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Truce Collapses, Missiles Fly Over Gaza, With 137 Israelis Still In Hamas Captivity

Truce Collapses, Missiles Fly Over Gaza, With 137 Israelis Still In Hamas Captivity The Gaza truce has collapsed and Israel has resumed its bombing campaign of the Strip, following a full week of ceasefire and seven rounds of hostage/prisoner exchanges. Qatar and Egypt were reportedly pressing to extend the temporary pause in fighting for another two days, but Israel was not satisfied with the list of captives offered. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have been looking into Hamas claims that the two young Bibas brothers were killed. "Israeli military has informed Bibas family members it is assessing a Hamas claim that the youngest Israeli hostage, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, his brother Ariel, 4, and their mother Shiri are no longer alive," CNN reports. This grim and tragic revelation is likely what left Israel with less incentive to keep the ceasefire going, also as pressure has mounted from ultra-conservative circles within Netanyahu's own ruling coalition to take the fight back to Hamas, and to see through the vow of eliminating the terror group.  Another big factor was Thursday's terror attack involving a pair of Palestinian gunmen who unleashed M16 and pistol fire on a crowd waiting at a Jerusalem bus stop, killing three Israelis and injuring 16. Shortly after the attack, Hamas claimed responsibility. It's likely that negotiators in Doha are still scrambling to get a ceasefire urgently back in place. After all, Israel says there are still 137 hostages in Hamas captivity, which also includes some Americans. In total 110 were returned home over the past week, with hundreds of Palestinian prisoners released as part of the swap. The Times of Israel details of those who remain captive:  Among those still in captivity after the end of the truce Friday are 115 men, 20 women and two children, government spokesperson Eylon Levy says. Ten of the hostages are 75 and older, he says. The majority, or 126, are Israeli and 11 are foreign nationals, including eight from Thailand. Levy lists the youngest hostage, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, his 4-year-old brother Ariel and their mother Shiri as among the hostages. The military has said it is investigating a Hamas claim that the boys and their mother were killed. Dozens of Palestinians have been reported killed after airstrikes started again Friday morning... Israel renewed its bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip on Friday morning after talks to extend the truce which went into effect a week ago had failed. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed by the new bombardments, which hit buildings in Khan Younis, Rafah and northern Gaza. pic.twitter.com/ZGCXSycNaG — Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) December 1, 2023 Israel and mediators in Qatar were able to secure the release of most of the women and children hostages, as the last days have seen, but still 20 women remain along with the possibly still alive Bibas brothers, fate unknown. Israel as of Thursday welcomed eight more Israelis back from Hamas captivity. The IDF is meanwhile already dropping leaflets over parts of southern Israel telling civilians to leave their homes and leave the area. Prior to the truce, there were sporadic bombardments of parts of the south. But now it looks like the IDF will take the fight to the southern half too, even after Secretary of State Blinken's urgings not to, conveyed to PM Netanyahu yesterday. Blinken flew out of Tel Aviv as IDF warplanes began the renewed bombing campaign... As Israel resumed its attack on Gaza today, @SecBlinken's "motorcade sped out of his hotel in Israel on its way to the Tel Aviv airport... Asked onboard his plane, Blinken declined to comment." Reminds me of when Ford and Kissinger visited Indonesia in December 1975 and gave the… pic.twitter.com/HOHe6VHjur — Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) December 1, 2023 Rockets have resumed being fired from Gaza, and Israel is again evacuating some southern communities, as both sides could once again be settling in for a 'long war'. Rockets could also once again be coming from southern Lebanon. Hezbollah is likely to rejoin the fight. On Thursday Blinken had urged Netanyahu to avoid killing civilians and that the soaring Gaza death toll is increasingly turning world opinion against Israel. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/01/2023 - 08:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 1st, 2023

Futures Soar After Tech Earnings Blowout, Putting S&P On Track For Gains In 13 Of Past 14 Weeks

Futures Soar After Tech Earnings Blowout, Putting S&P On Track For Gains In 13 Of Past 14 Weeks US futures and global markets rallied on Friday after tech megacaps Meta and Amazon.com posted blowout earnings (even as Apple dropped on a plunge in China sales and disappointing guidance) and as investors awaited a jobs report expected to support the case for interest-rate cuts. As of 7:30am, S&P 500 futures rose 0.7% while the Nasdaq 100 rose 1% after the indexes advanced by more than 1% Thursday. Rates were flat with 10Y yields unchanged around 3.88% while the dollar dropped and oil extended losses. All eyes will be on today's jobs report; we also get the latest Factory Orders, Durables Goods and Michigan sentiment (and inflation outlook) prints. The sharp gains in the past two days meant that the S&P is once again on track for aweekly gain, which will make it 13 increases in the past 14 weeks! In premarket trading, Meta soared 17% and Amazon rallied 7.1% after the tech behemoths smashed quarterly profit expectations. The pair’s results boosted social media and e-commerce peers, with Snap up 6.8% and Shopify rising 4.8%. Apple slipped after its earnings showed weakness in China. Big Oil added to the earnings buzz Friday, with Chevron and Exxon Mobil shares rising after both beat profit expectations. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Atlassian (TEAM US) shares fell 8.6% as analysts said the application software company’s cloud metrics came in short of expectations. Amazon (AMZN) shares jumped 6.7% after fourth-quarter results beat expectations and the company’s outlook for operating income surpassed estimates. Analysts cited operating income and the company’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) businesses as highlights. Apple (AAPL US) shares fell 2.7% after weakness out of the greater China region overshadowed strong results in most product categories. Analysts expect that competition in China will intensify. Intel (INTC US) shares fell 1.2% following a Wall Street Journal report that the chipmaker is delaying a $20 billion chip facility planned for Ohio, sparking worries over its capital expenditure plans. Meta Platforms (META US) jumps 18% after the Facebook parent reported fourth-quarter results that beat expectations and gave an outlook that is seen as strong. It also introduced its first ever dividend. Skechers (SKX US) shares slid 10% after the footwear company issued full-year sales and earnings per share guidance that trailed consensus estimates. Solo Brands (DTC US) fell 2.5% as JPMorgan double-downgrades the stock to its only underweight rating, citing growing concerns around shifts in the outdoor product retailer’s business model since its IPO. After a torrid week there is one more major market event: Friday’s US jobs report is expected to show a slower hiring pace in 2023 after figures out Thursday showed rising jobless claims,  and following annual revisions, indicating the labor market was softer than realized (full preview is here). Wall Street expects 185K payroll gains with a wide range of forecast between 120K and 300K. Bloomberg economists see the unemployment rate edging up to 3.8%, from 3.7% in December. Investors will parse monthly US jobs figures due later for confirmation of further cooling in the labor market that might encourage policy easing by the Federal Reserve. “Any move closer to 4% could see markets changing bets on when Fed cuts could begin,” economists at Rand Merchant Bank in Johannesburg said in a note to clients. Investors will also continue to closely track developments around smaller banks as an index for the sector heads for its worst week since the fallout from the banking crisis last May. New York Community Bancorp has plunged 45% since shocking investors Wednesday by reducing its dividend, posting a quarterly loss and ramping up loan-loss provisions for exposure to commercial real estate. Meanwhile, as investors rush into technology stocks, Bank of America strategists said they see similarities with the bubble of 1999, with markets assuming that the economy will perform strongly, despite tighter monetary policy. While falling yields were pushing the Nasdaq higher in the fourth quarter, the script has now flipped to both rising over the past four weeks. This price action would typically only occur after a recession, such as in 2009 or the dot-com bubble around the turn of the century, BofA strategists led by Michael Hartnett wrote on a note. Hartnett’s view on the rising dominance of tech stocks resembles a warning by JPMorgan strategists earlier this week that the US equity market is increasingly drawing similarities with the dot-com bubble. European stocks are also higher, led by real estate and auto names. The Stoxx 600 is on course for back-to-back weekly gains for the first time this year, with most subgroups on the regional benchmark notching gains, with the real estate and automotive subindexes the biggest risers, while the energy sector the biggest laggard. Mercedes-Benz Group AG shares rose as much as 3.3% and Danske Bank climbed 6.7%. Here are the biggest movers Friday: Danske Bank shares rise as much as 6.5%, the most in three months, after reporting results, with Jefferies saying capital distributions are the “key positive” element Vallourec climbs as much as 9.6% after French tube-maker reported “good” preliminary fourth-quarter Ebitda that beat estimates, and will likely also beat 2023 expectations, Oddo says Zalando rises as much as 5.7% after Morgan Stnaley raised its rating on the European fashion platform to overweight, saying it will be a key online volume share winner as inflation slows OCI jumps to highest since April after the stock was raised to buy by Berenberg, which flags “lots of cash, lots of options” as fertilizer maker is about to unlock $6.1b of divestment proceeds SAP gains as much as 2.2% to a record high after Jefferies upgraded the software firm to buy, saying there is now “no reason to question growth” given elevated cloud revenue in its pipeline Mercedes rises as much as 3.3% after reporting preliminary industrial free cash flow for the full year that beat the average analyst estimate, with Deutsche Bank seeing upside potential Delivery Hero falls as much as 13% to record lows after Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times reported that the food delivery firm’s talks to sell its Southeast Asia business to Grab collapsed Electrolux falls as much as 6.8% after the Swedish home appliances firm flagged a gloomy outlook for the first half of 2024, according to Citi. It also failed to pay a dividend last year Lem shares fall as much as 8.2%, most since July 2022, after the Swiss electrical component manufacturer’s results missed estimates and it cut its sale guidance YouGov falls as much as 2.5%, dropping from a one-month high hit yesterday, after suffering a slow start to the financial year because of the challenging macro-economic environment Close Brothers falls as much as 5% as RBC cuts its recommendation on the UK bank to sector perform as it expects shares to be held back by FCA reviews into motor loans and premium finance Earlier in the session, the picture was more mixed in Asia, where key Chinese benchmarks pared steep declines in a session marked by wild swings. A broader gauge of the region’s stocks climbed 0.7% with South Korean shares leading the charge. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose as much as 1.1%, with Tencent among the biggest contributors to the gauge’s gain after China approved a slew of online games. South Korea’s benchmark Kospi headed for its best week since November 2022, boosted by automakers and other holding firms amid a push by authorities for better valuations. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp were both initially boosted with outperformance in automakers after their January delivery updates, while tech names were supported after China's NPPA approved 32 imported online games. However, stocks then gradually reversed course after the PBoC continued to drain liquidity despite next week's Lunar New Year holiday. Later in the session Chinese stocks rebounded shortly after the Shanghai Composite fell to fresh multi-year lows under 2,700; with some highlighting increased capital flows from Hong Kong via Stock Connect Nikkei 225 gained with headlines dominated by another busy day of earnings results, while Aozora Bank suffered another double-digit drop after it recently flagged losses linked to US commercial property loans. ASX 200 printed fresh all-time highs with real estate and tech front running the gains amid softer yields. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.1% while the Australian dollar tops the G-10 FX leaderboard, rising 0.5% versus the greenback. The yen is among the weakest, dropping 0.2%. AUD/USD rose as much as 0.5% to 0.6603 as the Australian dollar led G-10 gains against the dollar on bolstered risk appetite; Japanese yen led G-10 losses GBP/USD rose as much as 0.2% to 1.2768, the highest level in over a week, as markets bet on the BOE lagging other major central banks in cutting rates; Gilts underperformed Treasuries and EGBs with front-end yields climbing 6-8bps In rates, Treasuries were unchanged with the curve flatter, pushing 2s10s and 5s30s spreads beyond Thursday’s lows. The move was led by pronounced bear-flattening of gilts curve, a laggard among core European rates. Front-end yields cheaper by around 3bp with long-end slightly richer on the day, leaving 2s10s, 5s30s spreads flatter by 2.5bp and 2bp. Two-year yields rose 2bps to 4.22%, while 10-year yields were little changed around 3.88%, with bunds and gilts lagging by 1.5bp and 6bp in the sector. Dollar issuance slate includes KDB 3Y/5Y; just one deal was done Thursday, bringing weekly volume to just over $20b, in line with $20b to $25b expected; dealers are calling for about $150 billion of new supply in February. In commodities, oil headed for the biggest weekly loss since early November as negotiations advance for an agreement to pause the Israel-Hamas war in what could be a crucial step toward ending the conflict; oil prices advanced, with WTI rising 0.7% to trade near $74.30, after the contracts settled lower by $2/bbl for WTI and USD 1.85/bbl for Brent after mixed reporting regarding a Gaza ceasefire yesterday; currently Brent holds below the $79.50/bbl.  Gold headed for its largest weekly increase since the start of December as lower Treasury yields offered support for the metal, amid the concerns over US regional banks. Looking to today's calendar, economic data includes January jobs report (8:30am), January final University of Michigan sentiment and December factory orders (10am). Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will appear on CBS News’s 60 Minutes this Sunday and will discuss inflation risks, expected rate cuts and the banking system, among other topics, the network said; no Fed members are scheduled to speak Friday while other central bank speakers include ECB's Centeno and BoE’s Pill. Finally, earnings releases include ExxonMobil, Chevron and Aon. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.5% to 4,954.25 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.5% to 486.32 MXAP up 0.7% to 167.35 MXAPJ up 1.2% to 510.00 Nikkei up 0.4% to 36,158.02 Topix up 0.2% to 2,539.68 Hang Seng Index down 0.2% to 15,533.56 Shanghai Composite down 1.5% to 2,730.15 Sensex up 0.6% to 72,074.30 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.5% to 7,699.40 Kospi up 2.9% to 2,615.31 German 10Y yield up 2 bps at 2.17% Euro up 0.2% to $1.0894 Brent Futures up 0.4% to $79.03/bbl Gold spot down 0.0% to $2,054.65 US Dollar Index down 0.12% to 102.93 Top Overnight News Stocks posted broad gains Friday after robust earnings from technology giants and as investors looked forward to a US jobs report expected to show further cooling in the labor market in a boost for hopes of interest-rate cuts. Meta Platforms Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. spent 2023 cutting costs and re-focusing their businesses. It was a strategy that upended the lives of displaced tech workers in Seattle and Silicon Valley, but appears to have paid off handsomely for investors who are likely to continue reaping benefits. A monthly US jobs report due Friday will probably show a slower pace of hiring in 2023 following annual revisions, according to Bloomberg Economics. A sense of panic gripped Chinese investors on Friday as shares swung sharply in the final hours of trading before closing at a five-year low. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will appear on CBS News’s 60 Minutes this Sunday and will discuss inflation risks, expected rate cuts and the banking system, among other topics, the network said. Oil headed for the biggest weekly loss since early November as negotiations advance for an agreement to pause the Israel-Hamas war in what could be a crucial step toward ending the conflict. A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk APAC stocks mostly took impetus from the gains on Wall St where stocks were underpinned amid a softer yield environment and with US equity futures boosted following the big tech earnings. ASX 200 printed fresh all-time highs with real estate and tech front running the gains amid softer yields. Nikkei 225 gained with headlines dominated by another busy day of earnings results, while Aozora Bank suffered another double-digit drop after it recently flagged losses linked to US commercial property loans. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp were both initially boosted with outperformance in automakers after their January delivery updates, while tech names were supported after China's NPPA approved 32 imported online games. However, stocks then gradually reversed course after the PBoC continued to drain liquidity despite next week's Lunar New Year holiday. Later in the session Chinese stocks rebounded shortly after the Shanghai Composite fell to fresh multi-year lows under 2,700; with some highlighting increased capital flows from Hong Kong via Stock Connect Top Asian News China National Press and Publication Administration approved 32 imported online games, according to Reuters. China urges state Cos to step up equity investments in new equity firms, via Bloomberg IMF says China growth is projected to slow to 4.6% in 2024 amid the ongoing weakness in the property sector and subdued external demand. Inflation expected to increase gradually to 1.3% in 2024. European bourses, Stoxx600 (+0.5%), are on a firmer footing, taking impetus from gains in Wall Street and further optimism also stemming from blockbuster earnings from Amazon (+6% pre-market) and Meta (+16.7% pre-market). European sectors are mostly firmer; Autos takes the top spot benefitting from outperformance within the sector in APAC trade and after a positive update from Mercedes-Benz. Energy is the major laggard, dragged down by weaker crude prices following mixed reporting on a ceasefire in Gaza. US equity futures (ES +0.5%, NQ +1.1%, RTY U/C) are firmer, with clear outperformance in the NQ, being led higher by significant strength in Amazon (+6.7%) and Meta (+16.7%) post-earnings; though, Apple is softer by over 2%. Top European News Citi/YouGov UK Inflation Expectations: 12-month 3.9% (prev. 3.5%), 5-10yrs 3.6% (prev. 3.4%). Short-run expectations increased amid an increase in shipping disruption. Riksbank comment on the Swedish National Audit Office's report: Riksbank recognises that circumstances may arise in the future, in which purchases of securities may be an appropriate way to influence inflation. Further analysis is required. German Engineering Orders in December -6% Y/Y (Domestic -13%, Foreign -3%), according to VDMA Earnings Amazon.com (AMZN) - Q4 2023 (USD): EPS 1.00 (exp. 0.80), Revenue 169.96bln (exp. 166.21bln).SALES BREAKDOWN:Online stores 70.54bln (exp. 68.91bln). Physical Stores 5.15bln (exp. 5.23bln). Third-Party Seller Services 43.56bln (exp. 41.96bln). AWS 24.20bln (exp. 24.22bln). GEOGRAPHICAL REGIONS: North America 105.51bln (exp. 102.88bln). International 40.24bln (exp. 38.96bln). KEY METRICS: Third-party seller services net sales excluding F/X +19% (exp. +15.9%). AWS net sales excluding F/X +13% (exp. +11.8%). Operating income 13.21bln (exp. 10.49bln). Operating margin 7.8% (exp. 6.17%). North America operating margin +6.1% (exp. +4.12%). International operating margin -1% (exp. -1.27%). Fulfillment expense 26.10bln (exp. 25.2bln). GUIDANCE: Q1 net sales view 138.0-143.5bln (exp. 142.01bln). Q1 operating income view 8-12bln (exp. 9.1bln). CFO said improved delivery speeds have led to increased purchase frequency by customers across major geographies, and there are no immediate plans for dividend. (Amazon/Newswires) Shares rose 7.1% after-market. Index weightings: SPX (3.5%), NDX (4.9%). Shares up 6.1% pre-market Meta Platforms Inc (META) - Q4 2023 (USD): EPS 5.33 (exp. 4.96), Revenue 40.11bln (exp. 39.17bln); authorised 50bln increase to share buyback programme and declared cash quarterly dividend of 0.50/shr. KEY METRICS: Advertising revenue 38.71bln (exp. 38.12bln). Facebook DAUs 2.11bln (exp. 2.07bln). Facebook MAUs 3.07bbln (exp. 3.06bln). Ad impressions +21% (exp. +24.6%). Average Family service users per day 3.19bln (exp. 3.11bln). Average Family service users per month 3.98bln (exp. 3.93bln). GUIDANCE: Q1 revenue view 34.5-37bln (exp. 33.34bln). Meta (META) noted the FTC is seeking to substantially modify consent order on Meta and if contesting is unsuccessful, this could impose additional restrictions on its ability to operate and would adversely impact its business. CEO said the Co. is getting ready to roll out AI services more widely in coming months, adds Threads now has more people using it daily than initial launch and Metaverse focus this year is going to be growing mobile version of Horizon. CFO said Co. will discontinue reporting of Facebook monthly and daily active users, Co. expects to maintain an active share repurchase program. (Meta/Newswires) Shares rose 15.2% after-market. Index weightings: SPX (2.2%), NDX (4.2%). Shares up 16.8% pre-market Apple Inc (AAPL) - Q1 2024 (USD): EPS 2.18 (exp. 2.10), Revenue 119.58bln (exp. 117.91bln). Greater China revenue 20.82bln (exp. 23.5bln). REVENUE BREAKDOWN: Products 96.46bln (exp. 95.14bln).iPhone 69.70bln (exp. 68.55bln). Mac 7.78bln (exp. 7.9bln). iPad 7.02bln (exp. 7.06bln). Wearables, home and accessories 11.95bln (exp. 12.02bln). Service 23.12bln (exp. 23.37bln). KEY METRICS: Total operating expenses 14.48bln (exp. 14.62bln). Gross margin 54.86bln (exp. 53.56bln). Cash and cash equivalents 40.76bln (exp. 38.81bln). Apple expects March quarter total revenue and iPhone revenue to be similar to the previous year after accounting for inventory replenishment. Expects gross margins between 46%-47% for fiscal Q2. Expects operating expenses of USD 14.3bln-14.5bln in fiscal Q2. Expects services business to show double-digit growth similar to the December quarter in fiscal Q2. CEO Cook said the Co. will make announcements this year on new AI features. CEO Cook added that FX was a headwind for China sales, and the decline in China sales was in part on a stronger USD. (Apple/Newswires) Shares fell 2.9% after-market. Index weightings: SPX (6.6%), NDX (8.7%), DJIA (3.2%) Shares down 2.5% pre-market Microchip Technology Inc (MCHP) - Q3 2024 (USD): Adj. EPS 1.08 (exp. 1.04), Revenue 1.77bln (exp. 1.77bln). GUIDANCE: Q4 adj. EPS view 0.46-0.68 (exp. 0.91). Q4 revenue view 1.225-1.425bln (exp. 1.66bln). COMMENTARY: Taking steps to limit discretionary spending and tightly manage inventory levels during downcycle. Cautious about demand in near term given weak macro environment and customers' ongoing actions to reduce inventory. (Newswires) Shares down 3.1% pre-market TomTom (TOM2 NA) - Q4 (EUR): Revenue 143mln (exp. 142mln), Net -11.6mln (exp. -23mln), EBIT -10.4mln (exp. -29mln). FY24 Outlook: Revenue 570-610mln (exp. 600mln). Shares up 9.2% in European trade / Garmin shares up 0.7% in pre-market trade. FX DXY has pivoted around the 103.00 mark compared to levels closer to 103.50 in recent sessions as yield-driven selling in USD saw the index hit a trough of 102.91. In what has been a contained few weeks of trade for the USD, a soft NFP could see a test of the Jan 24th low at 102.77. EUR remains supported by recent USD selling but unable to muster a test of 1.09; last breached on Jan 25th at 1.0901. JPY is the only major currency softer vs. the USD as the JPY's recent tepid recovery vs. the dollar pauses for breath. Ultimately, the pair remains at the whim of relative Fed/BoJ expectations. Currently sits at the 21DMA and within yesterday's 145.89-147.11 range. AUD attempting to recoup recent lost ground vs. the USD which saw the pair hit a trough of 0.6508 yesterday. PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 7.1006 vs exp. 7.1655 (prev. 7.1049). Fixed Income USTs are softer and pivoting Wednesday's 112-20+ peak ahead of NFP, which is expected to print at 180k (prev. 216k). Bunds are weaker by around 60 ticks but still over 100 ticks from the week's 134.37 trough; the German 10yr yield has recovered back to 2.18% but is still set to close the week out lower. Gilts are the relative underperformer but similarly well within WTD 98.56-100.62 parameters with drivers thin post-BoE though we await commentary from Chief Economist Pill. Italian Treasury says foreign investors bought 70% of new 15yr BTP syndicated bond Commodities Choppy/contained across the crude complex this morning ahead of US jobs data, and after the contracts settled lower by USD 2.03/bbl for WTI and USD 1.85/bbl for Brent after mixed reporting regarding a Gaza ceasefire yesterday; currently Brent holds below the USD 79.50/bbl. Precious metals are trading horizontal in the run-up to the US jobs report in an otherwise quiet European morning; whilst base metals are mixed with early China-induced weakness trimmed as the USD edges lower; XAU holds above USD 2050/oz and within a tight range. Iraqi oil exports averaged 3.3mln BPD in Jan (prev. 3.5mln in Dec); Average price USD 77.536/bbl (prev. USD 76.96/bbl in Dec) Geopolitics Hamas said they are still in the stage of consultation between internal and foreign leaders on the exchange deal, while it received the Paris truce proposal but has not given a response to any parties and it is still being studied. Furthermore, it cannot say the current stage of negotiations is zero, but also cannot say they have reached an agreement. An Iranian revolutionary guard advisor killed in Israeli strike on Damascus, Syria, via semi-official Iranian News site.. Iraq's pro-Iran Al-Nujaba movement vows to keep up attacks on US troops, according to AFP North Korea fired several cruise missiles off its west coast, according to South Korea. US Event Calendar 08:30: Jan. Change in Nonfarm Payrolls, est. 185,000, prior 216,000 Jan. Change in Private Payrolls, est. 170,000, prior 164,000 Jan. Change in Manufact. Payrolls, est. 3,000, prior 6,000 Jan. Unemployment Rate, est. 3.8%, prior 3.7% Jan. Underemployment Rate, prior 7.1% Jan. Labor Force Participation Rate, est. 62.6%, prior 62.5% Jan. Average Weekly Hours All Emplo, est. 34.3, prior 34.3 Jan. Average Hourly Earnings YoY, est. 4.1%, prior 4.1% Jan. Average Hourly Earnings MoM, est. 0.3%, prior 0.4% 10:00: Dec. Durable Goods Orders, est. 0%, prior 0% Dec. Durables-Less Transportation, est. 0.6%, prior 0.6% Dec. Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, prior 0.1% Dec. Cap Goods Orders Nondef Ex Air, prior 0.3% 10:00: Dec. Factory Orders, est. 0.2%, prior 2.6% Dec. Factory Orders Ex Trans, est. 0.2%, prior 0.1% 10:00: Jan. U. of Mich. Current Conditions, est. 83.5, prior 83.3 Jan. U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 78.9, prior 78.8 Jan. U. of Mich. Expectations, est. 76.0, prior 75.9 Jan. U. of Mich. 5-10 Yr Inflation, est. 2.8%, prior 2.8% Jan. U. of Mich. 1 Yr Inflation, est. 2.9%, prior 2.9% DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Welcome to payrolls Friday and if you want a bit of light relief as we draw towards the close of a busy week then note that we have a fancy dress quiz night for parents at my kids’ school tomorrow night and I'm going as Dame Edna Everage. My wife is going to have a field day turning me into her. Why I agreed to this I don't know and why I'm telling you I don't know either so please don't tell anyone. I'm actually hoping some of the younger parents know who she was and don't just think that's my normal Saturday night attire. Onto more weighty matters, our recent “ Everything points to a soft landing except… .. history ” pack, suggested that the current US data points to a soft landing (with more evidence yesterday as we’ll see below). However, history cautions that the lags from a hiking cycle are long and variable and regularly have a substantial sting in their tail. Often these come from an unforeseen event. Clearly in this cycle, the Regional Bank shock was dealt with aggressively by the Fed last year. However this was mainly helping them out with high quality assets (e.g. treasuries and MBS) that had been (and still are) marked down. Although the BTFP ends in March, the market generally would expect the Fed to do something similar if the need arose and therefore are less likely to force them to. However if the next round of problems covered CRE then could the Fed really intervene as quickly or as easily given a more challenging moral hazard issue? Underwater CRE which could be impaired is a very different proposition to underwater Treasuries. We’re clearly some way from that at the moment but it’s worth highlighting that the latest attack on US regional banks is more for fear of potential credit losses than the mark to market losses of high quality securities of last year, which could be more easily mitigated via liquidity measures. On a related theme, it will be interesting to see the Fed’s SLOOS on Monday to see whether banks have continued to loosen conditions relative to what are still very tight lending standards to the wider economy and CRE. Notwithstanding a second day of US Regional Bank losses (-2.28%), the S&P 500 roared back last night to close +1.25%, reversing most of Wednesday’s -1.61% decline. The market shrugged off the continued concerns over New York Community Bancorp, which fell a further -11.1% (-44.6% over 2-days) after news the previous evening that Moody’s had placed their credit ratings on review for a downgrade. The S&P 500 bank index was down -1.38% (-3.34% over 2-days). But overall, equities seemed to respond to the data whereas the bond market saw a flight to quality as 10yr US yields fell -3.2bps to 3.88%. Overnight in Japan it’s been a similar story, with Aozora Bank currently the worst performer in the Nikkei with a further -15.55% decline, but the Nikkei as a whole is still up +0.70%. Meanwhile, March Fed Funds futures are pricing in a 38% chance of a cut this morning, up from 35% after the FOMC influenced close on Wednesday. As all that was going on, we then heard from Apple, Amazon and Meta after the close. All three beat earnings estimates, with a mixed but overall positive reaction in extended trading. Meta saw a stunning gain (of c. 15%) after hours, as its revenue guidance for Q1 came in clearly above analysts’ expectations, and the company announced additional share buybacks and its first ever dividend. Amazon gained 7%, also posting a strong profit outlook for Q1. This is despite its sales guidance for Q1 actually coming in a touch below estimates, and investors appeared to reward both companies for their cost control efforts. By contrast, Apple’s shares were down close to 3% in after-hours trading, with a deepening sales slump in China taking the shine off what was otherwise a modest beat. Prior to the results, the Magnificent Seven outperformed yesterday, gaining +1.59%. This morning, NASDAQ 100 futures are trading up +0.99%, and those on the S&P 500 are up +0.54%. Talking of Apple, they are due to release their Vision Pro headset today. We conducted a survey of over 3,300 consumers to assess their perceptions and readiness for AR, VR, and the metaverse which should give you an idea of how ready consumers are for the next round of technology to be launched from the Magnificent Seven. See the full chartbook on the Metaverse, AR, & VR just published by Marion Laboure and Cassidy Ainsworth Grace here. Looking forward now, the main highlight today will be the US jobs report for January, which will be one of the first pieces of hard data that covers 2024. Our US economists are looking for a +200k (consensus +185k) rise in nonfarm payrolls, and for unemployment to rise a tenth to 3.8% (in line with consensus). Remember as well that this report is set to see more substantial revisions than usual, since it’s the annual benchmark revision that can affect the numbers throughout the entirety of 2023, and not just the previous two months. It’ll also be an important print when it comes to the timing of rate cuts from the Fed, with March still in the balance regardless of what Powell said 36 hours ago. Before the jobs report, there was some good news from the ISM manufacturing print, which rose to a 15-month high of 49.1 (vs. 47.2 expected). And on top of that, growth in nonfarm productivity surpassed expectations in Q4, coming in at an annualised rate of +3.2% (vs. +2.5% expected). So that added to the sense that a soft landing was increasingly likely, and it meant the Atlanta Fed’s latest GDPNow estimate for Q1 now stands at an annualised growth rate of 4.2%. The main point of weakness was in the weekly initial jobless claims, which rose to 224k (vs. 212k expected) in the week ending January 27, whilst continuing claims were up to 1.898m (vs. 1.839m expected) in the week ending January 20, the second highest reading since November 2021. Over in the Euro Area, the main news came on the inflation side, as the flash CPI release for January came in a bit higher than the consensus had expected. That showed headline CPI only fell by a tenth to +2.8% (vs. +2.7% expected), and core CPI also fell a tenth to +3.3% (vs. +3.2% expected). To be fair, that’s the lowest core inflation has been since March 2022, but the slower decline has added to questions about how soon the ECB will actually be able to cut rates. At the same time, we also heard that the Euro Area unemployment rate had remained at 6.4% in December, matching its joint-lowest since the single currency’s formation. These releases saw pricing of a March cut by the ECB decline from 23% to 17%, and overnight it’s down to 16%. Here in the UK, the Bank of England announced their latest policy decision yesterday, where they left rates unchanged as expected. There were a few elements of ongoing hawkishness in the decision. In particular, the BoE’s latest inflation forecasts showed inflation above target during H2 2024 and 2025, based on market rate expectations. So the implication was that the amount of cuts priced in would keep inflation too high in the years ahead. Moreover, even as 6 of the 9 committee members voted to hold rates, 2 preferred another 25bp hike, whilst 1 voted for a 25bp cut. BoE Governor Bailey also said that they “need to see more evidence that inflation is set to fall all the way to the 2% target, and stay there, before we can lower interest rates”. But as with the Fed the previous day, there was a growing sense of a gradual shift towards considering rate cuts. Notably, the summary dropped the earlier explicit tightening bias, instead saying that the “MPC remained prepared to adjust monetary policy as warranted “ and adding that it “will keep under review for how long Bank Rate should be maintained at its current level.” In the press conference, Governor Bailey noted that the MPC "won't leave Bank Rate on hold any longer than we need to". Markets dialled back the chance of a cut by May, which fell from 77% to 62% by the close, but there was little change in end-24 pricing with over 110bps of cuts priced by the December meeting. Our UK economist continues to see the first rate cut coming in May – see his full reaction here. When it came to markets in Europe, equities caught up with the post-Fed selloff, and the STOXX 600 (-0.37%) ended its run of 6 consecutive daily gains. Yields also moved lower, although given the CPI print, the declines weren’t as big as the US, with those on 10 yr bunds (-2.0bps), OATs (-0.5bps) and BTPs (-0.5bps) seeing smaller moves. Gilts outperformed, with the 10yr yield down -4.8bps. Overnight in Asia, there’s been a mixed performance for equities. On the one hand, the KOSPI (+2.76%) has surged this morning, which came as investors expected reforms to the South Korean stock market, which the finance minister announced the previous day. Moreover, the January CPI data surprised on the downside in South Korea, with headline inflation down to +2.8% (vs. +2.9% expected). By contrast, Chinese equities have seen further losses, with the CSI 300 (-0.98%) currently on track to close at a 5-year low, whilst the Shanghai Comp is down -1.25%. Otherwise, the Hang Seng (+0.16%) has posted a modest gain, and the Nikkei is up +0.70%, despite the performance from Aozora Bank (-15.55%). To the day ahead now, and the main highlight will be the US jobs report for January. Other US releases include factory orders for December, and the University of Michigan’s final consumer sentiment index for January. Central bank speakers include the ECB’s Centeno and the BoE’s Pill. Finally, earnings releases include ExxonMobil and Aon. Tyler Durden Fri, 02/02/2024 - 07:56.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 2nd, 2024

