<strong>FINANCIAL TIMES</strong><br /><br /><strong>INVESTCORP REPORTS FIRST LOSS</strong><br />Investcorp reported its first annual loss in its history after the London and Bahrain-listed investment group suffered big falls on its hedge fund investments and heavy writedowns at its private equity and real estate arms. The company, which made its name investing in retailers Gucci, Tiffany and Saks Fifth Avenue, said its assets shrank by a third to $11.7bn. <br /><br /><strong>CHANGE CAPITAL BUYS RETAILER</strong><br />Change Capital Partners, Luc Vandevelde&rsquo;s private equity firm, has agreed its first deal in almost three years by acquiring Hallhuber, the German women&rsquo;s wear retailer, from Italy&rsquo;s Stefanel. For Mr Vandevelde, the former chairman of retailers Marks and Spencer and Carrefour, the investment in Germany&rsquo;s hard-hit retailing sector is a bet that the worst of the credit crunch may be over.<br /><br /><strong>HEDGE FUND BETS MILLIONS THAT GAS PRICE WILL TRIPLE</strong><br />A hedge fund has made a large bet that natural gas prices will triple by winter just as the price of the commodity slides to a seven-year low. Traders took notice last week when the fund, the name of which is as yet undisclosed, spent millions for the right to buy US natural gas at $10 (&pound;6.03) per million British thermal units in January and February, up from Wednesday&rsquo;s spot level just above $3 per mBtu.<br /><br /><strong>CORPORATE BOND DEFAULTS HIT RECORD LEVELS</strong><br />The number of companies defaulting on their debts has risen to record levels this year, according to Standard &amp; Poor&rsquo;s, while investment returns for risky corporate debt have skyrocketed since January. S&amp;P said 201 borrowers with $453.1bn (&pound;274bn) in debt have defaulted this year, exceeding the 126 defaults for all of 2008, which comprised debt worth $433bn.<br /><br /><strong>THE TIMES</strong><br /><br /><strong>HEADHUNTER HOGARTH CITES NOMURA PHONE CALLS IN COURT</strong><br />Hogarth Davies Smith is going up against Nomura in a bid to claim &pound;90 million in fees it claim it is owed. It is a battle characterised by some in the City as a David and Goliath fight. Hogarth Davies Lloyd, the small head-hunting firm, is taking on Japan&rsquo;s biggest bank in a dispute over the recruitment of about 600 Lehman Brothers bankers last summer. <br /><br /><strong>INVESTORS SHRUG OFF &lsquo;APOCALYPTIC BEARISHNESS&rsquo; AND SNAP UP SHARES</strong><br />The world&rsquo;s big investment institutions are dumping cash and bonds and scooping up equities amid a dramatic revival in investor confidence, research shows. Investor optimism about the global economy surged to a six-year high while stock market sentiment is at its most bullish for two years, according to a poll<br /><br /><strong>The Daily Telegraph</strong><br /><br /><strong>HURRICANE BILL WORRIES INSURERS</strong><br />Insurers were contemplating another season of billion pound losses on Wednesday as Hurricane Bill gathered pace in the Atlantic Ocean. Bill &ndash; the first of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season &ndash; hit Category 4 status with sustained winds reaching up to 135mph according to the US National Hurricane Center. <br /><br /><strong>PWC CONFIRMS KEYDATA&rsquo;S MISSING &pound;103M &lsquo;HAS GONE&rsquo;</strong><br />PwC, the administrator of Keydata, the collapsed structured investment company, has confirmed that &pound;103m of missing money &ldquo;has gone&rdquo; but said around 20 plans had so far been declared as compliant Isas. But there was better news for some as PwC said around 20 products, including Extra Income Plans 14-19, had now been given the all-clear and would keep their Isa status.<br /><br /><strong>WALL STREET JOURNAL</strong><br /><br /><strong>END IN SIGHT FOR 'CLUNKERS'</strong><br />The Obama administration said it will wind down its popular "cash for clunkers" incentive program on auto sales -- and may do so as soon as early September, according to one person familiar with the matter. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood sought to reassure auto dealers Wednesday that they would be reimbursed for discounts given to customers under the program.<br /><br /><strong>CONTINENTAL EUROPEAN BANKS TAKE RISKY TACK ON CAPITAL</strong><br />Continental European banks are taking a much different approach to shoring up their finances than counterparts in the US and the UK. in what some analysts see as a risky bet that they can muddle through without tapping markets for capital. They have been much less active than US and UK rivals in launching cash calls.