China Southern Airlines in talks over American Airlines cooperation deal


SHANGHAI China Southern Airlines (600029.SS)(1055.HK)(ZNH.N) is negotiating a potential strategic tie-up with American Airlines (AAL.O) that could involve a share issue and other forms of business cooperation, it said on Sunday.

A stock exchange filing from China’s largest carrier by passenger numbers said the proposed cooperation is subject to approval by shareholders and government authorities and no binding agreement has yet been made.

The company’s U.S.-listed shares jumped 6.9 percent on Friday after it halted trading in its China and Hong Kong-listed shares and said it was negotiating a possible cooperation with a third party.

Trading in the shares will resume on Monday, the company said.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by David Goodman)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/rzaSESElQyQ/us-china-southern-american-airline-idUSKBN16X0S5

Equities take a spill on Trump healthcare setback; bonds shine


HONG KONG Asian stocks are set to start the week on a cautious note as President Donald Trump’s stunning failure to get healthcare reform passed raised concerns about the prospects for his plans to use fiscal stimulus to boost economic growth.

Financial markets were unnerved on Friday by Trump’s inability to get enough support for legislation to “repeal and replace” the Obamacare health insurance reforms, a major 2016 election campaign promise.

Despite some recent profit-taking, U.S. stocks .SPX are still up more than 12 percent since Trump was elected on Nov. 8, the stock prices reflecting views that lower taxes, deregulation and fiscal stimulus would boost economic growth and corporate earnings.

But the failure of Trump’s healthcare bill knocked the wind out of risky assets in early Asian trading with U.S. stock index futures falling to a six-week low in heavy volumes while Treasury futures edged higher. and

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was flat in early trade though Australia’s stock market tumbled 0.9 percent at the open. Rising policy uncertainty also raised concerns that a recent revival in business and consumer sentiment, particularly in Asia as evident from recent industry surveys, would be derailed at a time when market valuations appeared stretched.

“For markets, that doesn’t sound like an ideal situation,” ANZ strategists wrote in a daily note.

The greenback took a spill in early Asian trade on Monday with early moves exaggerated in a very thin market.

The U.S. dollar was down 0.8 percent against the yen at one stage to a 110.44 JPY=.

The euro rose to a near four-month peak at $1.0847 EUR=. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was down nearly half a percent at 99.306. .DXY.

Treasury futures TYv1 gained 5/32s in price, suggesting benchmark yields would start lower. On Friday, benchmark 10-year U.S. yields US10YT=RR closed near their lowest levels in a month.

Safe-haven gold perked up, rising to $1,253 an ounce.

Oil prices were broadly flat as investor concerns lingered that OPEC-led supply cuts were not yet reducing record U.S. crude inventories.

U.S. crude CLc1 was trading slightly higher at $48.15 per barrel.

(Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Eric Meijer)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/E9zX1prAdLs/us-global-markets-idUSKBN16Y016

U.S. equity futures at six-week low after Trump healthcare setback


U.S. equity index futures fell to a six-week low on Sunday in a sign Wall Street would start the week defensively after Republicans pulled legislation to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system in a stunning setback for President Donald Trump.

SP 500 e-mini futures ESv1 were down over 0.65 percent, shortly after electronic trading resumed on Sunday evening.

Volume of more than 17,000 contracts in the first 30 minutes marked the heaviest trading activity to kick off a week since Trump took office. That was roughly 2-1/2 times the average of fewer than 7,000 contracts in early Sunday evening trading since the inauguration.

U.S. Treasury futures were up 0.18 percent Sunday, indicating that yields would start the week lower when bonds start trading in Asia later.

Markets were unnerved last week by Trump’s inability to get enough support for legislation to reform the U.S. healthcare system, a major 2016 election campaign promise of the president and his allies.

Investors had worried that the difficulties with the health bill could delay other legislation such as tax reform. Trump said he would now turn his attention to getting “big tax cuts” through Congress.

Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said the administration was open to working with moderate Democrats and Republicans to pass other aspects of Trump’s agenda, such as revamping the tax code.

David Ader, chief macro strategist at Informa Financial Intelligence, said about the failed health care bill: “The friction in Washington over all this is tempting to extrapolate to Trump’s broader economic plans – lower taxes, fiscal stimulus – in that these, too, may stumble or at least retreat from the levels initially offered.”

News that Republican leaders pulled the bill broke just before the markets closed on Friday, sending stocks lower.

For the week, the SP 500 fell 1.4 percent, its worst weekly decline of the year.

The equity run-up since Trump’s election, which was largely based on expectations of tax cuts and deregulation of financials, appeared to be waning, said Putri Pascualy, managing director and partner at Pacific Alternative Asset Management Company, which has $24 billion in assets under management.

“Recent market pullback tells me that some of the euphoria is starting to ebb as reality sinks in,” Pascualy said. “Congress can throw a big wrench into how some of these plans are going to be executed.”

Mark Grant, chief strategist and managing director at Hilltop Securities, recommended investors move into 5-10 year corporate bonds “because I don’t see stocks posting double-digit returns after their huge run-up since the elections.”

(Reporting by Jessica Toonkel and Jennifer Ablan in New York,; additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney and Andrew Hay)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/vyGNj-OFf0U/us-usa-stocks-idUSKBN16X15C

Exclusive: Venezuela increased fuel exports to allies even as supply crunch loomed


HOUSTON/CARACAS A gasoline shortage in OPEC member Venezuela was exacerbated by an increase in fuel exports to foreign allies such as Cuba and Nicaragua and an exodus of crucial personnel from state-run energy company PDVSA, according to internal PDVSA documents and sources familiar with its operations.

Leftist-run Venezuela sells its citizens the world’s cheapest gasoline. Fuel supplies have continued flowing despite a domestic oil industry in turmoil and a deepening economic crisis under President Nicolas Maduro that has left the South American country with scant supplies of many basic necessities.

That changed on Wednesday, when Venezuelans faced their first nationwide shortage of motor fuel since an explosion ripped through one of the world’s largest refineries five years ago. At the time, the government of then-President Hugo Chavez curbed exports to guarantee there was enough fuel at home.

This week’s shortage was also mainly due to problems at refineries, as a mix of plant glitches and maintenance cut fuel production in half.

Unlike five years ago, Caracas has continued exporting fuel to political allies and even raised the volume of shipments last month despite warnings within the government-run company that doing so could trigger a domestic supply crunch.

Shipments from refineries to the domestic market needed to be redirected to meet those export commitments, the internal documents showed.

“Should this additional volume … be exported, it would impact a cargo scheduled for the local market,” read one email sent from an official in the company’s domestic marketing department to its international trade unit.

Venezuela last month exported 88,000 barrels per day (bpd) of fuels – equivalent to a fifth of its domestic consumption – to Cuba, Nicaragua and other countries, according to internal PDVSA documents seen by Reuters.

That was up 22,000 bpd on the volumes Venezuela had been shipping to those two countries under accords struck by Chavez to expand his diplomatic clout by lowering their fuel costs through cheap supplies of crude and fuel.

The order to increase exports came from PDVSA’s top executives, according to the internal emails seen by Reuters.

Venezuela’s oil ministry and state-run PDVSA, formally known as Petroleos de Venezuela SA, did not reply to requests for comment for this story.

FUEL STRAIN, BRAIN DRAIN

The strain on the country’s fuel system has been worsened by the departure of staff in PDVSA’s trade and supply unit who are key to ensuring fuel gets to where it is needed and making payments for imports, three sources close to the company said.

The unit has seen around a dozen key staffers depart since Maduro shook up PDVSA’s top management in January. Among those who left was the head of budget and payments, two sources said.

“Every week someone leaves for one reason or another,” said a PDVSA source familiar with the unit’s operations.

Some have been fired, while others have left since the shake-up inserted political and military officials into top positions and bolstered Maduro’s grip on the company that powers the nation’s economy.

The imposition of leaders with little or no experience in the industry has further disillusioned some of the company’s experienced professionals and accelerated an exodus that had already taken hold as economic and social conditions in Venezuela worsened.

A recent internal PDVSA report seen by Reuters mentioned “a low capacity to retain key personnel,” amid salaries of a few dozen dollars a month at the black market rate.

UNPAID BILLS

The departure of staff responsible for paying suppliers, as well as a cash crunch in the company and the country, have led to an accumulation of unpaid bills for fuel imports into Venezuela.

Had those bills been paid, the supply crunch would have been less acute, the company sources said.

About 10 tankers are waiting near PDVSA ports in Venezuela and the Caribbean to discharge fuel for domestic consumption and for oil blending.

Only one vessel bringing fuel imports has been discharged since the beginning of the week, shipping data showed.

PDVSA ordered some of the cargoes as it prepared alternative supplies while refineries undergo maintenance.

The tankers sitting offshore will not unload until PDVSA pays for their cargoes, said shippers and the company sources.

Should PDVSA pay – up to $20 million per cargo – shortages could blow over relatively soon.

The cash-strapped company has struggled since the global oil price crash that began in 2014 cut revenue for its crude exports. PDVSA is tight on cash as it prepares for some $2.5 billion in bond payments due next month.

While the vessels sit offshore, lines of dozens of cars waited at gas stations in central Venezuela on Wednesday and Thursday. The shortages angered Venezuelans who already face long lines for scarce food and drugs.

PDVSA blamed the supply crunch on unspecified problems for shipping fuel from domestic refineries to distribution centers. The company said it was working hard to solve the gasoline situation by boosting deliveries to the worst-hit regions.

A shortage of trucks to move refined products has also caused bottlenecks, oil workers told PDVSA President Eulogio Del Pino during a visit to a fuel facility this week, asking for help. Trucks are in short supply because the country does not have enough funds to pay for imports of spare parts.

It was unclear when fuel supplies would return to normal, although by late Thursday PDVSA appeared to have distributed some fuel from storage to Caracas and the eastern city of Puerto Ordaz. Lines to fill up at gasoline stations shortened in both cities, according to Reuters witnesses.

Workers at the 335,000-bpd Isla refinery on the nearby island of Curacao operated by PDVSA said on Friday that the refinery had begun restarting its catalytic cracking unit, which could boost fuel supplies in the coming days.

(Additional reporting by Mircely Guanipa in Punto Fijo and Maria Ramirez in Puerto Ordaz; Editing by Simon Webb and Marguerita Choy)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/ITnFAPK9C7Q/us-venezuela-gasoline-idUSKBN16V2D5

Uber suspends self-driving car program after Arizona crash


Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] suspended its pilot program for driverless cars on Saturday after a vehicle equipped with the nascent technology crashed on an Arizona roadway, the ride-hailing company and local police said.

The accident, the latest involving a self-driving vehicle operated by one of several companies experimenting with autonomous vehicles, caused no serious injuries, Uber said.

Even so, the company said it was grounding driverless cars involved in a pilot program in Arizona, Pittsburgh and San Francisco pending the outcome of investigation into the crash on Friday evening in Tempe.

“We are continuing to look into this incident,” an Uber spokeswoman said in an email.

The accident occurred when the driver of a second vehicle “failed to yield” to the Uber vehicle while making a turn, said Josie Montenegro, a spokeswoman for the Tempe Police Department.

“The vehicles collided, causing the autonomous vehicle to roll onto its side,” she said in an email. “There were no serious injuries.”

Two ‘safety’ drivers were in the front seats of the Uber car, which was in self-driving mode at the time of the crash, Uber said in an email, a standard requirement for its self-driving vehicles. The back seat was empty.

Photos and a video posted on Twitter by Fresco News, a service that sells content to news outlets, showed a Volvo SUV flipped on its side after an apparent collision involving two other, slightly damaged cars. Uber said the images appeared to be from the Tempe crash scene.

When Uber launched the pilot program in Pittsburgh last year, it said that driverless cars “require human intervention in many conditions, including bad weather.” It also said the new technology had the potential to reduce the number of traffic accidents in the country.

The accident is not the first time a self-driving car has been involved in a collision. A driver of a Tesla Motors Inc Model S car operating in autopilot mode was killed in a collision with a truck in Williston, Florida in 2016. A self-driving vehicle operated by Alphabet Inc’s Google was involved in a crash last year in Mountain View, California, striking a bus while attempting to navigate around an obstacle.

The collision comes days after Uber’s former president Jeff Jones quit less than seven months after joining the San Francisco-based company, the latest in a string of high-level executives who have departed in recent months.

In February, Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving car unit sued Uber and its Otto autonomous trucking subsidiary, alleging theft of proprietary sensor technology.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Frank McGurty and Bill Rigby)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/7HXF3KcUtwg/us-uber-tech-crash-idUSKBN16W0UZ

Chinese court rules in favor of Apple in local design patent disputes


BEIJING A Chinese court has ruled in favor of Apple in design patent disputes between the Cupertino, California company and a domestic phone-maker, overturning a ban on selling iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus phones in China, Xinhua news agency reported.

Last May, a Beijing patent regulator ordered Apple’s Chinese subsidiary and a local retailer Zoomflight to stop selling the iPhones after Shenzhen Baili Marketing Services lodged a complaint, claiming that the patent for the design of its mobile phone 100c was being infringed by the iPhone sales.

Apple and Zoomflight took the Beijing Intellectual Property Office’s ban to court.

The Beijing Intellectual Property Court on Friday revoked the ban, saying Apple and Zoomflight did not violate Shenzhen Baili’s design patent for 100c phones.

The court ruled that the regulator did not follow due procedures in ordering the ban while there was no sufficient proof to claim the designs constituted a violation of intellectual property rights.

Representatives of Beijing Intellectual Property Office and Shenzhen Baili said they would take time to decide whether to appeal the ruling, according to Xinhua.

In a related ruling, the same court denied a request by Apple to demand stripping Shenzhen Baili of its design patent for 100c phones.

Apple first filed the request to the Patent Reexamination Board of State Intellectual Property Office. The board rejected the request, but Apple lodged a lawsuit against the rejection.

The Beijing Intellectual Property Court on Friday ruled to maintain the board’s decision. It is unclear if Apple will appeal.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo, editing by David Evans)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/_uj7-rAdRn0/us-apple-china-idUSKBN16W0KT

London Attacker Had Worked in Saudi Arabia Teaching English


A police officer places flowers as a man gestures beside floral tributes to victims of Wednesday’s attack, on Parliament Square outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Friday March 24, 2017. On Thursday authorities identified a 52-year-old Briton as the man who mowed down pedestrians and stabbed a policeman to death outside Parliament in London, saying he had a long criminal record and once was investigated for extremism — but was not currently on a terrorism watch list.


By

Published on March 25, 2017

LONDON (AP) — The British man who killed four people during a London rampage had made three trips to Saudi Arabia: He taught English there twice on a work visa and returned on a visa usually granted to those going on a religious pilgrimage.

