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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration marks a milestone this weekend: 50 days in office.
Administration officials plan to hit social media and use interviews in the coming days to promote what they call "50 days of action," from the planned wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to a $54 billion hike in the defense budget.Trump mentioned the 50-day mark in a weekly address Friday otherwise devoted to Women's History Month and health care.
Throughout the morning, Trump aides and associates tweeted and posted statements and videos about the administration, using the White House website and other social media channels. Citing a new report showing that the economy added 235,000 jobs last month, White House spokesman Sean Spicer tweeted, "Not a bad way to start day 50 of this Administration."
Not a bad way to start day 50 of this Administration https://twitter.com/presssec/status/840198752237473792 …
The first two months of the Trump administration have generated protests, lawsuits and intense political opposition. The Democratic National Committee plans a "turnaround tour" to respond to what it calls the administration's "corporate handouts and broken promises to America’s working families."
The White House list of 50-day accomplishments includes a series of Trump executive actions designed to reduce government regulations, tighten the nation's borders, roll back President Obama's health care law and increase military spending
The first 100 days of the Trump presidency
USA TODAY Poll: Tweets and temperament are tripping up President Trump
On the jobs front, the Trump administration touts decisions to withdraw from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership with Asian nations and authorize construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. As part of its trade policy, the administration has discussed the possibility of tariffs and border taxes.
Trump's anti-regulation agenda includes a rule requiring that "for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations be eliminated" and establishing a task force to identify "costly and unnecessary regulations," the White House said. The president has instituted a federal hiring freeze."President Trump has quickly taken steps to get the government out of the way of job creation," the White House statement said.
The administration has endorsed a House Republican plan to replace and repeal Obamacare, though some conservatives oppose it, saying it doesn't go far enough.A budget proposal is scheduled for release next week. Trump has called for a $54 billion increase in defense spending, to be offset by the same amount of cuts in domestic programs.Immigration is a big part of the Trump administration's 50-day push. In addition to the border wall, the administration has called for a crackdown on "sanctuary cities" and emphasized deportation of migrants with criminal records. The White House said Trump has authorized the hiring of 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and agents and 5,000 Border Patrol agents.
Trump has nominated appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It has been among the busiest periods in presidential history, and it has not lacked controversy.
The administration's initial plan to suspend entry into the USA from specifically listed Muslim countries drew protests and lawsuits, forcing changes.Trump and aides have faced questions about Russian activity during last year's presidential election.The president, who said neither he nor his aides had anything to do with the Russians, accused predecessor Barack Obama of having him wiretapped in the run-up to the election in November.Though Trump's approval ratings have been below average for new presidents, he retains strong support from the Republican Party.
In planning the Democrats' "turnaround tour," DNC Deputy Chairman Keith Ellison, a Minnesota congressman, said party members will develop alternatives to the new administration."Progressives are hungry to fight back against the disaster that has been Donald Trump’s first two months in the White House," Ellison said
CEOs ENTHUSIATIC ABOUT THE FUTURE
STATUS OF SKYPE
AMAZON ECHO PART OF MURDER TRIAL
The global arms race is on again, based on a measure of arms trade over the past five years, compared to any similarly measured period since the Cold War. The information is based on data from the widely followed Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report, which issued its report for the dates from 2007 to 2011 and 2012 to 2016.
Most of the world’s arm sales come from the same five nations, which have been the top vendors for many years. In the new SIPRI report, these big exporters — the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany — represented 74% of the “volume of exports.”
The world largest importer was India. The report remarked:
India was the world’s largest importer of major arms in 2012–16, accounting for 13 per cent of the global total. Between 2007–11 and 2012–16 it increased its arms imports by 43 per cent. In 2012–16 India’s imports were far greater than those of its regional rivals China and Pakistan.
India is the second largest nation in the world, based on its population of 1.33 billion residents, behind China’s 1.38 billion. Its gross domestic product ranks seventh on a nominal basis at $2.2 trillion. India has had a factious relationship with its northern neighbor Pakistan since the two nations were separated in 1047.
Sales of arms to Middle East nation have risen rapidly. Two nations are the primary drivers of this:
Saudi Arabia was the world’s second largest arms importer in 2012-16, with an increase of 212 per cent compared with 2007–11. Arms imports by Qatar went up by 245 per cent.