Escobar: How Yemen"s "Asabiyya" Is Reshaping Geopolitics

Escobar: How Yemen's 'Asabiyya' Is Reshaping Geopolitics Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Cradle, The Arabic word Asabiyya, or 'social solidarity,' is a soundbite in the west, but taken very seriously by the globe's new contenders China, Russia, and Iran. It is Yemen, however, that is mainstreaming the idea, by sacrificing everything for the world's collective morality in a bid to end the genocide in Gaza. When there is a general change of conditions, It is as if the entire creation had changed and the whole world been altered, as if it were a new and repeated creation, a world brought into existence anew. -  Ibn Khaldun  Yemen's Ansarallah resistance forces have made it very clear, right from the start, that they set up a blockade in the Bab el-Mandeb and the southern Red Sea only against Israeli-owned or destined shipping vessels. Their single objective was and remains to stop the Gaza genocide perpetrated by the Israeli biblical psychopathy.  As a response to a morally-based call to end a human genocide, the United States, masters of the Global War Of Terror (italics mine), predictably re-designated Yemen's Houthis as a “terrorist organization,” launched a serial bombardment of underground Ansarallah military installations (assuming US intel know where they are), and cobbled together a mini-coalition of the willing that includes its UK, Canadian, Australian, Dutch, and Bahraini vassals.    Without missing a beat, Yemen's Parliament declared the US and UK governments “Global Terrorist Networks.” Now let’s talk strategy.  With a single move, the Yemeni resistance seized the strategic advantage by de facto controlling a key geoeconomic bottleneck: the Bab el-Mandeb. Hence, they can inflict serious trouble on sectors of global supply chains, trade, and finance.  And Ansarallah has the potential to double down — if need be. Persian Gulf traders, off the record, have confirmed insistent chatter that Yemen may consider imposing a so-called Al-Aqsa Triangle — aptly named after the 7 October Palestinian resistance operation aimed at destroying the Israeli military's Gaza Division and taking captives as leverage in a sweeping prisoner swap deal.  Such a move would mean selectively blocking not only the Bab el-Mandeb and the Red Sea route to the Suez Canal, but also the Strait of Hormuz, cutting off oil and gas deliveries to Israel from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – although the top oil suppliers to Israel are in fact Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.  These Yemenis are afraid of nothing. Were they able to impose the triangle – in this case only with direct Iranian involvement — that would represent the US-assassinated Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani's Grand Design on cosmic steroids. This plan holds the realistic potential of finally bringing down the pyramid of hundreds of trillions of dollars in derivatives — and consequently, the whole western financial system.  And yet, even as Yemen controls the Red Sea and Iran controls the Strait of Hormuz, Al-Aqsa Triangle remains just a working hypothesis.  Welcome to the Hegemon's blockade With a simple, clear strategy, the Houthis perfectly understood that the deeper they draw the strategy-deprived Americans into the West Asian geopolitical swamp, in a sort of “undeclared war” mode, the more they’re able to inflict serious pain on the global economy, which the Global South will blame on the Hegemon.    Today, Red Sea shipping traffic has plunged in half, compared to the summer of 2023; supply chains are wobbly; ships carrying food are forced to circumnavigate Africa (and risk delivering cargo after its expiry date); predictably, inflation across the vast EU agricultural sphere (worth €70 billion) is rising fast.  Yet, never underestimate a cornered Empire.  Western-based insurance giants perfectly understood the rules of Ansarallah's limited blockade: Russian and Chinese ships, for instance, have free passage in the Red Sea. Global insurers have only refused to cover US, UK, and Israeli ships — exactly as the Yemenis intended.  So the US, predictably, changed the narrative into a big, fat lie: ‘Ansarallah is attacking the whole global economy.’  Washington turbo-charged sanctions (not a big deal as the Yemeni resistance uses Islamic financing); increased the bombing, and in the name of sacrosanct “freedom of navigation” – always applied selectively — placed its bets on the “international community,” including leaders of the Global South, begging for mercy, as in please keep the shipping lanes open. The goal of the new, reframed American deceit is to elbow the Global South into ditching its support for Ansarallah's strategy.  Pay attention to this crucial US sleight of hand: Because, from now on, in a new perverse twist of Operation Genocide Protection, it is Washington that will be blockading the Red Sea for the entire world. Washington itself, mind you, will be spared: US shipping depends on Pacific trade routes, not West Asian ones. This will ratchet up the pain on Asian customers and especially on Europe's economy – which already took the heavies blows from Ukraine-associated Russian energy sanctions. As Michael Hudson has interpreted it,  there is a strong possibility that the neocons in charge of US foreign policy actually want (italics mine) to have Yemen and Iran implement the Al-Aqsa Triangle: “It will be the main energy buyers in Asia, China, and other countries that are going to be hurt. And that (…) will give the United States even more power to control the oil supply of the world as a bargaining chip in trying to renegotiate this new international order.” That, in fact, is the classic Empire of Chaos modus operandi.    Calling attention to “our people in Gaza” There is no solid evidence the Pentagon has the slightest clue about what its Tomahawks are hitting in Yemen. Even several hundred missiles won’t change a thing. Ansarallah, which has already endured eight years of nonstop US-UK-Saudi-Emirati firepower — and basically won — will not relent today over a few missile strikes. Even the proverbial “unnamed officials” informed the New York Times that “locating the Houthi targets has proven more difficult than expected,” essentially because of lousy US intel on Yemeni “air defense, command centers, ammunition depots, and drone and missile storage and production facilities.”  It’s quite enlightening to listen to how Yemeni Prime Minister Abdulaziz bin Saleh Habtoor frames Ansarallah's Israel-blockade initiative decision as “based on humanitarian, religious and moral aspects”. He refers, crucially, to “our people in Gaza.” And the overall vision, he reminds us, “stems from the vision of the Axis of Resistance.” It is a reference smart onlookers will recognize as General Soleimani’s ever-lasting legacy.  With a keen historical sense — from the creation of Israel to the Suez crisis and the Vietnam war — the Yemeni prime minister recalls how “Alexander the Great reached the shores of Aden and Socotra island but was defeated (…) Invaders tried to occupy the capital of the historical state of Shebah and failed (…) How many countries throughout history have tried to occupy the west coast of Yemen and failed? Including Britain.” It's absolutely impossible for the west and even the Global Majority to understand the Yemeni mindset without learning a few facts from the Angel of History.  So let’s go back to the 14th century universal history master Ibn Khaldun — the author of The Muqaddimah.  Ibn Khaldun cracks the Ansarallah Code  Ibn Khaldun’s family was a contemporary to the rise of the Arab Empire, on the move alongside the first armies of Islam in the 7th century, from the austere beauty of the Hadramawti valleys in what is now southern Yemen all the way to the Euphrates. Ibn Khaldun, crucially, was a precursor of Kant, who offered the brilliant insight that “geography lies at the basis of history.” And he read the 12th century Andalusian philosophy master Averroes – as well as other writers exposed to Plato's works and understood how the latter referred to the moral strength of “the first people” in the Timaeus, in 360 B.C. Yes, this boils down to “moral strength” — for the west, a mere soundbite; for the east, an essential philosophy. Ibn Khaldun grasped how civilization began and was constantly renewed by people with natural goodness and energy; people who understood and respected the natural world, who lived light, united by blood or brought together by a shared revolutionary idea or religious drive. Ibn Khaldun defined asabiyya as this force that binds people together.  Like so many words in Arabic, asabiyya exhibits a range of diverse, loosely connected meanings. Arguably, the most relevant is esprit de corps, team spirit, and tribal solidarity - just as Ansarallah exhibits.  As Ibn Khaldun demonstrates, when the power of asabiyya is fully harnessed, reaching way beyond the tribe, it becomes more powerful than the sum of its individual parts, and can become a catalyst to reshape history; to make or break Empires; to encourage civilizations; or force them to collapse.  We are definitely living an asabiyya moment, brought about by the Yemeni resistance’s moral strength.    Solid as a rock Ansarallah innately understood the threat of eschatological Zionism — which happens to mirror the Christian Crusades a millennium ago. And they are virtually the only ones, in practical terms, trying to stop it.  Now, as an extra bonus, they are exposing the plutocratic Hegemon, once again, as bombers of Yemen, the poorest Arab nation-state, where at least half the population remains “food-insecure.”     But Ansarallah is not heavy-weapons-free like the Pashtun mujahideen who humiliated NATO in Afghanistan.  Their anti-ship cruise missiles include the Sayyad and the Quds Z-O (range up to 800 km) and the Al Mandab 2 (range up to 300 km).  Their anti-ship ballistic missiles include the Tankil (range of up to 500 km); the Asef (range of up to 450 km); and the Al-Bahr Al-Ahmar (range of up to 200 km). That covers the southern part of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, but not, for instance, the islands of the Socotra archipelago.  Accounting for roughly one-third of the country’s population, Yemen's Houthis, who form the backbone of the Ansarallah resistance, do have their own internal agenda: gaining fair representation in governance (they launched Yemen's Arab Spring); protecting their Zaydi (neither Shia nor Sunni) faith; fighting for the autonomy of the Saada governorate; and working for the revival of the Zaydi Imamate, which was up and running before the 1962 revolution. Now, they are making their mark on The Big Picture. It’s no wonder Ansarallah fiercely fights the Hegemon’s vassal Arabs – especially those who signed a deal to normalize relations with Israel under the Trump administration. The Saudi-Emirati war on Yemen, with the Hegemon “leading from behind,” was a quagmire that cost Riyadh at least $6 billion a month for seven years. It ended with a wobbly 2022 truce in a de facto Ansarallah victory. A signed peace agreement, it should be noted, has been disallowed by the US, despite Saudi efforts to seal a deal. Now, Ansarallah is turning geopolitics and geoeconomics upside down with not just a few missiles and drones but also oceans of craftiness and strategic acumen. To invoke Chinese wisdom, picture a single rock changing the course of a stream, which then changes the course of a mighty river.  Epigones of Diogenes can always remark, half in jest, that the Russia-China-Iran strategic partnership may have contributed with their own well-placed rocks in this path to a more equitable order. That’s the beauty of it: we may not be able to see these rocks, only the effects they cause. What we do see, though, is the Yemeni resistance, solid as a rock.  The record shows the Hegemon, once again, reverting to auto-pilot mode: Bomb, Bomb, Bomb. And in this particular case, to bomb is to redirect the narrative from a genocide committed in real time by Israel, the Empire’s aircraft carrier in West Asia.  Still, Ansarallah can always increase the pressure by sticking firmly to its narrative and, driven by the power of asabiyya, deliver to the Hegemon a second Afghanistan, compared to which Iraq and Syria will look like a weekend at Disneyland.  The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ZeroHedge Tyler Durden Sun, 01/28/2024 - 07:00.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 28th, 2024

