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posted on 28 April 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Down, Dollar, Oil, And Gold All Up, Trump Will Pay ACA $, State Dept To Cut 9%, Trump Tax Plan, UK House Prices Drop, France GDP Growth Slows, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 28 April 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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Global

  • Asian stocks lower; Trump comments on trade, defense riles Kospi (CNBC) Asian markets traded weaker on Friday as comments from President Donald Trump on an existing free trade pact with Seoul to payment for a sophisticated anti-missile system caught investors by surprise. The dollar strengthened against a basket of rivals at 99.17, higher than the 98-handle seen earlier in the week. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading at $49.40 per barrel at 0344 GMT, up 43 cents, or 0.88 percent, from their last close. However, WTI is still set for a small weekly loss and is around 8 percent below its April peak. Brent crude futures were at $51.86 per barrel, up 42 cents, or 0.82%. Spot gold was up 0.1% at $1,264.81 per ounce,as of 0312 GMT, while U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,266.30.

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U.S.

Democrats had wanted to include the funds in the spending bill but Republicans had balked, saying they’d never been included before - though President Obama had doled out the money anyway, in what a judge has ruled an illegal expense.

The Trump administration’s promise to continue the payments without congressional approval preserves a GOP anti-Obamacare lawsuit, but still keeps the money flowing, which Democrats said was their most important goal.

  • Exclusive: 'If there's a shutdown, there's a shutdown,' Trump says (Reuters) President Donald Trump downplayed the severity of a potential government shutdown on Thursday, just two days shy of a deadline for Congress to reach a spending deal to avert temporary layoffs of federal workers.

  • Tillerson Plans 9% Cut to U.S. State Department Workforce: Sources (Bloomberg) The State Department plans to cut 2,300 U.S. diplomats and civil servants (about 9 percent of the Americans in its workforce worldwide) as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presses ahead with his task of slashing the agency’s budget, according to people familiar with the matter. The majority of the job cuts, about 1,700, will come through attrition, while the remaining 600 will be done via buyouts, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the decision hasn’t been publicly announced.

  • TEXAS HOLD ‘EM: State’s proposal looks to ignore federal law, regs (Fox News) A proposal in the GOP-led Legislature in Texas calls for the state to ignore federal law and court rulings and forgo enforcing national regulations. State Rep. Cecil Bell's Texas Sovereignty Act allows for overriding federal laws through the same process as passing a bill. First a legislative committee, then the whole Legislature, would vote for nullification, and then the governor would sign his approval.

"If Texas has to live under California's environmental regulations because the court says, 'Oh no, Texas can't be Texas, Texas has to be identical to California,' this would make a legislative process to address that," Bell, a Republican from Magnolia, about 45 miles north of Houston.

Bell is "very thankful" Republicans control Washington but says he wants to prohibit future overreach from the federal government.

Arizona already has approved a similar policy, and other states want to follow suit, despite the Constitution's Supremacy Clause, which stipulates federal laws and treaties take precedence.

  • Trump’s lawyer launches legal action against BuzzFeed for publishing ‘completely fabricated’ dossier (The Washington Times) Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, says he has instructed his own attorney to investigate legal action against BuzzFeed, which posted an opposition research “dossier" that accused Mr. Cohen without proof of a conspiracy with Russian agents. Mr. Cohen told The Washington Times that he also is considering a lawsuit against former British spy Christopher Steele, who wrote the gossipy 35-page dossier that the liberal news website posted on Jan. 10. Mr. Steele was paid by a Hillary Clinton supporter, via the Democratic Party-linked firm Fusion GPS, to gather dirt on candidate Trump last summer and fall. GPS circulated the Steele memos to reporters and Democrats. But it was not until BuzzFeed posted the dossier that some people named in it learned that they were accused of wrongdoing.

In Mr. Cohen’s case, Mr. Steele accused him of traveling to Prague in the last week of August to meet with Russian agents to devise a plan to cover up the supposed Trump-Russia hacking of Democratic Party email servers.

  • How Ex-spy Christopher Steele Compiled his Explosive Trump-Russia Dossier (Vanity Fair) The man behind the infamous dossier that raises the possibility that Donald Trump may be vulnerable to Kremlin blackmail is Russia expert Christopher Steele, formerly of M.I.6, the UK intelligence agency. Vanity Fair tells the story of his investigation.

  • FBI used dossier allegations to bolster Trump-Russia investigation (CNN) The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump's campaign as part of the justification to win approval to secretly monitor a Trump associate, according to US officials briefed on the investigation. The dossier has also been cited by FBI Director James Comey in some of his briefings to members of Congress in recent weeks, as one of the sources of information the bureau has used to bolster its investigation, according to US officials briefed on the probe.

This includes approval from the secret court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to monitor the communications of Carter Page, two of the officials said. Last year, Page was identified by the Trump campaign as an adviser on national security.

Officials familiar with the process say even if the application to monitor Page included information from the dossier, it would only be after the FBI had corroborated the information through its own investigation. The officials would not say what or how much was corroborated.

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UK

  • UK house prices suffer biggest monthly drop since 2012 (Financial Times) UK house prices fell by 0.4% this month (the worst monthly decline since 2012) and defying expectations of a return to growth, according to Nationwide. The average cost of a UK home is now £207,699 according to Nationwide’s monthly index which fell for the second consecutive month to mark its worst run in five years. Prices in April were however still 2.6% higher compared to the same month last year.

India

  • India on Track to Knock Britain Out of World's Top 5 Economies (Bloomberg) India will overtake Germany in 2022 as the world's fourth-largest economy and push Britain out of the top five, based on analysis of growth projections by the International Monetary Fund. But the challenges the South Asian nation must surmount to get there are many. These include executing a wide-ranging overhaul of the tax system, sorting out the biggest pile of distressed assets among major economies, reviving lackluster productivity, substantially increasing employment opportunities, encouraging corporate investment and overcoming a significant infrastructure shortfall.

North Korea

  • Trump: 'Major, major' conflict with N. Korea possible (Reuters) In an exclusive interview with Reuters for the upcoming 100-day mark of his administration, the president said a major conflict with North Korea was possible, despite wanting to resolve things diplomatically. He also lavished praise on China's president Xi Jinping.

South Korea

  • Trump tough on South Korea: Threatens to terminate free trade deal, wants payment for THAAD missile defense system (CNBC) President Donald Trump said that he will either renegotiate or terminate a "horrible" trade deal with South Korea, Reuters reported late Thursday. The president also said he wants South Korea to pay for the $1 billion THAAD missile defense system, Reuters said. Responses to Trump's comments soon arose, with an official from South Korea's automakers association telling Reuters that the group is now concerned about "the uncertainty" of the free trade agreement.

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