Monday, 30 April 2012

China manufacturing activity expands for fifth month

China's factories manufacture products ranging from low-cost goods to high-tech gadgets

China's manufacturing activity has expanded for the fifth month in a row, easing concerns about a sharp slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
The official Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) rose to 53.3 in April from 53.1 in March, the statistics bureau said.
China relies heavily on its manufacturing and export sector for growth.
There have been fears that a slowdown in key markets such as the US and Europe might hurt China's economy.
The PMI is a key indicator of manufacturing activity and a reading above 50 shows expansion.
"The message is that Chinese manufacturing is growing, not as fast as in years past but faster than in the fourth quarter last year and enough to achieve the government's growth target for the year," said Dariusz Kowalczyk of Credit Agricole CIB.
'Signs of life'
The concerns of a global slowdown and its impact on China's economy have seen Beijing take steps to ease monetary policy in order to boost growth.
China's central bank has cut the amount of money that banks need to hold in reserves twice in the past few months, to try and stimulate lending in the country.
The move saw Chinese banks extend 1.01tn yuan ($160bn; £100bn) in new loans in March, much more than the forecast of 800bn yuan.
Analysts said the increased availability of credit had started to have a positive impact on the economy.
"There are signs of life in the economy and things should improve, all underpinned by an easing credit climate," said Ren Xianfeng of IHS Global Insight in Beijing.
China has set a target of 7.5% growth for its economy for this year.
Further growth?
Along with fears of a slowdown in the manufacturing and export sector, there have also been concerns about the health of China's property market.
China's robust growth in recent years has seen house prices soar. There had been worries that as growth slows, prices may fall sharply, hurting its economy.
However, so far there have been no signs of that happening.
"China has, thus far, avoided the much-feared hard landing," said IHS Global's Ren Xianfeng.
"Expect no major property meltdown or construction bust. Expect no deflationary spiral or banking crunch."
Analysts said that given the steadiness of the property market, policymakers were likely to continue to ease their policies to boost growth.
Ting Liu of Bank of America-Merrill Lynch forecast that China's economy was likely to grow at an annual rate on 8.5% in the second quarter, up from 8.1% in the first three months of the year.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Get a great mortgage for free!

As mortgage fees soar we do the sums on homeloans with no upfront costs.

The average mortgage arrangement fee is now an eye-watering £1,502, and this has rocketed 25% in the past three years alone, according to Moneyfacts.

Such steep fees are extremely difficult for many borrowers to cope with, because they come at a time when money is usually tight and most of your savings have been put towards a deposit and Stamp Duty. So there is often very little left in the pot.

And while the average fee is £1,502, some can rise as high as £3,000 or even more – a figure that seems a little preposterous. How on earth can it cost a lender that much money to arrange a mortgage, when they are in the business of arranging mortgages? Surely they can do it for less?

In fact, the mortgage 'arrangement fee' comes under a few guises, such as a booking fee, administration fee or completion fee. And just to make the whole thing even more confusing it is sometimes split into two separate fees, one of which is non-refundable if the deal falls through.
But whatever it is called, it is probably best not to think of the mortgage fee as something that literally pays for the costs of arranging a mortgage, because the cost isn't really related to that.

It all adds up
Instead it can help to think of the lender constructing an overall deal using different pricing methods – the interest rate, the arrangement fee, and other costs like valuation and legal fees.

It uses all of these pricing mechanisms to come up with a deal. This means mortgages that cost exactly the same overall could have quite different rate and fee permutations. Let's look at a few examples:

Take the two mortgages below – both two-year fixed rates, one charging 3% interest and the other 3.5%.

They will cost a borrower with a typical £150,000 loan exactly the same over the two-year fixed period – £18,024 – even though the monthly repayments are £40 a month more on the higher rate. The fact that the lower rate deal has an arrangement fee means they balance out overall:
  • Fee-free 2-year fixed rate at 3.5%. Monthly payments are £751 which totals £18,024 over two years
  • 2-year fixed rate at 3% with £960 arrangement fee. Monthly payments are £711 which totals £17,064 over two years, plus fee of £960 totals £18,024.
You could argue that this way of pricing mortgages actually gives borrowers more choice. The two deals above cost exactly the same but different borrowers may prefer one over the other.