Iran Mobilizes To Drive US Troops Out Of Iraq

Iran Mobilizes To Drive US Troops Out Of Iraq Via Middle East Eye, When Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani arrived in New York City in September for the UN General Assembly, a delicate truce was in balance between the two foreign powers that loom over Baghdad. Iraqi paramilitaries, backed by Iran, had frozen their attacks on US troops in the country. Iraq’s new leader arrived in New York City amid the lull. He was feted on a circuit of swanky receptions with western businessmen and diplomats on the sidelines of the General Assembly, as he pitched Iraq’s oil-rich but corruption-riddled economy as an investment destination. Four months later, the Iraqi leader is condemning Iran and the US for launching deadly strikes in his country and his investment pitch to the global elite at Davos Switzerland is overshadowed by his call for the US military and its coalition partners to leave Iraq. Since the Hamas-led attacks on October 7 and the war in Gaza, Iranian-backed militias have launched at least 70 attacks on US forces in Iraq. Iraqi security forces deploy near the gate of the Green Zone in Baghdad, AFP. In early January, the US hit back with its most powerful response yet, launching a drone strike in Baghdad that killed Mushtaq Taleb al-Saidi, also known as Abu Taqwa, a senior commander in the Popular Mobilization Units, an umbrella organisation of Iraqi state-funded and Iran-aligned, Shia militias. Baghdad hit out at the strike as “a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty”. But no sooner was Iraq chastiszing the US for the strike, when Iran launched a barrage of ballistic missiles into the Iraqi city of Erbil, killing four people, including a prominent Kurdish real estate developer and his one-year-old daughter. Baghdad slammed Tehran’s allegation that the house struck in Erbil was an Israeli Mossad “spy center”. At Davos, Sudani called the strike "a clear act of aggression”. Iraq has recalled its ambassador to Tehran and says it will file a complaint at the UN Security Council. The dual rebukes of Iran and the US underscore the tightrope Baghdad is walking as the war in Gaza seeps out beyond the besieged Mediterranean enclave’s borders. Across the region, Tehran and Washington are flexing their muscles, vying to outflank each other in a deadly proxy war. The shadowy conflict has taken on different flavours that reflect local and geopolitical realities. In Lebanon, the US is trying to de-escalate fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, with both sides wary of being dragged into a wider conflict. Meanwhile, Iran-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen have made themselves targets of US air strikes as a response to their attacks on commercial shipping. But the conflict is perhaps at its most intense, and complex, in Iraq. “The Iraqi government is weak, divided and fundamentally can’t control conflict on its borders from foreign powers,” Renad Mansour, director of the Iraq Initiative at the Chatham House think-tank, told Middle East Eye. “It emerged as the playground of choice, where the US and Iran can fight it out. The risk of escalation here is lower for both. And they can show force and compete for influence.” Syria, through Iraq  For Iran and its Iraqi allies who dominate Baghdad’s government, the war in Gaza has presented an opportunity to drive home their goal of expelling the US from Iraq. A former senior US official and an Iraqi official told MEE that there has been increased coordination between Iranian-backed paramilitaries in Iraq and Lebanese Hezbollah with that aim. According to media reports, a top Hezbollah official, Mohammad Hussein al-Kawtharani, arrived in Baghdad earlier this month to oversee the operations. Iran-backed "Islamic Resistance in Iraq" published a video "targeting Ain Al Assad AB with a UAV". Looks quite similar to the one that was used for attacking Erbil before. pic.twitter.com/w3WY4TiJZt — Aleph א (@no_itsmyturn) January 22, 2024 “Instead of attacking Israel, what we are seeing in Iraq are more attacks on US forces,” Andrew Tabler, a former Middle East director at the White House’s National Security Council, told MEE. The pressure building in Baghdad to expel US troops has been underlined by Sudani’s public calls for an exit since the assassination of Abu Taqwa. If he follows through, experts say it would present a strategic victory for Iran. Roughly 2,500 US troops are in Iraq to advise and train local forces as part of a coalition to defeat the Islamic State militant group. They are mainly based in Baghdad and northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region. The latter is especially important for providing logistical support to 900 US troops in northeastern Syria. The US’s legal justification for being in Syria is also based on its agreement with Baghdad. “Erbil is crucial for supporting Syria,” Tabler said, referring to the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region. “The US needs to have the ability to move troops and supplies on the overland route between the Iraqi frontier and Syria.” Speaking in Davos on Thursday, Sudani said that “ISIS is no longer a threat to the Iraqi people,” and that "the end of the international coalition mission is a necessity for the security and stability of Iraq”. The Biden administration and Baghdad were already negotiating the future of the US-led coalition in Iraq before the war in Gaza erupted, a former senior US official told MEE, but the war changed Washington’s approach to the talks. “It doesn’t look good to be discussing a drawdown when the Iranians are attacking US soldiers with missiles and drones. So there is a sense from the administration that we need to pause these talks.” While the US continues to conduct small-scale raids against IS cells in the region, Washington views its military footprint in northeast Syria as a key counterweight to Iran and Russia, which back the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria. “The US mission in northeast Syria depends on Iraq,” Joel Rayburn, a former US special envoy for Syria, told MEE. 'Same foxhole' The US military presence in Iraq has ebbed and flowed since the invasion 20 years ago. In 2011, the US pulled all of its forces from Iraq, only for them to return in 2014 at the invitation of Baghdad to fight IS. But in that period, Shia paramilitaries backed by Iran emerged as the most powerful armed groups in Iraq. Trained and funded by Iran, the Popular Mobilisation Units also fought IS. Some groups, like Kata'ib Hezbollah, have been at the forefront of attacks on the US in Iraq. The group’s founder, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, was killed in the same US strike that assassinated the Iranian commander, Qassem Soleimani. Via Fox News Today, the PMUs boast more than 150,000 fighters. They maintain vast patronage networks and many are incorporated into Iraq’s official state security apparatus, with the Iraqi government paying their salaries. They have been accused of kidnappings, assassinations and suppressing peaceful protests. The inability of successive Iraqi governments to rein in the sweeping powers of the PMUs has sown discord between Baghdad and Washington. Not only have US forces come under attack from the paramilitary groups, but Washington funds Iraq’s security system. In 2022, Iraq received $250m in military aid from the US. Despite sporadic outbursts of fighting between the paramilitaries and Iraq’s security services, “the cost of going against the militias for the Iraqi government is far higher than the cost of keeping them,” Abbas Kadhim, head of the Iraq Initiative at the Atlantic Council, told MEE. “For Washington, it's an urgency because they are under attack, but it’s not a crisis for the Iraqi state. The militias are fighting in the same foxhole as the Iraqi government.” Pay raise for Iranian militias Sudani is supported by the Coordination Framework, a coalition of Tehran-backed Shia political parties that are tied to many of Iraq’s paramilitaries. While Sudani negotiated a six-month truce that saw attacks on US forces in Iraq stop, the PMUs have gained more influence under his rule, experts say. “Iran-backed militias have a more visible presence on Baghdad’s streets during Sudani's tenure,” setting up new checkpoints, Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote, adding that they have also deepened their business activities. This year, Sudani’s government passed a three-year budget that allocated $700m more dollars to the PMUs, which will allow them to add almost 100,000 new fighters to their ranks, according to analysts. But current and former US and Iraqi officials say Baghdad wants to maintain good relations with Washington. Sudani has framed his call for quick exit of US-led coalition troops as necessary to preserve “constructive bilateral relations” with the US, which he told Reuters could include training and advising Iraqi security forces. His comments are a reflection of the unique ties Baghdad maintains to both Washington and Tehran. The dollar trap Iran and Iraq share a thousand-mile border.  The two Shia-majority countries have an estimated ten million border crossings annually, with many Iranian pilgrims visiting shrines in Karbala and Najaf. Iraq is the second most important destination for Iranian exports and is dependent on Iran for about 35 to 40 percent of its power needs. Iran has never shied away from flexing its economic weight over its neighbor. But Iraq’s finances are also intricately tied to the US. The second largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Iraq depends on its oil revenue to fund its government - including to pay the salaries of Iranian-backed paramilitaries. The proceeds from Iraq’s oil sales are deposited in the US Federal Reserve Bank of New York. A recent US crackdown on money laundering in Iraq has helped fuel a currency crisis in Iraq, showcasing the immense sway Washington has over Iraq’s finances because of its dependence on the dollar. The US has also backed Sudani’s appeal for international investments in Iraq. When Baghdad threatened to expel US-led coalition forces from Iraq after the 2020 assassination of Soleimani, the Trump administration threatened to cut Iraq’s access to its dollar reserves and stop issuing sanctions waivers for Iraq to buy Iranian energy, former US officials familiar with the talks told MEE. The same officials say that cudgel is an option the Biden administration retains if demands for a US exit grow, but some question whether the administration would use it, after trying to reset relations with Baghdad after the tumultuous Trump years. “The US can’t be expelled from Iraq if it doesn’t want to be,” Rayburn, the former US special envoy for Syria, told MEE. “If the US doesn’t have a military presence in Iraq, then the US need not do other things on behalf of the Iraqi government. Like facilitating dollar supply from the Federal Reserve, protecting against lawsuits, and issuing sanctions waivers,” he said. While Iranian-backed militias want to expel the US from Iraq, experts say even the most hardline groups like Kata'ib Hezbollah benefit from Iraq’s economic links to the West. “Even the most anti-American leaders in Iraq realize they need some kind of relationship with the US,” Mansour told MEE. “Iraq is a lifeline for Iran. Its access to US dollars and financial markets is key.” Kadhim, at the Atlantic Council, believes the focus among policymakers in Washington to merely protect US troop presence in Iraq is shortsighted. “Of course, Iran’s ideal goal is to get the US out of Iraq completely, but their practical goal is to make the US presence a liability,” which he says, the Iranians have already achieved. “Basically, you have a small number of US troops in Iraq sequestered to their barracks. They can’t even go to town,”   he said. “In the long run, someone is going to ask why are we here.” Tyler Durden Mon, 01/22/2024 - 23:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 23rd, 2024

Biden Says US, Partners Have Not Given Up On Release Of Hamas Hostages

Biden Says US, Partners Have Not Given Up On Release Of Hamas Hostages Authored by Aldgra Fredly via The Epoch Times, The United States and its partners remain committed to securing the release of hostages abducted by the Hamas terror group during its surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, President Joe Biden said on Sunday. In a statement marking 100 days of captivity, President Biden said that his administration has been “working non-stop” to try to secure the release of the 130 hostages, including six Americans. “On this terrible day, I again reaffirm my pledge to all the hostages and their families: we are with you. We will never stop working to bring Americans home,” he remarked. President Biden said that his administration has pursued “aggressive diplomacy” in their efforts to bring the hostages home. “In November, working in close coordination with Qatar, Egypt, and Israel, we brokered a seven-day pause in fighting that resulted in the release of 105 hostages—including a 4-year-old American child—and allowed us to surge additional vital humanitarian aid into Gaza. “I was deeply engaged to secure, sustain, and extend that deal. Sadly, Hamas walked away after just one week. But the United States and our partners have not given up,” he said. Hamas terrorists captured 240 Israeli hostages during their Oct. 7 attack that killed 1,200 people, according to Israel. A temporary truce in November led to the release of more than 100 hostages, but 130 are still held in Gaza. President Biden said that he would maintain close contact with his counterparts in Qatar, Egypt, and Israel to return all hostages home and back to their families. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also traveled to the Middle East region this past week “seeking a path forward for a deal to free all those still being held,” he added. Mr. Blinken said the United States “will not rest” until the hostages are freed. “It is impossible for any of us to understand what they have endured over those 100 days, but I have met with many of their families and delivered a clear message: The United States is with you and we will not rest until you are reunited with your loved ones. “We continue to work around the clock to secure the release of every hostage,” he said in a statement on Sunday. Biden Urged to ‘Show Strength’ However, Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said he finds it “infuriating” that the U.S. president allowed “innocent Americans, Israelis and others to hit the 100-day mark as hostages in Gaza.” Protesters lift placards during a rally for supporters and relatives of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attack, in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Dec. 23, 2023. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images) Mr. Scott criticized President Biden’s “unprecedented weakness” and accused him of funneling American tax dollars to the Palestinian Authority, which he claimed was “paying terrorists and sending money to Gaza which only helps Hamas.” “These innocent Americans and the others held hostage in Gaza should have been safely reunited with their families months ago,” the senator said in a press release. “Biden needs to show strength NOW. These families have spent far too many days separated from their loved ones and today marks a somber milestone. Enough is enough,” he added. The families of hostages held in the Gaza Strip kicked off a 24-hour rally in Tel Aviv Saturday night, calling on the Israeli government to bring their loved ones home after 100 days spent in Hamas captivity. Israel said Saturday that it had brokered a deal with mediator Qatar to deliver badly needed medicines to the hostages with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross. There was no immediate sign that the deal was being implemented. There is international pressure for a ceasefire due to the war’s devastating impact in Gaza as the Israeli military carries out its security objective of neutralizing Hamas. The Hamas-controlled health ministry has reported that nearly 24,000 Palestinians have died amid Israeli strikes. Tyler Durden Tue, 01/16/2024 - 03:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 16th, 2024

