Reuters

The German share price index DAX graph at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Staff

April 25, 2019

By Susan Mathew

(Reuters) – European shares slipped on Thursday as weak earnings from Nokia and news of failed attempts at mergers added to a downbeat mood on renewed fears of a slowdown in global growth.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index finished 0.2 percent lower after an eight-session rally in the benchmark index stalled on Wednesday.

“The sizes of losses seem to be driven primarily by domestic news,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA in London, pointing also to some profit-taking and softer earnings.

Most major country indexes in the region ended significantly lower, with London’s FTSE 100 down 0.5 percent while Frankfurt’s DAX broke a nine-session winning streak with a 0.25 percent decline.

But not all earnings were bad. Stocks in Madrid and Zurich got a headwind from strong earnings at wind energy producer Iberdrola and lender UBS, respectively.

Reigniting growth fears, data showed the South Korean economy unexpectedly contracted in the first quarter, while Chinese officials warned of protracted pressure on growth, a day after disappointing German Ifo sentiment survey exacerbated concerns about the euro zone’s economic outlook.

Finnish telecom network equipment Nokia was the biggest drag on STOXX 600, sliding 9 percent and logging its sharpest decline in 18 months, after reporting a surprise quarterly loss.

Nokia’s fall knocked the tech index 0.7 percent lower following the previous day’s 4 percent surge.

Sainsbury’s slump after Britain’s competition regulator blocked its proposed 7.3 billion pound ($9.4 billion) takeover of Walmart-owned Asda, and homebuilder Taylor Wimpey’s warning on lower full-year margins, weighed on London’s FTSE.

The banking index shed 0.6 percent, weighed down by Barclays and Swedbank shares.

Britain’s Barclays slipped after reporting a 10 percent drop in quarterly profit, as its under-pressure investment bank struggled with tough markets.

Swedbank fell after posting an estimate-beating first-quarter profit as the Swedish lender admitted to previous shortcomings in combating money laundering.

However losses were tempered by Switzerland’s biggest bank UBS advancing after its first-quarter results surpassed analyst expectations, a day after smaller rival Credit Suisse also posted strong results.

The gains helped Swiss shares buck the gloom and close 0.4 percent higher. Meanwhile, wind energy producer Iberdrola’s 4.3 percent jump after it raised its 2019 guidance for net profit and dividend growth, helped Spanish stocks outperform.

“Equity markets are very much driven by the earnings season and as there are mixed numbers are coming in, investors are taking a little bit of cautious approach,” Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at TF Global Markets (UK) Ltd in London.

Shares of Swiss drugmaker Novartis was the biggest boost to the pan-region index, after Guggenheim upgraded the stock, while many other brokerages raise price target after the drugmaker posted higher first-quarter profit and raised 2019 profit target.

German heavyweight Bayer rose after the drug and farming supplies company posted a 45 percent gain in quarterly core earnings on the back of seed maker Monsanto’s acquisition.

Semiconductor maker ASM soared about 10 percent after beating first-quarter targets, while Germany’s Dialog Semiconductor rose more than 2.5 percent after forecasting higher than anticipated profits in the first quarter.

In the wake of the failed merger talks between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, a deal that had faced fierce opposition from the workforce, Deutsche shares dipped 1.5 percent while Commerzbank slipped 2.3 percent.

(Reporting by Medha Singh, Agamoni Ghosh and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Source: OANN

Contents of grain silos which burst from flood damage are shown in Fremont County, Iowa
FILE PHOTO: The contents of grain silos which burst from flood damage are shown in Fremont County Iowa, U.S., March 29, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Polansek

April 25, 2019

By Karl Plume

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Farm supplier CHS Inc has dozens of loaded barges trapped on the flood-swollen Mississippi River near St. Louis – about 500 miles from the company’s two Minnesota distribution hubs.

The barges can’t move – or get crucial nutrients to corn farmers for the spring planting season – because river locks on the main U.S. artery for grain and fertilizer have been shuttered for weeks. High water presents a hazard for boats, barges and lock equipment.

