segunda-feira, 21 de agosto de 2017

Police: Man wearing bomb belt shot dead in hunt for Barcelona terror attacker

Spanish interior minister Juan Ignacio Zoido shows a picture of Younes Abouyaaqoub, believed to be the driver of the van in the Barcelona attack, during a press conference in Madrid, Spain, Aug. 21, 2017. EPA/J.J. GUILLEN

A man wearing an explosives belt has been shot dead in northeastern Spain as police hunted for suspected terror attacker who last week drove a van through Barcelona's Rambla boulevard, killing 13 people, police said Monday.

A manhunt for the Barcelona attacker had been active since Thursday, when he is believed to have left the scene in a hijacked car.

"The suspect in Subirats is wearing an explosives belt. The individual has been shot dead," said the Mossos d'Esquadra regional police on their official Twitter account.

All others believed to be linked to the attack have been detained or are dead.

Source: EFE

China launches probe into Brazilian broiler chicken imports

Image result for China launches probe into Brazilian broiler chicken imports

China on Friday launched an anti-dumping investigation into imports of Brazilian broiler chickens after a complaint from the domestic industry that the South American country has been selling its chicken below market value.

Brazil accounted for more than 50 percent of broiler product supplies to China, the world's No. 2 poultry consumer, between 2013 and 2016, according to a preliminary review, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement.

Any move to penalize imports, which are worth more than $1 billion a year, would be a major blow to Brazil's meat industry following a food safety scandal that threatened to tarnish the country's powerhouse protein industry.

ABPA, a group representing Brazilian chicken producers and exporters, denied they sell products below market prices, association president Francisco Turra told Reuters on Friday.

"We are very competitive and it is hard for the Chinese producer to understand," Turra said, reflecting on the surge of imports since the Chinese market opened to Brazilian poultry in 2009. "Such complaints are normal and we can defend ourselves."

Brazil faced similar claims from South Africa and Ukraine and won the cases, he said. Brazilian government officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Shares of Brazil's BRF SA, the world's largest chicken exporter, fell 1 percent on Friday as the benchmark Bovespa stock index gained 0.2 percent.

A BRF representative declined to comment.

Brazil replaced the United States as the top chicken supplier after China slapped anti-dumping duties on U.S. broiler chicken products in 2010.

China is the biggest national consumer of Brazilian meat.

China relies on imports for its supply of white feather broiler chickens, which are favored by fast-food chains like KFC (YUM.N) and McDonalds (MCD.N) for their more rapid development and plumper meat. Yellow-feathered birds, which are native to China, are generally sold at retail.

The investigation comes just months after Beijing slapped hefty penalties on sugar imports from top growers such as Brazil and Thailand after lobbying by domestic mills.

In 2016, Brazil accounted for 85 percent of China's frozen chicken imports - almost 600,000 tonnes valued at as much as $1.23 billion, according to customs data.

The push by China's domestic industry for an anti-dumping probe came as poultry farmers and processors recover from the nation's worst outbreak of bird flu in years and struggle with falling demand.

"This is good news for the domestic chicken market," said a chicken farmer in northern China who gave his surname as Tan.

"The chicken market has been not so good since the second half of last year. Brazil is selling a lot to China at a cheap price while China has ample supplies itself."

In 2017, demand and output are expected to hit their lowest since 2006, according to U.S. government estimates. Domestic supplies are being hurt by low availability of grandparent breeder stock needed to produce more meat.

Worries about the deadly virus hurt demand for chicken meat and sent some regional prices to more than decade old lows in February.

Live broiler chicken prices in Shandong province, one of the nation's major producing areas, have since more than doubled, and were around 7.7 yuan ($1.15) on Friday, as the crisis passed and concerns about infection eased.

Import prices from Brazil have remained low in comparison, making it hard for the local industry to compete, analysts said.

Still, any curb on foreign supplies would likely boost domestic prices further, potentially denting demand for chicken as a cheap alternative to pork, the nation's favorite meat.

Broiler chicken sells for 14 yuan ($2.10) per kg, according to government data, almost one-third less than pork and more than 70 percent cheaper than beef and lamb.

Source: Reuters


Quer se tornar um influenciador digital?
Acesse, utilize o cupom jacksoncampos e tenha descontos exclusivos

Brazil's Democratas party will launch presidential candidate in 2018

Brazil's conservative Democratas party will launch a presidential candidate in 2018, ending the polarization between the PSDB and the PT parties started in 1994, House speaker Rodrigo Maia said on Monday.

Maia said he will not run for president, opting instead to seek re-election as a lower house representative for the state of Rio de Janeiro.

Source: Reuters

sexta-feira, 18 de agosto de 2017

US, Japan bolster alliance against N. Korea, keep military option open

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (2nd from right), US Defense Secretary James Mattis (right), Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono (2nd from left) and Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera (l) hold a press conference after meeting in Washington on Aug. 17, 2017. EFE/Shawn Thew

The United States and Japan on Thursday agreed to strengthen their cooperation against North Korea and promised to respond forcefully to any attack by Pyongyang after a close adviser to President Donald Trump said that a military solution to tensions with Pyongyang is not viable.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis welcomed their Japanese counterparts - Taro Kono and Itsunori Onodera, respectively - to Washington for the first bilateral security dialogue since Trump took office in January.

Source: Reuters

Minute of silence held in Spain for victims of Catalonia attacks

(L-R) Spanish Vice Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Spain's King Felipe VI, Catalonian Regional President Carles Puigdemont, Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau and Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido attend a ceremony to pay their respects for the terror attacks victims at Catalonia Square, in Barcelona, northeastern Spain, Aug. 18, 2017. EPA/ANDREU DALMAU
Spain's King Felipe VI led the nation in a minute of silence on Friday to remember the victims of two terror attacks in Catalonia that left 14 people dead and more than 100 injured.

King Felipe and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy were in Barcelona for the commemoration, along with other political leaders, Catalan regional authorities and thousands of citizens.

Source: Reuters

China launches probe into Brazilian broiler chicken imports

Image result for China launches probe into Brazilian broiler chicken imports

China on Friday launched an anti-dumping investigation into imports of Brazilian broiler chicken and products after a complaint from the domestic industry that the South American country has been selling its chicken below market value.

Brazil accounted for more than 50 pct of broiler product supplies to China, the world's No. 2 poultry consumer, between 2013 and 2016, a Commerce Ministry statement said on Friday, according to a preliminary review.

Any move to penalize imports worth more than $1 billion a year would be a major blow to Brazil's meat industry following a scandal over its beef exports earlier in the year, which threatened to tarnish the country's powerhouse protein industry.

Brazil replaced the United States as the top supplier of chicken after China slapped anti-dumping duties on U.S. broiler chicken products in 2010.

China is the biggest national consumer of Brazilian meat.

China relies on imports for its supply of white feather broiler chickens, which are favored by fast-food chains like KFC and McDonalds for their more rapid development and plumper meat, compared with yellow-feathered birds, which are native to China and generally sold retail.

The investigation comes just months after Beijing slapped hefty penalties on sugar imports from top growers such as Brazil and Thailand after lobbying by domestic mills.

In 2016, Brazil accounted for 85 percent of China's frozen chicken imports. which totaled almost 600,000 tonnes valued at as much as $1.23 billion, customs data shows.

The push by China's domestic industry for an anti-dumping probe comes as poultry farmers and processors recover from the nation's worst outbreak of bird flu in years.

Chicken is a cheap alternative to pork, the nation's favorite meat. The outbreak hurt demand for chicken meat as people worried about catching the deadly virus and sent prices <0#JCI-BROILER> to more-than-decade lows in February.

Live broiler chicken prices in Shandong province, one of the nation's major producing areas, have since more than doubled, and were around 7.7 yuan ($1.15) on Friday, as the crisis passed and worries about infection eased.

Import prices from Brazil have remained quite low in comparison, making it hard for the local industry to compete, analysts said.

Shan Xuewei, a broiler chicken trader based in Shandong, said he believed the probe was unnecessary.

"Brazilian chicken is indeed cheap ... and people of course will go for the cheaper stuff."

Source: Reuters

quarta-feira, 16 de agosto de 2017

Brazil softens budget deficit goals through 2020

Image result for Brazil softens budget deficit goals through 2020

Brazil's government loosened its budget targets for all years through 2020 on Tuesday, delaying prospects for a drop in the federal deficit after legislators repeatedly refused to raise taxes in the recession-hit economy.

Cost-cutting measures were announced along with the new targets, in a bid to demonstrate President Michel Temer's commitment to fiscal discipline even after his economic team cut forecasts for economic growth next year.

The revision, announced weeks earlier than expected, underscored the uphill battle for Temer to gather support for austerity measures as a corruption scandal simmers and next year's general elections approach.

Market reaction was muted as investors did not expect a surge in government spending despite the new targets. Ratings agency Standard & Poor's spared Brazil from a downgrade, saying after the announcement that it would maintain the country's debt rating at BB with a negative outlook.

