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.
Asia stocks slip but Japan bucks trend on oil bounce; dollar wobbles (Reuters) Asian stocks dipped on Monday amid a lack of immediate directional cues in light year-end trade, although Japanese shares managed to rise following a rebound in crude oil prices from multiple-year lows. Investors across asset markets were without some of the usual leads as most global markets were closed on Friday for Christmas. The British markets will remain closed on Monday, while those in Germany and France will reopen. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS gave up earlier modest gains and were down 0.4%. The index was on track for an 11% loss this year.
The U.S. economy returned closer to normalcy in 2015 than any time since the Great Recession ended in mid-2009. But "normal" it is not.
Consumer spending, while much improved, is still running a bit below precession levels. Ditto for consumer confidence.
Businesses, for their part, are investing at a slower clip, devoting more free cash to stock buybacks and dividend payments - or looking to move headquarters overseas where tax rates are lower. So-called corporate inversions have become all the rage lately.
Meanwhile, governments at all levels have had to rein in spending.
The result: It took six years for the unemployment rate to return close to where it was in 2006 - the year before the recession struck.
Even now, the number of Americans who can't find a full-time job, 15.7 million, remains high by historical standards so far into a recovery.
There's a New Tallest Peak in the North American Arctic (National Geographic) Arctic Alaska is so remote and inaccessible that there have been few accurate maps of much of its terrain. This puts pilots at risk of crashing into peaks and adds uncertainty for oil develpers building pipelines. This problem has been in particular focus in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northeastern Alaska, where scientists have debated which is the region's highest peak - Mt. Chamberlin or Mt. Isto. But a new analysis, based on new mapping technology, has found that Isto is indeed taller, at 8,976 feet (2,736 meters). The next highest is actually Mt. Hubley, at 8,917 feet (2,718 meters), followed by Chamberlin at 8,901 feet (2,713 meters). These new measurements also show that Isto is about 330 feet (100 meters) taller than the highest peak in Arctic Canada - a fact that was also previously debated.
Faced With Fear, A Muslim Woman Makes A Stand - By Setting One Up (NPR, MSN News) Mona Haydar is a Muslim - and she wants to talk about it. So much so, in fact, that she set up a stand outside a library in Cambridge, Mass., with a big sign reading "Ask a Muslim." Along with a free cup of coffee and a doughnut, Haydar offered passersby an opportunity for conversation. Mona got few questions but lot's of friendly conversation.
2015: A year when India became fastest growing big economy (The Economic Times) Notwithstanding a sharp cut in the government's growth forecast at the fag end, 2015 will go down as the year when India emerged as the fastest-growing large economy, despite setbacks such as 12 months of negative export growth, another bad monsoon and roadblocks to the far-reaching goods and services tax regime.
FPIs selling spree continues; withdraw Rs 6,500 crore in December (The Economic Times) Continuing their selling spree, foreign investors have pulled out more than Rs 6,500 crore from the capital markets since beginning of the month on account of weak global cues. The latest sell-off comes after Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) withdrew Rs 10,826 crore from the capital markets (equity and debt) last month. Prior to that, overseas investors had infused a staggering Rs 22,350 crore in October, so the flow for the three months was still positive.
Japan's economy continues to struggle (MarketWatch) The core consumer-price index, which excludes fresh food, was up 0.1% from a year earlier in November, the government said, as a weaker yen pushed up the prices of imported food and appliances. It was the first rise in five months but still far from the Bank of Japan's 2% inflation target. Household spending fell 2.9% in November, the third consecutive month of decline. There are some encouraging data points, however. Mr. Abe's supporters cite progress on several fronts since he took office three years ago. Corporate profits are up sharply, lifting stock prices. And demand for workers is strong. In November, the jobs-to-applicants ratio rose to 1.25 from 1.24 the previous month, showing there were 125 jobs for every 100 job seekers.
South Korea's public sector debt likely to hit 1,000 trillion won (Maekyung Media Group) South Korea's public sector debt is feared to surpass 1,000 trillion won ($854.7 billion) this year, up by nearly 60 trillion won from a year ago. The increase is mainly attributed to the government's increased spending to keep alive the economic growth momentum. Despite the rise in overall public sector debt, the government says the current level is manageable with its focus on efforts to keep government debt at a certain level of the gross domestic product (GDP). Econintersect: 1,000 trillion - that's 1 quadrillion. We can remember when a billion was a huge number.
Foreign investors continue selling streak for 17 straight sessions (Yonhap News) Foreign investors have remained net sellers of South Korean stocks for 17 sessions in a row in December, weighing heavily on the local market alongside falling oil prices and a U.S. rate hike, data showed Sunday. Offshore investors extended their selling streak to 17 sessions from Dec. 2 to Dec. 24, marking the seventh-longest foreign sell-off in history, according to the Korea Exchange (KRX), the bourse operator. They sold a net 3.2 trillion won (US$2.7 billion) worth of local stocks over the cited period, dragging down the benchmark KOSPI by 0.93%.
China industrial profits fall for 6th straight month (The Business Times) Profits earned by Chinese industrial companies in November fell 1.4% year-over-year, marking a sixth consecutive month of decline. Industrial profits - which cover large enterprises with annual revenue of more than 20 million yuan (US$4.3 million) from their main operations - fell 1.9% in the first 11 months of the year compared with the same period a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said on its website. The November profits of industrial firms have seen some improvement from the previous month. In October, profits fell 4.6% from a year earlier.
Rising Seas Are Swallowing This North American Island (National Geographic) Lennox Island is a small but culturally rich coastal community in Prince Edward Island, Canada, that is seeing the negative impact of climate change and sea-level rise. Home to Mi'kmaq (pronounced MIG-maw) First Nations people, the island faces flooding and land erosion that threaten both homes and the roads that connect the residents to the mainland. Also at risk are several archaeological sites that hold vital artifacts from the Mi'kmaq's aboriginal ancestors. The longtime residents of Lennox Island are doing their best to mitigate the effects of climate change but fear that eventually they'll lose their houses to the rising waters.
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