Monday, June 26, 2017

Two Solid Stocks To Sell Short: Amyris (Symbol $AMRS) @ $3.50; +/- .10; Tonix Pharma (Symbol $TNXP) @ $4.50; +/- .10

Monday, June 26, Morning Global Market Roundup: Italy Bank Deal Lifts Europe Shares, Dollar On Back Foot

By Nigel Stephenson 
June 26, 2017

Shares rose in Europe on Monday, with Italian banks gaining after a deal to wind up two failed regional lenders, while the dollar and U.S. bond yields held close to recent lows as subdued inflation raised questions over the outlook for monetary policy.

The-pan-European STOXX 600 share index rose 0.6 percent, led higher by banks .SX7P, after the agreement under which Italy's largest retail bank, Intesa Sanpaolo will take on the remaining good assets of collapsed Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca.

Intesa shares (ISP.MI) rose 3.2 percent. The Italian government will pay it 5.2 billion euros and give it guarantees of up to a further 12 billion euros.

Investors have long viewed the Italian banking sector as a major cause of fragility within the euro zone.

In index of Italian banks .FTIT8000 was up 2 percent and the broader Milan market .FTMIB rose 1.1 percent.

Italian 10-year government bond yields IT10YT=TWEB rose 0.2 basis point to 1.91 percent, widening the gap over benchmark German equivalents DE10YT=TWEB by 2 bps to 165.

"There is the danger that other banks need state support, but I think there's more clarity now that there is a solution for the banking sector," said ING fixed income strategist Martin van Vliet.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS ticked up 0.6 percent as tech led gains.

Trading was slow with many markets in the region closed for holidays to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 rose 0.1 percent.

Mainland Chinese shares rallied, with the CSI300 index .CSI300 rising 1.2 percent to hit its highest level in almost 18 months, after MSCI said the index provider could raise its weighting of China's mainland-listed 'A' shares.

The euro rose 0.1 percent to $1.1204 EUR=, with the dollar steady .DXY as the gap between short- and longer-dated U.S. government bond yields held close to recent 10-year lows hit on signs inflation is likely to remain subdued.

Investors greeted the election last year of U.S. Donald Trump as likely to lift inflation, and with it U.S. interest rates but price rises have remained stubbornly subdued.

The Federal Reserve raised rates this month for the second time this year and has said it expects to raise again later this year. Futures imply only a 50 percent chance of a further hike by December.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen speaks on London on Tuesday and investors will be on alert for any clues to the rate outlook, after mixed views from other Fed officials in recent days.

"The market continues to call the Fed's bluff on its intentions to change rates. I don't think anything (Fed chair) Janet Yellen can say this week will change that," said Stephen Gallo, head of European FX strategy with Bank of Montreal.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi speaks on Monday, ahead of a meeting of central bankers in Portugal later in the week.

The yen dipped 0.2 percent to 111.43 per dollar JPY=while sterling GBP=D3, on the up since more Bank of England policymakers have either called or said they are likely to call for higher interest rates, rose 0,1 percent to $1.2741.

A major cause of lower inflation globally has been a fall in oil prices in recent weeks on signs an agreement by producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is failing to curb a global glut of crude.

Brent crude LCOc1, the international benchmark, rose 59 cents or 1.3 percent to $46.13, buoyed by the weaker dollar. Oil prices are down around 13 percent since late May.

Dollar weakness also lifted copper. The industrial metal CMCU3 rose 0.4 percent to $5,823 a tonne, just shy of its highest since early April.

Gold, however, fell sharply, with traders citing anxiety ahead of U.S. economic data duiker later this week ECONUS.

Article Link To Reuters:

Oil Rises One Percent On Weaker Dollar, But U.S. Drilling Drags

By Jane Chung
June 26, 2017

Oil prices rose 1 percent early on Monday on a weaker dollar, but an increase in U.S. drilling activity stoked worries that a global supply glut will persist despite an OPEC-led effort to curb output.

Global benchmark Brent crude futures were trading up 45 cents, or 1.0 percent, at $45.99 per barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 43 cents, or 1.0 percent, at $43.44 per barrel.

Analysts said oil prices extended gains as investors covered short positions, but there was little fundamental news supporting prices.

"It is just the fact that the oil market stopped falling... I suspect short covering," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

"And a slight support from a weak U.S. dollar."

The U.S. dollar index stayed low on Monday against a basket of currencies amid fading expectations for the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates again later this year. A weaker dollar also makes oil cheaper for countries using other currencies.

"Commodities stabilised after a turbulent week where most sectors suffered large falls," ANZ bank said in a note. "A slightly weaker U.S. dollar also helped improve investor appetite."

Although oil prices have bounced back from 10-month lows, they are still down about 13 percent since late May, when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and some other producers agreed to extend a deal to reduce output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of next March.

But crude supplies in the United States, which is not part of the OPEC-led deal, have been dampening the impact of curbs.

U.S. energy firms added 11 oil rigs in the week to June 23, bringing the total count up to 758, the most since April 2014, according to data from energy services firm Baker Hughes Inc..

Amid the rise in U.S. drilling activity, money managers cut net long U.S. crude futures and options holdings to their smallest long position since November.

Article Link To Reuters:

Loeb's Third Point Targets 'Staid' Nestle For Change

By Michael Erman and Martinne Geller
June 26, 2017

Activist investor Daniel Loeb's Third Point LLC on Sunday unveiled a stake of more than 1 percent in Switzerland's Nestle SA (NESN.S) and urged the world's largest packaged foods maker to improve margins, buy back stock and shed non-core businesses.

The 3.28 billion Swiss francs ($3.4 billion) stake is the largest ever taken by the hedge fund, which pressed for change in recent years at U.S. internet firm Yahoo and Japan's Sony Corp (6758.T). It said in a letter posted on its website that it had already had productive conversations with Nestle management.

Nestle shares jumped as much as 4.7 percent on Monday morning, touching a record high as investors hoped for change.

"Nestle has arguably been lackadaisical and complacent and underperformed its potential," Bernstein analysts said. "It might now be stirred into action by an external force."

