Frontrunning: March 2

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  • Brazil declares new ‘currency war’ (FT)
  • Postal Cuts Are Dead Letter in Congress (WSJ)
  • China state banks to boost selected property loans (Reuters)
  • ECB Says Overnight Deposits Surge to Record (Bloomberg)
  • Van Rompuy confirmed for 2nd term as EU Council president (Reuters) - you mean dictator
  • BOJ Shirakawa: Japan consumer prices to gradually rise (Reuters)
  • IMF Says Threat of Sharp Global Slowdown Eased (Reuters)
  • Eurozone delays half of Greece’s funds (FT)
  • BOJ Openings Can Shape Monetary Policy (Bloomberg)
  • EU Speeds Payments to Permanent Aid Fund (Bloomberg)

Overnight Media Recap

WSJ

* AT&T pulled the plug on its all-you-can-eat plan for smartphone customers, telling subscribers they will see much slower speeds if they exceed a new monthly usage cap.

* Wal-Mart and Target join other frustrated merchants in a project to get the upper hand in the fast-developing market that turns cellphones into payment devices.

* Twitter is trying to win over advertisers and refashion itself into a business worthy of a multi-billion dollar valuation and an IPO.

* Eurozone ministers approved financial incentives that will allow Greece to complete a debt restructuring, and said they will hold discussions next week to make a final decision on a second Greek bailout package.

* Buyers lined up for auctions of government debt, strong evidence that the wave of cash injected into lenders by the European Central Bank is finding its way to stressed governments.

* Media mogul Sumner Redstone is not likely to attend Viacom Inc's annual shareholder meeting in New York next week because of a conflicting commitment, a company spokesman said Thursday.

* U.S. oil major Chevron Corp has held talks with a senior Russian government official on Arctic exploration, as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin hinted he would allow non-state companies to become operators and gain control of projects in Russia's northern seas.

FT

UK'S OSBORNE TO DEFY CALLS TO REMOVE TAX RATE

British finance minister George Osborne is to defy calls for the removal of the 50 pence upper rate on income tax and will instead instigate a clampdown on wealthy homeowners in an attempt to demonstrate that the rich cannot avoid Britain's austerity programme. http://link.reuters.com/ban86s

FSA WIDENS HIGH-PROFILE INSIDER TRADING INVESTIGATION

One of the UK financial regulator's most high-profile investigations into insider trading is expanding, with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) asking several institutions, including brokerages, for information on trading and other data. http://link.reuters.com/zym86s

EURO ZONE DELAYS ATHENS RESCUE FUNDS

Euro zone members have delayed approval of more than half of the 130 billion euros ($173.31 billion) bailout for Greece after deeming that Athens has yet to meet all the terms set as the price of a second rescue. http://link.reuters.com/xym86s

STAFF AT JOHN LEWIS BRACED FOR BONUS CUT

The John Lewis Partnership is next week expected to announce the first cut in its staff bonus for three years as high street turmoil takes its toll on the employee-owned retailer. http://link.reuters.com/wym86s

GOOGLE ROLLS OUT PRIVACY RULES

Google angered European regulators on Thursday by rolling out a new privacy policy despite repeated requests to delay the project and warnings that it might not be lawful. http://link.reuters.com/vym86s

UK JUDGE ORDERS FUGITIVE OLIGARCH TO TURN HIMSELF IN

A Kazakh oligarch accused of siphoning off $5 billion from Kazakhstan bank BTA has until March 9 to turn himself in and disclose his assets or be prevented from defending fraud claims, the High Court in London has ordered. http://link.reuters.com/tym86s

MOODY'S CUTS PEUGEOT'S RATING TO 'JUNK'

Peugeot Citroen's debt rating has been downgraded to "junk" status by Moody's Investor Service, a day after it unveiled a global manufacturing and purchasing alliance with General Motors. http://link.reuters.com/sym86s

NYT

* As state funding has dwindled, public colleges have raised tuition and
are now resorting to even more desperate measures -- cutting training
for jobs the economy needs most.

* Some of the nation's largest wireless phone companies, like AT&T
and Verizon, use a process called throttling to slow down customers who
exceed data limits -- even if they have unlimited data plans.

* Zynga, the creator of FarmVille, Words With Friends, Mafia Wars and
other popular social games, is going to start supplying friends for
those who are lacking. The company announced a new gaming platform on
Thursday that will match up players who do not know one another but who
have a mutual interest in getting the crops in and spelling words with
J, Q and X. The goal is to make social gaming, which was pretty easy to
begin with, even easier for everyone.

* Auto sales jumped 16 percent last month to the highest level since
before the recession, helped by declining unemployment and improving
consumer confidence even as gasoline prices topped $4 a gallon in parts
of the country.

* Yelp, the online hub for local business reviews, priced its initial
public offering at $15 a share on Thursday, above its expected range.

European Economic Analysis:

  • Germany Retail Sales -1.6% m/m 1.6% y/y – lower than expected. Consensus 0.5% m/m 0.2% y/y. Previous -1.4% m/m -0.9% y/y. Revised 0.1% m/m 0.3% y/y.
  • Hungary Trade Balance (Euros) 325.0M. Previous 352.1M.
  • Norway Retail Sales 6.7% y/y - higher than expected. Consensus 2.6% y/y. Previous 2.6% y/y.
  • UK PMI Construction 54.3 – higher than expected. Consensus 51.3. Previous 51.4.
  • Euro-Zone PPI 0.7% m/m 3.7% y/y - . Consensus 0.5% m/m 3.5% y/y. Previous -0.2% m/m 4.3% y/y.