It's Down to...Slovakia?

It's down to...Slovakia?

European stocks and U.S. shares slipped late morning on word the vote in Slovakia on approval of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) expansion was looking a bit more doubtful.

Much mocking and derision as I have been counting down all 17 euro zone countries that have had to vote to expand the EFSF (Estonia votes yes!). Yesterday, Malta became the 16th country to approve the expansion.

Now we have to endure Slovakian politics to get the final country to approve: It's all become tied to a confidence vote in the current government. Gads.

We'll hold our nose, but send the money anyhow: the troika (European Union/European Central Bank/International Monetary Fund ) examining Greece's finances have finally issued their report. Bottom line: The next 8 billion ($11 billion) tranche of aid "will become available, most likely, in early November."

Not that the examination was a roaring success: "The achievement of the fiscal target for 2011 is no longer within reach, partly because of a further drop in (gross domestic product), but also because of slippages in the implementation of some of the agreed measures."

A haircut or a beheading? Luxembourg's Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, has confirmed that there are active negotiations for Greek bondholders to take much more substantial haircuts than the 21 percent that was agreed to in July.

European Commission President Jose Barroso will also be presenting proposals Wednesday on how European banks can be recapitalized.

It's all coming to a head: Greece and a path toward recapitalization of European banks is now moving toward a decision around the end of October (EU Summit meeting Oct. 23) and early November (Group of 20 nations meeting Nov. 3).


1. China to the rescue: not. China is helping out the banks! It's just not European banks. The Chinese government has purchased class-A shares in China's four largest state owned banks.

2. Free trade agreements, finally. The Senate is poised to approve free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. These agreements go back to the Bush administration.

3. Dollar Thrifty falls 4 percent after revealing it will stay an independent company despite its attempts to get acquired by one of its rivals. Last month Avis Budget withdrew its bid; meanwhile, another interested bidder, Hertz Global Holdings failed to submit an acceptable offer to the board. Dollar Thrifty reaffirms its third-quarter earnings outlook and unveils a $400 million stock buyback program.

4. 99 Cents Stores rises 4 percent after agreeing to be acquired by Ares Management and a Canadian pension fund for $1.6 billion. That will give shareholders $22 a share, more than the $19.09 a share offer the company got from Leonard Green a few months ago.

5. Amid the "uncertain economic environment, ongoing high fuel costs," AMR is cutting its capacity in the fourth quarter by about 3 percent year-over-year. Additionally, it will also retire 11 of its Boeing 757 airplanes next year.

6. Apparel maker/retailer Jones Group announced it is in talks to sell its jeans business to Israeli firm Delta Galil Industries for about $350 million to $400 million. It hopes to make a decision on the sale within the next month.

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