Global News December 22, 2017

  1. BBC
  2. Global News December 22, 2017

“Bitcoin Tumbles More than 25% as Sharks ‘Beginning to Circle’.”

Bitcoin’s plunge extended to almost 30 percent Friday as the frenzy surrounding digital currencies faced one of its biggest tests yet.
The world’s largest cryptocurrency approached $10,000 as this week’s selloff entered a fourth day with increasing momentum. It touched a record high $19,511 on Monday. Other cryptocurrencies also tumbled, ethereum dropped as much as 36 percent and litecoin slumped as much as 43 percent, according to composite prices on Bloomberg.
Bitcoin dropped to as low as $10,776. It last traded below $10, 000 on Dec. 1, when the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission agreed to allow trading in bitcoin futures. For the week, the decline is as much as 39 percent. That follows gains of 13 percent, 44 percent and 32 percent in the prior three weeks.
Traders who bought the currency on futures exchanges using collateral may start facing margin calls following the price decline. Two venues launched products in recent weeks that required hefty security, with Cboe needing 44 percent to clear contracts, and the CME 47 percent. Brokers set safety nets even higher.
“There’s no doubt people who got in on margin will face some pressure here,” Norman said by phone from London. “The volumes weren’t huge, so it won’t be a major price driver, but for those caught on the wrong side it will hurt.”
any of the recent news stories and market moves connected to cryptocurrencies appear to carry hallmarks of the mania phase of a bubble. Long Island Iced Tea Corp. shares rose as much as 289 percent after the unprofitable Hicksville, New York-based company rebranded itself Long Blockchain Corp. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said on Thursday bitcoin isn’t functioning like a normal means of payment and is being used for speculation.


“Strong U.S. consumer, business spending bolster fourth quarter growth picture.”

U.S. consumer spending accelerated in November and shipments of key capital goods orders increased for the 10th straight month, the latest signs of strong momentum in the economy as the year winds down.
But the bullish growth picture was dimmed somewhat as the reports on Friday also showed household savings dropped last month to their lowest level in more than nine years. Low savings suggest the strong pace of consumer spending is unlikely to be sustained unless there is a significant pickup in wage growth.

The Commerce Department said consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, rose 0.6 percent last month after gaining 0.2 percent in October. Spending last month was buoyed by an increase in demand for motor vehicles, recreational goods and utilities.
Friday’s reports added to bullish data on the labor market, manufacturing and housing in painting a strong picture of the economy as the year ends. Growth estimates for the October-December quarter are currently as high as a 3.3 percent pace.


BBC News
“Catalonia election: Puigdemont calls for talks with Spain.”

Catalonia’s ousted leader, Carles Puigdemont, has called for new talks with Spain after separatist parties won a slim majority in a regional election. He said he wanted the negotiations in Brussels, where he is living in self-imposed exile, or another EU country.
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy later appeared to reject the idea. He said he would hold talks with the head of the new Catalan government but that leader would have to take up their post in Catalonia itself. He avoided naming Mr Puigdemont, adding that the winner of Thursday’s election was Inés Arrimadas, the leader of the Citizens party, which wants Catalonia to remain a semi-autonomous part of Spain.
The Citizens party is now the region’s biggest party. although pro-independence parties are best placed to form a government. «Catalonia wants to be an independent state,» said Mr Puigdemont, speaking in Belgium on Friday. «This is the wish of the Catalan people. I think the plan of [Spanish Prime Minister] Mariano Rajoy is not working, so we have to find new ways to tackle this crisis.»
Mr Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party (PP) recorded its worst ever result in Thursday’s vote. He had hoped that the poll would restore stability and said the Spanish government was «willing to talk in a realistic way and inside the law» with a future Catalan government.
With nearly all votes counted, the pro-independence parties Together for Catalonia (JxCat), Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Popular Unity (CUP) were on course to win a total of 70 seats in total, giving them a majority in the new parliament.
Citizens (Cs) had 25.3% of the vote, winning 37 seats in the 135-seat chamber. Its leader told the BBC her party had been «victorious». Ms Inés Arrimadas said forming a coalition would be «difficult – but we will try».


“Congress Averts a Shutdown But Now Faces a Messy 2018 Start.”

The Republican-controlled Congress managed the bare minimum task of keeping the government open before the holiday recess, yet made little progress on a medley of divisive fiscal and social issues it will now be forced to confront in January.
Among these are resolving a long-running dispute over defense spending levels; raising the nation’s debt ceiling, which came back into force this month; and dealing with the looming deportations of undocumented immigrants, known as dreamers, who arrived in the U.S. as children.
All the unfinished business could impede President Donald Trump’s ability to rack up more legislative victories, including a large-scale infrastructure bill, before the 2018 midterm elections.
“At some point, and for the good of the country, I predict we will start working with the Democrats in a Bipartisan fashion. Infrastructure would be a perfect place to start,” Trump tweeted Friday morning.
Lawmakers have a limited amount of time until they turn their focus to campaigning for re-election. «We need to get the leftovers done,» said Ryan Costello, a Pennsylvania Republican. «Until we deal with Groundhog Day, we can’t move on to our agenda.»
Leaders were able to corral rank-and-file lawmakers to vote for a bare-bones funding patchwork, and the government now has enough money to operate through Jan. 19.
Both parties are expected to return to the negotiating table in early January to try to hammer out a budget cap agreement, raising limits on domestic and defense spending imposed under the 2011 Budget Control Act. They are far apart.
«We find ourselves no closer to an agreement than we were 11 months ago,» Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking House Democrat, said Thursday.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that Republicans have sought to increase defense spending by $54 billion and non-defense spending by $37 billion. Democrats find that unacceptable because they want equal increases.