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 markets mostly higher, shrugging off weak China data (CNBC) Asia markets were mostly higher Tuesday as markets digested the surprise move by China's central bank to cut banks' reserve requirement ratio (RRR) to free up liquidity, shrugging off fresh negative economic data from the mainland. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 retraced losses of over 1% to trade nearly flat. Chinese markets wavered between positive and negative after worse-than-expected manufacturing data.
Oil prices defend gains as output dips, China boosts consumption (Reuters) U.S. crude oil prices were steady in early Asian trading on Tuesday after lower domestic production as well as dipping output from OPEC tightened the market just as China further eased its monetary policy in a bid to boost consumption. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading at $33.79 per barrel at 0018 GMT (7.18 p.m. ET), 4 cents above their last settlement. That was up 30% from Feb. 11, when the contract hit a 2016 low of just over $26 a barrel, a level last seen in 2003.
The New Oil-Storage Space: Railcars (The Wall Street Journal) U.S. market is so oversupplied with oil that traders are experimenting with a new place for storing excess crude: empty railcars. Thousands of railcars ordered up to transport oil are now sitting idle because current ultralow crude prices have made shipping by train unprofitable. Meanwhile, traditional storage tanks are running out of room as U.S. oil inventories swell to their highest level since the 1930s. Some industry participants are calling the new practice "rolling storage" - a landlocked spin on the "floating storage" producers use to hold crude on giant oil tankers when inventories run high.
Apple Wins Major Court Victory Against FBI in a Case Similar to San Bernardino (The Intercept) Apple scored a major legal victory in its ongoing battle against the FBI on Monday when a federal magistrate judge in New York rejected the U.S. government's request as part of a drug case to force the company to help it extract data from a locked iPhone. The ruling from U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein was issued as part of the criminal case against Jun Feng, who pleaded guilty in October to drug charges. It is a significant boost to Apple's well-publicized campaign to resist the FBI's similar efforts in the case of the San Bernardino killers.
Justice Antonin Scalia Dies and Corporate America Surrenders for Now (The Stranger) Bloomberg is reporting that the Dow Chemical Co., a corporation which had nearly $50 billion in revenue last year, has agreed to pay $835 million to settle an antitrust lawsuit that has been in the courts since 2005 (a regular Jarndyce and Jarndyce that one). Why? Because Justice Antonin Scalia is dead, and so a vote in the Supreme Court would likely be tied 4-4, thereby sending the case back to the lower court, which did not rule in favor of the corporation. The dependence of corporate bravado on the presence of a single government official? The author says:
"In the blackest of Africa, we actually have a name for this kind of thing - the kind of thing you in America call conservatism. We call it corruption."
Eurozone to be broken up? (City A.M.) Lord Mervyn King, former head of the Bank of England, has suggested that ther eurozone as constituted is not stable and must be broken up. This article offers two opinions, one opposed and one in support. The one opposed is Dr Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg, who indicates the reasoning of Lord King would suggest that that the UK should break up because of political disagreement. Econintersect: We are dismayed that a prominent financial economist fails to recognize that the UK is a fiscal union whereas the eurozone is not. And he further compounds our dismay with the statement that Spain has turned its economy around with pro-growth reforms (he means austerity). Last report had total unemployment in Spain above 20% and youth unemployment at 46%. This is a turnaround? For shame!!!
Economy shrugs off market jitters to keep up steady growth (City A.M.) The UK's economic growth held up in February in the wake of stock market turmoil and global growth concerns. New survey data published this morning by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) suggests growth picked up in the three months to February compared with the three months to January. The percentage of firms that said output had gone up was 8% higher than those that said it had declined. It was an uptick from January's 6%. Growth was concentrated in consumer services while manufacturers continued to struggle.
Job vacancies cool off as shops and factories cut back (City A.M.) Growth in the number of new job vacancies slowed in January. Available job openings rose 13.3% from the same month last year, according to the data published by jobs site Adzuna this morning. Yearly vacancy growth was above 20% in every month last year. The slowdown was due to a sharper-than-usual fall from December to January. Openings plummeted 7.3% on the month. The number of opportunities in retail and manufacturing dropped 13% and 9%, respectively. Vacancies in travel and part-time work also declined, but this was normal for January. The Office for National Statistics estimates that vacancies hit a record high in the three months to January.
Greek economy shrank 0.3 percent last year but expanded toward end (Reuters) Greece's economy expanded slightly in the last three months of 2015, the country's statistics service said on Monday, revising flash estimates of a 0.6 percent decline and pointing to a smaller full-year contraction than previously estimated. The data showed a 0.1 percent increase in gross domestic product from October to December compared with the previous quarter, based on seasonally adjusted data. Private consumption and investments were the main drivers.
Japan Sells 10-Year Bonds at Negative Yield For the First Time (Bloomberg) The Japanese government got paid to borrow money for a decade for the first time, selling 2.2 trillion yen ($20 billion) of the debt at an average yield of minus 0.024% on Tuesday. The sale drew bids for 3.2 times the amount of the securities offered, the first increase in demand since an auction in December.
China halts overseas investment schemes (Financial Times) Beijing has mothballed two pioneering outbound investment schemes, according to people with knowledge of the situation, in its latest bid to stem capital outflows and shore up the yuan renminbi. The halt in the allotment of quotas reflects fears over the massive amount of cash (some economists estimate up to $1 trillion last year) that has left the country through official and unofficial channels as economic growth slows and the renminbi continues to depreciate. See next article.
China's Changing Economy (Bloomberg) China's economy grew an average 10 percent for 30 years, lifting 500 million people out of poverty. With those heady rates now in the past, its leaders are ditching the old investment and export growth model in favor of markets, consumers and services. Here's how the transition is playing out.
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