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Dec 18, 2012

BBC News | Business December 18, 2012 (GMT -5): World Bank.: raises China growth forecast


World Bank raises China growth forecast

A worker in a factory in China There have been signs of a pick-up in China's manufacturing and export sector

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The World Bank has raised its growth forecast for China, saying stimulus measures and approval of infrastructure projects will help boost growth.
It added that the pick-up in factory output and investment "suggested that China's economy was bottoming out".

The bank said it now expects China's economy to grow by 8.4% in 2013, up from its earlier projection of 8.1%.

A slowdown in China's growth in recent months had prompted policymakers to announce various stimulus measures.

These include two interest rate cuts since June, and the approval of infrastructure projects worth more than $150bn (£94bn).

China's central bank, the People's Bank of China, has also lowered the amount of money that banks need to keep in reserve three times in the past few months in an attempt to boost lending.
"The impact of easing credit conditions and public investment in infrastructure is beginning to show," the bank said in its report.

"The impact is expected to continue to be felt into 2013, as the authorities have accelerated the approval of large projects."

NYT Breaking News (December 18, 2012).: Independent Inquiry Faults State Dept. in Benghazi Attack

BREAKING NEWS Tuesday, December 18, 2012 8:57 PM EST
An independent inquiry into the attack on the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans on Sept. 11 sharply criticized the State Department for a lack of seasoned security personnel and for relying on untested local militias to safeguard the compound, Congressional and State Department officials said Tuesday night.
The investigation into the attacks that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others also faulted State Department officials in Washington for ignoring requests for more guards and safety upgrades and for relying on specific warnings of imminent threats rather than adapting security procedures to a deteriorating security environment.
Finally, the report blamed two major State Department bureaus for failing to coordinate and plan adequate security at the mission and said that a number of officials had shown poor leadership.


NYT | Politics (December 18, 2012).: Boehner Invokes 'Plan B,' Dismissing Obama's Offer

The New York Times

December 18, 2012


 John Boehner winced while talking to a reporter on the way to a closed-door meeting with House Republicans today.

Boehner Invokes 'Plan B,' Dismissing Obama's Offer

The speaker of the House wants to move forward with his plan to increase tax rates only on income over $1 million.
The Caucus

Gunmaker's Sale Is Sign of Altered Debate Since Massacre

Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm, said it would sell the maker of the rifle used in the school shootings as California on Tuesday sought tighter regulations on the sale of ammunition.

More Politics

Supreme Court Gun Ruling Doesn't Block Proposed Controls

A sweeping 2008 decision that struck down parts of the District of Columbia's strict gun-control law appears consistent with many new options being discussed after the Newtown shootings.

In Gun Ownership Statistics, Partisan Divide Is Sharp

Republicans have long been more likely to own guns than Democrats, but the differences among them have become much starker in recent years.

Woman in Petraeus Case Won't Be Charged With Cyberstalking

The woman, Paula Broadwell, sent e-mails to another woman warning her against involvement with David H. Petraeus.
Main Street in Zeeland, Mich. Residents describe themselves as frugal, and say they want a real change in federal spending.

How to Sell a U.S. Tax Increase Back Home: Make Sure to Cut Spending, Too

Many voters oppose higher taxes as a fix-all to the government's problems but say they could stomach a deal that had fair tax increases if it included spending cuts.

The Caucus

Obama Talks to Pro-Gun Senator; White House Sketches Policy Shift

The president speaks with Senator Joe Manchin III, the West Virginia Democrat, as the White House works to develop a comprehensive response to the shootings in Connecticut including active support for ban on assault weapons.

Obama and Biden to Attend National Prayer Service

The National Prayer Service is a tradition that dates back to the presidency of George Washington, but it has not always been held at the Washington National Cathedral.

In Shooting Aftermath, Axelrod Says Focus Should Also Be on Video Games

While much of Washington has focused on what to do about guns in the aftermath of the schoolhouse slaughter in Connecticut, at least one adviser to President Obama also wants the country to think about what to do about violent video games.