Brazil's government set a new primary deficit target for this year and next of 159 billion reais ($49.7 billion), up from 139 billion reais this year and 129 billion reais for 2018.

The country will target a deficit of 139 billion reais for 2019, up from 65 billion previously. For 2020, it will aim for a 65 billion reais deficit compared with a 10 billion reais surplus previously - raising prospects of a seven-year-long period of consecutive budget deficits, started in 2014.

Brazil lost its investment-grade credit rating in 2015 after missing the goals for years. Temer, who replaced impeached President Dilma Rousseff in 2016, pledged to set realistic targets and meet them to regain credibility with investors.

Members of Temer's economic team, including Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles, previously wanted to wait until September to consider a looser budget target, but agreed to move up talks under pressure from a fractious coalition in Congress.

Most cost-cutting measures announced by Meirelles and Planning Minister Dyogo Oliveira on Tuesday will need Congress' approval. They include postponing public sector salary hikes by one year and reducing the entry salary for incoming civil servants.

Despite strong opposition to tax hikes, Meirelles said the government would still seek to roll back payroll tax breaks and would raise taxes on some investment funds.

The government did not announce expected infrastructure concessions. It forecast 2 percent growth in 2018, down from a previous estimate of 2.5 percent.

Source: Reuters

Russian FM: US threats of military intervention in Venezuela are unacceptable

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and his Bolivian counterpart Fernando Huanacuni Mamani (L) hold a bilateral meeting in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 16, 2017. EPA/SERGEI ILNITSKY
Russia's foreign minister on Wednesday described the threats of a military intervention in Venezuela made by the United States president as unacceptable.

Sergey Lavrov was at a joint press conference in Moscow following bilateral talks with his Bolivian counterpart, Fernando Huanakuni Mamani, as he rebuked recent comments by Donald Trump regarding a possible US military intervention in the South American country.

Source: EFE

segunda-feira, 14 de agosto de 2017

GoDaddy boots white supremacist web site after offensive post

Image result for GoDaddy

The web hosting company GoDaddy said on Sunday it had given The Daily Stormer 24 hours to move its domain to another provider after the extremist web site posted an article denigrating the woman who was killed at a white nationalist rally in Virginia.

"We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service," GoDaddy posted on its official Twitter page.

The Daily Stormer post in question denigrated Heather Heyer, 32, who was fatally struck by a car allegedly driven by a man with white nationalist views, for her physical appearance and what it said were anti-white male views.

The Daily Stormer is a neo-Nazi, white supremacist website associated with the alt-right movement, which was spearheading the rally on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia which resulted in violence, including Heyer's death.

GoDaddy, founded in 1997 and based in Arizona, has some 6,000 employees worldwide.

Source: Reuters

Brazil president weakened by graft charge, losing fiscal battle

Image result for President Michel Temer

Brazilian President Michel Temer has burned through political capital fighting corruption charges and is struggling to push forward his economic agenda meant to rein in a gaping budget deficit.

Even allies in Congress now doubt he can achieve anything but watered-down measures, likely delaying any fix to Brazil's fiscal crisis until the economy recovers from deep recession.

With continued deficits, Brazil risks further downgrades in its credit rating. It lost its investment grade two years ago, adding to the cost of financing mounting public debt.

In a sign of Temer's failure to restore fiscal health, the government is expected to revise upward its 2017 and 2018 deficit targets on Monday due to falling tax revenues in an economy that is barely growing.

More pessimistic analysts worry the insolvency already faced by some Brazilian states that cannot pay employees or provide basic services will reach the federal government.

Temer had a window to pass a pension overhaul earlier this year, but it closed in May when allegations emerged that he condoned bribes in a taped conversation with the then CEO of the world's largest meatpacker JBS S.A.."We are dancing samba at the edge of the precipice," said Sao Paulo-based wealth manager Fabio Knijnik. "I don't see the political class at all concerned with resolving this."

The deeply unpopular president won enough backing in Congress on Aug. 2 to block a corruption charge that could have led to his suspension pending trial by the Supreme Court. To survive, he approved about $1.5 billion in pork barrel spending to keep lawmakers happy.

His closest ally in Congress, the center-right Democrats Party of Speaker Rodrigo Maia, does not believe Temer has the 308 votes, or three-fifths of the lower chamber, needed to pass pension reform, the key measure in his fiscal rescue plan.

Speaking in Rio on Friday, Maia said Temer's political troubles and lower-than-expected tax revenues had created the crisis. He said Brazil had no alternative but to seek whatever pension fix it could, given Congress would not raise taxes.

Congressman Efraim Filho, the Democrats whip, told Reuters Temer must dilute the pension bill to get it past Congress. He said the measure had to be stripped down to its most important provision, a minimum age for retirement of 65 years for men and 63 for women in a country where people only work on average until age 54.


Temer's government coalition is in disarray. Parties who stood by the president are now demanding they be rewarded with cabinet positions, such as the big-budget Cities Ministry. It is now controlled by the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), which split over whether to abandon the scandal-plagued president.

Until they get their way, the allies at the core of his coalition have said they will not put his proposed pension bill to the vote. Maia said the "climate" was not right to move to a floor vote and the bill could languish and miss a legislative window likely to close in December as an election year approaches in 2018.

The government has already made concessions on the pension bill provisions that will reduce planned fiscal savings by up to 25 percent in 10 years and nearly 30 percent in 30 years, according to Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles.

The pension overhaul is vital for Brazil to comply with a 20-year spending cap that was Temer's first move to restore fiscal discipline, albeit without a full impact on accounts until 2019.

"That ceiling was like saying you are going on a diet two years from now," said Daniel Freifeld of Callaway Capital, a Washington D.C.-based investment firm.

Source: Reuters

Woman killed in Virginia attack identified as anti-racism demonstrator

epa06142741 People place flowers at the corner of Fourth and East Water Street in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, 13 August 2017. A woman killed when a car slammed into counter-protesters at that intersection following the cancelation of a planned white supremacist march in that city was identified on 13 August 2017 by authorities as 32-year-old Heather Heyer. EPA/TASOS KATOPODIS

A woman killed when a car slammed into counter-protesters following the cancelation of a planned white supremacist march in this eastern US city was identified Sunday by authorities as 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

The paralegal at a law firm and resident of Charlottesville, a college town of 50,000 people, was "struck down by a vehicle while exercising her peaceful first-amendment right to speech," city officials said in a statement.

Source: EFE

sexta-feira, 11 de agosto de 2017

Brazil central bank chief says economy set to recover gradually

Image result for Brazil central bank chief says economy set to recover gradually

The Brazilian economy has stabilized and is set to recover gradually in coming months as interest rates continue to fall, Central Bank President Ilan Goldfajn said on Friday.

Speaking at an event in São Paulo, Goldfajn said economic consequences of increased political uncertainty have been limited. The central bank has cut its benchmark Selic interest rate by 500 basis points since October, helping Latin America's largest economy recover from the deepest recession in decades.

Source: Reuters

Trump issues new ominous warning to North Korea

A file photo showing US President Donald Trump. EFE
The president of the United States issued a fresh stark warning to North Korea on Friday, saying a military solution to the nuclear threat posed by the Asian nation had been completely prepared.

"Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!" Donald Trump wrote on Twitter.

The tweet marked yet another step in the escalating verbal back-and-forth between Trump and Kim.

Pyongyang said Thursday it was preparing a plan to fire two intermediate-range ballistic missiles that would fly over Japan and land near the territorial waters of the US Pacific territory of Guam - the location of a strategic US naval base.

North Korea said the plan would be ready by mid-August.

Trump replied that same day that if Kim were to order an attack on Guam, the US response would be "an event the likes of which nobody's ever seen before - what will happen in North Korea."

"It's not a dare. It's a statement," the US president added.

Amid the mounting tensions with North Korea, which US intelligence says may already possess a nuclear warhead that can be inserted inside one of its intercontinental ballistic missiles, Trump pledged to increase missile defense spending.

"We're going to be increasing our budget by many billions of dollars because of North Korea and other reasons," Trump told reporters Thursday, saying he would make an announcement next week.

Source: EFE

China should not back US in case of war with North Korea, Global Times says

South Koreans watch a television displaying news broadcasts reporting on North Korea at a station in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 10, 2017. EPA/JEON HEON-KYUN

China should stay neutral if North Korea initiates an armed conflict with the United States, but must prevent any attack by South Korea or the US, said Global Times, a mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, Friday.

In its latest editorial, the Times acknowledged Beijing's failure to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down, but must respond firmly if its regional interests are jeopardized by a possible conflict.

Source: EFE

quarta-feira, 9 de agosto de 2017

Japan Display to save $455 million a year from structural reforms

Image result for Japan Display to save $455 million a year from structural reforms

Japan Display Inc on Wednesday said it would reduce 50 billion yen ($455 million) in annual fixed costs through restructuring steps, including consolidating production sites and cutting jobs.

The liquid crystal display (LCD) maker said it would cut about 3,500 jobs overseas and 240 jobs in Japan.

It also received a new line of credit worth 107 billion yen from its main lenders, the company said.

