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News That Matters
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News That Matters

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News That Matters

JPMorgan sold $1.25bn of 30-year bonds on Thursday, paying historically low interest rates in spite of mounting concerns about banks around the world, the FT says. The bank benefited from plummeting yields on US Treasury bonds,

Barclays Capital is preparing for the sale of more than €1bn worth of German apartments, reports the FT, citing people familiar with the process as saying the bank has held discussions about the sale of the portfolio with private equity buyers,

A draft prospectus prepared for the latest eurozone bail-out instruments includes explicit warnings to investors that the euro could break apart or even cease to be a “lawful currency” entirely, says the FT,

Research in Motion, the Canadian manufacturer of the BlackBerry family of smartphones and the PlayBook tablet, responded to falling profits, product problems and investor disenchantment by cutting its co-chief executives’ salaries to $1 each next year and pledging a “comprehensive review”.

The managing director of the IMF has warned that the global economy faces the prospect of “economic retraction, rising protectionism, isolation and . . . what happened in the 30s [Depression]”, the FT reports,

American politicians on Thursday reached a tentative deal to fund an array of government agencies through September 30 and avert shutting down many of Washington’s operations starting this weekend, reports Reuters. Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye,

Villagers in Southern China kept up the pressure on Chinese authorities in a fourth day of protest despite threats by the local acting mayor to “firmly crackdown” on troublemakers, the FT reports. Wukan’s residents have been protesting for months over a land dispute.

Growth in Asia’s third largest economy looks buoyant from the shores of blighted markets in the west, but India’s ruling-Congress party is firing warning flares from the deck of a listing ship, reports the FT.

Indonesia regained “investment grade” status on Thursday, the first time the emerging democracy was awarded the coveted rating since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the FT reports. Fitch said it was lifting Indonesia’s sovereign credit rating from BB+ to BBB-,

Sentiment among large Japanese manufacturers has turned negative, according to the Bank of Japan’s much-watched Tankan survey and in the central industrial heartland of Chubu it is not hard to understand one major reason why,

The partisans of China’s rise are brandishing a new argument. Not only is China the world’s most prolific exporter, wealthiest sovereign creditor and second-largest economy. It is also on track to be the leading provider of the world’s reserve money – perhaps within a decade, in the estimation of Arvind Subramanian of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. But China’s miracle economy is not quite as miraculous as all that. Indeed, the internationalisation of the renminbi is less a sign of China’s rise than of its internal confusion.
A year has passed since the Arab Spring started. If feels we have been through a lot during the past year, from Arab Spring to Occupy movements, EZ crisis and much more. With protests getting louder by the day, we might just get the Chinese Spring coming up soon. Stratfor on the latest Chinese protests out of Wukan, that could spark something bigger; So why is this one any different? There are several things about this protest that have caught our attention.
Asian stock markets rose Friday on relief over better-than-expected U.S. data, but many investors were cautious as an escalating debt crisis in Europe triggered a sharp selloff in commodities this week amid fears of a demand crunch in 2012. “The recovery has been blunted by the ongoing threat of sovereign downgrades in Europe, which could come at any time,” said Sue Trinh, strategist at RBC capital Markets in Hong Kong. Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average was up 0.4%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was 0.6% higher, South Korea’s Kospi Composite was up 1.2% and India’s Sensex was 1% higher. China’s Shanghai Composite was down 0.3%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 finished the day with a 0.5% gain.

François Hollande, the Socialist opposition candidate and opinion-poll leader, said that if he is elected France’s president in May, he will seek help from the only institution he feels can salvage the euro: the European Central Bank. Speaking in an interview at his campaign’s headquarters in central Paris, Mr. Hollande, 57 years old, said only the ECB has enough credibility and financial firepower to restore investor confidence and unravel the debt crisis that has been roiling the euro zone for two years.

A common currency drove investors to Europe’s outer reaches, then scared them away. The first decade of the euro intertwined the Continent’s financial systems as never before. Banks and investment funds in one euro-using country gorged on the bonds of others, freed of worry about devaluation-prone currencies like the drachma, lira, peseta and escudo. But as the devaluation danger waned, another risk grew, almost unseen by investors: the chance that governments, no longer backed by national central banks, could default.

The number of U.S. workers seeking jobless benefits last week fell to its lowest point since May 2008, a sign that the labor market may finally be gaining strength. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell by 19,000 to 366,000, the government said Thursday. The four-week moving average of claims—which smooths out weekly gyrations in the measure—fell 6,500 to 387,750.