If you have a large savings pot but a modest income you might prefer to pay the higher fee and keep your monthly repayments low.

However, if you have spent all your savings on your deposit but have a high income the fee-free mortgage might suit you better.

Why size really matters
The pros and cons of choosing a fee-free deal become even more apparent when you start looking at different levels of borrowing. As a rule of thumb, the more you borrow the less important the arrangement fee is to your overall cost, and the less you borrow the more important the fee becomes.

For example, based on the same two mortgage deals, a borrower with a large £300,000 mortgage is better off going for the lower interest rate and paying the £960 arrangement fee. They would save £936 over the two years.

However, a borrower taking out a small mortgage of £100,000 is £312 better off with the fee-free deal, despite having a higher interest rate and therefore higher monthly repayments.

Even though the two deals cost a typical borrower with a £150,000 the same over two years, high value borrowers (£300,000) do better paying the arrangement fee and bagging the better rate, while those with modest borrowings (£100,000) are better with the fee-free option.

Are lenders profiteering?
By showing that a variety of different mortgage fee options can actually give borrowers more choice, I am not defending lenders' price hikes. It is true that they have been quietly inching up their mortgage fees over the last three years. However the same Moneyfacts research that highlights this trend also shows that mortgage rates have fallen over the same period. Of course, with base rate at an all-time low, they should have done!

The main thing to remember is that while you can't affect what lenders are doing with their rates, you can make sure that you get the best deal for your circumstances. And that may not always be the mortgage with the lowest interest rate, nor will it always be a fee-free mortgage.

Lenders generally levy large arrangement fees on their most attractive interest rates, meaning you pay a premium upfront to bag the cheapest ongoing costs. But if you look carefully there are some hidden gems among fee-free mortgages that give you the best of both worlds.
Below are some of the best low-fee and fee-free mortgages available right now:

Fab fee-free deals

Lovely low-fee (£500 and under) mortgages

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Facebook: Parents 'help children break age limits'

                      Children under the age of 13 are not supposed to have Facebook accounts

Parents are helping their children to set up under-age profiles on social networking site Facebook, Children's Minister Tim Loughton has said.
This meant that children were getting involved in social media at too young an age, he suggested.
He added that parents had a responsibility to monitor youngsters' online activity.
The comments came in a debate on "sexting" - youngsters sending explicit pictures to each other.
Mr Loughton, who has three teenage children, said parents had a responsibility to monitor youngsters online, adding: "Having a Facebook page, you should be at least 13 to do that. That is not legally enforceable.
"We know, and I know from personal experience, the temptations for younger children to set up a Facebook site and get involved with those social media.
"And I also know that in too many cases they do that aided and abetted by parents. So it's not just a question of giving information to parents, it's making sure parents are acting responsibly on behalf of their children too."
When individuals set up Facebook accounts, they are asked to certify that they are 13 or over by entering a date of birth. If the date of birth shows them to be younger they are prevented from continuing.
A Facebook spokeswoman said it set the age limit for setting up accounts to comply with international regulations on children accessing social media.
It also said it applied more stringent protections and security settings for its younger users aged between 13 and 17.
This involves limiting who can see what teenagers post on their accounts to people in their social networks - Facebook friends, friends of friends, and people they have a prior connection with.
"We maintain added protections and security settings for teens (age 13-17) that ensure their timelines and posts don't show up in public search results," Facebook says on its website.
Mr Loughton's comments came as a Labour MP Ann Coffey urged the government and mobile phone companies to do more to combat "sexting" during a Westminster Hall debate.
The Stockport MP said youngsters who sent explicit images to their boyfriends and girlfriends risked having those pictures shown around playgrounds.
She said: "Once taken and sent, the sender loses control of these images and they could end up anywhere from being passed all around school to being viewed and passed on by paedophiles."
'No silver bullet'
She also claimed pornographic pictures willingly uploaded to the internet could be shared with the world without the subject's consent, a practice known as "doxing".
She added: "A key problem is that young people see the texts as harmless fun but they quickly lead to sexualised conversations and grooming.
"Because it is not face-to-face interaction, young people will also behave in a different way without realising the risks they are exposing themselves to until it is too late."
She called on mobile phone firms to pay for advertising campaigns warnings youngsters about the dangers of sexting, and demanded more training for shop workers selling handsets.
Mr Loughton said there was "no silver bullet" to combat the problem, but added: "The concept of peer-to-peer sexting is now really raising its head and can have far-reaching consequences. That needs to be addressed."
He said the government took "very seriously our responsibility to ensure the response in all areas of child protection and safeguarding is as effective as possible".

