The (early) Lunch Wrap | FT Alphaville

The (early) Lunch Wrap

Good morning New York…

FT ALPHAVILLE

A stock exchange crash, in Japan: Paul notes that the first day of dealings in the new-fangled Japan Exchange Group has proved to be un-clever, with stock number 8697 down 9.42 per cent at the close in Japan…

FOMC minutes – hawkish hints, but not really: These minutes are for the meeting at which the Fed announced its switch to a version of the Evans’ Rule. While that change was expected, it wasn’t expected to be made as soon as it ultimately was. Cardiff’s post picks out the most interesting points and slightly despairs about the ongoing confusion around the Fed’s new communication framework. And this is the FT’s take.

Fairytale of New York — in pari passu, anyway: If you thought the Argentine pari passu bond saga had taken the holiday dead period off — then you don’t know the pari passu saga very well. Joseph’s post explains some interesting new developments that squeezed in before the new year.

Operating leases – the old skool of off balance sheet vehicles: They may not sound all that sexy, but they are a great way to get liabilities off balance sheet. Even better, everyone does it, from airlines to clothing stores, so no need to feel like the odd naughty one out. Why then do accounting standard setters want to spoil the parrr-tay by requiring operating leases to come back onto balance sheets, asks Lisa’s post.

NEWS

US clears Google’s core search business: A sweeping antitrust investigation of Google has ended without imposing any sanctions on its core search business, even as the US internet company negotiates more extensive changes to its business practices with regulators in Europe. The settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which ends the first extensive US probe of the search group, was welcomed by supporters who had said the investigation had been motivated mainly by Microsoft and other rivals as a way to limit Google’s rise. (Financial Times)

Chávez battles ‘severe’ lung infection: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is still suffering from a “severe” respiratory infection that has hindered his breathing as he struggles to recover from cancer surgery in Cuba, the government said on Thursday. The 58-year-old socialist leader has not been seen in public nor heard from in more than three weeks. Officials say he is in a delicate condition after his fourth operation in just 18 months for an undisclosed form of cancer in his pelvic area. (Reuters)

Spain draws down state pension fund: The crisis-hit country has been using the Social Security Reserve Fund, which guarantees future payments of pensions, as a buyer of last resort for its government bonds. Official figures show that at least 90 per cent the €65bn has been invested in Spanish debt. (WSJ)

Labour eyes pension grab to fund jobs: Britain’s top earners would face a £1bn tax grab on their pensions contributions to fund a compulsory job scheme for the long-term unemployed, under plans to be set out by Labour on Friday. Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, is proposing in a rare new policy to target the pensions of the rich to pay for the programme that would tackle the “scarring” effect of long-term joblessness. The plan follows his previously proposed £2bn tax on bank bonuses, which would partly fund a youth job scheme. (Financial Times)

BMW beats Mercedes and Toyota in the US: Light auto sales reached their highest level in December since 2007, with BMW emerged the best-selling luxury auto company in the US. It beat Mercedes and Toyota, who came second and third respectively. Across the market US and European carmakers beat estimates for December sales while major Asian automakers missed. (Bloomberg)

Transocean in $1.4bn Gulf settlement: Transocean, the offshore drilling contractor that owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon rig that sank in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, has agreed a $1.4bn settlement with the US Department of Justice to resolve civil and criminal claims against it. The deal is the latest step in the piecemeal resolution of the court cases arising from the disaster, which killed 11 men and caused the world’s largest ever offshore oil spill. However, there are still legal actions outstanding against Transocean and other companies involved, including BP, which had contracted the rig and was in charge of the project to drill the Macondo well. (Financial Times)

Markets: A resurgent dollar hit 2½-year highs against the yen while gold and global equities sold off as investors were unnerved by hawkish talk from US Federal Reserve policy makers. The dollar jumped nearly 1 per cent against the yen, decisively winning the battle of the haven currencies as the change in tone from the Fed was priced in alongside growing government pressure in Tokyo for more dovish policies. Elsewhere, Europe’s stock markets opened weaker with the FTSE Eurofirst 300 index, Frankfurt’s Xetra Dax and London’s FTSE 100 all down 0.1 per cent, leaving global stocks on the FTSE All World index 0.2 per cent lower. (Financial Times)