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Surging oil prices rattle President Trump

Trump attacks OPEC for rising oil prices
Trump attacks OPEC for rising oil prices

Surging oil prices rattle President Trump

The oil market has caught President Trump in an awkward spot between his pro-business instincts and his populist tendencies.

Trump, a major friend to the fossil fuels industry, took OPEC to task on Friday for the recent surge in oil prices. The price has climbed toward $70 in recent weeks, the highest in more than three years.

“Looks like OPEC is at it again,” Trump tweeted. “Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!”

Trump is right that OPEC, the Saudi-led cartel, has orchestrated higher prices, as it’s known to do. And millions of American voters will probably share the president’s outrage if gasoline prices soar as a result.

Yet millions of Trump voters also live in states such as Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota that depend on the oil industry for prosperity. The 2014-2016 oil price crash cost countless jobs and led to dozens of corporate bankruptcies.

Trump has pushed an agenda of American “energy dominance” by slashing environmental regulations and green-lighting pipeline projects.

“These oil-producing states are Trump red states. They’re part of his coalition,” said Joe McMonigle, senior energy policy analyst at Hedgeye Risk Management, an investment research firm. “To have energy dominance you need higher prices to support investment.”

Trump has close ties to Harold Hamm, the billionaire who runs Continental Resources(CLR), a shale oil producer that benefits from higher oil prices. Hamm gave a primetime speech during the 2016 Republican convention, and Trump reportedly considered naming the CEO his energy secretary.

“The president is going to hear from Harold Hamm” about his tweet, said McMonigle, a top Energy Department official under former President George. W. Bush.

Continental Resources did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump portrays himself as pro-business, but he has also attacked major American companies like Amazon(AMZN), threatened to start a costly trade war with China and gone after drug makers for high prices.

Trump’s attack on OPEC could also conflict with his efforts to improve relations with Saudi Arabia, the country pulling the strings at the oil cartel.

The timing of Trump’s tweet is intriguing because OPEC’s strategy hasn’t changed recently.

What has shifted is the impact. Oil prices have soared 12% this year, and the price of gas has jumped to a national average of $2.75 a gallon.

That’s partly because ofproduction cuts by OPEC and Russia, which have successfully mopped up the huge supply glut that caused prices to crash. Officials from OPEC and Russia met on Friday to take a victory lap for their coordinated action.

“OPEC hasn’t done anything different since early 2017,” said Spencer Walsh, oil market analyst at IHS Markit.

“The tweet, in my opinion, is a little misleading and not fully factual,” he said.

Trump himself shares blame for the more recent jump in oil prices. Geopolitical uncertainty briefly caused by US airstrikes in Syria helped lift prices earlier this month. Oil traders are also nervous about Trump’s threats to reimpose sanctions on Iran, a move that could risk up to 1 million barrels per day of oil supply.

“A lot of the reason for higher prices is the president’s policy on Iran,” McMonigle said. “You’re talking about a huge amount of oil at risk. You’re going to see prices spike. That’s US policy. It’s not anything OPEC has done.”

And then there’s Venezuela, the crumbling OPEC country whereinstability has driven down production. The Trump administration is considering imposing oil sanctions on Venezuela that could further drive down supply.

“The thing that’s kicked up the price is the geopolitical escalation, globally,” Walsh said.

Oil prices have also been lifted by resurgent appetite for energy around the world. Global oil demand grew during the first three months of 2018 by the most since late 2010, according to estimates by Goldman Sachs. The investment bank projected that Brent crude, the global benchmark, will riseto $80 a barrel this year, up from $75 today.

Trump’s tweet noted that there are “record amounts of Oil all over the place.”

Of course, OPEC and Russia are certainly not pumping at full capacity. Yet production in the US, driven by the shale oil boom, has climbed to record highs. The US is even expected to eventually topple Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s No. 1 producer.

Trump has sought to encourage more production by cutting environmental regulations. He also advanced the controversial Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines.

What he can’t do, at least by himself, is keep oil prices from rising to levels that hurt the economy and upset drivers.

“Other than presidential tweets,” McMonigle said, “the federal government doesn’t have a lot of tools at its disposal to affect prices.”

Published at Fri, 20 Apr 2018 17:07:03 +0000

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Arming the world: Inside Trump’s ‘Buy American’ drive to expand weapons exports

FILE PHOTO: A Danish delegation walks pass Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II, at the Farnborough Airshow in southern England, July 11, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo

Arming the world: Inside Trump’s ‘Buy American’ drive to expand weapons exports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a telephone call with the emir of Kuwait in January, U.S. President Donald Trump pressed the Gulf monarch to move forward on a $10 billion fighter jet deal that had been stalled for more than a year.

Trump was acting on behalf of Boeing Co, America’s second-largest defense contractor, which had become frustrated that a long-delayed sale critical to its military aircraft division was going nowhere, several people familiar with the matter said.

With this Oval Office intervention, the details of which have not been previously reported, Trump did something unusual for a U.S. president – he personally helped to close a major arms deal. In private phone calls and public appearances with world leaders, Trump has gone further than any of his predecessors to act as a salesman for the U.S. defense industry, analysts said.

Trump’s personal role underscores his determination to make the United States, already dominant in the global weapons trade, an even bigger arms merchant to the world, U.S. officials say, despite concerns from human rights and arms control advocates.

Those efforts will be bolstered by the full weight of the U.S. government when Trump’s administration rolls out a new “Buy American” initiative this week aimed at allowing more countries to buy more and even bigger weapons. It will loosen U.S. export rules on equipment ranging from fighter jets and drones to warships and artillery, the officials said.

Reuters has learned that the initiative – which industry sources said will be announced on Thursday – will provide guidelines that could allow more countries to be granted faster deal approvals, possibly trimming back to months what has often taken years to finalize.

The strategy will call for members of Trump’s cabinet to sometimes act as “closers” to help seal major arms deals, according to people familiar with the matter. More top government officials will also be sent to promote U.S. weapons at international air shows and arms bazaars.

Shares of major U.S. defense contractors added to gains after the news and Raytheon hit an all-time high.

Human rights and arms control advocates warn that the proliferation of a broader range of advanced weaponry to more foreign governments could increase the risk of arms being diverted into the wrong hands and fueling violence in regions such as the Middle East and South Asia.

The Trump administration stresses that the main aims are to help American defense firms compete better against increasingly aggressive Russian and Chinese manufacturers and give greater weight than before to economic benefits of arms sales to create more jobs at home.

One Trump aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the new initiative is also intended to ease human rights restrictions that have sometimes led to an effective “veto” over certain arms deals.

“This policy seeks to mobilize the full resources of the United States government behind arms transfers that are in the U.S. national and economic security interest,” a White House official said, responding to a request for comment on the story.

“We recognize that arms transfers may have important human rights consequences,” the official said. “Nothing in this policy changes existing legal or regulatory requirements in this regard.”

One of the main architects of the new policy has been economist Peter Navarro, a China trade skeptic ascendant in Trump’s inner circle. His effort to boost arms exports has drawn little resistance within the White House, officials said.

‘WHOLE OF GOVERNMENT’

The initiative has been in the works for months and some of its expected components have already been reported. But with the rollout nearing, more than a dozen industry sources and current and former U.S. officials have provided Reuters with the most complete picture yet of Trump’s policy, though they caution that last-minute changes are still possible.

The policy will call for a “whole of government” approach – from the president and his cabinet on down to military attaches and diplomats – to help drum up billions of dollars more in arms business overseas, U.S. officials said.

It will also call for cutting red tape to secure faster deal approval on a broader range of weaponry for NATO members, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf partners as well as treaty allies such as Japan and South Korea, among others, they said. Many details will remain classified.

Companies that stand to benefit most include Boeing and the other top U.S. defense contractors, Lockheed Martin Corp , Raytheon Co, General Dynamics Corp and Northrop Grumman Corp. All of their shares have surged by double-digit percentages, led by the doubling of Boeing’s stock price, since Trump took office in January 2017.

Trump’s aides also want more senior officials to attend major international arms shows, including cabinet members such as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, to promote U.S.-made weapons the way countries such as France and Israel pitch their companies” wares.

“If you go to the Paris air show, you see the French foreign minister standing in front of the Airbus pavilion,” one U.S. official said. “We’re getting outplayed so we have to change our culture.”

In addition to the broad arms export initiative, Trump is expected to sign a separate document easing exports of military drones, an item high on foreign governments’ shopping lists, officials said.

U.S. foreign military sales totaled $42 billion last year, according to the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Experts say exports from Russia, the largest U.S. competitor, are typically half those of the United States.

The Aerospace Industries Association trade group said it had first lobbied Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign on the need for “bolstering U.S. manufacturing” and encouraging allies to take more responsibility for their own security.

SALESMAN-IN-CHIEF

While many presidents have helped promote the U.S. defense industry, none is known to have done so as unabashedly as Trump, a former real estate developer who seems sometimes at his most comfortable when he is promoting U.S. goods.

Trump regularly discusses specific arms sales with foreign leaders in meetings and on the phone, according to White House statements. And on a trip to Japan last November, he publicly urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to buy more American weapons.

