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Financial Focus

European officials will meet Greek PM Papademos today in an attempt to settle remaining disputes as they close in on a €130bn Greek bailout. Their talks on Greece’s second bailout in two years will aim to reconcile demands made on Greek leaders, a debt swap among private creditors, the role of the ECB and concerns the measures won’t bear fruit.

CHINA and Japan have expressed conditional support for an expansion of the IMF’s resources to help address Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. Senior officials said they were prepared to support the IMF’s “important role” in combating turmoil in the Eurozone, but warned that the Eurozone would need to lift the €500bn cap for its bailout funds if it hoped to persuade non-European Group of 20 nations to increase their funding of the IMF.

JAPAN logged a record trade deficit in January, government data showed today, with exports slumping 9.3% in January from a year earlier, indicating the economy could struggle to recover even as reconstruction from last year’s earthquake and tsunami proceeds.

CHINA’s central bank made a long-awaited move at the weekend to support lending in the country’s slowing economy with a cut to the amount of money banks must hold as reserves by 0.5% from February 24th.

THAILAND’s GDP fell 9% last quarter as the worst floods in almost 70 years disrupted output, putting pressure on policy makers to revive growth. The Thai Prime Minister has pledged to spend 350bn baht ($11bn) on infrastructure and the Bank of Thailand cut the benchmark interest rate for a second straight meeting in January.

HOME sales in the US climbed in January to the highest level since May 2010, adding to evidence the housing market is regaining its footing, economists said reports this week will show.

Markets:
ASIAN shares jumped on higher risk appetite after China eased monetary policy over the weekend and optimism on
Greece securing a second bailout package.

EUROPEAN stock indexes are set to rise today, boosted by China’s move to ease bank lending capacity to combat
slowing growth in the world’s second biggest economy and by mounting hopes that debt-stricken Greece is about to get a
second bailout package.

Currencies:
THE YEN and dollar dropped against most major peers as Asian shares climbed on Chinese measures to sustain
economic growth, curbing demand for refuge assets.

Energy:
IRAN is struggling to find a buyer for nearly a quarter of its annual oil exports as looming western sanctions targeting the
country’s nuclear programme start to bite.

Commodities:
HEDGE FUNDS increased commodity bets to the highest point in almost five months on signs that a rescue plan for
Greece and faster US growth will buoy demand as supplies shrink for everything from soybeans to copper. S&P’s GSCI
Spot Index of 24 commodities reached a six-month high on Friday as euro-area leaders expressed confidence that an
agreement on a Greek bailout can be reached, and US housing and manufacturing data beat analysts’ forecasts, and
claims for jobless benefits dropped to a four-year low.

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