Breaking News

Quant funds set to pass $1tn mark; Hong Kong Exchange Eyes New Trading Rules; Spread-betting rise threatened by EU rules

First Read

Hits & Takes
JLN Staff

Brazil’s exchange, B3 (formerly BM&FBovespa) announced its main stock market performance index – Ibovespa – hit a record high Friday, ending the day at 79.071 points, up 0.54 percent from the previous Ibovespa record of 78.647 points last Thursday.~JK

SGX reported its derivatives volume was 178.4 million, up 18 percent in 2017 from the previous year, with its FTSE China A50 Index futures the most active contract with 64 million contracts, up 13 percent. Here is the full report.~JK

With Mark Mobius retired from Franklin Templeton, who in emerging markets will pick up the pastel suit helm? ~SD

Reformed Broker Josh Brown has a blog out that just so happens to have “A Brief History of Seven Killings” by Marlon James as its subject. I’ll take a moment to plug the book, too, as Marlon James was a professor at one of my alma maters and is a fascinating guy. It’s a bit of a tome, but it didn’t win the Man Booker prize and the American Book Award and get listed as a a New York Times Book Review Notable Book for nothing.~SD

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The Spread – Week of 1/1/18
JohnLothianNews.com

A new year, a new Spread! The Spread is a brief recap of some of the notable activity in the options world.

The following are stories referenced in this week’s episode of The Spread:

Watch the video here »

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On Your Radar: Roy Saadon’s Firm Aims To Provide A View On Risks Across The Board
Jim Kharouf, JLN
If you could monitor all of the operations issues at your firm, how would you do it? And not just tracking problems in the back office, but those in the order routing, middle office, regulation and compliance areas, too – all of it.
jlne.ws/2ElyDcb

**If you are wondering what Roy Saadon is up to these days.~JK

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iPhones and Children Are a Toxic Pair, Say Two Big Apple Investors
David Benoit – The Wall Street Journal
The iPhone has made Apple Inc. and Wall Street hundreds of billions of dollars. Now some big shareholders are asking at what cost. A leading activist and a pension fund are launching an unusual campaign against the smartphone maker, saying it needs to respond to what some see as a growing public-health crisis of youth phone addiction.
/goo.gl/XfdAQa

***** The world was so much better when we just worried about kids eating Twinkies.~JJL

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Bridging the Week – December 18, 2017 – January 5 and January 8, 2018 – Self-Certification; NY BitLicenses; Texas C&D; Trading Adverse to Employer
Gary DeWaal – Bridging the Week
Cryptocurrencies continued to be the focus of legal and regulatory developments in the financial services industry at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. Last week, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission issued a “Backgrounder” again providing its perspective on the self-certification by three exchanges of cash-settled derivatives contracts based on Bitcoin on December 1, 2017. Moreover, in the last few weeks two lawsuits were dismissedóone challenging the authority of the New York Department of Financial Services to require a so-called “BitLicense” for a person engaged in a virtual currency business, and another that attacked the possible issuance by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency of so-called “fintech charters.”
/goo.gl/Ng5sZW

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Friday’s Top Three
Friday’s top three stories were led by Time magazine’s piece from Warren Buffett, Warren Buffett on the Secrets to Growing Wealth in America. Second went to Bloomberg’s Bitcoin-Futures Regulator Defends Oversight as Critics See Risks. Third went to CME Group Executive Director and Senior Economist Erik Norland’s podcast Bitcoin: Supply Growth, Mining Difficulty and Prospects in 2018

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Level Trading

 

Lead Stories

Quant hedge funds set to pass $1tn management mark
Ben McLannahan – FT
It’s around this time of year that inboxes fill up with reports from Wall Street analysts trying to demonstrate complete mastery of their sectors. This year in particular, as new rules take effect on how analysts are paid, they are extra keen to show that their work has real value.
/goo.gl/xUcYDW

Hong Kong Exchange Eyes New Trading Rules to Spur Volume
Benjamin Robertson and Andrea Tan – Bloomberg
Aim is to make market more competitive, says exchange CEO Li; Stamp duty, cross-margin requirements also being examined
Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. is considering rule changes aimed at increasing trading, according to Chief Executive Officer Charles Li.
/goo.gl/pe9tpo

