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Showing posts from July, 2018

Canadian dollar climbs to seven-week high as domestic economy strengthens

The Canadian dollar rose to a nearly seven-week high against its U.S. counterpart on Tuesday as investors weighed a possible easing of global trade tensions and after data showed stronger-than-expected growth in the domestic economy.
Canada’s economy grew by 0.5 percent in May, the biggest rise in a year, as industries recovered from a combination of bad weather and maintenance shutdowns in April, Statistics Canada said.
“The growth was broad, all of the major sectors were growing solidly,” said Ranko Berich, head of market analysis at Monex Canada and Monex Europe, who thinks that markets are underestimating prospects of another Bank of Canada interest rate hike as soon as September.
The central bank raised its benchmark interest rate earlier this month by 25 basis points to 1.50 percent. Chances of another hike in September climbed to one in four from less than 20 percent before the economic data, the overnight index swaps market indicated. 
News of a possible easing of tariff tensions …

Iran rejects Trump offer of talks as a dream, without value

Senior Iranian officials and military commanders on Tuesday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s offer of talks without preconditions as worthless and “a dream”, saying his words contradicted his action of reimposing sanctions on Tehran.
Separately, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Trump’s repudiation of an international nuclear deal reached in 2015 was “illegal” and Iran would not easily yield to Washington’s renewed campaign to strangle Iran’s vital oil exports.
In May, Trump pulled the United States out of the multilateral deal concluded before he took office, denouncing it as one-sided in Iran’s favor. On Monday, he said that he would be willing to meet Rouhani without preconditions to discuss how to improve relations.
Iran’s foreign minister said that Washington should blame itself for ending talks with Tehran when it withdrew from the nuclear deal.
“U.S. can only blame itself for pulling out and leaving the table...Threats, sanctions and PR stunts won’t work,” Mohammad Javad …

Pompeo supports Trump's offer of talks with Iran: State Department

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supports President Donald Trump’s statement that he is willing to sit down for talks with Iranian officials, the State Department said on Tuesday.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing that Pompeo had said previously that Trump wants to meet with international leaders to solve problems, including with Iranian officials.
When asked whether Pompeo specifically supported talking to the Iranians without preconditions, however, Nauert avoided using that phrase and said Washington would like to see changes in Iran’s behavior but “what is important is that we would be willing to sit down and have these conversations.”

U.S. says it expects North Korea to uphold promise to give up nuclear arms

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it expects Pyongyang to keep its commitment made at a June leaders’ summit to give up its nuclear arms and would press southeast Asian nations during meetings this week to maintain sanctions against North Korea.
Questions have arisen over Pyongyang’s commitment to denuclearize after U.S. spy satellite material detected renewed activity at the North Korean factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the United States.
The department left open the possibility that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could meet North Korean officials during meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc in Singapore this weekend.
“We will be in some of the same meetings as North Korean officials. I certainly can’t preclude any interaction taking place, but we have no meetings on the schedule,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters.
Another State Department official, who…

Japan July manufacturing activity, new orders slow: final PMI

Japanese manufacturing activity slowed less than initially reported in July, a revised survey showed on Wednesday, but there are lingering concerns about the economy due to the reduced pace at which new orders increased.
The final Markit/Nikkei survey for Japan showed the manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was a seasonally adjusted 52.3. That was an upward revision from the flash reading of 51.6, which was the lowest in more than one and a half years. 
In June, the index was 53.0.
The index remained above the 50 threshold that separates expansion from contraction for the 23rd consecutive month.
“Latest survey data signaled a slowdown to manufacturing sector growth at the beginning of Q3,” said Joe Hayes, economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.
“Output growth eased and there was a noticeable softening of demand, while export sales failed to record any upswing for a second month running.”
The final index for new orders was 50.9, the lowest since October 2016. The July …

South Korea's factory activity contracts for fifth month, new orders shrink: PMI

South Korea’s factory activity contracted for a fifth consecutive month in July and marked the worst slump since November 2016, as both new orders and output shrank, a private manufacturing survey showed on Wednesday.
The Nikkei/Markit purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to a 20-month low at 48.3 in July, from June’s 49.8, remaining below the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction since March this year.
Manufacturing activity was hit by output and new orders shrinking to 3-month lows, at 47.8 and 47.3, respectively. Reflecting the grim conditions, business confidence also plunged to ten-month low, the survey showed. 
The output reading reflects significant weakness seen in the June production data.
“Firms have not signaled higher output since February, while anecdotal evidence continues to point to weak demand pressures originating specifically from the domestic economy,” said Joe Hayes, an economist at HIS Markit.
The weakness in domestic demand comes at a time of heighten…

Where is Trump headed with his tougher policy toward Iran?

