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posted on 23 March 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Oil, Dollar Up, Gold Down, Health Care Bill Fighting For Life, UK Car Mfg Hits 17-Yr High, UBS Charges 0.6% Int. On Deposits, China Debt Risks And More

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Early Bird Headlines 23 March 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.



  • Asian shares trade mixed, key health care vote eyed (CNBC) Asia markets traded mostly higher on Thursday after U.S. equities closed mixed as traders await a key health care vote in Congress, which is seen as a proxy of U.S. President Donald Trump's mandate. The dollar index remained below 100 at 99.796. Spot gold was down 0.2% at $1,246.51 per ounce at 0353 GMT. On Wednesday, it touched its strongest since Feb. 28 at $1,251.26. U.S. gold futures were down 0.3% at $1,246.5.


  • Oil bounces off November lows, but bloated U.S. stockpiles pressure market (Reuters) Oil prices recovered on Thursday from losses chalked up the session before, but the market remained under pressure as bloated U.S. crude inventories and rising output dampen OPEC-led efforts to curb global production. Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil, were at $50.99 per barrel at 0621 GMT, up $0.35 cents, or 0.%, from their last close. That came after Brent briefly dipped below $50 a barrel on Wednesday for the first time since November. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were up $0.37 cents, or 0.8%, at $48.41 a barrel, after testing support at $47 overnight.


  • Republican Nunes Tries to Give Trump Cover on Wiretap Claim (Bloomberg) Almost two weeks after President Donald Trump’s tweets accusing his predecessor of wiretapping Trump Tower, the Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee tried to offer some support by saying that the president’s team was caught up in a U.S. surveillance net.

Representative Devin Nunes said Wednesday that the intelligence community collected multiple conversations involving members of Trump’s transition team during legal surveillance of foreign targets after he won election last year. After Nunes went to the White House to brief Trump, the president told reporters “I somewhat do" feel vindicated by the latest development.

The committee’s top Democrat, Adam Schiff of California, said Nunes’s decision to go to Trump before informing other members of the panel “casts quite a profound cloud" over whether the committee can conduct a proper investigation.

  • BREAKING: House Considering Last-Minute, Regulation-Repealing Changes to AHCA? (Town Hall) It's floor vote eve, and many creatures are stirring in the House. In a potentially dramatic eleventh-hour gambit, Republicans are considering pushing further than they initially thought possible to repeal additional Obamacare regulations within the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

  • Why deductibles would rise under the GOP health care plan (Axios) Health care is complicated, as the president has discovered. But here is one thing that is not so complicated: if people have modest means and limited tax credits, and coverage is expensive, they will mostly buy health plans with lower premiums - and high deductibles. This is what is likely to happen under the GOP health care bill, the American Health Care Act. Only people who need more health care will stretch for more generous coverage. If that happens, those health plans will draw too many sick people, causing insurance companies to stop offering them for fear of losing money. That would leave mostly the low-premium, high-deductible plans.



  • UK car production hit 17-year high in February (Reuters) British car production hit a 17-year high in February, extending a recent trend of surging output as a strong rise in exports once again compensated for a slump in demand at home, an industry body said on Thursday. Overall production rose 8% to 153,041 cars last month, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), boosted by a 13% increase in sales to overseas markets. The roughly 15% fall in the pound against the euro since the Brexit vote has helped to make British exports cheaper to many foreign buyers, although it has increased the cost of importing parts from the continent for UK-assembled models.


  • UBS Introduces Charges on Euro Accounts Exceeding 1 Million (Bloomberg) UBS Group AG is extending charges on cash holdings to more of its customers, becoming the latest bank to pass on the euro region’s negative interest rates. Starting in May, the world’s largest wealth manager will introduce an annual fee of 0.6% on balances exceeding €1 million ($1.08 million), the bank told clients in a letter seen by Bloomberg. UBS confirmed the content. This is more than the deposit charges by the ECB (European Central Bank).


  • India's Modi just undertook a major political shift (CNBC) Prime Minister Narendra Modi's controversial decision to install a rabble-rouser as leader of India's most populous state may signal a new direction in his policy platform and potentially sow seeds of religious tension. Following an impressive victory in recent state elections, Modi's ruling faction - the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - named Yogi Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh chief minister on Sunday. A 44-year old priest, Adityanath is a well-known figure of Hindutva, a right-wing ideology that champions Hindu nationalism.


  • Abe's Wife Accused of Giving Cash-Filled Envelope in Scandal (Bloomberg) The head of a Japanese educational foundation at the center of a real estate scandal told parliament he received a donation from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe via his wife, prompting a fresh denial from the top government spokesman. Speaking under oath in the Diet for the first time on Thursday, school principal Yasunori Kagoike said that Akie Abe personally handed him an envelope containing 1 million yen ($9,000) in cash during her September 2015 visit to a kindergarten operated by the nationalist group. “She told me it was from Shinzo Abe," Kagoike said. Afterward, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga reiterated previous denials. Suga said that it was his understanding that Abe’s wife didn’t make a donation in a personal capacity. He also told reporters:

“The prime minister did not make a donation himself. He did not donate through his wife Akie, nor through his office or a third party."


  • China Likely to See More Bond Defaults, Fitch's McCormack Says (Bloomberg) More corporate defaults in China wouldn’t be a surprise as debt levels are unsustainable and the economy is slowing, says James McCormack, global head of sovereign ratings at Fitch Ratings Ltd. While he doesn’t expect a major credit event in China, the corporate debt problem is getting bigger in the medium-term, McCormack said in a Bloomberg Television interview Thursday from the Boao Forum for Asia, an annual conference on the southern Chinese island of Hainan. Shorter-term issues around wealth management products and leverage inside the financial system are worrying, and a coordinated regulatory response to the problems would be “good news," he said.

  • China Debt Risks Go Global Amid Record Junk Sales Abroad (Bloomberg) If there is a China debt crisis in the future, the country is doing its best to remain a leading exporter - in that future case, an exporter of debt crisis.


  • In Asia's Infrastructure Race, Vietnam is Among The Leaders (Bloomberg) Vietnam's public and private sector infrastructure investment averaged 5.7% of gross domestic product in recent years, the highest in Southeast Asia and compares with 6.8% in China, according to the Asian Development Bank. Indonesia and the Philippines spend less than 3%, while Malaysia and Thailand spend even less at under 2%. An increasing amount of direct foreign investment has helped push infrastructure numbers up.


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