Frontrunning: April 24

  • China’s Biggest Banks Are Squeezed for Capital (NYT)
  • Greeks detect hypocrisy as Dutch coalition stumbles (Reuters)
  • Hollande Blames Europe’s Austerity Plan for Le Pen’s Rise (Bloomberg)
  • In a Change, Mexico Reins In Its Oil Monopoly (NYT)
  • China Tire Demand Slows as Economy Decelerates, Bridgestone Says (Bloomberg)
  • Social Security’s financial forecast gets darker; Medicare’s outlook unchanged (WaPo)
  • Fed’s 17 Rate Forecasts May Confuse More Than Clarify (Bloomberg)
  • Senate to vote on array of Postal Service overhaul proposals (WaPo)
  • Weidmann Says Bundesbank Is Preserving Euro Stability (Bloomberg)
  • Hungary Pledges Cuts Aimed at EU Demands (WSJ)
  • Immigration from Mexico to US at standstill (FT)
  • Orbán stands firm in central bank dispute (FT)

Overnight Media Digest via Reuters


* In what is likely to be the last snapshot of its financial condition before an expected May IPO, Facebook disclosed that its first-quarter profit and revenue declined from the final quarter of 2011.

* Government trustees are projecting Social Security will exhaust its trust fund three years sooner than previously thought.

* New York law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf is more deeply in debt than previously thought. It owes about $75 million to a syndicate of bank lenders.

* Unilever is negotiating to build a $100 million palm-oil processing plant in Indonesia, an attempt to accelerate its commitment to sourcing the oil in ways that don't destroy the environment.

* Planetary Resources will outline a plan to send an unmanned spacecraft to an asteroid and mine it for valuable metals and water that could be used in further space exploration or returned to earth.

* The union representing American Airlines' mechanics agreed to send the airline's latest contract proposal to members for a vote.

* A U.S. trade panel Monday voted against imposing retaliatory duties on galvanized steel wire from China and Mexico, determining that U.S. producers aren't being hurt by the rise in imports.

* Spain's economy contracted 0.4 percent in the first quarter from the fourth, the country's central bank said Monday, the latest evidence that Spain's efforts to rein in government spending could be feeding a downward economic spiral.



Walmart shares tumbled nearly 5 percent and shares in its Mexican business dropped even further as allegations of bribery and a cover-up shook the U.S. retailer.


Facebook's revenue and profit growth are slowing, marking a turning point for the high-growth social networking company just weeks before its initial public offering.


The Cable & Wireless name is set to disappear from the UK telecoms market after almost 80 years following Vodafone's agreement of a 1 billion pound ($1.61 billion) cash acquisition of the group.


Deutsche Bank's non-executive board is facing a protest from an influential activist investor over its pay policies and turbulent succession planning in another sign of how global investors are challenging bank directors.


Cobham, the UK defence and aerospace group, has completed its five-month-long search for a chief executive by hiring Robert Murphy from the U.S. subsidiary of BAE Systems .


The former head of the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the largest U.S. pension fund, has been slapped with civil charges accusing him of defrauding Apollo Global, the private equity group.


Andreessen Horowitz has been forced to defend its early stake in Instagram, the photo-sharing app acquired by Facebook this month for about $1 billion, despite the venture capital firm receiving a more than 300-fold return in two years.


Volvo Cars will launch 10 models in China over the next five years as it seeks to make up for lost time in the world's largest car market, its chief executive said.


* A commission of energy specialists formed by Mexico's Congress has begun to question where and how Pemex, Mexico's state-owned oil monopoly, drills for oil.

* Wal-Mart's stock slipped as investors reacted to a bribery scandal at the retailer's Mexican subsidiary and a report that an internal investigation was quashed at corporate headquarters.

* MetLife on Monday became the third big life insurer to settle regulatory accusations of failing to keep track of policyholder deaths, trapping money that should have gone promptly to the beneficiaries.

* A euro zone strategy to cut deficits has come under increasing strain from slowing economies, gyrating financial markets and electoral setbacks.

* Mainland Chinese banks are turning to markets to raise funds, even as they report strong profits and say their balance sheets are solid.



- Less than a year after he asked Canadian voters to make him prime minister, ex-Liberal leader and academic Michael Ignatieff warned that the country is drifting towards a breakup.




- One of Canada's leading polling firms says it has found strong evidence of a targeted program of voter suppression aimed at non-Conservative voters during last May's federal-election campaign.




Reports in the business section:


- Swapping out engines is costly, but natural gas has grown so much cheaper than diesel that, according to a new analysis conducted by the Conference Board of Canada, a long-distance trucker could save nearly $160,000 over a decade by making the change.


- Shoppers Drug Mart Corp has been hit with yet another round of Ontario cuts in generic prescription drug prices while still grappling with earlier profit-pinching drug reforms.



- Defying the odds of pollsters and naysayers, Alberta's long-ruling Progressive Conservatives won their 12th straight majority government Monday night.


Reports in the business section:

- Ontario's minority Liberal government is set to survive a budget vote after Premier Dalton McGuinty said he will introduce a 2 percent tax on people with incomes greater than $500,000, meeting a key demand from the New Democrat Party.


- Three weeks after Baja Mining Corp narrowly won a proxy fight with its largest shareholder, the company revealed on Monday that three directors have resigned and that it is facing a big funding shortfall at its flagship copper project.

European economic highlights:

  • Finland PPI for March 0.40% m/m 1.4% y/y – lower than expected. Consensus 0.80% m/m 1.80% y/y. Previous 1.20% m/m 2.20% y/y.
  • Finland Unemployment Rate for March 8.50% - higher than expected. Consensus 8.20%. Previous 7.70%.
  • Switzerland Trade Balance for March 1.69B – lower than expected. Consensus 3.00B. Previous 2.68B. Revised 2.61B.
  • Switzerland Exports real s.a. for March -2.50% m/m – lower than expected. Consensus 1.00%. Previous 9.20%. Revised 12.00%.
  • Switzerland Imports real s.a. for March 4.60% m/m. Previous -12.30% m/m. Revised -12.20% m/m.
  • Switzerland UBS Consumption Indicator for March 1.22. Previous 0.87. Revised 0.9.
  • Sweden Unemployment Rate for March 7.70% - lower than expected. Consensus 8.00%. Previous 7.80%.
  • France Consumer Confidence Indicator for April 88 – higher than expected. Consensus 87. Previous 87.
  • France Business Survey Overall Demand for April 3 – higher than expected. Previous -12. Revised -8.
  • Spain Mortgages-capital loaned for February -49.60% y/y. Previous -34.00% y/y.
  • Spain Mortgages on Houses for February -47.10% y/y. Previous -41.30% y/y.
  • Italy Hourly Wages for March 1.20% y/y. Previous 1.40% y/y.
  • UK Public Finances (PSNCR) for March 16.5B – higher than expected. Consensus 13.0B. Previous -7.8B. Revised -8.2B.
  • UK PSNB ex Interventions for March 18.2B – higher than expected. Consensus 16.0B. Previous 15.2B. Revised 12.2B.
  • UK Public Sector Net Borrowing for March 15.9B – higher than expected. Consensus 14.2B. Previous 12.9B. Revised 9.9B