President Donald Trump’s offer of dialogue with Tehran belies a hardening of U.S. policy that intensifies economic and diplomatic pressure but so far stops short of using his military to more aggressively counter Iran and its proxies.
U.S. officials tell Reuters that the goal of Trump’s push is to curb Iranian behavior, which America, its Gulf allies and Israel say has fueled instability in the region through Tehran’s support for militant groups.
Trump has also voiced hope for a stronger agreement with Iran to prevent its pursuit of nuclear weaponry than the 2015 deal between Tehran and world powers which Trump pulled out of in May.
But the U.S. government has not clearly defined its desired end state for its Iran policy or outlined a face-saving path for Iran’s rulers that would allow them to deescalate steadily mounting tensions between Washington and Tehran, experts say.
That has raised concerns of an increasing risk of confrontation. Significantly, Trump has also not articulated what …

Prosecutors portray Trump's ex-campaign chief as a liar and tax cheat

Prosecutors portrayed U.S. President Donald Trump’s onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort as a tax cheat who used offshore accounts to hide tens of millions of dollars from political work in Ukraine, as the first trial from a probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election got off to a quick start on Tuesday.
Manafort lived an extravagant lifestyle, snapping up expensive homes and cars, and spending more than half a million dollars on “fancy clothes” and $21,000 for a watch, a prosecutor said in the government’s opening statement at the trial in a Virginia federal court.
“A man in this courtroom believed the law did not apply to him. Not tax, not banking law,” said Uzo Asonye, a member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team looking at possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016.
In describing the 18 counts facing Manafort, Asonye said that Manafort did not pay taxes on a large portion of the $60 million he earned working for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, …

Turkey wants to join BRICS because it's disappointed in NATO and EU – analysts

By floating the idea of Turkey joining BRICS, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks to diversify Ankara's foreign policy, with its EU membership bid long stalled and relations with the US on the rocks, analysts said.
The Turkish President has suggested that the leaders of the five-member BRICS bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) should add "T" to the acronym. 
Erdogan was invited to the group's latest forum and told Hurriyet Daily News on its sidelines that current members welcomed the idea of Turkey's accession.
Evgeniy Bakhrevskiy, deputy director of the Russian Research Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage, told RT that this apparent pivot by Erdogan is rooted in Turkey's mounting frustration with the West.
Erdogan "believes there is a need to diversify Turkey's foreign policy, because he is seriously disappointed with western structures, with the EU; he has rather strained relations with the US," Bakhrevskiy noted.

US must return to nuclear deal before future talks with Tehran – Rouhani aide

A return to the 2015 nuclear deal is the key to future talks between the US and Iran, an adviser to President Hassan Rouhani said. President Donald Trump is ready to negotiate, but believes the existing deal is “a waste of paper.”
“Respecting the Iranian nation’s rights, reducing hostilities and returning to the nuclear deal are steps that can be taken to pave the bumpy road of talks between Iran and America,” Hamid Aboutalebi tweeted on Tuesday.
He was commenting on remarks made by Trump a day earlier, when the US leader said he was open to talks with Iran “anytime they want” without preconditions. 
The proposal represented a drastic change of tone, considering that last week Trump was embroiled in threatening exchanges with the Iranian leadership. 
This included a warning to President Rouhani that Iran could face “CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE,” in an all-caps tweet.
Relations between the two nations had reached a low point since Trump u…

6 dead in blasts & heavy gunfire in eastern Afghanistan

At least 6 people were killed and 14 injured after several blasts, followed by heavy gunfire, struck near the Department of Migrants and Refugees in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.
The death toll was confirmed by a spokesman for the governor of the Nangarhar province. Pajhwok news agency has reported that the explosions took place at the building of the Nangarhar refugees department.
Sohrab Qaderi, a member of the local provincial council, told Reuters that the attack had specifically targeted that building.
On Saturday, the city was also hit by gunfire and explosions believed to be carried out by insurgents. 
It targeted the Ministry of Public Health’s Midwife Training Center and left several people injured.
In June this year, at least 18 people were killed in an explosion that occurred in a crowded area outside of the governor’s compound in the capital Jalalabad. 
The attack, allegedly carried out by a suicide bomber who blew himself up in a crowd of people, came in the last hours o…