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U.S. court hearing over Citi processing of Argentine bond payment delayed

October 25, 2014 - reuters.com

By Nate Raymond NEW YORK, Oct 24 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge has delayed by a week a December hearing to consider whether Citigroup Inc C.N should be allowed to process an interest payment by Argentina on bonds issued under its local laws following its 2002 default. U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa in Manhattan in a brief order Friday said the hearing, originally set for Dec. 2, will now take place Dec. 9. An interest payment is due Dec. 31 by Argentina on U.S. dollar-denominated bonds issued under its local laws. ID:nL2N0SI1VD Citigroup has said it faces regulatory and criminal sanctions by Argentina if it cannot process the country's payments. Argentina defaulted in July after refusing to honor a court order to pay $1.33 billion plus interest to bondholders when it paid holders of bonds swapped during the country's 2005 and 2010 debt restructurings. The bondholders were led by Elliott Management's NML Capital Ltd and Aurelius Capital Management. The hedge funds had spurned Argentina's past restructurings, which resulted in exchanges for about 92 percent of the country's defaulted debt. Investors who accepted Argentina's terms were paid less than 30 cents on the dollar on average. Griesa, who oversees the litigation, in July blocked Bank of New York Mellon Corp BK.N from processing a $539 million interest payment on what the country says is over $28 billion in restructured debt. The order sent Argentina on a course to default after failing to reach a settlement with the holdouts. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Diane Craft) ((Nate.Raymond@thomsonreuters.com and Twitter @nateraymond; 646-223-6752; Reuters Messaging: nate.raymond.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: ARGENTINA DEBT/

UPDATE 1-S&P downgrades Ghana one notch over high fiscal deficit

October 25, 2014 - reuters.com

* Fiscal problems include falling currency, high deficit * "Not a clear path" out of situation - S&P director * Government hopes to strike IMF deal in November (Adds interview with finance minister) By Matthew Mpoke Bigg ACCRA, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Standard & Poor's downgraded Ghana's sovereign rating by one notch on Friday citing concerns about the cost of financing the country's high fiscal deficit and doubts about whether the government can reduce it quickly enough. The decision to lower the rating to "B-" with a stable outlook from "B" with a negative outlook appears to contradict government comments about the impact of a possible deal with the International Monetary Fund to stabilise the economy. Finance Minister Seth Terkper told Reuters the decision was a surprise and does not reflect government progress in stabilizing the macro economy or prospects for the IMF deal. Ghana's economy has grown rapidly in recent years through exports of gold, cocoa and oil but the 2014 forecast is weighed down by fiscal problems such as rising inflation, a currency that has fallen sharply and a budget deficit above 10 percent. News in August of the IMF talks helped stabilise the currency which has rebounded slightly after losses of around 40 percent this year. The government also secured an attractive rate for its $1 billion Eurobond and sealed a record cocoa loan. These factors, combined with a deal with the Fund that the government hopes to strike in November, enabled government officials to reassure markets and voters about the economy. S&P, however, expressed doubts. ID:nL6N0SF4QA "There has been a recent slight respite due to the issuance of the Eurobond, but fundamentally there is not a clear path out of this high fiscal deficit situation," S&P director Ravi Bhati said. The ratings agency has concerns over the possible IMF deal given that the Fund is likely to want a faster pace of fiscal consolidation than the government is able to deliver, Bhati said. ID:nWNAB050OH ONE TIME COSTS Finance minister Terkper said the government was reaching convergence with the IMF on a deal but had anyway pursued its own fiscal reforms. It had struck a good bargain with labour unions, cleared one time wage arrear costs and refinanced bonds. Government revenue was hurt by a fall in gold and cocoa prices and a shortfall in gas supplies, he said. But revenue would increase as domestic oil production picked up steam and gas started pumping from the offshore Jubilee field, so medium term prospects are strong, he said. "We are positive of regaining our ratings because the country will grow back to a positive growth path," Terkper said. Ghana saw years of GDP growth above 8 percent but the statistical service projected GDP for 2014 at 6.9 percent. S&P put annual GDP growth in the 2014-2017 period at 6 percent, but even that figure is still above the Fund's projection of 5.1 percent GDP for economies in sub-Saharan African this year. The S&P downgrade follows similar moves by Moody's and Fitch in the last year. It divided opinion among analysts. The apparent recent upturn in economic fortunes is undercut by the government's unwillingness to reduce expenditure and the deficit and this explains the S&P decision, said Joe Jackson, director of business operations at Dalex Finance in Accra. Sampson Akligoh, managing director of InvestCorp investment bank, said the downgrade "is more speculative than otherwise" given that markets were waiting to assess government commitment to consolidation and how far an IMF deal could restore credibility. (Editing by Grant McCool) ((matt.bigg@thomsonreuters.com +233 0209 607-203)(Reuters Messaging: matt.bigg.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: GHANA RATINGS/