Sunday, 22 April 2012

US introduces $60 LED light bulb

LED bulbs should last about 100,000 hours - giving them a life of about 20 years

A prize-winning light bulb that lasts for 20 years is going on sale in the US on Sunday - also known as Earth Day.
Made by Dutch electronics giant Philips, the bulb swaps filaments for light-emitting diodes to provide illumination.
Using LEDs endows the light with a long life and a hefty price tag. The first versions are set to cost $60 (£37).
Philips has arranged discounts with shops that will sell the bulb meaning some could buy it for only $20 (£12).
Production ban
The bulb triumphed in the Bright Tomorrow competition run by the US Department of Energy that aimed to find an energy efficient alternative to the 60-watt incandescent light bulb.
The DoE challenged firms to develop a design that gave out a warm light similar to that from an incandescent bulbs but was much more energy efficient.
Philips was the only entrant for the competition and its design underwent 18 months of testing before being declared a winner.
A cheaper and less efficient version of the LED bulb is already sold by Philips in the US and Europe.
LED bulbs face competition from compact fluorescent lights which are almost as energy efficient and cost a lot less.
Sales of more energy efficient bulbs are being aided by official moves to end production of higher wattage incandescent bulbs.
Production of 100 watt bulbs has ceased in the US and Europe. Production of of 60 watt bulbs has been stopped in Europe and is being phased out in the US. From 2014, incandescent bulbs of 40 watts or above will be banned in the US.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Sugar warning for 'healthy' soft drinks

People underestimated the amount of sugar in many so-called 'healthy' soft drinks

People underestimate the amount of sugar in drinks which are perceived to be "healthy", research suggests.
The Glasgow University study asked more than 2,000 people in the UK to estimate how much sugar was in a range of drinks.
While many overestimated the amount in fizzy beverages, they underestimated levels in smoothies and fruit juices.
The research also found soft drinks could be accounting for a large chunk of their recommended calorie intake.
The team asked participants to assess their weekly drinking habits.
Their answers suggested 450 calories a day were being consumed - a quarter of the daily limit for women and a fifth for men.
But it was the lack of awareness about the sugar content of drinks that caused concern.
Risk factor
The participants were asked to guess the number of teaspoons of sugar in a range of popular drinks.
They underestimated it for pure apple juice and orange juice, a caffeinated energy drink and a smoothie by between two and four teaspoons.
And for a pomegranate-based drink, they underestimated the sugar content by nearly 18 teaspoons.
Unsurprisingly, many participants were not taking the calorie content of their soft drinks into account when thinking about their diet.
The team warned that the over-consumption of soft drinks was contributing to obesity and was a major risk factor for conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Lead researcher Professor Naveed Sattar said: "What you drink can be as damaging to the body as what you eat.
"There is no question that consuming too many sugar-sweetened drinks can greatly contribute to obesity.
"Some varieties of drinks such as pure fruit juices and smoothies, which are perceived as 'healthy' options, are also very high in sugar.
"For many people struggling with their weight, reducing their intake of such drinks and replacing with water or diet drinks would be a sensible first target to help them lessen their calorie intake."

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Website offers new cars at 40% off

A website that claims to be able to buy brand new cars at 40% below showroom prices hits the road this week. says it will get the discounts by pooling orders from customers and negotiating bulk discounts with carmakers. It will work as a coupon scheme with customer buying refundable CarRush coupons.

The firm says 80% of car buyers that purchase a new car based on a monthly payment. will work in two ways:

Offering daily/weekly deals

Consumers can purchase a refundable 'CarRush Coupon' (£99 to £199) to secure one of the sites' limited deal with discounts of up to 40%. If finance is approved, then the vehicle is delivered to the customer's door by a franchise dealer complete with the full manufacturer's warranty and servicing available from the local dealer.

