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FILE PHOTO: Gas flares from an oil production platform are seen at the Soroush oil fields.
FILE PHOTO: Gas flares from an oil production platform at the Soroush oil fields in the Persian Gulf, south of the capital Tehran, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/File Photo

May 18, 2019

(Reuters) – Iran has adopted new tactics and new destinations in shipping its oil exports following the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions, a senior Iranian maritime official was quoted as saying on Saturday by the semi-official ILNA news agency.

“The Oil Ministry’s tactics in exporting oil and petroleum products have changed, … and perhaps the destinations of oil cargoes from our ports have changed,” Hadi Haqshenas, maritime affairs deputy director at Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, told ILNA.

Haqshenas gave no details of the new tactics or destinations.

Iranian crude oil exports have fallen in May to 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) or lower, tanker data showed and industry sources said, after the United States tightened the screws on Tehran’s main source of income, deepening global supply losses.

Iranian exports have become more opaque since U.S. re-imposed sanctions in November after pulling out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and six world powers.

Tehran no longer reports its production figures to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and there is no definitive information on exports.

“Of course, it cannot be denied that the loading of oil and products has fallen compared to the past, but the shipping of oil cargoes from out ports has definitely not stopped,” Haqshenas said, without giving figures.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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Saudi Minister of Energy Khalid al-Falih speaks during financial sector conference in Riyadh
Saudi Minister of Energy Khalid al-Falih speaks during financial sector conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer.

May 18, 2019

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Saturday that OPEC will be responsive to the oil market’s needs, but that he was not sure there is an oil shortage with data, particularly from the United States, still showing inventories building.

Speaking in Jeddah ahead of a ministerial panel gathering on Sunday by top OPEC and non-OPEC producers, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, Falih told Reuters OPEC will not decide on output until late June when the group is due to meet.

“We will be flexible, we are going to do the right thing as we always do,” he said.

Falih said OPEC is guided by two main principles: “One to keep the market in its direction towards balancing and inventories back to normal level. And two to be responsive to market needs. We will strike the right balance I am sure.”

(Reporting by Rania El Gamal and Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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A container is carried onto a truck in a logistics center near Tianjin Port
A container is carried onto a truck in a logistics center near Tianjin Port, in northern China, May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

May 18, 2019

By Ben Blanchard and David Shepardson

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) – China struck a more aggressive tone in its trade war with the United States on Friday, suggesting a resumption of talks between the world’s two largest economies would be meaningless unless Washington changed course.

The tough talk capped a week that saw Beijing unveil fresh retaliatory tariffs, U.S. officials accuse China of backtracking on promises made during months of talks and the Trump administration level a potentially crippling blow against one of China’s biggest and most successful companies.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked about state media reports suggesting there would be no more trade negotiations, said China always encouraged resolving disputes with the United States through dialogue and consultations. 

“But because of certain things the U.S. side has done during the previous China-U.S. trade consultations, we believe if there is meaning for these talks, there must be a show of sincerity,” he told a daily news briefing.

CNBC, citing sources, said the trade talks had stalled and the next round of discussions was “in flux.”

The United States raised Beijing’s ire this week when it announced it was putting Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker, on a blacklist that could make it extremely hard to do business with U.S. companies.

China has yet to say whether or how it will retaliate, although its state media is sounding an increasingly strident note. The ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily published on Friday a front-page commentary that evoked the patriotic spirit of the country’s past wars.

“The trade war can’t bring China down. It will only harden us to grow stronger,” it said.

Global stocks, which rebounded this week on the prospect of another round of U.S.-China talks, suffered a fresh bout of selling and China’s yuan slid to its weakest against the U.S. dollar in almost five months. Prices of U.S. government debt were trading higher.[MKTS/GLOB]

The increasingly acrimonious trade dispute has rattled investors who fear that the countries are careening dangerously down a track that will badly damage global supply lines and put the brakes on an already slowing world economy.

The South China Morning Post, citing an unidentified source, reported that a senior member of China’s Communist Party said the trade war could reduce China’s 2019 economic growth by 1 percentage point in the worst-case scenario.

