Author: Maga First News

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NBA: Detroit Pistons at Golden State Warriors
Mar 24, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) looks to shoot against the Detroit Pistons in the third quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

March 25, 2019

Stephen Curry returned from a one-game absence to hit five 3-pointers and total a game-high 26 points Sunday night as the Golden State Warriors shook off the embarrassment of a 35-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks one day earlier to turn back the Detroit Pistons 121-114 in Oakland, Calif.

The Golden State win, coupled with Denver’s loss at Indiana earlier in the day, allowed the Warriors to move a half-game ahead of the Nuggets in the race for the best record in the Western Conference.

The loss dropped Detroit from sixth to seventh in the Eastern Conference and further jumbled the five-team battle for the final three playoff spots. That duel also includes the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets.

Blake Griffin had 24 points, and Andre Drummond had a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double for the Pistons, who shot 46.4 percent overall and 12 for 31 (38.7 percent) on 3-pointers.

Spurs 115, Celtics 96

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 48 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as visiting San Antonio rolled to a win over reeling Boston to snap a two-game losing streak.

Aldridge’s points were the second-most of his career, following his 56 in a double-overtime win over Oklahoma City earlier this season. DeMar DeRozan added 16 points for the Spurs, who have won 10 of their past 12, while Patty Mills hit for 12 points off the bench, and Jakob Poeltl grabbed 10 rebounds for San Antonio.

Marcus Smart led the Celtics with 14 points, with Marcus Morris and Gordon Hayward adding 13 each, and Kyrie Irving and Daniel Theis scoring 11 points apiece. Hayward paced Boston with 10 rebounds and Irving had 12 assists as the Celtics lost their fourth game in a row.

Rockets 113, Pelicans 90

James Harden scored 28 points and Houston clinched a playoff berth with an easy victory over host New Orleans.

Harden, who leads the NBA with an average of 36.4 points per game, didn’t sustain the pace that saw him score a combined 118 points in the previous two games, but it wasn’t necessary. He played just 29 minutes as the Rockets rolled to a 14-point lead at the end of the first quarter and cruised to their 14th victory in 16 games and remained in third place in the Western Conference.

Frank Jackson scored 19 points, Julius Randle added 15, Stanley Johnson scored 13 and Anthony Davis had 12 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Pelicans, who lost for the eighth time in nine games as they played the opener of a five-game homestand.

Hornets 115, Raptors 114

Jeremy Lamb’s desperation 48-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer gave visiting Charlotte a stunning victory in Toronto.

After the Raptors trailed by 14 points less than a minute into the fourth quarter, Kawhi Leonard gave them the lead on a jumper with 45 seconds left, then made a block at the other end. But the Hornets had one big play left in them, and they won their third straight game.

Kemba Walker scored 15 points and added 13 assists and eight rebounds for the Hornets, who were led in scoring by Dwayne Bacon with 20 points. Miles Bridges added 16 points, Willy Hernangomez and Lamb had 13 each, and Devonte’ Graham and Marvin Williams 10 points each.

Pacers 124, Nuggets 88

Bojan Bogdanovic exploded for 35 points while teammates Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis recorded double-doubles as host Indiana avenged a loss to Denver last week in a duel of teams battling for NBA playoff positioning.

The win allowed the Pacers, coming off a four-game road losing streak that included a 102-100 defeat in Denver on March 16, to solidify their standing as the No. 4 team in the Eastern Conference with just eight games remaining.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets failed in their quest to win a 50th game as they challenge Golden State for the top spot in the West, with the Warriors ending Sunday with a half-game lead.

Bucks 127, Cavaliers 105

Giannis Antetokounmpo collected 26 points and 10 rebounds as host Milwaukee posted a 22-point victory over Cleveland.

George Hill and Khris Middleton each had 17 points, and Brook Lopez scored all 14 of his points in the first half for the Bucks, who avenged a 107-102 setback to the Cavaliers on Wednesday. Antetokounmpo sat out that contest with an ankle injury, but he made his presence felt on Sunday by shooting 11 for 16 from the floor and adding seven assists and four blocks.

Kevin Love highlighted his 20-point performance with four 3-pointers and added 19 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who fell to 6-30 away from home. Jordan Clarkson scored 19 points, and rookie Collin Sexton added 18 in the loss.

