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Displaying items by tag: United States

United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington on Tuesday said Nigeria should get the 2019 elections right in order not to disappoint those that looked up to it after the feat recorded in 2015.

 Symington made the remarks when he paid a visit to the Police Command in Kaduna.

“The State of Kaduna is an important place during this election. I am here to underscore a couple of key ideas.

 “The first being that these elections are really about Nigerians, decided by Nigerians under it’s laws which will define the future of Nigeria.

 “The election is also for others who have looked up to Nigeria’s example of democracy in the past especially if it would be as good as that of the elections of 2015.” 

He therefore said it was important for Nigerians to decide on the election’s credibility like they did in 2015, “so that it’s credit will be invested in democracy and freedom throughout West Africa and across the entire World.” 

He urged Nigerians to also interrogate politicians using hate speeches and disseminating fake news, as they are capable of dividing or causing problems among the people. 

“These kinds of negative speeches can have negative impacts in the future. 

“There are other people who have pointed fingers at those who are saying the elections would come out wrong, saying the elections can be right if every citizen of Nigeria act on the understanding that they are individually responsible for anything they get from the polls”, he stressed. 

He noted that so far, there has been cheering commitments from President Muhammadu Buhari and other leading candidates contesting to rule the country, to ensure that every vote counts. 

The U.S ambassador added that people must take responsibility for their actions, “first before God, second under the laws of the country, in the eyes of countrymen and lastly in the eyes of the world.” 

Symington therefore encouraged all Nigerians to participate peacefully in the elections, to guarantee free, fair, peaceful and a credible honest reflection of their choice.

Source:. (NAN)

Published in World
Monday, 28 January 2019 09:17

Why China is under pressure to make a trade deal

In Washington this week, the US and China are due to hold their highest level talks since the two sides struck a temporary truce to their trade war.
 
They have until 1 March to come up with some sort of compromise or tariffs will be hiked again, and we march back into a trade fight that affects us all.
 
China watchers tell me Beijing is under increasing pressure to make a deal.
 
Here's why:
 
A slowing economy:
The trade war may not have caused China's slowdown, but it is definitely making things worse.
 
Growth data released last week showed China posted the slowest growth rate since 1990 but that in itself is not as worrying as other data points, including that consumer sentiment and retail sales are flatlining or weakening fast.
 
Small and medium-sized companies in China are feeling the chill with lower orders and inventories.
 
How worrying is China's slowdown?
A quick guide to the US-China trade war
Just how much pressure the Communist Party is facing because of a weakening economy was reflected in a rare acknowledgement by President Xi Jinping, whose legitimacy is based in part in keeping China strong.
 
Losing its factory lustre?
There is also evidence to show that foreign firms are diversifying their sourcing, production and supply chains away from China, if not pulling out altogether.
 
This recent survey conducted by QIMA, a leading Asian supply chain auditor, shows that 30% of more than 100 global businesses are diverting their sourcing from China to other countries.
 
As many as three-quarters of these companies have started sourcing suppliers in new countries.
 
If this trend continues then jobs in Chinese factories are at risk - a recent report looking at China's economy by JP Morgan points to rising unemployment as a major near-term risks.
 
Social stability is predicated on China's economic stability, and the Communist Party is well aware that its credibility lies in delivering the Chinese dream to its people.
 
The Huawei factor:
The fate of Huawei also hangs in the balance, both from a business and diplomatic standpoint.
 
China is big on symbolism and "doesn't believe in coincidences" Einar Tangen, an advisor on economic affairs for the Chinese government, told me on the line from Beijing.
 
Mr Tangen pointed to the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder, which took place on the day President Xi and US President Donald Trump met at the G20 summit and declared the temporary truce between the two sides, setting the 90 day deadline for talks.
 
What's going on with Huawei?
The Huawei exec trapped in a gilded cage
Another date looms next week, with the latest round of talks taking place on the day the US has to file the extradition treaty for Ms Meng.
 
"Both of these dates are seen as attempts by the US to use Huawei as leverage in the trade talks," says Mr Tangen.
 
The US is also reportedly preparing an investigation into Huawei which could see it banned from buying American chips, a move that crippled China's ZTE last year.
 
