GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares swoon as Beijing ramps up war of words

* Asian stock markets :

* Shanghai shares skid as Trump targets Huawei, Europe lower

* Asia index ex-Japan hits 15-week trough

* Yen edges higher as mood turns risk averse

* Bitcoin suddenly tumbles, then claws back losses

* Oil waits for OPEC+ output signals

* World FX rates in 2019


By Marc Jones

LONDON, May 17 ( ) – World share markets suffered a fresh bout of selling on Friday after tough words on trade from China, while bets on a new pro-Brexit leader in Britain sent the pound sliding to its worst week in well over a year.

European stocks and Wall Street futures both slipped more than 0.7%, though that seemed a relatively minor blip after the losses in Asia.

Shanghai finished 2.5% in the red and the yuan hit its weakest in nearly five months, amid growing fallout from President Donald Trump’s move to block China’s Huawei from buying vital American technology.

The foreboding grew further as the Communist Party’s People’s Daily used a front page commentary on Friday to evoke the patriotic spirit of past conflicts, saying the trade war would never bring China down.

In terms of how the trade conflict plays out, “the next fortnight will be very, very important,” UniCredit strategist Kiran Kowshik said.

“Chinese counter-tariffs are due on June 1 and if those get effective, I think markets will price in the risk of the U.S. imposing its additional $300 billion of tariffs ahead of the G20 meeting (near the end of June).”

The drop in the yuan saw it ease past 6.94 per dollar in the offshore market for the first time since November 2018.

Its slide has been steepening in recent days causing worries about how far it could go. Sources in China told the central bank would intervene to ensure it did not weaken past 7 to the dollar in the near term.

“Breaking 7 is beneficial to China because it can reduce some of the effects of tariff increases, but the impact on our renminbi confidence is negative and funds will flow out,” one of the sources said.

Rattled by the tensions, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan sank to a 15-week low and closed down 2.6% for the week.

Japan’s Nikkei did manage to bounce 0.9% and the main Au爱上海stralian index climbed to an 11-year peak as higher commodity prices boosted miners. Germany’s exporter-heavy DAX fell the most in Europe, with carmaker stocks down as much as 2.1%.

Wall Street looked set for its first drop in four days. Sentiment had been soothed on Thursday by better U.S. economic news, with housing starts surprisingly strong and a welcome pickup in the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s manufacturing survey.

Upbeat results from Walmart burnished the outlook for retail spending, though the chain also warned that tariffs would raise prices for U.S. consumers.

As the earnings season winds down, of the 457 S&P 500 companies reporting about 75% have beaten profit expectations, according to Refinitiv data.


The chillier trade winds helped Treasuries, with the 10-year yield down at 2.38% after a second strong week running for bond markets.

Germany’s Bund yields also fell back towards 2-1/2 year lows. French and Spanish yields were set for their biggest weekly drop in two months too.

“Bond markets in general, especially (German) Bunds, are telling us they don’t see many good things going on in the next one-two years,” said Neil Dwane portfolio manager and global strategist at Allianz Global Investors.

The dollar lost a little of its shine against the safe-haven yen to stand at 109.60 from a top of 110.03. Against a basket of currencies, it was a shade firmer at 96.941.

Yet the euro could make no ground and held at $1.1162 , down 0.5% for the week so far.

Sterling was one of the worst performers as Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May battled to keep her Brexit deal, and her premiership, intact amid growing fears of a disorderly departure from the European Union.

The pound touched a four-month low of $1.2735 and was down 1.9% for the week, which is the biggest drop since February 2018.

Also under pressure was the Australian dollar, losing 1.5% for the week to $0.6880 as investors piled into bets that interest rates would be cut in June.

Cyber currency Bitcoin tumbled over 20% at one stage for no clear reason. It was last down 7%, albeit back on course for its third week of gains and having doubled in value this year.

In commodity markets, spot gold steadied at $1,287 per ounce as risk sentiment soured.

Oil futures firmed into a fourth session as rising tensions in the Middle East stoked fears of potential supply disruptions.

U.S. crude was last up 33 cents at $63.20 a barrel, while Brent crude futures rose 19 cents to $72.81.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers will meet in Saudi Arabia this weekend to discuss whether to continue with supply cuts that have boosted prices more than 30% so far this year.

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Peltz’s Trian Fund may push for changes at mutual fund Legg Mason

NEW YORK ( ) – Nelson Peltzs’ Trian Fund Management LP may push Legg Mason Inc. to implement changes to boost returns, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, the second time in 10 years that Trian has targeted the mutual fund company.

The two sides have discussed cutting costs, the source said, and Legg Mason chairman, president and chief executive officer Joseph Sullivan said on an earnings call on Monday that the company plans to manage costs more effectively to improve profitability.

Legg Mason’s share price has fallen 15.5 percent in the last year. Ranked as one of the country’s 30 biggest mutual fund firms, the company reported $758 billion in assets under management at the end of the fiscal year, which ended in March, up from $754.1 billion a year earlier.

Like many other mutual fund firms, Legg Mason has been hit hard by investors’ shifting tastes for less expensive index funds offered by larger firms, including Vanguard Group.

Representatives for Trian and Legg Mason could either not be reached for comment or declined to comment.

Trian’s discussions with Legg Mason were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

It was not immediately clear whether Tri爱上海419an would resort to a proxy contest to push its demands or whether the two sides might find another resolution.

Peltz first set his sights on the Baltimore-based company ten years ago and ended up being offered a seat on the board, which he held until late 2014.

During Peltz’ tenure as a director, Legg Mason appointed Sullivan as CEO, replacing Mark Fetting who served for four years.

Earlier this year Trian stopped short of mounting a board challenge at PPG Industries Inc. after the U.S. paints and coatings company met some of Trian’s demands and announced new financial targets.

Trian’s largest investments are General Electric Co and Procter & Gamble, where the hedge fund has board seats.

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Obama’s not-so-secret admirer: Donald Trump

WASHINGTON ( ) – President Barack Obama has a new fan: Donald Trump.

After lambasting Obama for months as a failed leader unfit to be president, the Re爱上海419publican president-elect found kinder words on Tuesday for the man he will succeed in the White House on Jan. 20

“I didn’t know if I’d like him. I probably thought that maybe I wouldn’t, but I did. I really enjoyed him a lot,” Trump said in an interview with the New York Times.

Obama, a Democrat, met with Trump at the Oval Office on Nov. 10, two days after the presidential election. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said earlier on Tuesday the two had spoken again since then, citing Obama’s commitment to a smooth transfer of power, but offered no other details.

“I had a great meeting with President Obama,” Trump told the Times. “I really liked him a lot.”

Obama, who had his own harsh words for Trump as he campaigned for Democrat Hillary Clinton, has made clear he would put the bitterness of the campaign aside to ensure a smooth transition of power and protect a pillar of American democracy.

Trump told the newspaper that Obama talked to him about what he considered the country’s biggest problems, one problem in particular that the president-elect did not mention, according to Twitter posts by Times reporters.

Trump, who has vowed to undo a number of initiatives Obama holds dear, appeared conciliatory toward the president whose U.S. citizenship he had long questioned.

“He said very nice things after the meeting and I said very nice things about him,” Trump said of Obama, according to the Times.

