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Financial Focus

The latest round of polling in Greece shows the country’s pro-bailout
New Democracy party pulling ahead of anti-austerity Syriza shortly before
new elections.

Investment banks globally have increased salaries by 37% in four years
to retain staff and bypass regulation, burdening the sector with higher fixed
costs at a time when profits are under constant pressure.

Shares in bailed-out Spanish lender Bankia are expected to plunge today
as new questions emerge about warnings it received in the run-up to its
share issue last year.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde was hammered by a furious backlash from
Greek politicians and members of the public over the weekend after she
suggested that Greeks should pay their taxes.

GREECE’S public finances could collapse as early as next month, leaving
salaries and pensions unpaid unless a stable government emerges from
the June 17th election, according to Lucas Papademos, the technocrat
prime minister who left office after this month’s inconclusive vote.

THE TECHNOCRATIC government of Mario Monti has made significant
progress towards overhauling Italy’s economy since it came to office last
year, but has not done enough to combat tax evasion and the country’s sizeable black economy, an EU finding to be released
this week has determined.

UK INCOME tax cuts and falling inflation will at last end the long squeeze on households and start to stimulate an economic
recovery, top economists predicted this morning. After five gloomy years, consumers will see disposable incomes stabilise
through 2012 and accelerate next year, Ernst and Young’s Item club believes, creating a “slow and steady recovery on the high

HONG KONG and China shares rose in choppy trade this morning, lifted by strength in Chinese financials and growth-sensitive
sectors, although below-average turnover suggested gains could be short-lived. Helping boost sentiment, surveys on Saturday
showed Greece’s conservatives regaining an opinion poll lead that could allow the formation of a government committed to
keeping the country in the euro zone.

THERE ARE rising fears on Wall Street that retail investors will only retreat further from being active participants in the world’s
biggest stock market after the disappointing debut of Facebook shares. In addition, retail investors have been left with a bitter
taste amid charges that they were not privy to revenue downgrades days before the float, and a perception that Facebook’s
early backers and its banking syndicate were greedy.

THE DOLLAR fell against most of its 16 major counterparts after opinion polls in Greece showed voters warming to parties
supporting the European Union’s bailout, easing concern the country will exit the currency bloc. The 17-nation euro rebounded
from the lowest since July 2010 after data showed trader bets on a decline in the euro reached a record high.

GAMBIA and US-based Camac Energy signed a contract for the exploration and production of offshore oil, state-run media
said, in the West African country’s first agreement of its kind with a foreign company.

SPECULATORS raised bullish bets on commodities before signs of Europe’s deepening debt crisis and slowing Chinese growth
drove prices lower for a fourth consecutive week, the longest slump since September.

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