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Markets Turn Cautious Ahead of the Weekend

Overview: With US warning about a "vertical escalation" by a stymied Moscow and the EU cautioning that Beijing may send semiconductors and other tech…



Overview: With US warning about a "vertical escalation" by a stymied Moscow and the EU cautioning that Beijing may send semiconductors and other tech hardware to Russia, it is little wonder that risk appetites are being curtailed ahead of the weekend.  Japanese eked out a small gain, most the major bourses in the Asia Pacific region were lower.  Of note the Hang Seng's 2.4% fall left its virtually flat on the week.  Europe's Stoxx 600 is flat after posting two losing sessions. consecutive sessions. US futures are narrowly mixed.  Benchmark yields are a couple of basis points lower, putting the US 10-year around 2.36%. European yields are 2-4 bp softer. Following a firmer than expected Tokyo March CPI, the 10-year JGB yield rose to a new high, just shy of 0.24%.  In the foreign exchange market, the cautious risk stance is evident with the yen and Swiss franc showing modest strength.  An exception to the risk-off is the relative strength of emerging market currencies.  The JP Morgan Emerging Market Currency Index is up for the fourth sessions to put the finishing touches on the second weekly advance.  Turning to commodities, gold is consolidating above $1950 and is up about 2% this week.  May WTI is off around 1.4% after falling 2.2% yesterday.  Nevertheless, it is up about 7% this week.  US natgas is softer, trying to snap a four-day advance.  It was up almost 11% this week coming into today.    Europe's natgas benchmark is more than 2% lower to pare this week's gain to about 6.5%.  Iron ore rose 3.5% to recoup this week's loss.  Copper is a little firmer to be flat on the week. The price of wheat is falling for a fourth session following a 5.2% rally to start the week.  It is up less about 1% for the week. It had fallen around 12.3% in the previous two weeks.   

Asia Pacific

Tokyo's CPI accelerated this month as the weaker yen and higher commodity prices fed through.  The 1.3% headline increase was slightly stronger than expected.  Excluding fresh food, the core measure edged up to 0.8% from 0.5%.  Electricity, gas, and imported food lifted the core measure.  Excluding fresh food and energy, the deflationary pressures slackened to -0.4% from -0.6%.  Meanwhile, the 10-year JGB yield approached the 0.25% cap imposed by yield-curve control and a more active defense may be necessary next week.  At the same time, Prime Minister Kishida has reportedly instructed the cabinet to put together a supplemental budget next week.

China's Security Regulatory Commission is still apparently negotiating with the America's Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. Earlier this week, Chinese accounts made is seem that a deal was imminent that would allow mainland-based companies to remain listed on US exchanges.  The issue are US laws that require audit reports to be made to authorities.  Chinese authorities appear to make some concessions but wanted to withhold some "sensitive" data.  If the US rules are flaunted for three years, the violator faces de-listing.  That could begin in 2024.  

Reports suggest China has sent Russia 30k tons of alumina following Australia's ban that provided Russia's Rusal with 40% of its alumina supply.  Another 30k tons are expected to follow quickly.  The US and Europe have cautioned China against material support for Russia.  However, officials say there is so far no evidence of Chinese assistance.  The alumina deal is being cast as a commercial transaction rather than state sponsored.  Meanwhile, China's lockdown this week of Tangshan (steel producing region) and Shandong (oil refineries) have knock-on effects that are disrupting the world's second-largest economy, with potential to further disrupt supply chains.  

The dollar is falling for the first time in six sessions.  If the 0.66% pullback is sustained, it would be the largest loss since last November.  Even with the decline, the greenback is up nearly 2% against the yen this week.  The profit-taking began after the dollar has risen to almost JPY122.50 in North America yesterday.  The pullback brings the dollar back to where it was in Tokyo on Thursday.  Initial resistance is now seen near JPY122.00.  The momentum readings are stretched, but the move does not seem complete.  The Australian dollar set a new high for the year near $0.7535 before succumbing to some light profit-taking.  It found support a little below $0.7500. Even with the pullback, it is the strongest of the major currencies this week, gaining almost 1.25%.  The intraday technical indicators favor a recover in North America.   The US dollar slipped against the Chinese yuan for the second session but is still poised to extend its gain for the fourth consecutive week.  The Chinese 10-year premium over the US narrowed by about 20 bp this week to 45 bp.  The PBOC set the dollar's reference rate at CNY6.3739, a little above projections for CNY6.3726 (Bloomberg survey).   


