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Google lets Android users choose browsers to ease EU antitrust concerns

The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London
The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London, Britain January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

April 18, 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Users of Android devices will be able to choose their browsers and search engines from five options starting on Thursday, a senior Google executive said, in a move aimed at addressing EU antitrust concerns and staving off fresh sanctions.

Hit with a record 4.34 billion euro fine last year for using the market power of its mobile software to block rivals in areas such as internet browsing, Alphabet unit Google was also ordered to come up with a proposal to give its rivals a fair chance.

The European Commission said Google had an unfair advantage by pre-installing its Chrome browser and Google search app on Android smartphones and notebooks.

The company last month said it would let Android users choose their browser and search engine but did not provide details.

Android users in Europe who open Google’s app store Google Play will now see new screens with an option to download different search apps and browsers, Paul Gennai, its product management director, said in a blog.

“Two screens will surface: one for search apps and another for browsers, each containing a total of five apps, including any that are already installed,” he said.

The five apps are chosen based on their popularity, which is determined based on industry data and the number of downloads in each country. They will then be listed in a random order.

“Where a user downloads a search app from the screen, we’ll also ask them whether they want to change Chrome’s default search engine the next time they open Chrome,” Gennai said.

The new options will appear on both existing and new Android phones in Europe.

Google faces a fine up to 5 percent of Alphabet’s average daily worldwide turnover if it fails to comply with the EU order to stop anti-competitive practices.

Lobbying group FairSearch whose Android complaint triggered the EU investigation urged regulators to take a tougher line.

“Fairsearch rejects as insufficient Google’s launch today of a choice screen for Android because it does nothing to correct the central problem that Google apps will remain the default on all Android devices,” it said in a statement.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel)

Source: OANN

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Maxine Waters calls Barr a ‘lackey and a sycophant’ for Trump

While some of her fellow Democrats were questioning the credibility of Attorney General William Barr over his handling of the Robert Mueller report, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., took that criticism to another level.

The California Democrat trashed the attorney general Wednesday night on the eve of Special Counsel Mueller’s report being released to the public, calling Barr “a lackey and a sycophant” for President Trump.

“I never expected Barr to do anything that would be respectful to the members of Congress or to include us in any real way,” she told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, joining colleagues fuming over the decision by Barr to hold a press conference before releasing a redacted version of the report.

“He has proven himself. He auditioned for this job. He was chosen to protect the president of the United States and that’s exactly what he’s doing. I’m not surprised.”

IN MUELLER REPORT'S RELEASE, TRUMP LOOKS FOR VINDICATION, BUT NEW FIGHTS LOOM

FOX NEWS POLL: TRUMP POPULARITY HOLDING STEADY AFTER MUELLER SUMMARY RELEASE

She continued, blasting Barr as “basically a lackey and a sycophant for the president of the United States of America.”

The comments come after Waters attacked Barr during a speech earlier this month.

“I know that you are all worried about the special counsel and the fact that we have a report that has been described to us in a letter by the attorney general. We don't know what's in the report yet, and we’re going to demand it,” she said at a Woman’s National Democratic Club dinner.

In the same speech, the California Democrat said of Trump, “certainly, he conspired with the Kremlin and with the oligarchs of Russia.”

Barr's summary of the report, though, said Mueller found no evidence of collusion.

NUNES' CRIMINAL REFERRALS OVER MISCONDUCT DURING RUSSIA PROBE COULD INVOLVE 'TWO DOZEN' INDIVIDUALS

Nearly two years of fevered speculation surrounding the Russia probe, though, will come to a head in a dramatic television finale-like moment on Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET, when Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are set to hold a press conference to discuss the Mueller report's public release.

It was not immediately clear exactly when on Thursday the DOJ would release the redacted version of the nearly 400-page investigation into Russian election meddling, but the document was expected to be delivered to lawmakers and posted online by noon.

CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Barr has said redactions in the report's release are legally mandated.to protect four broad areas of concern: sensitive grand jury-related matters, classified information, ongoing investigations and the privacy or reputation of uncharged "peripheral" people.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Democrat New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, has said he is prepared to issue subpoenas "very quickly" for the full report if it is released with blacked-out sections, likely setting in motion a major legal battle.

Source: Fox News Politics

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The Latest: Indonesian president says he won re-election

The Latest on Indonesia's election (all times local):

6 p.m.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo says he's the winner of the country's presidential election with preliminary results showing he received 54% of the vote.

