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UN mission in Somalia extended

The United Nations yesterday voted unanimously to extend and downgrade its mission in Somalia. The Security Council extended its authorization of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) until 31 May 2018. Resolution 2372 (2017), which the Council adopted yesterday, states that the number of uniformed personnel would be reduced to 20,626 by 30 October 2018, unless the Council decided to accelerate that pace, taking into account the capabilities of Somali security forces. The current maximum deployment was 22,126 uniformed personnel. “AMISOM’s priority tasks would be, among other efforts, to conduct targeted offensive operations against Al-Shabaab and other armed opposition groups, including jointly with the Somali security forces, and to mentor the latter in cooperation with the United Nations Assistance […]

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Global Stocks Rise On Strong Economic Data, Dollar Set To End Streak Of Monthly Declines

It's groundhog day as S&P futures, European and Asian shares all rise overnight, while the dollar is poised to finally end its streak of monthly losses.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index is finally headed for its first monthly gain since February, supported by renewed focus on better-than-forecast U.S. economic growth with the dollar getting an added boost after a Reuters report that Euro gains are worrying a growing number of ECB policy makers. The DXY is up 1.6% from multiyear low set on Tuesday while US Treasuries yields also rose in muted trading ahead of key core PCE inflation data due shortly Thursday and ahead of Friday’s jobs report.

Not helping the ECB case for a weaker Euro (and stronger dollar) was the latest Eurozone inflation data, which came in hotter than expected at the headline level, printing at 1.5% for August, above the 1.4% expected, and 1.3% in July, while inflation ex food and energy also came in stronger than the 1.2% expected, printing 1.3% in August, 0.1% higher than July. Core HICP inflation printed at 1.2%, matching the median forecast.

In addition to the ECB "trial balloon", investors rediscovered a taste for a stronger dollar and commodities as upbeat Chinese economic data on Thursday, as well as stronger U.S. economic news, whetted appetite for riskier assets globally, even as tensions over North Korea simmered in the background. As reported overnight, the latest official PMI survey showed Chinese factory growth unexpectedly accelerated in August, confounding forecasts for a slight slowdown. The official PMI firmed to 51.7, from 51.4 in July, even as the service PMI tumbled. That gave a fresh boost to industrial metals, with copper nearing its highest since late 2014 and on track for gains of 7 percent for August.

A big gainer was U.S. gasoline which surged 6% to two-year peaks as flooding and damage from Tropical Storm Harvey shut nearly a quarter of U.S. refinery capacity. Prices are now up more than 20 percent in the past week. Gasoline advanced as Harvey continued to pound the energy-rich Gulf of Mexico coast, home to more than half of the U.S.’s refining capacity.

European share markets opened firmer, despite stronger inflation data and a higher euro, with the Eurostoxx 600 rising 0.8%, after hitting a 6 month low earlier in the week. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index followed gains in equity benchmarks from Tokyo to Sydney after U.S. equities advanced for a fourth day. European bourses rallied from the open led by mining and construction stocks, with base metals pushing higher through Asian session and European morning. Retail sector heavily underperforms after weak Carrefour earnings sees stock trade -15.1%. Most European bonds declined.

Meanwhile, no matter the news, the generic reaction is just to buy anything and everything: “It is almost like we have ended up with a default risk-on, which is in part predicated by the very benign pricing for what central banks do next,” said head of global macro strategy at State Street Global Markets, Michael Metcalfe. “And that is why the inflation numbers now will be important,” especially with energy prices and commodity prices having risen over the last couple of months. “The period where we could have expected favorable inflation numbers (for keeping interest rates low) may have passed.”

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed up 0.7 percent, its best level in two weeks, helped by a pullback in the yen. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged down 0.1% on the day but was a modest 0.3% firmer for the month. The Topix index rose 0.6 percent at the close in Tokyo, paring its first monthly drop since March. Australia’s S&P/ASX 500 Index added 0.8 percent. The Kospi retreated 0.4 percent. Benchmark indexes dropped 0.6 percent in Hong Kong and fell in Shanghai, led by declines in banking stocks that had recently been surging.