More recently, at an Oval Office meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last month, Trump held up posters with pictures of U.S. jets, ships and helicopters and other armaments sold to Saudi Arabia. “We make the best military product in the world,” he boasted to reporters as the prince sat smiling beside him.

Other presidents, including Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush stressed the need to strengthen the defense industrial base, but they did it more subtly, said William Hartung, director of the arms and security project at the Center for International Policy, a non-partisan think tank.

“Nobody’s been as blatant about it as Trump,” he added. “Nobody has yelled it from the rooftops.”

Former President Barack Obama would sometimes talk to allied leaders about weapons systems that he felt suited their security needs, but aides said he preferred to keep weapons salesmanship at arm’s length.

The Trump administration’s plan to overhaul the Conventional Arms Transfer policy, the framework for evaluating foreign sales, goes well beyond Obama’s relaxation of rules in 2014 that enabled U.S. arms contractors to sell more overseas than ever before. Obama drew a clear line, however, requiring each sale to meet strict human rights standards – though he was criticized at times for allowing some controversial sales.

Trump has already gone ahead with several deals that Obama blocked, including the sale of $7 billion in precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia despite human rights groups’ concerns they have contributed to civilian deaths in the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen’s civil war.

ANATOMY OF A TRUMP-ERA DEAL

How Boeing’s Kuwait deal got on Trump’s agenda for the Jan. 17 call with Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah illustrates how seriously the administration is taking the arms export push.

The State Department granted approval in November 2016, in the final months of the Obama administration, for Kuwait to buy 40 F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighters.

But Kuwait, a U.S. Gulf ally, appeared to drag out negotiations, U.S. officials and industry sources said, and the purchase was still not finalized by the time the emir visited Trump at the White House last September.

Trump told reporters at the time that, at the Kuwaiti leader’s request, he had intervened and won State Department authorization for the deal – a false claim since that approval had already been granted nearly a year earlier.

Months later, Boeing’s request for a presidential nudge to Kuwait was channeled to National Security Council aides, who included it among Trump’s “talking points” for the January phone call, two people close to the matter said.

This time, Trump did make a difference. Just days later, Kuwaiti state media reported the deal was done.

The Kuwaiti government did not respond to requests for comment. A Boeing spokesman declined comment.

Reporting By Mike Stone and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Chris Sanders and Ross Colvin

Published at Tue, 17 Apr 2018 20:21:44 +0000

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Global funds cut stock exposure to four-month low amid trade war fears

Global funds cut stock exposure to four-month low amid trade war fears

LONDON (Reuters) – Spooked by brewing trade tensions and a broad reversal in technology shares, global investors have cut their equity exposure to a four-month low this month while reducing their holdings of U.S. stocks to the lowest in nearly two years.

Reuters’ monthly asset allocation poll of 53 wealth managers and chief investment officers in Europe, the United States, Britain and Japan was carried out from March 12 to 27.

During this period, U.S. moves to slap tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, and on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods, sent world stocks to six-week lows.

Investors have been worried that tit-for-tat retaliatory measures from China and a deterioration in world trade could hinder economic global, prompting a sharp risk-off move in markets.

“Trade tariffs … while they should not end up in a full-blown trade war, risk weighing on market sentiment just when liquidity is diminishing and financial conditions are expected to tighten,” said Pascal Blanque, chief investment officer at Amundi.

In the poll, investors cut their equity holdings by almost 1 percentage point to 48.1 percent of global balanced portfolios — the lowest level since November — while raising bond holdings by 2.3 percentage points to 39.3 percent.

Within equity portfolios, managers cut their U.S. exposure to 38 percent, the lowest since April 2016.

U.S. stocks look set to end the month down 4 percent, hammered by trade war fears and worries about tighter regulation for the tech sector after a furore over the use of Facebook data by political consultants.

Peter Lowman, chief investment officer at Investment Quorum, said it had been a testing time for equity investors, and articulated the threat to the U.S. economy and consumer of a trade war.

“U.S. companies operating in China would be affected whether it is Apple or a U.S. car manufacturer,” he said, adding that Chinese exports to the United States improved the American standard of living through the provision of cheaper goods.

FALLOUT FEARS

A 62 percent majority of poll participants who answered a question on the outlook for the U.S. dollar in the event of a full scale trade war said that it would weaken.

The dollar hit a five-week low against a basket of six other major currencies in March.

Raphael Gallardo, a strategist at Natixis Asset Management, said that while first-round effects, such as a reduction in the U.S. trade deficit, might initially strengthen the dollar, ultimately it would weaken due to retaliation by U.S. trading partners.

“More importantly, the trade war triggered by tariffs would end up weakening further the prospective rate of return on investment in the U.S.,” he said.

The outlook for the dollar is complicated by the fact that the U.S. Federal Reserve is raising rates, targeting at least two more hikes for 2018 after a 25 basis points hike in March.

A slim 56 percent majority of poll participants who answered a question on this topic expected three rate hikes this year, but a third opted for four, saying the Fed was behind the curve.

Several noted it would take just one FOMC member to upgrade their expectations to tilt the Fed’s median projection from three to four hikes for the year.

“The 2018 dot plot is more hawkish than the median three hikes imply,” said Jan Bopp, an investment strategist at J Safra Sarasin. “The 2018 call was a close one, and the move up in 2019 and beyond was clearly a reflection of the strengthening of the economic outlook.”

GROWTH CATALYSTS

There was less consensus over the outlook for the euro zone economy, with just 51 percent of poll participants who answered a question on this saying growth had not yet peaked in the current cycle.

“While inflation expectations have peaked short-term and German industrial activity has slowed, cheap financing will continue to be a driver as well as the robust global trade environment,” said Jean Medecin, a member of the investment committee at Carmignac.

Euro zone businesses rounded off the first quarter of 2018 with their slowest growth in over a year and economic sentiment data has underwhelmed.

European equities look set to end the month down around 2.3 percent.

In the poll, investors cut their euro zone equity holdings slightly to 19.9 percent, but while some investors said growth might be slowing, with the stronger euro hampering export growth, it would not fall sharply.

“Growth catalysts like low real interest rates are still very much with us, so growth levels could remain above trend near term,” said Peter van der Welle, a strategist at Robeco.

Reporting by Claire Milhench; additional reporting by Maria Pia Quaglia and Hari Kishan; Editing by Hugh Lawson

Published at Thu, 29 Mar 2018 11:48:04 +0000

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Not just Facebook: China’s tech titan getting crushed

China's multifaceted messaging app: WeChat
China’s multifaceted messaging app: WeChat

Not just Facebook: China’s tech titan getting crushed

Facebook isn’t the only big internet business whose stock is taking a beating.

Tencent(TCEHY) — the company often referred to as China’s Facebook — has lost more than $70 billion in marketvalue over the past week.

Wall Street has pummeled Facebook’s(FB) stock after the Cambridge Analytica data-harvesting scandal. But Tencent, the biggest publicly traded tech company in Asia, is caught in a perfect storm of problems.

Investors worry about Tencent’s future growth prospects, a major shareholder offloading a big stake and the global slump in tech stocks triggered by Facebook’s crisis.

Tencent’s profit soared 98% last quarter, but some analysts say they’re concernedthat the company’s heady momentum over the last few years could be losing steam.

They pointed out that revenue missed market expectations and declined at the company’s important mobile games division. WeChat, the company’s flagship social network, is also adding users more slowly than before.

Tencent also warned that planned investments in artificial intelligence, video and mobile payments would probably hurt profit in the near term. That prompted analysts at investment bank Credit Suisse to cut their earnings forecasts for the company.

After heavy losses in the tech-focused Nasdaq on Tuesday in the United States, Tencent shares plunged nearly 5% in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

Tencent’s biggest single shareholdersoldabout $10 billion worth of stock last week, addingto the pain.

South Africa-based investment firm Naspers took a stake inTencent early in the Chinese company’s rise, a bet that has paid off in spectacular fashion. Naspers’ stake was worth about $35 million when it bought it in 2001. Even after selling off a chunk of it last week, Naspers’ holding is now worth roughly $156 billion.

The firm said it doesn’t plan to offload any more Tencent shares for at least another three years and is committed to the Chinese company for the long haul. It still owns a stake of more than 31%.

“Tencent is one of the best long-term growth opportunities in any industry, in any market,” Naspers’ chief financial officer, Basil Sgourdos, told CNNMoney on Friday.

There are plenty of analysts who agree it’s worth sticking with Tencent. Of the 43 analysts that follow the stock, 39 still have a buy rating on it, according to data provider Factset. Despite the recent plunge, Tencent’s stock is still up about 83% from a year earlier.

Analysts at investment bank Nomura say they expect Tencent’s stock to rebound as the company gains new mobile-gaming customersand increases revenue from services like mobile payments and advertising.

Published at Wed, 28 Mar 2018 13:52:43 +0000

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New US deal with South Korea: What you need to know

Korea flag

by Big_Heart from Pixabay

New US deal with South Korea: What you need to know

President Donald Trump has his first trade deal.

Senior US officials on Tuesday gave details on an agreement in principle with South Korea to revise a trade deal that originally went into effect in 2012.

The officials said the agreement was an example of Trump delivering on his promise to voters to negotiate better trade deals for the United States.

“This agreement is visionary and innovative,” one senior administration official, speaking on background, told reporters.