Mr Tangen warns that pushing Beijing will backfire.
 
"The Chinese see this as the US trying to push China down," he says.
 
"This is not about right or wrong. They view this in context of the 100 years of humiliation they suffered at the hands of the West and they don't want that repeated."
 
American firms want a deal But the US is also under pressure to make a deal.
 
American firms in China have complained about the impact of Trump's tariffs on their business but want the US to make a good deal.
 
"This administration has been willing to risk the health of the US economy with tariffs," says Stephen Kho, international trade partner at law firm Akin Gump in Washington DC.
 
"So now that we've come this far, businesses want to take advantage of this moment and walk away from these talks with something significant. They will want to see China's offer to buy more American goods along with promises of systemic changes."
 
A solution to the US-China trade war is good for us all.
 
The longer these two superpowers slap tariffs on each other's goods, the more expensive products will be for us, companies will report lower profits, and global growth will slow.
 
Both sides are under pressure to make a deal. But this is ultimately, as Mr Kho also points out, "a game of chicken." Whoever blinks first could also be the biggest loser.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in Business
Monday, 28 January 2019 06:57

US lifts sanctions on Putin ally's firms

The Trump administration has lifted sanctions on three firms linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, an ally of President Vladimir Putin.
 
Curbs on aluminium giant US Rusal, En+ Group and JSC EuroSibEnergo were lifted after Mr Deripaska ceded control.
 
The oligarch has been linked to the probe into alleged Russian interference in US elections, and Democrats wanted the sanctions to continue.
 
But the Treasury Department said curbs on oligarch himself remained in force.
 
The companies were blacklisted last April when the Trump administration targeted people and businesses it said had profited from a Russian state engaged in "malign activities" around the world.
 
Russia releases 'sex seminar' model
Oleg Deripaska resigns from Rusal
US slaps sanctions on key Putin allies
That included Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, as well as international cyber attacks.
 
But earlier this month, Republicans in the US Senate blocked an effort to continue the sanctions against Rusal, the world's second largest aluminium firm and other Deripaska-linked firms.
 
They and the Trump administration argued the curbs could have an impact on the global aluminium industry. They also said Mr Deripaska had lowered his stakes in the firms so that he no longer controlled them, a sign the sanctions were working.
 
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced sanctions against Deripaska and other powerful Russians last April.
 
There has been pressure on the Trump administration by business groups to lift the sanctions on these three firms. That's because the announcement of the sanctions in April led global aluminium prices to briefly spike, as Rusal is one of the world's biggest suppliers.
 
But when the Treasury Department signalled its intentions in December, US politicians cried foul. They wanted the Trump administration to wait until a special investigation into Russia's interference into the 2016 US Presidential election had finished.
 
Earlier in January, in a significant break, 136 members of President Trump's Republican Party voted with House Democrats on a measure to oppose the lifting of sanctions. Although it was a largely symbolic vote - a similar measure the day before failed to get the necessary 60 votes to pass in the Senate - the large number of party defections was notable.
 
While the Treasury Department has insisted that the three firms have agreed to stringent new reporting requirements and that the Russian oligarch at the centre of the dispute, Oleg Deripaska, has significantly lowered his ownership stake, the lifting of sanctions less than a year after they were imposed is sure to once more raise questions about the Trump administration's commitment to punishing Russia for meddling in the 2016 election.
 
Mueller concerns:
In a statement on Sunday, the US Treasury Department said the three companies had also agreed to "extensive, ongoing auditing" to ensure they had no ties with the Russian billionaire.
 
And Power company EN+, in which Mr Deripaska owned a controlling stake, welcomed the news from Washington. The London-listed company's shares plummeted when sanctions were announced last April have not recovered.
 
The firm's chairman, Lord Barker of Battle said: "This is the first time independent directors of a London listed Russian company, with the strong support of minority shareholders, have successfully removed control from a majority shareholder as a direct response to US sanctions policy."
 
But lawmakers across the political spectrum have said it is inappropriate to ease sanctions on companies tied to the oligarch while Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigates whether Mr Trump's 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Moscow.
 
Mr Deripaska, 51, has been a recurring figure in the investigation and has ties to President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who pleaded guilty in September 2018 to attempted witness tampering and conspiring against the United States.
 
Last week Belarussian model Nastya Rybka was briefly detained by Russian police, having claimed to have evidence of Russian interference in the election campaign obtained from Mr Deripaska.
 
Mr Deripaska has denied the allegations and successfully sued her.
 
President Trump denies collusion, and Moscow has denied seeking to influence the US election on Mr Trump's behalf, despite US intelligence agencies' finding that it did so.
 
 
 
Source: BBC
Published in World
Saturday, 26 January 2019 03:14

U.S backs DR Congo’s president-elect

The confirmation of Felix Tshisekedi by the Constitutional Court of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been welcomed by the United States hours before the inauguration of the new leader.
 
“The United States welcomes the Congolese Constitutional Court’s certification of Felix Tshisekedi as the next President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement. “We are committed to working with the new DRC government.”
 
Tshisekedi has continued to receive backing from African leaders with South African president Cyril Ramaphosa congratulating the new leader on Monday and in a statement “called on all parties and all stakeholders in the DRC to respect the decision of the Constitutional Court”.
 
The presidents of Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi congratulated Tshisekedi in a series of Tweets on Sunday, echoing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – a bloc that includes South Africa and Angola – which also called for the transition of power to remain peaceful, backing off from earlier calls for a recount.
 
However, there are still fears of an eruption of post election violence in the country after main rival Martin Fayulu rejected the court ruling, called for protests and declared himself leader.
 
 
 
Source: daily news
Published in World
Thursday, 24 January 2019 20:22

Maduro Announces Closure Of Venezuela Embassy In US

President Nicolas Maduro announced on Thursday the closure of Venezuela’s embassy and consulates in the United States having broken off diplomatic ties with President Donald Trump’s government the day before.
 
Maduro made the call during a special session at the Supreme Court in which he accused the US of pushing opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself Venezuela’s acting president on Wednesday, into attempting a coup d’etat.
 
 
Source: The Channel
Published in World
Growth of the world economy is expected to slow as the US-China trade conflict takes its toll and undermines confidence, the World Bank said Tuesday in its semi-annual forecast.
 
The World Bank cut the global GDP forecast to 2.9 per cent this year and 2.8 per cent in 2020, slightly below the previous forecast, but warned that risks were rising and urging policymakers to prepare for a storm.
 
US economic growth is expected to slow this year by four-tenths of a point, falling to 2.5 per cent down from 2.9 per cent in 2018, and to slow even further next year to 1.7 per cent, according to the Global Economic Prospects report.
 
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in World
Thursday, 17 January 2019 07:58

Huawei faces probe over alleged IP theft

In a move that signals an increasingly aggressive stance by the US against Huawei, federal authorities in Seattle are investigating the Chinese technology giant for allegedly stealing trade secrets from US partner companies like T-Mobile US, according to people familiar with the matter.
 
The probe is tied to civil suits filed against Huawei, the second largest maker of smartphones worldwide, including a case in which a federal jury in Seattle in 2017 found Huawei liable for the theft of T-Mobile’s robotic technology, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information isn’t public.
 
The investigation is at an advanced stage and an indictment could come soon, one of the people said. It was reported earlier on Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal.
 
The US investigation includes allegations that Huawei stole information from T-Mobile, a US partner
Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the US Attorney’s office in Seattle, declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for T-Mobile and a spokesman for Huawei.
 
Huawei has been under increasing pressure in the US, Europe and elsewhere amid growing concerns that Beijing could use the company’s equipment for spying, something Huawei executives have denied. US President Donald Trump’s administration has been pushing European allies to block Huawei from telecoms networks amid a wider dispute over trade with China. Last week, a company employee was arrested in Poland.
 
The company is also mired in a US criminal case alleging that its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, conspired to defraud banks into unwittingly clearing transactions linked to Iran in violation of US sanctions.
 
Awaiting extradition:
Meng, the daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested in Canada on 1 December and released on bail four weeks ago. She is awaiting extradition hearings to the US while living under restrictions in her million-dollar Vancouver home.
 
The US investigation includes allegations that Huawei stole information from T-Mobile, a US partner, when one of its engineers visited its Bellevue, Washington, lab to see a diagnostic robot called “Tappy”, which simulated a phone user’s use, according to one person familiar with the matter.
 
