Eurozone ministers prepare to give Greece deal final approval, Packer donates to Bob Katter’s political party: Midday roundup

Eurozone finance ministers are preparing to meet in Brussels to give final approval to a second bailout for Greece and are expected to discuss ways to hold off a severe downturn.

The ministers are now expected to approve a $162 billion rescue program after the first part of the deal saw private creditors wipe off 100 billion euros from Greece’s debt.

According to AAP, in a conference call on Friday ministers approved wiping off that debt in order to prepare for the final bailout.

However, the report suggests ministers are becoming more concerned by the financial situation in several other Euro nations.

“The European Commission wants to know the reasons behind this budget slippage. This issue should be discussed by the Eurogroup even though it isn’t on the formal agenda of their meeting,” a diplomatic source told AAP.

Australian shares open flat after mild offshore leads 

The Australian sharemarket has opened flat today after a mild lead from overseas markets, although the market has begun to drop slightly over weak Chinese trade data.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 12.6 points or 0.3% to 4199.4 at 12.10 AEST, while the Australian dollar fell to $US1.05c.

AMP shares lost 0.25% to $4.03, while Commonwealth Bank shares lost 0.54% to $47.82. Westpac lost 1.01% to $20.48 as ANZ fell 0.96% to $21.72.

In the United States last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 14.1 points or 0.1% to 12,922.

Packer donates $250,000 to Katter’s Australian Party 

Billionaire James Packer has donated $250,000 to Bob Katter’s Australian Party, the party spokesman has revealed.

“James’ grandfather was very good friends and business partners with Ted Theodore, who is one of Bob Katter’s greatest heroes,” he said, according to AAP. “There’s a very good, close relationship between them (Mr Packer and Mr Katter) and they have very similar sorts of goals.”

“It’s not surprising to see people like James Packer, who have a lot invested in Australia’s future, to get behind us.”

The contribution is one of the largest in Queensland from an individual.

Steve Harker new Future Fund guardian: Report 

Morgan Stanley Australia managing director and former union leader Steve Harker is reportedly set to be appointed the next Future Fund guardian.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Finance Minister Penny Wong is believed to have recommended Harker for the role.

The paper says businessman David Gonski is most likely to replace David Murray as chairman of the $73 billion fund, set up to fund the pension liabilities of public servants.

Rallies in Spain over austerity measures 

Trade unions have held strikes across Spain, protesting against laws that make it easier for business to fire staff.

“This is a reform that is not going to create jobs, so it is not justified,” demonstrator Marta Lois is quoted saying by AAP.

“They are cutting our rights like never before.”

Spain has an unemployment rate of 23%.

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