Third Point disclosed the Nestle position in a letter to the hedge fund's investors, in which it argued the maker of Nescafe coffee and Perrier water should sell its 23 percent stake in French cosmetics firm L'Oreal SA (OREP.PA), which was worth about $27 billion on Friday.

L'Oreal shares rose 2.8 percent.

Nestle did not immediately respond to a request for comment. L'Oreal had no comment.

Nestle is the biggest player in a packaged food industry struggling with a slowdown in emerging markets, falling prices in developed markets and consumers demanding fresher, healthier products.

Mark Schneider, the company's new chief executive, has been trying to reignite growth since joining Nestle in January from German healthcare group Fresenius (FREG.DE).

He is the first CEO from outside the company in nearly a century, and his appointment was seen as an acknowledgement that Nestle needed new thinking.

In February, Schneider scrapped Nestle's long-standing sales target, which it had missed for four straight years.

'Bold Action'

"We feel strongly that in order to succeed, Dr. Schneider will need to articulate a decisive and bold action plan that addresses the staid culture and tendency towards incrementalism that has typified the company's prior leadership and resulted in its long-term underperformance," Third Point wrote in the letter.

The hedge fund said Nestle should set a formal profit margin target of 18 percent to 20 percent by 2020 in order to help improve productivity. Nestle's current margin is just above 15 percent, whereas rival Unilever's (ULVR.L) is over 16 percent.

It also recommended Nestle more than double its debt load, as well as sell the L'Oreal stake, in order to generate the capital to buy back stock.

Vontobel analyst Jean-Philippe Bertschy said Third Point’s suggestions echoed proposals made by other shareholders for years.

"Previous management was not too open to listen to critics," he said. "Now with Mr. Schneider, one of his top priorities was to improve shareholder communication and investor relations. I think he’s listening carefully to what investors are saying."

Bertschy added that much of what Third Point said was probably part of Schneider’s plan going forward.

Third Point's roughly 40 million shares in Nestle would make it the company's eighth-largest shareholder behind the likes of BlackRock, Norges Bank and Capital World Investors, according to Thomson Reuters data. Third Point's stake was first reported by Bloomberg.

Dutch food industry veteran Jan Bennink is advising Third Point on its Nestle investment and has also invested personally alongside the fund, Third Point said. Bennink ran baby food maker Royal Numico when Danone (DANO.PA) bought it for $16.8 billion in 2007, oversaw the break-up of Sara Lee and ran its coffee business, which is now owned by JAB Holding.

Nestle said this month it might sell its $900 million-a-year U.S. confectionery business in its latest effort to improve the health profile of its sprawling portfolio. Analysts also speculate it could sell its U.S. frozen food business.

Nestle shares were up 4.3 percent at 85.6 Swiss francs at 0820 GMT.

($1 = 0.8928 euros)

Article Link To Reuters:

Brexit One Year Later: 5 Ways The U.K. Could Now Leave The EU

A ‘hard Brexit’ is still the most likely outcome, SocGen says

By Sara Sjolin
June 26, 2017

A full year after the U.K.’s Brexit referendum, the divorce talks between Brussels and Britain finally kicked off last week, but the outcome of the final agreement remains extremely uncertain.

The government will be working against the clock to hammer out a deal before the deadline of March 29, 2019, two years after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the so-called Article 50 that officially set off the Brexit process.

Little progress has been made in the three months since the Brexit clock started ticking, however. That’s partly because of the out-of-cycle or “snap election” held on June 8, which produced a so-called hung government where the ruling Conservative Party lost its majority. That is seen as making it more difficult for May to push any “hard Brexit” plans through parliament.

“The shock 8 June U.K. election result has raised hopes of a reassessment by the U.K. government of its negotiating priorities that could have a major impact on the likely outcome of those talks,” Brian Hilliard, chief U.K. economist at Société Générale, said in a note.

“We examine five possible Brexit scenarios, but, sadly, our conclusion remains that the U.K. is likely to face a significant reduction of access to EU markets after Brexit,” he added.

Here are SocGen’s five scenarios:

1. A hard Brexit — 70% probability

Under this scenario, the government agrees to take full control of immigration, which almost certainly means the U.K. will lose access to the EU’s Single Market. Brussels has made it clear Britain can’t have the Single Market benefits without signing up for free movement of people.

Société Générale points out that the Conservatives and Labour — which both offered immigration control in their manifestos — jointly won 82% of the votes in the general election, making it very likely government will prioritize this in the negotiations. Hilliard says this is the most likely scenario.

2. A soft Brexit — 15% probability

However, there are also rising calls to secure access to the Single Market to help businesses sell their services and products seamlessly and tariff-free to the rest of the EU — which is now the U.K.’s biggest export market.

That could result in a Norway-style model, where the U.K. gets membership of the European Economic Area and retains its trading ties with the EU.

“This would be a difficult model to sell to the U.K. parliament and voters because it requires adherence to the EU’s four freedoms (which prevent limits on immigration) and the payment of large contributions to the EU budget,” Hilliard said.

3. Cliff edge — 10% probability

May has repeatedly said “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal.” This leaves open the possibility that the U.K. leaves the EU on March 29, 2019, with no agreement on trade, movement of people or security and defense, if the two sides remain too wide apart.

The rhetoric has calmed a little after the snap election, but the “no deal” scenario remains a real risk, according to Société Générale.

“Even now, we still do not think that the U.K. government fully appreciates how weak its negotiating position is and thus how unpalatable the shape of the mooted deal might be. That is why, even with the reality check from the election, there is some risk of the U.K. negotiators walking out of the talks when the true awfulness of the likely outcome is fully understood,” Hilliard said.

4. No Brexit at all — 4% probability

This might seem like a highly unlikely scenario, but there is a risk that the U.K. gets surprised by how hard it is to negotiate a satisfying divorce and realize it’s better to stay in the union, SocGen said.

That means there’s a possibility the final deal will be rejected by parliament, prompting the government to inform the EU that Britain no longer wishes to leave. This could also mean another referendum.

5. Back to the drawing board — 1% probability

What if the government puts the final Brexit deal up for a referendum and the voters reject it?

Then the U.K. negotiators are obliged to keep deal talks alive and if they fail to reach a conclusion before the 2019 deadline we are looking at the “no deal” scenario 3, according to Société Générale.

