Oil posts biggest one-day gains after Trump touts Saudi-Russia oil deal By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The sun sets behind a crude oil pump jack on a drill pad in the Permian Basin in Loving County

By Scott DiSavino

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Crude prices posted their biggest-one day gains on record on Thursday after President Donald Trump said he expects Russia and Saudi Arabia to announce a major oil production cut, and Saudi state media said the kingdom was calling an emergency meeting of producers to deal with the market turmoil.

Trump said he had spoken to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and expects Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut oil output by as much as 10 million to 15 million barrels, as the two countries signaled willingness to make a deal.

Trump did not specify barrels per day (bpd), though the market expresses demand and supply in those terms. Such a sizeable deal, however, would likely require participation from other big producers outside of the OPEC cartel.

Saudi Arabia said it would call an emergency meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Saudi state media reported. The Wall Street Journal reported that the kingdom would consider dropping output to roughly 9 million bpd, or about 3 million bpd less than what it planned on pumping in April.

Brent futures () rose $5.20, or 21.0%, to settle at $29.94 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude () rose $5.01, or 24.7%, to settle at $25.32.

Despite the huge gains, oil prices have still lost more than half their value this year. The market slumped in early March, when Saudi Arabia and Russia were unable to come to terms on a deal to curb production, and the Saudis boosted output to more than 12 million bpd and shipped discounted cargoes worldwide.

Since then, the coronavirus pandemic has severely cut fuel demand. U.S. crude prices fell under $20 per barrel a few times in recent days.

“The question will come down to, Will they be able to agree to something? It’s taken a couple of weeks of Brent at $25 and WTI at $20 and it seems as if the Russians are more approachable than they were a month ago,” said Gene McGillian, vice president of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

Brent soared as much as 47% during the session, its highest intraday percentage gain ever. WTI jumped as much as 35%, its second highest ever, after an intraday gain of 36% on March 19.

Oil prices pulled back from those highs as traders questioned whether Russia and Saudi Arabia could actually agree on such a big production cut.

A senior administration official told Reuters the United States does not know formal details of Saudi Arabian and Russian plans to reduce oil supply yet and will not ask U.S. domestic oil producers to chip in with their own cuts.

“Despite today’s headlines, we remain skeptical that a deal to cut output will materialize,” analysts at Capital Economics said, noting Saudi Arabia is unlikely to cut output unless Russia and possibly other non-OPEC producers, like the United States and Canada, join in a coordinated reduction.

With fuel demand expected to fall by 20% to 30% in coming months, pressure was building on oil producers to reach a deal, and Trump expressed growing frustration about the crude price and its effect on the energy industry.

Texas regulators are exploring the possibility of cutting production in that state, which produces more than 5 million bpd.



Bed Bath sues 1-800-Flowers for trying to renege on deal over COVID-19


WILMINGTON, Del (Reuters) – Bed Bath & Beyond Inc (BBBY.O) has asked a judge to hold 1-800-Flowers.Com Inc (FLWS.O) to a $252 million deal between the companies in what appears to one of the first examples of a corporate sale coming unraveled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: The sign outside the Bed Bath & Beyond store is seen in Westminster, Colorado, June 22, 2016 REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The internet retailer of flowers and gift baskets agreed in February to buy the Pmall.com business from home furnishings retailer Bed Bath & Beyond, with a closing date of March 30.

Bed Bath said in its complaint, filed in Delaware’s Court of Chancery, that 1-800-Flowers told it on March 24 the COVID-19 outbreak, the disease caused by the coronavirus, denied the company the resources to close the deal and integrate the business. 1-800-Flowers said it was delaying closing to April 30, according to the filing.

“Even a calamitous event such as COVID-19 does not permit a party to avoid its obligations,” the lawsuit said.

1-800-Flowers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shares in Bed Bath were down about 6.8% in late trading at $3.53, while 1-800-Flowers stock was down about 3.5% at $12.20. Both trade on the Nasdaq, which was up about 0.6%.