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Factbox: Trump to meet with Oklahoma governor, ex-Texas governor Perry, Hawaii Democrat Gabbard, others

( ) – U.S. Republican President-elect Donald Trump holds more meetings on Monday as he continues to form the cabinet and administration that will take over from President Barack Obama on Jan. 20. He is scheduled to meet with the following people, according to his transition team:


*U.S. labor secretary under President George W. Bush

*Deputy U.S. transportation secretary under President George H.W. Bush

*Wife of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell


*Current Oklahoma governor serving second term; first elected in 2010


*One of 64 agriculture policy advisers to Trump’s presidential campaign


*Former U.S. House of Representatives speaker, 1995-1999; represented Georgia from 1979-1999

*Has said he hopes to have an advisory position to Trump administration rather than a Cabinet post; had been floated as possible secretary of state


*Former Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate in 2012 and 2016

*Under consideration for Cabinet posts including defense, energy and veterans affairs


*A Democratic U.S. representative from Hawaii, who was an early supporter of Bernie Sanders

*Serves on the U.S. House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees

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Factbox: Trump fills top jobs for his administration

( ) – President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Republican U.S. Representative Mick Mulvaney to be director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, a senior transition official said on Friday.

The following is a list of Republican Trump’s selections for top jobs in his administration; all the posts but those of national security adviser, the White House chief of staff, White House director of the National Economic Council and White House strategist require Senate confirmation:


Sessions, 69, was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump’s presidential bid and has been a close ally since. Son of a country store owner, the Alabama senator and former federal prosecutor has long taken a tough stance on illegal immigration, opposing any path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.


U.S. Representative Pompeo, 52, is a third-term congressman from Kansas who serves on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which oversees the CIA, National Security Agency and cyber security. A retired Army officer and Harvard Law School graduate, Pompeo supports the U.S. government’s sweeping collection of Americans’ communications data and wants to scrap the nuclear deal with Iran.


Ross, 79, heads the private equity firm W.L. Ross & Co. His net worth was pegged by Forbes at about $2.9 billion. A staunch supporter of Trump and an economic adviser, Ross helped shape the Trump campaign’s views on trade policy. He blames the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, which went into force in 1994, and the 2001 entry of China into the World Trade Organization上海龙凤419, for causing massive U.S. factory job losses.


Mattis is a retired Marine general known for his tough talk, distrust of Iran and battlefield experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. A former leader of Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East and South Asia, Mattis, 66, is known by many U.S. forces by his nickname “Mad Dog.” He was once rebuked for saying in 2005: “It’s fun to shoot some people.”


DeVos, 58, is a billionaire Republican donor, a former chair of the Michigan Republican Party and an advocate for the privatization of education. As chair of the American Federation for Children, she has pushed at the state level for vouchers that families can use to send their children to private schools and for the expansion of charter schools.


Perry, 66, adds to the list of oil drilling advocates skeptical about climate change who have been picked for senior positions in Trump’s Cabinet. The selections have worried environmentalists but cheered an oil and gas industry eager for expansion. Perry, who also briefly ran in the 2016 presidential race, would have to be confirmed by the Senate to head the Energy Department, which is responsible for U.S. energy policy and oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons program.


An ardent opponent of President Barack Obama’s measures to stem climate change, Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt, 48, has enraged environmental activists. But he fits with the president-elect’s promise to cut the agency back and eliminate regulation that he says is stifling oil and gas drilling. Pruitt became the top state prosecutor for Oklahoma, which has extensive oil reserves, in 2011, and has challenged the EPA multiple times since.


U.S. Representative Price, 62, is an orthopedic surgeon who heads the House Budget Committee. A representative from Georgia since 2005, Price has criticized Obamacare and has championed a plan of tax credits, expanded health savings accounts and lawsuit reforms to replace it. He is opposed to abortion.


The final leadership role of Kelly’s 45-year career was head of the U.S. Southern Command, responsible for U.S. military activities and relationships in Latin America and the Caribbean. The 66-year-old retired Marine general differed with Obama on key issues and has warned of vulnerabilities along the United States’ southern border with Mexico.


Carson, 65, is a retired neurosurgeon who dropped out of the Republican presidential nominating race in March and threw his support to Trump. A popular writer and speaker in conservative circles, Carson previously indicated reluctance to take a position in the incoming administration because of his lack of experience in the federal government. Carson is the first African-American picked for a Cabinet spot by Trump.


Zinke, 55, a first-term Republican representative and a member of the House subcommittee on natural resources, has voted for legislation that would weaken environmental safeguards on public lands. He has taken stances favoring coal, a fossil fuel that suffered during the Obama administration. The League of Conservation Voters, which ranks lawmakers on their environmental record, gave Zinke an extremely low lifetime score of 3 percent.


Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc, which runs the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast-food chains, has been a vociferous critic of government regulation of the workplace and the National Labor Relations Board. Puzder, 66, has argued that higher minimum wages would hurt workers by forcing restaurants to close, and praises the benefits of automation, so his appointment is likely to antagonize organized labor.


Cohn, 56, president and chief operating officer of investment bank Goldman Sachs, had widely been considered heir apparent to Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of the Wall Street firm. Trump hammered Goldman and Blankfein during the presidential campaign, releasing a television ad that called Blankfein part of a “global power structure” that had robbed America’s working class.


Retired Lieutenant General Flynn, 57, was an early Trump supporter and serves as vice chairman on his transition team. He began his Army career in 1981 and was deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Flynn became head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012 under President Barack Obama but retired a year earlier than expected, according to media reports, and became a fierce critic of Obama’s foreign policy.


U.S. Representative Mick Mulvaney, 49, a South Carolina Republican, is a fiscal conservative. He was an outspoken critic of former House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, who resigned in 2015 amid opposition from fellow Republicans who were members of the House Freedom Caucus. Mulvaney was first elected to Congress in 2010.


Tillerson, 64, has spent his entire career at Exxon Mobil Corp, where he rose to serve as its chairman and CEO in 2006. A civil engineer by training, the Texan joined the world’s largest energy company in 1975 and led several of its operations in the United States as well as in Yemen, Thailand and Russia. As Exxon’s chief executive, he maintained close ties with Moscow and opposed U.S. sanctions against Russia for its incursion into Crimea.


McMahon, 68, is a co-founder and former chief executive of the professional wrestling franchise WWE, which is based in Stamford, Connecticut. She ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut in 2010 and 2012, and was an early supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign.


Chao, 63, was labor secretary under President George W. Bush for eight years and the first Asian-American woman to hold a Cabinet position. She is a director at Ingersoll Rand, News Corp and Vulcan Materials Company. She is married to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky.


Mnuchin, 53, is a successful private equity investor, hedge fund manager and Hollywood financier who spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs before leaving in 2002. He assembled an investor group to buy a failed California mortgage lender in 2009, rebranded it as OneWest Bank and built it into Southern California’s largest bank. Housing advocacy groups criticized the bank for its foreclosure practices, accusing it of being too quick to foreclose on struggling homeowners.


Haley, 44, has been the Republican governor of South Carolina since 2011 and has little experience in foreign policy or the federal government. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she led a successful push last year to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol after the killing of nine black churchgoers in Charleston by a white gunman.


Recently re-elected to serve as Republican National Committee chairman, Priebus will give up his party post to join Trump in the White House, where the low-key Washington operative could help forge ties with Congress to advance Trump’s agenda. The 44-year-old was a steadfast supporter of Trump during the presidential campaign even as the party fractured amid the choice.


The former head of the conservative website Breitbart News came aboard as Trump’s campaign chairman in August. A rabble-rousing conservative media figure, he helped shift Breitbart into a forum for the alt-right, a loose confederation of those who reject mainstream politics and includes neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites. His hiring signals Trump’s dedication to operating outside the norms of Washington. As White House chief of staff, Bannon, 63, will serve as Trump’s gatekeeper and agenda-setter.

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Family-owned Turkish car parts maker Teklas up for sale: sources

FRANKFURT/ISTANBUL ( ) – Turkey’s Teklas Kaucuk, which supplies parts to carmakers such as General Motors and BMW, has put itself up for sale in a deal that could value the company at as much as 700 million euros ($782.9 million), two people familiar with the matter said.