Article Link To MarketWatch:

Trump, Mueller And Arthur Andersen

Did the president act ‘corruptly’? Not from what we know—but then neither did the accounting firm.

By Michael B. Mukasey
The Wall Street Journal
June 26, 2017

What exactly is Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigating? The basis in law—regulation, actually—for Mr. Mueller’s appointment is a finding by the deputy attorney general that “criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted.”

According to some reports, the possible crime is obstruction of justice. The relevant criminal statute provides that “whoever corruptly . . . influences, obstructs or impedes or endeavors [to do so], the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had,” is guilty of a crime. The key word is “corruptly.”

President Trump’s critics describe two of his actions as constituting possible obstruction. One is an alleged request to then-FBI Director James Comey that he go easy on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was under investigation for his dealings with Russia and possible false statements to investigators about them. According to Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump told him, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” because “he is a good guy.”

An obstruction charge based on that act would face two hurdles. One is that the decision whether to charge Mr. Flynn was not Mr. Comey’s. As FBI director, his job was to supervise the investigation. It is up to prosecutors to decide whether charges were justified. The president’s confusion over the limits of Mr. Comey’s authority may be understandable. Mr. Comey’s overstepping of his authority last year, when he announced that no charges were warranted against Hillary Clinton, might have misled Mr. Trump about the actual scope of Mr. Comey’s authority. Nonetheless, the president’s confusion could not have conferred authority on Mr. Comey.

The other is the statutory requirement that a president have acted “corruptly.” In Arthur Andersen LLP v. U.S. (2005), the U.S. Supreme Court accepted the following definition: that the act be done “knowingly and dishonestly, with the specific intent to subvert or undermine the integrity” of a proceeding. Taking a prospective defendant’s character into account when deciding whether to charge him—as Mr. Comey says Mr. Trump asked him to do—is a routine exercise of prosecutorial discretion. It is hard to imagine that a properly instructed jury could decide that a single such request constituted acting “corruptly”—particularly when, according to Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump also told him to pursue evidence of criminality against any of the president’s “ ‘satellite’ associates.”

The second act said to carry the seed of obstruction is the firing of Mr. Comey as FBI director. The president certainly had the authority; it is his motive that his critics question. A memorandum to the president, from the deputy attorney general and endorsed by the attorney general, presented sufficient grounds for the firing: Mr. Comey’s usurpation of the prosecutor’s role in the Clinton matter and his improper public disclosure of information unfavorable to Mrs. Clinton. But the president’s detractors have raised questions about the timing—about 3½ months into the president’s term. They have also cited the president’s statement to Russian diplomats days afterward that the firing had eased the pressure on him.

The timing itself does not suggest a motive to obstruct. Rather, coming a few days after Mr. Comey refused to confirm publicly what he had told Mr. Trump three times—that the president himself was not the subject of a criminal investigation—the timing suggests no more than an understandable anger. The statement to Russian diplomats, which might have been intended to put the Russians at ease, collides with the simple fact that an investigation—conducted by agents in the field—proceeds regardless of whether the director continues in office, and thus hardly suggests the president acted “corruptly.”

One of Mr. Mueller’s early hires among the dozen-plus lawyers already aboard has a troubling history with the word “corruptly.” Andrew Weissmann led the Enron prosecution team that pressed an aggressive interpretation of “corruptly,” which permitted a conviction even absent the kind of guilty knowledge the law normally associates with criminal charges. As a result, the accounting firm Arthur Andersen was convicted. By the time the conviction was reversed on appeal to the Supreme Court in 2005—in large part due to the erroneous application of “corruptly” in the statute at issue—Arthur Andersen had already ceased operation.

What if—for some reason not apparent to the public now—Mr. Mueller were to conclude that the president did act “corruptly”? Could he initiate a criminal prosecution? The Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, which sets policy for the department and other agencies of government, has already opined more than once—starting in 1973, during Watergate—that the answer is no. It would offend the Constitution for the executive branch to prosecute its head.

What else might Mr. Mueller do? Some have suggested that if he finds criminal activity occurred he could report his findings to the House so as to trigger an impeachment proceeding, as Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr did in 1998. But the law under which Mr. Starr was appointed has lapsed, and the regulations governing the special counsel provide for only two kinds of reports—either to Justice Department leadership when some urgent event occurs during the investigation, or to the attorney general to explain the decision to prosecute or not. Reports of either type are to be treated as confidential.

Mr. Mueller could simply take the bit in his teeth and write a public report on his own authority, or write a confidential report and leak it to the press. If he did either, he would be following Mr. Comey’s lawless example.

Or if, as appears from what we know now, there is no crime here, Mr. Mueller, notwithstanding his more than a dozen lawyers and unlimited budget, could live up to his advance billing for integrity and propriety and resist the urge to grab a headline—not necessarily his own urge but that of some he has hired.

Hold fast. It may be a rough ride.

Article Link To The WSJ:

Japanese Airbag Maker Takata Files For Bankruptcy, Gets U.S. Sponsor

By Naomi Tajitsu 
June 26, 2017

Japan's Takata Corp (7312.T), the firm at the centre of the auto industry's biggest ever product recall, filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States and Japan, and said it would be bought for $1.6 billion by U.S.-based Key Safety Systems.

In the biggest bankruptcy of a Japanese manufacturer, Takata faces tens of billions of dollars in costs and liabilities resulting from almost a decade of recalls and lawsuits.

Its airbags have been linked to at least 17 deaths around the world.

TK Holdings, its U.S. operations, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware on Sunday with liabilities of $10 billion to $50 billion, while the Japanese parent filed for protection with the Tokyo District Court early on Monday.

Takata's total liabilities stand at 1.7 trillion yen ($15 billion), Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd estimated.

Final liabilities would depend on the outcome of discussions with carmaker customers who have borne the bulk of the replacement costs, a lawyer for the company said.

The filings open the door to the financial rescue by Key Safety Systems (KSS), a Michigan-based parts supplier owned by China's Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp (600699.SS).

In a deal that took 16 months to hammer out, KSS agreed to take over Takata's viable operations, while the remaining operations will be reorganised to continue churning out millions of replacement airbag inflators, the two firms said.

