Macro Links Nov 3rd – Weinstein Meets Brexit
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MACRO LINKS TABLE OF CONTENTS (Click or Scroll Down)
- GOP TAX PLAN
- RUSSIA PROBE
- RUSSIAN MAFIA, TROLLING, SOCIAL MEDIA
- JEROME POWELL
- DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE
- NORTH KOREA
- SEXUAL HARASSMENT UK
- CASH-STRAPPED VENEZUELA
- BITCOIN BUBBLE
- CATALAN CRISIS
- TESLA PRODUCTION HELL
- RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS
- MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS
- CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY
- USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES
- COLOR, EARNINGS, SENTIMENT, VALUATIONS
- DEALS, MERGERS, IPOs, LBOs, RESTRUCTURINGS
- REAL ESTATE, HOUSING, REITS, COMMERCIAL
- ENERGY COMPANIES, NOCs, INDUSTRY
- ENERGY CRUDE OIL, OIL SANDS, SHALE
- ENERGY RENEWABLES, NUCLEAR
- COMMODITIES AGRICULTURE & SOFTS
- POLLUTION, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT
- BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY
- GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM
- TRUMP WORLD
- AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING
- SCIENCE, NATURE, PSYCHOLOGY
GOP TAX PLAN
The bill would reduce the current marginal income tax brackets to four from seven — 12, 25, 35 and 39.6 percent — and lower taxes by increasing the income ranges affected by each rate.
The top rate would be the same as it is now, except the income level at which it would apply would increase to $1 million for married couples from $480,050 under the current law.
Early projections suggest the bill would cut taxes for an average middle-class family. But the typical cut could be relatively modest, compared with the benefits for businesses and high earners. More important, the myriad changes in the code would actually raise taxes on nearly 13 million tax filers who earn $100,000 a year or less, according to preliminary calculations using the open-source economic modeling software TaxBrain.
Economists are still parsing the details of the G.O.P. tax plan, but even some ardent supporters say expectations about heady growth and job gains are exaggerated.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would permanently chop the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, compress the number of individual income tax brackets, and repeal the taxes paid by large estates starting in 2024, according to a detailed summary of the plan reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The plan would seek the biggest transformation of the U.S. tax code in more than 30 years.
An issue advocacy group aligned with Donald Trump plans to spend about $1 million on ads promoting the Republican tax proposal and will feature the president’s first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, as its pitchman.
The heirs of wealthy people and business owners in low-tax states are among those most likely to benefit from the tax overhaul proposed by Republicans in the House of Representatives.
The bill would cut corporate taxes to 20 percent while delivering more modest savings for middle-class families, but it would not affect 401(k) plans, as many feared.
The small business lobby said it was not receiving enough help, estate agents said home values were threatened, and big borrowers complained of being penalised. Multinationals also face higher-than-expected tax on offshore earnings.
The Republican plan to rein in the interest deduction is a blow to builders and owners of more expensive homes, along with the real estate industry.
Thanks to a quirky proposed surcharge, Americans who earn more than $1 million in taxable income would trigger an extra 6 percent tax on the next $200,000 they earn—a complicated change that effectively creates a new, unannounced tax bracket of 45.6 percent.
It hasn’t been advertised by Republicans, who have described their plan as maintaining the current top tax rate of 39.6 percent. And it goes against decades of GOP orthodoxy that raising taxes on the rich discourages work and reduces economic growth. Reached by phone, Steve Moore, a tax expert at The Heritage Foundation, said the surcharge was news to him. “I was just in a briefing with the White House on this,” he said. “They didn’t mention that. It seems kind of bizarre to me.”
Several of the biggest U.S. companies would no longer be able to escape taxes on the trillions in overseas profits they’ve accumulated, under a tax bill released by House Republicans.
The largest stockpiles belong to Apple Inc. at more than $200 billion, followed by Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Alphabet Inc., Oracle Corp. and Johnson & Johnson, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. If this provision becomes law, it would raise $223 billion over the next decade, according to an estimate by the Joint Committee on Taxation that’s cited in the bill.
More than twice as many Americans approve as disapprove of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of possible coordination between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds, indicating that the conservative effort to discredit the probe has fallen flat as the case has progressed toward its first public charges.