The exporting nations are dominated by the United States, which represents one-third of all arms sales. “Its arms exports increased by 21 per cent compared with 2007–11.” Dr. Aude Fleurant, Director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme, said:The USA supplies major arms to at least 100 countries around the world—significantly more than any other supplier state. Both advanced strike aircraft with cruise missiles and other precision-guided munitions and the latest generation air and missile defence systems account for a significant share of US arms exports.
At the current rate of increase, the arms trade could reach Cold War levels within two or three years.
Methodology: The SIPRI Arms Transfers Database contains information on all international transfers of major weapons (including sales, gifts and production licenses) to states, international organizations and armed non-state groups from 1950 to the most recent full calendar year, 2016. SIPRI data reflects the volume of deliveries of arms, not the financial value of the deals. As the volume of deliveries can fluctuate significantly year-on-year, SIPRI presents data for five-year periods, giving a more stable measure of trends
MARCH NEWSLETTER 3
This affluent city in Brazil's south eastern highlands famous for its agribusiness, artisanal ales and annual book fair is usually a tranquil place. Yet in recent months Ribeiral Preto has been rocked by $65 million alleged bribery and kickback racket at City Hall. It is one of hundreds of such scandals coming to light in Brazil. A three year old nationwide corruption probe, dubbed Car Wash, is inspiring a frenzy of similar operations by local prosecutors and police who are uncovering a staggering degree of corruption and sparking turmoil across the country.
Darcy Vera, a former cotton picker and maid who swept into victory in 2008 as Ribeirao's first female mayor was jailed in December for allegedly masterminding the scheme. In the weeks that followed her arrest tales of dawn police raids, briefcases stuffed with money and the mysterious suicide of a local business man in his shower engulfed the city. The Mayor's post went unfilled for nearly two weeks, everyone in Ms Vera's line of succession was either in jail, under investigation or refused to take the job.
Skype, the revolutionary free video call service, is still here, although it rarely gets discussed in the world of Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP), Instagram and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB). Skype has somewhere close to 300 million active users, which puts it on par with Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR). However, Skype arguably has more useful features that some of these newer technologies, at least for people who want to mimic phone calls and video communications for free. That 300 million hardly makes Skype invisible, no matter how little it shows up as a primary means to connect people and businesses.
When Skype was launched in 2003, the notion that people could connect via video call was something new, particularly because the service was free. It was a time when long distance calls, particularly those made overseas, could still be expensive, and video call technology was not available to most people at all. The innovations of the product were great enough that eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) bought the company for over $2.5 billion in 2005. That made it a father of the “unicorn” category. After it passed through other hands, Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) paid $8.5 billion for it in 2011.
Microsoft has incorporated Skype into some of its business services. It has been integrated into the software company’s business server tools, particularly. It also has made Skype into a business video conference call technology. This allows businesses to forgo more expensive video call technology. Presumably, Microsoft thinks this makes its business tools software productions more attractive.Skype’s evolution as a means for people to communicate, even without Microsoft business tools, continues. It only recently announced several new features:
At Skype, we’re constantly working to develop new ways to help you make connections with friends, family and coworkers easy and natural.With this in mind, we are expanding our Skype extension for Google Chrome to enable Skype integration across more of the online tools you use every day, including calendars, email, and even social media. With the latest update of the Skype extension for Chrome, you can create and insert Skype call links with just one click or tap, from right within your email, calendar item, or tweet.
This update comes in addition to the already offered Skype extension features, such as the ability to communicate directly from within your browser, share web pages and launch Skype with one click or tap.
Skype may have been forgotten in some circles in which it used to be well known. But it is not gone.
U.S. employers hired workers at a robust pace in February, beating expectations, and wages grinded higher, which could give the Federal Reserve the green light to raise interest rates next week despite slowing economic growth.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 235,000 jobs last month as the construction sector recorded its largest gain in nearly 10 years due to unseasonably warm weather, the Labor Department said on Friday. January's employment gains were revised up to 238,000 from the previously reported 227,000.Fed Chair Janet Yellen signaled last week that the U.S. central bank would likely hike rates at its March 14-15 policy meeting.
Job gains averaged 209,000 per month over the past three months, well above the 75,000 to 100,000 needed to keep up with growth in the working-age population.The report seals the deal for a rate hike next week. The labor market is where the Fed wants it to be," said Gus Faucher, deputy chief economist at PNC Financial in Pittsburgh.
Last month's brisk clip of hiring was accompanied by steady wage growth, with average hourly earnings rising 6 cents, or 0.2 percent. January's wage growth was revised up to 0.2 percent from the previous 0.1 percent gain. That lifted the year-on-year increase in wages to 2.8 percent from 2.6 percent in January.The unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.7 percent, even as more people rushed into the labor market, encouraged by the hiring spree. Economists had forecast employment increasing by 190,000 jobs last month.