Macleod On The Geopolitical Year-Ahead: BRICS, Gold, & Israel Gone Rogue

Macleod On The Geopolitical Year-Ahead: BRICS, Gold, & Israel Gone Rogue Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, 2024 will see a quickening pace for geopolitical developments, with the influence of the US waning while that of China and Russia waxes.  As a lost cause, the war in Ukraine will be abandoned by America and NATO in the next few months. The dangers in the Gaza situation are likely to escalate, with the US being played by Iran acting in collusion with Russia through the Houthis.  The days of US divide and rule over Middle Eastern states are over. And if Israel thinks it can simply drag America into the Gaza horror story it has badly miscalculated.  Russia has taken over the presidency of BRICS, and in his New Year speech President Putin stated there will be over 200 meetings and events planned. The final definitive meeting will be in Kazan in October. It seems reasonable to assume that Russia will ensure that all current members will be educated towards the merits of adopting a gold-backed trade settlement arrangement instead of the dollar. The new currency is likely to replace the dollar as the intermediate step between non-dollar currency transactions. And it also makes compelling sense for Russia to put the rouble on a gold exchange standard as well, because it is one of the few economies that won’t require cuts in public spending to facilitate it. And as the dollar slides, China must follow in order to prevent the yuan going down with it. And finally, 2024 is the year of the presidential election in America, which means pork barrels for all. And with the debt limit in place until January 2025, it is in both parties’ interests to maximise spending before the new cap in spending is agreed. Could this be the year the dollar dies? Read on! The world is a’changing… On British TV, the days between Christmas and New Year are a time of old films, and David Lean’s iconic Lawrence of Arabia was shown for the umpteenth time. Like all films based on true events, its connection with reality is somewhat elastic. But it did remind us of the duplicity and arrogance of Britain and France drawing the Sykes-Picot line to divide up the Ottoman lands in Palestine over the heads of the inhabiting tribes, without regard to their territorial rights and Lawrence’s successful Arab Revolt which united the Bedouin tribes for the first time. That political reality notwithstanding, Lawrence’s legacy and his role in uniting Bedouin tribes into the Arab nations gave Britain enduring influence in the region, certainly until long after the Second World War. But the Sykes of Sykes-Picot wasn’t the only interfering busybody in London. Prime Minister Balfour with his Declaration in 1917 opened the Pandora’s box which today is the modern state of Israel. However, sense in Westminster did occasionally prevail. When Harold Macmillan made his winds of change speech at Cape Town in 1960, Britain was acknowledging that it could no longer resist the rising tide of nationalism flooding into Africa and elsewhere. Months earlier, he had appointed my uncle, Iain Macleod, as Colonial Secretary to accelerate the transition to independence for many of Britain’s colonies. And later in the 1960s when Harold Wilson was Labour Prime Minister, he abandoned British military presence “East of Suez”. Britain’s politicians in both parties had accepted the reality of Britain’s declining influence. Today, America’s permanent establishment takes a different view, not prepared to even consider the decline in its influence. If only the US was more pragmatic, perhaps the world would have fewer wars. Despite extremely costly post-war campaigns in Korea, Vietnam, and up to the present day America’s victories have only been pyrrhic in nature, ruinous to the nation and the dollar. And despite the decline of its fading empire, this statist version of Don Quixote is still tilting at imaginary Asian windmills. But pyrrhic victories are now turning into outright defeats. Afghanistan, and now Ukraine which is still a disaster in progress. Recent intelligence is that Valery Zaluzhny, commander in chief of the Ukrainian army has been talking to Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of Russia’s army, and Russia’s first deputy minister of defence about a truce/peace settlement.[i] Crucially, President Zelensky has been bypassed. In response he is redoubling his efforts to recruit more soldiers in a depleted male population. But he faces increasing apathy from his NATO backers.  Seymour Hersh’s information is that while the White House is still against peace proposals, it will happen without Biden’s agreement. To summarise, the politicians in Ukraine and Washington are now out of the loop. This is the second time we know of that the West has turned down peace talks, the first brokered by Turkey. Since then, it is reported in the West that there have been 70,000 needless Ukrainian military casualties. But these figures are based on government propaganda, so the true figure is almost certainly considerably higher. It is against this background that the Russians are stepping up their missile attacks on public buildings as far west as L’viv close to the Polish border. They know that the Ukrainian army has had enough, and they know that Zelensky’s support is fading, both in Ukraine and NATO. It looks like Ukraine’s war will be abandoned by its own army and therefore its NATO backers in the coming months. Israel goes rogue The US and UK will struggle to hold the line on Ukraine. And now there is a far trickier problem to deal with in Israel. It has all the potential for the chaos that turned the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand into the First World War. As far as Western media are concerned, it all started with Hamas’s raid into Southern Israel on 7 October when they killed a number of Israelis and took hostages. But from the Palestinian point of view, the justification for their raid against Israeli settlements was the desecration by Israelis of the Al Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, and increasing settler violence against the Palestinians. And Hama’s viewpoint is shared by two billion Muslims, one quarter of the world’s population. The Muslim world increasingly sees the Israelis as committing ethnic cleansing, taking historically owned Arab territory into their possession. And the existence of significant oil prospects off the Gaza shore is suspected of giving the Israelis a further reason to eliminate not just Hamas, but Gaza as well. America’s initial reaction was to back the Israelis, and as the BBC continually reminds us, the UK government designates Hamas as a terrorist organisation. In the past, Israel’s actions would probably have had unqualified support from NATO members kowtowing to the American line. But that was before Arab unity lined up against Israel and its supporters — unity that now embraces the Saudis and Iran with her rebellious Houthis in Yemen. And that is a major difference today: American action in the region has always had Arab backing from at least some of the major players. The days of America’s divide and rule policies in the Middle East are now over. With a divided Muslim world, two years ago the US Fleet could have attacked Iran under whatever pretext and probably got away with it. Instead, what is thought by many to be little more than a rag-bag army of Houthi tribesmen at the Bab El-Mandeb Red Sea pinch point opposite Djibouti, armed with some cheap drones and basic missiles are threatening the largest, most expensive fleet in the world. We are not sure yet whether the US Fleet has plucked up the courage to fully counter this outrage, given that its so-called Operation Prosperity Guardian has seen three of America’s European allies back out already — Spain, France, and Italy.  It would be a grave mistake to underestimate the Houthis, who, it appears, can even pilot helicopters having been videoed landing them on oil tankers and container vessels entering the Red Sea. Yemen’s civil war and their subsequent attacks against the mighty Saudis appear to have melded them into a formidable guerrilla force. Now that Iran is driving them into peace talks with the Saudis, no doubt the Houthis are itching for a new cause.  Anyway, it is Round One to the Houthis: Red Sea shipping transits are now uninsurable, which appears to be Iran’s objective-by-proxy. There is little doubt that the Houthis will escalate their actions even further, despite the US, UK, Norway, Netherlands, Greece, Canada, and Australia sending warships to the area as their part in Operation Prosperity Guardian. Direct action against the Houthis is likely to inflame their anti-Israeli zeal even more. If words are followed by actions against the Houthis, we can be certain that the objective of protecting safe passage through the Red Sea will not be achieved and the Arab world will be further antagonised. Yet again, America could discover that deterrence becomes provocation. The wider Middle East picture While the Houthis are independent, like Hezbollah they are backed by Iran, dancing to the latter’s tune. But belying its extremist reputation, Iran is playing a calculated game, trying to put sufficient pressure on the Israelis to back down over Gaza. For now, they appear to be restraining Hezbollah to relatively minor attacks in Northern Israel, with the threat that Hezbollah’s involvement could increase if Israel doesn’t back down. Meanwhile, the Israelis appear to be trying to provoke America into direct action against Iran. It could be that the Israelis fear that with the Arab world uniting, their very existence as a nation is more directly threatened and that drawing in American protection is their best option. But without Saudi, Egyptian, and Turkish support the Americans and her western alliance are understandably reluctant to be drawn into a new war. Arab/Iranian unity neutralises the possibility of a deal between Israel and America giving greater protection against Iranian hostility, which presumably involves not just eliminating Hamas but seizing control of Lebanon and/or Syria and eliminating Hezbollah as well. Not only has the ground shifted for America, but it has for the Iranians as well. From being seen as an extreme theocracy issuing fatwas against westerners, Iran has become an integral part of the Asian hegemons’ plans. Russia has secured her partnership in energy, and China her access to the Persian Gulf. Through her membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation — she became a full member last July — Iran is now directly involved in Asia’s wider future. Not only does she enjoy greater protection under the SCO umbrella, but her geopolitics have become aligned with its objectives as well. This explains her tacit backing of Houthi action in the Red Sea, which is considerably more subtle than closing off Hormuz: that remains a backstop in event of a direct threat from America and her NATO partners.  For the Gulf Cooperation Council, representing all the oil and gas producers in the Middle East, the West’s climate change agenda has eliminated itself as a source of long-term energy demand. The GCC’s future is now focusing on Asian markets, dominated by industrialising China and India, who pay lip service to saving the planet but show no signs of reducing demand for fossil fuels. In partnership with China, Russia has played her energy cards well by reeling in the GCC to her sphere of influence. The reality so far as the western alliance is concerned is that the outcome of any action against the Houthis or in Lebanon and Syria to protect Israel’s northern flank will be determined by Russia and China, deploying regional support. It is no longer a matter confined to just the Middle East. BRICS and Russia’s presidency From this week, Russia takes over the BRICS presidency from South Africa and membership expands from five to ten. It was to be eleven. But having applied and been granted membership from 1 January, Argentina withdrew its application on 30 December, leaving a total of ten nations in the organisation whose combined population is estimated at 3.3 billion, about 44% of the world’s population. And of the 30 nations which have expressed an interest last year, a further 15 countries have formally applied to join BRICS. As pro tempore president, Russia will probably authorise further membership applications in a quest to expand BRICS and Russia’s own sphere of influence. My guess is that fossil fuel production and consumption will rank with respect to Putin’s selection. President Putin in his New Year speech outlined Russia’s objectives for BRICS in the coming year. The following is extracted from the English translation:[ii] “In general, Russia will continue to promote all aspects of the BRICS partnership in three key areas: politics and security, economy and finance, and cultural and humanitarian contacts. “Naturally, we will focus on enhancing foreign policy coordination among the member countries and on jointly seeking effective responses to the challenges and threats to international and regional security and stability. We will contribute to the practical implementation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025 and the Action Plan for BRICS Innovation Cooperation 2021–2024 for ensuring energy and food security, enhancing the role of BRICS in the international monetary system, expanding interbank cooperation, and expanding the use of national currencies in mutual trade. “Our priorities include promoting cooperation in science, high technology, healthcare, environmental protection, culture, sports, youth exchanges, and civil society. “In total, over 200 events of different levels and types will be held in many Russian cities as part of the chairmanship. We encourage representatives of all countries interested in cooperating with our organisation to take part in them. The BRICS Summit in Kazan in October will be the culmination of our chairmanship.” With over five events planned on average every week, Russia has put considerable detail into her agenda for BRICS which will run alongside her military and energy strategies. Clearly, the objective must be to cement hard support from all current and future BRICS members for Russia’s strategic objectives, which must include isolating the dollar as the foreign exchange and trade settlement medium.  Readers will recall that Russia wanted to put a gold backed trade settlement currency on the Johannesburg agenda but failed to secure the required unanimous backing of the then members. With the benefit of hindsight, we can view the early leaking of her proposal as a device to put pressure on the dissenters. But Keynesian India was dead against it, and China was lukewarm. But now Russia will have a more considered and timely opportunity to achieve her gold currency objectives, and the programme of over 200 events is likely to be heavily skewed to achieving this end. BRICS and gold Last year central banks around the world accumulated substantial quantities of gold. There are two obvious reasons for this development. The first is a realisation that reserves held in sovereign currencies bear increasing credit risk due to high government debt to GDP ratios and the threat of confiscation. And the second is an assessment of America’s geopolitical decline. While central bank gold reserves are reported by the IMF and distributed more widely by the World Gold Council, these statistics are only part of the total, with governments feeding bullion into national wealth funds and other accounts hidden from public view. Therefore, the IMF’s statistics are not the whole picture. What we cannot know is how many central bankers truly understand the legal distinctions and differences between money and credit. One can only conclude that if they did the dollar would have already been widely rejected relative to gold, because the former is supported only by belief in it while the latter has proved to be constant over history, replacing fiat regimes every time they eventually fail. Nevertheless, the strategic accumulation of bullion reserves by central banks has been quietly growing over the last decade. But with the US’s insistence that the dollar is money and gold is money no longer, any neutral nation which is probably indebted in dollars anyway is unlikely to provoke the Americans and the IMF into retaliatory action by publicly dumping dollars for gold. The only exceptions are powerful players, such as China and the Saudis, or those already sanctioned, like Russia and Iran. China has been selling US Treasuries and buying gold with the proceeds while Russia continues its anti-dollar rhetoric. We don’t know what Russia was going to propose with respect to using gold in connection with trade settlement in Johannesburg, but the most likely plan would have been to replace the dollar as the common medium between foreign exchange settlements. Other than intergovernmental dealings, the normal procedure for trade settlement is for an importer to sell its national currency for dollars, and either pay dollars to the trade counterparty, or sell the dollars to buy the counterparty’s national currency in order to credit its bank. Assuming a trade deal is not settled in dollars but national currencies, the dollar is still involved. At any one time, outstanding foreign exchange transactions with the dollar on one leg amounts to about $85 trillion. With a growing BRICS organisation together with members, associates, and dialog partners of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) we can see that the majority of the world by population in the Russia/China axis is tied through trade to the dollar because of foreign exchange market conventions. This gives the US a presence in the Russian/Chinese backyard, which is obviously undesirable to the Asian hegemons. Logically, the neutrality of gold is an attractive replacement for the dollar in these trade transactions, with a gold substitute fully redeemable in gold and commercial bank credit created in its denomination acting between currencies. Used for trade settlement, most credit created in the new currency becomes self-extinguishing. Furthermore, as a medium of exchange it can be trusted to hold its value better than an unstable fiat dollar. Any move towards an official readoption of gold for the replacement of the dollar is bound to undermine the dollar’s credibility. It would amount to the greatest challenge to the post-Bretton Woods status quo. Understandably, there must be serious misgivings even within the BRICS camp about the likely consequences of such an important step. But over the course of 2024, the US Government’s debt trap will almost certainly lead to increasing uncertainty over the future value of dollar reserves and of the dollar’s suitability as a medium of exchange. A further consideration, likely to unfold over time, is of the debasement of dollar debt owed by emerging nations which will surely be welcomed by them, assuming they can stabilise their own currencies. In other words, over the course of 2024 the conditions for the replacement of dollars with gold as the international measure of value will improve with the dollar’s decline.  Russia is therefore likely to refine the proposals that failed to make the Johannesburg agenda before presenting them again next October at the meeting scheduled to be at Kazan, where they should have a better reception. It will have become obvious to delegates at that meeting that with the US Government entangled in a debt trap it will struggle to find buyers for US Treasuries other than for short-term T-bills. As I argue below, in the current fiscal year the budget deficit could top $3 trillion, half of which will be debt interest. And the dollar is already showing early signs of decline, reflected in both its trade weighted index and the dollar price of gold. Gold adoption by Russia and China As well as other members of BRICS and the SCO reviewing their relationship with the dollar, Russia and China will have to consider the relationship between a declining dollar and their own currencies. The Keynesian consensus on trade is that currency relationships for net exporting nations maximise trade benefits “when they are competitive”. It is an argument that favours a faster decline in purchasing power than that of the dollar. This line of reasoning is specious, to say the least. It highlights the logic of lower export prices promoting sales, with the less obvious: that a competitive currency policy erodes national wealth and fails to address the relationships between the trade balance, the government’s own accounts, and private sector savings which actually determine the balance of trade.  Inevitably, there must come a point where this popular line of reasoning will be abandoned. Otherwise, the rouble and renminbi will go down with a sinking dollar ship.  The benefits of putting the rouble on a gold standard are obvious and growing all the time. As a matter of fact, in its soviet days Russia was on a gold standard, separately from the Bretton Woods Agreement (which Stalin endorsed but didn’t join) until Khrushchev abandoned it in 1961. The lesson for critics of the rouble devaluation is that it cured nothing, with the decline in the soviet economy continuing, even accelerating. Tin view of this history, there is an appreciation in Russia at the highest levels of the benefits of securing the rouble’s value to gold, eloquently expressed by Sergei Glazyev, economic adviser to Putin in an article for the Moscow business magazine Vedomosti in December 2022.[iii] The benefits are clear: a credible gold standard would allow interest rates to settle at a rate closer to the natural rate for gold, adjusted by the credibility of the arrangement. Instead of the central bank’s key interest rate of 16%, it would likely decline towards two or three per cent. The expansion of the central bank’s credit would be tied solely to its function as an issuer of roubles in return for gold coin and bullion, the expansion of commercial bank credit being driven by commercial demand, productive in nature and therefore non-inflationary. With income tax at 13%—15%(maximum) and government debt estimated at only 22% of GDP, the underlying economic dynamics for the Russian economy do not face the painful readjustment of welfare-driven economies required to make a gold standard stick. The only credible reason Russia has not adopted the obvious gold policy outlined by Glazyev is that for Russia to do so would deliver a death blow to the dollar by comparison, an outcome for which China is not yet prepared. But with the dollar’s debt problem rapidly escalating, China will have to abandon the fallacy that her exports depend on the renminbi weakening with the dollar.  We know from her policies towards gold following the Peoples Bank’s appointment as sole manager of the nation’s gold in 1983, together with global bullion flows into China that both the state and its peoples have accumulated the largest aboveground gold stocks on the planet. This policy would not have been implemented unless far-sighted officials had not foreseen the weaknesses in the dollar-based post-Bretton Woods currency system. The role of gold as money is clearly understood in China. The gathering pace of the dollar’s problems suggests that the transition of the rouble and renminbi to gold standards further undermining the dollar’s credibility will happen sooner than might be expected — even before this year’s end. As to the timing, there are many variable factors, not just the success with which Russia persuades the BRICS membership under her presidency to do away with the dollar in favour of gold, but also her increasingly likely success at expelling US-led NATO from Ukraine and developments in the Israeli/Gaza conflict going Iran’s way. And then 2024 is also the year of political change in the West, which could have an enormous influence on outcomes. US elections and borrowing costs In 2024, the most important election of many will be that of US President on 5 November. Ahead of the US primaries which will determine the two principal contenders, it appears to be between Biden and Trump. In its global impact, it is this election which will matter more than any other. Last June, Biden signed into law the suspension of the debt ceiling until 1 January 2025. Since then, the Federal Government’s debt has accelerated to $34 trillion, the overriding feature being debt interest, perhaps making up nearly half of the budget deficit in this fiscal year. The level of interest rates and therefore the cost of government funding has become a major issue for the Fed, which while notionally independent from the US Treasury in practice is not. It is one of a series of issues which have been troubling markets in recent months. Following the last FOMC meeting, markets have taken the view that the Fed is pivoting from control of inflation to addressing a recessionary economy and the cost of government debt. Accordingly, as well as an ambition to reduce interest rates the next policy move is likely to be the abandoning of quantitative tightening in favour of QE.  With the refunding of maturing debt, it will require over $10 trillion to be found. That’s bad enough. But being an election year, the haggling over spending (reductions are never in the frame) will almost certainly take the debt total to at least $37—$38 trillion at the end of the current fiscal year (to end-September) and possibly even within spitting distance of $40 trillion by the year-end. The inducement to spend, spend, spend while there is no debt ceiling and before negotiations for a new one take place following the installation of the next President, the greater will be the likelihood of outstanding debt hitting $40 trillion before a new ceiling is negotiated. A recession, which is already the true condition, will reduce expected revenue and increase prospective liabilities, potentially driving the budget deficit even higher than $3 trillion. In which case debt hitting $40 trillion in twelve months’ time becomes even more likely. The optics will not be good. Soaring government debt and subdued or contracting GDP will drive the ratio considerably higher. The pressure on the Fed to keep interest rates as low as possible is bound to increase. But the Fed is unlikely to have much control over interest rates anyway because they will be determined by the fate of the dollar’s purchasing power. The dollar’s exchange rate with other currencies will depend on the degree of foreign investment in the Federal Government’s new debt. But other than captive buyers in offshore centres, reserve demand from foreign central banks is already declining. In fact, the two largest holders, China and Japan have already turned net sellers.  In recent months we have seen evidence of difficulties in longer maturity debt auctions and a growing reliance on short-term funding through the T-Bill market. Largely, this is due to banks adjusting their risk exposure away from corporate lending and longer bond maturities, a process which is time limited. Government funding has also absorbed most of the money market funds’ liquidity, which previously had been parked in the Fed’s reverse repo facility. The ease with which the US Treasury has funded the accelerating budget deficit will shortly come to an end, and a funding crisis is bound to ensue. Under cover of a gathering recession, the Fed will face mounting pressure to monetise the debt problem as much as possible. For a fiat currency over-owned by foreign interests the inflationary implications are potentially catastrophic for the dollar. The dollar’s suitability as the international medium of exchange is already facing a challenge from gold, to which the Asian hegemons and their growing band of supporters in BRICS and the SCO are turning. Consequently, with a failing dollar 2024 is set to see a significant decline in the US’s global influence. By wielded her power through the dollar she has created foreign resentment and enemies. This could be the year when America discovers that her grip on the world is ending, and that she should have learned from Britain’s experience and response to the reality of her decline in the 1960s. Tyler Durden Sat, 01/13/2024 - 08:10.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 13th, 2024

Russia Unleashes Biggest Aerial Attack On Ukraine Since Opening Days Of War

Russia Unleashes Biggest Aerial Attack On Ukraine Since Opening Days Of War Ukraine has said on Friday Russia launched the largest single day of airstrikes ever conducted throughout nearly two years of war. At least 18 people were reported killed, and over a hundred wounded after several Ukrainian cities were pummeled in drone and missile attacks. The Ukrainian Armed Forces cited that up to 158 missiles and drones were launched, describing that this was a "record number" and the "most massive missile attack" of the conflict, excluding the very opening few days of the invasion. This was said include ballistic and supersonic missiles, launched from air and sea. Ukraine's military claimed its anti-air defenses downed and intercepted the majority of these. President Volodymyr Zelensky also said, "Today Russia hit us with almost everything it has in its arsenal." The attacks began overnight into Friday, with large explosions rocking Kiev, Dnipro, and places like Odessa in the south and Kharkiv in the east. Inbound projectiles were also seen as far from the front lines as Lviv, in the country's far west. "It’s been a long time since we have seen so many enemy targets on our monitors in all regions and all directions," Ukrainian air force spokesman Yurii Ihnat told a television broadcast. "Everything was being fired." Ukrainian officials said that among places hit were shopping centers, apartment blocks, schools and a hospital. Map showing expands of Russia's major missile and drone operation on Friday. Widespread rescue operations continued into the day Friday: There was a strong smell of burning plastic as firefighters wearing oxygen masks tackled the blaze and a huge column of black smoke billowed into the sky, an AFP reporter saw. There were believed to be 10 people trapped under the rubble, said the head of the city's military administration, Sergiy Popko. AFP journalists also saw smoke near the building of Lukyanivska metro station close to the city center. Popko said the metro station had been damaged but it reopened later in the day. Scenes in the far Western city of Lviv, which is rarely touched by the war, were as follows based on Ukrainian officials: In Lviv, one person was killed and 15 wounded by drones and missiles that damaged high-rise blocks of flats and two schools, the interior ministry said. An image released by the emergency services showed window frames blown out in a nine-story block of flats. As expected, Ukraine is referencing the large-scale aerial assault as reason for allies to urgently authorize more defense funds for 2024. Tens of billions are currently being held up in US Congress and the European Union.  A maternity ward, educational facilities, a shopping mall, multi-story residential buildings and private homes, a commercial storage, and a parking lot. Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, and other cities. Today, Russia used nearly every type of weapon in its… pic.twitter.com/q5q8Q98Njr — Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) December 29, 2023 Zelensky aide Andriy Yermak said the war-ravaged country needs "more support and strength to stop this terror" while US ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink immediately emphasized "Ukraine needs funding now". EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described Friday's assault as "yet another cowardly and indiscriminate" attack on civilians. The EU has been seeking to sidestep Hungary as it has sought to pass some €50 billion in funding, which remains blocked. Smoke billows over Kiev on Friday as a result of the strikes, via Reuters. Meanwhile, Orthodox Church Christmas is around the corner, and it's as yet unclear whether there might be a hoped-for "Christmas truce" between Russia and Ukraine - as was speculated last year (but didn't really materialize). Orthodox Christians in both countries celebrate the holiday on January 7 (according to when Dec.25 appears on the ecclesiastical/or Julian calendar). Tyler Durden Fri, 12/29/2023 - 10:40.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 29th, 2023

American Hostage Dies In Gaza - White House Silent, No Plan On Horizon

American Hostage Dies In Gaza - White House Silent, No Plan On Horizon Israeli authorities have announced the death 73-year-old Gadi Haggai while in Hamas captivity, an Israeli-American dual national who had been kidnapped Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7. The kibbutz made the announcement Friday but without specifying how it came by the information. Israel's Missing Persons Families Forum also issued statement while saying his body is still being held in the Gaza Strip. "Gadi was a man full of humor who knew how to make those around him laugh. A musician at heart, a gifted flautist, he played in the IDF Orchestra and was involved with music his whole life," the statement said. Judi Weinstein and Gadi Haggai, via Israeli media The statement reviewed that on Oct. 7 he had been on a walk with his wife when he was shot and "critically injured". His wife had also been taken captive, and she remains in Gaza, and is believed to be alive. A paramedic responding to the Oct. 7 attack on the kibbutz was the last to see the pair. Gadi's child, Iris Weinstein Haggai, referenced the paramedic's account as follows: "She said they were shot by terrorists on a motorcycle and that my dad was wounded really bad." The statement also indicated that "Judi managed to notify friends that they had been shot and that Gadi was critically injured - it was the last contact with them." There are still some 130 captives in total being held in Gaza, though some might be feared dead - and of the remaining total six are American citizens and one is a US Green Card holder. The prior seven-day truce saw over 100 captives freed, including some Americans. Last week, President Biden hosted family members of American kidnap victims at the White House, and he vowed to work tirelessly to secure their freedom.  In the opening weeks of the Gaza War, the Pentagon confirmed it had dispatched a team of special forces to advise and assist the Israeli military concerning the hostages. Alarmingly, Israeli officials confirmed recently the military has begun flooding Gaza's tunnel system, hoping to flush out the Hamas militants who hide there. Critics of the high-risk plan warn this could kill any hostages potentially being held underground as well. Also, the White House at this crucial moment has little to say, and doesn't appear to be offering much in the way of a plan or alternatives, including on the level of a new hostage deal... Reporter: "Are we expecting a hostage deal [in Gaza] any time soon?" Biden: "Yes." Reporter: "Oh, really? Okay.” Biden: “Wait. Where?"pic.twitter.com/HQa6yk1gHe — Greg Price (@greg_price11) December 20, 2023 Currently, it's unlikely that Israeli or US intelligence has any idea where the remaining Americans are being kept inside the Gaza Strip, now a full besieged military zone. Little can be done, other than initiating a second temporary truce and hostage swap. Efforts to achieve this have so far failed, after Israel proposed a plan days ago that envisioned the release of 40 from Hamas captivity. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/22/2023 - 17:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 22nd, 2023

Biden Meets With Families Of 8 American Captives Still Held In Gaza

Biden Meets With Families Of 8 American Captives Still Held In Gaza President Biden says he's looking to restart Israel-Hamas negotiations in order to gain the freedom of the several Americans still in captivity. However, all signs point to this as an unlikely scenario anytime soon. The president met with relatives of American citizens still being held hostage in Gaza at the White House on Wednesday. Most or all of the captives are dual citizens.  There are still 135 captives in total being held, though some might be feared dead - and of the total seven are American citizens and one is a US Green Card holder. The prior seven-day truce saw over 100 captives freed, including some Americans. The family members that attended included Yael and Adi Alexander, Ruby and Roy Chen, Ronen and Orna Neutra, Jonathan Dekel-Chen, Gillian Kaye, Aviva, Elan, Shir and Hanna Siegel, and Liz Naftali. Three others joined by phone: Jon Polin, Rachel Goldberg and Iris Haggai. "We have no better friend in Washington or in the White House than President Biden himself," said Jonathan Dekel-Chen, a family member among those meeting with Biden. "They are willing and ready to do all that they possibly can, by any number of means to get the hostages out." However, just last Friday the US shot down UN efforts to revive a ceasefire, given it was the lone "no" vote for a UN Security Council draft resolution urging immediate ceasefire. In the opening weeks of the Gaza War, the Pentagon confirmed it had dispatched a team of special forces to advise and assist the Israeli military concerning the hostages. Alarmingly, this week Israeli officials said the military has begun flooding Gaza's tunnel system, hoping to flush out the Hamas militants who hide there. Critics warn this could kill any hostages potentially being held underground as well. As the Israel ground operation presses on, also now in the south, the situation grows riskier by the day for the remaining hostages. Some are believed to have already been killed by airstrikes.  GAZA pic.twitter.com/CDoxOUIBOB — The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) December 13, 2023 The specific fate of the eight remaining American captives remains unknown. Currently, it's unlikely that Israeli or US intelligence so much as has any idea where they are being kept inside the Gaza Strip, now a full besieged military zone. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will again travel to Israel in the coming days, where he'll meet with Israel's war cabinet. Tyler Durden Wed, 12/13/2023 - 14:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 13th, 2023

What Would Happen If The US Stopped Supporting Ukraine?

