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 mostly higher, with HSI trailing the pack (CNBC) Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was the odd one out as markets across Asia extended gains on Thursday ahead of a series of key global events due to take place in the coming days. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 closed up 213.61 points, or 1.28%, at 16,960.16 while the broader Topix gained 19.44 points, or 1.44%, to 1,369.05. South Korea's Kospi added 10.75 points, or 0.55%, to 1,958.17. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 0.73% in afternoon trade. Chinese markets finished the session mixed, with the Shanghai composite gaining 10.24 points, or 0.36%, to 2,859.92. The smaller Shenzhen composite closed down 2.45 points, or 0.13%, at 1,758.13.
Almost 100 Million Homes May Run Only on Solar by 2020 (Bloomberg) Almost 100 million households worldwide may be powered by solar panels by 2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The off-grid solar market has grown to $700 million now from non-existent less than a decade ago, according to a report Thursday from the London-based research company and the World Bank Group's Lighting Global. They expect that to swell to $3.1 billion by the end of the decade. Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and India are projected to be the biggest markets.
US oil stockpiles are somehow still rising, defying the low price (City A.M.) Stockpiles of oil in the US have continued to defy the low oil price, adding the most barrels since April 2015, four times forecasts. The price of crude has barely even blinked however, up almost a dollar on the day. International benchmark Brent crude is trading for $36.92, while West Texas Intermediate is going for $34.57. US Energy Department numbers put commercial inventories up 10.4m barrels in the last week, adding to supplies that are already at historical highs. Analysts had expected just a jump of 2.5m barrels. Worse, stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma, a key US delivery hub, rose by 1.2m barrels, compared with expectations of a slight decrease. Many analysts are expecting US production to begin to tail off, with the oil price currently half what it was last year. The price has slumped by 70% since highs in the summer of 2014.
Donald Trump releases health care reform plan (CNN) Donald Trump on Wednesday laid out for the first time how he will reform the U.S. health care system after repeatedly pledging to "repeal and replace Obamacare with something much better". Trump published a seven-point health care reform plan that calls for repealing Obamacare, breaking down state barriers that prevent the sale of health insurance across state lines and making individuals' health insurance premium payments fully tax deductible. The reforms, which Trump calls "simply a place to start," are aimed at broadening access to health care, making health care more affordable and improving the quality of care, according to the plan published on Trump's campaign website.
US election 2016: US Republicans express Donald Trump fears (BBC News) Hat tip to Roger Erickson. Senior Republicans are speaking out against front-runner Donald Trump after his seven-state victory in the race for the party's presidential pick. Mr Trump has declared himself a "unifier", but he is strongly opposed by veteran Republican politicians. According to theNew York Times, some party donors are already trying to raise funds for an anti-Trump effort. Meanwhile, The Center for Public Integrity reports that Republican super PACs ran as many as 8,500 adverts in the run up to Super Tuesday to try to discredit Donald Trump's election campaign. See also next article.
US foreign policy experts round on Trump (Financial Times) Several dozen Republican foreign policy experts have accused Donald Trump of being "fundamentally dishonest" and "unfit" to be president, as the property developer closes in on the party's nomination. The 60 signatories to a blistering letter published on Wednesday evening, who include Robert Zoellick, the former deputy secretary of state who has been advising Jeb Bush, pledged that they would "work energetically to prevent the election" of Mr Trump. Econintersect: Guess what, "experts": American voters are fed up and don't care what you think.
Eurozone factory gate prices tumble in January (City A.M.) Wholesale prices in the Eurozone have fell sharply in January, underscoring the risk that inflation could remain subdued for longer. Industrial producer prices, also referred to as factory gate prices, dropped one per cent in January, EU statistical office Eurostat said today. Compared with the same month last year they were down 2.9%. The drop was due to energy-related goods. Energy prices paid by producers fell 3.2% in January and are down 8.6% compared with the same month last year. Excluding energy prices, producer prices were flat on the month.
BCC boss likens Brexit to the "deep blue sea" (City A.M.) Do you remember the saying "it's tough to be between the devil and the deep blue sea?" British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) John Longworth will today claim that voters have a choice "between the devil and the deep blue sea" in the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union. In a speech at the BCC annual conference in London, Longworth will both slam Prime Minister David Cameron's EU reform agenda and raise red flags over Brexit-induced uncertainty. Econintersect: Will it be the devil you know or the devil you don't know?
Russia Manufacturing PMI: February (Constantin Gurdgiev, Alternative Economics) Russian Manufacturing PMI for February produced another disappointment, falling from a marginally contractionary reading of 49.8 to somewhat faster contraction-signaling 49.3. Russian goods producers recorded a slight expansion in new business volumes during February. According to anecdotal evidence, a higher volume of new work reflected the development of new products. However, the rise in new orders was driven by the domestic market, as new export orders declined further. The rate of contraction accelerated to the sharpest in 19 months and was marked overall.
UN Security Council approves tough sanctions on North Korea (CNN) After detailed negotiations between China and the U.S., the United Nations Security Council voted Wednesday morning to impose a broad array of sanctions against North Korea because of that nation's recent nuclear test and missile launch -- both of which defied current international sanctions. The resolution aims to cripple parts of the North Korean economy that fuel its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. For example, member nations have agreed to inspect all planes and ships carrying North Korean imports and exports and to stop selling aviation fuel to North Korea.
Debts rise at China's big steel mills, consumption falls (Reuters) China is trying to rein in its bloated steel sector, and aims to cut crude steel capacity by 100 million to 150 million tonnes within the next five years, as well as ban new steel projects and eliminate so-called "zombie" mills. China's major steel mills added to their debt pile in 2015 while consumption of steel products fell for the first time in two decades, a senior official said on Wednesday, adding to the industry's difficulties as it tries to tackle a crippling glut. The debt ratio of major steel mills rose 1.6% to 70.1% from a year ago, taking the big mills' debt to 3.27 trillion yuan ($499 billion). At the same time, steel product consumption in China fell 5.4% to 664 million tonnes in 2015 from a year ago, the first drop since 1996.
US slaps 266 per cent tariff on cheap China steel dumping (City A.M.) China's bloated steel industry is facing more stress. The US Department of Commerce has slapped tariffs of 266% on Chinese cold rolled coil steel, compared with a tariff of between 13.8% and 16% in the EU. The industry has been calling on the European Union to abolish rules that prevent higher tariffs being placed on imports in recent weeks, to avoid cutting back UK and EU steel mills under an Chinese onslaught.
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