Debt Reckoning

Without Action on Farm Bill, 'Dairy Cliff' Awaits

Unless Congress passes a farm bill or votes to extend the current law, which expired last September, the dairy industry could be facing a fiscal crisis of its own.

Changes to Price Index Could Affect Seniors

As part of a deal being negotiated by President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner to avert the worst of the year-end tax increases and spending cuts, millions of Americans might see lower Social Security payments in the future.

Standard and Poor's | Credit Matters -Today (December 18, 2018).: The Economy Looms Large For U.S. State And Local Government Credit Quality In 2013 - CreditMatters Today

December 18, 2012

The Economy Looms Large For U.S. State And Local Government Credit Quality In 2013

Financial management is a key variable that we have regularly highlighted as a differentiator of credit quality in the state and local government sector. Since the onset of the Great Recession, we have referred to its importance with more urgency. And while we expect financial management to remain important in 2013, the economy now looms as just as important a credit related factor for the sector. Most governments throughout the sector have already responded, sometimes with considerable fiscal adjustments.

Today's Shrinking Investment Banks Might Leave Stronger Shares And Margins For A Few Giants

The world's big investment banks have traditionally pared back staff in lean times only to expand again once conditions improve. But their continued cost-cutting and deleveraging this time appear much more than a temporary phenomenon. Tougher regulatory requirements for capital and leverage are causing banks to reassess the scale of their capital markets activities. Most investment banks, like Citigroup Inc., have focused on selective downsizing. A few banks, especially UBS AG, are aiming for more transformational cuts.


CreditMatters TV The Economic Outlook Inspires Cautious Optimism For U.S. RMBS Fundamentals

Jeremy Schneider
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services
Standard & Poor's recently published its outlook on RMBS fundamentals. A number of factors including collateral performance and changes in related economic variables drive RMBS performance. In this CreditMatters TV segment, Standard & Poor's Director Jeremy Schneider discusses the recent U.S. RMBS publication that highlights the economic outlook, mortgage collateral performance, and economic variables that influence mortgage collateral performance, and inherently the associated RMBS. The discussion also touches on the effect of changes in the economic outlook and related economic variables on RMBS ratings.

eReport_email_Banner_ midstreamEnergy

Top Stories

Global Issuers

Policy Decisions Are Key To The 2013 Global Credit Outlook

In 2013 policymakers in the world's financial and political centers are likely to have an outsize influence on the capital markets. The actions taken--or not taken--in Frankfurt, London, Brussels, Washington, Beijing, and Tokyo are likely to be central to determining fiscal and monetary policy, economic growth, and credit conditions around the world. The markets themselves, of course, always speak loudly, while policymakers have always had influence.


U.S. Acquirers Are Doing Their Holiday Shopping In Europe

Shoppers often hunt for bargains during the holiday season--this year that includes U.S. strategic buyers and financial sponsors that are looking for deals in Europe. The monthly volume of U.S. mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in Europe has steadily climbed since August 2012. Deal volume is poised to exceed $10 billion for the first time since June 2012, when it reached $14.5 billion. Five of the 10 biggest deals since August have been announced since late November.


Semiconductor Manufacturer STMicroelectronics Downgraded To 'BBB' On Likely Weaker Operating Results

The downgrade primarily reflects our opinion that STMicroelectronics is likely to report significantly lower revenues, operating margins, and free cash flows in 2012 and 2013 than we previously expected. This follows a weakening of its operating results that started in the second half of 2011, which resulted in a slight downward revision of our business risk profile assessment. Nevertheless, we continue to assess ST's business risk profile as "satisfactory."


All Edison Mission Energy And Subs' Ratings Now Rated 'D' On Bankruptcy Filing; Recovery Ratings Unchanged

As expected, Edison Mission Energy (EME) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today, given the inability to generate sufficient cash from a largely merchant portfolio of power plants to pay expenses, financial obligations, and the large capital spending needs for Midwest Generation to meet environmental emissions regulations. The plan is for EME to transition to an entity independent from parent Edison International within about two years with a supportable capital structure and continue its operations as done currently.


