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Thursday newspaper round-up: Fed taper, EU banking union, Retailers…

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US central bank to start unwinding stimulus; EU ministers agree banking deal; late Christmas shopping spree may not save retailers.

Emerging and Asian exchanges took the taper in their stride as global markets continued to react on Thursday to the US Federal Reserve’s decision to begin shrinking its monthly asset buying programme from $85bn to $75bn. Previous hints that the Fed was set to reduce, or taper, its purchase programme had caused turbulence in emerging markets. But Thursday’s relative calm suggested that half a year of teasers from the US central bank had prepared the ground well. – Financial Times

The Chancellor last night hailed an agreement to form a European banking union that will protect the interests of Britain’s taxpayers. George Osborne spent long into the evening in Brussels negotiating with fellow European Union finance ministers over a deal that gives the European Union new powers to prevent banking failures. The so-called banking union is also designed to put an end to the need for taxpayer-funded bailouts such as those that became prevalent during the financial crisis in Britain, the United States and Europe. – The Times

Ailing retailers hoping for a late surge in Christmas shopping could be left disappointed, according to new data from Visa Europe. December 23rd is expected to be the biggest shopping day of the year in the UK but Visa has warned that retail sales could be flat on the same day in 2012. Visa has estimated that £1.2bn will be spent on its cards on Monday December 23 using historical spend data, the same amount as last year. – The Telegraph

General Electric expects its revenue growth to accelerate next year as the US economy continues to strengthen, the US manufacturing and financial group told investors on Wednesday. It also forecast double-digit growth in earnings from its industrial operations, offsetting a decline in profits at GE Capital, its finance arm. In an annual presentation to analysts and investors, Jeff Immelt, GE’s chief executive, said the company would have a “ton of cash”, with about $90bn available over the next three years, much of which could be used for share buybacks and raising the dividend. – Financial Times

HM Revenue and Customs has been accused of failing to collect enough tax from big business and not using the powers at its disposal to do so by an influential committee of MPs. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), chaired by Margaret Hodge, accused the tax man of “not clearly demonstrating that it [HMRC] is on the side of the majority of taxpayers who pay their taxes in full.” – The Telegraph