© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Senator Tom Cotton, R-AR, questions U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examining the Department of Justice on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 27, 2021. Tasos Katopodis/Pool via REUTERS/Fil
By Alexandra Alper and Karen Freifeld
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican Senator Tom Cotton has removed his hold on President Joe Biden’s nominee for a key post in the U.S.-China tech battle, after the official said he would “aggressively” police tech exports to Beijing, according to a Cotton aide and a document seen by Reuters.
The decision removes a hurdle to a final confirmation vote on Alan Estevez’s nomination as undersecretary for the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), but it is unclear whether Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who opposed the nominee in a committee vote, will allow the process to move ahead quickly.
Estevez, a former Pentagon official, was nominated in July for the position at BIS, the agency that oversees U.S. exports and which has found itself at the center of the U.S.-China tech war.
But Cotton last month placed a “hold” on a final Senate confirmation vote, demanding answers to written questions aimed at assessing whether Estevez would tow a hard line on China. A Cotton aide told Reuters on Monday that the senator from Arkansas had removed his hold after receiving a letter from the nominee.
In a written response dated Oct. 29 and seen by Reuters, Estevez said he would do his best to accelerate the roll-out of new rules on advanced technologies and, if appropriate, strengthen U.S. restrictions on sales of semiconductor software and technology.
He also promised to consider extending a rule that restricts the overseas sale of semiconductor chips to Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecommunications equipment maker blacklisted by the United States, to other blacklisted Chinese firms with links to the military or human rights violations.
“I will not hesitate to aggressively use the tools available at BIS to control exports of technologies that can harm our national security and foreign policy interests,” Estevez wrote in his response to Cotton and Republican Senator Bill Hagerty, who co-signed the letter to Estevez last month.
Estevez added that it was “imperative” for the Biden administration to keep China from reaching its goal of matching or surpassing U.S. military might.
Any senator can hold up a fast-track confirmation process that requires consent by all 100 senators.
Menendez came out against Estevez when the Senate Banking Committee took up his confirmation and later also opposed expediting a final full vote in the Senate.
The New Jersey Democrat’s opposition stems from Estevez’s response to questions regarding returning oversight of U.S. fire arms exports to the State Department. A spokesman for Menendez on Tuesday told Reuters the issue still had not been resolved.
The Commerce Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Morgan Stanley: bear market rally to continue
One of Wall Street’s best-known bears, Michael Wilson, thinks the S&P 500 will rise another 7% before turning down, so the bear market rally will continue for now, writes Market Watch.
After the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite joined their strongest weekly gains since at least May last Friday, Wilson, who is chief strategist and head of U.S. equity markets at Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), told clients that there could be another 5% to 7% before the downward trajectory of U.S. stocks resumes during the latest bear market recovery.
Wilson has held a bearish view of the stock market for about 2 years and correctly predicted a sell-off this year.
Wilson explained in a research note sent out to clients on Monday that a pullback in the 38-50% drop in the stock market this year “would not seem like something unnatural, not consistent with the previous bear market rally.”
While growth concerns have triggered a sell-off in commodities and lowered inflation expectations, the fact that the U.S. economy is already slowing and heading toward recession means that any market rally is likely to be short-lived, and U.S. stocks are likely to eventually fall.
Wilson mentioned in the note that the bear market is not over yet, although it may appear otherwise in the next few weeks as the market takes the rate cut as a sign that the Fed can still manage a “soft landing” and prevent a meaningful revision to earnings forecasts.
U.S. stocks rose last week as investors now hope the slowing economy and falling commodity prices may inspire the Fed to raise interest rates less sharply. Federal funds futures, a derivative used by investors to bet on the pace of the Fed’s monetary policy changes, estimate with a high probability that the Fed will be forced to start cutting interest rates again as soon as next summer.
They also consider the lower peak in the federal funds rate: it will peak around 3.5% at the end of 2022 instead of 3.75% just a couple of weeks ago. Wilson also pointed out the drop in Treasury yields: the 10-year Treasury bond yield went from 3.230% to a low of 3.07% on Friday before rebonding again on Monday.
Wilson expects the S&P 500 index to fall to around 3,400 points if the U.S. Federal Reserve manages to get a “soft landing” for the economy — which Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said last week would be “a very difficult thing to do.”
Wilson expects that if the U.S. economy plunges into recession, the S&P 500 index will fall to around 3,000 points. In any case, Wilson believes that U.S. stocks are still highly valued because the risk premium — that is, the measure of compensation that investors receive for the extra risk of owning stocks instead of bonds — remains about 300 basis points higher than the 10-year Treasury bond yield, which is considered a “risk-free rate.”
Easing chip shortages to help Volkswagen in H2 – CEO
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Volkswagen logo is pictured at the 2022 New York International Auto Show, in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., April 13, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
BERLIN (Reuters) – Volkswagen (ETR:VOWG_p) sees a strong second half of 2022 and expects progress in catching up with rival Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) as easing chip shortages start to offset supply chain bottlenecks and rising costs, the carmaker’s CEO said on Tuesday.
“We are earning more than ever,” Chief Executive Herbert Diess said at a works meeting, adding Volkswagen is ramping up electric vehicle volumes in its biggest markets in Germany and China thanks to easing semiconductor shortages.
This should allow the carmaker to narrow the Volkswagen-Tesla gap this year and meet its goal of becoming market leader by 2025 if it seizes the moment while the U.S. electric car maker burns cash on large investments, the CEO said.
“Elon (Musk) has to ramp up two highly complex factories in Austin and Gruenheide at the same time – as well as expand production in Shanghai. That’s going to take strength out of him,” Diess said.
Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani steps down as director of telecom arm
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, arrives to address the company’s annual general meeting in Mumbai, India July 5, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
BENGALURU (Reuters) – Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani has stepped down as director of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, the conglomerate’s telecom arm said on Tuesday.
Reliance Jio said https://refini.tv/3Nrs773 it has appointed Mukesh’s son and non-executive director Akash Ambani as the chairman of its board. Akash has been involved with the telecom unit since its launch in late 2016, where he started as a director.
India’s telecoms sector had been upended after the entry of Jio, which triggered a price war that forced some rivals out of the market and turned profits into losses.
Jio, which started out offering mobile teleservices, has been aggressively investing in services like internet broadband and forging ties with handset makers to launch low-cost smartphones and providing 5G services.
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