Clippers 124, Knicks 113

Lou Williams scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, while Danilo Gallinari added 26 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer as surging Los Angeles ran its winning streak to five games while handing host New York its 60th loss.

Gallinari reached 20 points for a career-high ninth straight game and teamed with Williams to spark the Clippers to their 10th win in 11 games.

The Knicks have lost four straight and 12 of their last 13 games. They must win at least three of their eight remaining games to avoid exceeding the worst record in team history (17-65 in 2014-15).

Lakers 111, Kings 106

LeBron James had 29 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists to lead Los Angeles past visiting Sacramento.

Kyle Kuzma also scored 29 points and JaVale McGee overcame early foul trouble to finish with 17 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks for the Lakers, who ended a five-game losing streak.

Marvin Bagley III had 25 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for the Kings, who fell 6 1/2 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for eighth place in the Western Conference with nine games left.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

South Korea says some North Korean officials have returned to an inter-Korean liaison office three days after the North abruptly withdrew its entire staff citing unspecified instructions from "higher-level authorities."

Seoul’s Unification Ministry says four to five North Korean officials showed up for work Monday at the liaison office in the North Korean border town of Kaesong.

It wasn’t immediately clear why North Korea sent some workers back to the office or whether it will restore a full staff.

The North’s decision to withdraw its staff came a week after its vice foreign minister threatened to pull out of nuclear negotiations with the United States following the collapse of a nuclear summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

Source: Fox News World

Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer who called for a “complete investigation” on the origins of the Russia collusion investigation, took to Twitter early Monday and called on Democrats who "went too far" in their attacks and false claims against the president during the probe to admit their mistakes so the country can "heal."

Giuliani made the comments just hours after Attorney General Willaim Barr declared that special counsel Robert Mueller did not find evidence that the Trump campaign “conspired or coordinated” with Russia in hopes  to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Trump cheered the outcome but also laid bare his resentment after two years of investigations that have shadowed his administration. “It’s a shame that our country has had to go through this. To be honest, it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this,” he said.

Giuliani took to Twitter to ask if Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and others will apologize “for their now false claims of collusion.”

“If they care about our country,  they should be relieved they were wrong. Are they?” he asked.

He called on news outlets like CNN and MSNBC and said he hopes they can “realize their overreactions” and hopes for fairer treatment in the future.

READ THE MUELLER REPORT FINDINGS

It appears Democrats are seizing on the part of the report that focuses on the obstruction of justice. Mueller stated that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed  a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Some Democrats say that line leaves open the possibility of wrongdoing.

Nadler said, "The job of Congress is much broader than the job of the special counsel. The special counsel is looking and can only look for crimes. We have to protect the rule of law, we have to look for abuses of power, we have to look for obstructions of justice, we have to look for corruption in the exercise of power which may not be crimes."

Alan M. Dershowitz, the attorney and Harvard Law professor emeritus, slammed Mueller on Sunday, saying the special counsel engaged in a “cop out” by stating that his report neither exonerated Trump nor concluded he’d committed a crime related to obstruction of justice.

GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Dershowitz said Mueller seemed to try having it both ways. “It sounds like a law-school exam,” he said, adding that the report sounded wishy-washy. “Shame on Mueller.”

Fox News’ Frank Miles contributed to this report

Source: Fox News Politics

2017 Kids Choice Sport Awards – Show – Los Angeles
2017 Kids Choice Sport Awards – Show – Los Angeles, California, U.S., 13/07/2017 – NFL football player Odell Beckham Jr. accepts the Hands of Gold Award. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

March 25, 2019

New York Giants co-owner John Mara admitted Sunday that he was reluctant to sign off on the decision to trade wideout Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns earlier this month.

“I will tell you that it was a reluctant approval on my part because I happen to like Odell very much,” Mara said from the NFL owners’ meetings in Phoenix, his first public comments since the trade. “I recognize the unique talent that he has. It is not easy to trade that player to another team.

“I understand also that we have a lot of holes that we need to fill. If we make the right decisions with the pick and the pick, we obviously like Jabrill Peppers a lot, which filled a need for us. I ultimately gave my 50 percent share of the approval.”

The Browns sent the Giants their first-round pick (17th overall), a third-rounder and Peppers, who was drafted 25th overall in 2017, in return for Beckham. General manager Dave Gettleman told reporters last week that it was an offer he “couldn’t refuse,” despite his previous statement that the team did not sign Beckham to an extension only to trade him.

