EU nations come to two key agreements

  • Updated: December 13, 2012 - 9:21 PM
EU nations come to two key agreements

European Union nations reached two crucial agreements Thursday: They found a compromise to create a single supervisor for their banks and agreed to give Greece desperately needed bailout funds. The measures ended months of haggling over ways to deal with the three-year financial crisis caused by too much government debt. In Brussels, finance ministers agreed to give the European Central Bank oversight of their banks. Crucially, the single supervisor paves the way for Europe's bailout fund to give money directly to struggling banks, without dragging in governments. Then, the 17 EU countries that use the euro approved 49.1 billion euros ($64 billion) for Greece, 34.3 billion euros of which will be disbursed in the coming days. The funds are vital because Greece needs the money to stay afloat and avoid a calamitous default.

U.S. inventories rose in October

U.S. businesses added to their stockpiles in October while sales fell, a sign that companies may order fewer goods in the coming months. The Commerce Department says inventories rose 0.4 percent, down from a 0.7 percent increase in September and the smallest gain in four months. Sales, meanwhile, dropped 0.4 percent. Rising inventories and falling sales suggest companies may have ordered more goods than they need. As a result, they are likely to cut back on orders in the coming months. A ratio of inventories to sales rose to its highest level in three years in October. That also indicates that companies may have restocked too much.

Sprint wants rest of Clearwire

Sprint Nextel offered to take over Clearwire in a $2.1 billion deal, ending a four-year joint venture that struggled to build a nationwide network capable of challenging Verizon Wireless and AT&T. Sprint, which already owns more than 50 percent of Clearwire, is seeking to acquire the remaining shares at $2.90 each, according to a regulatory filing Thursday. That's 5.5 percent more than the stock's closing price Wednesday. Sprint proposed to provide interim financing of as much as $800 million to help keep the money-losing Clearwire afloat. Sprint, the third-largest U.S. carrier, is getting an influx of cash from Japan's Softbank Corp., which agreed in October to buy 70 percent of Sprint for about $20 billion.

ICE to test drive new BlackBerry

Canada's Research In Motion says the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency will launch a pilot program with its smartphones using its new operating system, BlackBerry 10, likely in January. The Ontario, smartphone maker says the U.S. agency will be among the first government departments to pilot BlackBerry 10, widely considered a make- or-break product for RIM. The company has lost several other U.S. departments in favor of Apple Inc.'s new iPhone 5.

Banks move to boost confidence

Major central banks acted Thursday to shore up confidence in the global financial system by extending a program that makes it easier for banks to borrow U.S. dollars. The move renews for a year a program expanded in November 2011 in response to Europe's debt crisis. It had been set to expire in February. The program lets central banks swap their currencies at the U.S. Federal Reserve in exchange for dollars. Commercial banks can then borrow dollars, the dominant currency of trade, at low rates. Taking part in Thursday's announcement, besides the Federal Reserve, were the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, the Swiss National Bank and the Bank of Canada.

McAfee: U.S. hasn't questioned me

Anti-virus software founder John McAfee said U.S. authorities have made no efforts to question him since he arrived in Miami on Wednesday after weeks of evading Belizean authorities who want to question him in the death of his neighbor. McAfee was deported from Guatemala after sneaking in illegally from Belize, where police want to question him in connection with the death of a U.S. expatriate who lived near him on an island. U.S officials said there was no active arrest warrant for McAfee that would justify taking him into custody.

Canadian, Chinese energy firms cut deal

Canadian energy firm Encana Corp. and a subsidiary of China's state-owned PetroChina have entered into a joint venture agreement to explore and develop shale natural gas in Alberta. Encana said the PetroChina subsidiary, Phoenix Duvernay Gas, will invest $2.21 billion U.S. for a 49.9 percent interest in 445,000 acres Encana has in the emerging Duvernay formation.

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