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posted on 31 March 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Down, Dollar Up, Gold, Oil Firm, Flynn Immunity, Rural Disability, Even Wealthy Have Debt, Italy's Populist Strength, Rupee Surging, Trump May Pay Mexico To Build Wall, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 31 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.


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  • Asia markets finish mixed, Trump tweets Xi meeting will be 'difficult' (CNBC) Asia markets finished mixed on the final day of trading in March, as investors await two expected executive orders by President Donald Trump which will tackle trade deficit and tariff enforcement. The dollar was stronger at 100.56 against a basket of currencies at 3:05 pm HK/SIN, higher compared to levels of around 99 earlier this week. During Asian trade, Brent crude slipped 0.23% to $52.84 a barrel and U.S. crude dipped 0.04% to $50.33. Oil prices surged to their highest in three weeks on Thursday U.S. time (see next article). Spot gold was mostly unchanged at $1,242.43 per ounce at 0058 GMT, while U.S. gold futures were down 0.3% at $1,241.3.


  • Oil Heads for Biggest Weekly Gain in 2017 With Eyes on OPEC Deal (Bloomberg) Speculation OPEC will extend its deal to curb output and ease a global glut is sending oil toward its biggest weekly increase this year. Prices were also boosted this week when it was reported that Texas crude production may near the limit of pipeline capacities.


When billionaire investor Wilbur Ross was going through the confirmation process to become President Trump’s commerce secretary, Senate Democrats wanted answers about Ross’ role as the vice chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, which has significant dealings with Russian oligarchs.

The administration’s answer: crickets.

Ross’ handlers had initially assured Commerce committee staff that Ross would respond to their Feb. 16 questions, according to a congressional staffer. But a response never came.

Spending figures were taken from the proposed 2017 federal budget. Social Security disability insurance ($149 billion) was combined with Supplemental Security Income for people with disabilities ($43 billion). The spending does not include money spent by states to supplement the programs.



The currency, Asia’s best performer this month, has rallied 4.8 percent since Dec. 31 as a thumping win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party in state elections boosted bets for continuation of the government’s reforms agenda. The Federal Reserve’s dovish tone on future rate hikes, that’s contributed to a weaker dollar, also burnished the allure of assets in emerging markets.


  • China's Military Wants More Weapons, Fewer Troops (Newsweek) China wants to buy new high-tech weapons for its navy and air force, but to do that, it needs to lay off 300,000 troops. The Chinese Defense Ministry announced Thursday that Beijing's plan to reduce troop levels would be completed by the end of the year. Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said there were "detailed arrangements" to ensure the layoffs would be carried out without delay, Reuters reported.


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