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.”
The Trump-Putin honeymoon continues to chill… that is if Trump’s top foreign policy advisors speak for the president, which remains very much unclear.
As discussed yesterday, in the clearest sign yet that when it comes to diplomacy with Russia, there are two clear axes developing within the Trump administration: a Pence/Mattis/Haley foreign policy and a Trump/Bannon/Miller foreign policy, Vice President Mike Pence told the crowd at the Munich Security Conference that he would “hold Russia accountable” even as he vowed “unwavering support” for NATO. This prompted the following interesting scene moments later, as recounted by Bloomberg.
Shortly after Vice President Mike Pence pledged to “hold Russia to account” while looking for common ground in a speech to European allies, a hawkish Russian legislator reached out to shake his hand as he passed through a crowded hotel corridor.
“Mr. Vice President, I am from Moscow and we hope we will reach those arrangements you were talking about,” said Alexei Pushkov, a member of the defense committee in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament. He enthusiastically told reporters afterward that he saw the Vice President’s smile as a good sign.
Warning India against playing the ‘Taiwan card’, an op-ed article in Global Times said that New Delhi will suffer losses by challenging “one China” policy.
The editorial titled ‘New Delhi will suffer losses if it plays Taiwan card’ reminded India that even the new US President Donald Trump has made a U-turn on challenging the ”one China” policy.
“By challenging China over the Taiwan question, India is playing with fire. At a time when new US President Donald Trump has put the brakes on challenging China over the Taiwan question, agreeing to change course and respecting the “one China” policy, India stands out as a provocateur,” the article said .
“High-level visits between India and Taiwan are not very frequent, so why did India invite the Taiwan delegation to visit at this time?” the article asked referring to Taiwanese MPs delegation.
It is the first such visit since the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen administration took office, it said.
Tsai, who won on elections last year is a strong supporter of Taiwan’s independence from China.
Global large-and-mid capitalisation stocks have climbed to within easy striking distance of setting a new all-time high for the first time in almost two years, led by a strong performance by US equities.
The MSCI all-world index, which tracks companies in 46 countries that account for 85 per cent of the investable equities market, closed on Monday at 441.14, just 0.35 per cent away from the all-time high it struck in May 2015.
The gauge has climbed by 23.5 per cent over the past 12 months, partly reflecting a sharp rebound from a fall at the start of last year.
Equity bourses around the world have been lifted by a brightening outlook for the world economy, along with a recovery in the price of oil.
World Bank economists reckon global growth will accelerate from 2.3 per cent in 2016, to 2.7 per cent this year, and 2.9 per cent the next year. The optimism has come as central banks in Europe and Asia have loosened monetary policy in a bid to spur faster growth.
In the US, the Federal Reserve has pledged to only “gradually” tighten policy. Some economists have also marked-up their estimates for the rate of expansion for the world’s biggest developed economy on expectations that Donald Trump and a Republican Congress will roll-out business-friendly policies.
The US Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump’s nomination for treasury secretary, a former Goldman Sachs banker and hedge fund manager.
The Senate confirmed Steve Mnuchin’s nomination to be secretary of the Department of the Treasury by a vote of 53-47.
Mr Mnuchin spent 17 years at Goldman before becoming a hedge fund manager, film financier and chairman of Pasadena-based OneWest Bank. His confirmation as secretary means that former Goldman employees hold two of the top economic jobs in the US, as former president and chief operating officer Gary Cohn left the bank to become director of the White House’s National Economic Council.
Stocks around the world continued to push higher Monday, and U.S. indexes again hit records. Bond yields climbed.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 12.15 points, or 0.5%, to close at a record 2,328.25 and topped $20 trillion in market value for the first time ever. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 142.79 points, or 0.7%, to an all-time closing high of 20,412.16. The Nasdaq composite gained 29.83 points, or 0.5%, to a record 5,763.96.
Treasury yields also rose as the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.43% from 2.41% late Friday. Two-year and 30-year Treasury yields also notched higher.
Roughly five stocks rose for every three that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Financial stocks helped lead the way, and those in the S&P 500 rose 1.3%. That’s the largest gain among the 11 sectors that make up the index. Raw-material producers and industrial companies were also strong.
Stocks resumed their upward climb last week after stalling for a couple weeks. Strong earnings reports have helped drive the gains. The majority of companies in the S&P 500 that have reported fourth-quarter earnings so far, 69%, have beaten Wall Street’s expectations, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. It’s mostly come through companies keeping control of costs better than analysts were forecasting.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s semiannual testimony takes the spotlight next week as investors watch for clues on US monetary policy and her take on the current political climate.
Here’s what to watch in the coming days.
Ms Yellen will deliver her “Humphrey Hawkins” testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, followed by an appearance before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.
The Fed has signalled three interest rate rises this year. Sticking to its mantra that all meetings are ‘live’, investors will watch for closely watch “how forceful she is in promoting the notion that March is still on the table,” said Tom Porcelli of RBC Capital Markets.
Indeed, federal fund futures currently imply a 13.3 per cent chance of a rate rise next month, according to CME data.
“Given the uncertainty of timing on the fiscal agenda and the relatively modest uptick in inflation thus far this year, we think it will be difficult for the committee to get enough members on board for a hike in March (not to mention that the French election in late April/early May looms large as a potential catalyst for global volatility),” Mr Porcelli said. “But Yellen could certainly move the “perception” needle on this.”
In the Q&A session, Ms Yellen will likely be grilled on Fed independence, the central bank’s economic outlook and its view on Mr Trump’s planned proposals.
Verbatim on what Trump said on currencies in his press conference with Abe
Exactly what Donald Trump said regarding currency devaluation.
“As far as currency devaluations, I’ve been complaining about that for a long time. I believe that we will all eventually and probably very much sooner than a lot of people understand or think; we will be all at a level playing field. Because that’s the only way it’s fair. That’s the only way you can fairly compete on trade and other things. And we will be on that field and we will all be working very hard to do great for our country. But it has to be fair and we will make it fair. I think the United States is going to be an even bigger player than it is right now, by a lot, when it comes to trade. A lot of that will have to do with our tax policy, which you’ll be seeing in the not-too-distant future. We’ll have an incentive-based policy, much more so than we have right now. Right now nobody even knows what policy we have. We’re working with Congress, we’re working with Paul Ryan, we’re working with Mitch McConnell and I think people are going to be very, very impressed.”