The family-owned company – which makes rubber hoses and metal tubes mainly for use in air conditioning, brakes and electric vehicles – is being advised by JP Morgan on the sale.

Teklas, which also supplies parts to Daimler, FCA, Toyota and Volkswagen, was not immediately available for comment. JP Morgan declined to comment.

Teklas tried to sell itself in 2015 but the plan stalled after a diesel emissions scandal at Volkswagen prompted investors to assess the impact of the scandal on Teklas’s sales. The cars sector has seen high-profile deals in recent months including KKR’s acquisition of Magneti Marelli and ZF Friedrichhafen’s purchase of Wabco for over $7 billion.

But there has been less interest in companies produci爱上海ng technology tied to conventional combustion engines, which are under pressure as the industry shifts towards electric vehicles.

The auction for Teklas is expected to kick off soon with potential suitors such as Cooper Standard and Bain Capital being targeted, the sources said.

Teklas is expected to be valued at seven to eight times its annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of about 80-90 million euros, suggesting it could fetch between 600-700 million euros, the sources said. Founded in 1970s, Teklas Kaucuk is based in the western Turkish province of Kocaeli. It employs more than 4,800 people at sites in Europe, Mexico and China.

($1 = 0.8941 euros)

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UPDATE 1-WeWork parent loses $264 mln in quarter, sales to corporate customers rise

(Adds details, byline)

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK, May 15 ( ) – The We Company, parent of flexible workspace operator WeWork, said on Wednesday losses narrowed slightly in the first quarter from a year earlier to $264 million as revenue continues to double annually and its customer base surged.

The New York-based company, which earlier on Wednesday said it created a $2.9 billion real estate investment platform that marks an evolution in its investing strategy, said interest and other expenses widened to $378 million from $19 million in the first quarter of 2018.

Money-losing We Company in April filed paperwork for an initial public offering that could encounter a cool reception after the struggles of Lyft Inc and the underwhelming debut by Uber Technologies Inc.

We Company’s net losses declined by $10 million from $274 million a year earlier. Cash on hand was $4 billion and rose by $1 billion on April 15 from warrants due to SoftBank Corp , a major investor in WeWork. The company said it expected a further $1.5 billion from warrants due to SoftBank in April 2020.

Revenues rose to $728.3 million in the first three months of the year and, based on the pace in March, the company estimated yearly revenue of $3.02 billion.

Memberships in the first quarter climbed to 466,000 from 219,000 a year ago as enterprise clients representing companies with at least 1,000 employees rose to 175,000, or 40% of WeWork’s customer base.

Enterprise clients have doubled from the first quarter of 2017, when they represented 21% of WeWork memberships.

The number of WeWork locations rose to 485 as its international operations grew to 46% of revenue, up from 38% in the first quarter of 2018.

Adjusted operating earnings, or EBITDA, were a negative $220 million, roughly double the prior year’s negative $107 million.

WeWork began publicly disclosing a limited set of its financial statements last year after raising $702 million in a sale of a high-yield bond. Ahead of the report, WeWor爱上海419k’s junk bond slipped fractionally in price on Wednesday, with its yield rising to a two-week high of 8.97%.

We Company earlier said it created investment platform ARK with Canada’s Ivanhoe Cambridge, the property arm of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which provided $1 billion in funding.

The platform builds on a venture WeWork has with private equity firm the Rhone Group, which spearheaded the purchase of the former Lord & Taylor building on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.

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Brexit legislation needs to include public vote – Starmer

LONDON ( ) – The British government’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill needs to include another public vote when it is presented to MPs again next month, the Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said on Saturday.

After failing to get parliament’s approval three times for Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, the government will now put the bill, legislation which will enact that deal, before parliament for a vote in early June.

The Labour Party and rebels within May’s Conservative Party have said they plan to oppose it.

“The government ought to seriously consider putting a public vote on the face of the bill to break the impasse,” Starmer told BBC radio.

“But what we can’t do is just keep on buying another week at a time, which is what the prime minister’s been doing for months,” he said.

May has publicly opposed holding a second public vote.

Nearly three years after the United Kingdom voted 52% to 48% in a referendum to leave the EU, it remains unclear how, when or even if the country will leave 爱上海the European club it joined in 1973. The current deadline to leave is Oct. 31.

Brexit talks between May’s Conservatives and Labour collapsed on Friday hours after May agreed on Thursday to set out in early June a timetable for her departure.

A source in Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said on Friday the Withdrawal Agreement Bill would “contain new features” to reflect discussions the government has had with MPs over their concerns.

Starmer was asked if a no-deal departure from the EU was now looking more likely.

“I don’t accept that – it’s five and a half months to go before the deadline. I don’t accept that we can’t talk to the EU about further changes to the Political Declaration, I accept the Withdrawal Agreement is a different proposition.”

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EIB lends Northvolt 350 million euros for Europe’s largest battery project

STOCKHOLM ( ) – Northvolt has secured a 350 million euro loan from the European Investm上海419论坛ent bank (EIB), the lender’s largest ever direct financing of battery technology, as the Swedish startup raises funds to build Europe’s biggest battery plant.

The factory is critical to Europe’s effort to compete with Asian rivals such as CATL, Samsung and LG Chem, which are leaders in the battery market after locking in supply deals with carmakers.

Northvolt got a boost on Wednesday when IKEA said it was in the final stages of talks about participating in the fundraising for the factory.

Northvolt asked the EIB for the loan in September, part of a 1.5 billion euro fundraising, split equally between debt and equity, to build half of its planned 32 gigawatt hours (GWh) of annual battery capacity by 2023.

“The EIB’s approval is one really key piece of the puzzle in putting together that full funding,” co-founder Peter Carlsson, a former Tesla executive, told , adding that Northvolt expected to close the funding round before August.

Other potential debt and equity investors had viewed the EIB’s approval as a crucial indicator of the project’s viability, he added, given the due diligence the bank would have carried out before granting the loan.

Equity investors have been wary of the lead taken by Asian companies, but Northvolt says it expects cost savings from bringing a larger portion of cell making in-house to make it competitive.

Battery suppliers are also competing for raw materials as carmakers try and cut the use of expensive minerals, especially cobalt, from electric car batteries, to reduce costs.

Carlsson said the cells Northvolt is currently building are close to the low-cobalt NMC811 formula used by Tesla-supplier Panasonic.

“It is also fair to assume that the cobalt content will continue to fall and there will be efforts to further raise the nickel content to create even higher and richer energy densities,” he said.

Carlsson said Northvolt was putting together a consortium of banks to arrange the remaining debt and looking for industrial and financial investors to provide equity.


Automakers have been plowing funds into battery production and development, a key battleground in their electrification ambitions.

Swedish carmaker Volvo said on Wednesday it had signed long-term battery supply deals with LG Chem and CATL as it pursues its EV target of 50 percent of sales by 2025.

Northvolt estimates the European electric vehicle market will need 500-600 GWh of annual capacity by 2030, or at least 10 factories as large as Tesla’s U.S. Gigafactory.

The company had intended to sell half its battery capacity to grid storage and industrial and portable application customers but Carlsson said 80 percent of the 16 GWh it had already sold had gone to automakers.

“As automotive companies are now launching their new portfolios of electrified vehicles … we see a larger appetite for very, very strongly committing to volumes,” he said.

Volkswagen truck brand Scania told this week it was participating in the financing talks and had signed up to buy batteries from Northvolt, while a banking source named a number of other participants.

Carlsson said several other large German manufacturers were among its customers, but declined to identify them. The company has also applied for German funding to build a second factory in the region, as well as for a project with Volkswagen.