A 58 percent majority say they approve of Mueller’s handling of the investigation, while 28 percent say they disapprove, the Post-ABC poll finds. People’s views depend in large part on their political leanings, but overall, Americans are generally inclined to trust Mueller and the case he has made so far.
Meanwhile, fewer than 4 in 10 Americans say they believe Trump is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation, while about half believe he is not.
Former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page privately testified Thursday that he mentioned to Jeff Sessions he was traveling to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign — as new questions emerge about the attorney general’s comments to Congress about Russia and the Trump campaign.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is once again under scrutiny on Capitol Hill regarding his candor about Russia and the Trump campaign amid revelations that he rejected a suggestion to convene a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump last year.
His attendance at a meeting where the former policy adviser raised the prospect of a Trump-Putin meeting came to light this week when the special counsel released court documents.
Court documents show an aide trumpeted his Russian connections in front of Donald J. Trump during the campaign, the first concrete evidence Mr. Trump was told of Russian ties.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury is investigating a prominent Democratic lobbyist and a former GOP congressman for their involvement in an influence campaign on behalf of Ukrainian interests tied to Paul Manafort, according to a person with direct knowledge of the investigation.
RUSSIAN MAFIA, TROLLING, SOCIAL MEDIA
Trump’s former campaign manager didn’t just do business with accused gangsters. One of them transferred millions into a Manafort account, allegedly used for money laundering.
Roseanne Barr and Michael McFaul argued with her on Twitter. BuzzFeed and The New York Times cited her tweets. But Jenna Abrams was the fictional creation of a Russian troll farm.
President Donald Trump on Thursday tapped Fed Governor Jerome Powell to become head of the U.S. central bank, breaking
with precedent by denying Janet Yellen a second term but signaling a continuation of her cautious monetary policies.
There are two types of Fed chairman—commanding personalities and consensus builders—and the nominee is expected to be one of the latter. A look at his career shows Mr. Powell to be a low-key pragmatist.
Mr Powell is a highly successful businessman who has served in senior roles in the Treasury department; there is no reason why he should not be a great leader of the Fed. But the precedent of denying Ms Yellen a second term is still immense, especially as her controversial monetary policy was plainly not the issue.
Mr Powell is a registered Republican, while Ms Yellen is a Democrat. Even though Mr Powell has spoken forcefully in defence of the Fed’s independence, this move signals an acceleration in its politicisation.
It may also confirm that the central task of the Fed, and of the other central banks, is changing. Mr Powell has great interest in banking regulation and in the plumbing of the financial system, and he shares the concern of many in the market with liquidity.
DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE
The Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the investigation.
The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.
Many Democrats expressed outrage Thursday at allegations from a former party chairwoman that an agreement with the Democratic National Committee gave the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton some day-to-day control over the party early in the 2016 campaign.
In response to the report Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in a CNN interview that she believed the primary contest between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders had been rigged. “This is a real problem,” she said. “We have to hold this party accountable.”
Two U.S. B-1B bombers flew near North Korea, provoking anger from Pyongyang ahead of President Donald Trump’s closely watched trip to Asia.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT UK
In Britain, politics sometimes seems to resemble an implausible plotline from “House of Cards,” the long-running drama about a chief whip who schemes his way to power, which originated here. Production was suspended on the American version of the series after its star, Kevin Spacey, was accused of making a sexual advance on a 14-year-old boy.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Theresa May was hoping to contain the damage from a broad array of misconduct claims centered on her Conservative Party, ranging from sexual assault to casual sexism to extramarital affairs.
The crisis has shined a spotlight on what critics call a “locker-room culture” in British politics, fueled by alcohol, that produced its first casualty on Wednesday night when Mr. Fallon resigned.
“A number of allegations have surfaced about MPs in recent days, including some about my previous conduct,” wrote Mr. Fallon, referring to members of Parliament.
“Many of these have been false but I accept in the past I have fallen below the high standards that we require of the Armed Forces that I have the honor to represent,” he said, adding that he had “reflected on my position and I am therefore resigning as Defense Secretary.”
