According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Royal Bank of Scotland violated U.S. sanction laws against Iran and other sanctioned countries. The bank will pay $100 million to resolve U.S. probes into the matter. The Treasury Department said between 2005 and 2009, RBS processed around $34 million in wire transfers, which violated sanctions against Sudan, Iran, Cuba and Myanmar. Authorities said the bank also instructed its employees to remove references to these countries from payment messages to U.S. financial institutions, so that they would be processed. In a statement, the bank said it "acknowledges and deeply regrets these failings." It added that it initiated the investigation, shared information with authorities, and has committed almost $490 million since 2010 to improve its sanctions controls.
Stocks were just slightly higher today after Congress reached a budget deal. House and Senate negotiators including Patty Murray and Paul Ryan approved a plan that will avoid automatic budget cuts such as the sequester from earlier this year. As long as the two chambers of Congress approve it we can avoid a repeat of the October government shutdown. Both President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner applauded the bipartisan deal. Some Republicans say that the spending cuts in the deal don't go far enough however. The budget deal brings us closer to removing that uncertainty of another government shutdown which means that the Federal Reserve would have less reason to continue its stimulus program.
Autohome CEO James Zhi Qin is all smiles. Autohome, the Chinese auto information website, popped over 75 percent after its initial public offering Wednesday. Investors were eager to profit off booming car sales in China. So shares surged above $30 at points, way up from the $17 offering price. But the biggest winner of the day was Autohome’s surprising controlling owner, Telstra. The Australian telecom and media company bought a 55 percent stake in Autohome's parent company in 2008 for $76 million. After the IPO, Telstra will own 66.2 percent of Autohome, worth over $2 billion. Autohome claims to be “the leading online destination for automobile customers in China” through their two websites, autohome.com.cn and che168.com.
One of the bank's top policymakers, Benoit Coeure, said on Wednesday, that The European Central Bank has not ruled out further moves to help the euro zone but they are not needed for the moment. In an interview with German newspaper die Zeit, Executive Board member Coeure said the ECB remained satisfied that euro zone inflation would pick back up to its preferred comfort zone of just under 2 percent. Coeure said:"Looking ahead, if we come to the conclusion that this (inflation staying too far below target) remains the case, we would have to act again. This is not our scenario at this stage, however,".