With a player of Beckham’s prominence — and less than a year removed from making him the NFL’s highest-paid wideout — the deal had to be approved by Mara and fellow co-owner Steve Tisch.

As Mara and Tisch recounted at a joint news conference Sunday, Gettleman called both men to relay news of the offer, and both had to think about it before ultimately deciding to go through with a deal.

“This was not a decision that was made quickly, without a lot of thought and a lot of conversation discussing with both Dave and [head coach Pat Shurmur] and the impact, what it would mean to the club,” Tisch said. “It is a tough decision. One of the toughest we have had to make in a long time. Many, many years.”

“It was not easy, that’s why it took this long,” Mara added. “It took a long time to come to grips with the fact that we were moving him to another team. I just didn’t think that was going to happen all winter. I think what we are getting in return will make us better if we make the right decisions.”

Mara also acknowledged that Beckham’s personality and tendency to make headlines for things not directly related to football played a small part in the decision.

“I had conversations with him about it, but it was never to the point where we said to Dave that he had to get rid of him,” Mara said. “It never reached that point. Was it a factor in the final decision? Yes, it is a factor. The thing about him, though, is that it never — he is a good guy. He did good things with us.”

Both owners wished Beckham well in Cleveland, but Mara admitted it will be difficult watching the former Giants first-round pick in another uniform.

“It is not going to be easy, I am not going to lie to you,” Mara said. “It won’t be easy. He is a great player and I hope he has a great career with the Browns. It makes it a little bit easier that he is not in our conference.”

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals
Mar 24, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (70) and left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrate after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

March 25, 2019

Tom Wilson, Travis Boyd and Jakub Vrana each scored a goal as the Washington Capitals defeated the visiting Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 in a Sunday matinee.

The Capitals maintain a narrow lead in the Metropolitan Division, leading the New York Islanders by one point and the Pittsburgh Penguins by three. Each team has six games remaining, with Washington hosting the Islanders in the regular-season finale on April 6.

The Capitals snapped a two-game losing streak and completed a sweep of their four-game season series with the Flyers, whose fading playoff chances took a hit.

Braden Holtby played another strong game for Washington with 35 saves. Alex Ovechkin did not score a goal for the eighth time in his last nine games, but tallied one assist.

Hurricanes 2, Canadiens 1 (OT)

Andrei Svechnikov scored 3:15 into overtime as Carolina defeated visiting Montreal at Raleigh, N.C.

Svechnikov scored his 20th goal of the season, this one set up on an assist from Jordan Staal. It was Carolina’s only shot in overtime.

Trevor van Riemsdyk scored the tying goal in the third period for Carolina, which won four of five games during a homestand. Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney stopped 28 shots, and Montreal goalie Carey Price made 38 saves.

Blue Jackets 5, Canucks 0

Sergei Bobrovsky made 21 saves for his seventh shutout of the NHL season, and Josh Anderson posted two goals and an assist as visiting Columbus blanked Vancouver.

Bobrovsky returned after being sidelined Thursday in Edmonton due to an undisclosed upper-body injury. He recorded his second shutout in three games.

Columbus (41-30-4) ended its losing streak at three games. The Blue Jackets moved within two points of Montreal for the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

Islanders 2, Coyotes 0

Jordan Eberle scored early in the first period and Robin Lehner recorded his fifth shutout of the season with 31 saves as New York further damaged the playoff hopes of visiting Arizona with a win in Uniondale, N.Y.

Brock Nelson scored on a wraparound with 3:14 left in the third for the Islanders (44-25-7, 95 points), who won for the second time in as many days to remain in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Goalie Darcy Kuemper, who made his 17th straight start, made 24 saves for the Coyotes (36-33-7, 79 points), who lost their fifth straight (0-3-2) and missed another chance to move into the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Blackhawks 2, Avalanche 1 (OT)

Duncan Keith scored the game-winning goal 1:23 into overtime to carry host Chicago to a win over Colorado to keep his team’s slim playoff hopes alive.

The 35-year-old Keith denied Nathan MacKinnon on a one-on-one battle, then raced the length of the ice and slid in the game-winner for his sixth goal of the season. Both goaltenders — Chicago’s Corey Crawford and Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer — played back-to-back games for just the second time this season. Crawford made 19 saves, Grubauer 40.

