Here is CurrentHow’s Daily Briefing™ for the 5th of January, 2017 :-
1. Terror strikes Turkey again, car bomb explodes in the city of Izmir :-
Turkish police shot dead two attackers and were searching for a third after a car bomb exploded outside a courthouse in the Aegean coastal city of Izmir on Thursday, wounding at least 10 people, state media and local officials said.
The blast was caused by a car bomb, Izmir municipality secretary general Bugra Gokce told broadcaster CNN Turk.
A security source told Reuters police had shot dead two attackers following the blast, and the state-run Anadolu news agency said they were searching for a third. Hospital sources said ten people had been brought in wounded.
The bombing comes less than a week after a gunman shot dead 39 people at a nightclub in Istanbul on New Year’s Day in an attack claimed by Islamic State. The gunman is still at large.
Police detained 20 suspected Islamic State militants thought to be of Central Asian and North African origin in Izmir on Wednesday, in raids Turkish media said were linked to the Istanbul nightclub attack.
Turkey faces multiple security threats. It has been hit by a series of bombings over the past 18 months, some of them blamed on Islamic State, others on Kurdish militants.
2. Top intelligence officials reject Trump view on Russia hacks :-
Lawmakers and senior US intelligence officials are drawing a line in the sand for President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday, presenting a united front before Congress on their conclusion that Russia is a major threat to the United States and was behind election hacking — a conclusion Trump has refused to accept.
3. Oil prices rise as Saudi Arabia eyes supply cut :-
Oil prices rose slightly after reports Saudi Arabia had started talks with customers about a reduction of up to 7 per cent in crude sales in February to support an attempt by OPEC to reduce global supply.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) promised in November to cut output to help prop up prices. Under the deal, Saudi Arabia agreed to cut output by 486,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 4.61 per cent of its October output of 10.544 million bpd.
“Aramco (Saudi Arabia’s state oil company) is approaching all its customers for possible cuts from February and discussing likely (supply) scenarios,” a source said. “Nothing is confirmed yet,” the source said, adding the scenarios were for cuts of 3-7 per cent.
Investors have been suspicious that OPEC may not cut as much as promised, but several sources have expressed that they believe the world’s biggest oil exporter would comply with the OPEC cuts.
Benchmark Brent crude oil was up 20 cents a barrel at $56.66 in mid-day trade. US light crude oil was up 20 cents a barrel at $53.46.
“There remains a question mark over whether OPEC, with a long history of non-compliance, will actually follow through with the cuts. Very few respondents expect full compliance,” Singapore Exchange (SGX) said, citing results from a survey. “Three-quarters of those surveyed went for crude prices averaging within the current $50-$60 a barrel range for 2017,” SGX added.
Analysts at US bank Goldman Sachs said even if OPEC reduced production as promised, there was “only moderate oil spot price upside given the expected supply response to higher oil prices and new production”.
The US bank said it expected Brent prices to peak at $59 a barrel by mid-2017.
In another sign of compliance with the cuts, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company has scheduled maintenance at oilfields for March and April, although it was not immediately clear how much exports might fall.
4. Bitcoin becomes the best-performing currency of 2016 :-
The value of Bitcoin surged above $1,000 on Monday as the digital unit continues a dizzying rise that made it the best-performing currency of 2016.
Its value has more than doubled in the last year and it was trading at around $1,024 in afternoon European trading on Monday, after breaking through the $1,000 mark on Sunday.
It is now within reach of its historic high of more than $1,200 reached in 2013.
Some analysts believe the rise in Bitcoin is due to some investors treating it as a safe-haven, like gold, at a time of global uncertainty.
Others believe buying is being driven by speculative demand, with investors anticipating future rises and creating an unsustainable bubble.
Bitcoin was launched in 2009 as a bit of encrypted software written by someone using the Japanese-sounding name Satoshi Nakamoto.
Earlier this year secretive Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright said that he was the creator, but some have raised doubts over his claim.
Supply of Bitcoin is limited and it trades in cyberspace. As well as being an investment for some, it is also used for illicit transactions beyond the reach of law enforcement for drugs or arms on the internet.
Its value has fluctuated wildly since its creation, with news of a major Bitcoin theft by hackers in August sending its price plummeting by more than 20 percent.
Unlike traditional currencies such as the dollar or the euro, which require the sponsorship of a central bank, Bitcoin is decentralised.
Encrypted digital coins are created by supercomputers and then traded online or exchanged for goods and services by a network of users.
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