quarta-feira, 31 de maio de 2017

Brazil's J&F agrees to pay record $3.2 billion fine in leniency deal

Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA in the city of Lapa, Parana state, Brazil. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
J&F Investimentos, controlling shareholder of the globe's largest meatpacker, JBS SA (JBSS3.SA), agreed to pay a record-setting 10.3 billion real ($3.2 billion) fine for its role in corruption scandals that threaten to oust President Michel Temer, Brazilian prosecutors said.

The settlement means that Brazil's three-year sweeping graft investigations have now led to the world's two biggest leniency fines ever levied.

J&F's penalty surpasses the $8.5 billion reais that Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht agreed to pay for its role in the political graft scandal convulsing Latin America's biggest economy, prosecutors said in statement late Tuesday.

"The payments will be made exclusively by the holding company and should start in December 2017," prosecutors said in their statement, adding that J&F will have 25 years to make the payments.

J&F was able to reduce the final value by 900 million reais from the initial 11.2 billion reais proposed by Brazilian prosecutors. J&F's three previous proposals were rejected and the company replaced its lawyers earlier on Tuesday.

The company's spokesmen did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

State witness testimony from J&F's owners Joesley and Wesley Batista that they spent 600 million reais to bribe nearly 1,900 politicians in recent years deepened Brazil's political crisis that threatens to topple president Michel Temer.

Joesley Batista is at the center of a corruption investigation into Temer, after secretly recording a conversation in which the president appeared to condone bribing a potential witness. Other JBS executives in plea-bargain testimony accused Temer of taking nearly $5 million in bribes from the company in recent years.

The JBS testimony was the most damaging yet to Brazil's political class, hitting virtually all major figures past and present. It included allegations that former presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff received $80 million in bribes in offshore accounts.

Rousseff was impeached last year on breaking budgetary laws and Temer, her vice president, took over. Rousseff and her supporters say she was the victim of a "coup" orchestrated by Temer and his allies as they sought to take power and halt the corruption investigations.

Temer, Lula and Rousseff have all denied wrongdoing, with Temer defiantly rebuffing calls to resign.

Joesley Batista resigned last week as chairman of JBS and left the board, while his brother Wesley resigned as vice chairman of the JBS board, though he retained a board seat and is still the firm's chief executive officer.


JBS shares have slid more than 28 percent this month in extremely turbulent trading because of concern that blowback from the scandal could limit its funding options.

Common shares in JBS opened 5.5 percent higher on Wednesday as investors bet the meatpacker may be forced to hand out extra dividends to help its controlling shareholder pay the fine.

Traders warned, however, that the stock is likely to remain volatile as further probes involving tax issues, suspected irregularities on past acquisitions and financial market transactions develop.

Most of the fine J&F will pay, or 8 billion reais, will be divided among Brazil's development bank BNDES, FGTS workers' severance fund, two pension funds for employees of state-controlled companies and lender Caixa Econômica Federal.

Pension funds and state-run banks invested in or extended loans to J&F companies in return for bribes paid by the Batista brothers, according to plea-deal testimony.

Prosecutors said in the statement the fine is equivalent to 5.6 percent of the group companies' revenue. Investors in JBS shares have been closely watching the plea negotiations.

Source: Reuters

France's Roquette enters Latin America with Brazil tablet maker buy

French plant-based ingredient maker Roquette has agreed to buy pharmaceutical tablet maker Itacel from Brazilian peer Blanver in its first acquisition in a $6 billion global market in which it aims to take a leading role, it said on Wednesday.

The acquisition of the company, based near Sao Paulo, is also the first step in Latin America for family-owned Roquette, which also produces food ingredients from plants such as corn, wheat, potatoes and peas.

"This strategic investment offers Roquette the ability to expand the global footprint of its pharmaceutical business, as well as enrich its offerings of widely used excipients," the company said in a statement.

Roquette declined to disclose the amount of the deal.

Excipients are substances, such as sugar or gum, used to prepare pills and tablets in a form suitable for administration.

Family-owned Blanver, has decided to divest its excipients business to focus on expanding its two other divisions: medicines and so-called Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs).