Railroads have also been plagued by delays from winter weather and flooding in the western Midwest, further disrupting agricultural supply chains in the nation’s bread basket.

The transportation woes are the latest headache for a U.S. agricultural sector reeling from years of slumping profits and the U.S.-China trade war, and they threaten to cut the number of acres of corn and wheat that can be planted this year.

The shipping delays follow months of bad weather in the rural Midwest, including a “bomb cyclone” that flooded at least 1 million acres (405,000 hectares) of farmland last month and a record-breaking April snow storm.

“Our barges are a long way from where we need them in the upper Midwest,” said Gary Halvorson, senior vice president of agronomy at CHS. “We really don’t think that any rail line will be at their preferred service rate until summer.”

Agricultural retailers rely on barges and trains to resupply distribution warehouses across the farm belt. But river flooding has delayed the seasonal reopening of the northern reaches of the Mississippi River to barge traffic. The latest National Weather Service river forecasts suggest one of the river’s southernmost locks could remain closed until at least the first week of May.

FALLING PROFITS, PRODUCTION

Reduced or poorly timed fertilizer applications can hurt yields, potentially denting this year’s U.S. farm profits, which are already predicted to be about half of their 2013 peak, according to the latest U.S. government forecast. Delayed shipments can also mean lost sales for farm suppliers and higher demurrage penalties, or late-return charges, on stalled barges and rail cars.

CHS, one of the largest publicly traded U.S. agriculture suppliers, said this month cited poor weather as a key reason for a $8.9 million drop in agricultural profits during its fiscal second quarter.

Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co said severe weather and flooding would cut its first-quarter profit by $50 million to $60 million while DowDuPont said flooding would slash first-quarter profits in its agriculture division by 25 percent.

Fertilizer producers such as Nutrien Ltd, Mosaic Co and Yara International also lost sales due to bad weather in the fourth quarter of last year and first quarter of this year. Mosaic announced last month that it would cut U.S. phosphate fertilizer production by 300,000 tonnes for the spring season due to poor weather and large inventories left over from the fall.

Farm retailers such as CHS and privately held Growmark may see additional losses through the spring season as the tighter planting window limits the application services they provide, according to CoBank analyst Will Secor.

SCRAMBLING TO PROTECT CROP YIELDS

Farmers are not expected to skip nitrogen fertilizer applications entirely, which would cause yields to drop by about half, according to Purdue University agronomist Bob Nielsen. But higher nutrient costs could have growers applying less-than-optimal amounts.

Some farmers could shift from corn to soybeans, which can be planted later and require fewer fertilizer applications. But soybeans will continue to face uncertain demand as long as the U.S. and top buyer China remain locked in a trade war.

“Right now my plan is to plant more corn because the price of beans is so low,” said Don Batie, a farmer near Lexington, Nebraska.

The weather problems started last autumn, a period when some farmers treat fields after harvesting in preparation for the following spring. But wet weather prevented fall fertilizer applications, and an exceptionally snowy winter in many areas slowed or halted winter field work.

More recent storms have threatened to narrow the limited spring window for field treatments.

“When you add to it this re-supply constraint of not being able to move barges up the Mississippi, it puts us in a precarious position,” said Kreg Ruhl, manager for crop nutrients division at Growmark, the country’s third-largest agriculture retailer in terms of revenue.

PRICES RISING

Retail fertilizer prices have started rising in parts of the Midwest and are likely to rise further as local supplies are depleted and retailers scramble to resupply.

In Iowa, the top U.S. corn producing state, the price of the common fertilizer urea was up 20 percent in late April from a year ago, and anhydrous ammonia was up 27 percent. Both hit their highest early spring levels in three years, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

Without timely barge deliveries, CHS will lean on its rail network that brings imported supplies from Galveston, Texas, to any of the 29 rail hubs it owns in places like Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Marshall, Minnesota; and Minot, North Dakota.