FOREX-Euro rises on bank stress tests report, short-covering

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

(Updates with late New York prices) * Euro short-covering supports currency * Euro zone bank stress test report due Sunday * Federal Reseve, Bank of Japan hold meetings in coming week * Sterling rises after third-quarter UK GDP data By Daniel Bases NEW YORK, Oct 24 (Reuters) - The euro rose on Friday ahead of an official report on the health of the euro zone's main banks as investors continued a trend of covering their short-positions leading to buying of the currency against the U.S. dollar. Despite Friday's weakness, the dollar is on track to close the week with a gain. Concerns about the first diagnosed case of Ebola in New York City, which stifled the dollar's rally late Thursday, have waned, strategists said. The U.S. Federal Reserve will meet next Tuesday and Wednesday, and the consensus view is that it will wrap up asset purchases under its third round of quantitative easing. A group of 25 banks have failed European stress tests, while up to 10 of those continue to have a capital shortfall, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday. ID:nF9N0NG029 Bloomberg News first reported the results of the tests, which are due on Sunday. Currency strategists said this just added more fuel to the short-covering that has supported the euro's position. "It is all speculation at this point and the ECB tried to remind us of that. It just highlights that this is a risk that is not as negative perhaps as was priced in," said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto. The euro zone's 130 biggest banks received the European Central Bank's final verdict on their finances on Thursday after a review aimed at drawing a line under persistent doubts about the health of the region's banking sector. They will not be made public until 1100 GMT on Sunday. In late New York trading, the euro was up 0.17 percent at $1.2666 EUR= , up from Thursday's two week low. It traded flat against the Japanese yen at 136.89 EURJPY= . The dollar was off 0.18 percent to 108.05 yen JPY= . The dollar index, which measures the greenback against its major trading partners' currencies, was down 0.16 percent, but on track to end the week up 0.70 percent .DXY . "The dollar rally has paused a bit here and I think one of the core reasons is a bit of added uncertainty as to how the Fed will react to the stronger dollar, and to the renewed worries about global growth concerns," said Brian Daingerfield, currency strategist at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Stamford, Connecticut. The Fed's statement will be parsed for clues on how quickly the central bank might start raising interest rates, now not expected until late 2015. "For the dollar to appreciate, you need the stock market to hold up in the face of a clean exit from QE3 by the Fed," said David Woo, head of global rates and currency research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York. Elsewhere, sterling rose to $1.6087 GBP= , up 0.37 percent. Third quarter gross domestic product data showed Britain's economy grew by 0.7 percent, down from 0.9 percent the quarter before, but in line with economists' expectations. (Additional reporting by Anirban Nag in London and Lisa Twaronite in Tokyo; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Andre Grenon) ((daniel.bases@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 6131; Reuters Messaging: daniel.bases.reuters.com@reuters.net; Twitter: @djbases)) Keywords: MARKETS FOREX/

Fitch Affirms Spain at 'BBB+'; Outlook Stable

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

Ghana 91-day bill yield rises to 25.7544 pct

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

ACCRA, Oct 24 (Reuters) - The Bank of Ghana said the yield on its 91-day bill rose to 25.7544 percent at Friday's auction, from 25.7120 percent at the last sale. The bank said it accepted all of the 577.14 million cedis ($179.8 million) worth of bids tendered for the 91-day paper. For full details please click here: http://www.bog.gov.gh/privatecontent/Treasury/Auctresults%201400.pdf ($1 USD = 3.21 Ghana cedis) (Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by David Lewis) ((matt.bigg@thomsonreuters.com; +233)(0)(209 607-203; Reuters Messaging: matt.bigg.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: GHANA BONDS