UK's retail sales last month were unexpectedly poor, and it plays on fears that the surge in the cost-of-living is sapping households, while the government's Spring budget offered little consolation.  The Bloomberg survey found a median forecast of a 0.7% gain, and instead, retail sales fell by 0.7%.  Excluding gasoline, retail sales fell by 0.7%.  Economists had looked for a 0.5% increase.  The risk is that things get worse.  Many households will experience a sharp price in energy bills next month, and the tax for the national health service increases too.  

On one hand, the EU and the US appear to be striking a deal for gas to begin supplanting the dependence on Russia.  Europe does not appear ready to ban energy imports from Russia and this may help explain the pullback in oil prices.  On the other hand, Europe agreed to a a Digital Markets Act, which will force large internet companies to open their platforms and compete fairer.  Many US-based companies, much to their chagrin will be forced to comply.  Of course, some large European internet companies will be subject to the new rules too.  

Hungary was the only EU country not invited to last year's US-sponsored "democracy summit."  Nevertheless, national elections will be on April 3.  Orban and his Fidesz party are seeking a fourth term.  The opposition has united behind a single candidate, Marki-Zay, who has not run an inspired campaign, and is lagging in the polls by a couple of percentage points.  Orban has pursued a pro-Russian foreign policy, pleads neutrality in the war, and will not send Ukraine weapons.   One recent poll found that 57% of Hungarians see their chief allies in the West not East. The opposition does not seem to be exploiting this effectively.   Instead, the opposition has the adoption of the euro as a key plank, and it is supported by less than half the people.  Despite the closeness of the polls, the wagers at PredictIt.Org strongly favor Fidesz (95%). 

For the fourth consecutive session, the euro remains mired in a $1.0960-$1.1045 trading range.  The sideways movement is sufficient to allow the momentum indicators to extend their correction higher.  The weakness in the German IFO survey illustrates the headwind on confidence.  The current assessment dipped slightly (97.0 vs. 98.8), but the expectations component fell to 85.1 from 98.4.  It is the lowest since May 2020 and reflects a larger decline than when the pandemic struck.  Sterling reached almost $1.33 in the middle of the week but has struggled to sustain upticks since then.  It has found support around $1.3160 but looks vulnerable.  The week's low is near $1.3120, which seems like a reasonable near-term target. 


Fed officials, especially Chair Powell, have couched his commitment to a more aggressive course with "if needed" or "if necessary."  Yesterday's data included should weekly jobless claims falling to their lowest level in a generation, and the preliminary March PMI that show the economy accelerating, with the composite rising to its best level in eight months. On the other hand, February durable goods disappointed.  The big drag came from the nearly 30.5% decline in civilian aircraft orders.  Non-defense and non-aircraft orders slipped 0.3% but after the upward revision to the January series to 1.3% from 1.0%.  Still, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow tracker puts this quarter's growth at 0.9%, down from 1.2% last week as real domestic investment was downgraded.  However, the data that underscored a tight labor market, resilient economy, and elevated price pressures (PMI) saw the market grow marginally more confident of a 50 bp hike at the May FOMC meeting.  The market also edged closer to fully pricing in two 50 bp moves this year.   

Malfeasance or incompetence?  What was behind Mexico President AMLO announcement of the 50 bp rate hike by Banxico a few hours before the official announcement? He seemed confused and referred to the move as happening "yesterday."  Some read more sinister motives and see an encroachment on the central bank's independence.  Despite the chin-wagging, there was no sign that investors as a whole were put-off, and AMLO apologized. The dollar settled on its lows, a little above MXN20.07, levels not seen since last September.  The decision to hike by 50 bp was unanimous.  The lone dissenter at the last two meetings, favoring 25 bp moves, Esquivel capitulated.  The central bank nudged up its (average) inflation forecast to 6.4% this year from 6.1%, and next year from 3.4% to 3.6%.  It sees inflation peaking in Q2, but not falling back within the 3% (+/- 1%) target until Q2 23.  

Brazil reports March IPCA inflation figures today.  The median forecast in Bloomberg's survey sees it slipping to 10.69% from 10.76%. Central bank Governor Neto has signaled a 100 bp hike in the Selic Rate in May (to 12.75%).  However, following yesterday's quarterly inflation report, suggested inflation may peak soon and a rate hike in June may be unnecessary.  Bank economists ae less convinced and the swaps market sees a peak in the policy rate closer to 13.25%. 

