Macro Links Feb 1st – 10 Million Barrels Per Day

Macro Links Feb 1st – 10 Million Barrels Per Day

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FED UNCHANGED, YELLEN ERA ENDS

Yellen era ends with Fed set for March rate rise – FT

Janet Yellen kept the Federal Reserve on course for a further interest rate rise in March in her final meeting as chair of the central bank, with the inflation outlook strengthening and America’s jobs market continuing to heat up. Ms Yellen is days away from handing over to her successor Jay Powell after a single four-year term as chair in which she began gradually withdrawing the crisis-era monetary stimulus the Fed injected into the economy.

Yellen Hands Off Go-Slow Approach to Rate Rises as She Departs Fed – WSJ

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen concluded her final policy meeting with a decision to hold interest rates steady and handed to her successor the challenge of deciding whether to pick up the pace of lifting them to prevent the economy from overheating. Fed governor Jerome Powell, who is scheduled to be sworn in as chairman Monday, will have to weigh how closely to stick with Ms. Yellen’s approach of very gradually raising interest rates from still-low levels.

Janet Yellen’s Fed Era Ends With Unanimous Vote of No Rate Hike – Bloomberg

Federal Reserve officials, meeting for the last time under Chair Janet Yellen, left borrowing costs unchanged while adding emphasis to their plan for more hikes, setting the stage for an increase in March under her successor Jerome Powell.

Fed: No rate hike but more aggressive inflation expectations – CNBC

According to projections released in December, officials expect three rate hikes this year so long as there is no significant disruption to market conditions. However, the market recently has been entertaining thoughts that the Fed could add another increase, likely at the final meeting of 2018.

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US OIL PRODUCTION HIGHEST SINCE 1970

U.S. Oil Production Tops 10 Million Barrels A Day for First Time Since 1970 – WSJ

U.S. oil production surpassed 10 million barrels a day in November for the first time in nearly 50 years, a milestone that underscores the growing dominance of the U.S. oil industry. While global oil exporters once dismissed shale as a flash in the pan, the industry has emerged more efficient than ever from a three-year oil price rout and is poised to take advantage of prices that are at their highest levels since late 2014.

Shale powers US oil output to heights of 1970 – FT

The spike in US production over the past decade has been a remarkable reversal for a country that for decades was the world’s largest importer of crude, and seemed headed for a future reliant on foreign supplies. But the new surge puts US output at more than double its low point of about 5m b/d in 2008. “For decades the only question was how fast are US oil imports going to rise,” said Daniel Yergin, vice-chairman of IHS Markit. “Now global oil markets have been put in a bottle and shaken up, and new patterns are emerging.”

U.S. Reaches Oil-Output Milestone Months Earlier Than Expected – Bloomberg

Output topped 10 million barrels a day in November, reaching the highest level since 1970 and beating government forecasts by several months, according to data Wednesday from the Energy Information Administration. The agency previously predicted the country would reach the threshold in February 2018.

18G01 - 47 YEAR HIGH

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FACEBOOK USER ENGAGEMENT DECLINES

Facebook says users are spending less time browsing – FT

The news initially sent its shares down as much as 5 per cent in after-hours trading, as investors digested the implications of a less-engaging Facebook. But shares rebounded during the earnings call, as the company tried to convince analysts that a decline in engagement would not necessarily hit revenue growth.

Facebook’s Profit Rises, but Users Spend Less Time on Network – WSJ

Facebook’s dominance in digital advertising powered another surge in quarterly profit, though it said users were starting to shave back their time on its platform as it tries to address critics claims that the social network has harmful effects. The company said its quarterly profit, excluding a giant $3.19 billion tax charge, soared 61% in the fourth quarter, typically the heaviest spending period for advertisers. About $2.27 billion of the charge stemmed from the new congressional tax overhaul.

Facebook Really Wants You to Come Back – Bloomberg

People who are logging into Facebook less often—but aren’t fully disconnected—are noticing more and more frequent prompts to come back, sometimes multiple times a day, via emails or text messages reminding them what they’re missing out on, according to screenshots and reports from users around the world. Gorantala, who eased off his Facebook usage because of privacy concerns, said his security prompt comes “whenever I don’t log in for a few days.”