PRECIOUS-Gold posts weekly loss on dollar rise, strong U.S. data

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

* U.S. new home sales rise to six-year high * Dollar set for weekly gain after two weeks of losses * Markets await Fed policy meeting next week (Updates market activities) By Frank Tang and Clara Denina NEW YORK/LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Gold edged lower on Friday and closed down for the week as rallying equity markets and strong U.S. economic data dented demand for the precious metal as an insurance against risk. Sales of new U.S. single-family homes rose to a six-year high in September, but a sharp downward revision to August's sales pace indicated the housing recovery remains tentative. ID:nL2N0SJ12Y Bullion notched a 0.5 percent weekly loss, after two consecutive weekly rises driven by renewed worries about global economic growth. "A better run of U.S. data has calmed nerves about the wider economy, and that has put pressure on gold in the past few days, as it had been enjoying a safe-haven bid," said Matthew Turner, an analyst at Macquarie. Spot gold XAU= was down 0.1 percent at $1,231.14 an ounce by 2:48 p.m. EDT (1848 GMT). U.S. COMEX gold futures GCZ4 outperformed spot, settling up $2.70 at $1,231.80 an ounce, with lower-than-usual volume, according to preliminary Reuters data. Gold's weekly loss was also triggered by a resurgent dollar. The dollar was down 0.2 percent against a basket of major currencies on Friday, but was set to post a near 1 percent gain for the week after two weeks of declines. In gold's official-sector news, a proposal to prohibit the Swiss National Bank from selling any of its gold reserves has the support of 44 percent of the public, though that result falls short of the backing it needs to become law, a closely watched survey showed. ID:nL6N0SJ37A Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust GLD , the world's top bullion exchange-traded fund, fell to their lowest level since late 2008 this week in a sign of lingering bearish sentiment in the bullion market. GOL/ETF The fund this week recorded its biggest daily percentage drop in holdings in a year, despite a price jump to a six-week high. The U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday will be the next major focus for the market. The consensus view is for the U.S. central bank to decide to wrap up asset purchases under its third round of quantitative easing. Investors will be looking for any clues on the possible timing of an interest rate increase. Among other precious metals, silver XAG= edged up 0.1 percent to $17.17 an ounce on Friday. Platinum XPT= was down 0.3 percent to $1,244.60 an ounce, while palladium XPD= eased 0.1 percent to $776.40 an ounce, making it the week's best performer among precious metals with a 4 percent jump. (Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by David Evans, Tom Brown and Paul Simao) ((Frank.Tang@thomsonreuters.com)(+1 646 223 6126)(Reuters Messaging: frank.tang.thomsonreuters@reuters.net)(Twitter @FrankTangTweets)) Keywords: MARKETS PRECIOUS/

Peru's central bank sells $95 mln, sol ends at 5-year low

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

LIMA, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Peru's central bank sold $95 million in the local spot market on Friday as the sol currency PEN=PE PEN= finished bidding 0.13 percent weaker to close at 2.911/2.912 per U.S. dollar, its weakest in more than five years. (Reporting By Ursula Scollo; Editing by James Dalgleish) ((mitra.taj@thomsonreuters.com; +51 1-221-2130; Reuters Messaging: mitra.taj.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: PERU CURRENCY/

UPDATE 1-S&P affirms Russia's sovereign rating a notch above junk

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

(Adds details, market reaction, finance minister comment) MOSCOW, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Standard & Poor's ratings agency affirmed Russia's sovereign rating on Friday at a notch above junk status, warning a downgrade may follow if more sanctions are imposed on Moscow for its role in the Ukrainian conflict. The agency affirmed the country's long- and short-term foreign currency sovereign ratings at BBB-/A-3 after cutting them in April. S&P also said another cut might come if Russia's monetary policy or exchange-rate flexibility weakens. It maintained a negative outlook on Russia. "The negative outlook reflects our view that we could lower our ratings on Russia over the next 18 months if its external and fiscal buffers deteriorate faster than we currently expect-for example, due to any further tightening of sanctions as a result of the conflict in Ukraine," S&P said in a statement. "If we observed Russia's monetary policy or exchange rate flexibility diminishing, we could also lower the ratings." Analysts and senior Russian officials had said a ratings cut by S&P was unlikely, with analysts saying Russia's macroeconomic fundamentals correspond to an investment-level rating. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Friday fears of Russia's sovereign rating being downgraded were exaggerated, and an economic aide to President Vladimir Putin said a downgrade would damage S&P's reputation. ID:nL6N0SJ1SU Following S&P's decision to leave the rating on hold, Siluanov said it mainly reflected Russia's large forex reserves and low state debt, as well as "consistent policy, the following of a budget rule (and) a positive effect from enacted reforms". "Undoubtedly the decision was influenced by the exchange rate policy of the central bank and the provision of liquidity to the banking system," he added. JUMPY MARKETS Markets, however, were jumpy about the possibility of a downgrade, with bond yields RU10YT=RRPS and CDS default insurance costs close to recent highs this week. The rouble took a bad hit earlier on Friday, reaching record lows against the dollar and the euro. That left it down 22 percent against the dollar since the start of the year, its worst since 1998. ID:nL6N0SJ1PA The rouble rose following S&P's decision, but fell back in thin evening trading and remained down on the day. At 1745 GMT the Russian currency was at 41.90 against the dollar, down 0.43 percent on the day but stronger than its all-time low of 42.01 earlier on Friday. RUBUTSTN=MCX Russian bond yields also tightened. The yield on Russia's 2030 Eurobond was at 4.721 on Friday evening, having tightened from 4.905 in the morning. RU011428878= Besides the hit to a country's image of being rated 'junk,' such a downgrade can push its borrowing costs up. Many mainstream investment and pension funds have rules preventing them from buying anything not classed as investment grade. According to S&P's own Market Derived Signal (MDS) based on comparisons of various countries' ratings, CDS and bond prices, markets have been treating Russian debt as junk since early March anyway. Traders are currently pricing it as if it were a BB, a full two steps below its actual grade, but there has been no further shift down in the MDS in recent weeks, something that often happens before a rating is cut for real. S&P's latest rating review on Friday came after Moody's Investors Service last week downgraded Russia's sovereign debt by one notch to 'Baa2', citing the Ukraine crisis as posing risks to Russia's medium-term growth prospects. ID:nL3N0SC5XV (Reporting by Alexander Winning, Lidia Kellly and Darya Korsunskaya in Moscow and Marc Jones in London; Writing by Lidia Kelly, Alexander Winning and Jason Bush; Editing by Tom Heneghan) ((alexander.winning@thomsonreuters.com)(+7 495 775 1242)(Reuters Messaging: alexander.winning.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: UKRAINE CRISIS/RUSSIA RATINGS