The win pushed Chicago to 76 points in the standings — five behind Colorado, which holds the Western Conference’s second wild card, and three behind the Minnesota Wild and Arizona Coyotes.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels
Mar 24, 2019; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) follows through on a double in the third inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

March 25, 2019

Angels superstar outfielder Mike Trout might call the East Coast his home, but he left no doubt where his baseball home is: Anaheim.

With a handful of players signing record or near-record contracts this offseason, attention turned to Trout, the two-time Most Valuable Player, who could have become a free agent after the 2020 season. Instead, he signed a 12-year, $426.5 million contract extension this week.

“That was one thing on my mind, talking to people — if I did leave in two years, maybe looking back I would’ve probably regretted it a little bit, because I love it here,” Trout, a six-time All-Star, told a few thousand fans who arrived early for the Angels’ home exhibition game with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.

He was emotional at times in making comments publicly for the first time since signing the extension this week.

With his possible free agency still two seasons away, Trout was nonetheless the subject of speculation. Bryce Harper, who just signed his own megadeal with the Phillies, made no attempt to hide his desire to lure Trout to Philadelphia, where Trout — a noted Philadelphia Eagles fan — would be close to his New Jersey home.

On Sunday, Trout made it clear he had always intended to stay put. Talks between the team and agent Craig Landis began in late February.

“Spending your whole career with one team I think is pretty cool,” Trout said.

Among those also on the dais at the news conference were Landis and Angels owner Arte Moreno, who acknowledged that the next goal is to build a championship team around Trout.

Trout has been in the top two in AL MVP voting in six of his seven full seasons with the Angels — he was fourth in 2017 — but the team has reached the playoffs just once, getting swept in the divisional round in 2014.

Moreno on Sunday commented to Trout how he “needs some jewelry,” referring to World Series championship rings.

Trout said he envisions success with how general manager Billy Eppler, who was also on the dais, and the front office are focused simultaneously on building a winning team while beefing up the farm system for the future.

“There’s going to be some ups and downs in the 12 years, but the direction was huge for me,” Trout said. “I’m happy and excited for the direction they’re going.”

Over his 7 1/2 seasons in the majors, Trout is a .307 hitter with 240 home runs and 648 RBIs. His wins above replacement (WAR) total of 64.2 is the highest ever for a player at his experience level.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

China's Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei speaks at the annual session of CDF 2018 in Beijing
China’s Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei speaks at the annual session of China Development Forum (CDF) 2018 at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

March 25, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will reduce direct government intervention in its vast industrial sector, the industry minister said on Monday, as Beijing seeks to ease concerns about its industrial policy, core to Washington’s complaints in the Sino-U.S. trade war.

The government’s pledge to reduce its influence over operational matters in China’s manufacturing sector follows an apparent toning down of its high-tech industrial push, which has long annoyed the United States.

“We will gradually reduce the government’s micro-management and direct intervention, in order to allow the market to effectively decide resource allocation and support the development of the manufacturing industry”, Miao Wei, minister of industry and informational technology, said at the China Development Forum.

But China will continue to encourage higher-value production, he said.

In his speech, Miao did not touch on the so-called “Made in China 2025” plan, an initiative intended to help China catch up with global rivals in sophisticated technologies such as semiconductors, robotics, aerospace and artificial intelligence (AI).

The state-backed industrial policy has provoked alarm in the West, due to China’s open efforts to deploy state support and subsidies.

The comments came days ahead of the latest round of high-level trade talks between China and the United States starting in Beijing on Thursday.

Washington has threatened further action if China does not change its practices on issues ranging from industrial subsidies to intellectual property.

China is not conceding to U.S. demands to ease curbs on technology companies, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing three people briefed on the discussions.

‘VALLEY OF DEATH’

The latest conciliatory tone struck by Beijing to placate Washington does not mean China is less serious about its high-tech manufacturing drive, with local governments still rolling out plans to help manufactuers move up the value chain.

Local governments have also been told to pursue new engines of industrial growth by developing innovative technologies, such as new energy vehicles (NEVs) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Miao said technology manufacturers needed to survive “the Valley of Death” as they seek to turn laboratory samples into mass production.

The southern province of Hunan this month issued a three-year plan for the AI sector, pledging more support for a local industry whose size is projected to reach 10 billion yuan ($1.49 billion) by 2021.

