Oil prices rise as US threatens new sanctions on Iran

Oil prices rise as US threatens new sanctions on Iran(Source Yahoo Finance)

Oil prices continued to rise on Monday morning as the United States prepares to announce new sanctions on Iran. Crude and brent prices have spiked in recent weeks after a US drone was shot down by Iran. The Iranian regime has also been accused of blowing up oil tankers.

Brent futures were up around 0.8% at $65.69 a barrel at 9.30am on Monday, while crude was up 0.7% to $57.84 a barrel.  US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said “significant” new sanctions would be announced on Tehran on Monday.

Trump said he called off a military strike against Iran on Friday after a US drone was shot down, saying he was “not looking for war.” “There’s a very firm tone to trading on well above average volumes,” according to Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney. “We’ve got concerns about the sanctions against Iran, [but] we are seeing a better demand picture because of the actions of central banks, which is benefiting all commodities … and we have got a weaker US dollar,” McCarthy said.

Illinois 11th US State to Legalize Ganja

Illinois Just Became The 11th US State To Legalize Recreational Marijuana (Source truththeory.com)

This week, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, signed a bill that will legalize marijuana for recreational use throughout the state. Illinois will now be the 11th state in the US to legalize the substance for recreational use. The bill will allow residents of the state to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis at a time. Non-residents will be limited to just 15 grams. “Change is hard, but an essential tenet of good governance is recognizing the need to change the laws that have failed. In the past 50 years, the war on cannabis has destroyed families, filled prisons with nonviolent offenders and disproportionately disrupted black and brown communities,” Pritzker said during a press conference before he signed the bill. “With this legislation, our state once again is a leader, putting forward the most equity-centric cannabis legalization in the nation,” he added.

The bill also goes a step further to expunge the criminal records for anyone who was arrested for purchasing or possessing 30 grams or less. The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2020, and will allow adults over the age of 21 to purchase the plant from approved dispensaries. However, until then, possession will still be a crime in the state.

US deploying missiles along Russia’s borders could lead to ‘new Cuban crisis’

US deploying missiles along Russia’s borders could lead to ‘new Cuban crisis’ (rt.com)

Washington will provoke explosive tensions, reminiscent of the darkest moments of the Cold War, if it sends missiles close to Russia’s border after suspending the INF Treaty, a senior diplomat in Moscow warned.

If Washington deploys short or mid-range ground-based missiles along Russia’s borders, the situation “will not only become complicated, it will escalate to the maximum level,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told lawmakers on Monday.

We can end up in a missile crisis not just similar to the one we had in the 1980s, but to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

The diplomat was commenting on the demise of the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) between Moscow and Washington. The deal banned owning and testing of all ground-based missiles with a range of up to 5,500km (3,420 miles), as well as their launchers.

Last year, the US announced the suspension of its obligations under the treaty, alleging that Russia secretly violates it. Moscow strongly denied the allegations and accused the US of conducting tests, illegal under the INF Treaty, which Washington likewise denied. In February, Russia suspended its participation in the agreement in “a mirror response” to the US’ actions. Ryabkov said that Moscow stands ready to continue taking “a responsible approach” to the situation but will do everything to “firmly maintain its own national security and the security of our allies in the changing environment.”

What Happens to Stocks When the US/China Deal Completely Falls Apart?

What Happens to Stocks When the US/China Deal Completely Falls Apart?(Source Phoenixcapitalmarketing.com)

Anyone who was clinging to hopes of a US/China trade deal at this weekend’s G-20 meeting just woke up to find President Trump is already talking about hitting China with MORE tariffs if talks fail. This is a clear signal that no deal is coming. Why?

Because China’s leadership will never sign a deal that makes them look weak.

In the context of the President’s threat of more tariffs, signing a deal this weekend would make China’s leadership look fearful. So forget about China coming to the table interested in signing a deal.

China demanding that the US lift its ban on Huawei as part of any trade agreement. the Chinese telecom Huawei is one of the greatest national security threats to the US. The company has already been implicated in a slew of crimes/ security issues ranging from spying on customers to stealing trade secrets. With that in mind, the notion that President Trump would even consider allowing Huawei to gain access to US markets is ludicrous. China might as well ask the US to change its currency from the US Dollar to the Yuan.

Put simply, NO DEAL is coming this weekend at the G-20. Both sides have made it clear they have no interest in reaching a deal.

The bond market has been telling us this since January. While stocks have rallied on hype and hope of a trade deal, bond yields have plunged signaling that there will be no trade deal and that the global economy is rolling over.

Down the yellow brick road: China buying gold & dumping dollar assets as trade war with US escalates

Down the yellow brick road: China buying gold & dumping dollar assets as trade war with US escalates(Source rt.com)

Gold prices rallied to six-year highs last week and continued posting gains on Monday at $1,403 per ounce. China boosting its gold stockpile, to shift away from the US dollar, has added to the precious metal’s resurgence.

The People’s Bank of China has purchased more than 70 tons of gold since December, according to the World Gold Council (WGC). Before that, the Chinese central bank had not reported an increase in gold reserves for more than two years, and the official figures remained unchanged from October 2016 to November 2018.

The increased gold purchasing by Asia’s top economy comes at a time when global central banks are accumulating the precious metal in record numbers. Russia has been the top buyer of gold, adding about 274 tons to its reserves last year. In the first 5 months of 2019, Russia added 78 tons of gold to its coffers, increasing the metal’s share in its international reserves by 3.7 percent.

Gold reserves of central banks around the world surged by 651.5 tons, or 74 percent year on year, in 2018, showed data from the WGC.