He told reporters about 20 leaders of nations from Southeast Asia and other regions have congratulated him on securing a second term.

The vote estimate is based on so-called quick counts of a sample of polling stations by reputable survey organizations. He said that 100% of sample polling stations have now been counted or close to that. The quick counts have been accurate in previous elections.

Widodo's rival, former Gen. Prabowo Subianto, has claimed he won 62% of the vote in Wednesday's election based on his campaign's own counts, repeating a similar claim when he lost to Widodo in 2014.

The Election Commission is required to release official results by May 22.

___

2 p.m.

Indonesia's top security minister and its military and police chiefs said Thursday that they will crack down decisively on any attempts to disrupt public order while official results from presidential and legislative elections are tabulated.

Preliminary results from Wednesday's election show President Joko Widodo has comfortably won a second term, but his challenger, ultra-nationalist former general Prabowo Subianto, has claimed victory, repeating his tactics following his 2014 loss to Widodo.

Security minister Wiranto, who uses a single name, told a news conference with the chiefs of police and all military branches that security forces will "act decisively" against any threats to order and security.

He said the voter turnout of 80.5% gives the winner of the presidential election "high legitimacy." The Election Commission is required to release official results by May 22.

Source: Fox News World

0 0

Take Five: Spring growth? World markets themes for the week ahead

Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

April 18, 2019

(Reuters) – Following are five big themes likely to dominate thinking of investors and traders in the coming week and the Reuters stories related to them.

1/CENTRAL PLANNING

The 100 years since the Fed’s creation in 1913 is said to be the century of central banking. Well, since the 2008-2009 crisis, we’ve certainly lived through a decade of central banking. But with monetary policy taken to the limit to lift growth and inflation, can central banks do any more?

Of late, some of the economic and business confidence data is giving rise to hopes rate-setters might just be able to hold fire on further action for now. German and Japanese PMIs ticked modestly higher from March, and from China to the United States, the hope is that spring will bring some green shoots on the economic front. Central banks in Japan, Canada and Sweden hold meetings in coming days so we may get some clues on what they are thinking.

ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos and Olli Rehn, widely tipped to succeed ECB Governor Mario Draghi, will also be quizzed on the subject at upcoming speeches, especially since sources tell Reuters “a significant minority” of ECB rate-setters doubt any recovery is underway. Central bankers in Australia and New Zealand have sounded similarly gloomy. A decade of central banking and planning is not over yet

(GRAPHIC: ECB balance sheet – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hz4sUC)

(GRAPHIC: The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet – https://tmsnrt.rs/2ULcay0)

2/GDP NOW!

The working thesis through the early months of 2019 was that U.S. economic growth would continue to tail off as tailwinds faded from last year’s $1.5 trillion tax cut and headwinds picked up from a weaker global economy, partial federal government shutdown and trade wars. Indeed, that looked to be the case as most economic data through the first quarter fell short of forecasts. As a result, Citigroup’s U.S. economic surprise index came to near the most negative in around two years.

But one closely tracked gauge of quarterly gross domestic product, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s GDPNow model, has rebounded sharply in recent weeks and may be signaling that the advance reading of first quarter GDP may not be quite so grim.

A month ago, GDPNow estimated an annualized 0.2 percent growth, which would have been the lowest since a one-off GDP contraction in the first 2014 quarter. Now the model forecasts quarterly growth will come in at 2.4 percent. That would not only top current estimates of 1.8 percent but would mean growth actually accelerated from the fourth quarter’s 2.2 percent.

One factor behind the turnaround was a surprise narrowing in the U.S. trade deficit as Chinese imports plunged in the face of President Donald Trump’s tariffs. By some estimates, trade could now contribute as much as one percentage point to first quarter GDP after being a washout in the fourth quarter.

(GRAPHIC: U.S. GDP – in for a surprise? – https://tmsnrt.rs/2VPQsJN)

3/CORNER KICK

As we said above, central banks don’t have much ammunition left in their arsenal. The toolbox is probably lightest at the Bank of Japan.

At the G20 meeting in Washington, BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he was ready to expand monetary stimulus if needed. But he also said he had no plans to change the central bank’s forward guidance, or the message it sends to signal policy intentions to financial markets. To many, that sounded like a man backed into a corner.

