Frontrunning: January 27

  • Greek Debt Wrangle May Pull Default Trigger (Bloomberg)
  • Italy Sells Maximum EU11 Billion of Bills (Bloomberg)
  • Romney Demands Gingrich Apology on Immigration (Bloomberg)
  • China’s Residential Prices Need to Decline 30%, Lawmaker Says (Bloomberg)
  • For Greece, the Outlook Is Still Grim (NYT)
  • EU Red-Flags 'Volcker' (WSJ)
  • EU Official Sees Bailout-Fund Boost (WSJ)
  • EU Delays Bank Bond Writedown Plans Until Fiscal Crisis Abates (Bloomberg)
  • Germany Poised to Woo U.K. With Transaction Tax Alternative (Bloomberg)
  • Ahmadinejad: Iran Ready to Renew Nuclear Talks (Bloomberg)
  • Monti Takes On Italian Bureaucracy in Latest Policy Push to Revamp Economy (Bloomberg)
  • Russia Reviews Eurobond Tax Rules as Claims Raise Concerns (Bloomberg)

Press Digest:


* U.S. second-largest health insurer, WellPoint, is shaking up its approach to paying doctors, putting a major investment behind the idea that spending more for better primary care can save money down the road.

* As companies struggle through bankruptcy court, many still pay significant bonuses to top executives -- despite a federal rule designed to curb such pay.

* The owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, Transocean Ltd., won't have to pay compensatory damages related to oil spilled under the ocean in the worst offshore spill in U.S. history, a judge ruled.

* After receiving nearly half a trillion euros in cheap loans from the ECB last month, Europe's banks face a dilemma: to invest the money in lucrative but potentially risky government bonds or hoard the cash at a loss.

* The European Commission intends to complain to Treasury Secretary Geithner that new U.S. regulations will discourage banks from trading sovereign bonds.

* Newt Gingrich is outpacing Mitt Romney among Republican voters nationwide, but he also is showing evidence of the vulnerabilities that could hurt the former House speaker in a general election, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

* While prominent hedge-fund manager David Einhorn was the focus of the latest alleged insider-trading case this week, a supporting actor in the drama belongs to a fraternity of London bankers that also is under increased scrutiny.

* Amid plunging prices and soaring volatility, investors and traders reduced bets on 13 key commodity contracts by 19 percent in 2011.

* 3M Co. directors are split over whether to extend the term of CEO George Buckley, whose contract expires in a month.

* Asian stocks were mixed, with electronics shares falling in Tokyo on weak profit guidance, but tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics advanced on upbeat results.

* Car makers are selling fewer vehicles than they did four or five years ago. But the industry is brimming with profits.

* J.C. Penney Co. will handle its more than $1 billion transformation without borrowing and sees its earnings next year standing up to the upheaval, executives at the retailer said Thursday.



UK regulators are seeking to fine a former Bank of America Merrill Lynch broker about 350,000 pounds ($549,500) for his role in hedge fund manager David Einhorn's improper trading ahead of the 2009 equity raising by Punch Taverns.


UK high street retailers Clinton Cards, Monsoon, Accessorize and Sports Direct have taken a stand against the landlords of their shops, demanding the right to pay rents on a monthly rather than quarterly basis to ease cash flow pressures.


Carrefour is in the final stages of negotiations to replace Lars Olofsson, chief executive, with veteran French retailer Georges Plassat after months of turmoil at the world's second-largest retailer by sales.


International organisations and the UK government will launch a new public-private investment fund on Friday to provide seed finance for at least 3 billion pounds of green energy projects in emerging and developing countries.


Duncan Niederauer, chief executive of NYSE Euronext, has admitted he "misjudged" European antitrust authorities' approach to his exchange's attempted tie-up with Deutsche Boerse , saying there was only a "glimmer of hope" the deal would succeed.


Veteran property tycoon Vincent Tchenguiz is selling a portfolio of UK ground rents for 3 billion pounds in a deal that will give the buyer control over the freeholds of 250,000 UK homes.


BNP Paribas, France's largest bank by assets, has put on the block up to $11 billion of loans to oil and gas companies.


In the sober world of auditing, discretion is key. But that has not stopped the UK arm of PwC from revealing an alleged attempt to poach Lloyds Banking Group, one of its most lucrative clients.


Serco, the FTSE 100 outsourcer, is to overhaul its management structure, axing at least 500 jobs, as it adapts to tougher market conditions in the UK, according to sources close to the company.