Spread-betting rise threatened by EU rules; UK trading platforms can no longer escape tougher than expected restrictions
Hannah Murphy – FT
For trading platforms that allow retail customers to bet on financial markets online, this festive season brought an unwelcome deja vu.
/goo.gl/VEqQFN

Stock Pickers Beat Hedge-Fund Titans
Nishant Kumar and Suzy Waite – Bloomberg
Booming equity markets lifted average gains to four-year high; Macro traders focused on emerging markets also fared well
After years of mediocre returns, the hedge-fund industry is on the comeback trail. Booming equity markets helped the industry achieve its highest returns in four years in 2017, led by stock pickers and macro traders focused on emerging markets. However, that masks the fact that some of the largest funds betting on economic trends in developed markets had another miserable year.
/goo.gl/nZ825k

London Beats Out New York Among Foreign Investors in Real Estate
Peter Jeffrey – Bloomberg
Brexit is less of a concern than it was in last year’s survey; NYC is dinged twice as Los Angeles ties it as top U.S. city
New York City took a double hit in an annual survey of real estate investors, which saw London overtake it in first place globally and Los Angeles tie it for top U.S. city.
/goo.gl/QTmocy

In test for Powell, internal groundswell grows to rethink Fed’s inflation approach
Jonathan Spicer, Howard Schneider – Reuters
Pressure is building within the Federal Reserve for incoming Chairman Jerome Powell to consider a new strategy for raising U.S. inflation after more than five years of weakness that has baffled the central bank.
jlne.ws/2F2PaDb

The evolving role of the Chief Data Officers
Siamak Amirghodsi, VP, Data Management and Analytics, Options Clearing Corporation
As we embark on the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution with all its economic promises and upheaval, we see data swiftly emerging as a critical asset in many industries.
/goo.gl/m5w1Dx

The Latest Bitcoin ETF Proposals Have Some Major Red Flags
Themis Trading Blog
After getting rejected by the SEC last year, the Cboe BZX Exchange (formerly known as BATS) is leading the latest attempt to get a bitcoin ETF approved. They have just filed with the SEC to list four new bitcoin ETF’s: the REX Bitcoin Strategy ETF, the REX Short Bitcoin Strategy, the First Trust Bitcoin Strategy ETF and the First Trust Inverse Bitcoin Strategy ETF. In their rejection of the Winklevoss ETF last year, the SEC noted the lack of surveillance of the underlying, unregulated bitcoin markets as one of their main areas of concern:
jlne.ws/2qvGKkw

Former WTO, Goldman and BP chief Peter Sutherland dies at 71
Padraic Halpin – Reuters
Former World Trade Organization director general Peter Sutherland, who was also a long-serving chairman of oil giant BP (BP.L) and the overseas arm of Goldman Sachs (GS.N), died on Sunday aged 71.
/goo.gl/3gbRSp

Intel CEO’s Stock Sale Called Unusual by Private Securities Specialists; Some question timing of sale as the company was handling concerns about security flaws in its chips
Ted Greenwald – WSJ
The sale of Intel Corp. stock by Chief Executive Brian Krzanich while the company was handling concerns about security flaws in its chips was a highly unusual move that risked attracting regulatory scrutiny, according to lawyers and analysts who follow executive stock sales.
/goo.gl/7Yhcd5

Convergex CEO departs six months after Cowen takeover; Philip Gough parts ways with Cowen Execution Services after three years as chief executive.
John Brazier – The Trade
Philip Gough, chief executive of London-based equities brokerage Cowen Execution Services, formerly known as Convergex, has parted ways with the company.
/goo.gl/TV2atZ

TP ICAP snaps up commodities broker SCS
Katie Martin – FT
Interdealer broker TP ICAP is clearly still on the acquisition trail, announcing on Monday that it has bought US broker SCS Commodities.
/goo.gl/NfsyC9

Little Guys and Big Trading Firms Square Off in Bitcoin Futures Arena Retail; investors are more likely to hold bullish bets on bitcoin, while big players tend to be short
Alexander Osipovich – WSJ
Small investors are betting that bitcoin’s price will rise, while hedge funds and other large traders are betting it will fall. That is the pattern rapidly emerging after four weeks of trading in the first U.S. bitcoin futures market, launched last month by Cboe Global Markets Inc. Futures are a type of contract that enables traders to wager whether the future price of an underlying asset will rise or fall.
/goo.gl/ELRsMY