The US dollar has fallen against the Canadian dollar for the past eight sessions coming into today. It has found support near CAD1.25 but closed below a six-month trendline yesterday and could retest it today from underneath today.  It is found around CAD1.2560.  The Slow Stochastic appears to be poised to curl higher from over-sold territory. The greenback slipped a little lower against the Mexican peso to test the MXN20.05 area, a new six-month low.  The MXN20.00 offers psychological support, but the low from last September was near MXN19.85.   The lower Bollinger Band is by MXN19.94. 


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Rent Control Is A Disaster – Don’t Let It Spread Across The Nation

Rent Control Is A Disaster – Don’t Let It Spread Across The Nation

Authored by Betsy McCaughey via The Epoch Times,

America’s renters -…



Rent Control Is A Disaster - Don't Let It Spread Across The Nation

Authored by Betsy McCaughey via The Epoch Times,

America’s renters - more than one-third of the nation’s households - are in for trouble.

Left-wing politicians are demanding rent regulation from coast to coast. Wherever it is adopted, the result will be a disastrous reduction in the rental housing supply, leaving renters desperate for places to live.

New York is the poster child for the failures of rent regulation. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently mulling a challenge to the constitutionality of the city’s rent regime.

Whatever the justices decide, the public needs to consider less destructive, more targeted ways to help low-income people pay for housing. The court of public opinion needs to consider these facts.

Fact No. 1: Rent regulation isn’t targeted to the poor.

In New York, there’s no means test. What you need is luck or connections. The mean income of a rent-stabilized apartment dweller is $47,000, but census data show that tens of thousands of them earn more than $150,000 per year. Some occupants use what they’re saving on rent to pay for a weekend place in the Hamptons or New England.

The pols don’t object—a sure sign they’re calling for rent regulation to help themselves politically, not the poor.

In New York, 44 percent of rental apartments are regulated by the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB), established in 1969, which sets the maximum amount by which landlords are allowed to raise the rent. Those limits apply to all buildings of six or more units built before 1974.

In 2022, the RGB set the maximum rent hike at 3.25 percent on one-year leases and this year at 3 percent. Never mind that last year, fuel costs to heat the buildings soared by 19 percent and overall inflation hit 8.3 percent.

The decisions are political, not economic. Many Democratic politicians vilify building owners as “greedy landlords” and depict themselves as the champions of the downtrodden. It’s a scam.

Fact No. 2: Winners and losers.

The winners are the lucky few with rent-regulated apartments and the pols who count on an army of tenant activists to turn out at the polls. The losers are the 56 percent of renters who don’t score a regulated apartment and have to scour neighborhoods for an unregulated place that they can afford. They’re paying more.

Why? Because regulation causes some landlords to walk away, reducing the overall supply of apartments. The laws of supply and demand mean rents go up. New Yorkers in unregulated apartments are paying the highest rents in the United States for a one-bedroom apartment. They're the real victims, and they should be furious.

Yet the left-wing press pretends that rent control offers only benefits. The New Republic warns that the Supreme Court challenge threatens “laws that have benefitted the city’s tenants for generations.” Sorry, untrue—only some tenants, and not always the neediest.

It’s economic madness. The saner way to help those who need assistance paying rent is with a voucher. We offer the needy SNAP debit cards to help them pay for groceries. No one slaps price controls on grocery stores or designates certain stores as “regulated,” forcing them to sell at below cost.

Yet New York forces certain landlords to pay what should be a public cost shared by all, an argument made to the court.

Fact No. 3: The Marxist fantasy that rent regulation will help the poor is spreading across the United States and Europe as well.

Maine and Minnesota have enacted laws allowing municipalities to impose rent regulations. In November 2024, California voters will be asked to approve a proposition allowing local governments to add additional restrictions to the state’s existing rent caps.

The laws of supply and demand are international. Berlin froze rents in 2019, and the rental supply plummeted, according to the Ifo Institute, a think tank.

Yet London Mayor Sadiq Khan is calling for freezing rents for two years. London provides housing vouchers to the poor—a smarter approach—but when the city froze the voucher amounts during the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer apartments were available in the price range. The answer is to raise the voucher amount. Freezing rents will only make the shortage worse.

Ignore the demagogues. The evidence is in: Rent regulation is a political scam. There are better ways to help Americans afford a place to live.

