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Frontrunning: August 21

  • No End in Sight for Oil Glut (WSJ)
  • Dozens of Clinton emails were classified from the start, U.S. rules suggest (Reuters)
  • China August Manufacturing Activity Hits Lowest Level Since 2009 (WSJ)
  • German Manufacturing Strengthens as Economy Shifts Up a Gear (BBG)
  • Israel responds to rocket attack with protest and air strikes (FT)
  • ASX carnage: 2015 fast becoming a year to forget  (Canberra Times)
  • Hong Kong Stocks Enter Bear Market After Falling From April Peak (BBG)
  • Far left splits from Tsipras as Greece heads to elections (Reuters)
  • Traders Sound Fed Policy-Error Alarm as Inflation Outlook Dives (BBG)
  • Pentagon Says China Has Stepped Up Land Reclamation in South China Sea (WSJ)
  • States Eye Taxes on Streaming Video and Cloud Computing (WSJ)
  • U.S. oil fall longest in 29 years after China data (Reuters)
  • Flying Robots Replace Oil Roughnecks (BBG)
  • China smartphone sales fall for first time: Gartner (Reuters)
  • Home Prices in These Midwestern Cities Are Outperforming New York (BBG)

 

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

- When oil prices started to edge down a year ago, most energy mavens thought the drop would be small and short-lived. Instead, the price of crude has plunged by almost 60 percent from its 2014 peak. (http://on.wsj.com/1J8Uxx4)

- With sales of DVDs, videogames and traditional packaged software slumping for years, more U.S. state and local governments are eyeing technologies, such as streaming video subscriptions and cloud computing, to help make up for hundreds of millions of dollars or more in lost revenue. (http://on.wsj.com/1J8UGkd)

- Boeing Co and supplier GKN Plc are wrestling to produce a crucial component for the updated version of its workhorse 737 jet, amid concerns that a shortage could derail ambitious plans to boost production. (http://on.wsj.com/1J8UVM7)

- Biases can creep into complex computer code despite even the best efforts to keep it out. Computer scientists are just starting to study the problem and devise ways to guard against it. (http://on.wsj.com/1J8V0zb)

- One of Joe Biden's top challenges is determining whether he could corner enough support from working-class Americans and independents to make him a formidable threat to Hillary Clinton. (http://on.wsj.com/1J8V2Hi)

- A new Pentagon report says China's reclamation of landmass among a string of artificial islands in the South China Sea has grown dramatically in recent months, and that Beijing is aggressively patrolling the waters there to assert its territorial claims. (http://on.wsj.com/1J8V3v4)

 

FT

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stepped down, triggering the sixth general election in eight years. He asked the Greek people to pass judgement on the latest bailout deal after submitting his resignation on Thursday.

The Swiss group Zurich Insurance has enlisted additional support from boutique bank Evercore Partners in efforts to buy UK rival RSA Insurance Group Plc in a deal worth more than 5 billion pounds ($7.84 billion).

WH Smith said that book sales were "slightly ahead" and in line with expectations, which would help full-year results exceed analysts' expectations. It said a well-performing category was advanced colouring books for adults.

France's National Front expelled founder Jean-Marie Le Pen in a bid to shed the party's extremist image and to increase the possibility of the party taking power in the next presidential election.

 

NYT

- Stock markets around the world plummeted on Thursday, signaling that investors have not gotten over the shock of China's devaluation last week and remain nervous about the health of the global economy. (nyti.ms/1WIsHPa)

- Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece called Thursday for new national elections in a bid to consolidate his power and press ahead with the 86 billion euro bailout plan he agreed to with European creditors. (nyti.ms/1fu7MxB)

- Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which on Tuesday won regulatory approval for the first pill to aid a woman's sex drive, will be acquired by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International for about $1 billion in cash. (nyti.ms/1PpfBRn)

- Less than a week after emerging as a big investor in Sysco Corp, the activist investor Nelson Peltz has gained seats on the food service company's board. Sysco said on Thursday that it had added Peltz and Josh Frank, another executive at Trian Fund Management, as its newest corporate directors. (nyti.ms/1EGyZni)

 

Canada

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

** Many women with a form of early stage breast cancer may be receiving treatments, including radiation and mastectomy, that do not prolong their life, according to a study published on Thursday in the journal JAMA Oncology. (http://bit.ly/1HZnRCi)

** The "beta" testing phase is over and the Shomi video-streaming service, a joint venture of Rogers Communications Inc and Shaw Communications Inc , is now open to anyone with an Internet connection. (http://bit.ly/1HZodZA)

** As Ontario launches a round of public consultation on police carding, the province's largest police association is stepping up its defense of the controversial practice with a poll suggesting 40 percent of Ontarians support carding when provided with highly selective examples of the procedure. (http://bit.ly/1HZonA9)

