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FILE PHOTO: A businessman looks at a screen displaying a photo of U.S. 100 dollar bank notes in Tokyo April 8, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

‘Nothing to hide,’ Trump says

All eyes on the U.S. special counsel’s Russia investigation, central bank decisions in Australia and India, and China’s soaring borrowing costs for companies. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.

Obstruction of Justice

(Bloomberg)-A potential case of obstruction of justice against U.S. President Donald Trump may be building up. That’s according to Senator Dianne Feinstein, who was speaking in the wake of  the news that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, fired by Trump, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors probing Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. election. Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to federal agents about conversations with Russia’s ambassador.  Trump said there was “nothing to hide.”

Borrowing Spree

Units of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group are stepping up fundraising in the local bond market even as borrowing costs soar, adding to its debt burden. Yunnan Lucky Air, a unit of Hainan Airlines, sold a 270-day yuan bond to yield 8.2 percent last week, the highest coupon rate ever for the Yunnan airline. Tianjin Airlines, another subsidiary of Hainan Airlines, issued similar-maturity notes at the highest coupon rate in five yearsin November. HNA’s interest expenses more than doubled to a record 15.6 billion yuan as of the end of June from a year earlier. Its short-term debt expanded to 185.2 billion yuan, exceeding its cash-pile. Just to enforce that the era of ultra-easy money that may be drawing to a close,  Asia-Pacific lenders facing increasing funding pressures say they aim to pass those costs along. Half of the 50 banks in a Bloomberg News survey have experienced an increase in funding cost of as much as 20 basis points over the past few months.

Coming Up…

The Reserve Bank of Australia announces its monetary policy decision at 2:30 p.m.local time on Tuesday and is widely expected to do what it has been doing at each meeting this year – nothing. Staying in Australia, which has a jam-packed week of key economic data, the third-quarter current account balance is also due on Tuesday, followed by third-quarter GDP, which is tipped to show an uptick in growth, and October retail sales on Wednesday. Australia then tops it off with October home loans on Friday. India’s central bank will be in the spotlight with Bloomberg Economics expecting the Reserve Bank of India to deliver a 25 basis point rate cut and shift to an accomodative stance, going against the consensus forecast for a hold.  Elsewhere in the region, China will update on trade, inflation and foreign-exchange reserves for November. The consensus forecast points to a 5 percent year-on-year rise in Chinese exports in dollar terms after October’s 6.9 percent increase. Japan’s third-quarter GDP may be revised up.

Dollar’s Tax Boost

Events in Washington continued to grip traders’ attention, with the dollar and U.S. equity-index futures rallying after the Senate’s passage of tax-cut legislation drew focus away from the continuing investigation into connections between Donald Trump’s aides and Russia. Japan equity-index futures also signal gains ahead of the open. All eyes remain on Washington.

Under Pressure

It seems there is no reprieve ahead for Australia’s Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull. Though he got some relief from the troubles engulfing his leadership when his deputy won a special election at the weekend, calls for him to step down are surfacing. Barnaby Joyce was one of two lawmakers from the ruling coalition forced to re-contest their lower house seats because they were in breach of the constitution for being dual citizens, and was easily reelected. Now John Alexander faces voters in his electorate on Dec. 16 and a loss could add to calls for Turnbull to resign by year’s end. The dual citizenship debacle has proved a major headache from for the Aussie PM, whose minority coalition is lagging in opinion polls. Tuesday is the deadline for all parliamentarians to declare whether they might also need to resign, and the resignation of more lower-house coalition lawmakers on Tuesday over dual-nationality concerns could further turn the screws on Turnbull.

 

And finally, here’s what David’s interested in this morning

 

The house continues to win in Macau: November was another great month for casinos. Gaming intake was up 23 percent to $2.9 billion. Now, at some point the high-base effect kicks in and capacity becomes an issue, so I asked Melco Resorts’ chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho what he thinks is a sustainable growth rate. He actually sees a tapering into the low double-digits next year.

We also talked Japan — and let’s just say the company is very excited, despite what will likely be an astronomical buy-in to take part in gambling’s “next big thing”. He says any integrated casino-resort there will easily be the most expensive ever built. We’re likely talking an outlay in the region of $10 billion! But before anyone gets to roll any dice, Japanese lawmakers still have to work out a few more issues. Currently, we’re entering the back half of the process of legalizing casinos in the country. Assuming that goes through, gaming companies will enter a bidding war that Ho predicts will be the most competitive in history. Melco’s people are hearing only two or three licenses will be offered up during the initial phase. Point is, if you think Macau’s becoming exciting again, just wait until Japan’s casino industry gets off the ground.

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