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BITCOIN, CRYPTOCURRENCY, INITIAL COIN OFFERINGS

South Korea Finance Minister Confirms ‘No Ban’ On Cryptocurrency | Cointelegraph

South Korea Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon has reaffirmed that the government will not ban or otherwise “suppress” cryptocurrency in the country, according to a statement reported by Reuters today, Jan. 31. In the latest update to the country’s ongoing regulatory overhaul of cryptocurrency exchange, Kim firmly distanced Seoul from previous comments about a potential outright ban, which had caused public outrage earlier this month.

South Korean Court Rules Bitcoin Has Economic Value – Bitcoin News

A South Korean court has ruled that bitcoin has an economic value for the first time. This overturned an earlier court ruling which did not recognize the digital currency. The case involves the confiscation of 191 bitcoins.

Bitcoin Has Its Worst Month in Three Years – WSJ

The price of the cryptocurrency dropped 28% in January, its worst monthly drop in three years, according to research site CoinDesk Inc. It fell below $10,000 on Wednesday, a two-month low. And it is down 48% from its record of $19,282.73 reached in mid-December.

Bitcoin Price Will Hit $1 Million, Says Social Capital Founder | Cointelegraph

The main argument, according to Palihapitiya, is that Bitcoin presents a hedge against potentially massive problems being caused by the current banking infrastructure. Should the banking structure fail, Bitcoin is “fundamentally disconnected” from the current platform. His final advice? Put at least one percent of what you invest into Bitcoin — it “may actually save us all.”

UK’s Royal Mint Launches Gold-Backed Cryptocurrency | News | Cointelegraph

The Royal Mint Bullion, the Royal Mint company that sells physical gold, is the first company to allow customers to hold gold-backed assets on Blockchain, Tom Coghill, RMG’s Commercial Lead, stated in an interview with Express.co.uk. Coghill also mentioned that one RMG coin is equal to one gram of gold, adding that “it’s real gold you’re holding when you’re holding our RMG.”

Goldman Sachs Is Not Starting A Crypto Trading Desk, But They Did Invest In One | Cointelegraph

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, refuted the Bloomberg report that Goldman Sachs will be opening a crypto trading desk in an interview with CNBC, although the New York bank has owned a stake in a crypto trading desk since 2015.

Jack Dorsey opens up bitcoin buying and selling for most Cash App customers – Business Insider

Two months after Square teased cryptocurrency enthusiasts with a sparsely distributed trial, the payments application has enabled bitcoin buying and selling capabilities for most of its Cash App customers. Square CEO Jack Dorsey took to Twitter on Wednesday to endorse the view that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin could be a way for marginalized people around the world to access wealth.

Russia’s Largest State Bank To Open Cryptocurrency Exchange In Europe | Cointelegraph

Sberbank, the largest state bank of Russia, is planning to launch a cryptocurrency exchange in its Swiss branch, Sberbank Switzerland AG, local media group RBC reported on Tuesday Jan. 30. The bank’s Head of Global Markets Andrey Shemetov told RBC that the Russian bank chose Switzerland for the exchange location because Russian authorities do not currently allow cryptocurrency operations, while cryptocurrency exchange is legal in Switzerland.

South Korea Customs Service Reports $600 Mln Of Illegal Crypto Trades | Cointelegraph

The Korea Customs Service (KCS) published a press release on Jan. 31 on the status of illegal foreign currency exchanges using digital currency, which reportedly totals 637.5 bln won (about $600 mln). The report gave examples of the largest cases when digital currency was illegally exchanged, citing 416.9 bln won ($391,886,000) illegally exchanged and 21.5 bln ($20,113,250) remitted due to insufficient funds between Australia and South Korea.

US derivatives regulator looks to calm cryptocurrency fears – FT

Exchanges listing new futures on virtual currencies would be required to disclose the steps they have taken to receive input from parties including brokers and trading firms, said Christopher Giancarlo, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Commission staff would also examine the governance of clearing houses that handle virtual currency products and may recommend changes, he said.

