the central bank said, after shrinking 0.3% in the three months to December.
The recession was blamed on a decline in private spending in January and February - down to levels not seen since 2010.
'Investors more concerned'
Mr Gurria said that the finance ministers of the 17 nations in the euro, who are meeting later this week, should boost the fund, adding that the current commitments are not enough to restore market confidence.
"Europe is stalling," he said. "It needs to get out of first gear and make growth the number one priority.
"It's something that you're telling the markets. 'I've got the firepower and by God if I need to I'm going to use it'. So anybody that is speculating is going to lose their shirt."
The eurozone created the the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) in 2010 to serve as a temporary bailout fund.
Under the EFSF, countries with top credit ratings, who can borrow money cheaply, can then lend it on to countries that are struggling.
A new permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, is due to be established later this year.
Last month, G20 finance ministers also made the same call for eurozone countries to put more money in their rescue fund, as has the International Monetary Fund.
But backing for such a move will need to come from Germany, Europe's largest economy.
The BBC's world economics editor, Andrew Walker, said: "The idea floated by the chancellor involves keeping existing rescue loans outside the new bailout agency that is being established, and so could give the impression that Germany is not putting any more taxpayers money at risk.
"The case for more resources has been underlined in the last few weeks by signs in financial markets that investors are becoming more concerned about Spain as the government there tries to change its borrowing targets."
Spain last month said it would miss a deficit target of 4.4% of output for 2012 agreed with Brussels.
The Bank of Spain has said it expects the economy to shrink 1.5% in 2012 as the government faces a 22% unemployment rate, meaning low income tax revenues and high demand for benefits.
Austerity cuts
The European Commission has predicted that the eurozone economy will contract by 0.3% in 2012 - while the OECD is predicting 0.2% growth for the bloc.
It predicts that Spain and Italy - as well as Greece, Portugal, Belgium, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Slovenia - will all shrink in 2012.
That has led that some economists to say that Spain and Italy will need to do even more in terms of budget cuts than they have already done.
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti are both tackling labour reform - mainly making it easier to hire and fire workers - as their next step.
But many are unhappy with the austerity cuts enacted so far. For example, unions have called a national strike in Spain for Thursday.
Spain on Tuesday paid a higher borrowing rate on 2.6bn euros of six-month debt and the fact that yields on its outstanding debt have trickled higher has worried European officials.
Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, said: "Those countries that simply have no fiscal space or no credibility in the bond markets, they need to stick to their agreed headline targets no matter what - including the programme countries, including the countries under particular market scrutiny."
The OECD urged more work to reform the economies of the eurozone.
The reforms "should tackle weaknesses in product market regulation, labour market institutions, tax systems, and strengthen the single market," the body said.