Higher U.S. fertilizer prices and strong demand from other countries could help producers such as Nutrien, Mosaic and Yara recover some recent profit weakness in upcoming quarters.

For farmers and fertilizer retailers, however, uncertain fertilizer deliveries will likely weigh on agricultural markets through the planting season.

“We’re doing our very best to make sure that our retail network is supplied,” said CHS’s Halvorson.

(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago Editing by Brian Thevenot and Caroline Stauffer)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Opening of the new Alphabet's Google Berlin office
FILE PHOTO: Journalists follow a news conference during the opening of the new Alphabet’s Google Berlin office in Berlin, Germany, January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

April 25, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – Google will not have to pay 1.1 billion euros ($1.22 billion) in back taxes demanded by French authorities, an appeals court in France ruled on Thursday, dashing the government’s bid to overturn a 2017 decision.

The latest ruling comes at a time France is trying to crack down on digital service giants and the tax they pay, with the planned introduction of a French levy and as it pushes for broader international reforms.

The back tax case centers on a claim by the French finance ministry that Google had declared advertising revenue in Ireland which had actually been earned in France, thus avoiding paying corporate tax and value-added tax between 2005 and 2010.

But the appeals court in Paris said it agreed with an earlier ruling that favored the U.S. company and argued that Google Ireland Limited did not have a “permanent establishment” or sufficient taxable presence in France to justify the bill.

(Reporting by Simon Carraud, Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Source: OANN

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames
FILE PHOTO: Apr 19, 2019; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames center Mark Jankowski (77) and goalie Mike Smith (41) react after their game against the Colorado Avalanche in game five of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Avalanche won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

April 25, 2019

By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canadians are passionate about hockey but many may tune out of the NHL playoffs now that no teams are able to end the country’s decades-long Stanley Cup drought this year, according to survey from the Angus Reid Institute on Thursday.

Three of the seven Canadian-based National Hockey League teams qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs but each fell in the first round, bringing familiar heartache for fans and potential trouble for Canada’s broadcasters, the survey said.

According to the online survey from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute, 56 percent of Canadians tuned in to the first round of the playoffs, where the Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs carried the nation’s Stanley Cup hopes.

Calgary, which were the top seed in the Western Conference, lost their best-of-seven series to Colorado in five games, while Winnipeg fell to St. Louis in six games followed by Toronto’s loss to Boston in a decisive seventh game on Tuesday.

Their early playoff exits ensures the Stanley Cup will be presented to a U.S. team for the 26th consecutive season and does not bode well for ratings.

In 2016, when for the first time in more than 40 years no Canadian teams made the playoffs, 45 percent of Canadians polled by Angus Reid said they would follow the action.

“While many Canadians are likely disappointed with the poor showing by Canada’s teams, executives at Canada’s broadcasters – Sportsnet and CBC – probably woke up Wednesday feeling morose as well,” the study said.

When asked during the first round which team they believe will snap the country’s Stanley Cup drought, 31 percent of the Canadians polled picked Toronto, 18 percent chose Winnipeg and 3 percent said no Canadian team would ever win it again.

While there is a territorial nature of hockey fans and rivalries that cross generational lines, it appears there would be some unity across Canada, which has not had a Stanley Cup winner since Montreal in 1993, should the drought ever end.

“A Stanley Cup would likely mean a lot to Canadians,” the poll said. “Among those who follow hockey, 62 percent say that they are willing to cheer for any Canadian team if their favorite is knocked out.”

The poll was conducted from April 18-23 with 1,544 Canadian adults and had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Sudanese opposition figure Sadiq al-Mahdi meets his supporters after he returned from nearly a year in self-imposed exile in Khartoum
FILE PHOTO: Sudanese opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi meets supporters in Khartoum, Sudan December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

April 25, 2019

By Michael Georgy and Khaled Abdelaziz

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan could face a counter coup if military rulers and the opposition do not reach agreement on a handover of power to civilians, leading opposition figure and former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi said on Thursday.

