Majority of UK Conservatives oppose May’s Brexit deal
According to reporting by Reuters, a survey of Conservative Party members within the UK details a majority of Tories that outright oppose Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal deal.
With less than three months until Britain leaves the bloc, May is yet to win parliament’s backing for her deal and the research may dent hopes that pressure from local members over Christmas might persuade Conservative MPs to support it.
The survey of 1,215 Conservative Party members found 59 percent opposed May’s deal, with 38 percent in favour. More than half of members questioned said they did not believe it respected the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Asked how they would vote if another referendum were held to choose between May’s deal or leaving without a deal, just 29 percent said they would pick May’s agreement, compared to 64 percent who would opt for no deal.
“Grassroots Tories are even less impressed than Tory Members of Parliament (MPs),” said Tim Bale, Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University of London, who helps run the Party Members project.
May is seeking assurances from the EU over the so-called Irish backstop, an insurance policy to avoid a hard border between the British province and EU-member Ireland, which remains the main obstacle to securing the backing of parliament.
U.S. Dollar Falls as Rattled Investors Turn to Yen
The U.S. dollar fell Thursday as fears of a global slowdown led to a spike in the yen.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, slipped 0.49% to 95.95 as of 10:56 AM ET (15:56 GMT) while USD/JPY slumped 1.15% to 107.61.
The yen was 4.4% higher earlier in the session after a flash crash in Asia due to automated orders. The crash spilled into other currency markets, as Japan is still on holiday for the New Year.
The yen is often considered a safe haven in times of global uncertainty.
“It’s a continuation of some of the market anxieties related to China, the U.S. and more specifically there is a reevaluation of the dollar as a safe haven,” said Jane Foley, currencies analyst at Rabobank.
Stock Market News
Apple shares dive; rare revenue warning drags global markets
Apple Inc shares plunged 10 percent on Thursday after the iPhone maker blamed weak China demand for a holiday-quarter revenue shortfall, with many investors worried the rare stumble was a harbinger for slowing global growth.
Global financial markets felt the shockwaves as Apple shares logged their biggest intra-day percentage fall in six years, sending the company’s stock market value to under $700 billion, well below its $1.1 trillion October peak.
After Apple’s first revenue warning in nearly 12 years, investors also dumped chipmakers and tech stocks and flocked to perceived safe havens like U.S. Treasuries and the Japanese yen. [MKTS/GLOB] Developments in a patent dispute between Apple and Qualcomm in Germany also rattled investors.
A senior White House economic adviser said he expected trade uncertainty to hit earnings at many U.S. companies, but that sales at Apple and others with large exposure to China would recover once Washington and Beijing strike a trade deal.
“That is having an impact on earnings and it’s not going to be just Apple,” White House Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Kevin Hassett said in an interview with CNN.
“I think there are a heck of a lot of U.S. companies that have a lot of sales in China that are basically going to be watching their earnings be downgraded next year.”
Economic deceleration in China had caught Apple off guard and trade tensions between Washington and Beijing were starting to hurt consumer spending on smartphones in China, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said on Wednesday.
Cook in November had cited slowing growth in emerging markets such as Brazil, India and Russia when Apple gave first-quarter sales estimates that were lower than expected. But he said then that he “would not put China in that category” of countries with troubled growth.
The China slowdown comes as Apple faces other obstacles in some of its biggest markets.
Qualcomm Inc said it had posted security bonds to enforce a court order banning sale of some iPhone models in Germany, meaning Apple would likely have to pull iPhone 7 and 8 models from its 15 stores in the country.
Nissan’s Ghosn to appear in Tokyo court within 5 days
Ousted Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) Chairman Carlos Ghosn is set to appear in a Tokyo court within five days after he requested an open hearing to hear the reason for his detention, NHK reported.
It would be Ghosn’s first public appearance since he was arrested on Nov. 19 on allegations of financial misconduct. He has been detained since then and also been re-arrested over further allegations.
Ghosn filed a request with the Tokyo District Court on Friday and the court is required to hold a hearing within five days, the national broadcaster reported.
NHK said Ghosn intended to appear, citing his lawyer.
His Tokyo-based lawyer, Motonari Otsuru, was not reachable for comment. Ghosn denies the allegations, local media has said.
Earlier this week, the Tokyo District Court approved an extension to Ghosn’s detention until Jan. 11.
Former Nissan executive Greg Kelly, who has been charged with conspiring to under-report Ghosn’s income, has been released on bail after the court ruled against extending his detention while he awaits trial.
Ghosn’s arrest has rocked the auto industry and strained Nissan’s ties with French automaking partner Renault SA (RENA.PA), where he still remains chairman and CEO.
Falling Crypto Prices Aren’t Stopping Real Blockchain Progress
Plunging cryptocurrency values in 2018 and the collapse of the money-for-nothing white paper market in initial coin offerings (ICOs) took much of the focus last year for many people when it came to blockchain mindshare.
All of that marketplace drama, however, concealed an enormous amount of real progress for the technology that will, slowly but surely, lay the foundation for a robust revival of the blockchain markets in the future.
Over the last year, the market did provide lots of drama related to ICOs. Nearly a quarter of all the ICOs from 2017 lost most of their value, and the market as a whole declined by nearly two- thirds.
The first half of 2018 was no better. There were nearly 1,000 ICOs every month, but only 5% of them raised more than $1 million – with one, EOS, raising around $4 billion.
Not only did the bulk of the money raised go to a very small number of the ICOs, but nearly every aspect of the world of blockchain also became more consolidated and, dare I say, centralized, in 2018 – rather counterintuitive for blockchain, since decentralization is at its core.
Public blockchains consolidate
According to a study by EY that examined the ICOs’ progress and investment returns, ethereum, which is the dominant platform and shows the highest activity among developers and on social media, became even more dominant, with more than 95% of all ICOs and funds raised.
The market for exchanges consolidated rapidly as well, with 73% of daily trading volume in the first half of the year taken by the top 10 exchanges. Though the full-year numbers are yet to be updated, that trend seems set to continue.
The biggest exchanges are consolidating their positions in part by rapidly maturing their processes and approach to regulatory compliance. Know-your-customer procedures are being tightened and many of the big exchanges are, or soon will be, audited by some of the major financial services organizations (EY included). These same exchanges have been beefing up their security as well, with fewer large-scale thefts in 2018 than in 2017.
Another big trend last year in the world of public blockchains was the surge in popularity of stablecoins of all kinds, mostly based on fiat currencies. While stablecoins offer some advantages, including stability, they do raise the single most important question remaining for public blockchains: why are they useful?
Parking money in a stablecoin is beneficial if it’s between investments or purchases as a way to avoid volatility, but it’s not a very good investment in and of itself. The purpose of capital markets is to allocate capital to productive uses and, at least for the moment, that doesn’t seem to be happening. For public blockchains in 2019, this is the single most important question.
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