IAC/InterActiveCorp. Corporate Credit Rating Raised To 'BB+' From 'BB'

The upgrade is based on IAC/InterActiveCorp.'s operating performance and our expectation that financial policy will remain moderate. Although the proposed debt issuance will raise pro forma debt leverage on a trailing 12 month basis to 1.5x from 0.5x, we do not expect debt leverage to exceed 2x. Our corporate credit rating on IAC reflects that healthy operating performance should continue. It also captures that IAC will continue to maintain low debt, generate solid free cash flow, and maintain "strong" liquidity.


Laclede Group Inc. Rating Outlook Revised To Negative On Potential Financial Impact Of Acquisition

The ratings on Laclede Group Inc. (LG) are currently based on the consolidated business and financial risk profiles of the company and its subsidiaries. Laclede Gas Co., a regulated natural gas distributor contributed about 85% to consolidated EBITDA in fiscal 2012. Laclede Energy Resources, an unregulated gas marketer and the primary unregulated subsidiary of LG, and other smaller units accounted for the remainder. The company's business risk profile benefits from a diverse and stable service area.

Financial Institutions

Ratings On Banco Santander S.A. And Core Subsidiary Banco Espanol de Credito S.A. Unaffected By Absorption Announcement

Banco Santander S.A. intends to absorb its Spain-based "core" subsidiary Banco Español de Crédito S.A. (Banesto). Santander's acquisition of the approximate 10% stake in Banesto that it doesn't already own will not result in a significant change in the group's business and financial profile. Banesto's merger into Santander, which the group indicates will have no effect on capital, aims to achieve higher economies of scale by reducing central services and streamlining the combined branch network of the two banks.


Starz LLC Ratings Unaffected By Sale Speculation

We could take a rating action on Starz if media reports about its search for a buyer after its spin-off from Liberty Media Corp. in the first quarter of 2013 corroborate this. Depending on the nature of the information and the potential buyers, we could either place the ratings on CreditWatch with positive or negative implications. If the business is likely to be sold to a financial buyer, we will place the ratings on CreditWatch with negative implications or lower the rating before the deal's consummation.

DealBook P.M. Edition (December 18, 2012).: White Collar Watch: The Impact of the Latest Insider Trading Convictions

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
The Impact of the Latest Insider Trading Convictions
White Collar Watch: The Impact of the Latest Insider Trading Convictions Peter J. Henning says that the convictions of Anthony Chiasson and Todd Newman in a lucrative insider trading case may well send a message to Matthew Martoma, the former SAC Capital portfolio manager, about the risks he runs if he fights recently filed charges.
    Private Equity Giant to Sell Gunmaker; Cites Massacre Cerberus Capital Management, which owns the maker of the rifle used by Adam Lanza during the shootings in Connecticut, said it did not want to be drawn into the national debate over gun control.
    Deal Professor: Already Criticized, Freeport Deals Raises Questions of Conflicts Stephen M. Davidoff says that the brouhaha over Freeport-McMoran Copper and Gold's recent acquisitions illustrates the sometimes unsatisfying way that corporate law deals with conflicts of interest.
    How Local Tax Rates Affect High-Income Professionals
    Standard Deduction: How Local Tax Rates Affect High-Income Professionals What impact do high state and local taxes have on Wall Street executives and fund managers? Victor Fleischer says that the example of professional athletes offers some insights.
    Jefferies Posts $71.6 Million Profit in 4th Quarter The investment bank said on Tuesday that it earned about $71.6 million in profit for the fourth quarter, up 48 percent from the same time a year ago as its core businesses showed marked improvement.
    Breakingviews: Jefferies' Exceptionalism Antony Currie says that the investment bank has some advantages that its much bigger banking rivals lack - and that does not bode well for Wall Street firms when they report results next month.
    Nielsen to Buy Arbitron for $1.26 Billion Nielsen Holdings has reached a deal to acquire Arbitron, the radio ratings company, for $1.26 billion.
    Economic Reports Data to be released on Wednesday include housing starts for November.
    Corporate Earnings Companies scheduled to report quarterly earnings on Wednesday includes FedEx, General Mills and Bed Bath & Beyond.
    In the United States On Wednesday, a Senate Banking subcommittee will conduct a hearing about consumer credit reports.
    Quotation of the Day
    "It is not our role to take positions, or attempt to shape or influence the gun control policy debate. That is the job of our federal and state legislators."
    Cerberus, on plans to sell its stake in the country's largest gunmaker.
    DealBook Video
    TimesCast: Gun Control After Newtown Andrew Ross Sorkin on the reaction spreading to corporate America. | Representative Carolyn McCarthy on legislative possibilities. | Is the N.R.A. still a potent political force?


