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UK 100 called to open -15pts after US markets saw choppy trading with the bullishness of late giving way to more cautious optimism as the Q4 earnings season gathers momentum. Late in the session, S&P cut ratings of four French banks (inc SocGen & Credit Agricole) following its downgrade of France. Nonetheless, indices closed in positive territory on the improved risk sentiment vis-a-vis Europe (the EUR rose to a 3-week high vs USD after Germany appeared to soften its stance on a bigger firewall by combining ESM and EFSF), despite a lack of fresh news on the Athens debt deal. Bond holders have made clear maximum loss willing to take (some progress); Athens now has make acceptable debt swap offer to enable Greece to secure its second bailout. Overnight, markets in Asia Pacific still quiet on account of Lunar New Year, but on the whole maintained gains despite the stalemate between Greece and its bond holders. Japan and Australian hovering around breakeven. Oil buoyed by Iran situation. Gold helped by weaker USD.
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