News 

US debt hits record under Trump, Republicans mum…

“But despite faster growth, the budget deficit climbed 17 percent to $779 billion last year, the worst since 2012” writes Virginie Montet for yahoo.com. “If we don’t have a strong military, you don’t have to worry about debt, you have bigger problems,” Trump told reporters last week.The massive corporate tax cuts that Trump pushed for at the end of 2017, and the surge in spending, especially in defense, have increased the fiscal deficit for the world’s largest economy.The National Debt Clock shows the bad news about US federal borrowing, swelled…

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Blue-state Democrats back tax cuts for the rich in pursuing SALT reform

“To the extent that unlimited SALT allowed taxpayers to artificially lower their federal tax bill, red-state taxpayers were previously subsidizing their blue-state counterparts’ federal tax share” reports washingtonexaminer.com. The exposure of blue-state residents to their full state tax bill is one of the greatest, if rarely mentioned, aspects of Trump’s tax cut.That’s what makes Democrats’ fierce opposition to the new state and local tax, or SALT, deduction limit of $10,000 so confusing. Source: washingtonexaminer.com

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As refunds dip again, Treasury cites last year’s tax cut

“Treasury expects fewer people to get tax refunds this year and refunds to be slightly lower, a senior Treasury official told reporters on a conference call” writes Aaron Lorenzo for politico.com. Treasury Department officials attributed the downturn to the tax cuts that took effect in 2018, saying the savings to workers were reflected in larger paychecks throughout the year instead of bigger refunds.Republicans, who passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, H.R. 1, without Democratic votes, say that they’ve cut most taxpayers’ liabilities. “The TCJA cut taxes across the board,…

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Eskom split to minimize risks to South Africa, Ramaphosa says

“Locally referred to as “load-shedding”, the power cuts are an emergency measure to prevent the power system from a total collapse, Eskom says” reports businessinsider.com. Eskom hopes to end the power cuts by the end of the week.Ramaphosa said in parliament that cost-cutting at Eskom would not necessarily entail job cuts. Eskom started cutting power on Sunday and intensified outages on Monday after seven generating units unexpectedly went offline.For ordinary South Africans the cuts mean some mothers are struggling to cook for their children and traffic gridlock in major cities…

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Four big shareholders of Deutsche Bank call for cuts at investment bank: FT

“FILE PHOTO: The financial district with the headquarters of Germany’s largest business bank, Deutsche Bank , is photographed on early evening in Frankfurt Thomson Reuters FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Four of Deutsche Bank’s 10 biggest shareholders want the lender to make cuts at its investment division, particularly in the United States, the Financial Times reported on Thursday, citing unidentified sources” reports businessinsider.com. Deutsche Bank was not immediately available for comment outside of business hours. Source: businessinsider.com

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Activision Blizzard cuts 800 workers, refocuses on hits like ‘Call of Duty’

“Activision Blizzard started informing employees Tuesday afternoon about the layoffs, which are believed to affect almost 800 workers of the 9,600 the company employed in 2018” writes Maren Estrada for bgr.com. As everyone expected, the video game company whose various units publish everything from franchises like Call of Duty to Candy Crush has just announced a massive wave of layoffs affecting 8% of the company.CEO Bobby Kotick also disclosed the coming layoffs to investors during the company’s quarterly earnings call this week.In January, right before the company’s legally mandated quiet period, Activision…

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Futures News Oil 

Oil Up Nearly 2% on Saudi and OPEC Cuts

“U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures rose 69 cents, or 1.3 percent, to settle at $53.10 a barrel” writes Min Read for reuters.com. Oil prices edged up slightly post-settlement after data from the American Petroleum Institute (API), an industry group, showed U.S. crude oil stockpiles had unexpectedly fallen.Brent crude futures gained 91 cents, or 1.5 percent, to settle at $62.42 a barrel.OPEC said on Tuesday it had reduced oil production almost 800,000 bpd in January to 30.81 million bpd under its voluntary global supply pact. Source: reuters.com

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News Oil Stocks 

Oil and gas stocks in broad rally; crude prices jump on reports of supply cuts

“Shares of oil and gas companies were broadly higher Wednesday, as reports of supply cuts and optimism on U.S.-China trade talks helped fuel a rally in crude oil prices” writes Reporter Editor for marketwatch.com. The energy ETF has hiked up 13.5% year to date, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.48% has rallied 10.1%.Meanwhile, crude oil futures CLH9, +1.75% ran up 2.3%.The energy sector was the best performing of the S&P 500’s 11 key sectors, with the SPDR Energy Select Sector ETF XLE, +1.69% climbing 1.7% with all 30 equity components…

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Democrats vilify the Trump tax cuts for generating smaller refunds

“It remains to be seen whether the tax season confusion shifts public opinion” reports washingtonexaminer.com. The tax cuts lowered the amount withheld from each paycheck for most taxpayers, cutting their taxes but also raising the possibility that, when they file their taxes, their refund will be smaller.Even though they may be paying less taxes overall, taxpayers might resent getting a smaller lump refund — or having to pay a larger bill to tax collectors.Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also see an opening created by the tax law to argue for higher taxes…

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Tesla’s delivery team gutted in recent job cuts – sources

“Tesla declined to comment on the job reductions in the delivery team” writes Min Read for reuters.com. Musk maintains that Model 3 demand is “insanely high,” but his company has not released any figures to demonstrate that.SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – When Tesla Inc announced last month a second round of job cuts to rein in costs, one crucial department was particularly badly hit. Source: reuters.com

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