Banking union is not enough to save the eurozone; Economic recovery should not obscure need for reform of Europe’s financial system
Euclid Tsakalotos – FT
Some leading economists, including Barry Eichengreen and Dani Rodrik, have been engaged in an important debate in recent months over the extent to which a fully operational banking union in Europe makes fiscal union redundant.
/goo.gl/DJQS4h

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Nasdaq Stockholm gets opt-out on EU clearing competition rules
Reuters
Transatlantic exchange Nasdaq (NDAQ.O) said on Friday its Stockholm unit had been given a reprieve from a new European Union rule aimed at promoting competition in clearing services for derivatives trades.
/goo.gl/9BYifY

SGX: Reports Market Statistics For December 2017.
SGX
Total Securities market turnover value was at S$19.2 billion, down 33% month-on-month and down 8% year-on-year, over 20 trading days. There were 22 trading days in November 2017 and 21 in December 2016. Total Derivatives volume was 15.6 million, down 13% month-on-month and up 18% year-on-year
/goo.gl/AAZbZm

From The Markets Nasdaq ISE Seeks to Up Access Fees
MarketsMedia
Options exchange operator Nasdaq ISE has filed a request with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to raise non-transactional fees on its primary and competitive market makers to offset increasing overhead costs.
/goo.gl/b245Td

Frankfurt certificate exchange further expands market share; Trading activity 17 percent higher than 2016
Deutsche Bˆrse Group
The market share of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange for structured products in Germany rose again in 2017. Both in terms of sales and on the basis of executed businesses, the share was 36.0 or 45.5 percent higher than in the previous year. In total, around 2.5 million client orders were executed on the Frankfurt Certificates Exchange in the anniversary year 2017, an increase of 17 percent over the previous year. The total sales volume remained virtually unchanged at EUR 14.5 billion.
/goo.gl/Hvrwhk

Euronext gains open access exemption until 2020; Euronext cites Brexit clearing uncertainties following open access ruling.
Jon Watkins – The Trade
Euronext’s three derivatives exchanges have been granted a deferral from national regulators to comply with open access under MiFID II, the latest exchange group to win relief from the regime.
/goo.gl/zXKia1

CME Group expands private trades in grain markets, raising worries
Tom Polansek – Reuters
Exchange operator CME Group Inc will allow a type of privately negotiated transaction in all its agricultural markets for the first time on Monday, splitting traders who predict the move will either improve or hurt transparency.
/goo.gl/D93V1q

If the NYSE has its way, a risky leveraged ETF which doubles the return of bitcoin could soon hit the market
Elizabeth Gurdus – CNBC
The New York Stock Exchange has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to allow it to list five bitcoin-related exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on one of its markets, according to an SEC filing.
/goo.gl/gjHcg4

HKEX plan to sell fund products is great news for investors and brokers
South China Morning Post
In the wake of the Lehman minibond fiasco in 2008, banks introduced lengthy tests for investors wishing to buy funds. HKEX plan should make life easier
/goo.gl/3kpsBv

Fintech

Gate 39 Media Financial Marketing Trend and Technology 2017 Review/2018 Preview: Fuel-Up and Strap-In
Gate 39 Media
We’ve been advocating content marketing as a subtle and useful way to reach your customers for years. It’s worked for us, it works for our clients. This won’t change in 2018 but what will change is the increased focus on quality. It’s no longer about jamming keywords in titles and producing as much content as possible to showcase on your Twitter and LinkedIn feeds.
/goo.gl/S5LsUL

Ag tech fundraising doubles as farmers seek disruptive solutions; ‘Big ag’ companies increased their investments in 2017 alongside venture capitalists
Chloe Cornish in San Francisco – FT
More money went into funding agricultural technology start-ups last year than the previous two combined, as battle lines were drawn between traditional “big ag” companies and some of the Silicon Valley venture capitalists looking to upend the multibillion-dollar industry.
/goo.gl/KYX3aK

IoT drives progress towards low-power technology; Wake-up receivers, energy-harvesting offer electricity for billions of ‘smart’ things
Jessica Twentyman – FT
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly, as huge numbers of connected meters and machines come online, all bristling with sensors to measure the world around them. But what will power all this electronic gadgetry?
/goo.gl/KJ2g8j