Analysts say Beijing was doubling down on gold “to diversify its reserves” away from the greenback. The country has been selling off US Treasuries lately, with its holdings having plunged from the peak of $1.32 trillion in late 2013 to about $1.1 trillion in April. “Beijing is worried US-China ties could get worse, so the PBOC has jumped to stockpile its gold reserves,” said Tom McGregor, Beijing-based journalist and political analyst.

What’s an advanced Russian warship doing in Havana harbor?

What’s an advanced Russian warship doing in Havana harbor?(Source Associated Press)

One of the Russian navy’s most advanced warships entered Havana’s harbor Monday and docked at the port used until this month by U.S. cruise lines. Here are some questions and answers about the Admiral Gorshkov’s travels through the Caribbean. The Admiral Gorshkov entered service last year. It is one of the Russian navy’s most advanced warships and is armed with cruise missiles, air defense systems and other weapons. The frigate is based at the Arctic port of Severomorsk and is part of Russia’s Northern Fleet. It’s the first ship in a new class of frigates intended to replace aging Soviet-era destroyers to project power far away from Russian shores. It is accompanied by the multifunctional logistics vessel Elbrus, the medium sea tanker Kama and the rescue tug Nikolai Chiker, the Russian navy says. Russian warships and aircraft have periodically made forays into the Caribbean. In a show of power, a pair of Russian nuclear-capable Tu-160 strategic bombers visited Venezuela in December in what the Russian military described as a training mission. The deployment came before the latest crisis in Venezuela. Russia also sent Tu-160s and a missile cruiser to visit Venezuela in 2008 amid tensions with the U.S. after Russia’s brief war with Georgia. A pair of Tu-160s also visited Venezuela in 2013.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Report: U.S. Military Must Rethink Strategy or Risk Defeat

Report: U.S. Military Must Rethink Strategy or Risk Defeat(Source thetrumpet.com)

The United States is investing an enormous amount of resources in “flawed” concepts that will fail to succeed in a full-scale war. This was the verdict of a report released on June 12 by the Center for a New American Security and authored by former U.S. Army Ranger Chris Dougherty. It warned that without a complete overhaul of strategy, America would likely lose a conventional war against a major power, such as Russia or China. The current strategy pursued by the U.S., writes Dougherty, “rests on a foundation of strategic and operational assumptions that were the product of an anomalous historical period of unchallenged U.S. military dominance …. The assumptions from that period are now deeply flawed or wholly invalid and must be updated for an era of great-power competition.”

Today’s reality of warfare differs from the last decade in substantial ways. For example, during campaigns in the Middle East, the U.S. mainland was not threatened in nearly the same way it would be if Russian or Chinese missiles were inbound on a daily basis. In a war with other great powers, the U.S. would have to compete with its adversaries without relying on “safe havens” in the U.S. being free from attack.

California Experiences Series of Earthquakes

California Experiences Series of Earthquakes(Source thetrumpet.com) A series of more than 1,000 earthquakes, ranging between magnitude 0.7 and 3.2, have rocked Southern California in the weeks since May 25. Some fear that these small earthquakes could be leading to “the Big One.” When such seismic events occur within short intervals and remain too small to bring about significant damage, they are known as earthquake swarms. Experts consider the sustained nature of these recent earthquake swarms to be unusual. California Institute of Technology seismologist Egill Hauksson told the Los Angeles Times, “People ought to be concerned. This is probably the most prolific swarm in that area of the Fontana seismic zone that we’ve seen in the past three decades.” So far, the hundreds of tremors have caused minimal damage. But it is possible that they are “foreshocks,” which signal the impending arrival of a much larger, more destructive earthquake.

Few geologists believe that these recent swarms are precursors to a calamitous earthquake. However, U.S. Geological Survey research geophysicist Andrea Llenos does believe that we “should still be prepared for a large earthquake. We do know a big earthquake is going to happen.” What nobody knows is where or when it will take place.

Xi Hails ‘New Chapter’ With North Korea Ahead of Landmark Visit

Xi Hails ‘New Chapter’ With North Korea Ahead of Landmark Visit(Source Yahoo News)

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for starting a “new chapter” with North Korea in a newspaper commentary published in Pyongyang ahead of the first visit by a Chinese leader in 14 years.

Xi’s state visit on Thursday and Friday to meet leader Kim Jong Un was expected to be a show of unity among the longtime allies who have both been the target of Trump administration fury. Referring to the North Korean leader as “Comrade Kim Jong Un,” Xi wrote: “I wish to use this visit to facilitate a China-North Korea cooperation relationship and open a new chapter based on the traditional China-North Korea friendship.” China provides a lifeline to North Korea’s paltry economy that is squeezed by international sanction to punish it for nuclear and missile tests that defied United Nation resolutions.

Putin says use of US force against Iran would be ‘disaster

Putin says use of US force against Iran would be ‘disaster'(Source AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said any use of force by the US against Iran would lead to disaster as tensions escalate between Washington and Tehran. “The US says it does not rule out the use of force… This would be a disaster for the region,” Putin said during an annual televised phone-in with screened questions posed by Russian viewers.

“It would lead to a surge in violence and an increase in the number of refugees,” he said, adding that the consequences of intervention would be “difficult to calculate”. Moscow has backed Tehran in its stand off with the United States since Washington pulled out of an international 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran last year.

Putin repeated Russia’s insistence that sanctions against Iran are “unreasonable”.

The comment comes at a time of growing antagonism between Iran and the US following two waves of still unexplained attacks on Gulf shipping, which Washington has blamed on Tehran.

Iran has denied any involvement and hinted that the US might have orchestrated them itself to provide a pretext for the use of force against the Islamic republic.