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Ant and Alibaba are in talks with Chinese regulators about how the companies can proceed, perhaps without their figurehead.
If you need cash in Myanmar, you have to get up early. The cash crisis is one of the most pressing problems for the people of Myanmar after the Feb. 1 military coup. The central bank, now run by a junta appointee, has not returned some of the reserves it holds for private banks, without giving any reason, leaving the banks short of cash.
All aboard McDonald's stock following its surprising minimum wage hike?
Inflation fears are dogging Wall Street at a time when the U.S. rebound is picking up speed.
(Bloomberg) -- Iron ore’s stunning surge won’t fade anytime soon because buyers remain nervous about being caught short as global demand accelerates amid lingering supply threats, according to a veteran commodities trader.The steelmaking material soared past $230 a ton Wednesday to a fresh record for Singapore futures, amid a broadening commodities boom. While steel demand and production are strengthening, many analysts argue market fundamentals alone don’t justify such high prices. That won’t halt further gains, according to Andrew Glass, Singapore-based founder of Avatar Commodities Ltd.“Logic dictates that these are ridiculous prices but fear will continue to keep the scramble going,” said Glass, a former head of ferrous trading at mining major Anglo American Plc, who has traded commodities since the 1990s. “There is fear of not being able to secure the logistics and the resources you need -- $220 is expensive, but it’s much more expensive if you have to shut down a mill because you can’t get material.”Industrial commodities and shipping costs are spiking as buyers hurry to secure raw materials with global industries from manufacturing to construction gearing up again as the pandemic fades. That adds to strong demand from China, where elevated steel margins are providing support for high iron ore prices. They could test $250 in the coming 12-18 months, according to Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp.China’s steel and iron ore futures also jumped to record highs Wednesday. The nation’s steelmakers are ramping up production in defiance of government attempts to rein in output to control the industry’s carbon emissions, while robust profit margins are enabling mills to better accommodate surging input costs.Amazing MotivatorIron ore is “grossly overpriced at the moment, but fear is an amazing motivator and prices are a reflection of fear,” Glass said. “You’re seeing fear more broadly with gold prices up, the dollar down, there is a flight to safety, and there is a certain amount of fear feeding into commodities markets.”China relies on just two countries -- Brazil and Australia -- for 80% of its iron ore imports. Brazil is grappling with a deadly surge of the coronavirus, and there are global concerns about the Covid-19 variant that’s overwhelming India. Separately, China’s fraying ties with Australia have added another element of risk to the market.“From Brazil, those boats are 40 days away,” Glass said. “So any more problems in Brazil because of the virus, you better make sure you are well-covered. And if politics between Australia and China does get to the point of creating a problem with Australian supply, and there is a Brazil issue too, then security of supply becomes very, very important.”Iron ore in Singapore rose as much as 5.7% to reach a record $233.55 a ton and traded at $232.20 at 2:25 p.m. local time. Iron ore on China’s Dalian exchange and steel rebar in Shanghai also both advanced to fresh all-time highs.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
“What saddens me is the way the weak hands and recent buyers see Elon Musk as a prophet, powerhouse and decisive figure in bitcoin,” said one trader.