Kuwait c.bank says to cut bad loans to 2 pct by end-2015

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

By Ahmed Hagagy KUWAIT, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Kuwait's central bank aims to cut the bad loan ratio among Kuwaiti commercial banks to below 3 percent of total loans by the end of this year from 3.2 percent at present, central bank governor Mohammad al-Hashel said on Friday. Hashel, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of central bankers from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, said he wanted the ratio to fall further to 2 percent by the end of 2015. Kuwaiti banks were hit hard by the debt problems of local investment firms during the global financial crisis. In 2008, the government guaranteed all deposits at banks to avert a crisis and the central bank ordered Gulf Bank GBKK.KW to raise $1.3 billion in an emergency rights issue, with Kuwait's sovereign wealth fund taking a 16 percent stake in the bank. In the last couple of years, however, many banks have made considerable progress cleaning up their balance sheets. Commercial Bank of Kuwait CBKK.KW said this month it had reduced its non-performing loans to 1.3 percent of its total loan book from a 2009 level of 25 percent. ID:nL6N0SF0H1 "The banks are working hard to reduce this figure," Hashel said. "I have a goal, God willing, that the banks should cut this ratio to below 3 percent this year...and God willing, it should fall to the level of 2 percent by the end of 2015." Big provisions for bad loans taken by Kuwaiti banks in the past few years have limited profits distributed to shareholders. "We do not want more provisions, but prudence requires us to take provisions to the extent necessary," Hashel said, adding: "Don't overdo it." Asked about the impact of falling global oil prices on Kuwaiti banks, Hashel said banks might be adversely affected if the decline continued for a long time. But he said Kuwait had coped with periods of low oil prices in the past, and that banks were able to absorb shocks given their ample liquidity and high capital adequacy ratios. He said in a speech to the GCC central bank governors that the oil price drop had increased pressure on GCC countries to undertake economic reforms in order to ensure sustainable growth. GCC countries began discussing the idea of adopting a single currency decades ago but the project has made little progress in recent years, and the United Arab Emirates and Oman have pulled out of it. Hashel told reporters the idea was not dead and that government agencies were still working on it. However, he said it needed "comprehensive study" in light of the experiences of other countries, especially the euro zone. (Writing by Andrew Torchia) ((andrew.torchia@thomsonreuters.com; +9715 6681 7277; Reuters Messaging: andrew.torchia.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: KUWAIT CENBANK/LOANS

Higher fees drive State Street 3rd-qtr earnings beat; shares jump

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

BOSTON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - State Street Corp's STT.N said on Friday that third-quarter profit beat Wall Street expectations as fees rose, sending its shares up nearly 4 percent. The Boston custody bank reported net income rose to $542 million, or $1.26 per share, from $531 million, or $1.17 per share, in the same period a year ago. On an operating basis that translated into earnings of $1.35 per share, up from $1.19 in the same period a year ago. The result topped analysts' expectations of $1.21, according to analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. In a note to investors RBC Capital Markets analyst Gerard Cassidy said the results reflected "across-the-board strength." State Street shares jumped $2.66 to $71.58 in the early afternoon trading. Revenue increased to $2.58 billion from $2.43 billion, driven in part by a 9 percent gain in fees from servicing and managing assets, which the bank said reflected higher equity markets and new business. The results were also helped by higher revenue from foreign exchange trading, up 9.5 percent from a year earlier. State Street Chief Executive Officer Jay Hooley said in an interview the segment was helped by volatility in forex markets and that the situation would likely remain, driven by the difference between a recovering U.S. economy and a slowing one in Europe. "My crystal ball says we should continue to see this divergence, which should create volatility," he said. (Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe) ((ross.kerber@thomsonreuters.com;)(617)(856 4341; Reuters Messaging: Ross.Kerber.Reuters.com@Reuters.net)) Keywords: STATE STR RESULTS/

