The number of unemployed in Spain rose to 4.98 million last month, official figures published Monday show. Last month brought news that the unemployment rate rose to record levels above 26% towards the end of 2012.
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, who travels to Berlin today for talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel, denied allegations in the Spanish press over the weekend that he received illegal payments from a slush fund run by his Popular party.
Support for Spain’s Popular party has fallen six percentage points to 24% since the allegations were made, according to a poll published by Spanish newspaper El Pais, while 77% of those surveyed said they do not approve of Rajoy.
Elsewhere in Europe, Italian prime minister Mario Monti today criticized his predecessor Silvio Berlusconi’s proposal to reimburse taxes paid on primary residences that were levied by Monti.
“Berlusconi wants to buy the votes of Italians with the money that Italians had to turn over to cover up the shortfall left in the public accounts by Berlusconi,” Monti said.
A poll published last week showed Berlusconi had cut the lead of front runner Luigi Bersani to five percentage points ahead of elections in three weeks.
Bersani’s Democratic Party (PD) has faced criticism for allegedly receiving funding from Siena-based Monte dei Paschi (MPS), the world’s oldest bank dating back to 1472, which is currently being investigated for covering up losses on derivatives trades and overpaying for its 2007 acquisition of Banca AntonVeneta.
MPS lost an estimated €2 billion-plus in 2012, following a €4.6 billion loss in 2011.
In Germany, politicians have expressed skepticism over whether to accede to Cyprus’s request for a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
“Without the introduction of effective controls on money-laundering and urgently needed structural reforms, we need not even discuss financial aid,” Rainer Bruederle, a member of the Free Democratic party which shares power with Merkel’s party, said over the weekend.
“Cyprus is based on a business model that damages us all,” added Johannes Kahrs of the opposition Social Democrats. “Yet it is now supposed to be saved by the EU. The SPD will not support that.”
“There’s general unease…about the fact that Cyprus takes in a good deal of cash from Russians,” explains a note from Standard Bank.
Across the pond in New York, the so-called speculative net long position of Comex gold futures and options traders fell to its lowest reported level since last August during the week ended Tuesday 29 January, weekly data published Friday by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission show.
The spec net long is calculated at the difference between ‘bullish’ long and ‘bearish’ short contracts held by traders such as hedge funds which are classified as ‘noncommerical’, and is regarded as an indicator of short-term sentiment in the derivatives markets.
“The ‘weak hands’ are further retreating from the gold market, which is a good thing in terms of the long-term price prospects,” says today’s commodities note from Commerzbank.