U.S. stocks rose, but gains were curbed by the prospect of higher borrowing costs.
The dollar .DXY fell against a basket of currencies amid disappointment that wages were only growing gradually. The greenback was also hurt by news that the European Central Bank had discussed the possibility of raising interest rates before the end of its quantitative easing program.[People wait in line to enter the Nassau County Mega Job Fair at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, U.S. October 7, 2014.
Prices for U.S. government bonds rose, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note retreating from a 12-week high.With the labor market near full employment, wage growth could speed up as companies are forced to raise compensation to retain employees and attract skilled workers. A proxy for take-home pay rose a solid 0.5 percent in February.The annual wage increase is close to the 3 percent to 3.5 percent range that economists say is needed to lift inflation to the Fed's 2 percent target. Inflation is already firming, in part as commodity prices rise.
Rising inflation, together with a tighter labor market, stock market boom and strengthening global economy, has left some economists expecting that the Fed could increase rates much faster than currently anticipated by financial markets.The U.S. central bank lifted its benchmark overnight rate in December and has forecast three rate increases for 2017.
PARTICIPATION RATE UP
"We continue to expect the Fed to raise its policy rate by an above-consensus four times this year," said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics in Toronto.Job growth has averaged more than 186,000 per month since January 2010. While Donald Trump's victory in last November's presidential election sparked a stock market rally and jumps in consumer and business confidence, there has been no surge in either business or consumer spending.Data ranging from trade to consumer and business spending suggest the economy slowed further early in the first quarter after growing at a 1.9 percent annualized rate in the final three months of 2016. The Atlanta Fed is forecasting gross domestic product growing at a 1.2 percent rate this quarter."It's important to remember that President Trump inherited an economy that was already making steady progress towards full employment," said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.The labor force participation rate, or the share ofworking-age Americans who are employed or at least looking for ajob, increased one-tenth of a percentage point to 63 percent in February, the highest level since March 2016.
The employment-to-population ratio rose to an eight-year high of 60 percent from 59.9 percent in January.
A broad measure of unemployment that includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 9.2 percent last month.All sectors of the economy, with the exception of retail and utilities, expanded payrolls in February. Manufacturing employment increased 28,000, the largest gain since August 2013, as rising oil prices fueled demand for machinery.Construction payrolls surged 58,000, the biggest increase since March 2007, as warmer weather pulled forward hiring at building and civil engineering sites. The mining sector added 7,700 jobs last month, led by oil field hiring. Mining employment has risen by 20,000 jobs since October.
Retail sector employment fell 26,000, the biggest decline since December 2012, after a gain of 39,900 jobs in January. Retailers including J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N) and Macy's Inc (M.N) have announced thousands of layoffs as they shift toward online sales and scale back on brick-and-mortar operations.Utilities shed 1,000 jobs last month because of the milder weather. Government payrolls increased by 8,000 jobs, with federal employment rising 2,300 despite a freeze on the hiring of civilian workers that went into effect in January.
BRAZIL SCANDALS EXPLODE
235,000 JOBS ADDED IN FEBRUARY
GAS PRICES ARE FORECASTED TO INCREASE
Some filing due dates have changed, starting with 2016 returns filed in 2017. Employers are required to file w-2s with the federal government by Jan 31, up from the prior deadlines of Feb 28 for paper returns and Marcch 31 for e-filings. The earlieer due date also apples deadline matches the dae for sending copies of the forms to employees. The Jan 31 due date also applies to 1099s reporting nonemployee compensation. Returns of partnerships are due 21/2 months after year end, March 15. Those needing more time can request a six month extension. The due date for most regular corporations is 31/2 months after year-end, generally April 15 for calendar year firms but they can request a 5 month extension. The deandline for S firms and corporations with a June 30 year end has not changed. The filing date for owners of foreign accounts is moved to April 15. Also taxpayers for the first time are able to requesst an additional six months to file.
TRUMP'S FIRST 50 DAYS
ARMS TRADE IS UP
Everyone has a right to privacy, but as the world becomes ever more connected, this idea is fading to a degree. As more of our devices become connected through the Internet of Things, more of our data, habits or preferences become known to mega-corporations like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) or Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN). Even though privacy might be more of a thing of the past, this monitoring might be able to save lives.
