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posted on 19 June 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks And Dollar Up, Oil And Gold Down, Trump Polls Weaken, London Van Rams Muslims, Macron Sweeps, US Downs Syrian Jet, India Turning Green, Abe Hurt By Scandal, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 19 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

  • Asian markets trade higher as markets await political developments in Europe, London attack eyed (CNBC) Asian bourses strengthened on Monday as markets geared up ahead of Brexit negotiations between the U.K. and the European Union and kept an eye on a deadly attack on worshipers leaving a mosque in London. The dollar was firmer at 97.172 against a basket of rival currencies compared to levels around 97.115 seen in the previous session. Brent crude declined 0.27% to trade at $47.24 a barrel and U.S. crude shed 0.29% to trade at $44.61. Spot gold fell 0.1% to $1,252.40 per ounce as of 0428 GMT. It hit a fresh low of $1,250.80 during the session, its lowest since May 24. U.S. gold futures for August delivery fell 0.2% to $1,254.20 an ounce.

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  • Oil prices dip on further rise in U.S. drilling, demand slowdown (Reuters) Oil prices dipped on Monday, weighed down by a continuing expansion in U.S. drilling that has helped to maintain high global supplies despite an OPEC-led initiative to cut production to tighten the market. Signs of faltering demand have also prompted weakening sentiment, dropping prices to levels comparable to when the output cuts were first announced late last year.

  • The Forward Curve for Oil Prices Suddenly Looks Awful for OPEC (Bloomberg) As if a mini-collapse in oil prices wasn’t bad enough for OPEC, the pattern in which futures contracts are trading years from now has flipped into the worst possible structure for the exporter group.

Brent and West Texas Intermediate crudes, down almost 15 percent since late May, are both trading in contango, where forward prices get higher all the way into the next decade. While it’s a structure that normally denotes weak demand for spot cargoes, the price pattern could also be bad news for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as it can sometimes tempt producers outside the group to lock in output for future years.

U.S.

  • With Whole Foods, Amazon on collision course with Wal-Mart (Reuters) When Wal-Mart Stores Inc bought online retailer Jet.com for $3 billion last year, it marked a crucial moment - the world's largest brick-and-mortar retailer, after years of ceding e-commerce leadership to arch rival Amazon, intended to compete.

On Friday, Amazon.com Inc countered. With its $14 billion purchase of grocery chain Whole Foods Market Inc, the largest e-commerce company announced its intention to take on Wal-Mart in the brick-and-mortar world.

The two deals make it clear that the lines that divided traditional retail from e-commerce are disappearing and sector dominance will no longer be bound by e-commerce or brick-and-mortar, but by who is better at both.

Trump’s job performance wins approval from only 35 percent of the public, while 64 percent disapprove, according to a new poll released late last week from The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. That is one of the worst findings yet for Trump in any major survey.

The same poll found that 65 percent of Americans think their president has little or no respect for the nation’s democratic institutions and traditions.

  • Two years ago, they couldn't look away. Now some Trump supporters are tuning out (Chicago Tribune) President Donald Trump is struggling to keep his viewers engaged. Governing turns out to be less entertaining than the spectacle of a political horse race - especially when complicated by conflict-of-interest scandals, a widening criminal inquiry and a policy agenda bogged down by infighting and partisanship. The president's die-hard supporters - the sort who make a pilgrimage to Trump Tower to ride the golden escalator - say they tune out much of the controversy, including the stream of news about the congressional and FBI investigations into alleged ties between Trump's campaign and Russia. And while many of them say Trump has met their expectations during his first five months in office, they also have a sinking feeling that those obstructing him will keep him from reaching his full potential as president.

  • 5 facts about illegal immigration in the U.S. (Pew Research Center) Here are three from this article:

UK

  • Van rams worshippers leaving London mosque, killing at least one (Reuters) A van ploughed into worshippers leaving a London mosque on Monday, killing at least one person and injuring several in what Britain's largest Muslim organization said was a deliberate act of Islamophobia.

  • Growth will be faster than expected but UK needs economic reboot from government says accountancy body (City A.M.) The government’s failure to address problems in the economy is threatening UK growth, despite an improving outlook over the rest of the year, according to an influential accountancy body. The UK economy will grow by 1.7% this year, faster than the previously forecast expansion of 1.6%, according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW). Economic growth slowed in the first quarter to only 0.2%, the slowest in a year, but the current and remaining quarters are expected to show a faster rate of growth, with exports becoming a bigger contributor than in previous years. This would represent only a slight slowdown from the 1.8% GDP growth recorded last year.

