News Briefing - Wednesday, January 3rd 2024
From US Top News and Analysis
Maersk's Red Sea shipping pause highlights challenges for U.S.-led efforts to protect trade
The threat to global trade in the Red Sea remains significant, with Danish shipping giant Maersk recently announcing a pause in transits until further notice due to attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi militants based in Yemen. Despite efforts by the U.S.-led initiative known as Operation Prosperity Guardian, commercial ships are increasingly avoiding the Red Sea and opting for longer routes around the Cape of Good Hope. The situation has impacted $225 billion in trade and affected 330 vessels carrying an estimated 4.5 million containers. The value of a container bound for the Suez Canal is $50,000. There has been a modest increase in container ships in the Red Sea, but overall traffic through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, has been decreasing. The success of Operation Prosperity Guardian will depend on effective naval coordination, including grouping ships in convoys and deploying helicopters to prevent attacks.
Apple shares fall 4% after Barclays downgrade
Apple's shares dropped 4% after Barclays downgraded the stock to underweight and slightly lowered its price target to $160. Barclays analyst Tim Long pointed to lackluster sales of the iPhone 15, particularly in China, which he believes is an indication of weak iPhone 16 sales as well as a broader weakness in Apple's hardware sales. Apple's services business, which has been a major source of growth for the company, is also expected to see decelerated growth due to regulatory scrutiny. Long noted that regulatory investigations into app store monopolies and the Google TAC (Traffic Acquisition Cost) payment could intensify in the coming years and potentially impact Apple's services business. The Chinese government's informal guidance against using iPhones by state employees has been cited as one factor contributing to weak iPhone sales in China.
Copper could skyrocket over 75% to record highs by 2025 — brace for deficits, analysts say
Copper prices are predicted to increase by over 75% in the next two years due to disruptions in mining supply and higher demand driven by the push for renewable energy. The green energy transition and a likely decline in the US dollar are expected to fuel the rising demand for copper, making it more attractive to foreign buyers. More than 60 countries at the recent COP28 climate change conference supported a plan to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030, which could significantly boost copper demand. Citibank forecasts that the higher renewable energy targets will increase copper demand by an additional 4.2 million tons by 2030, potentially pushing prices to $15,000 per ton in 2025. This assumes a soft landing in the US and Europe, a global growth recovery, and significant easing by China. Copper demand is seen as an indicator of economic health since it is used in electrical equipment and industrial machinery.
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From BBC News - Home
Storm Henk: Hundreds of flood warnings in place and rail disruption set to continue
Storm Henk has caused significant disruption across the UK, with hundreds of flood warnings in place and rail services facing ongoing disruption. Strong winds and heavy rain led to flooding, power outages, and travel disruption in large parts of England and Wales. The highest recorded land gust of wind was 81 mph at Exeter Airport in Devon. Over 300 flood warnings were issued in England, with a severe flood warning issued for Billing Aquadrome in Northampton and surrounding business units due to the danger to life caused by rising water levels from the River Nene. In Tenby, south-western Wales, a severe flood warning is in place for the River Ritec. Rail services in the UK have also been affected, with Southern, Gatwick Express, Great Northern, and Thameslink services expected to face disruption until 10:00 GMT. Other regions, including South West England, South Wales, North West, and East Anglia, are also experiencing some disruption. The storm has caused power outages, trees to fall, and dangerous conditions across the UK.
The longest ever NHS strike: What you need to know as junior doctors walk out
Junior doctors in England are embarking on the longest-ever strike in the history of the National Health Service (NHS). The six-day walkout has been called by the British Medical Association (BMA) after talks with the UK government concerning pay broke down last month. The BMA argues that the medical profession is undervalued and is demanding a 35% pay rise to compensate for below-inflation increases since 2008. The UK government has offered the doctors a 3% increase, but the BMA dismissed this sum as inadequate. As a result of the strike, routine hospital services such as planned operations and check-ups will be severely disrupted. Chief executive of University College London Hospitals said that "the vast majority" of routine appointments would have to be cancelled.
Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri killed in Beirut blast
Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy leader of Hamas, was killed in a drone strike in Beirut, Lebanon. The strike also killed two Hamas military commanders and four other members. Israel has claimed responsibility for the attack, calling it a "surgical strike against the Hamas leadership." Hamas condemned the killing, while its ally Hezbollah called it an assault on Lebanese sovereignty. Lebanon's prime minister accused Israel of trying to "drag Lebanon into... confrontation." Arouri, a key figure in Hamas's armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, had been in Lebanon acting as a connection between Hamas and Hezbollah. He was also the de facto leader of Hamas's military wing in the West Bank and was involved in the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in 2014. Iran, a major supporter of both Hamas and Hezbollah, said the killing would "undoubtedly ignite another surge in the veins of resistance."
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From CNN.com - RSS Channel - App International Edition
Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony counts
Former President Donald Trump's arraignment in a New York state court will not be broadcast, according to a judge's ruling on Monday. However, the judge will allow a limited number of photographers to take still photos in the courtroom before the proceedings start. Multiple media outlets, including CNN, had requested permission to broadcast the arraignment, but their request was denied. Trump's arraignment is considered a public proceeding, but cameras are typically not permitted inside the courtroom. Five pool photographers will be allowed to take photos until they are directed to leave the jury box by court personnel. Trump's lawyers had argued against allowing cameras in the courtroom, while the Manhattan District Attorney's office did not take a position on the matter. Trump was indicted by a grand jury last week and the arraignment is expected to reveal the criminal charges against him related to hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and his lawyers plan to fight the charges.
Haberman reveals why Trump attacked judge and his family in speech
CNN political contributor Maggie Haberman delves into the motivations behind former President Donald Trump's decision to attack a judge and his family during a speech at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Haberman explains that Trump's attacks were a strategic move intended to redirect attention away from his own legal troubles. After being arraigned on felony charges, Trump sought to portray himself as the victim, calling into question the legitimacy of the judge and his ability to fairly preside over the case. By targeting the judge's family, Trump aimed to amplify his claims of bias and further undermine the judge's impartiality. Haberman argues that this tactic is characteristic of Trump's approach to deflecting negative attention and rallying his supporters. She suggests that Trump's actions serve to fuel a narrative that he is being unjustly targeted by the legal system, rallying his base and deflecting blame onto others.
Russian authorities detain suspect over St. Petersburg cafe blast
Ukraine has received the first installment of $2.7 billion from a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) program. The IMF approved a four-year extended arrangement worth around $15.6 billion as part of a total support package of $115 billion for Ukraine. The program aims to stabilize the country's fiscal, external, price, and financial stability, support economic recovery, enhance governance, strengthen institutions, and promote long-term growth as part of Ukraine's path to EU accession. The IMF program also encourages Ukraine to undertake more ambitious structural reforms. The Extended Fund Facility (EFF) loan is significant because it is the first conventional financing program approved by the IMF for a country involved in a large-scale war. However, the risks to the program are significantly high due to the uncertain external financing and the need to restore debt sustainability. The success of the program relies on closing fiscal and external financing gaps and ensuring debt sustainability under different scenarios.