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posted on 27 February 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Down, Oil Up, Dollar And Gold Steady, UK Inflation, 'Moonlight' Wins Oscar, LSE Merger May Be Off, Greek Banks, India Going Green And More

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Early Bird Headlines 27 February 2017

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 drop; Sterling spikes lower after report on Scottish referendum (CNBC) Asia markets fell on Monday, with sterling tumbling nearly 0.4% to the dollar. Sterling tumbled as low as $1.2388 in early Asia trade, but later retraced some losses, with the pound/dollar pair trading at $1.2419 at 3:40 p.m. HK/SIN. That was down from levels above $1.2500 in the previous session. Meanwhile, the dollar index last traded at 101.09. Oil prices traded higher Monday afternoon during Asian hours, with U.S. crude up 0.7% at $54.37 a barrel, while global benchmark Brent gained 0.86% to $56.47. Gold was steady in Asia trading.


  • Manhattan-Sized Iceberg Breaks off Antarctica (EcoWatch) Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier lost another large chunk of ice at the end of January. The section of ice that broke off the glacier on the western coast of Antarctica was roughly the size of Manhattan. It was 10 times smaller than the piece the same glacier sloughed in July 2015.

After the enormous piece of ice broke off The Pine Island Glacier in 2015, cracks were spotted during a late 2016 flyover, Climate Central reported. The recent smaller, though still substantial, ice breakage is considered an "after-shock" event, Ohio State glaciologist Ian Howat told NASA. NASA's Operational Land Imager captured a series of images documenting the ice loss.

Also in Antarctica, a crack longer than 80 miles in the Larsen C ice shelf is currently being monitored. As the rift grows, the shelf gets closer to shedding a more than 3,000 square mile iceberg.



  • Oscars 2017 winners: the full list (The Guardian) The full list of nominees with winners identified.

  • Here's what happened onstage during the Oscars' mistake (Associated Press) Briefly, La La Land won the Best Picture award. Then the error was corrected, the LLL people were joined on the stage by people from Moonlight and that film received the award. This all happened because the wrong envelope was given to the presenters, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, which contained the card saying: "Emma Stone, La La Land." The envelope contained the name of the already awarded Best Actress award.

  • Trump tells governors: Our health care plan will be 'very special' (CNN) President Donald Trump gave a toast to the nation's governors at the White House on Sunday evening, offering a preview of policy discussions slated for Monday. "Perhaps health care will come up. Perhaps," Trump said at the annual Governors' Dinner. He boasted of his accomplishments in the few weeks since taking office and said, "It's been a lot of fun." Pointing to the meetings with governors slated for the next day, Trump said Obamacare has "tremendous problems" and needed to be repealed and replaced, which he said would be one topic among others at the "pretty big sessions" they would have. Trump said:

"I think you're going to see something very special."


  • In Europe, Four Main Concerns About Trump (The Wall Street Journal) When Donald Trump addresses a joint session of Congress this week, his words will be studied with closer attention than usual in Europe. Across the Atlantic, Mr. Trump’s arrival on the world stage has been met with widespread anxiety. Many fear that his America First rhetoric, skepticism toward multilateral institutions and enthusiasm for Brexit signals a disengagement from the rules-based order that most Europeans consider the bedrock of their prosperity and security.

Yet ironically, the immediate economic impact of Mr. Trump’s arrival has been positive for Europe. Last week’s eurozone composite Purchasing Managers Index showed the economy expanding at its fastest rate in 6½ years and jobs are being created at the fastest rate in nearly a decade, while the Stoxx Europe 600 index of leading European equities is up 13% since Nov. 8. That may partly reflect an improved global growth picture. But Mr. Trump can take some credit: expectations that his promised tax cuts and deregulation will deliver faster U.S. growth have lifted the eurozone too, not least by halting the appreciation of the euro, down 4% against the dollar since the election.


  • Alarm bells sound for UK business as rising costs and inflation threaten to squeeze margins (City A.M.) Inflation is starting to climb and is forecast to reach nearly three per cent by the end of the year. Higher input costs are expected to feed through to the fastest pace of price increases for a decade in the UK’s dominant services sector, according to a new quarterly survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). A balance of 42% of businesses surveyed expect prices to rise over the next three months, up from a balance of only 12% the month before, the poll out today shows. Meanwhile, operating costs are set to rise on the back of April's introduction of the national living wage, the new apprenticeship levy and revised business rates that disproportionately affect London-based businesses.

  • Benefits for migrants face axe (The Times) The biggest shake-up of immigration policy in a generation is expected to see multi-year visas handed to migrants who get jobs in key sectors of the economy but limit access to benefits for new arrivals. Under plans advocated by senior ministers the government would seek to take political heat out of immigration by getting an independent body to advise on how many visas should be issued. At a meeting of the cabinet’s Brexit committee on Thursday, Theresa May ordered ministers to draw up a two-stage plan: first, to deal with EU nationals already in the UK; second, to set up a new visa regime for those who arrive later.

  • How the London Stock Exchange's mega merger with Deutsche Boerse was suddenly derailed by Brussels (City A.M.) Late on Sunday evening, the LSE (London Stock Exchange) published a statement admitting it now expects the European Commission to block its merger with the Frankfurt stock exchange on the basis that it (LSE) will not divest its majority stake in an Italian trading platform that services Italian sovereign debt.

  • Corbyn is fighting for a working class that doesn’t exist (The Times) Almost three in five people consider themselves working class, a figure unchanged for three decades, despite the marked decline in what are seen as traditional working class industries and jobs.

It is this “tradition" that still absorbs the leadership of the Labour Party, fetishising mining and marching over the reality of life in Britain today. Jeremy Corbyn is more interested in the decline of jobs in coal that do not exist any more than the very real, well-paid, highly skilled jobs in the nuclear industry that do exist in places such as Copeland.


  • Should we worry about Greek banks? (Breugel) Earlier this month, the IMF and the European institutions clashed over conditions for sustainability of the Greek debt. One of the main disagreements seems to be the evaluation of the Greek banks’ health. Whose assessment should be trusted and are there reasons to worry? This article says yes and no ... and maybe. Non-performing loans for Greek banks are very high (40-50%). But they are being aggressively written off, €2.5 billion in 2016 alone.


  • India Doubles Down on Renewables (EcoWatch) The Government of India is doubling the scale of the country's solar parks, adding 20 gigawatts, more than total U.S. solar capacity; Great Britain's development finance institution, CDC, announced a major new solar initiative targeted at India's undeserved eastern states; India's largest network of vocational institutes, run by the Catholic church, pledged to shift to renewable energy; Jharkand, India's West Virginia and biggest coal producer, plans to build more solar capacity than its peak internal demand for power; the Indian Supreme Court stepped up its crack-down on water pollution from industrial facilities; analysts projected aggressive bidding Thursday for India's first reverse auction for wind power, with prices expected to set new records (see next article); and finally the government announced that starting next year it would prepare a special budget annex assessing the steps it is taking to deal with climate change.

  • Wind Power Costs Plunge in Asia's First Auction for Contracts (Bloomberg) The cost of power generated from wind turbines plunged in Asia’s first auction for contracts to deploy the technology, a victory for India’s effort to reduce pollution and ensure supplies. Solar Energy Corp. of India Ltd., which conducted the auction for the government, said late Friday that it received bids to supply wind power for 3.46 rupees (5 U.S. cents) a kilowatt-hour. Previously, feed-in tariffs for wind energy ranged from 4 rupees to 5 rupees a kilowatt-hour across India’s windy states. The contest was the first of its kind for wind anywhere in Asia, repeating similar auctions for solar capacity that brought the cost of that technology to record lows. It underscores the success of auction mechanisms in forcing companies to reduce the price of renewable energy, increasing the competitiveness of wind and solar against fossil fuels. It also indicates that, at least for now, wind can compete with rapidly falling solar costs.


  • Trump likely to backtrack on China's currency, global experts say (CNBC) President Donald Trump's new administration risks setting off a round of potentially destabilizing trade tensions if China is named a currency manipulator, economists and currency strategists told CNBC. Still, the majority of respondents to a CNBC survey - 25 out of 35 - said they don't believe Trump will officially say China is deliberately devaluing its currency for an export advantage when the Treasury reviews its monitoring list in April.

  • Data Fraud At Chinese Province Suggests Local GDP Numbers As Much As 20% "Overcooked" (Talk Markets) According to the People's Daily, the rust-belt province of Liaoning had admitted to fabricating fiscal numbers from 2011 to 2014. The fabricated economic data was meant to show a state of economic strength with fiscal revenues inflated by at least 20%, and some other economic data were also false, the paper said, without specifying categories.In short, the fabrication opened a hornet's nest: if one Chinese province was doing it, then why not all, and by how much was the real data off? A correction for Liaoning was published showing a huge one-quarter GDP loss to correct for "over-reporting" in previous quarters:

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