“Both sides might need some prodding, but we’ve had a very clear opportunity for one side or the other … to say this isn’t going to work … and neither side did,” said Derek Scissors, an expert on Sino-U.S. economic relations at the American Enterprise Institute think tank, who put the chance of a deal this year at over 50/50.

(Graphic: Trickle down tariffs – https://tmsnrt.rs/2WIu31i)

AUTO TARIFFS

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has embraced protectionism as part of an “America First” agenda aimed at rebalancing global trade, has accused China of backing out of a deal earlier this month that would have ended the 10-month dispute.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported China had backtracked on commitments to change its laws to resolve core U.S. complaints about theft of intellectual property, forced technology transfers and other practices.

Trump punctuated two days of talks in Washington last week with a decision to raise tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent. The negotiations ended in a stalemate.

On Monday, Beijing said it would raise its tariffs on a revised list of $60 billion in U.S. goods effective June 1. Trump, in turn, said he is considering slapping tariffs on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports to the United States.

The U.S. president also continues to dangle the possibility of imposing tariffs of up to 25% on imported cars and parts, a move that could be devastating for a number of U.S. trading partners, including Japan and Germany.

The White House said on Friday that Trump’s decision on auto tariffs would be delayed by up to six months to allow more time for trade talks with the European Union and Japan. Trump faced a Saturday deadline to make a decision.

It added, however, that the U.S. president agreed with findings by the U.S. Commerce Department that imported vehicles and parts can threaten U.S. national security, a designation likely to anger some U.S. allies.

Automakers have strongly opposed the tariffs, saying they would hike prices and threaten thousands of U.S. jobs. There is also strong opposition in the U.S. Congress, with many prominent members of Trump’s Republican Party rejecting the idea.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, praised the administration’s decision to delay the auto tariffs.

“Positive step. The pressure must be strong on China, not on our allies who we should encourage to join us in confronting China,” Schumer tweeted.

The United States and Canada also announced on Friday a deal to remove tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum in exchange for new curbs to keep dumped metals from China and other nations out of the U.S. market. The Mexican president’s office later said Mexico had reached a similar deal with the United States.

The metals tariffs were an aggravation for the Canadian and Mexican governments and had been a major hurdle to enacting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the deal that would replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Gao Liangping in Beijing and David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa, Anthony Esposito in Mexico City, Lewis Krauskopf in New York and David Lawder, Alexandra Alper, and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Susan Thomas and James Dalgleish)

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A Huawei logo is seen at an exhibition during the World Intelligence Congress in Tianjin
A Huawei logo is seen at an exhibition during the World Intelligence Congress in Tianjin, China May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

May 17, 2019

(Reuters) – The U.S. Commerce Department may soon scale back restrictions on Huawei Technologies after a recent blacklisting made it nearly impossible for the Chinese company to purchase goods made in the United States, a department spokesperson said on Friday.

The Commerce Department may issue a temporary general license to allow time for companies and people who have Huawei equipment to maintain reliability of their communications networks and equipment, the spokesperson said.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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FILE PHOTO: The Encore Casino, built by Wynn Resorts in Everett, Massachusetts
FILE PHOTO: The Encore Casino, built by Wynn Resorts in Everett, Massachusetts, U.S., April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

May 17, 2019

(Reuters) – Wynn Resorts Ltd is in talks to sell its nearly finished $2.6 billion casino outside of Boston to rival MGM Resorts International, the two companies said on Friday.

Las Vegas-based Wynn received its Massachusetts license in 2013, allowing it to go ahead with building the 671-room Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Massachusetts. It is expected to open in June.

The talks over a possible sale has been on for the past several weeks and were in the “very” preliminary stages, but that would not delay the opening of the casino, the companies said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

A deal would be complicated for MGM, which has a casino in Springfield, as Massachusetts forbids companies from holding more than one casino license in the state, according to a Boston Globe report, which first reported about the talks.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission had in April fined Wynn Resorts $35 million for not disclosing sexual misconduct allegations against founder and former chief executive officer Steve Wynn, but allowed the casino operator to keep its license.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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89th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva
FILE PHOTO: A Nissan logo is displayed at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

May 16, 2019

By Naomi Tajitsu

YOKOHAMA (Reuters) – Nissan Motor Co Ltd said on Thursday it would, for now, stick to self-driving technology which uses radar sensors and cameras, avoiding lidar or light-based sensors because of their high cost and limited capabilities.

