Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Friday his expansionary budget for next year is in line with EU fiscal rules, and he criticized Germany and eastern European countries for breaching EU pacts. Renzi said Italy’s projected deficit for 2017 is the lowest in several years and reiterated he will not change it despite pressure from the European Commission. Renzi said that other countries do not respect EU rules, and reiterated his criticism of Germany for its excessive trade surplus. The Italian prime minister also said eastern European countries that do not respect a deal on EU migrant quotas should be sanctioned and lose some of their EU funds. (Reuters)
Indian banks scrambled Friday to contain the damage after finding that more than 3.2 million debit cards may have been hacked. Several banks, including the government-run State Bank of India, advised customers to change their personal identification numbers. The banks have recalled thousands of debit cards and blocked others that they fear have been hacked. The breach is thought to have been caused by malware on an ATM network. The National Payments Corporation of India said banks had received complaints from customers that their cards had been used fraudulently in China and the US. The NCPI has alerted banks that 3.2 million cards were affected. (AP)
Russian Finance Minister said on Friday there was no doubt that his ministry will manage to raise extra 200 billion rubles ($3.21 billion) for the budget by the end of this year. Earlier this month the finance ministry said its additional borrowing in 2016 may include first-ever treasury bonds denominated in Chinese yuan. (Reuters)
British American Tobacco has offered to buy US tobacco company Reynolds American Inc in a $47 billion deal that would bring together Newport, Kent and Pall Mall cigarettes in the world’s biggest listed tobacco company. The takeover would give BAT a leading position in the high-value US market and more premium brands such as Camel which it can sell in countries including Russia and Turkey. The British group, which already has a 42 percent stake in Reynolds, said its offer valued the company’s shares at $56.50, of which $24.13 would be in cash and $32.37 would be in BAT shares. The total price for the remaining 57.8 percent of Reynolds would be $47 billion, of which approximately $20 billion would be in cash and $27 billion in BAT shares. (Reuters)
Emerging stocks fell on Friday but were still on course to end the week up over 1 percent, while currencies were pressured by a strong dollar with China’s yuan hitting a six-year low. The benchmark emerging equities index was down 0.4 percent as risk appetite cooled in the face of uncertainty over when the European Central Bank would end its bond-buying program. The dollar strengthened a quarter of a percent, hovering near seven-month highs against a basket of currencies. The yuan hit a fresh six-year low after the People’s Bank of China set the midpoint rate for the currency weaker than the previous fix. The country’s forex regulator said the yuan’s recent weakness against the dollar was mostly due to rising expectations of a US rate rise. (Reuters)
Belarus will transfer money to settle the overdue payments for the Russian natural gas, Belarusian Minister of Energy Vladimir Potupchik told reporters on Friday. “We are making the transfer today,” he told TASS, adding that it is “not a debt, but a prepayment.” He said earlier underpayment of Belarus for the gas supplied from Russia currently amounts to $281 million. According to Potupchik, the two states had signed a protocol to make decisions on the basis of tradeoff, with Minsk settling the overdue payment for the supplied gas, and Russia resuming in full the oil supplies to Belarus.
The Russian economy has adapted to the challenges related to the foreign policy pressure on the country and to the slump of revenues from the oil and gas sector, head of the State Duma Budget and Taxation Committee Andrey Makarov said. On Friday, the lower house of parliament will discuss the bill on fulfillment of the 2015 budget and addendums to the 2016 budget, TASS reports. Duma deputies have analyzed the economic policies “under the circumstances of unprecedented pressure on the country,” and under the conditions of “major shocks, which the Russian economy is experiencing,” the MP said. The transfer towards the new economic model is going along “with realistic growth of revenues from the sectors other than oil and gas.”