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Financial Focus

The U.S. federal government’s budget deficit widened to $134bn in August, up from 90.5bn, figures showed yesterday. The deficit for the year to date rose to $1.23 trillion, but this was still $122bn lower than the same point last year. Analysts said the deficit may stop growing as spending cuts and better tax collection took effect.

CHINA shouldn’t buy bonds issued by individual euro-area countries because their leaders and the ECB are in disarray, said Yu Yongding, a former advisor to China’s central bank. “China has to wait to see a clearer road map by euro countries for solving sovereign debt problems, this nation is not a lender of last resort for troubled countries,” he said.

SASOL LTD the world’s largest producer of motor fuel from coal said it’s considering building what it says will be the first gas-to liquids plant in the U.S. The company may build either a 2 or 4 million ton per year plant in Louisiana.

MARKETS:

ASIAN stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index set for its lowest in more than a year, after the Chinese Premier said economies “must put their own houses in order” and not rely on bailouts from China.

THE MSCI Asia Pacific Index earlier swung between gains and losses after French lenders dismissed concerns over their access to funds, easing concerns that Europe’s debt crisis may lead to the freezing of credit markets.

EUROPEAN benchmark indices are expected to fall today, reversing the previous session’s tentative rally from two-year lows following mixed comments from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao about Europe. European stocks ended higher yesterday, staging a late rally from 2009 levels hit in morning trade led by recovering banks, but a sharp rise in Italy’s borrowing costs and simmering fears of a Greek debt default keep gains in check.

CURRENCIES:

THE EURO declined against the dollar and yen on concern that Greece’s debt woes will raise borrowing costs for other countries in the region including Spain, which is due to sell bonds tomorrow. The dollar held a two day slide against Japan’s currency before reports that may show U.S. retail sales growth moderated in August, adding to signs of a slowing economy.

ENERGY:

OIL fell from a six week high as investors speculated that gains this week were exaggerated amid concern that Europe’s debt crisis and the faltering U.S. economic recovery will temper fuel demand. Futures slipped as much as 1.6% after technical indicators signalled the biggest gain in almost a week yesterday may have been excessive.

COMMODITIES:

RUBBER dropped amid speculation that the slowing growth in Asian economies and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis may weaken demand for the commodity used in tires. The February delivery contract dropped as much as 0.7% with futures having earlier gained 0.4%.

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