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Asian shares end mixed, dollar weaker as investors focus on China GDP, eye Korea tensions (CNBC) Asian equities ended mixed in Monday trade, with the dollar sinking against the yen, following tensions in the Korean Peninsula and better-than-expected Chinese economic data. The U.S. dollar was weaker, hitting a five-week low against the yen. Brent crude was lower by 0.82% to trade at $55.43 per barrel and U.S. crude fell by 0.83% to trade at $52.74 at 2:30pm HK/SIN time. Spot gold, trading at $1,287 an ounce at 2:30 pm HK/SIN, hit a five-month high of $1,295.50 earlier in the session.
Crude Slips Below $53 as U.S. Drilling Surge Stokes Output Fears (Bloomberg) Oil declined below $53 a barrel as the U.S. continued to ramp-up drilling, stoking fears the nation’s surge in output this year will counter OPEC-led efforts to cut a global supply surplus. Futures fell as much as 1% in New York, paring last week’s 1.8% advance. U.S. explorers added 11 rigs last week, capping the longest stretch of gains since 2011, according to Baker Hughes Inc. data. Prices fell even after Saudi Arabian Oil Co. Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser said the global oil market is moving closer to balance despite the U.S. shale boom.
The “sucker punch" at the Berkeley riot reveals the rot in our politics (Fabius Maximus) FM has contributed to GEI. FM says that Saturday’s riot in Berkeley reveals much about the extremists driving US politics, and how acceptance of their violence by both Left and Right has led to more violence. If this rot continues we face a grim future. He is of the opinion that these extremists care little about America - they are focused on their own narrow agendas.
'The election is over:' Trump lashes out against tax day protesters, says they were 'paid' (CNBC) President Donald Trump on Twitter Sunday lashed out against citizens who'd taken to the streets to exercise their First Amendment rights. While claiming that thousands of people who on Saturday demanded Trump finally release his full tax returns were "paid" protesters, Trump tweeted, "The election is over!" Trump tweeted a day after thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in more than 150 cities across the country:
"Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies."
Scotland’s new film studio may be denied a Hollywood ending by independence (The Conversation) Scotland is set to have its first film and TV studio following a decision by the Scottish parliament to greenlight a proposal for the outskirts of Edinburgh. The £250m Pentland Studios is expected to house six movie sound stages and hopes to be open for business late next year. The move can be viewed in different ways. It is a major statement about the country’s future from an SNP government pushing for independence, but is also part of a scramble by the UK’s regions to get in on an industry that has long been dominated by south-east England. At a time when Brexit could produce a gold rush for the UK’s film business, it raises questions about whether Scottish independence could prevent the new studio from fully playing a part.
Turkey referendum: Opposition to challenge expanding Erdogan powers (BBC News) Turkey's main opposition party has said it will challenge the country's referendum result after the president won a vote to expand his powers. The Republican People's Party (CHP) has questioned the legitimacy of the close result, citing irregularities in the electoral process. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's push for an executive presidency succeeded with just over 51% of the vote. The win was met with both celebrations and protests across Turkey. The CHP is refusing to accept the Yes victory and is demanding a recount of 60% of the votes, criticising a decision to pass unstamped ballot papers as valid unless proven otherwise. Three of Turkey's biggest cities - Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir - all voted No to the constitutional changes.
Pence Visits North Korea Border, 'Heartened' by China Moves (Bloomberg) U.S. Vice President Mike Pence encouraged China to take action against North Korea while he met with troops a day after Kim Jong Un’s regime defied the Trump administration with a ballistic missile test. On a visit to the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea, Pence said he was “heartened" by early signs from China and hoped its leaders would “use the extraordinary levers they have" to prod Kim into giving up his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. He repeated President Donald Trump’s warning that the U.S. would act without China if necessary.
China's first quarter growth beats expectations at 6.9% (BBC News) China's economy grew by 6.9% in the first quarter of 2017, according to official figures. The growth rate, which compares expansion with the same three months in the previous year, was slightly higher than many economists had forecast. State-led infrastructure spending and demand for new property helped drive the world's second largest economy. Last month China cut its growth target for this year to 6.5% from 6.7% in 2016.
China March Home Sales Buoyant Even as Curbs Start to Bite (Bloomberg) The value of China’s home sales remained buoyant in March, though volume figures indicated that curbs in a number of cities may be slowing the recent buying frenzy. New home sales by value rose 18% to 1 trillion yuan ($145 billion) last month from a year earlier, according to Bloomberg calculations based on data released Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics. The increase compares with a 23% surge in the first two months of the year. But the value of sales partly reflected surging home prices. By volume, home sales grew only 11% in March to 130 million square meters, according to Bloomberg calculations, below the 24% growth in the first two months of 2017.
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