Madrid is plotting to strip Spain’s regions of their powers in a radical bid to convince global investors that the nation can control its finances. Officials said Madrid was ready to intervene if the regions continued to bust their budgets and hamper the central government’s austerity drive. Spain’s borrowing costs rose to 6.08%, plunging deeper into the territory considered unsustainably expensive. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned that Spain would not be able to fund itself without the savage cuts and sticking to the deficit reduction plans, The Telegraph reports.
Petrol prices may finally be on their way down after forecourts reported lower sales in the aftermath of panic buying in the run up to Easter, AA petrol price data has shown. Forecourts kept prices at record highs last week despite reports of reduced demand and plunging sales after panic buying in the previous week. But there are signs prices are now easing. The average price of unleaded is was 142.26p a litre today, down from the 142.44p peak earlier in the week. The average diesel price is now 147.76p, down from 147.93p, writes The Daily Mail.
The World Bank chose Korean-American physician Jim Yong Kim as its next chief Monday in a decision that surprised few despite the first-ever challenge to the US lock on the Bank’s presidency. The Bank’s directors chose Kim, a 52-year-old US health expert and educator, over Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who had argued that the huge lender needs reorientation under someone from the developing world. Kim, 52 and currently president of the Ivy League university Dartmouth, will replace outgoing President Robert Zoellick, the former US diplomat who is departing in June at the end of his five-year term, The Telegraph says.
Hedge funds are cutting their exposure to commodities at an accelerated pace as concerns mount that slowing growth in China will depress demand. US data showed that hedge funds reduced their positions by around $9bn (£7.4bn) to £90.7bn in the week ended April 10, which was the biggest fall in four months. The latest figures from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) showed money managers lowered net long positions across 24 US commodity futures including oil, precious metals, base metals and agricultural commodities such as cotton, according to The Telegraph.
Local newspapers with heritages dating back to the 19th century are to stop printing daily editions as Johnston Press sacrifices newsprint in favour of digital journalism. The troubled regional publisher, labouring under a £350m debt mountain, announced yesterday that five of its daily titles would become weekly, with more likely to follow the same path. The Scarborough Evening News, Northampton Chronicle and Echo, Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph, Peterborough Evening Telegraph and Halifax Courier will move to weekly “bumper” publication from late May, The Times says.
Global investors are fleeing from the eurozone’s “broken” sovereign debt market as faith in the handling of the single currency crisis continues to wane, a leading bond manager said. Speaking after Spanish debt yields had spiked to their highest levels since November, Andrew Balls, of the bond fund Pimco, said that investors had been using the recent calm in markets as a further opportunity to shed holdings of government debt. “Europe tends to go between crisis and complacency,” Mr Balls said. “If there is crisis, you are meant to stabilise your existing investor base and attract new investors. Much of what has happened over the past two years seems to have done little more than facilitate the exit of investors from the market,” The Times reports.