MarketWatch | Wall Street at Close Report (December 18, 2012).: Stocks lifted by hopes of fiscal-cliff deal White House spokesman: ‘We’re close’ to a budget deal

By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch 

NEW YORK (MarketWatch)U.S. stocks extended gains into a second session Tuesday, rising on signs of progress on Capitol Hill in reaching an accord to avoid steep spending cuts and tax increases next year. 

“We’re seeing negotiations continue. Eventually they will come up with a deal, as I don’t think the sides are that far apart,” said David Kelly, chief market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds. 

Equities have risen on increased odds that the uncertainty presented by the so-called fiscal cliff would soon end, taking one of the risks to the economic forecast off the table, Kelly said. 

“Politicians can argue about the minutiae of exactly which spending gets cut and which taxes go up, which is important, but the biggest tax being levied on the American people right now is the uncertainty tax, and President Obama and House Republicans now have the opportunity to lower it considerably,” Kelly said. 

Stocks rose to session highs after House Republicans held a news conference to say they would continue to negotiate while working on an alternative plan that would include tax hikes for Americans making more than $1 million a year. See: Republicans ready ‘Plan B’ tax bill in cliff talks. 
Tallying another triple-digit rise, its first such two-day streak since July, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA +0.87% finished at 13,350.96, up 115.57 points, or 0.9%. 

The S&P 500 Index SPX +1.15% gained 16.43 points, or 1.2%, to 1,446.79, with technology and energy leading gains among its 10 industry sectors.

Outlook 2013: Predictions for tech How important will mobile be in 2013 and how will struggling tech companies try to compete? MarketWatch's Therese Poletti and Dan Gallagher discuss predictions for the tech industry in 2013. 

“In my humble opinion, there would have to be a ‘grand bargain’ for the S&P to take out 1,474 resistance. Kicking the can down the road on many issues would make the market ripe for a ‘sell on the news’ day if we are near the 1,474 high on the S&P,” emailed Elliot Spar, market strategist at Stifel Nicolaus. 

The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP +1.46% gained 43.93 points, or 1.5%, to 3,054.53.
For every stock that declined almost three gained on the New York Stock Exchange, where 821 million shares traded. Composite volume topped 4.1 billion. 

Hopes for a budget deal were lifted after President Barack Obama reportedly cut his tax-revenue demand to start tax-rate hikes at $400,000 in income instead of $250,000. See: Where Obama and Boehner have backed down in fiscal-cliff talks. 

Reuters Enlarge Image
House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama.
Wall Street continued its trend of bypassing economic reports to fixate on the fiscal cliff. 

“Between the horrible tragedy in Connecticut last week and Christmas coming up next week, people don’t have a lot of time for economic numbers,” said Kelly, who added that whatever attention remains “is being soaked up by this fiscal-cliff debate.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. DKS +1.69% has suspended sales of modern sporting rifles around the country after 26 people, mostly children, were shot to death at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., four days ago.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index in December rose to the highest level in more than six years. See: Home-builder confidence highest since 2006. 
The housing data are significant, since the majority of spending is done by homeowners, creating a wealth effect, according to Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives with the Schwab Center for Financial Research. 

“They may not have new cash in their pocket, but they feel wealthier,” said Frederick. “The economy is more solid than anyone realizes, and housing is part of why the market has held up so well despite the fact we don’t have the fiscal cliff resolved yet.” 

Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @MWKateGibson.