Source: Reuters

Brazil president's lawyers demand removal of top prosecutor

Image result for Brazil president's lawyers demand removal of top prosecutor

Lawyers defending Brazilian President Michel Temer against corruption allegations asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to remove the prosecutor general from the investigation, arguing he is no longer fit to lead it.

In a filing to the top court, Temer's lawyers said Brazil's top federal prosecutor Rodrigo Janot, who has charged the president with taking bribes and has said more charges are imminent, was acting "beyond his constitutional limits."

"We are not, it has become clear, confronting mere institutional action," Temer's lawyers wrote in the document seen by Reuters. "Everything indicates that the motivation is personal."

Janot's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The request will be decided by Supreme Court Justice Luiz Edson Fachin, the judge in charge of a massive investigation into political kickbacks. Legal experts said it was unlikely he would agree to remove Janot in the middle of the biggest corruption investigation in Brazilian history.

Temer, the first sitting Brazilian president to face formal corruption charges, got some relief last week when the lower house of Congress voted to block a bribery charge filed by Janot.

But Temer's opponents hope a second or even third charge from Janot could be based on more solid evidence of Temer's links to political bribes. That could push lawmakers to vote against protecting Temer from a trial as they worry about voters turning on them in next year's elections.

Under Brazil's constitution, any criminal charges leveled against a president must be approved by two-thirds of the lower house, and only then can the Supreme Court decide whether to put a leader on trial.

Temer was charged in June in connection with a graft scheme involving the world's largest meatpacker, JBS SA. Executives said in plea-bargain testimony the president took bribes for resolving tax disputes, freeing up loans from state-run banks and other matters.

Janot alleged that Temer arranged to eventually receive a total of 38 million reais ($12.14 million) from JBS in the coming nine months.

The prosecutor has said on several occasions that he is likely to soon file obstruction of justice and racketeering charges against Temer.

The case against the president is part of an unprecedented anti-corruption push that Brazil's federal police, prosecutors and some judges have pursuing for over three years.

Investigators have uncovered stunning levels of graft engulfing Brazil's political and business elites. Much of it centers on companies paying billions of dollars in bribes to politicians and executives at state-run enterprises in return for lucrative contracts.

Temer and one-third of his cabinet, as well as four former presidents and dozens of lawmakers, are under investigation or already charged. More than 100 people have been convicted, including former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is free pending appeal.

Source: Reuters

Good, bad or ugly? China's commodity imports conundrum

Image result for china economy

Were China's commodity imports in July a continuation of the trend of robust growth, a pause from the recent strength, or early signs of a slowdown?

When numbers aren't unequivocally pointing in the same direction it often becomes possible to interpret them in different ways.

Take the following three quotes from respected analysts in the wake of Tuesday's July trade figures.

1. "China's imports of commodities for July came in better than expected, with the normal seasonal downturn seemingly delayed for another month."

2. "China's July commodity import numbers were a mixed bag as year-on-year growth in energy commodity imports remained strong while iron ore dipped and copper remained steady."

3. "China's commodity import volumes were generally weak in July. High stocks of many commodities and growing domestic production dampened demand for imports. What's more, the prospect of cooling domestic demand points to further weakness ahead."

There is nothing wrong with a diversity of views when it comes to analyzing the state of the market in the world's biggest buyer of commodities, but it doesn't help in offering a definitive picture.

The safest route is to acknowledge that July's data was somewhat mixed, but this by itself isn't enough to call an end to the positive story of China's commodity demand so far this year.

Crude oil provides a good example of the mixed view, with imports in July coming in at 8.18 million barrels per day (bpd).

This was the lowest since January and down from 8.79 million bpd in June, seemingly a bearish outcome.

But imports are also 12 percent above the level of July last year and the growth rate in the first seven months of the year is a strong 13.6 percent.

The short-term driver for the lower crude imports in July is likely to have been lower refinery production and a drawdown in commercial inventories, which had risen to the highest level in nine months at the end of June.

It appears that Chinese refiners, particularly the smaller, independent operators, took advantage of lower prices to stock up on crude in the second quarter of 2017.

This implies that growth in imports in year-on-year terms may moderate in coming months, but doesn't yet point to a reversal in the overall trend for rising imports.

For that to occur, China would have to scale back purchases for its strategic storage, refiners would have to curtail exports of refined products and domestic demand would have to weaken.

While these three scenarios are all possible, it's unlikely that they are the base case of the majority of analysts.


Iron ore imports also took a breather from recent strength, coming in at 86.25 million tonnes in July, down 8.9 percent from June's strong 94.7 million and 2.4 percent below the 88.4 million from July last year.

However, in the first seven months of the year China imported 625 million tonnes or iron ore, up 7.5 percent from the same period in 2016.

That's by no means a weak outcome, but concerns are mounting that China has bought too much of the steel-making ingredient in recent months, given the rise in port stockpiles to near record levels and expectations that some heat will come out of the steel sector in the second half of the year.

By itself, the drop in July imports of iron ore isn't enough to call an end to the recent bullish trend, but a couple more months of soft outcomes will be cause for a re-assessment.

It's a similar story for coal, with imports dropping 9.9 percent to 19.46 million tonnes in July from June, and 8.3 percent from July last year.

But coal imports are still 18.2 percent higher in the January to July period, given higher demand for both thermal coal for power generation and coking coal for steel production.

However, as with iron ore, the outlook for coal for the rest of the year is becoming less certain, given some new regulations banning imports at smaller ports and a more thorough inspection process.

Overall, China's commodity imports in July do raise some question marks about the strength and sustainability of this year's growth rate, but not yet to the point where it's time to turn bearish.

Source: Reuters

segunda-feira, 7 de agosto de 2017

South Korea prosecution seeks 12 years in jail for Samsung scion

Lee Jae-Yong (R) vice chairman of Samsung Group, attends his final trial on his alleged bribery charge related to a nation-rocking scandal that led to the ouster of South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 7, 2017. EPA/KIM MIN-HEE / POOL

The South Korean Prosecution Monday sought a 12-year prison sentence for Samsung Group heir, Lee Jae-yong, over charges of bribery, embezzlement and concealment of foreign assets as part of the massive Rasputin scandal.

The prosecution's petition was filed during the last session of Lee's trial that began early March in Seoul's Central District Court.

Source: EFE

Brazil's president expects weaker pension bill to pass

Image result for Brazil's president expects weaker pension bill to pass

Brazilian President Michel Temer expects Congress to water down his proposal to overhaul pension rules and approve the new legislation by a slim majority this year, he said in a newspaper interview published on Saturday.

It was the first time Temer acknowledged there would be further changes to the proposal.

Legislators had already softened the bill earlier this year. Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles and other officials had been reiterating the importance of approving the overhaul without further changes to avoid a potential budget crisis.

Temer said he believed Congress will change the bill to have it merely set a minimum retirement age and cut public servants' benefits. The original proposal would also limit survivors' pensions, set tougher rules for rural workers and change the way retirement payments are calculated.

Another pension overhaul would probably be necessary within six years, newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo quoted Temer as saying.

Temer sees up to 310 votes in the Lower House of Congress, slightly more than the 308 needed, in favor of the proposal.

"We will do what is possible, and a possible reform will not be as thorough as it should," O Estado quoted Temer as saying.

Temer added that he saw no need to fire cabinet ministers to punish coalition parties that have not given their full support in Congress.

"Those who have not voted in line with the government will feel uncomfortable to participate in an administration that they are not supporting," Temer said. "I have the impression that they will end up leaving."

Temer said he expected interest rates to continue falling in coming months from the current 9.25 percent, with a 7.5 percent rate "very possible" by year-end.

Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot charged Temer last month with taking bribes from meatpacker JBS SA (JBSS3.SA), which the president denies. Congress voted on Wednesday to block those charges from proceeding to the Supreme Court, but Janot may still bring additional charges in the case.

Temer said the prosecutor general was motivated politically and was not complying with his institutional role. Janot's term ends in September, and his successor, Raquel Dodge, was hand-picked by Temer in June.

Dodge will put the corruption investigations on the "right path", Temer was quoted as saying.

"The right path is to obey the law," he added. "Rigorously, to obey the law."

Source: Reuters

Oil slides from nine-week highs as market looks to OPEC

Image result for Oil slides from nine-week highs as market looks to OPEC

Oil prices edged down from nine-week highs on Monday, pressured by worries over high production from OPEC and the United States.

Global benchmark Brent crude futures LCOc1 were down 67 cents, or 1.28 percent, at $51.75 a barrel at 1344 GMT. They traded as low as $51.56 a barrel earlier in the day.

U.S. crude futures CLc1 were down 67 cents, or 1.35 percent, at $48.91 per barrel, but up from the day's low of $48.78 a barrel.

Both contracts stood more than $1 below the levels hit last week, which marked their highest since late May, when oil producers, led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, had extended a deal to reduce output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of next March.

Doubts have since emerged about the effectiveness of the cuts because OPEC output hit a 2017 high in July and its exports hit a record.