What Would Happen If The US Stopped Supporting Ukraine? Authored by Connor O'Keefe via The Mises Institute, Over the weekend, border-policy negotiations between Senate Democrats and Republicans fell apart. The talks were meant to firm up Republican support for the president’s massive $105 billion military support proposal ahead of Wednesday’s vote by including additional funds for border security in the spending package. Now, with no imminent approval of further aid to Ukraine, hawks in government and the media are trying to stoke panic about what will happen if Kyiv is cut off from US support. In a letter to Congress Monday, White House budget director Shalanda Young told Congress the funds will dry up by the end of the year: I want to be clear: without congressional action, by the end of the year we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from U.S. military stocks. There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment. We are out of money—and nearly out of time. Young goes on to forecast disaster for Ukraine if more money isn’t allocated. But is that really accurate? Are the Ukrainian people doomed if Washington stops funding the war? If we’re going to understand what might happen in the absence of US involvement in Ukraine, we must first understand Washington’s actual effect on the war, the true nature of which has been laid out brilliantly in a series of recent columns by Ted Snider. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began with a bombardment of cruise missiles on February 24, 2022. Later that day, infantry and armored divisions rolled in from Russia, Belarus, and Crimea while paratroopers dropped in around the capital city of Kyiv. Days later, as the shock and confusion of the initial offensive began to dissipate, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky attempted to set up indirect talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Zelensky called then–Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett and asked him to contact Putin and to serve as a mediator. Bennett agreed. Over the next week, Bennett had a series of phone calls with Putin before traveling to Moscow and Berlin to help organize diplomatic communication channels. His effort culminated in a March 10 meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in Turkey. In the series of talks that followed, Bennett described both sides as making “huge concessions” in pursuit of a ceasefire. But Kyiv’s Western backers were resistant to the truce. At a special summit on March 24, NATO decided not to support or approve the peace negotiations. Still, Zelensky and Putin kept at it. And on March 29, the two sides reached an agreement. According to a draft unsealed this past June, Russia had agreed to pull its forces back to prewar boundaries. In exchange, Ukraine had agreed it would not seek NATO membership. So why didn’t it happen? Well, it may have started to. In early April, Russia withdrew its forces from northern Ukraine, around Kyiv—an action Putin later said was related to the Istanbul agreement. But then, according to Bennett, former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and the leader of the Ukrainian delegation to the talks, David Arakhamia, the West pressured Zelensky to abandon negotiations and fight. Assuming the best intentions, it’s possible officials in Washington and Brussels believed the Ukrainians could win enough battles to improve their leverage in future negotiations. But that is not what happened. Instead, Washington bankrolled a horrifying twenty-one-month war of attrition that has cost the people of Ukraine greatly in land, lives, and limbs. After talks broke down, Russia laid permanent claim to tens of thousands of square miles of Ukrainian territory that it had earlier agreed to relinquish. Last summer, Ukrainian forces began attempting to retake this land by force in the so-called counteroffensive. But they have since lost more territory than they have gained. Ukraine keeps its casualty count classified, but by the end of August US estimates had put it north of two hundred thousand. And it has likely climbed substantially with the ongoing struggle to break through heavy Russian minefields. As their supply of military-aged men has dwindled, the average age of a Ukrainian soldier has climbed to forty-three. And now there is a push within the Ukrainian government to lower the draft age to begin conscripting those who have so far been too young to be eligible. The Ukrainian people are being put through hell. And now even senior Ukrainian military officials admit there is no military path out. If the purpose of stifling the Istanbul agreement was to help the Ukrainians gain more leverage, the West must admit failure before Ukraine loses even more. And if Washington’s intentions were more nefarious—as comments from officials like Mitch McConnell, who have framed the war as an easy way to burden Russia without spilling American blood, suggest—that’s all the more reason to call off this horrific project. That brings us back to the original question. What would happen if the United States stopped supporting Ukraine? We already know. Ukraine and Russia would work toward a deal. It won’t go as well for Ukraine as it did almost two years ago when they were stronger. But it’s not a path to fear. Because the alternative is that the White House gets its way and this brutal, unnecessary war carries on. And that’s so much worse. Tyler Durden Wed, 12/13/2023 - 02:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 13th, 2023

Number Of Attacks On US Bases In Iraq & Syria Pushes Past 80

Number Of Attacks On US Bases In Iraq & Syria Pushes Past 80 US military bases in the Middle East reportedly came under Fresh attack again on Friday, pushing the total number of attacks since mid-October past 80 incidents. "There were four additional attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since yesterday, according to a DOD official. Now 82 overall since Oct. 17," Politico's Pentagon correspondent Lara Seligman wrote. Some media sources have put the figure as high as 85. While the fresh attack hasn't been widely reported in Western media, Iran's Mehr News Agency is among those regional sources claiming that some four American bases in Syria were hit. And one regional monitor OSINTdefender said, "The Attacks on U.S. Forces in the Middle East today has been Never-ending, with at least 10 Rocket and Drones Attacks reported against 6 different Bases in both Iraq and Syria in the last 12 Hours." In a Thursday briefing Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Sing had said this trend of attacks had lessened since the end of the weeklong Israel-Hamas truce, and that the US is hoping things stay calm in the region. "In terms of the attacks on our forces, I think it's important to remember that it's good that we have not seen attacks on our forces in the last 24 hours," Singh said. "We would like to see that continue." The Biden administration has long asserted that it "won't hesitate" to defend American forces in the region; however, recent reporting in Politico has suggested the US is intentionally refraining from a response to Iran-backed Houthi aggression in the Red Sea, on fears of sparking a broader war. This week for the first time since Oct.7, the US Embassy in Baghdad came under multiple missile salvos. Damage was reported but no injuries. Likely, attacks will continue to intensify especially in Syria - given that both Syrian national and Iranian forces want to squeeze American forces out of the illegal occupation of the country's oil and gas regions. There have been dozens of US troop injuries, with all of them reported as minor. Attacks on U.S. Bases in Middle East Are Escalating. I continue to argue our troops in Iraq & Syria are serving no purpose... they are not degrading terrorist groups in the region. Get them out of there!#iraq #Syria #MiddleEast #isis #hamas #Terrorists pic.twitter.com/2UMkGHs8bR — Daniel Davis Deep Dive (@DanielLDavis1) December 9, 2023 Washington has been intent on strangling Damascus and the Syrian population after Assad emerged victorious from the decade-long proxy war there. Turkey also wants to see the US presence end, given the Pentagon's support to the Kurds. Just this week the Senate voted down a resolution that which have required a quick and full US troop drawdown from Syria, on the basis that there was never explicit Congressional authorization for the occupation in the first place. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/09/2023 - 20:25.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 9th, 2023

FBI Director Says Terror Threats Elevated To All-Time High Since Hamas Attacks

FBI Director Says Terror Threats Elevated To All-Time High Since Hamas Attacks Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times, FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday told lawmakers that the United States is facing unprecedented terrorist threats since the start of the Israel–Hamas conflict in October. "What I would say that is unique about the environment that we're in right now in my career is that while there may have been times over the years where individual threats could have been higher here or there than where they may be right now, I've never seen a time where all the threats or so many of the threats are all elevated, all at exactly the same time," the FBI director said in a Senate hearing after he was pressed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) about the threats facing the United States. In response, Mr. Graham said that the "blinking red lights analogy about 9/11 ... all the lights were blinking red before 9/11, apparently." He then asked the FBI director: "Would you say there's multiple blinking red lights out there?" "I see blinking red lights everywhere," Mr. Wray answered, without elaborating. The FBI chief's comments on Tuesday come as Israeli forces stormed southern Gaza's main city in what they called the most intense day of combat in five weeks of ground operations against Hamas. In what appeared to be the biggest ground assault in Gaza since a truce with Hamas ended last week, Israel said its forces reached the heart of Khan Younis. "We are in the most intense day since the beginning of the ground operation," the commander of the Israeli military's Southern Command, General Yaron Finkelman, said in Jerusalem. He said Israeli forces were also fighting in Jabalia, a large urban refugee camp and Hamas stronghold in northern Gaza next to Gaza City, and in Shuja'iyya, east of the city. "We are in the heart of Jabalia, in the heart of Shuja'iyya, and now also in the heart of Khan Younis," he said. Previous Remarks The Tuesday warning comes several weeks after he told lawmakers that the Hamas–Israel war could spark terrorism within the United States and said that Hamas could inspire ISIS-like attacks. Since the start of the conflict on Oct. 7, multiple designated terrorist groups have called for attacks on U.S. targets, he said. “The actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration the likes of which we haven’t seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate several years ago,” Mr. Wray said on Oct. 31 At the time, he told lawmakers that Hamas, a State Department-designated terrorist organization, does not have "the intent or capability to conduct operations inside the U.S., though we cannot, and do not, discount that possibility.” “This is not a time for panic, but it is a time for vigilance,” Mr. Wray added, responding to public fears about potential terrorist attacks. “You often hear the expression if you see something, say something … that’s never been more true than now,” he added, referring to a slogan that has often been used at U.S. transportation hubs and airports in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. There has also been a rise in incidents targeting Jewish people across the United States, he said, adding that while the White House has expressed alarm reports of incidents at American universities as tensions have prompted university officials to tighten security. “This is a threat that is reaching, in some way, sort of historic levels,” Mr. Wray said. He said it’s because “the Jewish community is targeted by terrorists really across the spectrum." Tensions Rising? This week, the United States blamed the Houthi terrorist group in Yemen for a series of attacks in Middle Eastern waters since war broke out between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas on Oct. 7. In several recent incidents over the past weekend, three commercial vessels came under attack in international waters in the southern Red Sea. The Houthis acknowledged launching drone and missile attacks against what they said were two Israeli vessels in the area. The USS Carney, a U.S. Navy destroyer, shot down three drones on Sunday as it answered distress calls from the commercial vessels. The U.S. military says the three vessels were connected to 14 separate nations. "The Carney took action as a drone was headed in its direction. But again, we can't assess that the Carney at this time was the intended target," said Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh. The Houthi group, which controls most of Yemen's Red Sea coast, had previously fired ballistic missiles and armed drones toward Israel and vowed to target more Israeli vessels. The organization was taken off the U.S. State Department's terror list in 2021. But White House officials have said this week that they are leaving open the possibility of potentially designating the Houthis as a terrorist organization again. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/07/2023 - 17:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 7th, 2023

Israel Expands Ground Operations To Whole Of Gaza, Seeking "Total Victory"

Israel Expands Ground Operations To Whole Of Gaza, Seeking "Total Victory" The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Sunday announced for the first time that not only are its air strikes extending to the south of the Gaza Strip, where the bulk of civilians from the north have fled, but it is expanding its ground operations to the whole of Gaza. Following the collapse of the week-long truce on Friday, spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a press briefing, "The IDF is resuming and expanding the ground operation against Hamas’ strongholds across the whole Gaza Strip." "Our policy is clear — we will forcefully strike any threat posed against our territory," he emphasized in words that came the day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged "total victory" and that the war will be taken to Hamas "until the end."  AFP via Getty Images He still vowed to "do everything possible" to return the 137 hostages still in Hamas captivity. Contrary to Washington's stance, he batted down a reporter's question about the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) potential role in a post-war Gaza, saying it "pays murderers" and "educate[s] their children to hate Israel and, to my sorrow, to murder Jews, and ultimately for the disappearance of the State of Israel." "I’m not prepared to delude myself and say that this defective thing, established under the Oslo Accords in a terrible mistake," he said of the idea of the PA governing a post-war Gaza. During his weekend remarks, Netanyahu also again warned Hezbollah that its further involvement in the war would bring about the destruction of all of Lebanon. This came amid reports that a Hezbollah missile attack sent 12 Israelis to the hospital - with troops and civilians among them. Following last week's ceasefire, the death toll has once again continued to mount, with the latest data from the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza saying at least 15,200 Gazans have died since Oct.7 - with most of them being women and children. Two weeks ago, the Associated Press reported, "Palestinian health officials in Gaza said Tuesday that they have lost the ability to count the dead because of the collapse of parts of the enclave’s health system and the difficulty of retrieving bodies from areas overrun by Israeli tanks and troops." As for the IDF death toll since ground operations were initiated, this stands at 75 Israeli troops killed, according to official military numbers.  Given the huge and rising Palestinian death toll, the White House has been feeling more international pressure to place conditions on the US weaponry sent to Israel, which Biden has so far refused to do. Biden's top national security (NSC) official John Kirby faced scrutiny concerning the administration's stance on multiple fronts related to Gaza: The White House believes Israel is "making an effort" to minimize civilian deaths in Gaza, a senior official said Sunday, as international concern mounted over the numbers killed in the resumed war with Hamas. Speaking on the US Sunday talk shows, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby also insisted that US intelligence was unaware of any secret, advance Hamas blueprint for its brutal October 7 attack on Israel that triggered the conflict. The New York Times reported last week that Israeli authorities had obtained such a document a year before the attack occurred, and a report on Israel’s Channel 12 Sunday claimed plans for a Hamas assault on the scale of the October 7 attack were in Israeli hands as early as 2018. As the reported Gaza death toll surpassed 15,000 - Blinken simply repeated the standard talking point that the US believes Israel is doing everything it can to minimize civilian deaths and 'collateral damage'. ⚡️The moment a building was bombed in Gaza city a short while ago. pic.twitter.com/69PyhZ2QcR — War Monitor (@WarMonitors) December 4, 2023 "We believe they have been receptive to our messages here of trying to minimalize civilian casualties," he said. He pointed to Israel having published a map informing civilians of where they can go to find safety.  "There's not a whole lot of modern militaries that would do that... to telegraph their punches in that way. So they are making an effort," Kirby said. However, Palestinian officials have long complained that places once thought safe, such as southern towns, are still coming under major bombardment. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/04/2023 - 07:45.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 4th, 2023

Futures Drop As Torrid November Rally Fizzles Ahead Of Jobs Data Deluge; China Stocks Hit Five Year Low