Reuters News - Consumer confidence wanes, inflation a concern

(Reuters) - Americans were more worried about inflation in March than at any time in the last 10 months and consumer confidence waned in the wake of higher gasoline prices.
Still, data on Tuesday suggested consumers did not feel the economic recovery was losing momentum, and their view of their present situation rose to the highest level since September 2008, the heart of the financial crisis.
A separate report on Tuesday showed U.S. home prices were unchanged in January from December, the first time since July prices have not declined in a sign the battered housing market is slowly stabilizing.
A report from industry group The Conference Board showed the index of consumer attitudes slipped to 70.2 from an upwardly revised 71.6 the month before, roughly in line with economists' forecasts for 70.3.
But expectations for inflation in the coming year jumped to the highest level since May 2011 at 6.3 percent from 5.5 percent.
"The biggest moving part in that scenario has been gasoline prices. So that's certainly on consumers' radar screen - or dashboard as the case might be," said Carl J. Riccadonna, director and senior U.S. economist of global markets research at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York.
Rising gasoline prices have sparked worries that already fragile consumers could start to feel squeezed, putting a dent in the economy. Prices at the pump reached $3.92 a gallon last week.
"At this point, it's enough to certainly slow things down for the consumer," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
"I don't think it's enough to throw us into a recession, but we really haven't seen the full impact yet."
Consumers' expectation for inflation was below the 6.7 percent seen a year ago when similar concerns were taking hold following a massive earthquake in Japan and political turmoil in the Middle East and north Africa.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Monday defended the central bank's policy of very low interest rates, making clear the Fed is in no rush to reverse course after responding aggressively to a deep recession.
"The Fed's not really concerned with 12-month ahead inflation forecasts, they're really interested in a more long-term inflation outlook," said Brown.
The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas was flat in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, beating economists' expectations for a decline of 0.2 percent.
It was the first time the index did not decline since July 2011, when prices were also flat month-over-month. The last time prices increased was April of last year. Average home prices across the country were back to early 2003 levels, the report said.
"We expect prices now to be stable, and perhaps even to nudge a bit higher, over the next few months at least," Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said.
"A sustained recovery in home prices is still a long way off, but stabilization is an essential first step, not least because no-one wants to borrow money to buy a depreciating asset."
Prices have been pressured by a low demand, distressed sales and an overhang of pending foreclosures. The data echoed other recent reports suggesting the housing market is in a fledgling, though weak, recovery.
On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, prices tumbled 0.8 percent in January from December.
Year over year, prices fared a little better with January notching a 3.8 percent decline compared to the year before, in line with expectations and an improvement from December's 4.0 percent drop.
Financial markets saw little reaction to the data as Wall Street stalled near four-year highs.
A separate survey showed U.S. small business confidence rose to its highest level in a year in the first quarter with more firms planning to ramp up hiring as the economy's prospects improved.
Vistage International said its confidence index rose to 105.1 in the first three months of 2012 from 98.8 in the final months of 2011.
(Additional reporting by Ellen Freilich)

Monday, March 26, 2012

BBC News - World leaders: Nuclear terrorism a 'grave threat'

World leaders have called for closer co-operation to tackle the threat of nuclear terrorism at a summit on nuclear security in Seoul.
President Obama, Lee Myung-bak and Dmitry Medvedev at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul on 27 March, 2012President Obama, Lee Myung-bak and Dmitry Medvedev are all attending the summit in Seoul

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said nuclear terrorism remained a "grave threat", while US President Barack Obama said action was key.
Chinese President Hu Jintao urged the group to work together on the issue.
The meeting has so far been dominated by North Korea's plan to launch a rocket next month.
North Korea says the long-range rocket will carry a satellite. The US says any launch would violate UN resolutions and constitute a missile test.
Iran's nuclear programme was also on the minds of the summit participants, with Mr Obama pledging to meet the leaders of Russia and China on the sidelines to work towards a resolution.
'Bad actors'
At the meeting, world leaders are discussing measures to fight the threat of nuclear terrorism, including the protection of nuclear materials and facilities, as well as the prevention of trafficking of nuclear materials.
There are currently no binding international agreements on how to protect nuclear material stored peacefully inside its home country, says the BBC's correspondent in Seoul, Lucy Williamson. An amendment seeking to do that is still unratified after seven years.
Addressing the summit, Mr Obama warned there were still "too many bad actors'' who were threatening to stockpile and use ''dangerous'' nuclear material.
"It would not take much, just a handful or so of these materials, to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people and that's not an exaggeration, that's the reality that we face," he said.
"The security of the world depends on the actions that we take."
Mr Hu called for "an international environment conducive to boosting nuclear security" to be created and Mr Lee called for concrete action to tackle a threat that posed "a grave challenge" to peace.
The summit, attending by almost 60 leaders from around the world, is due to issue a communique later in the day.

Nuclear stockpiles in numbers

  • Russia: 10,000
  • US: 8,500
  • France: 300
  • China: 240
  • UK: 225
  • Pakistan: 90-110
  • India: 80-100
  • Israel: 80
  • North Korea: fewer than 10
Source: Federation of American Scientists

