Israelis voted on Tuesday in an election widely expected to win Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a third term in office, pushing the Jewish state further to the right, away from peace with Palestinians and towards a showdown with Iran. Netanyahu has vowed to pursue the settlement of lands seized during the 1967 Middle East war if he stays in power, a policy that would put him at odds with his international partners and worsen already tense ties with US President Barack Obama. Polls predict Netanyahu's Likud party, which has forged an electoral pact with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu group, will take the most seats in the parliamentary election, albeit considerably fewer than they had originally hoped. No Israeli party has ever secured an absolute majority, meaning that Netanyahu, who says that dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions is his top priority, will have to bring various allies onboard to control the 120-seat Knesset.
China says 2012 fiscal deficit above target
China ran a fiscal deficit of 850 billion yuan ($136.6 billion) in 2012, or 1.6% of GDP, the countrys finance ministry said on Tuesday, slightly higher than the government's target of 800 billion yuan, or 1.5% of GDP. Fiscal revenues rose 12.8% in the year to 11.7 trillion yuan while fiscal expenditure climbed 15.1% to 12.6 trillion yuan, the ministry said. The government had set a 2012 fiscal deficit target of 800 billion yuan in March last year. Slower profit gains from companies and tax cuts reduced government revenue in 2012 compared to the previous year, the ministry said. Tax revenues grew 12.1% in 2012, slowing from 22.6% growth in 2011, reflecting an economic slowdown in the world's second largest economy. Chinas central government spent 6.4 trillion yuan last year and local governments spent 10.7 trillion yuan, the ministry said.
Germany and France celebrate reconciliation
Germany and France are marking 50 years of an accord that enshrined the two former adversaries post-World War II reconciliation with a joint cabinet meeting and a joint session of the countries parliaments. Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande are leading Tuesdays ceremonies at the chancellery and the Reichstag Parliament building. The 1963 Elysee Treaty marked a milestone for the two countries that had fought three wars in 70 years. Since then, theyve cooperated closely on economic and cultural issues. Germany and France have driven closer European political integration but have been sparring recently over how to resolve the continents debt crisis. Germany is also making only a small contribution so far to Frances intervention to drive back Islamist extremists in Mali.
SABMiller revenues rise 17% in third quarter
Global brewer SABMiller said its overall revenues rose 17% in the third quarter compared to last year, sustained by improving growth in its key Latin American markets. Lager volumes were up 2% on an organic basis for the quarter, said the maker of Miller Lite, Grolsch and Peroni, with overall performance in line with its expectations. Growth in volume terms was held back by a decline in China, where cold weather subdued demand. The worlds second biggest brewer earns around 70% of its profit from fast-growing emerging markets, which helps insulate it from tough mature markets where hard-pressed consumers are economising at the bar and drinking less beer at home.
New pay cuts trigger transport strikes in Greece
Striking subway workers have defied a court order to return to work and continued their protest for a sixth day, as protests against new pay cuts escalate in Greeces capital. A union representing workers at the Athens Metro continued their strike on Tuesday, a day after a court declared their protest illegal. Workers at the state-run city bus, trolley-bus and tram systems were also planning work stoppages, causing extensive traffic problems around the city during the morning rush hour. The government in cash-strapped Greece has imposed a new round of salary cuts by broadening pay scales in the public sector.