The markets’ fear focus has moved from Greece to Italy. Interest rates for 10-year Italian government bonds are at their highest since the since the Euro currency was formed. Italy must finance more than $400 billion in borrowing next year. Prime Minister Berlusconi is struggling to save his shaky coalition government. In Greece, Prime Minister Papandreou has agreed to step down and has agreed with opposition leaders on a vote in favor of the European bailout of his country. Global financial markets are mostly lower this morning, with clear signs the region’s debt crisis is far from over.
Corporate earnings season continues to impress investors. So far 70 percent of US companies reporting have come in with better-than-expected third quarter earnings. Disney, Cisco, and several big retailers report fresh numbers this week.
Almost every day brings negative news about the policies of big banks. A federal judge in Miami holds a hearing today on a possible settlement in a lawsuit against Bank of America. At issue is whether to finalize a $410 million deal in a suit claiming the bank charged excessive overdraft fees. An estimated 1 million customers could receive payments from the settlement
General Motors reports strong sales in China – the auto maker’s biggest overseas market. GM’s Chinese sales jumped 10 percent to a record 220,412 vehicles in October, helped by renewed demand for its minivans. Sales by General Motors Co. and its China joint ventures have exceeded 2.1 million this year, up about 7 percent in January-October 2010. Last year, GM sales in China rose 28%. Ford’s sales this year are up 9 percent, although October’s numbers were flat. .