"The market is looking for comment from Saudi Arabia signaling OPEC will meet its agreed target," Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist with ABN AMRO, said. "The possibility for (price) movement seems limited unless OPEC comes out with a statement."

Officials from a joint OPEC and non-OPEC technical committee are meeting in Abu Dhabi on Monday and Tuesday to discuss ways to boost compliance with the deal.

The doubts about the OPEC production deal outweighed the impact of a protest at Libya's Sharara oilfield, which led to a brief shutdown starting late on Sunday. The country's National Oil Corp. said production at the 270,000 bpd field was restarting on Monday.

High oil output in the United States counteracted other bullish factors, including a Baker Hughes report on Friday that showed a cut of one drilling rig in the week to Aug. 4, bringing the total count down to 765. RIG-OL-USA-BHI

U.S. weekly oil production hit 9.43 million bpd in the week to July 28, the highest since August 2015 and up 12 percent from its most recent low in June last year. C-OUT-T-EIA

Still, some analysts said strong words from OPEC could help to shore up prices.

"The negative price impact at the start of the week coming from OPEC and compliance focus will probably dissipate," SEB Markets chief commodities analyst Bjarne Schieldrop said.

"Saudi Arabia will restate that they will export only 6.6 million bpd (six-year low) in August and inventories will continue to draw down."

Source: Reuters

sexta-feira, 4 de agosto de 2017

A year after Olympics, Brazil's army called to quell violence in Rio

Image result for rio violence

The deployment of 8,500 soldiers to Rio de Janeiro last week and the funeral on Monday for an unborn baby killed in one of numerous shootouts there were not part of Brazil's plan for marking the one-year anniversary of the Olympic Games held in the city.

Escalating violence, fueled by a deep economic crisis and a shrinking state budget, shows how far Rio has fallen since international athletes flocked to its stadiums, many now vacant, in August 2016. Growing allegations of graft involving Olympic projects are also tarnishing memories of the Games.

Official data shows murders in Rio de Janeiro state rose 14 percent to 3,755 in the first half of 2017 from a year earlier. The number of people killed by Rio's police, long criticized for their tactics, spiked more than 45 percent to 581.

"We see clearly that the Olympic promise of a safe city has not been fulfilled," Amnesty International research coordinator Renata Neder said at an event on Thursday. "Public safety in Rio de Janeiro has deteriorated dramatically."

The situation is a stark reversal of gains made after police began a "pacification" program in 2008 for some of the city's more than 1,000 slums.

Police pushed drug gangs out of those favelas, where they held sway with impunity for decades, and then set up permanent posts in the communities for the first time.

That program was meant to increase security in Rio ahead of the 2014 World Cup and last year's Olympics, and it temporarily succeeded in doing that.

But the economic crisis dried up funding to expand the program, and critics say the government did not make good on promised social advances for the slums. As a result, near-daily shootouts roil the areas as gangs battle each other and openly attack the police outposts to try to regain full control.

The Hospital da Posse on Rio's violent northern outskirts has treated 410 patients for bullet wounds so far this year, compared with 480 for all of 2016, surgeon Alessandry Bastos said.

"This thing is growing in such a way that we can never say we've reached the peak," Bastos said. "The peak will be tomorrow."

The situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon, with Rio state facing a 21-billion-real ($6.73 billion) deficit this year.


The city has also become a symbol of the graft that helped cause the country's worst recession in more than a century after revelations that builders inflated contracts to bilk Rio-based state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA out of billions of dollars.

Prosecutors say the scheme extended directly to the Olympics, whose price tag rose to 43.3 billion reais ($13.88 billion) from 28.8 billion budgeted. Police arrested former Rio head of infrastructure Alexandre Pinto this week on suspicion that he and other officials took 35.5 million reais in bribes from companies involved in Olympic projects.

Former Rio governor Sergio Cabral was found guilty in June of corruption and money laundering involving infrastructure contracts for the Games.

Rio has also been sharply criticized for the fate of its Olympic infrastructure.

Some of the venues were abandoned soon after the closing ceremony, and the Arena of the Future has yet to be transformed as planned into a useful building like a school.

Officials say the economic crisis left them hamstrung.

"There are legacy projects that we want to follow up on, but we don't have the resources," Rio Deputy Sports Secretary Patricia Amorim said.

But for many, the Games' worst legacy is the deep slide into violence.

In late June, Claudineia dos Santos, who was nine months pregnant, was struck by a stray bullet that also hit the spine of her unborn boy, Arthur, in a northern Rio slum as police and a drug gang battled nearby.

Arthur died on Sunday, a month after an emergency cesarean, and was buried the next day.

Deploying the army will not solve such problems, said security expert Ignacio Cano, a professor at the Rio de Janeiro State University, which has been closed due to lack of funding.

"Under the best-case scenario, the armed forces will leave, and everything will continue normally," he said.

The worst case? "There is the possibility of more aggressive offensive operations that could lead to more shootings and more insecurity."

($1 = 3.1207 Brazilian reais)

Source: Reuters

Global refiners brace themselves as China cements its oil market dominance

Image result for Global refiners brace themselves as China cements its oil market dominance
China is on pace to overtake the United States as the world's biggest oil importer this year, cementing its status as Asia's most pivotal oil market actor that will increasingly dominate the region's fuel trade.

For the first time, China imported more crude oil in the first half of the year than the U.S., government statistics showed. China averaged 8.55 million barrels per day (bpd) versus 8.12 million bpd in the U.S., a trend that is expected to last.

The shift highlights the change in the center of gravity in global oil markets from West to East. Chinese state-run oil trader Unipec is now the world's biggest physical oil trader. By drawing more of the world's oil to its shores, China, the second-biggest oil consumer after the U.S., will play a crucial role in setting the global price of the commodity, especially as the crude futures market in Shanghai develops.

China's import surge is being driven by the expansion of its refinery capacity. But, as the domestic demand has not materialized to soak up the fuel supply, China's exports of gasoline and diesel have climbed to record highs. This flood of products has caused headaches for competitors across Asia and depressed diesel profit margins to multi-year lows in 2016.

"China is putting a lot of pressure on the traditional export hubs of Taiwan, Korea and Singapore to capture the market share within Southeast Asia and Australia," said Joe Willis, senior research analyst, Asia refining, at energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

The trend of more refining capacity and higher exports is set to continue.

China plans to add at least 2.5 million bpd of refining capacity by 2020, according to a recent presentation from China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, or Sinopec. Sinopec is Asia's biggest oil refiner and the parent of Unipec.

This year, PetroChina Ltd will start a 260,000 bpd refinery in Yunnan in southern China while China National Offshore Oil Corp will start up a 200,000 bpd expansion at its existing Huizhou plant in Guangdong province. The start ups will add 350,000 bpd of new Chinese capacity in 2017 though both plants will not reach full capacity until 2018.

Exports of gasoline from China are expected to increase by at least 10,000 barrels per day this year from 2016, driving overseas gasoline sales to between 235,000 bpd and 240,000 bpd this year and about 330,000 bpd in 2018, estimates from consultants FGE and Wood Mackenzie showed.

Unipec is leading the way in targeting new overseas markets, moving jet fuel from Singapore to northwest Europe in June for the first time in several years. Meanwhile, Chinese diesel shipments in 2017 have more than doubled to France, more than quadrupled to Italy and the country shipped diesel to Kenya for the first time this year.


Export-oriented refiners in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan will be most affected by the Chinese competition.

"We're trying to diversify and find new markets by increasing the number of our customers in existing countries," a South Korean refining source said, declining to be named as he was not authorized to speak with the media.

"It's affecting Korean refiners as we are having one more player in the market."

Japanese and Indian refiners will be less affected.

China and India have eclipsed Japan as Asia's biggest oil consumer. Japanese refiners are consolidating capacity because of a falling population and the increasing use of alternative fuels in the power and transportation sector has cut oil consumption.

Meanwhile, Indian refiners are focusing on meeting soaring domestic demand.

China's new modern refineries are competing with the region's exporters in producing fuels for countries with stringent fuel standards such as Australia. Diesel exports to Australia climbed seven-fold to 850,000 tonnes in 2016 and are on pace to nearly match that level this year.

A slowdown in Chinese domestic fuel demand as people use more electric vehicles or co-share bicycles and scooters has pushed refiners to export more gasoline.

China's gasoline demand is expected to slow to 3.5 to 4 percent in 2017 compared with last year's 6.5 percent growth, said Sri Paravaikkarasu, head of East of Suez oil at FGE.

Sales growth for automobiles, mainly powered by gasoline, has slowed to 0.7 percent in the first half of 2017, compared with 8.7 percent a year ago, while those powered by alternative fuels grew 52.9 percent, BMI Research said.

Source: Reuters

Venezuela's new legislative superbody opens despite wide criticism

Image result for venezuela

Venezuela on Friday inaugurated a new legislative superbody that is expected to rewrite the constitution and give vast new powers to the ruling Socialist Party, defying worldwide condemnation that the new assembly undermines democratic freedoms.