Goldman Sachs Felt Rushed by Quick Rollout of Bitcoin Futures – Bloomberg

When two exchanges got the green light in December to list derivatives contracts tied to the suddenly ubiquitous digital coin, Goldman was still mulling whether it was appropriate for its own employees to trade futures, said Rana Yared, a managing director at the firm. Before Goldman had made up its mind, clients started asking the bank to execute their transactions, she said.

Venezuela Says Crypto Mining Now ‘Perfectly Legal,’ Announces Petro Presale| Cointelegraph

Venezuela’s government has said cryptocurrency mining is now “completely legal” as it plans the presale of its Petro coin for next month. In comments during a TV address quoted by local news outlet TeleSur, the country’s newly-dubbed ‘cryptocurrency superintendent’ Carlos Vargas confirmed that citizens mining Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were not breaking the law.

Italy’s Economy Minister Blasts Crypto Market Bad Behavior – CoinDesk

Italy’s economy minister struck a critical tone on cryptocurrencies Wednesday, remarking during an event that damage could arise should a market bubble “explode” even as central banks eye the technology.

Why Crypto Traders Are So Worried About Tether – Bloomberg

It’s one of the most hotly debated questions in the world of virtual currencies: Is Tether telling the truth when it says that each of its digital tokens is backed by one U.S. dollar? News on Jan. 30 that American regulators are scrutinizing the company has given fresh ammunition to the skeptics. While Tether has repeatedly said that its coins are fully backed by dollars, the company has yet to provide conclusive evidence of its holdings to the public or have its accounts audited. It recently cut ties with accounting firm Friedman LLP.

Hawaii’s New Money Transmitters Act Will Require Virtual Currency Licenses – Bitcoin News

The state of Hawaii is planning to regulate the use of bitcoin and digital currencies that would require licensure to transmit cryptocurrency-based funds. Two bills introduced by a group of partisan Hawaiian lawmakers are focused on digital currencies as a monetary instrument under the state’s Money Transmitters Act.

Number of People Looking for Crypto-Careers Increased 10-Fold in 2017 – Bitcoin News

The massive rise in the price of bitcoin last year has inspired droves of people in the UK to look for new careers in the crypto sector, this according to figures released today by the dedicated search engine for job listings, Indeed. The company says that its data reveals that at the start of 2017 there was “an acute talent mismatch”, with vacancies outnumbering candidates four to one. However by the end of the year the number of those searching for roles had increased 10-fold.

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FOREX, CARRY TRADES, EXCHANGE RATES

A $3 Billion Swedish Hedge Fund Is Shorting the Dollar – Bloomberg

Here’s something that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin might like. Swedish hedge fund Brummer Nektar is now shorting the dollar, anticipating a “strong momentum in the short run,” said Patrik Olsson, chief investment officer at the fund, which manages about 25 billion kronor ($3 billion) from London, Stockholm and Singapore.

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TRADE, PROTECTIONISM, REGULATION, OVERSIGHT

White House seeks 72 percent cut to clean energy research, underscoring administration’s preference for fossil fuels – The Washington Post

The Trump administration is poised to ask Congress for deep budget cuts to the Energy Department’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, slashing them by 72 percent overall in fiscal 2019, according to draft budget documents obtained by The Washington Post. Many of the sharp cuts would likely be restored by Congress, but President Trump’s budget due out in February will mark a starting point for negotiations and offer a statement of intent and policy priorities.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, C.D.C. Director, Resigns Over Tobacco and Other Investments – The New York Times

Dr. Fitzgerald abruptly left the agency in the middle of a flu epidemic, following disclosures that she had recent investments in tobacco and health stocks.

President’s Power to Oust Consumer Watchdog’s Chief Is Curbed by Court – The New York Times

A law limiting the president’s power to fire the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is constitutional, a federal appeals court ruled.

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TAXATION, WEALTH HAVENS, INEQUALITY

Ireland enjoys tax boom but fears a reckoning – FT

Ireland’s business-friendly tax regime has drawn legions of multinational companies to the country, boosting tax revenues and prompting political attacks from Donald Trump and Europe. Now concern is growing that Dublin has become too dependent on such taxes, leaving it vulnerable to financial shock.

