FILE PHOTO: U.S. and European Union flags are pictured during the visit of Vice President Mike Pence to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
March 19, 2019
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said on Tuesday that Washington’s “selfish” approach to trade was not sustainable, but it was too early to say that EU-U.S. trade talks were doomed to fail.
The Trump administration has imposed stiff tariffs on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum and set off a trade war with China in a bid to redress what it sees as unfavorable terms that contribute to a U.S. trade deficit of over half a trillion dollars a year.
The Commission, which negotiates trade agreements on behalf of the 28-nation European Union, has been in talks with U.S. authorities since last July, seeking to clinch a deal on industrial goods trade.
EU governments are now discussing the details of a negotiating mandate for the Commission, while Washington has until mid-May to decide whether to make good on President Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on imports of European cars.
“It is too early to say that our trade discussions are doomed to fail,” Katainen told a regular news briefing.
“There are discussions going on on several levels and … we can end up having some sort of an agreement with the U.S. on trade, but let’s not go deeper than this,” he said, adding that the scope of negotiations had to be clear and that a deal would require a lot of good will and political capital on both sides.
Asked about a reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Katainen said it was problematic and that attempts to get it done were like pushing a rope.
“Japan, China and the EU are willing to reform the WTO, the U.S. has not been that interested, but they are willing to cooperate,” he said.
“Even though the U.S. authorities may think that selfishness is better than cooperation, it is not a sustainable way of thinking. We need better, rules-based trade in the future where the international community sets the rules,” he said.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Congress last week that the WTO was using an “out of date” playbook despite dramatic changes including the rise of China and the evolution of the internet.
He said Washington was nonetheless working “diligently” to negotiate new WTO rules to address these problems.
(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., is urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook for violating antitrust laws.
Cicilline’s comments came in a column posted by The New York Times on Tuesday.
“A year ago, the world learned that Facebook allowed a political consulting company called Cambridge Analytica to exploit the personal information of up to 87 million users, to obtain data that would help the company’s clients “fight a culture war” in America,” he said.
“Since then, a torrent of reports has revealed that the Cambridge Analytica scandal was part of a much broader pattern of misconduct by Facebook.”
And, he claimed Facebook also has “engaged in campaigns to obstruct congressional oversight to smear and discredit critics.”
Cicilline noted that after each incident becomes public, Facebook alternates between “denial, hollow promises and apology campaigns.”
But he maintained nothing seems to change.
“That’s why, as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, I am calling for an investigation into whether Facebook’s conduct has violated antitrust laws” he said.
Cicilline maintained reports also indicate a “disturbing pattern of anticompetitive conduct” on the part of Facebook.
And he said how the FTC responds to “repeated abuses” by Facebook will determine whether it is willing to protect consumers.
“It’s clear that serious enforcement is long overdue,” he said.
Source: NewsMax Politics
David Hookstead | Reporter
Free agent receiver Jordy Nelson has no shortage of suitors.
Nelson was cut from the Oakland Raiders after they paid him $3 million, and it doesn’t sound like he’ll be out of a job for long. According to Adam Schefter, the former Packers star will visit the Seahawks on Tuesday. The Patriots, Titans, Chiefs and Raiders are also all reportedly interested.
Yes, the Raiders, the team that just cut him after paying him might want him back. What a bizarre situation. Notably, the Packers aren’t on the list. (RELATED: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers Says He Won’t Get Surgery On His Knee)
Former Packers’ WR Jordy Nelson is scheduled to visit the Seahawks on Tuesday, per source. They were interested in Nelson last year; GM John Schneider loves Nelson.
Other interested teams at this point include: Patriots, Titans, Chiefs, Raiders.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 18, 2019
The Seahawks and Nelson could be a great fit. Russell Wilson needs a dependable receiver, and that’s exactly what the former Packers star can be.
He might not be the star he once was, but he’s still a workhorse of a dude. The Seahawks would be incredibly wise to get him as quickly as possible.
The exact same can be said of the Patriots. Tom Brady has the rare ability of squeezing the most out of everybody around him, and we all know New England is a premium destination for veterans searching for a ring.
Nelson would probably flourish under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. He would provide a legit receiving threat to go along with Edelman.
It is a little surprising to see the Packers not on the list. You’d think Aaron Rodgers would absolutely want his former star back.
I guess not. It looks like Nelson will have to get paid elsewhere.
Source: The Daily Caller
FILE PHOTO: Molten copper is poured at the KGHM copper and precious metals smelter processing plant in Glogow May 10, 2013. REUTERS/Peter Andrews
March 19, 2019
WARSAW (Reuters) – Lawmakers from Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party proposed on Tuesday to cut mining tax payments so that major copper producer KGHM could spend more money on investment.
The mining levy, introduced in 2012 and calculated using a formula based on local production volumes and prices, primarily affects KGHM, a major employer in southeast Poland and one of the world’s biggest copper and silver producers.
Poland holds general election this year. The tax has been a subject of debate during previous campaigns. In 2015, some politicians had promised to scrap it.