BIV | Today's Business News (December 18, 2012).: Shell stops gas exploration in newly protected Klappan, lands consolation deal

Mining and Energy

Shell stops gas exploration in
newly protected Klappan, lands consolation deal

As part of a three-way agreement, Shell Canada Ltd. has agreed to withdraw plans to explore for ... READ MORE

Economy and Finance


Kelowna second-fastest growing number of households in Canada

Kelowna is Canada’s second-fastest growing city in terms of number of households, according to Canadian ... READ MORE



New airfare advertising rules ban hidden taxes and charges

What you see will be what you get under a new framework for airfare advertising, announced ... READ MORE

More News...


B.C. man fined $700,000 for fraud

DotNetNuke acquires Australian website and software developer

Hospitalized diabetes patient sues local acupuncturist for alleged negligence

Money Show Investors Daily Alert (December 18, 2012).: Canada Still Has Solid Energy Stocks

Investors Daily Alert

The Daily Guru

Jim Jubak on

Today's Top Pros' Top Picks

Today's Gurus' Views & Strategies

Today's Charts in Play
Ride the Retail Wave, Tom Aspray Exclusive Interviews

Ideas from Around the World

Today's Featured Videos & Exclusive Interviews

ADVFN III Evening Euro Markets Bulletin (December 18, 2012).

ADVFN III Evening Euro Markets Bulletin
Daily world financial news

London Market Report
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London close: FTSE 100 finishes strongly on 'fiscal cliff' optimism
Market Movers
  • techMARK 2,120.84 +0.62%
  • FTSE 100 5,935.90 +0.40%
  • FTSE 250 12,293.25 +0.61%
- US budget negotiations lift hopes
- G4S up on renewed confidence
- FTSE 250 at all-time high

UK markets finished with strong gains on Tuesday afternoon as 'fiscal cliff' hopes spurred investors' appetites for riskier assets, such as mining stocks.

The second-tier FTSE 250 index was trading at a record high today, while Frankfurt's DAX was close to its best levels since 2008. However, as financial sales trader Toby Morris from CMC Markets pointed out this afternoon, "the FTSE 100 has once again underperformed finding progress above its recent highs somewhat problematic".

Eyes were kept firmly on budget negotiations Stateside today after President Barack Obama last night proposed raising taxes for those that earn over $400,000, a higher threshold than the $250,000 annual salary he had previously targeted.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner said that he is working on a "plan B" to "protect as many American taxpayers as we can". Under his new plan, tax increases will only be imposed on those earning over $1m a year.

"Markets feel that after days of slow progress, we are finally seeing a step-up in the pace of budget negotiations," said market strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital.

"Much work remains for US lawmakers however, who will have to endorse proposals but the last two days provides the market with a degree of confidence that we are seeing some constructive dialogue in Washington."

Economic news elsewhere was thin on the ground today, with Spanish and Greek bond auctions going smoothly and UK consumer price inflation staying unchanged at 2.7% in November.
FTSE 100: G4S and the miners provide a boost

Security solutions group G4S was a high riser after the Department of Work and Pensions confirmed that it was among six companies on its list of potential bidders for welfare-benefit call-centre contracts worth £150m over four years. Seymour Pierce analyst Caroline de la Soujeole said that this "puts to bed any idea that the government is having cold feet on outsourcing following G4S's Olympic problems". Other potential bidders include Serco and Capita. The stock was upgraded this morning by Panmure Gordon from 'hold' to 'buy'.

Mining stocks were performing well today, tracking commodities prices higher on hopes that the US economy can avert the 'fiscal cliff'. Vedanta, EVRAZ and Rio Tinto were among the best performers. However, Kazakhmys was bucking the red after Deutsche Bank downgraded its rating on the stock to 'hold' and cut its target from 1,066p to 746p.

Temporary power and temperature control group Aggreko rose, shrugging off a downgrade by Espirito Santo (to 'neutral') and several target cuts from other brokers (including JP Morgan Cazenove, Morgan Stanley and UBS), as it attempts to rebound after yesterday's steep falls. The stock finished yesterday's session down 22% after warning that revenues in 2013 would likely be lower than this year. The shares rose just 2% today.