The US officials made their case for why the revised deal is an improvement on the one that’s currently in effect, which Trump has slammed as “horrible” and a “job killer.” The South Korean government first announced details of the agreement on Monday.

Some economists have suggested the new deal isn’t significantly different from the old one. South Korean exporters will be relieved that none of the tariffs that were lifted under the original agreement have been brought back, according to Krystal Tan, an economist at research firm Capital Economics.

Experts point out that the negotiations lasted only a few months, far shorter than trade talks typically take. Striking a deal quickly, they note, has the advantage of removing a potentially divisive issue between the two military allies at a time of tensions and delicate talks with North Korea.

Here are some of the main takeaways from the new agreement:

Auto exports

The Trump administration says some of the key changes affect the auto industry, which accounts for a big chunk of the trade deficit the United States runs with South Korea.

Under the revamped deal, each US carmaker will be allowed to export 50,000 vehicles per year to South Korea that meet American safety standards, up from 25,000 previously. Beyond that threshold, cars shipped from the United States will have to comply with South Korean safety rules, which American companies say put them at a disadvantage.

But analysts say the increased quota is unlikely to make much difference anytime soon. No US automaker sold more than 11,000 cars in South Korea last year.

Trump administration officials argue, though, that US car companies should benefit from an agreement by South Korea to ease “burdensome” auto regulations more broadly. That includes reducing additional tests and getting rid of labeling requirements that, the administration argues, hinder American automakers’ ability to sell in South Korea.

The revised deal also postpones the phasing out of a US tariff of 25% on pickup trucks from South Korea. It will now end in 2041 rather than 2021. Capital Economics says no Korean automaker exports pickup trucks to the US at the moment.

Steel tariff exemption

The US government has linked the agreement on a revised trade pact with the decision to cut South Korea some slack on Trump’s recent broad tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

South Korea will still be subject to the 10% tariff on aluminum that was imposed on most nations. But it is largely exempt from the 25% tariff on steel.

Under the arrangement, 70% of the average amount of steel that South Korea exports to the United States each year will be permanently exempt from the new 25% tariff, officials said. Anything above that amount will still be subject to it.

Several other US allies — including Canada, Mexico and the European Union — have been granted temporary exclusions from the tariffs.

Currency clause

The United States and South Korea also agreed to try to make sure neither country devalues its currency intentionally to gain an unfair advantage on trade. But the measure lacks teeth.

When a currency is weaker, it makes exports cheaper — and more attractive — to foreign buyers. It also makes foreign imports more expensive for local consumers. On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly railed against other countries that he accused of purposely devaluing their currencies to get an unfair edge over the United States.

The United States has never included a provision on currencies in a trade negotiation before, according to Trump administration officials.

But the devil is in the detail. The currency provision is not actually in the official agreement and has no enforcement mechanism. Including it in the text of the deal would have required a lengthy legislative approval process, a path that administration officials indicated they did not want to go down.

In effect, both countries are just agreeing to act in good faith with their currencies.

Published at Wed, 28 Mar 2018 03:27:48 +0000

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What happens when the world’s two biggest economies turn on each other

by TechPhotoGal from Pixabay

What happens when the world’s two biggest economies turn on each other

America and China, the world’s two largest economies, may soon be in a trade war.

Leaders from the two nations have announced tariffs on each other. But the real fear among businesses, investors and lawmakers: Escalation.

This could just be the beginning — “the first of many” trade actions, as President Trump put it Thursday.

Trump announced plans Thursday to impose tariffs of 25% on $50 billion of Chinese exports. On Friday, Trump’s global tariffs on steel and aluminum, which includes China, went into effect. Responding to those two latter tariffs, China said it wouldimpose tariffs on $3 billion of US exports to China.

If it ends there, the skirmish is unlikely to have serious global implications. But the pain of higher costs and prices will be felt by workers, businesses and consumers, both directlyand indirectly.

Here’s what we know, and what might be in store in the future.

The US will hit Chinese tech and industry

The United States will impose a tariff of 25% on steel coming from China and a 10% tariff on its aluminum. Most nations will be subjected to same US-imposed duties.

The Trump administration will also slap a 25% tariff on a range of unannounced products from China, including, but not limited to, communication technology, aerospace, information, and machinery. This comes after a US investigation concluded China systematically discriminated against US tech companies operating in that country.

These are key trading items. In 2017, the US imported about $150 billion worth of products from China across all those categories. The imports were heavily weighted toward computer and semiconductor equipment, according to US government data and Panjiva, a research firm recently acquired by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

China is hitting US farmers and vineyards

China announced Friday it would put tariffs on 128 US exports in response to the steel and aluminum tariffs, according to China’s Commerce Ministry. More tariffs could come in retaliation to the US tariffs related to the tech probe.

China’s tariffs on US goods would mostlytarget wine, fruit, pork, recycled aluminum and nuts. A full list has not yet been published, but the tariffs would take effect March 31. Tariffs would range from 15% to 25%, depending on the product.

All those imports total $3 billion per year, a relatively small amount.

That’s just where it begins, though.

China is thetopcustomer for America’s 300,000 soybean farmers. China bought 61% of US soybean exports last year, according to the US Soybean Export Council. So far, China has not mentioned it would tariff US soy, but the foreign ministry ominously reminded reporters last week of that figure.

China also doesn’t have to slap tariffs on American farmers to punish the US. It could simply do more business with South America.

Brazilian soy exports to China surged nearly 35% last year compared to the year prior while US soy was only up 2%, according to Panjiva. Brazil ships more soy to China, its top trade partner, than the United States does. Experts say the surge last year was not related to trade policy, but it shows how China has another alternative to US soy.

China owns more US government debt than any other nation — and its appetite could cool

China owns $1.17 trillion of US government debt, according to the Treasury Department. That makes it America’s biggest lender. China’s holdings move slightly up and down, but as of January they were at a six-month low.

It’s unlikely China would dump a lot of its US Treasury bonds all at once — after all, a major debt sale like that would cause prices for the US debt remaining in its portfolio to go down.

The real problem: What if China loses its appetite and doesn’t buy much more US debt?

The United States government needs to issue nearly $1 trillion debt this fiscal year to cover its deficit, which is expected to swell more in the years to come because of the GOP tax cuts. To fund a deficit, the US sells more debt to other nations, foreign investors, American citizens and US banks. It’s considered one of the safest investments in the world.

It’s impossible to know what would happen if China stopped buying US debt, or significantly slowed its purchases. But at a minimum, it’s not an ideal time for the US to aggravate its biggest lender.

Is it the end of the global economy as we know it?

That question sounds dramatic, but the global perceptions of China and the US on trade are reversing.

The United States has been the poster child for free trade since World War II and China the ultimate protectionist. Now, the US is seeking tariffs while China, at least rhetorically, says it wants to fight protectionism.

The presidents of Chile and Colombia both described the scenario as “the world upside down.”

Free trade economists say the US is forfeiting its leadership role in global trade, while the Trump administration argues it’s trying to make trade benefit more Americans.

Meanwhile, China is expanding its global footprint, seeking to develop an ambitious global trade highway known as the One Belt, One Road Initiative.

And geopolitical implications are endless, includingreverberations with North Korea, Russia, Iran, Latin America, and the Middle East. Trade experts argue that economic links like trade help prevent real wars. They make countries more dependent on each other, those experts say, and less likely to pursue armed conflicts.

Is Trump’s bite as bad as his bark?

All these concerns could be much ado about nothing. Trump was set to impose the steel and aluminum tariffs on every country. Top allies, and trade partners, were threatening retaliation.

Then Trump gave exemptions to Mexico, Canada, the European Union, South Korea, Australia, Brazil and Argentina. That means the top four steel exporters to the US and four of the top seven aluminum exporters won’t face the tariff.

Trump also repeatedly threatened to tear up NAFTA, the trade deal between the US, Canada and Mexico. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who has been pessimistic about talks for months, told senators Thursday that all three sides are now making meaningful progress.

Trump’s tariffs stemming from the tech investigation on China don’t take effect for two weeks. That’s a long time in this White House.

Published at Sun, 25 Mar 2018 14:46:54 +0000

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These American companies could lose in a trade war with China

by TheDigitalArtist from Pixabay

These American companies could lose in a trade war with China

A trade war with China could be very bad news for some of America’s largest companies.

Stocks sank Thursday as investors worried about the Trump administration’s announcement of new tariffs on Chinese imports.

If China retaliates, life may become difficult for Apple, Boeing, Intel and other multinational companies in the Dow and S&P 500 that have started to do more business in the world’s most populous nation.

Apple(AAPL) generated $18 billion in revenue — 20% of its total sales — from China in just its most recent quarter. Boeing’s(BA) China sales last year were nearly $12 billion, almost 13% of its overall revenue.

Chip giant Intel(INTC) — as well as fellow semiconductor firms Texas Instruments(TXN), Nvidia(NVDA), Micron(MU) and Qualcomm(QCOM) — also have a big presence in China thanks to manufacturing plants there and Chinese tech companies that use their processors.

The Trump administration just blocked Singapore-headquartered Broadcom’s(AVGO) proposed takeover of Qualcomm as well, adding to some geopolitical tensions.

