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Financial Focus

THE BANK of England held fire on new policy yesterday, despite the
darkening outlook for the UK economy, deciding against increased
quantitative easing and keeping interest rates the same.

GEORGE OSBORNE will still be Britain’s Chancellor by the next general
election in 2015, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday, in
response to speculation that he would be replaced in a cabinet reshuffle.

THE US will continue to recover through this year and the next, at a mild
pace but well ahead of Europe and the UK, according to a report released
yesterday by the IMF. Growth is forecast to be 2% this year and 2.25%
next, although the IMF warned that the Euro crisis and growing national
debt posed significant risks.

SPAIN passed a key test yesterday by easily selling €3.1bn of debt at
yields well below recent peaks despite investor well-founded doubts that
the ECB would act to help EU economies at its meeting later in the day.

THE ECB welcomed an agreement reached by the Greek government on
new structural reforms and called yesterday for their determined
implementation.

FORMER UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is quitting as international
peace envoy for Syria, frustrated by “finger-pointing” at the United Nations
while the armed rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad becomes
increasingly bloody.

Markets:
YESTERDAY, markets plunged after the ECB said it is not yet ready to help relieve the financial pressure on the troubled
Spanish and Italian governments. Mario Draghi failed to deliver on his pledge to do “whatever it takes” to keep the euro
together, and argued that giving the European Stability Mechanism would be illegal with the ESM’s current structure.
OVERNIGHT, Japan’s Nikkei average fell as ECB chief Mario Draghi disappointed investors by offering no immediate
action to defend the euro, with quarterly losses from Sharp and Sony adding to the gloom.

TODAY, European shares are headed for a steady open after steep declines in the previous session, with investors seen
avoiding strong bets ahead of US jobs numbers that could fuel the case for the US Fed to move again on policy.

Currencies:

THE EURO slid against the yen and the dollar after ECB President Mario Draghi failed to offer sufficient measures to
curb the region’s debt crisis. THE DOLLAR gained against most major counterparts as a report showed initial claims for
unemployment benefits increased last week, which analysts believe may encourage the Fed to boost the sluggish US
economy.

Energy:
BRENT CRUDE inched above $106 a barrel overnight on concerns over supply from the Middle East and the North Sea,
though worries over a slowing global economy capped gains. Fighting in Syria, tensions in Iran, the North Sea
maintenance plan and reduced OPEC daily supply are all coming together to provide support to Brent prices.

Commodities:
GOLD may snap a four-day decline, trimming its worst weekly performance in six, before data that could show employers
in the US didn’t hire enough workers to lower the jobless rate, boosting the chances of more stimulus.

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