  • Real wages fall at fastest pace in nearly three years as Britons feel the inflation squeeze (City A.M.) Real wages are falling at the fastest pace for three years as the pressure of rapidly rising prices threatens to squeeze Britons' ability to keep up growth-boosting spending.

Regular pay increased by only 1.7 per cent in February to April this year compared to the same period last year, the weakest rate of growth since January 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), while pay including bonuses rose by 2.1 per cent.

Inflation far outstripped that, with prices rising by 2.7 per cent in the year to April, raising fears the UK economy will slow further in the coming months.

France

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Macron’s Republic on the Move movement is on track to win about 350 seats in the 577-strong National Assembly, according to early results. That would be the biggest majority in 15 years. But the number of voters turned off by the political process highlighted the urgency of the job facing the country’s 39-year-old leader.

Sunday’s turnout of about 44 percent was the lowest ever for a French legislative election, and about 10 percentage points below the previous record, a reminder that almost half of the vote in April’s first round of the presidential election went to candidates opposed to the open borders and free markets of the European Union that Macron favors.

The low turnout levels disproportionately hurt populist candidates while lifting those of Macron’s party. The young and working class people who propelled Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Le Pen to strong showings in April’s presidential race largely stayed home in the legislative election’s first round. According to an Ipsos poll, 63 percent of those aged 18 to 24 didn’t vote, more than 10 percent above the overall rate. Meanwhile, a whopping 66 percent of blue-collar workers and 61 percent of service-sector workers didn’t bother showing up.

Syria

  • U.S. warplane downs Syrian army jet in Raqqa province (Reuters) A U.S. warplane shot down a Syrian army jet on Sunday in the southern Raqqa countryside, with Washington saying the jet had dropped bombs near U.S.-backed forces and Damascus saying the plane was downed while flying a mission against Islamic State militants. A Syrian army statement released on Syrian state television said the plane crashed and the pilot was missing in the first such downing of a Syrian jet by the United States since the start of the conflict in 2011.

Iran

“A number of mid-range surface-to-surface missiles" were launched from bases in Iran’s western border provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdistan, delivering “fatal and crushing blows" to targets in Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor area, according to a statement from the IRGC’s office of public affairs, published by Tasnim.

The public affairs office said the missiles were launched in response to June 7 attacks in which gunmen opened fire on Iran’s parliament and suicide bombers hit the mausoleum of the late Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, killing at least 17 people. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

India

  • India, Once a Coal Goliath, Is Fast Turning Green (The New York Times) Just a few years ago, the world watched nervously as India went on a building spree of coal-fired power plants, more than doubling its capacity and claiming that more were needed. Coal output, officials said, would almost triple, to 1.5 billion tons, by 2020. India’s plans were cited by American critics of the Paris climate accord as proof of the futility of advanced nations trying to limit their carbon output. But now, even as President Trump pulls the United States out of the pact, India has undergone an astonishing turnaround, driven in great part by a steep fall in the cost of solar power. Experts now say that India not only has no need of any new coal-fired plants for at least a decade, given that existing plants are running below 60% of capacity, but that after that it could rely on renewable sources for all its additional power needs.

Japan

  • Abe's Popularity Slides as Mounting Japan Scandals Take Toll (Bloomberg) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s grip on the ruling Liberal Democratic Party appeared to be slipping as concerns about cronyism and the rushed passage of an “anti-conspiracy" law triggered his biggest drop in support since taking office in 2012. After repeated denials, government documents emerged last week pointing to his office’s possible involvement in favors given to a close Abe associate who was opening a veterinary college in a special economic zone. His coalition also pushed through legislation that expands government surveillance powers, sparking criticism that his party cut short the latest parliamentary session to avoid further questions over the school scandal. Three of four polls show support for Abe's government hovering around 50%, with a fourth coming in at 36%.

North Korea

  • North Korea Accuses U.S. of 'Mugging' Diplomats at JFK Airport (Bloomberg) North Korea has accused U.S. officials of assaulting a delegation at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport by forcibly seizing a diplomatic package they were carrying. The group was returning from a United Nations conference on Friday when the incident occurred, the official Korean Central News Agency said on Sunday, citing a foreign ministry spokesman. KCNA said that more than 20 police officers and others:

"made a violent assault like gangsters to take away the diplomatic package from the DPRK diplomats who were in possession of a valid diplomatic courier certificate. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK regards this mugging by the U.S. as an intolerable act of infringement upon the sovereignty of the DPRK and a malicious provocation, and strongly condemns it."

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