But the growth of the middle class in China has helped other big US companies too.

Dow component Nike(NKE), which will report its latest results after the markets close Thursday, sold $1.2 billion of sneakers and athletic apparel in China in its last quarter. That’s 15% of the House of Swoosh’s total revenue.

Post-It and Scotch Magic Tape maker 3M(MMM), also in the Dow, generated 10% of its sales from China last year too. And sales in China were up 16% in 2017, compared to just 1.5% in the United States.

GM (GM)said earlier this year that it and its joint venture partners sold more than 4 million vehicles in 2017 — a record high fueled by strong demand for the Cadillac and Buick brands.

Starbucks(SBUX) has made a big bet on China as well — and it appears to be paying off. The coffee giant now gets about 14% of its sales from China — and sales are growing at a faster pace there than they are in the United States and other developed markets.

Casino giants Las Vegas Sands(LVS) and Wynn Resorts(WYNN) could also be hurt by China’s potential retaliatory moves. Both of those companies generate more than half their revenue from the Chinese special administrative region of Macau — not Sin City.

So even though President Trump is acting to try and protect American workers from Chinese competitors that are selling more of their goods and services in the United States, many American companies stand to lose big if China fights back with tariffs of its own.

Published at Thu, 22 Mar 2018 17:47:05 +0000

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One idea to stop Venezuela’s downward spiral: Switch to the US dollar

Venezuela's economy on the brink of collapse
Venezuela’s economy on the brink of collapse

One idea to stop Venezuela’s downward spiral: Switch to the US dollar

Venezuela’s currency, the bolivar, lost nearly all its value last year as the country spiraled into an economic crisis.

One solution gaining popularity: Get rid of the bolivar and replace it with the US dollar.

The idea is called dollarization. Ecuador, El Salvador and some small island nations have done it. Now it could be coming to Venezuela, widely considered the world’s worst economy not mired in an armed conflict.

Venezuela has a presidential election this spring, and Henri Falcon is seen as the top opposition candidate to the incumbent, Nicolas Maduro. Francisco Rodriguez, a former Wall Street economist who advises Falcon, says he would shift the nation to the dollar to cure its biggest problem, soaring inflation.

venezuela currency crash

Prices are rising much faster than wages. Venezuelans are going hungry and hospitals are ill-equipped because of widespread shortages of medicine and food. The average Venezuelan living in poverty last year lost 25 pounds, according to a recently published study.

That problem is likely to get worse: The International Monetary Fund projects prices will rise 13,000% this year.

Some experts say Venezuela must move to the dollar before it can solve all its other problems, which include rampant crime and a mass exodus of its citizens.

“There’s no way they can get anything under control in Venezuela unless they dollarize,” says Steven Hanke, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who advised the governments of Ecuador and Montenegro when they ditched their currencies for the dollar. “The bolivar is gone already.”

Here’s how it would work. The government would establish a temporary exchange rate for its citizens to swap bolivars for dollars.

Venezuela would have to agree to get its printed cash only from the US Federal Reserve. Governments forfeit the right to print their own money when they convert to the dollar.

Venezuela wouldn’t be able to order the Fed to print endless amounts of cash, either. By taking on the dollar — the exchange rate for which is controlled by foreign markets — leaders would effectively have to commit to reel in spending.

To pay for cash shipments from the Fed, Venezuela would still have to make money on its exports, such as oil, and collect taxes. Experts say the transition would be easier for Venezuela than other nations because its only source of meaningful income is oil, which is bought and sold only in dollars.

If he stays in power,Maduro seems unlikely to swap the bolivar for the dollar. His government spends at will and blasts US capitalism.

As for Falcon, Maduro’s top opponent, his team says Venezuelans would be able to exchange 68 bolivars for one dollar. Some economists say it’s soon to place an exact number on what the exchange rate would be. The current, unofficial exchange rate that millions of Venezuelans use everyday is about 216,000 bolivars for one dollar.

Some economists say countries give up too much control over their own currency when they adopt the dollar.Another option would be for a new government to introduce an entirely new currency along with a plan to rein in federal spending.

“Dollarization is a solution, but it’s not the optimal solution,” says Jean Paul Leidenz, senior economist at Ecoanalitica, a Venezuela-based research group. “It’s an extreme measure.”

Although unlikely to dollarize, Maduro isn’t entirely opposed to a new currency in principle. His government recently created the world’s first sovereign cryptocurrency, the petro. It remains unclear how successful the petro was in private auctions.

The Maduro regime’s spending spree — on subsidies, free housing, wage hikes and much more — has badly damaged the economy, says Raul Gallegos, a Bogota-based consultant at the global advisory firm Control Risks.

“Dollarization is essentially when you chop off your left arm to prevent gangrene from killing you,” he says.

A move to the dollar is likely only if Falcon defeats Maduro in May, and that is uncertain. Some opposition parties have boycotted the election, claiming Maduro will rig it. Maduro has also banned some of his top opponents from running for office.

The Trump administration, along with many other governments, labels Maduro a dictator. Last July, Maduro’s party replaced the opposition-backed legislature with an entirely new legislature filled with his supporters.

Against that backdrop, outside experts question whether this election will be fair.

Rodriguez, the lead economic adviser for Falcon, did not respond to a request for comment. A Venezuelan TV anchor and Maduro supporter recently asked him whether adopting the dollar would sacrifice Venezuela’s sovereignty.

“You can’t talk about sovereignty when you have a destroyed economy,” Rodriguez said.

Published at Tue, 13 Mar 2018 17:25:22 +0000

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Trade War Fears

Trade War Fears

by THE MOLE

The MSM hasn’t exactly been short of clickbait lately as one supposed global crisis is chasing the next. But suddenly a purported ‘trade war’ between the United States and China is all rage now, and I mean that in the literal sense since everyone seems to be getting their panties in a twist about an issue that in my not so humble opinion has been on the forefront of Chinese/U.S. relations for many years now.

At the same time the loss of about 50,000 factories and the impact on U.S. employment since NAFTA took effect on 1/1/1994 apparently has never been worth much media attention. And sure, of course there are various arguments challenging that perspective. And not being an economist by trade nor ambition my simple response would be: Just take a trip to Baltimore or Detroit and talk to anyone you meet in the streets. Then come back and let’s go over your gripes with the fact that U.S. workers have been squeezed hard over the past few decades.

Whether or not import tariffs on steel and various other products will be a net negative for the U.S. economy and labor remains to be seen. But what clearly does not work is business as usual as has been practiced without care or regard for workers and their families over the past quarter century.

Anyway, be this as it may – all that clickbait cost me a perfectly well running E-Mini campaign. I got out at about 2R in profits which is fine but a long shot from where it was yesterday afternoon.

If I wasn’t leaving tomorrow I would be tempted to grab a long position here but looking at the mess of the past few weeks on the short term panel makes me appreciate the fact that we’re banking profits in equities in the first place. And I’m not going to push my luck ahead of my little trip.

Plus the Dollar keeps dropping (and by extension the EUR is rising). Suffice to say I am not amused. Look at that hourly panel and share your thoughts if you would. All I’m seeing is a market turning on a dime on various  fronts. Could lead to quite a bit of ugliness if buyers don’t start taking shit seriously instead of chasing every single headline. I know, I know – who am I kidding?

Tired Of Winning?

Seems to me that market participants are tired of winning, but not in a Trumpian fashion. Maybe after a ten year bull market investors are subconsciously longing for a big market correction wiping out a big chunk of their assets in the process. A growing cultural malaise that now seems to be seeping into our financial markets as well.

I say bring it on! Bring on the pain! Honestly I’ve grown sick of all the snow-flaking and imaginary threats lurking behind every corner. Some cultural crisis or scandal chasing the next all across the Western hemisphere. A mindset apparently prevalent among a generation that has had the luxury of never experiencing war or true hardship (yes I know there are exceptions). No sweetheart – losing WiFi access or a shortage of soy milk at your favorite Starbucks does not constitute a personal tragedy. Again my previous advice applies, take a road trip to B-more or Detroit and we talk.

So hey, what’s with all the bitching? First up a bit of venting here and there is healthy. But I’m trying to make a point and for once it’s more anthropological than down to business and technical. Although I pride myself as being a no-nonsense kind of guy there are times when you have to heed those intangibles, the nagging voices in the back of your head (your mileage may vary based on your lithium dosage).

Look, we obviously don’t live in the 1990s anymore. Things have changed quite a bit, and perhaps I’m a bit jaded but to me it feels like as if the whee are coming off. I actually think what we all desperately need actually is a large market correction, a big cleansing of sorts. There would be a lot of pain in the short term but I think we all would be better off over the long term. Let’s just get it over with and then look forward perhaps with a bit of hope and optimism in our hearts. Too much to ask? Probably.

Alright let me climb off my soap box. My crude campaign was also rudely interrupted at about 0.6R in profits. Grrrr…  Okay, a win is a win – we executed perfectly and perhaps we trailed a bit too early. Here as well a re-entry would be on my radar but as I’m traveling tomorrow I don’t want to worry about open positions.

Now gold for one is behaving well and I just moved my stop to break/even. I really like that formation and I got big plans for precious metals going forward. Especially if equity traders continue to screw around as discussed above.