More details about attacker Khalid Masood’s travels, confirmed by the Saudi Arabian embassy in Britain, emerged Saturday amid a massive British police effort to discover how a homegrown ex-con with a violent streak became radicalized and why he launched a deadly attack Wednesday on Westminster Bridge.

The embassy said he taught English in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and again from April 2008 to April 2009, with legitimate work visas both times. He then returned to Saudi Arabia for six days in March 2015 on a trip booked through an approved travel agent and made on an “Umra” visa, usually granted to those on a religious pilgrimage to the country’s Islamic holy sites.

The embassy said Saudi security services didn’t track Masood and he didn’t have a criminal record there.

Before taking the name Masood, he was called Adrian Elms. He was known for having a violent temper in England and had been convicted at least twice for violent crimes.

Masood drove his rented SUV across London’s crowded Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, striking pedestrians. Then he jumped out and stabbed to death police officer Keith Palmer, who was guarding Parliament, before being shot dead by police.

In all, he killed four people and left more than two dozen hospitalized, including some with catastrophic injuries. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, calling him a “solider” who responded to its demands that followers attack countries in the coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

British officials said security at Parliament will be reviewed after new footage emerged that showed the large gates to the complex were left open after Masood rushed onto the grounds. There are concerns that accomplices could have followed him in and killed even more people. The footage from that day shows pedestrians walking by the open gates and even a courier entering Parliament grounds.

Former Metropolitan Police commissioner Ian Blair told the BBC that changes to the “outer soft ring” of Parliament’s security plan are likely in the aftermath of Masood’s attack.

The new footage follows earlier video that showed slight delays and confusion during the evacuation of Prime Minister Theresa May from Parliament as the attack unfolded.

Masood, who at 52 is considerably older than most extremists who carry out bloodshed in the West, had an arrest record in Britain dating to 1983. In 2000, he slashed a man across the face in a pub parking lot in a racially charged argument after drinking, according to a newspaper account. Masood’s last conviction, in 2003, also involved a knife attack.

One victim, Danny Smith, told The Sun newspaper that Masood had stabbed him in the face with a kitchen knife after an argument just three days after they met.

Hundreds of British police have been working to determine his motives and are scouring Masood’s communications systems, including his possible use of the encrypted WhatsApp device, to help determine if he had any accomplices.

Still, police have released many of those they took in for questioning in the case.

One 58-year-old man remains in custody for questioning after being arrested Thursday in the central English city of Birmingham, where Masood was living. Authorities haven’t charged or identified him.

A 32-year-old woman arrested in Manchester has been released on bail and faces further inquiries.

Police said Saturday that a 27-year-old man arrested Thursday in Birmingham has been released.

Eight others arrested in connection with the investigation had been set free earlier, including a 39-year-old woman who had initially been freed on bail but now faces no further police action, police said Saturday.

Details about how Masood became radicalized aren’t clear, although he may have become exposed to radical views while an inmate in Britain or while working in conservative Saudi Arabia. It’s also not clear when he took the name Masood, suggesting a conversion to Islam.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






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EU Puts Pen to Paper, Signs Unity Pledge on 60th Anniversary

ROME (AP) — With Britain poised to start divorce proceedings, the 27 remaining European Union nations put pen to paper Saturday in Rome to renew their vows for continued unity in the face of crises that are increasingly testing the bonds between members.

The EU nations marked the 60th anniversary of their founding treaty as a turning point in their history, as British Prime Minister Theresa May will officially trigger divorce proceedings from the bloc next week — a fact that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called “a tragedy.”

Determined to show that unity is the only way ahead in a globalized world, the EU leaders were able to walk away from a summit without acrimony, which was already sort of a victory.

“We didn’t have a major clash or conflict, contrary to what many thought,” Juncker said.

EU Council President Donald Tusk said that sustained unity was the only way for the EU to survive.

“Europe as a political entity will either be united, or will not be at all,” he told EU leaders at a solemn session in the same ornate hall on the ancient Capitoline Hill where the Treaty of Rome, which founded the EU, was signed on March 25, 1957.

To move ahead though, the EU leaders recognized that full unity on all things will be unworkable. Pushed by several Western European nations, they enshrined a pledge to give member nations more freedom to form partial alliances and set policy when unanimity is out of reach.

“We will act together, at different paces and intensity where necessary, while moving in the same direction,” said the Rome Declaration signed by the 27 nations.

The EU has often used a multi-speed approach in the past, with only 19 nations using the shared euro currency and not all members participating in the Schengen borderless travel zone. The approach has already been extended to social legislation and even divorce rules among EU nationals.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to assuage fears that it would lead to a further unraveling of unity.

“The Europe of different speeds does not in any way mean that it is not a common Europe,” Merkel said after the ceremony. “We are saying here very clearly that we want to go in a common direction. And there are things that are not negotiable” — the EU freedom of movement, goods, people and services.

With Britain leaving, the mantle of recalcitrant member seems to have been taken over by Poland. Still, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, unmissable in a bright yellow jacket, was more subdued than at the last EU summit two weeks ago, when she refused to adopt conclusions that need unanimity. Poland also balked at signing the new treaty until the eve of the ceremony.

“The Rome declaration is the first stop toward renewing the unity of the EU,” Szydlo told reporters.

In a series of speeches, EU leaders also acknowledged how the bloc had strayed into a complicated structure that had slowly lost touch with its citizens, compounded by the severe financial crisis that struck several EU nations over the past decade.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, host of the summit, said over the past dozen years the EU’s development had stalled.

“Unfortunately, we stopped … it triggered a crisis of rejection,” he said.

At the same time, at the summit in sun-splashed Rome, where new civilizations have been built on old ruins time and time again, there also was a message of optimism.

“Yes, we have problems. Yes, there are difficulties. Yes, there will be crisis in the future. But we stand together and we move forward,” Gentiloni said. “We have the strength to start out again.”

At the end of the session, all 27 leaders signed the Rome Declaration saying that “European unity is a bold, farsighted endeavor.”

“We have united for the better. Europe is our common future,” the declaration said.

___

Vanessa Gera in Warsaw and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.

Article source: https://stream.org/eu-puts-pen-paper-signs-unity-pledge-60th-anniversary/

Trump touts Charter hiring that was in works for two years


WASHINGTON U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday touted Charter Communications Inc’s decision to invest $25 billion in the United States and a plan the company announced before he was elected to hire 20,000 workers over four years.

At a White House event with the second-largest U.S. cable company’s Chief Executive Thomas Rutledge and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Trump praised Charter for planning to close its offshore call centers and move them to the United States.

Much of the announcement was not new. Charter said last May that it planned to add 20,000 jobs as part of its merger with Time Warner Cable and acquisition of Bright House Networks. As early as June 2015, Rutledge said Charter would need an additional 20,000 employees after those deals.

On a number of occasions, Trump has touted job announcements at the White House that had been previously planned or announced

The company said more than a year ago in February 2016 that it planned to close foreign Time Warner Cable call centers and move the jobs to the United States.

On Friday, Trump said, “We’re embracing a new economic model – the American Model. We’re going to massively eliminate job-killing regulations – that has started already, big league – reduce government burdens, and lower taxes that are crushing American businesses and American workers.

“You’re going to see thousands and thousands and thousands of jobs, of companies, and everything coming back into our country.”

Charter, which has 24 million residential and business customers in 41 states, said on Friday it had committed to Trump to hiring those workers within four years. It plans to invest $25 billion in broadband infrastructure and technology in the next four years.

In May 2016 Rutledge said in a recorded interview there would be some overlap in management positions (after the TWC merger) but said the company would hire about 20,000 people over four years.

Rutledge said the broadband investment was being made “in the right regulatory climate and right tax climate … We’re committed to spending that predicated on the kind of regulatory consistency and efficiency that we expect as a country.”

Charter agreed in May 2016 to make significant broadband investment under a deal with the Federal Communications Commission that was part of winning approval to acquire the cable networks. At that time Charter agreed to extend high-speed internet access to another two million customers within five years, with one million served by a broadband competitor.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement on Friday that the commission was “working to set rules of the road that encourage companies to build and upgrade broadband networks across the country.” He credited the FCC’s “investment-friendly policies” in part for Charter’s commitments.

The agency is considering a petition by the American Cable Association to strike the requirement Charter extend service to areas already served by companies because it could harm smaller competitors.

Charter also touted its plans to open a new bilingual call center in McAllen, Texas and said it expects to employ 600 there by the end of 2018. Plans to open a call center in Texas were announced last October.

In December, Trump announced that telecommunications group Sprint Corp and U.S. satellite company OneWeb would bring 8,000 jobs to the United States, and the companies said the positions were part of a previously disclosed pledge by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.

In January, Sprint Chief Executive Marcelo Claure said of its decision to shift 5,000 call center jobs to the United States that the company “had plans to do this for a while.”

(Reporting By Steve Holland and David Shepardson in Washinggton Additional reporting by Anjali Athavaley in New York; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/EHxLzfJ8Ahg/us-usa-trump-charter-commns-idUSKBN16V22I

Trump greenlights Keystone XL pipeline, but obstacles loom


WASHINGTON/CALGARY, Alberta U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration approved TransCanada Corp’s (TRP.TO) Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, cheering the oil industry and angering environmentalists even as further hurdles for the controversial project loom.

The approval reverses a decision by former President Barack Obama to reject the project, but the company still needs to win financing, acquire local permits, and fend off likely legal challenges for the pipeline to be built.

“TransCanada will finally be allowed to complete this long-overdue project with efficiency and with speed,” Trump said in the Oval Office before turning to ask TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russell Girling when construction would start.

“We’ve got some work to do in Nebraska to get our permits there,” Girling replied.

“Nebraska?” Trump said. “I’ll call Nebraska.”

Trump announced the presidential permit for Keystone XL at the White House with Girling and Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, standing nearby. He said the project would lower consumer fuel prices, create jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

The pipeline linking Canadian oil sands to U.S. refiners had been blocked by Obama, who said it would do nothing to reduce fuel prices for U.S. motorists and would contribute to emissions linked to global warming.

Trump, however, campaigned on a promise to approve it, and he signed an executive order soon after taking office in January to advance the project.

TransCanada’s U.S.-listed shares (TRP.N) dipped 5 cents to close at $46.21 on Friday.

JOBS

Trump has claimed the project would create 28,000 jobs in the United States. But a 2014 State Department study predicted just 3,900 construction jobs and 35 permanent jobs.

The president said he would get in touch with Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts later in the day.

TransCanada applied to the Nebraska Public Service Commission in February for approval of the pipeline’s route through the state. The company said it expects that process to conclude this year.

Ricketts said in a statement posted on Twitter that the project would help his state.

“I have full confidence that the Public Service Commission will conduct a thorough and fair review of the application,” he said.

The White House has said the pipeline is exempt from a Trump executive order requiring new pipelines to be made from U.S. steel, because much of the pipe for the project has already been built and stockpiled.

“As we move forward, we’ll continue to look to buy the rest of the materials we need from … American manufacturers. We’ll put American workers to work,” Girling told reporters.

Environmental groups vowed to fight it.

Greenpeace said it would pressure banks to withhold financing for the multibillion-dollar project, and others said they would fight the pipeline in court.

“We’ll use every tool in the kit,” said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Since Obama had nixed the pipeline based on an environmental assessment commissioned by the State Department in early 2014, opponents will likely argue in court that Trump cannot reverse the decision without conducting a new assessment.

CHALLENGES

Fred Jauss, partner at the international law firm Dorsey Whitney and a former attorney with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said local permitting would also be a challenge.

“The Presidential Permit is only one part of a web of federal, state, and local permits that must be obtained prior to starting construction,” he said. “Other federal agencies, such as the Army Corps of Engineers, state regulatory commissions, and even local planning boards may have requirements that need to be fulfilled by Keystone prior to construction.”

“In addition, TransCanada may still need to reach deals with hundreds of potentially affected landowners on the pipeline’s route. There is a lot of work ahead for TransCanada.”

The Keystone XL pipeline would bring more than 800,000 barrels per day of heavy crude from Canada’s oil sands in Alberta into Nebraska, linking to an existing pipeline network feeding U.S. refineries and ports along the Gulf of Mexico.

The project could be a boon for Canada, which has struggled to bring its vast oil reserves to market.

“Our government has always been supportive of the Keystone XL pipeline and we are pleased with the U.S. decision,” said a spokesman for Canada’s minister of natural resources. “The importance of a common, continental energy market cannot be overstated.”

The president of the American Petroleum Institute, Jack Gerard, said the approval was “welcome news” and would bolster U.S. energy security.

Expedited approval of projects is part of Trump’s approach to a 10-year, $1 trillion infrastructure package he promised on the campaign trail. The White House is looking for ways to speed up approvals and permits for other infrastructure projects, which can sometimes take years to go through a regulatory maze.

TransCanada tried for more than five years to build the 1,179-mile (1,897-km) pipeline, until Obama rejected it in 2015. The company resubmitted its application for the project in January, after Trump signed the executive order smoothing its path.

(Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington, Luciana Lopez in New York, Ahmed Farhatha in Bengaluru, and Denny Thomas in Toronto; Writing by Richard Valdmanis and Jeff Mason; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Matthew Lewis)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/qhhxUzllN9A/us-usa-pipeline-keystone-transcanada-idUSKBN16V1CN

Bull market not dead as tax reform takes spotlight


NEW YORK The death of the Republican healthcare reform may not prove to be the knife to the heart of the bull market some had feared, but to keep the Trump Trade alive investors should temper expectations for the breadth of expected tax cuts.

Anxiety over prospects for the healthcare bill gave stocks their largest weekly drop since the November presidential election. But its failure to pass could also force the Trump administration to come up with a palatable tax reform that could deliver this year some of the stimulus Wall Street has rallied on.

The SP 500 rose as much as 12 percent since the surprise Nov. 8 election win President Donald Trump, mostly on bets that lower taxes, deregulation and fiscal stimulus would boost economic growth and corporate earnings.

As he acknowledged defeat for the healthcare bill, Trump said Republicans would likely pivot to tax reform. Bets on that shift in focus were seen in stocks late on Friday, as the market cut its day losses when news of the health bill being pulled emerged.

“The market believes it raises the probability of a tax cut later this year since Trump is showing more strategic behavior. (It) puts the market a little more at ease,” said Paul Zemsky, chief investment officer of multi-asset strategies and solutions at Voya Investment Management in New York.

On the campaign trail Trump promised to lower the corporate tax to 15 percent. In order to make the tax reform revenue-neutral, and agreeable to the most money-sensitive wing of his party, his administration counted on savings from the health bill that will no longer materialize.

“If we want to get something passed by the August break, it’s going to look a lot like tax reform light,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.

“If we settle somewhere between the 25-30 percent corporate tax rate, that is far from the 15 percent offered in the campaign trail and the 20 percent currently in the House plan, (and) I think that’s where we end up.”

