Europe

Even as Europe’s economic outlook is rapidly improving, European Central Bank policymakers decided on Thursday to maintain their “very accommodative” monetary stance, the New York Times reported. Governments are lifting lockdown restrictions and the vaccine rollout has sped up, which has led to a bounce in the services industry and “ongoing dynamism” in manufacturing, Christine Lagarde, president of the central bank, told reporters at a news conference in Frankfurt.

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President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to counter the influence of autocratic states during their first in-person meeting on Thursday and looked to smooth over disagreements regarding a complex arrangement to manage trade and preserve peace in Northern Ireland after Brexit, the Wall Street Journal reported. Ahead of the Group of Seven meeting this week, the two leaders backed a wide-ranging document that charts a path forward from a global pandemic that has killed millions, as the virus continues spreading in some parts of the world.
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UK subprime lender Amigo Holdings said today it was considering all options for the company including a revised scheme of arrangement or insolvency, after a court last month rejected its rescue plan, RTÉ reported. Amigo said in a statement that it was continuing to engage with the UK Financial Conduct Authority to find a way forward. However, based on the expected volume of complaints from current and past customers, the value of Amigo's assets would be less than its liabilities without an appropriate scheme of arrangement to deal with complaints, it said.

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The liquidator of a Kildare company linked to a Germany property group which collapsed, resulting in losses of up to €107 million for Irish investors, has criticised delays he is experiencing in getting key information as he investigates the firm’s affairs before it was put into wind-up, the Irish Times reported. Hanover-based German Property Group (GPG), formerly known as Dolphin Trust, collapsed last year after taking €1.5 billion from investors in the Republic, the UK, Asia and elsewhere since it was set up by businessman Charles Smethurst in 2008.
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The European Central Bank is expected to leave its stimulus efforts running at full steam Thursday — even as the economy shows signs of recovery thanks to the easing of pandemic restrictions, the Associated Press reported. And that could present a challenge for ECB head Christine Lagarde. She faces a balancing act: acknowledging improving economic data without triggering a premature market reaction that anticipates the eventual reduction in central bank support for the economy.
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Greece will get nearly twice as much funding than originally expected this year from the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, one of the country’s top economic advisers said on Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported. The country will receive some 7.5 billion euros ($9.1 billion) in 2021 from the fund, set up to help offset the economic effects of the pandemic, compared with an original figure of around 4 billion euros, Alex Patelis, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s chief economic adviser, said at the Athens Stock Exchange’s annual investment forum.
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The European Union on Wednesday launched proceedings against Germany over a ruling by the top German court last year on a European Central Bank bond-buying program that broke with a verdict from the EU’s own top court, the Associated Press reported. Brussels says that “constitutes a serious precedent.” Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court in May last year gave the ECB three months to prove that its key bond-buying program was justified and appropriate.
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Britain's competition authority said on Wednesday that it was launching enforcement action against Ryanair and British Airways over their failure to offer refunds to passengers who were barred from taking flights under lockdown rules, Reuters reported. During COVID-19 lockdowns across Britain, instead of offering refunds to those legally unable to fly, IAG-owned British Airways (ICAG.L) offered vouchers or rebooking and Ryanair providing the option to rebook.
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A lack of semiconductors, timber and other intermediate goods drove an unexpected fall in German industrial output in April, a further sign that massive supply bottlenecks are hampering the recovery in Europe's largest economy, Reuters reported. The Federal Statistics Office said industrial output dropped 1.0% on the month after a downwardly revised increase of 2.2% in March. A Reuters poll had pointed to a 0.5% rise in April. The drop in the headline figure was driven by a decrease in consumer goods production of more than 3% and a plunge in construction activity of more than 4%.
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Italy is seizing on a bond rally spurred by bets that monetary stimulus in Europe is here to stay for a while longer, Bloomberg News reported. The government racked up more than 60 billion euros ($73 billion) of orders for its sale of new 10-year bonds. While that’s short of a record set when the continent was in the throes of the pandemic a year ago, it matches interest at the height of a bond rally in February, when yields fell to a record low.
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