The U.S. company would keep "substantially all" of Takata's 60,000 employees in 23 countries and maintain its factories in Japan. The agreement is meant to allow Takata to continue operating without interruptions and with minimal disruptions to its supply chain.

"We believe taking these actions in Japan and the U.S. is the best way to address the ongoing costs and liabilities of the airbag inflator issues with certainty and in an organised manner," Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada said in a statement.

Takada said he and top management would resign "when the timing of the restructuring is set."

His family - which still has control of the 84-year-old company - likely would cease to be shareholders.

Jason Luo, president and CEO of KSS, said in a statement the "underlying strength" of Takata's business had not diminished despite the airbag recall, citing its skilled employee base, geographic reach and other safety products such as seat belts.

The companies expect to seal definitive agreements for the sale in coming weeks and complete the twin bankruptcy processes in the first quarter of 2018.

The filings have, however, not resolved all issues.

Honda Motor Co (7267.T), Takata's biggest customer, said it had reached no final agreement with Takata on responsibilities for the recall.

Honda said it would continue talks with the supplier but anticipated difficulties in recovering the bulk of its claims.

Unprecedented Recalls

Takata faces billions in lawsuits and recall-related costs to its clients, including Honda, BMW (BMWG.DE), Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and others which have been paying recall costs to date.

It also faces potential liabilities stemming from class action lawsuits in the United States, Canada and other countries.

Global transport authorities have ordered about 100 million inflators to be recalled.

Industry sources have said that recall costs could climb to about $10 billion.

The ammonium nitrate compound used in the airbags was found to become volatile with age and prolonged exposure to heat,causing the devices to explode.

Costs so far have pushed the company into the red for three years, and it has been forced to sell subsidiaries to pay fines and other liabilities.

Founded as a textiles company in 1933, Takata began producing airbags in 1987 and at its peak became the world's No.2 producer of the safety products.

It also produces one-third of all seat belts used in vehicles sold globally, along with other components.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange said its shares would be delisted on July 27. The stock has collapsed 95 percent since January 2014 as the recalls mounted.

Article Link To Reuters:

Trump’s ‘Tapes’ Trick

His Twitter bluff led to the special counsel appointment.

By Review & Outlook
The Wall Street Journal
June 26, 2017

He took his sweet time, but President Trump admitted late last week that he doesn’t have tapes of his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey in the White House. Most Trump watchers had concluded as much, but the episode is still worth highlighting as an illustration of how Mr. Trump undermines his credibility as Commander in Chief when he plays social-media troll.

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!,” Mr. Trump tweeted on May 12, three days after firing Mr. Comey. We now know this was a bluff, perhaps intended to coax Mr. Comey to keep quiet about his conversations with Mr. Trump.

The White House refused for weeks to confirm or deny if such tapes existed, and on Thursday Mr. Trump finally ended the suspense with a pair of tweets declaring that, “With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea . . . whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”

Mr. Trump’s suggestion that someone else might have taped those conversations looks like more misdirection because it’s highly unlikely that the National Security Agency or anyone else is taping the President in the Oval Office. If someone is taping without Mr. Trump’s knowledge, the U.S. has bigger problems than presidential trolling.

But we do know that Mr. Trump’s original “tapes” tweet caused Mr. Comey, by his own testimony to Congress, to leak via a buddy a memo of one conversation with Mr. Trump. Mr. Comey said his goal was to trigger the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Mr. Trump, and he succeeded. Far from keeping Mr. Comey quiet, Mr. Trump’s “tapes” tweet led to the creation of a mortal threat to his Presidency.

The episode is further proof that the biggest obstacle to an effective Trump Presidency is Mr. Trump. The tweeting by itself isn’t the problem. The problem is that he thinks he can use the platform to spread misinformation as often as he tries to communicate facts about his agenda. He shouldn’t be surprised if Americans conclude they therefore can’t believe him even when he is telling the truth.

Article Link To The WSJ:

Clogged Oil Arteries Slow U.S. Shale Rush To Record Output

By David Gaffen
June 26, 2017

A gallon of gasoline that allows a driver on the U.S. East Coast to travel about 25 miles has already navigated thousands of miles from an oil field to one of the world's largest fuel markets.

If its last stop is one of the region's struggling refineries - an increasingly unlikely prospect - the crude used to produce the gas would have probably arrived by tanker from West Africa. That's because the region's five plants have no pipeline access to U.S. shale fields or Canada's oil sands.

Or the journey to an East Coast gas pump might start instead in North Dakota's Bakken shale fields - which means it could take up to three months, including a stop at a Gulf Coast refinery. The same trip would have been even longer a month ago, before the opening of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

That line was nearly derailed last year by protesters. Its arduous path to approval provides one case study in the oil industry's struggle to open up a bottleneck holding back resurgent domestic oil production - an outmoded U.S. distribution system.

The equally divisive Keystone XL pipeline provides a more poignant example: First proposed in 2008 to connect Canada's oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries, the line may now never get built - despite the enthusiastic backing of U.S. President Donald Trump.

As permitting dragged on for years, oil prices crashed, dimming the prospects for investment in the oil sands. Top firms have since written down or sold off billions of dollars in Canadian production assets and decamped for U.S. shale fields.

Pipeline construction often lags production booms by years - if proposed lines are built at all - because of opposition from environmentalists and landowners, topographic obstacles, and permitting and construction challenges. That forces drillers to limit output or ship oil domestically, usually by rail - which is more costly and arguably less safe.

The crimped production, in turn, costs the economy jobs, keeps prices higher for consumers and stymies the nation's long-held geopolitical goal of reducing dependence on foreign oil.

Obstacles to pipeline construction are coming into sharp focus as resurgent shale firms, after a two-year downturn, are now on pace to take domestic crude oil output to a record in 2018, surpassing 10 million barrels per day (bpd), according to the U.S. Energy Department.

That would top the previous peak in the early 1970s and challenge Russia and Saudi Arabia for the title of top global producer.

Obstacle To 'Energy Independence'

To transport all that oil from central shale regions such as Texas and North Dakota to the East Coast, the U.S. relies largely on pipelines built decades ago. The industry has retooled many old oil arteries, and the resulting patchwork often offers a convoluted route.