The 545-member assembly unanimously elected well-known allies of President Nicolas Maduro to its leadership in a show of unity, signaling that the socialists have put aside differences to focus on consolidating the all-powerful body.

Former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, a close Maduro ally was elected to the presidency while former Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz will serve as vice president.

The leadership notably excludes Socialist Party No. 2 Diosdado Cabello, a long-time rival for power to Maduro, who himself put Rodriguez's name forward.

"There is no humanitarian crisis here, what we have is love, what we have is a crisis of the right-wing fascists," said Rodriguez, dressed in a bright red pantsuit, in an opening speech that paid homage to late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

"The people arrived with fighting spirit, on their feet."

The assembly will function in the same downtown Caracas palace complex as the existing opposition-run congress, which could potentially be dissolved by the new all-powerful body.

The two bodies are expected to hold sessions in parallel, separated by an ornate cobblestone courtyard.

The largely ceremonial installation of the constituent assembly offered few hints as what its first moves would be.

Leaders including Maduro and Cabello have in recent days suggested it would quickly move against Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega, who broke with the government this year and described the assembly election as a fraud.

Governments ranging from Latin American neighbors to the United States and European Union have condemned the assembly, with the Vatican making a last minute plea for authorities to suspend it.

Brazil on Friday recommended that Venezuela be suspended from trade bloc Mercosur until it returns to democracy.


Protests against the inauguration of the assembly by the opposition were relatively modest. Demonstrators have for four months been clashing with security forces, often building barricades and lobbing rocks at security forces. At least 125 people have been killed in the unrest.

"Today they're enjoying a pyrrhic victory, without a doubt," said opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara, who joined a group of opposition sympathizers in an upscale neighborhood of Caracas.

"We're starting a new stage of the struggle, and we're finishing all the discussions within the coalition to put forward a new agenda."

Socialist Party officials arrived at congress carrying portraits of independence hero Simon Bolivar and Chavez, whose image was removed from the legislature's main hall by the opposition legislators when they took over in January 2016.

"The constituent assembly is love, peace and loyalty," said Raquel Rodriguez, a 57-year-old government worker who joined the march. "A lot of people have not been loyal to this (movement), but everyone here has."

The assembly's election on Sunday prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to label Maduro a dictator, a term the opposition has long used to describe the unpopular leader.

Opposition leader Antonio Ledezma, who had encouraged protests against the constituent assembly, on Friday morning was returned to house arrest after being briefly put back in prison.

Ledezma and fellow opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez had been taken to prison from house arrest early on Tuesday.

It was not immediately evident if Lopez would also be returned to his home.

Panama on Friday granted political asylum to two justices recently appointed by the opposition Congress to an alternative Supreme Court. Four other justices named to the alternate tribunal remain holed up in the residence of Chile's ambassador.

Source: Reuters

quarta-feira, 2 de agosto de 2017

Brazil, Argentina prosecutors say governments interfering in Odebrecht probe

Image result for odebrecht argentina

The top prosecutors of Brazil and Argentina are accusing their governments of interfering in the creation of a joint anti-corruption task force to investigate bribes by the Odebrecht engineering group so that politicians, many of whom are under investigation, can themselves control the exchange of evidence.

Brazil's Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot said on Tuesday the two countries had agreed in June to set up a task force to allow the rapid and simultaneous investigation of bribes paid by Odebrecht, but the joint effort has not taken off.

"The task force is an essential tool without which we cannot join forces regionally to fight corruption," he told reporters.

A statement issued late on Monday by Janot and his Argentine counterpart, Alejandra Gils Carbo, accused the governments of their countries of interfering in the effort to jointly investigate the Odebrecht bribe network.

"The main authorities for international legal cooperation -- Brazil's Justice Ministry and Argentina's Foreign Ministry -- have placed obstacles and made requisitions that are an undue interference in carrying out agreements signed by prosecutors of the two countries in the Odebrecht investigation," the statement said.

"We hope the central governments support our efforts and urgently remove the obstacles that have been imposed," it said.

They said Brazil's Justice Ministry has sought to establish the rules of the joint force so evidence was shared through government channels and not directly between the prosecutors.

In Argentina, they said, the Foreign Ministry wanted to turn the task force into a treaty signed by the government, undermining cooperation between the actual investigators.

Odebrecht, Latin America's largest construction firm, is at the center of a global graft scandal. As part of a $3.5 billion settlement with Brazilian, U.S. and Swiss authorities in December, the company admitted to paying bribes in 12 mostly Latin American countries, including $35 million in Argentina, to secure lucrative contracts. Prosecutors in Argentina are also investigating four projects involving Odebrecht, the largest construction firm in Latin America, for corruption.

U.S. prosecutors said Odebrecht paid approximately $788 million in bribes in association with 100 projects in 12 countries between 2001 to 2016, through carefully disguised payments routed through a network of shell companies.

Janot said it was not the first time prosecutors have run into hurdles in setting up binational task forces to investigate international connections of Brazil's massive graft scandal first centered on contracts at state-run oil company Petrobras.

A task force proposed by Swiss prosecutors a year ago and another sought six months ago by Spanish prosecutors never got off the ground. "And now this one with Argentina," Janot said.

Source: Reuters

Oil dodges bears, climbs back toward $52 per barrel

Image result for oil
Oil shook off a raft of bearish headlines on Wednesday, as investors and traders took advantage of earlier losses and pushed the price back toward $52 and this week's eight-week highs.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 12 cents at $51.90 a barrel by 1325 GMT, recovering from a session low of $51.18. The price hit $52.93 on Monday, its highest since late May.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 edged up 1 cent to $49.17 a barrel.

Both contracts fell sharply the previous day after Royal Dutch Shell said its 400,000-barrels-per-day (bpd) Pernis refinery in the Netherlands would remain offline for at least the next couple of weeks following a fire.

Petromatrix strategist Olivier Jakob said Wednesday's price recovery had more to do with technical trading than outright fundamentals, which had encouraged traders and investors to buy crude futures.

"There are some technical battles out there today. We are trading around the 200-day moving average and I think that is where a lot of the action of the last two days has been," Jakob said.

Brent futures fell through their 200-day moving average on Monday, but by Wednesday managed to vault above this trendline, which was last around $51.85 a barrel.

Traders are awaiting the release of official U.S. government data on weekly crude inventory levels after an independent survey on Tuesday showed an unexpected rise of 1.8 million barrels.

The Energy Information Administration is scheduled to release weekly stockpile data at 1430 GMT on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries hit a 2017 high of 33 million bpd in July, despite the group's pledge to restrict output along with other non-OPEC producers.

Energy consultancy Douglas Westwood reckons this year's oil market will be slightly undersupplied but that the glut will return next year, and last until 2021.

"Oversupply will actually return in 2018. This is due to the start-up of fields sanctioned prior to the downturn," said Steve Robertson, head of research for global oilfield services at Douglas Westwood.

Source: Reuters

Urban art of Elephant Parade comes to Brazil's largest city

A view of an elephant sculpture as part of the 'Elephant Parade' urban art exhibit at the Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Aug. 1, 2017. EFE/Sebastiao Moreira

About 85 colorful elephant sculptures starting on Tuesday are adorning the streets and public squares of Brazil's largest city in the Elephant Parade Sao Paulo 2017 urban art exhibit.

The open-air exposition is headed by Dutch artist Mike Spits, who was inspired to mount the project on a trip to Thailand when he got to know Mosha, a baby elephant that lost one of its legs at six months of age when he stepped on an antipersonnel mine.

Source: EFE

segunda-feira, 31 de julho de 2017

Putin: US Embassy in Russia to lose 755 staffers

Undated photo showing Russian President Vladimir Putin attending a naval parade in St. Petersburg. EFE

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Sunday that 755 workers at the US Embassy and consulates in his nation - including diplomatic and technical personnel - will have to cease their work starting Sept. 1.

More than 1,000 officials work in Russia for the US Embassy and now 755 of them must stop doing so, said Putin in a interview with Russian state television Rossiya 1.

Source: EFE

For Brazil judge Moro, politicians not yet keen to fight corruption

Image result for sergio moro

Brazilian federal judge Sergio Moro, the man behind Brazil's largest ever corruption investigation, said there is still lack of interest from the country's political establishment to fight corruption, despite the political and economic crisis the practice sent the country into.

In one of his rare interviews and the first since the conviction of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Moro told Latin American news outlets who comprise the "Investigate Car Wash" cooperative journalism group, that politicians think this is not a task they should consider as their duty.

"Unfortunately, I see the lack of a more vigorous attitude from Brazilian authorities regarding the problem of corruption," said Moro in the interview, which was partially published on Sunday by Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo.

"There is the impression that fighting corruption is only a task for policeman, prosecutors and judges," said Moro, the judge overseeing the so-called Car Wash investigation that has sent dozens of politicians and businessmen from Brazil's elite to jail.

