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posted on 14 June 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Dollar And Oil Down, Gold Up, Trump Calls AHCA 'Mean', One Co Expands ACA Coverage, Brexit Delay, London High-Rise Fire, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 14 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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  • Indexes in Asia mixed following release of China industrial data (CNBC) Equities in Asia were mixed on Wednesday as oil prices fell after a surprise build in U.S. stocks and China data came in mostly in line with expectations. Brent crude futures tumbled 0.82% to trade at $48.32 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 0.99% to trade at $46.00. The dollar was softer against a basket of rival currencies, with the dollar index trading at 96.961 at 11:50 a.m. HK/SIN compared to levels around the 97.1 level seen in the previous session. Spot gold was up 0.3% at $1,269.45 per ounce by 0426 GMT. On Tuesday, it touched its weakest since June 2 at $1,259.16. U.S. gold futures for August delivery rose 0.2% to $1,271.40 an ounce.


  • Shale Drillers May Be Digging Own Hole as Oil Flirts With $40 (Bloomberg) U.S. shale is coming perilously close to puncturing its own rally. Just months after predicting double-digit production increases, largely based on crude prices sitting between $55 and $60 a barrel, drillers are suddenly contemplating the possibility of retrenchment as a stubborn global supply glut is keeping prices near $46. It’s a reversal that could accomplish what OPEC and other global producers have failed to do this year: slow down America’s booming shale industry.

  • Fereidun Fesharaki, chairman of consulting group FGE, said crude oil prices could drop back to $30 a barrel if OPEC doesn't make any further cuts to production

  • Fesharaki said the Saudi-led attempt to isolate Qatar wasn't likely to have a long-term or substantial impact on global oil prices, except in the unlikely event of a military confrontation


USA Today spent six months analyzing the transactions of every real estate property that Trump and his companies own and found that 70% of purchasers were shell companies, which allow people to buy property without revealing the buyer’s name. Only 4% of the buyers used shell companies in the two years before, according to the newspaper.

  • Kamala Harris questioning cut off for second week in a row (The Hill) For the second week in a row, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was cut off from her questioning of a witness at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. The first time was last week as she questioned Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. On Tuesday, it was as she asked questions to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Harris had been asking whether Sessions had reviewed any written rule giving him permission to refuse to answer questions without invoking executive privilege, which Sessions had done throughout the hearing. Sessions claimed he could refuse to answer questions the president may later exert privilege upon. Sessions declined to answer Harris’s question as she pushed for a yes or no answer as to whether he had reviewed a policy or rule that was in writing.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) then objected, saying Harris was not allowing Sessions to answer the question.

“Chairman, the witness should be allowed to answer the question," McCain said.

As Sessions chuckled at the commotion, Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said he would run his own committee but instructed Harris to allow Sessions to answer.

Sessions then gave a winding answer that exhausted the rest of Harris’s time, and he did not answer whether he had seen a written rule.

  • Trump, in Zigzag, Calls House Republicans’ Health Bill ‘Mean’ (The New York Times) President Trump on Tuesday bluntly derided a House attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act as “mean," and in doing so, injected himself in a brewing Senate battle that his fellow Republicans had prayed he would avoid. At a White House lunch with more than a dozen Republican senators, Mr. Trump alerted his guests that a bill passed by the House this spring - one he lauded last month in the Rose Garden as a “great plan" that was “very, very incredibly well-crafted" - was now “mean".

  • Top aides talked Trump out of firing Mueller: report (The Hill) President Trump was considering firing Robert Mueller as special counsel leading the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election but was talked down by top aides, according to a new report. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Trump was angered by reports that Mueller was close to fired FBI Director James Comey and entertained the idea of firing the special counsel. Sources told The Times that staff worked to talk Trump out of firing Mueller, what they viewed would have been a disastrous decision for the administration.