Futures Drop As Torrid November Rally Fizzles Ahead Of Jobs Data Deluge; China Stocks Hit Five Year Low US equity futures, most European bourses and Asian markets as well as global bonds all retreated after five consecutive weeks of gains, as traders paused to digest November’s blockbuster rally and to consider the case for interest rate cuts, which they aggressively priced in after Powell's "not as hawkish as feared" fireside chat on Friday. As of 8am ET, S&P futures were lower by 0.3%, dropping back below the 4,600 unwinding a portion of Friday session rally (which however left hedge fund bruised and battered as the most shorted stock soared much more than the HF VIP basket); USD is stronger and commodities are weaker: crude futures are lower by around 0.4%, adding to Friday losses; 10-year Treasury yields added five basis points to 4.25%. Despite the rise in the DXY, Bitcoin surged past $41,000, while gold briefly touched an all time high. With the Fed in its blackout window, the macro data releases will be the key focus; no treasury auctions this week. Today, that focus is on factory orders and durable/cap goods; this week we get a deluge of labor data starting with the latest reading on US job openings (or JOLTS) tomorrow, followed by ADP’s National Employment Report on Wednesday and non-farm payrolls on Friday. In premarket trading, Spotify shares rose 1.7% after the company said it will reduce headcount by about 17%, at least the third time this year the streaming service has cut jobs. Roche Holding AG gained after the Swiss drugmaker agreed to buy Carmot Therapeutics Inc. for as much as $3.1 billion in a deal that would give it access to experimental medicines in obesity and diabetes. Cryptocurrency-linked stocks rallied in premarket trading on Monday as Bitcoin extends gains to surpass the $42,000 mark, its highest level since April 2022. Shares of Hawaiian Airlines shares soared 181% after rival Alaska Air agreed to purchase the carrier for $1.9 billion. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Carvana rose 4.5% after JPMorgan upgraded the online used-car dealer to neutral from underweight. The broker said the upgrade reflects improvements in “productivity, costs, and culture.” Lululemon shares decline 2.0% after Wells Fargo downgraded the athletic-apparel brand to equal-weight from overweight, noting the valuation is “no longer cheap.” The broker also removes the stock from their Top Picks list, replacing it with Nike. Uber Technologies, Jabil and Builders FirstSource all rise in premarket trading as the companies are set to join the S&P 500 Index. Virgin Galactic fell 14% after Richard Branson told the Financial Times that he doesn’t plan further investments in the space tourism startup he founded. A slew of economic reports this week culminating with Friday's jobs report are expected to shed light on the state of the US labor market and whether markets are prematurely excited that softer economic conditions can open the door to Federal Reserve rate cuts. Soft-landing hopes built on an economy at “stall speed” look fragile, leaving the market open to risks of a deeper contraction, JPMorgan strategists led by Mislav Matejka warned in a note, although they have been saying the same thing for so long nobody cares any more. Optimism around a peak in interest rates pushed the 10Y  TSY yield down 60 basis points in November from a 16-year high of 5% the previous month, and brought a gauge of the securities into positive territory for the year. The S&P 500 advanced about 9%, one of its best November rallies in a century. “While yield declines were warranted, the magnitude is too big given the recent data releases,” said Piet Christiansen, chief strategist at Danske Bank. “I think the market is too aggressive about rate cuts.” As noted on Friday, bond traders doubled down on wagers that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates as soon as next March even after Fed Chair Jerome Powell reiterated it’s premature to speculate on easing. Late last week, the swaps markets saw an 80% chance of a reduction in March and are fully pricing in a cut in May; March odds have since eased modestly. Those bets are set to be tested tomorrow, with the latest reading on US job openings (or JOLTS) for October. That report will be followed by ADP’s National Employment Report on Wednesday and non-farm payrolls on Friday. “Still-robust demand and labor-market dynamics in the US” should keep traders wary that inflation can keep cooling, according to Barclays Plc strategists including Ben McLannahan. “Further falls in inflation will be more difficult from here,” they wrote in a report. European stocks reversed earlier gains, trading about 0.1% lower as oil stocks underperformed most sub-sectors on Europe’s Stoxx 600 index. The Stoxx Europe 600 Energy index drops as much as 2% after Citi cited pressure on oil prices coming from more spare capacity and UBS flagged demand concerns. Citi analysts including Alastair Syme expect further oil price easing to low $70s by end-2024 in the face of growing spare capacity. The mining sector was the biggest underperformer amid falling iron ore prices. Here are Monday’s biggest movers: Rolls-Royce shares gain as much as 4.1% as JPMorgan upgrades the plane-engine maker to overweight and Goldman Sachs reinstates its buy rating, adding to a chorus of bullish views UCB rises as much as 7.8% after it announced that the EU has granted marketing authorization for Zilbrysq (zilucoplan) as an add-on to standard therapy for generalized Myasthenia Gravis Wolters Kluwer rises as much as 4% and hits new all-time high. The German software and services provider is set to join the Euro Stoxx 50, replacing UK gambling firm Flutter 888 shares gain as much as 18% after the Sunday Times reported Playtech made an unsuccessful £700 million ($890 million) bid in July for the William Hill owner DS Smith gains as much as 2.7% after Barclays upgraded its recommendation for the UK paper and packaging firm to overweight, calling it “one of the cheapest stocks in global packaging” ITM Power jumps as much as 13% after the clean-fuel company reiterated its FY guidance. Analysts welcomed its update, which contrasts with recent profit warnings from sector peers Nokia shares fall as much as 4.1% amid speculation that the telecom equipment maker could be removed from AT&T’s 5G equipment vendor list; rival Ericsson meanwhile gains as much as 2.7% European mining stocks fall as much as 2% as iron ore prices drop after inventories rose and the steel market moved into the typically slower winter season across northern China IMCD slips as much as 2% after JPMorgan cut its rating, noting that it doesn’t see earnings of chemical distributors’ in 2024 being “positively levered” to a possible macro recovery Earlier in the session, Asia’s equity benchmark dropped, led by losses in Chinese and Hong Kong stocks as investors looked for fresh catalysts after a strong rally in November. Indian equities headed for a fresh record after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s victories in three key state elections boosted expectations of policy continuity. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 0.2%, after rising as much as 0.7% earlier. Stocks in Japan slid as the yen strengthened while Chinese shares extended declines. China Evergrande rallied 9% in Hong Kong after the distressed developer won breathing room to strike a restructuring agreement with creditors. That wasn't enough to help boost Chinese stocks, however, and the CSI 300 Index closes down 0.7% at the lowest level of 2023 - which was also a fresh 5 year low - on Monday.. ... as traders remain concerned about the health of the world’s second-largest economy despite Beijing’s recent push to shore up the market. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp traded indecisively as PBoC Governor Pan’s repeated support pledges were offset by a substantial net liquidity drain and geopolitical frictions in the South China Sea, while attention was also on Evergrande’s windup hearing which the Hong Kong court adjourned to January 29th to give the Co. some breathing space to work on its restructuring proposal. Australia's ASX 200 was higher with gains led by the yield-sensitive sectors such as tech and real estate, while gold miners were boosted after the precious metal initially surged above USD 2,100/oz and printed a fresh record high before fading the majority of the early spike. Japan's Nikkei 225 lagged and briefly approached the 33,000 level to the downside with pressure from recent currency strength. Putting today's weakness on context, Asian stocks headed into December on the back of a 7.7% rally last month, their best monthly gain since January, as investors pile into bets that the Federal Reserve may cut interest rates by mid next year. Optimism also remains that China will continue its policy support for its struggling economy. Historically, regional equities tend to have a quiet December with average rise in the past 10 years seen at around 0.9%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.   In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.2% reversing part of Friday's steep losses. The Swiss franc is one of the worst performers, falling 0.5% versus the greenback after data showed inflation slowed more than expected in November. In rates, Treasuries are cheaper with losses led by the front-end and belly across the curve, flattening 2s10s and 5s30s spreads. There is no strong catalyst for price action according to Bloomberg analysts, as Treasuries follow similar bear flattening across German curve, unwinding a portion of Friday’s sharp rally. US yields cheaper by up to 6bp across front and belly of the curve with 2s10s, 5s30s spreads flatter by 1.2bp and 4bp on the day; 10-year yields around 4.245%, cheaper by 5bp on the day and lagging bunds and gilts by 5bp and 2bp in the sector. Focus on the session includes factory orders, while Fed speakers are now in a self-imposed quiet period ahead of Dec. 13 policy announcement. The Dollar IG issuance slate is empty so far; this week’s issuance forecast is $15b to $20b, with bond sales expected to be front-loaded with Monday anticipated to be the busiest day of the week. No coupon issuance scheduled for this week with next Treasury auctions being next week’s 3-, 10- and 30-year sales. In commodities, oil prices extended their recent CTA-driven decline, with WTI falling 0.5% to trade near $73.70. Meanwhile, European natural gas prices declined amid persistent low demand for the fuel kept supplies intact. Benchmark futures fell as much as 4.9%, breaking two consecutive days of gains for the contract. Gold surpassed $2,130 an ounce before giving up gains for the day. Bitcoin climbed past the $41,000 level to the highest since April 2022. US economic data includes October factory orders, durable goods orders at 10am. Fed members are now in self-imposed black-out period for speaking ahead of Dec. 13 policy announcement Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.3% to 4,588.00 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.3% to 465.03 MXAP little changed at 161.80 MXAPJ up 0.1% to 503.65 Nikkei down 0.6% to 33,231.27 Topix down 0.8% to 2,362.65 Hang Seng Index down 1.1% to 16,646.05 Shanghai Composite down 0.3% to 3,022.91 Sensex up 2.1% to 68,881.89 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.7% to 7,124.65 Kospi up 0.4% to 2,514.95 German 10Y yield little changed at 2.37% Euro little changed at $1.0877 Brent Futures down 1.3% to $77.88/bbl Gold spot up 0.2% to $2,075.57 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 103.29 Top Overnight News Defaults by Chinese borrowers have surged to a record high since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, highlighting the depth of the country’s economic downturn and the obstacles to a full recovery. A total of 8.54mn people, most of them between the ages of 18 and 59, are officially blacklisted by authorities after missing payments on everything from home mortgages to business loans, according to local courts. FT ALK (Alaska Air) said it would buy HA (Hawaiian Holdings) for $18/shr. in cash in a deal worth $1.9B (including ~$900M of net debt), a significant premium to HA’s Fri close of $4.86/shr. BBG US goods deflation is in place and will likely continue for the foreseeable future (given that supply chains are back to normal while monetary tightening curbs demand), a trend that should help bring overall inflation back to the Fed’s 2% target as soon as the second half of 2024. WSJ Israel expanded its offensive, with a ground invasion of southern Gaza expected. A US Navy ship responded to a flurry of drone and missile attacks against commercial ships in the Red Sea. The US said it’s working to restart hostage release negotiations. BBG A Hong Kong judge has delayed a decision on Evergrande’s liquidation, an unexpected move that gives the Chinese property developer until next month to come up with a restructuring plan that satisfies its creditors. FT Indian refiners have resumed Venezuelan oil purchases through intermediaries, with Reliance (RELI.NS) set to meet executives from state firm PDVSA next week to discuss direct sales following the easing of U.S. sanctions on the South American country. RTRS Speaker Johnson has proven to be a surprisingly staunch supporter of Washington providing more financial aid to Ukraine. WSJ US corporate profits are beginning to rebound, a trend that could help prevent the US from experiencing a recession. WSJ Spotify is preparing to cut 17% of its workforce, or about 1500 people, as the company looks to bolster margins and profitability. WSJ A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mixed with an initial positive bias after last Friday’s gains on Wall St owing to a decline in yields amid increased Fed rate cut bets for next year despite the pushback from Fed Chair Powell, although the upside was capped in the region after quiet macro newsflow from the weekend and ahead of this week’s key events including central bank rate decisions and a slew of data releases. was higher with gains led by the yield-sensitive sectors such as tech and real estate, while gold miners were boosted after the precious metal initially surged above USD 2,100/oz and printed a fresh record high before fading the majority of the early spike. lagged and briefly approached the 33,000 level to the downside with pressure from recent currency strength. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp traded indecisively as PBoC Governor Pan’s repeated support pledges were offset by a substantial net liquidity drain and geopolitical frictions in the South China Sea, while attention was also on Evergrande’s windup hearing which the Hong Kong court adjourned to January 29th to give the Co. some breathing space to work on its restructuring proposal. Top Asian News Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention requested that the elderly and patients with underlying diseases and children avoid public gatherings, while it advised the public to wear masks in crowded places such as public transportation. It also stated that some public cultural venues, museums and indoor attractions can implement measures to avoid high density of people. PBoC Governor Pan reiterated a pledge to defend the housing market's healthy operation and said China's financing structure needs to be improved, while he vowed to handle actions disrupting market order and vowed low-cost funding aid to affordable home projects. BoJ’s Noguchi said Japan has yet to achieve a wage-driven rise in inflation and said they must see price rises backed by sustained wage increases to achieve the 2% price target, according to Reuters. A bombing attack killed four people and wounded several others in the Philippines’ southern city of Marawi City in Mindanao, while it was later reported that Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing. China’s internet companies including Didi (DIDIY), Tencent (700 HK/ TCEHY) and Alibaba (9988 HK/ BABA) are reportedly drawing complaints amid growing system failures; industry experts call for strengthened oversight, according to Global Times European equities are mixed, Eurostoxx50 -0.2%, with trade ultimately choppy throughout the session. The FTSE 100, -0.5%, underperforms, largely hampered by losses in Basic Resources and Energy. European sectors are mixed with Retail and Media to the upside, though the overall breadth of the market is narrow; Basic Resources and Energy are the main underperformers, largely a factor of losses in base metals and lower oil prices respectively. Stateside futures are trading on the backfoot, ES -0.3%, amid a mixed risk tone in European trade; with the RTY, +0.3%, outperforming. Top European News ECB’s Nagel said it is way too early to declare victory over inflation and noted that inflation in the Eurozone will carry on declining in the months ahead but at a slower pace, according to Kathimerini. ECB's de Guindos says recent inflation data is good news and it has been a "positive surprise"; too early to declare victory. Riksbank Minutes: monetary policy has reduced demand in the Swedish economy and contributed to an easing of inflationary pressures; monetary policy needs to remain contractionary, however, it is now appropriate to leave the policy rate unchanged. Bremen says In my overall monetary policy assessment, the prospects for inflation and economic activity weigh more heavily than the continued weak krona. German Economic Minister Habeck cancelled his COP28 trip to focus on budget talks. French Interior Minister said one person died and two were injured from an attack by a suspect on tourists, while the suspect was said to be motivated by the Gaza situation and was on the French security services watch list, as well as known for psychiatric disorders. S&P affirmed France at AA; Outlook Negative and affirmed Poland at A-; Outlook Stable, while Fitch affirmed the UK at AA-; Outlook Stable, affirmed Ireland at AA-: Outlook Positive and raised Greece from BB+ to investment grade status of BBB-; Outlook Stable. FX The Dollar index has kicked off the week on a firmer footing as yields eased off Friday’s highs and risk gradually soured overnight and into early European hours. EUR/USD is slightly more cushioned vs G10 peers (ex-USD) following last week’s decline on dovish ECB commentary coupled with the softer-than-forecast regional CPI data across the bloc. Japanese Yen is now flat intraday following the notable rise on Friday on the back of narrowing rate differentials – dipping from a 148.34 high towards a 146.65 low against the Dollar. Swissy is the G10 laggard this morning following the region's CPI metrics which printed sub-forecast across the board in the release before the SNB’s quarterly decision later this month. Aussie, Loonie and Kiwi are hit by the broader risk mood, with the AUD and CAD narrowly lagging amid their commodity links. PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 7.1011 vs exp. 7.1271 (prev. 7.1104). Fixed Income Core benchmarks are essentially unchanged at the time of writing, and reside towards the mid-point of circa. 40 tick parameters in EGBs. Bunds were lifted to the 133.44 session peak in the wake of domestic Import/Export data, though the move proved fleeting. USTs are just over 10 ticks shy of Friday’s peak and a touch softer on the session as yields, particularly at the short-end, lift and pause for breath during the Fed blackout & pre-data. Commodities Crude futures, WTI, -0.6%, lose further ground in a continuation of the price action seen since last week’s OPEC+ meeting which ultimately underwhelmed markets as voluntary supply cuts by OPEC+ members have raised doubts about their implementation; the complex has bounced off lows though very much within ranges. Spot gold surged at the open to record levels, surpassing USD 2,100/oz before waning back to levels under USD 2,075/oz, with the rally primarily driven by traders betting on the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates early next year. US Department of Energy said on Friday that oil companies will return 4mln barrels of oil to the US SPR by February from the previous exchange and the US seeks to buy up to 3mln more barrels of oil for SPR for February delivery. US, UK and EU are to tighten compliance and increase leverage for buyers to keep getting discounted oil, while they jointly reached out to Liberia, the Marshall Islands and Panama to warn of increased circumvention of the Russian oil price cap. Kuwait Oil Company said several were injured after a limited fire broke out at an oil line, although production was unaffected. Canada’s First Quantum notified buyers that the Co. will not be able to meet agreements due to a force majeure. UBS forecasts Gold at USD 2250/oz by end-2024 Kazakhstan daily oil output recovered to 230.5k tons on Dec 3rd after falling amid CPC shipping disruptions, according to data cited by Reuters. Geopolitics: Israel-Hamas Israel’s military chief said the operation in southern Gaza will match the operation in northern Gaza where they fought strongly and thoroughly, while an Israeli military spokesman said forces are operating on the ground against Hamas centres in all of Gaza, according to Reuters. Hamas deputy chief said Israeli hostages will not be freed unless there is a ceasefire, and all Palestinian detainees are released, while the Hamas armed wing said they bombarded Tel Aviv with a barrage of missiles. A Mossad team was in Doha on Saturday for discussions with Qatari mediators on restarting the Gaza truce in which talks focused on the potential release of new categories of Israeli hostages and new truce parameters. However, it was later reported that Israeli PM Netanyahu’s office said the Mossad team was recalled from Qatar due to deadlock in negotiations over Gaza and that Hamas did not meet its obligation to free all children and women hostages on the list it approved. Israeli military spokesperson said several humanitarian trucks entered Gaza after being security cleared on the Israeli side of the border, while the spokesperson added that this will be a long war and not bound by time, according to Reuters. Israel’s army said a launch was identified from Syria towards Israeli territory and the army responded by targeting the launch site, while it was also reported that Iran said two Revolutionary Guards were killed in an Israeli attack in Syria, according to Reuters. US Pentagon said it is aware of reports regarding an attack on USS Carney and several commercial vehicles in the Red Sea, while the US said that USS Carney engaged and shot down a drone launched from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen. It was separately reported that the Yemeni Houthi group said its navy targeted two Israeli ships although Israel’s military said the ships targeted had no connection to the state of Israel, while AFP reported that a UK-owned ship passing through the Red Sea was hit by rocket fire. US carried out a self-defence strike in Iraq against an imminent threat at a drone staging site, according to a US military official. US Vice President Harris said international humanitarian law must be respected in the Gaza war and too many innocent Palestinians have been killed, while she added that Israel has a legitimate military objective against Hamas but must do more to protect civilians. There were also comments from Secretary of Defense Austin who said protecting civilians in Gaza is a strategic imperative for Israel, as well as noted that the US will remain Israel’s closest friend and won’t let Hamas win. UK Foreign Secretary Cameron will travel to Washington D.C. on Wednesday and will conduct bilateral meetings with US Secretary of State Blinken, as well as meet congressional figures, while the focus of discussions will be support for Ukraine and to work to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East, according to Reuters. Islamic Jihad said Britain announced the participation of its air force in intelligence missions in Gaza as an effective participation in the aggression, according to AJA Breaking via social media platform X. Turkish President Erdogan said the chance for peace in the conflict is lost for now due to Israel’s uncompromising approach, while he added that Hamas is not a terrorist organisation and nobody should expect him to define them otherwise. Furthermore, Erdogan said a contact group of Muslim countries is ready to prepare a roadmap for the resolution of conflict in Gaza after talks with Western powers. Israel General says ground forces have almost completed their mission in Northern Gaza strip Other NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg said NATO should be ready for bad news from the Ukrainian front as Kyiv continues to defend against Russia’s invasion, while he added that they have to support Ukraine in both good and bad times, according to an ARD interview cited by Politico. China's military said a US combat ship illegally entered waters adjacent to the Second Thomas Shoal and that the US deliberately disrupted the South China Sea, while it added the US seriously violated China's sovereignty and undermined regional peace and stability. Philippines Coast Guard said it is to conduct patrols in the vicinity of the Whitsun Reef and it is monitoring the illegal presence of more than 135 Chinese maritime militia vessels at a reef in the South China Sea. North Korea said interference with its satellite operation would be considered a declaration of war and that North Korea would respond to any US interference in space by eliminating the viability of US spy satellites. North Korea also stated that its laws stipulate mobilisation of war deterrence if an attack against its strategic assets becomes imminent, according to KCNA. North Korea said US sanctions violate international law and that it will retaliate against the US, Japan and Australia for sanctions against its satellite launch, while it said it will take countermeasures against individuals and organisations that impose and enforce sanctions, according to KCNA. Furthermore, North Korea warned a “physical clash and war” have become a matter of time after the scrapping of a key military pact designed to reduce tensions with South Korea, according to The Telegraph. Venezuela on Sunday approved a referendum called by the government of President Maduro to claim sovereignty over an oil- and mineral-rich area of Guyana, according to AP News. Ukrainian drone attacked an oil depot within Russian-controlled Luhansk, via Ria US Event Calendar 10:00: Oct. Cap Goods Orders Nondef Ex Air, prior -0.1% 10:00: Oct. Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, prior 0% 10:00: Oct. -Less Transportation, prior 0% 10:00: Oct. Factory Orders Ex Trans, prior 0.8% 10:00: Oct. Factory Orders, est. -3.0%, prior 2.8% 10:00: Oct. Durable Goods Orders, est. -5.4%, prior -5.4% DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap All roads this week point to payrolls on Friday with the usual build up via JOLTS (tomorrow) and ADP (Wednesday). Elsewhere in the US the Services ISM is out tomorrow (we will also watch the employment sub component ahead of payrolls), and the initial read on inflation expectations in the University of Michigan confidence sentiment release (Friday) will be of note after 5-10yr expectations ticked up to a decade high of 3.2% last month. Remember the Fed are now on a blackout period ahead of next week's FOMC so some of the big catalyst for moves of late, i.e. Fed speakers, won't be there. Around the globe, other highlights include a few important releases in Germany including the trade balance (today), factory orders (Wednesday) and industrial production (Thursday). Industrial production indicators are also due in France and Italy. Retail sales data is out for the Eurozone on Wednesday. In China, the Caixin services PMI (tomorrow) and trade balance figures (Thursday) are the highlights. Tokyo CPI is out just before midnight tonight From central banks, Lagarde and Guindos speak today with the RBA (tomorrow) and Bank of Canada (Wednesday) expected to hold rates by the consensus although our economist is an outlier and predicts a hike in Australia . For the full week ahead the day-by-day calendar is at the end as usual. Digging a bit deeper into the US employment picture, our US economists expect headline and private payrolls to come in at +130k with consensus at +180k and +160k respectively. The returning post-strike autoworkers will boost the data by around +30k. Unemployment is expected to hold steady at 3.9% by DB and the consensus, although our economists see the risks tilted to a 3.8% print. One thing our economists look carefully at is the diffusion index that shows the breadth of job gains. It's currently at 52%, its lowest rate since the pandemic. They show that 70% of the private job gains in the last year come from only two sectors, namely leisure and hospitality and private education and healthcare. Outside of that job creation in the last 12 months is a very lowly 0.7% and just 0.2% over the last 6. Staying with US labour markets, the JOLTS data tomorrow is also important even if it's October data. As our economists point out, while the hiring and quits rates were at or below their 2019 averages in September, the layoffs and discharges rate remained near historical lows. So that gap is keeping labour markets tight for now. Our base case is that the demand for labour eases in the next few months. Asian equity markets are mostly trading lower as I type. The Nikkei (-0.72%), Hang Seng (-0.60%), CSI (-0.27%) and Shanghai Composite (-0.14%) are slipping while the KOSPI (+0.39%) is bucking the negative trend this morning. S&P 500 (-0.12%) and NASDAQ 100 (-0.28%) futures are also edging lower. 2 and 10yr Treasuries are back up +5-6bps this morning after a very strong rally last week as we'll see below. Gold is up just under a percent and looking set for its highest close ever and Bitcoin is up over +3% and to the highest since April last year. In stock specific news, shares of Evergrande Group rose over +9.0% as a court hearing of the world’s most-indebted property developer over its possible liquidation was surprisingly postponed to January 29, 2024. Recapping last week now, markets continued their strong performance as positive data added to growing investor confidence that the next move for central banks will be a dovish pivot. In fact, last week saw the close of the best month for a global 60:40 portfolio of equities and bonds since the positive vaccine news in November 2020. Supporting last week’s rally was encouraging inflation data on both sides of the Atlantic, an upward revision of US GDP for Q3 that showed annualised growth of +5.2% (previously +4.9%), and some dovish Fedspeak . The rally was most pronounced in fixed income. After a brief stumble on Thursday, it continued on Friday as markets proved unphased by Fed Chairman Powell’s statement on Friday that the Fed was ready to tighten if needed. Instead, markets elected to focus on his comment that policy is “well into restrictive territory”. Fed funds futures moved to price in 134bps of cuts by December 2024, up from 90bps at the start of the week. This meant that 2yr Treasury yields fell -41.1bps (and -14.2bps on Friday) to their lowest level since June. 10yr yields were down -27.1bps (-13.0bps on Friday), their sharpest weekly decline since January and hitting their lowest level since the first week of September . The stream of good news was also echoed in Europe, most notably with the November inflation numbers on Wednesday and Thursday, which saw Eurozone inflation slow to 2.4% (2.7% exp), its lowest since July 2021. With disinflation playing out faster than the ECB expected, markets raised their expectations of ECB rate cuts to price in 69bps of rate cuts by June 2024, up from 28bps at the start of last week. You can read our European economists’ take on the inflation numbers here. Off the back of this, 10yr bund yields fell -28.2bps last week (and -8.5bps on Friday) hitting their lowest level since June. The more interest-rate sensitive 2yr bund yields fell -39.0bps (and -13.4bps on Friday), to their lowest level since May. The fixed income rally boosted risk appetite, though the +0.77% weekly rise for the S&P 500 (+0.59% on Friday) was remarkably its smallest gain in five weeks. The gains were broad-based, with the NASDAQ slightly underperforming (+0.38% on the week; +0.55% on Friday) and with the Magnificent Seven mega cap index down -1.19% (-0.24% Friday). Small cap stocks enjoyed the risk-on tone after rising +3.05% last week (and +2.96% on Friday). Over in Europe, the STOXX 600 posted a solid gain of +1.35% week-on-week (and +0.99% on Friday). Finally, in commodities, gold enjoyed a strong week, soaring +3.57% (+1.73% on Friday) to a new all-time high of $2,072/oz. Meanwhile, the confirmation of OPEC+ cuts into 2024 did little to drive upward price momentum in oil, as markets remained doubtful over compliance to the new “voluntary cuts”. Brent crude fell -2.11% to $78.88/bbl, though its -4.77% fall on Friday was exaggerated by a shift in the benchmark month. WTI crude fell -2.49% to $74.07/bbl (and -1.95%% on Friday). Tyler Durden Mon, 12/04/2023 - 08:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 4th, 2023

A US warship and multiple commercial vessels in the Red Sea were attacked near Yemen, a potential escalation of the Mideast conflict

Multiple ships, including a US warship, came under attack on Sunday in the Red Sea. Yemen's Houthi rebels later claimed credit for attacking two ships they said were linked to Israel. The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney seen in Souda Bay, Greece.Petty Officer 3rd Class Bill Dodge/US Navy via APA US warship and multiple commercial ships came under attack in the Red Sea on Sunday.Yemen's Houthi rebel military claimed credit for the attack, though didn't mention a US ship.The Houthis have said they would attack ships aligned with Israel until the Gaza conflict ends.An American warship and multiple commercial ships came under attack Sunday in the Red Sea, the Pentagon said. Yemen's Houthi rebels later claimed attacks on two ships they described as being linked to Israel, but did not acknowledge targeting a US Navy vessel.The attack potentially marked a significant escalation in a series of maritime attacks in the Mideast linked to the Israel-Hamas war."We're aware of reports regarding attacks on the USS Carney and commercial vessels in the Red Sea and will provide information as it becomes available," the Pentagon told The Associated Press.The Carney is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. It remained unclear what damage, if any, the vessels sustained in the attacks.The British military earlier said there had been a suspected drone attack and explosions in the Red Sea, without elaborating.The Pentagon did not identify where it believed the fire came from. However, Houthi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree claimed the attacks, saying the first vessel was hit by a missile and the second by a drone while in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait that links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. He said the ships ignored warnings from Houthi officials prior to the attack.Saree did not mention any US warship being involved in the attack."The Yemeni armed forces continue to prevent Israeli ships from navigating the Red Sea (and Gulf of Aden) until the Israeli aggression against our steadfast brothers in the Gaza Strip stops," Saree said. "The Yemeni armed forces renew their warning to all Israeli ships or those associated with Israelis that they will become a legitimate target if they violate what is stated in this statement."Saree identified the first vessel attacked as the Bahamas-flagged bulk carrier Unity Explorer, which is owned by a British firm that includes Dan David Ungar, who lives in Israel, as one of its officers. The second was a Panamanian-flagged container ship called Number 9, which is linked to Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement. Managers for the two vessels could not be immediately reached for comment.Israeli media identified Ungar as the son of Israeli shipping billionaire Abraham "Rami" Ungar.The Houthis have been launching a series of attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, as well as launching drones and missiles targeting Israel amid the war.A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the attack began about 10 a.m. in Sanaa, Yemen, and had gone on for as much as five hours. Another U.S. official who similarly spoke on condition of anonymity for the same reason said the Carney had intercepted at least one drone during the attack.Global shipping had increasingly been targeted as the Israel-Hamas war threatens to become a wider regional conflict — even as a truce briefly halted fighting and Hamas exchanged hostages for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. However, the collapse of the truce and the resumption of punishing Israeli airstrikes and its ground offensive there had raised the risk of the seaborne attacks resuming.Earlier in November, the Houthis seized a vehicle transport ship also linked to Israel in the Red Sea off Yemen. The rebels still hold the vessel near the port city of Hodeida. Missiles also landed near another U.S. warship last week after it assisted a vessel linked to Israel that had briefly been seized by gunmen.However, the Houthis had not directly targeted the Americans for some time, further raising the stakes in the growing maritime conflict. In 2016, the U.S. launched Tomahawk cruise missiles that destroyed three coastal radar sites in Houthi-controlled territory to retaliate for missiles being fired at U.S. Navy ships at the time.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 3rd, 2023

Mossad Negotiators Called Home From Qatar As Hopes For Extending Truce Reach "Dead End"

