Current Affairs – 25 September 2020 - Doo Prime News
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Current Affairs – 25 September 2020

WORLDWIDE: HEADLINES

Democrats prepare bill limiting U.S. Supreme Court justice terms to 18 years

NEW YORK – Democrats in of the House of Representatives will introduce a bill next week to limit the tenure of U.S. Supreme Court justices to 18 years from current lifetime appointments, in a bid to reduce partisan warring over vacancies and preserve the court’s legitimacy.

The new bill, seen by Reuters, would allow every president to nominate two justices per four-year term and comes amid heightened political tensions as Republican President Donald Trump prepares to announce his third pick for the Supreme Court after the death on Sept. 18 of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with just 40 days to go until the Nov. 3 election.

“It would save the country a lot of agony and help lower the temperature over fights for the court that go to the fault lines of cultural issues and is one of the primary things tearing at our social fabric,” said California U.S. Representative Ro Khanna, who plans to introduce the legislation on Tuesday, along with Representatives Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts and Don Beyer of Virginia.

Full coverage: REUTERS

Australian public debt blows out on virus-driven welfare payment boost

SYDNEY – Australian government debt has jumped to nearly 25% of gross domestic product (GDP), Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Friday, after Canberra drastically increased welfare payments as unemployment surged due to COVID-19 business closures.

Government debt for the year-ended June 30 totalled A$491.2 billion ($346.6 billion), or 24.8% of the country’s GDP, Frydenberg said ahead of the federal budget on Oct. 6.

That soared from 19.2% at June 2019 and was slightly higher than Australia’s official forecast of 24.6% in July.

The massive fiscal stimulus has led the Treasurer to abandon a long-held aspiration to return the budget to surplus as he signalled fiscal policy will remain accommodative at least until the unemployment rate is “comfortably” back below 6%.

Australia is in its first recession in three decades with policymakers expecting unemployment to rise to about 10% in coming months from 6.8% in August.

Full coverage: REUTERS

WORLDWIDE: FINANCE / MARKETS

Oil steady as market eyes coronavirus hit to demand

TOKYO – Oil prices were little changed on Friday but on track for a weekly fall on concerns that a global resurgence of COVID-19 infections will constrain fuel demand, while the likely return of exports from Libya will add to supply.

Brent crude LCOc1 was down 2 cents at $41.92 a barrel by 0113 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was 3 cents firmer at $40.34.

Brent is heading for a drop of nearly 3% this week, while U.S. crude is on track for a decline of almost 2%. Both benchmarks are also on track for a monthly decline, which would be the first for Brent in six months.

“The prospect of the return of Libyan barrels to the market is adding to the bearish sentiment,” RBC Capital Markets said in a note. “However, we think the return of the barrels will be slow and subject to reversal based on the volatile security and political picture.”

Full coverage: REUTERS

Asian stocks poised for gains after late Wall Street dash

NEW YORK – Asian stocks were set to open higher on Friday as a late Wall Street rally supported global sentiment although weak U.S. data and uncertainty about a stimulus package in Washington have kept a lid on confidence.

U.S. stocks ended positive in choppy trade on Thursday, led by a dogged comeback in the technology sector, having initially sold off on higher than expected unemployment claims.

“What we’ve seen for equity markets is there is quite a good deal of resilience,” said Tom Piotrowski, a market analyst at Australian broker CommSec. “Commentators like to stack up all of the negatives markets face, the U.S. election being among them, but I think there is a sense that there is an underlying resilience in the market.”

In early Asian trade, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 futures rose 0.12% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures added 0.13%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures rose 0.45%. MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.43%.

Full coverage: REUTERS

Dollar off two-month peak, yuan gains on bond benchmark inclusion

TOKYO – The U.S. dollar dipped from a two-month peak early on Friday as renewed hopes of U.S. stimulus eased investors’ concerns about economic recovery, while the Chinese yuan gained after the country was added to a global bond benchmark.

The dollar index edged down to 94.313 =USD, after scaling a two-month high of 94.601 in Thursday’s U.S session amid a bout of risk aversion.

Currencies and stocks reversed direction, with U.S. equities gaining as traders latched on to hopes that stalled stimulus talks could resume between House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Rises in U.S. real yields have also underpinned the dollar. The yield on 10-year U.S. inflation-protected Treasuries rose to minus 0.911% US10YTIP=RR, the highest since late July.

The euro changed hands at $1.1671 EUR= after having hit a two-month low of $1.16265 on Thursday.

The dollar was little moved at 105.41 yen JPY=, having risen to 105.53, its strongest level in a over week, on Thursday.

Full coverage: REUTERS

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