Headlines

Russian coal and steel producer Mechel has asked state-controlled lenders Sberbank, VTB and Gazprombank for more time to make its debt repayments, the banks and company said on Thursday, Reuters reported. Mechel, which had already postponed debt repayments to 2020-2022 following lengthy restructuring talks with Russian state banks earlier this year, is now asking to push payments back to 2024-2026, an executive at Sberbank, one of its key lenders, said.

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Brazilian telecom carrier Oi SA reported a steepening second-quarter net loss on Wednesday, confounding expectations for a narrower shortfall, as debt servicing costs rose and the real currency weakened, Reuters reported. In a securities filing, the company posted a quarterly loss of 1.559 billion reais ($384.81 million), compared to a loss of 1.258 billion reais in the same period of the previous year. Analysts on average expected a net loss of 437 million reais, according to Refinitiv data.

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South Africa’s Truworths International Ltd is considering closing loss-making stores of its UK-based shoe chain Office, joining the growing ranks of retailers to be hit by Britain’s gloomy trading environment, Reuters reported. Office is battling tough conditions in Britain due to uncertainty over Brexit, plus pressures on store-based retailers as shoppers move online. This resulted in the South African-listed clothing, shoes, jewellery and homeware retailer booking a non-cash impairment charge of 97 million pounds ($117.44 million) against Office’s assets.

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President Vladimir Putin has given officials until the end of August to make proposals on how Russia should assess commercial borrowers' risks under new international rules that the domestic banking sector plans to adopt, Economy Minister Maxim Oreshkin said, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. The central bank is voluntarily signing the sector up to the Basel III reforms, aimed at strengthening the regulation, supervision and risk management of banks and due to be fully implemented within the European Union by 2027.

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In a related story, Bloomberg News reported that Argentina’s century bonds may have been in the spotlight as the country’s assets tumbled this week, but there’s another 100-mark looming: the yield on its domestic securities. Peso bonds have lost almost half their value in dollar terms since President Mauricio Macri’s defeat in last weekend’s primary election, which sparked fears that populist opposition leader Alberto Fernandez will defeat him in the main vote in October. Prices on short-dated securities maturing in November next year have collapsed to 63 cents, equating to a yield of 89%.

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The Incredible Sinking Argentina

Over the last 70 years, Argentina has endured hyperinflation, government collapse, and the world’s largest sovereign debt default. It’s spent a third of that time in recession, a record that almost deserves its own chapter in economic textbooks, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. And yet even the embattled Buenos Aires stock exchange had never experienced anything like the 48% plunge it took on Aug.

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Investors may see little danger of the euro zone breaking up anytime soon, but a growing pile of poor economic data is souring sentiment to a degree not seen since the painful days of the region’s sovereign debt crisis, Bloomberg News reported. Wednesday’s report showing a contraction in Germany’s economy fueled further downside to European equities. The share of fund managers who believe the region’s economy will weaken over the next 12 months nearly doubled in August from the previous month, reaching 59%, the highest level since December 2011, according to Bank of America Corp.’s survey.

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Norway’s central bank has cast doubt on whether it will raise interest rates again this year as growing economic uncertainty around the world fuels a global shift towards looser monetary policy, the Financial Times reported. The bank was dubbed “the sole hawk in town” after raising rates at the end of June, its third increase in the past year.

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A decade after the financial crisis, Europe’s banks just can’t seem to put their woes behind them, and that should worry more than a few highly paid executives, Bloomberg News reported. While U.S. lenders saw their shares surge almost seven-fold since markets hit bottom in March 2009, their European rivals are trading barely above levels from a decade ago, and several have recently hit new lows. European banks are at the epicenter of almost 50,000 jobs that are being cut from the global industry as the prospect of lower interest rates for longer weighs on an already fragile industry.

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As China moves toward a more market-based approach to determining the cost of money in its economy, one metric suggests corporate debt is going in the opposite direction, Bloomberg News reported. Some 17% of company bonds in the first half were sold at yields at least 50 basis points below rates in the secondary market, according to data from China Chengxin International Credit Rating Co. That’s a jump from 9.9% in the second half of 2018. Globally, only the most in-demand issuers can raise funds in line with where their existing debt is trading; almost everyone pays a premium.

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