"It's a hodge-podge way of doing it," said Tricia Curtis, oil analyst at Petronerds, a consultancy based in Denver.

U.S. Interior Minister Ryan Zinke wants the nation to become the dominant global energy player, and is considering opening more federal lands - such as national parks and Native American reservations - to fossil fuel development. He also aims to lift restrictions on offshore drilling.

That's a new twist on achieving "energy independence," an elusive, almost mythical goal that's been a standby of U.S. political dialogue over the half century since Richard Nixon was president.

Surging shale has reduced import dependence, but achieving anything approaching "independence" would require an overhaul of the nation's pipeline network - including construction of the kind of projects that face bleak prospects because of political opposition and geographic realities.

About half of U.S. petroleum consumption is on the East and West Coasts, while the large expanse in the middle of the country accounts for 93 percent of crude output in the lower 48 states.

The challenges to building new pipelines are likely to keep the East and West Coast markets - where most Americans live - dependent on imported oil, said Doug Johnson, vice president at Tallgrass Energy Partners (TEP.N), which operates pipelines and storage facilities in the central and western United States.

The Rocky Mountains makes construction to much of the West Coast impossible, as does difficult topography and dense population on the East Coast.

"Moving new pipelines through those areas is very, very challenging," Johnson said.

Tallgrass's Pony Express line kicks off in Guernsey, Wyoming, a small town of 1,000 near the historic Oregon Trail Ruts. It's one small example of the industry's history of repurposing old lines. Originally built as a crude line in 1954, it was converted to a natural gas line in 1997, then changed back into a crude line in 2014.

"This thing is like the cat with nine lives," Johnson said.

No Direct Line

Building pipelines from faraway oil fields such as the Bakken directly to the densely populated East Coast would be a boon to energy firms and consumers. But it won't happen, said Sandy Fielden, an analyst at Morningstar.

"That flies in the face of NIMBY," he said, referring to the 'not in my backyard' political resistance to construction. "Pipelines being built across New Jersey is not considered to be a practical proposition."

Resistance to new pipelines in the Northeast has led firms to battle for control of existing lines.

Midwest refiners are clashing with East Coast refiners over a proposal to reverse the flow of fuels on a Pennsylvania pipeline that transports refined products from east to west. Midwest refiners - who can access Dakota and Canada crudes, unlike their East Coast competitors - want that flow reversed to give them access to gasoline markets further east.

In at least one case, pipeline protesters are demanding the removal of an existing line. A 60-year-old Enbridge Line in Wisconsin and Michigan, an essential artery of oil from Canada, has come under fire from opponents of varying political stripes.

Environmentalists call the current pipeline network strong enough. They argue the country needs to look toward renewable energy sources rather than expanding climate-damaging oil-and-gas development.

Another environmental threat comes from an irony of the patchwork of U.S. pipelines - that the network is both over-subscribed and yet, in places, underused. Because many arteries travel similar routes, they duplicate one another and often can't operate at full capacity.

That raises the prospect of damaging leaks that go unnoticed by automated detection systems that require highly pressurized lines to function, said Anthony Swift, a director at the National Resources Defense Council.

One bright spot for firms that already own pipelines: It's far easier, politically and logistically, to expand a line than to build a new one - making existing lines increasingly valuable.

But in the long term, the U.S. will struggle to boost production without new pipelines that serve key consumer markets, said Tad True, president and CEO of Casper, Wyoming-based True Companies, a private pipeline owner.

"One of the successes of this country was based on access to cheap energy," he said. "The continued success of the United States depends on continued access to cheap energy."

Article Link To Reuters:

Investing With 'Green' Ratings? It's A Gray Area

By Ross Kerber and Michael Flaherty 
June 26, 2017

Investors betting trillions on ethically-appealing stocks may not be getting all they expect.

Buying into companies based on environmental, social and governance factors, has become a hot trend on Wall Street, spawning a new industry that sells investors company ratings based on those factors and funds dedicated to rated companies. However, some investors and funds may rely too much on the scores of one rating firm, said Dan Hanson, a portfolio manager at Jarislowsky Fraser Global Investment Management.

"The scores are in some cases being used in a way they are not really designed for," Hanson said. "It's problematic to bolt them on to an investment process."

There are no set criteria for who is bad and who is good and so-called ESG ratings vary widely, meaning investors may be less protected than they think, for example, from a scandal over labor practices or board pay.

"We don't have a common vernacular," said Asha Mehta, director of responsible investing at Acadian Asset Management in Boston.

Sustainability analysis firm CSRHub compared such ratings given to companies in the S&P Global 1200 index by two leading firms in the field - a division of MSCI Inc, and Toronto-based Sustainalytics - and found they had a correlation coefficient of 0.32, a relatively weak level.

Credit ratings, in contrast, are closely aligned, with the comparable figure for Moody’s and S&P ratings of around 0.9, according to research by Northern Illinois University finance professor Lei Zhou.

The difference is that credit ratings rely on financial disclosures while the sustainability ratings may reflect different weightings given to factors such as workers' rights, emissions, or responses to events such as an oil spill or product failure.

Electric car maker Tesla, for example, has received a top AAA score from MSCI, but a middling grade from Sustainalytics, below that of traditional automakers Ford Motor Co and General Motors , partly because Tesla does not release carbon emissions data for its manufacturing plants.

Tesla declined to comment.

In interviews, a dozen professional investors and company executives told Reuters they were frustrated by the lack of common standards, even as many praised the work of the ratings firms individually.

Common Language

One remedy, they say, would be to adopt a common language and reporting requirements. Starting next year, the European Union will require companies to report on their efforts in such areas as the environment and social responsibility. In the United States, a small group of companies, such as JetBlue Airways Corp, has embraced voluntary disclosures suggested by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, an independent organization.

As more and more investors recognize the long-term financial benefits of good corporate governance and sustainable policies, the need for uniform criteria becomes more pressing.

