Headlines

The concessions offered by Italy’s government on its planned budget are on the right track but may not be enough to placate Brussels, the EU’s economy commissioner has warned. “It is a step in the right direction but we are not there yet, there are still steps to be taken, perhaps on both sides,” Pierre Moscovici said on Thursday. Rome has proposed cutting its planned budget deficit for 2019 to 2.04 per cent from 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product, the Financial Times reported.

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Mario Draghi, the ECB president, has acknowledged that slower growth lies ahead for the eurozone, reflecting persistently weak data for the region in recent months, the Financial Times reported. The euro gave up its gains for the day and turned negative as Mr Draghi spoke following the end of the central bank’s regular policy meeting on Thursday.

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Mike Ashley said Christmas shopping has been so bad for retailers that it “will literally smash them to pieces”, in a dire warning that sent shares in his Sports Direct chain sharply lower and spread more gloom on UK high streets, the Financial Times reported. Shares in Debenhams, Next and Marks and Spencer all dropped more than 3 per cent on a day when the broader market was flat. Helen Connolly, chief executive of fashion retailer Bonmarché, echoed Mr Ashley’s sentiments. She warned that conditions were “unprecedented” and “significantly worse” than during the financial crisis.

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Holders of about half of the $6bn in debt issued to finance a Mexico City airport project that is now destined to be scrapped rejected the government’s enhanced proposal on Wednesday, saying it was better, but still nowhere near good enough, the Financial Times reported.

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India’s state-run banks sought an easing of rules related to bad loan recognition in a meeting with newly-appointed central bank Governor Shaktikanta Das, people familiar with the matter said. The heads of seven banks also asked for a liquidity boost for the financial system to help non-bank financiers tide over a cash crunch, the people said, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private, Bloomberg News reported. An easing of lending curbs on 11 weak state-run lenders was also discussed, they said. Regulations have limited banks’ ability to extend credit.

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Investors from Canada and Asia may offer a much-needed relief for Poland’s fledgling corporate bond market, hammered by the country’s largest corporate default and scandals that undermined trust in its banking watchdog, Bloomberg News reported. With global growth set to fizzle amid rising trade tensions, a unit of Canada’s largest lender, Toronto-Dominion Bank, is looking to invest in Polish bonds to capitalize on the nation’s fast-expanding economy.

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A deluge of misfortunes has left China’s equity investors with their biggest losses in years, wherever you look. Stung by everything from a national vaccine scandal to a decline in consumer spending, the Trump administration’s crackdown on Chinese tech and Beijing’s tightening grip on education, gaming and drugs, the country’s stock market has lost $2.1 trillion in value in 2018, Bloomberg News reported.

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Troubled low-cost African carrier Fastjet Plc said on Thursday it had enough cash to operate until Dec. 21 and that it had met the conditions for an open offer and equity refinancing to raise funds, Reuters reported. The company in September announced a fundraising and equity refinancing aimed at increasing its equity base by at least $40 million, which will give the airline enough working capital until the end of 2019. The airline said it had cash balance of $7 million as of Wednesday, of which $6.5 million was restricted cash held inside Zimbabwe.

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Brazil’s fourth-largest airline, Avianca Brasil, has been in talks for a much-needed cash injection since before it filed for bankruptcy on Monday, German Efromovich, whose family controls the carrier, told Reuters. Efromovich, the controlling shareholder of better-known airline Avianca Holdings SA said in a phone interview on Thursday that he was negotiating with funds, which he declined to identify, Reuters reported. He also declined to elaborate on the value and whether the transaction would be debt or equity.

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Saudi Arabian conglomerate Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Brothers (AHAB) has begun canvassing creditor support for its bid to become the first company to achieve a settlement under the kingdom’s new bankruptcy law, a senior executive said. Creditors will vote in the first quarter of 2019 on whether they agree to AHAB’s plan to reach a protective settlement under the law, said Simon Charlton, AHAB’s chief restructuring officer, Reuters reported.

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