New York morning espresso

** FT News **

* Pentagon cautious on Iraq air strikes | Obama administration considers drones, but military officials say that unmanned aircraft also usually require detailed, on-the-ground intelligence

* New Delhi faces growing water crisis | As India’s population rises, decades of abuse of rivers and groundwater are presenting successive governments with a severe water challenge

* Argentina agrees to meet ‘vulture’ funds | The about-face by Buenos Aires is designed to help avoid a looming default as the country weighs debt repayments in the coming weeks

* South Africa to review minerals law | New minister delays amendments after concern from oil and gas industry over proposals that might deter investment in hydrocarbons exploration

* UK trade with China still trails competitors | UK goods exports to China have almost doubled in the past four years but Britain’s share of the Chinese imports market is far below competitors

* CIC under fire after overseas losses | The country’s top auditor blames mismanagement, dereliction of duty and poor due diligence at the sovereign wealth fund

* Liechtenstein to return €167m to Nigeria | Constitutional court dismissed late military dictator’s companies’ claims last year, but principality refused to let funds go

* Oil chiefs urge Russian co-operation | Western oil executives express their concern that sanctions will threaten energy projects in Russia as they urge ‘co-operation not confrontation’

* BNY Mellon stuck in global debt saga | As trustee of Argentina’s restructured bonds, the bank must comply with a US court ruling while meeting its legal obligations to bondholders

* Reliance to invest $11.6bn in telecoms | Mukesh Ambani’s bold move promises to kick off a new era of competition with the existing market leaders Bharti Airtel and Vodafone

** FT Opinion **

- ‘Shia Panic’: a buddy movie set in Iraq | They were enemies until Isis came along and presented a threat to civilisation as we know it. Then they were friends

- Argentina in game of chicken over debt | Cristina Fernández has sworn never to succumb to the holdouts’ ‘extortion’. She must be seen to follow through on the pledge – even if she fails

- Shadows: risky business, global threat | Into the shadows: The first of an FT series investigates how China’s precarious shadow banking system could inflict severe damage on the world economy

** BB recent & required reading **

- A BRICS bank: can it outdo the World Bank? | As a coordinated entity, the BRICS grouping of emerging markets has produced little except inspiring the name of a widely-read blog. Next month, the five governments – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are planning to erect an actual edifice amid the swirling mists of rhetoric with the launch of a development bank dedicated to the financing of infrastructure and growth in fast-growing emerging economies.

- Mexico’s energy reform: wading through mud | Mexico’s historic energy reform whizzed through Congress in the blink of an eye in December, when legislators rewrote parts of the Constitution to erase nearly eight decades of state control of the sector. Passing the laws to implement the reform, by contrast, is like wading through mud.

- Guest post: how fast is Africa really growing? | By Razia Khan of Standard Chartered Bank Africa is rising, but poor data availability means that we can’t be sure by how much. There are proxies that help shed some light. Chinese customs data show that Africa-China trade ballooned to $210bn last year from $5bn-$7bn at the end of the 1990s. Such data points aside, however, little is known about the true magnitude of Africa’s growth surge.

** From elsewhere **

Iraq shows that the global economy needs Saudi Arabia again (Quartz)

South Africa’s mining crisis will return if root causes not addressed (Business Day)

** Markets: mixed **

Emerging Markets
MSCI Emerging Market Index up +0.55% at 1,050

FTSE down +0.83% at 6,835
RTS up +1.47% at 1,383
Warsaw Wig down -0.01% at 52,937
FTSE 300 Eurotop up +0.70% at 1,397

DJIA up +0.58% at 16,907
S&P 500 up +0.77% at 1,957
Bovespa up +1.66% at 55,203

Nikkei 225 up +1.62% at 15,361
Topix up +1.59% at 1,269
Hang Seng down -0.06% at 23,168
Shanghai Composite down -1.55% at 2,024
MSCI Asia ex-Japan up +0.18% at 487.72
CNX Nifty down -0.23% at 7,541

€/$ 1.36 (1.36)
$/¥ 101.78 (101.91)

Brent Crude (ICE) up +0.26 at 114.52
Light Crude (Nymex) up +0.46 at 106.43
100 Oz Gold (Comex) up +8.50 at 1,281