FILE PHOTO: A man walks in front of a screen showing today’s movements of Nikkei share average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo
May 21, 2019
By Hideyuki Sano
TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares wobbled near four-month lows on Tuesday on mounting worries the White House’s black-listing of Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies could further inflame already tense relations between Washington and Beijing.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was flat in early trade but stayed close to a four-month low touched on Friday. It has fallen about 8% from a nine-month peak hit just over a month ago. Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.5%.
In New York, the S&P 500 lost 0.67% while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.46%. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index fell 4.02% to two-month lows. Apple fell 3.1% to its lowest level since early March.
“With the news around the U.S. and Huawei taking a turn for the worse, it seems that the trade war is increasingly showing signs of becoming a tech war,” said Seema Shah, senior global investment Strategist at Principal Global Investors in London. “The further this trend develops, the bigger the collateral damage will be – particularly in Asia and the U.S., but the ripple effect will be significant across the globe.”
The U.S. government on Monday temporarily eased some trade restrictions imposed last week on China’s Huawei, allowing the company to purchase American-made goods to maintain existing networks and provide software updates to existing Huawei handsets for 90 days.
But that was of little comfort for investors who are worried about increasingly acrimonious atmosphere between the world’s two biggest economies.
Some U.S. companies, such as Alphabet’s Google and Lumentum Holdings Inc, have already started to limit services to Huawei.
“The determination of the U.S. administration to paralyze China’s aspirations to become a technology super power is clear when you consider that its actions against Huawei are not only damaging to China’s technology sector, but also the US tech sector,” Shah said.
Corporate earnings guidance provided to investors so far does not take into account the impact of the Huawei ban, said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, chief strategist at Mizuho Securities.
“The sales of semi-conductors will be curtailed at least in the short-term and companies will likely need to revise down their earnings,” he said.
Markets showed scant reaction to speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who dismissed comparisons between the rise of business debt to record levels in recent years and the conditions in U.S. mortgage markets that preceded the 2007-to-2009 economic crisis.
In the foreign exchange market, major currencies were on the sideline for now.
The euro was under pressure ahead of the European election this weekend but was little moved at $1.1169, off Monday’s low of $1.1150, its lowest level since May 3.
The dollar slipped slightly to 110.05 yen from Monday’s near two-week high of 110.32 yen.
The British pound is listless near four-months, trading at $1.2728, just a stone throw from Friday’s low of $1.2714, as an embattled UK Prime Minister Theresa May struggled to pull together a Brexit deal.
The offshore yuan stood at 6.9403 to the dollar, just above Friday’s 5-1/2-month low of 6.9497.
Oil prices held near multi-week highs as OPEC indicated it was likely to maintain production cuts while escalating Middle East tensions provided further support.
Brent crude futures traded up 0.1% at $72.07 per barrel while U.S. crude futures fetched $63.30 per barrel, up 0.3 percent.
(This story has been refiled to remove an extraneous word in paragraph 1)
(Additional reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Sam Holmes)
President Donald Trump voiced confidence Monday in his ability to win Pennsylvania in 2020 and took a new swipe at one of his leading Democratic rivals, telling rallygoers in the state that native son Joe Biden had abandoned them by representing Delaware in the Senate.
The president’s visit to Pennsylvania, intended to boost Republican congressional candidate Fred Keller’s prospects over Democrat Marc Friedenberg in a Tuesday special election for an open seat, had as much to do with helping his own chance for reelection as it did with pushing Keller over the finish line.
“We’ve got to win tomorrow, Fred,” Trump told a cheering rally crowd at a private hangar at Williamsport Regional Airport.
Trump’s visit to the key battleground state also came two days after Biden held a campaign rally in Philadelphia, and the former vice president wasn’t far from Trump’s mind.
The president accused Biden, who was born in Pennsylvania and has long ties there, of deserting his state by representing Delaware in the Senate. Biden moved to neighboring Delaware with his family as a boy.
“He left you for another state, and he didn’t take care of you,” Trump said.
He also referred to the former vice president by the nickname he had coined for him: “Sleepy Joe.”
“Sleepy Joe said that he’s running to, quote, ‘save the world,'” Trump said. “Well, he was. He was going to save every country but ours.”