Pharmaceutical excipients - a market that has been growing by an average 6 percent per year globally - currently amount to between 10 and 15 percent of Roquette's sales which stand at around 3.3 billion euros ($3.7 billion), a spokesman said.

The acquisition of Itacel is expected to close in the first quarter of this year.

Source: Reuters

Brazil set for steep rate cut despite political storm

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's Central Bank President Ilan Goldfajn, speaks during a news conference in Brasilia, Brazil March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Brazil's central bank is widely expected to maintain its rapid pace of interest rate cuts on Wednesday despite a political crisis that has clouded the future of an economy slowly emerging from its worst recession ever.

Corruption allegations against President Michel Temer, which threaten to unseat the center-right politician and derail his economic reform agenda, tempered investors' initial bets for an even more aggressive monetary easing cycle.

Less than two weeks ago, before accusations that Temer took bribes from giant meatpacker JBS SA (JBSS3.SA) became public, many analysts believed the bank was set to cut rates by 125 basis points, with its benchmark Selic rate BRCBMP=ECI dropping below 8 percent this year from 11.25 percent.

Now, most economists surveyed in a Reuters poll last week expect the bank to opt for a second straight cut of 100 basis points and continue reducing the Selic until it reaches 8.5 percent by December.

"In the context of the recent political crisis – that has increased risks related to fiscal reform – we believe the bank will choose not to accelerate the pace," Joao Pedro Ribeiro, an economist with Nomura Securities, wrote in a research note.

The scandal has put at risk Temer's proposal to reduce mounting pension expenditures, which the central bank has highlighted as crucial to keep inflation at bay and rescue an economy showing some signs of recovery after two years of recession. Temer has denied he took bribes and vowed to resist calls to resign.

Brazil's gross domestic product BRGDP=ECI probably expanded by 1.0 percent in the first quarter from the last three months of 2016, according to the median forecast of 20 economists surveyed by Reuters. The official data is due out on Thursday at 9 a.m. (1200 GMT).

A delay or further watering down of Temer's pension reform could not only hamper business and consumer confidence, but also prevent efforts to plug a widening fiscal gap that reached over 10 percent of GDP last year.

The central bank's chief, Ilan Goldfajn, has reiterated that political turmoil will not dictate monetary policy that remains focused on inflation, which in mid-May fell well below the 4.5 percent official target.

Source: Reuters

segunda-feira, 29 de maio de 2017

Scandal-hit Brazilian leader Temer picks new justice minister

Brazil's President Michel Temer smiles during a meeting with representatives of the Brazilian Chamber of Construction Industry and businessmen, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Scandal-plagued Brazilian President Michel Temer on Sunday named a new justice minister, placing a respected legal figure in the position as the leader defends himself against corruption allegations.

The presidential palace gave no reason for naming Torquato Jardim as his new justice minister in a short written statement.

Since March, Jardim was the nation's transparency minister. Before that, he had served as a justice on Brazil's top electoral court.

Jardim replaced Osmar Serraglio, a lawmaker from Temer's own party, who had been in that post for just three months. A source close to Temer told Reuters that Serraglio will soon be announced as the new transparency minister.

Source: Reuters

'Convinced Atlanticist' Merkel being honest with U.S., spokesman says leftright 5/5leftright

Chancellor Angela Merkel believes firmly in strong German - U.S. relations and is simply being honest with the United States when she flags up policy differences with Washington, her spokesman said on Monday.

Merkel sent shockwaves through Washington and London by saying on Sunday that Europe must take its fate into its own hands, implying that the United States under President Donald Trump and Britain after its Brexit vote were no longer reliable partners.

She made the comments after Trump criticised major NATO allies over their military spending and refused to endorse a global climate change accord at back-to-back summits last week.

"The chancellor's words stand on their own - they were clear and comprehensible," her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told a regular government news conference in Berlin on Monday, adding: "It was a deeply convinced trans-Atlanticist who spoke."

After the meetings of NATO and the G7 group of wealthy nations, Merkel told a packed beer tent in Munich that the days when Europe could completely rely on others were "over to a certain extent".

"I have experienced this in the last few days," she said. "And that is why I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands - of course in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbours wherever that is possible also with other countries, even with Russia."