Emerging market stocks took a breather too. But August has been their eighth straight month of gains and are now up almost 30 percent since the start of the year.

In addition to the European inflation U.S. core inflation figures, which will be closely watched by traders and the Fed as it looks to push on with its recent run of rate hikes, are also due later.

The U.S. dollar index rose to 92.929 and away from a 2.5 year low of 91.621 touched on Tuesday. The dollar also bounced to 110.60 yen, off a 4-1/2-month low of 108.25. The euro retreated to $1.1850 from its top of $1.2069, weighed in part by speculation the European Central Bank might start to protest at the currency’s strength.  “The ECB meeting is coming up next week and there are rising risks of verbal intervention from Mario Draghi,” said Deutsche Bank strategist George Saravelos. “Despite this the euro level does not appear particularly extreme and most importantly the ECB has not been driving recent appreciation anyway,” he added. “Verbal rhetoric may cause a correction but is unlikely to be enough to derail euro strength.”

The currency has risen sharply this year against the dollar as pessimism over the euro bloc has dissipated and its economy has started to gain some traction.

The bounce in the dollar shaved 0.5 percent off the price of gold to $1,302.50 an ounce, short of Tuesday’s 9-1/2-month high of $1,325.94. West Texas Intermediate crude increased 0.3 percent to $46.10 a barrel. Gasoline for September advanced for an eighth day, up more than 4.4 percent to $1.9673 a gallon. Earlier the front-month contract touched the highest since July 2015.

Economic data include jobless claims, July pending home sales, personal income and spending as well as August Chicago PMI. Discount retail store operator Dollar General and Palo Alto Networks are among companies reporting results.

Bulletin Headline Summary from RanSquawk

  • Euro equities trade higher whereas EUR was relatively unmoved from the release of European
    inflation data
  • Harvey continued to exert influence over the energy space despite being downgraded to a tropical
  • Looking ahead, highlights include US PCE, Chicago PMI, Canadian GDP and BoE’s Saunders

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 2,461.00
  • Brent Futures little changed at $50.87/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,307.09
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.07% to 92.95

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • Trump’s Tax-Cut Bid Hits New Obstacle: Hurricane Harvey’s Costs
  • Trump’s Impatience Emerging as Biggest Threat to Nafta Agreement
  • America’s Jobs Engine Keeps Defying Forecasts for 2017 Slowdown
  • Mobius Says Investors Are Rotating Out of U.S. Stocks Into EM
  • Carrefour Slumps on Warning, Raising Pressure on CEO for Reboot
  • BofA CEO Says He’s Confident Clients Will Pay for Research
  • Euro-Area Inflation Gathers Pace as ECB Weighs Future Stimulus
  • Fox Said to Continue Ion Talks as 5 Sinclair Deals Renewed
  • Southern Is Said to Seek $25 Billion Nuke Plant’s Completion
  • Ctrip Second Quarter Revenue Beats Estimates
  • Costco Aug. Comp. Sales Beat Estimates

Asia stocks traded mixed as the region mulled over a slew of data releases including varied Chinese PMIs. Nonetheless, ASX 200
(+0.79%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.72%) were positive as early momentum rolled over from Wall St where tech outperformed and US
GDP data beat estimates, with Nikkei 225 coat-tailing on the advances in USD/JPY above 110.00. Shanghai Comp. (-0.08%) and
Hang Seng (-0.44%) traded negative after the PBoC refrained from open market operations, and as participants also digested
Chinese PMI data in which Official Manufacturing PMI topped estimates but Non-Manufacturing PMI slowed. Finally, 10yr JGBs are
lower with demand sapped amid outperformance of Japanese stocks and mixed 2yr auction.
Chinese NBS Manufacturing PMI (Aug) 51.7 vs. Exp. 51.3 (Prev. 51.4). NBS Non-Manufacturing PMI (Aug) 53.4 (Prev. 54.5)
Bank of Korea 7-Day Repo Rate (Aug) 1.25% vs. Exp. 1.25% (Prev. 1.25%).