Softer cuts in corporate taxes leave stocks vulnerable after a rally on hopes for more, he said.

“It’s not a negative, it’s just not the positive the market had priced in.”

Aside from Trump’s pro-growth agenda some investors have pointed to an improving global economy and expectations for double-digit growth in corporate earnings as support for the lofty valuations in stocks.

“The evidence suggests to me that there is some Trump fairy dust sprinkled on this rally. That said, the underlying fundamentals do look better,” said Alan Gayle, director of asset allocation at RidgeWorth Investments in Atlanta, Georgia.

A survey on Friday showed Germany’s private sector grew at the fastest pace in nearly six years in March, suggesting an acceleration in growth for Europe’s largest economy in the first quarter.

Stocks could also turn to earnings to justify their price. First quarter earnings are expected to grow by more than 10 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. In another sign of investor bullishness, February’s reading on consumer confidence touched its highest level since July 2001.

If earnings fail to deliver double-digit growth, stocks could again be seen as too expensive. At $18 per dollar of expected earnings over the next 12 months, investors are paying near the most since 2004 for the SP 500.

“The advance we’ve had and the large spike in confidence, the expectations on the economy and earnings expectations – we continue to believe it is too high,” said Julian Emanuel, executive director of U.S. equity and derivatives strategy at UBS Securities in New York.

(Additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/IZ5pNcD5J0Y/us-usa-stocks-weekahead-idUSKBN16V2Z1

New home sales hit seven-month high; jobless claims rise


WASHINGTON New U.S. single-family home sales jumped to a seven-month high in February, suggesting the housing market recovery was gaining momentum despite higher prices and rising mortgage rates.

Other data on Thursday showed an unexpected increase in the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week. Still, the labor market continues to tighten, which together with the strength in housing, should underpin economic growth.

“New home sales are the secret sauce that helps make the economy grow,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York. “This will put some backbone in investment spending and make this economic expansion more sustainable.”

The Commerce Department said new home sales increased 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 592,000 units last month, the highest level since July 2016. Sales have now more than recouped the sharp drop suffered in December.

Economists had forecast new home sales, which account for about 9.7 percent of the overall market, rising 0.7 percent to a rate of 565,000 units in February. Sales were up 12.8 percent compared to a year ago, showing the housing market’s resilience despite reduced affordability.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate is around 4.30 percent. House prices increased 5.7 percent in January from a year ago, according a government report published on Wednesday.

Last month’s new home sales were likely partially buoyed by unseasonably warm weather. Most economists see a limited impact on housing from higher mortgage rates because a tightening labor market is improving job opportunities for young adults.

“Rising mortgage rates don’t appear to have been much of an impediment to increasing housing demand in February as solid job gains, faster wage growth, and stronger household formations offset the drop in affordability,” said David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide in Columbus, Ohio. 

In a separate report, the Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 258,000 for the week ended March 18.

Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a healthy labor market for 80 straight weeks. That is the longest stretch since 1970 when the labor market was smaller. The job market is currently near full employment.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose only 1,000 to 240,000 last week.

U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data as investors focused on whether the House of Representatives would pass a Republican-sponsored bill to begin dismantling Obamacare, which is seen as the first significant policy test for President Donald Trump.

Stocks on Wall Street were trading higher, with the PHLX housing index .HGX gaining 0.7 percent. U.S. government bond prices fell while the dollar .DXY rose slightly against a basket of currencies.

LABOR MARKET FIRMING

The claims data covered the period during which the government surveyed employers for March’s nonfarm payrolls report. The four-week average of claims fell 7,750 between the February and March survey weeks, suggesting another month of strong job gains.

Job growth has averaged 209,000 per month over the past three months and the unemployment rate is at 4.7 percent, close to the nine-year low of 4.6 percent hit last November. Tightening labor market conditions and rising inflation enabled the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates last week.

“The claims data do not suggest a clear shift in labor market conditions between the reference periods for the February and March reports,” said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York.

The market for new houses is benefiting from a shortage of properties for sale. A report on Wednesday showed a 3.7 percent drop in sales of existing homes in February.

Last month, new single-family homes sales surged 30.9 percent to their highest level since November 2007 in the Midwest and increased 3.6 percent in the South. They jumped 7.5 percent in the West but slumped 21.4 percent in the Northeast.

The inventory of new homes on the market increased 1.5 percent to 266,000 units last month, still less than half of its peak during the housing boom in 2006.

At February’s sales pace it would take 5.4 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, down from 5.6 months in January. A six-month supply is viewed as a healthy balance between supply and demand.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/uWJGT-RaeI8/us-usa-economy-idUSKBN16U1M4

U.S. Senate votes to overturn Obama broadband privacy rules


WASHINGTON The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted narrowly to repeal regulations requiring internet service providers to do more to protect customers’ privacy than websites like Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O) or Facebook Inc (FB.O).

The vote was along party lines, with 50 Republicans approving the measure and 48 Democrats rejecting it. The two remaining Republicans in the Senate were absent and did not cast a vote.

According to the rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission in October under then-President Barack Obama, internet providers would need to obtain consumer consent before using precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history for advertising and internal marketing.

The vote was a victory for internet providers such as ATT Inc (T.N), Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) and Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), which had strongly opposed the rules.

The bill next goes to the U.S. House of Representatives, but it was not clear when they would take up the measure.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate was overturning a regulation that “makes the internet an uneven playing field, increases complexity, discourages competition, innovation, and infrastructure investment.”

But Democratic Senator Ed Markey said, “Republicans have just made it easier for American’s sensitive information about their health, finances and families to be used, shared, and sold to the highest bidder without their permission.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said consumers would have privacy protections even without the Obama administration internet provider rules.

In a joint statement, Democratic members of the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission said the Senate vote “creates a massive gap in consumer protection law as broadband and cable companies now have no discernible privacy requirements.”

Republican commissioners, including Pai, said in October that the rules would unfairly give websites like Facebook, Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) or Google the ability to harvest more data than internet service providers and thus dominate digital advertising. The FCC earlier this month delayed the data rules from taking effect.

The Internet and Television Association, a trade group, in a statement praised the vote as a “critical step towards re-establishing a balanced framework that is grounded in the long-standing and successful FTC privacy framework that applies equally to all parties operating online.”

Websites are governed by a less restrictive set of privacy rules overseen by the Federal Trade Commission.

Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for advocacy group Consumers Union, said the vote “is a huge step in the wrong direction, and it completely ignores the needs and concerns of consumers.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/01DpThJ511w/us-usa-internet-idUSKBN16U2ER

Dollar hangs on for U.S. healthcare vote, Asia shares muted


SYDNEY The dollar was living on borrowed time on Friday after U.S. lawmakers delayed a vote on a healthcare bill seen as crucial to President Donald Trump’s policy credibility.

Asian share markets were in limbo as a vote on the American Health Care Act might not happen until later Friday or Monday, as it meets opposition from warring factions within the Republicans themselves.

Some in the markets suspect a failure to pass such a high-stakes bill could endanger Trump’s promises of tax cuts and stimulus so beloved by Wall Street and U.S. corporates.

“The Trump reflation trade – particularly the equity leg of it, which has seen U.S. equity indexes roar to record highs – has arguably been long on optimism and short on substance for some time now,” said analysts at ANZ in a note.

“It comes at a sensitive time for the market, with the initial post-election exuberance having waned and as it weighs up political uncertainty, a strong U.S. economy and an increasingly hawkish Federal Reserve.”

Adding to the unease was a Reuters report that the Trump administration is preparing new executive orders to re-examine all 14 U.S. free trade agreements, including those in Asia, to aid American companies.

All of this kept stock markets muted. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS edged up 0.2 percent, while South Korea .KS11 barely moved.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 added 0.3 percent. A Reuters poll published on Friday showed confidence among Japanese manufacturers rose for a seventh straight month to a three-year high.

After falling sharply mid-week, Wall Street had lapsed into waiting mode on Thursday with the Dow .DJI down 0.02 percent. The SP 500 .SPX lost 0.11 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 0.07 percent.

DOLLAR STRUGGLES

As stocks stalled, bonds rallied. Two-year Treasury yields US2YT=RR have fallen 15 basis points in the past week or so to stand at 1.256 percent.

At the same time, German yields have risen on speculation the European Central Bank might begin the long process of rate normalization this year. The central bank issued an upbeat outlook on the Euro zone economy overnight.

The net result was a contraction in the dollar’s yield advantage over the euro, which has seen the single currency steady at $1.0777 EUR= after scoring a six-week top of $1.0828 earlier this week.

The dollar was a fraction firmer on the yen at 111.11 JPY=, having hit a four-month low of 110.62. Against a basket of currencies, it was crouched at 99.843 .DXY having shed 1.5 percent in the past two weeks.

“The dollar is likely to struggle as global investors gradually realize that the U.S, can still produce policy gridlock even with one party holding the White House, Senate and House,” said Sean Callow, a senior currency analyst at Westpac.

“Moreover, the euro is looking more appealing, with the growth gap with the U.S. not as wide as previously thought and the euro having lost some of its political risk premium as European voters edge away from local Trump wannabes.”

In commodity markets, safe-haven spot held at $1,245.61 an ounce after hitting three-week high of $1,253.12 XAU=.

Oil prices idled near four-month lows on investor concerns that OPEC-led supply cuts were not yet reducing record U.S. crude inventories.

U.S. crude CLc1 inched up 14 cents to $47.84 in early trade, while Brent crude LCOc1 added 12 cents to $50.68. [O/R]

(Editing by Sam Holmes)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/hiBQk0flEk0/us-global-markets-idUSKBN16V040

American Democracy: Not So Decadent After All

WASHINGTON — Under the dark gray cloud, amid the general gloom, allow me to offer a ray of sunshine. The last two months have brought a pleasant surprise: Turns out the much feared, much predicted withering of our democratic institutions has been grossly exaggerated. The system lives.

Let me explain. Donald Trump’s triumph last year was based on a frontal attack on the Washington “establishment,” that all-powerful, all-seeing, supremely cynical, bipartisan “cartel” (as Ted Cruz would have it) that allegedly runs everything. Yet the establishment proved to be Potemkin empty. In 2016, it folded pitifully, surrendering with barely a fight to a lightweight outsider.

At which point, fear of the vaunted behemoth turned to contempt for its now-exposed lassitude and decadence. Compounding the confusion were Trump’s intimations of authoritarianism. He declared “I alone can fix it” and “I am your voice,” the classic tropes of the demagogue. He unabashedly expressed admiration for strongmen (most notably, Vladimir Putin).

Trump had just cut through the grandees like a hot knife through butter. Who would now prevent him from trampling, caudillo-like, over a Washington grown weak and decadent? A Washington, moreover, that had declined markedly in public esteem, as confidence in our traditional institutions — from the political parties to Congress — fell to new lows.

The strongman cometh, it was feared. Who and what would stop him?

Two months into the Trumpian era, we have our answer. Our checks and balances have turned out to be quite vibrant. Consider:

The Courts

Trump rolls out not one but two immigration bans, and is stopped dead in his tracks by the courts. However you feel about the merits of the policy itself (in my view, execrable and useless but legal) or the merits of the constitutional reasoning of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (embarrassingly weak, transparently political), the fact remains: The president proposed and the courts disposed.

Trump’s pushback? A plaintive tweet or two complaining about the judges — that his own Supreme Court nominee denounced (if obliquely) as “disheartening” and “demoralizing.”

The States

Federalism lives. The first immigration challenge to Trump was brought by the attorneys general of two states (Washington and Minnesota) picking up on a trend begun during the Barack Obama years when state attorneys general banded together to kill his immigration overreach and the more egregious trespasses of his Environmental Protection Agency.

And beyond working through the courts, state governors — Republicans, no less — have been exerting pressure on members of Congress to oppose a Republican president’s signature health care reform. Institutional exigency still trumps party loyalty.

Congress

The Republican-controlled Congress (House and Senate) is putting up epic resistance to a Republican administration’s health care reform. True, that’s because of ideological and tactical disagreements rather than any particular desire to hem in Trump. But it does demonstrate that Congress is no rubber stamp.

And its independence extends beyond the perennially divisive health care conundrums. Trump’s budget, for example, was instantly declared dead on arrival in Congress, as it almost invariably is regardless of which party is in power.

The Media

Trump is right. It is the opposition party. Indeed, furiously so, often indulging in appalling overkill. It’s sometimes embarrassing to read the front pages of the major newspapers, festooned as they are with anti-Trump editorializing masquerading as news.

Nonetheless, if you take the view from 30,000 feet, better this than a press acquiescing on bended knee, where it spent most of the Obama years in a slavish Pravda-like thrall. Every democracy needs an opposition press. We d*** well have one now.

Taken together — and suspending judgment on which side is right on any particular issue — it is deeply encouraging that the sinews of institutional resistance to a potentially threatening executive remain quite resilient.

Madison’s genius was to understand that the best bulwark against tyranny was not virtue — virtue helps, but should never be relied upon — but ambition counteracting ambition, faction counteracting faction.

You see it even in the confirmation process for Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s supremely qualified and measured Supreme Court nominee. He’s a slam dunk, yet some factions have scraped together a campaign to block him. Their ads are plaintive and pathetic. Yet I find them warmly reassuring. What a country — where even the vacuous have a voice.

The anti-Trump opposition flatters itself as “the resistance.” As if this is Vichy France. It’s not. It’s 21st-century America. And the good news is that the checks and balances are working just fine.

 

Charles Krauthammer’s email address is letters@charleskrauthammer.com.

Copyright 2017, The Washington Post Writers Group

Article source: https://stream.org/american-democracy-not-decadent/

Beauty and the Beast’s Other Gay Moment

Now that everyone knows what Beauty and the Beast’s much-bally-hooed “exclusively gay moment” was all about, it might seem anti-climactic to some. (Spoiler alert: LeFou dances with a man in drag.) To a kid not paying attention, it could still fly under the radar as a slightly strange apparent accident: LeFou cuts in and unexpectedly finds himself with a male dance partner. The fact that this is the same man who happened to be rather fond of his “new look” might not click together with LeFou’s sexuality for younger and (hopefully) still innocent viewers.

Likewise, much of the innuendo probably flew over many little heads. But, as unpleasant as it is, we need to talk about the other gay moment in Beauty and the Beast.

The String of Gay Moments

Really, there’s a string of “gay moments” leading all the way up to the promised “Gay Moment.” Actor Josh Gad’s performance was hyped as “tasteful” and “subtle.” It is many things, but tasteful and subtle it certainly is not. Some people who were rigidly searching for something blatant like a gay kiss have come out reporting there’s no there there. I disagree. Between asexuality and “gay kiss” territory, Disney has plenty of room to work with, and they certainly work it.

