Spanish Borrowing Costs Rise (Bloomberg) "Spanish 10-year bonds declined, pushing yields close to their highest in two weeks, after Spain’s borrowing costs rose at its last debt sale for this year amid mounting concern over the country’s credit quality. German 10-year yields were within three basis points of the highest since May 3 even after a report showed the euro-region’s manufacturing and services industries slowed more than economists forecast in December. Moody’s Investors Service said yesterday it may downgrade Spain’s credit rating, citing the cost of rescuing its banks. European Union leaders begin a two- day meeting in Brussels today to discuss the creation of a permanent crisis-fighting mechanism."
As EU Summit Begins, Divisions Remain (Reuters) European leaders sought to paper over deep divisions on how best to resolve the debt crisis ahead of a summit on Thursday, and Spain and Portugal came under renewed pressure to get their finances in order. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had settled a dispute with Jean-Claude Juncker, the chairman of the Eurogroup of countries, over the idea of issuing euro area bonds, but differences still looked likely to arise at the summit. 'Jean-Claude Juncker and I had a long telephone conversation and cleared up the issue a while ago,' Merkel said in an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper published on Thursday. 'With so much at stake, the emotions sometimes get involved.
'Juncker, who is a strong advocate of issuing so-called E-bonds, which Merkel says are unnecessary and would dent Germany's credit standing, also said the disagreement was resolved, but has hinted he could raise the proposal anyway.
"World markets look to Europe debt crisis summit" (Yahoo Finance via AP) "World stock markets were mixed Thursday ahead of an EU summit where national leaders will tackle the region's debt crisis and as investors hoped for more upbeat U.S. economic indicators. Traders were looking to the EU meeting for some broader response to the market turmoil that has led to bailouts for Greece and Ireland and threatens to trigger more. Analysts, however, warned there would likely be no shock-and-awe tactics such as making yet more money available to backstop troubled governments. Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.4 percent at 5,903.09 and Germany's DAX was 0.1 percent higher at 7,024.26. France's CAC-40 gained 0.3 percent to 3,893.47."
"Tax package heads toward high stakes vote in House" (AP) "A massive tax package that would save millions of Americans thousands of dollars in higher taxes is headed for a vote in the House Thursday even as rebellious Democrats complain it is too generous to the wealthy. House Democratic leaders plan to pass the bill Thursday. But first, they will hold a vote on imposing a higher estate tax than the one negotiated by President Barack Obama. The Senate overwhelmingly passed the package Wednesday, with broad bipartisan support. Now, Obama is urging the House to pass it without changes, so he can sign it into law."
CNBC's Joe Pisani "Foreclosures Show Biggest 5-Year Drop as Process Slows" (CNBC) "Foreclosures activity fell dramatically in November, showing the biggest drop in more than five years, mostly due to a temporary freeze on foreclosures and the holiday slowdown, a report released Thursday said. Foreclosures fell 21 percent in November from the previous month and 14.4 percent from the year before, according to foreclosure tracking web site RealtyTrac."
Don't Panic: It's Only Nuclear War (New York Times) "Suppose the unthinkable happened, and terrorists struck New York or another big city with an atom bomb. What should people there do? The government has a surprising new message: Do not flee. Get inside any stable building and don’t come out till officials say it’s safe. The advice is based on recent scientific analyses showing that a nuclear attack is much more survivable if you immediately shield yourself from the lethal radiation that follows a blast, a simple tactic seen as saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Even staying in a car, the studies show, would reduce casualties by more than 50 percent; hunkering down in a basement would be better by far. "