Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Today's Headlines

  • Erdogan Crackdown Continues Before ‘Important’ Announcement. Turkey ordered faculty heads at all the country’s universities to resign, a day before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes an “important announcement” and as authorities expanded their roundup of thousands of soldiers with alleged links to the weekend’s failed coup. The lira plunged after state-run TRT reported that Turkey’s Council of Higher Education is seeking the resignation of 1,577 deans at both state and private universities -- a measure reminiscent of a coup in 1980, after which the council was set up to increase state control over education. Erdogan refused to elaborate on the objective of Wednesday’s announcement, which a presidential official said would boost social cohesion and Turkey’s democratic credentials. Erdogan clashed with academics earlier this year, when more than 1,000 of them signed a petition criticizing the government’s handling of the long-running battle with the Kurds and calling for peace.
  • Hollande Cautions French on Climate of Fear After Terror in Nice. President Francois Hollande urged the French not to give in to panic as minor security incidents get national media play and political debate about his government’s counter-terrorism measures intensifies. Among the incidents receiving widespread attention Tuesday were a woman and her daughters who were hospitalized after a knife attack at a holiday village in the French Alps and the evacuation of a hotel after a client threatened violence. “Terrorists want to disseminate fear, they want to divide us, to spread a message of hatred, make us rise up against each other and create havoc,” Hollande said at a press conference in Lisbon. “My duty is to see that we’re united.”
  • 'Toxic' Italy Could Pull Europe Down, Warns Fratzscher. (video)
  • Cameron Watt: Italian Banks 'Material Issue' for Italy. (video)
  • Ukrainian Army Deaths at Most Since 2015 as Conflict Worsens. Ukraine’s army suffered its deadliest month since August 2015 as international diplomacy fails to stem more than two years of fighting in the nation’s east. Seven soldiers were killed and 14 wounded in the past 24 hours, the biggest daily death toll since May, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Tuesday. That brings the number of fatalities in July to 30. The casualties were spread across the conflict zone, where government troops have been battling pro-Russian insurgents since April 2014.
  • China Fuels Speculation Debt-for-Equity Swaps Starting Soon. China’s cabinet fueled speculation that the nation is pressing ahead with debt-to-equity swaps that would give lenders stakes in some companies as part of tackling a build-up in corporate leverage and bad loans. A brief reference in a statement on Monday to letting financial institutions hold stakes in companies in a trial indicated that the swaps are coming soon, according to China Merchants Securities Co. analyst Ma Kunpeng. Caixin magazine reported that the State Council was signaling the start of the program, citing an unidentified person close to the authorities. Large lenders have previously expressed some wariness, with China Construction Bank Corp. Chairman Wang Hongzhang saying in March that he wouldn’t want to see a plan that simply converted “bad debt into bad equity.” 
  • German ZEW Investor Sentiment Deteriorates in Brexit Aftermath. German investor confidence deteriorated in July on concern that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union could weaken the region’s fragile economic recovery. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said its index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict economic developments six months ahead, fell to minus 6.8 from 19.2 in June. That’s the lowest level since November 2012. Economists in a Bloomberg survey predicted a drop to 9.
  • Volvo Cuts North American Market Outlook as Orders Slump. Volvo AB cut its outlook for the North American truck market for the third time this year after stagnant freight volumes and excess inventory drove orders in the region down by nearly one-third in the second quarter. Truck orders in North America fell 29 percent, and manufacturers as a whole will probably sell about 240,000 vehicles there this year, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based company said Tuesday in a statement. That’s 10,000 less than its previous forecast and would be 20 percent fewer than in 2015. Slowing demand in the U.S. and the Middle East and recession in Brazil have wreaked havoc on truckmakers’ expectations for the year. 
  • Europe Stocks Drop in Thin Trading as Miners, Akzo Nobel Decline. (video) Declines in miners dragged European stocks down from a three-week high, while the earnings season picked up pace. Rio Tinto Group dropped 3.5 percent after a weaker-than-expected increase in its quarterly iron ore production. Chemical producer Akzo Nobel NV, among 18 Stoxx Europe 600 Index companies reporting results today, slid 4.3 percent after its sales missed analyst forecasts. A rebound in the Stoxx 600 is losing steam, with the measure down 0.4 percent at the close. It fell as much as 1 percent earlier.
  • Cybersecurity Is Biggest Risk of Autonomous Cars, Survey Finds. Cybersecurity is the biggest concern for companies evaluating risk in the nascent self-driving vehicle industry, according to a survey conducted by Munich Re. The world’s second-biggest reinsurer found that 55 percent of corporate risk managers surveyed named cybersecurity as their top concern about self-driving cars. Cybersecurity included the potential hacking of an automated car’s data systems as well as the failure of smart road infrastructure, Munich Re said in an e-mail.
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