Real-estate prices are falling across much of Asia as government measures to rein in once-booming prices start to bite and the slowing global economy hits export-dependent economies. The slowdown ends years of increases that have driven prices up by 70% or more since the start of 2009 in the hottest markets, spurred by strong economic growth and an influx of investors, many of them foreign, who view Asian real estate as an investment that is relatively immune to the global financial turmoil. Markets such as Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney are all seeing outright price declines, while prices are flat in Seoul. In smaller markets, prices are flat in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. In Japan, land prices are down for the 20th consecutive year.
China is likely to set its export growth target at 10% for next year, the 21st Century Business Herald reported Friday, citing a person familiar with the matter. China’s exports rose 13.8% in November from a year earlier, down from October’s 15.9% rise. From January to November, China’s exports rose 21.1%. The greatly reduced growth target for next year comes amid a sombre global economic outlook as the euro-zone sovereign debt crisis drags on and growth prospects in the U.S. remain weak.

The Reserve Bank of India, facing mounting evidence of slowing growth and risks of a spillover from the crisis in Europe, is widely expected to pause its monetary-tightening campaign on Friday. But the rupee’s slide to record lows and persistent inflation pressures mean that unlike most emerging-markets central banks, the RBI isn’t expected to start cutting interest rates any time soon. “There is a recognition that growth is decelerating much faster than anticipated,” says Subhada Rao, an economist at YES Bank in Mumbai. “But inflation is still hovering above 9% And the weak rupee, because India is a net-importer economy, is adding a lot of pressure on inflation.”
Brent crude futures rose above $104 on Friday on worries about supply disruption after the U.S. Congress approved a bill imposing sanctions against Iran’s central bank, limiting buyers’ ability to pay for oil they buy from the Islamic Republic. Yet gains were capped on fears Europe’s debt crisis would worsen as the region’s leaders struggle to get austerity measures past their respective parliaments. Investors are worried further delays may engulf the world’s growth engines, with signs already emerging of China feeling the heat. Brent crude, which rolled over to February as the prompt month, rose 42 cents to $104.02 a barrel by 0210 GMT, after slipping 65 cents to settle at $103.60 a barrel. U.S. crude rose 6 cents to $93.93 a barrel, after falling $1.08 to settle at $93.87, after reaching a $95.99 session high.

Spot gold rallied 1 percent on Friday as a smooth Spanish bond auction and upbeat U.S. jobs data supported sentiment, but prices were on track for their biggest weekly drop in nearly three months on a year-end flight to cash. Spot gold rallied 1 percent to $1,586.59 and traded at $1,585.15 by 0326 GMT (10:26 p.m. EST), off a 2-1/2-month low of $1,560.36 hit in the previous session. U.S. gold rose 0.6 percent to $1,587.30.

Front-runner Newt Gingrich came under sharp attack from rival Republican presidential candidates on Thursday at the last debate before Iowa launches the U.S. 2012 election season. Gingrich is in a tight race with Ron Paul and Mitt Romney in Iowa less than three weeks before the state’s Republicans decide on January 3 who they want as their presidential candidate. It is anybody’s guess at this stage as to who will win.

Bill Gross’s PIMCO Total Return Fund, the world’s largest bond fund, keeps shrinking as investors look to put their money with some of his competitors. In November, the mutual fund led by Gross saw about $500 million in outflows, bringing its cash outflow over the past 12 months to $17 billion, said Morningstar editorial director Kevin McDevitt. By contrast, November was a banner month for most other taxable bond funds, which took in nearly $10.2 billion in money as a group, according to Morningstar. Over a 12-month period, taxable bonds fund accumulated $105.8 billion in new money.
Citigroup Inc. (C), the third-biggest U.S. bank, will be ordered by regulators to suspend some operations in Japan after a probe revealed compliance violations, according to two people familiar with the matter. Part of the New York-based bank’s retail business will be suspended for 30 days by the Japanese Financial Services Agency, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the matter isn’t yet public. Citigroup’s trading unit will be suspended from selling products tied to interest rates for 10 days and its head, Brian McCappin, may resign, the person said.

Morgan Stanley (MS), the financial firm whose shares have declined 45 percent this year, plans to cut about 1,600 jobs amid an industrywide drop in revenue from investment banking and trading. Reductions will occur in the first quarter of 2012 at all levels of the firm, Mark Lake, a company spokesman, said in an interview today. The figure amounts to about 2.6 percent of the 62,648 employees New York-based Morgan Stanley had at the end of September.

