News Summary: January 4-8

News for the Week of 1/4/2016 – 1/8/2016

by David Abuaf Investment Manager, RJFS

  

Government / Political / Economic

 

1.     Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran over attacks on its embassy by people protesting the execution of a leading Shiite cleric.

a.     US officials voiced concern that the conflict could undermine broader Mideast efforts.

b.     Iraq’s PM appealed for calm as Shiite leaders urged followers to protest Saudi Arabia.

2.     Indian forces hunted suspected militants at an air force base near the border with Pakistan.

3.     Obama is expected to announce executive actions to expand background checks for gun buyers and tighten other rules.

4.     Sweden and Denmark began enforcing tighter border controls to curb the influx of asylum seekers.

5.     Scores of women in Germany reported assaults by groups of men described as Middle Eastern-looking during New Year’s events, fueling a debate on migrant policy.

6.     North Korea claimed to have successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb, expanding the US foreign-policy challenges and highlighting China’s limits in reining in its volatile ally.

a.     Uhmm….Yeah right, I don’t believe it, not even for one second!

b.     And one day later lots of governments are really challenging the claim.

 

 

General Markets / Economic

 

1.     A report in the WSJ says tech startups may be unable to avoid the IPO market in 2016 if they need to raise money and those deals could face a chilly reception.

2.     US car sales are likely to have hit a record in 2015. Sales jumped 5.7% in 2015 to break a 15 year old record. Labor market gains, low interest rates, and cheap gas -  all contributing factors - are expected to drive demand in 2016.

3.     More consumers are turning to health-care ministries instead of traditional medical insurers, potentially challenging the ACA.

4.     Beijing is warning insurers that aggressive stock buying and sales of high return products could damage China’s financial system.

5.     Chinese officials scrambled to prop up stock prices, but their moves had the effect of confusing many investors.

6.     Data showed US consumption for gasoline waned in late December.

7.     Fed officials expressed some trepidation as they decided last month on a historic interest-rate increase.

8.     Retail sales rose 3.3% despite fewer visits to physical stores.

 

 

Company News

 

1.     The DoJ sued VW, seeking billions in penalties in the wake of the emissions-cheating scandal.

2.     GM invested $500m in Lyft.

3.     Baxalta agreed to pay Danish biotech Symphogen up to $1.6B to co-develop six cancer drugs, as the US firm negotiates its sale to Shire.

4.     Macy’s is consolidating stores, slashing 3,000 jobs nationwide, and hiring more advisers to re-examine its real estate holdings after holiday sales fell.

 

 

Interesting Stories

 

1.     Look, I get it, there are bigots everywhere in America, heck, everywhere in world. But this act of bigotry, is a little too ridiculous. Surveillance video in central Florida shows a suspect damaging cameras, lights and windows at a Mosque in Titusville. The offender leaves bacon outside the building, and this is the second such similar thing that has happened. The first was in Las Vegas, where a perpetrator wrapped the door knobs with bacon, threw them on the ground and fence.

2.     Apparently a young lady in Indianapolis was visiting Kilroy’s Downtown Indy and complained on Facebook because during New Year ’s Eve, her meal was interrupted by a woman having a heart attack at the restaurant. A direct quote of her Facebook page “…having our meal ruined by watching a dead person being wheeled out from an overdose my [sic] night has been ruined!!!”  wow

3.     Four new elements are joining the periodic table, the first to be added since 2011.

a.     They are radioactive “super-heavy”. Three of them – with atomic numbers at 115, 117, 118 – were first detected more than a decade ago. The fourth, with atomic number 113, was discovered in 2004.

b.     What’s this? You want their names? Ok: ununtrium, ununpentium, ununspetium, and ununoctioum. Their discoverers now have the privilege of proposing a permanent name and symbol for each.

4.     Presented without comment: in Qingado China, over 1,000 women were competing to become flight attendants. To do so, they were required to participate in a bikini contest. They also had to be at least 5’6”, however, an exception was made for the “exceptionally beautiful,” in which case they could be as short as 5’5”.

5.     A Filipino restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is currently selling a gold-coated champagne doughnut for $100. It’s called Manila Social club. They’re actually known for their ube doughnuts, which are purple and cost $40 per dozen. Ube jam, comes from mashing purple yams, and is popular in Filipino dishes. The golden ube doughnut has icing made with Cristal champagne and its filled with ube mousse and champagne jelly, then sprinkled with 24 karat gold on top.

6.     Recently a flight attendant for Caribbean Air was arrested and sentenced to 2.5 years in jail for smuggling 6.5 pounds of cocaine in his spandex underwear. What I don’t understand is that US Customs and Border Protection officers said he became nervous when they searched his baggage.  Why would anyone become nervous when they search your baggage if the contraband is literally on you!?

7.     Oh my! Last week China celebrated the end of 2015 by dropping the rap debut of its president, Xi Jinping – or “Big Daddy Xi” as he’s called in the song. The lyrics?

·       They start off as “Rule the part strictly! Govern the country by law!”

8.     In 2014 Flint, Michigan switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money. They eventually switched it back. However, the river water had been corroded by old pipes leading the state to declare an emergency this past Monday because of dangerous level of lead in the water supply!

9.     A picture of the statue of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen was unable to be posted on Facebook because of “too much bare skin or sexual undertones”.

10.  Millions of starlings binge on Roman olives during their winter migration. The resulting guano washing out of trees caused a slimy mess resulting in car accidents causing some of Rome’s busiest streets to close so worked could hose it all off.

 

 

 

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