Smoke belching from a coal-fueled power station near Datong, in China’s northern Shanxi province.
Greg Baker | AFP | Getty Images
China’s climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions hit 12.3 billion tonnes in 2014, up 53.5% in just a decade, the environment ministry said on Monday, citing the country’s latest carbon “inventory” submitted to the United Nations.
China’s carbon emissions data is notoriously opaque, but as a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Beijing is obliged to submit an official inventory to the UN on a regular basis. It has previously released figures for 2005 and 2010.
As the world’s biggest greenhouse gas producer, China is aiming to bring its total emissions to a peak by “around 2030”, though it has also pledged to show “the highest possible ambition” when it reviews its targets next year.
The 2014 figure, based on the most recent calculations by the Chinese government, includes China’s emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, but does not make adjustments based on changes in land use or increases in forest coverage.
The environment ministry said if the impact of forests and other “carbon sinks” were taken into consideration, total emissions would have stood at 11.186 billion tonnes in 2014, still up 17% from 2010.
Total net U.S. emissions were measured at 5.74 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2017, down 0.5% on the year, according to the country’s Environmental Protection Agency.
A study published by the Nature Geoscience journal last year estimated that China’s total emissions hit a record 9.53 billion tonnes in 2013 and then declined over the following three years.
The decline in CO2 from 2014-2016 came as a result of falling energy consumption, but it has since rebounded.
Record production levels in carbon-intensive sectors such as steel could mean CO2 emissions are still on the rise and could hit fresh records this year, environmental group Greenpeace said.
Stocks rebounding, but new highs may be elusive in trade war
Stocks are bouncing higher but could be trapped in a range until there’s a resolution of the trade wars and an end to the uncertain shadow it is casting over business confidence and the economy.
The S&P 500, up 1.2% at 2,923 Monday, is now 3.5% off its July 26 highs, as the market reacts to positive headlines on trade talks between the U.S. and China.
Technicians say the market was due for a rally but it’s unclear that it will last. The challenge would be for the S&P to revisit the 2,943 level, its Aug. 13 high, after the S&P last week was able to hold above its 2,822 Aug. 5 low.
“Seeing last week’s low hold I think was a positive sign for a potential bounce back to be more than just a few days. There’s no way to know that until we see follow through later this week,” said Frank Cappelleri, executive director, Instinet. “The past two times you bounced from the same support level, it was over in a few days.”
Strategists said they are picking stock groups that they see benefiting in the current volatile environment, and one area where there could be gains is small caps.
“What we’re going through right now is a garden variety pullback” in the 10% range, said Lori Calvasina, head of U.S. equity strategy at RBC. Calvasina said by 17 metrics she monitors, small cap stocks are underperforming larger caps, the most since 2002.
“Let’s say we had a growth scare, and we had a big unwind, I don’t think small caps would be any worse than large cap,” she said. “The risk in the market is really sitting in that big cap part. What you want to look for in these crisis periods is what are you going to buy for the long term. Small caps are screaming that they are the ones you want to own when this market turns around. More so than watching the S&P, you want to watch the small caps.”
The S&P 500 jumped 1.3% Monday, and the small cap Russell 2000 was up about the same.
Steven DeSanctis, small and mid cap analyst at Jefferies, said the Russell 2000, now at about 1,512, could be back at 1,665 by year end. “The action is going to be more on the small cap side,” he said.
DeSanctis said the worst may be over for stocks for now.
“I think we’ll definitely see big swings,” said DeSanctis, adding the market may have bottomed for now. “If companies are sitting here a few weeks from now and not knowing what’s going on with the tariffs, they’re going to cut numbers.”
His year end target for the S&P 500, at 2,923 Monday, is not much higher, at 2,950. Calvasina’s S&P target is the same.
“What we saw at the end of July, what [small caps] were telling you was they were confirming the weakness in the markets. They were not showing the same trend you saw in large caps. They didn’t set a new high the way the S&P did,” Calvasina said. “That was telling you people were having doubts about where the economy was headed.”
Calvasina said the trade issues need to be resolved in one direction or other, but the uncertainty needs to be lifted for businesses to invest. She said stocks, down about 7% at their lowest level this month, could end up dipping even more than 10%.
“It’s an open question. I think it depends on news flow,” she said.
Bond yields moved higher Monday, taking pressure off the stock market, but the extreme move lower in interest rates this month is helping lift rate-sensitive stocks. Home builders, for instance, were rallying Monday on the prospect that buyers could secure lower home mortgage rates.
The overall stock market has been slammed this month on fears the bond market is signaling a recession. Last week, a closely watched part of the Treasury yield curve inverted, with the 10-year yield temporarily falling below the yield on the 2-year note. That is often seen as a recession warning though the curve is no longer inverted.
With so much nervousness around rates and the economy, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments Friday could be the next big catalyst for stocks. Powell speaks at the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole symposium.
“I think markets are expecting more easing. I don’t know what he’s going to say that would change that,” Calvasina said.
If Powell sounds hawkish, that could send markets reeling. Many are looking for him to explain what he meant by the comment that the Fed’s last rate cut was a midcycle adjustment, which markets took to mean a short-term process, not a longer term rate cutting cycle.
For now, DeSanctis said he likes real estate stocks, which would be helped by lower rates. He also likes consumer discretionary and tech stocks, but he sees overzealous investors jumping into the QQQs which represents the Nasdaq 100 .