Biden said Monday in Nashville, Tennessee, that he was running on a pledge to restore the soul of the country. He has frequently talked on the campaign trail about the president’s divisive rhetoric and said another four years of Trump would “fundamentally change the character of this nation.”
Trump, who spoke in the open air with Air Force One behind him, highlighted the economy’s performance under his leadership and suggested those numbers would make him virtually unbeatable.
“Politics is a crazy world, but when you have the best employment numbers in history, when you have the best unemployment numbers in history … I don’t know, how the hell do you lose this election, right?” Trump said. The current unemployment rate of 3.6% is actually the lowest since 1969, when it stood at 3.5%. Unemployment was even lower than that in the early 1950s, and much lower, under 2%, during three years of World War II.
Keller himself offered a rousing endorsement of Trump, saying he wants to go to Congress to be a vote for Trump. Keller told Trump the people of this region of Pennsylvania “have been behind you since Day One, and, Mr. President, our support for you is as strong today as it ever was.”
“In 2016, Pennsylvania put Donald Trump over the top. And in 2020, we’re going to do it again,” Keller said.
Trump uses his campaign rallies to disparage various Democratic candidates for president, but he has been heavily focused on Biden, suggesting he may be worried about the possibility of facing off next year against the longtime politician.
Source: NewsMax Politics
William Barr says he took on the role of Attorney General because he felt the need to fight for the presidency, not necessarily for President Donald Trump.
“I felt the rules were being changed to hurt Trump, and I thought it was damaging for the presidency over the long haul,” Barr told the Wall Street Journal.
Barr came on as AG in mid-February. When special counsel Robert Mueller released his report on Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to win, he punted on whether Trump obstructed justice, on which Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded there was not sufficient evidence.
Barr has since been accused of misleading people about Mueller’s conclusions and acting as Trump’s attorney instead of for the U.S. as a whole.
“Protecting the president who has violated his oath of office and probably the criminal code is not an application of a strong view of executive power,” said Walter Dellinger, who succeeded Barr in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under Bill Clinton.
“That’s just wrong.”
Barr says he’s doing the right thing by trying to protect presidential power.
“At every grave juncture the presidency has done what it is supposed to do, which is to provide leadership and direction,” he added. “If you destroy the presidency and make it an errand boy for Congress, we’re going to be a much weaker and more divided nation.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
FILE PHOTO – U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the National Association of Realtors’ Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, U.S., May 17, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
May 20, 2019
By Jan Wolfe
(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Monday ruled in favor of a U.S. House of Representatives committee seeking President Donald Trump’s financial records from his accounting firm, dealing an early setback to the Trump administration in its legal battle with Congress.
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington also denied a request by Trump to stay his decision pending an appeal.
Last Tuesday Mehta heard oral arguments on whether Mazars LLP must comply with a House of Representatives Oversight Committee subpoena.
Mehta said in Monday’s ruling that the committee “has shown that it is not engaged in a pure fishing expedition for the President’s financial records” and that the Mazars documents might assist Congress in passing laws and performing other core functions.
It was the first time a federal court had waded into the tussle about how far Congress can go in probing Trump and his business affairs.
Trump is refusing to cooperate with a series of investigations on issues ranging from his tax returns and policy decisions to his Washington hotel and his children’s security clearances.
Trump’s lawyers argued that Congress is on a quest to “turn up something that Democrats can use as a political tool against the president now and in the 2020 election.”
Mehta’s ruling will almost certainly be appealed to a higher court.
The House Oversight Committee claims sweeping investigative power and says it needs Trump’s financial records to examine whether he has conflicts of interest or broke the law by not disentangling himself from his business holdings, as previous presidents did.
Lawyers for Trump and the Trump Organization, his company, last month filed a lawsuit to block the committee’s subpoena, saying it exceeded Congress’ constitutional limits.
Mehta was appointed in 2014 by Democratic former President Barack Obama, who was often investigated by Republicans in Congress during his two terms in office.
Mazars has avoided taking sides in the dispute and said it will “comply with all legal obligations.”
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Writing by Jan Wolfe and Howard Goller; Editing by Dan Grebler and Grant McCool)
FILE PHOTO – White House Counsel Don McGahn listens during U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
May 20, 2019
By Sarah N. Lynch, David Morgan and Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday told former White House counsel Don McGahn to defy a subpoena to testify before a congressional committee about the Russia investigation, deepening a fight between the administration and Democratic lawmakers.