Kuroda has a chance to prove otherwise at the upcoming BOJ meeting. Expectations are thin though, given the BOJ’s balance sheet is already bigger than the country’s economy and Japanese financial institutions are suffering immense pain from the prolonged monetary easing.

The world’s No. 3 economy may have contracted in the first quarter, and whether it recovers depends much on first, whether China recovers too and second, on whether the trade conflict between the other two powers sharing the podium reaches a resolution.

(GRAPHIC: BOJ’s bloated balance sheet limits further easing – https://tmsnrt.rs/2DjVE16)

3/TAKING A DIP IN EUROPE

The United States is widely seen as heading into an earnings recession (defined as two straight quarters of negative year-on-year earnings growth) but Europe might, at least for now, escape one.

European firms are expected to deliver their first quarter of negative earnings growth since 2016 – the latest I/B/E/S Refinitiv analysis predicts Q1 earnings to fall 3.4 percent year-on-year. But it expects results to pick up again in Q2.

So despite this quarter’s poor outcome, hopes for a bounce-back could keep equities buoyant. After all, sentiment is already rock bottom – investors surveyed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch named “short European equities” the most crowded trade for the second month running.

The auto sector will be in focus in coming days with a flurry of earnings from Michelin, Continental, Daimler, Peugeot, and Renault. These stocks are particularly sensitive to growth in China and will be watched as the stirrings of a recovery were felt in recent Chinese GDP data .

(GRAPHIC: Earnings chart latest April 17 – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Ip8LCj)

5/ RUSSIAN ROULETTE

The past two years have seen an increasingly bitter rift open up between President Donald Trump’s Republican supporters and his Democrat critics over the alleged collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign in the 2016 U.S. election.

That may not be defused even after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 400-page report on the subject is unveiled by Atttorney General William Barr. He has already told lawmakers the investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

But that is unlikely to stop U.S. politicians from continuing their clamor for sanctions against Russia. As for investors, their appetite for Russian assets has not so far been dented. After plummeting last year, foreign buying of rouble-denominated government bonds has recovered sharply so it remains to be seen whether that bullishness continues.

Meanwhile, Ukraine — the reason behind the original 2014 sanctions on Russia — looks set to elect comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy as president. Could the election of a new leader bring about some rapprochement between Kiev and Moscow? Watch this space.

(GRAPHIC: Foreign investors dipping their toes back in OFZs – https://tmsnrt.rs/2XiDZyC)

(Reporting by Dan Burns in New York, Marius Zaharia in Hong Kong; Sujata Rao, Helen Reid and Tom Arnold in London; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Source: OANN

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Japan’s Motegi may visit U.S. next week to meet trade official Lighthizer

Japan's Minister of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi speaks during the signing agreement ceremony for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, in Santiago
FILE PHOTO: Japan's Minister of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi speaks during the signing agreement ceremony for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, in Santiago, Chile March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

April 18, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Thursday he might travel to the United States next week to meet U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

If a meeting does take place, it would happen before a summit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump, Motegi added.

Motegi and Lighthizer are negotiating for a trade pact the U.S. government hopes will lower its trade deficit.

(Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

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Attorneys for Florida school shooting suspect want to question his mental counselors alone

Attorneys for the suspect in last year's Florida school massacre will ask a judge to let them question his former mental health counselors without prosecutors present.

Attorneys for Nikolas Cruz are scheduled Thursday to ask Judge Elizabeth Scherer for permission to question the counselors without notifying prosecutors or allowing their attendance. The counselors treated Cruz before the Feb. 14, 2018, massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead.

The attorneys wanted to question them informally, but their employer said they would only comply if subpoenaed. That would require prosecutors' attendance. Cruz's attorneys say that would hinder their ability to prepare his defense.

Prosecutors say there is no exception to the rule allowing their attendance.

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The 20-year-old defendant has offered to plead guilty for a life sentence. Prosecutors want the death penalty.

Source: Fox News National

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Police end search for Kelsey Berreth remains in landfill

Colorado police announced Wednesday that they are discontinuing an almost two-month-long landfill search for the remains of Kelsey Berreth, who police say was killed by her fiancé, Patrick Frazee.

The Woodland Park Police Department began its search on February 25, excavating a deep plot at Midway Landfill in the city of Fountain. Police failed to find any bones, teeth or other DNA remains of the former mom and flight instructor. Colorado Bureau of Investigations contacted Waste Management as early as January about a possible search, ABC 7 Denver reported.

