<strong>FINANCIAL TIMES<br />MICROSOFT NEARER TO EU DEAL</strong><br />Microsoft yesterday scored an important breakthrough in its long-running battle with European regulators, paving the way for an end to a highly charged dispute that has hung over the US?software company for much of this decade in one of its most important markets. The EU&rsquo;s antitrust watchdog said that it believed it had won concessions from Microsoft that would bring more competition to the internet browser market.<br /><br /><strong>VERSACE QUITS JAPAN AFTER 30 YEARS</strong><br />Versace is pulling out of Japan after nearly 30 years &ndash; highlighting the depth of the consumer slump in one of the world&rsquo;s largest luxury markets. The Italian fashion house has closed all three directly owned shops in Japan and is expected to shut its Tokyo office at the end of the month.<br /><br /><strong>TELEFONICA JOINS BATTLE FOR GVT</strong><br />Telef&oacute;nica on Wednesday launched a battle for control of GVT, the Brazilian telecommunications group, trumping by 14 per cent an earlier tender offer by Vivendi of France. The Spanish company, the world&rsquo;s third-largest telecoms group by market capitalisation, said in a regulatory filing that it would offer 48 reals a share for at least 51 per cent of the target, compared with the 42 reals offered a month ago by the French group.<br /><br /><strong>BULLISH SENTIMENT LIFTS HIGH-YIELD CURRENCIES</strong><br />Renewed confidence over global growth has boosted commodity-linked currencies to a series of one-year highs against the dollar and heightened fears of further prolonged weakness in the US currency. The US currency fell to a 14-month low against its Australian counterpart following the Reserve Bank of Australia&rsquo;s decision to raise interest rates by 25 basis points.<br /><br /><strong>THE TIMES</strong><br /><strong>MORTGAGE PROTECTION HOLDERS TO RECEIVE REFUNDS</strong><br />One million homeowners with mortgage payment protection insurance (MPPI) will receive refunds totalling &pound;60m after the City regulator raised concerns over unfair premium increases and reductions in benefits.<br /><br /><strong>EXPERT ATTACKS OFGEM FOR &lsquo;FAILING TO PROTECT CONSUMERS&rsquo;</strong><br />One of the architects of Britain&rsquo;s energy market liberalisation has launched a withering attack on Ofgem, the industry regulator, for failing to protect consumers and accusing it of falling prey to political interference.<br /><br />In an interview with The Times, George Yarrow, Emeritus Fellow of Oxford University and a former member of Ofgem&rsquo;s supervisory board, compared the recent administration of Britain&rsquo;s energy markets with a form of &ldquo;Zimbabwean democracy&rdquo;.<br /><br /><strong>The Daily Telegraph<br />PRINT MEDIA ADS GIVE BIGGEST BOOST TO SALES</strong><br />Print media is the most effective form of advertising for retailers, with new research showing that the medium helps to significantly increase sales. A study by econometricians at BrandScience for the Outdoor Advertising Association (OAA) has found that, for every &pound;1 spent on newspaper and magazine advertising, retailers get a sales increase of &pound;6.23.<br /><br /><strong>ACTUARY FACES INQUIRY OVER EQUITABLE LIFE</strong><br />The Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) said yesterday that it intends to investigate an individual actuary in relation to audits of Equitable Life in the three years before the life company collapsed. The board refused to name the actuary or say which body the actuary was connected with.<br /><br /><strong>WALL STREET JOURNAL<br />ALCOA POSTS SURPRISE PROFIT ON COST CUTS</strong><br />Alcoa posted a third-quarter profit&ndash;after three quarterly losses in a row&ndash;surprising Wall Street, which had expected another loss, and getting the third-quarter earnings season off to a good start. Chief executive Klaus Kleinfeld said cost-cutting and other steps the aluminium giant took earlier this year had a strong effect on the cash position and profit.<br /><br /><strong>CITI MANAGEMENT GETS GENERALLY GOOD REVIEW</strong><br />An outside review of Citigroup Inc.'s management team has concluded that it is generally in good shape but that some shuffling of senior executives might be needed, according to people familiar with the matter. The review was triggered by the government&rsquo;s stress tests of top banks last spring.