WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES

LLOYDS DROPS MORTGAGE BROKERS OVER SUSPECTED FRAUD
Concerns over suspected fraud have prompted Lloyds Banking Group to cull the list of brokers it allows to sell its mortgages. The UK’s largest mortgage lender has removed some 900 individuals over the past four years from its “approved panel” of brokers, including 300 in the past year alone. It admitted a large number of those brokers were struck off after uncovering suspected fraudulent activity.

US TREASURY URGED TO SELL ULTRA LONG BONDS
The US Treasury has been urged to sell “ultra-long” bonds with maturities of up to 100 years to help lower the government’s borrowing costs. The longest bond issued by the US has a maturity of 30 years. Extending the average maturity of its outstanding debt beyond the current 59 months would enable the US to take advantage of prevailing low yields.

INDIAN IT GROUPS SHIFT FOCUS
Indian IT companies intend to reduce their dependency on a US ?market they regard as protectionist, citing a decision to increase visa fees for skilled workers. Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, the two largest Indian outsourcing companies, told the Financial Times that while the US would remain an important market, they wanted to boost revenues in Europe and emerging markets.

DEUTSCHE BANK’S MOSCOW OFFICE RAIDED
Russian police raided the Moscow offices of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest lender, yesterday, as part of a fraud investigation into one of the bank’s clients. The Russian prosecutor-general’s office said the search was part of an investigation into a suspected $87m (£53.7m) fraud in the construction of the Hotel Moskva.

THE TIMES

FRANCO-GERMAN ALLIANCE CLOSER AS HYBRID CAR DEAL IS SIGNED
The prospects of a marriage combining steely German success with French panache has long been the subject of saloon car chatter. But while the big day may be some way off, the relationship is getting stronger: BMW and PSA Peugeot Citroën said yesterday that they are to join forces to produce hybrid cars.

EX-HSBC CHAIRMAN FACES CONFLICT OF INTEREST ON BANK REVIEW
The impartiality of a key figure on the Cabinet sub-committee that will determine the future shape of British banking was called into question in Parliament yesterday. A Labour MP told the Treasury select committee that trade minister Lord Green had worked at the bank for 29 years and might not be able to “see things in an unbiased fashion”.

The Daily Telegraph

IRISH BANK FLIGHT QUICKENS DESPITE EU RESCUE
Irish central bank data showed losses of €40bn (£34bn) in deposits from the key banks in December, compared to €27bn a month earlier. Yesterday, Standard & Poor’s cut Ireland’s sovereign rating one notch to A-, citing a “weaker economic outlook, reduced prospects for bank earnings and funding difficulties of domestic banks”.

FEWER PEOPLE HAVE CASH TO SPARE
Almost a third of people claim they have “no spare cash” as pressures on personal budgets mount, according to a survey. According to the latest Consumer Confidence Survey by the Nielsen Company and the British Retail Consortium, the number of people who do not have any spare spending money has increased by six percentage points since last year, while confidence to spend has fallen.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

COMMODITY SPECULATION BACK IN EUROPEAN SPOTLIGHT
Debate over the role of speculation in pushing up commodity prices took a new political turn after the EU cut a controversial phrase from a long-awaited report on transparency in markets. The report had already been delayed after French President Nicolas Sarkozy lambasted an earlier version that found no evidence of “a correlation between the substantial increase in index fund positions and commodity futures prices”.

SPAIN SEES NEW APPROACH ON EU AID
Spain’s finance minister voiced support for an overhaul of aid packages to Greece and Ireland and for German proposals to improve the competitiveness of weaker economies in the Eurozone, but ruled out her own country needing external financial support.