Boeing Blows Past Estimates With Help From Tax Cut; Shares Surge – Bloomberg

Boeing Co. jumped the most in six months after the planemaker said record aircraft deliveries this year would bolster cash and reverse a two-year sales decline. Jetliner shipments will rise to as many as 815 this year, up almost 7 percent from 2017, the manufacturer said Wednesday as it reported earnings. Operating cash flow, a focus for investors, will increase to about $15 billion.

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RUSSIA PROBE

Trump asked Rosenstein if he was ‘on my team’ – CNNPolitics

The episode is the latest to come to light portraying a President whose inquiries sometimes cross a line that presidents traditionally have tried to avoid when dealing with the Justice Department, for which a measure of independence is key. The exchange could raise further questions about whether Trump was seeking to interfere in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into potential collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia and obstruction of justice by the White House.

The Real Aim of the Nunes Memo Is the Mueller Investigation – The New York Times

As Mr. Mueller has accelerated his pace — indicting Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman and a deputy, interviewing White House aides and inducing two people connected to his campaign to plead guilty and cooperate — Mr. Trump’s allies in recent weeks have increasingly sought to shift the focus away from Russian election interference and instead portray the actions of investigators as the real scandal.

Showdown escalates between Trump, Nunes and the FBI – The Washington Post

The FBI, the White House, and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee were embroiled in a public standoff Wednesday over the expected release of a Republican memo criticizing the bureau’s use of secret surveillance orders. In a highly unusual move, the FBI issued a statement challenging the classified memo’s anticipated release, saying: “We have grave concerns about the material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact” its accuracy. The FBI’s statement followed remarks made by President Trump on Tuesday night indicating he wanted the document to be made public.

F.B.I. Condemns Push to Release Secret Republican Memo – The New York Times

Christopher A. Wray, the bureau’s director, put himself at odds with President Trump, who wants to see the memo released. It is said to accuse the F.B.I. and Justice Department of surveillance abuses.

Russian Spy Chief Reportedly Met With U.S. Intelligence Officials Despite Sanctions : The Two-Way : NPR

Sergey Naryshkin, who has been on a U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list since 2014, reportedly met with U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and other U.S. intelligence officials.

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NORTH / SOUTH KOREA, IRAN, NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Another US Navy ballistic missile intercept reportedly fails in Hawaii – Defensenews

If confirmed, it would mark the second unsuccessful test of the Raytheon missile. It also deals a setback to U.S. missile defense efforts as North Korea makes seemingly daily progress on it goal of striking the U.S. mainland with nuclear-armed missiles.

Ending North Korea oil supplies would be seen as act of war, says Russia – Reuters

The delivery of oil and oil products to North Korea should not be reduced, Moscow’s ambassador to Pyongyang was cited as saying by RIA news agency on Wednesday, adding that a total end to deliveries would be interpreted by North Korea as an act of war.

North Korea hits back at U.S., calls Trump administration ‘racist’ – Reuters

North Korea struck back at the United States on Wednesday, accusing the Trump administration of being a billionaires’ club that harbors a “policy of racism” while denying freedom of the press and health coverage to citizens.

Trump: North Korea pursuit of nuclear weapons could soon threaten US – CNBC

President Donald Trump struck a dire note of warning about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. “North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland,” Trump said. The president said the United States was applying “maximum pressure” to prevent any such attack.

Trump Vows a Muscular America to Confront a World of Enemies – The New York Times

President Trump sketched out an ominous view of America’s international role on Tuesday, emphasizing adversaries over allies, threats over opportunities, and a world to be pacified rather than elevated. The president saved his longest foreign policy passage, and strongest words, for North Korea, whose “reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons,” he said, “could very soon threaten our homeland.”

Taiwan Citizens Accused of Violating U.N. Sanctions on North Korea – The New York Times

The case comes after another Taiwanese citizen has faced accusations of conducting trade in violation of United Nations sanctions against North Korea.

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RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS

Federal debt-limit deadline moved up to mid-March, adding urgency to another congressional task – The Washington Post

The Congressional Budget Office said that the Treasury Department will “most likely run out of cash in the first half of March 2018” unless Congress acts to raise the debt ceiling.

Pressure Rises on Congress to Raise Debt Ceiling in Coming Weeks – Bloomberg

Congress came under increased pressure to raise the nation’s debt ceiling following two reports forecasting that the federal government will run out of cash within a matter of weeks.