Mossad Negotiators Called Home From Qatar As Hopes For Extending Truce Reach "Dead End" Israel has sent its negotiating team in Qatar home, after Friday morning marked the end of the truce and its collapse and return to fighting in the Gaza Strip. Aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip has continued through Saturday. Primarily the negotiating team was made up of the Mossad intelligence agency, and they were ordered home after reaching a "dead end" on the possibility of extending the truce.  "Due to the dead end in negotiations, and following instructions from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mossad head David Barnea ordered the negotiating team in Doha to return home," a statement from the prime minister's office said. Israeli media has pointed to the extreme rarity of Netanyahu's office issuing a statement on behalf of the spy agency. Image: Times of Israel/GPO "The Hamas terror group did not fulfill its obligations under the agreement that included releasing all the women and children that were on the list provided to Hamas that had authorized it," the statement added. Israeli and US officials have also complained that Hamas was trying to separate families (mothers from children) in order to draw out the process and create more leverage. The statement did congratulate the team on being able to secure the releasee of 84 women and children, along with 24 foreign nationals - most of them Thai workers kidnapped from southern Israeli settlements on Oct.7. The ceasefire had held for one week. "The head of the Mossad thanks the head of the CIA, the Egyptian Minister of Intelligence and the Prime Minister of Qatar for their partnership in the tremendous mediation efforts that led to the release of 84 children and women from the Gaza Strip in addition to 24 foreign citizens," the prime minister's office said on his behalf. A mere couple hours before the confirmation that the Mossad team had been sent home, a Reuters report said both the Israeli and Hamas sides were "considering new parameters for the release of hostages and the truce since before it collapsed." Israel says there are still 137 hostages in Hamas captivity, which also includes some Americans. In total 110 were returned home over the past week, with hundreds of Palestinian prisoners released as part of the swap. Israel's airstrikes have ramped up in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, where most civilians are now concentrated... ⚡️Hamad Residential complex in the city of Khan Yunis was bombed pic.twitter.com/CGFa2rPBOJ — War Monitor (@WarMonitors) December 2, 2023 This impasse and total breakdown in negotiations has resulted in French President Emmanuel Macron declaring that he is en route to Doha to help revive ceasefire talks. He made the announcement from the COP28 climate summit in Dubai: French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday that France was "very concerned" by the resumption of violence in Gaza and that he was heading to Qatar to help "engage a new truce ahead of a cease-fire". Macron also told a press conference at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai that the situation required the doubling down on efforts to obtain a "lasting cease fire" and the freeing of all hostages. He said this initiative of his is chiefly out of concern that this war, already with an immense and still soaring death toll, could drag on for years. Macron warned that Israel pursuing the "total destruction of Hamas" means the "war will last 10 years". This week an Israeli official was quoted in the Financial Times as saying, "This will be a very long war... We’re currently not near halfway to achieving our objectives." Tyler Durden Sat, 12/02/2023 - 09:55.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 2nd, 2023

Truce Collapses, Missiles Fly Over Gaza, With 137 Israelis Still In Hamas Captivity

Truce Collapses, Missiles Fly Over Gaza, With 137 Israelis Still In Hamas Captivity The Gaza truce has collapsed and Israel has resumed its bombing campaign of the Strip, following a full week of ceasefire and seven rounds of hostage/prisoner exchanges. Qatar and Egypt were reportedly pressing to extend the temporary pause in fighting for another two days, but Israel was not satisfied with the list of captives offered. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have been looking into Hamas claims that the two young Bibas brothers were killed. "Israeli military has informed Bibas family members it is assessing a Hamas claim that the youngest Israeli hostage, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, his brother Ariel, 4, and their mother Shiri are no longer alive," CNN reports. This grim and tragic revelation is likely what left Israel with less incentive to keep the ceasefire going, also as pressure has mounted from ultra-conservative circles within Netanyahu's own ruling coalition to take the fight back to Hamas, and to see through the vow of eliminating the terror group.  Another big factor was Thursday's terror attack involving a pair of Palestinian gunmen who unleashed M16 and pistol fire on a crowd waiting at a Jerusalem bus stop, killing three Israelis and injuring 16. Shortly after the attack, Hamas claimed responsibility. It's likely that negotiators in Doha are still scrambling to get a ceasefire urgently back in place. After all, Israel says there are still 137 hostages in Hamas captivity, which also includes some Americans. In total 110 were returned home over the past week, with hundreds of Palestinian prisoners released as part of the swap. The Times of Israel details of those who remain captive:  Among those still in captivity after the end of the truce Friday are 115 men, 20 women and two children, government spokesperson Eylon Levy says. Ten of the hostages are 75 and older, he says. The majority, or 126, are Israeli and 11 are foreign nationals, including eight from Thailand. Levy lists the youngest hostage, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, his 4-year-old brother Ariel and their mother Shiri as among the hostages. The military has said it is investigating a Hamas claim that the boys and their mother were killed. Dozens of Palestinians have been reported killed after airstrikes started again Friday morning... Israel renewed its bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip on Friday morning after talks to extend the truce which went into effect a week ago had failed. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed by the new bombardments, which hit buildings in Khan Younis, Rafah and northern Gaza. pic.twitter.com/ZGCXSycNaG — Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) December 1, 2023 Israel and mediators in Qatar were able to secure the release of most of the women and children hostages, as the last days have seen, but still 20 women remain along with the possibly still alive Bibas brothers, fate unknown. Israel as of Thursday welcomed eight more Israelis back from Hamas captivity. The IDF is meanwhile already dropping leaflets over parts of southern Israel telling civilians to leave their homes and leave the area. Prior to the truce, there were sporadic bombardments of parts of the south. But now it looks like the IDF will take the fight to the southern half too, even after Secretary of State Blinken's urgings not to, conveyed to PM Netanyahu yesterday. Blinken flew out of Tel Aviv as IDF warplanes began the renewed bombing campaign... As Israel resumed its attack on Gaza today, @SecBlinken's "motorcade sped out of his hotel in Israel on its way to the Tel Aviv airport... Asked onboard his plane, Blinken declined to comment." Reminds me of when Ford and Kissinger visited Indonesia in December 1975 and gave the… pic.twitter.com/HOHe6VHjur — Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) December 1, 2023 Rockets have resumed being fired from Gaza, and Israel is again evacuating some southern communities, as both sides could once again be settling in for a 'long war'. Rockets could also once again be coming from southern Lebanon. Hezbollah is likely to rejoin the fight. On Thursday Blinken had urged Netanyahu to avoid killing civilians and that the soaring Gaza death toll is increasingly turning world opinion against Israel. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/01/2023 - 08:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 1st, 2023

"Brutal Psychological Games": Hamas Is Holding An Infant & Toddler Captive, Likely Till The End

'Brutal Psychological Games': Hamas Is Holding An Infant & Toddler Captive, Likely Till The End The White House has said that eight more American citizens as well as a US permanent resident are believed to still be among those captives held by Hamas.  So far, dozens of young people and children have been released along with many elderly, mostly women. Israel says that since the truce went into effect last Friday, at least nine children still remain captive in the Strip, after 31 young people have been released so far. It should be noted that Israel is classifying 18-year old hostages as among the children still held. But currently, there are questions as to Israel's so far failed attempts to gain the release of the youngest captives: Kfir Bibas at 10-months old, and Ariel Bibas at 4-years old. The two are brothers and were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz on Oct.7. Will Hamas release them? There are reports that the siblings have been separated from their mother Shiri Bibas - who was also kidnapped - while in captivity, and that this is intended to make it harder to release them as a family. 4-year old Ariel Bibas and infant Kfir Bibas "Due to Kfir’s extraordinarily young age, the redheaded children have become some of the most recognizable among the hostages," The Times of Israel noted. "The family was kidnapped by Hamas, but at some point was transferred to another Palestinian terror group in Gaza, the military said Monday." On Tuesday family members of the young Bibas brothers spoke to Sky News of the agonizing and gut-wrenching ordeal on waiting for information on their fate. Below is the interview segment with Shiri's cousin Yifat: She said: "What are these groups? We reach a dead end every time we try to figure out why Hamas is having so much trouble getting them back or whether that means if they're alive or not. "It's really frustrating. It feels very far away, although it's really close by. Hamas is ruling over the strip, and I hope that whichever group is holding them will oblige and will give them [back]. They said that they're going to move those hostages into Hamas hands, so I hope those groups will do that as well." If Shiri Bibas and her children have been passed on to another group, it will explain why they haven't been released and complications. "I think they're playing games with the psychological games," said Yifat. "It's brutal. But what can you expect from a terror organization that did such horrendous things? It's amazing that a baby became some sort of a card or, you know, a winning card or a trophy holding him hostage like this to get more arms or, I don't know, fuel for their missile launchers." As the temporary truce has already been extended for two more days, and with a deal being negotiated to possibly see a four-day extension, the sixth round of hostages are now expected to be released. What is the likelihood of the infant and toddler siblings being released? The Bibas family with 10 month old Kfir and 4yr old Ariel are once again not on the list of hostages set to be released today. Inhumane. pic.twitter.com/LyODWhGpiG — Anna Ahronheim (@AAhronheim) November 29, 2023 Geopolitical observer and security analyst Michael Horowitz has pointed to the sad reality that Israel is unlikely to secure their freedom any time soon. He explains why in the thread below [emphasis ZH]... * * * To me the reason is fairly obvious. Hamas wants to drag this on for as long as possible, keep leverage until the end, and is thus purposefully separating families, and keeping the hostages with the most "emotional charge" (particulary the 10-months-old Bibas baby) for the end - if they release them at all. Now there have been reports that Hamas is claiming it has less hostages than initially thought, and that the group has "lost control" of some of them. Though many commentators even in Israel appear to agree Hamas may have lost control, I tend to believe this is incorrect. Hamas (and this is also not an Israeli success) is still in control: For four days, there were no rocket attacks, not even the odd failed missile attack by one of the fringe jihadist factions in Gaza. There were claims that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the other major faction in Gaza, was refusing to hand over hostages. But the two hostages we know for a fact were taken by the PIJ (Hannah Katzir and Yaagil Yakov) have both been released... by Hamas. This is not to mention that Hila Rotem said Hamas separated her from her mother, two days before her release. The IDF spokesperson also said yesterday that Hamas transferred the Bibas family to another Palestinian faction. This ensures, the group can continue to delay, drag its feets, and offer other hostages, while keeping some of the most mediatized Israelis (including a 10-month-old baby) to extend the pause in fighting. Beyond that, giving hostages to other groups also ensures they "buy-into" Hamas's strategy, and don't avoid a fight, if it comes (or more likely, when it comes)  Tyler Durden Wed, 11/29/2023 - 12:05.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 29th, 2023

Why some 40 Israeli hostages may have gone missing in Gaza

About 40 Israeli hostages are missing, according to Qatar. The fog of war and rival militant groups may be factors in Hamas losing them, experts say. Israelis embrace next to photos of people killed and taken hostage by Hamas during the October 7 attacks.Ohad Zwigenberg/AP PhotoIsrael and Hamas agreed on a truce in exchange for the release of 69 hostages.Many are still in captivity, and Hamas is said to be unable to find about 40 of them.Six hostage-negotiation experts explained to Business Insider how this could happen.Israel says around 240 hostages were taken back to Gaza, after the terrorist attack on October 7, sparking a frantic diplomatic and military effort to get them back.As of Tuesday, 69 had been returned in exchange for a truce, and a release of detainees from Israeli prisons.The ceasefire and exchanges could continue, so long as Hamas can keep supplying captives. But that may be difficult.A mediator in the negotiations — Qatar's prime minister — told The Financial Times on Sunday that Hamas was unable to locate some 40 women and children being held.Six experts on hostage-negotiation efforts, who spoke to Business Insider, explained how Hamas might have been able to allow hostages to go missing in Gaza.Chaos and confusionScott Walker, a veteran hostage negotiator and former counter-terrorism advisor to the UN, highlighted the role of the "fog of war" in the possible disappearance of hostages."You've got to appreciate that there's lots of confusion, with the fact that Gaza is essentially a warzone," he told Business Insider.Hamas rounded up a lot of hostages on October 7, and Gaza quickly found itself in a state of chaos amid Israeli retaliatory strikes.More than 14,500 people in Gaza have died as a result of the strikes, according to the Hamas-run authorities.The collapse of internet and phone connectivity, along with Israel killing Hamas military leaders, may have contributed to a scenario where Hamas genuinely lost track of the hostages."I think there's an assumption that there's some kind of seamless, coordinated response behind the scenes," he said. "But actually, let's think about the reality here. There's going to be lots of confusion, lots of uncertainty."Hamas is not the only armed group in GazaSeveral experts suggested that Hamas may be unable to account for all of the hostages because they are being held by rival groups who might not want to strike a deal.Brian Carter, the Salafi-Jihadi Team lead analyst at AEI's Critical Threats Project, told Business Insider: "Hamas may not know the whereabouts of hostages held by the al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad], and other, smaller groups."The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a rival group to Hamas, claimed in a statement posted by its ally, Lebanon's Hezbollah, that it had more than 30 of the hostages, around one eighth of the total.It said it would not release them until all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel were released, according to The Wall Street Journal — a far bigger demand than Hamas has made.Hans-Jakob Schindler, a senior director of the Counter Extremism Project non-profit, told BI that groups like the PIJ may seek to play the situation to its advantage."Hamas cannot just order those hostages to be handed over, especially since all of the others understand that the hostages could be very valuable for them as well," he said.According to Schindler, Hamas is not only negotiating with Israel, but it is also dealing with "internal Palestinian negotiations" to recover hostages from other groups.He added: "This is the most complex hostage situation I've seen ever, not just because of the number of hostages, but because of the number of groups that hold hostages, and those groups don't answer to Hamas."A remote possibility of escapes and deathsThere's also a chance that some of the hostages may have escaped, been transferred to other groups, or died, according to Schindler."It is always possible that hostages can actually escape from wherever they are held," he said.He pointed to reports about Roni Krivoy, a freed Israeli hostage, who is said to have briefly escaped his captors after the building he was in was bombed.Schindler said that while it was possible some had died, he said Hamas would be unlikely to keep that secret, and would seek to blame the deaths on Israeli bombing.Buying timeRachel Briggs, the CEO of The Clarity Factory security consulting group, was skeptical of Hamas claims not to be able to find people.It could be claiming not to have the hostages to buy more time away from the fighting, she said."From the get-go, the way in which these releases have been orchestrated with a sort of drip-drip-drip over days, that certainly wouldn't have been Israel's preferred approach to this," she said.She added: "So that to me suggests that playing for time is definitely something that Hamas is trying to do. "Professor Boaz Ganor, President of Israel's Reichman University, who has previously advised the Israeli government on counterterrorism, told BI that he agreed with the buying-time thesis."The whole process of saying they don't know is for one purpose only and this is to stall," he said.Ganor cited two possible reasons for this.One, he said, was to drag out Israel's military campaign, hoping the passage of time would weaken its support from its allies."Every day that passes, the Israeli legitimacy declines," he said.Another, he said, was for Hamas to regroup for when the fighting restarts."I tend to believe that we will see much harsher resistance from Hamas afterward," he said.All of the aboveFor Chris White, the co-founder of Negotiation Global, who has experience of hostage negotiations in Gaza, hostages going missing could be plausibly explained by all of the above explanations.He told Business Insider: "Is it possible that some hostages escaped? Yes. Is it possible that some have passed away? Yes. Is it possible that some have been sold on possibly to other groups by unscrupulous people? Yes. And is it possible that actually, it was so chaotic that Hamas doesn't actually know where they all are? Yes.""All of the above are possible."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 28th, 2023

