Sunday, February 19, 2017

Today's Headlines

  • Trump Seen Winning Support to Declare China as Yuan Manipulator. President Donald Trump would win congressional support if he declared China a currency manipulator as pledged during his election campaign, according to two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican, said on a panel at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday that Congress has an opportunity to unite around action against China.
  • Iran Mocks Trump Threats, Sets Sights on Gulf Nation Deals. Iran’s foreign minister mocked being “put on notice” in a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump and said his country is focused on building Persian Gulf alliances. Mohammad Javad Zarif prompted laughter from a crowd of trans-Atlantic military and political officials at a global security conference on Sunday by observing that “tweet is now very fashionable’’ before answering whether his country was concerned about the possibility of more U.S. sanctions.
  • European Bond Investors Seek Havens as Political Risks Increase. European bond investors gravitated toward the safest assets on Friday as political and economic developments pointed to a muddier outlook for the continent. German bunds led gains among core euro-region securities after French Socialist Party presidential candidate Benoit Hamon said he’s in talks with far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon about a potential single candidacy. That boosts the chance that the anti-euro Marine Le Pen may not face a centrist candidate in the final round of voting in May. Austrian and Dutch securities also advanced.
  • Japan’s Exports Increase Less Than Forecast in January. The value of exports rose 1.3 percent in January from a year earlier. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg indicated a 5 percent increase. Import values climbed 8.5 percent over the same period, versus an estimated 4.8 percent rise. This was the first increase since December 2014. 
  • OPEC Wins Investors Back as Cuts Prompt Record Bets on Oil Rise. Investor optimism that West Texas Intermediate oil prices will rise reached an all-time high as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries delivers on pledges to reduce production. The International Energy Agency said the group has achieved a record 90 percent initial compliance with an output accord. The U.S. benchmark has traded between $50.71 and $54.34 since Jan. 10 as balancing forces -- the OPEC curbs and the U.S. shale boom -- have kept volatility to a minimum.
  • Yen Gains Weigh on Japan Stocks; Unilever in Focus. Japan’s Topix fell for a third straight session as the yen maintained a three-day advance. Gold increased after climbing for seven out of the past eight weeks. Trading in Kraft and its erstwhile target remains in focus on the back of Friday’s surge in both stocks. People familiar with the talks at the weekend said 3G Capital and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. decided Unilever’s negative response made a friendly transaction impossible. The Topix dropped 0.5 percent at 9:31 a.m. in Tokyo, after retreating 0.1 percent last week. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.4 percent and South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.1 percent. New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 0.1 percent.
Wall Street Journal:
  • Cleveland Fed chief 'comfortable' raising rates if economy keeps performing. Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester said on Monday she would be comfortable raising interest rates at this point if the economy kept performing the way it did. "We did have a temporary oil price shock which held down inflation, we had the dollar appreciation which held down inflation. Those have passed through and the trend in inflation is, it's moving up," Mester said at a central banking seminar in Singapore. "So I'm comfortable that inflation is near its goal and moving towards its goal... I'd be comfortable with an increase in the (federal) funds rate at this point, if the economy keeps going the way it's going."

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