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Tue, 28th February 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “president of the united states” Tag

Overnight US Market :Dow closed up 15.68 points. Closes at a record for 12th straight day, longest streak since 1987

Stocks rose Monday as the Dow closed at a record high for a twelfth straight day, something it hasn’t done since Jan. 1987 when it ran off 13 straight record closes to start the year, according to Bespoke Investment Group.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 15.68 points, or 0.1%, to 20,837.44. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 2.39, or  0.1%, to 2369.73 and the Nasdaq composite index gained 16.59, or 0.3%, to 5861.90.

Energy stocks led the gainers as the price of crude rose.  Benchmark U.S. crude was up 20 cents, or 0.4%, at $54.15 a barrel in New York. The contract fell 46 cents on Friday.

Investors were looking ahead to President Donald Trump’s speech to Congress on Tuesday for details of promised tax cuts and infrastructure spending. U.S. stocks have benefited from Trump’s promise of pro-business changes, but investors are waiting to see  how large and rapid those changes will be.

During a meeting with governors Monday, Trump noted that his upcoming budget would include a big boost to defense spending. The White House separately said that the budget would include a $54 billion increase in defense spending while imposing corresponding cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid.

Investors were also looking ahead to Trump’s speech Tuesday to a joint session of Congress for details of how he plans to carry out promises to cut taxes and step up infrastructure spending.

n Europe, Germany’s DAX rose 0.2%, while France’s CAC-40 was flat. London’s FTSE-100 added 0.1% Major indexes in Asia posted losses. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.9%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 0.2%. Seoul’s Kospi shed 0.4%.

Iran Holds Massive Naval Drill Over 2 Million Sq. Kilometer Area

With little active US presence in the region (see latest naval map below), on Sunday Iran launched a massive naval drill at the mouth of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Ships, submarines and helicopters will take part in the drills across an area of about 2 million square kilometers (772,000 square miles) and marines will showcase their skills along Iran’s southeastern coast, the state news agency IRNA said even as tensions with the United States continue to build after U.S President Donald Trump put Tehran “on notice”.

Iran’s annual exercises will be held in the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman, the Bab el-Mandab and northern parts of the Indian Ocean, to train in the fight against terrorism and piracy, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said, quoted by Reuters. Today’s drill marks the last phase of war games that started in 2016, Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported. The exercise, codenamed ‘Velayat 95’, kicked off in Iran’s south following an order from Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari.

Apart from the main drills, Iran’s Navy commando units are conducting special operations in the southeastern Makran region. Last June, Sayyari said that Tehran was planning to carry out 20 military drills before March 2017. Iranian officials insist that the war games do not violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the nuclear deal between Iran and the Group 5+1 signed in January of 2016.

The UN nuclear watchdog said on Saturday that Iran has been found to be in full compliance with the nuclear deal, but the report comes against a backdrop of rising tensions between Tehran and Washington.

Earlier this month, then-US National Security Advisor Michael Flynn said that “Iran had been put formally on notice” after Tehran fired a ballistic missile. Later in February, President Trump tweeted that “Iran is playing with fire,” promising that he won’t be as “kind as [former President] Obama” and warned the Islamic Republic after its ballistic missile test on Jan. 29 that it was playing with fire and all U.S. options were on the table.

In response, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, blasted the US, saying Tehran remains “unmoved” by threats, but will use weapons “only in self-defense.” Last month, a US Navy destroyer fired warning shots at four Iranian military ships that were allegedly approaching them at high speed near the Strait of Hormuz.

The latest US naval deployment shows that while the South China Sea has been a recent focus of the US navy, the only US ship in the region is the LHD 8 Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, although the George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier is currently headed for the region.

Trump Won’t Attend White House Correspondents’ Dinner

US President Donald Trump will not attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, he announced on Twitter.

In a continuation of his vendetta against the press, the US president says he won’t attend the traditional White House Correspondents’ Dinner in April.

 

​The announcement comes amid reports that CNN, MSNBC and other organizations were thinking of boycotting the evening to protest their treatment at the hands of the new administration. This includes being called “a danger to our country” by the president and having their access to officials limited. Buzzfeed, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Daily News, the Hill and Politico were not invited to an off-camera but on-the-record press gaggle with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer yesterday, a move CNN called “unacceptable.”