What do ya know? The ZB campaign just got another lease on life and has reversed upwards breaching my entry range. That’s very positive but it’s time it’s getting out of the gate.

Alright, this will be my last post for this week and per the above it looks like I clearly need a vacation! Scott has promised to post here tomorrow and as often as he can over the next 10 days or so. No worries – I’ll be popping by as well but don’t expect extended contributions as I’m working off a lappy and being spoiled by 30 glorious inches of screen estate over the years my perspectives will be more narrow.

And yes, once again all services will run as usual, no worries. If you run into any trouble/issues then just email me at admin@. See you once I’m settled near my ocean hide out.

Published at Wed, 07 Mar 2018 13:53:26 +0000

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11 countries sign TPP trade pact without the United States

 

TPP explained
TPP explained

11 countries sign TPP trade pact without the United States

President Trump is going one way on trade. The world is going very hard in the other direction.

Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum Thursday only a couple hours after 11 nations signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping trade agreement that was once thought to be dead after Trump withdrew the United States from talks.

Leaders from Mexico, Canada, Japan and other nations officially signed TPP on Thursday at a ceremony in Santiago, Chile.

TPP’s revival stands — and its very nature as a multi-country trade pact — defies Trump’s trade views. His administration has sought one-on-one trade pacts, initiated dozens of trade investigations and started to renegotiate existing deals.

In January 2017, Trump withdrew the United States from TPP discussions before it became law, arguing that it was an unfair deal for the country. At the time, some leaders, such as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, declared TPP “meaningless.” But eventually, world leaders revived the agreement that encapsulates 14% of the global economy.

The TPP countries are Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia, Canada and Mexico.

Some of these countries — particularly Japan, Mexico and Canada — may get entangled in a tit-for-tat trade war with the Trump administration. It imposed a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum from all countries except Canada and Mexico. Despite their exemptions, Trump has hinted they may be subject to the tariffs if there isn’t major progress in the renegotiation of NAFTA, the three-nation trade pact. So far, Mexico, Canada and the United States have made little progress after seven months of negotiations.

Japan accounts for 5% of US steel imports, double the share from China, the world’s largest steel producer. Although there is widespread agreement that China has produced and exported too much steel worldwide, other nations and even Republican leaders on Capitol Hill asked Trump not to impose the tariffs, fearing it would risk retaliation.

Trump said the tariffs would take effect in 15 days.

Published at Thu, 08 Mar 2018 20:28:58 +0000

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Pushback on Trump tariffs gathers steam, Mexico rejects bid to split NAFTA

by RonnyK from Pixabay

Pushback on Trump tariffs gathers steam, Mexico rejects bid to split NAFTA

WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Republican lawmakers stepped up calls for President Donald Trump to pull back from proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as key trading partner Mexico rejected a bid by Washington to drive a wedge between it and Canada in talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Few details have emerged from the White House over the scope and timing of Trump’s tariffs – 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum – after a surprise announcement by the president last week.

Financial markets have rallied off their lows on expectations the measures may be watered down in the face of an intense lobbying effort from leading Republicans, although so far Trump has stuck to his guns in public.

On Tuesday, Representative Mark Meadows, the head of the Freedom Caucus, a staunchly conservative Republican grouping in Congress, raised concerns about the impact of the tariffs on American manufacturing and agriculture. Agriculture is a potential target for retaliatory tariffs from China if Trump pushes ahead.

Meadows, who spoke to reporters after a closed-door meeting with House Republicans, said he had heard little support for the tariffs. “Most of the conversation I heard was not in support of that particular decision.”

Those comments came after sharp criticism of the tariffs from House Speaker Paul Ryan and Representative Mark Walker who both on Monday issued statements critical of the proposals. Walker heads the Republican Study Committee, which has about 150 members, a majority of the party’s lawmakers in the House.

Legislators and industry groups opposed to the duties have warned that the proposed tariffs would cause more damage to American companies and workers than they would help. They also note that the move would hit key allies such as Canada hardest, rather than having a direct impact on global dumping of steel and aluminum by China.

“We fear that the proposed tariff may do more harm than good, hurting rather than helping the 97 percent of aluminum industry jobs in mid-and-downstream production processes,” the Aluminum Association said in a statement on Tuesday.

Members of the administration have repeatedly said that the cost of the tariffs will be minimal for American consumers. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said they would add less than $200 to the cost of a car, for example.

Opponents have fought back, saying that consumers would end up paying more for a wide range of goods from cars, to canned beer and canned soup.

MEXICO FIRES BACK

Washington on Monday said that if Canada and Mexico agreed to their demands in the NAFTA talks, they could be exempted from the proposed steel and aluminum tariffs. The trilateral talks have gone on for six months with few signs of progress.

Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo raised the prospect of reprisals if Washington pushed ahead with tariffs and insisted NAFTA remain “a trilateral accord” in response to a U.S. proposal to hold talks with Canada and Mexico separately.

“There’s a list (of U.S. products) that we are analyzing internally, but we won’t make it public, we’re going to wait,” Guajardo told the Televisa network in an interview.

Canada has also said it would take counter-measures over the steel and aluminum tariffs, without specifying what it would do. The European Union has identified industries it would target, including Harley Davidson motorbikes, which are made in Wisconsin, Paul Ryan’s state.

Despite the pressure, Trump and the administration have stood firm in public comments. They say that exemptions for specific countries to the tariffs would only allow China – whose huge plant expansions have driven a global glut of steel and aluminum – to skirt the duties by exporting through third countries.

Trump has vowed to cut America’s trade deficit and accuses countries like China of cheating. He has launched an investigation into intellectual property abuses by China, a move that could dwarf any impact of the steel and aluminum proposals and trigger a sharp response from Beijing.

Fred Bergstein, who has held top economics posts in a series of U.S. administrations and is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics thinktank, warned on Tuesday that the proposed tariffs would undermine Washington’s efforts to rein in China by alienating potential allies.

“President Trump’s recent trade actions, especially the announced plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, will have little effect on China. In fact, they will make confronting China with an alliance of trading partners much harder,” he said.

Additional reporting by Jason Lange, Lisa Lambert and Richard Cowan; Writing by David Chance; Editing by Susan Thomas

Published at Tue, 06 Mar 2018 19:42:37 +0000

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A Trump trade war would hit red states hard

Did Trump start a trade war America will lose?
Did Trump start a trade war America will lose?

A Trump trade war would hit red states hard

President Trump’s tariffs — and the trade war they could start — may hurt the very states that sent him to the White House.

Car plants from Michigan to South Carolina could pay more for the steel used to make engines and auto parts. Retaliatory action by the European Union could hurt bourbon distilleries in Kentucky and Harley-Davidson factory workers in Wisconsin.

Farmers across the Midwest would be a prime target for China, the biggest buyer of some American crops.

“Coming from an agriculture state that supported Trump, it’s certainly a disappointing development for Montana and the rest of rural America,” says Herb Karst, a grain farmer in Billings, Montana, and a representative of Farmers for Free Trade, an advocacy group.

“It just seems that agriculture is going to be paying the price for the protection of the steel and aluminum industries,” he said.

Trump said last week that he plans to impose a 25% tariff, or tax, on imported steel, and a 10% tariff on imported aluminum.

American manufacturers buy a lot of that imported steel and aluminum to make products including cars, kitchen appliances, baseball bats and medical equipment. Tariffs would raise their costs. Companies typically pass those costs on to their customers, which can cool sales and lead to job cuts.

The top five states that depend the most on manufacturing, based on employment, all voted for Trump in 2016: Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Some of these states alsoemploy workers in the steel and aluminum industries. Theycould benefit from tariffs because their companies would face less foreign competition. And it may encourage more foreign investment.

But overall, manufacturers would probably face higher costs. They would struggle against foreign competitors that don’t have the same trade barriers. For example, if a foreign-made car is cheaper and roughly the same quality, consumers abroad will likely lean toward Volkswagen over Ford, GM or other US car brands.

South Carolina is one red state that could be vulnerable in a trade war. The state has hung its economic hopes on manufacturing and trade. Those two industries make up about 30% of the state’s jobs, according to Labor Department figures.

Experts say the tariffs could cut two, drastically different ways.

On one hand, they could benefit the state by forcing foreign companies to increase investment in the United States, says Douglas Woodward, an economics professor at the University of South Carolina. The state has already positioned itself as an attractive hub for foreign investment. Samsung recently opened a plant there.

Trade barriers can encourage foreign companies to invest in the United States if the cost of exporting becomes too onerous and the companies still want to sell to Americans. When President Ronald Reagan imposed a limit on Japanese cars in the 1980s, Toyota and some other automakers moved production to Kentucky.

But if other countries retaliate against Trump’s tariffs, the benefits could be negated for states like South Carolina.

“It could really have a big impact on a trade-dependent state like ours,” Woodward says. “That’s the big risk here, we could get retaliation, we could get a trade war … that could be damaging.”

One in every 11 jobs in South Carolina depends on the state’s four seaports, where shipping containers move in and out, according to the South Carolina Ports Authority. In total, 187,000 South Carolina jobs depend on trade at the ports.

On the other side of the state, the largest BMW plant in the worldemploys 9,000 workers in Spartanburg. BMW is the state’s largest manufacturer by employment — and it exports more cars from the United States, by value, than any other auto company.