  • Bucking trend, insurer Centene expands ACA coverage (BenefitsPro) Health insurer Centene Corp. plans a broad expansion of its Obamacare offerings next year at a time when many of its big rivals are retreating from the program. Centene said Tuesday that it would sell Affordable Care Act plans in three additional states: Kansas, Missouri and Nevada. The company also said it will expand in six states (Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Texas and Washington) where it already offers Obamacare plans. Centene covered 1.2 million people in ACA plans as of March 31, making it one of the biggest sellers of the plans. About 12.2 million people selected individual ACA plans for this year, so before expansion Centene covered about 10% of the market.

  • New map shows likely premium increases under AHCA by county (BenefitsPro)

Get ready, America - health care premiums are going up, if Republicans in the Senate pass the American Health Care Act - and maybe even if they don’t. And it’s not going to be pretty.

The CBO says premiums would rise under the AHCA by an average of 20 percent in 2018 for those who buy coverage directly from an insurer or from an exchange.


  • Macron Says Door Is Always Open Until Brexit Is Complete (Bloomberg) French President Emmanuel Macron meets with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May in Paris.

  • Talks about Brexit talks, but no date for negotiation (Reuters) British officials held "talks about talks" with the European Union's Brexit man in Brussels on Monday but actual negotiations, scheduled to start in a week's time, may be delayed by political upheaval in London. As Prime Minister Theresa May tried to shore up her authority after losing her Conservative government's majority in an election she had called to strengthen her hand in the EU talks, her Brexit Secretary David Davis said negotiations may not now start on June 19 as May had previously said.

  • 30 Taken to Hospitals After Massive London High-Rise Blaze (Bloomberg) A massive fire raced through a high-rise apartment building in west London early Wednesday, sending at least 30 people to hospitals, emergency officials said. Flames shot from windows all the way up the side of the 27-story Grenfell Tower in North Kensington as firefighters battled the blaze, and a plume of smoke could be seen for several miles. Picture from Huge fire engulfs London tower block, fatalities reported (CNBC)


  • Germany Builds an Election Firewall to Fight Russian Hackers (Bloomberg) To guard against mischief similar to what Russia instigated in the U.S. last year and may have sought to do in France this spring, the Germans are shoring up their defenses. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is calling for a law that would allow the country to “hack back" and wipe out attacking servers. The BSI this year is hiring 180 people - from lawyers to coders - and will embed experts with the election watchdog to protect the vote. The agency has set up cybersecurity response teams to clean up after attacks and help infiltrated government agencies keep computer systems from collapsing. In May the BSI held talks with counterparts such as France’s online security agency to gather information on thwarting attacks like one that targeted the presidential campaign of Emmanuel Macron.

Saudi Arabia

Senators voted 47-53 on advancing the resolution, falling short of the simple majority needed to move forward. GOP Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.) Todd Young (Ind.) and Dean Heller (Nev.) voted with most Democrats to advance it.

Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bill Nelson(Fla.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Mark Warner (Va.) voted against moving the measure.

The motion faced an uphill climb in the Senate, despite growing concerns about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen's civil war.


  • Trump gives U.S. military authority to set Afghan troop levels: U.S. official (Reuters) U.S. President Donald Trump has given Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to set troop levels in Afghanistan, a U.S. official told Reuters on Tuesday, opening the door for future troop increases requested by the U.S. commander. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no immediate decision had been made about the troop levels, which are now set at about 8,400. The Pentagon declined to comment.


  • China May output, retail sales steady but investment cools (Reuters) China's factory output and retail sales grew at a steady pace in May but investment slowed, reinforcing views that the world's second-largest economy will soon start to lose some momentum as lending costs rise and the property market cools. Global concerns about China have resurfaced since Moody's Investors Service downgraded its credit ratings last month, saying it expects the country's financial strength will erode in coming years as growth slows and debt continues to rise.

But most analysts predict only a gradual loss of momentum in coming months, especially as the government is keen to maintain economic and financial market stability ahead of a major political leadership reshuffle in autumn.

May data released on Wednesday appeared to reinforce that consensus view, with still solid factory output and retail sales, and only a slight slowdown in fixed asset investment.

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