LANDFILL SEARCHED WHERE MISSING COLORADO MOM KELSEY BERRETH’S REMAINS ARE BELIEVED TO BE LOCATED

Frazee, 32, is charged for the murder of the 29-year-old mother of his child. During a February 19 preliminary hearing, prosecutors alleged that Frazee beat Berreth to death with a baseball bat at her home, set her body on fire at the property and then used a tote to dispose of her remains at either the landfill or a nearby river, ABC 7 Denver reported.

Frazee’s girlfriend, Krystal Lee Kenney, admitted to witnessing Frazee set Berreth’s body ablaze, investigators testified. Kenney told police that Frazee repeatedly asked her to murder Berreth and later demanded she come to Colorado to help him clean up blood at Berreth’s home. The former Idaho nurse also recalled Frazee talking about disposing of Berreth’s charred remains at either a dump of a landfill, investigators said.

Berreth was last seen alive on Thanksgiving Day. Security camera footage showed her shopping at a Safeway supermarket with her 1-year-old daughter, Kaylee. Police began to search for Berreth on December 2 when her mother reported her missing. Police launched a wider investigation after Berreth’s phone pinged in Gooding, Idaho days after her disappearance.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

Berreth’s parents also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Frazee, alleging he murdered their daughter as part of a custody battle. Frazee faces two counts of murder and three counts of solicitation to commit murder, as well as tampering with a deceased body and two crime of violence sentence enhancers, ABC 7 Denver reported. He will be arraigned in Teller County court on May 24, and no trial date has been set.

Fox News’ Katherine Lam and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News National



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The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London
The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London, Britain January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

April 18, 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Users of Android devices will be able to choose their browsers and search engines from five options starting on Thursday, a senior Google executive said, in a move aimed at addressing EU antitrust concerns and staving off fresh sanctions.

Hit with a record 4.34 billion euro fine last year for using the market power of its mobile software to block rivals in areas such as internet browsing, Alphabet unit Google was also ordered to come up with a proposal to give its rivals a fair chance.

The European Commission said Google had an unfair advantage by pre-installing its Chrome browser and Google search app on Android smartphones and notebooks.

The company last month said it would let Android users choose their browser and search engine but did not provide details.

Android users in Europe who open Google’s app store Google Play will now see new screens with an option to download different search apps and browsers, Paul Gennai, its product management director, said in a blog.

“Two screens will surface: one for search apps and another for browsers, each containing a total of five apps, including any that are already installed,” he said.

The five apps are chosen based on their popularity, which is determined based on industry data and the number of downloads in each country. They will then be listed in a random order.

“Where a user downloads a search app from the screen, we’ll also ask them whether they want to change Chrome’s default search engine the next time they open Chrome,” Gennai said.

The new options will appear on both existing and new Android phones in Europe.

Google faces a fine up to 5 percent of Alphabet’s average daily worldwide turnover if it fails to comply with the EU order to stop anti-competitive practices.

Lobbying group FairSearch whose Android complaint triggered the EU investigation urged regulators to take a tougher line.

“Fairsearch rejects as insufficient Google’s launch today of a choice screen for Android because it does nothing to correct the central problem that Google apps will remain the default on all Android devices,” it said in a statement.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel)

Source: OANN

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While some of her fellow Democrats were questioning the credibility of Attorney General William Barr over his handling of the Robert Mueller report, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., took that criticism to another level.

The California Democrat trashed the attorney general Wednesday night on the eve of Special Counsel Mueller’s report being released to the public, calling Barr “a lackey and a sycophant” for President Trump.

“I never expected Barr to do anything that would be respectful to the members of Congress or to include us in any real way,” she told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, joining colleagues fuming over the decision by Barr to hold a press conference before releasing a redacted version of the report.

“He has proven himself. He auditioned for this job. He was chosen to protect the president of the United States and that’s exactly what he’s doing. I’m not surprised.”

IN MUELLER REPORT’S RELEASE, TRUMP LOOKS FOR VINDICATION, BUT NEW FIGHTS LOOM

FOX NEWS POLL: TRUMP POPULARITY HOLDING STEADY AFTER MUELLER SUMMARY RELEASE

She continued, blasting Barr as “basically a lackey and a sycophant for the president of the United States of America.”

The comments come after Waters attacked Barr during a speech earlier this month.

