Frontrunning: March 12

  • Greek Bailout Payment Set to Be Approved by Euro Ministers After Debt Deal (Bloomberg)
  • China Trade Deficit Spurs Concern (WSJ)
  • Sarkozy Makes Populist Push For Re-Election (FT)
  • ECB Calls for Tougher Rules on Budgets (FT)
  • As Fed Officials Prepare to Meet, They Await Clearer Economic Signals (NYT)
  • PBOC Zhou: In Theory 'Lots Of Room' For Further RRR Cuts (WSJ)
  • Latest Stress Tests Are Expected to Show Progress at Most Banks (NYT)
  • Monti Eyes Labor Plan Amid Jobless Youth, Trapped Firemen (Bloomberg)
  • BOK Board Member: 'High Chance' Of Rate Cut This Year (WSJ)

Overnight media digest:

WSJ

* A U.S. soldier opened fire on Afghan villagers, killing 16 people, in an incident sure to inflame tensions between Kabul and Washington.

* Banks won a handful of concessions in the $25 billion settlement of alleged foreclosure abuses, as U.S. officials struck a balance between their desire to be tough and the need to provide relief.

* PepsiCo Inc is moving to deepen its management bench and line up a potential successor to Chairman and Chief Executive Indra Nooyi, tapping an outsider to a senior role and an internal candidate to a new post following investor frustration with the company's recent performance.

On Monday, the Purchase, New York, company plans to name former senior Wal-Mart Stores Inc executive Brian Cornell to head the company's largest and most profitable unit, according to people familiar with the matter.

* Molycorp's $1.3 billion deal to acquire Neo Material Technologies, a key processor of rare-earth minerals, provides a reminder of how much technological rare-earth capability resides in China.

* Glencore International AG and Cargill Inc are among companies that are interested in possibly buying Canadian agribusiness heavyweight Viterra Inc, according to people familiar with the matter, as a wave of consolidation in the industry swells.

FT

CLEGG FORCED TO GO SOFT ON UK 'TYCOON TAX'

Britain's deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, has been forced to soften his proposals for a so-called "tycoon tax" less than 48 hours after announcing it as the flagship policy for his party's spring conference.

U.S. BANK DIVIDENDS SET TO DOUBLE

The Federal Reserve is this week expected to pave the way for a doubling of bank dividends and share buy backs when it unveils the results of stress tests on the largest U.S. financial groups.

ITALY'S MONTE DEI PASCHI STAKE SET TO BE SOLD

The banking foundation behind Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena is considering a "mixed" sale of a 15 percent stake in Italy's third-largest bank by assets in a move analysts say could lead to it becoming a takeover target.

SEC PROBES OPERATORS' USE OF MULTIPLE MARKETS

The U.S. market regulator has launched a broad investigation into whether exchanges favour large trading companies at the expense of smaller customers.

CITIGROUP PLANS TO DOUBLE CHINA BRANCHES

Citigroup expects to double the number of bank branches in China to 100 within two to three years as it accelerates its push into the country through its securities joint venture and an independent credit card business.

BANK CAPITAL CALLS ADDED TO INSTABILITY, SAYS BIS

Calls by European regulators for banks to hold more capital exacerbated concerns over the health of the euro zone's financial sector and led to fears of a squeeze in lending to businesses and households, the Bank for International Settlements said on Sunday.

GERMANY SOFTENS RESISTANCE TO EURO ZONE 'FIREWALL'

The German government has softened its resistance to increasing the euro zone's "firewall" against financial market contagion from the Greek crisis by signalling it would consider the combination of the region's temporary rescue fund with its permanent successor.

KINNEVIK EYES EXPANSION FOR METRO NEWSPAPER

Kinnevik, the listed Swedish holding company, plans to make "significant investments" to expand Metro International's free newspaper empire further into emerging markets, if it succeeds in taking the group private.

HONG KONG TO BOLSTER ITS CLEARING HOUSE

Hong Kong's exchange on Sunday unveiled measures to strengthen its clearing house in the first sign that some of the world's largest clearing houses believe they need to ensure they are financially robust enough to withstand new demands placed on them by a wave of post-2008 crisis regulations.

BOOKMAKER WILLIAM HILL TO OPEN TALKS WITH PLAYTECH

William Hill will begin talks with Playtech this month to salvage the companies' online joint venture following a breakdown in relations last year.

NYT

Inc's YouTube, that were announced in October are beginning to provide content, raising hopes that they can attract enough subscribers to raise advertising rates.

* A lawyer for banks said MBIA Inc's chief, Joseph Brown, was "pregnant with inside information" on MBIA's pending 2009 restructuring when he bought company stock in the months before the announcement.

* The Federal Reserve this week will release the results of its latest stress tests, which are expected to show broadly improved balance sheets at most institutions.

* Public remarks by Fed officials suggest a decision on whether to continue efforts to stoke the economy will not come before the policy committee's next meeting in April.

* A government decision to open wheat and barley export sales has set off competition by companies worldwide looking for a piece of the Canadian market.

Canadian Press

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

- Canada's Western premiers are seeking to wrest control over immigration away from Ottawa to help the West manage its growing skills shortage.

As Ottawa struggles with a huge backlog of immigration applications, the provinces, especially in the fast-growing West, are increasingly frustrated with their inability to bring in needed workers.

- Japan has rebuilt the highways, but villages and towns swept away by an earthquake and tsunami a year ago are harder to re-establish. And the wider effects will continue to be felt across the country for years.

Among them is a Canadian link. The nuclear plant meltdown caused by the disaster has Japan rethinking nuclear energy, and that makes the country more keenly interested in Western Canadian pipelines that might one day bring natural gas to be shipped overseas to Asia.

Reports in the Business Section

- Music publishers want more money out of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp for the rights to play their music, after the broadcaster launched an online streaming music service that allows listeners to hear thousands of songs a day on their computers and phones for free.

- Commodities and mining giant Glencore has made a 3.5 billion euros ($5.5 billion) approach for Regina-based Viterra Inc, Canada's biggest grain handler, Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper said on its website.

NATIONAL POST

- Thomas Mulcair, the perceived front-runner in the NDP leadership race, was attacked by his main rivals in a televised debate Sunday in Vancouver for wanting to shift the left-wing party away from its social democratic roots to some undefined centrist position.

European Economic Update

  • Germany Wholesale Price Index for February 1.0% m/m 2.6% y/y – in line with expectations. Consensus 1.0% m/m 2.6% y/y. Previous 1.2% m/m 3.0% y/y.
  • Italy GDP s.a. and w.d.a. -0.7% q/q -0.4% y/y. Consensus -0.7% q/q -0.5% y/y. Previous -0.7% q/q -0.5% y/y.