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May 16, 2012

Merkel ditches environment minister after poll rout

BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel fired her environment minister on Wednesday after he led her party to a regional election defeat, replacing him with a loyal conservative ally to push through her plans to take German energy into the post-nuclear era.

Norbert Roettgen, a Merkel protege once see as a possible successor, was removed after his campaign to be premier of the most populous German state, North Rhine-Westphalia, ended in a historic defeat for the Christian Democrats (CDU) on Sunday.

May 16, 2012

German, French bonds grabbed on Greek fears

BERLIN/PARIS, May 16 (Reuters) – Investors snapped up French
and German bonds at auctions on Wednesday, overlooking miserly
yields as they sought out assets most likely to withstand the
rising risk that Greece could leave the euro zone.
The political situation in Athens, where anti-bailout
momentum is gathering, has become so critical investors were
prepared to accept returns that were the lowest ever offered on
such debt, and not enough to compensate for expected inflation.
Leftists opposed to the reforms agreed with the European
Union and the International Monetary Fund under a vital aid deal
are favourites to win new Greek elections in June after talks to
form a government failed.
That prospect has raised fears the country could default and
quit the euro, sending shockwaves through markets, and pushing
borrowing costs for larger indebted states in the bloc such as
Spain and Italy rapidly towards unsustainable levels.
“We’re hearing more and more talk about Greece leaving the
euro zone, while this was a taboo subject a few months ago …
The result of the auctions just shows you how nervous markets
are,” said Viola Stork, fixed income analyst at Helaba
Landesbank Hesse-Thueringen.

A German auction on Wednesday of 4.1 billion euros of its
benchmark July 2022 Bund drew above-average demand of 1.5 times
the amount sold and produced Germany’s lowest-ever cost of
10-year funds at an average 1.47 percent.
The relative health of Germany’s economy and public finances
mean its debt, rated triple-A by all three major credit rating
agencies, is among the world’s safest and most liquid assets.
The result contrasted with April’s debut sale of the same
bond, when a record low coupon of 1.75 percent stopped Germany
attracting enough bids to cover the full amount offered – an
illustration of how much sentiment has deteriorated in a month.
Meanwhile, demand at an auction of French five-year bonds,
the country’s first sale of medium-term debt since Socialist
Francois Hollande was elected president earlier this month, was
nearly threefold the amount of debt on offer.
France paid a record low cost of 1.72 percent as investors
bid above-market prices to secure the bonds, which offer
significantly higher returns than German, Dutch and other
top-rated euro zone debt. France is still rated triple-A by
Moody’s and Fitch, but was downgraded to AA+ by Standard &
Poor’s in January as part of a mass downgrade of euro zone
states.
It also sold 1.182 billion euros of bonds linked to French
and euro zone inflation rates in a separate auction with
investors making bids worth 3.467 billion euros, also nearly
three times the amount on offer.
Some analysts saw the strong auction result as a sign that
markets were encouraged by the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting
between Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at which
they pledged to forge a joint approach in policy.
Instead of renegotiating the Merkel-backed European
agreement on budget discipline as some investors had feared
before the election, they are now expected to complement it with
a “growth pact”.

Apr 30, 2012

Pirates Party’s rapid rise upsets German landscape

NEUMUENSTER, Germany, April 29 (Reuters) – With some
sporting pirate garb and black beards in light-hearted tribute
to their name, Germany’s Pirates party gathered in a small city
hall and in the vast open waters of cyberspace this weekend to
chart a course that may yet take them to the national
parliament.

The party, which met in the northern city of Neumuenster,
aroused a mixture of rye amusement and angry derision when it
stormed onto the political scene last year garnering 8.9 percent
of vote in Berlin’s city assembly. Since then, however, it has
staked a claim to third place in the party pecking order,
garnering 11 to 13 percent in opinion polls.

Apr 29, 2012

FEATURE: Pirates Party’s rapid rise upsets German landscape

NEUMUENSTER, Germany (Reuters) – With some sporting pirate garb and black beards in light-hearted tribute to their name, Germany’s Pirates party gathered in a small city hall and in the vast open waters of cyberspace this weekend to chart a course that may yet take them to the national parliament.

The party, which met in the northern city of Neumuenster, aroused a mixture of rye amusement and angry derision when it stormed onto the political scene last year garnering 8.9 percent of vote in Berlin’s city assembly. Since then, however, it has staked a claim to third place in the party pecking order, garnering 11 to 13 percent in opinion polls.

Apr 23, 2012

McCall light sculptures pierce Berlin black box

BERLIN (Reuters) – Enter the soaring exhibition hall of Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof and you feel as if you are faced with an eerie science-fiction film set.

Colossal cones of light pierce the misty, darkness, beckoning the visitor to tread within their silvery forms, in this new exhibition of British-born artist Anthony McCall’s so-called “light films”.

Apr 22, 2012

Merkel’s FDP ally eyes poll comeback, doubts persist

KARLSRUHE, Germany (Reuters) – Poll figures may be low and forecasts gloomy, but Martina Reuter felt certain things were looking up for her party – Germany’s Free Democrats (FDP), the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition.

“At the moment there is a real mood of change … There is a return to the old, fundamental values,” the 50-year-old party member told Reuters at a weekend FDP congress in Karlsruhe, western Germany.

Apr 20, 2012

German business morale up for sixth straight month

BERLIN, April 20 (Reuters) – German business sentiment
unexpectedly rose for the sixth month in a row in April in a
sign that Europe’s largest economy continues to outpace peers
and shrug off persistent worries about the euro zone debt
crisis.

The Munich-based Ifo think tank said on Friday its business
climate index, based on a monthly survey of some 7,000
companies, inched up to 109.9 in April from 109.8 in March,
taking it to its highest level since July 2011.

Apr 19, 2012

Berlin Biennale showcases contemporary political art

BERLIN, April 19 (Reuters) – Hundreds of birch trees from
the biggest Nazi death camp, at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland,
are dotted around Berlin as a living memorial of this dark
chapter in Germany’s past.

The trees, called Birke in German, lent their name to the
Birkenau camp where as many as 1.5 million people, mostly Jews,
perished between 1940 and 1945.

Apr 11, 2012

Low returns dampen demand at German debt sale

LONDON/BERLIN, April 11 (Reuters) – Safe-haven Germany
offered the lowest ever return of 1.75 percent on its 10-year
government bonds on Wednesday, dampening demand for its debt
despite concerns about Spain and Italy.

Investors sold Spanish debt on Tuesday and yields jumped at
an Italian bill auction on Wednesday, on doubts about whether
those countries can keep debt and deficits in check. This had
drawn attention to the auction of Germany’s low risk debt.

Apr 9, 2012

Photographer captures Soviet avant-garde architecture

BERLIN, April 9 (Reuters) – British photographer Richard
Pare is on a mission to capture Soviet avant-garde buildings
before they turn to ruins in the hope of raising awareness about
this little-known period of experimentation in modern
architecture.

The exhibition “Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and
Architecture 1915-1935″, which opened in Berlin on Thursday,
displays his work in colour alongside black-and-white archive
photos of the buildings under construction and modernist Russian
artworks.

    • About Sarah

      "Sarah covers economic and political news from Argentina as part of the Reuters Latin America reporting team. The focus this year is on a shift in policy ahead of key elections in late 2015 and signs of a slowdown in an economy marked by one of the world’s highest inflation rates. Sarah moved to Buenos Aires in 2014 from Berlin, where she reported on Europe’s largest economy for five years during the euro zone debt crisis. She joined Reuters as a graduate trainee in the London HQ in 2007 and has also done assignments in Frankfurt and Vienna. ..."
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