(Bloomberg) -- Chinese corporations are defaulting on local bonds at the fastest pace on record, as authorities ramp up efforts to introduce more financial discipline and transparency in the world’s second-largest debt market.Firms so far this year have failed to make payments on 99.8 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) of onshore bonds, according to Bloomberg-compiled data. While 2021 is set to be the fourth straight year the 100 billion yuan level has been topped, it previously hadn’t happened before September. For all of 2015, when China’s stock market crashed, defaults totaled just 8.9 billion yuan.Missed payments are running at a record pace this year, following the late 2020 defaults of some state-linked firms which affirmed convictions that authorities in China are increasingly willing to not bail out weak firms. The recent tumult surrounding bad debt manager China Huarong Asset Management Co. raised fresh questions about support for central state-owned firms, even as the risk of contagion remains relatively contained. Signs of a maturing credit market have helped Chinese officials’ effort to refocus on financial risks in areas like asset prices and debt levels.Ultimately, more defaults are part of a healthy credit market with a genuine high-yield onshore sector and adequate pricing of risk, according to Jean-Charles Sambor, head of emerging-market debt at BNP Paribas Asset Management.“Policy makers are willing to draw a line in the sand between what is systemic and what is not,” he said. “They want to inject more credit risk in the system and change the mindset of investors, forcing them to look more at stand alone credit risk rather than speculating on the likelihood of support from the central government.”Delinquencies are crucial in helping develop a mature and efficient market that improves transparency, reduces moral hazard and prompts a reassessment of risk. Increased financial discipline for companies and improved credit ratings serves Beijing’s longer-term goal of attracting more foreign cash to the country’s capital markets-- especially from more stable sources like pension funds and insurers instead of hot money flows.Payment failures also help deepen regulation, as well as create a more standardized process and better assumptions in terms of recovery rates, Sambor said. “This short-term pain will translate into medium-term gain.”China’s central bank, in its first-quarter monetary report published Tuesday, urged establishing a mechanism that holds local party and government leaders accountable for major financial risks.Developer DefaultsReal estate firms are leading this year’s surge in onshore bond defaults, as authorities tighten access to funding in the debt-laden sector. Developers have made up about 25% of those missed payments with the government’s “three red lines” policy increasingly weighing on these borrowers. Payment failures at China Fortune Land Development Co. and Tianjin Real Estate Group Co. topped 10 billion yuan in the first quarter, according to Bloomberg-compiled data. They also did for chipmaker Tsinghua Unigroup Co. and Hainan Airlines Holding Co.Defaults on offshore bonds have also ramped up -- logging a combined $3.7 billion in January and February but none since, according to Bloomberg-compiled data. Still, that’s nearly half of 2020’s full-year $8.3 billion.(Adds quote in the seventh paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Katie Stockton charts dogecoin and bitcoin technicals
(Bloomberg) -- The Bank of Canada is closely monitoring recent gains in the nation’s currency, to ensure the appreciation doesn’t create headwinds for the nation’s economic outlook, according to the central bank’s head.At a press conference Thursday, Governor Tiff Macklem said the recent appreciation reflects in part higher commodity prices, which are good for the nation’s economy. Still, a continuation of the gains could begin to pose a risk to the central bank’s most recent forecasts released last month, which assumed an exchange rate of $0.8 per Canadian dollar.The Canadian dollar is up 4.9% so far this year, the best performing major currency. It weakened after Macklem’s comments, falling to C$1.2179 per U.S. dollar, or $0.8211 per Canadian dollar at 1:12 p.m. in Toronto trading.“If it moves a lot further that could have a material impact on our outlook and it’s something we’d have to take into account in our setting of monetary policy,” Macklem said Wednesday. “If the dollar were to continue to move -- particularly if its not reflecting good developments for Canada -- that could become more of a headwind on our export projection.”The Canadian dollar has been tracking resource prices higher this year. The Bank of Canada commodity price index -- a gauge that tracks movements of commodities produced in the country -- has hit the highest since 2014 after gaining 30% so far this year. Excluding energy, the index is at an all-time high.But the currency also appears to have gotten a lift from Macklem’s messaging, after the Bank of Canada last month accelerated the timetable for a possible interest-rate increase and pared back its bond purchases.“Macklem only said that if the currency were to appreciate absent fundamental reasons, then they’d be more concerned about competitiveness implications but that so far that’s not the case,” Derek Holt, an economist at Bank of Nova Scotia, said by email.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
The world’s largest crypto exchange by volume is the subject of a U.S. money-laundering investigation, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
Inflation fears are dogging Wall Street at a time when the U.S. rebound is picking up speed.
Earlier, the three major indexes rebounded after declining sharply earlier this week.