LeFou’s famous set piece is the smarmy “Gaston,” in which he minces about and invents all manner of strange doggerel to describe our villain’s general fabulousness. An early clip of the scene showed Gad unmistakably playing up LeFou’s gay mannerisms and physical attraction to Gaston, via eye-rolls, tush-waggling, and other such (un)subtle fare.

But it didn’t show the worst part, which involves the choice of business around the lyric “In a wrestling match, nobody bites like Gaston.” Originally, LeFou chomps down on an unfortunate bloke’s calf for illustrative purposes. This put the line in the unambiguous category of non-sexual male horseplay — two men grappling, one needs to break a hold and sees a chance to play foul. Not anymore. Apparently, it just wouldn’t be 2017 without a gag about love bites.

I highlight this moment because so many people have missed it, whether through distraction or sheer innocent-mindedness.

That’s right: In this version, LeFou directs attention to … his own chest. He sings the line while baring his stomach, and what should he reveal but a bite mark. Get it? In a wrestling match nobody bites like Gaston! Hohoho! Good one, Disney! Now everyone knows that, like Oklahoma’s Ado Annie, LeFou “sorta has a feelin’ that he won” that particular “wrestlin’ match.”

The fact that many kids will blink and miss (or just forget) is irrelevant. The image will take its place in the furniture of their minds. Every now and then, their idle thoughts might drift back to it. And they might think that it seemed kind of weird for a guy to have a bite mark on his stomach. Because it is weird. It’s more than weird. It’s disgusting.

If you will, try to picture the same gesture, in a movie with the same rating, but in a heterosexual context. Granted, the nature of a musical allows deliberately ambiguous words to overlay a scene. Still, I know and you know that even such a fleeting allusion as this would normally be out of bounds for anything with a G or PG sticker on it. If it were a woman doing the bragging, well into PG-13 territory, at least.

With Bite, Disney Shows Its Real Hunger

I highlight this moment because so many people have missed it, whether through distraction or sheer innocent-mindedness. Stephen Greydanus is the only reviewer to have pointed it out, that I’m aware of. But we cannot miss it, because it is here that Disney’s mask starts to slip. There’s a reason why all the leaked news and interviews and promotional buzz focused on the moment where LeFou and his new friend dance together. They chose this moment, because it’s a “nice” moment. Because awwwww, they’re dancing!

It’s unpleasant but true: If parents want to be able to navigate culture alertly, they can’t afford to remain as innocent as their children.

Sorry, but no cigar. Disney can’t have its cake and eat it too. They can’t conjure up the image of one dude biting another dude on the stomach, only to pretend they’re teaching children that gay people are just as innocent and normal and fun as everybody else.

Dissenters will protest, “But some men and women do it too!” See above. The fact that Disney felt free to include such a gag in such a film reflects the normativity of unpleasant sex practices within the gay community. Aside from the particularly disgusting details of their substitute consummation, two gay men are intrinsically set up to be rougher, more unpleasant, more uninhibitedly kinky in their sexual behavior than a man and a woman. Yes, there are women who will play along, but even a prostitute will have her limits. Without that tempering female influence, the sky is the limit.

Disney can spray around as much rose-scented air freshener as they like to hide that stench, but the truth will out (no pun intended). If LeFou is “token Disney gay, PG version,” I don’t think I want to know what the PG-13 version will look like.

Parents Can’t Afford to Remain Innocent

It’s unpleasant but true: If parents want to be able to navigate culture alertly, they can’t afford to remain as innocent as their children. Yes, they should still strive as much as possible to dwell on what is pure and lovely and of good report, as St. Paul adjures. Yet Jesus said we should also be wise as serpents. That may require us to go to some dark, nasty places. It may require us to scrutinize things young children might well not even notice … yet. But one day, they will. When that day comes, will you be caught by surprise? Or will you be five steps ahead of them?

Article source: https://stream.org/beauty-and-the-beasts-other-gay-momentthe-most-dangerous-addiction-of-them-all-entitlements/

Existing-Home Sales Stumble in February

WASHINGTON (March 22, 2017) — After starting the year at the fastest pace in almost a decade, existing-home sales slid in February but remained above year ago levels both nationally and in all major regions, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales 1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, retreated 3.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million in February from 5.69 million in January. Despite last month’s decline, February’s sales pace is still 5.4 percent above a year ago.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says closings retreated in February as too few properties for sale and weakening affordability conditions stifled buyers in most of the country. “Realtors® are reporting stronger foot traffic from a year ago, but low supply in the affordable price range continues to be the pest that’s pushing up price growth and pressuring the budgets of prospective buyers,” he said. “Newly listed properties are being snatched up quickly so far this year and leaving behind minimal choices for buyers trying to reach the market.”

Added Yun, “A growing share of homeowners in NAR’s first quarter HOME survey said now is a good time to sell, but until an increase in listings actually occurs, home prices will continue to move hastily.”

The median existing-home price 2 for all housing types in February was $228,400, up 7.7 percent from February 2016 ($212,100). February’s price increase was the fastest since last January (8.1 percent) and marks the 60th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory 3 at the end of February increased 4.2 percent to 1.75 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 6.4 percent lower than a year ago (1.87 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 21 straight months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.8-month supply at the current sales pace (3.5 months in January).

All-cash sales were 27 percent of transactions in February (matching the highest since November 2015), up from 23 percent in January and 25 percent a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 17 percent of homes in February, up from 15 percent in January but down from 18 percent a year ago. Seventy-one percent of investors paid in cash in February (matching highest since April 2015).

First-time buyers were 32 percent of sales in February, which is down from 33 percent in January but up from 30 percent a year ago. NAR’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers — released in late 2016 4 — revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 35 percent.

“The affordability constraints holding back renters from buying is a signal to many investors that rental demand will remain solid for the foreseeable future,” said Yun. “Investors are still making up an above average share of the market right now despite steadily rising home prices and few distressed properties on the market, and their financial wherewithal to pay in cash gives them a leg-up on the competition against first-time buyers.”

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage inched up in February to 4.17 percent from 4.15 percent in January. The average commitment rate for all of 2016 was 3.65 percent.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 45 days in February, down from 50 days in January and considerably more than a year ago (59 days). Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 214 days in February, while foreclosures sold in 49 days and non-distressed homes took 45 days. Forty-two percent of homes sold in February were on the market for less than a month.

Inventory data from realtor.com® reveals that the metropolitan statistical areas where listings stayed on the market the shortest amount of time in February were San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., 23 days; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., 27 days; Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif., 33 days; Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., 36 days; and Boulder, Colo., at 37 days.

NAR President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California, says being fully prepared is the right strategy for prospective buyers this spring. “Seek a preapproval from a lender, know what your budget is and begin discussions with a Realtor® early on about your housing wants and needs,” he said. “Homes in many areas are selling faster than they were last spring. A buyer’s idea of a dream home in a popular neighborhood is probably the same as many others. That’s why they’ll likely have to decide quickly if they see something they like and can afford.”

Distressed sales 5 — foreclosures and short sales — were 7 percent of sales for the third straight month in February, and are down from 10 percent a year ago. Six percent of February sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 18 percent below market value in February (14 percent in January), while short sales were discounted 17 percent (10 percent in January).

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales declined 3.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million in February from 5.04 million in January, and are now 5.8 percent above the 4.62 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $229,900 in February, up 7.6 percent from February 2016.

Existing condominium and co-op sales descended 9.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000 units in February, but are still 1.7 percent higher than a year ago. The median existing condo price was $216,100 in February, which is 8.2 percent above a year ago.

Regional Breakdown

February existing-home sales in the Northeast slumped 13.8 percent to an annual rate of 690,000, but are still 1.5 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $250,200, which is 4.1 percent above February 2016.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales fell 7.0 percent to an annual rate of 1.20 million in February, but are still 2.6 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $171,700, up 6.1 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South in February rose 1.3 percent to an annual rate of 2.34 million, and are now 5.9 percent above February 2016. The median price in the South was $205,300, up 9.6 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West decreased 3.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.25 million in February, but are 9.6 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $339,900, up 9.6 percent from February 2016.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

# # #

NOTE: For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services. Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.

1 Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR rebenchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.

Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample — about 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month — and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.

The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

2 The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.

The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.

3 Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).

4 Survey results represent owner-occupants and differ from separately reported monthly findings from NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, which include all types of buyers. Investors are under-represented in the annual study because survey questionnaires are mailed to the addresses of the property purchased and generally are not returned by absentee owners. Results include both new and existing homes.

5 Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at Realtor.org.

NOTE: NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index for February is scheduled for release on March 29, and Existing-Home Sales for March will be released April 21; release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/narnewsreleases/~3/qjeumLYmki4/existing-home-sales-stumble-in-february

Slide in U.S. infrastructure stocks sign of ‘Trump trade’ weakness


NEW YORK If the swoon this week in financials was one sign of the Trump trade running out of fuel, recent weakness in transportation and infrastructure shares is another.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average .DJT, seen as a barometer of economic health, rose after the election and closed at a record high on March 1 but is now down nearly 5 percent for the month so far.

Steel shares, which soared just after the Nov. 8 election, fell sharply this week and are down for the month of March. Also, the SP 1500 construction and engineering index .SPCOMCSE is down 3.6 percent so far for March.

Along with financials, those names helped lead a post-election U.S. stock market rally, fueled by Republican Donald Trump’s promises of increased infrastructure spending, tax reform and reduced regulations. The SP 500 .SPX remains up 9.8 percent since the vote.

But signs that Republicans are facing difficulties uniting their majority behind a bill to replace Obamacare have caused investors to question how soon Trump’s pro-growth policies may be implemented.

“Transports are the lifeblood of the economy; they are the unsung heroes of the bull market,” said Peter Kenny, senior market strategist at Global Markets Advisory Group, in New York.

“They need to hold up in order to continue to provide validation to the broader trade, to the trade higher,” he said, adding that he saw more room on the downside for transports and infrastructure stocks, largely because of the run up.

The transportation average on Wednesday held above the key 8,970 area, a Fibonacci retracement of its move from October to early March. A decided break below 8,970 would leave support at 8,900 and then open for a drop to the 8,760 area, another Fibonacci retracement.

“The transports are broken right now,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital LLC  in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

“We will be biding time along the way to create a consolidation or support level. Whether that starts around here or in the transports around 8,500 I don’t know.”

Helping the transports on Wednesday, however, was FedEx (FDX.N), which gained 2.1 percent after it reported mostly upbeat results late Tuesday.

The transportation average ended up 0.6 percent on Wednesday after falling 1.9 percent in the market selloff Tuesday.

Steel shares also managed to rebound from Tuesday’s selloff but were still down for the month. The SP 1500 steel index .SPCOMSTEEL was down 5 percent for March so far, while U.S. Steel (X.N) was down nearly 11 percent for month.

Their decline may be tied to a combination of profit-taking and other factors, though many investors likely have overestimated the infrastructure benefit to these stocks, said Charles Bradford, president of Bradford Research, a research firm.

“Some of the stocks that ran up the most get almost no benefit from construction, like U.S. Steel… Yet that was one of the big names that some people are promoting as infrastructure plays,” he said.

“There’s an awful lot of bad information floating out, and a lot of it comes from Washington.”

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak and Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Andrew Hay)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/2eY1PTRtFSE/us-usa-stocks-infrastructure-idUSKBN16T38F

Trump Tantrum looms on Wall Street if healthcare effort stalls


NEW YORK The Trump Trade could start looking more like a Trump Tantrum if the new U.S. administration’s healthcare bill stalls in Congress, prompting worries on Wall Street about tax cuts and other measures aimed at promoting economic growth.

Investors are dialing back hopes that U.S. President Donald Trump will swiftly enact his agenda, with a Thursday vote on a healthcare bill a litmus test which could give stock investors another reason to sell.

“If the vote doesn’t pass, or is postponed, it will cast a lot of doubt on the Trump trades,” said the influential bond investor Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive at DoubleLine Capital.

U.S. stocks rallied after the November presidential election, with the SP 500 posting a string of record highs up to earlier this month, on bets that the pro-growth Trump agenda would be quickly pushed by a Republican Party with majorities in both chambers of Congress.

The SP 500 ended slightly higher on Wednesday, the day before a floor vote on Trump’s healthcare proposal scheduled in the House of Representatives.

On Tuesday, stocks had the biggest one-day drop since before Trump won the election, on concerns about opposition to the bill.

Investors extrapolated that a stalling bill could mean uphill battles for other Trump proposals. Trump and Republican congressional leaders appeared to be losing the battle to get enough support to pass it.

Any hint of further trouble for Trump’s agenda, especially his proposed tax cut, could precipitate a stock market correction, said Byron Wien, veteran investor and vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Partners.

“The fact that they are having trouble with (healthcare repeal) casts a shadow over the tax cut and the tax cut was supposed to be the principal fiscal stimulus for the improvement in real GDP,” Wien said. “Without that improvement in GDP, earnings aren’t going to be there and the market is vulnerable.”

Strategists have been cautioning for weeks that markets are pricing in a scenario where nothing goes wrong with Trump’s agenda. Investors are paying $18.10 for every dollar in earnings expected on the SP 500 over the next 12 months, near the most expensive U.S. stocks have been since 2004.

“This is really about the fact that the market is pricing in too much certainty on a number of accounts,” said Julian Emanuel, executive director of U.S. equity and derivatives strategy at UBS Securities. “Even if you got the positive vote, there’s still the residual knowledge that the agenda will be difficult to get through the Senate.”

While investors and strategists have said they do not see an immediate threat to the eight-year-old bull market, there is a risk of a 5-to-10 percent drop. Only a bear market -a 20 percent decline- would put an end to the bull.

“It looked like a mini tantrum,” said David Kotok, chief investment officer of Cumberland Advisors. “Trump has made the House vote his own now so he has a lot at stake. My guess it will pass the House. If not, markets will be shocked and it won’t be pleasant.”

Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at the US SPDR Business at State Street Global Advisors in New York said that it the healthcare bill fails, “a correction of 5 percent is not unreasonable given how far we’ve come in such a short period of time.”

FOCUS ON LEGISLATION

Investors are now more focused on the actual mechanics of the legislative process, said Brian Daingerfield, Macro Strategist at NatWest Markets.

“I noticed this was the first day (on Tuesday) I was getting inquiries about the healthcare law and the vote count,” Daingerfield said. Wall Street views the healthcare vote “as a test of Trump’s ability to unify the party,” he said. “It has a symbolic significance.”

After the healthcare bill, the market will look for movement on tax and infrastructure. The president has said he wants the health bill passed by the mid-April Easter holiday and a schedule from the administration aims for tax reform being passed by August. Only then will they begin to tackle infrastructure spending.

“U.S. equities have been priced for perfection since the start of 2017 and (Tuesday) was a rude reminder that the legislative process is imperfect on even its best days,” said in a research note Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at Convergex, a global brokerage company based in New York.