Merkel's remarks, made to her Christian Democrat party's Bavarian allies, were particularly striking as the chancellor, a fan of the United States as a teenager in Communist East Germany, has always been known as a resolute Atlanticist.

Seibert stressed that this remained the case.

"Those of you who have reported on the chancellor for a long time will know how important German-American relations are to her," he told the news conference.

"They are a firm pillar of our foreign and security policy, and Germany will continue to work to strengthen these relations," he said, adding that Merkel had said before that Europe must take its fate into its own hands.

"Because trans-Atlantic relations are so important to this chancellor, it is right from her viewpoint to speak out honestly about differences," Seibert said.

In Vienna, European Central Bank Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny was asked whether difficult political relations between Europe and the United States were causing any downside risk for the world economy. He replied: "No. I have to say, this is an advantage that central banks have relative to the governments..."

Nowotny described ECB cooperation with the U.S. Federal Reserve as "very good, very intensive."

"Fortunately central banks are independent and not dependent on the short-term political discussions," he said.

Source: Reuters

Australian state asks Rio, BHP for upfront cash

FILE PHOTO: A miner holds a lump of iron ore at a mine located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia December 2, 2013. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo
The cash-strapped Western Australian state government will ask Rio Tinto and BHP to pay an upfront multi-billion dollar fee in exchange for cancelling an ongoing levy on their iron ore production.

The revenue push by the mineral-rich state, which has run up more than A$30 billion ($23 billion) in debt following the end of a mining boom, sets the stage for talks with the miners, who are seen as unlikely to agree unless they win significant benefits.

Under the proposal, the two mining houses would pay as much as A$4 billion ($3 billion) in exchange for cancelling a A$0.25 a tonne ongoing levy on iron ore from their mines, some of which could be running for another 50 years.

State treasurer Ben Wyatt, whose center-left Labor party won a state election in March, said the proposal was still in its early stages.

"It's an option that could only be close to crystallizing if you had a range of things in play, one, obviously the engagement and agreement of the miners," Wyatt told reporters on Monday.

Rio Tinto has previously rejected the payout proposal, according to a company spokesman. A BHP spokesman declined to comment.

The mining companies are due to meet with the government this week, but a source close to one company said the proposal could set an unwelcome precedent.

"The last thing Rio and BHP want is to become the state's go-to ATM every time there's a financial crisis," said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the topic.

The A$0.25 a tonne levy raised around A$150 million for Western Australia last year, based on the two company's combined output of about 600 million tonnes of iron ore.

The state earns far more from a 7.5 percent royalty based on the value of their sales, which contributes well over $2 billion a year to state coffers.

Pietro Guj, a professor at the University of Western Australia who previously oversaw the state's royalties system, said the miners would need to benefit in order sign up to the proposal.

"There would have to be a motivation from the miners' point of view unless they were feeling philanthropic," Guj said.

The current plan follows a suggestion by a rival party in the lead up to the March election that the levy be raised to as much $5 a tonne, a proposal that was condemned by the miners.

Only Rio Tinto and BHP pay the rental fee, which applies to mature projects, but other projects including those owned by Fortescue Metals Group and Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting would be liable to pay it from 2023.

Source: Reuters

sexta-feira, 26 de maio de 2017

Brazil police killing of 10 Amazon region land activists under probe

Brazilian authorities said on Thursday they were investigating a police raid that ended with 10 land activists killed in the Amazon region, the deadliest such conflict in over two decades.

Nine men and one woman were killed when police arrived at the Santa Lucia farm on Wednesday, which a group of landless activists that included 150 families had invaded two years ago.

Para state security officials said in a statement the police were fired upon as soon as they arrived. No officers sustained any injuries during the conflict. Leaders of the land activists were not immediately reachable for comment.

Para state police said in a statement that they were acting on a local judge's order to remove the families from the private land, and also carry out 14 arrest warrants in connection to the murder last month of a security guard employed by the ranch owner.

Federal and state prosecutors said they were investigating the killings. Police said they, too, had started an inquiry into the officers' actions.

Landless activists routinely invade massive ranches and farms in Latin America's largest nation, where there is deep inequality in land distribution. Brazilian law allows for landless activists to occupy and eventually take ownership of land determined to be not actively used for agricultural purposes.

