Barack Obama on Wednesday made his boldest bid so far to win Republican support for a watered down bill to tackle climate change when he said he was lifting some restrictions on US domestic offshore drilling for oil. The move, which, for the first time in more than 20 years, will open up potential sites off the coastlines of Virginia and Florida, was broadly welcomed by the energy sector but criticised by environmental groups.
Germany and France on Wednesday called for an international bank levy as Wolfgang Schäuble, German finance minister, outlined plans to force his country’s banks to pay €1.2bn into an insurance fund to cover future bail-outs, the FT reports. But the countries differed on the details: Berlin wants a bespoke fund without contributions from insurers, while France could include insurers, even hedge funds, and will treat the levy as a tax flowing into government coffers.
Roger Guy, the co-head of Gartmore’s flagship hedge fund, has hit out at the company’s “excessive” internal compliance rules which he blames for the suspension of his partner Guillaume Rambourg earlier this week. Mr Rambourg’s suspension, disclosed on Tuesday, sent shockwaves through the financial community in London and caused Gartmore’s share price to plummet more than 30 per cent in late trading.
EMI has just a few weeks to produce a new plan for its private equity owner to present to investors after the collapse of talks about a £200m distribution deal left the company almost certain not to meet a key bank test of its financial health. An eleventh-hour attempt to sell distribution rights in the Americas to Vivendi’s Universal Music or Sony Music fell apart over concerns about price, timing and whether the sale could be blocked by Citigroup, which lent £3.2bn for Terra Firma’s £4.2bn buy-out of EMI in 2007.
US companies continued to cut jobs in March, dashing hopes that private sector employers would begin hiring for the first time in two years. Private businesses cut 23,000 workers this month versus expectations of gains of 40,000, according to a survey from ADP employer services.The ADP report comes ahead of Friday’s closely watched government non-farm payrolls figures.
The top 400 executives of Credit Suisse will share a jackpot of more than SFr3bn when a special bonus scheme that reached maturity on Wednesday pays out next month. The end of the bank’s five-year performance incentive plan means Brady Dougan, chief executive and the biggest beneficiary, will receive 1.3m shares. Based on Wednesday’s closing share price of SFr54.35, he stands to make SFr70m (€49m) – on top of the SFr19.3m compensation he received for 2009.
Google’s business in China showed signs of unravelling on Wednesday as search problems shook the confidence of advertisers and users, the FT said. Google accused China on Tuesday of blocking searches on its Hong Kong website, and searches out of China continued to be plagued by problems on Wednesday. Advertisers said they had witnessed a slowdown in traffic and would react by switching to other search engines. Beijing has declined to comment on the confusion.
Sony and Toshiba sold factories to Taiwan rivals on Wednesday in a shift by Japanese groups away from electronics manufacturing.The sale of Sony’s Nitra television plant in Slovakia to Hon Hai marks the end of an era as Sony steps back from the activity that made it famous, the FT said. Toshiba said it was selling a plant in Singapore that made small LCDs to AU Optronics of Taiwan, while Sony will sell a similar factory to Kyocera, its Japanese rival.
We’ll have to see this to believe it, but the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Redwood Trust is hoping to launch a $200m RMBS deal.
Redwood, in its own words, is “a financial institution focused on investing in, financing, and managing non-agency residential and commercial real estate loans and securities.” Read more
Citi’s European banks research team has come up with a fresh take on earnings and valuation bubbles across major markets. Analysts led by Ronit Ghose compared the market value of banks to the size of the economies in which they are based – a measure dubbed ”penetration” – and made copious use of bubble charts. FT Alphaville has more. Read more
One view regarding the unexpectedly poor showing at Wednesday’s last ever six-month Long-term refinancing operation (LTRO) by the ECB is that there’s too much liquidity in the eurozone.
Barclays Capital’s Laurent Fransolet emphasizes the point in his take on the financing operation. As he stated on the day (our emphasis): Read more
European credit markets were devoid of momentum today as the upcoming Easter holiday and the impending US jobs report on Friday led to inertia. Investors received an inkling of what to expect from the NFP on Friday, and it wasn’t positive. The ADP survey showed the private sector cutting 23,000 jobs in March, the lowest monthly loss since February 2008. But the figures disappointed the street, which had been expecting a gain of 40,000. The ADP is far from a perfect indicator for the NFP, though it has proved reliable in recent months. The consensus for the NFP is a gain of about 190,000 jobs. A figure well below this could ferment talk of a jobless recovery and raise questions about the strength of the US consumer. On the other hand, it will cement expectations of rock-bottom rates for the foreseeable future.