(Bloomberg) -- Stocks halted a three-day slide, with investors migrating to value from growth companies as signs of a strengthening labor market tempered inflation worries.Industrial and financial shares led gains in the S&P 500, while energy producers joined a slump in oil. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 underperformed major equity benchmarks as Tesla Inc. slipped after Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said the electric-car maker is suspending purchases using Bitcoin. In late trading, Coinbase Global Inc. sank as the biggest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange reported revenue below Wall Street estimates.“We’ve been on cyclical value and small cap for the better part of the last year,” said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management. “Our forecast has been that you would have these cyclical upswings that would lead to a broadening market, and that is exactly what you’ve seen. We haven’t wavered one bit in our conviction that is going to continue.”Confidence on an economic revival that’s reigned supreme amid continued Federal Reserve stimulus has been recently jolted. Data Thursday showed producer prices rose by more than forecast in April, and jobless claims fell. While some investors insist the surge in inflation is a one-off reopening burst, the broader markets are hedging against the possibility it may persist and force the central bank to take action.Officials have been trying to drive home the message that they see inflation spikes this year as transitory, in contrast with heightened Wall Street concern about runaway prices. Increases above the central bank’s 2% goal should be temporary, but may last through 2022, said Fed Governor Christopher Waller.“Taking a step back from inflation, the fact that jobless claims hit another pandemic-era low suggests we’re inching even closer to full reopening, which is no doubt a good thing,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*Trade Financial.The Fed tweaked its plans for buying Treasuries, keeping the monthly pace at about $80 billion but focusing more attention on securities maturing in seven years or longer.These are some of the main moves in markets:StocksThe S&P 500 rose 1.2% as of 4 p.m. New York timeThe Nasdaq 100 rose 0.8%The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.3%The MSCI World index rose 0.3%CurrenciesThe Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.2%The euro was little changed at $1.2084The British pound was unchanged at $1.4054The Japanese yen rose 0.2% to 109.44 per dollarBondsThe yield on 10-year Treasuries declined four basis points to 1.65%Germany’s 10-year yield was little changed at -0.12%Britain’s 10-year yield advanced one basis point to 0.90%CommoditiesWest Texas Intermediate crude fell 3.5% to $64 a barrelGold futures rose 0.3% to $1,828 an ounceFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The cyber-attack that crippled the nation’s biggest fuel pipeline this week triggered spot shortages of gasoline and a gusher of political rhetoric, with groups from across the political spectrum offering myriad, and contradictory, solutions.The oil industry says the answer is to invest in more fossil-fuel infrastructure, including refineries. Environmental groups think the key is more electric vehicles on the road and solar panels on the grid. A conservative think tank called the outage a “wake-up call” for pipeline protesters to stop. Even a coal group got involved, noting that its product doesn’t need to be piped anywhere.“Wind and solar power networks are by their very nature more distributed, more sensibly scaled, and more resilient than fossil fuel systems,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the environmental group Food and Water Watch, said in a statement.The stark divisions reflect the increasingly vocal energy debate. The oil and gas industry has found itself on the defensive against growing calls to fight climate change by reducing consumption of its products. While many fossil fuel advocates agree that curbing greenhouse gases is critical, they point to the Colonial shutdown as a sign of the potential risks of making the green transition too quickly.Colonial Pipeline Co. began to restart the line Wednesday evening, after a ransomware attack caused the company to shut it down May 7. The pipeline delivers about 45% of the gasoline, jet fuel and diesel used on the East Coast.“Whew, crisis averted, that pipeline is back up,” tweeted Chris Horner, an attorney and former senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Now, back to our regularly scheduled agenda of shutting down pipelines.”Conservatives have drawn links between the Colonial outage that transported refined fuels and President Joe Biden’s opposition to the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline that would have ferried tar sands crude from Alberta to Nebraska. Even a fully operational Keystone XL would have had no effect on fuel supplies during the Colonial outage, since it would carry minimally processed crude, not gasoline and other refined fuel.