Global News February 12, 2018

  1. BBC
  2. Global News February 12, 2018

“Stocks Rebound Globally as Crude Oil Snaps Selloff.”

Investors got a reprieve from last week’s rout as equities advanced around the world and volatility subsided. Treasuries fell alongside the dollar.
The S&P 500 Index climbed, led by tech hardware makers and energy producers, joining gains in the Stocks Europe 600 and gauges in Asia. The dollar’s slip supported commodities, with metals higher and crude oil rallying after a six-day selloff. The Cboe Volatility Index dropped after an almost three-fold jump a week ago when the turbulence erupted.
Traders remained on edge following tumultuous moves in equities last week, when the S&P 500 posted its worst rout in two years on concern over rising borrowing costs. Investors are awaiting U.S. consumer-price data due Wednesday with some trepidation. Pressure on equities has been emanating from the Treasury market and in the outlook for inflation.
“Short-term market volatility can blur the lens, but at the same time fundamentals are still supportive,” Terry Simpson, a multi-asset strategist at BlockRock Inc., said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “It is a buying opportunity.”
Asian stocks were buoyed by the attempts to thaw the tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Vice President Mike Pence told the Washington Post the U.S. is ready to engage in talks about North Korea’s nuclear program, signaling a shift in policy. The won outperformed major currencies. South Africa’s rand surged on speculation President Jacob Zuma is poised to leave office.


“Head held high, Kim’s sister returns to North Korea.”

A prim, young woman with a high forehead and hair half swept back quietly gazes at the throngs of people pushing for a glimpse of her, a faint smile on her lips and eyelids low as four bodyguards jostle around her.
In her first appearance on the global stage, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, had her every move closely scrutinized.
Crowds applauded as she stood for the South Korean anthem during the opening ceremony for the start of the Winter Olympic Games, while her big smiles and relaxed manner left a largely positive impression on the South Korean public.
But her sometimes aloof expression and high-tilted chin also spoke of someone who sees herself “of royalty” and “above anyone else”, leadership experts and some critics said.
Kim Yo Jong’s visit to South Korea, the first by a member of the North’s ruling bloodline since their 1950-53 war, could hardly have come at a more acute time.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was also in town, leading international pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program and reminding the world of the Kim family’s brutal regime.
Critics also highlighted Kim Yo Jong’s senior role in a regime accused by a United Nations inquiry of systematic torture, starvation and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.
Last January, the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted her along with six other North Korean officials for “severe human rights abuses” and censorship that concealed the regime’s “inhumane and oppressive behavior”.


BBC News
“South Africa: ANC leaders expected to ask President Zuma to resign.”

Leaders of South Africa’s governing ANC party are meeting to decide the future of President Jacob Zuma. ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged on Sunday that the issue was causing «disunity and discord».
There are 112 members of the NEC, and many may want to share their views during the meeting in Pretoria – meaning it they may not finish until late on Monday. He told the crowd in Cape Town that «our people want this matter to be finalised» and that the African National Congress (ANC) would comply. He acknowledged the ANC was going through «a period of difficulty, disunity and discord», and said he was seeking «a new beginning». He pledged to tackle the corruption that has marred Mr Zuma’s time in office.
Mr Ramaphosa urged South Africans to restore the values that Mr Mandela – also known as Madiba – stood for, and said those who had stolen state assets would be brought to justice. «We must work together as Madiba taught us to push back the frontiers of poverty, unemployment and inequality,» he said.
An NEC meeting was called off last week following direct talks between Mr Zuma and Mr Ramaphosa, who is the deputy president as well as the new leader of the party.
Mr Zuma’s presidency has been overshadowed by allegations of corruption. In recent years his links to the wealthy India-born Gupta family, who are alleged to have influenced the government, have caused his popularity to plummet. Both Mr Zuma and the Guptas deny the allegations.
It is worth noting that Mr Zuma has not actually been found guilty of any of the accusations against him. The allegations that there is a corrupt relationship between Mr Zuma and the Gupta family are just that, allegations. And 18 corruption charges, stemming from a 1990s arms deal, were dropped before he became president and have not been reinstated.
On top of this, Mr Zuma is still very popular, particularly in rural areas and his home region of KwaZulu-Natal. Mr Ramaphosa may want to make sure Mr Zuma’s supporters do not feel he has been treated badly – especially as an election is coming up next year.


“Trump Unveils Long-Promised Plan for Upgrading U.S. Infrastructure.”

President Donald Trump Monday released his long-awaited proposal to upgrade roads, airports and other public works, kicking off what will likely be a tough sell in Congress with Democrats saying the plan falls short and Republicans wary of another big spending measure.
The 53-page document details how Trump plans to stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in new investment, shorten project permitting time to two years, invest in rural projects and improve worker training. While many of main points of the plan have been known for weeks, newer elements in the proposal include expanding the use of private-activity bonds to finance projects, which would extend the use tax-exempt debt by private entities and broaden the types of projects the bonds could be used for.
Other changes include letting states add tolls on interstates, fostering public-private partnerships in transit projects and promoting the lease of airports and other public assets by removing the requirement that any outstanding tax-exempt debt must first be paid off.
The infrastructure plan also proposes a variety of steps to streamline legally required environmental analysis by shifting the timing of certain reviews, putting a single lead agency in charge of the work and by imposing a 21-month deadline for completing those assessments.
The White House also wants agencies to make final decisions on permitting specific projects within three months after required environmental reviews are done and is proposing limiting the breadth of agencies’ environmental analysis. Under the plan, regulators would have more latitude to waive environmental reviews.
The plan allocates $100 billion for a grant competition with preference given to applicants that raise revenue such as taxes, fees or tolls, and would limit federal help to 20 percent of new money generated. It includes $20 billion to boost federal lending programs and private-activity bonds used to attract private investment. There would also be $50 billion in block grants to governors to choose rural projects, $20 billion for “transformational” projects and $10 billion for a capital financing fund for federal infrastructure.