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Many US Federal Reserve officials said the Fed may be forced to raise rates higher than expected if the Republican-controlled Congress and president-elect Donald Trump pursue the “expansionary” fiscal policy they’ve pledged, which includes tax cuts and greater spending. However, policymakers also stressed it was too soon to jump to firm conclusions about what future fiscal policy would look like, according to the minutes of the Fed’s final 2016 policy meeting, which came out on Wednesday. US stocks were little changed after the release, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average still falling short of the 20,000 landmark.
The release of the Fed’s meeting minutes report wasn’t the only activity in Washington today. Both President Barack Obama and vice president-elect Mike Pence arrived on Capitol Hill to shore up support for their opposing views of what should be done about Obamacare. Republicans are seeking to repeal Mr Obama’s signature healthcare law, but they want to avoid the backlash that would come if they are unable to successfully replace the law that gave health insurance to 20m previously uninsured Americans. (FT)
In the news
Should Europe raise rates? Annual eurozone inflation increased to its highest level since 2013, leading Berlin to call for the European Central Bank to raise rates. But market analysts say the eurozone economy is still weak and the bank should continue its plans to buy bonds this year under its quantitative easing programme. (FT)
SEC head named Emphasising his plans to cut US regulations and spur job growth, Donald Trump nominated Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton to serve as the next head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Meanwhile, Rex Tillerson, Mr Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, will receive a $180m payout to sever ties to ExxonMobil if his selection is confirmed. The pay deal is intended to clear concerns that Mr Tillerson, Exxon’s chairman and chief executive, would have an incentive to favour the company’s interests while serving as the most senior US diplomat. (FT)
France takes long view on bonds With plans this week to tap an existing 50-year bond that matures in 2066, France is asking bond investors to take the long view in what is expected to be a challenging year for the eurozone’s second-largest economy, as the country braces for a bruising presidential election. (FT)
Turkish attacker identified Turkey has identified the gunman who killed 39 people at a nightclub on New Year’s Eve, according to the country’s foreign minister. Officials stopped short of identifying him but said the attack was staged by “professionals”. (Jazeera, FT)
Cinema skirmish India’s movie theatres have become a battleground after a recent Supreme Court ruling dictated that all cinemas must play the Indian national anthem before a film, and patrons must stand in respect. Indians are deeply divided over the decision. At least 12 people have already been arrested for refusing to stand during the anthem. (FT)
Fracking backtracking Environmental charity Friends of the Earth has been forced to withdraw notices about the impact of fracking for shale gas after Britain’s advertising regulator found they could not be backed up with evidence. Energy companies called the decision a victory against “anti-fracking myths” propagated by opponents of the process. (FT)
It’s a big day for
Gadgets The annual Consumer Electronics Show officially kicks off. The conference is where tech companies reveal projects, and it attracts thousands of attendees searching for the next big thing. Here are five trends to watch out for at CES 2017. Ahead of the event’s official start, Faraday Future has unveiled its SUV prototype that aims to compete with Tesla.
Food for thought
Chinese regulations Chinese people will no longer be able to take out insurance against acne, sleep deprivation or smog after regulators banned insurance deemed “attention-grabbing” or “exotic”. Another new regulation in a Henan province county will restrict extravagant spending on wedding gifts. (FT)
Eliminating Aids Activists and doctors wonder whether greater use of preventative drugs could spell the end of Aids. But with more than 36m people in the world living with HIV today, there remains a long road ahead before the disease is eradicated. (FT)
Mexico’s motor industry Since the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed, Mexico’s automotive production has tripled. But Ford’s announcement on Tuesday that it was abandoning plans for a new manufacturing plant there signals the serious threat that president-elect Donald Trump poses to the country’s auto industry. (FT)
Cyberwar for sale Many office workers send more than 100 emails a day, but, as was seen on the US campaign trail, hackers can weaponise this important tool. Private companies who sell digital surveillance software — “the evilest technology on earth”, as one CEO put it — have long kept mum about their practices, but one firm was recently hacked, giving insight into the global industry of email surveillance. (NYT)
China’s economic future Fears last January that a plunging stock market and currency sounded the death knell for China’s economy proved to be misplaced. Yet despite solid GDP growth last year, there are still concerns that the country’s fundamental economic challenges have yet to be addressed. (FT)
Rethinking diet drinks If diet drinks are your new year solution to shedding excess weight, think again. Scientists have found that people who switch to sugar-free fizzy drinks may eat more because they feel they are being healthy and still crave sweet foods. The academics criticised drinks companies for marketing sugar-free alternatives as healthy and encouraged people to stick to water. (Times)
No elites here The word “elite” has become one of the most effective partisan political stereotypes of our age. What started out as an aspirational concept was transformed thanks to a conservative movement to redefine the term away from class and towards culture. (NYT)
Dolphins given higher porpoise In a last-ditch effort to save Mexico’s vaquita porpoises from extinction, dolphins trained by the US Navy will use their sonar to locate the world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise species then advise their handlers of their location. (Guardian)
Video of the day
Bitcoin passes $1,000 (FT) The cryptocurrency passed a notable round number in dollars this week, but there’s only one figure that really matters, argues Short View.