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ECB president Mario Draghi . (STEFANO MELUNI/AP)
ECB president Mario Draghi . (STEFANO MELUNI/AP)

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ECB warns of crunch time for euro governments, banks Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Monday, Dec. 19. Get the top business stories through the day on BlackBerry or iPhone by bookmarking our mobile-friendly webpage.

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ECB warns of crunch time The new chief of the European Central Bank warned today of a crunch period for the embattled governments and banks of the euro zone.

Mario Draghi told the European Parliament that €250-billion to €300-billion in government bonds come due in the first quarter of 2012 alone, along with about €230-billion in bank bonds, according to reports from Reuters.

“So the pressure that bond markets will be experiencing is really very, very significant if not unprecedented,” Mr. Draghi said.

“We know that banks experience now and will be experiencing, even more so, a very significant funding constraint, especially in the first quarter of 2012,” he added.

The ECB also warned in its financial stability review, released today, that threats to the euro zone have climbed markedly in the last several months. That's no surprise to anyone, but the central bank releases the report only twice a year. It does serve as a reminder that the two-year-old debt crisis is far from over.

Separately today, the members of the euro zone agreed to provide €150-billion to the euro zone in bilateral loans to help out in the crisis. The Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden and Denmark also plan to take part, though the amount isn't known.

"Ministers confirmed today that, as part of a broader international effort to improve the adequacy of IMF resources, euro area Member States will provide €150-billion of additional resources through bilateral loans to the Fund's General Resources Account," the ministers said.

Germany, France and Italy will provide the most, and the EU called on others in the G20 to also step up to the plate. In some cases, parliaments will have to vote.

Apple plans move on TV Having revolutionized music with its iPod and mobile computing with its iPad tablet, Apple Inc. is now making plans for the future of television.

As The Wall Street Journal reports today, executives of the technology giant have discussed their outlook with media representatives recently, and outlined a vision that includes wireless streaming, voice commands and the use of services across televisions, mobile phones and tablets.

According to the report, Apple is still vague, but the discussions suggest the company is moving aggressively after the death of Steve Jobs to continue its push to dominate the technology that most affects our lives.

Apple already has a set-top box, but its latest ideas go far, far beyond that.

Court to rule Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will find out Thursday whether his government has the Supreme Court of Canada’s blessing to move ahead with a national securities regulator, The Globe and Mail's Bill Curry reports.

The Conservative government has asked the court to answer a single question: Is the proposed Canadian Securities Act within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada?

The court said today it will release its decision Thursday morning.

Housing market frothy? Canada’s housing market shows the “classic signs of over valuation, speculation and over supply,” but Bank of America Merrill Lynch says that’s no reason to think that there will be an epic crash of American proportions, The Globe and Mail's Steve Ladurantaye reports.

In a report issued today, the bank’s Canadian analysts said record Canadian household debt and increased joblessness are cause for concern over the next year. There will likely be fewer sales, and prices could slip as much as 5 per cent in the next year.

Banks eye Cuba Bank of Nova Scotia and Royal Bank of Canada are looking to set up operations in Cuba amid the country's economic reforms, The Financial Times reports.

As The Globe and Mail's Grant Robertson writes, if successful they would join National Bank of Canada , which has been on the island for 16 years.

Scotiabank has applied to establish a representative office in Havana, and RBC is considering a similar move, according to the London-based newspaper.

Scotiabank already has a large presence in the Caribbean and South America. RBC had branches in Cuba before the revolution of 1959.

Belden stalks RuggedCom A takeover bid by a U.S. rival sparked a surge in shares of Canada's RuggedCom Inc. today.

Belden Inc. , a cable manufacturer based in St. Louis, is offering $22 a share cash for the Canadian communications hardware company, or $280-million, The Globe and Mail's Richard Blackwell reports.

RuggedCom said a preliminary look at the offer suggests it is "opportunistic," suggesting it will be rejected.

Desjardins analyst Maher Yaghi said he doesn't think that price would be "overpaying" as it's in line with his target price of $22.50 on the stock. But given given that RuggedCom is Belden's major competitor in the market, the latter could find "significant synergies" in a deal, and thus could agree to pay more.

RuggedCom makes equipment for harsh environments.

Eldorado deal looks good, analyst says The $2.5-billion deal by Eldorado Gold Corp. for European Goldfields Ltd. should be a good one in the longer term, an analyst said today as the miner's stock dropped sharply.

Eldorado agreed late yesterday to acquire European Goldfields, giving it another 9.2 million ounces of gold reserves and projects in Greece, Romania and Turkey.

The deal, said Desjardins analyst Brian Christie, would see production increase by 30 per cent a year over the next four years, hitting 1.5 million ounces of gold by 2015.

"In the short term, the merger is likely negative for Eldorado given the deal arbitrage," he said.

"Longer term, we view the acquisition positively as it is significantly accretive to Eldorado’s development pipeline and strengthens its presence in Greece. We believe the European Goldfields assets are attractive given their manageable capex, low cash costs and strategic locations."

Analyst Dan Rollins of UBS Securities Canada said he wouldn't rule out a competing bid.

Business ticker

In Economy Lab On first glance, one might be tempted by the contention that Canadians receiving dividends or capital gains are getting a sweet tax deal. But, one glance is not enough, Kevin Milligan writes.

In International Business Claims that growth in the euro zone is a victim of government debt repayments linked to austerity aren't really true, Constantin Gurdgiev writes.

In Globe Careers This is the least Christmassy Christmas that Lucy Kellaway of The Financial Times has ever spent in the office. No tinsel on the photocopier, and no strings of Christmas cards hanging from the ceiling.

In Personal Finance Some year-end investment tips to help you get set up for a strong 2012.

From today's Report on Business

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