The Japanese automaker unveiled updated self-driving technology a month after Tesla Inc’s Chief Executive Elon Musk called lidar “a fool’s errand”, berating the technology for being expensive and unnecessary.

Nissan, which wants to have its self-driving cars on city streets by 2020, has long shunned lidar, a relatively new technology for automobiles which has recently been the subject of an influx in investment by many of its rivals.

“At the moment, lidar lacks the capabilities to exceed the capabilities of the latest technology in radar and cameras,” Tetsuya Iijima, general manager of advanced technology development for automated driving, told reporters at Nissan’s headquarters.

“It would be fantastic if lidar technology was at the level that we could use it in our systems, but it’s not. There’s an imbalance between its cost and its capabilities.”

Iijima unveiled Nissan’s own latest self-driving technology, which enables hands-free driving in single lanes on highways on predefined routes.

The technology, to be released in Japan later this year, uses radar and sonar sensors along with cameras to compile the three-dimensional mapping data required for cars to “see” their surroundings.

Apart from sonar, side radar and around-view monitoring cameras, Nissan said it has developed a “tri-cam” that focuses on three points to the front and sides of the vehicle to capture a wide area of view.

Tesla also relies on cameras and radars for its self-driving technology.

Nissan wants to add its self-driving technology to more of its affordable models to boost sales and recover from a profit slump. When reporting earnings earlier this week, the automaker said it had hit “rock bottom” in the aftermath of a financial scandal involving its ousted Chairman Carlos Ghosn.

FOOL’S ERRAND?

Lidar is currently used by companies including General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Alphabet Inc’s Waymo as automakers and tech firms race to develop self-driving cars.

Lidar technology uses light-based sensors that fire roughly 1 million laser pulses a second as it collects measurements that are analyzed and processed into 3D models and maps.

More than $1 billion in corporate and private investment has been pumped into some 50 lidar startups over the past three years, according to a Reuters analysis in March of publicly available investment data.

Still, it is a technology in flux.

Initially using bulky spinning devices placed on the roof of cars, lidar developers have transitioned to more compact solid-state devices that can be mounted on other parts of a car. These now sell for less than $10,000 in limited quantities, and are widely expected to eventually sell for as little as $200 in mass production.

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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Trader works at his desk whilst screens show market data at CMC Markets in London
FILE PHOTO: A trader works at his desk whilst screens show market data at CMC Markets in London, Britain, January 16, 2019. REUTERS/John Sibley

May 16, 2019

By Saikat Chatterjee

LONDON (Reuters) – European stocks fell, government bond yields slipped and the Japanese yen firmed on Thursday after the U.S. government hit Chinese telecoms giant Huawei with severe sanctions, further straining Sino-U.S. trade ties.

An index of European shares fell as much as 0.5% in early European trading with the German stock index down 0.4%. U.S. stock futures were down 0.4%, pointing to a weak start on Wall Street.

The broad weakness in European markets was somewhat offset by small gains in Chinese and Hong Kong stock indexes leading to only marginal losses on a global stock index as investors expected state authorities to step in to support the market and stabilize sentiment.

“Chinese stocks are up as markets expect authorities to intervene to support sentiment but this kind of activity is not sustainable and unless we see a clear resolution in the China-U.S. trade conflict, overall sentiment will remain weak,” said Neil Mellor, a senior FX strategist at BNY Mellon in London.

While benchmark indexes in China and Hong Kong were up between 0.3-0.8% at the close of trading, bond markets were signalling more pain for risk appetite.

Core German government bond yields were flirting with their lowest level in nearly three years while Dutch bond yields were about to dip into negative territory, a phenomenon not seen since October 2016.

Late on Wednesday, the U.S. Commerce Department said it was adding Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and 70 affiliates to its “Entity List” – a move that bans the company from acquiring components and technology from U.S. firms without government approval.

