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Ukraine's Poroshenko backs Yatseniuk for new term as prime minister

31 October, 2014 - 09:33

By Richard Balmforth KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko threw his support behind Arseny Yatseniuk for a new term as prime minister on Friday, ending speculation that he would seek to try to bring in his own candidate as head of a new pro-Europe, reformist government. Ukraine won a vital breathing space by sealing an interim gas supply deal with Russia on Thursday that will see it through winter, but the new Kiev government faces a mountain of other problems, not least pro-Russian insurrection in eastern areas. Poroshenko offered his quick backing for Yatseniuk after the 40-year-old former economy and foreign minister, whose People's Front ended slightly ahead of the President's own bloc in an election last Sunday, had bluntly said he expected to stay on. The move confirmed that the partnership between the two men will dominate Ukraine's political landscape in the near future as it battles a separatist rebellion in the east and pursues a course for European integration deeply opposed by Russia.

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Shares in Barclays up seven percent after BoE leverage ratio delay

31 October, 2014 - 09:21
Shares in Barclays rose by 7 percent after Britain's financial regulator said banks had until 2019 to hit a new target that will cap the size of their businesses at about 20 times their equity. Banking sources had expected lenders to have to meet the new targets, dubbed a leverage ratio, by 2017. Barclays' leverage ratio currently stands at 3.5 percent, the lowest among British banks and it would have come under the most scrutiny had a tighter deadline been imposed. Shares in Lloyds Banking Group were up 2.3 percent, Royal Bank of Scotland shares were up 5.4 percent and HSBC shares were up by 1.8 percent.
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Schiffer among PM's Chequers guests

31 October, 2014 - 09:14

Supermodel Claudia Schiffer has dined with David Cameron at the Prime Minister's official country residence, official records show.

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France's Hollande 'sure' Burkina president will act soon to bring calm

31 October, 2014 - 08:49
PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois President Hollande said on Friday he believed Burkina Faso's president would take "the right decisions" within hours to bring calm to his country, where parliament has been dissolved after mass protests. "I am sure that President (Blaise) Compaore in the coming hours will take the right decisions to bring about this essential appeasement," Hollande told journalists in Paris after meeting with his Turkish counterpart. Hollande did not elaborate on what steps he expected Compaore to take. ...
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Convoy thought to contain Burkina ex-president approaches Ghana - sources

31 October, 2014 - 08:45
DAKAR (Reuters) - A heavily armed convoy believed to be carrying Burkina Faso's former president Blaise Compaore was seen travelling on Friday towards the southern town of Po, near the border with Ghana, two diplomatic sources and local media said. The sighting took place as Compaore's resignation statement was announced on local media after days of widescale protests. (Reporting by David Lewis and Bate Felix; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Emma Farge)
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Ukraine will guarantee transit of Russian gas to Europe - PM

31 October, 2014 - 08:43
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, speaking after a gas agreement with Russia was nailed down, said on Friday Ukraine would guarantee deliveries of gas through its territory to Europe to make sure Moscow had no room for "blackmailing". Yatseniuk, speaking to Ukrainian energy officials, criticised Russia's South Stream project to transport Russian gas through the Black sea to Europe and added: "Ukraine will guarantee transit. "It (Ukraine) will not give Russia the means of blackmailing Ukraine and Europe with different (gas) flows," he said.
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Iraq's top Shi'ite calls on Baghdad to help Sunni tribes after killings

31 October, 2014 - 08:32
By Raheem Salman BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's most senior Shi'ite cleric called on the government on Friday to rush to the aid of Sunni tribes battling Islamic State, after the militant group executed at least 220 tribesmen west of Baghdad this week. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's comments show how the threat posed by Islamic State, which follows an ultra-hardline version of Sunni Islam, has pushed some Shi'ites and Sunnis to overcome their sectarian differences and face a common enemy. Some Sunnis, who feel marginalised or oppressed since the fall of Saddam Hussein, have sided with Islamic State, an al Qaeda splinter group that took swathes of Iraqi territory in a rapid offensive in June.
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Fire at French public radio complex, staff evacuated