Reverse Group Buying

If the vehicles the website has on offer aren't of interest to a car buyer, then they can sign up as a member and specifically request a deal to be constructed for the new car that they want.

When CarRush has enough members wanting that car it will source the vehicles in bulk, at large discounts from its network of main dealers and manufacturer partners and offer the deals exclusively to members.


Backed by car finance comparison website, is the brainchild of Mark Peatey and Nadim Saad. Director and co-founder Peatey said: "The last 12 months has seen a growth of 42% in the amount of new car finance provided to consumers. Since successfully launching several years ago, we have seen austerity increase the use of finance to buy cars because of the increased availability of more flexible low cost finance options.

"Based on this growth and on the back of the mass appeal of voucher and coupon-based websites such as Groupon, we saw as the next step. It removes the need for consumers to shop around for the best car price and then having to shop again for the best finance deal because we combine the best possible deals for both in to one compelling low monthly price.

"CarRush also offers reverse group buying which allows consumers to tell us what car they want and we then source an unbeatable car plus finance deal on the vehicle of their choice."

CarRush said research had found a discount of 10% off the list price almost doubles the number of consumers who would buy a new car in the next three months. The amount of people looking to buy a new car quadruples if the discount off the list price is 30%.

Coupon problems

And CarRush realised there might be problems with the coupon idea. It said: "To avoid the problems that other daily deal websites have suffered, customers are not charged for the CarRush Coupon until they have spoken with our customer services team; their order and stock is confirmed; and they have stated that they want to proceed." also provides discounts on car related products and services such as accessories (sat navs, tyres), servicing and MoT.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Car finance: The basics

Need a new vehicle but don't quite have the necessary funds at the moment? Car loans might have taken much of the popular blame for the credit crunch, but for many of us they are an affordable way to get the wheels we want.
But it pays to do your homework before you head off down the dealership, because the cost of financing a car can vary dramatically according to the method used.

So we have taken a look at the options open to you - and their advantages and drawbacks of each.

Personal loans
The traditional method of funding a car on credit for many people, personal loans offer the opportunity to borrow up to £25k - although more often between £7.5k and £15k.

This is just the sort of sum that many people need for a small house extension, renovation work or - funnily enough - a new car.

Rates can be quite competitive and you will be doing well if you get a loan with an APR of around 6%, but there are also plenty of lenders who will be happy to charge you interest of 16% or more - so use the price comparison sites and shop around if you decide to take this route.

Personal loans fall into two basic categories, secured and unsecured. Unsecured loans usually have a fixed rate so you know exactly what you will repay each month and are paid back over a relatively short period of time.

Secured loans are only available to property owners and can see you losing your home if you default. They generally have longer loan periods with variable interest rates - which can mean they cost you much more in the long run. Think very carefully before signing up for one of these.

Credit cards
In many cases cheap credit cards can give you a better interest rate than a personal loan, with some offering 0% interest for a year and a half in a bid to secure your custom.

So if you are buying a car for £5k, you could pay back £277 per month over the 18 month interest-free period and you have effectively had a free loan.

Of course this only works if you are disciplined and have enough disposable income to set and meet the "repayments" - but if you don't fit those criteria then perhaps you need to reconsider how much you are spending on a vehicle.

Dealer finance
You can sign up for finance through the car dealership itself. This can sometimes be fantastic value if you are buying a new car - with manufacturers seeking to boost sales by offering 0% finance deals for a manageable period of repayments.

But if you're buying a used car, the chances are you'll be offered a less favourable rate than you could get independently. By all means ask about the finance on offer, but keep your eyes open.

It used to just be companies that leased cars, but individuals have been getting in on the act for many years now too.

The principle of car leasing is that a company buys the car and you lease it for a set period of time, paying a monthly fee. It is possible to lease used cars as well as new ones, with the leasing company usually inspecting the vehicle and offering you a deal.

At the end of your lease period you will usually get the opportunity to buy the vehicle outright at a good price - although many leaseholders prefer to get a new vehicle instead.

It might sound like an expensive way to not own a car, but because lease companies buy cars in bulk for a good price - the cost of driving the car can work out favourably against buying new as an individual.

