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Financial Focus

EUROZONE finance ministers promised cheaper loans, longer maturities and a more flexible rescue fund to help Greece and other EU debtors in a bid to stop financial contagion engulfing Italy and Spain. They also declined to rule out the possibility of a selective default by Greece to make its debt more sustainable, despite the European Central Bank’s fierce opposition.

AMERICAN President Barack Obama will refuse to sign a temporary extension of the US debt ceiling, urging Republicans and Democrats to put politics aside and concede ground over their demands, and to come to a long-term resolution this month.

FRENCH industrial production bounced back in May well above the expectations of economists, rising 2%. Prices had sunk by 0.5% in April. The official figures, released yesterday, also showed that manufacturing output rose by 1.5% in May.

CHINA’s new loans rose more than estimated in June and money supply grew even after the central bank raised interest rates and reserve requirements to cool growth that’s fuelling inflation.

THE BANK of Japan raised its economic assessment for a second month after companies ramped up production at the fastest pace in more than 50 years. The BoJ policy board left the benchmark-lending rate between 0 and 0.1% at a meeting in Tokyo today, the central bank said in a statement.

MARKETS:

MARKETS collapsed yesterday and through the night under the threat of Eurozone contagion. Asia followed the US and European markets into a steep decline as talks to thrash out a new bailout deal for Greece failed, and Italy’s crisis deepened.

EUROPEAN benchmark indexes are set to fall sharply today, adding to the previous session’s steep sell-off, as investors shun riskier assets on mounting concerns that the euro zone debt crisis is spreading. A stalemate in US talks on spending cuts to tame the US budget deficit is also expected to hurt sentiment.

CURRENCIES:

THE EURO fell to a four-month low against the dollar and a record low against the Swiss franc on Tuesday after new IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the fund is not yet ready to discuss conditions or terms of a second Greek bailout and that Italian economic growth had to improve to restore confidence.

FIVE of the best currency forecasters over the past six quarters predict the dollar’s 12% slide over the past year is coming to an end, as Europe’s deepening debt crisis discourages bets against the world’s reserve currency.

ENERGY:

CRUDE for August delivery slid 0.8% in New York, extending a two-day, 3.6% slump. An Energy Department report tomorrow may show US gasoline supplies rose for the first time in four weeks, according to a Bloomberg News survey of analysts.

COMMODITIES:

COPPER may decline for a third day on concern that Greece’s debt crisis may spread and as the Chinese government moved to cap prices on new-build residential properties. Cotton for December delivery plunged 4.1%, following a 4.4% drop yesterday. Wheat futures slipped 2.5%, while corn also retreated.

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