Frontrunning: March 29
- Obama budget defeated 414-0 (Washington Times) yes, the Democrats too...
- German Central Banker: ECB Loans Only Buy Time (AP)
- Baku grants Israel use of its air bases (Jerusalem Times)
- Japan May Understate Deflation, Hampering BOJ, Economist Says (Bloomberg)
- BRICS flay West over IMF reform, monetary policy (Reuters)
- Five Portugal Lenders Downgraded by Moody’s (Bloomberg)
- SEC Registration Captures More Hedge Fund Advisers (Bloomberg)
- EU Nears One-Year Boost in Rescue Fund to $1.3 Trillion (Bloomberg)
- Consumers plot emergency oil release as Saudi decries high prices (Reuters)
- Japan Plans to Draft Stopgap Budget for First Time in 14 Years (Bloomberg)
- China to Offer Yuan Loans to Members of Bloc (China Daily)
- Swan Sees Limited Fiscal Windfall From World Rebound (Bloomberg)
Overnight Media Digest
* The Dodgers' new owners have a rich opportunity to either launch a regional sports network or to hold an auction for rights to televise games.
* Iran's oil exports have dropped as buyers prepare for sanctions, and shipments are likely to shrink further if Obama determines by Friday that markets can adjust to less Iranian oil.
* MF Global executives stymied lawmakers who demanded answers about money transfers that left the securities firm's customers with losses.
* Myanmar said it would float its currency, effective April 1, enacting a long-sought policy reform that is expected to make the resource-rich Southeast Asian country more inviting to foreign investors following decades of pariah-nation status.
* News Corp is contemplating the launch of a national cable sports network in the U.S., according to a person familiar with the matter, putting it head to head with Walt Disney Co's ESPN.
* China approved a broad package of financial reforms in Wenzhou, a city known for entrepreneurship and underground lending, in what may be a prelude to a national effort to liberalize China's creaking financial system.
NOKIA STEPPING UP SIM BATTLE WITH APPLE
The battle between Nokia and Apple over the design of future miniature Sim cards for mobile phones has escalated, with the Finnish group threatening to withhold essential technology for Apple's template, impeding the rival proposal.
JP MORGAN ASSURED ABOUT MF GLOBAL FUNDS
Demands by JPMorgan Chase to replenish an over-drawn account led MF Global, the failed U.S. broker-dealer, to transfer cash from a customer account to one of its own, according to a senior JPMorgan official.
LSE EXPLORES POST-TRADE SERVICE WITH BUCHAREST
The London Stock Exchange is exploring ways to help the Bucharest Stock Exchange to build its own clearing operations as Romania gears up for the privatisation of some of its largest state-owned companies.
WORLD BANK SUCCESSION TO BE 'HYPOCRISY TEST'
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian finance minister seeking to become the first non-American to lead the World Bank, has warned rich nations that the selection process will test their "level of hypocrisy".
UK'S OSBORNE FACES PARTY FIGHT OVER BUDGET CUTS
Plans by the chancellor to take 10 billion pounds ($15.85 billion)-a-year, or almost 1 pound in 20 pound, out of the welfare budget are being openly resisted by the department for work and pensions in the first sign of government infighting over the coming spending round.
BALFOUR BEATTY WARNS OF 12,000 JOB LOSSES
Balfour Beatty, the UK's biggest construction company, has warned 12,000 staff in the UK they could lose their jobs as a result of the downturn in the building industry.
LLOYD'S IN BIGGEST LOSS POST 9/11 LOSS
Underwriters at Lloyd's of London are struggling to push through widespread premium increases even after enduring one of its costliest years for natural catastrophes, executives have warned.
BERTELSMANN MOVES CLOSER TO STAKE SALE
Bertelsmann has taken a step towards selling a strategic stake, or listing its shares on the stock market, moves that would give it access to billions of euros in acquisition finance without loosening the hold of the Mohn family.
RACE IS ON TO BECOME TESCO'S NEW IMAGE GURU
Investor relations heavyweight Rebecca Shelley is the frontrunner to succeed Lucy Neville-Rolfe as Tesco's corporate affairs director, as Britain's biggest retailer seeks to heal its image problems.
MERLIN CONSIDERS LAUNCHING NEW IPO LISTING
Merlin Entertainment, the world's second-biggest theme park operator by visitor numbers, is reconsidering a London listing next year after pulling a planned initial public offering in 2010.
* After a JetBlue pilot acted erratically on a flight, some pilots said annual medical exams were not thorough and did not typically include psychological evaluations.
While the airline has said only that the pilot, Clayton Osbon, was suffering from a "medical condition," the incident highlighted the delicate subject of how airlines screen pilots for fitness to fly.
* Jonathan Gruber, a professor at M.I.T., helped persuade the Obama administration that everyone should be required to get health insurance.
* Although traders and the public were stunned by the problems on the BATS Global Markets stock exchange on Friday, a review of industry data shows that market disruptions large and small are a daily occurrence. The frequency of the problems has rattled the confidence of some investors and companies raising money through supercharged electronic markets.
* Big business groups like the Chamber of Commerce spent millions of dollars in 2010 to elect Republican candidates running for the House. The return on investment has not always met expectations.
Even though money for major road and bridge projects is set to run out this weekend, House Republican leaders have struggled all week to round up the votes from recalcitrant conservatives simply to extend it for 90 or even 60 days. A longer-term transportation bill that contractors and the chamber say is vital to the recovery of the construction industry appears hopelessly stalled over costs.