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U.S. cancels $929 million in California high speed rail funds after appeal rejected

WASHINGTON ( ) – The Trump administration said on Thursday it was formally cancelling $929 million in previously awarded funding for California’s high-speed rail program after rejecting an appeal by the state.

The U.S. railway regulator, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), said on Thursday it had canceled the funding awarded in a 2010 agreement after it said the state had “repeatedly failed to comply” and “failed to make reasonable progress on the project.”

In a statement, the FRA said it was still considering “all options” on seeking the return of $2.5 billion in federal fu爱上海419nds the state has already received.

The decision is the latest salvo in an ongoing battle between the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump and California over a series of issues including immigration, vehicle emissions standards and internet policy.

The largest U.S. state has repeatedly sued the Trump administration and officials expect the state will sue over the rescinding of rail funding.

The Trump administration moved to end funding after California Governor Gavin Newsom said in February the state would scale back the planned $77.3 billion high-speed rail project after cost hikes, delays and management concerns, but would finish a smaller section.

In a statement on Thursday, Newsom called the action “illegal and a direct assault on California, our green infrastructure, and the thousands of Central Valley workers who are building this project.”

He added “the Trump Administration is trying to exact political retribution on our state,” and vowed to go to court to protect “California’s money, appropriated by Congress.”

The traffic-choked state had planned to build a 520-mile (837-km) system in the first phase that would allow trains to travel at up to 220 miles per hour (354 kph) from Los Angeles to San Francisco and begin full operations by 2033.

Newsom said in February the state would instead complete a 119-mile high-speed link between Merced and Bakersfield in the state’s Central Valley.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who overseas FRA, in February said California’s drastically scaled back rail project “is a classic example of bait and switch… We have a right to ask for that $2.5 billion back as well.”

The state said in March that ending funding “would cause massive disruption, dislocation, and waste, damaging the region and endangering the future of high-speed rail in California.”

The Obama administration awarded California $3.5 billion in 2010 and California voters in 2008 approved nearly $10 billion in bond proceeds.

In March 2018, the state forecast project costs had jumped $13 billion to $77 billion and warned costs could be as much as $98.1 billion.

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NSO owner tells Amnesty it will prevent abuse of spyware linked to WhatsApp breach

TEL AVIV ( ) – NSO Group’s owner said it will do whatever necessary to ensure the Israeli firm’s spyware does not undermine human rights, after Amnesty International sought to revoke the export license for NSO, which has been linked to a WhatsApp breach.

While it did not comment on specific attacks, NSO said in a statement following a breach of WhatsApp’s messaging app on Tuesday that it would investigate any “credible allegations of misuse” of its technology which “is solely operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies”.

WhatsApp, a unit of Facebook, told human rights groups it believed the spyware used was developed by NSO, best known for its mobile hacking tools, Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation said on Tuesday following the breach.

A second person familiar with the matter also identified spyware from NSO, whose biggest investor is Novalpina Capital.

In a May 15 letter to Amnesty Novalpina said it controls NSO’s board and owns about two-thirds of its holding company.

The letter, signed by founding partner Stephen Peel, said Novalpina was “determined to do whateve爱上海r is necessary to ensure that NSO technology is used for the purpose for which it is intended – the prevention of harm to fundamental human rights arising from terrorism and serious crime – and not abused in a manner that undermines other equally fundamental human rights”.

NSO’s founders and management acquired the company from U.S. private equity firm Francisco Partners in February, with Novalpina’s support.

WhatsApp, one of the world’s most popular messaging tools which is used by 1.5 billion people monthly, said it had notified the U.S. Department of Justice to help with an investigation, and it encouraged all WhatsApp users to update to the latest version of the app, where the breach had been fixed.

Novalpina has been exchanging letters with Amnesty over the past few months, outlining its commitment to ensure NSO operates in accordance with UN principles on business and human rights.

The latest communication was in response to a letter from Amnesty in April and does not mention the WhatsApp breach.

Lawful and responsible deployment of NSO technology by intelligence and law enforcement agencies is essential to meet the challenges of what would otherwise be untraceable crime, terrorism, human trafficking and drug cartels, said the letter.

It referred to an affidavit submitted to the Israeli government by Amnesty this week seeking the revocation of NSO’s export license. It said this would allow alternative suppliers that have not expressed interest in complying with UN principles to fill the gap.

Novalpina said it was seeking to involve Amnesty in its efforts to address concerns raised in the affidavit.

“Our intention is to establish a new benchmark for transparency and respect for human rights in full compliance with the UN Guiding Principles,” the letter said. “This will be underpinned by ongoing and meaningful consultation with affected stakeholders, and by a new model of public transparency.”

It said this goal will need to address complex matters of national security law and of intelligence and law enforcement agency practice.

“The intended outcome is a significant enhancement of respect for human rights to be built into NSO’s policies and procedures and into the products sold under license to intelligence and law enforcement agencies,” it said.

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Britain calls for climate change focus at IMF meeting

WASHINGTON/LONDON ( ) – British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Thursday he would urge fellow international policymakers to find ways to achieve sustainable economic growth and tackle climate change at meetings this week in Washington.

Hammond is traveling to the spring meetings of finance ministers and centra爱上海l bank governors at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, just hours after Prime Minister Theresa May secured a delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union, potentially until Oct. 31.

The British finance minister made no direct mention of Brexit in his statement, but said he wanted to share his country’s expertise in areas ranging from climate change to trade.

“Britain is at a turning point and our future is bright. We must work together with our partners across the world to create a safer, more prosperous and more sustainable economy for future generations,” he said before his departure for Washington.

Hammond also said he would call on countries to pay their fair share to the IMF.

Britain’s finance ministry said Hammond was speaking on the environment as part of a new grouping of finance ministers led by Finland and Chile called the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, which was formed after the last IMF meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in October.

Hammond is also due to speak to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Chinese finance minister Liu Kun to discuss trade and investment after Brexit, as well as Brazil’s new economy minister Paulo Guedes.

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Finland’s Social Democrats seek coalition allies as political landscape fragments

* No single party won 20 percent in Sunday’s election

* SDP just beat Nationalist Finns Party into second place

* Coalition talks seen complex, expected to take weeks

* Result reflects divisions over social issues, environment

By Anne Kauranen

HELSINKI, April 15 ( ) – Finland’s Social Democrats (SDP) embarked on Monday on the complex task of forming a governing coalition, after beating a nationalist, anti-immigration party by a hairsbreadth in the most fragmented election in the country’s history.

The SDP, which finished first in Sunday’s ballot with 17.7 percent, could team up with two smaller left-wing parties, its leader Antti Rinne said.

“At first sight they feel like the most natural partners,” he told private news outlet Lannen Media, referring to the Greens and the Left Alliance, which scored 11.5 percent and 8.2 percent respectively.

But coalition talks are expected to take weeks after the first Finnish election in which no party won 20 percent, leaving a polarised parliament that reflects deep social divisions over immigration and the environment, and how to reform a creaking welfare system deeply rooted in Nordic social traditions.

Rinne, a 56-year-old former trade union leader tasked by convention with forming a government as the head of the biggest party, would have to add at least a fourth party to give him a parliamentary majority.

But he is at odds over the future shape of public services with the centrist and centre-right groups that he might try to ally with, and he has ruled out any cooperation with the nationalist, eurosceptic Finns Party, which won 17.5 percent of the vote.

The leftists want to preserve the welfare system through tax hikes while the centre-right wants to see it streamlined because of rising costs linked to a rapidly ageing population.

“The rising inequality has to be turned around. We need to invest in education and equality in the labour market,” Rinne said.

