Several countries have breached arms embargo agreed at Libya summit: U.N. By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Libya summit in Berlin

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Several countries backing rival factions in Libya have violated an arms embargo which they had agreed to uphold a week ago at a summit in Berlin, the United Nations said on Saturday.

Last Sunday, foreign powers backing opposing camps fighting over Libya’s capital Tripoli agreed at a summit hosted by Germany and the United Nations to push the parties to a lasting ceasefire and respect an existing U.N. arm embargo.

“Over the last ten days, numerous cargo and other flights have been observed landing at Libyan airports in the western and eastern parts of the country providing the parties with advanced weapons, armored vehicles, advisers and fighters,” the U.N mission to Libya (UNSMIL) said in a statement.

“The mission condemns these ongoing violations, which risk plunging the country into a renewed and intensified round of fighting,” UNSMIL said.

It blamed several countries which were present at the Berlin conference, without naming them.

The United Arab Emirates and Egypt support eastern forces of Khalifa Haftar which have been trying to take Tripoli in a near-ten month campaign. The internationally recognized administration based in Tripoli trying to fend off Haftar’s forces is backed by Turkey.

Fighting had abated in the past two weeks but on Saturday heavy artillery could be heard in Tripoli, a Reuters reporter said.

The Berlin summit had gathered top officials from the UAE, Egypt, Turkey as well as western countries such as the United States, France, Britain and European Union.

Germany also invited Haftar and Tripoli Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, who both met separately with Chancellor Angela Merkel but refused to sit down together.

Libya has been engulfed in chaos since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011. Haftar is backing a rival administration based in the east.

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Canada identifies first case of coronavirus By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a mask walks past a quarantine notice about the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan, China at an arrival hall of Haneda airport in Tokyo

By Denny Thomas and Aishwarya Nair

TORONTO/BENGALURU (Reuters) – Canada on Saturday declared the first “presumptive” confirmed case of the deadly coronavirus in a resident who had returned from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak of the viral disease.

Ontario health officials told a news conference the patient is a male in his 50s, who arrived in Toronto on Jan. 22 and was hospitalized the next day after developing symptoms of respiratory illness.

Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, told reporters that the man is being treated in a public hospital and is in a stable condition.

Ontario health officials are investigating the details of the man’s contact with others since arriving in Toronto. Early indications are that he took private transportation home after arriving at Toronto airport and then paramedics brought him to the hospital, they added.

The health officials said it is a relatively small family situation, though they declined to give a number, and there is very little by way of contact. They said his family members have been put into self isolation.

Officials said the results from the provincial laboratory confirming the positive case arrived earlier on Saturday. Once the results from the local laboratory are confirmed by Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory, the case will be declared the country’s first confirmed case of coronavirus.

Canada is on high alert to prevent the spread of coronavirus and avoid the repeat of SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, that killed 44 people in Canada, the only country outside Asia to report deaths from that virus in 2002-2003. Government health officials say Canada is better prepared this time.

The deadly coronavirus has infected more than 1,975 people and killed at least 56 in China. The virus has spread to several countries including the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia and France.

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.



Lebanon central bank reassures foreign investors about deposits By Reuters



BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s central bank said on Saturday there would be no “haircut” on deposits at banks due to the country’s financial crisis, responding to concerns voiced by a prominent Arab billionaire about risks to foreign investments there.

Emirati businessman Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor, founder of the Al Habtoor Group that has two hotels in Beirut, posted a video of himself on his official Twitter account asking Lebanon’s central bank governor if there was any risk to dollar deposits of foreign investors and whether there could be any such haircut.

“The declared policy of the Central Bank of Lebanon is not to bankrupt any bank thus preserving the depositors. Also the law in Lebanon doesn’t allow haircut,” the Banque Du Liban (BDL) said in a Twitter post addressed to Habtoor, from Governor Riad Salameh.

“BDL is providing the liquidity needed by banks in both Lebanese pound and dollars, but under one condition that the dollars lent by BDL won’t be transferred abroad.”

“All funds received by Lebanese banks from abroad after November 17th are free to be transferred out,” it added on its official Twitter account.

The heavily indebted country’s crisis has shaken confidence in banks and raised concerns over its ability to repay one of the world’s highest levels of public debt.

Seeking to prevent capital flight as hard currency inflows slowed and anti-government protests erupted, banks have been imposing informal controls on access to cash and transfers abroad since last October.

A new government was formed this week, and its main task is to tackle the dire financial crisis that has seen the Lebanese pound weaken against the dollar.

Habtoor had asked Salameh for clarity for Arab investors concerned about the crisis and those thinking of transferring funds to Lebanon to try to “help the brotherly Lebanese”.