The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment estimates that more than $8 trillion was invested by U.S. fund managers who incorporated at least some of such criteria in their strategy, up from $1.4 trillion in 2012. CSRHub counts 17 firms and organizations that track in some form corporate adherence to environmental, social and governance standards, including Thomson Reuters, the parent company of Reuters. At their best, rating firms can help investors avoid losses. For instance, both MSCI and Sustainalytics raised governance concerns about Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) months before the German automaker admitted to cheating on U.S. diesel emissions tests in September 2015. “They absolutely called that right,” said Seb Beloe, head of sustainability research at WHEB Asset Management in London. But there is also a risk that they will miss red flags because non-financial information is less readily available and open to interpretation.

Simon MacMahon, who oversees ESG research at Sustainalytics, acknowledged sustainability can be difficult to define. "We're talking about a whole host of issues here."

Yet Linda-Eling Lee, head of ESG research at MSCI, said few executives object to its findings. "It's only a handful of companies where we have a back and forth," she said.

Some companies take advantage of the disparities to focus on ratings that are more favorable, said Robert Fernandez, director of ESG research for Breckinridge Capital Advisors in Boston.

"You can certainly see how it's a concern that they have divergent views," he said.

The absence of a common standard has not stopped Wall Street. While larger investment firms usually combine ratings with their own research, some funds are built largely off ratings, even if sponsors acknowledge they may be imperfect.

For example, a disclosure from one of the largest, the $866 million iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social ETF, run by BlackRock and based on MSCI ratings notes among its risk factors the chance MSCI might not pick companies with the right "ESG characteristics."

Lynn Blake, a top investment officer at State Street Global Advisors, said the divergence in ratings, while warranting some caution, may ultimately make little difference for large, diverse portfolios. "We believe they are 'good enough,' particularly for broad universe index funds," Blake said via e-mail. The case of Tesla, shows how ratings can reflect differences in approach rather than any flaws in analysis or data. In its report, Sustainalytics acknowledged CEO Elon Musk's goal of making Tesla's "Gigafactory" built in Nevada entirely powered by renewable energy. Yet it still gave the company an overall score of 55 out of 100 for not disclosing data on the carbon emissions from its automaking operations. "Their lack of corporate sustainability reporting is kind of a shame, especially considering their main product is a low-carbon product," Sustainalytics' MacMahon said. Similarly, MSCI rated Tesla 5.3 on a 10-point scale for "carbon emissions," including its own operations. But that score did not dent Tesla's overall top AAA grade because MSCI gave more weight to other factors, such as emissions of Tesla cars, said MSCI's Lee.

Ultimately the firm decides on what to focus on to make the rating more meaningful for investors, she said. "You could give three percent (importance) to lots of issues and at the end of the day, everything averages out," Lee said.

Article Link To Reuters:

Trump, Modi Seek Rapport Despite Friction On Trade, Immigration

By Steve Holland and David Brunnstrom 
June 26, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold their first face-to-face meeting in Washington on Monday, seeking to boost U.S.-Indian relations despite differences over trade, the Paris climate accord and immigration.

Their White House session promises less pomp than Modi's previous visits to Washington, which included former President Barack Obama taking him to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in 2014.

But Trump administration officials have pointed to both leaders' impact on social media - each has more than 30 million Twitter followers - as proof that they are cut from the same cloth, and predicted the two would get along well.

Trump built a Trump Tower property in Mumbai and spoke warmly of India during his presidential campaign last year.

"The White House is very interested in making this a special visit," said one senior official. "We’re really seeking to roll out the red carpet,"

Modi will try to strengthen ties that have appeared to loosen. Indian officials, noting both men's tendency to speak their mind, were anxious to see how they get along.

They will have one-on-one talks followed by statements to the news media without taking questions. They will then have a working dinner, the first time Trump has played host to a foreign dignitary at a White House dinner.

"If the chemistry is good, everything else gets sorted," said an Indian official. "The only way is up. How much up we go depends on the leaders. If they click, we go up higher."

While progress is expected in defense trade and cooperation, there are frictions elsewhere.

Trump, who campaigned on an "America First" platform, has been troubled by the growing U.S. trade deficit with India. He has called for reform of the H-1B visa system that has benefited Indian tech firms.

He set the United States on a path to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and accused India of negotiating unscrupulously for the accord in order to walk away with billions of dollars in aid.

Meanwhile, Indian officials reject suggestions that Modi's "Make in India" platform is protectionist and complain about the U.S. regulatory process for generic pharmaceuticals and rules on fruit exports to the United States.

They stress the importance of the huge Indian market to U.S. firms and major growth in areas such as aviation, which offer significant opportunities for U.S. manufacturers.

Rick Rossow, an India expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the frictions in U.S.-Indian relations since Trump took office on Jan. 20 add gravity to the meeting.

"The meeting will provide more clarity on whether the past six months have been Act 1 in a surprising friendship or Round 1 of a protracted slugging match," he said.

Article Link To Reuters:

Facebook In Talks To Produce Original TV-Quality Shows

June 26, 2017

Facebook Inc is in talks with Hollywood studios about producing scripted, TV-quality shows, with an aim of launching original programming by late summer, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The social networking giant has indicated that it was willing to commit to production budgets as high as $3 million per episode, in meetings with Hollywood talent agencies, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Facebook is hoping to target audiences from ages 13 to 34, with a focus on the 17 to 30 range. The company has already lined up "Strangers", a relationship drama, and a game show, "Last State Standing", the report said.

Facebook could not be immediately reached for comment.

The company is expected to release episodes in a traditional manner, instead of dropping an entire season in one go like Netflix Inc and Inc, WSJ reported.

The company is also willing to share its viewership data with Hollywood, the report said.

Apple Inc hired co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television, Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, earlier this month, to lead its video-programming efforts.

Apple began its long-awaited move into original television series last week, with a reality show called "Planet of the Apps", an unscripted show about developers trying to interest celebrity mentors with a 60-second pitch on an escalator.

The company's future programming plans include an adaptation of comedian James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke" segment from his CBS Corp show that will begin airing in August.

Article Link To Reuters:

The Looming Labor ‘Shortage’ Isn’t Just A Problem -- It’s Also An Opportunity

By Robert J. Samuelson
The Washington Post
June 26, 2017

Do we have a worker shortage? Maybe.