For decades, the fight over Brazil's vast tracts of land have repeatedly led to murders, most often by rich ranchers and farmers' hired gunmen, federal prosecutors have said.

The Catholic Church's Pastoral Land Commission, which tracks the conflicts, said in an emailed statement on Thursday that 61 people were killed in such rural conflicts last year, the most since 2003. The group said 26 people have been killed in such conflicts this year.

Wednesday's deaths were the most in a land conflict since 1996, when Para state police shot and killed 19 land activists who had blocked a highway to protest their right to remain on a ranch that 3,000 families had occupied.

Source: Reuters

JBS shares soar as speculation mounts over crisis fallout

FILE PHOTO - General view of Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA in the city of Lapa, Parana state, Brazil, March 21, 2017.  REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/File Photo
Brazil Shares in JBS SA (JBSS3.SA), the world's largest meatpacker, spiked on Thursday as speculation mounted over its strategy for weathering the fallout from a corruption scandal centered on its owners.

The stock closed 23 percent higher, approaching levels last seen before the graft scandal rattled Brazil a week ago and leading gains on the benchmark Bovespa stock index .BVSP.

Still, traders and analysts warned volatility was likely to remain high due to doubts about how a raft of probes targeting the company will be resolved.

"It's a mess," Lerosa Investimentos analyst Vitor Suzaki said. "There's little in the way of concrete market drivers and plenty of speculation to beat the stock up and down."

Joesley and Wesley Batista, JBS' controlling shareholders, recently touched off a political firestorm after admitting they bribed hundreds of Brazilian politicians to advance their businesses interests in a scandal that has ensnared President Michel Temer.

They are now trying to negotiate a leniency deal with prosecutors that would allow them to avoid prosecution in exchange for paying a hefty fine and revealing all their illegal dealings. JBS Chief Executive Officer Wesley Batista is personally negotiating with prosecutors.

While the Batistas initially rejected the size of the fine proposed by prosecutors, it looks unlikely to be significantly reduced. That could push their holding company J&F Investimentos SA to sell assets to raise cash to pay for it, Reuters reported this week.

The Batistas transformed the company from a regional slaughterhouse into Brazil's dominant beef producer and a sprawling multinational group, helped by some 8 billion reais ($2.44 billion) in government funding.

Brazil's agriculture minister on Thursday slammed state development bank BNDES for helping JBS build a dominant market position.

"I was always critical of the BNDES for having allowed this market concentration that exists in Brazil," Blairo Maggi said at an agribusiness conference in Cuiaba, the capital of Mato Grasso state in Brazil's biggest cattle-growing region and agricultural heartland. He called JBS' current predicament a "delicate moment."

"I don't know what's going to happen with this company," said Maggi, also a billionaire soybean producer.

Separately, a major cattle industry consultant said Brazilian ranchers were starting to demand that JBS pay in cash because they are worried about fallout from the bribery scandal.

"People are risk-averse," said Agriffato director Lygia Pimentel. "Producers aren't selling to JBS, and those who are, are doing their utmost to get cash in return."

JBS, on the other hand, recently told cattle ranchers in Mato Grosso it preferred to make payments in installments or with a 30-day post-delivery period. The effort has made little progress with ranchers, according to trade group Acrimat.

JBS has bought many rivals in important cattle-producing regions in Brazil in recent years. In some places it is the only processor, leaving ranchers with no other buyers.

JBS confirmed it was seeking to stretch out payments over longer periods, but said the initiative dated back to before the bribery scandal broke.

Source: Reuters

Trump and other leaders clash on trade, climate at G7

Leaders from the world's major industrialized nations began talks on Friday at a G7 summit in Sicily which is expected to expose deep divisions with U.S. President Donald Trump over trade and climate change.

The two-day summit, at a cliff-top hotel overlooking the Mediterranean, began a day after Trump blasted NATO allies for spending too little on defense and described Germany's trade surplus as "very bad" in a meeting with EU officials in Brussels.

After receiving warm receptions in Saudi Arabia and Israel, Trump's confrontational stance with long-standing partners in Europe cast a cloud over the meeting in Taormina, where leaders are due to discuss terrorism, Syria, North Korea and the global economy.

