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HEADLINE:   Overseas Headlines: June 14, 2012

· (Highlighted Story) Prices in the U.S. fell in May by the most in three years as the consumer-price index declined 0.3%, driven by retreating fuel prices. The core measure, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, increased 0.2% for a third month. Consumer prices increased 1.7% in the 12 months ended in May, the smallest 12-month gain since January 2011 while core prices were up 2.3% for the year through May, matching gains for the 12 months ended in April and March. Energy costs decreased 4.3% from a month earlier, the largest decline since December 2008 and gasoline prices slumped 6.8%. Food costs were unchanged as gains in fruits and vegetables were offset by cheaper beverages, dairy products and meats.
Falling energy costs may provide some relief for Americans despite moderating job and wage gains which have slower consumer spending, the U.S. Commerce Department reported yesterday a 0.2% decline in retail sales month-over-month in May. The labour market added fewer jobs than expected in April while real wages are down 0.1% over last twelve months.

· New claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly climbed by 6,000 to 386,000 in the week ended June 9 from a revised 380,000 in the prior week, indicating that the labor is struggling to improve. Economists had projected claims would fall to a median 375,000. The four-week moving average of claims, a less-volatile measure, rose to 382,000, the highest since April 28. Employment growth has waned compared to its pace at the start of the year, when it hit a high of 275,000 in January. Payrolls increased by 69,000 in May, the fewest in a year, after a 77,000 gain the prior month.

· Moody’s Investors Service credit ratings agency cut its rating on Spanish government debt on Wednesday by three notches to Baa3 from A3 one level above junk. Moody’s stated that it could lower Spain’s rating further and said the move was driven by Spain’s “very limited” access to international debt markets and the weakness of the national economy. Moody’s also stated that the bailout which was agreed upon over the weekend will serve to increase the nation’s debt burden. Moody’s warned that Spain’s rating could be further reduced within the next three months based on the size and terms of the bank support package from the Eurozone and other factors such as the outcome of Sunday’s election in Greece and the European summit at the end of the month.

· Italy’s three-year borrowing costs rose to 5.3% at an auction today, emphasizing the mounting pressures on the euro zone’s third-largest economy. The yield is the most Italy has had to pay for three-year debt since December and much higher than the 3.9% it was sold at just a month ago. Italy’s economic reforms have been stalling and market speculation is that it too will need a bailout after Spain as the rising borrowing costs undermine the relief provided earlier in the year by the European Central Bank’s cash injection. On Wednesday, Italy paid 3.97% on one-year paper, the highest yield in six months.

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