Euro zone policymakers are preparing to review the size and terms of the 130 billion euro rescue package for Greece agreed last year, depending on the outcome of the negotiations with private creditors over Greek debt relief which reopened in Athens on Thursday


* Agencies like the Federal Trade Commission have been trying to crack down on online product reviews that do not disclose the connection between a merchant and the person doling out the praise.

* A new analysis suggests Greece's economic condition is worsening, throwing a wrench into talks meant to pave the way for more financial support.

* Wind and solar companies say they need more government support to be competitive. But in Washington, there's little enthusiasm for more subsidies.

* With their success against antipiracy legislation in Congress, the Internet industry and its allies are weighing their future as a political force.

* In a round of budget tightening, the Pentagon said that it would stretch out purchases, cancel a high-flying spy drone and delay work on a new missile submarine.

* Bridgewater Associates, the hedge fund which manages nearly $120 billion, posted returns of 23 percent in 2011 - a year when the average hedge fund portfolio lost 5 percent.

* A federal judge ruled that Transocean Ltd, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon, which blew out in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, was not liable for some pollution claims.

* Jean-Claude Trichet, the former president of the European Central Bank, was nominated Thursday to the board of European Aeronautic Defense and Space, the parent company of Airbus, as part of a long-anticipated reshuffling of the group's senior management.

* The tax code of the United States is far too complicated, if the errors in Republican Mitt Romney's tax returns are any indication.

* Apple Inc. and Google Inc. take very different paths to innovation, but the gap between their approaches may be closing a bit.

* With concern lingering about the future of the euro zone, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain donned his salesman's cap and called on executives and bankers gathered in Davos to invest in Britain instead.


European Economic Update:

  • Eurozone M3 s.a. 2.1% 3m/3m – lower than expected. Consensus 2.3% 3m/3m. Previous 2.5% 3m/3m.
  • Eurozone M3 s.a. 1.6% y/y – lower than expected. Consensus 2.1% y/y. Previous 2.0% y/y.
  • Switzerland KOF Swiss Leading Indicator -0.17 – lower than expected. Consensus -0.10. Previous 0.01.
  • Sweden Household Lending 5.2% y/y – higher than expected. Consensus 5.1% y/y. Previous 5.3% y/y.
  • Sweden Retail Sales s.a. 0.1% m/m – higher than expected. Consensus -0.5% m/m. Previous 0.8% m/m. Revised 0.7% m/m.
  • Sweden Retail Sales n.s.a. 1.5%y/y – higher than expected. Consensus 0.8% y/y. Previous 0.7% y/y. Revised 0.6% y/y.
  • Spain Adjusted Real Retail Sales -5.4% y/y – higher than expected. Consensus -5.9% y/y. Previous -7.2% y/y. Revised -7.3% y/y.
  • Spain Unemployment Rate 22.85% - higher than expected. Consensus 22.20%. Previous 21.52%.
  • Ireland Retail Sales 2.1% m/m 3.0% y/y. Previous 1.6% m/m -0.8% y/y. Revised 1.8% m/m -0.5% y/y.
  • Iceland CPI  0.3% m/m 6.5% y/y. Previous 0.4% m/m 5.3% y/y.
  • Germany Import Price Index  0.3% m/m 3.9% y/y – higher than expected. Consensus 0.3% m/m 3.8% y/y. Previous 0.4% m/m 6.0% y/y.
  • Germany CPI – Hesse -0.3% m/m 1.9% y/y. Previous 0.5% m/m 1.7% y/y.
  • Finland Business Confidence -8 – higher than expected. Consensus -10. Previous -10. Revised -9.
  • Finland Consumer Confidence 3.4 – higher than expected. Consensus 1.7. Previous 0.4.
  • Finland House Prices -1.4% q/q 1.0% y/y – lower than expected. Consensus -0.2% q/q 2.2% y/y. Previous 0.2% q/q 2.6% y/y. Revised 0.1% q/q 2.7% y/y.
  • Russia Money Supply Narrow Def. Rub 6.80T. Previous 6.83T.
  • Poland Annual GDP 4.3% - higher than expected. Consensus 4.2%. Previous 3.8%. Revised 3.9%.
  • Poland Retail Sales 20.8% m/m 8.6% y/y – lower than expected. Consensus 22.6% m/m 10.1% y/y. Previous -5.5% m/m 12.6% y/y.
  • Poland Unemployment Rate 12.5% - in line with expectations. Consensus 12.5%. Previous 12.1%.
  • Croatia Industrial Output 1.2% y/y. Previous -0.3% y/y.