Again, make sure you compare deals and stay realistic about what you can afford.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Facebook buys Instagram photo sharing network for $1bn

Instagram says more than 1 billion photos have been uploaded to it

Facebook has announced it is to buy Instagram - the popular photo-sharing smartphone app.
Facebook is paying $1bn (£629m) in cash and stock for the takeover.
Instagram was only launched in October 2010 - initially just for the iPhone before being offered as an Android app last week.
Facebook's chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to continue to develop Instagram as a separate brand, allowing it to post to rival networks.
The app is free and allows users to apply 17 filters to the pictures they take - changing the colour balance to give the images a different feel - before they are uploaded.
It has proven hugely popular. The firm says that it has more than 30 million users uploading more than 5 million new pictures every day.
Paul Kedrosky, a tech investor and author of the Infectious Greed blog, told the BBC: "I understand Instagram has 13 employees - so at $77m a head that makes it the most expensive business deal in history that I can think of."
'Important milestone'


Pictures were at the heart of Facebook's success; the easy sharing of pictures made it stand out against early rivals.
Today, the social network is the world's largest photo-sharing website.
Combine Instagram's mobile appeal with some careful Facebook integration (without annoying existing users too much), and Mark Zuckerberg could have made a very nifty move.
Facebook will have to tread carefully, though.
Mr Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page: "We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience.
"We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook."
He added: "This is an important milestone for Facebook because it's the first time we've ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don't plan on doing many more of these, if any at all."
Mr Kedrosky said the speed of the deal was unusual.
"I'm told it also came together very quickly, like a lightning strike.
"After launching on Android last week and adding one million users a day, it became obvious that this wasn't just a photo sharing app - it was a competitive social network, and the concern may have been that there would be rival bids.
"That's the only reason to think Facebook would have done this in the quiet period ahead of its flotation."
Instagram's FAQ says it had previously raised $7.5m in funding from three venture capital firms and "a small group of angel investors".
The deal marks the second time in four months that Facebook has taken on staff from another social network.
In December, it announced it was hiring the co-founders of the location-based check-in service Gowalla. The network closed down shortly afterwards.
The moves come ahead of Facebook's planned flotation later this year. The firm reportedly plans to issue $5bn worth of stock on the New York-based Nasdaq exchange in May or June. The deal could value the firm as being worth as much as $100bn.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Cut your mortgage costs

You would be forgiven for thinking that right now your mortgage is the one thing you don't have to worry about. While the cost of everything else is going through the roof, there's every likelihood that your mortgage costs are lower than they have been for years.

However, neglecting your mortgage now would mean missing a golden opportunity to cut your mortgage costs dramatically over the long term.
There are a few things you can do right now to save yourself money in the long run.

1. Fix

While rates are so low - and with the experts predicting they will remain that way for some time to come - it's tempting to stick to a variable rate mortgage and get the lowest rate possible.

However, it's worth bearing in mind that these same predictions mean the price of fixed rate mortgages has fallen too. Nationwide and the Post Office recently joined the rush to cut their fixed rates, and many deals are now below 4%. First Direct, for example, offers borrowers with a 35% deposit a 3.99% rate.

If you can fix for five years then there's every chance that you will find yourself on rock bottom rates when the economy begins to turn a corner and rates start rising again. Of course, there's always the risk that rates will take more than five years to rise again, in which case you will have fund yourself paying over the odds. However, the commentators are not predicting a full five years of economic gloom.

2. Shop around

Mortgage rates have been at long-term lows for such a long time that many people are now sitting on their lender's SVR. In recent weeks, however, those have started to inch up, so it pays to look around.

You can even get rates under 4% for 90% mortgages now, and if you have a more sizeable chunk of equity you can easily pay less than 3%. With some SVRs well over 5% it may be worth the hassle of remortgaging.

3. Overpay

Of course this is easier said than done, and some mortgages don't allow it. However, if you have the flexibility to overpay then this is a golden opportunity. If you can find a way to squeeze a bit more life from your household budget, the savings are remarkable.

