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posted on 07 June 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Dollar Steady, Oil And Gold Down, Big US Banks Met With Kushner And Russian, Nevada Public Option, US Job Openings At Record, May Sees Breathing Room, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 07 June 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

  • Asia mixed as markets await trio of risks on Thursday; oil edges down (CNBC) Asia was mixed on Wednesday as markets cautiously awaited a trio of potential major risk events on Thursday, including the U.K. election, a European Central bank review and former FBI Director James Comey's testimony to the Senate stateside. The dollar index rose slightly to trade at 96.639 at 11:45 a.m. HK/SIN. U.S. crude was down 0.12% to trade at $48.13 a barrel and Brent crude shed 0.14% to trade at $50.05. Spot gold fell 0.1% to $1,291.66 per ounce at 0350 GMT. On Tuesday, it rose 1.1% and hit its highest level since November last year at $1,295.97 an ounce. U.S. gold futures for August delivery dipped 0.3% to $1,294.2 an ounce.

asia.pac.2017.jun.07

He says oil futures are on the verge of moving into "backwardation," a term used to describe a market anomaly when futures contracts that expire later are trading at lower prices than contracts that expire sooner.

The last four times oil moved into backwardation, the commodity rallied between 25 percent and 72 percent in the next nine months, according to Lee.

U.S.

Headline writers at the New York Times need to sharpen their pencils. Yesterday’s New York edition carried a front page article that links two of the biggest Wall Street banks, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, to the Jared Kushner affair with the Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, Chairman of the state-owned Russian bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) which has been under U.S. sanctions since 2014. But readers would have missed that completely if they only read the softball headline, which failed to mention either bank.

  • Nevada's legislature just passed a radical plan to let anybody sign up for Medicaid (Vox) Nevada, with little fanfare or notice, is inching toward a massive health insurance expansion - one that would give the state’s 2.8 million residents access to a public health insurance option. The Nevada legislature passed a bill last Friday that would allow anyone to buy into Medicaid, the public program that covers low-income Americans. It would be the first state to open the government-run program to all residents, regardless of their income or health status. The bill is currently sitting with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican. His office did not respond to an inquiry about whether he would sign the bill or veto it.

  • Job openings in America are at a record high (Business Insider) Job openings in the US rose to the highest on record in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Openings totaled 6.04 million, according to the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey released on Tuesday. A record number of vacancies was posted in the accommodation and food services industries. Openings in durable-goods manufacturing fell by 30,000. The high number of openings underscores the challenges that some employers have filling positions, eight years after the recession, especially for jobs that are require specialized skills. The number of hires fell by 253,000 to 5.05 million, the lowest since April 2016. But there is more to this story - see next article.

  • April 2017 JOLTS Job Openings Rate Shows Improvement (GEI) Job openings may be at an all-time high (see preceding article) but the rate of growth is slowing. It may not be so obvious in the graph above, but a graph in this article shows the change clearly. The rate of growth fell dramatically from mid-2014 to early 2016 and has remained subdued since then. So the record high comes at a time when the slowed growth rate may actually be a sign of slowing economic growth.

Click for large image.

UK

  • Royal Bank of Scotland spends £1bn in bid to avoid High Court trial over 2008 rights issue (City A.M.) Royal Bank of Scotland has spent more than £1 billion ($1.3 billion) fending off a high profile court case over its disastrous rights issue in 2008. The majority state-owned bank's mammoth bill consists of legal fees and out-of-court settlements with shareholders. The RBS shareholder action group yesterday informed the High Court judge that it was accepting a £200 million ($260 million), 82p-per-share compensation offer on behalf of the 9,000 investors it represents. This means the bank and disgraced former chief executive Fred Goodwin are almost certain to have avoided an embarrassing 14-week trial.

  • What if opinion polls had been banned during this election? (The Conversation) Do polls over-emphasize who is winning to the detriment of consideration of the issues?

When the prime minister, Theresa May, called a general election back in mid-April it was widely assumed she would easily win a large majority. The Conservative leader was far more popular than her Labour rival Jeremy Corbyn, and had a clear path back into No 10. We know this because the voters themselves told us - through opinion polls.

Six weeks later, the narrative is rather different. Labour’s manifesto has been praised while the Tory campaign has stuttered. Though a Conservative majority is still the most likely outcome, Corbyn appears increasingly confident while May seems more worried. But again this is largely down to the polls.

uk.poll.2017.jun.06

Russia

  • At it again: Russian hackers may have triggered Gulf diplomatic crisis using fake news (Times Now) United States Intelligence officials believe that Russian hackers used fake news yet again to trigger a diplomatic crisis - their victims this time around were the Gulf States. FBI experts visited Qatar in late May to probe an alleged cyber-security breach in which hackers planted a fake story with Qatar's news agency, CNN reports. Saudi Arabia then quoted the item as one of the reasons for the blockade. Qatar's government said the May 23 news report attributed false remarks to the emirate's ruler that appeared friendly to Iran and Israel, and questioned whether US President Donald Trump would last in office, according to CNN. Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told the broadcaster that the FBI has confirmed the hack and the planting of fake news.

  • Russia's attempt to hack US election officials, explained (Vox) Russia’s GRU intelligence agency attempted to hack the computers of voting officials across the country in the days before the 2016 presidential election, according to a top secret National Security Agency document that was leaked to the Intercept.

The attacks focused on voter registration systems rather than voting machines themselves, so there’s no evidence that the Russian government directly changed anyone’s vote. But there’s also a lot we can’t tell from the report about what the Russians might have accomplished - and whether they could have altered the election result, directly or indirectly.

India

  • Govt feels RBI is not doing enough to boost growth (The Times of India) Hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni. he government's honeymoon with Reserve Bank of India governor Urjit Patel seems to be over within a year of his appointment. It had expected him to aid in the effort to accelerate growth through steps such as lowering of interest rates and other revival measures, but he has not obliged. Beyond a 25-basis point reduction soon after he took charge last September, Patel has held rates unchanged since.

Unlike his predecessors, Patel is not solely responsible for deciding interest rates; that responsibility now rests with the Monetary Policy Committee, headed by the RBI governor. It has two other RBI representatives, and three government nominees. Nevertheless, an influential section within the government believes the RBI has been unsympathetic to its concern over persisting high interest rates and reluctant to take advantage of the room afforded by a comfortable fiscal situation and inflation, which is within the central bank's comfort zone of 2-6%.

  • Economy running on just one engine of public spending: Ex-PM Manmohan Singh (India Today) Hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni. Blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi's demonetisation drive, former PM Manmohan Singh today said the country's growth has slowed down primarily because of demonetisation. He said the economy is running on just one engine of public spending. He said that private sector investment has collapsed. Singh finds the most worrisome aspect is the impact on job growth.

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