(Additional reporting by Jennifer Ablan, Chuck Mikolajczak, Caroline Valetkevitch, Sinead Carew, Richard Leong, Lewis Krauskopf, Saqib Ahmed; Editing by David Gregorio)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/MVuSXZ_EugY/us-usa-markets-trump-analysis-idUSKBN16T2YH

Asia stocks advance, dollar, oil recover from multi-month lows


SINGAPORE Asian stocks rose on Thursday, taking their cues from a Wall Street bounce, while the dollar crawled up from a four-month low but remains clouded by concerns about U.S. President Donald Trump’s pro-growth policies.

Sterling GBP=D3 was about 0.1 percent lower at $1.247 in early trade but had fallen as much as 0.4 percent on Wednesday, after an attack close to Britain’s Parliament killed five people, including the attacker and a police officer, and injured 40. Police said they believed the attacker was inspired by Islamist-related terrorism.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS advanced 0.1 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 gained 0.25 percent, thanks to a weaker yen.

Overnight, the Nasdaq .IXIC jumped 0.5 percent and the SP 500 .SPX closed higher, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was flat, after all three touched their lowest levels in about five weeks earlier in the session.

“Investors with a lot of cash used yesterday’s downturn and the morning’s weakness today as a buying opportunity,” said Alan Lancz, president of investment advisory firm Alan B. Lancz Associates in Toledo, Ohio. He said, however, that U.S. stocks could slip again if Trump’s healthcare bill fails to progress.

The dollar advanced 0.15 percent to 111.32 yen JPY= in early trade, after dropping to 110.71, its lowest since Nov. 22 overnight.

The dollar index .DXY also recovered about 0.1 percent to 99.77, after touching a seven-week low overnight.

Trump has been trying to rally support for his plan to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation. Republican leaders of the House of Representatives plan a vote on the bill, Trump’s first major legislation since he took office, later on Thursday.

“Failure to push ahead with this legislation will be seen as a defeat for Trump and the market may react negatively in the short-term; however this should be seen as a buying opportunity,” James Woods, global investment analyst at Rivkin Securities in Sydney, wrote in a note.

Investors in Asia are awaiting a rate decision from Taiwan’s central bank, which is expected to remain on hold.

The central bank is asking some custodian banks to advise their clients not to remit new funds, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

The U.S. dollar was up 0.15 percent at 30.503 Taiwan dollars TWD=TP.

The New Zealand dollar NZD= was 0.1 percent lower after the central bank held interest rates at a record low 1.75 percent, and reiterated it would remain there for a “considerable” period of time, citing global volatility and U.S. protectionism.

In commodities markets, oil prices inched higher having touched their lowest level since November overnight, after data showed U.S. inventories, already at a record high, grew by far more than forecast.

U.S. crude CLc1 gained 0.4 percent to $48.26 a barrel in early trade on Thursday.

The dollar’s recovery weighed on gold XAU=, which retreated 0.2 percent to $1,246.20 after hitting a three-week high overnight.

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Additional reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/bcIpYL5czIA/us-global-markets-idUSKBN16U03X

Uber board backs CEO Kalanick, still looking for chief operating officer


SAN FRANCISCO Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] plans to keep co-founder Travis Kalanick as chief executive following a series of damaging events at the ride services company, a member of its board said on Tuesday in a rare call with reporters.

“The board has confidence in Travis,” said Arianna Huffington, co-founder of news site Huffington Post and one of seven voting Uber board members. The possibility of him resigning has not “come up and we don’t expect it to come up,” she said.

But she added that Kalanick, 40, needed to change his leadership style from that of a “scrappy entrepreneur” to be more like a “leader of a major global company.”

The privately held company, valued at $68 billion, is pushing ahead in its search for a chief operating officer to help Kalanick run the business, but gave no hints on possible candidates or timing of an appointment.

Huffington and three Uber executives on the call said they were working on repairing the company’s tarnished image and improving its culture and leadership after a series of embarrassing setbacks, including allegations of sexual harassment from a former employee and the recent departure of its president, Jeff Jones, who cited deep misgivings about the company. Kalanick was not on the call.

Uber expects to conclude an internal investigation into the sexual harassment allegations by the end of April, Huffington said The investigation was prompted by a former Uber employee who last month published a blog post describing a workplace where sexual harassment was common and went unpunished.

Huffington is part of a committee – along with Uber board members David Bonderman of TPG Capital and Bill Gurley, a venture capitalist at Benchmark and close adviser to Kalanick – that will review the findings of the investigation.

Huffington pledged to make those findings public.

Meanwhile, the search for a COO – announced two weeks ago by Kalanick – is continuing, Huffington said, without mentioning any candidates by name or saying when the job would be filled. She said the COO, a role that has not previously existed at Uber, will be a “true partner” to Kalanick.

“This is the first time that Travis has really understood the importance of having a partner,” said Liane Hornsey, Uber’s chief human resources officer, on the call.

News service Bloomberg last month released a video that showed Kalanick berating an Uber driver who had complained about cuts to rates paid to drivers, resulting in Kalanick making a public apology and admitting he needed leadership training.

(Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Bill Rigby)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/BRWdZwAl4Fs/us-uber-ceo-idUSKBN16S2Y0

Markets fret as Trump agenda shows signs of cracks


NEW YORK The steepest pullback in stocks since the U.S. presidential election reveals investor angst about President Donald Trump’s ability to push through major reforms, leaving stocks vulnerable to a long-anticipated correction.

The SP 500, in its second longest bull market ever, has risen close to 10 percent since the Nov. 8 election on optimism about Trump’s pro-growth agenda. With valuations at their highest in over a decade, investors have been expecting a pullback even if its catalysts haven’t been clear.

Trump, looking to score the first major political win of his presidency, on Tuesday warned Republican lawmakers that if a healthcare bill he backs fails to pass, it would cause “political problems.” Stocks fell alongside the U.S. dollar, while Treasuries and gold rallied.

“It’s like the Trump agenda getting kind of slapped in the face,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Investors saw the health bill vote, expected on Thursday, as testing optimism that the Trump administration and Republican leaders will implement tax cuts, deregulation and infrastructure spending expected to boost economic growth.

The muddled view on the healthcare bill “carries over to what will happen with the infrastructure plan and the tax reform plan and the reduced regulation plan,” Tuz said.

Adding to the angst, FBI Director James Comey on Monday confirmed that the bureau is investigating possible ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia as Moscow sought to influence the 2016 U.S. election. The investigation, he said, could last for months.

Comey’s testimony “pointed to the fact that there could be a lot of drawn-out political infighting that could delay some of the pro-business ideas from being passed,” said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

He said he doesn’t expect to see a correction unless the SP 500, currently down about 2 percent from the record high set March 1, retreats another 1.5 to 2 percent in the next few days.

“That would cause investors to maybe take a pause in what has been a buy-the-dip mentality since the election,” Meckler said.

The SP forward price to earnings ratio has jumped to above 18 from 16.6 on Election Day, making U.S. equities the most expensive level since 2004. At the same time, the index’s dividend yield sits just above 2 percent, losing some of its allure against the 10-year Treasury note.

SKITTISH INVESTORS

The SP 500 has not posted a daily decline of more than 1 percent since Oct. 11. Tuesday’s move in stocks underscores trends in other markets already pricing in a risk that the Trump administration’s plans could be delayed.

The Mexican peso MXN=, which weakened during the presidential campaign with rising prospects of a Trump win, traded last week at its strongest versus the dollar since the November election. It had hit a historic low in mid-January.

The yen JPY=, up against the dollar for a sixth straight session, was on track to close below 112 per $1 for the first time since Feb. 8.

Junk bond investors also pounced earlier this month. The spread between the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield index .MERH0A0 and benchmark Treasuries US10YT=RR bottomed on March 1 and has since widened by about 40 basis points.

Ten-year Treasury yields fell below 2.43 percent Tuesday, the lowest in about three weeks, partly reflecting traders scaling back their view on the domestic economy in the absence of any fiscal stimulus this year.

“Republicans should have prioritized tax reform ahead of health care reform,” said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

“They’re coming across as a motley crew rather than a party that can get things done.”

(Additional reporting by Richard Leong, Lewis Krauskopf, Caroline Valetkevitch and Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/l1Vu-58VZYg/us-usa-stocks-analysis-idUSKBN16S2LR

Asian stocks pull back on fresh doubts about Trump policies


HONG KONG Asian stocks fell on Wednesday as a sharp pullback in Wall Street on doubts about Donald Trump’s economic agenda prompted investors to rush to safe haven assets such as gold and government bonds.

Both the SP 500 .SPX and the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI lost more than one percent on Tuesday in frantic trading, their biggest one day slide since before Donald Trump’s election victory in November. [.N]

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was down 0.5 percent in early trades after it hit its highest level since June 2015 in the previous session.

Early Asian market openers such as Japan .N225 and Australia fell more than a percent.

“Nerves about implementation of the Trump agenda will remain the focus for markets with the Obamacare repeal vote in U.S. congress on Thursday,” ANZ strategists wrote in a daily note.

With valuations stretched — U.S. stocks are trading at the upper end of their historical valuation ranges — investors see the Trump administration’s struggles to push through the healthcare overhaul as a sign he may also face setbacks delivering promised corporate tax cuts.

Expectations of those tax cuts have been a major driver behind the 10-percent surge in the SP 500 since Trump’s election.

With investor mood decidedly risk-off, the Japanese yen scored some chunky gains against the U.S. dollar JPY=, rising to a four-month high. The greenback fell below a key level of 100 .DXY against a trade-weighted basket of its peers.

Bonds gained with yields on two-year U.S. debt US2YT=RR falling to 1.27 percent in overnight trades, retreating further from a 7-1/2 year high of 1.38 percent hit last Wednesday when the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates.

Gold XAU= was on track to extend its overnight strong performance with the precious commodity perched comfortably at a two-week high of $1,248 per ounce.

Oil prices declined as concerns about new supply overshadowed the latest talk by OPEC that it was looking to extend output cuts.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 fell 1.8 percent to its lowest level since late-November to settle at $47.34 per barrel. Contracts were yet to be traded in Asia.

(Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/lOmMZymVm2Q/us-global-markets-idUSKBN16T017

Gorsuch Confounds Democratic Members of Congress During Beginning of Confirmation Hearings for SCOTUS

Confirmation hearings for President Trump’s SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch began this week with a strong showing by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals judge. Since Gorsuch is the proposed heir to conservative SCOTUS stalwart Antonin Scalia, Democrats prepared for a contentious battle opposing the nomination.

They asked many gotcha questions, hoping to trip Gorsuch up so he would say something to make him look unqualified. Their goal was to “Bork” him: bring out so many of his past conservative positions that they could — with the help of liberal media — make him look like a far right extremist.

That was the way they defeated President Reagan’s very qualified nominee Robert Bork in 1997. Of course, one key difference is the Senate today is now controlled by Republicans. In 1997, Democrats held a 54-46 majority over Republicans.

Deftly Slipping Around Their Traps

Gorsuch deftly slipped around all of their traps with a friendly smile. He didn’t duck questions, but gave solid answers or explained why it would be improper to answer a question. When Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) asked how he would rule on Trump banning Muslims entering the country, G0rsuch said it would be “grossly improper” to tell how he would rule on a case that’s currently pending. Similarly, he explained that he cannot commit to make rulings on future cases.

The Democrats couldn’t successfully pin many conservative judicial opinions on Gorsuch from his time as an appeals court judge, and he has been involved in very little partisan activity outside of the courtroom.

Democrats attempted to associate the nominee with previous court decisions they didn’t like. One of the most important was Citizens United, which opened the door for unlimited campaign expenditures by third parties like corporations. Gorsuch sidestepped some of those questions, for the reason that he did not author the decisions. He did explain in some cases why the majority ruled the way it did.

At other times, he explained it’s not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, but following the law. He painstakingly explained to some of the members of Congress that judges merely interpret the law, which is done based on precedent. They don’t make the law. That is the legislature’s duty. He declared, “I don’t care if the case is about abortion or widgets, when a district court makes a factual finding, that deserves our respect.”

When Sen. Feinstein (D-Cal.), asked Gorsuch why he defended George W. Bush’s polices on the war on terror when he was an attorney for the Department of Justice in 2005-6, he said he wasn’t a policymaker at the time, merely a lawyer. He also declined to comment on statements Trump had made about judges, saying that wasn’t his role. “Nobody speaks for me, and I don’t speak for anybody else.”

The Democrats were unable to successfully pin many conservative judicial opinions on Gorsuch from his time as an appeals court judge, and he has been involved in very little partisan activity outside of the courtroom. As Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network put it, “If you’ve been on the [circuit court] bench over a decade and a coordinated partisan attack machine can only find 1.5 cases to complain about, you’re good.” Trump wisely picked someone who has very few opinions and statements that can be held against him.

Not Politicians, But Teachers

If there was a theme to Gorsuch’s responses, Severino said it best: “Judges shouldn’t be politicians. They should be teachers.” The Democrats were at a loss how to respond. They tried hard to paint him as a judicial activist, willing to bend the law in order to achieve his partisan ideals, but failed to prove even a single instance.

It is unlikely that the calm, cool and collected Gorsuch will waiver through the rest of the hearings. With Republicans in control of the Senate, it is difficult to see how he can be thwarted. Tellingly, by the time the last hour rolled around on Tuesday, there were no Democratic Senators left to question him.

Article source: https://stream.org/gorsuch-confounds-democratic-members-of-congress-during-beginning-of-confirmation-hearings-for-scotus/

6 Takeaways From Neil Gorsuch’s First Day of Questioning

President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, addressed multiple hot-button issues Tuesday during his first day of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The controversial topics included abortion, religious liberty, gun rights, sexism, and Trump’s so-called travel ban.

Here are six takeaways from Gorsuch’s responses to questions from the committee’s Democrats and Republicans:

1. Abortion and Roe v. Wade

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked Gorsuch: “Do you view Roe as having superprecedent?”

The Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion across the nation in 1973.

Gorsuch agreed it is, acknowledging that Roe has been “reaffirmed many times” by lower courts, but said he is not able to predetermine how he would rule in related cases.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the committee, asked Gorsuch whether the Supreme Court correctly decided Roe.

Gorsuch replied that while judges should respect precedent, that does not give him the freedom to project future decisions.

“I would tell you that Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, is precedent of the United States Supreme Court,” Gorsuch said. “It has been reaffirmed … So a good judge will consider as precedent of the United States Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other.”

He added:

If it looks like I’m giving hints or previews or intimations about how I might rule, I think that is the beginning of the end of the independent judiciary. … Respectfully, Senator, I have not done that in this process, and I’m not about to start.

2. Guns and the Second Amendment

Gorsuch faced questions about the Second Amendment, at one point responding, “Heller is the law of the land.”

In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court overturned the virtual banning of handgun possession in Chicago and Washington, D.C., upholding the Second Amendment rights of Americans.