31 October, 2014 - 08:22
A fire broke out at France's public radio headquarters in Paris on Friday, forcing live programmes off the air as staff evacuated the vast Paris complex where major building work has been underway. "The fire is not put out but it is under control," said Paris fire brigade spokesman Gabriel Plus, adding that there were no victims and that there was no longer any risk of the fire spreading to other parts of the building. Photographs circulating on Twitter shortly after the fire broke out showed thick black smoke billowing from upper floors of the building on the banks of the Seine river in the western part of the French capital. "Staff ... had to be evacuated because of a fire," said a Twitter message from France Info, one of several public radio channels housed at the building, the Maison de la Radio.
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U.S. says more air strikes target Islamic State near Syria border town

31 October, 2014 - 08:03
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States military continued to target Islamic State militants near the Syrian town of Kobani on Thursday and Friday, according to U.S. Central Command. The four strikes near Kobani, near the border with Turkey, damaged four fighting positions used by the militant group as well as one of its buildings, Centcom said in a statement. In Iraq, four U.S.-led strikes also targeted the militant group, it said. (Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
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Too much focus on Kobani in anti-IS campaign - Erdogan

31 October, 2014 - 08:03
PARIS (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he believed that the coalition combating Islamic State militants was focusing too much on the Syrian town of Kobani near the Turkish border and should turn its attention to other areas "Why Kobani and not otherwise towns like Idlib, Hama or Homs ... while Iraqi territory is 40 percent controlled by the Islamic State?" Erdogan told a news conference in Paris after talks with President Francois Hollande. "There are only 2,000 fighters in Kobani it is difficult to understand this approach. ...
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Schaeuble says consumption strong, but confidence worsening in Europe

31 October, 2014 - 07:54

DUBLIN (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Friday said he believed consumption and employment remained strong in Germany, but that geopolitical risks were undermining confidence across Europe. Data showed earlier on Friday that German retail sales posted their biggest monthly decline in more than seven years in September, a sign that consumers cannot be relied on to prop up Europe's largest economy. "I can tell you that consumption demand is high, our labour market is fine. There is a growing concern in Europe over geo-political risks, in Russia, the Middle East... ...

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Gas Deal Ensures Europe Won't Freeze This Winter

31 October, 2014 - 07:47

After months of tense and, at times, bitter negotiations, Ukraine has brokered a deal to resume natural gas shipments from Russia and keep the pipelines open through the coming winter.  The settlement includes an negotiated rate on future gas shipments and—with the help of the European Union—the settling of more $3 billion in debts owed by Ukraine.

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Three Iraqis arrested in Switzerland, suspected of planning attack

31 October, 2014 - 07:44
Swiss authorities said on Friday they had arrested three Iraqi citizens in March who are suspected of providing support to Islamic State and planning an attack in Europe. The three are also suspected of using explosives and toxic gases with criminal intent, of pornography offences and encouraging illegal access to and from Switzerland, the Swiss public prosecutor said a statement. Switzerland has sought assistance from European authorities, the prosecutors said. A joint investigation team comprising officers from Switzerland's Federal Criminal Police and the U.S.
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Burkina army chief announces creation of transitional government

31 October, 2014 - 07:41
OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - The head of Burkina Faso's armed forces announced on Thursday the dissolution of the national assembly and the creation of a national transitional government to last a maximum of 12 months, though he did not say who would lead it. "A transitional body will be put in place in consultation with all parties. A return to the constitutional order is expected in no more than 12 months," General Honore Traore told a news conference after a day of violent protests in the capital. (Reporting by Mathieu Bonkougou in Ouagadougou and Bate Felix in Dakar; Editing by Daniel Flynn)
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France seeks to appease Burkina Faso situation - minister

