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HOW LONG COULD BREXIT TAKE TO IMPLEMENT?

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HOW LONG COULD BREXIT TAKE TO IMPLEMENT?

By Nikolas Xenofontos, Director of Risk Management at easyMarkets

British Prime Minister David Cameron recently described the upcoming referendum on European Union (EU) membership as “bigger than the general election.” For the first time ever, Mr. Cameron’s Vote Remain campaign appears to be losing ground in the referendum debate, with the likes of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove on the offensive with their pro-Brexit agenda.

Mr. Cameron and the pro-EU camp are “very” concerned about the upcoming referendum, which is set to take place June 23.[1] While most analysts still contend that Britain is likely to remain part of the EU after this month’s vote, the chances of Brexit appear higher than ever.

So, what happens if the majority of Britons vote Leave on June 23? How will the divorce take place? As you could imagine, walking out of the EU wouldn’t happen overnight.

According to Article 50 of the EU Treaty, which states that “Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements,”[2] it would take at least two years for Britain to fully withdraw from the EU. Policymakers gave the process a two-year timeline to ensure the exiting country has enough time to negotiate new trade deals before the formal break occurs.

The two-year period stipulated under the EU Treaty may be extended but only through unanimous consent.[3]

Mr. Cameron has made it abundantly clear that the clock would start ticking right away.

“The British people would rightly expect [it] to start straight away,” the British leader told Members of Parliament in February.[4]

However, pro-Brexit justice secretary Michael Gove says “no responsible government” would move so hastily, indicating that more time would be needed to ensure Britain’s healthy break from the EU. According to analysts, the more likely scenario is that Britain’s EU membership would be put on hold indefinitely while the Conservatives first decide who should replace David Cameron as prime minister.[5]While Mr. Cameron has stated he would not resign if Britain quits the EU, very few people believe he would last as head of the Tory majority government for much longer.

According to Mr. Gove, Britain’s full withdrawal from the EU could take the duration of parliament, given that the break-up would be a process of “evolution not revolution.”

“The British people will simply have given their instruction to the government to make arrangements for us to leave the EU,” Mr. Gove said. “It will be in Britain’s hands how we manage it and how long it takes.”

Under Mr. Gove’s plan, Britain would retain its EU membership rights while it carried out new negotiations with the rest of Europe, including formalizing new trade deals. However, analysts warn that this process could be very rocky, given the strong pro-EU majority in Britain’s House of Commons.[6]

In the event that Article 50 is invoked, the EU and Britain would likely begin working on a new trade deal straight away. Britain would still be required to obey EU laws throughout the so-called “divorce period.” In order for the deal to be finalized, however, it must be approved by 16 or Member States, according to the EU’s Qualified Majority Voting rule.[7]

There may be a pro-EU majority in the British House of Commons, but on the street the picture appears much different. A recent poll carried out for The Independent showed a massive swing toward Brexit, with 55% of voters intending to vote for Britain to leave the EU next week. That’s a four-point increase over the previous poll, which was conducted in April.[8]

The Financial Times poll of polls also shows a late swing in favour of Brexit, with 46% of voters likely to vote Leave on June 23. Various other polls, including those conducted by YouGov, ICM and BMG Research also show growing momentum for the Brexit camp.[9]

The economic and financial backlash of a Brexit vote are subject to great debate. The British government maintains that the short-term impact of a British exit from the EU would be massive, including reducing gross domestic product by up to 6% by 2018. That’s equivalent to the impact of the 2008 financial crisis.[10]

Several other bodies have warned of grave consequences for the UK economy should the British people vote to leave the EU. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), a highly respected think-tank based in London, warned last month that Brexit could cost British finances between £20 billion and £40 billion in 2019-2020, more than offsetting the government’s planned surplus. The UK would also face reduced foreign direct investment and higher costs of trade, which could reduce GDP by up to 3.5% by 2020.[11]

Risk warning: Forward Rate Agreements, Options and CFDs (OTC Trading) are leveraged products that carry a substantial risk of loss up to your invested capital and may not be suitable for everyone. Please ensure that you understand fully the risks involved and do not invest money you cannot afford to lose. Our group of companies through its subsidiaries is licensed by the Cyprus Securities & Exchange Commission (Easy Forex Trading Ltd- CySEC, License Number 079/07), which has been passported in the European Union through the MiFID Directive and in Australia by ASIC (Easy Markets Pty Ltd -AFS license No. 246566).

