FILE PHOTO: One hundred dollar notes are seen in this photo illustration at a bank in Seoul January 9, 2013. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won
April 26, 2019
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar held steady close to a two-year high against its peers on Friday, supported by data showing strong U.S. capital goods orders, while a first-quarter GDP report to be released later in the global day could further reinforce bullishness.
The dollar index versus a basket of six major currencies stood at 98.123 after advancing to 98.322 on Thursday, its highest since May 2017.
Data on Thursday showed new orders for U.S.-made capital goods increased by the most in eight months in March. That follows other recent U.S. data that show strength in retail sales and exports which have eased fears of a sharp slowdown in the world’s biggest economy.
According to a Reuters survey of economists, data to be released at 1230 GMT on Friday will probably show GDP increased 2.0 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, slightly slower that the 2.2 percent posted in the previous quarter.
“We expect the GDP data to underline steady economic recovery,” said Shin Kadota, senior strategist at Barclays in Tokyo.
“Differences in economic fundamentals is a key driver for currencies now that the Fed – and more recently the Swedish and Japanese central banks – have adopted a dovish stance,” Kadota added.
Sweden’s central bank said on Thursday that recent weak inflationary pressures meant an interest rate hike would come slightly later than it had planned, sending the Swedish crown to a 17-year low.
In a move to dispel any doubt over its commitment to ultra-loose policies, the Bank of Japan on Thursday put a time frame on its forward guidance for the first time by telling investors that it would keep interest rates at super-low levels for at least one more year.
The dollar was nearly flat at 111.64 yen after shedding 0.5 percent overnight.
The greenback has poked above 112.00 yen several times this month without building a strong enough foothold above the threshold, which has become a key technical resistance level.
While the dollar has been caught in narrow range against the yen through most of April, Mitsuo Imaizumi, chief FX strategist at Daiwa Securities, sees the next significant move would see the dollar strengthen.
“The Chinese PMI and the U.S. non-farm jobs report are due over the next week and both are expected to be quite good. There is also the next round of U.S.-China trade talks, which could further lift risk sentiment,” Imaizumi said.
“The market could thus see a significant increase in ‘risk on’ during the Japanese holidays, pushing dollar/yen towards 113.00 yen.”
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will travel to Beijing for trade talks beginning on April 30.
Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, said this week that the talks were making progress and that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the prospects for striking a deal.
Starting on Saturday, Japan embarks on a 10-day public holiday to mark the abdication of the emperor, who will be replaced by his son.
The euro was a touch higher at $1.1138 but within reach of $1.1117, its lowest level since June 2017 plumbed on Thursday.
The single currency has shed nearly 1 percent against the dollar this week, weighed by worries about the health of the euro zone economy.
The Australian dollar nudged up 0.15 percent to $0.7027 after ending Thursday little changed.
The Aussie has lost nearly 2 percent this week, during which it sank to a near four-month trough as soft domestic inflation data boosted the prospect of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia.
(Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
FILE PHOTO: The sun sets behind an oil pump outside Saint-Fiacre, near Paris, France March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
April 26, 2019
By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices dipped on Friday on hopes that producer club OPEC will soon raise output to make up for a decline in exports from Iran following a tightening of sanctions on Tehran by the United States.
Despite this, oil markets remain tight amid supply disruptions and rising geopolitical concerns especially over the tensions between the United States and Iran, analysts said.
Brent crude futures were at $74.16 per barrel at 0223 GMT, down 19 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last close.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $64.83 per barrel, down 38 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their previous settlement.
The dip followed Brent’s rise above $75 per barrel for the first time this year on Thursday after Germany, Poland and Slovakia suspended imports of Russian oil via a major pipeline, citing poor quality. The move cut parts of Europe off from a major supply route.
But prices were already gaining before the Russian disruption, driven up by supply cuts led by the Middle East dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran. Crude futures are up around 40 percent so far this year.
Washington said on Monday it would end all exemptions for sanctions against Iran, demanding countries halt oil imports from Tehran from May or face punitive action.