Top Asian News

  • Don’t Blame the Secretary Over Noble Group Fracas, Says ISDA
  • Jokowi Forms Task Force to Steer Indonesia’s Marquee Investors
  • BOJ Cuts 5-to-10 Year Bond Buy Range by 50b Yen for September
  • India Inflation More Likely to Guide RBI’s Hand, DBS Bank Says
  • China Bonds Feel the Heat Again as PBOC Tightens, Stocks Advance
  • ANA to Sell 140 Billion Yen of Bonds for Buyback, Jet Purchases

European equities trade higher across the board (Eurostoxx 50 +0.5%) with sentiment continued to be supported in the region
despite mixed performance seen overnight in Asia. In terms of sector specifics, material names lead the way higher with prices in
China supported by a beat on expectations for Chinese Official Manufacturing PMI. To the downside, energy names lag as prices
continue to feel the squeeze from the fallout of Harvey, while consumer staples also linger in the red after French retailheavyweight
Carrefour (-12.5%) trade markedly lower following a disappointing outlook. Fixed income markets have once again been hampered by the upside in equities despite an absence of supply from the Eurozone for the rest of the week. More specifically, Bunds have faced selling pressure throughout the session before finding  support at the 165.00 handle with further support said to lie below at 164.81. There was no substantial change in bunds after the release of the EU data. US Treasuries tracked risk sentiment, with the belly of the curve underperforming following a couple of strong sections on the back of stellar supply in the area. The long end ended relatively flat. However, concerns over rising North Korean tensions, and risks surrounding the US debt ceiling remain at the forefront of investors’ thought processes. US Sep’17 10y T-note futures settled at 127.02+, down 3+ ticks.

Top European News

  • German Unemployment Falls as Nation Braces for General Elections
  • Devil in the Detail: Brexit Talks Are Making Little Progress
  • UBS Is Said to Be Leaning Toward Frankfurt for EU Trading Hub
  • Nasdaq Sees Nordic Power Primacy Challenged by German Rival
  • AstraZeneca Made Bid for Daiichi Sankyo Last Yr: Nikkei Business
  • European Mining Stocks Climb After China Steel Mill Gauge Jumps

In currencies, GBP is modestly lower by around 0.2% as Brexit headwinds keep GBP pressured yet again. This morning saw comments from BoE Hawk, Saunders who continued to outline the case for a rate hike, whilst also downplaying the importance of such action. Today we saw the release of Eurozone inflation which was a beat of 1.5 on the expected 1.4 with previous 1.3%. However, EUR finding some mild support this morning amid cross related buying in EUR/GBP which has broken back above 92.00. NZD downward spiral continues, which has largely been the case since the back-end of July amid recent soft domestic economic data, while uncertainty looms over the general election.

In commodities, Harvey continued to exert influence over the energy space despite being downgraded to a tropical depression, with RBOB futures
rising to a fresh 2-year high after reports that the Colonial Pipeline (the largest refined products pipeline in the US) will shut its main
gasoline line today. This pressured WTI crude futures although prices have since recovered, while gold (-0.4%) saw a mini flash
crash and briefly slipped below USD 1300/oz before paring the majority of the move in the following minute, with the initial dip in
prices attributed to a sudden large sell order.
Russia produced 10.9mln bpd in Aug, subsequently exceeding their quota, according to IFAX citing sources.

Looking at the day ahead, the July PCE and personal income and spending data will be the focus, while initial jobless claims, continuing claims, pending home sales and Chicago PMI are also due. Away from the data, China President Xi Jinping will host the 9th BRICS summit.

US Event Calendar

  • 7:30am: Challenger Job Cuts YoY, prior -37.6%
  • 8:30am: Initial Jobless Claims, est. 238,000, prior 234,000; Continuing Claims, est. 1.95m, prior 1.95m
  • 8:30am: Personal Income, est. 0.3%, prior 0.0%; Personal Spending, est. 0.4%, prior 0.1%; Real Personal Spending, est. 0.3%, prior 0.0%
  • 8:30am: PCE Deflator MoM, est. 0.1%, prior 0.0%; PCE Deflator YoY, est. 1.4%, prior 1.4%
    • PCE Core MoM, est. 0.1%, prior 0.1%; PCE Core YoY, est. 1.4%, prior 1.5%
  • 9:45am: Chicago Purchasing Manager, est. 58.5, prior 58.9
  • 9:45am: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort, prior 52.8
  • 10am: Pending Home Sales MoM, est. 0.4%, prior 1.5%; Pending Home Sales NSA YoY, est. 0.5%, prior 0.7%

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Just a quick one from me this morning before passing over to Craig and Jeff. At around 1.55pm on Tuesday James Montgomery John Reid and Edward (Eddie) Fitzwilliam John Reid entered this world weighing c.5lb 13oz (2.635kg) and c.4lb 15oz (2.222kg) respectively. Poor Eddie had his umbilical cord wrapped around him possibly restricting his recent growth so it was good to get them out when we did. They both had blood sugar issues for over 24 hours but with intense feeding and glucose gels have now seemingly stabilised. Fingers crossed all seems well now but they are so small. Trudi is absolutely exhausted after being up for nearly 40 hours at one point and I'm a little tired but difficult to moan when I sneaked 4 hours in here and there. For most of the pregnancy we were going to call them Montgomery and Bartholomew. We finally ruled out the latter because of fears of him being forever associated with Bart Simpson. He's one of my favourite TV characters but we were not sure it was wise to risk Bartholomew being shortened and little Bart having to play up to his name.

As for Monty. We love that name. However with 2 days to go we tried it out at home to see how it sounded and every time we did Bronte ran in from the other room and demanded a treat. That seemed an untenable situation longer term. So Montgomery is a middle name. So James and Eddie were late bloomers but suit them perfectly. In case you're interested in between my many duties I created a rough video still collage of the boys' first 24 hours. The link to it is on my Bloomberg message header or I'm sure Craig can send it to you. See you in a couple of weeks. Over to Craig and Jeff.

It’s a bit difficult to compete with that news, but a decent run of macro data in the last 24 hours has proved to be a welcome distraction for markets from the recent geopolitical headlines. We’ll jump into the details further down but in summary higher than expected inflation prints in both Spain and Germany during the morning yesterday were then followed up by a stronger than expected ADP employment report in the US and a larger than expected upward revision to Q2 GDP. Overnight China has also reported a beat in its August manufacturing PMI which has added to the good news.

Looking ahead to today, macro data should remain front and centre as we’ll get the personal income and spending prints in the US this afternoon along with the Fed’s favored inflation measure in the July PCE data. So this will certainly be worth keeping an eye on given that we’d argue that inflation data and the outcome of the debt ceiling debate have taken over as the two most important considerations for the Fed outlook now. Our US economists expect the core PCE deflator to show a +0.2% mom rise while the market is slightly below that at +0.1% mom. Should our economists’ forecast be correct then the YoY rate should hold at +1.5% and unchanged versus June.

Over in markets, by the closing bell last night the S&P 500 finished +0.46% which believe it or not is actually the fourth consecutive daily gain for the index and the longest streak since May. President Trump didn’t completely stay out of the headlines after tweeting that “talking is not the answer” in response to the  latest North Korea missile test but that appeared to be largely ignored, in part asDefence Secretary Mattis later  said “we’re never out of diplomatic solutions”.

Separately, a headline from rating agency Standard & Poor’s suggesting that a failure to raise the debt limit would likely be more catastrophic than the failure of Lehman appeared punchy at first glance but was also taken with a pinch of salt. Elsewhere, the Nasdaq also finished +1.05% and the Dow +0.12%. In Europe the Stoxx 600 (+0.70%) snapped a run of three consecutive days closing in the red. That coincided with the Euro weakening -0.74% which means it is around -1.50% down from the peak level of 1.2070 made on Tuesday.

