What the other papers say this morning

FINANCIAL TIMES

ITALIAN BANKS GO FOR GOLD IN MOVE TO TRANSFORM CORE CAPITAL RATIOS
Italian banks think they may have struck gold as they seek to add lustre to balance sheets ahead of the summer stress tests. The lenders, which are shareholders in the central bank, are lobbying for their stakes to be marked to market. That way, the Bank of Italy’s gold reserves and the surging price of precious metal would at a stroke transform their core capital ratios.

ULTRA SEES LIFT DESPITE DEFENCE CUTBACKS
The upgrading of London’s rail network and the nuclear propulsion systems for Royal Navy ships helped boost underlying full-year profits at Ultra Electronics, the defence and engineering group. Rakesh Sharma, chief operating officer, dismissed worries that the group would be affected by defence cuts.

GROUPON SET FOR CHALLENGE IN CHINA
Groupon’s Chinese site went live yesterday and will start offering daily deals this month, the online coupon company said, marking its long-awaited entry to the world’s most populous internet market. The start of GaoPeng.com has triggered curiosity among some Chinese industry incumbents and fear among others as Groupon is entering an already fiercely competitive market.

BIG NAMES IN CLOTHING ECO-LABEL PLAN
Some of the world’s biggest clothing and footwear manufacturers and retailers including Walmart, Gap and Nike are working on a scheme to allow shirts, trousers and shoes sold globally to be labelled with tags depicting to what degree the items’ production and usage would impact the environment.

THE TIMES

RULING THREAT TO CHEAPER WOMEN’S CAR INSURANCE
Britain’s insurers are braced for a sex discrimination ruling by the European courts that could drive up the cost of women’s car insurance and hit retirement payouts for men. The European Court of Justice is expected to rule today on whether to make it illegal for insurers to discriminate in favour of either sex for car insurance, life cover and annuity rates.

BANKING SALES STAFF FACE PAY INQUIRY
The City watchdog plans to investigate the way in which banks’ retail sales forces are rewarded amid fears that some clients are being pushed to buy “inappropriate” products. Lord Turner, chairman of the FSA, told The Times that he intended to investigate such pay structures.

The Daily Telegraph

BERNARD MADOFF SAYS RUNNING PONZI SCHEME WAS A HEAD TRIP
Bernard Madoff has admitted that running the biggest financial fraud in history was a “head trip” as some of the biggest banks threw money at him to manage. “The chairman of Banco Santander came to see me, the chairman of Credit Suisse came down, chairman of UBS came down,” Madoff told the New York Magazine.

MIDDLE EAST EXPORTERS URGED TO CHECK LICENSES
Firms that supply goods to the Middle East are being reminded to check if they're subject to export controls in light of the increased scrutiny that has accompanied political upheaval in the Middle East, says law firm Kingsley Napley. The Government is currently conducting an “immediate and rapid” review of licenses issued in the region.


THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

OVERCAPACITY WEIGHS ON EUROPE'S AUTO MAKERS
Europe’s auto industry suffers from excess manufacturing capacity and is unlikely to see relief anytime soon, the head of Ford Motor’s European operations said yesterday. Few European auto plants were closed during auto industry’s deep downturn in 2009 and 2010, a contrast to North America where the industry was overhauled.

LUXOTTICA'S PROFIT CLIMBS 88 PER CENT
Luxottica Group said yesterday y its fourth-quarter net profit rose 88 per cent, and the parent of the Sunglass Hut chain predicted a strong 2011 as consumers flock back to high-end brands. The eyewear maker said its net profit increased to €55.1m (£33.8m) in the final three months of 2010 from €29.3m a year earlier.