S&P affirms Russia's sovereign rating a notch above junk

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

MOSCOW, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Standard & Poor's ratings agency affirmed Russia's sovereign rating on Friday at a notch above junk status, warning that a downgrade may follow if more sanctions are imposed on Moscow for its role in the Ukrainian conflict. The agency affirmed the country's long- and short-term foreign currency sovereign ratings at BBB-/A-3 after cutting them in April. S&P also said another cut might come if Russia's monetary policy or exchange-rate flexibility weakens. It maintained a negative outlook on Russia. "The negative outlook reflects our view that we could lower our ratings on Russia over the next 18 months if its external and fiscal buffers deteriorate faster than we currently expect-for example, due to any further tightening of sanctions as a result of the conflict in Ukraine," S&P said in a statement. "If we observed Russia's monetary-policy or exchange-rate flexibility diminishing, we could also lower the ratings." Analysts and senior Russian officials had said a ratings cut by S&P was unlikely, with analysts saying Russia's macroeconomic fundamentals correspond to an investment-level rating. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Friday fears of Russia's sovereign rating being downgraded were exaggerated, and an economic aide to President Vladimir Putin said a downgrade would damage S&P's reputation. ID:nL6N0SJ1SU Markets, however, were jumpy about the possibility, with bond yields RU10YT=RRPS and CDS default insurance costs close to recent highs this week. The rouble took a bad hit on Friday, reaching record lows against the dollar and the euro. That left it down 22 percent against the dollar since the start of the year, its worst since 1998. ID:nL6N0SJ1PA (Reporting by Alexander Winning and Lidia Kellly in Moscow and Marc Jones in London; Writing by Lidia Kelly and Alexander Winning; Editing by Larry King) ((alexander.winning@thomsonreuters.com)(+7 495 775 1242)(Reuters Messaging: alexander.winning.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: UKRAINE CRISIS/RUSSIA RATINGS

UPDATE 1-Hollande says France has taken necessary measures on deficit

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

(Adds quote, unemployment, details) BRUSSELS, Oct 24 (Reuters) - France considers that it has done what is necessary to bring its deficit under control and hopes to benefit from flexibility from the European Commission in talks over the country's 2015 budget, President Francois Hollande said. "We consider that we have done what we had to do: continue to reduce the structural deficit, save 21 billion euros, conduct very significant structural reforms, strengthen our economy," he told a news conference after a meeting of euro zone leaders. Speaking minutes before data showed unemployment reached a fresh record high in France in September, Hollande said the euro zone's second-largest economy needed some margin of manoeuvre in order to boost growth and employment. ID:nL6N0SJ3P8 "France wants to preserve all the conditions for growth while respecting the (EU) treaties, respecting them with all the flexibility they allow," he said after the Brussels meeting. EU leaders agreed that growth in the bloc was too low and that there was a risk of stagnation, Hollande added. France's most unpopular president in polling history is in the midst of tough negotiations with the European Commission over its budget plan for 2015, which breaks a promise to finally bring the deficit below an EU cap of 3 percent of GDP. He said Paris would reply to Brussels' concerns by the end of the week and hoped the EU executive would be convinced and not take the procedure any further. The Commission has until Wednesday to decide whether to reject France's budget. The increase in unemployment added to bad news for France after a survey showed on Thursday that the business climate deteriorated in October to an eight-month low. The French government had been counting on a pick-up in business activity in the second half but has cut its 2014 economic growth estimate to 0.4 percent from 1.0 percent previously after the economy stagnated in the first half. (Reporting By Jean-Baptiste Vey; Writing by Ingrid Melander; editing by Mark John) ((nicholas.vinocur@thomsonreuters.com; +33 1 4949 5188; Reuters Messaging: nicholas.vinocur.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: FRANCE ECONOMY/EU

South Africa's rand still on firmer ground after budget

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 24 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand hovered near the previous day's five-week highs against the dollar on Friday, still anchored by a well-received medium term budget statement mid-week, in the absence of more immediate drivers. Despite announcing a slightly wider budget deficit forecast for 2014/15, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene bolstered investor confidence in the currency and local bonds on Wednesday by vowing to clamp down on spending. ID:nL6N0SH44Y Analysts lauded his statement on the whole, saying it would go a long way to lessen the chances of more credit downgrades for Africa's most advanced economy. The rand ZAR=D3 traded at 10.9300 to the dollar at 1545 GMT, up 0.4 percent from Thursday's close. It was within a whisker of Thursday's high of 10.9235, the currency's strongest level since Sept 17. The rand was however caught in a narrow range for much of Friday's session, reflecting a dearth of market moving news and data on the day. "We've had a very quiet day and that goes for just about all the forex markets," RMB trader Jim Bryson said. "There's a lack of drivers, no real news." The rand was still among the strongest performers in a basket of 20 emerging currencies tracked by Reuters, surpassed only by Brazil's real BRL= , the Polish zloty PLN= and Latvia's lats LVL= . The debt market was also sluggish, with the yield for the 2026 secondary market benchmark ZAR186= dipping just half a basis point to 7.91 percent. (Reporting by Stella Mapenzauswa; Editing by Ed Stoddard) ((stella.mapenzauswa@thomsonreuters.com; +27117753161; Reuters Messaging: stella.mapenzauswa.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MARKETS SAFRICA/CURRENCY

