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posted on 19 February 2016

Early Headlines: Oil And Asia Stocks Decline, 50 Dollar Oil, QE For Main St, SCOTUS Term Limits, ACA Price Shopping, Iraq Army Short Of Money, China Home Loans Surge And More

Written by Econintersect

Early Bird Headlines 19 February 2015

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 retreat from three-week high as oil rally reverses (Reuters) Asian shares slipped from near three-week highs on Friday as a rally in oil prices reversed and investors remained cautious about the outlook for the global economy. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.6 percent, but gains in previous sessions left it on track for a weekly gain of 4.1%. Japan's Nikkei .N225 dropped 1.4% as the yen firmed, but ended the week up 6.8%. Europe also looks set for a lackluster start, with financial spreadbetters predicting Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE and Germany's DAX .GDAXI will open little changed.

  • Oil to go to $50 by the end of the year: Analyst (CNBC) The recent talk by oil-producing nations about a possible output freeze is a positive sign even if it may not actually lead to an agreement, according to one analyst. "The Saudis and Russia - and even indirectly Iran - they're talking to each other, so you now have the beginning of a process," Mike Wittner, head of U.S. commodities research at Societe General, told CNBC's "Closing Bell." He suggests that oil should be $40 now and will likely be $50 by end of the year.

  • Global Markets Are Falling Out of Lockstep, and That's a Good Thing (Bloomberg) Slowly, as global markets show signs of waking from their New Year's rout, the lockstep moves that have paralyzed investors from Tokyo to New York are beginning to ease. While four days is a small sample, the equity rally that began Friday is starting to weaken previously ironclad ties between, say, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and things like oil and junk bonds. The easing represents a reversal from the year's first six weeks, when concerns about economic growth and solvency risk wove markets together tightly.


  • Bridgewater's Dalio: 'Helicopter money' might help U.S. economy (Reuters) Ray Dalio, founder of the world's largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, says the next big monetary and fiscal move should include an airdrop of money from helicopters to stimulate the U.S. economy. He is not being literal about "helicopter money". But in a client note sent out this week, Dalio said the U.S. Federal Reserve's ability to boost growth through lowering interest rates and quantitative easing is "weaker than it has ever been". "Monetary Policy 3" or MP3 will have to be directed at spenders more than at investors and savers, he said. Dalio, who characterized lower interest rates as MP1 and quantitative easing as MP2, proposed some scenarios in which MP3 could be implemented. Econintersect: Call it QE for Main Street.

  • Some want to limit justices to 18 years on Supreme Court (Associated Press) Justice Antonin Scalia's sudden death a month before his 80th birthday and the potential impasse over replacing him is giving new impetus to an old idea: Limiting the service of Supreme Court justices. Scalia had been on the court for nearly 30 years, longer than any of the current justices and all but 14 of the 112 men and women who have served on the court.

  • Bloomberg calls 2016 'a race to the extremes' (CNN) Michael Bloomberg struck an explicitly political tone while speaking at a private party in New York Thursday night, fueling the already rampant speculation that he might make an independent bid for the White House. The former New York City mayor railed against the "corrupt, gridlocked, and broken two-party system" and spoke of "bringing people together around common goals". He also criticized the current field of presidential candidates for "pointing fingers" and "making pie-in-the-sky promises".

  • Price matters: Calif.'s Obamacare insurers see sign-up shift (CNBC) California's Obamacare marketplace this enrollment season saw the largest four insurers lose a chunk of their combined market share to smaller competitors, as consumers appeared sensitive to price differences for health coverage. Last year on the Covered California exchange, which sells private Obamacare health insurance plans, four major insurers captured almost 95% of all sign-ups by customers. But in the recently concluded third Obamacare enrollment season, those four carriers ended up with 90% of sign-ups, Covered California revealed Wednesday. And the big four garnered a lower share of new customers - 83% of the newbies, an 11 percentage point decrease from last year, officials said. Data also showed how some insurers - big and small - that had lower premium price hikes than competitors saw a marked uptick in sign-ups relative to costlier health plans.

  • Second Review of EPA's Fracking Study Urges Revisions to Major Statements in Executive Summary (EcoWatch) Hat tip to Doomstead Diner. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) independent Scientific Advisory Board Members of the Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel released today a second review of the U.S. EPA's draft assessment saying that that they still have "concerns" regarding the clarity and adequacy of support for several findings presented in the EPA's draft Assessment Report of the impacts of fracking on drinking water supplies in the U.S.

"This second draft report is still very critical of the EPA's top line claim of no "widespread, systemic impacts" on drinking water from fracking and urges the agency to revise the major statements of findings in the executive summary and elsewhere in the draft Assessment report to be more precise, and to clearly link these statements to evidence."


  • Down to the wire: Cameron battles to secure EU deal (City A.M.) Prime Minister David Cameron's hopes of securing a reform deal today on Britain's relationship with the European Union were called into question late last night, as Downing Street warned that EU leaders had made "no real progress" towards coming to an agreement. A Number 10 source said the first session of the highly-anticipated European Council meeting had ended with a "significant gap on a number of issues", including Cameron's plans to obtain new safeguards for the City of London and a limit on welfare benefits for EU migrants.


  • Iraq to lay off some paramilitary forces due to shortage of funds (Al Jazeera) Iraq's oil-reliant economy has been severely hit by falling crude prices, and the war on terror is proving costly. Karim al-Nouri, the spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella group made up predominantly of Shia militias, told The Associated Press that around 30% of paramilitary troops were expected to be laid off. Some 130,000 fighters in Iraq are affiliated with pro-government paramilitary forces.


  • Russia Sees Oil Output Slump in Worst Case Amid OPEC Talks (Bloomberg) Assuming that oil demand has slow growth for a number of years, Russia has a gloomy outlook for their production, which they think may slump 14% in the next five to 10 years under a worst-case scenario prepared by the Energy Ministry. Crude output may drop to 460 million metric tons (9.2 million barrels a day) by 2020-2025 from 534 million tons last year, before starting to show slight growth, the Energy Ministry's press service said by e-mail Thursday, in response to a report in Vedomosti newspaper. The worst case, prepared for the nation's long-term energy strategy, envisages oil prices remaining at about $31 to $33 a barrel in 2016-2017 with a rebound to $42 in 2020, it said. But even with a global economic recovery Russia simply doesn't have the capacity to maintain current production.


  • China Home Recovery Picks Up With Loan Growth at Record: Chart (Bloomberg) Part of the increase in private sector debt in 2016 which we have noted the past several days is coming from increased residential real estate sales. Chinese homebuyers borrowed more than ever as 2016 got under way, aiding a housing recovery. Medium- and long-term bank loans to households, mostly residential mortgage loans, surged 478.3 billion yuan ($73.5 billion) in January, according to the latest data from the People's Bank of China. In a bid to spur demand in smaller cities and reduce a surplus of homes, the government in January cut the minimum required mortgage down payment in some cities to the lowest level ever.



  • Scandal emerges as Bolivia president seeks fourth term (Associated Press) President Evo Morales had seemed exempt from the scandal that has besmirched much of South America's left, but an alleged influence-peddling affair involving a woman who bore him a child comes at the most inopportune of moments. Bolivians decide in a vote Sunday whether he can run for a fourth term. Morales pulverized the opposition in the early years of his decade-long presidency and cut poverty as he empowered Bolivia's long-downtrodden native majority. In 2014, he won re-election with 60% of the vote. But the Andean nation's first indigenous president faces the growing prospect that his current term will be his last.

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