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posted on 21 December 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Oil Up, Arctic Drilling Bans, Super Low Volatility, UK Skills Shortage, Russia Not Trump Defense Priority, India GDP Surpasses UK, Fed Pressures China And More

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Early Bird Headlines 21 December 2016

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 shares mixed; Shanghai Composite up more than 1% (CNBC) Asian markets ended mixed on Wednesday, losing some of the optimism spurred from the Dow hitting a new record close overnight just shy of the psychological 20,000 level. Crude futures were up for the fourth straight session with U.S. crude oil futures up 0.56% at $53.60 a barrel on Wednesday Asian time, while Brent climbed 0.47% to $55.61.



  • Eyeing Trump, Obama takes new action to ban Arctic drilling (CNN) Looking to cement his environmental record, President Barack Obama took new action Tuesday barring offshore drilling in areas of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans indefinitely. Obama relied on a 63-year-old law to make his moves, which will prevent future leasing of certain offshore areas for oil rights. His successor, Donald Trump, who has promised a policy allowing more US energy production, would face legal challenges if he attempted to reverse Obama's order. The White House said Obama was declaring the entire US portion of the Chukchi sea and the vast majority of the Beaufort Sea "indefinitely off limits for future oil and gas leasing," citing critical protection for the marine mammals, ecological resources and native populations. Canada also announced Tuesday that it will freeze its offshore oil and gas exploration in its Arctic waters.

  • Four More Officials Charged Over Flint, Michigan, Water Crisis (NBC News) Four more officials were charged Tuesday in connection with the Flint, Michigan, water crisis that resulted in a surge of lead poisoning among children. Two former Michigan state emergency managers, Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose, face multiple 20-year felonies for failing to protect Flint citizens from health hazards caused by the contaminated drinking water, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced. Former city of Flint executives Howard Croft and Daugherty Johnson also face felony charges. Tuesday's charges bring to 13 the number of former state and local officials who face criminal counts in the investigation.

  • Details of $25 million Trump U. settlement filed (Politico) Lawyers filed details Monday evening of the $25 million settlement President-elect Donald Trump agreed to last month in an effort to resolve three pending lawsuits over his Trump University real estate seminar program. The settlement submitted to a federal court in San Diego indicates that Trump is personally guaranteeing that the $25 million will be handed over to plaintiffs' lawyers by Jan. 18, 2017, two days before he is scheduled to be sworn in as president. The deal scuttled the bizarre possibility of Trump facing a civil class-action fraud trial as he waited to assume the nation's highest office.

  • If Not Obamacare, Then What? (The Atlantic) The author went to southwest Pennsylvania and interviewed Trump voters:

I recently interviewed a dozen people in three small towns near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - a region that went for Trump by wide margins - and found several broad reasons for dissatisfaction with the Affordable Care Act. Americans have grown too lazy and entitled, some feel, and the Trump administration’s health-care proposals should promote greater personal responsibility. Others are simply confused by the law, what exactly it changed, and where they fit within the new health-care regime. But others liked the idea of universal health insurance and thought the law would help them. When it didn’t, some turned to Trump to tear it all down and start again.

  • Clinton allies rip into FBI after search warrant unsealed (Politico) Hillary Clinton's allies blasted the FBI on Tuesday after court filings were unsealed showing more details about the law enforcement agency's basis for renewing its probe into Clinton's private email setup and roiling the presidential race just over a week before Election Day. Clinton's camp says the FBI had remarkably little evidence to go on when it sought a search warrant on Oct. 30 to look for classified emails on a Dell laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The FBI says it discovered Clinton-related emails on the computer after initially seizing the device during a probe over Weiner's alleged sexually explicit online exchanges with a minor. longtime Clinton lawyer David Kendall said in a statement:

"Today's release of the FBI affidavit highlights the extraordinary impropriety of [FBI] Director [James] Comey’s October 28 letter, publicized two days before the affidavit, which produced devastating but predictable damage politically and which was both legally unauthorized and factually unnecessary. The affidavit concedes that the FBI had no basis to conclude whether these e-mails were even pertinent to that closed investigation, were significant, or whether they had, in fact, already been reviewed prior to the closing of the investigation."