Ripple CEO Fires Back at Cryptocurrency Critics
Jeff John Roberts – Fortune
A simmering feud over Ripple, which in recent days has become the second most valuable digital currency after bitcoin, boiled over Thursday evening in bitter Twitter exchange involving the company’s CEO Brad Garlinghouse.
/goo.gl/LMUH7r

Should Financial Institutions Ban Bitcoin?
Cheddar
Financial institutions continue to take a stand against Bitcoin, but its popularity shows no sign of waning. Nolan Bauerle, Director of Research at Coindesk, told Cheddar that companies shying away from cryptocurrency are making an unwise decision, given high investor interest and increased popularity.
/goo.gl/sNcDWp

The crypto boom may have made criminals richer
Ethan Wolff-Mann – Yahoo Finance
When the FBI seized Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht’s assets a few years back, the bureau confiscated 144,336 bitcoins, or around $28.5 million.
/goo.gl/XvYauV

Visa locks down Bitcoin payment cards in crackdown on card issuer; Bitwala and other Bitcoin cards have been suspended
Matthew Field – Telegraph
Thousands of Bitcoin users have had their pre-paid cryptocurrency cards shut down in a crackdown by Visa on a card provider.
/goo.gl/Zvh3RQ

You’d Be Crazy to Actually Spend Bitcoin; Speculative fervor makes the cryptocurrency clumsy for commerce.
Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
A little more than four years ago, Coupa CafÈ, a caramel-macchiato joint in Palo Alto, began accepting bitcoin. This was shortly before the first big bitcoin rush briefly pushed the cryptocurrency’s price from about $100 to more than $1,000. At the time, two or three Coupa customers a week would pay their bills with bitcoin, says co-owner Camelia Coupal. Today, the number is … still two or three people a week. “It’s a really minimal part of our sales,” she says. “It’s really just a quirky thing for our customers.”
/goo.gl/UpEKXS

Blockchain To The Rescue Creating A ‘New Future’ For Digital Identities
Roger Aitken – Forbes
The turn of the 21st century brought excitement as the Internet started evolving into the network that we know today as more companies finally grasped the level of innovation and before fully exploiting the web’s potential. In the years since, everything from communication to finance to entertainment has largely migrated online.
/goo.gl/niUNYc

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg hints at his own Bitcoin rival for 2018
The Sun
The social media network founder teases his interest in the notorious cryptocurrency, but what could it mean for everyday Facebook users?
/goo.gl/XSNPBB

Politics

Kushner’s Financial Ties to Israel Deepen Even With Mideast Diplomatic Role
Jesse Drucker – NY Times
Last May, Jared Kushner accompanied President Trump, his father-in-law, on the pair’s first diplomatic trip to Israel, part of Mr. Kushner’s White House assignment to achieve peace in the Middle East.
/goo.gl/jBK69t

Plan Aims to Turn Property-Tax Bills Into Charitable Deductions to Skirt Overhaul; N.J. Democrat’s proposal says GOP tax overhaul capping deductions penalizes some communities
Kate King and Richard Rubin – WSJ
As residents in high-tax states brace for bigger tax bills under the recently passed federal tax overhaul, a New Jersey congressman is pushing local governments to adopt a strategy that could save homeowners thousands of dollars.
/goo.gl/VTWsgh

Impeachment Mania Undercuts Mueller Probe; Liberals’ drive for immediate congressional action also hurts Democrats’ chances in November.
Albert R. Hunt – Bloomberg
It should come as no surprise that some congressional Republicans are doing their best to sabotage the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into possible links between President Donald Trump and Russian interference with the 2016 election. To that end, they’re maligning the Federal Bureau of Investigation and resurrecting the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails, settled more than a year ago.
/goo.gl/Qd2eHN

Trump Says He’s a ‘Stable Genius,’ Labels Wolff Book ‘Fiction’
Arit John and Margaret Talev – Bloomberg
President comments from Republican retreat at Camp David; Author says Trump’s aides, confidants see him ‘like a child’
Donald Trump said he’s a “very stable genius,” a day after a new book about the president’s first year in the White House — dismissed by Trump as “fiction” — claimed that many of his top aides and confidants consider him unfit to hold office.
/goo.gl/o9fMTm

Trump’s Twitter Threats Put American Credibility on the Line
Steven Erlanger – NY Times
Since the first of the year, President Trump has attacked a variety of countries in Twitter posts, urging protesters to overthrow the Iranian government, threatening to blow up North Korea and calling for cuts in aid to the Palestinians. In bluster and tone, he has begun 2018 where he left off.
/goo.gl/ASn1Hu

