Tokyo stocks ended nearly flat on Monday as the market’s gains in the morning were erased by profit-taking after recent rallies.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended up 13.74 points, or 0.08 percent, from Friday at 17,635.14. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 3.44 points, or 0.24 percent, higher at 1,413.05.
Gainers were led by oil and coal, mining and trading, while decliners were led by air transport, rubber and bank issues.
Responses to the decline in world oil prices have been mystifying — flummoxing, in fact. The secretary general of OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), Abdullah Al-Badri, said last week that speculation was to blame for the decline by 15% since the last increase in production. He ceremoniously denied that there was any attempt by the cartel to discourage production from shale or oil sands, or to put political pressure on Iran or Russia. In general, the world’s media have bought into the theory that discouragement of production from new sources that would reduce oil imports, especially by the United States, is the real reason for increased production and reduced price.
But Al-Badri has a limited mandate to give the agreed official line of OPEC and has no authority to speak for the motives of the individual member states, and even less standing to mind-read the authorities in those countries and speak for them. OPEC is a slippery cartel at the best of times, many of whose members are virtually, if not actually, at war with each other; the member states don’t necessarily speak truthfully among themselves and anything uttered on behalf of the whole group should be treated with caution. Some member states, including Iraq, Libya and Nigeria, do not really speak for the oil-exporting regions in the country, and there are many other oil-producing countries that either do not export, or even if they do, are not in OPEC, including Canada, Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States.>> Read More
U.S. President Barack Obama is “recklessly” spreading rumours of a Pyongyang-orchestrated cyberattack of Sony Pictures, North Korea says, as it warns of strikes against the White House, Pentagon and “the whole U.S. mainland, that cesspool of terrorism.”
Such rhetoric is routine from North Korea’s massive propaganda machine during times of high tension with Washington. But a long statement from the powerful National Defence Commission late Sunday also underscores Pyongyang’s sensitivity at a movie whose plot focuses on the assassination of its leader Kim Jong-un, who is the beneficiary of a decades-long cult of personality built around his family dynasty.
The U.S. blames North Korea for the cyberattack that escalated to threats of terror attacks against U.S. movie theatres and caused Sony to cancel The Interview’s release.
Obama, who promised to respond “proportionately” to the attack, told CNN’s State of the Union in an interview broadcast Sunday that Washington is reviewing whether to put North Korea back on its list of state sponsors of terrorism>> Read More
It is set to be one of the toughest US presidential races and certainly its most expensive. With 687 days to go to election day, the 2016 campaign is already rich with storylines as candidates hone their messages and handshakes for the gruelling primary schedule ahead.
Will voters warm to another contest between America’s two modern political dynasties in Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush? Or will other, less well-known candidates capitalise on unrest in the US over its widening economic and social fault lines and growing disquiet over its role as the world’s policeman?
For Republicans, the field will be one of the most crowded in years, with establishment favourites such as Mr Bush and Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, poised to battle candidates who have attracted huge followings among the party’s grassroots activists — such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.
With no clear frontrunner, it will also be one of the most open presidential races, matching up candidates with strong political track records but divergent stances on core Republican issues such as immigration, national security and gay marriage.>> Read More