The annual dinner at the Washington Hilton, which raises money for journalism scholarships and awards, has turned into a celebrity event that some journalists have criticized as a sign the Washington press is becoming too cozy with the nation’s power structures.

Trump himself was brutally roasted when he attended as a guest in 2011 for pushing the Obama “birther” controversy.

US mulls blacklisting North Korea as terror sponsor state again

The United States is considering reinstating North Korea on its list of state sponsors of terrorism following the recent killing of the North Korean leader’s half-brother in Malaysia, government and diplomatic sources said Saturday.

The administration of President Donald Trump is gathering and analyzing information on the Feb. 13 murder of Kim Jong Nam, in which Malaysian police said the deadly VX nerve gas agent was used, according to the sources.

 Voices calling for tougher measures against Pyongyang are growing particularly among U.S. lawmakers in the wake of the launch of a new variety of ballistic missile by North Korea just a day before the slaying of the estranged brother of the North’s leader Kim Jong Un.

But the administration could take time to reach a decision on blacklisting North Korea as some officials in the government are concerned such action may further narrow the window of opportunity for dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.

Citing people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported that plans for back-channel talks in New York between U.S. and North Korean officials were scuttled Friday after the State Department withdrew visa approvals for Pyongyang’s top envoy on U.S. relations.

A country is placed on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism if the U.S. secretary of state determines it to have repeatedly aided acts of international terrorism. Its designation comes with financial sanctions, a ban on arms exports to the country and other measures.

Malaysian authorities identified at least eight North Koreans, including an official of the North Korean Embassy in the country, suspected of being involved in the Feb. 13 killing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

White House Bars CNN, NYT, Others From Media Briefing

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.”

Russia: “The New American Leaders Are Repeating Obama’s Mistakes”

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.

US Historian Predicts Trump’s Presidency Will Be Second Shortest in History

trump donald trump donald blinking blinkyTrump’s presidency might be second shortest in US history, says Ronald Feinman of Florida Atlantic University. William Henry Harrison holds the record for the shortest administration at 31 days. Trump looks set to beat that in just a couple of days; however, he has yet to outrule James A. Garfield, who was president for 199 days in 1881, but died “after terrible suffering and medical malpractice” when he was shot by an assassin. 

If Trump manages to eclipse Garfield, the next contender to beat is Zachary Taylor, who served 16 months and five days for the third  shortest presidential term in US history.

According to Feinman, who insisted that Hillary Clinton would win November’s presidential election with a 49 to 44 percent electoral majority, Trump will be either impeached or forced to resign in a matter of weeks. After that, Vice President Mike Pence will take the reins, according to US law.

So why would that happen, one might ask? According to Feinman’s blog post, the greatest sin of Donald Trump is failing to continue acting as US presidents did before him. Feinman cites the “abrupt ending of a phone call to the Australian Prime Minister, [US’s] loyal ally in four wars in the past;” Trump’s “seeming lack of respect for Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel;” and “lack of strong support for NATO” as reasons for a possible premature ending to his administration. Feinman does not trouble himself to speculate as to whether the aforementioned respect and support are justified, though. He also names Trump’s puzzling attitude towards the longstanding One-China Policy as another reason he won’t be around long.

Senate confirms Steven Mnuchin as US Treasury secretary

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.

Next Week :Yellen testimony, US data, Netanyahu visit

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.

Yellen testimony

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.

US data

Trump tweets can change how markets see a company’s credit risk – S&P

A tweet from US President Donald Trump can move markets. It may also move the market’s perception of the credit risk posed by a company named in one of the presidential posts, according to a report from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

“Trump’s willingness to directly call out firms over Twitter has introduced a never-before-seen dynamic to the markets and, correspondingly, it has affected the market-implied credit risk for individual countries,” said Jim Elder, director of corporate and financial institutions at S&P Global Markets Intelligence.

“Since his election, and based on market reactions, the calculations of our Probability of Market Default Signals (PDMS) model have shown a short-term impact on the credit quality of individual firms that have entered his cross-hairs, for better or worse,” he added.

But the impact can vary from tweet to tweet, the report found.