The inevitability of Mitt Romney’s next campaign
Maeve Reston – CNN
Salt Lake City (CNN)If Mitt Romney wants to become Utah’s next senator, there’s virtually nothing standing in the 2012 Republican presidential nominee’s way.
/goo.gl/SRS4yh

Regulation

How to Get the Most Out of New Tax Law
Matt Sommer – Barron’s
On December 22, President Donald Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This legislation will have sweeping implications for both individual and business taxpayers. One of the first points to recognize is that the majority of the new provisions are subject to a sunset provision, meaning absent future actions by Congress, the tax laws will revert back to the 2017 rules after December 31, 2025. What will happen between now and then is anyone’s guess, but in the meantime, investors should begin to consider moves to make the most of their opportunities today. Below are five ideas to consider for 2018 and over the next few years.
jlne.ws/2F0a3Pk

The City watchdog has fined and banned a former RBS trader for Libor manipulation and trading misconduct
Lucy White – City AM
The City watchdog has fined and banned a former Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) interest rate derivatives trader, Neil Danziger.
/goo.gl/TzR5uh

CFTC to discuss virtual currency regulation; CFTC to hold public discussion on future of virtual currency regulation and self-certification.
John Brazier – The Trade
The top US derivatives regulator will hold a public meeting later this month to discuss the statutory and regulatory process for the listing of new digital currency products on exchanges.
/goo.gl/Zh6NPj

Charles Randell appointed new FCA chairman; Former Slaughter & May partner to take helm of FCA and PSR at the start of April.
John Brazier – The Trader
Charles Randell has been appointed as the new chairman of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), replacing incumbent John Griffith-Jones on 1 April.
/goo.gl/uBB4Hm

SEC probing Kushner Cos use of wealthy investor visas: WSJ
Reuters Staff
The real estate company of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for its use of a federal program that grants visas to wealthy foreigners investing in the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.
/goo.gl/URxiL5

MiFID? Please. The ECB Corporate Bond Party’s Still Going
Marcus Ashworth – Bloomberg
Amid all the hullabaloo over MiFID II, the European corporate bond market is still looking pretty healthy. And it’s likely to stay that way for much of the year, thanks to the European Central Bank.
/goo.gl/cs1yqo

CFTC Staff Issues No-Action Relief to Futures Commission Merchants and Introducing Brokers Regarding the Capital Treatment of Deferred Tax Liabilities Resulting from Changes in Accounting Principles
CFTC
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight announced today that it has issued no-action relief to registered futures commission merchants and introducing brokers to exclude deferred tax liabilities that are directly related to the capitalized costs of certain non-allowable assets when computing their adjusted net capital under Regulation 1.17.
/goo.gl/VsPpud

Investing and Trading

U.S. company plans funds that double bitcoin price moves
Trevor Hunnicutt – Reuters
U.S. fund managers are ramping up efforts to tap into the fever surrounding digital assets, and the latest planned bitcoin products could deliver some head-turning and stomach-churning price movements if they come to market.
/goo.gl/nMYS8T

Traders keep bets on two Fed rate hikes after jobs report
Ann Saphir – Reuters
Traders of U.S. short-term interest-rate futures continued to bet the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates just two times this year after a U.S. government report showed employers added fewer jobs than expected in December, even as wages picked up.
/goo.gl/bLHdeZ

Blockchain Saves the Day for Iced-Tea Company Facing Nasdaq Boot
Lily Katz – Bloomberg
Beverage maker dodges delisting after adding buzzword to name; Biggest shareholder has ties to Heidi Klum and Kerry Kennedy
For years, the owners of an unprofitable iced-tea company watched their stock tumble. Last month, they saw it almost triple in a day after a simple name change, and the timing couldn’t have been more convenient.
/goo.gl/24Qqxs

Pimco, Citigroup Sound Complacency Alarm for Global Economy
David Goodman – Bloomberg
Two of the biggest hitters in financial markets are sounding warnings against complacency in the global economic outlook.
/goo.gl/PBZvy6

So you want to structure an ICO? Consider these legal issues first; There are many ways to structure your ICO or digital token sale
Ronald Wong – Business Standard
If you want to build credibility for your ICO, there are some things you need to consider from a legal and regulatory perspective.
/goo.gl/8EJwb9