Staying with Europe, we thought it would be worth highlighting a couple of reports from DB research yesterday. The first is Mark Wall’s ECB preview in which he runs through his expectations for the ECB meeting on September 7th. In summary Mark is not expecting a policy announcement. A QE exit step is expected in the next few months, but concerns about market overshooting suggests the exit signal could be weak in September. Mark believes the ECB will leave the current rhetoric framework - “confidence, patience, persistence and prudence” - largely intact in September while adding a mild verbal warning that the EUR exchange rate is “important” to growth and inflation. Rather than signal exit in advance, Mark thinks that the ECB strategy will be to wrap the exit decision in dovishness when it is announced in October.

On a related topic, George Saravelos published a report yesterday morning addressing what might be next for the Euro now that his 1.20 EUR/USD target had been met so soon. He notes the risk of verbal intervention from Draghi at the ECB meeting. However George also notes that despite this the Euro level does not appear particularly extreme and most importantly the ECB has not been driving recent appreciation anyway. ECB verbal rhetoric may cause a correction but is unlikely to be enough to derail Euro strength. George and his team see the risks as still skewed towards the Euro overshooting above 1.20 at some point  this year rather than permanently reversing lower.

Jumping to the latest in Asia now where the highlight has been China’s August manufacturing PMI which was slightly stronger than expected at 51.7 (vs 51.3 expected) and up from 51.4 in July. In the details new orders and business activity rose during the month. The non-manufacturing PMI did however weaken 1.1pts to 53.4. In Japan industrial production has slowed to a still solid +4.7% yoy (vs. +5.2% expected).

Markets have been a bit more mixed in Asia. Led by a retreat for banks, the Shanghai Comp (-0.65%) and Hang Seng (-0.57%) are both in the red, along with the Kospi (-0.20%). By contrast the Nikkei (+0.75%) and ASX (+0.69%) have firmed. Elsewhere, WTI Oil is flat following a third consecutive decline yesterday as Tropical Storm Harvey has now impacted c.20% of US’s refining capacity, but US gasoline prices continue to surge, up +6.12% this morning and so bringing the cumulative gain to around 20% over the past four days and prices to a fresh two-year high.

Away from the markets, yesterday Trump spoke in Missouri on his tax plan, warning Congress not to miss a “once in a generation opportunity” to boost the economy with a massive overhaul of the US tax code. However, the speech was more focused on “why” the US tax system needed to change, rather than providing details on “how” it can be change. He did say “Ideally….we would like to bring our business tax rate down to 15%” and that “I am fully committed to working with Congress to get this job done, and I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress”. Elsewhere on the Brexit talks, EU negotiator Barnier said he can’t agree to UK demands to be flexible until he knows what the UK wants, he said “to be flexible you need two points, our point and their point”, and that “we need to know their position and then I can be flexible”.

Back to that macro data yesterday. In the US, ahead of payrolls on Friday, the ADP employment change for August was higher than expected at 237k (vs 188k), the most since March. In light of this, our US team has raised the estimate for Friday’s official payrolls report by 15k to 200k. Elsewhere, US 2Q GDP was revised higher from 2.6% qoq to 3.0% qoq and stronger than expected (vs 2.7% expected) lifting through-year growth to 2.2% saar. While the stats are backward looking, it is encouraging that the revision has pushed quarterly growth to its highest level since 1Q15 after being driven by firmer estimates of final demand. Within the details, personal consumption was revised up to 3.3% qoq (vs 3.0% expected) and business investment was revised up 1.7pps to 6.9% saar. There were no revisions to the core PCE (+0.9% qoq).

Over in Germany, inflation data for August was slightly higher than expected at +0.2% mom (vs +0.1% expected), lifting the annual growth rate to +1.8% yoy (vs +1.7% expected). Spain’s HICP also rose +0.2% mom in August, lifting through-year inflation to +2.0% yoy. Elsewhere, the Eurozone’s August economic confidence index was better than expected at 111.9 (vs 111.3), which is the highest reading since July 2007. Confidence firmed across the industrial and service sectors in August, while the final reading for consumer confidence was in line at -1.5. Back to the UK, the BOE July mortgage approvals was slightly higher than expecte d at 68.7k (vs 65.5k), to be the strongest reading since March last year. Elsewhere, the credit lending was modestly softer than expected, with net consumer credit at 1.2bln (vs 1.5bln) and net lending on dwellings at 3.6bln (vs 3.8bln).

