The DailyBrief

Thursday December 1, 2016

Activity in China’s manufacturing sector accelerated during November as higher producer prices and a recovery in market demand kept factory floors operating in a higher gear. This is in-line with the gains seen in railway cargo volume and electricity generation figures, two of the three economic indicators highlighted by Premier Li Keqiang. The official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 51.7 in November, the fourth straight month of expansion and the highest November figure for two years, beating the median forecast of 51 polled by Reuters. Any number above 50 signifies expansion.

The surprise decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to cut production by 1.2 million barrels is positive for Asia’s exporting countries, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Myanmar, according to a report. The agreement send the price of Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, up 13% to above US$52 a barrel in Thursday trading.

US president-elect Donald Trump offered to help solve Pakistan’s problems and praised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a “terrific guy” in the first call between the two men, the Pakistani leader’s office said. Historical allies in the region, Islamabad and Washington have seen relations sour in recent years over US accusations that Pakistan shelters Islamist militants, a charge denied by the South Asian nation. Sharif’s office said late on Wednesday the Pakistani premier called Trump to congratulate him on his victory and issued a read out of the call. Trump’s team confirmed the two men talked and issued a brief statement.

A transgender woman’s dreams of becoming a mother have been dealt a blow with the Indian government’s proposed Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, which would ban commercial surrogacy. Aimed at saving poor women from “exploitation,” the bill will mean that only married, heterosexual couples who lack biological or adopted children will be allowed to apply for surrogacy, and even then only a “close relative” will be allowed to provide the service. Low costs and the absence of a legal framework have made India an attractive place to rent a womb. A 2012 study backed by the United Nations estimated the business to be worth more than US$400 million a year.

Japan has always viewed America’s commitment to the US-Japan alliance and its willingness to defend Japan with skepticism. In recent years, its doubts have intensified as China has contested Japanese control of the Senkaku Islands, and nearby North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs have continued unabated. Donald Trump’s election, after criticizing Japan for “free-riding” and not paying its fair share for the American forces defending it — has deepened anxieties.