Futures Drop On China Weakness As Gold Soars To 6 Month High

Futures Drop On China Weakness As Gold Soars To 6 Month High US equity futures and global markets are in the red, amid a broader risk-off tone to start the week as a renewed slowdown in China’s industrial profits growth dented sentiment in global financial markets, as they were seen as a sign of weak domestic demand and a reminder of the country’s economic slowdown. As of 7:35am, S&P and Nasdaq futures were both down 0.1%, off the worst levels of the session. 10-year TSY yields climbed as much as five basis points to 4.51%, the highest in more than a week, before reversing the entire move; gold climbed to the highest since May, rising over $2,100 while the dollar was little changed and bitcoin slumped under $37,000. Oil was down a fourth day before this week’s delayed OPEC+ meeting. Retail Sales numbers for Black Friday showing +2.5% YoY gain with online sales +7.5% to a record $9.8bn; this could be driven by discount/bargain hunting. Today we will get the October new home sales data, with economists expecting a decline after September’s surprise surge in sales volumes as higher mortgage rates and increased inventories of existing homes weigh on sales. The Dallas Fed manufacturing activity index is also due later for November. In premarket trading, Foot Locker dropped 3% after the sports apparel retailer was downgraded to sell at Citi, which sees third-quarter earnings per share missing estimates. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Crown Castle gains 4% after a report that activist investor Elliott Investment Management plans to push for changes at the wireless tower owner. Shopify jumps 4% after the e-commerce company said merchants set a Black Friday record with a combined $4.1 billion in sales. GE HealthCare Technologies drops 3% as UBS gives the stock its only sell rating. Today's cautious start comes despite the VIX index falling belkow 13, its lowest level since January 2020, as markets have been buoyed by a growing assumption that further interest-rate hikes from the Fed and ECB are unlikely. In earnings due this week, Crowdstrike Holdings Inc. will underscore how businesses are prioritizing cybersecurity after recent high-profile corporate hacks, while Salesforce and Dell are expected to post slower sales growth as overall corporate expenditure tightens. A slowdown in China’s industrial profit growth added to concern about deflation in the world’s second-largest economy. Fresh economic data this week will help traders gauge whether the gains for stocks and bonds seen so far this month can extend into December. Statistics include euro-zone inflation figures, China PMIs and US personal consumption numbers on Thursday, and US and euro-area PMIs on Friday. “There’s not much fundamental reason for high market optimism,” said Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of currency strategy at Commerzbank AG. “A lot of clients I am talking to are getting more pessimistic about long-term growth prospects.” Meanwhile, after the bounce back in Treasuries this month, many US debt watchers say the path is clearing for a real revival in the market. The Bloomberg US Treasury Index is showing a positive return for the year after spending chunks of 2023 underwater, helped by of slowing inflation and measured jobs growth. In Europe the Stoxx 600 was down 0.1% as traders brace for inflation data due later in the week. Energy stocks are the worst performers, tracking losses in oil prices as Brent crude futures fall 1.8% to trade below $79.20. Real estate and telecom stocks are the biggest gainers, while energy and autos shares lag. BASF drops after a downgrade from Morgan Stanley while Bpost slumps after Belgian newspaper L’Echo reported the company is set to lose its newspaper and periodical delivery contracts. Turkish banks got a boost after Bank of America issued a broad buy reconmmendation on the group. Here are some of Monday’s biggest movers: Rightmove shares rise as much as 7% after the real estate portal said its revenue is tracking marginally ahead of expectations since July, helped by higher revenue by per advertiser. That’s despite a becalmed UK housing market, analysts noted. Its long-term revenue and profit guidance met analyst expectations. Elior shares rise as much as 7.7%, to the highest since July, after Deutsche Bank upgraded the French caterer to buy from hold, saying “the worst is probably over” and the focus is shifting to accretive growth and de-leveraging. Shaftesbury shares gain as much as 2.6% after the London landlord said customers reported sales in aggregate 12% above 2022 levels and 16% above 2019 levels in the period from July 1 to Nov. 15, according to a trading update. Turkish Banks’ shares surged the most in a month after Bank of America issued an across-the-board buy recommendation on major private-sector lenders, predicting they would benefit from the central bank’s pivot back to orthodox monetary policy. Julius Baer shares fall as much as 2.9% after the wealth manager said it is reviewing a lending business after confirming an exposure of 606 million Swiss francs to a single client. BASF shares fall as much as 2.9% after being cut to underweight from equal-weight at Morgan Stanley. The broker highlights a structural shift in the global chemicals cost curve that it says doesn’t appear to be fully discounted. BPost shares fell as much as 14% after L’Echo newspaper reported on Saturday that the company was set to lose its newspaper and periodicals delivery contracts. Frontier Developments shares sink as much as 24% after the UK video-game maker cut its revenue forecast for the fiscal year ending May next year, saying sales from a newly released real-time strategy game missed projections. Entain shares fall as much as 2.9% as Goldman says its buy rating on the Ladbrokes bookmaker parent was “wrong” and changes it to sell. Goldman is only sell-rated firm among 21 tracked by Bloomberg. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks fell, led by declines in China after data showed profit growth at the nation’s industrial companies slowed, adding to concerns over the region’s largest economy. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.4%, with TSMC and Alibaba among the biggest drags. Stocks in Japan, Taiwan, Australia and Singapore also slipped. Markets in India and the Philippines were closed for holidays. China’s benchmark CSI 300 Index fell more than 1% after a report that industrial profit growth slowed for a second-straight month. The nation’s economy remains fragile despite continued measures from authorities to stimulate consumption and support the ailing real estate sector. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp declined following soft Chinese Industrial Profits and amid shadow banking concerns after Chinese authorities opened a probe into struggling shadow bank Zhongzhi, while the PBoC’s notice to strengthen financial support for private companies did little to spur risk sentiment. Nikkei 225 wiped out its opening gains after hitting resistance just above the 33,800 level and as participants digested Japanese Services PPI which showed a slight acceleration. ASX 200 finished lower as weakness in the defensive and mining-related sectors overshadowed the gains in tech. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index slipped 0.1%, edging closer to a 2 1/2-month low touched last week; USD/JPY fell as much as 0.4% amid month-end trading flows, with market participants citing possible month-end demand for yen from Japanese exporters. In rates, treasuries were little changed; the 10-year yield was flat at 4.465% after edging up as much as 5bps higher to 4.51%, its highest in more than a week. US TSYs trailed bunds and gilts outperforming by 4bp and 2.5bp in the sector; curve spreads are also within 1bp of Friday close levels. Core European bonds outperform, led by gilts after dovish comments from BOE Governor Andrew Bailey, who said recent inflation figures were “very good news.” Main focal point of US session is supply as two coupon auctions are slated — 2-year and 5-year notes.  Compressed auction cycle begins with $54b 2-year note sale at 11:30am and $55b 5-year at 1pm; WI 2-year yield is around 4.910%, 14.5bp richer than last month’s, which stopped on the screws; WI 5-year at around 4.46% is ~44bp richer than previous. In commodities, oil fell for a fourth day as traders looked ahead to this week’s delayed OPEC+ meeting. Gold closed above $2,000 an ounce on Friday, capping a second weekly gain and bolstering confidence that higher prices are justified. The metal has been lifted in the second half of November by weaker US economic data that added to expectations for early rate cuts by the Fed next year.  The narrative for iron ore keeps swinging between China property stimulus (bullish) and Beijing’s resolve to clamp down on speculation (bearish). Today’s macro data focus is new home sales and Dallas Fed; later this week we receive consumer confidence, GDP/PCE, and ISM-Mfg. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.2% to 4,558.00 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.2% to 458.86 MXAP down 0.3% to 161.05 MXAPJ down 0.3% to 501.89 Nikkei down 0.5% to 33,447.67 Topix down 0.4% to 2,381.76 Hang Seng Index down 0.2% to 17,525.06 Shanghai Composite down 0.3% to 3,031.70 Sensex little changed at 65,970.04 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.8% to 6,987.64 Kospi little changed at 2,495.66 German 10Y yield little changed at 2.64% Euro little changed at $1.0947 Brent Futures down 0.9% to $79.89/bbl Brent Futures down 0.9% to $79.89/bbl Gold spot up 0.7% to $2,015.01 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 103.33 Top Overnight News Taiwan’s presidential election coming up on Jan 13 risks reigniting tensions with China as opposition parties more friendly to Beijing fail to unite, clearing a path for the current pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party to stay in power. WaPo The Beijing Stock Exchange has de facto implemented a new policy that prevents major shareholders of companies listed on its bourse from selling stock, worried that such sales could douse a long-desired rally, three people familiar with the matter said. RTRS US and Germany are starting to place pressure on Ukraine to negotiate an end to the war with Russia based approximately on the current battlelines. London Times Russia launched its largest drone attack of the war in the early hours of Saturday morning, targeting Kyiv in what Ukrainian officials fear is the start of a winter campaign aimed at destroying the country’s energy infrastructure. FT OPEC+ is close to resolving a dispute over 2024 production quotas with certain African members, potentially paving the way for incremental action on curbing supply at the upcoming 11/30 meeting. RTRS Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey suggested that interest-rate cuts are unlikely for the “foreseeable future” as he warned that the second half of the inflation battle will be “hard work.” BBG A healthcare hiring boom is helping offset weaker job growth in other areas of the softening U.S. economy, boosting its chances of skirting a recession. The industry could serve as a strong job generator for years to come as an aging population and Covid-19 fuel widespread worker shortages and greater needs for healthcare services. WSJ An upcoming sale of shares in OpenAI is set to test how much the past week’s leadership chaos has cost the company and its backers, though big investors are bullish about securing a high valuation. The employee stock sale, which had been planned before the sacking last week of chief executive Sam Altman and expected to value the company at $86bn, will continue as planned, according to two investors with direct knowledge of the matter. FT Mastercard said overall spending rose ~2.5% Y/Y (ex-autos) on Black Friday, with in-store up a bit more than 1% while online climbed 8.5% (the 8.5% online spending increase isn’t that far from the +7.5% number published by Adobe). CNN A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk APAC stocks declined heading into month-end and after newsflow over the weekend was mainly dominated by geopolitical headlines with a question mark hanging over whether the Israel-Hamas truce will be extended beyond the initial four-day agreement. ASX 200 finished lower as weakness in the defensive and mining-related sectors overshadowed the gains in tech. Nikkei 225 wiped out its opening gains after hitting resistance just above the 33,800 level and as participants digested Japanese Services PPI which showed a slight acceleration. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp declined following soft Chinese Industrial Profits and amid shadow banking concerns after Chinese authorities opened a probe into struggling shadow bank Zhongzhi, while the PBoC’s notice to strengthen financial support for private companies did little to spur risk sentiment. Top Asian News PBoC issued a notice to strengthen financial support for private companies and will encourage institutional investors to actively and scientifically allocate private companies business process modelling, development and support. PBoC said it is to support private enterprises in listing and financing, mergers and acquisitions and restructuring, while it also said to use monetary policy tools and fiscal subsidies to incentivise financial institutions to service private companies and will reasonably meet the financing needs of private property companies. China's Global Times noted multiple central government departments pledged to support private enterprises' growth and outlined 25 concrete measures to ensure their financing needs and bolster their technological innovations. Chinese authorities opened a probe into struggling shadow bank Zhongzhi after it recently warned of severe insolvency. Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa said they sought an immediate lifting of the Japanese maritime product ban by China in a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang and were able to have a meaningful exchange on common challenges such as climate change and North Korea. They also shared the common view that Japan and China should hold security talks in the near future, while it was also reported that China, Japan and South Korea agreed to boost ties and seek a summit, according to Reuters. Australia’s government will introduce a bill this week that would give the RBA’s independent expert members more responsibility for setting interest rates with a new specialist monetary policy board. Furthermore, the bill would implement the recommendations of the RBA review announced in April including switching to fewer meetings in a year and a dual mandate of price stability and full employment, according to Reuters. In relevant news, Australia named BoE's Andrew Hauser as RBA Deputy Governor who is expected to start before the first RBA board meeting next year, according to Reuters. China to hold CCP Politburo meeting on November 27th, according to state media. Beijing Stock Exchange has reportedly de facto implemented a new policy preventing major shareholders of Cos from selling stock, via Reuters citing sources; amid concerns that sales could extinguish the desired rally. European bourses are in the red, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.2%, with trade ultimately indecisive; whilst the FTSE 100 -0.3% underperforms amid energy action. Sectors are mixed, but with a clear negative tilt; Energy resides at the foot of the pile hampered by crude benchmarks while Telecoms outperform. Stateside, futures are subdued with clear underperformance in the Russell -0.5% vs. -0.1% in the ES & NQ. Black Friday US online sales rose 7.5% Y/Y to USD 9.8bln, while shopper traffic to physical stores rose 2%-5% Y/Y, according to CNBC citing Adobe Analytics. Online sales are boosted by demand for electronics, smartwatches, TVs and audio equipment, according to Bloomberg; UK Retail footfall +7.9% W/W in Black Friday week, +2.0% Y/Y, via MRI Software. Deutsche Bank sees the S&P500 ending 2024 at 5,100 (vs Friday's close of 4,559.34). Top European News UK PM Sunak reportedly eyes more tax cuts in spring as he weighs the UK election date, while he also stated in an interview that claims the UK is headed for austerity are unfounded, according to Bloomberg. UK PM Sunak is to highlight almost GBP 30bln of investment pledges by international companies at the Global Investment Summit on Monday which will create thousands of jobs across the UK in the most innovative sectors, including tech, life sciences, renewables, housing and infrastructure, according to the UK government website. UK Lords’ economic affairs committee is advocating for a revision in the accountability mechanisms for the BoE, according to the Times. This call for change is driven by the significant expansion in the Bank's powers and objectives since it gained operational independence 25 years ago. National Infrastructure Commission chair Armitt warned that UK PM Sunak’s funding plan to get private developers to fund an expensive tunnel under London to connect the HS2 line to Euston is set to fail and that the government needs to be ready to fund the core civil engineering for the final miles of the project, according to FT. ECB’s Nagel called on the German government to resolve the budget situation and create budget clarity soon, according to Bloomberg. Nagel also said the ECB's rates were slowing inflation but added that inflation is not yet back down to a level where they want it. EU’s commissioner for jobs and social rights Schmit said EU consumers will have to pay higher prices to cover the costs to provide better rights for gig workers but added that price increases will not kill the industry’s business model, according to FT. BoE Governor Bailey says a lot of the recent fall of inflation is due to the unwinding of energy cost surge, according to ChronicleLive; getting inflation back down to 2% will be hard work. FX Greenback remains top heavy, but DXY derives some support from firmer US Treasury yields within a 103.22-53 range. Loonie undermined by renewed weakness in oil as USD/CAD climbs from 1.3623 to 1.3661. Aussie probes 200-DMA vs Buck and touches 0.6600 on hawkish RBA vibes, Sterling regains 1.2600+ status after another pushback against rate cuts by BoE Governor Bailey. Euro consolidates gains on 1.0900 handle and Yen pares declines from 149.67 in the wake of a pick-up in Japanese producer prices. PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 7.1159 vs exp. 7.1461 (prev. 7.1151). Fixed Income Bonds regain recovery momentum after a pull-back and bout of consolidation. Bunds pick up the baton from Gilts within 130.56-16 and 95.90-39 respective ranges. T-note lags between 108-14/06 parameters ahead of front-loaded refunding auctions, US new home sales data and the Dallas Fed Manufacturing Business Index. German gov't spokesperson expects the Cabinet to agree on a supplementary 2023 budget this afternoon. Commodities Crude benchmarks continue to slump, with light newsflow unable to change sentiment; Energy Intel’s Bakr reports African states have not reached a resolution yet with regards to their baselines ahead of the OPEC+ meeting on Thursday. WTI & Brent Jan'24 are under marked pressure, at session lows of USD 74.07/bbl and USD 79.13/bbl respectively. Base Metals are mixed with overall sentiment tentative, whilst Precious Metals remain propped up, with spot Gold holding above the USD 2000/oz level. Iraq’s Oil Ministry said UAE-based Crescent Petroleum won the rights to two oil fields in the country’s 5th oil and gas leasing round, while another company won rights to the Howaiza oil field, according to Reuters. African states have not reached a resolution yet with regards to their baselines and the OPEC+ meeting is still due to take place on November 30th, according to Energy Intel's Bakr. Panama’s Trade Ministry said Canada’s First Quantum sent notifications of intent to begin arbitration proceedings amid protests demanding to scrap the miner’s contract to run a key mine. China's State Planner conducts a survey on price indices for steel and iron ore. Geopolitics Israeli authorities released 39 Palestinian prisoners including 6 women and 33 children as part of the exchange deal with Hamas and Hamas released 17 hostages on Saturday, while it was also reported that more Palestinians were released from Israeli prisons and that Hamas released another 17 captives including 14 Israeli civilians on Sunday which took the total number of prisoners released by Israel to 117 and the total number of captives released by Hamas to 58. The release of hostages was reportedly delayed by seven hours on Saturday after allegations from Hamas including that Israel was not allowing humanitarian aid to reach parts of northern Gaza, while it was separately reported that Israeli media quoted an unnamed security source on Saturday that had warned the military offensive in Gaza would resume unless hostages were released by midnight. Israeli PM Netanyahu spoke with US President Biden and told him Israel will resume the Gaza operation in full force at the end of the truce but would welcome extending the truce if it facilitated the release of ten additional hostages daily, according to Reuters. Hamas announced in a statement on Sunday that it is seeking to extend the truce with Israel if there are serious efforts made to increase the number of Palestinian detainees released from Israel, according to Reuters. Hamas armed wing said on Sunday that 4 of its leaders were killed including the commander of the North Gaza brigade. It was separately reported that the Palestinian Red Crescent said a Palestinian farmer was killed and another was injured on Sunday after they were targeted by Israeli forces in the Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza, while the Palestinian health ministry said two Palestinians were killed by Israeli occupation forces in Nablus and Jenin early on Sunday. US President Biden said a 4-year-old American hostage was released by Hamas and they expect additional Americans to be released by Hamas but do not have firm news, while he noted that his goal is to keep the pause in fighting going beyond Monday. US Secretary of State Blinken held a call with Egypt’s Foreign Minister to discuss obstacles threatening Israel’s truce with Hamas and ways to reach a comprehensive ceasefire, according to a statement by Egypt’s foreign ministry cited by Reuters. Qatar’s PM said Hamas must locate dozens of more hostages held in Gaza by civilians and gangs to extend the truce, according to FT. Turkish President Erdogan and Iranian President Raisi discussed in a phone call the importance of taking a stance against Israeli brutality in Palestinian territories, according to Reuters. Syria’s army said air defences intercepted Israeli missiles flying from Golan Heights which put Damascus Airport out of service, according to Reuters. Unidentified armed individuals have seized an Israeli-linked tanker carrying a cargo of phosphoric acid in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday, according to Reuters citing the vessel management company and a US official. It was later reported that a US warship responded to a distress call from a chemical tanker taken in the Middle East and the tanker is now safe, while Houthis reportedly fired two ballistic missiles at a US destroyer on Sunday evening which failed to hit the target following the US Navy rescue of the Israeli-linked tanker. Israeli PM Netanyahu's office confirms receipt of the list of detainees held by Hamas to be released in the fourth batch; notes of major problems in the list of those scheduled to be released and intensive negotiations to change it, Al Arabiya reports. Subsequently, Israel is waiting for Hamas' response to extend the truce for two days in exchange for the release of 20 Israelis, via Al Arabiya. "The Israeli army opened fire east of the Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip", according to Al Arabiya (Translated via Google); US Event Calendar 10:00: Oct. New Home Sales MoM, est. -4.7%, prior 12.3% 10:00: Oct. New Home Sales, est. 723,000, prior 759,000 10:30: Nov. Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. -16.0, prior -19.2 DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap I went out to play golf yesterday and came back to find the house fully decorated for Xmas. A bit early but we're off skiing in only 2 and a half weeks. I also learnt that a fortune has been spent on a new posh huge artificial tree. I've been told that over the long-run it will be more economical. I've entered it all into a spreadsheet and I think the break even point is 2033! My best hope of an earlier breakeven is a burst of tree hyperinflation. From 2033 to 2024, and this morning we've just published our 2024 World Outlook entitled "The Race Against Time...". See it here. Over the last 2-3 years we’ve had a fairly consistent macro narrative, viewing this as a classic policy-led boom-bust cycle that would culminate in a US recession towards the end of 2023. We think our narrative still holds even if the exact timing is more uncertain. Monetary policy famously operates with lags which are highly uncertain in their timing and impact. A US recession before this point would have been early historically relative to the start of the hiking cycle. T he race against time narrative refers to the fact that funding has dried up or tightened considerably over the last couple of years for various parts of economies as rates have risen. Can lending standards loosen, and can yields fall, quickly enough to avoid a funding accident that could see contagion? Non-linearity risk that can turn a mild downturn into a deeper recession remains high . We expect global growth at 2.4% in 2024 (from 3.2% in 2023), with 2.5% generally seen as the upper bound of being deemed to be in a global recession. Even this pace of global growth relies heavily on the EM world with India (+6.0%) and China (+4.7%) big contributors. The lag of policy will help trigger a mild US recession in H1 2024 with 175bps of Fed cuts and 0.6% GDP expected in 2024. The Euro Area is on course for nearly two years of stagnation by mid-2024 when the recovery slowly starts (2024 GDP of 0.2%). The ECB will likely cut 100bps from June to YE 2024. Germany’s 2024 growth has been downgraded around half a percent to -0.2% in the week of this publication due to the Constitutional Court hearing. We also have all our 2024 asset class forecasts updated in the doc. While our economic forecasts for the DM world suggest a sober outlook at best, the next 12 months could see more evidence that AI will revolutionise productivity growth later this decade. So the medium-term future looks more promising than it has done for some time. So try to remember that as the world flirts with recession in 2024. This week has a few data points that will sharpen the forecasts further for economists especially in the US where the personal income and spending data (Thursday) will include the all i mportant core PCE which is of course the Fed's preferred measure of inflation. Elsewhere in the US the highlights are the second reading of Q3 GDP on Wednesday, the ISM manufacturing and Auto Sales (Friday), and Chicago PMI (Thursday). There's also a 2 and 5yr auction today and a 7yr equivalent tomorrow. Supply has been a big mover in recent weeks in both directions so although this is relatively short duration it will give some idea of demand, something that will be consistently needed over the next few months and quarters. In Europe, all eyes will be on the preliminary CPI reports for November on Wednesday and Thursday. There will also be labour market data across key economies in the region on Thursday, and a few sentiment gauges, including consumer confidence indices for Germany and France (tomorrow), as well as the final manufacturing PMIs on Friday. In China, the most important releases will be the November PMIs on Thursday as well as the Caixin manufacturing gauge on Friday after the October prints disappointed. Consensus only expects a slight pick up. It's a busy week in Japan with various labour market and economic activity gauges that you can see in the day-by-day calendar at the end as usual. Central bank speakers include Fed Chair Powell (Friday), ECB President Lagarde (today) and BoE Governor Bailey (Wednesday). More are noted in the day-by-day calendar. Elsewhere the delayed OPEC+ meeting that was expected yesterday is now planned for Thursday. That follows oil price volatility in recent weeks with Brent crude currently hovering near $80.5/bbl, down from nearly $97/bbl at the end of September. Also on Thursday, COP28 will kick off in Dubai, lasting a couple of weeks. So expect plenty of climate headlines. Finally expect more reports of how Black Friday and Cyber Monday went in terms of US retail sales. So far for Black Friday, Mastercard have said sales (ex-autos) were 'only' up +2.5% YoY but split +1.1% for in-store and +8.5% for online. Adobe have confirmed the online sales momentum by suggesting they were up +7.5% and at a record. The only thing i would say is that I've been receiving so many pre-Black Friday emails alerting me to early -60% discounts here and -40% discounts there. So I suspect these sales are happening earlier than they use to so you probably have to look at sales across a longer period now. Asian equity markets are largely lower at the start of the week with the CSI 300 (-1.20%) leading losses followed by the Hang Seng (-0.99%) and the Shanghai Composite (-0.76%) driven by weakness in China’s property stocks. In addition, Chinese industrial profits decreased -7.8% in the January-to-October period from a -9.0% decline in September. The YoY number fell to +2.7% from +11.9% previously. This was probably a bit disappointing given the base effects were impacted by Covid a year ago. Elsewhere, the Nikkei (-0.51%) and KOSPI (-0.20%) are also lower alongside S&P 500 (-0.28%) and NASDAQ 100 (-0.45%) futures. Yields on 10yr USTs (+2.7bps) have moved higher, trading at 4.495% as I type. Finally in terms of Asia data, Japan’s services PPI hit a 45-month high of 2.3% y/y in October (v/s +2.1% expected) after a downwardly revised rate of +2.0% the previous month. Looking back at last week now and markets continued their strong performance with risk assets advancing across the board. In fact, a global 60:40 portfolio of equities and bonds is on track for its best monthly performance in three years since we got the positive vaccine news in November 2020. And on Friday we even saw the VIX index of volatility close at a post-pandemic low of 12.46pts, which gives you a sense of how buoyant markets are right now. In several respects it was a quiet week, with US markets closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday, followed by a half-day on Friday. But there was no sign of the more positive sentiment abating, with the S&P 500 up +1.00% (+0.06% Friday) to a 3-month high, whilst the STOXX 600 was up +0.91% (+0.33% Friday) to a 2-month high. Likewise in credit, US HY spreads tightened for a 5th week running, falling -14bps (-5bps Friday) to 375bps. Meanwhile in Europe, the iTraxx crossover index fell -12.2bps (-0.4bps Friday) to its tightest level since April 2022 . The boost in risk appetite meant that the sovereign bond rally stumbled by the end of last week, with investors growing a bit more doubtful about the prospect of near-term rate cuts. That wasn’t helped by the latest US data prints, with the University of Michigan’s indicator of long-term inflation expectations remaining at a 12-year high of 3.2% on the final numbers for November. That doubt about rate cuts was then given further support on Friday from the US flash PMIs, with the composite reading for November remaining at 50.7 (vs. 50.4 expected). Alongside that, central bankers themselves continued to push back on the chance of easier policy anytime soon, and markets lowered the chance of a Fed rate cut by May from 77% to 51% over the week . Against this backdrop, US Treasury yields moved higher last week, with the 10yr yield up +3.1bps (+6.2bps Friday) to 4.47%. There was a similar selloff in Europe too, with yields on 10yr bunds up +5.6bps (+2.5bps Friday) to 2.64%, whilst 10yr gilts saw a sizeable +17.9bps move (+2.7bps Friday) to 4.28%. That followed a fiscal easing from the UK government in the Autumn statement, an upside surprise in the flash PMIs, and then a stronger-than-expected reading on Friday in the GfK’s consumer confidence data. Meanwhile in Germany, the Ifo’s business climate indicator for November came in at a 4-month high of 87.3 (vs. 87.5 expected). However the shock of the Constitutional Court ruling last week will likely impact this going forward and as we saw at the top, this has led our economists to downgrade growth 0.5pp for 2024 versus their thoughts prior to this. Finally, in commodities, oil lost ground for a 5th consecutive week, with Brent crude down -0.04% (-1.03% Friday) to $80.58/bbl. That comes ahead of this week’s meeting of the OPEC+ group, which is now set to happen on Thursday as discussed above. WTI also lost ground, falling -0.46% (-2.02% Friday) to $75.54/bbl. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/27/2023 - 08:21.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 27th, 2023

Hamas released a 13-year-old hostage but not her mom, despite promising not to separate them

Hamas released Hila Rotem Shoshani, 13, on Saturday. But her mom, Raya, remains in captivity, violating the terms of its truce deal with Israel. Hila Rotem Shoshani with her uncle on November 26, 2023.The Israeli Army via APHamas released Hila Rotem Shoshani, 13, on Saturday.Despite Hamas agreeing not to separate parents from their children, Hila's mom remains in captivity.Israeli officials have been exerting pressure to secure the mother's release, per reports.On Saturday, Hamas released a 13-year-old Israeli girl, Hila Rotem Shoshani, who had been held in captivity in Gaza since the October 7 terror attack.But her mother, Raya, remains in captivity, despite Hamas vowing not to separate children from their parents as part of the truce agreement, according to Israeli media.Saturday's releases, which were temporarily delayed due to Hamas accusing Israel of violating the terms of the agreement, ultimately resulted in the freeing of 13 Israeli hostages — all women and children.But Raya, 53, was not among them.Israeli media outlet Ynet reported that Mossad — Israeli's spy agency — had unsuccessfully exerted pressure in recent days to secure her release.According to CNN, Israeli officials who demanded that the mother be released are unsure where she is or what condition she is in.Hila's uncle, Yair Rotem, told reporters this weekend that he does not believe Hamas' claim that they do not know where the girl's mother is.He told The Times of Israel that Hila said she had been held hostage with her mother until being separated two days before her release.He said the teenager told them that her mom had cut her hair and spent time with her during their captivity, according to the Times."Hila returned without her mother and that is a clear violation of the agreement with Hamas," Yair Rotem said, speaking from Sheba Hospital, where his niece was being examined on Saturday night."We demand from Hamas and the mediators that Raya be returned home as they agreed, immediately," he added.Rotem also told the Times: "Israel has to say this is unacceptable. You don't separate a girl from her mother."A representative for Hamas in Qatar, who is involved with the hostage-release negotiations, did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.Hila and her mom were kidnapped from a safe room in their home in Kibbutz Be'eri on October 7.According to The Times of Israel, the mother texted her brother around noon, telling him that she and her daughter were being taken to Gaza.The family didn't hear from them again that day, and only learned on October 29, weeks later, that the mother and daughter were in captivity.A spokesperson for Israel's Prime Minister's Office did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment.Monday marks the fourth and potentially final day of the Israel-Hamas truce, in which Israeli hostages are being freed in exchange for a cease-fire and the release of Palestinian prisoners and detainees.According to CNN, both Israel and Hamas have expressed an interest in extending the truce, but this could be complicated by reports that the militant group is struggling to locate all of the hostages held in Gaza.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 27th, 2023