“The Colonial Pipeline closure should serve as a wake-up call to pipeline protesters who pretend we don’t need the energy transported by these pieces of critical infrastructure,” opined the Center of the American Experiment, a Minnesota-based conservative think tank. “We are as reliant upon oil and natural gas as we are water, and that reality isn’t going to change anytime soon.”Refining advocates also used the fuel shortages to highlight the decline in fuel-making capacity in the Northeast. Where the East Coast previously had 12 refineries, closures have dropped that number to four. By some estimates, the Atlantic Basin has lost a total of 1.5 million barrels per day of refining capacity since 2008, making the region more reliant on imports and fuel transported by Colonial.A New Jersey lawmaker pressed administration officials to address the decline during a briefing Wednesday. Each time a refinery closes, we’re losing the ability to fuel our defense, the unidentified lawmaker said, according to a person on the call.The coal industry, whose chief product is a rock that can’t be carried by pipelines, used the incident to highlight the value of its fossil fuel. The National Mining Association, which represents companies such as Consol Energy Inc. and Peabody Energy Corp., promoted coal as a “valuable insurance policy in an era of emerging and deceptively dangerous threats.”“It’s becoming clear that pipelines and just-in-time fuel delivery are a particularly vulnerable link in the equation,” the Washington-based trade group said in a statement Wednesday. “The months of fuel stored on site at coal and nuclear power plants add a layer of security and resilience we have long taken for granted and continue to undervalue.”Biden administration officials cited the crisis to highlight the president’s multi-trillion-dollar plans for investing in the nation’s highways, electric vehicle charging and the grid.“This incident also reminds us that infrastructure is a national security issue, and the reality is that investing in world-class, modern and resilient infrastructure has always been central to ensuring our country’s economic security, our national security and, as we’re seeing right now, that includes cybersecurity,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said at a White House briefing.Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm noted at least one group hasn’t been affected by the pipeline outage and the fuel shortages it caused along the East Coast.“If you drive an electric car this would not be affecting you, clearly,” she said during a White House briefing Tuesday.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
China's Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) said on Friday that demand for chips exceeds supply, and raised its expectations for sales for the first half of the year. "Our current capacity could not fulfill customer needs, and products in every market segment faced shortages," Zhao Haijun, co-chief executive of SMIC, said in a company earnings call. SMIC reported sales of $1.1 billion in Q1 2021, a year-on-year increase of 22%, and gross profit reached $250 million, a 7.1% increase.
(Bloomberg) -- Ant Group Co.’s profit rose to $3.4 billion in the December quarter after Chinese regulators thwarted its record initial public offering and told it to scale back its sprawling business.Billionaire Jack Ma’s fintech giant contributed nearly 7.2 billion yuan to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s earnings, a company filing showed Thursday. Based on Alibaba’s one-third stake in Ant, that translates to 21.8 billion yuan ($3.4 billion) in profit, up 50% from 14.5 billion yuan in the previous three months. Ant’s earnings lag one quarter behind Alibaba’s. Ant declined to comment.The tally underscores the earnings powers Ant boasted before authorities demanded China’s largest fintech company fold its financial business into a holding company, curtailing its growth prospects. Regulators have issued a battery of proposals that threaten to curb Ant’s dominance in online payments and scale back its expansion into consumer lending and wealth management.While Chairman Eric Jing has promised staff that the company will eventually go public, it’s likely to be worth much less than before the crackdown that saw the IPO halted in November. Fidelity Investments halved its valuation estimate for Ant to about $144 billion in February, compared with $295 billion assigned in August.Ant isn’t alone in facing the clampdown. The government imposed wide-ranging restrictions on the financial divisions of 13 companies including Tencent Holdings Ltd. and ByteDance Ltd. Units of JD.com Inc., Meituan and Didi Chuxing were also among companies summoned to a meeting where regulators handed out stricter compliance requirements in April.The company’s affiliate Alibaba reported its first loss in nine years, vowing to hike spending for expansion next year in technology and community commerce.(Updates with Alibaba profit details in last paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Elon Musk said on Wednesday that Tesla would stop accepting Bitcoin in car purchases.