As Deficit Soars Toward $1 Trillion, Congress Shrugs and Keeps Spending – The New York Times

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged Congress on Tuesday to raise the federal government’s statutory borrowing limit and said Washington must soon grapple with the mounting federal debt, just as lawmakers are embarking on a significant spending spree. Annual deficits are creeping up to $1 trillion and the national debt has topped $20 trillion. On Monday, Treasury said that the United States will need to borrow $441 billion in privately held debt this quarter, the largest sum since 2010, when the economy was emerging from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

U.S. Raises Longer-Term Debt Sales as Budget Deficit Worsens – Bloomberg

President Donald Trump’s administration will increase the amount of long-term debt it sells to $66 billion this quarter, marking the first boost in borrowing since 2009 as the Treasury seeks to cover mounting budget deficits.

US Treasury announces larger sales of government debt – FT

As the Fed continues to taper reinvestment flows off its balance sheet, alongside deficit increases resulting from tax reform and the potential for infrastructure spending, analysts say the Treasury will probably need to increase debt issuance. Market expectations of higher growth and inflation at a time when central banks globally are withdrawing accommodative monetary policy, have also pressed bond prices and pushed up yields.

Bond Selloff Sends Ripples Through Corporate Debt Market – WSJ

Months of selling in government bonds are beginning to send ripples through the corporate debt market, posing fresh risks to investors. While fund managers said they remain largely unconcerned by the selling in Treasurys, some say conditions could worsen from here, especially if the 10-year Treasury yield continues its steep ascent to above 3%.

Subprime US car lenders fall on bad debts – FT

Shares in two of the biggest US subprime car lenders tumbled on Wednesday after they set aside larger-than-expected sums for bad loans, intensifying jitters about the financial health of blue-collar America. The updates, which follow a jump in credit card losses at big banks, raise concerns that some consumers are taking on bigger debt burdens than they can handle — in spite of low borrowing costs and unemployment levels.

China’s $11 Trillion Bond Market Is Winning Foreign Investors – Bloomberg

China’s efforts to open up its domestic bond market, the world’s third largest, are starting to pay off, by pulling in foreign investors drawn to relatively high yields in a newly stable currency. Sustained inflows are potentially a game changer for China’s bond market.

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USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES

Employment Costs in U.S. Match Fastest 12-Month Gain Since 2008 – Bloomberg

Total U.S. employee compensation rose in the fourth quarter and matched the biggest 12-month gain since 2008, as private-sector pay picked up, Labor Department figures showed Wednesday.

18G01 - COMPENSATION FOR US WORKERS

A Paper Tears Apart in a City That Never Quite Came Together – The New York Times

For all its successes, Los Angeles has not developed the political, cultural and philanthropic institutions that have proved critical in other American cities. There are many reasons for this problem. Los Angeles County is made up of 88 different cities, including the City of Los Angeles, rolling across 4,571 square miles that stretch from the ocean to the desert. People here are more likely to identify themselves with the city or neighborhood where they live — be it Glendale, Compton, Beverly Hills or Whittier — rather than Los Angeles. The worsening traffic has encouraged people to stay close to the places where they live and work.

Amazon HQ2 Spurs Worries of a Wage War in Winning City – WSJ

Amazon.com plans to hire thousands of people in the area it picks as a second home from a shortlist of 20 locations. That’s worrying other companies in those areas because it could become more difficult to attract talent. Amazon is already known for poaching talent from companies, including United Parcel Service Inc. and General Electric Co. , and that would become even easier if the tech giant were also located in the neighborhood.

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GLOBAL ECONOMY, INTERNATIONAL

South Korea consumer inflation slows as food prices dip – FT

Inflation slowed more than expected in South Korea last month to a 17-month low as a slight dip in food prices dragged on the headline consumer price index. Consumer prices rose 1 per cent year on year in January, according to Statistics Korea, coming in below a median forecast of 1.3 per cent from economists surveyed by Reuters and slowing markedly from December’s climb of 1.5 per cent.

