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posted on 12 September 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks And Dollar Up, Oil And Gold Down, Irma Underperformed, Asset Forfeitures Are Big, Brexit Bill Passes, UK Offshore Wide Prices Plummet, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 12 September 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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  • Asian stocks climb and the dollar holds onto gains as North Korea and Irma concerns fade (CNBC) Most indexes in Asia continued their ascent on Tuesday, following a firm lead from Wall Street as concerns faded over the potential damage of Hurricane Irma and as Korean Peninsula tensions took a backseat. The dollar index stood at 91.917 at 12:16 p.m. HK/SIN, holding onto gains made overnight. The index had fallen touched a 2-1/2-year low of 91.011 last Friday. U.S. crude was off 0.1% at $48.02 a barrel after settling 1.2% higher overnight. Brent crude futures edged down 0.17% to trade at $53.75. Spot gold edged 0.2% lower to $1,324.80 an ounce by 0330 GMT, after earlier touching its lowest since Sept. 1.



  • Why Hurricane Irma wasn’t far worse, and how close it came to catastrophe (The Washington Post) Hurricane Irma has wrought havoc all over Florida and is no slouch of a storm. But, while extremely costly, it may not rank among the state’s worst-ever hurricane disasters, as had been feared. Leading up to its back-to-back landfalls in the Florida Keys and on Marco Island, several twists of fortune eased the pain the storm inflicted on the state. And only slight deviations would have made the storm’s outcome much more severe.

The first stroke of good luck for Florida occurred when the center of a Category 5 Irma scraped along Cuba’s north coast. This, of course, turned into Cuba’s misfortune. But Irma’s interaction with land weakened the storm from a potentially catastrophic Category 5 to a Category 3.

Key West then caught the next lucky break. While the storm’s vicious eyewall battered the island and winds gusted over 90 mph, the most intense right-front quadrant of the eyewall, where wind and storm surge are maximized, passed just to its east.

The southwest coast landfall was the next big break because it was just about the least densely populated target it could have chosen. If the right-front quadrant had instead targeted Miami, for example, the storm surge disaster would have been unimaginably bad - akin to the worst-case scenario we wrote about before the storm.

Finally, when Irma’s journey inland over the Florida peninsula near Naples and the eyewall’s trajectory over land helped seal the deal in terms of reduced impact. If the storm center had stayed over the warm Gulf of Mexico on its way up the coast, it would have maintained its power longer, and its right-front quadrant could have battered more population centers, including the very vulnerable Tampa.


  • The GOP, which has demanded the repeal of Obamacare for seven years, has failed to do so despite now controlling both Congress and the White House.
  • A new bill would dole out federal funds to individual states to craft their own health systems instead of having to conform to Obamacare's current rules.
  • Republicans have until Sept. 30 to pass a repeal bill.


  • Nutella Prices in Europe (Twitter) For the WTF file: Nutella costs 40% more in Greece than in Germany. It's not because the Greeks have more money, that's for sure.



  • UK government wins early morning vote to push Brexit bill forward (Financial Times) One of the UK’s biggest constitutional changes in decades came a significant step closer in the early hours of Tuesday when MPs voted by a majority of 36 to move the EU Withdrawal Bill on to the next stage of parliamentary scrutiny. The 326 to 290 vote majority in favour of taking the contentious legislation forward reflected the decision by seven Labour MPs to rebel against their own party and back the government on the legislation, designed to transpose EU law on to the UK’s domestic statute books.
  • The City rebuffs Brexit recruitment worries with the number of jobs up by nearly a third in August (City A.M.) Confidence in the City remains resilient with the number of jobs up by nearly a third in August, compared to the same time last year. According to the latest Robert Walters City Jobs Index, professional job volumes rose by 31% last month compared to the same period in 2016, and up 3% over July. The ongoing recruitment confidence has meant that, so far, concerns over a slowdown in hiring activity due to Brexit jitters have not materialised.
  • UK Offshore Wind Prices Plummet (Twitter) Hinkley Point nuclear plant is not looking very competitive.



  • Catalan Separatists Struggle for Momentum (Bloomberg) The separatists aiming to lead a Catalan breakaway from the rest of Spain next month are losing momentum as a legal offensive against their plans for an illegal referendum deters moderates. An annual demonstration in the regional capital Barcelona, a rallying point for separatists, failed to match the attendance of recent years after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned that anyone helping to stage the ballot set for Oct. 1 risks criminal prosecution.

North Korea

Moreover, it remained wholly unclear whether the additional penalties would persuade North Korea to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile tests - the latest just a week ago, when it detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear device. North Korea claimed that detonation was from a hydrogen bomb.

Although the resolution won unanimous backing from all 15 council members, the weakened penalties reflected the power of Russia and China, which had objected to the original language and could have used their votes to veto the measure.


  • Renminbi extends slide as PBoC lowers midpoint fix (Financial Times) The renminbi extended its slide on Tuesday after China’s central bank lowered the midpoint around which the currency can trade against the US dollar by the most since January. The decline followed the Chinese currency’s worst day in three months on Monday after the People’s Bank of China on Friday dropped a requirement raising the cost of betting on renminbi depreciation, and scrapped a requirement that banks hold reserves against renminbi deposits held in Hong Kong and other offshore centres. On Tuesday, the PBoC set the daily fix - the midpoint around which the renminbi can trade 2% in either direction against the dollar - at Rmb6.5277, which was 0.% softer than the previous day and the most significant weakening since January 9.

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