(Bloomberg) -- Wild stock swings, spikes in Treasury yields, startling economic readings? Interesting, sure. But if you really want to get people’s attention right now, you need to tell them a story about crypto.And there have been a lot of those. Even for a market that’s famous for its wild volatility and gimmicks, the past week’s cryptocurrency news set new records for jaw-droppers.It began with Elon Musk’s highly anticipated appearance as host on “Saturday Night Live.” Dogecoin owners watched hoping that the “Dogefather” would further propel the digital currency that had soared this year from less than a penny to 74 cents before he took the stage.What they got instead was a skit in which he laughed after calling the coin a “hustle.” Since then, the Shiba Inu-branded coin created as a joke has lost almost half of its value.Dogecoin wasn’t the only canine-themed coin to take a tumble.Shiba Inu coin -- yes, a meta joke about the joke that is Dogecoin -- soared earlier in the week as it was added to exchanges like OKEx and Binance. It and other Dogecoin imitators’ popularity reached such heights that transaction fees on the Ethereum network hit an all-time high, according to CoinDesk.The rally faded quickly. The cryptocurrency plunged Wednesday after the Wall Street Journal reported that Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin donated more than $1 billion of the coin to a charity that is fighting the spread of Covid-19 in India.Then that night, Musk struck again. He announced that Tesla Inc. would no longer accept Bitcoin as a form of payment for its cars. In a tweet, Musk said that the carmaker was “concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.”While his tweet left Bitcoin holders wondering what spurred the change -- the facts of the coin’s energy profile hadn’t changed since Tesla announced in March that it would accept it as payment -- the market reacted swiftly. Bitcoin plunged from nearly $57,000 before his flip-flop to $46,000 within two hours.Thursday brought some good news for crypto die-hards. Point72, the hedge fund run by billionaire New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, was set to make a sizable move into the market. Bitcoin gained 2.5% following the news.The rally didn’t last long.Tether, the crypto stablecoin that says it’s backed one-for-one by fiat currencies, released a reserves breakdown for the first time that showed a large portion in unspecified commercial paper. The company has faced questions over both its reserves and whether it was used to manipulate cryptocurrency prices. In February, Tether settled a legal dispute with the New York Attorney General’s Office and paid a fine of $18.5 million.After that, reports surfaced that Colonial Pipeline Co. paid nearly $5 million in untraceable cryptocurrency to the hackers that infiltrated the company’s network and forced the shutdown of its infrastructure, setting off widespread gasoline shortages up the U.S. eastern seaboard.At about the same time, Bloomberg reported that Binance Holdings Ltd., the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, was under investigation by the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service in relation to possible money-laundering and tax offenses.News of the investigation sent Bitcoin and Ethereum, the two largest cryptocurrencies, down by more than 7% each as fears were stoked about the Biden administration taking a tougher approach toward an industry that has largely operated outside of the gaze of regulators.Then at 4:00 p.m. New York time, Coinbase Global, Inc., the biggest U.S. crypto exchange, reported first-quarter earnings. Its revenues fell just short of consensus estimates and the company projected flat user growth. Coinbase also plans to offer Dogecoin trading on its platform. The exchange’s shares fell as much as 6.5% in after-hours trading before recovering.Friday in Asia is already bringing further drama, beginning with more comments from Musk. The billionaire in a tweet said he “strongly” believes in crypto but that “it can’t drive a massive increase in fossil fuel use, especially coal.”Not long after, he followed up with another post saying that he’s working with Dogecoin “devs to improve system transaction efficiency,” describing the effort as “potentially promising.”