In the central province of Henan, production of service robots rose 14.3 times in January-February from a year earlier, according to local media. [nL3N216108]

When asked to comment on President Donald Trump’s wish to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States, Miao said that such decisions could not be made by a single person because an entire supply chain was involved.

“Every company will consider putting its supply chain in a country were costs are relatively lower, this the purpose of the law of economics,” he said.

“If, after comparisons are made, that the United States has lower costs and possess advantages versus other countries, I’m sure that a company…will bring its manufacturing back to the United States.”

In a bid to support to small companies, many of which have been struggling to get financing, Miao said small and medium-sized companies will play a bigger role in the sector’s innovation.

China is planning to launch a highly-anticipated Nasdaq-style technology board – a move by Beijing to counter U.S. curbs on China’s technology advances.

The government’s next move is to implement policies such as tax reductions and to improve the protection of intellectual property rights, according to Miao, adding that the general manufacturing sector will be fully liberalized.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh and Shu Zhang; Writing by Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An oil pumpjack painted with the colors of the Venezuelan flag is seen in Lagunillas
FILE PHOTO: An oil pumpjack painted with the colors of the Venezuelan flag is seen in Lagunillas, Venezuela January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Isaac Urrutia/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Devika Krishna Kumar and Jessica Resnick-Ault

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry have made winners out of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc, Gulf of Mexico offshore heavyweights, as refiners in need of substitutes are scooping up oil produced in the region.

Those two companies produce notable amounts of crude oil that refiners have settled on as the immediate replacement for the heavy Venezuelan crude that U.S. refiners relied on for years. Trading volumes in these grades of oil have surged to the highest in months, and prices touched five-year peaks after sanctions were imposed.

U.S. production has surged to a record 12 million barrels a day, but less than 5 percent of that is heavy oil. The sanctions have hamstrung refineries in the United States, as many giant Gulf Coast facilities need heavier oil to produce high-margin refined products like diesel and jet fuel.

Heavy crude accounts for nearly two-thirds of U.S. oil imports. Of that, Venezuela’s oil accounted for 10 percent of heavy crude imports in 2018 and about 13 percent in 2017, according to U.S. Energy Department figures.

Offshore Gulf oil prices – mostly Mars crude, considered the benchmark U.S. sour crude grade – have hit five-year highs, and sales are up sharply, according to company executives, market participants and data reviewed by Reuters.

“We’re buying more Mars for the current time,” said Marathon Petroleum Corp Chief Executive Gary Heminger. Marathon, one of the nation’s largest refiners, was not a major importer of Venezuelan crude. “Since we’re exporting so much in the light sweet crude markets, you’re going to have to bring in more medium sours.”

Shell operates the most Gulf platforms and BP has the highest volume of output from the region, according to figures provided by the companies. Representatives from the companies would not explicitly link the recent boost in sales of offshore crude to Venezuela’s sanctions, though they did acknowledge the market’s interest.

“We do understand that Mars crude is perceived well in the market right now. We’re happy for that and we take advantage of that,” said Rick Tallant, Shell’s vice president of deepwater Gulf of Mexico production.

Production in the Gulf of Mexico rose to a record 1.7 million barrels a day in 2018, and is expected to exceed 2 million bpd in the fourth quarter, according to U.S. Energy Department figures.

Sanctions have intensified the need for the oil that is being pumped out of these vast fields. Gulf production averaged 1.89 million bpd in March, up nearly 145,000 bpd from February, said Jodi Quinnell, oil analyst at Genscape.

GOING TO MARS

Mars generally refers to a medium sour grade of oil produced from the Mars platform, a joint venture between majority owner Shell and BP located about 130 miles (210 km) off the coast of New Orleans.

Refiners including Valero Energy Corp and Marathon have been scooping up Mars from Shell’s trading unit in the weeks following the sanctions, sources familiar with the deals said. Other refiners, such as Phillips 66, were also seen buying Southern Green Canyon (SGC), a grade similar to Mars, from Shell.

Trading in those grades has surged. Volumes in the Argus Sour Crude Index (ASCI), a tool reflecting prices of three U.S. deepwater sour crudes including Mars, rose to 614,036 contracts for February, the most in nearly a year, data from price reporting agency Argus Media show.

