Frontrunning: December 28

  • An Increasing Peril for Index Funds: Overweight in Tech (WSJ)
  • Bitcoin Tumbles Over Exchange-Closure Fears (BBG)
  • U.S., Russia Clash Over How to Handle Syria, North Korea (WSJ)
  • China’s leaders fret over debts lurking in shadow banking industry (Reuters)
  • Copper’s Rally Is Longest in a Generation (BBG)
  • Trump Sends Fewer Mexicans Home Despite Deportation Talk (BBG)
  • Roy Moore Sues to Block Certification of Alabama Senate Election Results (NYT)
  • Apple Raises Tim Cook’s Pay (WSJ)
  • Suicide bombers kill dozens at Shi'ite center in Afghan capital (Reuters)
  • Russia says Tokyo's deployment of U.S. missiles a blow to relations (Reuters)
  • Trump White House Saw Record Number of First-Year Departures (WSJ)
  • It’s Been One of the Worst Years Ever for Billion-Dollar U.S. Weather Disasters (BBG)
  • With the New Tax Law, CPAs Enjoy Sudden Popularity (WSJ)
  • Power Plants Bloom Even as Electricity Prices Wilt (WSJ)
  • South Africa's top court to rule on Zuma impeachment motion Friday (Reuters)
  • Bahamas Developer Claims Huge Chinese Fraud at $3.9 Billion Resort (BBG)
  • Five Oil Signals to Watch in 2018 (BBG)
  • ‘Orwellian’ Offshore Tax Will Hit PE Firms (BBG)

Overnight Media Digest


- A year after delivering an unusual pay cut, Apple Inc gave Chief Executive Tim Cook and other top executives a big boost in compensation for fiscal-year 2017 as the company exceeded annual sales and profit goals.

- A Chinese car maker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co said it would buy a $3.24 billion stake in Swedish truck-and-bus maker Volvo AB, another sign of the appetite among Chinese companies for global automotive assets.

- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a call to Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, urged Russia to moderate its stance toward Ukraine, while Lavrov exhorted the U.S. to back away from confrontation with North Korea.



The UK government is to press ahead with new measures intended to crack down on rogue landlords, including banning people with certain criminal convictions from renting out property, as it tries to win over younger voters in rented accommodation.

The government should oversee a “managed acceleration” of automation to boost economic productivity and ensure robotics and artificial intelligence do not exacerbate wealth inequalities, the Institute for Public Policy Research said in a new report published on Thursday.

Festival and exhibition group Ascential Plc agreed to buy ecommerce analytics provider Clavis Insight on Wednesday in a deal valued at at least $119 million.



- The Food and Drug Administration is not moving quickly enough to ensure that contaminated food is removed from store shelves, despite being given the necessary authority, federal investigators have concluded.

- The tax bill that President Trump signed into law last week sharply limited the itemized deductions for state and local taxes while raising the standard deduction for individuals and couples. Those rules do not take effect until 2018, however. That has led some homeowners, particularly in high-tax, affluent areas, to try to prepay their 2018 property taxes before the deduction disappears. In an advisory notice posted to its website on Wednesday, the I.R.S. said that maneuver could work, but only under limited circumstances.



** Finance Canada said it is continuing to work with provinces to create a co-operative regulatory system that would improve enforcement and provide better protection for investors.

** Political strategist Nick Kouvalis and a defeated candidate for the provincial Conservative nomination of Hamilton Mountain are facing charges of breaking and entering after they allegedly broke into a Kelseys restaurant after-hours.

** Toronto's Brookfield Asset Management Inc and Onex Corp are mulling a cash bid for Swiss-headquartered flexible workspace operator IWG Plc.

** A consortium consisting of Imperial Oil Ltd, Exxon Mobil Corp, ConocoPhillips Co and the Aboriginal Pipeline Group has formally closed the book on a decades-long dream of tapping massive natural gas reserves in Canada's Far North.



The Times

- British serviced office provider IWG Plc said it has received an all-cash takeover approach from two Canadian investors, sending its shares skyrocketing.

- Geely Holding the acquisitive Chinese automotive group that makes London taxis in Coventry, has bought a 3.25 billion euros ($297.48 million) stake, for 8.3 percent, of Stockholm-listed AB Volvo from Cevian Capital, a Swedish fund manager.

The Guardian

- A campaign to return the East Coast rail franchise to public ownership has been launched in protest against the government's bailout of the Stagecoach-operated Virgin Trains service.

- Nearly 8.5 billion euros have been loaded on to cards to cover the cost of gifts and entertaining, according to research by the price comparison service uSwitch, which found nearly a fifth of consumers had exceeded their Christmas budgets as they grappled with rising living costs.

The Telegraph

- Two of Britain's biggest companies, Barclays Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, have warned that tax reforms in the United States will result in a multi-billion-pound hit to their earnings.

- Jason Oakley, former managing director of commercial banking and mortgages at Metro Bank Plc, is to head the new lender which is part of Aim-listed finance company City of London Group Plc.

Sky News

- A spate of accidents on major roads was followed by problems for air passengers - with delays and cancellations at Stansted Airport sparking a backlash on social media.

- The Resolution Foundation said it was expecting zero growth in real wages over the course of 2018 as a whole. The pay squeeze which saw real wages fall back in 2017 is set to come to an end, but a "noticeable" year-on-year rise in real pay is not forecast until December next year, the RF said.

The Independent

- A rise in automation across a slew of industries could widen an already stubborn gap between the incomes of the UK's richest and poorest, a new report compiled by the Institute for Public Policy Research has warned.

- According to jobs site Adzuna, the average advertised salary for jobs in the UK has risen in the past year, while the number of vacancies has fallen.