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France offers support for Greece amid bailout tensions

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis wallks with his French counterpart Michel Sapin, at the Economy Ministry in Paris, Sunday Feb. 1, 2015. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who had a tense meeting with Eurogroup leader Jeroen Dijsselbloem in Athens on Friday, has brought forward a trip to Paris, London and Rome to meet his counterparts. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)PARIS (AP) — France's Socialist government offered support Sunday for Greece's efforts to renegotiate debt for its huge bailout plan, amid renewed fears about Europe's economic stability.

02/01/2015 02:19 PM

Ford CFO says sees ongoing problems in Russia: Handelsblatt

A 2015 Ford Mustang is on display during the Moscow International Automobile Salon in Krasnogorsk outside MoscowThe finance chief of Ford Motor Co expects ongoing problems in Russia where the decline of the rouble and the struggling economy was weighing on its market share, according to German newspaper Handelsblatt. Russia's currency and economic woes were cited last week by Ford as major reasons the company lowered expectations for its European business in 2015. Other carmakers have incurred losses and closed production plants in Russia for the same reason. "2015 does not look good," Ford's Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks was quoted as saying about Russia in an interview to be published on Monday.

02/01/2015 11:55 AM

California suffers dry January, prolonging devastating drought

Frank Gehrke, chief of snow surveys for the California Department of Water Resources, measures the snowpack in Phillips, CaliforniaBy Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California has experienced one of the driest Januarys on record, and the lack of rain during a time of year when the weather is usually wet indicates the state is likely headed for a fourth straight year of drought, officials said. A prolonged drought could portend further economic and environmental setbacks for the nation's most populous state, which has already lost both crops and jobs to the dry weather. The state's driest January on record was in 1984, when the 30-day average precipitation in the state reached 0.33 of an inch (0.84 cm), under one method used to gauge rainfall statewide, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Mathews. The low rainfall combined with warmer-than-average temperatures have resulted in a meager snow pack, the California Department of Water Resources said in a statement.

02/01/2015 10:14 AM

Greece starts drive to sell new debt deal to doubting Europe

French Finance Minister Sapin and Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis arrive at a joint news conference in ParisBy Angeliki Koutantou ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's leftist government on Sunday began its drive to persuade a skeptical Europe to accept a new debt agreement while it starts to roll back on austerity measures imposed under its existing bailout agreement. After a turbulent first week in office, the new government has made clear it wants to end the existing arrangement with the European Union, the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund "troika" when its aid deadline expires on Feb. 28. Instead, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wants to agree a bridging deal with the troika while a new agreement is negotiated to reduce Greece's unmanageable public debt burden of more than 175 percent of its economic output is worked out. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who spoke to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Friday, is due to kick off a diplomatic offensive in Paris on Sunday, where he meets French counterpart Michel Sapin and Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron.

02/01/2015 10:07 AM

Greece on European charm offensive in search of debt relief

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (R) shakes hands with European Parliament Chairman Martin Schulz as he welcomes him in Athens on January 29, 2015Greece's new anti-austerity government was set to kick off its European charm offensive in Paris on Sunday seeking to renegotiate its 240 billion euro ($270 billion) bailout, though Germany has already refused to consider any debt relief. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who is looking to write down half of Greece's debt, was scheduled to meet with his French counterpart Michel Sapin and Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron in the afternoon, before heading on to London and Rome. Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has tried to calm nerves and markets spooked by his radical plans, saying he did not intend to renege on commitments to the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Varoufakis is likely to get a sympathetic hearing in France, where Sapin has already said the EU should be open to reworking Greece's bailout programme, while emphasising that it must still pay up eventually.

02/01/2015 09:44 AM

Greek turmoil an unexpected boon for German AfD eurosceptics

AfD Chairman Lucke speaks during a party meeting in BremenBy Michelle Martin BREMEN, Germany (Reuters) - The new Greek government's anti-bailout stance has sent shudders through much of Europe but Germany's euroskeptic AfD party can hardly believe its good fortune ahead of a regional election as a breakup of the euro zone suddenly appears possible. "We all obviously want Greece to leave the euro zone," AfD founder Bernd Lucke told Reuters. "Now we're a bit more hopeful that this could even come true." A central element in the policy stance of the AfD is the need to break up the euro zone, which it sees as the only way to solve Europe's economic problems. Lucke said of the new prime minister Alexis Tsipras: "I'm thankful to this socialist troublemaker for standing up and showing everyone that the euro zone doesn't work." Syriza's tough talk plays into the hands of the AfD, said Alexander Gauland, a regional party leader.

02/01/2015 07:58 AM

Greece shakes Europe's political kaleidoscope: expect the unexpected
By Paul Taylor LONDON (Reuters) - By catapulting to power an improbable alliance of the hard left and nationalist far right, Greece has shaken up Europe's political kaleidoscope and may have signalled the end of an era of centrist consensus. With eight general elections due in the European Union this year, as well as regional votes, the earthquake in Athens may be a harbinger of other shocks to come. Expect the unexpected in 2015 from Britain to Finland and Denmark to Spain as voters who have endured five years of economic crisis, falling real incomes and welfare cuts vent their anger, anxiety or apathy at the ballot boxes. This theme will be prominent during Reuters' annual euro zone summit this week which will interview a host of policymakers from Brussels and key EU capitals.
02/01/2015 04:12 AM

Fed's 'solid' growth view faces test as Greek drama unfolds

Detail from the front of the United States Federal Reserve Board building is shown in WashingtonBy Philip Blenkinsop BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve's upgraded view that growth in the world's biggest economy is "solid", and so capable of withstanding an interest rate rise this year, will be put to the test by U.S. jobs data this week. The Federal Reserve last week lifted its assessment of the U.S. expansion to "solid" from "moderate", with jobs growth now seen as "strong". "Interest rates then were 6 percent. In an encouraging sign, the more widely respected Employment Cost Index, released on Friday, showed labour costs increased by 2.2 percent in the 12 months through December, although still below the 3 percent economists say is needed to bring inflation close to the Fed's 2 percent target.

02/01/2015 04:09 AM

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing bets on Europe as China slows

Famed for his sharp business acumen and knack for perfectly timed investments, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing is shifting away from a slowing Chinese economy and bargain hunting in EuropeFamed for his sharp business acumen and knack for perfectly timed investments, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing is shifting away from a slowing Chinese economy and bargain hunting in Europe. Li's holdings are embodied in a striking 63-storey glass skyscraper in the heart of Hong Kong and his business decisions have the potential to affect property and utility prices for the city's seven million residents. The announcement just over a week ago that he plans to buy UK phone giant O2 for up to $15.4 billion follows prolonged asset offloading in mainland China and Hong Kong -- and a major reshuffle of his business empire announced last month. "They (Li's companies) are worried about the slowing down of economic growth in China, and also the political stability in Hong Kong," financial analyst Castor Pang told AFP.

02/01/2015 12:11 AM

China official services PMI at one-year low in January
BEIJING (Reuters) - Growth in China's services sector cooled to a one-year low in January, an official survey showed on Sunday, reinforcing expectations about the Chinese economy losing more steam in coming months.
01/31/2015 11:47 PM

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