Boeing is another major employer in South Carolina, with roughly 7,500 employees in North Charleston. It uses less aluminum for its new plane models than it used to, but Boeing sells a lot of planes overseas. More than half its revenue comes from abroad, and that could be subject to retaliation. Another alternative is that airlines and governments could buy planes from European makers such as Airbus.

Trump hasnot exempted any countries from the tariffs. Boeing’s top foreign markets are China, Canada and Japan. The first two have promised to retaliate if Trump goes through with the tariffs.

South Carolina also produces soybeans, and China is the No. 1 buyer of American soy. The crop stands to be one of the first targets if China and other countries retaliate.And it’s not just soy farmers who will feel it.

Karst, the grain farmer in Montana, doesn’t grow soy, but he’s worried that soy will be targeted. If Americans can’t sell soy to China, he argues, that will create a glut in the United States. And he says a glut of one crop tends to lower prices for others.

“That’s just devastating,” says Karst, 69. As for Trump’s tariffs, they’re “counterproductive to his stated goal of making sure America wins.”

Published at Mon, 05 Mar 2018 20:51:15 +0000

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Asia steel exporters seek more info on U.S. tariffs amid trade war fears

 

Asia steel exporters seek more info on U.S. tariffs amid trade war fears

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian steel exporting nations took a wait-and-see approach to plans announced by U.S. President Donald Trump to impose hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum, saying they would talk to U.S. officials and see details of the plans before responding.

Fears of an escalating trade war, hit the share prices of Asian steelmakers and manufacturers supplying U.S. markets particularly hard on Friday following a rough night on Wall Street.

Trump said the duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum would be formally announced next week, although White House officials later said some details still needed to be ironed out.

Steel has become key focus for Trump, who pledged to restore the U.S. industry and punish what he sees as unfair trade practices, particularly by China.

Although China only accounts for 2 percent of U.S. steel imports, its massive industry expansion has helped produce a global glut of steel that has driven down prices.

“The impact on China is not big,” said Li Xinchuang, vice secretary-general of the China Iron and Steel Association.

“Nothing can be done about Trump. We are already numb to him.”

South Korea, the third-largest steel exporter to the United States after Canada and Brazil, said it will keep talking to U.S. officials until Washington’s plans for tariffs are finalised.

South Korean trade minister Kim Hyun-chong has been in the United States since Feb. 25, the trade ministry said. Kim has met U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other officials to raise concerns over the so-called Section 232 probe and consider a plan that would minimize the damage to South Korean companies.

NATIONAL SECURITY?

Of most concern to Asian producers and exporters is the risk that any U.S. tariffs will trigger retaliation by other countries that spread beyond metal markets into a full blown trade war.

Asian steelmakers also fear U.S. tariffs could result in their domestic markets becoming flooded with steel products that have no where else to go.

The Trump administration also cited national security interests for its action, saying the United States needs domestic supplies for its tanks and warships.

Contrary to the action announced by Trump on Thursday, the Department of Defense had recommended targeted steel tariffs and a delay in aluminum duties.

“We are aware of President Trump’s statement but the details of the measures including which nations will be targeted have yet to be announced,” said Japanese Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko.

“We continue to seek clarification. I don’t think exports of steel and aluminum from Japan, which is a U.S. ally, damages U.S. national security in any way, and we would like to explain that to the U.S.“

Trump believes the tariffs will safeguard American jobs but many economists say the impact of price increases for consumers of steel and aluminum, such as the auto and oil industries, will be to destroy more jobs than they create.

Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp said the tariffs would substantially raise costs and therefore prices of cars and trucks sold in America.

News of the tariffs hit sentiment on Wall Street due to the potential impact of higher costs on consumers and the potential for damaging tit-for-tat retaliation by affected countries.

“The decision by the U.S. to raise tariffs on aluminum and steel products is a clear step in the wrong direction that risks further escalating global trade tensions,” said Innes Willox Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group, representing the industrial sector’s interests, in a statement.

Asian steelmakers suffered with shares in South Korea’s POSCO and Japan’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp down more than 3 percent.

Reporting by Jane Chung in SEOUL, Kaori Kaneko in TOKYO; Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY, Tom Daly in BEIJING, Minami Funakoshi, Chang-Ran Kim and Yuka Obayashi in TOKYO; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Published at Fri, 02 Mar 2018 03:15:04 +0000

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GM Korea to slash executive numbers, talks with union make little progress

FILE PHOTO – The GM logo is seen in Warren, Michigan, U.S. on October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

GM Korea to slash executive numbers, talks with union make little progress

Hyunjoo Jin

SEOUL (Reuters) – General Motors’ South Korean unit plans to slash the number of its executives, an internal letter seen by Reuters showed – the latest step by the U.S. automaker as it attempts a politically contentious restructuring of the loss-making business.

GM, which has some 16,000 employees in South Korea, also asked staff to “actively consider” a previously announced voluntary redundancy plan which has a Friday deadline, a separate letter showed.

The automaker this month shocked South Korea when it said it would shut one of its factories in the country and decide the fate of three remaining plants in the coming weeks.

The letters underscore the difficulties GM faces as it tries to wrangle concessions on wages from an angry labor union and win financial support from a South Korean government that is set to conduct due diligence on what it has called GM Korea’s “opaque” management.

Although talks with unions have come much earlier than expected with union leaders under pressure to make concessions to prevent more factory closures, a union official told Reuters that initial discussions on Wednesday had not made any progress.

According to one of the letters sent to staff, GM Korea plans to cut the number of executives ranked managing director or more senior by 35 percent and reduce the number of directors and team leaders by 20 percent.

A GM Korea spokesman confirmed the plan, noting that the unit had around 150 executives and hundreds of team leaders.

“Changing our leadership structure is another of many initiatives to move forward the viability of the company,” he said.

The unit also plans to shrink the number of so-called “international service personnel” executives, who have been dispatched from GM headquarters and other affiliates overseas, by 45 percent.

In particular, generous packages for the 36 such ex-pats which include support for housing, cars and payment of school fees for their children have come under fire from GM Korea’s labor union.

The changes will start immediately and with all set to be in place by the third quarter of this year, the letter said, which added that a freeze was being put on executive promotions.

In a separate letter, GM Korea stressed to employees that they only had till Friday to apply for the redundancy program and urged them to apply. It is offering South Korean workers three times their annual base salary, money for college tuition and more than $9,000 toward a new car as part of the redundancy proposal.

In talks with the union, GM is proposing a base wage freeze and no bonuses this year along with a suspension of some benefits such as the payment of university tuition for employees’ children and gold medals for long-serving workers.

The talks on Wednesday ended after just a couple of hours, the union official said.

“Management is demanding unilateral sacrifice by the union, but the company should come up with a turnaround plan,” he said, adding that demands by the union for executives’ wages to be disclosed had been rejected.

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Published at Wed, 28 Feb 2018 04:33:34 +0000

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10 Canadian Oil Companies Worth Your Attention

10 Canadian Oil Companies Worth Your Attention

By Greg McFarlane | Updated February 27, 2018 — 8:50 AM EST

Contrary to pop-culture opinion, Canada’s largest industry is neither hockey equipment production nor donut retailing. It’s energy, which isn’t surprising given the country’s vast area and its inhabitants’ expertise at exploiting its natural abundance. the country’s proven oil reserves are vast enough to meet its energy demands for 140 years at the current rate of production. Much of Canada’s oil reserves consist of oil contained in the oil sands of Alberta. However, other non-oil sands deposits are very popular across all of western Canada in what is known as the Sedimentary Basin. Provinces that will be of interest to energy investors across North America include Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.

Energy companies dominate the Canadian stock market, and a few of them have grown into titans that could compete on any level, in any nation. Here are the 10 most dominant:

Suncor Energy

Suncor Energy Inc. (SU) is Canada’s equivalent of America’s Wal-Mart Stores., Inc. (WMT) – the nation’s largest company by revenue. Founded in 1919 as a subsidiary of what eventually became Sunoco Inc., Suncor is the one company more responsible than any other for developing the Athabasca tar sands, the New York State-sized area of crude oil deposits in northern Alberta that holds potentially trillions of barrels of petroleum: a supply that could last centuries.

But Suncor does more than hold claim over thousands of square miles of black gold. The company has upstream, midstream, and downstream operations, boasting four high-capacity refineries and 1,500 gas stations throughout Canada (under the Petro-Canada name). It’s estimated that the economic value of the ground beneath Suncor’s surface mining and in situ operations will total in the tens of billions of dollars over the next 30 years, which should keep the company at or near the top of this list. With its $57 billion market capitalization, Suncor is often viewed as the 800-pound gorilla of the Canadian energy sector.

Imperial Oil

Even more than a century after its breakup at the hands of U.S. regulators, John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil remains North America’s dominant player in production and refining. Its successors include Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Chevron Corp. (CVX), parts of British Petroleum plc (BP), and in Canada, Imperial Oil Ltd. (IMO). (For more, see: J.D. Rockefeller: From Oil Baron to Billionaire.)

