Door to legal US pot keeps widening as canopy taps hemp

Pot stocks have broken their three-week winning streak, a somewhat ironic shift in sentiment given that last week was full of positives on the US cannabis policy front. In separate addresses, the governors of New York and New Jersey each said they’ll make legalization of recreational cannabis a priority for 2019, potentially opening up a new market with a combined population of close to 30 million. Perhaps more importantly for the future of the industry, US Attorney General nominee William Barr said he’ll respect state marijuana laws even though he…

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It’s election year in South Africa but traders aren’t panicking

With about four months to go before South Africa’s election, traders are holding their nerve. Six-month implied volatility for the rand versus the dollar has declined 155 basis points since the start of the year as investors increasingly price in a comfortable victory for the ruling African National Congress. The vote will be in May, though an exact date hasn’t yet been set. Expected price swings have been lower than actual volatility since September, and the gap widened since the beginning of 2019. That suggests traders are anticipating fluctuations to…

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What crisis? fortunes of Davos billionaires surge since 2009

A decade after the financial crisis poured flat champagne on the World Economic Forum, gold-collar executives set to gather there this week have bounced back, and then some.  David Rubenstein has doubled his fortune since 2009. Jamie Dimon has more than tripled his net worth. And Stephen Schwarzman has increased his wealth six-fold.  It’s a remarkable showing given the economic and political tumult of the past decade, from Lehman Brothers to Brexit to Donald Trump. The fortunes of a dozen 2009 Davos attendees have soared by a combined $175 billion, even…

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Hong Kong housing ranked world’s least affordable for 9th year

Hong Kong has been ranked the world’s least-affordable housing market for a ninth straight year. Not only did it retain the notorious title, homes in the city got further out of reach for most residents, according to Demographia, an urban planning policy consultancy. The city’s median property price climbed to 20.9 times median household income in 2018, up from 19.4 times a year earlier. Vancouver was ranked the second-most unaffordable market, leapfrogging Sydney — where the housing boom has gone into reverse. Melbourne came in fourth, followed by San Jose…

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Tokyo’s top stock surges 305% in year but CFO sees it as cheap

The best-performing stock in Tokyo quadrupled last year, but its chief financial officer says it’s still cheap. BrainPad posted a 305% gain, the best among the more than 2 100 constituents of the benchmark Topix index, as the data analysis company’s profit started to strengthen, reassuring investors of its ability to make money. That won’t be a one-off phenomenon for the consultant to firms including Google’s Japan unit, Yahoo Japan and Japan Airlines, because earnings are now on a solid growth track, according to CFO Ko Ishikawa. BrainPad, which uses…

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Buyer beware: Hong Kong’s $4.8bn stock wipeout shows risk

Ten mid- and small-cap shares plummeted as much as 81% for no apparent reason Thursday, wiping out $4.8 billion of investors’ money. The firms hadn’t published news that would move markets and said they knew no reason for the drop, fuelling speculation that ranged from debt repayments to missing executives. The next day, as several of these stocks rebounded, another inexplicably tumbled. The swings should concern investors sitting in London or New York because some of these shares are included in global benchmarks. Local observers speak about “ dark corners”…

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China revisits 2009 growth low as signs of stabilisation emerge

China notched its slowest expansion since the 2009 financial crisis last quarter amid a debt cleanup and trade woes, while signs of stabilisation in December suggest government efforts to cushion the deceleration are beginning to take hold. Gross domestic product rose 6.4% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier compared with 6.5% in the previous three-month period. In December, gauges of consumption and factory output accelerated, while investment held up. The world’s second-largest economy is on a long-term slowing trajectory as it shifts from the investment-led model of the…

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Silver is precious-metals outcast as 2019 rebound promise fades

Silver just completed its worst year in three. Investors are showing no signs of taking a shine to the metal in 2019, either. The commodity has erased its 2019 gain, while gold, platinum and palladium hold onto theirs. Silver futures on Friday posted the biggest weekly loss since November. Analysts say silver is getting hit from at least two sides as investors are turned off by its status as both a haven and industrial commodity. Optimism over trade talks is boosting equities and curbing demand for shelters from market turmoil.…

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AngloGold faces South African dilemma as M&A gold rush quickens

Two decades ago, Anglo American created the world’s No 1 gold miner by merging its South African assets. Having long since been eclipsed by its rivals, AngloGold Ashanti may need to leave home to keep up. Newmont Mining and Barrick Gold have forged mega deals that will extend their lead over AngloGold. Saddled with Mponeng, the world’s deepest mine in a dying South African industry that’s struggling to contain costs, the third-biggest producer could boost its value by leaving the country, according to Rene Hochreiter, analyst at Noah Capital Markets…

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No more ‘fun fun fun on the autobahn’ under proposed German laws

In Kraftwerk’s famous ode to the autobahn, drivers savoured the freedom of limit-free motorways. That could all end, under proposals from a government panel. A cap of 130 kilometers per hour (80 mph) is being recommended by unions and environmentalists, according to a leaked report, putting an end to Germany’s famous open-road policy. The proposals are for new laws to cut emissions in all sectors of the economy, Bild Zeitung and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Saturday. While roadworks and other restrictions continually taper driving speeds along the motorways, the…

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