"No doubt, this will be the most challenging G7 summit in years," Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister who chairs summits of European Union leaders, said before the meeting.

White House economic adviser Gary Cohn predicted "robust" discussions on trade and climate.

Trump was elected in November after a campaign in which he rejected many of the tenets that the Group of Seven has stood for, including free trade, multilateralism and the liberal democratic values.

European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and new French President Emmanuel Macron, had hoped to use the summit to convince Trump to soften some of his stances.

But diplomats conceded as the talks began that the United States was unlikely to budge, meaning the final communique could be watered down significantly compared to the one the G7 unveiled at its last summit in Japan.


The summit kicked off with a ceremony at an ancient Greek theater overlooking the sea, where war ships patrolled the sparkling blue waters. Nine fighter jets soared into the sky above Taormina, leaving a trail of smoke in the red-white-green colors of the Italian flag.

The leaders then adjourned to the San Domenico Palace, a one-time Dominican monastery that is now a luxury 5-star hotel. During World War Two, it housed Nazi air force chiefs.

Italy chose to stage the summit in Sicily to draw attention to Africa, which is 140 miles (225 km) from the island at its closest point across the Mediterranean.

More than half a million migrants, most from sub-Saharan Africa, have reached Italy by boat since 2014, taking advantage of the chaos in Libya to launch their perilous crossings.

But trade and climate, to be discussed on Friday afternoon, are the most contentious issues.

Trump, who dismissed human-made global warming as a "hoax" during his election campaign, is threatening to pull the United States out of a 2015 climate deal clinched in Paris in 2015.

Fellow G7 leaders are trying to convince him to stay in. Cohn and other administration officials have said Trump will wait until after the summit to decide.

"This is the first real opportunity that the international community has to force the American administration to begin to show its hand, particularly on environment policy," said Tristen Naylor, a lecturer on development at the University of Oxford and deputy director of the G20 Research Group.

On Thursday in Brussels, with NATO leaders standing alongside him, Trump accused members of the military alliance of owing "massive amounts of money" to the United States and NATO - even though allied contributions are voluntary.

The remarks went down badly with European leaders, who had hoped Trump would use the opportunity to confirm his commitment to Article 5, the core NATO principle that an attack on one member is viewed as an attack on all.

"When an American president cannot commit clearly to Article 5 at a time when everyone is expecting him to do this then there is the risk that Moscow interprets this as meaning it is no longer valid," said Jan Techau of the American Academy in Berlin.


In a private meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Trump also denounced the German trade surplus as "very bad" and complained about the large number of German cars being sold in the United States, officials said.

Juncker tried to play down the comments ahead of the summit. But they underscored ongoing policy divisions between Trump and his partners four months after he took office.

Trump is attending his first major international summit but is not the only G7 newcomer. Macron, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and British Prime Minister Theresa May will also be attending the elite club for the first time.

May is expected to leave a day early, following Monday's suicide bombing at a concert in northern England that killed 22 people carried out by a suspected Islamist militant of Libyan descent who grew up in Britain.

G7 leaders were expected to issue a separate statement on terrorism on Friday, before issuing their formal communique on Saturday. Italian officials have suggested the final communique will be shorter than 10 pages. At the last G7 summit in Japan it totaled 32 pages.

One country that will not be present is Russia. It was expelled from the group in 2014 following its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Trump called for improved ties with Moscow during his election campaign.

But accusations from U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia intervened in the U.S. election to help Trump, and investigations into his campaign's contacts with Russian officials, have hung over his four-month-old presidency and prevented him from getting too close to Moscow.

On Thursday, the Washington Post and NBC News reported that Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner was under scrutiny by the FBI because of his meetings with Russian officials before Trump took office. One of Kushner's attorneys said her client would cooperate with the investigation.

Kushner and his wife, Trump's daughter Ivanka, have returned to Washington after accompanying the president for the first part of his first foreign tour.

Source: Reuters

quarta-feira, 24 de maio de 2017

Brazilian police operation targets gang run from prison by powerful drug lord

A file photograph dated March 24, 2006, showing Brazilian drug lord Luiz Fernando da Costa (C), better known as Fernandinho Beira-Mar, being guarded by Federal Police officers in Brasilia. EFE/Carlos Humberto
Police launched an operation Wednesday targeting the drug gang run from prison by Luiz Fernando da Costa, considered one of the most powerful drug lords in Brazil, officials said.