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POT BOOM, MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION, DRUG POLICY

SF will wipe thousands of marijuana convictions off the books – San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco will retroactively apply California’s marijuana-legalization laws to past criminal cases, District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday — expunging or reducing misdemeanor and felony convictions going back decades. The unprecedented move will affect thousands of people whose marijuana convictions brand them with criminal histories that can hurt chances of finding jobs and obtaining some government benefits.

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POSITIONING, INFLECTION, MARKET CALLS

How to Play Trump’s Rollercoaster Ride of Trade-War Threats – Bloomberg

President Donald Trump says the U.S. will never “surrender” in its economic rivalry with other nations. That’s keeping analysts on alert for signs of a trade war. U.S. autos face the largest risk from Nafta withdrawal, according to Goldman strategists led by David Kostin, writing in a note on Friday. “Concerned investors should focus on U.S. stocks with the most domestic exposure,” they said.

Former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan Sees Bubbles in Stocks and Bonds – Bloomberg

“There are two bubbles: We have a stock market bubble, and we have a bond market bubble,” Alan Greenspan, 91, said Wednesday on Bloomberg Television with Tom Keene and Scarlet Fu. Greenspan, who led the Federal Reserve from 1987 until 2006, memorably used the phrase to describe asset values during the 1990’s dot-com bubble.

GE will likely be dropped from the Dow, Deutsche Bank predicts – CNBC

“We believe the chances that GE could be removed from the Dow are increasing as GE continues to face substantial challenges including earnings and cash pressure, tough global power generation markets, aggressive downsizing, shrinking its portfolio, management shake-up and SEC investigations,” Deutsche Bank analyst John Inch wrote Wednesday. “Apart from GE’s other challenges, as the company’s absolute share price has continued to drop, GE increasingly falls into the category of outlier and consequently a likely candidate for removal.”

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COLOR, EARNINGS, SENTIMENT, VALUATIONS

Microsoft Reports Gains in Cloud-Computing Business – WSJ

Microsoft Corp. posted big fiscal second-quarter gains in its cloud-computing business. The company said it recorded a $13.8 billion charge related to changes to U.S. tax law that drove the company into a quarterly loss.

Misconduct Allegations Against Steve Wynn Put Big Casino Project at Risk – WSJ

Sexual-misconduct allegations against Steve Wynn are threatening to derail Wynn Resorts’s lucrative casino project in Massachusetts as regulators revisit a contentious debate on the company’s license to operate in the state.

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DEALS, MERGERS, IPOs, LBOs, RESTRUCTURINGS

Xerox, an Innovator Hit by Digital Revolution, Cedes Control to Fujifilm – The New York Times

On Wednesday, Xerox said that, after 115 years as an independent business, it would combine operations with Fujifilm Holdings of Japan. The deal signaled the end of a company that was once an American corporate powerhouse. “Xerox is the poster child for monopoly technology businesses that cannot make the transition to a new generation of technology,” said David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School.

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HEDGE FUNDS, PRIVATE EQUITY, MONEY MGMT

Hedge Fund Flopped? Try Bitcoin | Institutional Investor

Before the computer geeks at quant firms took over, hedge fund managers were considered the cowboys of finance. They wrangled with sovereign nations, bet against the American housing dream, and loaded up on energy futures. Some of yesteryear’s boldest, alas, have lost big in recent times. Investors fled, leading these onetime mavericks to shutter previously high-flying funds. But now these very same adventurers have set their sights on a new gold mine: Bitcoin — what else?

World’s Top Billion-Dollar Quant Plans Multiyear Client Lockups – Bloomberg

Quantedge Global Fund, the world’s best-performing quantitative hedge fund last year with more than $1 billion in assets, is taking the rare step of asking clients to lock in their money for several years even as such arrangements have fallen out of favor with investors.

Cohen Leads Wave of Hedge Fund Startups After Year of Retreats – Bloomberg

After a cohort of hedge fund veterans called it quits last year, a trio of established managers are prepping to fill their shoes in 2018 by starting firms with at least a billion dollars apiece.

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ENERGY COMPANIES, NOCs, INDUSTRY

Big Oil Returns to Drilling—but on a Budget – WSJ

Big oil companies are resuming ambitious offshore projects, but this time they are keeping spending in check, as investors urge them to avoid a repeat of their overspending in the last oil rally.

