Thursday, January 05, 2017

Today's Headlines

  • China Media Warn Trump of ‘Big Sticks’ If He Seeks Trade War. (video) Chinese state media warned U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that he’ll be met with “big sticks” if he tries to ignite a trade war or further strain ties. “There are flowers around the gate of China’s Ministry of Commerce, but there are also big sticks hidden inside the door -- they both await Americans,” the Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper wrote in an editorial Thursday. The article was published in response to Trump picking Robert Lighthizer, a former trade official in the Ronald Reagan administration who has criticized Beijing’s trade practices, as U.S. trade representative. The latest salvo from state-run outlets followed others aimed at Peter Navarro, a University of California at Irvine economics professor and critic of China’s trade practices whom Trump named to head a newly formed White House National Trade Council. Those choices plus billionaire Wilbur Ross, the nominee for commerce secretary, will form an “iron curtain” of protectionism in Trump’s economic and trade team, according to the paper.
  • Trump's Trade Team Suggests His Hardnosed Campaign Talk Was No Bluff. The makeup of President-elect Donald Trump’s trade team suggests he wasn’t joking when he promised voters to shake things up. On the campaign trail, Trump portrayed an America that has been shortchanged by bad trade deals and unscrupulous trading partners, leading to the hollowing out of the nation’s manufacturing sector. He promised to label China a currency manipulator and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
  • Draghi’s German Problem Flares Up as Inflation Surge Stirs Anger. Mario Draghi’s German problem has come back to haunt him. In a week that revealed a jump in inflation in Europe’s largest economy, commentators are lining up to urge the European Central Bank president to end his ultra-loose monetary policy. From the allegation that savers face devastation to Bild newspaper’s call to “Raise rates now!” Draghi is once again facing the wrath of Germans fretting that the guardian of price stability will let them down. “The debate is going to get louder, particularly in Germany where people are bred to fear inflation,” said Stefan Kipar, an economist at BayernLB. “But one mustn’t forget that the ECB is setting monetary policy not only for Germany, but for the whole euro area, and that even in Germany the underlying price-pressure remains moderate and inflation should stay below 2 percent in the upcoming year.”
  • French Poll Shows Fillon, Le Pen, Macron in Tight Race. In next April 23’s first round, depending on who else runs, the center-right’s Fillon would receive between 23 and 28 percent, the anti-immigration Le Pen would receive between 22 and 24 percent, and former Economy Minister Macron between 16 and 24 percent, according to a Elabe poll for Les Echos. The top two qualify for a run off May 7.
  • Reflationistas Beware as Global Price Revival Belies Risks Ahead. From goods leaving the factory floor in China’s industrial towns to gasoline at the pump in Europe and America, prices that stayed low for years are finally going up. So that’s a good sign, right? After a period of central bankers fretting about deflation and resorting to unconventional techniques like negative rates to respond, the easy answer is “yes.” But whether faster price gains mean that the world is finally healing from the Great Recession may be revealed only by what happens next. In the rosy case, the global economy is now being offered a tonic by resurgent pricing for key commodities such as oil and iron ore, and a buoyant U.S. entering the presidency of Donald Trump will help drive demand, wages and investment everywhere. In another scenario, a litany of political risks from Trump himself to the potential bungling of Britain’s exit from the European Union await the unwary, and reflation could end up crimping consumer spending while failing to propel wages and investment.
  • Jet-Buying Binge Nears End as Boeing, Airbus Brace for Slowdown. The unprecedented jetliner shopping spree that’s spanned more than a decade is drawing to a close. That’s bad news for Boeing Co. and Airbus Group SE, which face slowing jet sales and the highest level of airplane-delivery deferrals in at least 15 years. Final 2016 tallies to be unveiled over the next few days will probably show aircraft orders trailing shipments, a sign of a weakening market. Airline profits are poised to fall from last year’s peak, with even Persian Gulf juggernauts Emirates and Etihad Airways PJSC tempering growth.
  • Odey’s Hedge Fund Slumps 49.5% in Worst Ever Annual Loss.
  • The Strong Dollar Could Bash the Economy—and It’s Just Getting Started. The surging greenback could slam U.S. manufacturing and trigger capital flight from emerging markets.
  • Barclays Flags ‘Black Swan Threats’ to Commodities This Year. (video) Watch out for the unexpected in commodities in 2017. Barclays Plc said raw materials markets from energy to metals face the high likelihood of disruptions, giving a laundry list of possible threats including a default by Venezuela, riots in Chile and a trade war with China. “The new politics of populism and protectionist trade policies have the potential to disrupt global supply and demand assumptions for various commodities,” analysts including Michael Cohen and Dane Davis wrote in a Jan. 5 report. “We see risks skewed to the upside in 2017, based on a high likelihood of disruption risk.”
  • Libyan Oil Port Said to Re-Open as OPEC Nation Boosts Output. Libya is re-opening its last major oil-export terminal and producing at the highest level in more than two years as the war-torn country benefits from an exemption from OPEC output cuts. The Zawiya terminal is preparing to resume exports after the pipeline supplying it was re-opened, an official at the state-run National Oil Corp. said, asking not to be identified for lack of authorization to speak to news media. With Zawiya shipping, all nine of Libya’s main oil ports would be exporting. Eni SpA began drilling an offshore exploratory well northwest of the capital Tripoli and expects to complete it in 65 days, NOC said Thursday on its website.
  • Trump Tells Confidant He Still Opposes AT&T-Time Warner. (video)
  • Mall Companies Fall As Sears Announces Plans to Close Stores. (video)
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