Meanwhile, chiming with a groundswell of support for far-right parties across Europe, the message from the Finns Party has resonated with voters who believe the nation has gone too far in addressing issues such as climate change and migration at its own expense.爱上海

Its leader Jussi Halla-aho, fined by the Supreme Court in 2012 for blog comments linking Islam to paedophilia and Somalis to theft, won over 30,000 constituency votes on Sunday, more than any other parliamentary candidate.

The centre-right government of Prime Minister Juha Sipila resigned last month, saying it could not deliver on a long-delayed healthcare reform widely seen as crucial to securing the long-term viability of government finances.

Until a new government is chosen Sipila, whose Centre Party won 13.8 percent on Sunday, will remain as head of a caretaker cabinet.

Finland’s largest business daily Kauppalehti said the Social Democrats, the centre-right National Coalition – which won 17.0 percent – and the Greens were most likely to form the core of the next government.

But Rinne faced “a mountain-sized challenge” to form a workable parliamentary majority, it wrote.

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Deals of the day-Mergers and acquisitions

(Adds Credit Suisse, Vivendi; Updates Lundin Mining)

April 15 ( ) – The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals were reported by 2000 GMT on Monday:

** France’s Vivendi said it was forging ahead with the planned sale of up to 50 percent of its Universal Music Group (UMG), as the iconic division boosted the media conglomerate’s quarterly revenue.

** Credit Suisse has agreed to take majority control of Chinese securities venture Credit Suisse Founder Securities Ltd (CSFS), boosting its stake to 51 percent from 33.3 percent via a capital injection.

** Waste Management Inc said it would buy smaller rival Advanced Disposal Services Inc for about $3 billion, as the top waste management services provider looks to expand its footprint in t上海419论坛he eastern United States.

** Digital printing company Electronics For Imaging Inc said private equity firm Siris Capital Group LLC would buy the company for about $1.6 billion in cash.

** The biggest shareholder in South Korean oil refiner Hyundai Oilbank said that state-owned Saudi Aramco had agreed to buy a 17 percent stake in its oil processing operations for 1.4 trillion won ($1.24 billion).

** Lundin Mining Corp said it would acquire a Brazilian gold-copper mine of Yamana Gold Inc for more than $1 billion, helping to boost its base metals production after a failed acquisition attempt last year.

** Catalent Inc said it would buy privately held gene therapy-focused Paragon Bioservices Inc in an all-cash deal for $1.2 billion, helping the drug developer expand its capabilities to make specialized and costly treatments.

** The top shareholder of South Korea’s second-largest carrier, Asiana Airlines, said it would sell its entire stake in the debt-ridden firm to keep it afloat.

** Belgian metals and mining company Nyrstar NV’s major shareholder Trafigura Group is set to take control of the company as part of a recapitalization plan, Nyrstar said.

** Ireland’s first real estate investment trust, Green REIT, which has property assets of 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion), is putting itself up for sale in a bid to “maximize value for shareholders”.

** Malaysian state-owned oil and gas firm Petronas said it had acquired a Singapore-based solar energy company as part of a strategy to move into renewable energy, chasing high-growth business to complement its mainstay operations.

** Swiss insurer Baloise Holding AG said it is acquiring the Belgian insurer Fidea NV for 480 million euros ($543 million) from China’s Anbang Insurance Group to boost its position in the Belgian non-life and life insurance market.

** British wealth manager Brewin Dolphin Holding Plc said on Sunday it is in talks to acquire Investec PLC’s wealth management business in Ireland.

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Criticism mounts of Trump pick for U.S. Federal Reserve

WASHINGTON ( ) – Potential Federal Reserve board nominee Stephen Moore, picked by U.S. President Donald Trump, faced new criticism on Friday, with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren accusing him of lacking competencies to serve in that role.

Economists and other critics have expressed concerns about Moore, a conservative economic commentator, and another Trump loyalist nomination to the Fed’s Board of Governors, serving on the traditionally nonpartisan central bank.

Warren, a Democrat who is running to challenge Trump in the 2020 election, said Moore had “a long history of making wildly inaccurate claims about economic policy that appear to serve political ends.”

“Americans should be able to trust that policymakers … have some command over basic mathematical and economic concepts and allegiance to facts,” she wrote in a letter to Moore.

Warren cited examples where Moore’s economic commentary appeared in conflict with other research or Moore’s earlier stances. She included a multiple-choice questionnaire asking if he still held prior views, including describing himself as “not an expert on monetary policy.”

Moore did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Moore, and fellow Trump nominee Herman Cain, a former restaurant chain executive, are battling for the two vacant seats on the Fed’s Board of Governors, positions that would give them a say for years on interest-rate policy and bank regulation.

Analysts say Moore has at times sounded like a “hard money” advocate. In 2015, he said that the Fed’s crisis-era polices were “cheapening our dollar … We have got to get上海419论坛 rid of the Federal Reserve and move toward a gold standard in this country.”

The dollar in 2015 was in the middle of a six-year rise in value against a basket of foreign currencies. Moore now says he wants to cut interest rates, which would generally weaken the currency.

He has also said he changed his mind about the gold standard and advocated tying Fed policy to a commodity index, which he said former Chairman Paul Volcker used to tame inflation. Volcker did not use such a rule.

Warren sent a separate letter to Cain, a former Republican presidential candidate, also describing him as unsuitable for the post.

Cain’s potential nomination appears to be in trouble, as multiple Republican senators, whose votes he would need for confirmation, have already said they would oppose him.

Neither nomination has been formally sent to the Senate but Trump has said he will put their names forward.

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Factbox – Department of Labor retirement ‘fiduciary’ rule

( ) – The U.S. Department of Labor plans to announce on Wednesday its rule requiring financial advisers and brokers to act in the best interest of retirement clients when providing investment advice.

The agency first proposed a new rule in 2010 but withdrew it in 2011 after widespread criticism from financial industry officials and lawmakers. A modified version was presented in 2015 and also met with criticism.

Here are some key provisions of the final rule, according to a White House fact sheet provided on Tuesday:

– Financial brokers must now act in clients’ “best interest” when giving retirement investment advice. That is tougher than a previous standard in which they had to ensure products were “suitable” for clients.

– Firms must ban financial incentives for advisers not to act in the client’s best interest.

– Firms must disclose compensation arrangements on a webpage and by making sure customers are aware of their right to all fee information.

– The rule allows firms and advisers to continue receiving the most common forms of compensation for offering investment advice to retail customers and small-plan sponsors. The rule also does not limit the types of assets they can invest in.

– Firms are allowed to sell insurance products like variable and indexed annuities under the best interest rule.

– The rule clarifies treatment of small businesses that sponsor 401(k) plans, allowing brokers to sell products and services to them.

– The rule allows firms and their advisers to recommend proprietary products.

– Education is not included in the definition of retirement investment advice, allowing advisers to offer basic information without acting as fiduciaries.

– Under the rule, financial advisers may communicate with potential clients before signing a contract. But firms must eventually tell new clients in writing that they are acting in their best interest, and any advice given before a 爱上海419contract is signed must be covered by the contract and meet the best interest standard.

– To give firms more time to adapt to changes, the rule will be implemented in phases. Full compliance is required on Jan. 1, 2018.

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Uber unveils IPO with warning it may never make a profit

NEW YORK ( ) – Uber Technologies Inc has 91 million users, but growth is slowing and it may never make a profit, the ride-hailing company said on Thursday in its IPO filing.

The document gave the first comprehensive financial picture of the decade-old company which was started after its founders struggled to get a cab on a snowy night and has changed the way much of the world travels.

