Catalan's ruling CiU wins election, plans backfire; Greece back in focus

The sovereignist plan from Catalan's ruling CiU president Artur Mas received a serious setback on Sunday's Catalan elections. Despite the Convergence and Union (CiU) Government obtained most votes, the results were far worse than the undisguised aim of reaching an absolute majority.

As Spanish paper el Pais reports: "Artur Mas's victory was much lower than what nationalists had expected when they decided to call for snap elections." The lost of seats falls short of the strong ties they were aiming at to manage the process of independence, a motive of joy for Spanish PM Rajoy, who wishes to keep Catalans and Spanish united.

According to exit polls, CiU had 50 seats, down from current 62. The second most voted party was Esquerra Republicana (left wing republican), gathering 21 seats, thus the independence push is still a threat to consider.

Focus on EU FinMin meeting; Greece debt deal still uncertain

Ahead of today's EU finance ministers meeting, a teleconference over the weekend failed to provide any conclusive statement, and is understood that ongoing discrepancies aka 'technical work', aimed at making sense of the numbers that intend to bring down Greek debt to GDP ratio from expected 185+% next year to 124% by 2020, remain notorious.

According to Greek paper Kathimerini, citing sources familiar with the talks, an agreement may not be reached until December 3, adding that the funding gap is wider than Greece says. On the contrary, Reuters reports are a bit more optimistic, noting that some sources told Reuters that the weekend talks managed to come parties involved closer to a deal after some technical details were sorted.

As Kathimerini notes: "Greece is hoping to receive the whole 44 billion euros due to be released from the bailout program next month. As things stand, all of this money will go to cover immediate obligations. Some 24 billion euros will be used to complete the bank recapitalization program, 9 billion will be invested in the buyback scheme, 4.5 billion is needed to cover the primary deficit, 3.5 billion has been slated to reduce state arrears, 3.4 billion is needed to cover four-week T-bills that mature next month and 500 million euros will go toward covering a bond that matures on December 21."

EU budget talks end in deadlock

EU budget talks, which begun on Thursday and continued on Friday have been broken up in the European afternoon, due to a lack of consensus on the 1 trillion euro long-term spending plan.

The seven-year funding plan put forward by European Council president Herman Van Rompuy on Thursday and foreseeing 80 billion euros of cuts, has been rejected by Germany and the UK which consider the reductions insufficient. Smaller Member States also threatened to veto the project.

Talks on Greek bailout to continue over the weekend

An official close to EU talks on Greek bailout informed on Friday that the Eurozone is considering passing on 75% of ECB profits on Greek bonds in order to help the country attain sustainable debt levels. Other propositions include reducing the interest rate on the loans and extending their maturities.

According to Dow Jones Newswires Eurozone finance ministers will hold a telephone conference on Saturday in order to negotiate the details of the Greek bailout before the Eurogroup meeting scheduled for next Monday.

The Wells Fargo team of  analysts believe that a final decision on the rescue should be reached by that time: "While we wouldn’t want to understate the challenges of reaching agreement on Greece, news reports have described some of the remaining obstacles as technical and legal, and thus the hurdles to a deal do not seem insurmountable."

They also add that "an underlying expectation that Greece will receive further financing seems to be helping many G10 currencies, while the emerging currencies are mixed but stronger on balance, in particular the emerging European currencies. With the odds still favoring further financing for Greece soon, our bias remains for gains in most foreign currencies over the near-term."
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