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said the cash-strapped South American country will seek to restructure its debt, raising the prospect of a showdown with bondholders that could be complicated by U.S. sanctions on key members of the Venezuelan administration.
The uncertainty hanging over a $1.2 billion payment from the state oil company is another indication of the country’s worsening financial problems.
The move to restructure its obligations is likely to send shockwaves through the market for Venezuela’s complex debt structure, which has whipsawed as investors awaited news of payment on each of the country’s bonds over the past year. Mr Maduro said he had ordered the payment of $1.1bn on PDVSA obligations due on Thursday, and the company said in a statement that it had initiated transfers to JPMorgan Chase to cover the principal and interest due on the bond.
The price of the digital currency bitcoin smashed through the $7,000 mark for the first time on Thursday, a new milestone for the surging asset. Bitcoin quickly slipped back below that mark before resuming its ascent. Late Thursday, the digital currency was trading at $7,051, according to CoinDesk. It had traded as high as $7,355 earlier in the day.
Is bitcoin a legitimate asset, or a super-bubble waiting to implode? As prices for the cryptocurrency skyrocket, investors and pundits are increasingly taking sides.
The digital currency’s evangelists are led by Roger Ver, known in the industry as “Bitcoin Jesus.” Ver remains optimistic about bitcoin’s sustainability amid attempts from governments like China to curb some of the more speculative elements of trading. “The only way to stop (bitcoin) is to turn off the entire Internet in the entire world and keep it turned off,” he said in a September interview with Bloomberg News.
Speculation around bitcoin is the “very definition of a bubble,” Credit Suisse Group AG CEO Tidjane Thiam told reporters in Zurich on Thursday. “The only reason today to buy or sell bitcoin is to make money,” and such speculation “has rarely led to a happy end,” Thiam said.
What, if anything, is Amazon planning to do in the cryptocurrency space? That’s the question after the cloud and retail giant was spotted registering three web domains relating to the field this week.
As first reported by Domain Name Wire, on Tuesday Amazon’s legal department secured the following web addresses: amazonethereum.com, amazoncryptocurrency.com, and amazoncryptocurrencies.com.
The company already has amazonbitcoin.com, but that registration took place in 2013—the address now automatically forwards to Amazon’s main site, whereas the more recently-registered domains don’t serve up anything yet.
Bitcoin’s incredible price run to break over $7,000 this year has sent its overall electricity consumption soaring, as people worldwide bring more energy-hungry computers online to mine the digital currency.
An index from cryptocurrency analyst Alex de Vries, aka Digiconomist, estimates that with prices the way they are now, it would be profitable for Bitcoin miners to burn through over 24 terawatt-hours of electricity annually as they compete to solve increasingly difficult cryptographic puzzles to “mine” more Bitcoins. That’s about as much as Nigeria, a country of 186 million people, uses in a year.
Fundstrat Global Advisors head of research Thomas J. Lee, who previously called for bitcoin to hit $6,000 by the middle of 2018 and $25,000 by 2022, has turned cautious after the recent rally “on contemporaneous fundamentals.”
The Spanish government fired Puigdemont and the Catalan parliament after the region of Catalonia declared independence from Spain a week ago. The declaration was the result of a divisive Catalan independence referendum held in early October — a vote Spanish courts deemed illegal.
An extradition request for Puigdemont would place Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union, in an uncomfortable position. The EU has remained largely silent on Catalonia’s push for independence, but Belgium allows EU citizens to seek political asylum. The country also has its own Flemish separatists to contend with.
A prosecutor asked a Spanish court on Thursday to issue an arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont, the leader of Catalonia’s secessionist movement who fled to Belgium to escape authorities in Spain.
Mr. Rajoy’s unyielding stance could backfire if the standoff continues. The violent tactics of the Spanish police in trying to break up the referendum left bitter feelings in Catalonia, and more strong-arm tactics, should Catalans defy Madrid, could further shift sympathies — perhaps outside Spain as well. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, tweeted that the European Union regarded Spain as its “only interlocutor,” but added: “I hope the Spanish government favors force of argument, not argument of force.”
TESLA PRODUCTION HELL
The Republican proposal calls for abolishing a $7,500 credit for purchases of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, just as automakers are expanding lineups.