Tyler Durden Sat, 10/14/2023 - 16:20

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‘No Regrets’: Former CIA Director Repeats Debunked Russian Disinfo Claims About Hunter’s Laptop

‘No Regrets’: Former CIA Director Repeats Debunked Russian Disinfo Claims About Hunter’s Laptop

In an interview last night with Fox’s Bret…



'No Regrets': Former CIA Director Repeats Debunked Russian Disinfo Claims About Hunter's Laptop

In an interview last night with Fox's Bret Baier, former CIA Director Leon Panetta humiliated himself as he defended the letter that he and 50 other so-called 'intelligence officials' signed suggesting that the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation.

Even more unsettling were his comments that he believes it could still be Russian disinformation.

“That letter was used in the debate, I haven’t asked you this but do you have regrets about that now looking back, knowing what you know now?” Baier asked.

Panetta explained that he was “extremely concerned about Russian interference” in the run up to the 2020 Presidential Election between then-former-Vice President Joe Biden and then-President Donald Trump.

He claimed that intelligence agencies discovered that “Russia had continued to push disinformation across the board.”

He said that he wanted to “alert the public” about the “disinformation efforts” to influence the election.

“And frankly, I haven’t seen any evidence from any intelligence agency that that was not the case,” Panetta said.

“You don’t think that it was real?” Baier asked.

“I think that disinformation is involved here. I think Russian disinformation is part of what we’re seeing everywhere,” Panetta responded.

“I don’t trust the Russians, and that’s exactly why I was concerned that the public not trust the Russians either.”

And finally, Baier asked if Panetta had any regrets over how he handled the story.

“No, I don’t have any regrets about not trusting the Russians,” Panetta said.

As Jonathan Turley pointed out,Panetta simply refused to acknowledge:

(1) American intelligence quickly debunked the claim and said that there was no evidence of Russian disinformation behind the laptop,

(2) the emails contained in the laptop were quickly authenticated by the other parties,

(3) the FBI authenticated the laptop,

(4) Hunter Biden has since sued over the use of his laptop, and

(5) the media has independently authenticated the laptop.

This was the man in charge of our CIA.

As a reminder, it has also been shown that the Biden campaign and associates coordinated the letter.

Watch the lying liar lie below...

We give the last word back to Turley who summarized the former spook's self-immolation perfectly: "Panetta has become the personification of the economic theory of path dependence. No matter how much countervailing evidence is presented to Panetta, he still refuses to accept the authenticity of the laptop."

However, in order to admit to these facts, Panetta would have had to admit that he was a willing or unwitting dupe of the campaign. It is easier to simply continue to claim that this could all be the invention of the Russians.

Yet, as Turley exclaims, Panetta is still sought for his advice on other intelligence matters as he continues to repeat disproven claims because the truth is simply too costly on a personal level to acknowledge.

What do we call false claims that are repeated despite being repeatedly debunked and disproven? Oh, yea, disinformation.

Tyler Durden Sat, 10/14/2023 - 14:35

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Bibi & Khamenei Trade Social Media Threats As IDF Readies For Air, Ground, & Naval Offensive Against Gaza “Very Soon”

Bibi & Khamenei Trade Social Media Threats As IDF Readies For Air, Ground, & Naval Offensive Against Gaza "Very Soon"

Update (1330ET):…



Bibi & Khamenei Trade Social Media Threats As IDF Readies For Air, Ground, & Naval Offensive Against Gaza "Very Soon"

Update (1330ET): The Israeli military has announced it is prepared for a coordinated air, ground and naval offensive in the Gaza Strip "very soon," according to reports from AP.

In a nationally broadcast address Saturday night, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari issued a new appeal to residents to move to the southern Gaza Strip.

“We are going to broadly attack Gaza City very soon,” he said.

He accused Hamas of trying to use civilians as human shields.

Meanwhile, the social media rhetoric between leaders has gone to '11'...

Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei expects a "complete victory"...

Calling on all Muslims to join the fight...

Israeli PM Netanyahu made his views very clear:

Live feeds below on Gaza: 

*  *  *

Israeli media is reporting a "greenlight" has been given for the expected major Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip as massive convoys of Palestinian civilians have been observed fleeing to the southern part of the densely populated strip. So far there has been limited ground incursions by the army into the strip, targeting Hamas operatives and reportedly to gain intelligence on the whereabouts of hostages. 

The United Nations has issued a report saying at least 423,000 Palestinians have already been internally displaced within Gaza and this massive figure is expected to ratchet further. Likely it has surpassed a half-million as of Saturday, following the Israeli-issued evacuation order, which included dropping thousands of leaflets and warnings over Gaza City. 