Mexico raises close to $100bn in oil sector investment – FT

Mexico secured almost $100bn in investment in its most successful oil tender to date as Anglo-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell positioned itself as the biggest player in deepwater exploration and new companies including Qatar Petroleum burst on to the scene.

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ENERGY RENEWABLES, NUCLEAR

Lake Tahoe Resort to Be First in U.S. to Run Just on Renewables – Bloomberg

Squaw Valley Ski Corp. plans to source all its electricity from solar and other renewable sources as soon as December. That would make the company, which owns two resorts in California, the first ski operator in the U.S. to power its operations without fossil fuels, President Andy Wirth said in an interview.

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POLLUTION, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Hong Kong Moves to Ban All Ivory Sales, Closing a Loophole – The New York Times

Hong Kong’s legislature voted on Wednesday to ban all ivory sales by 2021, closing what activists called a major loophole in the global effort to end the trade and protect elephants from poaching.

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BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY

As Theresa May Pursues Deals in China, Her Own Troubles Follow – The New York Times

Theresa May on Wednesday joined a succession of British prime ministers who have turned to China for trade, investment and a shot of confidence, while offering Britain as a reliable, competitive base in Europe. But her three-day trip to China, shadowed by uncertainties about Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union as well as Mrs. May’s hold on power, has the makings of a long march.

EU banking authority to test banks for 8.3% post-Brexit slump – FT

Banks across the EU are to be tested to make sure they can withstand potential doomsday Brexit consequences, including a severe recession that would leave the bloc’s economy 8.3 per cent smaller than it otherwise would have been.

EU holding line against passporting for British banks after Brexit – Reuters

European Union negotiators see no room for discussion with Britain on maintaining “passport” access to EU financial markets for its banks after Brexit, but they are willing to look at free trade in the sector, diplomats said.

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GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM

Kabul Attacks Cloud U.S. Afghan Strategy – WSJ

A series of deadly attacks in the capital have cast doubt on optimistic U.S. assessments of the 16-year war effort in Afghanistan and raised questions about the pillars of the Trump administration’s strategy.

Saudi-Backed Coalition in Yemen Upended in Deadly Factional Fighting – The New York Times

A simmering split within the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting rebels in Yemen since 2015 exploded into deadly combat this week, paralyzing the southern city of Aden, the government’s temporary seat of power. The fighting, which began Sunday, has pit allies armed with heavy weapons against each other and further complicated prospects for a resolution of the war in Yemen, the Middle East’s poorest country and home to one of the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crises.

Saudi Arabia’s corruption crackdown risks scaring off investors – FT

Aside from deterring foreign investors the kingdom is keen to attract, this confiscation of assets, ultra-centralisation of power and attempt to coerce investment in the crown prince’s pet projects — such as Neom, the futuristic $500bn megacity and cross-border economic zone on the Red Sea — could instead lead to a fall in domestic investment.

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PROPAGANDA, CORRUPTION, AUTHORITARIANISM

Kenyans Name a ‘People’s President,’ and TV Broadcasts Are Cut – The New York Times

The Kenyan government cut transmissions of three private television stations and moved to criminalize a political opposition group on Tuesday, as supporters of the opposition leader Raila Odinga gathered in the capital to name him “the people’s president.”

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TRUMP WORLD

Stormy Daniels Deflects Jimmy Kimmel’s Questions on Rumored Trump Affair – The New York Times

Stephanie Clifford, the former pornographic-film actress known as Stormy Daniels, is not making life easy for the Trump administration. Just minutes after President Trump’s first State of the Union address ended Tuesday night, Ms. Clifford appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” where she did not deny — or confirm — having an affair with Mr. Trump.

How Stormy Daniels might be outsmarting Trump by denying an affair – The Washington Post

Daniels either suffers from short-term memory loss or, more likely, is deliberately sending mixed messages. Why would she do that? Here’s a theory: Daniels is trying to tell us, through winks and nudges, that she did have sex with the future president, even as she officially denies an affair.

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ELECTORAL POLITICS

One person killed when Amtrak train carrying GOP lawmakers to retreat collides with truck – The Washington Post

No members of Congress were seriously injured when the train carrying Republican members to their annual retreat in West Virginia collided with a dump truck Wednesday morning near Charlottesville.

