Chief Correspondent, Austria, Vienna, Austria
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May 27, 2010

ECB policymakers differ on euro slide

BARCELONA/VIENNA (Reuters) – European Central Bank members took differing lines on the euro’s recent slump on Thursday, with one calling the volatility unwelcome as others cheered the drop as a tonic for the economy.

Analysts said the divide was unlikely to help the euro, which has slumped over 15 percent since January on the back of persistent fears that the debt crisis begun in Greece was worsening across the 16-country bloc.

May 20, 2010

Vienna Insurance Q1 boosted by life, asset gains

VIENNA, May 20 (Reuters) – Vienna Insurance Group <VIGR.VI>,
emerging Europe’s No.1 insurer, reported a 10 percent rise in
first-quarter pretax profit, as strong life insurance drove up
premiums and lower writedowns on assets helped.

Pretax profit rose to 133 million euros ($166 million),
boosted by stronger overall premium growth of 8 percent. Both
premiums and profit were slightly above the average forecast in
a Reuters poll. [ID:nLDE64H24H]

May 17, 2010

Bond buys add to tensions within ECB

BERLIN/VIENNA, May 17 (Reuters) – European Central Bank
policymaker Ewald Nowotny criticised German “hysteria” over
inflation pressures on Monday in a sign of tensions over the
central bank’s foray into buying government bonds.
The Austrian central bank governor was speaking after German
Bundesbank President Axel Weber last week broke ranks to
publicly criticise the ECB’s bond purchases, and after
commentary in German media suggested the decision meant an end
to the ECB’s independence and the start of higher inflation.

The ECB revealed on Monday that it had bought 16.5 billion
euros in bonds in the initial days of its programme and would
mop up the money released by the purchases by accepting one-week
deposits — a key plank in its argument that the purchases will
not fuel inflation. [ID:nLDE64G1O9]

May 15, 2010

East Europe 2010 GDP outlook raised but EU impact seen

ZAGREB, May 15 (Reuters) – Development lender EBRD raised
its 2010 economic outlook for eastern and central Europe on
Saturday but cut growth estimates for some countries, warning of
a risk from fallout from Greece’s sovereign debt crisis.

Emerging from its steepest recession since the collapse of
communism in the region two decades ago, central Europe is now
expected to grow 3.7 percent this year, up from the 3.3 percent
forecast in January.

May 15, 2010

Ukraine says hopes IMF talks can finish soon

ZAGREB, May 15 (Reuters) – An aide to Ukraine’s President
said on Saturday talks with the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) about $19 billion in emergency loans should be finished
soon even though they are not going easily.

Ukraine’s latest tax data showed the new government could
make good its promise to raise revenue this year, a key element
in the talks, the deputy prime minister said, and the outcome of
the talks will be relevant for Ukraine’s bond plans this year.

May 14, 2010

Euro zone crisis to hit emerging Europe – EBRD

ZAGREB (Reuters) – The euro zone crisis will hit exports and undermine recovery in central and Eastern Europe, officials said on Friday, a blow to the region that suffered the worst recession of the global financial crisis.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said looming fiscal cuts in western Europe would weaken demand for eastern goods and it would cut its growth forecasts for the region stretching from the Baltics to the Black Sea and east into central Asia.

May 12, 2010

Germany backs euro package as market rally fades

BERLIN/VIENNA (Reuters) – Germany’s cabinet on Tuesday approved the biggest national contribution to a $1 trillion emergency package intended to stabilize the euro, as global markets sobered up after Monday’s euphoric rally.

Relief at the European Union’s bold move to restore investor confidence gave way Tuesday to doubts whether weaker euro zone economies can meet their part of the bargain and deliver drastic budget cuts, driving the euro and stocks lower.

Apr 29, 2010

$60 bln Greek debt vanish and it’s not what you think

VIENNA/ZURICH, April 29 (Reuters) – Swiss banks’ exposure to
Greece dropped to $3.6 billion from $64 billion in the three
months to December, and this time it’s not wayward Greek
statisticians’ fault.

The whopping, yet mystifying drop in foreign claims on Greek
borrowers shows up in the Bank for International Settlements’
quarterly banking statistics, 104 pages of endless number
columns that chart global banks’ international exposures.

Apr 28, 2010

Greek bank woes pose new risk in debt crisis

ATHENS/VIENNA (Reuters) – They did not cause the debt crisis but Greece’s banks may soon become its victims, and increasing pressure on their balance sheets could add another chapter to Athens’ fiscal tragedy.

Greece’s downgrade to speculative status by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s on Tuesday was also applied to Greek lenders, a move that simultaneously hit the value of government bonds in the banks’ portfolios and their own ability to raise credit.

Mar 19, 2010

Q+A: Investors hope for Raiffeisen merger details

VIENNA (Reuters) – Emerging Europe’s No.2 lender Raiffeisen International <RIBH.VI> is expected to comment further on a possible merger with its Austrian parent RZB <RZB.UL> when it reports full-year earnings on Tuesday.

The groups spooked markets on February 22 when they disclosed they were considering a merger but left unanswered many questions investors had about the deal.

    • About Boris

      "I am Reuters Chief Correspondent in Vienna and mainly cover the Austrian banking sector. I also help coordinate our coverage of banking in the broader emerging European region, where Austrian banks are among the major players."
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