The Markit iTraxx Europe index widened nearly 1bp to 78.5bp, more or less where it finished last week. It was a similar story with the Markit iTraxx HiVol and Crossover indices, both slightly wider at 118bp and 426bp respectively. Sovereigns continued to underperform, with the Markit SovX Western Europe index 1.5bp wider at 83.5bp, 4.5bp wider than Friday’s close. Read more
The members of FT Alphaville’s private forum, the Long Room, enjoy (and regularly engage in) spirited debate. Here’s a selection of what’s been said and posted just recently:
- Moorad Choudhry argues that it’s going to be a hard year for optimists. Read more
A what-ought problem? An is-ought problem.
Senator Chris Dodd’s gigantic financial reform bill is starting to attract a bit of nerd rage for giving regulators power to regulate — but not the requirement to use it. Read more
Yes, you’ve read that right — Henry Kissinger. Rio Tinto has had rather a bad patch in Beijing, especially since four Rio executives were recently jailed for bribery, but it’s a surprise to see the controversial former US Secretary of State named in connection with company, FT Alphaville said. Read more
If you’re interested in the economics of the Somali pirates (and who isn’t?), FT Alphaville reported on an account of their business model, which was tucked away in an annex to the UN’s latest report on Somalia. Including: “The refined business model guarantees every participant in the operation, if successful, a well-defined percentage or share of the ransom money.” Read more
The ECB’s last ever six-month long-term refinancing operations (LTRO) took place on Wednesday, fetching unexpectedly weak demand, according to the newswires.
As Bloomberg reported: Read more
Live markets commentary from FT.com
As Reuters reported on Wednesday:
The euro zone’s 10 percent jobless rate in February was the highest since August 1998 and in line with market expectations. A month earlier unemployment was at 9.9 percent. The figure pointed to only subdued recovery from the worst economic crisis in decades, with high unemployment curbing consumer spending that is key to reviving economic growth. Sluggish private demand also keeps the lid on price growth. Read more
President Obama will announce on Wednesday his plan to open a vast stretch of the Atlantic coastline to offshore oil and gas drilling, the New York Times reports. The Times noted that much of the proposed area — extending from the north coast of Delaware to central Florida — would be opened to drilling for the first time. The FT’s Energy Source blog discusses the political implications of the move.
Ofcom ruled on Wednesday that British Sky Broadcasting must sell Premier League football and other premium programming to rivals, the FT reports.The satellite broadcaster has bitterly resisted Ofcom’s intervention in its business and is likely to seek to block implementation of Ofcom’s ruling while it prepares a full appeal. The broadcaster criticised the ruling as an “unprecedented and unwarranted intervention”.
A first quarter that started with a bang looked to be finishing with a whimper on Wednesday, the FT’s rolling global markets overview writes. Lingering sovereign debt fears and trepidation before a crucial US labour report encouraged traders to pare risky bets ahead of the Easter weekend. The FTSE All-World index, which had welcomed the first day of the new decade by jumping 1.7 per cent, again faltered in the face of 18-month highs, trading flat but off early lows. Greek debt was again under pressure, though the euro bounced on better economic data out of Germany.
Several scholars, rights activists and journalists working on China and Taiwan issues have reported that their Yahoo e-mail accounts have been hacked into, the FT reports, in the latest internet incident involving China since Google’s decision to stop censoring its Chinese site. According to a cybersecurity report issued by Symantec earlier this week, China has become the world’s largest source of targeted attacks – malicious mails sent in small numbers aimed at gaining access to sensitive data.
. . . After Ireland’s new bad bank rolled out swingeing haircuts on Tuesday for the troubled loans Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland want to offload on to it, that is.
And after financial regulators added tough new capital requirements for both banks. Read more
BSkyB must offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 to its rivals, the British regulator Ofcom has ruled — at a price Ofcom will determine. But, FT Alphaville writes, if you thought that was bad news, think again – shares in BSkyB are the biggest risers in the FTSE 100 at the moment. Read more
A curious — if bitter — row is developing in Poland over the country’s use of its $20.5bn IMF credit line, FT Alphaville writes. The finance ministry wants more of it, while the central bank most certainly doesn’t. Where next for Poland’s recovery? Read more
We’re still very much in loose and liquid times, FT Alphaville writes, but they are evolving; discrepancies are appearing, if you look at three key Libor rates. And it’s very much down to the various monetary policy strategies being operated by central banks. Read more
Ever wondered what it might look like?
Here’s the answer: Read more