By Douwe Miedema and Sarah N. Lynch WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When U.S. regulators adopt the Volcker rule on Tuesday, they will make good on a promise by politicians to rein in banks' ability to gamble with their own money. The coordinated action by five separate regulatory agencies is seen sparking a court challenge as Wall Street tries once again to avoid one of the harshest elements of the post-financial crisis crackdown. The rule, championed by former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, was a last-minute addition to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law and takes aim at a business that had been a big money spinner for banks before the crisis. "For something of this magnitude and this controversial ... there will be somebody who will challenge it," said Brian Cartwright, an advisor at consultancy Patomak Global Partners and a former general counsel at the Securities and Exchange Commission, one of the agencies voting on the measure.
Bob Diamond, the former boss of Barclays , is set to return to banking by listing a shell company in London in the next few weeks to invest in the African financial sector, a source familiar with the matter said. Diamond, who was ousted from Barclays last year after the Libor rate-rigging scandal, is finalizing plans to list Atlas Mara, a cash vehicle set up with billionaire entrepreneur Ashish Thakkar, chief executive of Mara Group, the source said. The vehicle will be managed by Atlas Merchant Capital, the merchant bank Diamond has set up in New York with a view to expand into sub-Sahara African banks and financial services.
By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Supreme Court justice on Saturday night denied a last-ditch effort by a group of consumers and travel agents to stop the merger of American Airlines and US Airways. The application was denied by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court's public information office said. The combination of American's parent, AMR Corp, and US Airways Group would create the world's largest carrier and follow last month's resolution of antitrust objections by the U.S. Department of Justice. In their appeal to the Supreme Court, plaintiffs led by California resident Carolyn Fjord warned that "irreparable injury" could be caused to the domestic airline industry if the deal goes ahead as planned.
Approval of the bill presented in the Senate would mark the end of the decades-long oil and gas monopoly held by state-run giant Pemex, which is struggling to reverse a sharp slide in oil output due to years of chronic under-investment. The bill, which would keep ownership of oil in state hands, is at the center of a package of economic reforms that President Enrique Pena Nieto hopes will re-energize Latin America's second-largest economy after years of lagging its peers. Furthermore, companies will not be allowed to book oil reserves on their balance sheets. It also goes well beyond the proposal made by Pena Nieto in August, which was limited to profit-sharing contracts.
(Reuters) - Internal JPMorgan Chase & Co emails and computer files being examined by U.S. authorities show that the bank favored hiring people from prominent Chinese families in order to win investment banking business, the New York Times reported on Saturday. The documents show that a JPMorgan program designed to prevent questionable hiring practices was ultimately viewed inside the company as "a gateway to doing business with state-owned companies in China," the Times said, adding that it had reviewed copies of the emails and computer spreadsheets. In one email, an executive said that hiring sons and daughters of powerful people in China "almost has a linear relationship" with winning assignments, the Times said. A JPMorgan spokesman declined to comment on the report, as did representatives of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the office of the federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York, which are investigating the matter.
A U.S. federal judge has refused to allow investors to proceed as a group in a lawsuit accusing BP Plc of fraud by misleading them - before and after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill - about the company's ability to respond to an accident. U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison in Houston denied a request on Friday to certify a class action of holders of BP's American depository shares (ADSs) who were allegedly injured by the energy giant. The judge said his decision was based largely on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from March holding that a class action against Comcast Corp was improperly certified. Ellison said the Supreme Court decision "has appreciably changed the landscape for class certification." But he said he would allow the plaintiffs another chance to argue that their case should move forward as a class action, giving them 30 days to file a new motion.
By Laura Noonan LONDON (Reuters) - Most of Europe's big banks shed risky assets in the quarter to September, but they have yet to take extra provisions against doubtful loans to show they have put the financial crisis behind them in time for a critical review by regulators. After reckless lending brought several banks and some governments to their knees during the global crisis, which is still playing itself out in a number of euro zone countries, next year's Asset Quality Review (AQR) by the European Central Bank will judge whether the banks have done enough to recognize and provide for losses on their loan books as of December 31. The results feed into EU-wide stress tests that assess whether banks need to raise more capital to insulate themselves against future economic and financial shocks. Assets such as unsecured personal loans, distressed commercial loans and certain derivatives carry a higher risk weighting, while government bonds are unweighted.
By Marcus George and Isabel Coles DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani presented his first budget to parliament on Sunday, vowing to bring down inflation and boost growth to lift an economy reeling from sanctions and what he says was mismanagement by predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rouhani says Ahmadinejad squandered vast oil revenues on cash handouts and housing projects during his two terms in office from 2005 and racked up enormous government debt. Gross domestic product had contracted by 6 percent over the past year, Rouhani told lawmakers on Sunday, while inflation was running at 44 percent when he took office in August, a situation he described as "very worrying". "The combination of stagnation and inflation over the past two years was unprecedented," he said.
By Victoria Bryan FRANKFURT (Reuters) - When soccer teams battle for the World Cup in Brazil next year, another fight for global supremacy will be played out on the pitches - between Adidas and Nike. Nike currently owns 14.6 percent of the global sporting goods market to Adidas' 11.4 percent, and is whittling away at the German brand's No. 1 position in Europe. Adidas held 13.2 percent of the western European sporting goods market in 2012 to Nike's 12.4 percent, according to Euromonitor data. Adidas is definitely putting a lot of effort into winning lost ground, but a company like Nike won't rest on its laurels," said Hans Allmendinger, head of marketing for German sporting goods retailer Sport2000.
By Renee Maltezou ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's parliament approved a budget plan on Saturday filled with over 3 billion euros of austerity cuts that sees the debt-laden country emerging from a six-year recession next year. "This is a historic day," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told lawmakers, calling the 2014 plan a budget of recovery and hope. "People's sacrifices bore fruit and changed the course of the country." Outside parliament, an anti-austerity rally called by the country's largest labour unions drew only a few hundred people, a shadow of former demonstrations where tens of thousands took to the streets of Athens to protest the belt-tightening. A total of 153 lawmakers voted in favour of the 2014 budget plan in the 300-seat house.
SAINT-EMILION, France (AP) — An FBI agent recently showed Arnaud de Laforcade a file with several labels supposedly from 1947 bottles of Chateau Cheval Blanc, one of France's finest wines. To the Saint-Emilion vineyard's CFO, they were clearly fakes — too new looking, not on the right kind of paper.
PARIS (AP) — France is coming to the rescue again, deploying soldiers in a former African colony to help stave off catastrophe — dirty work that Paris says it doesn't really want. France has its eyes on a dynamic new Africa that is creating jobs, not conflicts.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fresh from shackling the traditional blocking ability of the Senate's minority party, Democrats are ready to muscle through President Barack Obama's nominees for pivotal judgeships and other top jobs.
BALI, Indonesia (AP) — A deal to boost global trade has been approved by the World Trade Organization's 159 member economies for the first time in nearly two decades, keeping alive the possibility that a broader agreement to create a level playing field for rich and poor countries can be reached in the future.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Mexican senate committee on Saturday proposed the most dramatic oil reform in decades that would open the country's beleaguered, state-run sector to private companies and investment.
MIAMI (AP) — When insurance agent Kelly Fristoe recently spent 30 minutes helping a client pick a mid-level health plan and the federal marketplace website froze, he called the government's hotline and tried to finish the application. But the operator refused to credit Fristoe as an agent on the application, meaning he wouldn't get the commission or be listed as the follow-up contact if his client needed help again later.
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — China has its sights set on exporting its fruit to the United States. And that's OK with growers in Washington, who harvest the bulk of America's apple crop.
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