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Today's Financial Focus

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou pledged success in the struggle to restore budget balance in a speech to the German Industry Federation. Fresh from winning parliamentary backing for a property tax to meet deficit-reduction targets required to avoid default, Papandreou said that Greece will live up to all its commitments and deserves “respect” for its efforts thus far. He noted that from a “huge” primary budget deficit in 2009, Greece would probably see a primary surplus next year.

SPAIN’s central government budget deficit narrowed in the eight months through August, bolstering the nation’s chances of meeting its deficit goal even as regional administrations fall behind their targets. The central government reported a deficit of 2.83% of GDP, compared with 3.28% a year earlier.

Confidence among US consumers stagnated in September near a two-year low as the share of households saying it was difficult to find a job climbed to the highest level in almost three decades. Plunging stock prices and concern the crisis Europe will undermine the global recovery may also be shaking Americans’ resolve, raising the risk that spending will cool during the holiday shopping season.

MARKETS:

US STOCKS advanced for a second day amid speculation that policy makers will be able to prevent the European debt crises from worsening. Shares weathered a late-day selloff following a report that some Eurozone countries are demanding private creditors take bigger write-downs on their Greek bond holdings.

THE FTSE gained strongly yesterday, posting its biggest one-day gain for 16 months, boosted by a rally from commodity stocks and advances by banks on increased hopes that European leaders will take decisive action to alleviate the region’s debt crisis.

ASIAN stocks swung between gains and losses overnight, while US equity futures fell, signalling the S&P 500 Index may halt a three-day rally. The Nikkei average rose, extending gains after a big jump the day before as investors continue to cautiously take heart from Europe’s efforts to resolve its sovereign debt problem.

EUROPEAN shares are expected to fall today, trimming the gains made over the past three sessions as investors look for details on what measures are in the works to contain the Eurozone debt crisis.

CURRENCIES:

The yen strengthened against all 16 most-actively traded counterparts. It has gained 12% in the past three months, the best performer among the 10 currencies tracked by Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes.

ENERGY:

OIL for November delivery fell 1.5% in New York overnight. Crude yesterday jumped 5.3%, the most since May, to settle at a one-week high. The industry-funded American Petroleum Institute said that US gasoline stockpiles rose the most in five weeks.

COMMODITIES:

Three-month copper slipped 3.3% on the London Metal Exchange through the night, after rallying 4.5% yesterday, the most since February 2010. Gold for immediate delivery retreated 0.2%, snapping yesterday’s 1.5% gain. Cash silver slipped 1.6%, having jumped 3.8% yesterday.

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