In August, after Tesla got production underway for the Model 3 and made first deliveries of the new mass-market electric sedan to employees, CEO Elon Musk said there should “absolutely” be “zero concern” about the automaker’s ability to increase production to 10,000 cars per week at some point in 2018. This week, that confidence vanished.
While consumers must wait until 2018 for a $35,000 electric car, efforts to fix bottlenecks are sapping resources elsewhere in Elon Musk’s empire. “Tesla’s cash burn is astounding, and time is ticking,” said Salim Morsy, an electric-car analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “They have some pretty urgent things to deal with, and we just don’t have any visibility right now.”
Chief executive Elon Musk noted the delays were “immaterial” in the context of the Model 3’s expected decade of production, but he also said that “speed is a weapon”. For both equity and debt investors, the inverse is also true. If the pace does not pick up soon, they will feel more pain.
RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS
China has further tightened its control over outbound investment, launching regulations that require regulatory approval for some foreign acquisitions conducted through an offshore entity. The move is an effort to assert greater power over foreign investments even when they do not directly involve cross-border money flows.
Chinese companies such as HNA Group, Fosun International and Dalian Wanda have increasingly relied on offshore shell companies or Hong Kong-listed entities to finance and conduct outbound acquisitions, enabling them to circumvent Beijing’s foreign exchange and investment restrictions.
China’s central bank moved to stabilize money supply Friday, capping a week that began with a bond rout and more than 1 trillion yuan ($151 billion) of loans due to mature.
The comeback in complex credit derivatives blamed for exacerbating the global financial crisis is picking up pace. That’s according to new research this week from Citigroup Inc., one of the biggest arrangers of so-called synthetic collateralized debt obligations. Sales of the products may jump to as much as $100 billion this year from about $20 billion in 2015, Citigroup analysts wrote in an Oct. 31 report.
MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS
It is the butterfly-effect theory of politics made instantly visible. Dogged reporters uncover a story of Hollywood sexual assault, and across the globe one British cabinet minister resigns; another fights frantically to keep his job; a weak prime minister, Theresa May, finds the murmurs of discontent within her party swelling to an ominous chant; and suddenly the survival of her government and her ability to deliver a successful Brexit have all been thrown into question.
“We’ve had enough of this generation,” one furious young Conservative member of Parliament told me. “They’re frankly embarrassing. What have they ever given us? Brexit, austerity, Theresa May, the threat of Boris Johnson, and now sex and sleaze. Last week, the mood of my generation changed from quietly planning for the future to ‘This can’t go on.’ ”
“The mother of all causes is global central-bank balance-sheet accommodation and how aggressive they’ve been,” Cecchini said on a follow-up phone call. “I don’t think it’s possible to deny the power of global rates.”
The expansion has been an astronomical $13 trillion of capital pumped into markets around the world since the start of 2008. The US alone has seen its balance sheet grow by almost $4 trillion over the period, while the market value of US equities has expanded by $12 trillion since the financial crisis.
Near-zero interest rates have made massive stockpiles of money available to companies at a very low cost, and they’ve used much of it for share repurchases. While these companies have been able to issue cheap debt, they’ve had a veritable war chest of capital to use to buy back their stock — a tactic that causes immediate share-price appreciation and helps the broader stock market through lean times.
Easy lending conditions have also allowed companies to use heaps of money on other endeavors, like mergers-and-acquisitions activity or internal capital expenditures. Goldman Sachs says the latter practice — which involves investing money back into core businesses — is getting more important and that stock traders are increasingly rewarding corporations for doing it.
But perhaps the most incredible facet of mass balance-sheet expansion is that it’s taking place this far along in the economic cycle, Cecchini says. He and his colleagues at Cantor Fitzgerald calculate that overall global central-bank stimulus is roughly 10% of the size of the S&P 500 — a historically unprecedented level.
For Mutai, the appeal is simple: It levels the playing field in global markets that don’t give people like him many breaks.
An opposing view is that what this young man is doing is wrong or stupid, sucking up massive amounts of electricity to create a software-fabricated asset that’s traded anonymously in a lottery criminals find irresistible.