** Irving Oil Ltd is shutting its massive East Coast refinery for two months to complete a major maintenance overhaul, weakening demand for crude in a market already struggling with severe oversupply. (http://bit.ly/1HZovjb)

NATIONAL POST

** Toronto-based electricity distribution and transmission utility Hydro One, currently owned by the government of Ontario, said on Thursday that Mayo Schmidt had been selected its chief executive. (http://bit.ly/1Jv0WG0)

** Regulatory review of the proposed C$5.4 billion ($4.13 billion) expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline from Alberta to the British Columbia is now entering the final stage as proponent Kinder Morgan Canada Inc submitted written final arguments to the National Energy Board on Thursday while oral final arguments will start in Calgary on Monday. (http://bit.ly/1Jv1w6Q)

 

Hong Kong

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

- Forever Top, a consortium led by property tycoon David Chiu and MGM China co-chairman Pansy Ho, plans to up the ante in its bid to win a free-to-air television licence in Hong Kong. The consortium said it would invest HK$4.1 billion ($528.93 million) in its first six years of operation if it obtained a licence, up from HK$3.2 billion it announced in April. (bit.ly/1J8rhGE)

- Hong Kong received 8.4 percent fewer visitors last month compared with July last year as the strong Hong Kong dollar deterred tourists, according to Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So. Mainland visitors were more inclined to travel to alternative destinations such as Japan, where the currency made it more affordable to visit, So added. (bit.ly/1HYLLxJ)

- Beijing will not devalue the yuan much more as further cheapening of the currency may not help boost exports and might have adverse ramifications, said Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chan Ka-keung. He said he does not expect Beijing to devalue the yuan substantially in the near future as that may create more problems than help the mainland economy. (bit.ly/1gZvRgT)

THE STANDARD

- The Hong Kong taxi industry plans to tackle the popularity of Uber head-on by creating a smartphone app that promises a better service. Taxi Dealers & Owners Association chairman Ng Kwan-shing said half the industry has gathered to discuss the possibility of having a platform for customers to place orders just like competitor Uber. (bit.ly/1TWMJa3)

- The local retail environment will remain challenging in the second half as sales of luxury brands stay under pressure, Swire Properties Ltd said. Chief executive Guy Bradley said retail sales at flagship mall Pacific Place in Admiralty dropped 12.7 percent in the first half from a year earlier. (bit.ly/1Jn9JrL)

- China Mobile Ltd posted better-than-expected interim profit but warned its average revenue per user may face downside pressure in the second half. (bit.ly/1Lmbp4f)

HONG KONG ECONOMIC JOURNAL

- Kerry Properties Ltd sees increasing demand for high quality apartments in Hong Kong while residential prices are unlikely to rise sharply in the second half, according to managing director Ho Shut-kan. He said the company will adjust the tenant mix at its shopping malls in China and will reduce the number of luxury brand stores.

 

Britain

The Times

* Losses at the Co-operative Bank have almost tripled in the first half of the year and it will not turn a profit until 2017, as it continues to struggle with "legacy issues". (http://thetim.es/1E8fZnd)

* In its latest monthly health check of the UK's retail sector, the Office for National Statistics found that sales volumes grew by just 0.1 percent in July after a 0.1 percent fall in the previous month. This was below analysts' expectations for a 0.4 percent increase. (http://thetim.es/1Jlnfrx)

The Guardian

* The number of new homes being started in England fell at its steepest rate for three years in the last quarter, official figures show. The 14 percent drop in housing starts to 33,280 in the period from April to June is the biggest decline since the first three months of 2012, according to seasonally adjusted government data. (http://bit.ly/1PoLYQl)

* Tesco Plc has agreed to use more British milk in its dairy products in another victory for farmers in their battle with supermarkets over treatment of suppliers. Britain's biggest retailer has bowed to pressure and pledged that all its own-brand yoghurt will be produced with domestic milk from March 2016. (http://bit.ly/1U1nyhb)

The Telegraph

* Henry Staunton is adding a second FTSE 250 chairmanship to his workload, after agreeing to replace Sir Howard Davies as the chair of the pensions consolidation business Phoenix Group . (http://bit.ly/1MH92Mr)

* House buyers and homeowners have borrowed more in July than in any month since the eve of the financial crisis in the middle of 2008, according to industry figures. (http://bit.ly/1JtUIGr)

Sky News

* The American payments giant Visa Inc has tabled a $21 billion offer to acquire its European sister company in a deal that would crystallise huge windfalls for some of Britain's biggest banks. (http://bit.ly/1Ln6WB2)

The Independent

* WH Smith Plc avoided questions over the scandal to hit its travel business after it was revealed retailers were asking customers to show boarding cards to avoid paying VAT without passing discounts on to customers. (http://ind.pn/1J8R6UR)

* Admiral,the car insurance group, has hit a new landmark, becoming the largest toy distributor in South Wales, its homebase, thanks to the success of Brian the Robot. (http://ind.pn/1MB71Qm)