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.



Euro near seven-week lows before PMI data release By Reuters


© Reuters. Euro currency bills are pictured at the Croatian National Bank in Zagreb

By Saikat Chatterjee

LONDON (Reuters) – The euro held near seven-week lows on Friday after the European Central Bank struck a more dovish tone at Thursday’s meeting than some had expected.

Investor attention will turn to the flash PMI releases for January, which are some of the first indicators of how the global economy has performed moving into 2020.

The key data, the euro zone and German PMI figures, are expected to rise from previous readings. Higher-than-expected readings could trigger a rally.

The euro fell against the dollar (), to $1.1049. It was near a five-week low against the British pound () and 33-month low against the Swiss franc ().

“Sentiment has steadied overnight as evident from the Swiss franc’s weakness against the euro and the dollar with markets firmly focused on the PMI data,” said Thu Lan Nguyen, a FX strategist at Commerzbank (DE:) based in Frankfurt.

ECB President Christine Lagarde told a news conference after Thursday’s meeting that risks to euro zone growth remained tilted to the downside. Markets took her tone as dovish.

“Some people were hoping that Lagarde could talk about the possibility of policy normalization after Riksbank ended negative interest rates late last year. But there was absolutely no such indication from her,” said Kazushige Kaida, head of foreign exchange at State Street (NYSE:) Bank.

Riksbank, the central bank of Sweden, ended five years of negative interest rates last month, despite a slowdown in the Swedish economy.

The () held at 97.717 and was on track for a third consecutive week of gains.

The Australian dollar traded at $0.6843 , erasing the gains made after a strong jobs report the day before and heading for a fourth consecutive week of losses.

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.





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Boeing 777X jetliner begins maiden flight By Reuters



SEATTLE (Reuters) – Boeing Co (N:) began the maiden flight on Saturday of the world’s largest twin-engined jetliner as the embattled planemaker steps up competition with European rival Airbus (PA:) in a respite from a crisis over its smaller 737 MAX.

The 777X, a larger and more efficient version of Boeing’s successful 777 mini-jumbo, took off outside Seattle at 10:09 a.m. local time (1.09 p.m. ET) after high winds forced the company to postpone two earlier attempts this week.

Boeing officials said the maiden voyage would last 3-5 hours and herald months of testing and certification before the aircraft enters service with Emirates in 2021, a year later than originally scheduled because of snags during development.

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.



Euro zone economy remains weak but green shoots emerging: PMIs By Reuters


© Reuters. Worker moves Audi R8 car body in German car manufacturer’s plant in Neckarsulm

By Jonathan Cable

LONDON (Reuters) – Euro zone business activity remained lacklustre at the start of the year, a survey showed a day after the European Central Bank said the manufacturing sector remained a drag on the economy, but there were some glimmers of hope for policymakers.

ECB rate-setters did not make any policy change on Thursday, standing by their pledge to keep buying bonds and, if needed, cut interest rates until price growth in the euro zone heads back to their goal.

Still, the slowdown in euro zone economic activity has probably bottomed out, according to a Reuters poll last week, which showed while the outlook for growth and inflation remained lukewarm the chances of a recession have faded. [ECILT/EU]

That outlook was somewhat supported by IHS Markit’s Euro Zone Composite Flash Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), seen as a good gauge of economic health, which held at 50.9 in January but missed the median prediction in a Reuters poll for 51.2.

Anything above 50 indicates growth.

“The unchanged reading for the euro zone’s Composite PMI in January leaves it still consistent with fairly slow GDP growth,” said Jack Allen-Reynolds at Capital Economics.

Following Friday’s PMI, the euro continued to languish near a seven-week low after the ECB’s more dovish tone at Thursday’s meeting than some had expected.

An earlier PMI from Germany, Europe’s largest economy, showed the private sector gained momentum as growth in services activity picked up and the pullback in manufacturing eased.

French activity expanded at a weaker pace as nationwide strikes weighed and IHS Markit cautioned growth outside of Germany and France slowed to a six-and-a-half year low.

Britain’s performance bettered the euro zone’s for the first time since December 2018, a separate PMI showed, the strongest evidence yet of a post-election boost to the economy that could deter the Bank of England from cutting interest rates next week. [GB/PMIS]

The euro zone’s headline index was bogged down by a still struggling factory industry. The manufacturing PMI marked the 12th month below the break-even mark, registering 47.8 – albeit an improvement on December’s 46.3 and well above the Reuters poll’s 46.8.

An index measuring output, which feeds into the composite PMI, rose to 47.5 from 46.1, its highest since August.

While most forward-looking indicators in the manufacturing PMI remained in negative territory, they were moving in the right direction. The new orders, employment, backlogs of work and quantity of purchases indexes were all still sub-50 but did rise.

“With manufacturing showing early signs of recovery and the service sector continuing to grow, chances of a recession are receding further,” said Bert Colijn at ING.

However, the PMI for the bloc’s dominant services industry weakened to 52.2 from 52.8, confounding expectations for no change.

And possibly of concern to policymakers, demand weakened suggesting there won’t be a significant turnaround anytime soon. The services new business index fell to 51.5 from 52.1.

But optimism about the year ahead bounced. The composite future output index climbed to 61.2 from 59.4, its highest reading since September 2018.

Consumer confidence remained unchanged in January from December, official flash figures released on Thursday showed.



U.S. Treasury chief Mnuchin says optimistic about U.S.-UK trade deal By Reuters


© Reuters. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at Chatham House in London

By Elizabeth Howcroft and William Schomberg

LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he was optimistic the United States and Britain, soon to be out of the European Union, would strike a trade deal this year and that he had discussed it with Britain’s finance minister on Saturday.

U.S. President Donald Trump is keen for progress on trade talks before November’s presidential election, while in Britain the prospect of a deal has been touted by Brexit supporters as a way to offset the impact of leaving the EU and to exert leverage over the bloc in trade talks between London and Brussels.

“I’m quite optimistic. I think the prime minister and the president have a very good relationship,” Mnuchin told an audience at the Chatham House think tank in London.

Mnuchin said he had a breakfast meeting with his British counterpart minister Sajid Javid on Saturday, having also spoken to him this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“We’re focused on trying to get this done this year because we think it’s important to both of us,” he said.

After the United States recently concluded the initial phase of a trade agreement with China, deals with Britain and the European Union were now the priority, Mnuchin said.

While Mnuchin conceded that Britain may need to finalize some issues with the EU before it could discuss them with Washington, he didn’t see this leading to a delay.

“I think a lot of the issues can be dealt with simultaneously and again we look forward to continuing a great trade relationship, and, if anything, I think there will be significantly more trade between the U.S. and the UK,” he said.

Asked by a reporter if Britain’s plan to implement a digital services tax on U.S. technology giants such as Facebook (O:) and Google (O:) could hinder the trade negotiations, Mnuchin said that he discussed the issue on Saturday with Javid.

Washington is threatening to put tariffs on products from the EU’s member states if they follow through with a plan to introduce a new tax on U.S. tech giants.

“The U.S. feels very strongly that any tax that is designed specifically on digital companies is a discriminatory tax and is not appropriate,” Mnuchin said.

Britain has said it intends to implement the tax, while France has put off its plans to wait for broader negotiations within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Mnuchin said he wanted to narrow the U.S. trade deficit with the EU but that differences between the bloc’s member states would complicate negotiations.

“When we talk about the EU, one of the challenges is some of these issues are really only a couple of countries, but I think, as you know, because of the EU we can’t negotiate these things on a bilateral basis,” he said.

“One of the challenges of dealing with the EU is even within the EU they have different views,” he added.

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.



Starbucks shuts shops, suspends delivery in China’s Hubei amid virus outbreak By Reuters



BEIJING (Reuters) – Starbucks (NASDAQ:) has closed all shops and suspended delivery services in China’s Hubei province for the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, where a coronavirus outbreak originated from its capital Wuhan has caused 41 deaths in China.

Starbucks said on Saturday that the move is out of “health concerns” for its customers and employees, according to a post on China’s twitter-like Weibo. The central province of Hubei is home to nearly 60 million people.

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.



Thailand’s 2019 foreign tourists up 4%; China virus, strong baht a risk By Reuters



By Orathai Sriring

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand saw slower growth of foreign tourist arrivals of 4.2% last year and the outlook for a lucrative industry is weighed by strength in the baht and China’s new coronavirus at a time of faltering economic growth.

Tourist receipts account for about 12 percent of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, making it one of the most important drivers of growth for an economy that has lagged most regional peers for years.

Foreign tourist arrivals hit a record 39.8 million last year – equivalent to more than half of Thailand’s population – after a rise of 7% to 38.2 million in 2018, when a boat accident killed dozens of Chinese tourists, tourism ministry data showed.

Tourist revenue had risen 3% to 1.93 trillion baht ($63.49 billion) in 2019.

Visitors from China, Thailand’s biggest source of tourists, increased by 4.4% to 10.99 million in 2019.

The growth in foreign arrivals had slowed and missed a government target, and industry operators have blamed that on the strong baht, Asia’s top performer last year.

The baht rose nearly 9% against the U.S. dollar and about 11% against China’s yuan last year.