Da Costa, better known as Fernandinho Beira-Mar, is serving prison sentences totaling nearly 320 years.

Source: EFE

China says no one should bring chaos to Korean peninsula

FILE PHOTO: China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a joint news conference with United Arab Emirates Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed (not pictured) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Beijing, China May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
China said on Wednesday no one had the right to bring chaos to the Korean peninsula, a day after it pushed for full implementation of U.N. sanctions against neighboring North Korea for its missile and nuclear tests and called for dialogue.

The United States has been trying to persuade China, North Korea's lone major ally, to do more to rein in Pyongyang, which has conducted dozens of missile launches and tested two nuclear bombs since the start of last year, in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The North has proudly publicized its plans to develop a missile capable of striking the United States and has ignored calls to halt its weapons programs, even from China.

It says the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression. Its last missile test was on Sunday.

"No matter which party it is, no one has the right to bring war and chaos upon the peninsula," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters after meeting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

He said anyone who did that would bear "historical responsibility".

U.S. President Donald Trump has said "a major, major conflict" with North Korea is possible and that all options are on the table, but that he wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

China has been infuriated by the U.S. deployment of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea, saying it is a threat to its own security and will do nothing to ease tensions with North Korea.

The United States and South Korea, which hosts 28,500 U.S. troops, have said the deployment is aimed purely at defending against the North Korean threat.

China fully implements its U.N. Security Council sanction commitments toward North Korea and will continue to play a constructive role in negotiations, Wang said.

Almost a month ago, Washington began discussions with China on strengthening U.N. sanctions. However, a week ago U.S. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Beijing had gone quiet.

Traditionally, the United States and China have negotiated new sanctions before involving the other 13 U.N. Security Council members.

The Security Council first imposed sanctions on Pyongyang in 2006 and ratcheted up the measures in response to five nuclear tests and two long-range missile launches. North Korea is threatening a sixth nuclear test.

Source: Reuters

Manchester bomber was part of a network: police

The Manchester suicide bomber who killed 22 people at a concert venue packed with children was part of a network, the city's chief of police said on Wednesday as troops were deployed across Britain to help prevent further attacks.

Police made three new arrests and searched an address in central Manchester in what police chief Ian Hopkins described as a fast-moving investigation.

"I think it's very clear that this is a network that we are investigating," Hopkins told reporters outside Manchester police headquarters.

"And as I've said, it continues at a pace. There's extensive investigations going on and activity taking place across Greater Manchester as we speak."

Earlier, interior minister Amber Rudd said the bomber, Salman Abedi, had recently returned from Libya. Her French counterpart Gerard Collomb said he had links with Islamic State and had probably visited Syria as well.

Rudd scolded U.S. officials for leaking details about the investigation into the Manchester attack before British authorities were prepared to go public.

The Manchester bombing has raised concern across Europe. Cities including Paris, Nice, Brussels, St Petersburg, Berlin and London have suffered militant attacks in the last two years.

British-born Abedi, 22, blew himself up on Monday night at the Manchester Arena indoor venue at the end of a concert by U.S. pop singer Ariana Grande attended by thousands of children and teenagers.

His 22 victims included an eight-year-old girl, several teenage girls, a 28-year-old man and a Polish couple who had come to collect their daughters.

Britain's official terror threat level was raised to "critical", the highest level, late on Tuesday, meaning an attack could be imminent.

Source: Reuters

segunda-feira, 22 de maio de 2017

Trump, in Israel, says he has new reasons to hope for peace

U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Israel on Monday on the second leg of his first overseas trip since entering office and said he had new reasons to hope for peace and stability to the Middle East after his visit to Saudi Arabia.

In a stopover lasting 28 hours, Trump is to meet separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Later on Monday, he will pray at Judaism's Western Wall and visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and on Tuesday he will travel to Bethlehem.

Netanyahu and his wife Sara, as well as President Reuven Rivlin and members of the Israeli cabinet, were at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport to greet Trump and first lady Melania in a red carpet ceremony after what is believed to have been the first direct flight from Riyadh to Israel.