“I know that you are all worried about the special counsel and the fact that we have a report that has been described to us in a letter by the attorney general. We don’t know what’s in the report yet, and we’re going to demand it,” she said at a Woman’s National Democratic Club dinner.

In the same speech, the California Democrat said of Trump, “certainly, he conspired with the Kremlin and with the oligarchs of Russia.”

Barr’s summary of the report, though, said Mueller found no evidence of collusion.

NUNES’ CRIMINAL REFERRALS OVER MISCONDUCT DURING RUSSIA PROBE COULD INVOLVE ‘TWO DOZEN’ INDIVIDUALS

Nearly two years of fevered speculation surrounding the Russia probe, though, will come to a head in a dramatic television finale-like moment on Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET, when Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are set to hold a press conference to discuss the Mueller report’s public release.

It was not immediately clear exactly when on Thursday the DOJ would release the redacted version of the nearly 400-page investigation into Russian election meddling, but the document was expected to be delivered to lawmakers and posted online by noon.

CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Barr has said redactions in the report’s release are legally mandated.to protect four broad areas of concern: sensitive grand jury-related matters, classified information, ongoing investigations and the privacy or reputation of uncharged “peripheral” people.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Democrat New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, has said he is prepared to issue subpoenas “very quickly” for the full report if it is released with blacked-out sections, likely setting in motion a major legal battle.

Source: Fox News Politics

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The Latest on Indonesia’s election (all times local):

6 p.m.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo says he’s the winner of the country’s presidential election with preliminary results showing he received 54% of the vote.

He told reporters about 20 leaders of nations from Southeast Asia and other regions have congratulated him on securing a second term.

The vote estimate is based on so-called quick counts of a sample of polling stations by reputable survey organizations. He said that 100% of sample polling stations have now been counted or close to that. The quick counts have been accurate in previous elections.

Widodo’s rival, former Gen. Prabowo Subianto, has claimed he won 62% of the vote in Wednesday’s election based on his campaign’s own counts, repeating a similar claim when he lost to Widodo in 2014.

The Election Commission is required to release official results by May 22.

___

2 p.m.

Indonesia’s top security minister and its military and police chiefs said Thursday that they will crack down decisively on any attempts to disrupt public order while official results from presidential and legislative elections are tabulated.

Preliminary results from Wednesday’s election show President Joko Widodo has comfortably won a second term, but his challenger, ultra-nationalist former general Prabowo Subianto, has claimed victory, repeating his tactics following his 2014 loss to Widodo.

Security minister Wiranto, who uses a single name, told a news conference with the chiefs of police and all military branches that security forces will “act decisively” against any threats to order and security.

He said the voter turnout of 80.5% gives the winner of the presidential election “high legitimacy.” The Election Commission is required to release official results by May 22.

Source: Fox News World

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Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

April 18, 2019

(Reuters) – Following are five big themes likely to dominate thinking of investors and traders in the coming week and the Reuters stories related to them.

1/CENTRAL PLANNING

The 100 years since the Fed’s creation in 1913 is said to be the century of central banking. Well, since the 2008-2009 crisis, we’ve certainly lived through a decade of central banking. But with monetary policy taken to the limit to lift growth and inflation, can central banks do any more?

Of late, some of the economic and business confidence data is giving rise to hopes rate-setters might just be able to hold fire on further action for now. German and Japanese PMIs ticked modestly higher from March, and from China to the United States, the hope is that spring will bring some green shoots on the economic front. Central banks in Japan, Canada and Sweden hold meetings in coming days so we may get some clues on what they are thinking.

ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos and Olli Rehn, widely tipped to succeed ECB Governor Mario Draghi, will also be quizzed on the subject at upcoming speeches, especially since sources tell Reuters “a significant minority” of ECB rate-setters doubt any recovery is underway. Central bankers in Australia and New Zealand have sounded similarly gloomy. A decade of central banking and planning is not over yet

(GRAPHIC: ECB balance sheet – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hz4sUC)

(GRAPHIC: The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet – https://tmsnrt.rs/2ULcay0)

2/GDP NOW!

The working thesis through the early months of 2019 was that U.S. economic growth would continue to tail off as tailwinds faded from last year’s $1.5 trillion tax cut and headwinds picked up from a weaker global economy, partial federal government shutdown and trade wars. Indeed, that looked to be the case as most economic data through the first quarter fell short of forecasts. As a result, Citigroup’s U.S. economic surprise index came to near the most negative in around two years.