The sale agreement contains a “material adverse effect” clause, or MAE, that permits 1-800-Flowers to terminate if there is an event that has a disproportionate impact on Pmall.com, as opposed to a broad-based impact across the economy. Bed Bath’s court papers said 1-800-Flowers did not invoke the MAE.

Wall Street’s dealmakers are closely watching the impact of the pandemic and unprecedented economic shutdown. Deal activity in the United States fell by half from a year ago in the first three months of 2020, to $252 billion.

Many pending deals were negotiated months before the pandemic intensified, raising doubts if buyers will make good on their agreements.

U.S. auto parts company BorgWarner Inc (BWA.N) threatened to walk away from a $951 million deal to buy Delphi Technologies (DLPH.N) on Tuesday after the automotive equipment supplier drew down on a credit line without its acquirer’s approval.

Despite the unprecedented impact of “stay home” orders that have shut businesses globally and contributed to a plunge in oil prices, corporate lawyers have questioned if buyers can get out of mergers.

Delaware judges have a history of holding buyers to deals, although in 2018 Germany’s Fresenius SE (FREG.DE) was allowed to end its $4.75 billion takeover of Akorn Inc (AKRX.O), after the generic drugmaker suffered a dramatic decline in business.

Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Leslie Adler



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Trump says expects Russia-Saudi oil deal soon, invites U.S. oil chiefs to White House By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump holds meeting with pharmaceutical executives to discuss developing coronavirus vaccine at the White House in Washington

By Jeff Mason and Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said he has invited U.S. oil executives to the White House to discuss ways to help the industry “ravaged” by slumping energy demand during the coronavirus outbreak and a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Trump also said he had talked recently with the leaders of both Russia and Saudi Arabia and believed the two countries would make a deal to end their price war within a “few days” – lowering production and bringing prices back up.

“I’m going to meet with the oil producers on Friday. I’m going to meet with independent oil producers also on Friday or Saturday. Maybe Sunday. We’re going to have a lot of meetings on it,” Trump told reporters at a media conference.

“Worldwide, the oil industry has been ravaged,” he said. “Its very bad for Russia, its very bad for Saudi Arabia. I mean, its very bad for both. I think they’re going to make a deal.”

Global oil prices have fallen by roughly two-thirds this year as the coronavirus has slammed global economies at the same time major producers Saudi Arabia and Russia have started to flood the market with oil.

The collapse in prices has threatened the once-booming U.S. drilling industry with bankruptcies and massive layoffs, and Washington has scrambled for ways to protect the sector.

In the coming meetings with oil executives, Trump is expected to discuss a range of options to help the industry, including the possibility of tariffs on oil imports from Saudi Arabia, according to the Wall Street Journal, which was first to report the planned meetings.

Major drillers expected to participate in the initial meeting on Friday include Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE:), Chevron Corp (NYSE:), Occidental Petroleum Corp (NYSE:), and Continental Resources, according to the Journal.

Occidental said it had no comment, while officials at the other companies did not respond to requests for comment.

A source familiar with the plan told Reuters that oil refiners and small producers would also be represented and the issue of potential waivers for royalties on existing federal offshore and onshore leases would be discussed.

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the U.S. oil and gas industry, said its president Mike Sommers would attend the initial meeting, but added: “We are not seeking any government subsidies or industry-specific intervention to address the recent market downturn at this time.”

The API, many of whose members operate globally, has said in the past it opposes trade tariffs because it can complicate projects and business relationships in other countries.

The group on March 20, however, sent a letter to the Trump administration requesting relief from some regulatory requirements to ensure steady supplies during the coronavirus. The administration has since announced it will temporarily ease some environmental enforcement.

Trump this week called Russia and Saudi Arabia’s price war “crazy” and spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the issue. Top energy officials from the two countries later spoke and agreed to continue discussions alongside other major global oil producers and consumers, according to the Kremlin.

The Trump administration said it is also planning to send a special envoy to Riyadh to push for lower output.

Saudi Arabia’s crude supply rose on Wednesday to a record of more than 12 million barrels per day, two industry sources said, despite a plunge in demand triggered by the coronavirus outbreak and U.S. pressure on the kingdom to stop flooding the market.