* Top MF Global executives and their lawyers have been meeting with federal authorities investigating the collapse of MF Global and the firm's misuse of customer money, according to testimony before a Congressional panel on Wednesday.
* The Obama administration is set to announce on Thursday a major initiative regarding big data computing, which will involve several government agencies and departments, with commitments totaling $200 million.
* Although executives said no decision has been made, News Corporation may be looking to position itself as a bidder for sports rights in order to compete with ESPN - for both viewers and fees.
* Bertelsmann, the biggest media company in Europe, said Wednesday that it was considering a public share offering to raise money for expansion. The move is a striking change of heart by the controlling Mohn family, which previously resisted such efforts.
* European lawmakers agreed Wednesday to extend the Continent's system of retail price controls on mobile phone roaming charges for five years and enacted price caps on mobile Internet fees paid by traveling smartphone users.
* Bank lending to consumers and businesses continued to grow very slowly in the euro zone in February, according to figures issued Wednesday, a sign that the so-called wall of money unleashed by the European Central Bank in recent months has not yet reached borrowers.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
- The Conservative government will ask millions of Canadians to push back their retirement as part of a landmark budget that stresses bold action now to position Canada's economy in the face of major demographic changes to come.
- New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath will lay out her conditions for saving the minority Liberal government on Monday, when she unveils amendments to the Ontario budget.
- Prospects for Canada and the United States are brighter than a few months ago, and the euro crisis seems less likely to push the global recovery off a cliff, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Canada's annual growth rate in the first two quarters of 2012 will be 2.5 percent, the OECD said in a partial update of a full forecast it published last November.
- Two units of CUPE Local 79, the union that represents Toronto's inside workers, have voted to accept the city's final contract offer, while two others -- the long-term care unit and part-time recreation workers -- have rejected the contract. The offer was accepted by two of the union's full-time and part-time units.
Reports in the business section:
- Genworth MI Canada Inc, the country's largest private sector mortgage insurer, has set up its own internal group of real estate agents to deal with foreclosure sales.
- Bond investors and rating agencies have given a conditional endorsement to Ontario's austerity budget, but both groups are closely monitoring the fallout, fearful that Premier Dalton McGuinty doesn't have the political muster to pass his proposals.
- The MGM lion is no longer an endangered species under Canadian trademark law. A groundbreaking Federal Court of Canada decision has paved the way for the trademark of sounds in Canada, making it possible for companies to legally protect the short aural logos associated with their brands - and opening the door for other types of non-traditional trademarks.
- The pressures of drug reforms that are pinching Shoppers Drug Mart Corp's bottom line will persist for another two years as provinces continue to look at scaling back payments to pharmacies.
- The federal government's new financial plan, to be delivered Thursday, will not be an austerity budget. Cuts to operating budgets will be in the $5 billion region (lower than the $7 billion reported Wednesday) from total program spending of $250 billion.
- A 10-day strike by Toronto library workers may soon be over, thanks to a tentative deal struck Wednesday night with the Toronto Library Board. Workers will vote on the deal Thursday. If approved, Toronto's 98 branches that have been closed since March 19 will reopen.
Reports in the business section:
- Chinese investment in Canada's energy sector could move to a new level if PetroChina wins a bid to build the controversial Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline.
The largest of China's three state-controlled oil companies has expressed an interest in building the $5.5 billion project across the northern Canadian Rockies and is considering purchasing an equity stake, said Pat Daniel, president and CEO of proponent Enbridge Inc.
- Credit rating agency Moody's -- which lowered its outlook on Ontario's debt ratings to "negative" in December -- said on Wednesday that a downgrade for Ontario is "still a possibility".
European Economic Data
- UK Nationwide House Prices -1.0% m/m -0.9% y/y – lower than expected. Consensus 0.2% m/m 0.9% y/y. Previous 0.6% m/m 0.9% y/y. Revised 0.4% m/m.
- Spanish Total Housing Permits -11.3% m/m -25.0% y/y. Previous 4.8% m/m -27.9% y/y.
- Spanish CPI – EU Harmonised 1.8% - in line with expectations. Consensus 1.8% y/y. Previous 1.9% y/y.
- Sweden Retail Sales 1.2% m/m 3.4% y/y – higher than expected. Consensus 0.1% m/m 1.6% y/y. Previous 0.1% m/m 1.5% y/y. Revised 0.2% m/m 1.6% y/y.
- Germany Unemployment Rate 6.7% - lower than expected. Consensus 6.8%. Previous 6.8%.
- Norway Unemployment Rate 2.6% - in line with expectations. Consensus 2.6%. Previous 2.6%.
- UK Mortgage Approvals 49.0K – lower than expected. Consensus 57.2K. Previous 58.7K. Revised 57.9K.
- UK M4 Money Supply -1.9% m/m -3.4% y/y. Previous 1.6% m/m -1.8% y/y. Revised 1.5% m/m.
- Euro-Zone Consumer Confidence -19.1 – lower than expected. Consensus -19.0. Previous -19.0.
- Euro-Zone Economic Confidence 94.4 – lower than expected. Consensus 94.5. Previous 94.4. Revised 94.5.
- Euro-Zone Industrial Confidence -7.2 – lower than expected. Consensus -5.8. Previous -5.8. Revised -5.7.
- Euro-Zone Services Confidence -0.3 – higher than expected. Consensus -0.8. Previous -0.9.