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Fed's Lacker says big balance sheet doesn't tie Fed's hands

By Luciana Lopez BALTIMORE (Reuters) - The unprecedented size of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet will not keep the Fed from being able to conduct effective monetary policy, a top U.S. central banker said on Friday. Asked after a speech here if the Fed's now nearly $4-trillion balance sheet would tie the Fed's hands, Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Richmond Federal Reserve, said, "I think it doesn't."

Japan to put benchmark interbank rates under tighter regulatory oversight

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese authorities said they will put benchmark interest rates under stricter regulatory oversight, in response to global scrutiny after scandals over manipulation. Under measures to be introduced next year, the Japanese Bankers Association, which publishes the Tokyo interbank offered rate (Tibor), will be put under the oversight of the Financial Service Agency, the regulator said on Wednesday.

EU approves plan to put market riggers behind bars

LONDON (Reuters) - Traders in the European Union caught rigging market benchmarks like Libor, oil or currencies could be jailed for four years under a deal agreed on Friday. The agreement on toughening up the bloc's law on stopping market abuse was reached between representatives of the European Parliament and the bloc's member states, parliament said in a statement.

EU takes key step on bank deposit guarantee system

The EU took a step Tuesday toward a new bank regulatory framework after the European Parliament reached a political accord with EU leaders on how to fund a deposit guarantee system. Bank deposits under 100,000 euros ($137,000), which governments have pledged to protect since 2010, will now be covered by funds set aside by the banks themselves, a Parliament statement said.

Former UBS, Citigroup trader denies Libor rigging

A British trader pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to eight fraud charges linked to alleged manipulation of the key Libor inter-bank lending rate. Former UBS and Citigroup trader Tom Hayes, 34, denied the charges as he appeared at Southwark Crown Court in London alongside two other defendants, Terry Farr and James Gilmour. Hayes is the first Briton to be charged in connection with the Libor scandal which erupted in June 2012 at the British bank Barclays.

Euribor rates up as prospect for new ECB stimulus low

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Euro-priced bank-to-bank lending rates rose further on Tuesday after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi gave little indication that fresh stimulus measures were imminent. The ECB kept interest rates on hold at 0.25 percent in December and policymakers' comments since have suggested there is little appetite at present to deploy any of the policy options the ECB has left to support the euro zone economy.

Zimbabwe customers storm bank after it runs out of cash

Angry depositors forced their way into a banking hall and attacked a manager in the Zimbabwean capital on Monday after the bank ran out of cash, witnesses said. A witness, who refused to identify herself, said the depositors were waiting in a queue outside the bank in central Harare when a quarrel broke out with the manager at Allied Bank, one of several battling to pay out deposits. "The bank manager confronted a customer in the queue who shouted at the manager querying where their money had gone," the witness said.

Revenue agency says tax refund to Mafia boss was done in error, not corruption

MONTREAL - The Canada Revenue Agency says there was no fraud, collusion or corruption on the part of its employees in the issuing of a refund cheque for more than $381,000 to a now dead Mafia don who owed $1.5 million in back taxes. The agency acknowledged a weakness in the system controlling the issuing of the cheque and questionable employee performance but said in a report on the investigation that there was no intentional wrongdoing. The cheque was issued on Sept. 13, 2007, to Nicolo Rizzuto, a reputed organized crime figure in Montreal.

Austrian banks set to pass stress tests: central bank

By Michael Shields and Georgina Prodhan VIENNA (Reuters) - Six Austrian banks will hold up well in European stress tests next year that are designed to gauge whether the region's banks can withstand tough market conditions, the Austrian National Bank (OeNB) said on Wednesday. OeNB Governor Ewald Nowotny gave an upbeat view of how domestic banks would fare in the stress tests that aim to reassure investors about the resilience of 128 big euro zone banks in the wake of the financial crisis.

Bank of Montreal raising home mortgage rates by 0.1 percentage points

TORONTO, Cananda - The Bank of Montreal says it is raising its fixed and variable home mortgage rates by 0.1 percentage points, effective Tuesday. The bank says the posted rate for a five-year fixed closed mortgage will be 5.44 per cent, while the posted five-year closed variable rate will be 3.1 per cent. The increase comes as long term interest rates on the bond market tick higher in anticipation that the U.S. Federal Reserve will soon start tapering its US$85 billion a month in bond purchases.
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