Prime Minister Mario Monti will face a confidence vote in Parliament to speed passage of a 30 billion-euro ($39 billion) emergency budget plan aimed at spurring growth and convincing investors he can cut Europe’s second-biggest debt. The Chamber of Deputies in Rome will begin the debate on the package at 10 a.m. before the confidence vote, which Monti’s government requested to end debate and force lawmakers to vote or risk the fall of the government. A final vote will be held in the lower house at 7:30 p.m., and then the package will pass to the Senate, which is set to give final approval on Dec. 23.
A sudden stop to growth in Brazil. Rising political risk in Russia. A slide in India’s rupee to a record low. A marked slowdown in growth in China. Have big emerging markets had their day? After all, even Goldman Sachs, which coined the BRIC acronym 10 years ago, reckons the quartet’s contribution to global growth is unlikely to rise much further. Not so fast. While all emerging markets face stiff headwinds going into 2012 as the euro zone’s debt crisis drags on, economists firmly expect them to remain the main driver of growth and to lead the world economy back to better times.
The ratings firm Fitch downgraded a cluster of the world’s largest banks Thursday, pointing to trading challenges facing international markets. The banks included Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, as well as Europe’s Barclays, Societe Generale and BNP Paribas. Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Switerzland’s Credit Suisse were also downgraded. It was the third major credit rating agency to downgrade global financial institutions since September.
Foreign banks tapped the Federal Reserve’s dollar-swap facility for $54 billion worth of loans in the week ending Dec. 14, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. That’s considerably up from the $2.3 billion borrowed in the week ending Dec. 7. Last month, the Fed made it cheaper for foreign banks to borrow from the Fed through their own central banks.
The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell back down to 3.94%, a record low set earlier in the fall. Low rates offer a great opportunity for those who can afford to buy or refinance. Still, few people are able to take advantage of them. Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on the 30-year home loan fell from 3.99% the previous week. The average rate of 3.94% is the lowest rate ever, according to data from the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Meanwhile, Germany’s attempt to save the Eurozone was hanging in the balance as Hungary and the Czech Republic claimed it would be damaging and protesters in Warsaw demanded Poland stands firm against Angela Merkel. Amid fresh warnings that Europe is triggering a 1930s-style global depression, the German chancellor faced open rebellion against the key plank of her Brussels accord. The leaders of Hungary and the Czech Republic told a joint conference in Budapest they were ready to reject the planned treaty changes

Britain should have its AAA credit rating before France, according to Christian Noyer, head of the French central bank, as the war of words between the two countries heats up following David Cameron’s EU treaty veto. A downgrade of France’s AAA rating would not be justified and the ratings agencies are making decisions based more on politics than economics, said Christian Noyer, who is a European Central Bank policymaker as well as head of the Banque de France.
Factory bosses are preparing a cut in production in the new year after the eurozone crisis left exports at their weakest in two years, the CBI said today. The lobby group’s industrial trends survey found 32% of manufacturers expected to reduce output over the next three months, compared to 24% of firms who believe that production will rise in the quarter.

Discounts and promotions failed to entice shoppers during November as figures today cast more doubt over high street prospects this Christmas. Sales volumes fell 0.4% from the previous month, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with poor sales of computers, watches, jewellery and carpets. Stripping out fuel, the figures were even worse, down 0.7%.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon says his country is likely to face new “jolts” from the euro zone debt crisis amid rumours it could lose its triple-A credit rating. In a speech to Brazil’s Sao Paulo Federation of Industries, Fillon downplayed the risk of a downgrade, stressing that “what matters is not the judgment on a given day” of rating agencies but “the politically structured and rigorous budgetary trajectory that Europe, that France have decided to adopt”.

Russia has dangled a $US20 billion ($20.24 billion) offer of IMF-run aid for the euro zone, as President Dmitry Medvedev enters his last summit with EU leaders split on energy, Syria and Iran. Russia said it is willing to pump up cash into an emergency euro zone rescue, as the two sides cheweed over European demands for clean elections to replace Medvedev in March. As Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said back in Russia he was “pleased” by Russia’s outburst of protests, Medvedev adviser Arkady Dvorkovich said Moscow was ready to contribute as soon as the IMF calls in its help.
France will fall into a brief recession and the government’s 2012 growth target of 1.0 per cent will be difficult to achieve, the official INSEE statistics agency warned on Thursday. INSEE said it expects France to enter a mild recession in the final quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2012. While timid growth of 0.1 per cent is expected to resume in the second quarter, INSEE analysts said gains of 1.3 per cent in the second half of the year would be needed to generate the 1.0 per cent growth targeted in the government’s last austerity budget.
China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOC) Thursday said the United States should open up its markets more to China while demanding for China’s further opening-up. MOC spokesman Shen Danyang was commenting on an earlier report issued by the U.S. trade representative office, which claimed China’s move toward market liberalization had slowed despite reform commitments it made on joining the World Trade Organization.