[11] Carl Emmerson, Paul Johnson, Ian Mitchell and Dave Phillips (May 25, 2016). “Brexit and the UK’s public finances.” Institute for Fiscal Studies.

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Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output

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Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output 1

By Ahmad Ghaddar

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices fell from recent highs for a second day on Friday as Texas energy firms began to prepare for restarting oil and gas fields shuttered by freezing weather.

Brent crude futures were down $1.16, or 1.8%, to $62.77 per barrel, by 1150 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell $1.42, or 2.4%, to $59.10 a barrel.

Unusually cold weather in Texas and the Plains states curtailed up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil production and 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas, according to analysts.

Texas refiners halted about a fifth of the nation’s oil processing amid power outages and severe cold.

However, firms in the region on Friday were expected to prepare for production restarts as electric power and water services slowly resume, sources said.

“The market was ripe for a correction and signs of the power and overall energy situation starting to normalise in Texas provided the necessary trigger,” said Vandana Hari, energy analyst at Vanda Insights.

Oil fell despite a surprise fall in U.S. crude stockpiles in the week to Feb. 12, before the freeze. Inventories fell by 7.3 million barrels to 461.8 million barrels, their lowest since March, the Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday. [EIA/S]

The United States on Thursday said it was ready to talk to Iran about both nations returning to a 2015 agreement that aimed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

While the thawing relations could raise the prospect of reversing sanctions imposed by the previous U.S. administration, analysts did not expect Iranian oil sanctions to be lifted anytime soon.

“This breakthrough increases the probability that we may see Iran returning to the oil market soon, although there is much to be discussed and a new deal will not be a carbon-copy of the 2015 nuclear deal,” StoneX analyst Kevin Solomon said.

(Additional reporting by Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; editing by Jason Neely)

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Analysis: Carmakers wake up to new pecking order as chip crunch intensifies

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Analysis: Carmakers wake up to new pecking order as chip crunch intensifies 2

By Douglas Busvine and Christoph Steitz

BERLIN (Reuters) – The semiconductor crunch that has battered the auto sector leaves carmakers with a stark choice: pay up, stock up or risk getting stuck on the sidelines as chipmakers focus on more lucrative business elsewhere.

Car manufacturers including Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors have cut output as the chip market was swept clean by makers of consumer electronics such as smartphones – the chip industry’s preferred customers because they buy more advanced, higher-margin chips.

The semiconductor shortage – over $800 worth of silicon is packed into a modern electric vehicle – has exposed the disconnect between an auto industry spoilt by decades of just-in-time deliveries and an electronics industry supply chain it can no longer bend to its will.

“The car sector has been used to the fact that the whole supply chain is centred around cars,” said McKinsey partner Ondrej Burkacky. “What has been overlooked is that semiconductor makers actually do have an alternative.”

Automakers are responding to the shortage by lobbying governments to subsidize the construction of more chip-making capacity.

In Germany, Volkswagen has pointed the finger at suppliers, saying it gave them timely warning last April – when much global car production was idled due to the coronavirus pandemic – that it expected demand to recover strongly in the second half of the year.

That complaint by the world’s No.2 volume carmaker cuts little ice with chipmakers, who say the auto industry is both quick to cancel orders in a slump and to demand investment in new production in a recovery.

“Last year we had to furlough staff and bear the cost of carrying idle capacity,” said a source at one European semiconductor maker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“If the carmakers are asking us to invest in new capacity, can they please tell us who will pay for that idle capacity in the next downturn?”

LOW-TECH CUSTOMER

The auto industry spends around $40 billion a year on chips – about a tenth of the global market. By comparison, Apple spends more on chips just to make its iPhones, Mirabaud tech analyst Neil Campling reckons.

Moreover, the chips used in cars tend to be basic products such as micro controllers made under contract at older foundries – hardly the leading-edge production technology in which chipmakers would be willing to invest.

“The suppliers are saying: ‘If we continue to produce this stuff there is nowhere else for it to go. Sony isn’t going to use it for a Playstation 5 or Apple for its next iPhone’,” said Asif Anwar at Strategy Analytics.

Chipmakers were surprised by the panicked reaction of the German car industry, which persuaded Economy Minister Peter Altmaier to write a letter in January to his counterpart in Taiwan to ask its semiconductor makers to supply more chips.

