Top Headlines

Ruble Hobbled for Second Day as Syria Woes Add to Sanctions Risk – Bloomberg

Russia’s currency plunged to the weakest level since December 2016 and the government canceled a bond auction as the toughest US sanctions yet combined with an escalation in tensions over Syria to rattle investor sentiment.

Russian Central Bank to Hold Fire While Rouble Faces New 4.5% Slide – Financial Times (subscription)

Russia’s central bank governor says she won’t step in to try and halt a slide in the rouble, which is facing intense selling for the second day in a row amid pressure from the US sanctions and mounting geopolitical risks that are rocking Russia’s financial markets.

Dollar Rebounds vs Yen After Xi’s Speech Eases Trade Jitters – Reuters

The dollar rose against the yen after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s promise to cut import tariffs eased concerns about a trade conflict and revived risk appetite, with Asian currencies hit hard in recent weeks also recovering.

A Trade War Could Add to the Dollar’s Woes – Wall Street Journal (subscription)

Escalating trade tensions between the US and China are emerging as the latest threat to the US dollar, which has been losing value for more than a year.

Sterling Hits a Two-Week High After BoE Comments – Reuters

Sterling hit a two-week high after a top policymaker said the Bank of England should not delay in raising interest rates after a recent strong pick-up in the world economy.

Things May Be About to Change for This Year’s Worst-Performing Major Currency – Bloomberg

The krona is the worst-performing major currency this year. That may be about to change.

Bank Regulatory Actions Under Trump Fall to Historic Lows – American Banker

The issuance of financial regulations has dropped to a 40-year low, new data shows, a sign that the Trump administration is fulfilling its deregulatory agenda.

Hedge Funds Call for Brexit Openness Above Reciprocity – Reuters

Britain should let European Union fund managers have access to British-based clients after Brexit even there is no reciprocal arrangement for British firms, a leading trade body for hedge funds and other alternative asset managers said.

Leverage Ratio Jeopardising “Health of US Clearing”: CFTC – FOW (subscription)

Brian Quintenz called again for changes to the calculation of the supplementary leverage ratio.

Why Bitcoin Behaves Like the Flu – Bloomberg

Analysts at Barclays saw enough similarities to develop a pricing model for the cryptocurrency that takes its cues from the world of epidemiology. Their diagnosis: Bitcoin has probably peaked.

Regulatory News

Financial Watchdog Cuts Back Operations to Focus on Brexit – Financial Times (subscription)

The UK’s financial regulator said it has had to postpone several projects and cut back on some of its “non-critical” operations as it prepares for a “particularly challenging year” ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU. 

Euro Area’s Banking Union Heads for ‘Critical Phase’ – Financial Times (subscription)

Europe’s top financial services official has warned that time is running out to complete a project to strengthen the euro area’s banking system, as national governments spar over competing reform demands.

Trump Watchdog Tells Banks He Really, Really Likes Them – Bloomberg

Former banker Joseph Otting told a crowd of bankers that his Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is doing its best to make life easier for them – a sentiment that might have been surprising when the 2008 financial crisis was more fresh in the public’s memory.

Regulators Focus on Compliance Innovation, Technology – Wall Street Journal (subscription)

US Treasury official announces he’s hiring a new technology-focused adviser.

Company News

Winklevosses’ Gemini to Offer Cryptocurrency Block Trading – Bloomberg

Gemini, the digital-asset exchange run by the Winklevoss twins, is introducing a service that will allow investors to make big trades outside of the firm’s order books.

Mike Novogratz Makes Goldman VP the COO of His Crypto Company – Bloomberg

Mike Novogratz’s cryptocurrency merchant bank hired Richard Kim from Goldman Sachs Group as chief operating officer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Crypto Traders Protest Poland’s Tax Decision – Bloomberg

Digital currency traders in Poland are protesting against a government decision to levy a tax on all cryptocurrency transactions, regardless of whether the taxpayer made a profit.

Market Savvy 

Brazilian Stocks, Currency Hit by Election Uncertainties – Financial Times (subscription)

Brazilian stocks slumped and the real skidded to its lowest level in 16 months amid heightened uncertainty over the country’s upcoming presidential election.

Iran’s Rial Hits New Lows on Trump Worries – Reuters

Iran’s currency fell at least 5.5 percent, extending a slide to a new record low on continued concerns over a return of crippling sanctions if US President Donald Trump carries out his threat to exit a nuclear deal with Tehran.

Turkish Lira Falls to Record Lows Before New Stimulus Announced – Bloomberg

Turkey’s currency weakens beyond five per euro for first time.