For months, I’ve planned to write a column on the future of the U.S. labor market. Stacked on my desk are reports on “the gig economy,” “independent workers,” “contingent workers,” “freelancers” and the like. All signify a new, less secure labor market. Workers won’t have long-lasting career jobs, as the old post-World War II employment model promised. Now it’s survival of the fittest. Workers who can adapt to constant change will thrive. As for everyone else, tough luck.

I never wrote that column.

The main reason is that I never felt certain that this widely prophesied labor market would prevail. Indeed, the postwar employment model might make a comeback. Demographics — the ongoing retirement of the massive baby-boom generation — would make experienced and competent workers prized resources. Because the labor force would be growing only slowly, many companies would try to stabilize their employment by offering career jobs with better wages and benefits.

I still don’t know which of these models will triumph: the first reflecting a management belief that workers must be hired and fired as business conditions dictate; the second based on the notion that good workers will be scarce for the foreseeable future and smart companies will do their best to train and retain them. But I do know two things.

First, market power is swinging from companies to workers. The supply of new workers is meager, barely offsetting the loss of retiring baby boomers. Look at the numbers. From 1950 to 2016, the U.S. labor force (the number of workers multiplied by their hours on the job) grew an average of 1.4 percent a year, reports the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Now the CBO projects annual growth of only 0.5 percent, about a third of the post-1950 average.

Second, the business cycle compounds the effect. At 4.3 percent, the unemployment rate is at its lowest in 16 years, and there are some places where the unemployment rate is 2 percent, reports The Post’s Danielle Paquette. (In reality, this means many unfilled job openings; she cites 40 at one manufacturer.) Still, about 5.7 million people say they’d like to work but are not counted in the labor force, because they haven’t been job-hunting.

If companies compete fiercely for scarce employees, workers would benefit. Companies would increase wages and fringe benefits or risk losing their best employees to firms with more generous compensation packages. The labor share of the economy — that is, workers’ earnings as a share of the economy’s total production (gross domestic product) — would rise. Between 2000 and 2012, it fell from 63 percent to 57 percent of GDP, an appalling drop. Since then, it’s edged up to 58 percent, providing modest evidence of a shift in bargaining leverage.

Other outcomes are possible. Companies might raise labor costs and then pay for the increases by boosting prices. To prevent the economy from “overheating” through higher inflation, the Federal Reserve might then tighten credit more than is now expected. The danger is a premature recession. It would be better if competitive markets impeded firms from passing higher labor costs through to prices. Companies would have to absorb the cost of wage increases through business efficiencies (aka, “productivity”) or thinner profit margins.

I have no idea which of these possibilities — or some variant — will occur. But the larger point is that the looming worker “shortage,” which is often presented as a problem, is also an opportunity. We need a new model — a set of widely held expectations — to regulate relations between firms and workers (or, if you prefer, between capital and labor). Workers need more training, as well as higher pay. But the model should be informed mostly by common sense and market realities, not government regulations.

Industries vary. Not for everyone is the planned disorder of the “gig economy.” But neither can we resurrect the calm economic growth of the 1950s, when large American corporations seemed to control their markets. That was the basis of the postwar contract between capital and labor. The goal now is to convert the worker shortage into a better-paid, better-trained and more productive labor force.

Even with its slight recovery, the labor share of national income is too low. The beauty of the present moment is that what workers want and what companies need are converging. The steps that corporate managers and business owners might take as a matter of decency can also be justified as a matter of necessity.

Article Link To The Washington Post:

Fed's Williams Sees Gradual Rate Hikes As Key To Further U.S. Growth

By Ann Saphir
June 26, 2017

With the U.S. economy at full employment and inflation set to hit the Federal Reserve's 2-percent target next year, the U.S. central bank needs to keep raising rates gradually to keep the economy on an even keel, a Fed policymaker said Monday.

"If we delay too long, the economy will eventually overheat, causing inflation or some other problem," San Francisco Fed President John Williams said in remarks prepared for delivery to the University of Technology Sydney.

"Gradually raising interest rates to bring monetary policy back to normal helps us keep the economy growing at a rate that can be sustained for a longer time."

The Fed earlier this month raised interest rates a second time this year, and signaled it plans to raise them once more in 2017 and three times in 2018. But with inflation recently weakening and economic growth stuck at 2 percent, traders have been betting the Fed will end up going much more slowly.

On Monday, Williams appeared keen to reset those expectations. Like Fed Chair Janet Yellen, Williams said he believes recent weak inflation readings will be transitory, and forecast a return to 2-percent inflation by next year.

Meanwhile, Williams said, labor markets will continue to strengthen, with the U.S. unemployment rate, now at a 16-year low of 4.3 percent, likely to fall further and stay a little above 4 percent through next year.

"The very strong labor market actually carries with it the risk of the economy exceeding its safe speed limit and overheating, which could eventually undermine the sustainability of the expansion," Williams said. "My goal is to keep the economic expansion on a sound footing that can be sustained for as long as possible."

Williams reiterated the Fed's plans to start shrinking its $4.5 trillion balance sheet this year, and promised the Fed will normalize policy in a well-telegraphed, gradual manner so as to reduce unnecessary market disruption both at home and abroad.

"The more public understanding, the less chance that (the Fed's) actions will fuel unnecessarily volatility in the markets," Williams said.

Article Link To Reuters:

Want To Know Where The Stock Market’s Headed Over The Next 6 Months? Don’t Ask OPEC

Energy sector’s bearish posture has been offset by tech, financial sectors. Can it last over the coming 6 months?

June 26, 2017

The vagaries of crude-oil and appeared to weigh heavily on stocks in the past week, but as the landscape of rest of 2017 looks set to unfurl into the second half, it’s hard to make a case that a downturn in oil will be the dagger that takes down a bull market headed into its ninth year.

That is because oil’s gravitational pull on the markets is far from what it used to be during crude’s halcyon days of three-digit price tags. Back in 2008, oil’s moves were closely aligned with equity benchmarks like the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.16% the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.01% and the Nasdaq Composite IndexCOMP, +0.46% demonstrating a positive correlation. That is, tending to move in the same direction at the same time. But since its recent peak around 2014, oil’s relationship with oil has diminished if not broken down.

