Europe

With European Central Bank policy makers preparing to hike interest rates yet again at their March meeting, Spanish banks have been paying their customers even less for their savings, Bloomberg News reported. Spain’s lenders paid 0.37% on new household deposits with an agreed maturity of as long as one year in January, down from 0.42% in December, according to ECB data published Friday. By comparison, the rate for the savings of French families jumped to 2.34% from 2.13%, while Dutch banks paid 2.03%.
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A crypto fund manager overseeing $400 million is looking to Swiss banks to help plug the gap created by the unraveling of a key payments network operated by ailing US lender Silvergate Capital Corp., Bloomberg News reported. Digital Asset Capital Management used Silvergate’s round-the-clock, real-time network to move funds to and from Coinbase Global Inc.’s platform. But Coinbase, Crypto.com and Gemini are among the exchanges that will no longer accept or initiate payments through Silvergate.
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Ireland's domestic economy fell into a technical recession in the final quarter of 2022, Central Statistics Office data showed on Friday, but still grew by 8.2% for the year as a whole while the broader but unreliable measure of GDP powered further ahead, Reuters reported. With Ireland's large multinational sector often distorting gross domestic product (GDP), officials prefer to use modified domestic demand to gauge the strength of the economy and it fell 1.3% quarter-on-quarter, following a 1.1% decline in the third quarter.
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Strikes in France to protest against government pension reforms hit power giant Electricite de France SA for a third consecutive day after workers cut output at a number of nuclear reactors, Bloomberg News reported. The walkouts reduced production on Sunday by about 4 gigawatts across generators at four plants including Tricastin, Flamanville, Cattenom and Paluel, according to filings published on EDF’s website. The labor strife is also spreading to the trucking industry, with freight haulers planning to block some logistics and industrial centers early Monday, Le Parisien reported.
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Eurozone inflation eased in February for the fourth straight month, but a strong pickup in services prices makes it likely that the European Central Bank will continue to raise interest rates in coming months, the Wall Street Journal reported. Despite the overall easing in price rises, inflation accelerated in many of the eurozone’s largest members—including Germany, France and Spain—underlines how difficult a task central bankers face in bringing it back under control. Strikes and labor unrest across the region are pushing wages higher, something that makes inflation stickier.
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Blackstone Inc. has defaulted on a €531 million ($562 million) bond backed by a portfolio of offices and stores owned by Sponda Oy, a Finnish landlord it acquired in 2018, Bloomberg News reported. The private equity firm had sought an extension from holders of the securitized notes to allow time to dispose of assets and repay the debt, according to people with knowledge of the plan.
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Bankruptcies in Sweden increased for the seventh consecutive month in February with retailers squeezed by declining household consumption and the construction industry struggling in the wake of an ongoing housing market rout, Bloomberg News reported. Sweden’s economy is buckling under the weight of soaring consumer prices and increased borrowing costs. A recession may already be under way as indebted households, whose mortgage rates are typically fixed for short periods, tighten purse strings and a plunge in housing prices is rapidly reducing investments in new dwellings.
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German inflation surprisingly accelerated in February, further complicating the European Central Bank’s task after overshoots this week in other parts of the continent, Bloomberg News reported. Consumer prices advanced 9.3% from a year ago, up from January’s 9.2% gain, driven by services and food costs. The move came even as Germany moved to limit household heating bills that rocketed because of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The reading for Europe’s biggest economy puts more pressure on the ECB after French inflation hit a euro-era record and Spanish price growth defied estimates to moderate.
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Italy posted firm economic growth of 3.7% last year but the budget deficit far exceeded official forecasts due to the cost of tax incentives for green buildings, national statistics bureau ISTAT reported on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Growth slowed from 7.0% (upwardly revised from 6.7%) in 2021 but it was in line with the government's most recent projection, as the euro zone's third largest economy held up better than expected during the first three quarters.
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The debt recovery agency Air Claim, which specializes in helping customers of airlines recover their money, asked in court for the insolvency of low-cost carrier Blue Air – now 75% controlled by the Romanian government, Romanian-Insider.com reported. The pre-insolvency period for the company ended on February 22. The court did not yet approve the request filed by Air Claim, according to Economica.net.
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