So Mutai is either in the middle of a fraud, or a revolution. Whichever, the market has exploded — growing to $190 billion from just $17 billion at the start of the year. Hundreds of new digital tokens have sprung up as entrepreneurs started projects based on blockchain, the public bookkeeping technology that supports digital currencies, raising millions and even hundreds of millions of dollars in minutes. The value of bitcoin, the biggest of them all, has increased six-fold. And it’s about to go mainstream, with CME Group Inc. in Chicago planning to introduce bitcoin-futures trading contracts by the end of the year.
After a decade of flooding economies with money, key central banks next year will finally start turning off the tap. Since the financial crisis, they’ve kept interest rates near zero and some have bought trillions of dollars in government and corporate bonds. The idea was that low rates would encourage spending by businesses and consumers.
Although experts disagree about how effective the stimulus was in stoking broad-based economic growth, two conclusions are in little dispute: The deluge of cash staved off a global financial collapse, and it helped propel stocks and bonds to record levels.
Now policymakers believe their economies are strong enough to thrive with less stimulus. The U.S. Federal Reserve made the first move in October when it started allowing a portion of bonds on its $4.5 trillion balance sheet to mature without replacing them. The European Central Bank is still buying government and corporate bonds, though it recently delineated a plan for tapering off those purchases starting in January. China’s policymakers are expected to tamp down on credit growth next year, as President Xi Jinping focuses on defusing financial risks.
The Bank of Japan will probably keep printing money, but that won’t be enough to offset a global decline in central bank stimulus, which economists see starting sometime in mid-to-late 2018. “It will worry a lot of investors, because no one’s really prepared for it,” says Nader Naeimi, a fund manager at AMP Capital Investors Ltd. in Sydney who’s boosted his cash allocation to 30 percent in anticipation of pain in bonds and stocks. “It will hurt—you want it to hurt, otherwise financial conditions will be too loose.”
Emerging assets are trading at or near record highs relative to a gauge of their political risk, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. There’s a similar trend for inflows into exchange-traded funds.
But if history is a guide, gains and losses in developing markets are influenced by domestic stability levels in the long run. So when the U.S. Federal Reserve closes the tap of easy money and starts chipping away at the appeal of riskier assets, investors are likely to think twice about buying into markets and funds that could get swept up in a contagion selloff.
While Russian meddling is a serious problem, the current sentiment toward Silicon Valley borders on scapegoating. Facebook and Twitter are just a mirror, reflecting us. They reveal a society that is painfully divided, gullible to misinformation, dazzled by sensationalism, and willing to spread lies and promote hate. We don’t like this reflection, so we blame the mirror, painting ourselves as victims of Silicon Valley manipulation.
At the hearing, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, squarely blamed the tech companies for Russian interference. “You bear this responsibility,” she said. “You’ve created these platforms.”
But we, the users, are not innocent. Some of the Russian propaganda on social media was cribbed from content that was posted by Americans. Yes, social media helps propaganda spread farther and faster. But Facebook and Twitter didn’t force users to share misinformation. Are Americans so easily duped? Or more alarming, did they simply believe what they wanted to believe?
Donald Trump is a new kind of old-school American man. In some ways, he’s a throwback to days when authority and power were exclusively white and male by definition, when displays of masculine entitlement were overt and unapologetic. But he’s also a thoroughly modern man-child, the kind of overgrown adolescent you expect to find on internet forums dedicated to video games or anti-feminism: a tweeter of juvenile threats, a crass name-caller, an id unrestrained. Trump-style masculinity, in other words, is less John Wayne and more Tucker Max — and a revealing insight into American male anxiety.
Officials from Bangladesh, a very crowded country, insist that Myanmar must take the Rohingya back. But Myanmar’s Buddhist majority drove them out in the first place, creating a climate of hate that vilified the Rohingya as subhuman. Many people in Myanmar insist the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even though Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for hundreds of years.
Few ethnic groups on earth have been locked into such hopeless logic, marooned on an international border, unwanted by either side, weary, traumatized, desperately stateless, their very origins in dispute.
CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY
The Bank of England raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time in a decade, a telegraphed move that represents the latest step by the world’s major central banks to withdraw crisis-era stimulus.