Feinstein pressed Gorsuch about whether he “agrees” with the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the case, which upheld an individual’s right to bear arms but, she said, suggested some firearms could be outlawed.

Gorsuch responded:

Heller makes clear the standard that we judges are supposed to apply. The question is whether it is a gun in common use for self-defense, and that may be subject to reasonable regulation. That’s the test as I understand it. There is lots of ongoing litigation about which weapons qualify under those standards. And I can’t prejudge that litigation.

3. Sexism and Women’s Rights

Gorsuch addressed accusations from a former law student who claimed he had encouraged sexist hiring practices in the classroom.

The student in question, Jennifer Sisk, took one of the Supreme Court nominee’s classes at the University of Colorado Law School. In a letter sent to lawmakers Sunday night, she wrote that Gorsuch said “many” working women exploit employers when receiving maternity benefits.

The Daily Signal reported Monday that Sisk has close ties to the Democratic Party. She is a former political appointee of the Obama administration and worked for former Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, a Democrat. In covering Sisk’s allegations, some media outlets did not initially disclose those ties.

Questioned by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Gorsuch — who said he first heard about the accusation the night before his hearings began — responded by saying he wanted to clear up a misunderstanding.

“I teach from a standard textbook … there is one question in the book that is directed at young women — because sadly, this is a reality that they sometimes face,” Gorsuch said.

“The problem is this: Suppose an older woman at the firm that you’re interviewing at asks you if you intend to become pregnant soon, what are your choices as a young woman?” Gorsuch asked rhetorically. “You can say yes, and tell the truth … and not get the job and not be able to pay your debts [from law school]. You can lie, maybe get the job, say no, that’s a choice too, it’s a hard choice. Or you can push back in some way, shape or form.”

4. Religious Freedom and Hobby Lobby

Gorsuch spoke favorably of protecting religious liberty in cases such as the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision in 2014.

“Hobby Lobby came to court and said, ‘We deserve protections too. We’re a small, family-held company …,’” Gorsuch said

of the retail chain. “They exhibit their religious affiliations openly in their business.”

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4, as The Daily Signal reported, that the government can’t compel a “closely held” business such as Hobby Lobby to cover abortion-inducing drugs or devices in employee health plans if doing so would violate the employer’s moral and religious beliefs.

Gorsuch credited liberal Democrats for their role in proposing, passing and enacting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

He said RFRA, whose sponsor in the House was then-Rep. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., helped inform his judgment on matters relating to religious freedom, including the Hobby Lobby case.

Schumer is now among Gorsuch’s critics as Senate minority leader. Gorsuch was part of the 5-3 majority on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled for Hobby Lobby before the case went to the Supreme Court.

In his opinion supporting the retail chain, Gorsuch wrote:

It is not for secular courts to rewrite the religious complaint of a faithful adherent, or to decide whether a religious teaching about complicity imposes ‘too much’ moral disapproval on those only ‘indirectly’ assisting wrongful conduct. Whether an act of complicity is or isn’t ‘too attenuated’ from the underlying wrong is sometimes itself a matter of faith we must respect.

Schumer, along with Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., “wrote a very very strict law,” Gorsuch said. “And it says that any sincerely held religious belief cannot be abridged by the government without a compelling reason.”

“I have applied that same law, RFRA,” he added, “to Muslim prisoners in Oklahoma, to Native Americans who wished to use an existing sweat lodge in Wyoming, and to Little Sisters of the Poor.”

Because Congress previously “has defined ‘person’ to include corporation,” Gorsuch said, it was lawful to afford Hobby Lobby religious freedom protections.

“So you can’t rule out the possibility that some companies can exercise religion,” Gorsuch said, adding, “And of course we know churches are often incorporated and we know nonprofits, like Little Sisters or hospitals, can practice religion.”

5. Trump’s ‘Travel Ban’

When Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked how he would rule on cases such as Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting travel from seven terrorism-prone nations, Gorsuch said it would be “improper” for him to comment.

“I’m not going to say anything here that would give anybody any idea how I’d rule in any case like that that could come before the Supreme Court or my court at the 10th Circuit,” Gorsuch said, adding:

It would be grossly improper of a judge to do that. It would be a violation of the separation of powers and judicial independence if someone sitting at this table, in order to get confirmed, had to make promises or commitments about how they’d rule in a case that’s currently pending and likely to make its way to the Supreme Court.

Leahy’s question attempted to get Gorsuch’s opinion on Trump’s revised executive order to impose the temporary travel restrictions on residents of six countries the Obama administration and Congress had designated as posing risks of terrorism.

6. ‘No Man is Above the Law’

Throughout the day, Gorsuch reiterated his personal convictions about equal justice under the law, and said no person should ever receive preferential treatment.

“No man is above the law,” Gorsuch said more than once, responding to Democrats’ suggestions that he could not be independent of Trump.

After nearly 10 hours of testimony Tuesday, Gorsuch was expected to continue answering questions from the Judiciary Committee through Wednesday.

 

This report rounds up earlier reports by The Daily Signal on the second day of Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings.

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

Article source: https://stream.org/6-takeaways-neil-gorsuchs-first-day-questioning/

Wal-Mart to launch investment arm in e-commerce push


Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, will launch its first investment arm to expand its e-commerce business in partnership with retail start-ups, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, the company said on Monday.

The plan is being spearheaded by Marc Lore, Wal-Mart’s e-commerce chief, who joined the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company from retail upstart Jet.com, which it acquired for more than $3 billion in August.

Since then, Wal-Mart has acquired three small web retailers to add urban and millennial shoppers.

The venture, called Store No. 8, will work with startups that specialize in areas that include robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence, Lore said at Shoptalk, a retail conference in New York. It will be based in California’s Silicon Valley, he added.

Wal-Mart will keep the startups separate from the broader organization so that they will not affect the retailer’s bottom line in the near term, Seth Beal, senior vice-president, incubation and strategic partnerships, said in an interview.

He declined to give a timeframe for the launch.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicago; Editing by Richard Chang)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/ypDboDZGjBU/us-walmart-ecommerce-idUSKBN16R2Q9

Wal-Mart to launch investment arm in e-commerce push


Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, will launch its first investment arm to expand its e-commerce business in partnership with retail start-ups, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, the company said on Monday.

The plan is being spearheaded by Marc Lore, Wal-Mart’s e-commerce chief, who joined the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company from retail upstart Jet.com, which it acquired for more than $3 billion in August.

Since then, Wal-Mart has acquired three small web retailers to add urban and millennial shoppers.

The venture, called Store No. 8, will work with startups that specialize in areas that include robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence, Lore said at Shoptalk, a retail conference in New York. It will be based in California’s Silicon Valley, he added.

Wal-Mart will keep the startups separate from the broader organization so that they will not affect the retailer’s bottom line in the near term, Seth Beal, senior vice-president, incubation and strategic partnerships, said in an interview.

He declined to give a timeframe for the launch.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicago; Editing by Richard Chang)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/ypDboDZGjBU/us-walmart-ecommerce-idUSKBN16R2Q9

Wal-Mart to launch investment arm in e-commerce push


Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, will launch its first investment arm to expand its e-commerce business in partnership with retail start-ups, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, the company said on Monday.

The plan is being spearheaded by Marc Lore, Wal-Mart’s e-commerce chief, who joined the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company from retail upstart Jet.com, which it acquired for more than $3 billion in August.

Since then, Wal-Mart has acquired three small web retailers to add urban and millennial shoppers.

The venture, called Store No. 8, will work with startups that specialize in areas that include robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence, Lore said at Shoptalk, a retail conference in New York. It will be based in California’s Silicon Valley, he added.

Wal-Mart will keep the startups separate from the broader organization so that they will not affect the retailer’s bottom line in the near term, Seth Beal, senior vice-president, incubation and strategic partnerships, said in an interview.

He declined to give a timeframe for the launch.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicago; Editing by Richard Chang)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/ypDboDZGjBU/us-walmart-ecommerce-idUSKBN16R2Q9

Wal-Mart to launch investment arm in e-commerce push


Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, will launch its first investment arm to expand its e-commerce business in partnership with retail start-ups, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, the company said on Monday.

The plan is being spearheaded by Marc Lore, Wal-Mart’s e-commerce chief, who joined the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company from retail upstart Jet.com, which it acquired for more than $3 billion in August.

Since then, Wal-Mart has acquired three small web retailers to add urban and millennial shoppers.

The venture, called Store No. 8, will work with startups that specialize in areas that include robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence, Lore said at Shoptalk, a retail conference in New York. It will be based in California’s Silicon Valley, he added.

Wal-Mart will keep the startups separate from the broader organization so that they will not affect the retailer’s bottom line in the near term, Seth Beal, senior vice-president, incubation and strategic partnerships, said in an interview.

He declined to give a timeframe for the launch.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicago; Editing by Richard Chang)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/ypDboDZGjBU/us-walmart-ecommerce-idUSKBN16R2Q9

Wal-Mart to launch investment arm in e-commerce push


Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, will launch its first investment arm to expand its e-commerce business in partnership with retail start-ups, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, the company said on Monday.

The plan is being spearheaded by Marc Lore, Wal-Mart’s e-commerce chief, who joined the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company from retail upstart Jet.com, which it acquired for more than $3 billion in August.

Since then, Wal-Mart has acquired three small web retailers to add urban and millennial shoppers.

The venture, called Store No. 8, will work with startups that specialize in areas that include robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence, Lore said at Shoptalk, a retail conference in New York. It will be based in California’s Silicon Valley, he added.

Wal-Mart will keep the startups separate from the broader organization so that they will not affect the retailer’s bottom line in the near term, Seth Beal, senior vice-president, incubation and strategic partnerships, said in an interview.

He declined to give a timeframe for the launch.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicago; Editing by Richard Chang)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/ypDboDZGjBU/us-walmart-ecommerce-idUSKBN16R2Q9

Snap snaps back after analyst assigns first ‘buy’ rating


SAN FRANCISCO Snap Inc (SNAP.N) stock rose on Monday after the Snapchat owner received its first “buy” rating from a Wall Street analyst following a $3.4 billion public listing this month that raised the eyebrows of many on Wall Street.

The social media company’s public listing on March 1 was the hottest by a technology firm in three years, but after two days of explosive gains, its stock has mostly fallen as investors worry about Snap’s high valuation and lack of profitability.

Based on the average of analysts’ buy, sell and neutral recommendations, Snap is the worst-rated stock among 288 U.S. companies that have a market capitalization of at least $20 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Crespi, Hardt Co analyst James Cakmak on Monday gave Snap its first “buy” rating and a $25 target price. Its stock at midday was up 2.09 percent at $19.96.

“We see a company with the potential to outpace revenue growth of peers by 7x, along with a steep margin trajectory, while peer margins have likely peaked,” he said in a report.

Cakmak’s recommendation stands out among reports by analysts concerned about Snap’s slowing user growth, widening losses and lack of voting rights for outside investors. Snap has warned it may never be profitable.

Another five analysts have recommended selling Snap while four analysts have neutral ratings.

In its first two days of trading, Snap surged 59 percent from its $17 IPO price. Since then, it has lost 26 percent.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/aWxD-nMj2jI/us-snap-stocks-idUSKBN16R1ZE

Snap snaps back after analyst assigns first ‘buy’ rating


SAN FRANCISCO Snap Inc (SNAP.N) stock rose on Monday after the Snapchat owner received its first “buy” rating from a Wall Street analyst following a $3.4 billion public listing this month that raised the eyebrows of many on Wall Street.

The social media company’s public listing on March 1 was the hottest by a technology firm in three years, but after two days of explosive gains, its stock has mostly fallen as investors worry about Snap’s high valuation and lack of profitability.

Based on the average of analysts’ buy, sell and neutral recommendations, Snap is the worst-rated stock among 288 U.S. companies that have a market capitalization of at least $20 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Crespi, Hardt Co analyst James Cakmak on Monday gave Snap its first “buy” rating and a $25 target price. Its stock at midday was up 2.09 percent at $19.96.

“We see a company with the potential to outpace revenue growth of peers by 7x, along with a steep margin trajectory, while peer margins have likely peaked,” he said in a report.

Cakmak’s recommendation stands out among reports by analysts concerned about Snap’s slowing user growth, widening losses and lack of voting rights for outside investors. Snap has warned it may never be profitable.

Another five analysts have recommended selling Snap while four analysts have neutral ratings.

In its first two days of trading, Snap surged 59 percent from its $17 IPO price. Since then, it has lost 26 percent.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/aWxD-nMj2jI/us-snap-stocks-idUSKBN16R1ZE

Snap snaps back after analyst assigns first ‘buy’ rating


SAN FRANCISCO Snap Inc (SNAP.N) stock rose on Monday after the Snapchat owner received its first “buy” rating from a Wall Street analyst following a $3.4 billion public listing this month that raised the eyebrows of many on Wall Street.

The social media company’s public listing on March 1 was the hottest by a technology firm in three years, but after two days of explosive gains, its stock has mostly fallen as investors worry about Snap’s high valuation and lack of profitability.

Based on the average of analysts’ buy, sell and neutral recommendations, Snap is the worst-rated stock among 288 U.S. companies that have a market capitalization of at least $20 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Crespi, Hardt Co analyst James Cakmak on Monday gave Snap its first “buy” rating and a $25 target price. Its stock at midday was up 2.09 percent at $19.96.

“We see a company with the potential to outpace revenue growth of peers by 7x, along with a steep margin trajectory, while peer margins have likely peaked,” he said in a report.

Cakmak’s recommendation stands out among reports by analysts concerned about Snap’s slowing user growth, widening losses and lack of voting rights for outside investors. Snap has warned it may never be profitable.

Another five analysts have recommended selling Snap while four analysts have neutral ratings.

In its first two days of trading, Snap surged 59 percent from its $17 IPO price. Since then, it has lost 26 percent.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/aWxD-nMj2jI/us-snap-stocks-idUSKBN16R1ZE

Snap snaps back after analyst assigns first ‘buy’ rating


SAN FRANCISCO Snap Inc (SNAP.N) stock rose on Monday after the Snapchat owner received its first “buy” rating from a Wall Street analyst following a $3.4 billion public listing this month that raised the eyebrows of many on Wall Street.

The social media company’s public listing on March 1 was the hottest by a technology firm in three years, but after two days of explosive gains, its stock has mostly fallen as investors worry about Snap’s high valuation and lack of profitability.

Based on the average of analysts’ buy, sell and neutral recommendations, Snap is the worst-rated stock among 288 U.S. companies that have a market capitalization of at least $20 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Crespi, Hardt Co analyst James Cakmak on Monday gave Snap its first “buy” rating and a $25 target price. Its stock at midday was up 2.09 percent at $19.96.