(Updates with more comments from Musk in the penultimate paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Masan Group Corp., a Vietnamese conglomerate, is exploring options for its animal feed unit that could include selling a stake to a strategic partner, according to people familiar with the matter.The company is working with advisers to weigh introducing fresh investment in the business, which is currently held under its listed Masan MeatLife Corp. unit, said the people, who asked not to be named as the information is private. It is seeking to raise as much as $1 billion from a deal, they said.Masan is also mulling a possible initial public offering for the animal feed unit, one of the people said. The company’s management believes Masan MeatLife is under-appreciated by the market, the person said.Deliberations are at an early stage and may not lead to any transaction, said the people. A representative for Masan Group declined to comment.Shares in Masan MeatLife closed up 6.5% on Thursday, their highest level since the end of Jan. 2020, giving the unit a market value of $865 million.A $1 billion deal would be Vietnam’s biggest since 2017, when Vietnam F&B Alliance Investment JSC bought 54% of Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage for $4.4 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.Masan Group is controlled by Vietnamese tycoon Nguyen Dang Quang. Founded in 1996, the Ho Chi Minh City-based firm is best-known for its fish sauce which it sells under brands including Chin-Su and Nam Ngu, according to its website. It has interests in retailing and mining as well as a stake in Vietnam Technological & Commercial Joint-Stock Bank, commonly known as Techcombank.Masan MeatLife is one of the largest fully-integrated feed-farm-food business platforms in Vietnam, its website shows. In 2015 the company merged its two animal feed businesses, Anco and Proconco, and three years later began selling fresh, chilled meat under the MeatDeli brand.(Updates with Masan MeatLife share price in fourth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- It seems like a pretty basic question: what’s the impact of inflation on stock-market returns?The answer, however, depends on whom you ask and what historical data you think is germane.As economists grapple with whether the U.S. is in store for a prolonged bout of inflation or a mere blip on the chart, equity analysts have turned their attention to answering just what it would mean for the stock market if inflation were to take hold.Strategists at Credit Suisse Group AG led by Jonathan Golub make the case that over the last year, rising inflation expectations -- measured by changes in the five-year breakeven rate -- have coincided with positive returns for stock indexes.“In contrast to the market’s recent pullback, stock prices tend to increase in periods of higher inflation,” the strategists wrote in a note Thursday.In the S&P 500 Index, every sector has, on average, gained on days when concerns over inflation were also on the uptick, they note. The biggest beneficiaries have been energy and financial companies, while the staples and utility sectors saw the most muted returns.Leuthold Group reaches a different conclusion based on the historical relationship between the U.S. consumer price index and the price-earnings ratio for the MSCI U.S. Index.“Equity investors might feel it’s too hot, as higher inflation has historically been associated with lower equity valuations,” Leuthold’s Chun Wang wrote in a Thursday report.But that finding came with a caveat.“Admittedly, this relationship has weakened over the past two years but, given the heady valuation level today, it wouldn’t take a big increase in inflation to trigger a derating move.”A prior research note from the firm postulated that such a move could translate to a fall of 37% for the S&P 500 Index if its multiples to sales and earnings return to their mean levels since 1995.Ultimately, the answer might lie not in whether inflation appears, but in the extent to which it manifests, said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at Truist Advisory Services.“Some inflation is fine for the overall equity market,” Lerner said. “If you have some inflation and it’s not moving at too rapid of a pace, companies can pass along costs, there’s not sticker shock for the consumer. Yes, some inflation is healthy, but if it gets too hot too fast, there are concerns.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Japanese shares led a rebound in Asian markets on Friday, building on the lead from investors on Wall Street snapping up stocks that would benefit most from an economic revival. The rally interrupted a three-day rout for stocks globally, as market jitters over accelerating U.S. inflation were calmed by Federal Reserve officials reiterating that price pressures from the reopening of the economy would prove transitory. The Fed may open the discussion on tapering its asset purchases as soon as the policy meeting next month, he said.