To make up for the shortfall from Iran, the United States is pressuring OPEC’s de-facto leader Saudi Arabia to end its voluntary supply restraint.
“The U.S. will continue to pressure Saudi Arabia to lift its production to cover the supply gap,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at futures brokerage OANDA.
Jefferies bank said “a drop to 500,000 to 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) now seems realistic” for Iranian oil exports, adding that “at least China and potentially India and Turkey will continue to import Iranian crude”.
“OPEC will make up for the shortfall,” the U.S. investment bank said.
Despite U.S. efforts to drive Iranian oil exports down to zero, many analysts expect some oil to still seep out of the country.
“A total of 400,000 to 500,000 barrels per day of crude and condensate will continue to be exported,” said energy consultancy FGE, down from around 1 million bpd currently.
Most of this oil would be smuggled out of Iran or go to China despite the sanctions.
China, the world’s biggest buyer of Iranian oil, this week formally complained to the United States over its unilateral Iran sanctions.
Although most analysts expect some Iranian oil to keep flowing, they expect markets to remain tight amid little spare capacity and the high geopolitical tension.
“The oil market remains tight … (and) oil prices will rise,” FGE chairman Fereidun Fesharaki said on Friday in a note, adding that “$80 to $100 per barrel oil is around the corner”.
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Richard Pullin and Joseph Radford)
The Trump administration said Thursday it is reevaluating its controversial plan to sharply expand offshore drilling as it responds to a court ruling that blocked oil and gas development off Alaska and parts of the Atlantic.
Governors and lawmakers from both Republican- and Democratic-led states have strongly opposed the expanded drilling. And a federal judge last month ruled against President Donald Trump’s executive order to open the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic to broader oil and gas development, saying Trump had exceeded his authority.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that the legal challenges may be “discombobulating” to the administration’s overall drilling plans. Bernhardt says the administration may have to wait for the challenges to fully play out in court.
Interior spokeswoman Molly Block said that given the court setback, the agency “is evaluating all of its options.”
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management “will carefully consider all public input received, including comments from governors of affected states, before making final decisions” on expanded drilling off the country’s coasts, Block added.
Environmental groups welcomed what they said amounted to a delay in the administration’s coastal drilling expansion plans. Collin O’Mara of the National Wildlife Federation said the administration “needs to go one step further and fully and permanently scrap its plan to open our coasts to unfettered offshore drilling.”
But Randall Luthi, head of the National Ocean Industries Association trade group, urged against a “hard stop” in administration planning on expanded offshore drilling. “What cannot be delayed … is the importance of domestic production to meet the growing demand for affordable, reliable American energy,” he said.
The Trump administration announced a new five-year plan last year that would open up 90 percent of U.S. offshore reserves to development by private companies. Then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said it would promote responsible energy development, boost jobs and pay for coastal conservation efforts.
The plan calls for expanded drilling in the Arctic and off the Atlantic coast and would open up waters off California for the first time in more than three decades. Drilling would be allowed from Florida to Maine in areas that have been blocked for decades.
Industry groups said the plan would encourage economic growth and create thousands of jobs, while environmental groups denounced the plan, saying it would cause severe harm to America’s oceans, coastal economies, public health and marine life.
The plan drew bipartisan criticism in Congress, as lawmakers in coastal states said oil drilling off the coast could put their economy, environment and marine life at risk.
Governors from coastal states asked to be removed from the plan, but Interior officials said they were pressing forward even as they promised to take local concerns into consideration.
Offshore drilling was a key factor as the Senate confirmed Bernhardt as interior chief this month. Florida Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott voted in favor of Bernhardt after receiving assurances from him and other administration officials that Florida would be excluded from drilling proposals. A moratorium on offshore drilling in Florida expires in 2022.
Rubio said in a statement on the day of the vote that he is “confident that when all is said and done the ban on oil drilling off of Florida’s coasts will remain in place.”
Bernhardt has declined to publicly rule out drilling off any state, including Florida.
Source: NewsMax America
FILE PHOTO: Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
April 26, 2019
OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Bank of Canada could start hiking rates again “sometime down the road,” although such a move will depend on whether upcoming economic data backs up its assessment that a current slowdown is only a temporary detour, the central bank’s head said on Thursday.
The Bank of Canada has raised interest rates five times since July 2017, although it has stayed on the sidelines in recent decisions as global trade concerns, the slumping oil sector and a weaker housing sector have weighed on the Canadian economy.
The bank again held rates steady on Wednesday but took a more dovish stance than in recent releases, removing wording around the need for “future hikes,” while lowering its growth forecasts for 2019.
But in a televised interview with Maclean’s magazine on Thursday, Governor Stephen Poloz said the central bank believed the slowdown would be temporary, lasting “a couple of quarters,” and implied the worst was already over.
“What we have to do then is wait and see if the data proves to us that we were right about that,” he said. “Assuming we are, then sometime down the road we’ll be able to say: ‘OK, now it’s time to start normalizing again,’ but that remains to be seen.”
He repeated that any move would be data-dependent.
The Bank of Canada estimates its neutral range is between 2.25 and 3.25 percent. The overnight interest rate is currently at 1.75 percent.
Poloz also said there was nothing to signal that Canada was on the verge of recession, but when asked if U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist trade policies could provoke a new global recession, he said: “Certainly.”
“When you think about the gains in income and living standards that have been created by trade liberalization in a postwar period, to erase even a portion of those would be to risk causing a recession globally,” Poloz said.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Peter Cooney)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok, Russia in this undated photo released on April 25, 2019 by North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS
April 25, 2019
By Joyce Lee
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, during his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said peace and security on the Korean Peninsula will entirely depend on future U.S. attitude, state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Friday.
Kim’s remarks are seen as keeping pressure on the United States to be “more flexible” in accepting Pyongyang’s demands to ease sanctions, compared to the U.S. stance during his second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February which broke down, as Kim said earlier this month.
Kim said at the time he will wait “until the end of this year” for the United States to become more flexible.
“The situation on the Korean Peninsula and the region is now at a standstill and has reached a critical point where it may return to its original state as the U.S. took a unilateral attitude in bad faith at the recent second DPRK-U.S. summit talks,” KCNA reported Kim saying, using North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“The DPRK will gird itself for every possible situation.” Kim added.
Kim invited Putin to North Korea at a convenient time and Putin accepted, KCNA said.
The first face-to-face talks between Putin and Kim, held on an island off the Russian Pacific city of Vladivostok on Thursday, did not appear to have yielded any major breakthrough.
Russia and North Korea agreed to more closely promote mutual understanding and bonds, and boost strategic collaboration for ensuring regional peace and security, KCNA said.
Putin said afterward he thought a deal on Pyongyang’s nuclear program was possible and that the way to get there was to move forward step by step in order to build trust.
But any U.S. guarantees might need to be supported by the other nations involved in previous six-way talks on the nuclear issue, Putin said, which was seen as a way to use the summit to strengthen Russia’s diplomatic clout as a global player.
Russia and North Korea agreed to take measures to further cooperate in trade, economy, science and technology, KCNA said.
(Reporting by Joyce Lee and Hyonhee Shin in Seoul; Editing by Chris Reese and James Dalgleish)
FILE PHOTO: A Scandanavian Airlines, known as SAS, Airbus A320-200 airplane takes off from the airport in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, July 29, 2018. REUTERS/Paul Hanna/File Photo
April 25, 2019
STOCKHOLM/COPENHAGEN/OSLO (Reuters) – Swedish pilots at airline SAS rejected a bid tabled by mediators and began preparing to strike as a midnight deadline to reach a deal was passed, but Norwegian unions plowed on with their negotiations.
Danish, Norwegian and Swedish pilot unions had earlier this month called for 1,500 pilots to go on strike on April 26 if no agreement was reached on wages and other issues after an earlier round of talks failed to bear results.