Mahdi, Sudan’s last democratically elected premier, said hardliners in ousted president Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) and its allies in the army would try to exploit the uncertainty to seize power.

“For them to attempt a counter coup is most probable. All the time they are conspiring,” Mahdi, 83, said in an interview with Reuters at his sprawling villa surrounded by gardens in the capital Khartoum.

“The whole group is well versed in conspiracy. The conspiratorial mind is ingrained in them.”

Mahdi, who studied at Britain’s Oxford University, was himself overthrown in a bloodless coup by Bashir in 1989.

Bashir fell after weeks of mass demonstrations and the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, the main protest organizer, called for a million-strong march to take place later on Thursday to press for civilian rule.

Mahdi predicted that Sudan’s generals would relinquish power if the current stalemate were broken.

“I think their intentions are good,” he said of the senior army officers who overthrew Bashir on April 11, three decades after he himself seized power, and then formed the TMC.

“They are not interested in a military government,” he said, an outcome which the African Union has said would be unacceptable.

The spokesman for Sudan’s ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) said later on Thursday it would retain “sovereign authority only” while civilians hold the post of prime minister and head all government ministries.

On Wednesday, the opposition and the TMC agreed to form a committee to resolve their disagreements, amid tensions over how long it would take to move to civilian government in Sudan, where widespread impoverishment has been entrenched by systemic financial mismanagement, corruption and cronyism.

SOME CONCESSIONS

The generals have offered some concessions, sacking some officials, announcing the arrest of others, including two of Bashir’s brothers, and ordering steps to curb fraud.

But they have insisted that, while they are willing to accept a civilian transitional government, ultimate authority will remain in their hands until elections are held up to two years from now.

Mahdi’s moderate Islamic Umma party is engaged in the negotiations. Asked if he was interested in ruling Sudan now, Mahdi said: “I will not take part in government until and unless we have elections.”

As two bodyguards stood by, he reflected on the turbulent history of Sudan under Bashir including multiple armed rebellions, economic crises and allegations of war crimes in Darfur, Mahdi recalled what he said was the day that the Islamist Bashir began leading Sudan to failure.

“I was praying at home. Dawn prayers. And they surrounded my house,” he said of the 1989 coup which took him completely by surprise. “I think they wanted to kill me. To capture me and pretend I had tried to escape or resisted.”

After Mahdi was initially jailed, he said he was taken to a what he described as a ghost house. Three men confronted him.

“You can save yourself if you record here that democracy has failed,” he quoted them as saying. “They wanted me to give legitimacy to their coup.”

He refused. “They took me back to an execution cell.” For the next two years he was jailed and put under house arrest.

Mahdi said he had met with intelligence chief Salah Gosh and acting NCP chairman Ahmed Haroun on April 10, the day before Bashir was ousted, after they asked to see him.

The two men threatened to use force to disperse a protester sit-in outside the Defense Ministry, he said. Mahdi said he told them he would join the sit-in to help protect the protesters.

“At this point Haroun said, ‘You will not find them because they will be crushed,’” said Mahdi.

Reuters could not independently verify this account. Gosh could not be reached for comment, while Haroun was arrested and jailed after Bashir’s removal.

Bashir is now languishing in the same, high-security Kobar prison where he sent Mahdi 30 years ago, and where the veteran autocrat held thousands of political detainees. “Kobar is a collection of who’s who in Sudanese politics,” said Mahdi.

(Reporting by Michael Georgy and Khalid Abdelaziz; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Source: OANN

Police keep watch outside the family home of a bomber suspect where an explosion occurred during a Special Task Force raid in Colombo
Police keep watch outside the family home of a bomber suspect where an explosion occurred during a Special Task Force raid, following a string of suicide attacks on churches and luxury hotels, in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

April 25, 2019

By Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez

COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s top defense official said on Thursday that security agencies had been working to stop militant attacks in the days before Easter Sunday bombings that killed 359 people, and he was resigning to take responsibility for the failure.

The suicide bomb attacks on three churches and four hotels exposed a significant intelligence failure, with warnings of strikes not acted on and accusations of feuds at the highest levels of government undermining security cooperation.

Police issued names and photographs of seven people, three of them women, wanted in connection with the attacks, as bomb scares and security sweeps kept the country on edge.

“We were working on that. All those agencies were working on that,” Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando told Reuters, referring to intelligence tips from India warning of imminent strikes that came in over the days before the blasts.

Fernando, the top civil servant at the government’s defense department, said he had resigned to take responsibility for institutions he was in charge of, though he added there had been no failure on his part.

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks. If that connection is confirmed, it looks likely to be the deadliest ever such attack linked to the group.

Most of the victims were Sri Lankans, although authorities have said at least 38 foreigners were also killed, many of them tourists sitting down to breakfast at top-end hotels when the bombers struck.

They included British, U.S., Australian, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals.

About 500 people were wounded.

Authorities have focused their investigations on international links to two domestic Islamist groups – National Thawheed Jama’ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim – they believe carried out the attacks.

Islamic State released a video that showed eight men, all but one with their faces covered, standing under a black Islamic State flag and declaring their loyalty to its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

The government said there were nine suicide bombers, eight of whom had been identified, and that one was a woman.

SNAPSHOTS

A picture has emerged of a group of nine well-educated, home-grown suicide bombers. Two of them were brothers, sons of a wealthy spice trader and pillar of the business community, a source close to the family said.

One studied in Britain and Australia.

At least 76 people, including several foreigners, have been rounded up since Sunday, but police on Thursday for the first time identified seven people they were looking for and appealed to the public for help in finding them.

Photographs, apparently casual snapshots, posted with a wanted notice showed young bearded men, one with a Muslim cap, and three young women, all with head scarves.

Fears that more bombers are at large has kept Sri Lanka on edge all week.

Authorities locked down the central bank and shut the road to the capital’s airport for part of the day because of bomb scares as communal tension simmered.

Office workers in Colombo’s business district were asked to go home early, police said, to avoid vulnerable throngs of people at rush hour. City-center restaurants were also shutting early.

Police also arrested three people and seized 21 locally made grenades and six swords during a raid in Colombo, a spokesman said. He did not give details or suggest that the raid was linked to the suicide bombings.

RECRIMINATIONS

The bombings shattered the relative calm that has existed in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka since a civil war against mostly Hindu, ethnic Tamil separatists ended 10 years ago, and raised fears of a return to sectarian violence.

Sri Lanka’s 22 million people include minority Christians, Muslims and Hindus. Until now, Christians had largely managed to avoid the worst of the island’s conflict and communal tensions.

It seems unlikely that Fernando’s resignation will end the questions and recriminations over why authorities failed to act more effectively to stop the plotters.

Government officials have acknowledged a major lapse in the sharing of intelligence information. Lakshman Kiriella, the leader of parliament, said senior officials had deliberately withheld the intelligence from India about possible attacks.

Both President Maithripala Sirisena and his rival, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, denied seeing the Indian intelligence warnings, officials have said.

The president fired Wickremesinghe last October over political differences, only to reinstate him weeks later under pressure from the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, fears are growing of a surge of communal tension.

Muslims have fled the Negombo region on Sri Lanka’s west coast since scores of worshippers were killed in the bombing of the St. Sebastian church there on Sunday.

Hundreds of Pakistani Muslims have left the port city, crammed into buses, after threats of revenge.

“The local Sri Lankan people have attacked our houses,” one of them, Adnan Ali, told Reuters on Wednesday, as he prepared to board a bus.

