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posted on 06 February 2018

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Plunge, Dollar Firm, Oil Down, Gold Up, Turmoil In Global Markets And Wash. DC, Dow Open Indicated Down 1200, US Oil Surge, ECB Taper, High Stakes In Syria, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 06 February 2018

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, published Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 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.pac.2018.feb.06

U.S.

  • Dow futures point to a more than 1,200-point fall at the open (CNBC) Stocks looked set for another rocky opening and a volatile trading day Tuesday. Stock futures slid into negative territory in Monday evening trade: Dow futures were down 826 points, and S&P 500 futures were lower by 76.5 points as of 11:25 p.m. ET.

The implied open for the Dow, based on futures, was a decline of 1,203.75.

Futures are volatile and late night prices may look far different from stocks at the opening bell.

  • GOP probes put new focus on State (The Hill) Republicans have former President Obama’s State Department in their crosshairs as they question whether FBI and Justice Department investigations into President Trump were tainted by political bias and influence from key figures in Hillary Clinton's orbit. Congressional Republicans have signaled that they are looking at whether the State Department, then run by John Kerry, passed along information from Clinton’s allies that may have been used by the FBI to launch an investigation into whether the Trump campaign had improper contacts with Russia. A highly redacted criminal referral from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offers new clues about the GOP probes.
  • Committee Votes to Release Democratic Rebuttal to G.O.P. Russia Memo (The New York Times) The House Intelligence Committee voted on Monday to make public a classified Democratic memorandum rebutting Republican claims that the F.B.I. and the Justice Department had abused their powers to wiretap a former Trump campaign official, setting up a possible clash with President Trump. The vote gives Mr. Trump five days to review the Democratic memo and determine whether he will try to block its release. A decision to stop it could lead to an ugly standoff between the president, his top law enforcement and intelligence advisers and Democrats on Capitol Hill.
  • Trump: Democrats muted State of the Union reaction 'treasonous,' 'un-American' (NBC News) President Donald Trump called Democrats' stone-faced reaction to his State of the Union address "treasonous" and "un-American" during a visit to a manufacturing plant in Cincinnati, Ohio Monday. Econintersect: We are reminded of a famous quote from French King Louis XIV: "L'etat, c'est moi".
  • The Times Asks Court to Unseal Documents on Surveillance of Carter Page (The New York Times) The New York Times notified the Justice Department on Monday that it is asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to unseal secret documents related to the wiretapping of Carter Page, the onetime Trump campaign adviser at the center of a disputed memo written by Republican staffers on the House Intelligence Committee. The motion is unusual. No such wiretapping application materials apparently have become public since Congress first enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978. That law regulates electronic spying on domestic soil - the interception of phone calls and emails - undertaken in the name of monitoring suspected spies and terrorists, as opposed to wiretapping for investigating ordinary criminal suspects.

Normally, even the existence of such material is a closely guarded secret. While applications for criminal wiretaps often eventually become public, the government has refused to disclose the contents of applications for intelligence wiretaps - even to defendants who are later prosecuted on the basis of information derived from them.

But President Trump lowered the shield of secrecy surrounding such materials on Friday by declassifying the Republican memo about Mr. Page, after finding that the public interest in disclosing its contents outweighed any need to protect the information. Because Mr. Trump did so, the Times argues, there is no longer a justification “for the Page warrant orders and application materials to be withheld in their entirety," and “disclosure would serve the public interest."

  • Bipartisan immigration bill surfaces, Trump knocks it down (Associated Press) A bipartisan immigration proposal surfaced Monday in the Senate, only to be quickly knocked down by President Donald Trump via Twitter. Firing back, one senator pushing the narrowly focused compromise said Trump's "unconstructive engagement" has hurt congressional efforts to strike a broader deal.

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said they were proposing legislation that would provide a pathway to legal status - potentially including citizenship - for immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children, known as "Dreamers." It would also require the government to strengthen border security by 2020, but stops short of specifically providing the $25 billion Trump wants for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

  • Trump’s Lawyers Want Him to Refuse an Interview in Russia Inquiry (The New York Times) Lawyers for President Trump have advised him against sitting down for a wide-ranging interview with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to four people briefed on the matter, raising the specter of a monthslong court battle over whether the president must answer questions under oath. His lawyers are concerned that the president, who has a history of making false statements and contradicting himself, could be charged with lying to investigators. Their stance puts them at odds with Mr. Trump, who has said publicly and privately that he is eager to speak with Mr. Mueller as part of the investigation into possible ties between his associates and Russia’s election interference, and whether he obstructed justice.

Mr. Trump’s decision about whether to speak to prosecutors, expected in the coming weeks, will shape one of the most consequential moments of the investigation. Refusing to sit for an interview opens the possibility that Mr. Mueller will subpoena the president to testify before a grand jury, setting up a court fight that would dramatically escalate the investigation and could be decided by the Supreme Court.

  • How Shale Production Has Driven U.S. Oil Surge (U.S. Energy Information Agency) Liquid production - both crude oil and condensate - from tight rock (aka shale) currently accounts for about 51% of total production. A decade ago, in November 2008, production from tight formations accounted for only 7% of total U.S. production. Non-tight oil production has been mostly constant over the previous decade:

oil.us.production.2005.2017

EU

  • ECB Cuts Asset Purchase Program To 30 Billion Euro (TalkMarkets) The European Central Bank (ECB) reduced its bond-buying program to 69% in January, the first full month since the apex bank announced its balance sheet normalization. The central bank had announced in October it will reduce its asset-buying program to 30 billion euros per month in January 2018 but that the bank will continue to buy sizeable quantities of corporate bonds, hence, the reason corporate-sector bonds rose to 19%.

Asset purchase program is scheduled to end in September, depending on economic numbers in 2018. However, the region’s economy is growing at the fastest pace in a decade and the week inflation rate has started picking up despite rising foreign exchange rate. Still, Mario Draghi said the European Central Bank still can’t claim success yet.

euraud.2018.feb.02

Poland

  • Poland's New Holocaust Denial Law Erases History (The Real News Network) A new law passed in Poland criminalizes references to Polish complicity in the holocaust and is designed to shore up the rightwing Polish government's nationalist credentials. Carol Schaeffer discusses the law's background.

Syria

  1. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been gaining the upper hand in the conflict.
  2. The bold move for Kurdish independence in northern Iraq, adjacent to Syria.
  3. Syrian Kurds have risen in prominence in the regions adjacent to Turkey and Iraq.

Japan

China

  • Could the Renminbi Challenge the Dollar? (Project Syndicate) China’s rapid economic growth, coupled with savvy monetary management by its leaders, has internationalized the renminbi to a degree that scarcely could have been imagined just a few decades ago. But if China’s leaders ever want to challenge the US for global currency dominance, they will need to think and act more radically, according to Christopher Smart, the author of this piece. He concludes:

Whether the renminbi joins the global currency club will depend less on international institutions than on China’s domestic policies. For the renminbi to become a true global currency, it needs the support of deep, liquid financial markets, which may take decades to develop, even if the Chinese economy continues to grow without interruption. And if Chinese assets are to become a trusted safe haven in times of crisis, the country will probably need to enact political reforms that go well beyond what the current CPC leadership envisions. Then, and only then, should you consider putting your retirement savings in a Chinese bank.

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