KGHM paid 1.67 billion zlotys ($442 million) in mining tax in 2018, while the group’s profit were 1.66 billion zlotys.
“Lowering the mining levy by 15 percent … will make additional funds available to KGHM, which will significantly translate into long-term stability and development of the company,” lawmakers said in draft law published on parliament’s website.
Reducing the mining levy would lower budget revenues by an estimated 180 million zlotys in 2019 and 240 million zlotys in subsequent years, the draft said.
By 1310 GMT shares in KGHM had risen by 4.2 percent.
(Reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Agnieszka Barteczko and Edmund Blair)
David Hookstead | Reporter
Johnny Manziel has finally addressed joining the Memphis Express in the Alliance of American Football.
Johnny Football joined the Express late Saturday night after being exiled from the CFL. Naturally, the hype train immediately began, and it sounds like he is ready to embrace it. (RELATED: Johnny Manziel
“I’m just excited to get back to playing American football again. I’m excited to get back to the basics of football. I’ve been working out constantly, playing some golf in my spare time and living the offseason life. I’m excited to be around the guys and to get back on the field,” The former Montreal Alouettes quarterback said after his first practice with the team Monday.
“I’m excited to get back to the basics of football.”
New addition Johnny Manziel arrives in Memphis for his first practice with the Express.
— Memphis Express (@aafexpress) March 18, 2019
That’s right, folks. We’re doing playing that crazy Canadian style of football. We’re balling out the way we were meant to. There are 11 guys on each side of the ball and a 100-yard field.
Last time I checked, that’s how this game was meant to be played.
The addition of Manziel is truly going to set the AAF on fire, and I can’t wait. TV ratings are going to go through the roof, a major name is immediately involved and that will draw the fans.
Could it end up being a disaster on the field? It could be, but I doubt it. Manziel played a full year up in the CFL last season. (RELATED: Johnny Manziel
He appears to be in prime shape and ready to roll. That’s what the fans want, and the AAF wants the fans to be engaged and interested.
He is supposed to be available to the media at length at some point today. Check back for more updates when we have them.
Source: The Daily Caller
FILE PHOTO: Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang province, China December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Stringe
March 19, 2019
By Dmitry Zhdannikov
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices rose to new 2019 highs on Tuesday, supported by supply cuts from OPEC and falling output from Iran and Venezuela due to U.S. sanctions.
Brent crude oil futures were up 55 cents at $68.09 per barrel at 1145 GMT, having earlier risen to a new 2019 high of $68.16 a barrel, their highest since November 2018.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were at $59.47 per barrel, up 38 cents from their last settlement. They have also risen on Tuesday to their highest since November 2019 of $59.57 a barrel.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Monday scrapped its planned meeting in April, effectively extending supply cuts that have been in place since January until its next regular meeting in June.
OPEC and a group of non-affiliated producers including Russia, known as OPEC+, cut supply in 2019 to halt a sharp price drop which began in the second-half of 2018 due to booming U.S. production and fears of a global economic slowdown.
Saudi Arabia has signaled that OPEC and its allies may continue to restrain oil output until the end of 2019.
“The OPEC+ deal has brought stability to crude prices and signs of an extension have taken crude higher,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at futures brokerage OANDA.
Prices have been further supported by U.S. sanctions against oil exports from Iran and Venezuela, traders said.
Venezuela has suspended its oil exports to India, one of its key export destinations, the Azeri energy ministry said on Tuesday, citing Venezuela’s oil minister.
Because of the tighter supply outlook for the coming months, the Brent forward curve has gone into backwardation since the start of the year, meaning that prices for immediate delivery are more expensive than those for dispatch in the future, with May Brent prices around $1.20 per barrel more expensive than December delivery Brent.
(GRAPHIC: Brent crude oil forward curves – https://tmsnrt.rs/2FlM7YZ)
Outside OPEC, analysts are watching U.S. crude oil production, which has risen by more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) since early 2018, to around 12 million bpd, making the United States the world’s biggest producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Weekly output and storage data will be published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note that economic “risks are skewed to the downside” and that “we forecast global demand growth of 1.2 million bpd year-on-year in 2019 and 1.15 million bpd during 2020”.
The bank said it expected “Brent and WTI to average $70 per barrel and $59 per barrel respectively in 2019, and $65 per barrel and $60 per barrel in 2020.”
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing Joseph Radford and Louise Heavens)
Contrary to the views of most economists, the Trump administration expects the U.S. economy to keep booming over the next decade on the strength of further tax cuts, reduced regulation, and improvements to the nation's infrastructure.
The annual report from President Donald Trump's Council of Economic Advisers forecasts that the economy will expand a brisk 3.2 percent this year and a still-healthy 2.8 percent a decade from now. That is much faster than the Federal Reserve's long-run forecast of 1.9 percent annual economic growth.
The administration's forecast hinges on an expectation that it will manage to implement further tax cuts, incentives for infrastructure improvements, new labor policies and scaled-back regulations — programs that are unlikely to gain favor with the Democratic-led House that would need to approve most of them.
Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House council, insisted that the president's economic agenda would provide enough fuel to drive robust growth at a time when the majority of economists foresee a slowdown due in part to the aging U.S. population.
He said the biggest risk to growth would be if financial markets anticipate that Trump's existing policies would be reversed. Without getting into specifics, Hassett said the risk would be if markets expect that the winner of the 2020 presidential election would shift away from policies such as the tax overhaul that Trump signed into law in 2017.
"Uncertainty over the policies themselves could slow their positive impact," Hassett said.
The tax cuts added roughly $1.5 trillion to the federal debt over the next decade, not accounting for economic growth. The report suggests that the lower tax rates have increased business investment in ways that will make the economy more productive, while also creating a surge in people coming off the sidelines to search for work.
The administration's optimism comes amid signs of slowing global economic growth, as well as a recent slowdown in manufacturing production and weakness in retail sales in January and December.
Source: NewsMax Politics
FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Corniche Towers is seen in Doha, Qatar February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
March 19, 2019
DOHA (Reuters) – Qatar will launch an energy-focused Islamic lender later this year with a targeted capital of $10 billion to finance both domestic and global projects, an executive said on Tuesday.
Tiny but wealthy Qatar is one of the most influential players in the liquefied natural gas market with annual production of about 77 million tonnes, and it plans to increase this over 40 percent to 110 million by 2024.
Speaking at an Islamic Finance conference in Doha, executives launching Energy Bank said it would be the largest Islamic energy-focused lender in the world, and would target private sector and government energy projects, both at home and abroad.
Mohammed al-Marri, chairman of Energy Bank’s media committee, said operations would begin in the fourth quarter of 2019.
“With paid-up capital of $2.5 billion, the establishment of Energy Bank in Qatar comes in light of the incredible growth projected for Qatar’s energy sector,” Marri told a news conference.
Marri declined to specify how or when the bank planned to raise its capital to the $10 billion target. He said it would focus on financing oil and gas, petrochemicals, and renewable energy projects, but declined to specify how much would be allocated for lending outside the country.
(Reporting by Eric Knecht; Writing by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Louise Heavens and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
FILE PHOTO: Mark Read, chief executive of WPP, leaves following the AGM in London, Britain, June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
March 19, 2019
By Kate Holton and Pamela Barbaglia
LONDON (Reuters) – A series of buyout funds including U.S. firms Advent and Blackstone are in talks with advertising group WPP to explore bids for a majority stake in its data analytics unit Kantar, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The sale, led by Goldman Sachs, may value Kantar at up to 3.5 billion pounds ($4.7 billion), but some private equity investors are fretting over the decline in profits and revenues that the business has suffered in recent years.
Hellman & Friedman and CVC Capital Partners are also working on the deal, the sources said, while industry players have so far shied away from the process.
Bain Capital has also expressed interest in making a bid for Kantar, another source said, adding Bain might later decide to team up with one of the other buyout funds in the race.
WPP sent out confidential information packs this week, with non-binding offers expected in April, one of the sources said.
WPP, Blackstone, Advent and CVC declined to comment, while representatives at Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman were not immediately available.
WPP, the owner of agencies including JWT, Finsbury and Ogilvy, is in the middle of an overhaul launched by its new boss Mark Read following several profit warnings in 2017 and 2018.
The London-based group wants to sell a majority stake in Kantar to reduce debt as it braces for a tough year with revenue expected to drop by between 1.5 and 2 percent in 2019.
Kantar, a leading player in market research, provides brand and marketing communications research for some of the world’s largest advertisers.
Yet it has suffered a decline in revenue in recent years, with underlying sales down 2 percent last year to 2.6 billion pounds and operating profit down 14 percent to 301 million.
“The deal poses some challenges for private equity funds as it’s been on a downward trajectory for a while,” one source said.
Private equity investors are examining the turnaround potential of a possible deal, the sources said, and would value the business at up to 10 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), hoping to reignite growth within the first three years of their investment.
Liberum analyst Ian Whittaker said in February that Kantar could fetch more than 3 billion pounds, with WPP raising close to 2.1-2.2 billion pounds from a 60 percent stake sale.
WPP boss Read aims to complete the sale by the end of the summer as he needs cash to steer the world’s biggest advertising group back to growth.
Read took the helm of WPP last year, pledging to spend 300 million pounds to restructure the group and bring it back in line with peers by the end of 2021.
Founder Martin Sorrell, 74, remains a major WPP shareholder but is now running a new company which last year beat WPP in the race to buy Dutch digital agency MediaMonks.
(Editing by David Holmes)
FILE PHOTO: An Angry Birds game character is seen at the Rovio headquarters in Espoo, Finland March 13, 2019. Picture taken March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Anne Kauranen
March 19, 2019
(Reuters) – Finnish game company Rovio released an augmented reality game called Angry Birds Isle of Pigs, developed together with Swedish game studio Resolution Games for Apple’s mobile devices, the Finnish games developer said on Tuesday.
The release announced at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco came in addition to the two games the company had promised to release this year, with one of them already out.
(Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Edmund Blair)