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posted on 26 July 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Dollar Steady, Oil Up, Gold Down, Obamacare Repeal Defeated, Improper Obama Spying, Tillerson Time Off, New Greek Bonds, IMF To Beijing?, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 26 July 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 markets mixed as oil extends gains; Fed awaited (CNBC) Stocks in Asia were mixed on Wednesday as oil prices extended gains and the dollar was treading water ahead of the end of the Federal Open Market Committee's two-day meeting. The dollar index held steady at 94.111 at 12:17 p.m. HK/SIN after recovering slightly in the overnight session from a 13-month low. Brent crude rose 0.78% to trade at $50.59 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.98% to trade at $48.36. Spot gold fell 0.1% to $1,246.94 per ounce at 0327 GMT. U.S. gold futures for August delivery fell 0.5% to $1,246.30 per ounce.

asia.pac.2017.jul.26

U.S.

  • Senate blocks proposal to repeal 'Obamacare' (Associated Press) The Senate has blocked a wide-ranging proposal by Republicans to repeal much of former President Barack Obama's health care law and replace it with a more restrictive plan. Senators voted 57-43 late Tuesday to reject the plan in the first vote on an amendment to the bill. Those voting "no" included nine defecting Republicans. The vote underscored problems Republicans will have in winning enough votes to recast Obama's statute. See also Senate rejects ObamaCare repeal, replacement amendment (The Hill).
  • Senators on hot mic: Trump is ‘crazy,’ ‘I’m worried’ (The Washington Post) At the end of a Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday morning, someone sitting near Chairman Susan Collins (R-Maine) didn’t switch off a microphone. Collins was recorded discussing the federal budget and President Trump’s lack of familiarity with the details of governing with a colleague - apparently Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), the ranking Democrat on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies subcommittee.

After Reed praises Collins’s leadership of the hearing, she laments the administration’s handling of spending.

I swear, [the Office of Management and Budget] just went through and whenever there was ‘grant,’ they just X it out," Collins says. “With no measurement, no thinking about it, no metrics, no nothing. It’s just incredibly irresponsible."

Yes," Reed replies. “I think - I think he’s crazy," apparently referring to the president. “I mean, I don’t say that lightly and as a kind of a goofy guy."

I’m worried," Collins replies.

  • Newly declassified memos detail extent of improper Obama-era NSA spying (The Hill) The National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation violated specific civil liberty protections during the Obama years by improperly searching and disseminating raw intelligence on Americans or failing to promptly delete unauthorized intercepts, according to newly declassified memos that provide some of the richest detail to date on the spy agencies’ ability to obey their own rules.
  • Manafort Talks With Senate Investigators to Discuss June 2016 Meeting With Russians (The New York Times) President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, met with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators on Tuesday to discuss the June 2016 meeting between a Russian lawyer and Mr. Trump’s inner circle that was set up to receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton, according to a person familiar with the discussion. The meeting came as the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that it issued a subpoena for Mr. Manafort to appear before the panel today (Tuesday 26 July), as part of its investigation into possible ties between President Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. The person said that Mr. Manafort’s legal team had offered to provide a transcript of Tuesday’s interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • State Department says Secretary Tillerson is 'taking a little time off' amid tensions in the White House (Business Insider) Heather Nauert, the spokesperson for the State Department, surprised reporters on Tuesday by saying that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is "taking a little time off." Tillerson's absence comes amid reports that he's considering leaving the State Department.
  • White House purge: ‘I’m going to fire everybody,’ says Scaramucci (The Washington Post) Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, threatened on Tuesday to fire his entire staff in an effort to stem the leaking that has plagued President Trump's administration since almost the first day he took office. See also Scaramucci scales back talk of firings (The Hill).

UK

  • There’s only one woman on the UK Brexit negotiating team - here’s why that matters (The Conversation) It has emerged that the team being sent to Brussels to lead on talks to take Britain out of the EU includes just one woman - out of nine named negotiators. This imbalance is not only embarrassing. It’s negligent. Failing to include women on the frontline of this incredibly important process jeopardises the quality of the negotiations. The author asserts that men don’t know (or do) what’s best for women

Greece

  • Greece to Return to Bond Market After Three-Year Hiatus (Bloomberg) Greece will return to the bond market after a three-year hiatus, banking on investor interest in its recovery story. The country, which was the epicenter of the European sovereign crisis that began in 2009, is looking to sell five-year bonds, according to an Athens Stock Exchange filing. It is also inviting holders of 4.75% bonds due in 2019 to tender the notes for cash. The bonds are expected to be priced on Tuesday.

North Korea

Dunford’s comments, sure to be heard in Beijing and Pyongyang, come as the Trump administration is hinting, with various degrees of subtlety, that it is willing to kill Kim Jong Un, the North Korean despot.

China

  • IMF could be based in Beijing in a decade: Lagarde (Reuters) The International Monetary Fund could be based in Beijing in a decade if growth trends for China and other big emerging markets continue and these are reflected in the Fund's voting structure, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said on Monday.
  • China to convert all giant state companies into joint-stock firms by end-2017 (Reuters) All big Chinese companies owned by the central government will be registered as limited liability companies or joint-stock firms by the end of the year, as Beijing moves to make its state-owned giants more nimble, efficient and modern. About 90% of China's state-owned firms have already completed the process, which has helped improve their governance structures and management, the cabinet said in a statement on its website on Wednesday.

Taiwan

  • Beijing's crackdown on Hong Kong is alienating Taiwan (Nikkei Asian Review) The governing principle of Hong Kong, summed up in the phrase "one country, two systems", was originally proposed by China to persuade Taiwan to accept rule by the mainland. Hong Kong was supposed to show how this creative principle would work in practice.

But after two decades, the experiment has effectively been called off. And as Beijing tightens its grip on the former British colony, people in Taiwan increasingly see themselves as separate from the Chinese. Now like-minded people in Hong Kong are feeling similarly alienated.

Beijing's heavy-handed approach is forging an alliance between Hong Kong and Taiwan against it. Less than a month before the 20th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China, lawmakers from Taiwan's ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party and its small coalition partner, the New Power Party formed a caucus to deepen exchanges with their pro-democracy counterparts in the Chinese territory.

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