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Asian indexes mixed as geopolitics take a backseat; Nikkei jumps 0.6% (CNBC) Asian shares were mixed in Tuesday trade as geopolitical tensions took a backseat following a failed missile test by North Korea at the weekend and as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence continues his tour of Asia. The dollar traded lower for a third straight session against a basket or rivals at 100.31 at 9:25 am HK/SIN, compared to the 100.4 handle seen yesterday. Brent crude was higher by 0.11% at $55.42 per barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude inched up 0.02% to trade at $52.66. Oil prices fell by 1% in the previous session due to reports of increased U.S. shale production. Spot gold was mostly unchanged at $1,283.96 per ounce by 0246 GMT, after climbing to $1,295.42 in the prior session, its highest since Nov. 9. U.S. gold futures were down 0.5% at $1,285.50.
Oil Loses Momentum on Concern Over Supply That Citi Sees Easing (Bloomberg) Oil is losing momentum after the longest weekly rally in two months, with confidence that U.S. crude stockpiles are beginning to shrink damped by concern that American drilling activity is increasing. Futures were little changed in New York after falling 1 percent Monday, following its third weekly advance. While data Wednesday may show U.S. inventories probably shrank for a second week, drillers in the nation have added rigs for the past 13 weeks. Citigroup Inc. says output cuts by OPEC will be able to offset the response from American producers to higher prices. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has called for the market to be patient.
As US weighs tightening visa program, Asia stands to benefit (CNBC) The top young talent in Asia with American university education will increasingly return to Asia under a tightened H-1B visa program instead of staying in the U.S. for jobs where there are skills shortages. The proposed visa changes will deprive the U.S. of talent it would formerly have retained. Asia will benefit by seeing that talent move there.
Trump to seek changes in H-1B visa program to encourage hiring Americans (Reuters, CNBC) President Donald Trump on Tuesday will sign an executive order directing federal agencies to recommend changes to a temporary visa program used to bring foreign workers to the United States to fill high-skilled jobs. Two senior Trump administration officials who briefed reporters at the White House said Trump will also use the "buy American and hire American" order to seek changes in government procurement practices to increase the purchase of American products in federal contracts.
The day Donald Trump was elected President, Doug Derwin came into a lot of money. Derwin is a lawyer turned venture capitalist, and he’d cashed in on a successful investment. Like so many wealthy, Silicon Valley types, Derwin used the windfall to buy a Tesla Inc. electric car and stick it to the man -- or at least to the climate-change deniers he thought Trump represented. “One of the reasons I felt good about buying it was as a sort of statement in opposition to what was happening around me," Derwin says.
But, as Derwin’s order worked its way through Tesla’s manufacturing backlog, he had second thoughts. Elon Musk, Tesla’s co-founder and chief executive officer, was meeting Trump and joining committees in the new administration. The more Derwin dwelled on this, the angrier he became. And so, after receiving an email in February saying his Model S sedan was finally ready, Derwin cancelled the purchase. He still cut a check for $150,000 -- only he donated it to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Public Dissatisfaction With Washington Weighs on the GOP (Pew Research Center) Nearly three months after the Republican Party took control of the White House and Congress, the public gives low job ratings to the president and even lower ratings to the speaker of the House. The new Congress is viewed about as unfavorably as the previous Congress. And while both parties are viewed less positively than in January, the GOP’s ratings are more negative than the Democratic Party’s.
First-quarter growth was likely below 1%, according to latest CNBC/Moody's survey (CNBC) The first quarter economy is expected to have grown at a sluggish pace below 1 percent, in part due to balmy winter weather, and a data quirk that shows up each year in the first quarter. According to CNBC/Moody's Analytics Rapid Update, first quarter growth is tracking at an average 0.9%, following Friday's weak retail sales number.
But some economists, like those at Macroeconomic Advisers, expect growth to rebound in the second quarter. Macroeconomic Advisers see first quarter growth at 0.6 percent, with second quarter at 3.6 percent, but then a drop off back to a growth pace closer to 2 percent in the second half.
Saudis Target 30 Solar, Wind Projects in $50 Billion Pledge (Bloomberg) Saudi Arabia will develop 30 solar and wind projects over the next 10 years as part of the kingdom’s $50 billion program to boost power generation and cut its oil consumption. The world’s biggest exporter of crude oil will produce 10% of its power from renewables by 2023, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said Monday at a conference in Riyadh. It also plans to generate an unspecified amount of electricity from nuclear plants.
Steel Output in India Forecast to More Than Double by 2031 (Bloomberg) Steel mills in India are set to churn out metal at a rapid pace over the next decade and a half with output forecast to more than double bolstered by a growing economy and increasing urbanization, according to the Indian Steel Association. Shares of producers rose in Mumbai. Production is set to climb 10% to 12% in the year that began in April, from a record of 101.3 million metric tons in the past 12 months, and is forecast to advance to 240 million tons by 2031. Consumption is expected to expand by more than 5% this year from 83.9 million tons. India will surpass Japan as the world’s second-largest steel producer, behind only China, by the end of the year as mills increase capacity to meet growing demand and fill the gap left by slumping imports
Australia Tightens Rules on Worker Visas as Unemployment Rises (Bloomberg) Australia will tighten temporary skilled migration visas, scrapping the current 457 program used by almost 100,000 people, as the country’s labor market weakens and anti-immigration sentiment spreads among developed nations. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Canberra Tuesday:
[The migration system has to be] “seen to ensure that Australian jobs are filled by Australians wherever possible. That foreign workers are brought into Australia in order to fill critical skill gaps, and not brought in simply because an employer finds it easier to recruit a foreign worker than go to the trouble of hiring an Australian."
Brazil's economy grew at its fastest pace since 2010 and its stocks are flying high (CNBC) Brazil's economy is showing signs it's climbing out of its two-year recession, and international investors are snatching up the country's stocks. Economic activity in Latin America's largest country grew at its fastest pace since 2010, according to a central bank indicator. The IBC-Br index rose 1.31% in February, the bank said Monday, after an upwardly revised increase of 0.62% in the previous month. Investors have also jumped on the bandwagon, pushing the iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF (EWZ) more than 11% higher this year, handily outperforming the S&P 500. The ETF rose more than 2% Monday and was on track to post its best session since March 15.
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