- U.S drought wilts crops as officials pray for rain (Reuters)
- Obama backs aid for drought farmers (FT)
- Greek leaders identify two-thirds of spending cuts (FT)
- Central bankers eyeing whether Libor needs scrapping (Reuters)
- Markets Face a Life Sentence of Hard Libor (WSJ)
- World Bank chief warns no region immune to Europe crisis (Reuters)
- China big four banks' new loans double in early July (Reuters)
- Nokia Loss Widens as Smartphone Sales Slump (WSJ)
- Bundesbank Expected To Buy Australian Dollars In 3Q (WSJ)
- China strengthens Africa ties with $20 billion in loans (Reuters)
- Europe Rebukes Romania on Democratic Efforts (NYT)
Overnight Media Digest
* Global financial companies are preparing to chop thousands of banking and trading jobs, signalling their latest retreat in the face of nervous markets, uneven economic growth, tougher regulations and slumping stock prices.
* The U.S. economy is down-shifting, even as the housing sector is finally showing signs of life. A report Wednesday showed builders broke ground for more new homes in June than in any month in nearly four years. But the upturn comes as several other pockets of relative strength for the economy have wavered.
* An investor group including private-equity firm BC Partners and the Canada Pension Plan's CPP Investment Board is investing roughly $2 billion in Suddenlink Communications Inc, valuing the seventh-largest U.S. cable operator at $6.6 billion including debt.
* Credit Suisse Group AG bowing to pressure from the Swiss central bank and investors, said it would raise billions of dollars of new capital in a bid to end uncertainty about the bank's health.
* Microsoft Corp's long-awaited Windows 8 operating system will go on sale Oct. 26, in the company's most critical software upgrade in a decade.
* International Business Machines Corp boosted its full-year earnings outlook, helping alleviate investor worries about technology spending, even as its revenue fell short of analysts' forecasts for the fourth consecutive quarter.
* Duke Energy Corp's defense of its controversial ouster of CEO Bill Johnson is beginning to focus on a central issue, people familiar with the matter say: How Johnson handled escalating problems at the Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida.
* Unlike many electronics companies, Qualcomm Inc continues to be more worried about the supply of its products than demand for them. But the company sees better days ahead.
RATE PROBE TURNS TO BIG BANK QUARTET
Regulators are focusing on at least four of Europe's biggest banks as they investigate Libor rate rigging.
BOMBS STRIKES AT HEART OF SYRIAN REGIME
A bomber killed three of Bashar al-Assad's top military officials in Syria on Wednesday - including his powerful brother-in-law.
CHINA TO BUY US ASSETS VIA GM PENSION
The Chinese government has agreed to buy investment stakes currently held by General Motors' pension plan.
CREDIT SUISSE ACTS TO TACKLE CAPITAL FEARS
Credit Suisse is bolstering its capital position, reversing its resistance to pressure over the issue from the Swiss central bank last month.
COST CUTTING HELPS BOFA SWING TO PROFIT
Bank of America announced it would achieve $8 billion in annualized cost savings by mid-2015 after a strategic review known as "New BAC," which is leading to heavy job losses.
GROSS RETURNS TO FORM AS PIMCO'S FLAGSHIP ETF DOUBLES
The world's biggest bond fund manager at PIMCO has doubled the size of its flagship exchange-traded fund in less than two months, hitting $2 billion in assets as performance.
OLYMPIC FLIP FOR UK JOBS MARKET
Economists have warned that Britain's jobless figures are likely to start rising again over the coming months, after the Olympic Games.
CARBON PRICES TUMBLE TO RECORD LOW
Prices for UN-backed carbon credits sank to a record low in morning trading on Wednesday following doubts over the EU's plan to back the bloc's emissions trading market.
TOLL ROAD PLANNED IN INFRASTRUCTURE PUSH
The British government have unveiled plans to introduce tolling on an existing stretch of road for the first time.
* While much of the scrutiny surrounding interest rate manipulation has centered on Barclays Plc, regulators have said that traders at the big British bank colluded with rivals to influence a key benchmark.
* House Republicans pressed the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, on Wednesday to forswear additional actions to stimulate growth, warning that the results would be counterproductive.
* Despite reporting better-than-expected profits Wednesday, Bank of America Corp continues to have a money pit in its home-loan market. The bank said on Wednesday that it earned $2.5 billion, or 19 cents a share, compared with analysts' projections of 14 cents for the quarter, as its expenses dropped and credit conditions improved.
* International Business Machines Corp delivered solid quarterly profits on Wednesday that easily surpassed Wall Street's expectations, even though it reported weak revenue, which was pulled down by economic troubles in some markets, lower hardware sales and the impact of a strengthening dollar.
* EBay Inc reported Wednesday that it more than doubled net income in the second quarter to $692 million, or 53 cents a share, a 144 percent jump from the quarter a year earlier.
* Shares of Russia's second-largest natural gas company, Novatek OAO, have risen nearly 8 percent in the last few trading days on reports late last week that the Kremlin appeared to be loosening Gazprom's grip on exports, a shift in energy policy that once seemed inconceivable.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
* A Canadian army colonel, who was dismissed from his command in Haiti two years ago amid allegations of an inappropriate relationship, is suing the Department of National Defence and fellow officers for defamation.
Report in the business section:
* Nordstrom Inc of Seattle is finalizing its plan to set up shops in four locations in Canada, including three top sites that Sears Canada Inc is abandoning this fall. The plans come as Sears said it will close yet another store, at Deerfoot Mall in Calgary.
* An Iranian diplomat is said to have left Canada after being quietly removed from his post at the Ottawa embassy, even before allegations emerged this month that the Islamic regime is using its mission to monitor the activities of Iranian-Canadians.
* A U.S. regulator's stinging criticism of Enbridge Inc's response to a 2010 pipeline rupture in Michigan will make it tougher to convince Canadians to support a controversial $5.5 billion oil line to the Pacific Coast, the company's chief executive said on Wednesday
European Economic Summary
- Switzerland Trade Balance 2.25B. Previous 2.48B. Revised 2.52B.
- Euro-Zone Current Account n.s.a. -2.5B. Previous 1.6B. Revised 1.3B.
- Italy Industrial Orders 1.7% m/m -9.4% y/y. Previous -1.9% m/m -12.3% y/y. Revised -1.8% m/m.
- Italy Industrial Sales -0.5% m/m -2.7 y/y. Previous -0.5% m/m -4.1% y/y. Revised -0.6% m/m.
- UK Retail Sales (Ex Auto Fuel) 0.3% m/m 2.2% y/y – lower than expected. Consensus 0.4% m/m 2.6% y/y. Previous 0.9% m/m 3.0% y/y. Revised 1.0% m/m 2.7% y/y.