No extra supplies were forthcoming, with one German industry source joking that the Americans stood a better chance of getting more chips from Taiwan because they could at least park an aircraft carrier off the coast – referring to the ability of the United States to project power in Asia.

Closer to home, a source at another European chipmaker expressed disbelief at the poor understanding at one carmaker of how it operates.

“We got a call from one auto maker that was desperate for supply. They said: Why don’t you run a night shift to increase production?” this person said.

“What they didn’t understand is that we have been running a night shift since the beginning.”

NO QUICK FIX

While Infineon, the leading supplier of chips to the global auto industry, and Robert Bosch, the top ‘Tier 1’ parts supplier, both plan to commission new chip plants this year, there is little chance of supply shortages easing soon.

Specialist chipmakers like Infineon outsource some production of automotive chips to contract manufacturers led by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), but the Asian foundries are currently prioritising high-end electronics makers as they come up against capacity constraints.

Over the longer term, the relationship between chip makers and the car industry will become closer as electric vehicles are more widely adopted and features such as assisted and autonomous driving develop, requiring more advanced chips.

But, in the short term, there is no quick fix for the lack of chip supply: IHS Markit estimates that the time it takes to deliver a microcontroller has doubled to 26 weeks and shortages will only bottom out in March.

That puts the production of 1 million light vehicles at risk in the first quarter, says IHS Markit. European chip industry executives and analysts agree that supply will not catch up with demand until later in the year.

Chip shortages are having a “snowball effect” as auto makers idle some capacity to prioritize building profitable models, said Anwar at Strategy Analytics, who forecasts a drop in car production in Europe and North America of 5%-10% in 2021.

The head of Franco-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics, Jean-Marc Chery, forecasts capacity constraints will affect carmakers until mid-year.

“Up to the end of the second quarter, the industry will have to manage at the lean inventory level,” Chery told a recent Goldman Sachs conference.

(Douglas Busvine from Berlin and Christoph Steitz from Frankfurt; Additional reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gilles Gillaume in Paris; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets

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Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets 3

By Tommy Wilkes

LONDON (Reuters) – The Australian dollar rose to near a three-year high and the British pound scaled $1.40 for the first time since 2018 on optimism about economic rebounds in the two countries and after the U.S. dollar was knocked by disappointing jobs data.

The U.S. currency had been rising in recent days as a jump in Treasury yields on the back of the so-called reflation trade drew investors. But an unexpected increase in U.S. weekly jobless claims soured the economic outlook and sent the dollar lower overnight.

On Friday it traded down 0.3% against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index at 90.309.

The Aussie rose 0.8% to $0.784, its highest since March 2018. The currency, which is closely linked to commodity prices and the outlook for global growth, has been helped by a recent rally in commodity prices.

The New Zealand dollar also gained, and was not far off a more than two-year high, while the Canadian dollar rose too.

Sterling rose to $1.4009 on Friday, an almost three-year high amid Britain’s aggressive vaccination programme.

Given the size of Britain’s vital services sector, analysts say the faster it can reopen the economy, the better for the currency. Sterling was also helped by better-than-expected purchasing managers index flash survey data for February.

The U.S. dollar has been weighed down by a string of soft labour data, even as other indicators have shown resilience, and as President Joe Biden’s pandemic relief efforts take shape, including a proposed $1.9 trillion spending package.

Despite the recent rise in U.S. yields, many analysts think they won’t climb too much higher, limiting the benefit for the dollar.

“Our view remains that the Fed will hold the line and remain very cautious about tapering asset purchases. We think it will keep communicating that tightening is very far off, which should dampen pro-dollar sentiment,” said UBS Global Wealth Management strategist Gaétan Peroux and analyst Tilmann Kolb.

ING analysts said “the rise in rates will be self-regulating, meaning the dollar need not correct too much higher”.

They see the greenback index trading down to the 90.10 to 91.05 range.

U.S. dollar

Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets 4

The euro rose 0.4% to $1.2134. The single currency showed little reaction to purchasing manager index data, which showed a slowdown in business activity in February. However, factories had their busiest month in three years, buoying sentiment.

The dollar bought 105.39 yen, down 0.3% and a continued retreat from the five-month high of 106.225 reached Wednesday.

(Editing by Hugh Lawson and Pravin Char)

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