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posted on 18 May 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Down, Oil And Dollar Down, Gold Flat, Special Prosecutor, France Unemployment 10%, Flynn Paid By Turkey, Japan GDP Surprise, China Inverts Yld Curve, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 18 May 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 equities extend losses amid US political risk, with Nikkei weighed by stronger yen (CNBC) Asian equities lost ground on Thursday, while U.S. futures meandered, amid U.S. political turmoil accelerated with the appointment of a special counsel to take over the investigation into Russia's involvement in the U.S. presidential election last year. The dollar index was at 97.657 at 2:28 p.m. HK/SIN, off levels over 98 on Wednesday and down from levels over 99 last week. Brent crude futures were down $0.21, or 0.4%, from their last close at $52 per barrel at 0148 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $48.88, down $0.19, or 0.4%. Spot gold was flat at $1,260.61 per ounce by 0345 GMT, after earlier touching its strongest since May 1 at $1,263.02. It rose about 2% on Wednesday in its biggest one-day percentage gain since June last year. U.S. gold futures were up 0.2% at $1,260.90 an ounce.

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U.S.

As the world learned that Trump suddenly fired his FBI director, as the world learned the president told state secrets to the Russians, as the world learned that the fired FBI director said the president asked him to drop the FBI's investigation into one of the president's allies, the vast majority of Republicans in Congress didn't budge.

No, they didn't think a special counsel was necessary. No, they didn't think there would need to be any other kind of independent investigations. The ones going on in Congress (and the leaderless FBI) were sufficient enough, thank you.

  • Study: House ObamaCare bill cuts $43B in Medicaid funds for children (The Hill) The House GOP’s ObamaCare replacement bill would result in a cut of $43 billion over 10 years in funding for Medicaid coverage of children, according to a new study. The study from the consulting firm Avalere finds that the cuts to coverage for non-disabled children would come as a result of a new cap on Medicaid payments that the bill would impose, known as a per capita cap.

France

Turkey

Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabia, OPEC, Shale and Game Theory (ECONOMISMS) Brad Parkes says Saudi Arabia has the wrong strategy. Changing could destroy the oil competition and stop competitive technologies like electric cars and solar power that are reducing demand for pol.

Japan

  • Dollar Claws Back Losses as Trump Seeks to Limit Comey Turmoil (Bloomberg) The dollar eked out gains against most of the Group-of-10 peers but pressure from the U.S. political turmoil remained evident as it swung between gains and losses against the yen. The greenback is recovering a tad as Mueller named as special counsel.

China

  • China Creates Own Insurance Monster (Bloomberg) For the last several years, China has allowed smaller insurance companies to flourish in the interests of creating competition for industry heavyweights such as China Life Insurance Co. and Ping An Insurance Co. Authorities wanted to shake-up the population's save at all costs mentality and at the same time, encourage investment in areas other than the nation's oftentimes volatile stock market.

Sales of universal life products -- short-term, high-yielding investments that include a small insurance component -- boomed, with newer market entrants like Anbang Insurance Group Co., Huaxia Life Insurance Co. and Foresea Life Insurance Co. the main issuers. To fulfill the heady returns promised, those firms embarked on highly leveraged acquisitions, from hotels in New York to insurance assets in South Korea and Belgium.

Debt levels spiraled and before long, Beijing started to take steps to rectify the situation. In February, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission banned the chairman of Foresea Life from the industry for a decade, two months after it barred the company from selling all universal life products, indefinitely. It then prohibited Foresea Life from applying to sell new policies of any kind for three months.

Now, Foresea Life is warning of mass defaults and social unrest unless the nation's insurance regulator lifts that new-policy sale ban, according to a letter seen by the Financial Times.

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