Earlier this month, Moro sentenced Lula to nearly 10 years in jail after finding him guilty of accepting 3.7 million reais ($1.2 million) worth of bribes from engineering firm OAS SA, money prosecutors said the company spent refurbishing a beach apartment for Lula in return for his help winning contracts with state oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4.SA).

The ruling marked a stunning fall for one of the country's most popular politicians, and a serious blow to Lula's chances of a political comeback. The former president faces four more corruption trials and will remain free on appeal.

Current president Michel Temer also faces accusations of having taking bribes from meatpacker JBS (JBSS3.SA) to facilitate the firm's businesses in the country. Brazilian Congress will vote during the week if it allows or not the corruption charge to be sent to the Supreme Court for the leader to be put on trial.

In the interview, Moro hit back at criticism from Supreme Court judge Gilmar Mendes regarding some of the methods used by him during the Car Wash investigation, such as prison orders issued even before the trials.

"Judges have different understandings. There are no extraordinary law in the cases judged here. But in the Car Wash, to interrupt the cycle of crime, some drastic measures were needed," said Moro.

Source: Reuters

U.S. coal exports soar, in boost to Trump energy agenda, data shows

Image result for U.S. coal exports soar, in boost to Trump energy agenda, data shows

U.S. coal exports have jumped more than 60 percent this year due to soaring demand from Europe and Asia, according to a Reuters review of government data, allowing President Donald Trump's administration to claim that efforts to revive the battered industry are working.

The increased shipments came as the European Union and other U.S. allies heaped criticism on the Trump administration for its rejection of the Paris Climate Accord, a deal agreed by nearly 200 countries to cut carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels like coal.

The previously unpublished figures provided to Reuters by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed exports of the fuel from January through May totaled 36.79 million tons, up 60.3 percent from 22.94 million tons in the same period in 2016. While reflecting a bounce from 2016, the shipments remained well-below volumes recorded in equivalent periods the previous five years.

They included a surge to several European countries during the 2017 period, including a 175 percent increase in shipments to the United Kingdom, and a doubling to France - which had suffered a series of nuclear power plant outages that required it and regional neighbors to rely more heavily on coal.

"If Europe wants to lecture Trump on climate then EU member states need transition plans to phase out polluting coal," said Laurence Watson, a data scientist working on coal at independent think tank Carbon Tracker Initiative in London.

Nicole Bockstaller, a spokeswoman at the EU Commission's Energy and Climate Action department, said that the EU's coal imports have generally been on a downward trend since 2006, albeit with seasonable variations like high demand during cold snaps in the winter.

Overall exports to European nations totaled 16 million tons in the first five months of this year, up from 10.5 million in the same period last year, according to the figures. Exports to Asia meanwhile, totaled 12.3 million tons, compared to 6.2 million tons in the year-earlier period.

Trump had campaigned on a promise to "cancel" the Paris deal and sweep away Obama-era environmental regulations to help coal miners, whose output last year sank to the lowest level since 1978. The industry has been battered for years by surging supplies of cheaper natural gas, brought on by better drilling technologies, and increased use of natural gas to fuel power plants.

His administration has since sought to kill scores of pending regulations he said threatened industries like coal mining, and reversed a ban on new coal leasing on federal lands.

Taking Credit

Both the coal industry and the Trump administration said the rising exports of both steam coal, used to generate electricity, and metallurgical coal, used in heavy industry, were evidence that Trump's agenda was having a positive impact.

"Simply to know that coal no longer has to fight the government - that has to have some effect on investment decisions and in the outlook by companies, producers and utilities that use coal," said Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association.

Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Energy Department, said: "These numbers clearly show that the Trump Administration's policies are helping to revive an industry that was the target of costly and job killing overregulation from Washington for far too long."

Efforts to obtain comment from exporters Arch Coal (ARCH.N) and privately held Murray Energy Corp were unsuccessful. Contura Energy, which emerged as part of Alpha Natural Resource's bankruptcy and restructuring, and filed for public offering in May, declined to comment.

A spokesman for Peabody Energy, the largest coal producer, though without a major export profile, said the United States was generally a "swing supplier of seaborne coal."

U.S. Energy Information Administration analyst Elias Johnson said the U.S. coal industry may now be better positioned to meet foreign demand because U.S. miners have learned to produce at lower cost, after coming through a series of recent bankruptcies.

"There's the possibility that the U.S. will become more of a primary player in the global coal trade market," he said.

But he added there are also plenty of reasons the spike in demand could be temporary. For one thing, U.S. coal production and transportation costs are much higher than for other producers such as Indonesia and Australia.

Because coal can often be transhipped from European ports before it is consumed, it is also hard to determine where shipments ultimately end up.

Johnson pointed out that some of the fuel shipped into Western Europe, for example, could be making its way to other places like Ukraine, which is having trouble securing coal from its separatist-held regions.

Trump said last month that his administration is offering more coal to Ukraine, but it was unclear how, given deals are typically worked out between companies.

Source: Reuters

sexta-feira, 28 de julho de 2017

Russia responds to sanctions threat, orders USA to cut its diplomatic corps

A file image shows the US flag waves at the Embassy of the United States of America in Moscow, Russia, Dec 30, 2016. EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV

Moscow has ordered the United States to slash the number of staff at its Russian embassy in response to further sanctions being mulled over in Washington amid a growing diplomatic rift between the two countries, Russia's Foreign Ministry announced Friday.

A package of punitive measures for Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 US election and for its military venture into eastern Ukraine and the Crimea has passed through both houses of the US Congress and awaits the final verdict from President Donald Trump.

The ministry told the US to cut its Russia-based staff from Sept. 1, and mirror Russia's diplomatic corps in the US: "This means that the total number of personnel involved in the American diplomatic and consular institutions in the Russian Federation is reduced to 455."

Any actions to further reduce the number of Russian diplomatic staff working in the US would be matched tit-for-tat, the statement said, adding: "We reserve the right on other mutual measures, which can affect US interests."

Russian officials also suspended the use of US embassy storage facilities in Moscow as well as a vacation house used by US staff.

Russia denounced what it termed an entrenched Russophobia in the decision-making circles of the US and said the pursuit of further sanctions against Moscow showed that bilateral relations had become hostage to internal political struggles in Washington.

"The US is stubbornly taking one crudely anti-Russian step after another, using the utterly fictitious pretext of Russian interference in its internal affairs," the ministry said.

Moscow's decision came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin described the US sanctions bill as "anti-Russian hysteria."

Russia maintains that the sanctions being drawn up against it are illegal and baseless but the West maintains its accusation that it interfered in the US vote and of destabilizing eastern Ukraine by supporting pro-Russian rebels in the civil war that erupted there in 2014 as Moscow moved to annex the Crimean Peninsula.

It remains to be seen whether Trump will give his backing to the proposed sanctions, which also include punitive measures against North Korea and Iran.

Members of Trump's inner circle have been dogged by claims that they colluded with Russians to gather information on the then-Republican candidate's Democrat Party opponent Hillary Clinton.

The current White House administration denies collusion.

Source: EFE

Brazil to shift funds from investments to police, air traffic

Image result for Brazil to shift funds from investments to police, air traffic

Brazil's government will redirect 2.2 billion reais ($700 million) from investments to essential services such as air traffic control to avoid disruptions caused by its austerity drive, Planning Minister Dyogo Oliveira said on Thursday.

With the Brazilian economy still reeling from its worst recession on record, policymakers have frozen about 45 billion reais in federal spending and raised taxes as they struggle to meet their budget target for the year.

In recent weeks, the fiscal discipline has started to disrupt services such as passport services, raising concerns about the feasibility of an agenda that many investors consider crucial for the long-term stability of public debt.

Oliveira said the government will seek to preserve essential services such as civil defense, federal police investigations and road and air traffic control at the expense of spending on public investments under the so-called PAC program.

The program originally had 36 billion reais earmarked for public investments in 2017 but successive budget freezes have whittled it to 19.7 billion reais.

Oliveira reiterated that he expects the budget freeze to be eased later this year with the help of one-off revenues.

Asked whether the government could change this year's budget target, Oliveira said he would not speculate.

Brazil is targeting a budget deficit of 139 billion reais this year before interest payments. The deficit in the 12 months through May reached 167.6 billion reais, equivalent to 2.59 percent of gross domestic product.

Source: Reuters

quarta-feira, 26 de julho de 2017

Japan aluminium industry fears U.S. trade action may prompt retaliation

Image result for aluminum japan industri
Japan's aluminium industry is worried that any U.S. trade action to block imports of the metal may result in surplus supply elsewhere and prompt a chain-reaction of retaliation by other nations, the head of a trade body said on Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is determined to curb imports of aluminium, along with steel. In April, it initiated a "Section 232" review of the aluminium industry using a 1962 law that allows the imposition of tariffs or quotas on imports if national security is threatened.

Results of the review are still pending, but the move has been widely criticized by diplomats who say it risks retaliation and could undermine global trade if national security becomes an accepted excuse to break international trade rules.

"Direct impact to Japan may be limited given the small portion of its exports that go to the U.S. market, but a possible battle among many other nations to exclude imports would be the biggest threat to free trade," Mitsuru Okada, the new chairman of the Japan Aluminium Association told a small group of reporters.