Owned almost 70% by Exxon Mobil, Imperial also conducts both upstream (exploration, production) and downstream (distribution, marketing) businesses. Imperial has a huge presence in the stark but bountiful landscapes of western Canada. The company not only has significant interests in the Athabasca sands, but also in the Greater Sierra field of northeastern British Columbia and the southwest Northwest Territories.

Husky Energy

Like most of its counterparts in this vital and occasionally homogenous industry, Husky Energy Inc. (HSE) is integrated through every step of the process, from digging at the source to flowing into customers’ vehicles. Founded in the 1930s in Wyoming, Calgary-based Husky is the first entrant on our list with noteworthy operations outside the Dominion. Husky owns a large deepwater gas project in the South China Sea, and has 40% interest in a nearby subsea oil field. That’s in addition to Husky’s Atlantic Ocean developments, situated primarily off the coast of Newfoundland. (For more, see: Oil and Gas Industry Primer.)

Cenovus Energy

Spun out of the oil and gas operations of its former parent EnCana Corp. (ECA), Cenovus Energy Inc. (CVE) manages two rich projects in…well, you’ll never guess: the Athabasca sands. Our fourth-consecutive company headquartered in Calgary, Cenovus owns half of Foster Creek, a deposit about 1500 feet below the surface; and half of the Christina Lake reservoir, both in east central Alberta. The remaining half of each is the property of Houston-based ConocoPhillips Co. (COP). On the downstream side, Cenovus is itself a 50% partner with a ConocoPhillips spinoff, Phillips 66 (PSX) in two U.S. refineries — one outside of St. Louis, the other in the heart of the Texas panhandle. (For more, see: Digging Into Cenovus Energy.)

Canadian Natural Resources

One of the few organically homegrown and wholly Canadian oil companies on our list, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ) was founded in 1973 (in Calgary, naturally) and spent its first 20 years or so in relative obscurity. That changed almost overnight with the accelerated development of the Athabasca sands, which Canadian Natural was primed to capitalize upon. Not content with growing its operations merely in western Canada, the company generates billions in revenue from oil fields in the North Sea. But for every dollar the company earns in Europe, it earns several more from its light crude blocks in Africa. Canadian Natural has deepwater interests off the shores of Ivory Coast, Ghana and Gabon; in 2014, it took over drilling in the Southern Outeniqua basin, which is just 200 miles or so from the Cape of Good Hope. (For more, see: A Guide to Oil and Gas Plays in North America.)

Syncrude Canada

Syncrude Canada Ltd., as its name indicates, specializes in the synthetic crude oil which is essentially bitumen that’s been removed from the Earth and upgraded (distilled and thinned so it can be transported) but not yet refined. Syncrude operates exclusively in its home province of Alberta, producing enough low-sulfur oil to supply one-fifth of Canadians. (By the way, Syncrude’s corporate offices aren’t in Calgary, but rather Ft. McMurray — a good 460 miles north.) Another point of differentiation between Syncrude and its cohorts is that Syncrude doesn’t trade publicly. It’s not really a standalone company, but rather a consortium of seven major oil-and-gas players. The three largest partners — in descending order — are Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. (COS), Imperial and Suncor. They own 74% of the company. The remainder is the property of two Chinese state-owned enterprises, a Japanese firm and a smaller American one. (For more, see: Playing Athabasca’s Multiple Suitors.)

EnCana

EnCana (ECA), the one-time parent company of Cenovus, is only slightly smaller than its rapidly growing spinoff. Since jettisoning Cenovus, EnCana has become primarily a natural gas company with projects in British Columbia, Alberta and off the coast of Nova Scotia. However, EnCana retains oil interests in its American operations. In fact, the Calgary-based company’s U.S. subsidiary is named EnCana Oil & Gas. Those particular operations are located across more than 4,000 square miles of visibly barren but clandestinely teeming soil throughout much of the United States. EnCana’s richest deposits are found in New Mexico’s San Juan Basin, the Tuscaloose Marine Shale of Louisiana and the DJ Basin, which covers parts of Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado. (For more, see: EnCana Likes Long Term Natural Gas Fundamentals.)

Harvest Operations

Our list’s first wholly-owned subsidiary of a larger corporation is Calgary-based Harvest Operations, which was developed in the early 2000s and sold in the marketplace as an investment trust, thus enabling its owners to avoid double taxation. With wells dotting Alberta and Saskatchewan, and a refinery in Newfoundland, Harvest does business only in Canada (and the nearby waters of the North Atlantic.) Management at Korea National Oil Corp. knew a lucrative investment when they saw it, and in 2009 made a play for Harvest. The unitholders (the investment trust equivalent of shareholders) overwhelmingly said yes to the takeover bid, and since then Harvest has operated as a branch of Korea National.

Frontera Energy

What’s the largest independent oil company on the continent? That’d be Toronto-based Energy Corp. (TSXFEC), and if that sounds so surprising as to arouse suspicion, we didn’t say which continent. Founded in 1985 as Pacific Rubiales, the self-styled “low cost, exploration and production company” changed names in 2015, declared bankruptcy in 2016, and re-emerged and began trading once more as Frontera in 2017. It produces a huge portion of the crude oil in Peru and Colombia, and has a controlling interest in another large deposit in Guatemala. Despite its upheavals, Frontera has s a big advantage in a part of the world as yet unexplored by the company’s contemporaries. (For related reading, see: Canadian Oil Production Set To Grow Rapidly.)

Repsol Canada

We return to Calgary for a firm which began with a single gas station in London, Ontario, in 1925. Upon growing to multinational size, it was eventually bought by British Petroleum; sold off by the parent and taken public in 1992, it became Talisman Energy, a Canadian company with intercontinental reach. The Spanish company Repsol acquired it in mid-2015, boosting its total output by 75% to 680,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOE/D). With approximately 1.1 million net acres of land in Western Canada, Repsol is a key player in the Canadian oil and gas industry. It’s focused on liquids and gas assets in the Greater Edson area of Alberta, conventional heavy oil western assets in the Chauvin area of Alberta/Saskatchewan, and liquids-rich gas assets in Alberta’s Duvernay play. Operations include four operated gas plants in the Edson area and an oil treatment facility in Chauvin.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to investing in oil companies and oil-related assets, one of the best options is to look to Canada. For investors interested in tapping into Canada’s oil-exploiting companies, there are several companies to consider (most trade on the U.S. stock exchanges) – and ETFs for retail investors who’d prefer a more diversified approach. The only thing better than accessibility is the fact they each of the companies is also nearing very significant levels of support, which equates to lucrative risk/reward ratio for those willing to look beyond the border. From oil sands and bitumen plays, to offshore drilling and international exploration and production, there are plenty of opportunities to play the oil riches of Canada and other nations. (For related reading, see: TransCanada Sits in Oil Pipeline Catbird Seat.)

Published at Tue, 27 Feb 2018 13:50:00 +0000

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Global stocks firm, dollar dips before big week for central banks

Global stocks firm, dollar dips before big week for central banks

LONDON (Reuters) – Global stocks notched further gains on Monday and the dollar stayed on the back foot, as investors bet the new head of the U.S. Federal Reserve will steer a steady course on policy when he addresses lawmakers this week.

MSCI’s index of world stocks was up 0.3 percent, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 up 0.6 percent.

Asian markets also rose, with Chinese stocks up 1.2 percent after the ruling Communist Party set the stage for President Xi Jinping to stay in office indefinitely.

Much of the market’s focus during the coming week will be on monetary policy, with the heads of the European Central Bank and Bank of England set to give speeches. But they are likely to be overshadowed by Fed chair Jerome Powell.

U.S. stock markets calmed on Friday after the Fed said it saw steady economic growth continuing and no serious risks on the horizon, a trend that looks set to continue on Monday.

Dow Jones futures pointed to the index opening 0.6 percent higher, with S&P 500 futures up 0.4 percent.

Investors also seem to be wagering that Powell will stick to that script at his first appearance before the House on Tuesday, followed by testimony to the Senate on Thursday.

“Given he’s speaking on behalf of the committee it would be a big surprise to see much deviation from recent Fed commentary, but much will probably be made of how he handles the scrutiny,” said Jim Reid, a macro strategist at Deutsche Bank.

STERLING, EURO GAIN

The expected lack of policy surprises from Powell saw yields on U.S. 10-year Treasuries back off to 2.86 percent and away from a four-year top of 2.957 percent, dragging down the dollar.

The currency surrendered early gains to dip 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies to 89.68. That followed a 0.8 percent bounce last week.

Sterling was up 0.5 percent on Monday after Bank of England deputy governor Dave Ramsden said the bank might need to raise interest rates somewhat sooner than he had expected if wage growth picked up early this year.

The pound also benefited from hopes that Britain’s exit from the European Union might be less disruptive than feared, after opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech on Monday backing a new customs union with the bloc.

The euro was 0.3 percent firmer on the back of dollar weakness, though investors largely held back from taking big positions ahead of a national election in Italy and the conclusion of coalition talks in Germany.

ECB President Mario Draghi is also set to appear before the European Parliament later in the day, while BoE governor Mark Carney speaks in Edinburgh on Friday.

In commodities, oil prices steadied after hitting their highest level in nearly three weeks, supported by comments from top exporter Saudi Arabia that it would continue to curb shipments in line with the OPEC-led effort to cut global supplies.