The S-1 filing underscores Uber’s rapid growth in the last three years but also how a string of public scandals and increased competition from rivals have weighed on its plans to attract and retain riders.

The disclosure also highlighted how far Uber remains from turning a profit, with the company cautioning it expects operating expenses to “increase significantly in the foreseeable future” and it “may not achieve profitability.”

Uber lost $3.03 billion in 2018 from operations.

The filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission revealed Uber had 91 million average monthly active users on its platforms, including for ride-hailing and Uber Eats, at the end of 2018. This is up 33.8 percent from 2017, but growth slowed from 51 percent a year earlier.

Uber had not disclosed the latest user numbers before, and the figure indicates the scale of the business. Although its user base includes customers of other services and ride-sharing, the number is nearly five times the 18.6 million announced by rival Lyft Inc.

Uber in 2018 had $11.3 billion revenue, up around 42 percent over 2017, but below the 106 percent growth the prior year.

Uber set a placeholder amount of $1 billion but did not specify the size of the IPO. reported this week that Uber plans to sell around $10 billion worth of stock at a valuation of between $90 billion and $100 billion.

Related CoverageFactbox: How Uber and Lyft compare on key financial metricsUber filing lists revenue gains, struggles of food business

Investment bankers had previously told Uber it could be worth as much as $120 billion.

Uber would be the largest initial public offering since that of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd in 2014, which raised $25 billion.

Although Uber is no longer targeting a $120 billion valuation in the IPO, some stock bonuses to Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi and other company executives are only triggered when that valuation is reached.

Uber will follow Lyft in going public.

Shares in its smaller rival closed at $61.01 on Thursday, 15 percent below its IPO price set late last month, a development which has sent a chilling signal for other tech start-ups looking to go public.

After making the public filing, Uber will begin a series of investor presentations, called a roadshow, which has reported will start the week of April 29.

The company is on track to price its IPO and begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange in early May.


Uber faces questions over how it will navigate any transition toward self-driving vehicles, a technology seen as potentially dramatically lowering costs but which could also disrupt its business model.

Last year, the ride-hailing giant settled a legal dispute over trade secrets with Alphabet Inc’s Waymo self-driving vehicle unit.

Waymo, in its lawsuit, had said one of its former engineers who became chief of Uber’s self-driving car project took with him thousands of confidential documents.

Uber revealed in the filing it could have to pay a license fee to Waymo or face a substantial delay to the development of its self-driving technology if the initial assessment of its technology by an independent expert is confirmed.

The expert, installed as part 上海419论坛of Uber’s settlement with Waymo, has identified on an interim basis certain functions in Uber’s autonomous vehicle software that “are problematic and other functions that are not,” Uber said.

A Waymo spokesperson said: “This review is on-going and we will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure our confidential information is not being used by Uber.”

One advantage Uber will likely seek to play up to investors is that it is the largest player in many of the markets in which it operates. Analysts consider building scale crucial for Uber’s business model to become profitable.

In addition to answering questions about Uber’s finances, CEO Khosrowshahi will be tasked with convincing investors that he has successfully changed the culture and business practices after a series of embarrassing scandals over the last two years.

Those have included sexual harassment allegations, a massive data breach that was concealed from regulators, use of illicit software to evade authorities and allegations of bribery overseas. Khosrowshahi joined Uber in 2017 to replace company co-founder Travis Kalanick who was ousted as CEO.

Uber said in its filing its ridehailing position in the United States and Canada was “significantly impacted by adverse publicity events” and that its position in many markets has been threatened by discounts from other ride-hailing companies.

A #DeleteUber campaign surged on social media in 2017 after a public relations crisis, which Uber said in its filing meant hundreds of thousands of consumers stopped using its platform within days.

Uber said its market share fell in most regions last year, although the rate of decline has slowed. The company claims more than 65 percent market share in the United States and Canada, versus Lyft’s stated 39 percent in the United States.

Uber is reserving some shares in the IPO for drivers who have completed 2,500 trips among other criteria.

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Regional crises, not human rights, to dominate Obama-Gulf talks

RIYADH ( ) – U.S. President Barack Obama aired h爱上海419is human rights concerns with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Wednesday, but his talking points on that subject are expected to be get less attention when he meets Gulf Arab monarchs on Thursday.

Activists have urged the American leader to push Saudi Arabia over its human rights record, but the region’s many geopolitical crises are likely to dominate a summit already overshadowed by strained ties between Washington and the Gulf.

The president, who arrived on Wednesday, hopes to allay Gulf countries’ fears over Iranian influence and encourage them to try to douse sectarian tensions in the region in an effort to confront the threat posed by Islamic State.

Most of the Gulf Arab monarchies have in private been sorely disappointed by Obama’s presidency, regarding it as a period in which the United States has pulled back from the region, leaving space for their archrival Iran to expand its influence.

Human rights have not figured high on the list of issues straining the relationship. But Saudi Arabia has increasingly chafed at what it sees as a campaign of vilification by Western media, think tanks and rights groups.

Rob Malley, Obama’s adviser on the Middle East, said rights issues would be raised, and deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes met human rights advocates at the White House just before the Riyadh visit to hear their concerns.

During a two-hour meeting on Wednesday with the Saudi king and a group of top princes, Obama expressed his broad concerns about human rights issues, the White House said, without listing specific cases.

But early signs were that disagreements over human rights would be relegated to the margins of Thursday’s talks.

Obama has spoken of his desire to persuade Gulf states to arrive at a “cold peace” with Iran to ease sectarian tensions and allow all sides to focus on what he sees as a greater threat emanating from Islamic State.


On Thursday, he will attend a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which groups the monarchical states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Apart from Oman, they are ruled by Sunni Muslim dynasties that see revolutionary, Shi’ite Iran as a threat to their security and say its involvement in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen has fueled conflict and deepened sectarian divisions.

The White House shares the view of Gulf Arab states that Tehran plays a destabilizing role. But its willingness to enter a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers last year caused fears in Riyadh that Washington was not listening to Gulf Arab concerns.

Riyadh has come under fire in Western countries for its restrictions on women, suppression of freedom of expression, strict blasphemy rules and a judicial system that applies Islamic law and frequently beheads convicts.

Rights groups are also pushing for Obama to press Saudi Arabia to end the war in Yemen, for which peace talks are due to take place in Kuwait this week, and where air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition have killed many civilians.

“I urge you to take this final opportunity to speak out publicly on human rights issues inside the (Saudi) Kingdom,” Elisa Massimino, president of Human Rights First, a U.S. monitoring and activist group, wrote in an open letter.

Saudi Arabia has said other countries should not interfere in its domestic affairs by criticizing its human rights record. It insists its Islamic legal system is its own business and that its courts are fair and independent.

It says the war in Yemen was in support of its internationally recognized government and aimed at restoring stability. It says it has taken great care to avoid civilian casualties.

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Developing capital markets can save emerging markets $13 billion: study

WASHINGTON ( ) – Pursuing so-called ‘euroclearability’ can help some emerging market economies lower borrowing costs by over $13 billion over 10 years while increasing their investor base, a report showed on Thursday.

Euroclearability is seen as one of the last stages of capital market development, and would only benefit countries with relatively larger economies and local bond markets, Nick Forrest, who headed the report as director of financial services at PCW UK, told a conference on the sidelines of the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

The process of becoming ‘euroclearable’ – establishing a clearing and settlement link with Belgium-based Euroclear – involves high levels of transparency as well as specifics on size and structure of the debt to be issued, among other aspects.

India, Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia, Philippines and Colombia could see their borrowing costs fall by an average of 28 basis points, in a range of 14-to-42 basis points, saving them over $13 billion over the next 10 years, according to the study by PWC for Euroclear.