“As soon as the market goes down, that’s exactly where people want to go to. Back to the same stuff that’s worked. I’m not sure that’s the right idea, but that’s what the flows are telling us,” he said.
DeSanctis said it would be better to look for value stocks. Within tech, he likes semiconductors more than software.
“If you think the economy is not going into a recession, and we’re going to see improvement in value, and valuations matter more than growth at any price,” he said.
DeSanctis said he holds financials. “We think of more non-bank related financials are probably a better place to be. If you think the consumer is doing well, and they’ve got jobs and they’re making a little more money, then credit is not going to be an issue and consumer finance makes some sense, ” he said.
Small cap stocks have been hit hard by earnings worries, with comparisons made even worse by the lift profits received from taxes last year. Smaller companies may have an advantage if trade wars continues since they rely on domestic profits.
“I think if you’re a short-term investor, it’s hard to pound the table on small caps. They’re riskier. They underperformed for a lot of good reasons. If you’re an asset allocator, and you’re looking long term, small caps are really the cheapest you’ve seen in small versus large since before the financial crisis,” Calvasina said.
Saudi Aramco in talks with banks about IPO
An employee walks past crude oil storage tanks at the Juaymah Tank Farm in Saudi Aramco’s Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia, on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Saudi Aramco asked several banks to bid for roles in its possible initial public offering, people familiar with the matter told CNBC on Monday.
Reuters first reported news of the company’s talks with banks.
An IPO of the state-controlled oil company has been a longtime goal of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who values the company at around $2 trillion. The state-owned oil company would be the world’s biggest IPO.
Recently, Saudi energy minister Khalid Al-Falih said Aramco would likely go public in 2020 or 2021.
The company’s board was meeting with bankers in Boston earlier last month and the debt offering gave the Saudi officials confidence the IPO could happen as soon as 2020, the people familiar with the matter told CNBC.
The people did not specify which banks received requests from Saudi Aramco.
Saudi Aramco declined to comment.
Oil prices rose on Monday as the market started to price in the current geopolitical risk of a weekend drone attack on a Saudi Arabia oil facility.
Saudi Aramco said oil production was not affected by the attack.
Former CNN reporter hires lobbyists to battle Trump friend Duterte
Philippine journalist Maria Ressa (2nd R), is escorted by police after an arrest warrant was served, shortly after arriving at the international airport in Manila on March 29, 2019.
STR | AFP | Getty Images
A former CNN investigative reporter has hired a lobbying juggernaut to take on Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, one of Donald Trump’s most loyal allies in the region.
Lobbying disclosure reports show that Maria Ressa, who founded news website Rappler Inc. in the Philippines, has tapped two partners out of Covington & Burling to help her with a foreign relations campaign against Duterte.
The filing shows that Peter Lichtenbaum and Kurt Wimmer are working with Ressa to “build awareness and concern about the unfounded charges brought against Rappler and its CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa in the Philippines.” The Covington leaders were registered to lobby for Ressa effective Friday.
Ressa was arrested in the Philippines for a second time in March after her media publication was critical of Duterte’s government. Philippine officials charged her and Rappler with breaking laws as it pertained to foreign ownership of the company. Ressa has also been accused of libel, and that trial is currently ongoing.
A separate filing shows Rappler has also brought on Wimmer and Lichtenbaum for assistance.
After publication, Wimmer explained in an email that they anticipate providing legal counsel for Ressa and Rappler, as well as briefing U.S. policymakers.
“We anticipate that in addition to providing U.S. legal counsel, our role will include briefing U.S. policymakers who are concerned with freedom of expression and the rule of law so that they understand all of the facts surrounding the Philippine government’s treatment of Ms. Ressa and Rappler,” Wimmer said.
Ressa and Lichtenbaum did not respond to requests for comment.
Although the documents do not show who they will be reaching out to in Washington with this new campaign, any attempt to work directly with Trump’s administration might prove to be futile due to the president’s good relationship with Duterte.
Duterte has repeatedly called Trump his friend. Trump met with the Philippines leader in November 2017. Months after Trump was sworn into office, he called Duterte to praise him on the crackdown of drug cartels since he became the country’s leader, according to a transcript of the conversation first reported by The Intercept.
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump told Duterte, the transcript read.
Duterte’s war on drugs has led to thousands of deaths in the Philippines, data from a recent study by Human Rights Watch shows. Citing the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the nonprofit organization says more than 4,900 suspected drug users and dealers died between 2016 and 2018 during police operations. Since Duterte’s crackdown started, nearly 23,000 other deaths are being classified as homicides under investigation, the group says, citing the Philippine National Police.
Trump’s relationship with Duterte isn’t well received in Washington, even among allies of the White House. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a staunch Trump supporter, has publicly cautioned the president against getting too familiar with Duterte. “This is not a guy we want to empower,” he said in an interview in 2017.
Lichtenbaum, one of the lobbyists, has also had run-ins with Trump’s administration.
During Trump’s campaign for president in 2016, the Covington partner signed a public letter that declared he would not be voting for the Republican nominee. Lichtenbaum, a former assistant secretary in the Commerce Department under President George W. Bush, was one of dozens of previous national security officials who signed the “Never Trump” declaration.
Lichtenbaum was being considered for a post within Trump’s administration before it was discovered that he had signed the letter. Wilbur Ross’ Commerce Department eventually pulled its consideration, Reuters reported at the time.
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