31 October, 2014 - 07:40
PARIS (Reuters) - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Friday he had asked his ambassador in Burkina Faso to try to appease the situation in the west African nation, where parliament has been dissolved and a transitional government put in place after mass protests. "We have asked our ambassador on the ground (in Burkina Faso) to facilitate the solution to calm the situation down," Fabius told journalists, adding that it was not up to France to set up a new government. (Reporting By John Irish; Writing by Nick Vinocur; editing by Mark John)
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RBS takes 400 million pound forex hit and warns more to come

31 October, 2014 - 07:30

By Matt Scuffham LONDON (Reuters) - State-backed Royal Bank of Scotland has set aside 400 million pounds ($640 million) to cover potential fines for manipulating currency markets and warned further charges for past misconduct would continue to hit its profits. RBS, 80 percent-owned by the British government following a 45 billion pound bailout during the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009, on Friday joined other big rivals in signalling it is close to agreeing settlements over alleged manipulation of the $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market. The forex manipulation, revealed after banks were already under scrutiny for profiteering in the setting of benchmark lending rates such as Libor, relates to daily fixing rates which traders are alleged to have manipulated to suit their own market positions. RBS also faces a number of other probes relating to past misdeeds which threaten to undermine its turnaround under Chief Executive Ross McEwan, who has steered the bank back into profit this year after it made a loss of 8.2 billion pounds in 2013.

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Spain says will seek to block Catalan watered-down vote on independence

31 October, 2014 - 07:25
Spain will ask its Constitutional Court to rule on the legality of a Nov. 9 'consultation of citizens' on independence from Spain planned by Catalonia in a move to block the vote, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said on Friday. Catalan head Artur Mas plans to hold the vote next Sunday in place of a full referendum on independence from Spain that was barred by the same court.
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Thousands denounce HSBC board member's likening of Hong Kong people to freed slaves

31 October, 2014 - 07:19
By Anne Marie Roantree and Lisa Jucca HONG KONG (Reuters) - Thousands have signed an online petition denouncing reported comments by an HSBC Holdings board member in which she likened Hong Kong protesters' demands for democracy to the emancipation of slaves. Laura Cha, who is also a member of Hong Kong's policy-making Executive Council, chairwoman of the city's Financial Services Development Council and a member of China's parliament, was quoted as making the comments at an event in Paris. So why can't Hong Kong wait for a while?" the Standard newspaper on Thursday quoted Cha as saying, referring to demands for free elections in the former British colony. Cha said democracy could not be reached in just one step and warned that investors' confidence in Hong Kong was at a critical point, the newspaper added.
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Euro zone inflation edges up to dim chance of new ECB action

31 October, 2014 - 07:16

By Robert-Jan Bartunek BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Inflation in the 18 countries sharing the euro edged up slightly in October, reinforcing the view that the European Central Bank will hold fire on any additional policy action at its meeting next week. A first estimate on Friday from the European Union's statistics office showed consumer prices in the euro zone rose by 0.4 percent in October, in line with market expectations. A day earlier, German data showed inflation in Europe's largest economy slowing in October to 0.7 percent, its lowest reading since May. Nick Kounis, head of macro research at ABN AMRO, said a number of factors meant ECB action as early as next week was unlikely, but that he expected further measures by the first quarter of next year. "We still think that the ECB is likely to further step up its monetary easing," he said "If you get any kind of economic shock with inflation this low, there is a risk, albeit a small risk, of deflation." ECB policymakers still appear somewhat divided on the likelihood of deflation in the euro area.

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British investors cut equity holdings, boost cash, property

31 October, 2014 - 07:15

By Karin Strohecker LONDON (Reuters) - British investment managers grew more cautious in October, cutting equity allocations and boosting their cash to its highest level in more than two years as they fretted about risks to the global economic recovery. The gains came at the expense of equity holdings, which dropped to 51.8 percent - the lowest since November 2012. Bond holdings shaved off half a percentage point to 22.2 percent and 'alternative' assets - including hedge funds, private equity and commodities - fell to 10.1 percent from 11.0 percent. In debt markets, British investors increased their U.S./Canada exposure to 37 percent from 24.1 percent and ramped up euro zone holdings to 26.0 percent from 20.4 percent.

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by Dr. Radut