(GRAPHIC: Sri Lanka bombings – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Xy02BA)

(GRAPHIC: A decade of peace shattered – https://tmsnrt.rs/2W4wZoU)

(Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Additional reporting by Sanjeev Miglani in COLOMBO, Alasdair Pal and Sunil Kataria in NEGOMBO, Sri Lanka, and Will Ziebell in MELBOURNE; Writing by Paul Tait and Robert Birsel; Editing by Michael Perry and Alex Richardson)

Source: OANN

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a roadshow in Varanasi
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves towards his supporters during a roadshow in Varanasi, India, April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

April 25, 2019

By Devjyot Ghoshal

VARANASI, India (Reuters) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi staged a show of strength on Thursday in his home city of Varanasi, one of the most sacred places for India’s majority Hindu population, as the country’s 39-day staggered general election neared its mid-point.

Dotted with ancient temples and sitting on the banks of the Ganges river, Varanasi was one of two seats that Modi fought and won at the last election in 2014. He has so far chosen to represent Varanasi in parliament and is not likely to pursue any other seat.

Surrounded by tens of thousands of supporters, Modi, who is seeking a second term as premier, bowed to the crowd with folded hands from an elevated podium.

He then toured the city in an SUV, standing to greet supporters through the sunroof. His security forces prevented the crowd from getting too close even as the vehicle moved slowly through the narrow alleys.

Modi was accompanied by senior BJP leaders, including the party President Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, where Varanasi is located. The northern state is India’s most populous and has the largest number of MPs. In 2014, the BJP won 71 seats there out of 80.

Modi is expected to file his nomination papers on Friday.

India’s election is being held over 39 days from April 11 to May 19, with votes due to be counted on May 23. Varanasi will vote on the last day.

Modi’s supporters talked up his achievements in bringing clean water, sanitation and electricity to more of India.

“The city has become clean. There is electricity 24 hours now, and there is water,” said 55-year-old Shyam Narayan Naik.

“No other party will be able to win here,” added Narayan, who runs a textile shop in the city that was shut on Thursday as Modi’s 5 kilometer-long roadshow passed by.

“NAMO AGAIN”

The city was decorated with BJP flags and saffron-colored balloons. Sounds of drums and songs praising Modi grew louder as the prime minister arrived.

Supporters wore “Namo Again” t-shirts or masks with Modi’s photograph, while others dressed as Hindu gods and goddesses.

“I think this time he’s trying to send the signal that he’s now far more confident, he doesn’t need the Gujarat seat and therefore he’s standing only from UP,” said Sudha Pai, referring to the other seat Modi won and gave up in 2014. Pai, a former political science professor at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, closely tracks politics in Uttar Pradesh.

But weak jobs growth, distressed farm incomes because of low crop prices, and charges of economic mismanagement have boosted the opposition. And in Uttar Pradesh, two formidable regional parties have allied to take on the BJP.

Modi often refers to “Mother Ganga” in his speeches, and his government has committed nearly $3 billion of funds to a five-year clean-up of the heavily polluted sacred river.

That program is due to be completed in 2020.

But last year, Reuters found that only a tenth of the funds had been used in the first two years of the project.

“It is what it was before. Nothing has changed. People are just using Modi to make money themselves,” said 70-year old Ramji, referring to the money spent on cleaning the Ganges.

(Editing by Martin Howell and Catherine Evans)

Source: OANN

The German Bundesbank presents the new 50 euro banknote at it's headquarters in Frankfurt
FILE PHOTO: The signature of the President of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi, is seen on the new 50 euro banknote during a presentation by the German Central Bank (Bundesbank) at its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

April 25, 2019

By Tommy Wilkes and Richard Pace

LONDON (Reuters) – After the euro’s slide to 22-month lows against the dollar, investors are scrambling to shield themselves from more weakness as Europe’s poor data contrasts with an upbeat U.S. economy that is sending the dollar surging.

Options markets suggest investors this week bought sizeable downside protection against further euro weakness against the dollar, after the single currency broke below its 2019 low of $1.1170, a level that has opened the door to more selling.

On Thursday, the pair traded as low as $1.1117, the lowest since May 2017. The dollar, meanwhile, soared against a basket of currencies as robust data on jobs and durable goods orders took its year-to-date gains to 2.2 percent.