Volumes in Mars for February delivery rose to 410,536 contracts, the highest since August 2018, the data showed.

Prices of other offshore grades such as Thunder Horse, Bonito and SGC also surged to the highest in five years after sanctions took effect.

Phillips 66 declined to comment and Valero did not respond to requests for comment.

EASE OF ACCESS

In an auction of federal offshore leases this week, Shell submitted the most high bids for Gulf leases, winning 87 tracts of land valued at more than $84 million. BP grabbed the third-most parcels, winning 23 parcels priced at more than $15 million.

Shell’s pipeline partnership, Shell Midstream Partners, shipped 10 percent more crude on the Mars system to the Gulf Coast last year.

Both Shell’s Tallant and BP’s regional president for the Gulf of Mexico and Canada Starlee Sykes each said their company is continuing to actively invest in the Gulf, where they say crude can be produced at levels that were cost-competitive with that from shale formations.

With several new projects slated to come online as soon as this year, U.S. refiners could replace a good deal of heavy and medium-crude imports with Gulf barrels, said Sandy Fielden, director of commodities & energy research at Morningstar.

    “Because of their proximity and ease of access to this market, Gulf producers have a natural advantage selling new output to Gulf Coast refiners,” he said.

(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar and Jessica Resnick-Ault; additional reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York; Editing by Richard Chang and Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

People chat as the skyline of Singapore's financial district is seen in the background
People chat as the skyline of Singapore’s financial district is seen in the background April 14, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su

March 25, 2019

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s February core inflation rate eased to 1.5 percent from a year earlier, its lowest in nine months, due to smaller increases in the cost of services, retail items as well as electricity and gas, data showed on Monday.

The median forecast in a Reuters poll was for a 1.7 percent rise. The core inflation gauge in January had risen 1.7 percent from a year earlier.

Singapore’s headline consumer price index edged up to 0.5 percent in February from a year earlier, due to more gradual declines in private road transport and accommodation costs.

The median forecast in the poll was for all-items CPI to rise 0.5 percent.

In January, headline CPI rose 0.4 percent year-on-year.

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and John Geddie; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump meets with former hostage Danny Burch and his family in the Oval Office at the White House
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question as he meets with former hostage Danny Burch, an oil engineer who was taken hostage in Yemen in September 2017, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By David Lawder, Philip Blenkinsop and Michael Martina

WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS/BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s blunt-force use of tariffs in pursuing his “America First” trade agenda has angered many, from company executives to allied governments and members of both parties of Congress.

But there’s one effort which has drawn broad support from those who oppose him on almost everything else – his push to force Beijing to change what are widely viewed as China’s market-distorting trade and subsidy practices.

As U.S.-China talks to end a trade war reach their endgame, politicians, executives and foreign diplomats are urging Trump and his team to hold out for meaningful structural reforms in China to address entrenched problems in the relationship that hurt U.S. and other foreign companies and workers.

Trump’s trade war “has let the genie out of the bottle” by lifting expectations that the trade war will force China to reform policies that businesses and foreign governments regard as unfair, said Steven Gardon, vice president of indirect taxes and customs at Lear Corp. Gardon’s firm is an automotive seating and electrical supplier with plants in 39 countries, including the United States and China.

“Now that all these issues have been raised, there’s a lot more domestic political support to address these issues, and I don’t think you can pull back from that,” Gardon said at a Georgetown Law School forum this month. “There’s now pressure politically that they have to be addressed for the long term.”

Gardon’s comments reflect a broad shift in U.S. and international business sentiment towards China’s economic and trade policies, one that is aligned with Trump’s goals, if not his tactics.

Trump’s trade team say they are in the final stages of negotiating what would be the biggest economic policy agreement with China in decades. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin head to Beijing this week to try to accelerate talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. Liu is set to travel to Washington for another round of negotiations in early April.

Eight months into the trade war that has disrupted the flow of billions of dollars of goods between the world’s two largest economies, it is unclear if a deal acceptable to both sides can be done.

China’s President Xi Jinping is seen as reluctant to make economic reforms under pressure from the United States, and Trump has said he may keep tariffs on Chinese goods in place for “a substantial period” even if a deal is struck.

Xi may find it easier to live with the tariffs Trump has imposed on trade than to change China’s model for economic development.