IMF has strong resources to deal with virus crisis, working to identify more: officials By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) headquarters building is seen ahead of the IMF/World Bank spring meetings in Washington

By Andrea Shalal and David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The coronavirus pandemic is putting increasing strains on emerging market economies, but the International Monetary Fund has sufficient resources to meet their needs for now, IMF officials said on Wednesday.

The global lender is “quite a bit away” from exhausting its $1 trillion in total lending capacity and is working to identify new sources of funding and liquidity for member countries, the officials said during a conference call with reporters.

More than 80 member countries, mostly emerging markets, have already requested some $20 billion in emergency zero- and low-interest loans from the IMF, they said, and IMF staff was working to process those requests as quickly as possible.

“We see the crisis shifting to emerging markets. Low-income countries are now all seeing the pickup in infection rates that we’ve seen in China and the advanced economies,” said one of the officials. Funding needs were greater in some of those economies due to significant capital outflows and a sharp drop in commodities prices, the official added.

The virus has infected more than 878,000 people and killed 43,412 around the world.

In addition to existing programs, the IMF is looking at reviving a proposal for a short-term liquidity line that was developed several years ago, and could be quickly implemented if approved by members, the officials said.

There was also discussion about allocation of Special Drawing Rights, the currency of the IMF, much as was done in 2009, a move that would boost funding available for emerging market countries, they said, but that would take longer to implement.

While it was critical to help countries respond to the virus, the IMF could not deviate from its fundamental principles calling for debt to remain sustainable, said one of the officials.

The officials said there was broad support for a joint proposal by the IMF and the World Bank calling on official bilateral creditors to suspend debt service payments – also known as a standstill – for countries that needed help during the current crisis.

That did not mean the IMF was pressing for a broader round of debt forgiveness, said one of the officials.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

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European stocks drop as record stimulus deal fails to stop coronavirus anxiety By Reuters


© Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

(Reuters) – European shares fell on Thursday after gaining for two straight sessions, as the still rapidly spreading coronavirus and fears of a deep global recession overshadowed optimism from a historic $2 trillion U.S. fiscal stimulus deal.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index () was down 2% at 0803 GMT, with German shares () down 1.8% as a survey showed consumer morale in Europe’s biggest economy fell sharply to its lowest level since 2009.

Italian () and Spanish () stock markets fell between 2.2% and 2.5% as the number of fatalities from COVID-19 in Italy topped 7,500, while those in Spain rose beyond 3,400 and exceeded the total death toll in China.

Global stock markets also struggled to hold on to early gains as investors braced for a surge in U.S. jobless claims, with estimates ranging from 250,000 to a whopping 4 million as economic activity ground to a halt under state-wide lockdowns.

British electricals retailer Dixons Carphone (L:) tumbled 2% after warning it would not meet its forecast for 2019-20 profit and debt as the virus outbreak forced the closure of its stores in the UK, Ireland and Greece.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Occidental nears deal with activist Icahn on proxy battle: source By Reuters


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© Reuters. The logo for Occidental Petroleum is displayed on a screen on the floor at the NYSE in New York

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(Reuters) – U.S. oil and gas producer Occidental Petroleum Corp (N:) is nearing an agreement with activist investor Carl Icahn to halt a proxy battle in return for board seats, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The agreement could put an end to a bitter fight over Occidental’s ill-timed purchase of rival Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:) last year, a bet on the continued growth of U.S. shale. After closing that deal, the market turned against Occidental, with oil prices diving more than 60% this year as the global coronavirus outbreak cut oil demand and OPEC and Russia launched an oil-price war.

If the settlement talks conclude successfully, Icahn associates Andrew Langham and Nicholas Graziano would get board seats, and Icahn would have a say in the naming of a third independent director, the source said.

An announcement could come later this week, alongside an official announcement on the appointment of former Occidental CEO Stephen Chazen as Occidental’s new chairman, the source said.

The Wall Street Journal https://on.wsj.com/3bfiRQE was the first to report that Occidental was nearing a truce in the proxy fight with Icahn.

The oil price collapse has left Occidental with about $40 billion in debt and dwindling means of covering operating expenses. This month it slashed its shareholder dividend and unveiled a new round of spending cuts.