FOREX-Euro up after report on bank stress tests, short-covering

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

(Recasts with New York trade, updates prices, adds comment, changes dateline, previous LONDON) * Euro short-covering supports currency * Sterling rises after Q3 UK GDP data By Daniel Bases NEW YORK, Oct 24 (Reuters) - The euro rallied on Friday ahead of an official report on the health of the euro zone's main banks as investors continued a trend of covering their short-positions leading to buying of the currency against the U.S. dollar. Despite Friday's weakness, the dollar is on track to close the week with a gain. Concerns about the first diagnosed case of Ebola in New York City, which stifled the dollar's rally late Thursday, have waned, strategists said. The U.S. Federal Reserve will meet next Tuesday and Wednesday, and the consensus view is that it will wrap up asset purchases under its third round of quantitative easing. A group of 25 banks have failed European stress tests, while up to 10 of those continue to have a capital shortfall, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday. ID:nF9N0NG029 Bloomberg News first reported the results of the tests, which are due on Sunday. Currency strategists said this just added more fuel to the short-covering that has supported the euro's position. "It is all speculation at this point and the ECB tried to remind us of that. It just highlights that this is a risk that is not as negative perhaps as was price in," said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto. Bloomberg News' report said that 105 banks had passed the ECB's test, known as the comprehensive assessment, and that negotiations were continuing with about 10 banks shown to have a net capital shortfall. The euro zone's 130 biggest banks received the European Central Bank's final verdict on their finances on Thursday after a review aimed at drawing a line under persistent doubts about the health of the region's banking sector. They will not be made public until 1100 GMT on Sunday. In mid-morning New York trade, the euro was up 0.15 percent at $1.2665 EUR= , up from Thursday's two week low. It traded flat against the Japanese yen at 136.89 EURJPY= . The dollar was off 0.10 percent to 108.12 yen JPY= . The dollar index, which measures the greenback against its major trading partners' currencies, was down 0.10 percent, but on track to end the week up 0.75 percent .DXY . "The dollar rally has paused a bit here and I think one of the core reasons is a bit of added uncertainty as to how the Fed will react to the stronger dollar and to the renewed worries about global growth concerns," said Brian Daingerfield, currency strategist at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Stamford, Connecticut. The Fed's statement will be parsed for clues on how quickly the central bank may start raising interest rates, now not expected until late 2015. "For the dollar to appreciate, you need the stock market to hold up in the face of a clean exit from QE3 by the Fed," said David Woo, head of global rates and currency research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York. Elsewhere, sterling rose to $1.6098 GBP= , after the GDP data showed Britain's economy grew by 0.7 percent in the third quarter, down from 0.9 percent the quarter before, but in line with economists' expectations. (Additional reporting by Anirban Nag in London and Lisa Twaronite in Tokyo; Editing by Bernadette Baum) ((daniel.bases@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 6131; Reuters Messaging: daniel.bases.reuters.com@reuters.net; Twitter: @djbases)) Keywords: MARKETS FOREX/

Hollande says France has taken necessary measures on deficit

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

BRUSSELS, Oct 24 (Reuters) - France considers that it has done what is necessary to bring its budget deficit under control although talks continue with the European Commission over the country's 2015 budget, President Francois Hollande said on Friday. "We consider that we have done what we had to do: continue to reduce the structural deficit, save 21 billion euros, conduct very significant structural reforms, strengthen our economy," he told a news conference in Brussels after an EU summit. EU leaders agreed that growth in the bloc was too low and that there was a risk of stagnation, Hollande added. (Reporting By Jean-Baptiste Vey; Writing by Nick Vinocur) ((nicholas.vinocur@thomsonreuters.com; +33 1 4949 5188; Reuters Messaging: nicholas.vinocur.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: FRANCE ECONOMY/EU

POLONIA Rate falls 0.25 pp.