Oilfield services giant Petrofac was lower despite reiterating its target of achieving net profit growth of at least 15% this year, saying that operations continue to perform in line with expectations.

Whitbread gained after saying that it has raised £51.04m from the sale and leaseback of seven Premier Inns and joint-site restaurants. The price represents a profit over book value of £19.6m.

Engineering group Rolls-Royce rose after signing a $1bn contract, at list prices, with Japan's Skymark Airlines for Trent 900 engines to power six Airbus A380 aircraft.
FTSE 250: New World surges on coal demand hopes

Central Europe-focused hard coal and coke producer New World Resources jumped after the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that coal will come close to surpassing oil as the world's top energy source by 2017.

Despite the upbeat outlook for coal, oil stocks were in demand as crude prices. Heritage Oil and Essar Energy were making gains, with the former lifted after saying that it has acquired 1.9m shares in Toronto-listed peer PetroFrontier, taking its stake to nearly 20%.

Insurance groups Hiscox and Catlin were lower after revealing their estimates for the impact of Superstorm Sandy. Hiscox estimates net claims of around £90m, while Catlin predicts Sandy-related losses of $200m. Sector peer Beazley, which last week estimated its losses at $90m, was also lower today.

Support services and construction group Interserve gained after acquiring Advantage Healthcare from Rutland Partners and management for a cash consideration of £26.5m.

Egyptian gold miner Centamin continued to rise after saying yesterday that gold exports had resumed at its flagship Sukari mine. Investors are now waiting for mining operations to restart at the project following last week's suspension.

FTSE 100 - Risers
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,568.00p +2.82%
G4S (GFS) 257.00p +2.68%
Pearson (PSON) 1,205.00p +2.55%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,143.00p +2.51%
Carnival (CCL) 2,532.00p +2.47%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,704.00p +2.40%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 880.00p +2.39%
BAE Systems (BA.) 346.00p +2.22%
Capita (CPI) 771.50p +2.19%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,894.50p +2.05%

FTSE 100 - Fallers
Vodafone Group (VOD) 156.25p -1.23%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,661.00p -1.13%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 6,150.00p -1.13%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 694.00p -0.72%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 699.50p -0.71%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 777.00p -0.70%
Rexam (REX) 440.00p -0.61%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,176.00p -0.56%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 762.00p -0.52%
Wolseley (WOS) 2,796.00p -0.46%

FTSE 250 - Risers
New World Resources A Shares (NWR) 290.00p +10.02%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 410.90p +7.14%
FirstGroup (FGP) 200.70p +5.30%
Heritage Oil (HOIL) 185.60p +5.16%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 81.15p +4.71%
IP Group (IPO) 111.00p +4.23%
Shanks Group (SKS) 85.25p +3.40%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 425.40p +3.25%
Electrocomponents (ECM) 231.00p +3.17%
Afren (AFR) 131.60p +3.05%

FTSE 250 - Fallers
Renishaw (RSW) 1,860.00p -2.77%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 388.30p -2.56%
Ruspetro (RPO) 76.70p -2.11%
NMC Health (NMC) 175.00p -1.96%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 105.90p -1.94%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 491.30p -1.94%
Synthomer (SYNT) 182.50p -1.72%
Catlin Group Ltd. (CGL) 489.10p -1.63%
BH Macro Ltd. EUR Shares (BHME) € 18.95 -1.30%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 3,001.00p -1.28%

Europe Market Report
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Europe midday: Stocks steady ahead of US data
-Stock rose as US fiscal cliff fears diminished
-Core country bond yields increased slightly as haven demand receded
-Spanish banks´ bad loan ratio rose to 11.23 per cent for October
-Riksbank lowered benchmark policy rate
-Greek and Spanish bill auctions went off without a hitch

FTSE-100: 0.39%
Dax-30: 0.40%
Cac-40: -0.05%
FTSE Mibtel 30: 0.34%
Ibex 35: 0.82%
Stoxx 600: 0.3o%

The largest European equity benchmarks were still registering small gains by the midday mark following news overnight of concessions by US President Barack Obama on the fiscal front.