  • U.S. Stocks, Dollar Rise in Sign of Resilience: Markets Wrap (Bloomberg) U.S. stocks rose with equities in Europe, while bonds and gold retreated in a demonstration of financial markets’ resilience to recent geopolitical events as investors focus on the prospects for increased government spending in the U.S. Markets have showed increasing immunity to terror incidents this year, with initial reactions to buy haven assets after attacks fading quickly. As trading volumes decrease before December holidays and year-end, investors may be loath to veer too far from the underlying market trends that have prevailed since the election of Donald Trump in November, namely favoring stocks and shunning bonds. A so-called fear gauge of volatility in European stocks was at the lowest since 2014.


  • Single Market access is top Brexit priority for EU businesses (City A.M.) Access to the UK as part of the Single Market is the highest priority for European businesses in the upcoming Brexit negotiations, a new survey says. Single Market access is the most important factor for 29% of EU businesses with UK operations, according to a poll of 700 business leaders by accountancy firm RSM. The future trade arrangement has been one of the most controversial aspects of Brexit, as European leaders have stuck to the line that the UK will not have access to the Single Market if it wants to be able to control immigration.

  • Nearly half of UK employers expect to face a skills shortage in 2017 (City A.M.) Almost half of UK employers, 48%, expect to face a growing shortage of skilled candidates to fill permanent jobs in 2017, new research suggests. For the past six months, employers in the UK have warned of a skills shortage for engineering and technical jobs, and this month's JobsOutlook survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said health and social care and construction employers are also expecting a shortage of workers to fill vacancies. One in three organisations, or 32%, said they have no spare workforce capacity, and REC expects these sectors to be under severe pressure in the new year. Businesses want this situation to be considered when implementing a new immigration policy.


  • Russia Missing from Trump’s Top Defense Priorities, According to DoD Memo (Foreign Policy) A Pentagon memo outlining the incoming Trump administration’s top “defense priorities" identifies defeating the Islamic State, eliminating budget caps, developing a new cybersecurity strategy, and finding greater efficiencies as the president-elect’s primary concerns. But the memo, obtained by Foreign Policy, does not include any mention of Russia, which has been identified by senior military officials as the No. 1 threat to the United States.


  • No questions will be asked on one-time deposits, says Jaitley (The Hindu) Confusion reigns in India. A day after the Reserve Bank of India introduced new caveats for deposits of demonetised high-value currency notes worth Rs 5,000 or more till December 30, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley clarified that no questions would be asked on deposits of any quantity as long as they were made in one go. Repeated deposits will attract scrutiny, he said.

  • India Overtakes Britain as the World’s Sixth-Largest Economy (Foreign Policy) Score one for the post-colonial underdog. India’s economy has reportedly overtaken the United Kingdom’s for the first time in over 100 years, now standing as the world’s sixth-largest economy by GDP after the United States, China, Japan, Germany, and France. The milestone is a symbol of India’s rapid economic growth and, conversely, the U.K.’s post-Brexit slump.

South Korea

  • South Korea seeks arrest of daughter of Park's friend at center of scandal (Reuters) South Korea on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for a daughter of the woman at the center of President Park Geun-hye's corruption scandal and investigators raided the National Pension Service over possible links to the scandal. A special prosecutor's investigation started on Wednesday into the influence-peddling scandal that threatens to make Park, 64, the first democratically-elected leader to leave office early in disgrace. Parliament has voted to impeach Park, a decision that must be confirmed or overturned by the Constitutional Court. A court issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday for Chung Yoo-ra, the 20-year-old daughter of Choi Soon-sil, Park's long-time friend who is in custody and on trial for fraud and abuse of power.


  • The Fed Puts China in a Bind (Bloomberg) Last week, when the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates, it was a sign for many investors that things were getting back to normal. For China, facing large-scale capital outflows and a declining currency, it was a sign of a serious problem. For the past decade, China has maintained a "soft peg" of the yuan, allowing it to rise and fall within a narrow band against the U.S. dollar. This has worked, for the most part, because the two countries have had relatively synchronous business cycles and broadly similar monetary policies. But now their economies are diverging in important ways.


  • Taiwan loses another ally, says won't help China ties (Reuters) Taiwan accused China of using Sao Tome and Principe's financial woes to push its "one China" policy after the small West African state ended ties with the self-ruled island, with Taipei saying the move would not help relations across the Taiwan Strait. China's claims to Taiwan have shot back into the spotlight since U.S. President-elect Donald Trump broke diplomatic protocol and spoke with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen earlier this month, angering Beijing. Trump has also questioned the "one China" policy which the United States has followed since assuming relations with Beijing in 1979, under which Washington acknowledges China's position that Taiwan is part of China.

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