Rocket launch
Meetings on Monday were overshadowed by North Korea's planned launch, scheduled to take place between 12 and 16 April.
Pyongyang says it is intended to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founding leader Kim Il-sung.
On Tuesday North Korea's official KCNA news agency described the ''weather satellite'' it planned to launch as useful for ''the study of weather forecast needed for agriculture and other economic fields''.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, speaking at the summit, called on Pyongyang to cancel the rocket launch, saying that it would violate UN Security Council resolutions.
"As such, the international community strongly urges North Korea to exercise restraint and cancel the launch," he said.
The resolutions were passed after a similar launch in April 2009. Japan is particularly concerned as that rocket was launched over the country three years ago.
The US and Chinese presidents met on Monday on the sidelines of the summit and agreed to co-ordinate their response to any "potential provocation" if Pyongyang went ahead with the launch.
South Korea and the US say North Korea risks further sanctions and isolation if it does not cancel its plans. Seoul has also warned it will shoot down the rocket if it strays over South Korean territory.
Addressing Iran, Mr Obama said on Monday that there was still time to resolve the impasse over its nuclear programme through diplomacy.
"But time is short,'' he warned. ''Iran must act with the seriousness and sense of urgency that this moment demands."
Iran insists there is no military element to its programme but Western powers fear it is constructing nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons map

BBC News - Kenya oil discovery after Tullow Oil drilling

Oil has been discovered in Kenya after exploratory drilling by Anglo-Irish firm Tullow Oil, President Mwai Kibaki has said.
Oil pumpOil pumps could one day become a familiar sight in Kenya if the industry develops
The discovery was made in the country's north-western Turkana region.
Mr Kibaki said it was "the first time Kenya has made such a discovery" and called it a "major breakthrough".
Kenya is a regional business and tourist hub with the largest economy in East Africa, although its relative wealth is not based on mineral riches.
The Kenyan president said Tullow would drill more wells to establish the commercial viability of the oil.
"It is... the beginning of a long journey to make our country an oil producer, which typically takes in excess of three years. We shall be giving the nation more information as the oil exploration process continues," he said.
Tullow Oil, which also struck oil in neighbouring Uganda, said the Kenyan find had exceeded their expectations.
"This is an excellent start to our major exploration campaign in the East African rift basins of Kenya and Ethiopia," said Angus McCoss, the company's exploration director.
He added: "To make a good oil discovery in our first well is beyond our expectations and bodes well for the material programme ahead of us."
Tullow has found oil in, or off the coast of, a number of African countries, including Ghana and Sierra Leone.

BBC News - Spanish new low-cost airline Iberia Express launched

Spain's Iberia has launched a new entry in Europe's competitive market for low-cost airlines.
A model of the new Iberia ExpressA model of the new Iberia Express, which is now taking flights
The new airline, Iberia Express, begins on Sunday with prices starting at 25 euros (£21) for a one-way ticket.
Iberia Express will cover Spanish cities including Madrid and the islands such as Ibiza, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.
The launch comes after Spain's fourth-largest airline Spanair collapsed in January, stranding 20,000 passengers.
Iberia is owned by the same parent company as British Airways.
The low-cost Iberia Express has 500 staff and has a fleet of four Airbus A320 aircraft, according to Iberia Express chief executive Luis Gallego.
"The containment of costs will allow Iberia Express to grow and compete with the low-cost operators," he said.
Labour dispute
The new airline's website is advertising for pilots and cabin crew.
The airline will initially fly to the cities of Vigo, Santiago and Granada, as well as Menorca, Ibiza, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and La Palma.
Later, it will expand to the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Greece, Latvia and the Netherlands, Mr Gallego said.
The airline is also the subject of a labour dispute, with the union representing Iberia's 1,600 pilots fearing it will lead to job losses.
The dispute with the union led to 12 days of work stoppages in December and January to protest the low-cost airline.
Separately, the Spanish government has said it is taking legal action over the collapse of Spanair, saying it could be fined 9m euros.
In 2010, Spanair reported an operating loss of 115m euros.
After Spanair's collapse, Irish rival Ryanair said it was examining opportunities in Spain. "We certainly see it as an opportunity to expand our base," it said.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Reuters News - Obama taps public health expert for World Bank