The U.S. oil producer’s market value fell to $9.16 billion on Friday, far below the $38 billion it paid last August for Anadarko.

Equity researcher Evercore ISI on Thursday cut its forecast for the company to a $3-a-share loss this year, from no profit previously. Even with the company’s recent dividend and capex cuts, it needs prices at $38 per barrel to cover both dividend and capital spending, according to Evercore ISI. Brent closed around $27 on Friday.

Icahn holds around 10% of Occidental shares and had promised a proxy fight to win control of the company. Occidental has sharply criticized Icahn and attacked his slate of board nominees as inadequate for the job.

Occidental this month said it would issue a shareholder rights offering, often known as a “poison pill” because it is designed to discourage takeovers by diluting the ownership interest of a hostile party.

Icahn and Occidental were not immediately available for comment.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Former Uber self-driving head Levandowski agrees to plea deal over Google secrets By Reuters


© Reuters.

By Paresh Dave

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Anthony Levandowski, known for advancing self-driving car technology in the last decade, agreed to plead guilty on Thursday to taking sensitive documents from his former employer Google (NASDAQ:) before joining rival Uber Technologies (NYSE:) Inc.

He will serve no more than 30 months in prison as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors in one of the most well-known corporate disputes in recent Silicon Valley history.

“Mr. Levandowski accepts responsibility and is looking forward to resolving this matter,” his attorney, Miles Ehrlich, said in a statement.

The U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



OPEC oil cuts deal in trouble as Russia resists By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) sits outside its headquarters in Vienna

By Rania El Gamal, Alex Lawler and Olesya Astakhova

VIENNA (Reuters) – OPEC’s plans for deep and prolonged oil cuts were derailed on Friday as non-OPEC Russia refused to support the move arguing that it was too early to predict the impact of a coronavirus outbreak on global energy demand, sources told Reuters.

A high-level Russian source and two OPEC sources told Reuters Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told OPEC that Moscow was only ready to discuss extending existing output cuts.

“That position won’t change,” the Russian source said as ministers from OPEC, Russia and other producers, a group known as OPEC+, gathered for crunch talks at OPEC’s Vienna headquarters.

OPEC ministers said the coronavirus outbreak had created an “unprecedented situation” that demanded action, as measures to stop the virus spreading dampens global economic activity and oil demand.

Forecasts for 2020 demand growth have been slashed but Moscow has long argued it was too early to assess the impact and sources said Novak delivered the same message on Friday.

OPEC ministers said on Thursday they backed an additional 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil cuts until the end of 2020, a much bigger and more extended move than expected, but they made the proposal conditional on Russia and other non-OPEC producers backing the curbs.

Novak has made no public statements about the proposed extra cuts during his trips to and from Vienna this week.

Existing cuts by OPEC+ amount to 2.1 million bpd, but those have failed to support oil prices which have lost a quarter of their value since the start of the year.

DASHING HOPES

“There is a problem. OPEC has no intention to cut without Russia. We need to do something or the consequences will be drastic for everyone,” a source from a Gulf producer said.

The Kremlin said on Friday President Vladimir Putin had no plans to talk to the Saudi leadership, dashing hopes that a deal could be clinched at the very top.

But inside the OPEC headquarters informal consultations continued for more than four hours. One delegate said he saw some positive signs that a compromise could be reached.

The official meeting of OPEC+ ministers was delayed for several hours from its scheduled start at 0900 GMT.

Libya’s representative at the talks, National Oil Corporation Chairman Mustafa Sanallah, left the OPEC building telling reporters, “No white smoke yet”, referring to the means used by the Vatican to announce a new pope has been chosen.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, whose country is a member of OPEC but exempted from any curbs, had said earlier on Thursday that OPEC was still working with Russia and other non-OPEC states to reach a deal, the SHANA news agency reported.

The proposed new cuts would be on top of existing curbs due to expire in March. OPEC ministers have also called for extending the existing deal, taking total supply reductions to about 3.6 million bpd or about 3.6% of global supplies.

