Global News February 15, 2017

  1. El Economista
  2. Global News February 15, 2017

The Economist
“Back to the desert: With silver and lead, Britain woos new allies in the Gulf.”

The post-Brexit search for strategic partners brings ministers to the Middle East. Brexit has given added impetus to Britain’s renewed interest in the region. Just as it ended colonial rule of the Gulf on the eve of its accession in 1973 to the European Economic Community (as the EU was then known), so now Britain is wooing old partners again with a succession of visits. British forces will redeploy to Oman after they pull out of Germany in 2019. British merchants plying everything from weapons to sand for golf bunkers have turned the Gulf into Britain’s largest export market after the EU and America. And fund managers seeking to maintain London’s status as a global financial capital play on jitters over Gulf stability to attract their wealth. Such London landmarks as the Shard, the Olympic Village, Harrods and Chelsea Barracks—all Qatari-owned—are testaments to their success. Even City Hall, the seat of London’s mayor, belongs to Kuwait. Forty-five years after a withdrawal that the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, describes as mistaken, Britain is back in the Gulf. The Union Jack flutters over HMS Jufair, a new British base in Bahrain. More military installations are sprouting in Dubai and Oman, and more naval exercises are due to be launched. Bahrain’s rulers have coated their island in posters lauding “200 years of friendship and peace” with Britain. So, copious are Gulf investments in London that Britain’s capital is the “eighth emirate”, says Mr Johnson. As tensions with Donald Trump’s administration rise, Iran’s ayatollahs, too, see Britain as a potential weak spot. “In the event of a war in the Gulf, the [Jufair] base will definitely be a target for Iran,” says an ayatollah close to senior officers of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.


BBC News
“UK wage growth outpaces inflation.”

Wages grew faster than the rate of inflation at the end of 2016, official figures show. In the three months to December, wages grew 2.6% on an annualized basis in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). However, that was slower than the previous period, leading analysts to suggest households could face a «squeeze» on spending later this year. The ONS also said the jobless rate held steady at an 11-year low of 4.8%. The number of non-UK nationals working in the UK increased by 233,000 to 3.48 million compared with a year ago. «The unemployment rate is now at its lowest in over a decade, but wage growth remains subdued by historical standards,» the ONS said in its commentary. Wage growth slowed from the 2.8% rate seen in the three months to November. Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, agreed: «With inflation forecast to hit 2.8% early next year, a deceleration in pay growth could see real wages fall at some stage.» The employment rate edged higher to 74.6%, which was a record high, according to the ONS data.
«Continued moderate growth in employment has led to a new high in the total employment rate, while the rate for women has reached 70% for the first time on record,» said ONS senior statistician David Freeman. UK unemployment fell by 7,000 to 1.6 million people, the ONS found.


“S&P 500 aims for longest win streak in 3 ½ years, but futures waver.”

U.S. stocks on Wednesday look set to maintain a tenuous grip on record highs, with the Dow and S&P 500 trying to extend multisession win streaks, ahead of testimony from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and a batch of important economic reports.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures YMH7, +0.14% rose 14 points, or less than 0.1%, to 20,503, which would mark its longest string of gains since the six-session period ended Dec. 13, 2016, according to FactSet data. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index futures ESH7, -0.07% were trading flat at 2,335.50, with the S&P 500 index eyeing seven straight days of gains, which would represent its longest winning stretch since the period seven-session period ended Sept. 11, 2013. The Nasdaq-100 NQH7, +0.00% at 5,275.75. The Nasdaq Composite has rung up 16 record closes in 2017, so far.
Led by banks, U.S. indexes closed at record highs for a fourth-straight session on Tuesday after Yellen, as a part of two days of testimony on Capitol Hill, hinted to the Senate Banking Committee that the central bank could resume a gradual raise interest rates as soon as its next policy meeting in March. Higher rates have usually deflated the market’s zest for stocks, which have benefited from the low-rate environment, but Yellen’s upbeat assessment of the economy along with President Donald Trump’s promises of business-friendly policies, tax cuts and deregulation of the banking sector, has underpinned recent optimism.


The New York Times
“India Launches 104 Satellites from a Single Rocket, Ramping Up a Space Race.”

India’s space agency launched a flock of 104 satellites into space over the course of 18 minutes on Wednesday, nearly tripling the previous record for single-day satellite launches and establishing India as a key player in a growing commercial market for space-based surveillance and communication. The launch was high-risk because the satellites, released in rapid-fire fashion every few seconds from a single rocket as it traveled at 17,000 miles an hour, could collide with one another if ejected into the wrong path. Wednesday’s launch was being watched closely by firms that place satellites in orbit, because India’s space agency charges substantially less than its competitors in Europe and North America, said C. Uday Bhaskar, the director of the Society for Policy Studies, a public policy research group based in New Delhi.