VCs planting seeds in the cannabis industry

 Increasing number of US states to legalize marijuana

The startup world has seen a growing number of cannabis-related companies crop up over the past several years, a development that’s likely driven by the increasing number of US states to legalize marijuana in some capacity. The industry is ripe for technological innovation—and several companies and venture investors are taking advantage.

In fact, after already setting a new high last year, VCs are on pace to make a record number of new deals in the cannabis industry during 2017. Here’s a chart showing recent venture investor activity in US-based cannabis companies:…  March 12, 2018

U.S. jobless claims back off 48-year low

The labor market to be near full employment

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rebounded last week from a more than 48-year low, but the trend continued to point to robust labor market conditions.

That was underscored by other data on Thursday showing job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers fell 20 percent in February. Federal Reserve officials consider the labor market to be near or a little beyond full employment. The tight jobs market is seen boosting wage growth and spurring inflation.

“The well looks increasingly dry to many companies seeking skilled workers, and time will tell whether the lack of labor will slow the overall economy in future months,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.…  March 09, 2018

China February exports surge most in three years

Global trade war fears build

China’s exports unexpectedly surged at the fastest pace in three years in February, suggesting both its economy and global growth remain resilient even as trade relations with the United States rapidly deteriorate.

Trade tensions have jumped to the top of the list of risks facing China this year, with planned U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum signaling more measures may be on the way, Zhou Hao, senior emerging markets economist at Commerzbank, told the Reuters Global Markets Forum this week.

China’s February exports rose 44.5 percent from a year earlier, far more than analysts’ median forecast for a 13.6 percent increase and January’s 11.1 percent gain, official data showed on Thursday.

Imports grew 6.3 percent, missing forecasts for 9.7 percent growth and down from a sharper-than-expected 36.9 percent jump in January.…  March 08, 2018

Amazon is Eyeing the Banking Industry

How Amazon is planning to break into Wall Street

Banks have been warily watching Inc. for signs it would threaten their world. The tech giant’s latest move looks more like an opportunity — at least for one of them. A proposal to start offering a product similar to checking accounts is “for now not showing any signs of disrupting the industry,” Brian Foran, an analyst at Autonomous Research, said in a note to clients Monday. “While the ‘Amazon effect’ has dictated trading in several sectors, for banks it seems a much tamer story.”

Amazon is in talks with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Capital One Financial Corp. about the product, people familiar with the matter said Monday. The targets are millennial consumers, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. The strategy could help Amazon lower fees it pays to financial firms and give it a bigger window into customers’ income and spending habits. The Wall Street Journal reported the talks earlier Monday.…  March 07, 2018

Theresa May’s hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal with Trump in doubt

Trump launches European trade war

Theresa May’s plans for a quick post-Brexit trade deal with the US have been thrown into doubt after Trump announced plans to launch a trade war with Europe.

The president is reportedly planning to impose up to 25% tariffs on imported steel and 10% on aluminium in an attempt to save US industry.

“We are on the losing side of almost all trade deals,” Trump tweeted on Monday.

“Our friends and enemies have taken advantage of the U.S. for many years. Our Steel and Aluminum industries are dead. Sorry, it’s time for a change! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”…  March 06, 2018

Bull Market Heading for Major Correction in 2018, Bank of America Says

The bull market is showing signs of cracking

Bank of America Corp. (BACGet Report) says signs are growing that the eight-year-old bull market in stocks and risky assets could soon come to an end. And, as with all late-stage bull markets, the trick for investors is in getting the timing right. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, a key benchmark for U.S. stocks, could peak at 2,863 during the first half of 2018, Bank of America analysts predicted in a report. That’s 8% above current levels.

But the second half could bring mostly gloom for investors, as the Federal Reserve tightens financial conditions by raising interest rates and shrinking its balance sheet. Volatility — a measure of the size of daily price swings — could rise from this year’s unusually low levels. Inflation is likely to increase. Yields on corporate bonds could widen relative to those of U.S. Treasuries — an indicator of fading investor confidence in companies’ ability to repay their debt. “Signs of bubble-like behavior abound,” according to the report, which cited examples like record-high art prices, soaring Bitcoin prices and a 100-year-bond sale by Argentina, the South American nation that has defaulted on its debt eight times in the past 200 years. Next year “could represent the move toward euphoria, which typically heralds the end of a bull market.”

http://www.the…  March 05, 2018

Trump announces plans for heavy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports

Ugly trade war with China

President Trump unveiled plans Thursday to slap hefty tariffs on global imports of steel and aluminum, catching much of his administration by surprise, sending stocks plunging and sparking widespread fears that he was leading the United States into an ugly trade war with China as well as key American allies. Trump said he would sign an order next week to impose 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% duties on aluminum, using his authority under an obscure trade law provision that permits the president to take sweeping measures in the name of national security.

Trump has long been a critic of U.S. trade policies, and he was elected partly on the promise to revamp the way Washington does business with the rest of the world. On Thursday, Trump assured U.S. manufacturers that they will “have protection for a long time .… You’ll have to regrow your industries. That’s all I’m asking.” For months, administration officials with less nationalistic views on trade, such as chief economic advisor Gary Cohn, have tried to dissuade Trump from imposing broad tariffs in response to America’s big trade deficit and what the president views as the world taking unfair advantage of the U.S. The shift was reflected in the recent rise in influence of more hawkish advisors who share Trump’s skepticism of trade, including Peter Navarro.…  March 02, 2018

Facebook goes after LinkedIn with job postings expansion

Facebook is doubling down on its efforts to take on LinkedIn

The social network on Wednesday announced it’s expanding the ability to apply for local jobs directly on Facebook to over 40 more countries, including the U.K., Spain and Brazil. Users in the U.S. and Canada have been able to see job postings on Facebook since last year. However, the company says it’s added new tools such as the ability to schedule interviews and create job posts on mobile. Job searchers can also make alerts for positions they’re looking for.

Microsoft-owned LinkedIn has more than 546 million users in more than 200 countries and territories around the world, according to its website.…  March 01, 2018

Brexit: North Ireland would stay under EU customs union rules

Avoid a hard border post-Brexit if no wider EU-UK trade deal or alternative is agreed

Northern Ireland will in effect remain in the EU’s customs union and single market to avoid a hard border post-Brexit if no wider EU-UK trade deal or alternative is agreed, the draft withdrawal agreement will state.

EU sources said the draft agreement from Brussels covering the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc in March 2019 – to be published in Brussels on Wednesday – will maintain a common regulatory area on the island of Ireland.

This will be triggered should the EU and the UK not agree a future EU-UK free trade deal or if London fails to propose an alternative arrangement for the Border post-Brexit.…  Febuary 28, 2018

Murdoch bid for Sky challenged by US giant

US cable TV giant Comcast has made a £22.1bn takeover bid for Sky, challenging an existing offer from 21st Century Fox

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox had already agreed an £18.5bn deal to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own. Comcast said the bid of £12.50 per share was a 16% higher than the 21st Century Fox offer. Comcast is the biggest US cable TV firm. It also owns the broadcast TV network NBC and Universal Pictures.

The company’s chief executive Brian Roberts, said: “We would like to own the whole of Sky and we will be looking to acquire over 50% of the Sky shares,” he said. Mr Roberts added that the UK “is and will remain a great place to do business” and that Comcast wanted to “use Sky as a platform for our growth in Europe”.…  Febuary 27, 2018