The Mystery of the Risk-Free Greek Bond; Bond markets don’t think Greece is less risky than the U.S. It is the difference between European and U.S. bonds that should be drawing investor attention.
Richard Barley – WSJ
If you thought markets were insane when the yield on European junk bonds fell below that of the 10-year Treasury last year, look away now: the two-year Greek yield has recently fallen below the two-year U.S. yield.
/goo.gl/jMEyC1

Institutions

Goldman and Franklin Templeton top worst selling fund ranking; Weakest performers dominated by big-name houses known for picking stocks and bonds
Attracta Mooney – FT
Goldman Sachs and Franklin Templeton have topped a list of the world’s worst-selling mutual fund managers, in a sign of the relentless pressure that active asset managers face from the rapid growth of passive funds.
/goo.gl/GoSU6y

Transparency To Rule Buy-Side Front Office
Shanny Basar – MarketsMedia
Transaction cost analysis will dominate front-office discussions this year due to increased pressure on budgets and new regulations aiming to increase transparency according to consultancy Aite Group.
/goo.gl/DHzKVk

Goldman, Citi Are Said to Be in Lead for Top Roles in Aramco IPO
Archana Narayanan, Dinesh Nair, Ruth David and Matthew Martin – Bloomberg
JPMorgan, HSBC, MS also seen winning global coordinator roles; Final decision on the mandate expected as soon as this week
Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is set to appoint Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. to help manage its initial public offering, people familiar with the matter said, as the state-owned crude producer pushes ahead with what could be the world’s largest share sale.
/goo.gl/h7ADhn

Hull Tactical US ETF (HTUS) Reports 2017 Results
PRNewswire
Hull Tactical Funds today announced a total return to shareholders of 12.04% net of fund expenses and management fees for the calendar year just ended. “We are pleased that both our longer term fundamental models and short term technical and sentiment models made positive contributions to performance last year,” said Petra Bakosova, Chief Operating Officer of Hull Tactical.
/goo.gl/dExPEX

Why Merrill Lynch won’t touch bitcoin
Jonathon Trugman – NY Post
Merrill Lynch last week became the latest ó and largest ó Wall Street bank to say no to bitcoin.
/goo.gl/F91eJY

Tax law to spark $450 billion buyout bonanza for Wall Street
Matt Egan and Danielle Wiener-Bronner – CNNMoney
Tax party: Get ready for the new tax law to create a $450 billion boom — of stock buybacks.
/goo.gl/qJnd5n

Regions

Emerging markets pioneer Mark Mobius retires from Franklin Templeton
Reuters
Well-known emerging markets investor Mark Mobius will retire from Franklin Templeton Investments at the end of January, the investment fund said on Friday.
/goo.gl/AjFtf6

India Clings to Cash, Even as Tech Firms Push Digital Money
Vindu Goel and Suhasini Raj – NY Times
Signs and banners for Paytm, India’s biggest digital payments service, festoon Pooran Singh’s cellphone shop, where people drop in all day to add data or talk time to their prepaid phones.
/goo.gl/iJWTF4

China’s Crackdown on Crypto-Mining Threatens Bitcoin’s Future
Bryan Menegus – Gizmodo
With its price dropping, sky-high transaction fees, growing traction among competitors, and regulatory agencies taking action in several countries, Bitcoin is starved for good news. Today marked another blow against dominant cryptocurrency: China is working to rid itself of bitcoin mining companies.
/goo.gl/fZ6so3

11 Saudi Princes Sent to Maximum-Security Prison After Protesting Utility Bills
Sarah Algethami and Mahmoud Habboush – Bloomberg
Royal-family members held at al-Ha’er prison pending trial; Follows November detentions in kingdom’s anti-corruption drive
Saudi authorities made a fresh round of arrests of royal-family members as a group of princes staged a palace protest in the capital over the non-payment of their electricity and water bills.
/goo.gl/tQ41uV

Venezuela to Issue Oil-Backed Cryptocurrency in ‘Coming Days’
Jose Orozco – Bloomberg
Cryptocurrency, known as petro, to be worth same as oil barrel; Petro will be available through auctions, direct allocation
President Nicolas Maduro on Friday said Venezuela in the coming days will issue 100 million units of an oil-backed cryptocurrency known as the petro, which will be worth the price of one barrel in Venezuela’s oil basket.
/goo.gl/DRa77V

