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from MacroScope:

A glimmer of hope in Kiev

A glimmer of hope in Ukraine?

Let’s not count our chickens after 75 people were killed over the past two days but President Viktor Yanukovich’s people are saying an agreement on resolving the crisis has been reached at all-night talks involving the president, opposition leaders and three visiting European Union ministers.
A deal is due to be signed at 1000 GMT apparently although no details are as yet forthcoming. There has been no word from the EU ministers or the opposition so far.

Even if the violence subsides and some sort of political agreement is reached (a huge if), there is potential financial chaos to deal with despite Russia’s only partially delivered pledge of $15 billion to bail its neighbour out.

Standard & Poor's has cut Ukraine's sovereign rating for the second time in three weeks, saying the political situation has deteriorated substantially, posing an increased risk of default. The rating is now deep in junk territory at ‘CCC’ and with a negative outlook, meaning further cuts are likely.

Moscow is expected to pay the second instalment of $2 billion soon but has signalled that Yanukovich must first restore order to get it. So in essence the EU says sanctions will be imposed if the violence doesn’t stop while Russia says aid money won’t flow if the violence does stop and the opposition has not been quelled.

from Photographers' Blog:

From the White House to the Mad House

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Bali, Indonesia

By Jason Reed

Just a couple of months ago I was swirling in a perpetual bubble, a privileged circle of photographers whose job it is to photograph one man – the President of the United States.

I did it for ten years and mostly enjoyed every minute. Over that period of time there comes a predictable familiarity to the role, in which you can pre-write all your captions hours and sometimes days in advance and plan your coverage down to the last detail. It is a safe and cosy existence. Due to the nature of the subject, it needs to be.

from Breakingviews:

Privatisations a bright spot for gloomy Aussie M&A

By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Privatisation is a bright spot in what looks to be an otherwise dreary year for Australian dealmakers. The country is set for a flurry of activity as cash-constrained local governments prepare to flog existing infrastructure assets in order to fund new projects and create jobs.

from Left field:

England cricket selectors have got it all wrong in the Ashes

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It’s not only the on-field performances that let England down in the Ashes. The selectors too got it wrong starting from the initial announcement of the squad to the playing XI that was chosen for the third Test. The team management must also share the blame for going 3-0 down and losing the urn.

They made their first mistake in denying paceman Graham Onions a place in the touring party, a move that then came under harsh criticism in the English media. He has long been considered the second best swing bowler in England after James Anderson and his omission especially after a good season with Durham was baffling if not downright foolish. Instead, Onions is now in South Africa, playing for the Dolphins.

from Global Investing:

Watanabes shop for Brazilian real, Mexican peso

Are Mr and Mrs Watanabe preparing to return to emerging markets in a big way?

Mom and pop Japanese investors, collectively been dubbed the Watanabes, last month snapped up a large volume of uridashi bonds (bonds in foreign currencies marketed to small-time Japanese investors),  and sales of Brazilian real uridashi rose last month to the highest since July 2010, Barclays analysts say, citing official data.

Just to remind ourselves, the Watanabes have made a name for themselves as canny players of the interest rate arbitrage between the yen and various high-yield currencies. The real was a red-hot favourite and their frantic uridashi purchases in 2007 and 2009-2011 was partly behind Brazil's decision to slap curbs on incoming capital. Their ardour has cooled in the past two years but the trade is far from dead.

from Breakingviews:

Qantas needs help to escape financial nosedive

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By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Qantas needs help to escape from its financial nosedive. The Australia carrier’s shares plunged 11 percent after it warned that it will report a pre-tax loss of up to A$300 million ($225 million) in the first six months of the year. Part of the problem is that the airline is a political hybrid, restricted from raising foreign capital but without the support openly state-backed rivals enjoy.

from Breakingviews:

Westfield shops for premium with $28 bln carve-up

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By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Westfield is shopping for a premium with its A$30.3 billion ($28 billion) carve-up. Just three years after its last big reshuffle, the shopping mall giant is separating assets in Australia and New Zealand from outlets in the United States and Europe. The cleaner structure may allow Westfield to command a higher valuation.

from Global Investing:

Emerging stocks lose again in November

By Shadi Bushra

After years of basking in their reputation as high-return hot spots, 2013 could be the year emerging equity markets finally lost their magic touch. Last month continued the litany of losses -- seventeen of the 20 emerging markets listed on S&P Dow Jones indices ended November in the red, the index provider says. Contrast that with developed markets' fortunes last month-- 18 of the markets listed by the index rose, while eight fell.

So last month's scores: Emerging stocks -- down 2 percent; Developed stocks -- up 1.6 percent. And for 2013 as a whole, emerging stocks are down 3 percent while developed markets are up a whopping 22 percent, approaching their 2007 peaks, according to S&P Dow Jones.

from The Great Debate:

A shifting global economy brings Australia to a crossroads

Australia is no longer immune to the stagnation in the West. Despite a resilient housing market, Australia’s economy is slowing. With a worsening labor market, consumption is eroding, along with business confidence.

In the past two years, the benchmark interest rate has been almost halved to 2.5 percent. Still, Australia’s real GDP growth is likely to decrease to 2.4 percent during the ongoing year and will remain barely 2 percent until the mid-2010s.

from Breakingviews:

Australia too mealy-mouthed on protectionism

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By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Australia is being mealy mouthed about protectionism. Treasurer Joe Hockey blocked the A$3.4 billion ($3.1 billion) takeover of agricultural trader GrainCorp by U.S. rival ADM on Nov. 29, on the grounds that Australia’s grain market is only just getting used to competition, five years after the national wheat monopoly was disbanded. For Australia’s foreign investment prospects, the decision itself is less bad than the ambiguity over why it was made.

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