* China and Japan back direct trade of currencies

* Japan urges China to help keep North Korea in check

* Samsung to buy Sony’s stake from LCD joint venture

* China may establish credit-rating companies

* S Korea delegation heads North as Kim Jong-eun elevated

* Protesters pile pressure on Putin

* Saudi Arabia to allow foreign carriers

* Islamists kill dozens in Nigeria Christmas bombs

* Japan, China deepen financial ties

* Markets: broadly up

China and Japan back direct trade of currencies
Japan and China will promote direct trading of yen and yuan without using dollars and will encourage the development of a market for the exchange, to cut costs for companies, the Japanese government said, Bloomberg reported.

Japan urges China to help keep North Korea in check
Japan urged China on Monday to shoulder a big role in ensuring North Korea avoids volatility after the death of its leader, Kim Jong-il. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda also urged Chinese President Hu Jintao to share information about developments in North Korea, where the succession of Kim’s youngest son has fanned speculation about who will really control the secretive one-party state and its nuclear program, according to Reuters.

Samsung to buy Sony’s stake from LCD JV
Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest television maker, has agreed to buy out the stake of Sony in their joint venture to make liquid-crystal displays used in televisions amid sluggish demand, according to Bloomberg.

China may establish credit-rating companies
China should reduce its reliance on overseas rating companies by encouraging large financial institutions to strengthen their research and make their own judgments, central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said, reports Bloomberg.

Japan, China deepen financial ties
The Chinese and Japanese governments on Sunday unveiled a broad, innovative package of financial agreements designed to tighten ties between the world’s second- and third-largest economies, moves that could elevate the yuan’s status as an international currency and solve foreign-exchange headaches for Japanese companies doing business in China, reports the Wall Street Journal.

S Korea delegation heads North as Kim Jong-eun elevated
Hyundai Group’s chairwoman and a former South Korean first lady crossed into the North on a private visit as their government’s restrictions on condolences for the death of Kim Jong Il drew warnings of “unpredictable catastrophic consequences” from the regime in Pyongyang, Bloomberg reported.

Protesters pile pressure on Putin
Tens of thousands rallied in downtown Moscow on Saturday, calling for a rerun of disputed parliamentary elections and the ousting of Vladimir Putin, prime minister, from power. The turnout in the wintry streets appeared to exceed the roughly 50,000 crowd at a similar demonstration on December 10, which indicates that the anti-Kremlin mood – which began after the December 4 parliamentary elections – is gathering steam, reports the FT.

Saudi Arabia to allow foreign carriers
Saudi Arabia’s aviation authority said Sunday that it will allow foreign and local investors to operate domestic and international flights in the kingdom to meet growing demand, the WSJ reported.

Islamists kill dozens in Nigeria Christmas bombs
Islamist militants set off bombs across Nigeria on Christmas Day – three targeting churches including one that killed at least 27 people – raising fears that they are trying to ignite sectarian civil war, Reuters reported.

Emerging Markets
MSCI Emerging Market Index up +0.02% at 927.88

Europe
FTSE up +1.02% at 5,513
RTS up +1.34% at 1,413
Warsaw Wig up +0.83% at 37,789
FTSE 300 Eurotop up +0.81% at 990.00

Americas
DJIA up +1.02% at 12,294
S&P 500 up +0.90% at 1,265
Bovespa up +0.62% at 57,701

Asia
Nikkei 225 up +1.00% at 8,479
Topix up +0.46% at 726.44
Hang Seng up +1.37% at 18,629
Shanghai Composite down -0.67% at 2,190
MSCI Asia ex-Japan down -0.15% at 463.58
S&P CNX Nifty Index up +1.38% at 4,779

Currencies
€/$ 1.31 (1.30)
$/¥ 77.88 (78.04)

Commodities
Brent Crude (ICE) up +0.11 at 108.00
Light Crude (Nymex) up +0.33 at 99.86
100 Oz Gold (Comex) down -2.90 at 1,606

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