A growing Chinese military presence in the Sea of Japan is becoming an issue that Tokyo cannot overlook.
On Jan. 5, three Chinese naval vessels sailed through the Tsugaru Strait between Japan’s main island and the northernmost island of Hokkaido into the Sea of Japan. Four days later, a Chinese air force fleet entered the sea by flying over the waters between the southern Japanese island of Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula.
According to the Joint Staff of the Japanese Defense Ministry, the fleet consisted of six bombers, which are capable of carrying cruise missiles, an early warning aircraft and an intelligence-gathering plane. With an additional fighter jet as an escort and a refueling aircraft, the fleet could have been ready to bomb ground targets.
An even more consequential move by the Chinese military took place in February last year. A Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol aircraft and an escort vessel spotted an unidentified submarine sailing underwater in the contiguous zone between Japan and South Korea and emerging in the East China Sea. The submarine was widely believed to be Chinese, although Japan’s Defense Ministry did not confirm its country of origin. Sailing in a contiguous zone does not contravene international law as the area lies outside a country’s territorial waters. Still, the ministry published the information in order to let the vessel’s proprietor know it was being watched.
China has been busy placing military installations on reclaimed land around reefs and shoals in the South China Sea. In the East China Sea, Beijing is now able to put military pressure on Japan’s Coast Guard and Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces more frequently. An advance into the Sea of Japan may be part of a new objective: to deploy submarine-launched ballistic missiles there.
In its latest annual letter, released at 8am on Saturday, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway said Q4 profit rose 15% on a rise in gains from investment. Net income rose to $6.29 billion, or $3,823 a share, from $5.48 billion, or $3,333 the previous year, while operating earnings, which exclude some investment results, were $2,665 a share, a slight miss to the $2,717 consensus estimate. In 2016, the 86-year-old billionaire added new companies to his assorted conglomerate portfolio, and completed the purchases of battery giant Duracell and aerospace supplier Precision Castparts, which helped to boost profit in his company’s manufacturing segment.
Among other notably operational highlights, Berkshire said it had booked a $1.2 billion gain from converting its preferred stake in Dow Chemical to common stock, and that it had sold all of the Dow common it converted by Dec. 31. Berkshire also revealed that its massive holdings of Apple stock, which as of December 31, had risen to 61.2 million shares making Berkshire one of the Top 10 holders of Apple, was acquired last year for $6.747 billion, or an average of roughly $110 per share. The stake was valued at more than $8.3 billion as of Friday’s $136.66 closing price, leading to a $1.6 billion unbooked gain. In addition to apple, Berkshire’s other Top 15 investments are laid out below:
Ironically, even though Berkshire – along with Goldman and JPM – has been among the biggest beneficiaries of the “Trump rally”, with Berkshire Class A shares climibg 15% since Nov. 8, bringing the company’s market capitalization above $400 billion for the first time, beating the S&P’s 11% increase, there were no explicit mentions of Donald Trump’s name anywhere in the letter. There were, however, various veiled references to the new president.
Just a few hours after Trump warned during his CPAC speech that “we’re gonna do something about the media”, he did just that after the White House barred a number of news outlets from covering Sean Spicer’s Q&A session on Friday afternoon. Spicer decided to hold an off-camera “gaggle” with reporters inside his West Wing office instead of the traditional on-camera briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room according to press reports.
Among the outlets not permitted to cover the gaggle were various news organizations that Trump has singled out in the past including CNN, The NYT, The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News.
Several non mainstream outlets were allowed into Spicer’s office, including Breitbart, the Washington Times and One America News Network. Several other major news organizations were also let in to cover the gaggle. That group included ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Reuters and Bloomberg, however AP and Time have boycotted the event.
The White House Correspondents’ Association sharply criticized the decision.
“The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House,” Jeff Mason, the association’s president, said in a statement. “We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not,” he added. “The board will be discussing this further with White House staff.”
Investors will be tuning in for remarks from a handful of Federal Reserve policymakers and US President Donald Trump’s first speech to Congress.
Here’s what to watch in the coming days.
US President Donald Trump will deliver his televised address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. Newly inaugurated presidents often deliver a speech instead of a formal State of the Union address. Investors will be hoping for more details on the policy front and updates on when these could be implemented — as Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary, has already indicated that Mr Trump’s administration would like to get tax reform pushed through by August, though he stopped short of outlining any additional details.
Mr Trump’s speech comes after legal battles over his travel ban, a shake-up of his national security team and concerns over contacts between representatives of Mr Trump’s campaign and Russia.
“We expect they (investors) will be only modestly disappointed by a general restatement of Trump’s priorities,” said analysts at TD Securities. “Comments suggesting close cooperation with vongressional Republicans would be positive for markets; emphasis on populist measures or a strident, antagonistic tone would be negative.”
The Dow Jones industrial average capped off another profitable week by stretching its string of all-time closing highs to 11 sessions, its longest record-setting run since 1987.
A late-day rally propelled the Dow to its eleventh up day in a row and third straight week of gains, keeping alive the bullish vibe that has been in place since Feb. 9. Investors will quickly shift their focus to next week’s main event: President Trump’s key address to Congress Tuesday, a speech that Wall Street hopes will be laser-focused on his administration’s economic agenda.
The blue chip stock gauge, which has not finished down since Feb 8, has rallied nearly 770 points, or about 4%, in its hot streak. On Friday, after trading in negative territory for most of the day, it eked out a gain of 11.44 points to close at a record 20,821.76. The Dow’s 11-session winning streak matches a comparable run that ended back on Jan. 3, 1992, or 25 years ago.
More important, however, the Dow is chasing a string of 13 consecutive “record” closes dating back to Jan. 20, 1987
Wall Street is hoping that Trump will lay out in more detail his agenda of tax cuts for businesses and the middle class, as well as spending plans to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure. There is increasing concern among investors that Trump’s growth-friendly policies might not materialize fast enough to merit the sharp rise in stock prices.