China’s industries will remain the most competitive in the global market in 2012, but their strength will be weakened due to the impacts of the global financial crisis, a government think tank report said Monday. According to a blue paper published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), two important factors — stagnant growth in developed economies and pressures on the yuan’s appreciation — will trim down the global competitiveness of Chinese industries in 2012.

The Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) wants to move the nation away from traditional markets to a modern retail distribution system, accounting for 40 percent of the total retail trade by 2020, reported Vietnam News Agency on Friday quoting the MIT as saying. According to MIT, presently the modern retail distribution channels accounts for only 20 percent of the total retail trade, including food, hardware and appliances. The rest was sold at traditional markets. Statistics from the ministry showed that the country now had more than 8,500 traditional markets, 615 supermarkets and 102 commercial centres.

Cambodia’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth this year would be over 6.4 percent although the country had suffered from the worst floods, destroying about 10 percent of the agricultural crops, said Cambodian senior officials and economists. Except agriculture sector, the other three economic supporting pillars–garment industry, tourism industry and real estate sector –remain strong growth. “The 2011 growth is expected to be over 6.4 percent,” said the Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, minister of economy and finance on Dec. 15.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) fell almost 10 percent last month from a year earlier, the first drop in 28 months, as Vice-Premier Li Keqiang called for a boost to domestic consumption on Thursday. Amid the “grim and complicated” global outlook, China needs to strengthen market capacity and growth by encouraging private investment, increasing investment in affordable housing projects and accelerating urbanization, Li said. The vice-premier also called for greater promotion of the service industry, which he said is the largest “employment creator and innovation driver”.

The European Union (EU) will hold on to the euro and will emerge from the crisis stronger, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Thursday. Solving the crisis is “a process that requires determination and perseverance, but I can say with full confidence that it is the will of all EU governments, especially those of the eurozone, to maintain the euro and stability of Europe,” Barroso was quoted by the PAP news agency as saying. “Europe will emerge from this stronger. It always has been like this in the history of European integration: crises were a moment when we wondered how to move on forward,” he said when addressing the two-day event of the 6th edition of European Development Days (EDDs) opened Thursday in Warsaw.
In a much-needed relief to consumers and comfort for the government, which has been battling the price spiral for over 18 months, food inflation slumped to nearly a four-year low at 4.35 per week ended December 3 following a significant fall in prices of wheat and vegetable owing to seasonal factors. Coming a day ahead of the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy review on Friday, the marked moderation in WPI (wholesale price index) food inflation from 6.6 per cent in the previous week has raised hopes of at least a pause, if not an easing, in key rate hikes, as indicated by the apex bank earlier, so as to catalyse investor sentiment and spur industrial growth. The shift in sentiments towards pro-growth measures, however, is despite the fact that the latest WPI data have the cushion of a favourable base — food inflation was at 10.78 per cent in the like week of 2010 — and headline inflation in November still remains unacceptably high at 9.11 per cent.
The industry department has written to all states and select ministries, including finance and environment, to take all required measures for speedy implementation of its ambitious National Manufacturing Policy which was approved by the Cabinet last month. “There is an urgent need to arrest the slowdown in Indian manufacturing and it is important for the policy to be implemented in a time-bound manner,” DIPP secretary P K Chaudhery has written in his letter to his counterparts in departments of revenue and economic affairs and ministries of labour and environment and all state chief secretaries.
Russian industrial-production growth accelerated last month as manufacturing and electricity generation increased. Output rose 3.9 percent in November compared with a year earlier after a 3.6 percent increase a month ago, the State Statistics Service said Thursday in an e-mailed statement. The increase suggests Russia’s economy is accelerating even as Europe’s debt crisis and slower growth in China threaten to damp demand for the country’s exports. Growth may be as much as 4.5 percent this year, up from 4 percent last year, Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Klepach said this week.
The decline in the eurozone’s private sector eased a little this month, but a recession still looks inevitable with the region’s periphery struggling badly, a key business survey showed on Thursday. Markit’s Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which measures the activity of thousands of euro zone companies, rose for a second month in December to 47.9 from 47.0, confounding expectations for a fall to 46.5. But the preliminary reading lingered well below the 50 mark that divides growth and contraction for a fourth month.

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