As part of a deal, Beijing has offered to make big-ticket purchases from the United States to help reduce a record trade gap. Trump’s team has said those purchases would be worth more than a trillion dollars over about six years.

While big Chinese purchases might be tempting for Trump’s administration, they would do nothing to address what U.S. firms competing in China or against Chinese firms say are structural problems with a system stacked against them.

The United States complains China engages in systematic intellectual property theft, forces foreign firms to give up trade secrets for market access and spends huge sums subsidizing its own industry. Redressing those complaints would require policy reform at the highest level from Xi and China’s ruling Communist Party.

A survey released by the American Chamber of Commerce in China in late February showed that a majority of member U.S. companies supported increasing or maintaining tariffs on Chinese goods, and nearly twice as many as last year want the U.S. government to push Beijing harder to create a level playing field.

The U.S. tariff demands have even encouraged some reform-minded Chinese officials and private-sector business executives to call for a faster pace of reform in China as it celebrates the 40th anniversary of its first steps toward capitalism.

Lighthizer told lawmakers in late February that Chinese-American business people in particular have urged him to “hang tough” in the talks and not to “sell out for soybeans.”

STAY THE COURSE

When Trump delayed a threatened tariff increase well before a March 1 deadline for a deal, he stoked fears that he may be swayed by the big purchase order and leave longstanding structural problems unresolved.

Since then, a steady drumbeat of lobbyists, company executives, foreign diplomats and U.S. lawmakers from both parties have urged Trump to stay the course on his structural demands.

Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, one of the most pro-trade Republicans and a critic of Trump’s tariffs, recently joined that call.

“While we want China to buy more U.S. goods … it’s even more important for us to hold China accountable to meeting high international standards on intellectual property rights, subsidization, overcapacity, and the other structural ways in which China distorts the global economy,” he said at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing just days after the tariff delay was announced.

Last week, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, a longtime China trade hawk, took to the Senate floor to urge Trump not to “back down” and take a deal based largely on Chinese purchases of American soybeans and other goods.

On Thursday, Schumer tweeted: “Now’s not the time to drop $200B in tariffs just because China’s close to a deal, @realDonald Trump.”

QUIETLY ROOTING FOR TRUMP

European Union members, traditional allies of the United States, are still smarting about the steel and aluminum tariffs Trump imposed on imports into the United States last year. The EU is also worried that Trump will impose duties on autos. But the bloc shares many of the same frustrations over China’s technology transfer policies and market access constraints.

“We get complaints every day from our companies,” one European official told Reuters in Beijing, noting that despite repeated pledges from the Chinese government to make life easier for foreign companies, little had changed.

    EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom’s assessment of China’s behavior sounds almost like it was written by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, charging that China has abused global trading rules.

China has “blurred the lines between state and private sector. The state has undue influence,” she said in a Washington speech this month. “Intellectual properties of companies are stolen. State subsidies, direct or indirect, are common. And these impacts are felt at home and abroad.”

Malmstrom says that while the U.S. and EU “agree on the diagnosis,” they differ on tactics, and she argues for a more multilateral approach, citing the EU’s work with the United States and Japan to address the issues through reform of World Trade Organization rules.

Some worry that Europe could lose out if Washington and Beijing strike a deal to purchase billions of dollars more in products to try to shrink the U.S. goods trade deficit with China.

“If China is buying more from America then inevitably it will buy less from Europe,” a second European official based in Beijing said, adding that could in particular affect large European multinationals.

But European diplomats and officials acknowledge a begrudging support for Trump’s goals, even if they are repulsed by his blunt tactics. Many are secretly rooting for his success.

“We are against unilateral measures, but nobody is exactly sorry for China. On content we think he does have a point,” said one EU diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity in Brussels. “Beijing has to understand that without reform, the system could just stop working.”

Trump administration officials insist that he has gotten the message and is holding out for “structural changes” to the U.S.-China relationship, along with an enforcement mechanism that holds China to its pledges.

Clete Willems, a White House trade adviser, told the Georgetown Law School forum that Trump is determined to fix problems with China’s trade relationship that he has railed against for years, long before he ever sought office.

“The notion that he’s just going to suddenly accept a bad deal is totally inaccurate. The president is going to walk away from bad deals,” said Willems, who announced on Friday that he is leaving the White House for family reasons.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Simon Webb and James Dalgleish)

Source: OANN


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