Worth noting – perhaps – there was some market chatter regarding pressure on core European bond yields, while on the periphery long-term interest rates were down a tad. The former seemed to be a result of diminished haven bids.

Acting as a backdrop, Sweden´s central bank opted on Tuesday to lower its benchmark policy rate by 25 basis points, to 1%, as expected.

Not to be missed, Spanish banks´ bad loan ratio rose to 11.23% in October, after a reading of 10.71% for the previous month.

Both the Greek and Spanish bill auctions went off without a hitch.

News that Chinese officials had again set a 7.5% target for their economy´s rate of expansion (in 2013), at their annual central economic work conference, buoyed mining and basic resource stocks.

Renault to ´near-shore´ to Algeria
French automaker Renault was on Wednesday expected to sign an agreement to build its first factory in Algeria.

Gulf carrier Etihad Airways will purchase a 70% stake in Air Berlin's frequent-flyer programme as the German airline seeks to cut costs and pay down debt, Reuters reported.

The largest rises on the Stoxx 600 are now to be seen in the following industrial groups: Basic resources (1.05%), Technology (0.65%) and Banks (0.57%).

Ireland´s economy grew more or less as was expected

Irish third quarter gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at a 0.2% quarter-on-quarter pace (Consensus: 0.7%). That disparity, however, was made up by an upwards revision to the prior month´s reading.

Italy´s current account deficit improved to €245m in October after a reading of €2.6bn for the previous month. Moderate rise in crude futures

The euro/dollar was edging higher by 0.20% to the 1.3186 dollar mark.

Front month Brent crude futures were rising by 0.536 dollars, to the 108.26 dollar per barrel mark on the ICE.

US Market Report
US open: Homebuilder confidence back at levels from 2006
-Home builder confidence at 2006 levels
-Several M and A transactions in the news
-Single currency moving higher

Dow Jones Industrials: 0.42%
Nasdaq Comp.: 0.84%
S&P 500: 0.60%

The main US equity benchmarks are now registering moderate gains. That following yesterday´s late surge higher and as investors wait for Republicans´ reaction to Obama´s concessions yesterday.

Coca Cola Enterprises has guided higher on its 2012 earnings per share while the broker Jefferies latest quarterly results have come in well ahead of forecasts.

Samsung has cancelled its lawsuits on patent infringement claims against Apple in Europe.

The technology manufacturer may also benefit from positive comments out of analysts at bank of America who were telling clients that the selling may be oversold.

ConocoPhillips is to sell one of its units to Pertamina for $1.75bn.

Wells Fargo has bought a 35% stake in hedge-fund firm Rock Creek Group.

Nielsen will acquire Arbitron for $1.2bn.

American International Group has raised $6.45bn from the sale of its remaining stake in AIA Group via a Hong Kong listing, pricing shares in the top half of the range.

Oilfield services outfit Baker Hughes has warned that its fourth-quarter profit margin and sales will be lower than expected because of weaker North American onshore activity.
Home builder confidence back at April 2006 levels
The NAHB home builders´ confidence index for the month of December increased to 47 points after a reading of 45 points in the month before (down from a preliminary reading of 46).

The US third quarter current account deficit decreased to 107.5bn dollars, after a reading of 118.1bn dollars for the previous quarter (Consensus: 103bn dollars).

Same store weekly retail chain sales grew by 4.3% according to the latest ICSC survey data.

Month to date same-store retail sales have fallen by 0.2% according to Redbook.
Moderate rise in crude futures

Front month West Texas crude futures rose by 0.60% to the 87.70 dollar per barrel on the NYMEX.

10 year US Treasury yields are now rising by 2 basis points, at 1.78%.

