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Death Toll Climbs in Iran's Anti-Government Protests

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Protests in Iran, Washington starts the new year fighting 2017’s battles, and oil trades over $60. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Tehran troubles

More than a dozen people have died in protests in Iran that were sparked by a rally over economic conditions that started Dec. 28. Authorities have accused Saudi Arabia, the country’s main regional rival, of waging a social campaign to take advantage of the unrest. U.S. President Donald Trump said that “Iran is failing at every level” in a tweet yesterday in which he also criticized the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with the country. So far, the protests appear to lack organizational leadership, suggesting they don’t prose a serious threat to the regime in Tehran. 

Oil 

A barrel of West Texas Intermediate for February delivery was trading at $60.32 at 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time after closing at $60.42 on Friday for a 12 percent gain in 2017. Unrest in Iran and stagnant U.S. production are helping boost the price of the commodity. Russia announced that its oil industry continued its long-term expansion last year, with output increasing to a record despite Moscow’s deal with OPEC on production cuts. In the oil market, hedge funds remain bullish.

Same old D.C.

The new year sees lawmakers in Washington lining up for another battle over funding for the government, with the Jan. 19 deadline seen by both sides as a key point of leverage. For Democrats, it’s an opportunity to get the president to sign legislation to protect young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers,” while Trump wants an agreement to fund his border wall, as well as an overhaul of the immigration system. For Republicans, more legislative victories are needed, despite the successful tax overhaul, as they seek to avoid a wipeout in November’s mid-term elections.

Markets mixed

Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.8 percent to reach a record high, while markets in China started the year with gains for stocks and the yuan. It’s a different story in Europe, where the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.6 percent lower at 5:45 a.m. as the euro traded close to its highest level in three years. S&P 500 futures added 0.1 percent, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.433 percent and gold was higher.

Manufacturing boom

IHS Markit's monthly factory index for the euro area jumped to a record 60.6 in December as manufacturing was boosted by global demand. A similar gauge for the U.K. dropped to 56.3 for the month, still well above the 50 mark that indicates an expansion. At 9:35 a.m., Markit’s December manufacturing PMI for the U.S. is due.

What we've been reading

This is what's caught our eye over the weekend.

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