The drop in borrowing costs, the report said, is comparable to a one-notch upgrade from a credit ratings agency.

“This is extremely important to developing local markets” and a key benchmark for countries to reach, said Thordur Jonasson, who advises governments and agencies on domestic debt market development and risk management as deputy division chief at the IMF. 上海419论坛

But achieving the ‘euroclearability’ tag is not necessarily an objective of these emerging economies, but an added benefit of focusing on improving fundamentals.

Cesar Arias, director of public credit and national treasury at Colombia’s finance ministry, told the tag would be a bonus but his country’s improved fundamentals have been the main reason behind a sharp lowering of borrowing costs.

He said Colombia increased its foreign investors in local bonds from 4% to over 25% while lowering costs by nearly 300 basis points over the last four years.

“That was without euroclearability,” he said.

The study said corporate borrowing costs would also be reduced, though by a smaller amount, as there is typically a correlation between corporate debt and the sovereign’s interest rates.

The impact to corporate debt would be of 10-to-18 basis points, the report said.

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The S&P 500 ends flat as investors await bank earnings

NEW YORK ( ) – The S&P 500 ended little changed on Thursday as growing anxiety over a global economic slowdown offset upbeat data and investors waited for earnings season to kick into high gear.

In choppy trading, the Nasdaq and the Dow closed lower, with healthcare stocks weighing on all three major U.S. stock indexes.

“You have these tug-of-war days where nothi上海龙凤419ng much happens,” said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana. “It’s reflecting people waiting more information, like corporate earnings.”

On the economic front, initial jobless claims dropped last week to their lowest level since 1969, while in March, producer prices made their biggest gain since October, according to separate reports from the U.S. Labor Department.

The upbeat data could ease worries of a sharp global economic downturn reaching U.S. shores, a concern reflected in minutes from the Federal Reserve’s March meeting released on Wednesday.

As reporting season begins, analysts expect S&P 500 first-quarter profits to have dropped 2.5% year-on-year, their first contraction since 2016.

But Carlson wonders if those estimates are overly pessimistic. “Does (the market) think earnings are going to be better than analysts think? We’ll get a first taste of that from the banks tomorrow.”

Financial stocks were up 0.6% ahead of a string of earnings reports from six major U.S. banks. JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co are due to report on Friday, followed by Citigroup Inc and Goldman Sachs Inc on Monday and Bank of America Corp and Morgan Stanley on Tuesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 14.11 points, or 0.05%, to 26,143.05, the S&P 500 closed flat at 2,888.32 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 16.89 points, or 0.21%, to 7,947.36.

Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, seven closed in the black.

Healthcare stocks were by far the biggest drag, falling 1.2% a day after U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a “Medicare for All” plan to Congress, and the Senate Finance Committee concluded a hearing to discuss the role pharmacy benefit managers play in drug pricing.

“I’m a bit surprised we’re seeing that kind of reaction to these proposals that for the time being aren’t going anywhere,” Carlson added. “Maybe it’s foreshadowing a change.”

UnitedHealth Group Inc weighed heaviest on the Dow, falling 4.3%.

U.S. Steel Corp dropped 3.2% after Bank of America Merrill Lynch cut its rating on the stock to “underperform.” Peers AK Steel Holding Corp and Steel Dynamics Inc dropped 8.3% and 2.5%, respectively.

Home furnishings retailer Bed Bath & Beyond fell 8.8% as its bleak first-quarter profits raised doubts about its turnaround plan.

Shares of Lyft Inc reversed course, rising 1.5%. Still, the stock is currently trading about 15% below its $72 offer price since its March 29 debut, casting a shadow over rival Uber Technologies’ impending IPO.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.10-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.21-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 31 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 64 new highs and 30 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.00 billion shares, compared to the 7.17 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

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White House finds temporary fix in Zika funding fight

WASHINGTON ( ) – The White House said on Wednesday it will redirect $589 million in funds to prepare for the Zika virus before the mosquito that carries it begins to emerge in the continental United States, but urged Congress to act quickly on its request for more money.

White House budget director Shaun Donovan said the 上海龙凤419use of money previously provided for fighting another health crisis, the Ebola virus, was only a temporary fix for Zika funding.

Donovan said some measures to fight Zika would have to be delayed, curtailed or stopped unless the U.S. Congress approves more than $1.8 billion in emergency funds requested by the Obama administration in February.

The Zika virus, linked to a growing number of cases of the birth defect microcephaly in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in Latin America and the Caribbean and heading north as the weather gets warmer.

“We should not play with fire here,” Donovan told reporters on a conference call.

Without full Zika funding, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said mosquito control and surveillance may have to be delayed or stopped, vaccine development could be jeopardized and development of faster diagnostic tests could be impaired.

Most of the $589 million will come from $2.7 billion in funds set aside for public health projects aimed at the Ebola virus. West Africa was stricken by a two-year Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,300 people starting in December 2013 and led to a small number of cases in the United States.

The Republican-controlled Congress has said the White House should draw the money needed to fight Zika from the Ebola funds.

Chairman Hal Rogers and other top Republicans on the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee said in a statement they would “monitor the changing needs resulting from this unpredictable crisis” to ensure that needed funds are available.

“Republicans are going to look back on this time that they’ve had to act on the Zika virus and deeply regret it,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Burwell said a recent flare-up of Ebola in West Africa shows the United States cannot shortchange its work in the region.

“We face two global health challenges, Ebola and Zika, and we don’t have an option to set one aside in the name of the other,” Burwell told reporters.

Burwell said there were 672 confirmed cases of Zika infections in the United States, including 64 pregnant women. She said there was one confirmed case of Zika-related microcephaly in Hawaii.

The World Health Organization has said there is a strong scientific consensus that Zika can cause microcephaly as well as Guillain-Barre syndrome, though proof may take months or years.

Microcephaly is a condition defined by unusually small heads in babies that can result in developmental problems. Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare neurological disorder that can result in paralysis.

Brazil said it has confirmed more than 940 cases of microcephaly, and considers most to be related to Zika infections in the mothers. Brazil is investigating nearly 4,300 additional suspected cases of microcephaly.

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U.S. gun control activists newly optimistic, but change may be elusive

WASHINGTON ( ) – After years of thwarted efforts to tighten restrictions on firearms, gun control activists are heralding the 2016 elections as a watershed moment.

They have more money than ever before to finance their fight. They have Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front runner for president, solidly in their camp, calling for stricter gun controls at campaign stops – a turnaround from her 2008 presidential bid when she kept the subject at arm’s length.

And two virtually back-to-back mass shootings – with 14 people shot dead on Wednesday in San Bernardino, California, just five days after a gunman killed three people in Colorado – could be expected to help create a perfect storm for gun control advocates to help elect like-minded candidates at the national, state and local level.

But that seemingly perfect storm may end up being little more than the rumbling of clouds. Even some gun control advocates concede any real change in gun laws is unlikely.

“As much as I would like to say that the current madness that we see in public policy about gun safety will turn around in the next election cycle, I don’t think it’s likely,” said Charles Phillips, a retired professor at Texas A&M University whose research focused on gun laws and has been involved in the movement for decades.

Everytown for Gun Safety said its membership spiked by 20,000, to 3.5 million, in the hours after the California shooting – in which a young married couple armed with assault-style rifles left their infant daughter in the care of a grandmother before opening fire at a workplace holiday party.

But on Thursday, just one day after the shooting, Senate Democrats who tried to force a vote on an effort to increase background checks on gun buyers met with such intense Republican opposition that the measure never made it to the floor.

America has had a long romance with guns, part of the country’s celebration of individual rights, with the right to gun ownership enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd Amendment.