In a letter to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s Democratic Chairman Jerrold Nadler, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said that McGahn should not appear due to both “constitutional immunity” and “in order to protect the prerogatives of the Office of the Presidency.”
The committee is investigating whether Trump illegally obstructed the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
McGahn figured prominently in a report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller about the Russia probe and whether Trump committed obstruction of justice.
The report cites McGahn as saying that Trump called him several times in June 2017 to tell him to direct the Justice Department to remove Mueller because of conflicts of interest.
Some Democratic lawmakers say that alleged order by the president could amount to committing the crime of obstruction. Trump has denied asking McGahn to have Mueller removed.Last month, committee chairman Nadler issued a subpoena to McGahn to make him testify before the panel on Tuesday, and has said he would hold the attorney in contempt if he did not show up.
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, meanwhile, issued an opinion on Monday that gave legal cover to the decision to block McGahn from testifying.
In it, Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel wrote that, “Congress may not constitutionally compel the President’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties.”
(Reporting by Steve Holland, Sarah N. Lynch, David Morgan and Tim Ahmann; writing by Mohammad Zargham; editing by David Alexander and Jonathan Oatis)
Support for President Donald Trump among blue-collar workers in Youngstown, Ohio has not waned despite his failure to improve their economic situation, The New York Times reports.
Voters in Northeast Ohio flipped for Trump in the 2016 presidential election, picking him over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, as the GOP nominee promised an economic resurgence – he told workers in nearby Youngstown, Ohio, that manufacturing jobs were not leaving.
“Don’t move, don’t sell your house,” he said at a rally in 2017.
Factory employment remains 10 percent below where it was before since the recession, per the Times, and General Motors in March shut down its Lordstown, Ohio, plant, forcing 1,435 workers to transfer to other plants or get laid off.
GM announced the closure in November, along with the closure of four other U.S. plants and one in Canada, resulting in cuts of 8,000 U.S. salaried and contract jobs, or a 15% reduction in workforce.
Still, voters there don’t care.
“The Democratic Party has lost its voice to speak to people that shower after work and not before work,” said David Betras, a Democratic Party leader in northeast Ohio. “All we’re saying is he won’t turn over his tax returns. He’s saying, ‘I’m fighting China to get you better jobs.’”
He added: “They don’t care about his taxes — they just don’t.’’
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, suggested Democrats were sending the wrong message.
The president is “punching China in the face” with tariffs, while the “leading candidate on our side is saying China is not even an issue,” he said.
“If we go into the election with that as our message, we’ll get beat again.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
Sen. Edward Markey is facing a challenger in next year’s Democratic primary in Massachusetts.
Shannon Liss-Riordan, a workers’ rights lawyer, announced her intention Monday to challenge the one-term senator for the Democratic nomination.
Liss-Riordan made the announcement in a video and email to supporters and Democratic activists.
Liss-Riordan, 49, said she has spent her career representing workers who have been taken advantage of by their employers, including servers whose bosses were taking their tips. She’s a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College.
In her video, Liss-Riordan doesn’t mention Markey by name, but instead seeks to tap into the #MeToo movement and appeal to a Democratic Party that is increasingly supportive of more diverse candidates.
She mentions both Anita Hill, who accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991, and Christine Blasey Ford, who accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh last year of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers decades ago. Both men were later confirmed to the court.
“It was as if nothing had changed,” Liss-Riordan said in the video. “This country is stuck because of the cycle of Washington politics. Washington needs a fresh voice willing to break that cycle.”
Hours after Liss-Riordan’s announcement, Markey issued a press release announcing key political positions in his campaign, ahead of a formal launch.
Markey said the country’s democracy is under assault every day by President Donald Trump and what he called Trump’s “hate, division, and inequality.”
“We are all called to stand up in the fight for the future of our country,” Markey said. “I want to continue helping to lead that resistance in the United States Senate armed with an agenda of jobs and justice and a deep commitment to the freedoms born in the Commonwealth.”
Markey is considered potentially vulnerable at a time when an increasing number of women are being elected to Congress, particularly among Democrats. Just last year, Ayanna Pressley defeated longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano in the Democratic primary and went on to become Massachusetts’ first black woman elected to the U.S. House.
But there are differences. Pressley was a well-known Boston city councilor in a relatively compact, largely urban district, while Liss-Riordan is less well-known and will have to run statewide against a candidate with deep political roots.
And the 72-year-old Markey — who spent decades in the U.S. House before winning Democrat John Kerry’s former Senate seat in 2013 — has worked to tap into a new political energy on Capitol Hill.
Earlier this year, Markey teamed up with freshman Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York to launch the Green New Deal — a sweeping plan that aims to transform the U.S. economy to combat climate change and create thousands of jobs in renewable energy.
Markey raised more than $950,000 during the first three months of the year, bringing his campaign war chest to more than $3.5 million.
Nearly 75% of Markey’s contributions during the first quarter of 2019 came from individual donors, with the rest coming from other sources like political action committees, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Source: NewsMax Politics
Ed Cox, the longtime chairman of the New York state Republican Party, will step down to raise money for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.
Trump’s campaign announced the move Monday. Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale called Cox a “fantastic” state chairman who will help ensure the Republican president has the financial resources necessary to compete in 2020.
Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy is now poised to take over as New York GOP chairman when Cox steps down in July.
Langworthy had launched a bid to replace Cox, who some Republicans blamed for the party’s recent election losses.
Monday’s announcement came after several local party chairmen announced their support for Langworthy’s challenge.
Cox, a lawyer, has led the state GOP since 2009. He is the son-in-law of former President Richard Nixon.
Source: NewsMax Politics
The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 9, 2018. REUTERS/Staff/Remote
May 20, 2019
By Aaron Saldanha
(Reuters) – European stocks recorded broad-based losses on Monday, as a U.S. crackdown on China’s Huawei Technologies rekindled concerns about worsening global trade and wilted the continent’s trade-exposed tech and auto stocks.
Global risk appetite was jolted after Reuters reported Alphabet Inc’s Google suspended some business with Huawei, while Apple Inc supplier Lumentum Holdings Inc said it had discontinued all shipments to Huawei.
“Seeing as the United States has taken a tough stance against Huawei, traders are not hopeful that the U.S.-China trade dispute will be resolved quickly,” David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, wrote in a note.
“The rally at the back end of last week is starting to look like a relief rally, and this move could be the beginning of the next major move lower.”
The pan-European Euro STOXX 600 fell 1.1% and has shed 3.5% so far in May, on course to post 2019’s first monthly loss, largely on fears of slower growth as trade ties chill.
The volatility gauge on euro zone blue-chips jumped, lifting off Friday’s two-week closing low.
Germany’s DAX dropped 1.6%, while French stocks shed 1.5%. Italian stocks slid 2.7%, weighed on by Intesa Sanpaolo declining as it traded ex-dividend.
Tech stocks were the STOXX 600’s top losers, diving 2.8%. AMS, STMicroelectronics, and ASML were down between 6.3% and 13.4% as fears of a disruption to the industry’s global supply chain grew.
German chipmaker Infineon trimmed intra-day losses to end 4.8% lower after denying a report in Japan’s Nikkei daily that it had suspended deliveries to Huawei.
Stocks of tariff-sensitive auto-makers and their suppliers shed 2% to clock their lowest closing level in more than a month and a half.
Banks fell 1.6%, with Deutsche Bank tumbling 2.9% to a record closing low.
The New York Times on Sunday reported anti-money laundering specialists at the German lender recommended in 2016 and 2017 multiple transactions involving entities controlled by U.S. President Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog.
The newspaper, citing five current and former Deutsche Bank employees, said bank executives rejected their employees’ advice and the reports were never filed with the government. The lender has denied the report.
Viennese stocks slid 1.4% after Austria’s president called for a snap election in September following the resignation of the country’s far-right vice chancellor over a video sting.
Travel and leisure stocks slid 1.4%, with Ryanair diving 4.6% after the low-cost airline posted its weakest annual profit in four years and said earnings could fall further.
“It looks like it will be a tough summer, with rising fuel costs and more strikes, even without Brexit making things worse,” Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, wrote in a note.
Telecom stocks were the STOXX 600’s only gaining sub-sector, rising 0.8%. Vodafone Group climbed 1.7% on the day, after recording its lowest closing level in close to 10 years on Friday.
(Reporting by Aaron Saldanha, Agamoni Ghosh and Amy Caren Daniel; Editing by Alexander Smith, Alison Williams and Frances Kerry)
A pen of young pigs is seen during a tour of a hog farm in Ryan, Iowa, U.S., May 18, 2019. Picture taken May 18, 2019. REUTERS/Ben Brewer
May 20, 2019
By Tom Polansek
DUBUQUE, Iowa (Reuters) – Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg asked a crowd of hot and sticky supporters packed into an Iowa brewery this weekend whether the United States has a plan to win the ongoing trade war with China.
“Nooo,” was the response.
The world’s two largest economies have been embroiled in a 10-month trade war that has roiled global supply chains and rattled financial markets. U.S. farmers, who helped carry Trump to his surprise 2016 election win, have been among the hardest hit as China has imposed tariffs on imports of U.S. agricultural products including soybeans, pork and grain sorghum in response to U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.
Now, increasing frustrations over the prolonged dispute are prompting some rural residents in Iowa, home of the first presidential nominating contest in February, to consider candidates other than President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
Their desire for alternatives highlights the deep financial pain the trade war is causing in the agriculture sector, a backbone of Iowa’s economy. Farm incomes have also suffered from years of overproduction and low commodity prices.
Virgil Murray of Bellevue, Iowa, a city of about 2,000 people, voted for Trump and considers himself a Republican. But the 72-year-old retired school superintendent attended the rally for Buttigieg in Dubuque on Saturday with his wife, a Democrat. Murray said he is open to voting for a Democratic candidate.
“A lot of the farmers voted for Trump. Now they’re feeling it,” said Murray, who lives near the Mississippi River, a key pipeline for moving grain from Midwest farms to export terminals along the Gulf Coast.
Trump has pledged to help farmers with direct payments and says the China trade war will benefit them in the long run.
Other Democratic candidates including Joe Biden, who leads primary polls, have also criticized Trump’s trade policies.
Farmers worry that a deal to end the trade war would take much longer than expected after Trump on May 9 increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. China quickly raised tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods in response.
The Trump administration wants any trade deal with China to include purchases of more than $1.2 trillion worth of American products, including agricultural commodities.
The countries appeared on track for an agreement before relations soured this month, pushing U.S. soybean futures to their lowest prices in more than a decade.
“We were optimistic. That blew up,” Ken Ries, a farmer who raises soybeans, corn and hogs, said in an interview at his home in Ryan, Iowa.
SOY FARMERS SUCKING AIR
Ries, 69, voted for Trump in 2016 and said he will not vote for a Democrat in 2020 but would consider a candidate other than Trump if there is a Republican primary.
“The soybean farmer is sucking air,” Ries said.
Some farmers are wary of Democrats who have expressed opposition to “Big Ag” and support for the Green New Deal, a proposal that aims to cut carbon emissions in agriculture and other parts of the economy, said Kirk Leeds, chief executive of the Iowa Soybean Association.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another Democratic presidential contender, has advocated breaking up large agribusinesses that dominate dealings in the meat and grain sectors.
“I think you’re going to see the support for the president stay pretty solid, based on no clear alternative,” Leeds said.
But some farmers who are unhappy with Trump and dislike Democrats could not vote at all during the next election, Leeds said.
$20 BILLION IN AID
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is preparing a second package of aid for farmers hurt by the trade war of up to $20 billion. The agency in 2018 pledged up to $12 billion, most of it in direct payments to farmers to help offset their crop losses. It has allocated about $9.4 billion of that so far.
Charmayne McMurray, who raised crops and livestock for more than a quarter century in Andrew, Iowa, said the payouts will not stop farmers from considering Democratic candidates.
“Farmers, they want to work. They don’t want a handout” said McMurray, a 73-year-old undecided Democrat who now lives in Dubuque and was among about 550 people at Buttigieg’s rally there.
Dubuque County flipped from supporting Democrat Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016.
Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said Trump launched the trade war without a strategy of how to win it. The dispute is just one problem that could prompt farmers to consider Democratic candidates in 2020, he said.
Other threats include consolidation among commodity buyers and changes in climate that are making it more difficult to produce crops, Buttigieg told reporters.
“I’ve certainly talked to a lot of farmers who are getting killed and in a lot of different ways,” he said. “All of these things I think are a good moment for Democrats to remind rural America why we have a better message for them than the current president, who I think has been taking them for granted.”
(Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and Chris Reese)