The chart attached shows the relative moves of crude-oil futures CLQ7, +1.05% (in purple), the energy sector closely pegged to it, including oil-and-gas companies, measured by the exchange traded Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF XLE, +0.67% (in blue), and the S&P 500 (in green), which appears to have diverged from the energy cohort.

The recent plunge for oil into bear-market territory, defined as a drop from a recent peak of at least 20%, comes as a consortium led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have failed to stabilize prices, despite a recently reupped pact to limit production until March 2018.

Last week, crude futures booked their fifth straight weekly decline settling at $43.01 a barrel, marking their longest weekly string of losses since an eight week stretch ended the week of Aug. 21, 2015. U.S. shale-oil producers, cited as the biggest headwind to tamping down what is described as a global glut of oil, logged a 23rd straight weekly increase in rigs drilling for oil, Baker Hughes Inc. BHI, -0.97%reported on Friday.

Although some have wondered briefly if this swing into the red for oil could signal the volatility-inducing event potent enough the knock these buoyant markets sharply lower, the past few years of action have proved otherwise.

Part of the reason for that may be that energy has become less significant. The sector represents 6% of the overall S&P 500. That is the seventh smallest weighting among the S&P 500’s 11 sectors, compared with the technology, health-care and financial sectors, which combined represent a little more than half of the S&P 500’s performance.

In other words, a downturn in energy names like Transocean Ltd. RIG, +2.80% and Chesapeake Energy Corp. CHK, +1.56% is more than offset by gains in shares of tech, the banking sector and health care. So far, that has been the case, with tech XLK, +0.63% and health care XLV, -0.15% posting the best performances so far this year, up 20% and 17%, respectively. Meanwhile, financials XLF, -0.38% have put in a respectable 2.6% return after rallying 33% over the past 12 months.

Of course, there is an economic element to oil, which is often used as a gauge of global health. But crude doesn’t appear to be accurately tracking that, by some estimates.

Neil Atkinson, head of oil analysis at the International Energy Agency, recently said the current production curb by more than 20 major oil producers has succeeded in denting the global supply glut that the second half of 2017 is likely to see a deficit.

It certainly, may not feel that way to many oil bulls. But that may be a function of the diminished status of the commodity, with even OPEC, once the most revered cartels in business, struggling to manage pricing.

Dennis Gartman, founder and editor of an eponymous newsletter, disagrees with Atkinson’s outlook for demand, but says oil is going to way of the Dodo in the several decades: “It will be supplanted by something else,” he told CNBC recently, suggesting new technology and renewables might be inherent the energy crown.

In the end, it might just not matter significantly.

If anything, lower crude has proved a to be more of tax cut for individuals and businesses, by measure of the equity markets which have managed to hover near records. All three main benchmarks finished Friday’s trade less than 1% shy of their all-time highs.

To be sure, the wheels could come off the record-setting train at any point.

Tom Lee, portfolio strategist at Fundstrat Global Advisors told MarketWatch that he’s expecting a much softer second-half for 2017, given signs of muted inflation. He also pointed to a yield curve, a graph that maps Treasury yields across all maturities, particularly between the two-year TMUBMUSD02Y, -0.61% and 10-year notes TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.00% that is at its narrowest since September. That tightening spread is sometimes interpreted as a sign of a sluggish economy and comes as the Federal Reserve is on a monetary-normalization kick.

“As we approach mid-year, we are revising S&P 500 [2017 and 2018 full year earning-per-share forecast] to reflect weaker inflation, flattening yield curve, rising labor costs and ‘pushed out’ timing of White House agenda,” he wrote in a Friday research report. That agenda includes Trump’s promises of tax cuts, deregulation and tax reform.

Lee told MarketWatch that investors continue to be complacent but may be soon be jolted awake.

“I think so far the [negative data] has fallen on deaf ears,” he said.

Looking ahead, there is an outside chance that the U.S. Senate could vote on some form of Trump’s health-care bill, which could influence markets that has been driving health-care shares higher.

“I think that health-care has been able to rise amid this uncertain and that’s a good sign for the market,” said Mark Newton, technical analyst and founder at Newton Advisors.

Newton said he’s optimistic about the market but sees the “potential for turbulence in the third quarter in July through August.” He said one concern harks back to oil and is tied to high-yield bonds, which are heavily linked to energy pains because many companies with weak credit take out loans and sell bonds to pay for expansion and rigs, for example.

“So far, technology has been one of the few sectors to carry the load but can they hold up?” Newton asked.

Article Link To MarketWatch:

A Look At Energy Markets After The First Five Months Of Trump

Coal enjoys a rebound, U.S. LNG heads abroad at a record pace; Oil’s tanking, renewable power supplies keep growing in U.S.

By Lynn Doan
June 26, 2017

As the White House kicks off “Energy Week,” here’s a look at how energy markets are faring so far this year -- and how the Trump administration stands to change them:

COAL: President Donald Trump has killed a stream-water protection rule that threatened to curb coal operations, directed the Interior Department to lift a moratorium on new coal leases on federal land, and started chipping away at environmental regulations that made coal-fired power plants increasingly expensive to run. U.S. coal production is up in 2017 from the same period a year ago amid supply cuts in China and Australia that spurred a price rally for metallurgical coal (the kind used to make steel).

: Oil prices are tanking this year, in part because U.S. production keeps rising. West Texas Intermediate, the American benchmark, reached a high of $54.45 in February before sinking into a bear market last week amid concerns that a supply glut may stick around for years. Rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. are at their highest since April 2015, and more shale supplies are heading abroad than ever before. The Trump administration cleared the way for the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline to start service, and granted a permit to build the Keystone XL crude pipeline from Canada into the U.S.

NATURAL GAS: With Cheniere Energy Inc.’s liquefied natural gas export terminal in Louisiana now online, the U.S. is sending record volumesof the heating and power-plant fuel to countries including Mexico, China, Japan, Turkey and Spain. The White House has been ramping up efforts in recent months to promote overseas sales.

POWER: Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and gut the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s climate policy hasn’t stopped clean power from continuing to grow. While the White House works to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, which would’ve required electricity generators across the U.S. to curb emissions, solar and wind farms now make up 10 percent of America’s power supplies, their highest share yet and up from about one percent a decade ago.

Article Link To Bloomberg: