The Washington Post
“Trump gives his hard-line campaign promises a more moderate tone in address to Congress”
President Trump sought to repackage his hard-line campaign promises with a moderate sheen Tuesday night, declaring what he termed “a new chapter of American greatness” of economic renewal and military might in his first joint address to Congress. Seeking to steady his presidency after a tumultuous first 40 days, Trump had an air of seriousness and revealed flashes of compassion as he broadly outlined a sweeping agenda to rebuild a country he described as ravaged by crime and drugs, deteriorating infrastructure and failing bureaucracies. Trump’s 60-minute speech touched on his plans to overhaul the nation’s health-care system and tax code, but it was short on specifics and heavy on lofty prose. Struggling to steer a bitterly divided nation with his job-approval ratings at historic lows, Trump effectively pleaded with the American people to give him a chance and to imagine what could be achieved during his presidency. And he pledged to work with Muslim allies to extinguish Islamic State terrorists, going so far as to acknowledge the killings of Muslims as well as Christians in the Middle East. He said he was sent to Washington to deliver on the promises he made on the campaign trail — arguably chief among them, to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. Trump argued that everyday Americans cannot succeed “in an environment of lawless chaos” at the borders.
“Australia goes 25 years without recession”
Australia’s economy gained momentum in the last quarter of 2016, allowing the resource-rich economy to extend its 25-year streak without recession. It brings the country close to breaking the Netherlands’ record of modern-era uninterrupted economic growth. Australia’s economy had contracted in the third quarter but the surprise 1.1% rise pulled the annual figure back to a 2.4% growth rate. The recovery was attributed largely to strong exports and consumer spending. Mining and agriculture enjoyed relatively strong growth in the three months to December. Iron ore and coal are Australia’s biggest exports and reduced demand from China has cooled a mining boom and hurt the Australian economy.
Australia has not had a recession – defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth – since June 1991. It is now just one quarter short of the Dutch record set between 1982 and 2008.
“Markets shift attention from Trump towards Federal Reserve”
The US dollar and global bond yields rose on Wednesday as investors focused on expectations that the Federal Reserve wants to raise interest rates this month, in the absence of specific policy details from Donald Trump’s first speech to Congress. The dollar index — a measure of the reserve currency against its main peers — rose 0.8 per cent to its highest level in more than a month as investors were primed by comments made by New York Federal Reserve president William Dudley on Tuesday that the case for a US rate increase had become “a lot more compelling”. Markets now ascribe an 80 per cent chance of the US raising interest rates when policymakers meet in mid-March, according to Bloomberg data on federal funds futures, up from just 36 per cent last week. With Mr. Trump failing to provide specific policy details about stimulus proposals, financial markets are looking ahead to a speech on Friday by Fed chair Janet Yellen. “With the financial markets increasingly pricing in the probability of a rate hike in March, there is certainly a much greater chance that Yellen’s speech on Friday may well support that logic,” said Derek Halpenny at MUFG. Bond traders boosted the odds of a rate tightening in two weeks’ time after Mr. Dudley said in an interview with CNN late on Tuesday that policymakers did not need to wait for tax reforms to be in place before taking action, flagging up economic growth and job creation. When US markets open on Wednesday, equity index futures suggest the S&P 500 will recover from a modest loss on Tuesday before Mr. Trump’s address. The world’s largest equity index, the S&P 500, set a record high in the days leading up to Mr. Trump’s address, as investors anticipated more detail on the administration’s plans for pro-growth policies of tax reform, deregulation and infrastructure.
“Fillon refuses to quit French election despite charges”
French centre-right presidential candidate Francois Fillon has said he will fight on, as he announced that a judge was placing him under formal investigation. Le Canard Enchaine alleged she was paid €831,400 (£710,000; $900,000) over several years for working as a parliamentary assistant but reportedly had no parliamentary pass. She was also alleged to have picked up €100,000 for writing a handful of articles for a literary journal.
For a time, he was the favorite in the race to succeed Francois Hollande as president, but then came the «fake jobs» allegations in satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine. So, for weeks, he has fought allegations that his wife was paid for years for work she did not do. He has now been summoned to appear before the judge, Serge Tournaire, on 15 March. The date is just two days before the deadline for candidates to submit their final applications. The first round takes place on 23 April, followed by a second-round run-off on 7 May.
“Brexit bill faces House of Lords defeat over EU citizen rights”
Theresa May appears likely to encounter her first Brexit bill defeat Wednesday over the rights of EU citizens who wish to remain in the UK. Members of the House of Lords are expected to vote in favor of an amendment that calls for EU citizens who are legally resident in Britain to be guaranteed the same status after the UK leaves the European Union. Prime Minister May’s government does not have a majority in the Parliament’s upper house and the amendment to the Article 50 legislation is expected to secure enough support to pass, according to UK media reports.