“We have been increasingly doubtful that the euro can hold,” said Neil Mellor, currencies analyst at BNY Mellon. “Growth forecasts have been slumping and the ECB (European Central Bank) might have to revise its expectations again.”

This week’s fall — more than 1 percent so far — follows a period of calm during which euro/dollar, the world’s most traded currency pair, has been stuck in its narrowest ever trading range. The tiny price fluctuations have frustrated investors keen on volatility and clear direction.

(GRAPHIC: Euro hits 22-month low – https://tmsnrt.rs/2W4eDnX)

The Federal Reserve’s dovish shift at the start of 2019 would normally have hurt the dollar. But the Fed move was followed in March by the ECB’s decision to push back further planned interest rate rises.

Since then, euro zone business surveys have pointed to further gloom, with a widely-watched German business climate index showing deteriorating morale in April.

The U.S. economy, on the other hand, appears to be blooming; latest data showed new orders for U.S.-made capital goods increased by the most in eight months, while U.S. first-quarter growth could be as much as 2.4 percent, according to some estimates.

Until now, investors have had to pay relatively little to protect their portfolios against a euro downside, because currency volatility has been so low and few were buying options.

But that has changed – forex dealers said that a swathe of options were bought on Thursday giving holders the right to sell euros for $1.1000, including one for 500 million euros.

The market is already heavily long dollars, with speculative investors holding their biggest short position in euros since December 2016, CFTC data indicates.

(GRAPHIC: Euro positions – https://tmsnrt.rs/2W4JD73)

One-month implied volatility – a gauge of expected price moves – has also jumped, after threatening to hit record lows only last week.

(GRAPHIC: Euro/dollar implied volatility – https://tmsnrt.rs/2XOzlZx)

Euro/dollar volatility is likely to be boosted by the run-up to the May 23 European parliamentary elections, where populist parties could make a strong showing by tapping into anger about public expenditure cuts and income inequality.

Of course, not everyone believes the euro will spiral lower. Societe Generale analyst Kit Juckes, for instance, said the dollar – supported by an interest rate advantage of at least 70 basis points above its main economic competitors – was expensive, while the euro looked cheap.

“The risk, then, is that, having broken through the bottom of the recent euro-dollar range, all we do is add another coat of paint to the bottom of it, and settle into a marginally lower range,” he said.

(GRAPHIC: YTD G10 FX performance – https://tmsnrt.rs/2W4dZGQ)

But $1.10 is not unknown territory for the euro, which spent much of 2016 and 2017 below that level.

“It’s not really hard to rationalize,” said BNY Mellon’s Mellor. “The bad news is going to continue to mount from an (European) economic perspective.”

(Editing by Sujata Rao and Kevin Liffey)

Source: OANN

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt attends a joint news conference with Finland's Foreign Minister Timo Soini in Vantaa
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt attends a joint news conference with Finland’s Foreign Minister Timo Soini (unseen) in Vantaa, Finland August 14, 2018. LEHTIKUVA/Vesa Moilanen/via REUTERS

April 25, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday he would choose leaving the European Union with no deal if he was presented with the choice between no Brexit or leaving without an agreement with the bloc.

Hunt told reporters that he believed the democratic risks of “no Brexit”, or Britain failing to leave the EU after the 2016 referendum, were higher than the risks of leaving without an agreement, something businesses say would hurt the economy.

(Reporting by William James and Kylie MacLellan, writing by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

Source: OANN

Brazil's Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo attends a news conference at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia
FILE PHOTO: Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo attends a news conference at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil February 1, 2019. Wilson Dias/Agencia Brasil/Handout via REUTERS

April 25, 2019

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said on Thursday that the country must work with China to reduce non-tariff barriers to agriculture trade.

Speaking to an event on Brazil-China cooperation in the farm sector, Araujo said that the two countries must fine tune the process for Chinese approvals for genetically modified agricultural products.

(Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Source: OANN


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