However, in this case one of these mega-corporations is contributing evidence to a murder case. Amazon recently was fighting a subpoena in an Arkansas murder case but now has dropped the fight after the defendant said that he wouldn’t mind if the Amazon Echo data was shared with the court.
Amazon had previously fought this on the grounds of its customers’ privacy rights.
The Amazon Echo smart speaker listens to users and monitors for key words. The key point is that it listens, and the recording may contain evidence that damns or absolves the defendant.In the case, James Andrew Bates has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Victor Collins, who was found dead in a hot tub at Bates’ home in November 2015. In paperwork filed Monday, Bates said Amazon could share the information.More devices are listening in on our daily lives to understand our habits or preferences to make life easier. In the future we might expect more cases like this, where a key witness could be a refrigerator that oversaw a murder or something along those lines.
Both Apple and Alphabet offer similar services to the Amazon Echo, in Siri and OK Google.
Shares of Amazon were trading at $844.82 on Tuesday. The stock has a 52-week trading range of $538.58 to $860.86 and a consensus analyst price target of $938.38.Alphabet shares traded at $850.32, with a consensus price target of $988.95 and a 52-week range of $672.66 to $867.00.Apple was last seen at $139.31 per share. The consensus price target is $143.25, and the 52-week range is $89.47 to $140.28
U.S. chief executives are more positive about the country’s economic outlook than they have been since the fourth quarter of 2009. The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index rose from 74.2 in the fourth quarter of last year to 93.3 in the current quarter, the first time in seven quarters that the index has risen above its historical average of 79.8.CEOs who were surveyed also posted an 18-point gain in the subindex that measures plans for future hiring. Increases of 21.0 and 18.4 points were also posted in the sales expectations and capital expenditure subindexes, respectively.
Jamie Dimon, chairman of the Business Roundtable and CEO and chairman of JPMorgan, said:I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to enact a meaningful pro growth agenda that will benefit all Americans. As these results confirm, business confidence and optimism have increased dramatically. Our CEOs are committed to working collaboratively with policymakers to drive policy solutions, starting with far-reaching tax reform and a smarter approach to regu
In the three categories surveyed — sales expectations, capital spending and employment — more than three-quarters of CEOs expected sales to rise in the next six months, up from two-thirds in the fourth-quarter 2016 survey. Nearly half (46%) plan to increase capital spending in the next six months, up from 35% in the fourth-quarter survey, and 41% say they plan to increase employment, up from 35% in the prior quarter.
The first-quarter 2017 survey was conducted between February 8 and March 1, 2017, and responses were received from 141 member CEOs
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Tuesday released the latest update to its Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO). The EIA is forecasting an average U.S. pump price for 2017 of $2.40 per gallon of regular gasoline, up one cent from the previous forecast. The 2016 annual average was $2.15 per gallon.Rising pump prices have followed on rising prices for crude oil in the wake of announced production cuts totaling about 1.8 million barrels a day from OPEC members and other oil-producing nations.
Crude oil production estimates call for an average of 9.2 million barrels a day in 2017, up from 9 million barrels in last month’s forecast. 2016 production averaged 8.9 million barrels a day. The EIA also raised its production forecast for 2018 from 9.53 million barrels a day to 9.73 million barrels.The March report also changes to the EIA’s earlier estimates for crude oil and refined product pricing for 2017. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil averaged $43.33 a barrel in 2016 and is forecast to rise to an average of $53.49 in 2017, up three cents compared with last month’s estimate. The average price for Brent crude is forecast to rise from $43.73 in 2016 to $54.62 this year, up eight cents from the February estimate. WTI crude is forecast to average $56.18 a barrel in 2018, while Brent is forecast at $57.18. Both estimates were unchanged month over month.
The EIA now forecasts a first quarter 2017 gasoline pump price of $2.33, up one cent compared with last month’s projection. By June the EIA reckons the price will rise to an average of $2.46 a gallon before dropping back to $2.31 in December.Regarding the global rebalancing of the crude oil market the EIA said:Implied global petroleum and liquid fuels inventories increased by an estimated 0.5 million b/d in 2016. EIA expects a relatively balanced oil market in the next two years, with inventory builds averaging 0.1 million b/d in 2017 and 0.2 million b/d in 2018.
WTI for April delivery traded up about 0.2% around $53.30 after touching a high of $53.80 earlier Tuesday morning. Brent crude for May delivery traded down less than 0.1% at $56.00 after posting an intra-day high of $56.01 earlier. From a high of near $57 a barrel in January, WTI has dropped more than 6% so far this year