Japan, which produces about 2 million tonnes of rolled and extruded aluminium products a year, exported nearly 250,000 tonnes of those products in 2016.

About 10 percent of the exported material went to the United States, according to the nation's trade data.

Okada is also president of Japan's biggest aluminium fabricator UACJ Corp, which has been aggressively investing overseas over the past several years, including in China, Thailand and the United States.

If many countries start shutting their doors to imports, it would affect his company's strategy as the UACJ plant in Thailand was built to become an export base to Oceania, the Middle East and points further west, he said.

Okada also expressed concerns over surplus aluminium capacity in top producer China.

"We hear China is cutting smelters' capacity, but we don't know if it will continue," Okada said, pointing to growing ingot demand from local aluminium fabricators that are rapidly expanding production capacity.

Aluminium prices have gained more than 10 percent this year, in part due to the capacity cuts in China. Benchmark prices stood at around $1,943 per tonne on Wednesday.

"The prices have bounced back on hopes for China's capacity reduction and growing demand for automobiles," Okada said.

The global trend toward stricter environmental rules for automobiles will continue, he said, and force automakers to use lighter materials.

Source: Reuters

Russia, EU bristle at proposed new U.S. sanctions on Moscow, warn of action

Image result for putin

Russia warned it was edging closer to retaliation against Washington after the House of Representatives backed new U.S. sanctions on Moscow, while the European Union said the move might affect its energy security and it stood ready to act too.

The lower house of the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly voted to impose new sanctions on Moscow on Tuesday and to force President Donald Trump to obtain lawmakers' permission before easing any punitive measures on Russia.

"This is rather sad news from the point of view of Russia-U.S. ties," said Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman. "We are talking about an extremely unfriendly act."

He said President Vladimir Putin would decide if and how Moscow would retaliate once the fresh sanctions became law, while Russia's deputy foreign minister warned the move was taking bilateral relations into uncharted waters, killing off any hope of improving them in the near future.

The sanctions still need to be approved by the Senate and by President Donald Trump himself. But Bob Corker, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Wednesday the measure was likely to become law "very, very soon".

Trump, who has found his presidency embroiled in a distracting row over his associates' alleged ties to Moscow and is on the defensive over accusations Moscow helped him win election last year, has said he is keen to try to mend relations with Russia that are languishing at a post-Cold War low.

But most White House watchers believe Trump will reluctantly sign off on the new sanctions, given deep support for them among U.S. lawmakers, including fellow Republicans, and his desire to avoid being accused of being soft on Moscow.

The U.S. sanctions demarche has rattled Russia, which fears that its economy, weakened by a 2014 batch of Western sanctions imposed over its role in the Ukraine crisis, will now find it harder to recover and grow. Foreign investors could be scared off and the original sanctions would remain in place longer.

For its part, the European Union frets the new U.S. move could throw up obstacles to its firms doing business with Russia and threaten the bloc's energy supply lines.

The Kremlin, which flatly denies interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to the benefit of Trump - a charge that helped propel the House action - says Washington is in the grip of what it calls anti-Russian hysteria.

Moscow has called the new sanctions "an extremely unfriendly step" that would hurt bilateral ties and international trade.

Peskov complained of a blow against international law. But he said Moscow would wait until the sanctions became law before fully analyzing them and deciding how to respond.

The new sanctions legislation risks sinking Trump's own agenda to improve ties with Moscow altogether.

"Uncharted Territory"

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency that relations were now entering "uncharted territory in a political and diplomatic sense".

Moscow had initially hoped that Trump, who made upbeat statements about Putin before winning the White House, would work to repair the U.S.-Russia relationship.

But it has watched with frustration as the vote-meddling allegations have killed off hopes of any detente despite what it considered a positive first meeting between Trump and Putin at a G20 meeting in Germany earlier this month.

Ryabkov said the latest sanctions step in Congress left no room to improve relations in the near future.

He also made clear Moscow was growing tired of showing restraint over what it sees as a series of diplomatic slights.

The Foreign Ministry said earlier this month that too many American spies were operating in Russia under diplomatic cover and that it might expel some of them to retaliate for the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats last year by then-President Barack Obama's administration.

That warning reflected rising frustration in Moscow over the Trump administration's refusal to hand back two Russian diplomatic compounds seized by the Obama administration at the same time as the diplomats were sent home.

Putin opted not to retaliate immediately at the time, saying he would wait to see what the new Trump administration would do.

However, many Russian politicians increasingly believe Trump's political foes and Congress have successfully squeezed the U.S. president's room for maneuver on Russia to almost nil and they have nothing to lose by retaliating themselves.

Konstantin Kosachyov, who heads the foreign relations committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, urged the Kremlin to devise a "painful" response and said Russian lawmakers had already begun to discuss how best to hit back.

European Union Anger

In Brussels, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU was ready to act "within a matter of days" if it felt the new U.S. sanctions undermined the bloc's energy security.

Brussels fears the new sanctions will damage European firms and oil and gas projects on which the EU is dependent.

"The U.S. bill could have unintended unilateral effects that impact the EU's energy security interests," Juncker said in a statement after a meeting of European Commissioners.

"This is why the Commission concluded today that if our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days. America first cannot mean that Europe's interests come last."

The Commission said the U.S. House bill demonstrated that a number of EU concerns had been taken into account, but did envisage sanctions on any company, including European, that worked on Russian energy export pipelines.

That, it said, could affect maintenance and upgrades of pipelines in Russia feeding natural gas to Europe via Ukraine, or projects crucial to the EU's energy diversification goals, such as the Baltic Liquefied Natural Gas project.

"The EU is fully committed to the Russia sanctions regime. However, G7 unity on sanctions and close coordination among allies are at the heart of ensuring the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. This is a core objective that the EU and the US share," Juncker said.

The 2015 deal mandated a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists, a pullback of heavy weapons and elections in rebel-held territory. But little has been done, and sporadic fighting continues.

The European Union, the Commission also said, was raising its concerns via "all diplomatic channels".

Source: Reuters

Brazil hikes mining royalties to ease budget deficit

Image result for brazil temer
Brazil unveiled plans on Tuesday to raise revenue from mining royalties by 80 percent, the latest measure to shore up government finances, and cut red tape in attempt to attract more foreign investment amid a weak economic recovery.

President Michel Temer, at the policy launch in the presidential palace, said that this fit into his broader plans to modernize regulation across sectors to draw investment and boost the economy.

"We are just scratching the surface here," Mining Minister Fernando Coelho Filho said, touting Brazil's potential to grow as a mining powerhouse if the government reduces red tape.

"These measures will be fundamental to speed up the growth of the Brazilian economy," he added, defending changes to outdated royalties and clearer rules for mining investors.

While some in the sector voiced support, mining industry body IBRAM, which counts Brazil's largest miner Vale as a member, criticized the policy, saying there was no way to cut costs enough to offset the higher levies.

"Mining companies feel pressured to pass on this new cost increase to the industrial production chain," it said in a statement. "This new condition will increase the risk of loss of competitiveness in the international market for ores."

Brazil's slow economic recovery has weighed on tax revenue, forcing the government to find new sources of funding. Last week, the government said it would raise taxes on fuel and increase a public spending freeze by 5.9 billion reais ($1.9 billion) this year.

Temer announced the first changes to the mining code since the early 1990s via a temporary presidential decree, which will require approval from Congress within 90 days. The royalties would go into effect in November, if approved, while other rule changes take effect immediately.

Royalties will increase by a set rate on diamonds, gold and other materials, while iron royalties will increase in tandem with the price of the mineral, gradually rising from 2 percent if the market price is less than $60 per tonne to a maximum of 4 percent if the price rises above $100 per tonne.

Raw materials used directly in construction would see royalties fall to 1.5 percent.

The royalties will be calculated on gross sales revenue, rather than net sales previously, significantly raising the base of calculation.

The government will also create the National Mining Agency to replace the National Department of Mineral Production that officials said would increase transparency and reduce bureaucracy.

Environmental licenses to miners are issued in four years in Australia but 10 years in Brazil, Coelho said, giving an example of red tape that must be reduced.

Higher Fines

The reforms could help attract billions of dollars in venture capital to Brazil's mining sector by creating an investor-friendly environment, said Ana Cabral-Gardner, a board member at miner Sigma Lithium and veteran mining banker.

"Previously a deadly regulatory combination of arcane rules, lack of transparency and opacity discouraged large established global investors," she said.

The measures would also increase fines for environmental damage up to a ceiling of 30 million reais ($9.47 million) and expressly require companies to clean up degraded areas. Brazil is still recovering from the 2015 Samarco mining disaster, in which a tailing dam burst and unleashed enough mud to fill 12,000 Olympic swimming pools.

Source: Reuters

segunda-feira, 24 de julho de 2017

Colombia's FARC rebel group says it will become political party on Sept. 1

An undated file photograph showing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (L) shaking hands with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader Rodrigo Londoño (R) during a ceremony at which rebel fighters laid down their arms. EFE
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group said Monday that it planned to reorganize as a political party effective Sept. 1.

