Frontrunning: January 10

  • Italy Is Biggest Risk to Euro, Says Fitch (WSJ)
  • Greek Bailout in Peril (WSJ)
  • Swiss Currency Test Looms for SNB’s Jordan in Race to Replace Hildebrand (Bloomberg)
  • Daley to Depart as Obama Shifts Strategy From Compromise to Confrontation (Bloomberg)
  • BOE Stimulus Expansion May Not Be Enough to Revive U.K. Recovery, BCC Says (Bloomberg)
  • Geithner in China to Discuss Yuan, Iran (Bloomberg)
  • China Won’t See Hard Landing in 2012, Former PBOC Adviser Yu Yongding Says (Bloomberg)
  • Measures to boost China financial markets (China Daily)
  • Obama Panel to Watch Beijing (WSJ)

Press Digest (via Reuters)



* Industrial bellwether Alcoa swung to a fourth-quarter loss, largely due to slumping aluminum prices and charges to curtail high-cost production in Europe and the US.

* Hostess Brands Inc is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as soon as this week, said people familiar with the matter, a move that would mark the second significant court restructuring for the Twinkies and Wonder Bread baker in the past several years.

* Swiss National Bank Chairman Philipp Hildebrand resigned Monday after emails appeared to undercut his assertion that he knew nothing of a currency trade worth more than $500,000 by his wife last summer.

* Olympus Corp said Tuesday it filed suit against 19 current and former board members, including its current president Shuichi Takayama, after deeming them culpable in some way in the company's $1.5 billion loss-hiding scandal.

* Higher holiday sales and increased card use are expected to help Visa Inc and MasterCard Inc post improved quarterly earnings, say analysts. Visa and MasterCard don't lend to customers but make money by processing card transactions for banks and merchants - a business that has been getting more lucrative, thanks in large part to consumers' continuing move to cards from cash and checks.

* Investors agreed to pay the German government for the privilege of lending it money.

In an auction Monday, Germany sold 3.9 billion euros ($4.96 billion) of six-month bills that had an average yield of negative 0.0122 percent, the first time on record that yields at a German debt auction moved into negative territory.

* In the latest sign of unease about how hard Europe's sovereign-debt crisis might hit US financial firms, securities regulators prodded banks to take a more rigorous approach to disclosing their European exposure.

* Consumer borrowing leapt as holiday spending kicked in late last year, according to a new Federal Reserve report that hinted the era of household debt reduction that has held the economy back for years might be entering a new, milder phase.




Royal Bank of Scotland is determined to press ahead with plans to pay out promised bonuses to investment bank boss John Hourican and other top staff, despite growing rhetoric from the government about excessive pay.…


Philipp Hildebrand resigned on Monday as chairman of the Swiss National Bank, after details of email exchanges suggested that he had played a more active role in his wife's controversial currency trades.…


The growth of the biofuel industry has come to an abrupt halt with annual output last year falling for the first time in a decade owing to poor margins in Brazil and the United States, the world's biggest suppliers.…


German carmakers were the toast of the Detroit auto show as Volkswagen announced it had achieved more than 8 million vehicle sales for the first time, overtaking rival Toyota, while BMW maintained its position as the world's biggest premium carmaker by sales.…


Manganese Bronze, which makes London's black cab taxis, announced that it made a pre-tax loss in 2011 and warned investors that its performance may also fall short of expectations in 2012.…


Virgin Money will offer current accounts with free banking, Sir Richard Branson promised as he visited Newcastle's most prominent Northern Rock branch to celebrate his 747 million pound acquisition of the lender.…


British ministers will come under fresh pressure on Tuesday to permit new airport runways in the southeast of England after the chief aviation regulator concluded that new capacity is needed.…


Carlos Ghosn said Renault and Nissan might consider adding further production capacity in the United States because its two car plants there were nearing full capacity.…


* Alcoa, the aluminum producer, posted its first net loss in more than a year on Monday on fewer orders for its products.

* The head of the Swiss central bank unexpectedly resigned Monday, saying that doubts about currency trades he and his wife made last year threatened to undermine his ability to focus on steering the bank through a global financial crisis.

The departure of the bank chief, Philipp Hildebrand, 48, cut short the public career of a major international advocate of stricter banking regulation.

* The new chief of Apple, Timothy Cook, received a one-time stock award worth nearly $400 million, the largest given by a company in a decade.

The company's board granted Cook one million restricted stock units to signal its confidence in him after Steven Jobs turned over the helm of the company to his longtime lieutenant.

* Shares of UniCredit, Italy's largest bank, have been in free fall as investors have balked at a new stock offering meant to bolster the bank's capital. Since last week, UniCredit's market value has plunged by more than 40 percent.

* When the companies that supply motor fuel close the books on 2011, they will pay about $6.8 million in penalties to the Treasury because they failed to mix a special type of biofuel into their gasoline and diesel as required by law.

But there was none to be had. Outside a handful of laboratories and workshops, the ingredient, cellulosic biofuel, does not exist.

* Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France warned Greece on Monday that it needed to move forward with promised structural changes or risk losing the next installment of badly needed bailout money.

* The investigation into MF Global is intensifying as federal authorities unearth new details and confront potential obstacles in their hunt for roughly $1.2 billion in customer money that disappeared from the brokerage firm.

* National health spending rose a slight 3.9 percent in 2010, as Americans delayed hospital care, doctor's visits and prescription drug purchases for the second year in a row, the Obama administration reported Monday.

The recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, reined in the growth of health spending as many people lost jobs, income and health insurance, the government said in a report, published in the journal Health Affairs.

* The unlikely union of Chrysler and its Italian parent, Fiat, is beginning to produce new vehicles that combine the talents of both companies

European economic highlights:

  • Bank of France Bus. Sentiment for December 96 – higher than expected. Consensus 95. Previous 95.
  • France Manufacturing Production for November 1.3% m/m 2.2% y/y – higher than expected. Consensus -0.4% m/m -0.1% y/y. Previous 0.0% m/m 2.6% y/y.
  • France Industrial Production for November 1.1% m/m 0.9% y/y – higher than expected. Consensus -0.2% m/m -0.4% y/y. Previous 0.0% m/m 1.8% y/y.
  • Norway CPI for December 0.1% m/m 0.2% y/y – lower than expected. Consensus 0.2% m/m 0.4% y/y. Previous 0.0% m/m 1.2% y/y.
  • Norway CPI Underlying for December 0.2% m/m 1.0% y/y – in line with expectations. Consensus 0.2% m/m 1.0% y/y. Previous -0.2% m/m 1.0% y/y.
  • Norway Producer Prices incl. Oil for December 0.2% m/m 8.2% y/y – lower than expected. Consensus 0.3% m/m. Previous 1.4% m/m 12.9% y/y.
  • Sweden Budget Balance for December -90.8B. Previous 5.5B.
  • Sweden Industrial Prod. s.a. for November -1.9% m/m – lower than expected. Consensus -0.6% m/m. Previous 0.4% m/m.
  • Sweden Industrial Prod. n.s.a. for November 0.2% y/y – lower than expected. Consensus 2.5% y/y. Previous 4.7% y/y.
  • Sweden Industrial Orders s.a. for November -4.8% m/m. Previous -1.8% m/m.
  • Sweden Industrial Orders n.s.a. for November -8.4% y/y. Previous -5.0% y/y.