But one closely tracked gauge of quarterly gross domestic product, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s GDPNow model, has rebounded sharply in recent weeks and may be signaling that the advance reading of first quarter GDP may not be quite so grim.

A month ago, GDPNow estimated an annualized 0.2 percent growth, which would have been the lowest since a one-off GDP contraction in the first 2014 quarter. Now the model forecasts quarterly growth will come in at 2.4 percent. That would not only top current estimates of 1.8 percent but would mean growth actually accelerated from the fourth quarter’s 2.2 percent.

One factor behind the turnaround was a surprise narrowing in the U.S. trade deficit as Chinese imports plunged in the face of President Donald Trump’s tariffs. By some estimates, trade could now contribute as much as one percentage point to first quarter GDP after being a washout in the fourth quarter.

(GRAPHIC: U.S. GDP – in for a surprise? – https://tmsnrt.rs/2VPQsJN)

3/CORNER KICK

As we said above, central banks don’t have much ammunition left in their arsenal. The toolbox is probably lightest at the Bank of Japan.

At the G20 meeting in Washington, BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he was ready to expand monetary stimulus if needed. But he also said he had no plans to change the central bank’s forward guidance, or the message it sends to signal policy intentions to financial markets. To many, that sounded like a man backed into a corner.

Kuroda has a chance to prove otherwise at the upcoming BOJ meeting. Expectations are thin though, given the BOJ’s balance sheet is already bigger than the country’s economy and Japanese financial institutions are suffering immense pain from the prolonged monetary easing.

The world’s No. 3 economy may have contracted in the first quarter, and whether it recovers depends much on first, whether China recovers too and second, on whether the trade conflict between the other two powers sharing the podium reaches a resolution.

(GRAPHIC: BOJ’s bloated balance sheet limits further easing – https://tmsnrt.rs/2DjVE16)

3/TAKING A DIP IN EUROPE

The United States is widely seen as heading into an earnings recession (defined as two straight quarters of negative year-on-year earnings growth) but Europe might, at least for now, escape one.

European firms are expected to deliver their first quarter of negative earnings growth since 2016 – the latest I/B/E/S Refinitiv analysis predicts Q1 earnings to fall 3.4 percent year-on-year. But it expects results to pick up again in Q2.

So despite this quarter’s poor outcome, hopes for a bounce-back could keep equities buoyant. After all, sentiment is already rock bottom – investors surveyed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch named “short European equities” the most crowded trade for the second month running.

The auto sector will be in focus in coming days with a flurry of earnings from Michelin, Continental, Daimler, Peugeot, and Renault. These stocks are particularly sensitive to growth in China and will be watched as the stirrings of a recovery were felt in recent Chinese GDP data .

(GRAPHIC: Earnings chart latest April 17 – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Ip8LCj)

5/ RUSSIAN ROULETTE

The past two years have seen an increasingly bitter rift open up between President Donald Trump’s Republican supporters and his Democrat critics over the alleged collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign in the 2016 U.S. election.

That may not be defused even after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 400-page report on the subject is unveiled by Atttorney General William Barr. He has already told lawmakers the investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

But that is unlikely to stop U.S. politicians from continuing their clamor for sanctions against Russia. As for investors, their appetite for Russian assets has not so far been dented. After plummeting last year, foreign buying of rouble-denominated government bonds has recovered sharply so it remains to be seen whether that bullishness continues.

Meanwhile, Ukraine — the reason behind the original 2014 sanctions on Russia — looks set to elect comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy as president. Could the election of a new leader bring about some rapprochement between Kiev and Moscow? Watch this space.

(GRAPHIC: Foreign investors dipping their toes back in OFZs – https://tmsnrt.rs/2XiDZyC)

(Reporting by Dan Burns in New York, Marius Zaharia in Hong Kong; Sujata Rao, Helen Reid and Tom Arnold in London; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Source: OANN

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Japan's Minister of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi speaks during the signing agreement ceremony for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, in Santiago
FILE PHOTO: Japan’s Minister of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi speaks during the signing agreement ceremony for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, in Santiago, Chile March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

April 18, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Thursday he might travel to the United States next week to meet U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

If a meeting does take place, it would happen before a summit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump, Motegi added.

Motegi and Lighthizer are negotiating for a trade pact the U.S. government hopes will lower its trade deficit.

(Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

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