Now the Bank of England has raised interest rates for the first time in a decade, it is beyond doubt major central banks in industrialized economies are eager to shift away from ultra-easy policy.
The pound slid sharply and bond yields fell after the Bank of England raised interest rates for the first time in over a decade, but investors see Brexit negotiations as more pivotal for markets.
A key measure of Turkey’s consumer prices that excludes volatile items such as food and energy accelerated to the highest level in more than 13 years, underscoring the central bank’s challenge as it looks to lower inflation to levels that would enable cuts in borrowing costs.
USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES
The US economy added 261,000 nonfarm payrolls in October, rebounding after a steep decline in September that was caused by the hurricanes.
The median forecast among economists was for a payrolls increase of 313,000 after an initially reported drop by 33,000 in September. Restaurants and bars made up much of the rebound in jobs, offsetting the decline in September that reflected disruptions from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
Nonfarm business-sector productivity increased at a 3.0% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the third quarter, the Labor Department said Thursday. The gain was better than economists had expected and the largest quarterly improvement since the third quarter of 2014.
American drug deaths rose by 21 percent last year, according to early federal data—a one-year spike that amounts to a bigger jump than over the previous four years combined, showing an already troubling crisis accelerating.
For every 100,000 residents, almost 20 died in drug overdoses in 2016, compared to 16.3 the year before, according to the data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
COLOR, EARNINGS, SENTIMENT, VALUATIONS
The stock fell Thursday for the ninth straight daily loss, the longest in eight years. During the latest streak, GE also suffered the worst single-week decline since March 2009 and closed its biggest monthly drop since February of that year.
The recession-era slump has become a frequent point of comparison as the industrial giant struggles with a raft of problems, from poor cash flow to weak power and oil markets. New Chief Executive Officer John Flannery has said he’ll consider all options to revitalize GE, which is the worst performer by far on the Dow Jones Industrial Average this year.
General Electric’s use of one plane to trail another has raised questions about excess, and lack of oversight, at a company whose share price continues to slide.
China’s biggest company raised its outlook for full-year revenue growth after reporting its fastest pace of sales since its record 2014 IPO — an indicator of strong Chinese consumer spending. That comes as the e-commerce company’s shares have doubled this year, a rally that created more value for any company apart from Apple Inc.
Alibaba’s net income more than doubled as the Chinese e-commerce company leveraged its huge trove of consumer data to drive spending and attract more online advertising.
It’s only Day One, but the gray market trade in Apple Inc.’s new iPhone is already in full swing in Hong Kong.
Apple beat iPhone sales forecasts in the September quarter and pointed to a stronger than expected end to the year, on the eve of Friday’s iPhone X launch, sending its shares to a new all-time high in after-hours trading.
DEALS, MERGERS, IPOs, LBOs, RESTRUCTURINGS
The department’s antitrust division is preparing for litigation in case it decides to sue to block the deal, these people said. Simultaneously, the department and the companies are discussing possible settlement terms that would lead to the deal winning government approval with conditions attached. The two sides, however, aren’t yet close to an agreement, the people said.
REAL ESTATE, HOUSING, REITS, COMMERCIAL
A Beverly Hills estate with a mansion, two guesthouses and miniature trains that can squire riders around the property is seeking $58.88 million.
The nearly 1¾-acre property has a 26,800-square-foot house with eight bedrooms and 15 bathrooms, according to listing agent Christophe Choo of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury. The house includes 12 antique marble fireplaces imported from France, Italy and England, and a two-story wood paneled library with his-and-hers offices. There is also a 5,000-square-foot master wing on the second floor, Mr. Choo said.
ENERGY COMPANIES, NOCs, INDUSTRY
The surge in profits that Royal Dutch Shell announced on Thursday brought to a close a strong set of third-quarter results from the world’s biggest oil and gas groups, where higher crude prices and lower costs are finally bringing recovery after three years of financial pain.
ENERGY CRUDE OIL, OIL SANDS, SHALE
ENERGY RENEWABLES, NUCLEAR
One of the world’s biggest oil companies is pumping more than $1 billion a year into alternative forms of energy from algae engineered to bloom into biofuels and cells that turn emissions into electricity.
COMMODITIES AGRICULTURE & SOFTS
Big U.S. grain processors are slashing costs and restructuring after five years of back-to-back bumper crops, low domestic prices and crowded export markets.
Investors have soured on commodities as an asset class as ample supplies cap prices. The S&P GSCI commodity index has had a total return of minus 58 per cent since late May 2007, while the Bloomberg Commodity total return index has lost 47 per cent.
POLLUTION, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT
Here’s a rare piece of good news about the environment: The giant hole in the Earth’s protective ozone layer is shrinking and has shriveled to its smallest peak since 1988, NASA scientists said.
The largest the hole became this year was about 7.6 million square miles wide, about two and a half times the size of the United States, in September. But it was still 1.3 million square miles smaller than last year, scientists said, and has shrunk more since September.
Warmer-than-usual weather conditions in the stratosphere are to thank for the shrinkage since 2016, as the warmer air helped fend off chemicals like chlorine and bromine that eat away at the ozone layer, scientists said. But the hole’s overall reduction can be traced to global efforts since the mid-1980s to ban the emission of ozone-depleting chemicals.
BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY
Theresa May tried to shore up her fragile government on Thursday after the resignation of her defence secretary over his personal behaviour, but for many Conservative MPs the whiff of decay in her administration has grown only stronger.
Not since John Major’s Conservative government limped towards defeat in the 1990s has a prime minister faced a developing sleaze scandal against such an unforgiving political landscape and open scorn from Tory MPs.
GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM
“We all have to try our best to live peacefully,” said Myanmar’s civilian leader, who has been faulted for not condemning the military’s atrocities in Rakhine State.
At least 741 civilians died in “execution-style killings” by Islamic State militants during the battle for the Iraqi city of Mosul, the UN says. The jihadists are also alleged to have carried out mass abductions, used human shields, intentionally shelled homes, and targeted people trying to flee.
A report detailed atrocities, most by the militant group also known as ISIS, during the Iraqi government’s campaign to recapture Mosul.
With Islamic State on the wane, the West no longer needs Kurdish help—and the Kurds face a historic calamity once again, in part due to their own leaders’ mistakes.
Transportation authorities began placing barriers at 57 intersections along the Hudson River Park Bikeway to better protect bicyclists and pedestrians from vehicles.
Trump’s energy secretary believes fossil fuels can prevent sexual assault because they keep lights on, according to remarks made at a policy event Thursday.
Sparse attendance at a speech by Ms. Trump at a women’s empowerment forum contrasted starkly with the breathless local news coverage of her visit.
Mr. Mercer has been a leader of Renaissance Technologies and is a benefactor of the former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon.
Mercer, whose money helped elect Donald Trump, will also sell his stake in Breitbart to his daughters after a BuzzFeed News report linked the site to white nationalists.
Twitter Inc. blamed an employee’s error for an 11-minute outage of President Donald Trump’s account.
AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING
Battery-powered cars will make up about half of the global automotive market by 2030, as environmental regulations, falling prices and the deployment of driverless taxis fuel demand, according to a new study by the Boston Consulting Group.
SCIENCE, NATURE, PSYCHOLOGY
By some counts of human history, the number of humans on Earth may have skidded so sharply that we were down to just 1,000 reproductive adults. And a supervolcano might have been to blame.
Scientists have discovered a mysterious and previously unknown “void” deep within the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt, using a new imaging technique based on cosmic rays to penetrate inside the 4,500-year-old structure.
The researchers are reluctant to speculate until more data are available but Mehdi Tayoubi, project leader from the HIP Institute in Paris, said he was confident that the void was deliberately designed into the generally solid stone pyramid.
“The pyramid is really perfect,” he said. “Maybe that is why people are still dreaming about this pyramid and there are so many myths about it. I don’t want to talk about crazy theories like aliens etc, but I think it would be very strange to have such a big void inside such a perfect structure by accident.”
Deep inside the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt, lies a previously undiscovered space. It is the first discovery of a major structure within the pyramid since the 19th century.
The species has been named the Tapanuli orangutan – a third species in addition to the Bornean and Sumatran. It is the first new great ape to be described for almost a century.
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