Reporting by Alasdair Pal, Additional reporting by Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

Published at Mon, 26 Feb 2018 12:39:53 +0000

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China’s big conglomerates are no longer buying up the world

china foreign deals resistance

China’s big conglomerates are no longer buying up the world

The party is over for some of China’s most acquisitive companies.

Three of China’s biggest conglomerates — Dalian Wanda, HNA and Anbang Insurance — have spent billions of dollars on deals around the world. Now the Chinese government is worried that they risk overextending themselves, and they are coming under pressure to sell assets.

The latest reversal came Friday, when Chinese regulators seized control of Anbang and removed its chairman. Analysts say the regulator is likely to offload some of the businesses Anbang snapped up during its global buying spree, such as New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel.

Between them, Wanda, HNA and Anbang spent more than $50 billion in 2016 gobbling up assets around the world, according to research firm Dealogic.

Last year, their spending plummeted by almost 75%. That drop was echoed by a fall in overseas acquisitions by Chinese companies in general.

The Chinese government clamped down on companies borrowing heavily to make aggressive purchases abroad. That’s because officials were worried about the flood of money pouring out of the country and the risks of Chinese companies making irrational or risky investments.

Here’s how the biggest buyers became sellers:

Wanda

Wanda’s billionaire chairman, Wang Jianlin, was once China’s richest man and proud of his sprawling global business empire. Now he’s offloading international properties and emphasizing his investments back home.

As well as real estate projects in cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Istanbul, Wang pumped money into entertainment, including the Hollywood studio that produced “Jurassic World” and “The Hangover” trilogy.

But in a sign that Wang’s international ambitions were starting to clash with the ruling Communist Party’s agenda, Wanda’s $1 billion deal to buy Dick Clark Productions, the producer of the Golden Globes and other leading awards shows, fell apart last year.

Under pressure to raise funds to pay down debts, the company has also dumped real estate projects in the U.K. and Sydney. This month, Wanda agreed to sell its stake in Spanish soccer club Atletico Madrid.

It’s not just overseas businesses Wang has been offloading. In July, Wanda sold several theme parks and dozens of hotels in China for around $9 billion.

HNA

HNA started out as a regional airline in southern China more than 20 years ago but went on a shopping spree in recent years, buying big chunks of major US and European companies.

Its sprawling empire grew to include the Radisson hotel chain, a big US technology supplier, a large stake in Hilton Worldwide(HLT) and about 10% of Germany’sDeutsche Bank(DB).

But it has run into trouble as it struggles with debts estimated at $100 billion or more.

Investors have dumped the stocks and bonds of some businesses in HNA’s vast web of subsidiaries. Credit rating agencies have downgraded debt linked to the company.

The company insists it’s in good financial shape, but it has still been selling off parts of its operations to raise cash.

Recently it sold two prime plots of land in Hong Kong for $2 billion only 15 months after it bought them. It has also trimmed its stake in Deutsche Bank.

Anbang

Anbang was founded in 2004 as a provincial car insurer but has since ballooned into a global giant.

The firm is best known for its ambitious deal-making efforts, including the $1.95 billion purchase of the Waldorf Astoria, a failed $14 billion bid for the Starwood hotel chain, and unsuccessful talks with the Kushner family business over a Manhattan office tower.

The firm has spent more than $20 billion on deals since 2014, according to Dealogic. Its acquisitions included life insurers in the Netherlands and South Korea, and a Belgian bank.

Things began to turn sour last year, when chairman Wu Xiaohui was reportedly detained by Chinese authorities.

An investigation into the company culminated in the Chinese government seizing control of Anbang this week. Wu has been removed from his post and is being prosecuted for “economic crimes.”

A statement from Shanghai prosecutors carried by Chinese state media said Wu had been indicted for fraudulent fund-raising and improperly taking company assets.

The insurance regulator may now seek to sell off a lot of the businesses Anbang bought, according to Brock Silvers, managing director of Shanghai-based investment firm Kaiyuan Capital.

— Sherisse Pham and Nanlin Fang contributed to report.

Published at Fri, 23 Feb 2018 12:51:46 +0000

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Are rubber bands putting American jobs at risk? Trump trade team is investigating

U.S. trade moves could spark Chinese retaliation
U.S. trade moves could spark Chinese retaliation

The nation’s leading producer of rubber bands, a small company in Arkansas, is worried that imports from China, Thailand and Sri Lanka are putting its 150 workers in jeopardy. It petitioned the Commerce Department to start an investigation, which began Thursday.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sounded like he had already made up his mind.

“The department will act swiftly,” Ross said in a statement, promising a fair review. “The Trump administration is committed to the enforcement of America’s trade laws that ensure U.S. businesses and workers have a fair chance to compete.”

Commerce officials and the independent U.S. International Trade Commission must determine whether foreign rubber bands are being sold in the United States at prices so low that they box outthe Arkansas business, Alliance Rubber Company.

Commerce acted quickly on the case: The company filed its petition just three weeks ago.

If both Commerce and the ITC agree that China, Sri Lanka and Thailand are dumping rubber bands in the United States at unfair prices, the Trump administration will impose tariffs from 27% to 133%, depending on the country and thetype of rubber band.

Commerce reported that each country’s government provides its rubber producers with generous subsidies that allow them to sell rubber bands on the cheap.

The United States imported nearly $20 million of rubber bands from those three countries combinedlast year. The case isn’t particularly big, and probably won’t matter much to trade relations. But it illustrates the Trump administration’s desire to get tougher on trading partners.

Since Trump took office, Commerce has launched nearly 100 investigations into various imports. That’s up 81% from the prior year, according to a recent Commerce report.

The ITC will make its preliminary decision by March 16.

The Alliance Rubber Company had no immediate comment.According to its website, it produces the vast majority of rubber bands made in the United States. In its January petition, it accused foreign producers of selling rubber bands at 60% less than the normal value.

Published at Thu, 22 Feb 2018 21:01:33 +0000

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Is The South Korean Crypto-Drama Finally Over?

Is The South Korean Crypto-Drama Finally Over?

By: Michael Kern | Wed, Feb 21, 2018


The regulation rumor mill has been churning particularly hard in recent months, with South Korea and China taking center stages. But recent headlines are suggesting that the South Korean government, at least, may finally be coming around.

As one of the busiest markets for cryptocurrency trade, regulation rumors sent prices of cryptos across the board tumbling. But now, a key regulator, Choe Heung-sik, chief of South Korea’s Finance Supervisory Service, has reassured his citizens that an outright ban is off the table.

Not only is the much-feared ban of cryptos off the table, Choe hopes the country will normalize cryptocurrency business in a self-regulatory environment.

“The whole world is now framing the outline (for cryptocurrency) and therefore (the government) should rather work more on normalization than increasing regulation,” Choe told reporters.

This news inspires hope in many crypto-enthusiasts looking for reassurance in the marketplace. This is certainly a far cry from the Justice Minister’s January warnings of a potential shutdown of cryptocurrency exchanges in the country.

While anonymous accounts in South Korean banks are forbidden to purchase cryptocurrencies to prevent crimes such as money laundering, several banks are adopting policies allowing customers to not only buy cryptos, but even preparing plans to integrate spending options in the near future.

Choe also mentioned that the government will ‘encourage’ banks to do business with cryptocurrency exchanges, noting that Shinhan Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea, and NH Bank are already offering accounts to a number of local exchanges.

The wave of positivity coming from regulatory officials has clearly had an impact on crypto prices in the past few days, with bitcoin finally showing signs of recovery.

The government’s apparent change of heart also paves the way for corporations, such as Samsung which is launching its own brand of crypto-mining hardware, to do business with the blessing of regulators.

By Michael Kern

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Published at Wed, 21 Feb 2018 11:14:31 +0000

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KFC is running out of chicken across the U.K.

KFC has a chicken delivery problem in the UK
KFC has a chicken delivery problem in the UK

KFC is running out of … chicken?

The fast food chain has been forced to temporarily close hundreds of restaurants in the United Kingdom after a logistics snafu stopped chicken deliveries.

About 800 of the company’s roughly 900 locations in Britain were closed as of midday on Monday. Some had opened for business by the afternoon, according to the company’s website.

KFC, which is owned by Taco Bell and Pizza Hut parent Yum!(YUM), said the chicken shortage had been caused by a “couple of teething problems” with its new delivery partner, DHL(DPW).

“We won’t compromise on quality, so no deliveries has meant some of our restaurants are closed, and others are operating a limited menu, or shortened hours,” KFC said in a statement.

DHL acknowledged that a number of its deliveries had been “incomplete or delayed” because of “operational issues.” The logistics company said it was working with KFC to solve the problem.

KFC switched suppliers from Bidvest Logistics to DHL last Wednesday. Bidvest said that from its perspective, the transition had been “seamless.”

Franchisees operate 95% of KFC’s outlets in the U.K. The company said in a statement that it would pay its staff as normal, and it was encouraging franchisees to do the same.

KFC said it is too early to say how long it would take to restore normal service.

Britain is KFC’s largest market in Europe, and one of its top five globally.

KFC fans were not happy — and many used social media to complain and express amusement over a chicken restaurant running out of its signature product.

Published at Mon, 19 Feb 2018 17:19:05 +0000

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