“We see a company with the potential to outpace revenue growth of peers by 7x, along with a steep margin trajectory, while peer margins have likely peaked,” he said in a report.

Cakmak’s recommendation stands out among reports by analysts concerned about Snap’s slowing user growth, widening losses and lack of voting rights for outside investors. Snap has warned it may never be profitable.

Another five analysts have recommended selling Snap while four analysts have neutral ratings.

In its first two days of trading, Snap surged 59 percent from its $17 IPO price. Since then, it has lost 26 percent.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/aWxD-nMj2jI/us-snap-stocks-idUSKBN16R1ZE

Snap snaps back after analyst assigns first ‘buy’ rating


SAN FRANCISCO Snap Inc (SNAP.N) stock rose on Monday after the Snapchat owner received its first “buy” rating from a Wall Street analyst following a $3.4 billion public listing this month that raised the eyebrows of many on Wall Street.

The social media company’s public listing on March 1 was the hottest by a technology firm in three years, but after two days of explosive gains, its stock has mostly fallen as investors worry about Snap’s high valuation and lack of profitability.

Based on the average of analysts’ buy, sell and neutral recommendations, Snap is the worst-rated stock among 288 U.S. companies that have a market capitalization of at least $20 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Crespi, Hardt Co analyst James Cakmak on Monday gave Snap its first “buy” rating and a $25 target price. Its stock at midday was up 2.09 percent at $19.96.

“We see a company with the potential to outpace revenue growth of peers by 7x, along with a steep margin trajectory, while peer margins have likely peaked,” he said in a report.

Cakmak’s recommendation stands out among reports by analysts concerned about Snap’s slowing user growth, widening losses and lack of voting rights for outside investors. Snap has warned it may never be profitable.

Another five analysts have recommended selling Snap while four analysts have neutral ratings.

In its first two days of trading, Snap surged 59 percent from its $17 IPO price. Since then, it has lost 26 percent.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/aWxD-nMj2jI/us-snap-stocks-idUSKBN16R1ZE

Asian shares near 15-month high, dollar soft on less hawkish Fed


TOKYO Asian shares clung to their 15-month highs on Tuesday while the dollar and U.S. bond yields were on the back foot on the prospects of a less-hawkish Federal Reserve policy trajectory.

In early trade, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.1 percent, staying near a 15-month high it touched on Monday, with South Korean shares .KS11 hitting two-year highs.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 dropped 0.8 percent, weighed by financial stocks, which were hurt by lower U.S. yields and exporter stocks, which fell on the yen’s gains against the dollar.

While Asian shares have been supported by signs of strong global economic growth, concerns about protectionism cast a shadow after financial leaders of the world’s biggest economies dropped a pledge to keep global trade free and open, acquiescing to an increasingly protectionist United States

Wall Street shares drifted lower on Monday as investors worried that President Donald Trump’s plan to cut taxes and boost the economy could take longer than previously expected.

“Any fiscal spending by the Trump administration will not come until August at earliest and probably much later. So any economic benefit of that will show up only next year,” said a senior trader at a European bank.

“So the markets are gradually pricing that in, winding back their initial rally after the elections.”

Although Trump promised in early February to deliver a “phenomenal” tax plan within a few weeks, no such details have been released yet.

“U.S. stocks valuations are getting really expensive, so I expect the market to be capped for now. That also means Japanese shares are unlikely to gain further,” said Tatsushi Maeno, senior strategist at Okasan Asset Management.

Expectations that the Federal Reserve will have to step up rate hikes to counter inflationary pressure from Trump’s stimulus are also waning after the Fed dropped no hints of an acceleration in credit tightening last week.

Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans, in one of the first official comments after the Fed raised rates as expected last week, reiterated that message on Monday.

He said that two more interest rate hikes this year are likely, disappointing investors who had anticipated a faster path of rate increases.

His comments helped to bring down the 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield US10YT=RR to 2.463 percent, its lowest level in two weeks.

Lower yields undermined the greenback’s allure, softening the dollar to three-week lows near 112.485 yen JPY=.

The dollar’s index against a basket of six major currencies .DXY =USD stood at 100.37, after hitting a six-week low of 100.02 on Monday.

The euro EUR= traded at $1.0737, off Friday’s high of $1.07825, which was its highest level since early February.

The spectre of slower U.S. rate hikes has been helping high-yielding currencies.

The Australian dollar AUD=D4 traded at $0.7725, after hitting a 4-1/2-month high of $0.7748 on Monday. It has risen 2.2 percent since the Fed’s policy meeting last week.

The South African rand ZAR=D4 has gained 4.0 percent since then to a near 1-1/2-year high while the Brazilian real rose 3.2 percent BRL=.

Oil prices stayed under pressure, though they hovered above their 3-1/2-month lows touched a week ago, as investors continue to grapple with worries about growing U.S. oil output and high inventories.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 settled at $51.62 a barrel on Monday, down 14 cents but above last week’s low of $50.25.

U.S. crude futures CLc1 traded at $48.30 per barrel in early Asian trade, up slightly from late U.S. levels but down 1.1 percent so far this week.

(Editing by Sam Holmes)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/4C0HV_-FL5g/us-global-markets-idUSKBN16S030

Asian shares near 15-month high, dollar soft on less hawkish Fed


TOKYO Asian shares clung to their 15-month highs on Tuesday while the dollar and U.S. bond yields were on the back foot on the prospects of a less-hawkish Federal Reserve policy trajectory.

In early trade, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.1 percent, staying near a 15-month high it touched on Monday, with South Korean shares .KS11 hitting two-year highs.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 dropped 0.8 percent, weighed by financial stocks, which were hurt by lower U.S. yields and exporter stocks, which fell on the yen’s gains against the dollar.

While Asian shares have been supported by signs of strong global economic growth, concerns about protectionism cast a shadow after financial leaders of the world’s biggest economies dropped a pledge to keep global trade free and open, acquiescing to an increasingly protectionist United States

Wall Street shares drifted lower on Monday as investors worried that President Donald Trump’s plan to cut taxes and boost the economy could take longer than previously expected.

“Any fiscal spending by the Trump administration will not come until August at earliest and probably much later. So any economic benefit of that will show up only next year,” said a senior trader at a European bank.

“So the markets are gradually pricing that in, winding back their initial rally after the elections.”

Although Trump promised in early February to deliver a “phenomenal” tax plan within a few weeks, no such details have been released yet.

“U.S. stocks valuations are getting really expensive, so I expect the market to be capped for now. That also means Japanese shares are unlikely to gain further,” said Tatsushi Maeno, senior strategist at Okasan Asset Management.

Expectations that the Federal Reserve will have to step up rate hikes to counter inflationary pressure from Trump’s stimulus are also waning after the Fed dropped no hints of an acceleration in credit tightening last week.

Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans, in one of the first official comments after the Fed raised rates as expected last week, reiterated that message on Monday.

He said that two more interest rate hikes this year are likely, disappointing investors who had anticipated a faster path of rate increases.

His comments helped to bring down the 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield US10YT=RR to 2.463 percent, its lowest level in two weeks.

Lower yields undermined the greenback’s allure, softening the dollar to three-week lows near 112.485 yen JPY=.

The dollar’s index against a basket of six major currencies .DXY =USD stood at 100.37, after hitting a six-week low of 100.02 on Monday.

The euro EUR= traded at $1.0737, off Friday’s high of $1.07825, which was its highest level since early February.

The spectre of slower U.S. rate hikes has been helping high-yielding currencies.

The Australian dollar AUD=D4 traded at $0.7725, after hitting a 4-1/2-month high of $0.7748 on Monday. It has risen 2.2 percent since the Fed’s policy meeting last week.

The South African rand ZAR=D4 has gained 4.0 percent since then to a near 1-1/2-year high while the Brazilian real rose 3.2 percent BRL=.

Oil prices stayed under pressure, though they hovered above their 3-1/2-month lows touched a week ago, as investors continue to grapple with worries about growing U.S. oil output and high inventories.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 settled at $51.62 a barrel on Monday, down 14 cents but above last week’s low of $50.25.

U.S. crude futures CLc1 traded at $48.30 per barrel in early Asian trade, up slightly from late U.S. levels but down 1.1 percent so far this week.

(Editing by Sam Holmes)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/4C0HV_-FL5g/us-global-markets-idUSKBN16S030

Asian shares near 15-month high, dollar soft on less hawkish Fed


TOKYO Asian shares clung to their 15-month highs on Tuesday while the dollar and U.S. bond yields were on the back foot on the prospects of a less-hawkish Federal Reserve policy trajectory.

In early trade, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.1 percent, staying near a 15-month high it touched on Monday, with South Korean shares .KS11 hitting two-year highs.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 dropped 0.8 percent, weighed by financial stocks, which were hurt by lower U.S. yields and exporter stocks, which fell on the yen’s gains against the dollar.

While Asian shares have been supported by signs of strong global economic growth, concerns about protectionism cast a shadow after financial leaders of the world’s biggest economies dropped a pledge to keep global trade free and open, acquiescing to an increasingly protectionist United States

Wall Street shares drifted lower on Monday as investors worried that President Donald Trump’s plan to cut taxes and boost the economy could take longer than previously expected.

“Any fiscal spending by the Trump administration will not come until August at earliest and probably much later. So any economic benefit of that will show up only next year,” said a senior trader at a European bank.

“So the markets are gradually pricing that in, winding back their initial rally after the elections.”

Although Trump promised in early February to deliver a “phenomenal” tax plan within a few weeks, no such details have been released yet.

“U.S. stocks valuations are getting really expensive, so I expect the market to be capped for now. That also means Japanese shares are unlikely to gain further,” said Tatsushi Maeno, senior strategist at Okasan Asset Management.

Expectations that the Federal Reserve will have to step up rate hikes to counter inflationary pressure from Trump’s stimulus are also waning after the Fed dropped no hints of an acceleration in credit tightening last week.

Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans, in one of the first official comments after the Fed raised rates as expected last week, reiterated that message on Monday.

He said that two more interest rate hikes this year are likely, disappointing investors who had anticipated a faster path of rate increases.

His comments helped to bring down the 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield US10YT=RR to 2.463 percent, its lowest level in two weeks.

Lower yields undermined the greenback’s allure, softening the dollar to three-week lows near 112.485 yen JPY=.

The dollar’s index against a basket of six major currencies .DXY =USD stood at 100.37, after hitting a six-week low of 100.02 on Monday.

The euro EUR= traded at $1.0737, off Friday’s high of $1.07825, which was its highest level since early February.

The spectre of slower U.S. rate hikes has been helping high-yielding currencies.

The Australian dollar AUD=D4 traded at $0.7725, after hitting a 4-1/2-month high of $0.7748 on Monday. It has risen 2.2 percent since the Fed’s policy meeting last week.

The South African rand ZAR=D4 has gained 4.0 percent since then to a near 1-1/2-year high while the Brazilian real rose 3.2 percent BRL=.

Oil prices stayed under pressure, though they hovered above their 3-1/2-month lows touched a week ago, as investors continue to grapple with worries about growing U.S. oil output and high inventories.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 settled at $51.62 a barrel on Monday, down 14 cents but above last week’s low of $50.25.

U.S. crude futures CLc1 traded at $48.30 per barrel in early Asian trade, up slightly from late U.S. levels but down 1.1 percent so far this week.

(Editing by Sam Holmes)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/4C0HV_-FL5g/us-global-markets-idUSKBN16S030

Asian shares near 15-month high, dollar soft on less hawkish Fed


TOKYO Asian shares clung to their 15-month highs on Tuesday while the dollar and U.S. bond yields were on the back foot on the prospects of a less-hawkish Federal Reserve policy trajectory.

In early trade, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.1 percent, staying near a 15-month high it touched on Monday, with South Korean shares .KS11 hitting two-year highs.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 dropped 0.8 percent, weighed by financial stocks, which were hurt by lower U.S. yields and exporter stocks, which fell on the yen’s gains against the dollar.

While Asian shares have been supported by signs of strong global economic growth, concerns about protectionism cast a shadow after financial leaders of the world’s biggest economies dropped a pledge to keep global trade free and open, acquiescing to an increasingly protectionist United States

Wall Street shares drifted lower on Monday as investors worried that President Donald Trump’s plan to cut taxes and boost the economy could take longer than previously expected.

“Any fiscal spending by the Trump administration will not come until August at earliest and probably much later. So any economic benefit of that will show up only next year,” said a senior trader at a European bank.

“So the markets are gradually pricing that in, winding back their initial rally after the elections.”

Although Trump promised in early February to deliver a “phenomenal” tax plan within a few weeks, no such details have been released yet.

“U.S. stocks valuations are getting really expensive, so I expect the market to be capped for now. That also means Japanese shares are unlikely to gain further,” said Tatsushi Maeno, senior strategist at Okasan Asset Management.

Expectations that the Federal Reserve will have to step up rate hikes to counter inflationary pressure from Trump’s stimulus are also waning after the Fed dropped no hints of an acceleration in credit tightening last week.

Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans, in one of the first official comments after the Fed raised rates as expected last week, reiterated that message on Monday.

He said that two more interest rate hikes this year are likely, disappointing investors who had anticipated a faster path of rate increases.

His comments helped to bring down the 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield US10YT=RR to 2.463 percent, its lowest level in two weeks.

Lower yields undermined the greenback’s allure, softening the dollar to three-week lows near 112.485 yen JPY=.

The dollar’s index against a basket of six major currencies .DXY =USD stood at 100.37, after hitting a six-week low of 100.02 on Monday.

The euro EUR= traded at $1.0737, off Friday’s high of $1.07825, which was its highest level since early February.

The spectre of slower U.S. rate hikes has been helping high-yielding currencies.

The Australian dollar AUD=D4 traded at $0.7725, after hitting a 4-1/2-month high of $0.7748 on Monday. It has risen 2.2 percent since the Fed’s policy meeting last week.

The South African rand ZAR=D4 has gained 4.0 percent since then to a near 1-1/2-year high while the Brazilian real rose 3.2 percent BRL=.

Oil prices stayed under pressure, though they hovered above their 3-1/2-month lows touched a week ago, as investors continue to grapple with worries about growing U.S. oil output and high inventories.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 settled at $51.62 a barrel on Monday, down 14 cents but above last week’s low of $50.25.

U.S. crude futures CLc1 traded at $48.30 per barrel in early Asian trade, up slightly from late U.S. levels but down 1.1 percent so far this week.

(Editing by Sam Holmes)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/4C0HV_-FL5g/us-global-markets-idUSKBN16S030

Asian shares near 15-month high, dollar soft on less hawkish Fed


TOKYO Asian shares clung to their 15-month highs on Tuesday while the dollar and U.S. bond yields were on the back foot on the prospects of a less-hawkish Federal Reserve policy trajectory.