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Friday nominated a Korean-American known for his work in fighting disease in impoverished countries to lead the World Bank, a job emerging economies are contesting for the first time.
Jim Yong Kim, 52, is president of Dartmouth College, an Ivy League school in New Hampshire, and former director of the Department of HIV/AIDS at the World Health Organization.
Despite the challenge from emerging nations - Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo were also nominated - the United States is expected to maintain its grip on the job, which it has held since the bank was founded after World War Two.
"He's worked from Asia to Africa to the Americas - from capitals to small villages," Obama said. "His personal story exemplifies the great diversity of our country and the fact that anyone can make it as far as he has as long as they're willing to work hard and look out for others."
The choice came as a surprise.
Washington's past picks for the World Bank presidency have had more standing in political circles and Kim's name had not surfaced in several media reports on potential nominees.
Okonjo-Iweala, a respected economist and diplomat, is likely to draw support from many emerging nations that want to see the bank focus more on helping their economies develop and less on traditional poverty-fighting aid. Her backing by Angola, Nigeria and South Africa was a rare example of unity among countries often at loggerheads.
Ocampo's nomination by Brazil also signaled the desire of emerging markets to have a competitive process as they move to try to upend the tradition of always having an American lead the World Bank and a European lead the International Monetary Fund.
The bank's current president, Robert Zoellick, steps down at the end of June.
"You will see more of a debate, an assessment of the merits of the different candidates and the direction of the bank," said Arvind Subramanian, a former IMF official. "It is not a slam dunk. It is not an obvious choice," he said of the U.S. nominee.
Washington, however, retains the largest single voting share at the World Bank and can expect the support of European nations and Japan, the bank's second-largest voting member.
Paul Farmer, a co-founder with Kim of the non-profit Partners in Health, which serves some of the world's poorest countries, said the nominee would bring to the post a real world understanding of poverty and a sense of purpose.
"A lot of people who live in poverty in the world today feel that the World Bank has stalled and needs new vision," Farmer, the chairman of the Department of Global Health at Harvard University, told Reuters in Kigali, Rwanda. "One of his qualities is that boldness of vision."
U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs, who had been put forward for the job by a group of small countries, withdrew and threw his support to Kim. He had cast his uphill candidacy as an effort to break Washington's penchant for political appointments.
A Canadian government source said Canada would back Kim and South Korea, his boyhood home, also signaled its support. But India said it wanted to consult the other so-called BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa - before deciding, and Mexico also said it was keeping an open mind.
The rise of emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil has put pressure on the United States and Europe to throw open the selection process for both the bank and the IMF. Last year, all of the bank's 187 member countries agreed on a transparent, merit-based process.
The World Bank board of member countries has promised to make a decision by the time of the IMF and World Bank semi-annual meetings on April 21.
U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner advocated for Kim's nomination, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, adding that a number of candidates were considered, but not all were interested.
The new World Bank chief will take over at a time when the euro zone's debt crisis is weighing on the global recovery, undercutting demand in the poorer nations that often rely on funding from the bank.
He or she will have to decide how best to deploy resources in a budget-cutting environment in which large bank shareholders, such as the United States, are demanding results, transparency and greater efforts to tackle corruption.
In the end, the choice may come down to political horse trading. Russia has refrained from publicly backing a non-U.S. candidate and has instead called for a greater role for emerging market countries in other top positions at global financial institutions. World Bank board sources have said a deal could arise in which developing and emerging economies win the top post at the bank's private-sector lender.
Kim, who holds both an M.D. and a Ph.D. from Harvard University, led a World Health Organization initiative that is credited with providing access to HIV treatment to millions of people in developing countries.
Dartmouth faculty gave Kim generally high marks, saying he dealt ably with the school's impaired balance sheet in the wake of the financial crisis. However, in February, 105 faculty called on him to do more to combat hazing after a student detailed abusive practices.
Some students faulted Kim for focusing too heavily on post-graduate programs to the detriment of undergraduate studies and using Dartmouth as a platform for higher aspirations.
"From the first year he got here there was a pretty general consensus that he was using Dartmouth as a stepping stone to get to something bigger," said Kurt Prescott, a 21-year-old senior.
(Writing by Lesley Wroughton and Tim Ahmann; Additional reporting by Stella DawsonMark Felsenthal and Glenn Somerville in Washington; Choonsik Yoo in Seoul, Stella Mapenzauswa in Johannesburg, Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Jason McLure in Hanover, New Hampshire, and Graham Holliday in Kigali, Rawanda; Editing by Timothy Ahmann, Leslie Adler, Dan Grebler and Andre Grenon)