Morning papers: Fed could taper as early as December

The US government shutdown sabotaged a crucial month of data and dealt a blow to the world’s largest economy, but the Federal Reserve could still begin reducing its asset purchases as early as December. the Financial Times.

Analysts have slashed their growth forecasts for the fourth quarter to 2 per cent or below, with many expecting a hit of about 0.5 percentage points from the prolonged shutdown. But many said the economy would bounce back quickly with federal employees back at work.

Deep divide lingers after impasse ends

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Eight hours after President Barack Obama signed a bill to reopen the federal government, top congressional budget leaders from both parties gathered over breakfast to try to find common ground in coming weeks, reports The Wall Street Journal.

But differences between the two sides remain stark, and a number of congressional aides said the chances of devising a budget that both parties can live with are low. The conference committee the lawmakers head faces a December 13 deadline under the package Congress approved late Wednesday.

Treasury makes almost £1bn from energy hikes

British Gas yesterday announced that it is raising prices for 8m customers by 9 per cent, a week after its rival SSE announced similar hikes. Other major energy companies are expected to follow suit, reports The Daily Telegraph.

However, the Treasury is also making hundreds of millions of pounds from the price rises because of the 5 per cent VAT it imposes on energy bills.

Nearly half of Britons expect interest rates to rise within next 12 months

Nearly half of Britons expect the Bank of England to raise interest rates in the next 12 months, a poll showed on Thursday, reports the Daily Mail.

The survey by Markit and Ipsos MORI found 44 per cent of people believe rates will rise within the next year – up from 33 per cent in August.

CDU and SPD agree to start negotiations for ‘grand coalition’

Leaders of Germany’s Christian Democrats and Social Democrats agreed on Thursday to launch negotiations to form a left-right “grand coalition” government led by Angela Merkel as chancellor, reports the Financial Times.

Full-scale talks are expected to begin next Wednesday, after the negotiating teams have been given the go-ahead by their respective political parties. The formal negotiations could last for several weeks.

Grangemouth oil refinery owner tells workers they face D-day

The owner of the Grangemouth oil refinery has told its 1,300 workers they face “D-Day” as it demanded they accept cuts to jobs and pensions plus other changes to their working conditions to keep the plant open, reports The Guardian.

Ineos shut the refinery, Scotland’s biggest, on Wednesday and said it would stay closed at least until it had considered the views of staff. An Ineos spokesman said closing the site permanently was “ultimately one of the options”.