The Fed cut its growth forecast and confounded expectations that it would start to slow its third round of quantitative easing as the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee said it would "await more evidence that progress will be sustained before adjusting the pace of its purchases". The decision suggests the Fed was alarmed by the sharp rise in long-term interest rates that followed its June announcement of a likely scenario for tapering its QE3 programme and wanted to push back against markets, and by the prospect of a big fiscal showdown in the US Congress in the coming weeks, the Financial Times writes.
Europe tabled a web of regulations yesterday to fight benchmark rigging on the financial and commodities markets, though the Brussels scheme will leave oversight mainly in national hands. For the first time, indices such as Libor and North Sea Brent crude will be regulated, ending decades of self-management by industry bodies. Michel Barnier, the Single Market Commissioner, said that his plan was an international antidote to abuse of the benchmarks, The Times reports.
George Osborne on Wednesday insisted he was not inflating a housing bubble, despite official data showing property prices in England have broken through their pre-crisis peak. The chancellor told an audience at the Institute of Directors annual conference that there was no housing boom under way even though the ONS data showed the average price of a UK house has now surpassed its peak of five years ago with the average price reaching £245,000. Osborne said he was "alert to the risks but let's not pretend there's a housing boom," according to The Guardian.
The Co-operative Group has removed a key obstacle to pulling the plug on its stricken bank, but has risked raising the hackles of its bondholders. The mutual said yesterday that it would repay early a tranche of bonds linked to bonds in its bank. This link means that if the Co-op put the bank into run-off triggering a default of its bank bonds a default of group bonds would automatically follow, The Times says.
Alex Salmond was hit by a double blow in the polls yesterday as he led a debate marking a year until Scotland's historic referendum. One survey showed no increase in support for independence over the last four months and another showed a huge majority of young people supporting the Union. A new Ipsos Mori poll reveals that, among those certain to vote, 31% would say Yes to independence next year, compared with 59% who plan to vote No, The Scotsman reports.
Royal Bank of Scotland is in the final stages of deciding on a buyer for 315 of its branches and may tell the victor today. RBS executives are thought to be meeting today to make a final decision between a consortium including Corsair Capital, to which Lord Davies of Abersoch, the former Trade Minister, is a senior adviser, and America's Centerbridge Partners, and a separate private equity tie-up of Blackstone and AnaCap, writes The Times.