Moscow’s decision not to back the additional curbs could undermine cooperation between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia, an informal alliance that has propped up oil prices since 2016.

Oil prices extended their decline after the comment by the high-level Russian source. fell as much as 5% on Friday to below $48 a barrel.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

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Lebanon on verge of debt default, barring last-minute deal: sources By Reuters



By Tom Perry and Laila Bassam

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon looks set to announce on Saturday it cannot make upcoming dollar bond payments and wants to restructure $31 billion of foreign currency debt, sources said, unless a last-minute deal with creditors is found to avoid a disorderly default.

Debt default would mark a new phase in a financial crisis which has hammered Lebanon’s economy since October, slicing around 40% off the value of the local currency and leading banks to deny savers full access to deposits.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab will announce Lebanon’s decision on the Eurobonds after government meetings on Saturday, just two days before the heavily indebted state was due to pay back holders of a $1.2 billion Eurobond due on March 9.

“Lebanon is heading tomorrow towards announcing it will halt payment, or its incapacity to pay the Eurobonds and the interest,” a senior political source involved in government discussions on the matter told Reuters.

“The Lebanese government will do all it can to reorganize its relations with its debtors and to open the door for negotiations,” the source said. “When we talk about restructuring, we are talking about all the (Eurobond) debt of $31 billion.”

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, one of the most influential figures in Lebanon and an ally of the powerful Hezbollah group, said on Wednesday a majority of lawmakers backed not paying back the debt.

The senior source and three others familiar with the matter told Reuters last-minute contacts continued, but all expressed doubt a breakthrough was possible. A second senior political source said these efforts had aimed to avoid a disorderly default but there was little hope of a deal.

“They are trying but I don’t think there’s any hope,” echoed a third source close to the government.

GRACE PERIOD?

Lebanon still has the option of invoking a seven-day grace period on the March 9 bond, which would allow more time for talks with creditors before a default. But the government has not said whether this will be used.

The March Eurobond dipped 1.7 cents to 57 cents in the dollar on Friday, according to Refinitiv data. That followed three consecutive trading sessions of strong gains on hopes of avoiding a default. The bond is trading at more than half the level of some longer-dated dollar issues.

Lebanon hired U.S. investment bank Lazard (N:) and law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP last week as advisers on the widely expected restructuring. “Naturally the negotiations are going to be hard,” the senior political source involved in the government’s discussions said.

Lebanon’s financial crisis came to a head last year as capital inflows slowed and protests erupted over state corruption and bad governance.

Inflation has spiked higher in an economy which depends heavily on imports, adding to grievances that fueled protests.

Lebanon’s sovereign debt was estimated at around 155% of gross domestic product at the end of 2019, worth about $89.5 billion, with around 37% of that in foreign currency.

In a bid to control the price of the Lebanese pound, the central bank on Friday ordered currency dealers not to buy foreign currency at prices exceeding 30% of the official rate, effectively setting a cap of 2,000 pounds.

Shortly before the central bank announcement, a foreign exchange dealer said dollars were being bought at a price of 2,630 pounds. It marks the second attempt in less than two months to cap the dollar at 2,000 pounds.

The bulk of the March 9 Eurobond is held by foreign investors. But much of the rest of Lebanon’s sovereign debt is held by the local banking sector.

“The main immediate ramification would be to render most local banks insolvent, which will trigger a domino effect through the financial flows channel leading to sharp output contraction, unemployment, and increased poverty rates,” said Carlos Abadi, managing director of DecisionBoundaries, an international financial consulting firm.



UK to consider opposition to digital tax in pursuit of U.S. trade deal


FILE PHOTO: The logos of mobile apps, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Netflix, are displayed on a screen in this illustration picture taken December 3, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Monday it would consider opposition to its plan to impose a new digital tax on big tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon as part of its ambition to agree a free trade deal with the United States.

A 2% levy on the money major tech firms make from British users had been expected to be introduced next month.

It has been strongly opposed by Washington, however, which has said any such tax would be discriminatory and inappropriate.

“We note comments regarding digital taxation and will consider this as part of our policy development,” the British government said in its mandate for trade talks with the United States.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton



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