In its 2014 suit, T-Mobile alleged a Huawei engineer slipped one of the robots into his laptop bag during the visit and left with it.
 
The jury sided with T-Mobile in 2017, saying the theft resulted in Huawei making “hundreds of millions of dollars” from T-Mobile’s technology. It found that Huawei misappropriated T-Mobile’s trade secrets and breached a supply contract between the two companies, saying T-Mobile should get $4.8-million in damages.
 
T-Mobile also claimed it wasn’t Huawei’s first victim, alleging that the Chinese technology giant also stole source code and other trade secrets from other companies.
 
In 2012, congressional committees and other US government entities criticised Huawei’s “pattern of disregard for the intellectual property rights of other entities and companies in the US”.  
 
 
Source: The Routers
Published in World
One of the rare market bright spots last year, the U.S. healthcare sector remains a Wall Street darling despite a slow start to 2019.
 
As 2019 begins, healthcare .SPXHC is the most favored of the 11 main S&P 500 sectors, according to a Reuters review of ratings from 13 large Wall Street research firms, which recommend how to weigh those groups in investment portfolios.
 
Healthcare shares overall rose 4.7 percent last year, one of only two S&P 500 sectors, along with utilities, to post positive returns in 2018 as the benchmark index fell 6.2 percent.
 
Proponents cite the healthcare sector’s reasonable valuations, strong balance sheets and dividend payments among many companies, as well as the group’s upbeat outlook for earnings, which are less susceptible to economic cycles than other businesses.
 
If economic growth is slowing, some investors are wary of being too invested in cyclical sectors that thrive during an upswing, but do not want to be too defensive either.
 
“We are trying to find things that skirt both of those two categorizations, and healthcare is a really nice diversified earnings stream,” said Noah Weisberger, managing director for U.S. portfolio strategy at Bernstein.
 
Such diversity stems from the variety of companies comprising the sector: manufacturers of prescription medicines, makers of medical devices, such as heart valves and knee replacements, health insurers, hospitals and providers of tools for scientific research.
 
From a stock perspective, that means the sector includes potential fast-growing stocks, such as biotechs that can carry more risk and more reward, or large pharmaceutical companies and others that offer steadier, slower growth.
 
Investment advisory firm Alan B. Lancz & Associates sold some pharmaceutical holdings late last year that had posted big gains, such as Merck & Co (MRK.N), to move into biotech stocks it believed were undervalued, said Alan Lancz, the firm’s president.
 
“We have maintained our overweighting, which is unusual for us with a sector that has outperformed so dramatically,” Lancz said. “But mainly there are segments within the sector that still offer opportunity.”
 
For 2019, healthcare companies in the S&P 500 are expected to increase earnings by 7.5 percent, ahead of the 6.3 percent growth estimated for S&P 500 companies overall, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
 
Health insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc (UNH.N), the sector’s third-largest company by market value, kicks off fourth-quarter earnings season for healthcare on Tuesday.
 
“Healthcare is one of the few sectors with high quality, above-market growth and it’s relatively immune to the array of macro headwinds that we see out there,” said Martin Jarzebowski, sector head of healthcare for Federated Investors.
 
Healthcare shares could also benefit from anticipation of increased dealmaking activity after two large acquisitions of biotechs were already announced this year.
 
Despite healthcare’s outperformance last year, the sector is trading at the same valuation as the S&P 500 – 14.5 times earnings estimates for the next 12 months – whereas healthcare on average has held a premium over the market for the past 20 years, according to Refinitiv data.
 
The sector also is valued at a discount, by such price-to-earnings measures, to defensive sectors, including consumer staples .SPLRCS, which trades at 16.6 times forward earnings, and utilities .SPLRCU, which trades at 15.8 times.
 
According to the Reuters review of sector weightings, healthcare is followed by financials .SPSY, then technology .SPLRCT. Real estate .SPLRCR ranks as the most negatively rated group.
 
The healthcare sector has lagged in the early days of 2019, rising less than 1 percent against a 3 percent rise for the S&P 500.
 
Some investors doubt healthcare will maintain its outperformance. JP Morgan strategists downgraded the sector to “underweight” last month, pointing in part to political rhetoric possibly turning “more negative on healthcare leading up to the 2020 presidential elections.”
 
The healthcare sector struggled ahead of the 2016 election, with the high U.S. cost of prescription medicines a prominent issue during the presidential campaign. With renewed scrutiny on drug pricing, such concerns linger.
 
The sector could suffer if investors become more optimistic about economic growth and flee defensive stocks, while the popularity of healthcare as an investment could work against it if the trade becomes overly crowded.
 
“There is risk there,” said Walter Todd, chief investment officer at Greenwood Capital in South Carolina. But given issues affecting other sectors, he said, “when you look around the market…you arrive by default at healthcare, and so I think that’s why a lot of people are interested in the sector.”
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in Business
US President Donald Trump is televised discussing the southern border wall as traders work on the floor at closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average at the New York Stock Exchange on January 10, 2019 in New York.  
 
Wall Street stocks declined in early trading on Friday following tepid US inflation data, while General Motors surged on a strong profit forecast.
 
About 10 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 23,875.88, down 0.5 percent.
 
The broad-based S&P 500 and tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index also shed 0.5 percent, with the former at 2,583.66 and the latter at 6,951.19.
 
The Consumer Price Index, which tracks costs for household goods and services, fell by 0.1 percent last month from November, the first decline since March, as falling fuel prices masked steady gains in food and shelter costs.
 
The new figures confirm the view of Federal Reserve bankers that they can hold off on raising interest rates again any time soon in the absence of inflation pressure.
 
US stocks have risen the last five sessions on dovish reassurances from Fed officials and hopes over US-China trade talks will yield a deal. Still, some analysts say stocks could be primed to retreat after the strong run due to technical factors.
 
Among individual companies, General Motors surged 7.0 percent after forecasting better-than-expected profits for 2018 and 2019 following job cuts announced in December.
 
 
 
Source: NAN
Published in Business
Oil has rallied in the new year, with a nine-day run of gains for WTI, its best run since 2010.
Brent crude is also rallying, if those contracts close up today - a 10th consecutive session - it would be the futures' best streak for 30 years.
 
Traders have been buoyed by positive sentiment out of US-China trade war talks and efforts by Saudi Arabia and OPEC and others to stabilise markets, after plunging last month.
 
"The market [is] returning to some sort of order, having previously been out of whack," said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda.
Brent crude is up 0.6% by mid-morning on Friday.
 
The wobbles in stock markets have been grabbing all the attention lately, but meanwhile, oil is enjoying a stunning rally into the new year.
 
Oil traders are factoring in an improvement in US-China trade relations and continued efforts by OPEC and others to stabilise the market after a brutal end to last year.
 
Brent crude futures are now trading up for their 10th consecutive day, which would mark its best performance since the introduction of futures contracts in June 1988. This week's performance has seen Brent rise 8.4%, its best weekly gains for over two years as improved sentiment boosts the commodity's performance.
 
Fore WTI, the US benchmark, oil has risen 24% since hitting a low on Christmas eve.
 
"The macro drivers of prices has been the more dovish Federal Reserve and better news coming out of the US-China trade dispute," Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda, sadi in an interview. "The market is reading between the lines that any deal would boost China's economy and really improve demand."
 
US trade representatives were in China for talks earlier this week, which raised hopes of a trade deal that would have a positive impact on oil prices.
 
Similarly, last December's "OPEC+" summit in Vienna brought a round of supply cuts to the oil market, which are now finally being priced in amid a greater risk-on atmosphere. Despite that prices are still around 30% lower than their October highs.
 
Saudi Arabia's energy minister, Khalid Al-Falih, said that pledged reductions of 1.2 million barrels a day are "more than sufficient to balance the market." Data out of Saudi Arabia supports the proposed axe in supply and demonstrated a cut in exports to the US with inventory figures also broadly positive.
 
Investor sentiment has also been boosted by comments from the Federal Reserve. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Richard Clarida have said that the central bank will be cautious about pushing ahead with future rate hikes after raising interest rates four times last year.
 
Brent crude is trading up 0.6% by midmorning on Friday while WTI is up 0.9%.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in Business
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