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* North Korea warns policies will not change

* US, Saudi Arabia sign $29.4bn F-15 fighter deal

* China manufacturing contracts for 2nd month

* Alibaba hires lobbyist amid Yahoo bid talk

* Iran’s rhetoric sets diplomacy on edge

* VTB buys stake in metals company

* Mexican candidate sees possible Pemex listing

* Russia submerges nuclear submarine to douse blaze

* Turkish jets kill 35 on along Iraqi border

* Deutsche Telekom settles bribery case

* Uproar over India graft laws sinks Singh vote

* Syrians plan Friday protests as monitors visit

* Markets: broadly steady

North Korea warns policies will not change
North Korea has warned “foolish politicians” around the world not to expect any change in the country’s policies after the death of Kim Jong-il earlier this month, the FT reports. Pyongyang’s typically combative statement on Friday refutes suggestions from some observers that Kim Jong-il’s son and successor, Kim Jong-eun, could be more liable to reform the nuclear-armed state because he spent some time at school in Switzerland.

US, Saudi Arabia sign $29.4bn F-15 fighter deal
The Obama administration has signed an agreement with Saudi Arabiathat Congress approved in 2010 to sell Boeing Co. F-15 fighters to the Gulf ally, Bloomberg reports. “Valued at $29.4 billion, this agreement includes production of 84 new aircraft and the modernization of 70 existing aircraft as well as munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance and logistics,” the White House’s principal deputy press secretary, Josh Earnest, said in an e-mailed statement.

China manufacturing contracts for 2nd month
China’s manufacturing contracted for a second month in December as global growth faltered and Premier Wen Jiabao prolonged a crackdown on speculation in the housing market, a purchasing managers’ index indicated, the FT reports. The index was at 48.7 in December, HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics said today. That compared with a preliminary result of 49 reported on Dec. 15 and a final reading of 47.7 for November. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Alibaba hires lobbyist amid Yahoo bid talk
Alibaba Group has hired Duberstein Group, the Washington lobbying company, in the latest sign that the Chinese internet group is considering a bid for the whole of Yahoo, if talks to buy back the US rival’s Asian assets fall through, the FT reports.

Iran’s rhetoric sets diplomacy on edge
Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz to international shipping if the US and European Union press ahead with fresh sanctions against Tehran is being dismissed by western diplomats, who argue that such a move would end up further crippling the beleaguered Iranian economy, the FT reports.

VTB buys stake in metals company
Russia’s second-biggest bank, state-controlled VTB, on Thursday announced that it had bought 20 per cent of metals company Metalloinvest from an indebted businessman for $2.5bn, the FT reports.

Mexican candidate sees possible Pemex listing
A leading presidential candidate of Mexico’s ruling conservatives raised the possibility on Thursday of listing oil company Pemex on the stock exchange to help revamp the state-owned giant, Reuters reports.

Russia submerges nuclear submarine to douse blaze
Russia said it had won the battle with a raging blaze aboard a nuclear submarine on Friday by submerging the stricken vessel at a navy shipyard after hours of dousing the flames with water from helicopters and tug boats, Reuters reports.

Turkish jets kill 35 on along Iraqi border
Turkish warplanes, seeking to kill members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, instead killed 35 smugglers and other civilians and triggered protests that may undermine government efforts to end unrest, Reuters reports.

Deutsche Telekom settles bribery case
Deutsche Telekom and its Hungarian subsidiary Magyar Telekom will pay US authorities $95.2m to settle allegations that executives had bribed government officials in Montenegro and Macedonia, the FT reports.

Uproar over India graft laws sinks Singh vote
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh failed to win passage of his anti-corruption bill as an uproar broke out in India’s upper house of parliament, capping a year of setbacks that stirred concern over a wrecked economic agenda, Bloomberg reports.

Syrians plan Friday protests as monitors visit
Opposition activists urged people to take to the streets on Friday, the main day of protest in the revolts that have swept the Arab world, to convince Arab League peace monitors to pay attention to their plight, Reuters reports.

Emerging Markets
MSCI Emerging Market Index up +0.10% at 915.11

Europe
FTSE up -0.41% at 5,544
RTS up +0.48% at 1,372
Warsaw Wig down -0.15% at 37,758
FTSE 300 Eurotop up +0.12% at 993.95

Americas
DJIA up +1.12% at 12,287
S&P 500 up +1.07% at 1,263
Bovespa up +0.39% at 56,754

Asia
Nikkei 225 up +0.67% at 8,455
Topix up +0.90% at 728.61
Hang Seng up +0.20% at 18,434
Shanghai Composite up +1.19% at 2,199
MSCI Asia ex-Japan down -0.06% at 458.01
S&P CNX Nifty Index down -0.47% at 4,624

Currencies
€/$ 1.29 (1.30)
$/¥ 77.38 (77.60)

Commodities
Brent Crude (ICE) down -0.28 at 107.73
Light Crude (Nymex) up +0.19 at 99.84
100 Oz Gold (Comex) up +31.90 at 1,572

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