Via The Guardian

The UN said it "considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences." Middle East Eye and other regional sources have said over 700 Palestinian children were killed in one week of fighting. As of Friday Israel authorities tallied that over 1,300 Israelis were killed by the Hamas terror attacks on the southern settlements and the music festival, and rocket fire, with at least 3,200 wounded. 27 among the dead were Americans.

Middle East Eye on Saturday reports the following of the mounting Palestinian death toll in both Gaza and the West bank as follows:

Israel has killed at least 2,215 people in Gaza over the past week, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Of those killed, 724 are children and 458 are women. Some 8,714 people have been wounded in the besieged enclave in that time, it added. 

Meanwhile, Israeli forces have killed 54 people and wounded 1,100 others in the occupied West Bank.

According to a review of the last hours of developments, the population is about to run out of water as the remaining supply dwindles after Israel cut off external supply sources

  • UN agency for Palestinian refugees says its shelters in Gaza “are not safe anymore” as it warns water running our for besieged enclave’s residents.
  • More than 320 Palestinians have been killed in the past 24 hours, including many women and children killed in Israeli air raids on convoys fleeing Gaza City, according to health officials.
  • The rising toll comes as Israel continues bombing Gaza a day after telling 1.1 million residents to head south ahead of a looming ground offensive following Hamas’s attack inside Israel last week.
  • At least 2,215 Palestinians have been killed and 8,714 wounded in Israeli air attacks on Gaza. The number of people killed in Israel has reached 1,300, with more than 3,400 wounded.
  • In the occupied West Bank, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in the past week has topped 50. More than 1,000 have been wounded and hundreds arrested.

The fate of the estimated 100 to 200 hostages in Hamas captivity still remains largely unknown, but Hamas in statements which have been underreported in Western press has claimed that over two dozen of the hostages have been killed by the IDF's ongoing aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip

Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades said nine more captives were killed in indiscriminate Israeli shelling in the last 24 hours, including a number of foreigners

Qassam has previously announced the death of 17 captives in Israeli air stikes in Gaza over the past week. 

Sky News and others are also reporting, based on Israeli sources, that bodies of hostages have been recovered after some of the initial IDF infantry cross-border raids which began Friday into Saturday:

Raids carried out on the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces discovered human remains of those who had been missing since Hamas's attack last weekend, local media is reporting.

According to Haaretz, armed forces entered an enclave where it is thought up to 200 people were being held hostage by Hamas, and retrieved the bodies of several people.

Items belonging to the missing people were also discovered. 

The US said Friday it chartered its first successful evacuation flight, with talk of more to come.

TOI: A military official at the forensic center at the Military Rabbinate's headquarters in Ramle stands in front of the remains of the victims of Hamas's October 7 shock onslaught in Israel, October 13, 2023. Flash90

There are Americans (many of them likely dual nationals) among the population of Gaza, which Washington says it is trying to facilitate safe exit for as Israeli airstrikes continue. Dangerously, the lone Raffah border crossing into Egypt has at this point been bombed several times. 

But regional media is reporting there's been a diplomatic breakthrough on this front, as Israel, Egypt, and the United States have forged an agreement to let foreigners residing in Gaza pass through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.

Scene from the frontlines as the IDF build-up outside Gaza continues:

Huge civilian convoys have been witnessed fleeing to the southern half of Gaza, creating bottlenecks...

The Times of Israel cites a senior Egyptian official as follows:

The official says Israel has agreed to refrain from striking areas the foreigners would pass through on their way out of the besieged Palestinian territory. He adds that Qatar was involved in the negotiations and the participants received approval from the Palestinian terror groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The agreement  does not deal with hostages being held by Hamas.

A second official at the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing point says they received “instructions” to reopen it on Saturday afternoon for foreigners coming from Gaza.

But Egypt is by and large not letting Gazans exit, even erecting bigger concrete barriers of extra border protection, amid what's setting up to be a catastrophic humanitarian crisis as the Israeli pressure ratchets.

The IDF says it is about to attack the northern half of the Gaza Strip with "great force" - while the US and other countries are urging for caution regarding Palestinian civilians. Below is rare footage of an elite Israeli rescue squad in action (intentionally blurred by IDF sources):

Washington has still all the while said it "stands with Israel" - and has not tried to actually halt the unrelenting IDF bombardment of civilian areas.

Meanwhile, things continue ratcheting in south Lebanon, with reports of new strikes being exchanged between Israel and Hezbollah, and other pro-Palestinian factions.

Tyler Durden Sat, 10/14/2023 - 13:40

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