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

WARSAW, Oct 24 (Reuters) - POLONIA the reference rate for Overnight deposits amounted to 1.74 percent. The volume of transactions concluded till 16:30 by banks participating in POLONIA fixing amounted to 2,154 mln PLN. Note: Description of reference rate at: http://www.acipolska.pl/ ((warsaw.newsroom@reuters.com))

Swiss gold referendum's support falls short of majority-poll

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

* Poll finds 44 pct of Swiss voters support gold initiative * Short of majority needed, group expects opposition to rise * Vote on Nov. 30, brought by right-wing SVP party ZURICH/LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - A proposal to prohibit the Swiss National Bank from selling any of its gold reserves has the support of 44 percent of the public, a closely watched survey showed on Friday, though that result falls short of the backing it needs to pass into law. The group behind the opinion poll also said support was likely to diminish as a Nov. 30 vote on the measure approaches. That proposal has sparked jitters in both gold and currency markets. If approved, the SNB would have to massively bolster its gold holdings, which stood at 1,040 tonnes this month according to the World Gold Council, representing 7.8 percent of reserves. ID:nL6N0SH4OV The right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) proposed the measure, which would require the SNB to hold at least 20 percent of its assets in gold. It would also prevent the bank from selling any of its gold, even if the ratio of gold to other assets climbs above 20 percent. To get to 20 percent, the SNB would have to go on a buying spree that could push gold prices significantly higher. It could also endanger the three-year cap on the value of the Swiss franc against the euro imposed by the SNB to prevent the Swiss currency from appreciating, ward off deflation and boost growth. The poll, conducted by Berne-based research institute gfs.bern in partnership with Swiss broadcaster SRG, found that 44 percent of respondents favoured the initiative, short of the majority needed for passage, while 39 percent opposed it. Of those asked, 17 percent were undecided or gave no answer. Authors of the study, which comes after an online poll on Tuesday by free Swiss daily newspaper 20 Minuten showed a similar result, said it expected opposition to eat away at support for the SVP's proposal as the vote approaches. ID:nL6N0SG2XK "Increasing opposition during an election campaign corresponds with the normal scenario for a public initiative," the study read. The study, the most reliable polling yet ahead of the vote, also said the public was still at the early stages of making up its mind over the proposal and that this could significantly alter the final result. SNB OPPOSITION If it is adopted, the government would have up to three years to write the proposal into law, subject to consultation with stakeholders. The SNB would then have five years to up its holdings to at least 20 percent. The SVP gold initiative is opposed by the Swiss government, the central bank and several influential parties, and one of the SNB's board members this week again stressed its disagreement with the proposal. "We're taking this extremely seriously," Fritz Zurbruegg told a public conference at the Graduate Institute in Geneva on Tuesday. "The SNB doesn't (normally) take a stand in politics. This is an initiative that we feel would seriously impair our ability to fulfil our legal mandate. This will seriously affect how we exercise monetary policy." Gold prices are little changed so far this year after plunging 28 percent in 2013, dramatically ending a more than decade-long bull run. A "yes" vote, leading to sustained official sector buying, would likely have a significant price impact. "Implications of this could be quite dramatic for the gold price, and maybe for markets beyond gold," UBS strategist Beat Siegenthaler said, speaking before the poll result was released. "It's really an attempt to return to some kind of gold standard, for those who don't trust paper money and who want gold backing it up." Central banks were heavy sellers of gold until recently, cashing in on an asset that had languished near $300 an ounce for a decade before slipping to a 20-year low in 1999. The same gfs.bern poll also showed a majority of Swiss voters are against plans to place severe limits on immigration and population growth. ID:nL6N0SJ2K0 (Reporting by Joshua Franklin in Zurich and Jan Harvey in London; Additional reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva; Editing by Larry King) ((joshua.franklin@thomsonreuters.com; +41583067007; Reuters Messaging: joshua.franklin.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: SWISS GOLD

Turkish markets steady after central bank keeps rates on hold

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

ISTANBUL, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Turkish markets were steady on Friday, a day after the central bank kept rates on hold and repeated its commitment to tight monetary policy until the inflation outlook improves. Markets welcomed the bank's decision, as economists were wary of any dovish signals from the bank over possible rate cuts, which they said could hurt the lira. The lira TRYTOM=D3 was firm at 2.2339 against the dollar by 1456 GMT from 2.2393 late on Thursday. The main share index .XU100 was 0.1 percent down at 79,417.13, underperforming the broader emerging markets index .MSCIEF , which was up 0.33 percent. The 10-year benchmark bond yield tTR240724T0=IS slightly rose to 8.84 percent from Thursday's 8.83 percent. (Reporting by Seda Sezer; Editing by Humeyra Pamuk) ((seda.sezer@thomsonreuters.com; +90 212 350 7062;)) Keywords: MARKETS TURKEY/

Putin says Russia will not "burn" its forex reserves

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

LAURA, Russia, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Russia intends to continue moves to a floating exchange rate and will not "burn" through its foreign exchange reserves, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday. "We will gradually move to a floating exchange rate. We will not burn our reserves thoughtlessly. We will use them for a certain balancing," Putin told a meeting with Russian and foreign experts on Russia. Putin also said that Russia will put the main emphasis on attracting private investment into its economy. (Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk, Writing by Jason Bush, Editing by Timothy Heritage) ((jason.bush@thomsonreuters.com; +7 495 775 1242; Reuters Messaging: jason.bush.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: RUSSIA PUTIN/FOREX