Torbjörn Granevärn, head of negotiations at the Swedish Confederation of Transport Enterprises’ airlines section, said Swedish pilots had rejected the proposal despite provisions that provided greater scheduling predictability.
“We think that is very unfortunate,” he said in an emailed statement late on Thursday.
Freja Annamatz, a spokeswoman for the Scandinavian airline, was not immediately reachable for comment.
SAS, which normally flies around 800 flights per day, had said earlier on Thursday that it would cancel 205 flights from midnight until noon on Friday as a precautionary measure as the negotiations between SAS and four pilot unions had dragged on.
Norwegian state mediator Mats Ruland told public broadcaster NRK that the breakdown of Swedish mediation did not directly affect negotiations with pilots in Norway.
As a midnight deadline passed, Norsk Pilotforbund, one of two Norwegian unions, said their talks were still ongoing. The Danish union was not immediately reachable for comment.
A strike by all the unions would affect 70 percent of SAS flights, with the remaining 30 percent operated by partners left unaffected. Around 170,000 travellers could be impacted if the strike lasted through the weekend, according to Annamatz.
Earlier this week, the airline offered travellers concerned about a possible strike the chance to reschedule flights for the April 26-29 period to another date free of charge.
SAS is in the midst of renewing an elderly and fuel-intensive fleet after spending years cutting costs in the face of cut-price competition from budget carriers such as Norwegian Air Shuttle and Ryanair.
The airline reported a bigger-than-expected loss for its fiscal first quarter in February, but said it still expected to record a profit for the full year.
(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom, Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, Andreas Mortensen, Nerijus Adomaitis and Esha Vaish and Terje Solsvik; editing by Jan Harvey, Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump departs after delivering remarks at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis
April 25, 2019
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he would soon host Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the White House, setting the stage for a possible agreement on trade between the world’s two largest economies.
The White House said on Tuesday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would travel to Beijing for additional talks on a trade dispute that has led to tit-for-tat tariffs between the two countries.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who will lead the Beijing talks for China, will also travel to Washington for more discussions starting on May 8, it said.
“The subjects of next week’s discussions will cover trade issues including intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, services, purchases, and enforcement,” the White House said.
Beijing and Washington are seeking a deal to end a bitter trade war that has cost them billions of dollars, disrupted supply chains and rattled financial markets.
Trump has said he expects to finalize the deal in a meeting with Xi.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Peter Cooney)
FILE PHOTO – A Crossrail worker walks in the new Farringdon underground station of the Elizabeth line, in London, Britain June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
April 25, 2019
LONDON (Reuters) – London’s new flagship rail line connecting Heathrow Airport to the Canary Wharf financial district may not now open before 2021, more than two years behind schedule, the Crossrail project said on Thursday.
Billed as Europe’s most ambitious infrastructure project, the line, which runs under the capital, was supposed to open in December 2018, but was delayed shortly before the launch by problems with testing and the completion of signaling work.
When open, the Elizabeth Line, as the link has been named, will connect destinations such as Heathrow west of the city with the rail hub of Paddington, shopping districts such as Bond Street, Canary Wharf in the east, and beyond.
It is expected to carry about 500,000 passengers a day and alleviate pressure on the Victorian-era metro (subway) network, the Underground or Tube. An initial budget of around 15 billion pounds ($19 billion) has risen to 17.6 billion pounds.
“Crossrail is an immensely complex project and there will be challenges ahead,” new chief executive Mark Wild said. “This new plan will … allow this fantastic new railway to open around the end of next year.”
Among the remaining tasks are building and testing the software to integrate the train operating systems with signaling systems; testing station and tunnel systems; and running train trials.
Crossrail said it had identified a six-month window, with a midpoint at the end of 2020, for it to open the central section of the line between Paddington and Abbey Wood to the east of London. All stations on the route will open apart from Bond Street, which has further problems.
Once the section has opened, trains will run on the whole line as soon as possible. Crossrail will also provide more specific estimates as the line gets nearer to completion.
Crossrail’s chairman said he knew it needed to rebuild trust with its stakeholders after the lengthy delays.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Kevin Liffey)