Don’t Expect OPEC’s Oil Deal To Fall Apart in 2018
Julian Lee – Bloomberg
Whatever your view on the effectiveness of the deal between OPEC and a group of non-member countries to limit oil supply in order to drain excess inventories and boost prices, there is one thing that everybody seems to agree on — they stuck to their guns much better than anyone thought possible for the whole of last year. But there is a growing chorus of voices calling the deal’s demise this year. Here’s why I believe they’re wrong.
/goo.gl/Wz6URe

Macron Visits China Echoing Trump’s Call for More Market Access
Helene Fouquet and Ting Shi – Bloomberg
French leader starts three-day state visit to Xian and Beijing; Xi, Macron to discuss trade, climate, North Korea, technology
Bloomberg’s Ken Wills reports on French President Macron’s Visit to Xian and Beijing
French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in China on Monday for a state visit that will test his ability to simultaneously woo his host, President Xi Jinping, while threatening to make life harder for him.
/goo.gl/nqMVK4

South Korea inspects six banks over virtual currency services to clients
Christine Kim, Dahee Kim – Reuters
South Korean financial authorities on Monday said they are inspecting six local banks that offer virtual currency accounts to institutions, amid concerns the increasing use of such assets could lead to a surge in crime.
/goo.gl/QP3xJi

Beijing’s Yuan Ambitions Look Dashed
Shuli Ren – Bloomberg
As 2018 gets underway, China seems to be on top again. The yuan has strengthened 6.8 percent against the dollar over the past 12 months and foreign-exchange reserves are growing.Not so fast.
/goo.gl/qUD44X

Romania Surprises With First Interest-Rate Hike in a Decade
Andra Timu – Bloomberg
Most economists in Bloomberg survey had predicted no change; Economy is among EU’s strongest, while inflation is quickening
Romania unexpectedly raised borrowing costs for the first time in almost a decade as inflation bounces back and its economy expands at one of the continent’s quickest paces.
/goo.gl/m9i4X6

Brexit

Spanish Bank Eyes Post-Brexit HQ in London
Sharon R Smyth – Bloomberg
Alantra Partners bucks trend of firms pulling back from U.K.; Chairman has noted capital’s importance for M&A in the past
Spain’s Alantra Partners SA is considering moving its headquarters from Madrid to London in a bet the U.K. capital will remain the center of European business and finance even after Brexit, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
/goo.gl/rfEppR

Britain should choose hard Brexit if no financial services deal – Farage
Reuters Staff
Britain should opt for a hard Brexit if the European Union does not offer an agreement on financial services, British member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage said on Monday before a meeting with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator.
/goo.gl/moQMmc

Brexit cynics were wrong about London’s fintech companies
John Detrixhe – Quartz
A year-and-a-half since Britain voted to leave the European Union and Jeremy Sosabowski, co-founder of AlgoDynamix, says the technology scene remains solid: There’s plenty of money out there for entrepreneurs and little sign that it will dry up anytime soon.
/goo.gl/YRggQv

Miscellaneous

Chrome is turning into the new Internet Explorer 6
Tom Warren – TheVerge
Chrome is now the most popular browser across all devices, thanks to Android’s popularity and the rise of Chrome on Windows PCs and Mac computers. As Google continues to dominate our access to the web, information through its search engine, and services like Gmail or YouTube, Chrome is a powerful entry point in the company’s vast toolbox. While Google championed web standards that worked across many different browsers back in the early days of Chrome, more recently its own services often ignore standards and force people to use Chrome.
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CES kicks off with no lead women speakers or code of conduct
Salvador Rodriguez and Paresh Dave – Reuters
The technology industry’s premier annual gathering kicks off next week with no women leading the keynote sessions and no code of conduct that might prevent incidents of sexual harassment, despite efforts by organizers to cast the show as a more inclusive event.
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Statement from Stephen J. Adler, President and Editor-in-Chief, Reuters
Reuters Staff
“It is now nearly a month since Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in connection with their reporting on important issues in Myanmar. As they near their hearing date, it remains entirely clear that they are innocent of any wrongdoing. Their arrest and continued incarceration represent an egregious attack on press freedom ó preventing them, and deterring other journalists, from reporting independently in Myanmar. We again call for their immediate release.” — Stephen J. Adler, President and Editor-In-Chief, Reuters
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Graduate of University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication