Global News August 09, 2018

  1. BBC
  2. Global News August 09, 2018

“Stocks Mixed Amid Sanctions, Trade; Dollar Gains.”

U.S. stocks hovered within striking distance of all-time highs, while Treasuries rose as investors weighed the latest salvos in the trade war with China and sanctions that torpedoed the Russian ruble. Oil held near a seven-week low.
The S&P 500 Index swung between gains and losses about half a percentage point from its January high as data underscored the health of the U.S. job market. The 10-year Treasury yield slumped to 2.93 percent after producer prices stagnated last month. The greenback climbed, while emerging-market currencies weakened for a second day, with Turkey’s lira and Russia’s ruble extending their slump as disputes with the U.S. deepened.
Geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and other countries are setting the tone for markets, with China responding to the Trump administration’s latest trade war volley with additional tariffs of its own. The ruble hit a two-year low after the U.S. announced new sanctions on Russia over the March 4 nerve-agent attack on a former double agent in the U.K. Turkey’s lira plunged to a record and bond yields climbed as a dispute over the detention of an American pastor dragged on.
Elsewhere, oil held steady after yesterday’s plunge sparked by China’s decision to slap 25 percent duties on U.S. imports including petroleum products. Most industrial metals gained and gold edged higher.


“Russia reels, denounces new U.S. sanctions as illegal, unfriendly.”

Russia condemned a new round of U.S. sanctions as illegal on Thursday after news of the measures sent the rouble tumbling to two-year lows and sparked a wider asset sell-off over fears that Moscow was locked in a spiral of never-ending curbs by the West.
Moscow has been trying with mixed success to improve battered U.S.-Russia ties since Donald Trump won the White House in 2016, and Russia’s political elite was quick to chalk up a summit last month between Trump and Vladimir Putin as a victory. But initial triumphalism swiftly turned sour as anger over what some U.S. lawmakers saw as an over deferential performance by Trump and his failure to confront Putin over Moscow’s alleged meddling in U.S. politics galvanized a new sanctions push.
Having bet heavily on improving ties with Washington via Trump, Moscow now finds that Trump is under mounting pressure from U.S. lawmakers to show he is tough on Russia ahead of mid-term elections.
In the latest broadside, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday it would impose fresh sanctions by the month’s end after determining that Moscow had used a nerve agent against a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, in Britain, something Moscow denies. In an early reaction, the Kremlin said the sanctions were illegal and unfriendly and that the U.S. move was at odds with the “constructive atmosphere” of Trump and Putin’s encounter in Helsinki.
The new sanctions come in two tranches. The first, which targets U.S. exports of sensitive national-security related goods, comes with deep exemptions and many of the items it covers have already been banned by previous restrictions. However, the second tranche, activated after 90 days if Moscow fails to provide “reliable assurances” it will no longer use chemical weapons and allow on-site inspections by the United Nations or other international observer groups, is more serious. The U.S. move also triggered a sell-off in Russian government bonds and the dollar-denominated RTS index fell to its lowest since April 11.


BBC News
“Argentina abortion: Senate defeats bill after polarising debate.”

Argentina’s senate has rejected a bill which would have legalised abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. After a marathon debate, 38 senators voted against it and 31 in favour. Its defeat means lawmakers must wait until next year to resubmit legislation. Currently abortion is allowed in Argentina only in cases of rape, or if the mother’s health is in danger.
Some pro-choice campaigners started fires and lobbed missiles at police in Buenos Aires after the vote. Demonstrators on both sides of the debate had rallied outside parliament as voting took place. Anti-abortion activists have been jubilant. «It’s a joy to see that our society can be based on such an important principle as the defence of the most defenceless, the child,» said one
Pro-choice campaigners have for years tried to get bills passed in Argentina, where the population is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Their efforts gained new impetus when President Mauricio Macri – who opposes abortion – called on Congress to consider a vote on it, and it narrowly passed in the lower house.
However, with the Senate leaning conservative, the bill’s passage always looked difficult. Among the 30 women in the chamber, the vote was evenly split. For the bill’s advocates, legalising abortion is an urgent public health matter. Tens of thousands of women in Argentina are taken to hospital every year after illegal abortions. In 2016, 43 women died. Those that can afford it use drugs to terminate their pregnancies while poorer women turn to far cruder methods.
Uruguay and Cuba are the only Latin American nations to have decriminalised abortion. It is largely prohibited across the region except in restricted cases. The Supreme Court in Latin America’s most populous country Brazil has begun hearing from both sides on whether abortion should be legalised up to 12 weeks. In May, another largely Catholic country, the Republic of Ireland, voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to overturn a ban on abortion. The global trend has been towards legalisation but the debate continues – in the US, for instance, changes to the Supreme Court has led to speculation abortion could be made illegal in some states.


“U.S. Consumer Comfort Rose to New 17-Year High on Economic Views.”

U.S. consumer sentiment advanced to a 17-year high, elevated by rosier views of the economy and personal finances, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index showed Thursday. Confidence continues to strengthen amid a tight labor market and robust economic growth, with consumers also enjoying tailwinds from tax cuts and lower gas prices. Sentiment is strongly correlated to U.S. stocks, which have rallied back to near-record levels, according to the report. Still, sentiment remains below late-2000 levels, the last time unemployment was this low, on tepid wage growth and lower labor force participation, responses through Aug. 5 showed.