Looking at the day ahead, Germany’s July retail sales will be out in early morning (+2.9% yoy expected). Then we have the July unemployment rate for the Eurozone (9.1% expected) and Italy, along with the August unemployment change stats for Germany. Thereafter inflation data for the Eurozone (+1.2% yoy at the core), Italy and France are also due. Over in the US, as mentioned earlier the July PCE and personal income and spending data will be the focus, while initial jobless claims, continuing claims, pending home sales and Chicago PMI are also due. Away from the data, China President Xi Jinping will host the 9th BRICS summit.

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Mossad agent who infiltrated Daesh arrested in Libya: Israeli website

Libyan security forces have arrested a Mossad agent who held a leading position in Daesh in the north-eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, the Israeli website Inian Merkazi reported. The Hebrew website whose name translates to “Central Issues”, added that Ephraim Benjamin is a Jewish spy and that he mingled with Libyans following the 2011 revolution that resulted in the ouster of former dictator Moammer Ghaddafi. Masr Alarabia website described him as one of Mossad’s “Arabists” who are characterised by Arab features and who speak Arabic fluently in local dialects. Israeli Arabists are known for infiltrating Palestinian protests and arresting demonstrators, as well as assassinating anti-occupation Palestinian activists, according to Masr Alarabia. Benjamin had reportedly become a prominent imam of a […]

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Israel demolitions Arab properties in the Negev

Israeli bulldozers yesterday carried out demolitions and razed land belonging to Bedouins in the Negev under the protection of armed Israeli security forces. Eyewitnesses told Quds Press that Israel destroyed a container used for storage, as well as olive trees in the Al-Liqiya village. It also destroyed a water container and uprooted olive trees in the village of Al-Sayyid, while razing fences in Abu Talul. The witnesses added that Israeli bulldozers also demolished fences and a water collection point in Um Bateen and demolished a caravan in Hura. Read: For Israel displacing Bedouins is financially rewarding Nearly 240,000 Palestinians live in the Negev desert, half in villages and complexes built hundreds of years ago. The Israeli administration does not recognise […]

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US envoy: PA must take control of Gaza

The Palestinian Authority (PA) must resume its control over the besieged Gaza Strip, US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace envoy said yesterday. Speaking following a tour of the Gaza-Israel border Jason Greenblatt said: “It is clear that the Palestinian Authority needs to resume its role in the administration of Gaza, as Hamas has substantially harmed the people of Gaza and has failed to meet their most basic needs.” Greenblatt said he had “learned a great deal” from the border tour, particularly concerning the “challenges” facing the Israeli army, Israeli civilians living near the border, and Palestinians living in Gaza. He attributed the difficulties faced by Palestinians in Gaza to “Hamas’ mismanagement of humanitarian aid and its commitment to terrorist […]

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Euro Tumbles, Bunds Spike On Report ECB “Growing Worried” About Strong Currency

It's time to start worrying about currency wars again.

Moments ago, with the EURUSD trading just shy of 1.19 and having risen above the "red line in the sand for corporate profits" 1.20 mark earlier in the week, the ECB again used its favorite trial balloon news service, Reuters, to suggest that not only is Draghi not in any rush to announce tapering (or tightening) of the European central bank's QE and/or NIRP (something last week's Jackson Hole confirmed all too well), but that with a growing number of ECB policymakers worried about the strong Euro, there is an increasing chance of a "more gradual exit" from asset purchases, Reuters reported:


Some more details from Reuters:

Rapid gains by the euro against the dollar are worrying a growing number of policymakers at the ECB, raising the chance its asset purchases will be phased out only slowly, three sources familiar with discussions told Reuters. The scheme is due to expire at the end of 2017 but formal talks over its future are only beginning, meaning the European Central Bank is highly unlikely to take any decision at next Thursday’s rate meeting, the sources said.


Pressure is building for a gentle rather than a rapid reduction in the pace of asset buying from some policymakers, particularly in the bloc’s weaker economies, who are concerned that the strong euro could dampen inflation and hamper growth by making exports dearer, the sources said.


