Econintersect: Here are some of the headlines we found to help you start your day. For more headlines see our afternoon feature for GEI members, What We Read Today, which has many more headlines and a number of article discussions to keep you abreast of what we have found interesting.
Asian shares skid as commodities revisit six-year lows (Reuters) Asian shares fell sharply on Friday after commodity prices tumbled to multi-year lows on worries that slower global growth may worsen a supply glut, while U.S. Federal Reserve officials kept drumming up the case for a rate hike next month. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS dropped 1.5%, led by losses in resource shares. It was set for a weekly decline of 3.2%. Japan's Nikkei .N225 closed down 0.5%, snapping a seven-day winning streak, but remained on track for a weekly gain of 1.7%. The Shanghai Composite index .SSEC slipped 1.1%, and was poised to end the week flat. The gloom in Asia is seen extending to European markets, with financial spreadbetters expecting Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE to open about 0.5% lower, Germany's DAX .GDAXI 0.6%, and France's CAC 40 .FCHI 0.7%.
Commodity Stocks Slide as Collapse in Raw Materials Deepens Pain (Bloomberg) It's another week to forget for many of the world's commodities producers. Copper smelters, oil explorers and iron ore miners tumbled in Asia following a collapse in returns from raw materials to the lowest in 16 years. The Bloomberg World Mining Index, a gauge of the world's biggest producers, fell 5.7 percent in a fifth week of losses while a similar measure of energy shares was heading for the biggest drop since August. Prices of everything from gold to oil to copper are getting hammered.
Maternal mortality falls by almost 50% - UN report (BBC News) Pregnancy-related deaths have fallen by almost half in the past 25 years, according to a report by United Nations agencies published in The Lancet. Around 303,000 women died of complications during pregnancy or up to six weeks after giving birth in 2015 - down from 532,000 in 1990. Officials from the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the results showed "huge progress". However, all but nine countries fell short of targets set by the UN.
Windows 10 is getting a massive update (CNN) After updating your Windows 10 PC, your computer will boot faster, your photos will be clearer, reminders will be easier to set, and your PC will perform more smoothly.
Fed's Fischer Says Waiting to Raise Helped Offset Dollar Harm (Bloomberg) The Fed's decision to delay raising interest rates has helped to offset the economic headwinds caused by a strengthening U.S. dollar, Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said, adding that it "may be appropriate" to raise rates next month.
Six Strange Things That Have Been Happening in Financial Markets (Bloomberg) One of the astonishing events this year is the occurrence of negative swap spreads. Swap spreads are the difference between what investors are charging to deal with banks and corporations compared with the U.S. government. A negative spread should never happen, as U.S. Treasuries theoretically represent the "risk-free" rate while swap rates are imbued with significant counterparty risk that should demand a premium.
The vanishing lakes of Wisconsin's central sands (Al Jazeera) California isn't the only place in the U.S. with a dropping water table. Lakes and streams in central Wisconsin north of Madison have seen water levels up to 11 feet and more below historical averages since 2000. Some residents and researchers are pointing to the proliferation of high capacity wells - largely used to irrigate crops in the area - as the cause.
British Bankers' Association: London is losing its edge as a financial centre (City A.M.) British bankers are lobbying for concessions from the government. A report by the British Bankers' Association (BBA) and the consultancy Oliver Wyman, says that London is losing out to the likes of New York, Hong Kong and Singapore. The report found that the amount of assets in the UK banking sector has fallen by 12% since 2011, while banking assets have grown by 12% in the United States, 34% in Hong Kong and 24% in Singapore over the same period.
U.S. Steps Up Its Attacks on ISIS-Controlled Oil Fields in Syria (The New York Times) The United States and its allies have sharply increased their airstrikes against the sprawling oil fields that the Islamic State controls in eastern Syria in an effort to disrupt one of the terrorist group's main sources of revenue. For months, the United States has been frustrated by the Islamic State's ability to keep producing and exporting oil
Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party wins majority in historic Myanmar vote (Al Jazeera) Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party on Friday secured a historic majority in Myanmar's parliament, making it possible for them to form the Southeast Asian country's first truly civilian government in more than half-a-century. With the tally still being counted, the Election Commission said that Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won 21 additional seats - pushing it over the threshold of 329 seats needed for a majority in the 664-member, two-house Parliament. While a victory had been expected the size of the landslide exceeded what most anticipated. Note: While an NLD majority assures it of being able to elect the president, Suu Kyi remains barred from the highest office by a constitutional provision inserted by the military before it transferred power to Thein Sein's quasi-civilian government in 2011. Suu Kyi has declared, however, that she will become the country's de facto leader, acting "above the president" if her party forms the next government, and that the new president will be a figurehead.
U.S. bombers flew near China-built island in South China Sea: Pentagon (Reuters) Two U.S. B52 strategic bombers flew near artificial Chinese-built islands in the South China Sea this week and were contacted by Chinese ground controllers but continued their mission undeterred, the Pentagon said on Thursday. The latest U.S. patrol in the disputed South China Sea occurred in advance of President Barack Obama's visit to the region next week to attend Asia-Pacific summits where he is expected the reassert Washington's commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight in the area.
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