If, for example, you have a £100,000 mortgage at 6%, overpaying by £100 a month could save you almost £27,000 and wipe six years off your mortgage. There's little doubt that your mortgage costs £100 less than it did before the credit crunch, so in theory it should be possible to make the most of this opportunity.

4. Plan for change

Overpaying or switching to a fixed rate mortgage have the added benefit that they protect you when interest rates eventually rise again.

You don't have to take either of these approaches, but it's worth avoiding the crime of complacency. At some point in the future interest rates will rise again. While you have time and space to think about it, you need to make a plan for how you will cope.

Where will you find the extra money? Will you need to change mortgages? Should you do it in advance? Will you be able to afford the mortgage at all? Is a more drastic solution worth considering - like moving or bringing in a lodger?

For every mortgage problem there is a solution, it's just that it's hard to find when you leave it to a moment of crisis. So while rates are so low it pays to plan ahead, so you have something in the pipeline for when rates rise again.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Resistance spread 'compromising' fight against malaria

Malaria is spread by mosquitoes

Scientists have found new evidence that resistance to the front-line treatments for malaria is increasing.
They have confirmed that resistant strains of the malaria parasite on the border between Thailand and Burma, 500 miles (800km) away from previous sites.
Researchers say that the rise of resistance means the effort to eliminate malaria is "seriously compromised".
The details have been published in the Lancet medical journal.
For many years now the most effective drugs against malaria have been derived from the Chinese plant,Artemisia annua. It is also known as sweet wormwood.
In 2009 researchers found that the most deadly species of malaria parasites, spread by mosquitoes, were becoming more resistant to these drugs in parts of western Cambodia.
This new data confirms that these Plasmodium falciparum parasites that are infecting patients more than 500 miles away on the border between Thailand and Burma are growing steadily more resistant.
The researchers from the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit measured the time it took the artemisinin drugs to clear parasites from the bloodstreams of more than 3,000 patients. Over the nine years between 2001 and 2010, they found that drugs became less effective and the number of patients showing resistance rose to 20%.
Prof Francois Nosten, who is part of the research team that has carried out the latest work, says the development is very serious.
"It would certainly compromise the idea of eliminating malaria that's for sure and will probably translate into a resurgence of malaria in many places," he said.
'Untreatable malaria'
Another scientist involved with the study is Dr Standwell Nkhoma from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute.
"Spread of drug-resistant malaria parasites within South East Asia and overspill into sub-Saharan Africa, where most malaria deaths occur, would be a public health disaster resulting in millions of deaths."
The scientists cannot tell if the resistance has moved because mosquitoes carrying the resistant parasites have moved to the Burmese border or if it has arisen spontaneously among the population there. Either way the researchers involved say it raises the spectre of untreatable malaria.
"Either the resistance has moved and it will continue to move and will eventually reach Africa. Or if it has emerged, now that artemisinin is the standard therapy worldwide then it means it could emerge anywhere," Prof Nosten told the BBC.
"If we were to lose artemisinin then we don't have any new drugs in the pipeline to replace them. We could be going back 15 years to where cases were very difficult to treat because of the lack of an efficacious drug."
Artemisinin is rarely used on its own, usually being combined with older drugs to help fight the rise of resistance. These artemisinin based combination therapies are now recommended by the World Health Organization as the first-line treatment and have contributed substantially to the recent decline in malaria cases in many regions.
Prof Nosten says the current spread of resistance could be similar to what happened in the 1970s with chloroquine, a drug that was once a front-line treatment against the disease.
"When chloroquine resistance reached Africa in the middle of the 1970s it translated into a large increase in the number of cases and the number of children who died increased dramatically."
In a separate paper published in the journal Science researchers have identified a region of the malaria parasite genome that is linked to resistance to artemisinin.
Dr Tim Anderson, from Texas Biomed who led this study, says that while mapping the geographical spread of resistance can be challenging it may be hugely beneficial.
"If we can identify the genetic determinants of artemisinin resistance we should be able to confirm potential cases of resistance more rapidly. This could be critically important for limiting the further spread of resistance."
According to the World Malaria Report 2011 malaria was responsible for killing an estimated 655,000 people in 2010 - more than one every minute. A majority of these were young children and pregnant women.

The drug artemisinin is derived from the Artemisia annua plant