S&P 500 - Risers
Apollo Group Inc. (APOL) $22.18 +5.07%
Seagate Technology Plc (STX) $29.18 +4.03%
Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) $42.04 +3.44%
Stanley Black & Decker Inc. (SWK) $74.58 +3.37%
Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (PXD) $107.87 +3.21%
Tenet Healthcare Corp. (THC) $32.15 +3.13%
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (CLF) $34.98 +3.11%
Ryder System Inc. (R) $50.32 +3.07%
Fossil Inc. (FOSL) $93.88 +3.06%
Parker-Hannifin Corp. (PH) $86.14 +3.05%

S&P 500 - Fallers
Limited Brands Inc. (LTD) $48.68 -5.37%
Lorillard Inc. (LO) $115.70 -2.59%
Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) $41.94 -2.19%
General Electric Co. (GE) $21.51 -1.89%
Altria Group Inc. (MO) $32.46 -1.61%
Paychex Inc. (PAYX) $33.38 -1.59%
Sprint Nextel Corporation (S) $5.47 -1.53%
Dean Foods Co. (DF) $16.38 -1.50%
Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) $15.20 -1.39%
Philip Morris International Inc. (PM) $86.23 -1.33%

Dow Jones I.A - Risers
Bank of America Corp. (BAC) $11.15 +1.41%
United Technologies Corp. (UTX) $81.09 +1.38%
Alcoa Inc. (AA) $8.87 +1.37%
Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) $90.78 +1.27%
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) $27.38 +1.05%
American Express Co. (AXP) $57.86 +1.03%
Intel Corp. (INTC) $20.74 +0.83%
Pfizer Inc. (PFE) $25.56 +0.81%
Chevron Corp. (CVX) $109.52 +0.77%
E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. (DD) $44.94 +0.68%

Dow Jones I.A - Fallers
General Electric Co. (GE) $21.51 -1.89%
Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) $43.78 -0.77%
Home Depot Inc. (HD) $62.94 -0.58%
Coca-Cola Co. (KO) $37.34 -0.43%
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) $70.64 -0.42%
Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) $69.70 -0.33%
Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) $14.17 -0.28%
Mondelez International Inc. (MDLZ) $26.00 -0.21%
Boeing Co. (BA) $74.60 -0.07%
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) $69.19 -0.01%

Nasdaq 100 - Risers
Apollo Group Inc. (APOL) $22.18 +5.07%
Seagate Technology Plc (STX) $29.18 +4.03%
Fossil Inc. (FOSL) $93.88 +3.06%
Broadcom Corp. (BRCM) $33.49 +3.05%
Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (MRVL) $8.56 +2.94%
F5 Networks Inc. (FFIV) $95.28 +2.89%
Dell Inc. (DELL) $10.54 +2.78%
Sandisk Corp. (SNDK) $43.82 +2.70%
Netflix Inc. (NFLX) $97.19 +2.62%
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (GMCR) $39.95 +2.62%

Nasdaq 100 - Fallers
Research in Motion Ltd. (RIMM) $13.52 -2.91%
Paychex Inc. (PAYX) $33.38 -1.59%
Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) $15.20 -1.39%
Flextronics International Ltd. (FLEX) $6.05 -1.30%
Vodafone Group Plc ADS (VOD) $25.44 -0.74%
Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) $54.36 -0.40%
Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISRG) $548.93 -0.38%
Monster Beverage Corp (MNST) $52.60 -0.30%
Ross Stores Inc. (ROST) $54.50 -0.29%
Mondelez International Inc. (MDLZ) $26.00 -0.21%

Broker Tips
Broker tips: Burberry, G4S, Cairn Energy
Following last week's Burberry management roadshow in New York, Credit Suisse has maintained its 'outperform' rating and 1,430p target for the luxury brand group.

The broker said that the meeting "reinforced our belief that Burberry's brand elevation and leading digital media story remains intact".

Panmure Gordon has upgraded its rating for security solutions group G4S from 'hold' to 'buy', saying that the stock could rebound following recent underperformance.

"We think there is scope for the shares to recover back to its pre-Olympic peak, and do not subscribe to the view that the UK Government outsourcing market is firmly shut for the company," the broker said.

"As the outsourcing sector has continued to re-rate, G4S has stood still presenting an attractive entry point heading into 2013E in our view."

Cairn Energy shares were performing well on Tuesday morning, helped by a ratings upgrade by UBS from 'neutral' to 'buy'.

Following a 12% fall for the shares in 2012 so far, UBS said it sees an "excellent entry point" on a longer-term horizon with downside looking well protected.