Rep. Trey Gowdy announces plans to retire, return to justice system – The Washington Post

The South Carolina Republican led a House GOP investigation of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Judge dismisses all charges against Sen. Menendez following request from prosecutors – The Washington Post

The move signals surrender in a high-profile corruption case after a mistrial and the dismissal of some charges.

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SCANDALS, LAWSUITS, FINES, REGULATORY

U.S. food distributors allege Tyson Foods, rivals fixed chicken prices – Reuters

Top U.S. food distributors Sysco Corp and US Foods Holding Corp have joined retailer Winn-Dixie Stores and other poultry buyers suing the country’s biggest chicken processors for allegedly conspiring to inflate prices.

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SILICON VALLEY, UNICORNS, STARTUPS, VC

Pandora to lay off 5% of staff in restructuring – FT

Pandora Media is laying off 5 per cent of its staff in a restructuring it says will save $45m, as the largest digital radio service deals with the punishing economics of music streaming.

Twitter Followers Vanish Amid Inquiries Into Fake Accounts – The New York Times

More than a million followers have disappeared from the accounts of dozens of prominent Twitter users in recent days as the company faces growing criticism over the proliferation of fake accounts and scrutiny from federal and state inquiries into the shadowy firms that sell fake followers.

Uber Rival Lyft Opens First European Office – Bloomberg

Ride-hailing provider Lyft Inc. is expanding to Europe, opening an office in the southern German city of Munich, home to the likes of BMW AG and Siemens AG.

Uber’s New Training Wheels: Testing Bike Sharing in San Francisco – The New York Times

The company will start a pilot program that allows targeted users to rent bikes throughout the hilly city.

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AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING

Nuro Has Built a Robot Van to Deliver Your Stuff – Bloomberg

As every major automaker and dozens of tech companies race to replace drivers in Uber cars and taxi fleets, Nuro is ignoring humans altogether and steering for Amazon.com Inc., United Parcel Service Inc. and any retailer looking to build its e-commerce business. “We realized we could make it possible to deliver anything, anytime, anywhere,” said co-founder Dave Ferguson. “We like to call it a local teleportation service.”

Waymo Robot Cars Need Little Human Help, GM’s Make Big Leap – Bloomberg

The Alphabet Inc. unit’s cars drove in autonomous mode for more than 352,000 miles on California public roads last year, and engineers took control just 63 times, according to a report filed to the state. Waymo and GM both disengaged their self-driving systems less than once per 1,000 miles during testing.

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AEROSPACE, MILITARY & DEFENSE

SpaceX Launches First Rocket Since Mysterious Satellite Loss – Bloomberg

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a satellite to geostationary transfer orbit as customer missions continue while inquiries into its last mission press on. The space industry likely watched the successful deployment closely, after the top-secret satellite launched in SpaceX’s last mission disappeared.

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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, DRONES, FUTURE TECH

China Needs to Quicken AI Adoption in the Real Economy, Xi Says – Bloomberg

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for deeper integration of big data and artificial intelligence with the real economy to propel the country’s long-term growth. China’s leader has emphasized the need to use data to improve governance in recent years. Xi, addressing the 19th National Congress of the party in October, called for the embedding of advanced technologies into the real economy.

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SCIENCE, NATURE, PSYCHOLOGY

Children receive new ears grown from their own cells in world first | The Independent

Scientists have grown a perfectly compatible ear in a lab and grafted it onto a patient, in what they said was a world first in regenerative medicine. The groundbreaking technique saw them use the patient’s own ear cartilage cells to form a new one. Five children suffering from a condition known as microtia, in which the external ear is underdeveloped, have undergone the experimental surgery.

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MISCELLANEOUS

The ‘Hot Hand’ Debate Gets Flipped on Its Head – WSJ

“People were right to believe the hot hand exists,” said Sanjurjo, an economist at the University of Alicante in Spain. Their breakthrough is the surprising math of coin flips. Take the 14 equally likely sequences of heads and tails with at least one heads in the first three flips—HHHH, HTHH, HTTH, etc. Look at a sequence at random. Select any flip immediately after a heads, and you’ll see the bias: There is a 60% chance it will be tails in the average sequence.

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