Source: EFE

IMF raises economic growth forecast for Asia

(FILE) Chinese migrant workers rest outside a construction site during lunch time in the central business district (CBD) of Beijing, China, 17 July 2017. EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY

The International Monetary Fund raised its growth forecast for the major Asian economies for 2017 and 2018, after it published World Economic Outlook Update published in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

The strongest improvement in Asia was registered in China, whose growth is forecast at 6.7 percent in 2017 and at 6.4 percent in 2018, 0.1 and 0.2 percent stronger respectively than projected in April.

Source: Reuters

Brazil's Temer says no more tax hikes, for now

Image result for temer

President Michel Temer said on Friday that his government has no plans for now to raise taxes again in its effort to meet this year's fiscal target, one day after raising taxes on fuels and announcing an additional spending freeze.

"There is no plan. For the time being, our economic team is just looking at this increase (announced Thursday)," Temer told journalists during a meeting of the South American trade bloc Mercosur. He added: "I don't know if there will be a need for more later, but not now."

In a speech earlier, Temer said Brazilians would understand the need to raise taxes to shrink the budget gap and recover investor confidence in Brazil's overdrawn government accounts.

The tax hike was blasted by business leaders as the wrong way to go in restoring fiscal balance because it would hurt Brazilian's incipient recovery from its worst recession on record.

"Their reaction is natural; nobody wants more taxes. But I am sure this will pass when they understand that meeting the fiscal target is fundamental for the country's stability and encouraging growth," Temer said.

The Finance and Planning ministries announced on Thursday that the government was freezing an additional 5.9 billion reais ($1.9 billion) in federal spending this year, and increasing the federal PIS/Cofins social contribution tax on gasoline, diesel and ethanol to raise about 10.4 billion reais in new revenues.

Brazil plans to cut its budget deficit to 139 billion reais this year before interest payments. Earlier this year it had announced a budget freeze of 39 billion reais to meet that target. The deficit in the 12 months through May was at 167.6 billion reais, equivalent to 2.59 percent of gross domestic product.

Brazil lost its investment-grade rating in 2015 after missing budget targets for years. But slow recovery from a two-year recession has meant dismal tax revenues.

Source: Reuters

sexta-feira, 21 de julho de 2017

China says U.S. talks covered joint efforts on excess steel capacity

Image result for China says U.S. talks covered joint efforts on excess steel capacity
Seeking a more positive spin on U.S.-China economic talks viewed as ending in discord, China said on Thursday that the two sides agreed to "active and effective measures" to reduce global excess steel production capacity.

The statement issued a day after the talks by the Chinese embassy in Washington did not elaborate on the measures discussed by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan on Wednesday.

"In this breakout session, the two sides focused their discussion on steel, aluminum and high-tech trade," the embassy said in a statement. "The two sides had in-depth discussion on cutting excess steel production capacity in the world and agreed to active and effective measures to jointly address this global issue."

A U.S. Commerce Department spokesman declined comment on the Chinese statement and referred Reuters to a joint statement from Ross and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Their statement did not mention steel and cited only one point of consensus, a "shared objective" to work toward reducing the U.S. trade deficit with China.

Late on Wednesday, a Trump administration official told Reuters that China had refused to agree to U.S. demands that it eliminate excess steel capacity and take other steps to open its economy for foreign firms.

The first annual economic summit between the Trump administration and their Chinese counterparts ended with canceled news conferences, no joint statement and no new transaction announcements.

The Chinese embassy statement also said China agreed to "deepen its cooperation" with the United States on expanding trade in services. The two sides also will start work on a one-year economic cooperation plan, determining an "early harvest" as soon as possible.

Before the latest Chinese statement, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that China would allow imports of U.S. rice for the first time, agreeing to phytosanitary protocols.

Tougher Stances

The rocky dialogue session in Washington was a sharp contrast to U.S. President Donald Trump's rosy first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-A-Lago, Florida estate in April.

Both sides found each other harder to deal with than expected, China trade experts said.

The Trump team's expectations that Beijing would agree to quick, substantial reforms to shrink the U.S. trade deficit and eliminate excess steelmaking capacity were dashed, while China found that further minor steps and vague action plans would no longer placate the U.S. side.

"There was a misalignment of expectations. The Americans pushed for deliverables, and the Chinese said no, everything is fine," said Scott Miller, an Asia trade expert at the Center for Strategic and Economic Studies in Washington. "These are difficult issues that don't lend themselves toward easy boxes to check."

Domestic politics contributed to both sides taking a tougher stance, said Eswar Prasad, a trade policy professor at Cornell University and former China division chief at the International Monetary Fund.

China faces a once-in-five-years Communist Party congress to set new leadership this autumn, while Trump is keen to hold to campaign promises to help ailing U.S. steel and coal industries and grow U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Prasad said that China found that the Trump administration is "no pushover" on trade and may need to offer bigger concessions to keep its relationship with its biggest trading partner on an even keel.

"The administration seems unwilling to settle for further symbolic, cosmetic victories in terms of access to China’s markets and is pressing for more specific and time-bound commitments from China about opening up its markets to U.S. exporters and investors," he added.

Source: Reuters

Brazil's Lula says he is being persecuted in court as supporters protest

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a leftist leader who is topping polls for the 2018 election, on Thursday told supporters protesting his conviction for corruption charges that his political opponents were persecuting him in the courts.

In the main avenue of São Paulo, Brazil's biggest city, Lula took aim at Judge Sérgio Moro, who sentenced him to nearly 10 years in prison but allowed him to remain free on appeal, and the prosecutors leading the so-called Car Wash graft investigation.

"Since they're not able to defeat me through politics, they want to defeat me with lawsuits," he said.

Police declined to estimate of the number of people attending the protests in São Paulo, which Lula's Workers Party helped organize. Smaller rallies took place in other major cities, including Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre and Fortaleza.

During his two terms as president between 2003 and 2010, Lula, a former union leader, helped to lift millions from poverty in Latin America's largest economy. But he also contributed to boosting the public deficit as a spending spree aimed at tackling the global financial crisis extended for years to come.

Should an appeals court uphold Lula's conviction, a ruling which is expected to take at least eight months, Lula will be barred from running for office next year.

Source: Reuters

Microsoft profit beats expectations on strong cloud demand

Image result for microsoft

on Thursday reported strong fourth-quarter earnings on the back of its fast-growing cloud computing business, stoking optimism that the once-stagnant company has found a new groove.

The results were the clearest sign yet that the strategy put in place by Chief Executive Satya Nadella when he assumed the top job in 2014 is paying off. He has shifted the company's focus away from a dying personal computer software business and reinventing it as a provider of cloud computing and subscription-based software.

“Our technology world view of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge is resonating with customers everywhere,” Nadella said on the company’s earnings conference call with investors on Thursday afternoon.

Most notably, revenue from the cloud unit, which includes the flagship Azure platform and server products, rose about 11 percent to $7.43 billion in the fiscal fourth quarter ended June 30.

Analysts on average had expected cloud revenue of $7.32 billion, according to data and analytics firm FactSet. Revenue from Azure, which competes directly with's market-leading AWS division, nearly doubled in the quarter. (

Highlighting Azure's growth were notable increases to Microsoft's long-term unearned revenue, which rose by more than 61 percent year-over-year. The metric is used to indicate long-term commitments for services and products, said Kim Forrest, vice president and senior equity analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group, a portfolio management firm.

In a bid to continue this momentum, Microsoft last week launched Azure Stack, a new service that allows customers to run a local version of the company's cloud technology.

“This isn't just a one-quarter wonder,” Forrest said. "Amazon is going to be paying attention to this."

Michael Turits, analyst at Raymond James & Associates, noted that Azure is smaller than Amazon's service but that it is growing faster. "I think it is appealing well to existing enterprise customers who might not immediately be drawn to the Amazon platform," he said.

Beyond cloud, Microsoft's various businesses mostly performed well.

The commercial offering of Office 365 was up 43 percent while Dynamics 365, Microsoft's customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning service, saw a year-over-year increase of 74 percent.

Revenue dropped 2 percent in the personal computer division, which includes Windows 10 and Microsoft's line of Surface hardware. The company said it recorded $306 million in restructuring charges following a reorganization of its sales and marketing teams that was announced earlier this month. The restructuring resulted in layoffs for thousands of Microsoft employees.

"I don't think the layoffs are a worry at all," said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research. "They're just part of the ongoing transition Microsoft is going through as cloud grows and its legacy business shrinks."

Net Income Doubles

Microsoft's net income more than doubled to $6.51 billion or 83 cents per share in the quarter, from $3.12 billion or 39 cents per share in the year-earlier period.

Excluding one-time items, Microsoft earned 98 cents per share. On an adjusted basis, revenue rose 9.1 percent to $24.7 billion.

Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of 71 cents per share and revenue of $24.27 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.