London gold 1500 fix - Oct 24 - 1232.75 dlrs

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

London platinum/palladium 1400 fix - Oct 24

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

Vietnam domestic market commodity prices-Oct 24

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

Oct 24 (Reuters) - Following are domestic prices of Vietnam's key commodities. Unit: million dong VND= per tonne. Item Oct 20-24 Oct 13-17 Location Robusta beans 38.3-41.2 40.6-42.1 Central Highlands Black pepper 182.0-186.0 188.0-189.0 Southern region Refined sugar 13.0-15.5 13.0-15.5 Southern region Summer-autumn paddy 5.90-6.30 5.50-6.40 Mekong Delta ___________________ SJC gold 3.570-3.590 3.577-3.592 Hanoi, HCM City NOTES: Gold prices are low/high selling prices quoted in million dong during the week by top manufacturer SJC per 3.75-gram ingot. Coffee export prices COFFEE/ASIA1 Rice export prices RICE/ASIA1 Historical data VNCOMM01 Central bank's gold auction SBVGOLD2013 ($1=21,250 dong) (Compiled by Hanoi Newsroom) ((hanoi.newsroom@thomsonreuters.com)(+844 3825 9623)) Keywords: VIETNAM COMMODITIES/PRICES

London gold 1030 fix - Oct 24 - 1231.75 dlrs

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

London platinum/palladium 0945 fix - Oct 24

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

India gold sales jump about 20 pct for Diwali - trade body

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

By A. Ananthalakshmi SINGAPORE, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Gold sales in India during the festivals of Diwali and Dhanteras celebrated this week rose by about a fifth, a senior official at the country's biggest gold trade group said on Friday. Premiums in India, the second biggest buyer of bullion, jumped to $17-$18 an ounce this week, compared with $12 last week, on surging demand. Dhanteras, associated with Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth, and Diwali, the festival of lights, are both considered auspicious to buy gold. "Diwali sales across the country were very good. It was about 20 percent higher compared with last year," Bachhraj Bamalwa, director at the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation, told Reuters. The trade body represents more than 300,000 jewellers. The strong demand from India could support global gold prices XAU= . GOL/ India set a record high import duty on gold last year to curb its trade deficit, and made it necessary for importers to re-export a fifth of all their purchases. The moves contained imports into the country, with the resulting supply shortage sending local premiums to about $160 an ounce over the global benchmark at one point. Some of the rules were eased earlier this year, leading to higher imports and a fall in local prices. "This year prices were low, sentiment was good and we have a stable government in the centre; all of these helped boost sales," Bamalwa said, referring to this year's election of Narendra Modi as the prime minister. Though the major gold buying festivals of the year are over, Bamalwa said sales could continue to be strong due to the wedding season that will extend until early next year. In anticipation of strong demand during the festivals, India had imported $3.75 billion worth of gold in September - a 450 percent jump from the same period last year. The jump in imports weighed on the country's trade deficit again, sparking fears that the government could tighten the screws again on overseas purchases of gold. India's finance minister was quoted in local media as saying that he could look at curbs on gold imports after the festive season. ID:nD8N0RJ00R Any further curbs could hurt imports and push up premiums, Bamalwa said. In other parts of Asia, buying interest for gold was quiet, with premiums slipping in some regions, dealers said. "I think prices have to fall toward or below $1,200 before people come into the physical markets again," said a trader in Hong Kong, where premiums slipped to $1.10-$1.20 an ounce from about $1.50 last week. In China, premiums fell to about $1.50 an ounce on Friday from $2-$3 an ounce. GOLD/ASIA1 (Editing by Anand Basu) ((ananthalakshmi.as@thomsonreuters.com; +65 6870 3726; Reuters Messaging: ananthalakshmi.as.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: INDIA GOLD/DEMAND

BRIEF-Drdgold posts 10 pct rise in quarterly gold production

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

Oct 24 (Reuters) - Drdgold Ltd DRDJ.J : * Revenue increased by 18 sequentially to R528.5 million * Q1 gold production up 10 pct to 37 005 oz * AISC down 9 pct to $1 237/oz * Q1 EBITDA up 87 pct to R48.0 million * Q1 operating profit up 11 pct to R79.7 million * Q1 gold sold was 17 pct higher at 38 291oz Source text for Eikon: ID:nJseX0001a Further company coverage: DRDJ.J ((Bangalore Newsroom +91 806 749 1130)) Keywords: DRDGOLD /BRIEF

INDICATORS - Kazakhstan - Oct 24

October 24, 2014 - reuters.com

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