The move took global markets by surprise as sentiment had steadied somewhat in the previous session on news that U.S. President Donald Trump was planning to delay tariffs on auto imports after a swathe of weak U.S. and Chinese economic data.

RATE CUT BETS GROW

As trade tensions have made a reappearance on investors’ radars, weak U.S. data has also ratcheted up market expectations of a U.S. interest rate cut in the coming months.

In the United States, retail sales unexpectedly fell in April as households cut back on purchases of motor vehicles and a range of other goods, while industrial production fell 0.5% in April, the third drop this year.

Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds eased to 2.366%, near a 15-month low of 2.340% touched on March 28.

Fed funds rate futures are fully pricing in a rate cut by the end of this year and more than a 50% chance of a move by September.

“The markets are inching step by step in pricing in a rate cut. That is a sea change from a year ago when the consensus was three to four rate hikes a year,” said Akira Takei, bond fund manager at Asset Management One.

Falling U.S. yields have eroded support for the greenback with the dollar down 0.1 percent against a basket of its rivals.

Oil prices gained on the prospect of mounting tensions in the Middle East hitting global supplies despite an unexpected build in U.S. crude inventories.

Brent crude rose 0.3% to $71.99 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fetched $62.26, also half a percent higher.

Gold edged up to $1,296.9 per ounce.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets, please click on: [LIVE/]

(Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano and Daniel Leussink in TOKYO; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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Huawei smartphones are seen displayed inside a shopping mall in Shanghai
Huawei smartphones are seen displayed inside a shopping mall in Shanghai, China May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

May 16, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China strongly opposes other countries imposing unilateral sanctions on Chinese entities, a Commerce Ministry spokesman said on Thursday in response to the latest U.S. restrictions on telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co.

The United States should avoid further impacting Sino-U.S. trade relations, spokesman Gao Feng told reporters at a weekly briefing.

The U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday that it was adding Huawei Technologies Co and 70 affiliates to its so-called “Entity List” in a move that bans the Chinese telecommunications giant from acquiring components and technology from U.S. firms without prior U.S. government approval.

President Donald Trump separately on Wednesday signed an executive order barring U.S. firms from using telecom equipment made by companies deemed to pose a national security risk.

The order did not specifically identify any country or company, but U.S. officials have previously labeled Huawei a “threat” and lobbied allies not to use Huawei network equipment in next-generation 5G networks.

“China has emphasized many times that the concept of national security should not be abused, and that it should not be used as a tool for trade protectionism,” Gao said.

“China will take all the necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights of Chinese firms.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Trump backed the decision to “prevent American technology from being used by foreign owned entities in ways that potentially undermine U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.”

In response, Huawei, which denies its products pose a security threat, said it was “ready and willing to engage with the U.S. government and come up with effective measures to ensure product security.”

It said restricting Huawei from doing business in the United States would “limit the U.S. to inferior yet more expensive alternatives, leaving the U.S. lagging behind in 5G deployment and eventually harming the interests of U.S. companies and consumers.”

The crackdown on Huawei came as U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would visit China soon for more trade talks.

The outlook for further negotiations had been thrown into doubt after the world’s two biggest economies increased tariffs on each other’s goods in the past week.

Trump softened his trade rhetoric on Tuesday and insisted talks had not collapsed. He has also announced plans to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G20 summit in Japan late next month.

Gao, when asked if Trump and Xi must meet to resolve the trade dispute, said that was not true.

But he added that he had no information on any plans for a U.S. trade delegation to visit China at present.

As negotiations toward resolving the U.S.-China trade war stalled last week, the United States ramped up the pressure by raising tariffs on a list of $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25% from 10%.

China retaliated with higher tariffs on a revised list of $60 billion worth of U.S. products.

Trump has threatened to launch 25% tariffs on another $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.

China has said it would not bow to pressure, and that the United States should not underestimate its resolve to safeguard its interests.