(GRAPHIC – Thailand’s overall foreign tourists and Chinese arrivals: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/13/1492/1467/Thailand’s%20foreign%20tourists.png)

The Tourism Council of Thailand last week forecast less than 5% growth in overall foreign tourist numbers this year.

Kasikorn Research Centre on Friday predicted the number of Chinese tourists may fall 0.5%-2.0% this year, rather than the 1.6%-3.5% increase projected earlier.

China’s coronavirus has added to the concerns. Thailand on Friday confirmed its fifth case of the virus and Saturday’s start of the Lunar New Year holiday is expected to bring an influx of Chinese travelers.

“The outbreak of coronavirus is a risk. The strong Thai baht may also affect tourism growth,” said Tim Leelahaphan, economist of Standard Chartered (LON:).

“That is unlikely to help an already-slowing economy,” he said adding he expected the central bank to cut its policy rate by a quarter point in the first quarter.

The Bank of Thailand (BOT) cut the key rate twice in 2019, taking it to a record low of 1.25%. It will next review monetary policy on Feb. 5.

The BOT forecast economic growth of 2.8% this year, slightly picking up from an estimated 2.5% in 2019, a 5-year low.

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.



China virus death toll rises to 41, more than 1,300 infected worldwide By Reuters



By Judy Hua and Se Young Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) – The official death toll from the coronavirus in China jumped on Saturday to 41 from 26 a day earlier, as local media reported a doctor on the frontline of the battle to contain the virus in Wuhan city had died.

More than 1,300 people have been infected globally, as health authorities around the world scramble to prevent a global pandemic.

Doctor Liang Wudong, 62, at Hubei Xinhua Hospital in Wuhan, the city where the virus first appeared and which is in virtual quarantine, died from the virus, China Global Television Network reported in a tweet.

It was unclear if his death was already counted in the official toll of 41, 39 of which were in the central Hubei province.

The total number of confirmed cases in China now stands at 1,287, the National Health Commission said in a statement on Saturday.

The virus has also been detected in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Nepal, France, the United States and Australia.

Australia on Saturday announced its first case of coronavirus, a Chinese national in his 50s, who had been in Wuhan and arrived from China on Jan. 19 on a flight from Guangzhou. He is in a stable condition in a Melbourne hospital.

“Given the number of cases that have been found outside of China and the significant traffic from Wuhan city in the past to Australia, it was not unexpected that we would get some cases,” Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told a news conference.

“This is the first confirmed case. There are other cases being tested each day, many of them are negative, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we had further confirmed cases.”

French authorities reported Europe’s first confirmed cases on Friday evening.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday it had 63 patients under investigation, with two confirmed cases, both in people who had traveled to Wuhan. Human-to-human transmission has been observed in the virus, which health authorities believe originated in a market in Wuhan that traded illegally in wildlife.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new coronavirus an “emergency in China” this week but stopped short of declaring it of international concern.

Wuhan, a city of 11 million, is in virtual lockdown. Nearly all flights at the airport have been canceled and checkpoints block the main roads leading out of town. Authorities have since imposed similar lockdowns on more than 10 cities near Wuhan as part of the ongoing containment effort.

As Wuhan slides into isolation, pharmacies have begun to run out of supplies and hospitals have been flooded with nervous residents. The city is rushing to build a 1,000-bed hospital by Monday, state media said.

Hubei’s health authority said on Saturday there were 658 patients affected by the virus in medical care, 57 of whom were critically ill.

The newly-identified coronavirus has created alarm because there are still many unknowns surrounding it, such as how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. It can cause pneumonia, which has been deadly in some cases.

Symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing and coughing. Most of the fatalities have been in elderly patients, many with pre-existing conditions, the WHO said.

NEW YEAR DISRUPTIONS

Airports around the world have stepped up screening of passengers from China, though some health officials and experts have questioned the effectiveness of such screenings and of the lockdown.

Health officials fear the transmission rate could accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad during week-long holidays for the Lunar New Year, which began on Saturday.

As China scrambles to contain the outbreak some sections of the Great Wall near Beijing will be closed from Saturday.

Beijing’s Lama Temple, where people traditionally make offerings for the new year, has closed, as have some other temples and the Forbidden City, the capital’s most famous tourist attraction.

Shanghai Disneyland will close from Saturday. The theme park has a 100,000 daily capacity and sold out during last year’s Lunar New Year holiday.

Film premieres have been postponed and McDonald’s suspended business in five cities in Hubei province.

Shanghai has shut down all cinemas during the Lunar New Year holidays, which last until Jan. 30, the Liberation Daily said on its online channel on Saturday.