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Financial Focus

France offered a radical solution Monday for banks to roll over some Greek debt for 30 years as the Greek government fought for political support of its five-year austerity plan to avert bankruptcy.

JAPAN’s retail sales fell at a slower pace than economists estimated in May, adding to signs that the worst of the post-disaster downturn in the world’s third-largest economy may be over. Sales slid 1.3% from a year earlier, the smallest drop since the March 11th earthquake, and much lower than the 2.2% predicted decline.

US HOME prices probably decreased in April, showing the housing market remains an obstacle for the US recovery, economists said before a report today. Property values in 20 cities fell 4% from April 2010, the biggest year-on-year drop since November 2009, according to a survey of 30 economists by Bloomberg News.

BRITAIN and China unveiled deals worth £1.4bn during a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday, including a new agreement between energy group BG Group and Bank of China to help BG expand there.

THE UK GOVERNMENT and unions said talks over public sector pension reforms made progress on Monday but a planned strike by up to 750,000 teachers and civil servants on Thursday will still go ahead.

MARKETS:

EUROPEAN shares are set to rise today, tracking gains on Wall Street and in Asia on continued optimism about France’s agreement to roll over holdings of mature Greek debt.

THE MSCI ASIA Pacific Index jumped overnight after dropping yesterday by the most in more than a week. Equities in the region, however, are still set for the steepest monthly loss in over a year on concern that Europe’s debt crisis will worsen and the global recovery is slowing.

WALL STREET rose on yesterday after three days of losses on the Greek optimism, while technology stocks bounced after a recent sell-off and banks gained after regulators on the weekend said institutions would need to boost capital less than expected.

CURRENCIES:

THE EURO maintained yesterday’s gain against the dollar on optimism creditors will agree to roll over the nation’s debt to forestall the currency union’s first default. The common currency edged up against 10 of its 16 most-actively traded currencies.

ENERGY:

US CRUDE oil futures rose 0.4% to just below $91 a barrel, helped by the euro’s rally that made dollar-priced oil cheaper for European buyers, and on speculation that a US report will show consumer confidence is improving.

COMMODITIES:

THE GSCI INDEX of commodities has dropped 11% since March 31st, which will be its largest quarterly loss since the period ended December 2008. Wheat and crude oil are among the worst performers this quarter. Overnight, gold and copper was slightly firmer, after falling in the previous three sessions. Silver, corn and wheat ended their four-day falls, a downturn that saw silver drop 7.6%.

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