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posted on 17 May 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mostly Up, Oil Jumps, Yen Weaker, US Truck Orders 6 Year Low, Brexit Means Weaker Europe, Brexit Will Raise Mortgage Rates, Canada Wildfire Returns And More

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Early Bird Headlines 17 May 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.



  • Most Asia markets advance after oil jumps; Nikkei ends up 1.1%, ASX up 0.69% (CNBC) Most Asian markets advanced Tuesday as energy plays rallied after rising oil prices spurred a banner session on Wall Street. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index tacked on 1.13%, ending up 186.40 points at 16,652.80, likely boosted in part by a slightly weaker yen. The U.S. dollar was fetching 109.22 yen at 2:46 p.m. SIN/HK time, up from levels as low as around 108.50 yen in the previous session. A weaker Japanese currency is considered a positive for the country's exporters when they repatriate overseas earnings. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 ended up 0.69%t, or 36.95 points, at 5395.90 points, as a 1.92% gain in the materials subindex and a 3.12% gain in the energy subindex were offset by the heavily weighted financials subindex edging up 0.12%.


  • Oil prices soar to six-month highs in wake of global supply disruptions (City A.M.) Oil prices rebounded to a six-month high this morning, lifted by disruptions to oil output in Nigeria and the usually bearish Goldman Sachs taking a bullish turn on the market. The price of Brent crude jumped 2.2% during morning trading to a high of $48.90, the highest level since October 2015. Meanwhile, the price of the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) had risen by 2.06% by late-morning trading to $47.16.

  • Oil rally suggests supply worries wane, but for how long? (Reuters) A rally in U.S. crude oil prices recently has put the market on its firmest footing since the rout started in 2014, with the spread between prices for near-term delivery and future delivery narrowing, suggesting the worst of the supply glut may be over. Oil prices in global markets have been lifted in the past week by news of falling U.S. production and output disruptions in Canada and Nigeria. The production cuts are seen helping to rebalance a market awash with excess crude oil, pushing up prices for NYMEX June futures delivery CLc1 up as much as 11% in the last four days. It settled on Monday at $47.72 a barrel. But if prices regain $50 and stay there U.S. shale production is expected to rise again keeping a cap on how fast crude prices can advance.

  • I Was Wrong About the Limits of Solar. PV Is Becoming Dirt Cheap (Green Tech Media) The author (David Keith, a Harvard professor) says that he was wrong. His assumptions were wrong and have been changed by facts that were not even imagined even 5 years ago. From the article:

In 2008 we did an expert judgment exercise suggesting only even odds of getting to module prices of $0.30 per watt in 2030. In 2011 we did some analysis showing how the power-law learning curve for modules appeared to be flattening. That analysis was done at the end of a decade that saw big increases in installed capacity, with little corresponding change in module prices.

The unsubsidized electricity cost from industrial-scale solar PV in the most favorable locations is now well below $40 per megawatt-hour and could very easily be below $20 per megawatt-hour by 2020. Compared to other new sources of supply, this would be the cheapest electricity on the planet.


  • U.S. Rig Numbers Say Growth Can't Keep On Truckin' (Bloomberg) Orders for Class 8 trucks -- vehicles with gross weight ratings exceeding 33,000 pounds (15,000 kilograms) -- slumped to their lowest level in six years in April, after dropping 16% in the month and by 39% in the past year. Operators ordered just 13,500 new vehicles last month, down from a peak of almost 46,000 in October 2014:


  • Phones - crucial to survival for refugees on the perilous route to Europe (The Conversation) For refugees trying to reach Europe, a mobile phone is not a luxury. It is as important as the clothes on their back or even the boat they climb in to cross the Mediterranean. Phone calls and messages are just a part of it - mobile apps, websites, social media, navigation tools and translation services, camera and audio recording all combine to make up a digital infrastructure that has become integral to any journey to Europe. It is through phones that refugees learn about routes and the cost of transport. It's how they find out which borders are open and which are closed. Even before they make it that far, their phone might have saved their life by informing them about the weather conditions on a sea crossing. The general view is that they have three basic needs: a smartphone, food and water - in that order.

  • Ratings agency Fitch thinks Brexit will make Europe weaker, poorer and more populist (City A.M.) Europe could become weaker, poorer, more politically fractured and less secure if the UK votes to breakaway from the European Union, according to ratings agency Fitch. "An exit from the EU by the UK would weigh on the economies of other EU countries and increase political risks in Europe," the group said in a new report out this morning. Fitch said not only would the central EU budget take a hit as the UK's net contribution of £8.5 billion could be wiped out, but populism, already on the rise across the continent, would be given an extra boost. The ratings agency said controversial party leaders such as Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front in France, and Geert Wilders, head of the Dutch Party for Freedom, back Brexit.


"The sad irony is therefore that neither savers nor borrowers would gain from Brexit."

  • Inflation and wages set to falter this week as economy on pause until after EU referendum (City A.M.) A stuttering labor market and a dip in inflation are set to be revealed later this week, in mounting signs that the UK economy is struggling for momentum. Figures to be released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are set to show inflation falling back towards zero, the number of people in work to remain unchanged and wage growth to stay glued below 2%.

  • U.K. Banks Face Cap on Customer Overdraft Fees, Regulator Says (Bloomberg) The U.K.'s competition watchdog said banks should set a monthly maximum cap on charges for customers who exceed the amount in their checking accounts. Banks should also alert customers when they are going into an unarranged overdraft and give them time to avoid charges, the Competition and Markets Authority said an e-mailed statement Tuesday. In 2014, banks received £1.2 billion ($1.74 billion) in revenue from the fees.

  • Fact Check: will UK living wage cause rampant EU migration? (The Conversation) The living wage is an excellent policy, but how will you stop it being a big pull factor for uncontrolled EU migration, given that it is far higher than minimum wages in other EU countries? Research has shown that high minimum wages are not a significant factor in immigration:

While low domestic wages encourage outward migration, there is no straightforward relationship between high minimum wages and inward migration. Otherwise there would be a wave of migrants heading to Luxembourg and Colombia, who have the highest minimum wages in the EU and OECD respectively. Many EU migrants are motivated byemployment opportunities while other factors include personal networks with other migrants already in situ.

Wages also only tell part of the story. Housing costs tend to be highest in London and the south east, where most jobs are created in the UK's service-driven economy, and this often largely offsets any benefit from additional wages.


  • BlackRock's Fink Says 'All Have to' Worry About China Debt (Bloomberg) BlackRock Inc.'s Laurence D. Fink, who oversees the world's largest money manager with $4.7 trillion of client assets, said "we all have to be worried" about China's mounting debt amid slowing growth, even as he remains bullish on the nation in the long term. "You can't grow at 6 percent and have your balance sheets grow faster," Fink said in a Bloomberg Television interview with Angie Lau.


  • Canada wildfire: Oil workers evacuate camps near Fort McMurray (BBC News) Hundreds of Canadian oil workers have been ordered to evacuate camps near the fire-hit town of Fort McMurray as a resurgent wildfire heads towards them. Alberta State Premier Rachel Notley said up to 600 workers were being sent to oil sands installations further north. About 4,000 more workers are on standby to evacuate if necessary. More than 80,000 people fled Fort McMurray two weeks ago when a wildfire swept through the town. The vast fire moved away but in recent days it has started to threaten the area again.

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