(Reporting by Yawen Chen and Se Young Lee; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore & Kim Coghill)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Pump jacks operate at sunset in an oilfield in Texas
FILE PHOTO: Pump jacks operate at sunset in an oilfield in Midland, Texas U.S. August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo

May 16, 2019

By Aaron Sheldrick

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices pushed higher on Thursday for a third day in a row, as fears of supply disruptions amid heightened tensions in the Middle East overshadowed an unexpected rise in U.S. inventories.

Brent crude futures were at $72.18 a barrel at 0612 GMT, up 41 cents, or 0.6%, from their last close. Brent closed up 0.7% on Wednesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $62.40 per barrel, up 38 cents, or 0.6%, from their previous settlement. WTI closed up 0.4% in the last session.

Analysts said oil was drawing support from the risk of conflict in the Middle East, with helicopters carrying U.S. staff from the American embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday out of apparent concern about perceived threats from Iran.

While a gain in U.S. inventories overnight is helping to cap prices, so too is uncertainty about whether OPEC and other producers will maintain into the second half of the year supply cuts that have boosted prices more than 30% so far in 2019.

U.S. crude inventories, weekly changes since 2017: https://tmsnrt.rs/2XlX17b

Attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil pipeline, ships off UAE’s Fujairah port: https://tmsnrt.rs/2WMoAXg

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said on Tuesday that world demand for its oil would be higher than expected this year.

“Though supply-side disruptions remain supportive of oil prices, OPEC has yet to release indicative statements on supply plans,” Benjamin Lu, commodities analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore, told Reuters by email.

Supply losses from OPEC members Iran and Venezuela, now under U.S. sanctions, have deepened the impact of the OPEC-led production restrictions.

The so-called OPEC+ group of producers, which includes Russia, meets next month to review whether to maintain the pact beyond June.

U.S. crude inventories rose unexpectedly last week to their highest since September 2017, increasing by 5.4 million barrels and surprising analysts, who had expected a decrease of 800,000 barrels, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said. [EIA/S]

An end this month to U.S. waivers that allowed some countries to buy Iranian oil after the reimposition of U.S. sanctions has prompted Tehran to relax restrictions on its nuclear program and threaten action that could breach a 2015 nuclear deal.

But Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said in Tokyo on Thursday the country was committed to its obligations under the deal and was exercising “maximum restraint.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Zarif in a meeting he was concerned the situation in the Middle East “is becoming very tense”.

An attack on four oil tankers in the Gulf on Sunday, for which no one has claimed responsibility, and Saudi Arabia’s announcement that armed drones hit two of its oil pumping stations have compounded concerns.

Asian shippers and refiners have put ships heading to the Middle East on alert and are expecting a possible rise in marine insurance premiums after the attacks.

(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Additional reporting by Colin Packham in SYDNEY; Editing by Tom Hogue and Richard Pullin)

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FILE PHOTO: Logo is pictured during the 152nd Annual General Meeting of Nestle in Lausanne
FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured during the 152nd Annual General Meeting of Nestle in Lausanne, Switzerland April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

May 16, 2019

ZURICH (Reuters) – Nestle SA has entered exclusive negotiations to sell its skin health business to a consortium led by private equity firm EQT Partners and ADIA in a deal worth 10.2 billion Swiss francs ($10.12 billion), it said on Thursday.

The proposed transaction with EQT and a unit of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) was expected to close in the second half of 2019 pending regulatory approval.

Nestle will provide an update on how it will use the proceeds and its future capital structure at that time, the world’s biggest food group said in a statement.

Reuters and the Financial Times had reported on Wednesday that EQT was putting the finishing touches on the deal.

EQT and ADIA had faced competition from rival buyout funds and some industry players including a consortium of Advent and Cinven as well as U.S. private equity firm KKR & Co Inc and European fund PAI Partners, sources had said.

Nestle’s skin health unit, which sells Cetaphil, was formed in 2014. The unit was put up for sale last September as Nestle tries to ditch underperforming businesses in an effort to fend off criticism from an activist investor.

Nestle Skin Health had net sales of 2.8 billion Swiss francs in 2018. Based in the Swiss city of Lausanne, it employs more than 5,000 people across 40 countries.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; editing by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi)

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