Efforts to pass gun laws have been met with passionate opposition from gun owners, who are quickly mobilized by the National Rifle Association, even after previous tragedies like the 1999 Columbine High School shooting that killed 13 people.

Gun control advocates say this time is different. Galvanized by the failure of Congress to pass new gun restrictions in 2013 following the Sandy Hook school shooting in which 20 children were killed, they prepared for the 2016 elections with a new strategy and far more money.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $50 million, and 75,000 independent donors are also chipping in, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.

“For the first time in history, they are actually outspending the NRA in selected contests, and they are working to build a stronger grassroots base, which has long been the NRA’s ace in the whole,” said Robert Spitzer, a political science professor at SUNY Cortland in upstate New York who has authored several books on gun control.

There is public sentiment to support the effort. A /Ipsos poll from the final days of November found that 66 percent of Americans think gun control needs to be addressed.

Grassroots organizations numbering 3.5 million have been formed in all 50 states with an overarching group organizing their responses. Women voters – often more sympathetic to gun control arguments according to polls – are being targeted. In Maine and Nevada, activists are pushing ballot measures to expand background checks.

“We’re really taking a page out of the NRA’s playbook,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action on Gun Sense, which is part of Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety group. “It’s the first time gun violence prevention has had the money.”

Public opinion, however, remains divided. An October poll by Gallup, conducted in the days after a mass shooting in Oregon, found voters more inclined to back background checks and stricter gun laws than they were a decade before. Yet Pew Research Center has tracked a trend over the past decade showing some voters growing more concerned about having their gun rights limited.

Republican presidential candidates and the NRA remain vocal about gun rights. Speaking Thursday at an event for Republican presidential candidates, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas announced plans in the aftermath of the California shooting for a “second amendment” even in Iowa, referring to the U.S. constitutional right to bear arms.

The NRA has taken on Bloomberg, equating his push to require background checks for gun purchases with his attempt to ban extra-large sodas in New York City.

“Anti-gun hypocrite,” one advertisement run by the NRA during this year’s campaign for the Republican presidential primary said of the former mayor. “Bloomberg wants to ban your soft drinks and snack food爱上海419s, drive up your electricity bills and take away your gun rights.”

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EU watchdog sees no imminent banking risks from no-deal Brexit

BRUSSELS ( ) – Euro zone banks face no imminent risks from a no-deal Brexit, the head of the European Union agency responsible for handling failing lenders said on Tuesday.

The reassuring message came as Britain grapples with its worst political crisis in decades ahead of an April 12 deadline to secure a deal to leave the European Union.

“There will be volatility, but given the level of preparations, I hope and I am convinced there should be no imminent risks to financial stability” in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Elke Koenig, the head of the Single Resolution Board (SRB), told a news conference.

Koenig, who chaired Germany’s banking supervisor before setting up the SRB in 2015, said EU and British financial institutions were prepared for any Brexit outcome, and so were euro zone lenders although “banks could always do more”.

A so-called hard Brexit, with Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal, would hamper trade as business would face immediate trade barriers and other restrictions.

“The impact on the real economy might have repercussions on the banking sector, but I am not expecting the problem to come straight from the banking sector,” Koenig said.

Koenig also said a court ruling last week t爱上海hat overturned an EU decision to block the rescue of Italy’s Tercas bank in 2014 could open the way for discussions about the role of deposit guarantee schemes beyond their core function of protecting savers of collapsing banks.

Brussels had rejected Italy’s plan to save the bank through the national deposit fund, but EU judges effectively dismissed Brussels’ argument.

“It is a case that opens up perhaps the opportunity to discuss what should deposit schemes be about,” Koenig said, adding they could be used for “alternative measures” and not just as a safety net for depositors affected by a bank crisis.

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Brookfield to invest C$750 million in TransAlta’s clean energy push

( ) – Canada’s TransAlta Corp said on Monday Brookfield Asset Management will invest C$750 million ($559.1 million) in the company as it aims to become a clean energy producer by 2025.

The investment from Brookfield Renewable Partners, majority owned by the Canada-based asset manager, will be convertible to an ownership in TransAlta’s hydro assets in Alberta in the future, TransAlta said in a statement. Brookfield currently owns about 5 percent in the company.

The asset manger has also agreed to buy shares in the company to increase its stake to 9 percent, TransAlta said.

Calgary-based TransAlta has been under shareholder scrutiny lately for recording losses over the past two years.

Meanwhile, activist investor Mangrove Partners has notified TransAlta its intention to nominate five candidates for election to TransAlta board at its annual meeting. TransAlta will review Mangrove’s notice, it said in a separate statement.

Last week, Mangrove Partners and Blu上海龙凤419escape Energy Partners sought changes in TransAlta’s management structure.

As part of the latest investment deal with Brookfield, TransAlta said it will add Harry Goldgut and Richard Legault, both nominated by Brookfield, to its slate of directors for election at the annual meeting on April 26.

TransAlta also said it and Brookfield will form a joint experts committee, for a period of six years, to focus on optimizing the operations of TransAlta’s Hydro Assets.

The company plans to spend C$350 million of the Brookfield investment to advance its coal-to-gas transition strategy, up to C$250 million to buy back shares over three years, and the rest to develop existing and new projects.

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GLOBAL MARKETS-U.S. bond yields, stocks rebound as risk buying returns

* Markets steady after yield curve raised recession worries

* Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields up after hitting 15-month low

* MSCI global stock gauge gains after two-day swoon

* Oil rises as supply cuts outweigh economic worry (Updates with open of U.S. markets; changes dateline, previous London)

By Lewis Krauskopf

NEW YORK, March 26 ( ) – Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields rebounded off of 15-month lows on Tuesday while global stock markets broadly surged after a two-session swoon, as risk appetite improved after worries of an economic recession had clouded trading since late las上海龙凤419t week.

Oil prices also jumped, while safe-haven assets such as gold and the Japanese yen lost ground.

Markets have been rattled since Friday, when the 3-month U.S. Treasury yield exceeded the yield on the 10-year note, an inversion of the yield curve that is widely seen as an indicator of a recession.

“After a couple of days where investors focused solely on the chances of recession in the U.S. and concerns about slower growth, today is not surprisingly a day where they rethink those probabilities,” said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.

“What we have is lots of signs of slower growth,” Warne said. “We actually have very few signs of recession.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 266.76 points, or 1.05 percent, to 25,783.59, the S&P 500 gained 30.68 points, or 1.10 percent, to 2,829.04 and the Nasdaq Composite added 93.61 points, or 1.23 percent, to 7,731.16.

Financial stocks rose 0.9 percent after five sessions of declines.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe surged 0.95 percent, following a two-day losing streak.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.84 percent after four sessions of losses.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields rose off 15-month lows as markets steadied.

“This morning, starting in the overnight, you really had the first sign of stability in risk assets,” said John Briggs, head of strategy for the Americas at NatWest Markets in Stamford, Connecticut. “I think you’re just seeing a bit of a pullback in terms of the poor sentiment that dominated the past few days.”

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 5/32 in price to yield 2.4354 percent, from 2.418 percent late on Monday. The yield fell as low as 2.377 percent on Monday.

Germany’s 10-year bond yield remained near 2-1/2-year lows at below zero percent.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, rose 0.07 percent, with the euro down 0.14 percent to $1.1295.

Oil rose as OPEC supply cuts and expectations of lower U.S. inventories outweighed concern about weaker demand due to an economic slowdown.

U.S. crude surged 2.09 percent to $60.05 per barrel and Brent was last at $67.91, up 1.04 percent.

Gold retreated from the more than 3-week highs touched in the previous session.

Spot gold dropped 0.5 percent to $1,315.76 an ounce.

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