In early trade, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.1 percent, staying near a 15-month high it touched on Monday, with South Korean shares .KS11 hitting two-year highs.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 dropped 0.8 percent, weighed by financial stocks, which were hurt by lower U.S. yields and exporter stocks, which fell on the yen’s gains against the dollar.

While Asian shares have been supported by signs of strong global economic growth, concerns about protectionism cast a shadow after financial leaders of the world’s biggest economies dropped a pledge to keep global trade free and open, acquiescing to an increasingly protectionist United States

Wall Street shares drifted lower on Monday as investors worried that President Donald Trump’s plan to cut taxes and boost the economy could take longer than previously expected.

“Any fiscal spending by the Trump administration will not come until August at earliest and probably much later. So any economic benefit of that will show up only next year,” said a senior trader at a European bank.

“So the markets are gradually pricing that in, winding back their initial rally after the elections.”

Although Trump promised in early February to deliver a “phenomenal” tax plan within a few weeks, no such details have been released yet.

“U.S. stocks valuations are getting really expensive, so I expect the market to be capped for now. That also means Japanese shares are unlikely to gain further,” said Tatsushi Maeno, senior strategist at Okasan Asset Management.

Expectations that the Federal Reserve will have to step up rate hikes to counter inflationary pressure from Trump’s stimulus are also waning after the Fed dropped no hints of an acceleration in credit tightening last week.

Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans, in one of the first official comments after the Fed raised rates as expected last week, reiterated that message on Monday.

He said that two more interest rate hikes this year are likely, disappointing investors who had anticipated a faster path of rate increases.

His comments helped to bring down the 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield US10YT=RR to 2.463 percent, its lowest level in two weeks.

Lower yields undermined the greenback’s allure, softening the dollar to three-week lows near 112.485 yen JPY=.

The dollar’s index against a basket of six major currencies .DXY =USD stood at 100.37, after hitting a six-week low of 100.02 on Monday.

The euro EUR= traded at $1.0737, off Friday’s high of $1.07825, which was its highest level since early February.

The spectre of slower U.S. rate hikes has been helping high-yielding currencies.

The Australian dollar AUD=D4 traded at $0.7725, after hitting a 4-1/2-month high of $0.7748 on Monday. It has risen 2.2 percent since the Fed’s policy meeting last week.

The South African rand ZAR=D4 has gained 4.0 percent since then to a near 1-1/2-year high while the Brazilian real rose 3.2 percent BRL=.

Oil prices stayed under pressure, though they hovered above their 3-1/2-month lows touched a week ago, as investors continue to grapple with worries about growing U.S. oil output and high inventories.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 settled at $51.62 a barrel on Monday, down 14 cents but above last week’s low of $50.25.

U.S. crude futures CLc1 traded at $48.30 per barrel in early Asian trade, up slightly from late U.S. levels but down 1.1 percent so far this week.

(Editing by Sam Holmes)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/4C0HV_-FL5g/us-global-markets-idUSKBN16S030

Albertsons held preliminary merger talks with Sprouts: Bloomberg


NEW YORK Grocery business Albertsons Cos held preliminary talks to merge with Sprouts Farmers Market Inc (SFM.O), Bloomberg reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the situation.

Bloomberg said the early stage discussions took place in recent weeks and involved a plan to take Sprouts private. Doing so would add the natural and organic foods-focused business to the Albertsons suite of supermarket brands, which includes Safeway, Vons and Shaw’s.

Albertsons is backed by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. Representatives for Albertsons and Sprouts did not immediately respond to requests for comment, while a spokeswoman for Cerberus declined to comment.

Shares of Sprouts spiked to a four-month high on Thursday and Friday amid a surge in stock options trading.

(Reporting by Lawrence Delevingne; Editing by Mary Milliken and Peter Cooney)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/_KkxrIGHXVw/us-albertsons-cos-sprouts-idUSKBN16Q0XG

Uber president Jeff Jones quits, deepening turmoil


SAN FRANCISCO Ride services company Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] has been thrust deeper into turmoil with the departure of company president Jeff Jones, a marketing expert hired to help soften its often abrasive image.

Jones quit less than seven months after joining the San Francisco company, an Uber spokesman said on Sunday.

The reason for his departure was not immediately clear, but Jones’ role was put into question after Uber earlier this month launched a search for a chief operating officer to help run the company alongside Chief Executive Travis Kalanick.

Jones had been performing some of those COO responsibilities. He joined Uber from Target Corp (TGT.N), where he was chief marketing officer and is credited with modernizing the retailer’s brand.

“We want to thank Jeff for his six months at the company and wish him all the best,” an Uber spokesman said in an emailed statement.

Jones is the latest in a string of high-level executives to leave the company. Last month, engineering executive Amit Singhal was asked to resign due to a sexual harassment allegation stemming from his previous job at Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google. Earlier this month, Ed Baker, Uber’s vice president of product and growth, and Charlie Miller, Uber’s famed security researcher, departed.

Technology news site Recode first reported Jones’ departure on Sunday.

Uber, while it has long had a reputation as an aggressive and unapologetic startup, has been battered with multiple controversies over the last several weeks that have put Kalanick’s leadership capabilities and the company’s future into question.

A former Uber employee last month published a blog post describing a workplace where sexual harassment was common and went unpunished. The blog post prompted an internal investigation that is being led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Then, Bloomberg released a video that showed Kalanick berating an Uber driver who had complained about cuts to rates paid to drivers, resulting in Kalanick making a public apology.

And earlier this month Uber confirmed it had used a secret technology program dubbed “Greyball,” which effectively changes the app view for specific riders, to evade authorities in cities where the service has been banned. Uber has since prohibited the use of Greyball to target local regulators.

Uber is also facing a lawsuit from Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car division that accuses it of stealing designs for autonomous car technology known as Lidar. Uber has said the claims are false.

Jones joined Uber in August and was widely expected to be Kalanick’s No. 2. Jones was tasked with overseeing the bulk of Uber’s global operations, including leading the ride-hailing program, running local Uber services in every city, marketing and customer service, and working with drivers.

The Independent Drivers Guild, an organization that advocates for Uber drivers, on Sunday was critical that Jones “has left the company without making a single improvement to help drivers struggling to make a living,” said Ryan Price, executive director of the guild.

(Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/VpPzbglahAs/us-uber-jeffjones-idUSKBN16Q0X3

MoneyGram offers to give Euronet confidential info to firm up bid-sources


U.S. electronic payments company MoneyGram International Inc (MGI.O) has offered to share confidential information with peer Euronet Worldwide Inc (EEFT.O), after the latter made a $1 billion acquisition offer, people familiar with the matter said.

MoneyGram has found that Euronet’s cash offer of $15.20 per share, which was unveiled last week, could be expected to result in a superior proposal compared with a deal it agreed to in January to sell itself to China’s Ant Financial Services Group for $13.25 a share in cash, the people said on Sunday.

Before Euronet carries out its due diligence on MoneyGram, it will have to agree to the terms of a non-disclosure agreement, the people added. Negotiations on such a confidentiality pact may take several days, the people cautioned.

Euronet is then expected to take about a week going through MoneyGram’s books before firming up its offer, the people said. MoneyGram will also receive information from Euronet that will allow it to better assess potential antitrust risks to such a deal, the sources added.

Should MoneyGram declare Euronet’s bid superior, Ant Financial will have four business days to decide whether it wants to improve its offer.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Euronet, MoneyGram and Ant Financial declined to comment.

Based in Dallas, MoneyGram is one of the biggest players in the global remittance market. An acquisition would enable Euronet to better compete against digital startups that are transforming the money transfer business.

Euronet has also argued that MoneyGram’s focus on large retailers and national post offices, combined with Euronet’s strong position with independent agents and its broad set of consumer payment solutions, would create a more valuable business.

While a deal with Euronet would bring cost synergies, a combination of Ant Financial’s technological expertise and Moneygram’s brand had been seen as a game-changer for the international payments industry, with scope for more consumers to use online transfer services rather than taking cash to store fronts.

Ant Financial, the financial services affiliate of Albia Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N), dominates China’s online payment market and has been ramping up investment overseas amid fierce rivalry at home with peers such as Tencent Holdings Ltd’s (0700.HK) popular Escheat Pay.

Ant Financial’ s acquisition of MoneyGram is being reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a government panel that scrutinizes deals over potential national security concerns.

MoneyGram will have to pay Ant Financial $30 million as a termination fee if it abandons their deal for another bid.

(This version of the story corrects the name MoneyGram in paragraphs 4 and 8)

(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Peter Cooney)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/GB_V6WuKrxo/us-moneygram-intl-m-a-euronet-worldwid-idUSKBN16Q0W9

Immigrants Charged in Rape of Girl as Rockville Debates Becoming Sanctuary City

Rockville, Md., the city home to the recent immigrant high school rape scandal, is considering declaring itself a sanctuary city to hide illegals.

Although Rockville police have had a long-standing policy neither to question suspected illegals about their immigration status, or to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, the city is now considering the process of formalizing that informal standard by becoming a sanctuary city.

Rockville City Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr introduced an ordinance in early March in response to President Donald Trump’s pledge to beat back illegal immigration.

Carr forwarded the ordinance at a hearing March 6 overflowing with local residents, including those in favor of turning Rockville into an official sanctuary city, and those vehemently against.

But the discussion has now become much more complicated, as recently, two immigrants, Henry E. Sanchez from Guatemala, and Jose O. Montano, from El Salvador, were charged Thursday for allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl at Rockville High School.

The charges include first-degree rape and first-degree sexual offense.

The girl told police that Montano pushed her into the boys’ bathroom and into a stall, at which point Sanchez joined him and the two took turns sexually assaulting her.

It’s unclear why Sanchez and Montano, 18 and 17 respectively, are allowed in the ninth grade at the high school and a spokeswoman for the school refused to explain the situation to The Washington Post.

What is clear, however, is that Sanchez has a “alien removal” case against him currently pending.

Montano is being charged as an adult, despite being a juvenile, because of the gravity of the allegations.

And according to Montgomery County Assistant States Attorney Rebecca MacVittie, Sanchez is a “substantial flight risk.”

That both are a flight risk is precisely why the judge in the case said they must be held in custody without bond until their next court hearing. Montano’s hearing is set for March 31 and Sanchez’s is set for April 14.

Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter. Send tips to jonah@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Copyright 2017 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Article source: https://stream.org/rockville-md-considers-becoming-sanctuary-city-amid-immigrate-rape-outrage/

Here are 4 Possible Outcomes for Gorsuch Confirmation

Confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court choice, will begin Monday, with the process culminating in one of four likely outcomes.

Gorsuch, a 49-year-old federal appeals judge, could potentially see these outcomes as his confirmation process unfolds:

  1. He is confirmed with at least 51 votes after there are 60 votes to end debate, ending the threat of a filibuster.
  2. He is confirmed with at least 51 votes if Republicans choose to implement the nuclear option.
  3. He is confirmed with at least 51 votes after Republicans use the two-speech rule, a Senate rule that mandates the Senate stay in the same legislative day until filibustering senators give up on their efforts.
  4. His nomination is withdrawn by Trump.

Rachel Bovard, director of policy services at The Heritage Foundation and a former Senate aide, told The Daily Signal in an email that Gorsuch will likely get 60 votes to end debate “mostly because [Democrats] can’t seem to muster serious objections to him.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has made it clear that he intends to confirm Gorsuch in the near term, telling Politico, “We’re gonna confirm him before the April recess.”

If Republicans use the nuclear option or the two-speech rule, the 60-vote threshold to end debate would be waived and just one vote with 51 senators voting in the affirmative would be required, according to Bovard.

A report from James Wallner, a former Senate aide and group vice president for research at The Heritage Foundation, and Ed Corrigan, executive director of the Senate Steering Committee and a former group vice president for policy promotion at The Heritage Foundation, explained how the two-speech rule works:

Minority obstruction may be curtailed by strictly enforcing Rule XIX (the two-speech rule) on the Senate floor. Doing so simply requires the Senate to remain in the same legislative day until the filibustering members have exhausted their ability to speak on the nominee in question. This is the point at which those members who are committed to blocking that nominee’s confirmation have given the two floor speeches allotted to them under Rule XIX. Once this point is reached, the Presiding Officer may put the question (call for a vote) on confirmation. The support of a simple majority of the members present and voting is sufficient for confirmation.

John Malcolm, the director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email that he thinks it is “highly likely that Gorsuch will get 60 votes to invoke cloture and bring his nomination to the floor of the Senate for an up-or-down vote.”

Anthony L. François, a senior attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, also says he believes this is the likeliest scenario.

“My expectation is that Democrat leadership in the Senate will insist on a cloture vote for Judge Gorsuch’s nomination, but that the motion will receive 60 votes, and that he will then be confirmed with a range of 55 to 60 votes,” François said in an email to The Daily Signal.

According to Senate rules, 60 votes are needed to invoke cloture or end debate on the nominee.

If a filibuster is not threatened, only a simple majority, 51 votes, are needed to confirm the nominee, according to Bovard.

Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, thinks Gorsuch will likely get some support from Democrats.

“It would be no surprise to me if senators in red states who are up for re-election in 2018 voted with the interest of their constituents rather than embracing the partisan gridlock [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer is advocating,” Severino said.

Malcolm says this confirmation process potentially will be less contested than that of future Supreme Court nominees.

“I think that the Democrats realize they have likely lost on this issue, and will keep their powder dry for the next Supreme Court vacancy where the stakes will be much higher,” Malcolm said. “I could be wrong, though, because [the] Democratic base is furious and may demand that the Democrats go after Gorsuch with everything they’ve got.”

Bovard said it is also likely that Gorsuch will receive the 60 votes needed to end debate because Democrats from red states will be “loath to be seen as obstructionist.”

Gorsuch going down in defeat, according to Malcolm, is not probable.

“The only way it happens is if the Democrats mount and sustain a successful filibuster and the Republicans refuse to go nuclear or invoke the two-speech rule,” Malcolm said.

The nuclear option and the two-speech rule have never been invoked or used against a nominee for the high court, according to Bovard.

Five of the past seven Supreme Court justices received more than 60 confirmation votes and two sitting justices, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito, were confirmed with fewer than 60 votes, according to The Washington Post.

Justice Antonin Scalia received a confirmation vote of 98-0.

François said he believes Gorsuch has a clear path to confirmation:

His broad spectrum support from liberal as well as conservative law professors, attorneys, law school classmates, former clerks, and others has entirely overwhelmed the cartoonish opposition that left wing groups have tried to mount against him by cherry picking and misreading his opinions.

“The procedural path through confirmation may be a bit murky at the moment,” he added, “but I think we are nonetheless talking about the next Supreme Court justice to be seated.”

Gorsuch was nominated by Trump in January to fill the seat of Scalia, who died last February.

 

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

Article source: https://stream.org/here-are-4-possible-outcomes-for-gorsuch-confirmation/

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