“The exchange rate has become a bigger issue,” one of the sources told Reuters. “It is now less favorable for an exit and a stronger argument for a muddle-through option.”


As the ECB prepares for what is its biggest policy decision in years, the worries over the euro show just how far it remains from achieving its goal of integrating the currency zone’s stubbornly divergent economies.


Germany and Northern Europe are ready to dial back monetary stimulus as their growth rates pick up, just as southern nations take on the added burden of uncompetitive exports on top of high unemployment. The debate also exposes the dilemma the ECB faces in trying to reconcile robust GDP growth with inflation -- which edged up across the euro zone to 1.5 percent in August -- expected to undershoot its target for years.


“The huge appreciation in the euro is already causing monetary tightening and is equivalent to an increase in interest rates,” another source said.

The ECB, which declined to comment to Reuters, has often said that exchange rates are set by the market and it does not target any particular level, although as 8 years of this nonsense have demonstrated that is pure nonsense. “You can’t have it both ways - a strong economy and at the same time a weak currency... You should also not call it euro ’strength’ but rather ’non-weakness’,” a third Reuters source said.

Of course, that won't stop the ECB from trying...

In any event, in immediate response to the news, the Euro tumbled to session lows...

... while Bund futures spike, now that the reduction in ECB stimulus measures has once again been delayed indefinitely.

And while verbal jawboning of the Euro is nothing new, this time the ECB has a hard limit: it is running out of Bunds to monetize: as such any meaningful extension of the €2.3 trillion scheme will run up against asset purchase limits that the ECB has itself imposed.

Without a change to the programme’s key parameters, the ECB could buy between 30 to 40 billion euros of bonds in the first half of 2018 but would be severely constrained thereafter, the sources said. 


It could further relax a requirement to buy bonds in proportion to each country’s ECB shareholding, or include new asset classes such as stocks, as raised in July by one policymaker but not given consideration, or non-performing bank loans.


For legal reasons the ECB is unlikely to remove a cap that limits it to buying only a third of each country’s debt, as Draghi himself suggested in July.

Slowly but surely, the currency wars that marked the early part of the global central bank reflation experiment, appear to be coming back, and in the meantime, being short the dollar - one of the most profitable trades of 2017 - is looking like an increasingly dangerous proposition.

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Arab collaborators not exempt from Israeli racism

As long as there have been national liberation struggles and resistance movements, there have been collaborators. The phenomenon is an old one. The oldest strategy in the proverbial Book of Imperialism is divide and rule: recruiting a sector of the population of the oppressed into the fold of the oppressor. In some cases, this sector will be an elite one, a comprador class, persuaded they have more in common with the imperial or occupying entity than with their own people. In other cases, religious or ethnic differences are emphasised in an attempt to instigate, invent or stoke sectarian or racial tensions. The Nazis in France had Philippe Pétain, the leader of the collaborating Vichy puppet regime. In Norway they had […]

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Two Explosions Reported At Arkema Chemical Plant In Texas

When the CEO of Arkema America, Richard Rowe, warned late Wednesday that the company is powerless to prevent an imminent explosion at its Crosby, TX chemical plant, all we could do was wait for the inevitable. We didn't have long to wait, because just a few hours later, on Thursday morning, Arkema said it has been notified about two explosions at its plant in Crosby, Texas.

At approximately 2:00am local time, the company announced that two explosions and black smoke were reported, the company said in a statement on Thursday. According to ABC, despite the evacuations an unknown number of people were taken to hospital.

Arkema confirming 2 explosions at their chemical plant + black smoke. EMS workers tell me people WERE taken to hospital. #abc13

— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) August 31, 2017

A sheriff’s deputy was among those taken to the hospital after inhaling fumes, according to a tweet from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Nine other deputies drove themselves to the hospital as a precaution.

One deputy taken to hospital after inhaling fumes from Archem plant in Crosby. 9 others drove themselves to hospital as precaution.

— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) August 31, 2017

Arkema had already evacuated workers, and local authorities had cleared the area prior to the blow. From the statement:

At approximately 2 a.m. CDT, we were notified by the Harris County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) of two explosions and black smoke coming from the Arkema Inc. plant in Crosby, Texas. Local officials had previously established an evacuation zone in an area 1.5 miles from our plant, based on their assessment of the situation.

An Arkema spokesperson stated late Wednesday that a fire at the site was inevitable. “The fire will happen. It will resemble a gasoline fire. It will be explosive and intense in nature... as the temperature rises, the natural state of these materials will decompose. A white smoke will result, and that will catch fire. So the fire is imminent. The question is when,” spokesperson Janet Smith said.

The Arkema Inc. chemical plant on Aug. 30

Rachel Moreno, a spokeswoman for the county fire marshal’s office, said it is unclear whether all residents obeyed the evacuation order for the 1.5 mile radius of the plant, adding that the office has received an unconfirmed report of a woman who may still be in the evacuation zone.

The company also said it is working closely with federal, state and local authorities to manage the situation, according to a statement on its website.

As Arkema stores organic peroxides at several locations on the site, the threat of additional explosions remains, it said, adding that the best course of action is to let the fire burn itself out.

We have been working closely with public officials to manage the implications of this situation, and have communicated with the public the potential for product to explode and cause an intense fire. Organic peroxides are extremely flammable and, as agreed with public officials, the best course of action is to let the fire burn itself out.


We want local residents to be aware that product is stored in multiple locations on the site, and a threat of additional explosion remains. Please do not return to the area within the evacuation zone until local emergency response authorities announce it is safe to do so.

Organic peroxides are a family of compounds that are used in a wide range of applications, such as making pharmaceuticals and construction materials.

As a reminder, on Wednesday the company said it has “no way to prevent” a potentially large explosion and fire at its facility near Houston, after flooding due to Tropical Storm Harvey. The Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas, some 25 miles northeast of Houston, was evacuated late Tuesday. Working with authorities, the company also urged everyone within a mile and a half of the plant to evacuate, and shut down a stretch of Highway 90 that runs alongside the plant, which produces organic peroxides for things like acrylic-based paint.

“We have an unprecedented 6 feet of water throughout the plant,” Arkema’s North American operations Chief Executive Rich Rowe said in a teleconference Wednesday with reporters. Rowe said that the plant lost primary power and two emergency backup power sources, which led to a shutdown of “critical refrigeration needed for our materials.” He said that means those materials “could now explode and cause a subsequent and intense fire,” and added that “the high water that exists on site, and the lack of power, leave us with no way to prevent it.”

Rowe said about 300 people in all have been evacuated, but said it wasn’t a mandatory evacuation, so he’s not certain whether the 1.5-mile radius around the facility is currently devoid of people. He said it is mostly a rural area, so there are “a limited number of homes” within the area. Rowe said local officials told him the water level in the area could actually continue to rise over the course of the next three to six days, and as such Arkema, which is based in France, believes the chemicals will start to degrade well before that happens.

“And once the chemicals begin to degrade we would be in a situation where we could be looking at a fire and/or an explosion,” he said. As soon as the chemicals begin to degrade they start to “self-accelerate” in a type of no-turning-back mode, he added.

Rowe didn’t get specific about the amount of chemicals on site or just how big the blast might be, except to say that the analysis of the quantity of chemical is what led authorities to decide on the 1.5-mile evacuation zone they deemed appropriate.

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Israel closes Palestinian news network in Hebron

Israeli occupation forces this morning closed the headquarters of a media network in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron accusing it of “incitement”. The Israeli occupation forces closed the headquarters of the Al-Hureyia media network. In a statement, the group said occupation forces raided its headquarters and confiscated broadcasting and media equipment which led to the suspension of the radio station’s work. A number of its staff members were detained and equipment destroyed. The fate of the workers remains unknown. The station has also been ordered to close for six months for alleged “incitement” following an Israeli army decision. Read: Israel raids PalMedia headquarters in Ramallah The network includes Radio Liberty Forum, Freedom of Information Network and Nawras TV. The […]

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Eid preparations in Egypt

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