"During my travels in recent days, I have found new reasons for hope," Trump said in a brief speech on arrival.

"We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony, prosperity and peace, but we can only get there working together. There is no other way," he said.

Trump's tour comes in the shadow of difficulties at home, where he is struggling to contain a scandal after firing James Comey as FBI director nearly two weeks ago. The trip ends on Saturday after visits to the Vatican, Brussels and Sicily.


Netanyahu said Israel shared Trump's commitment to peace - but he also repeated his right-wing government's political and security demands of the Palestinians, including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

"May your first trip to our region prove to be a historic milestone on the path towards reconciliation and peace," Netanyahu said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters en route to Tel Aviv that any three-way meeting between Trump, Netanyahu and Abbas was for "a later date".

Trump has vowed to do whatever is necessary to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians -- something he has called "the ultimate deal" -- but has given little indication of how he could revive negotiations that collapsed in 2014.

When he met Abbas this month in Washington, he stopped shortly of explicitly recommitting his administration to a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict, a long-standing foundation of U.S. policy. He has since spoken in support of Palestinian "self-determination".

Trump has also opted against an immediate move of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a longtime demand of Israel.

A senior administration official told Reuters last week that Trump remained committed to his campaign pledge to ultimately relocate the embassy, but would not announce such a move during this trip:

"We're having very good discussions with all parties and, as long as we see that happening, then we don’t intend to do anything that we think could upset those discussions."


Netanyahu has come under pressure from right-wing members of his own coalition who say he is not pushing hard enough to get Trump to carry out his promise.

Over the weekend, Trump received a warm welcome from Arab leaders, who focused on his desire to restrain Iran's influence in the region, a commitment they found wanting in the Republican president's Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.

On Sunday, Israel authorized some economic concessions to the Palestinians that it said would improve civilian life in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and were intended to respond to Trump's request for "confidence-building steps".

The United States welcomed the move but the Palestinians said they had heard such promises before.

Trump used his visit to Riyadh to bolster U.S. ties with Arab and Islamic nations, announce $110 billion in U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and send Iran a tough message.

In a speech on Sunday to dozens of Arab and Islamic leaders, he toned down the harsh anti-Muslim rhetoric he had employed during his presidential campaign in favor of trying to build cooperation against Islamist militants.

"A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists. Drive them out," Trump said.

Trump will have visited significant centers of Islam, Judaism and Christianity by the end of his trip, a point that his aides say bolsters his argument that the fight against Islamist militancy is a battle between "good and evil".

Source: Reuters

Brazil's Temer says 'I won't resign, oust me if you want'

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Michel Temer speaks at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Brazil's President Michel Temer said he will not step down even if he is formally indicted by the Supreme Court, according to an interview published by newspaper Folha de S. Paulo on Monday.

"I will not resign. Oust me if you want, but if I stepped down, I would be admitting guilt," Temer said, after denying allegations of corruption and attempting to obstruct a sweeping graft investigation.

Source: Reuters

Australian magnate donates $298 million to charities

Philanthropist Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest at an event unveiling one of Australia's largest philanthropic donations to fund a variety of social and scientific causes at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, 22 May 2017. EPA/AAP/Mick Tsikas AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
The Australian billionaire Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest and his wife announced on Monday that they will donate 400 million Australian dollars ($298 million) to fund various charities and for cancer research.

"This is the biggest single philanthropic gift in our history. It is a game-changer in the Australian philanthropic community. And it will change the lives of thousands of people here in and around the world," Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said during a reception at Parliament House in Canberra.

Source: EFE

sexta-feira, 19 de maio de 2017

China likely to boost refined zinc imports as concentrate shortfall bites

China is likely to step up imports of refined zinc from this month, industry sources said on Friday, as dwindling global supplies of concentrate hit local output of the metal, used to galvanize steel.

China's refined zinc output marked its lowest in more than two years in April as the impact from the closure of major mines in places such as Australia and Ireland stifled the concentrate supplies China relies on to churn out finished metal. <MTL/CHINA4>

The nation's 'war on pollution' has also curbed output as Beijing clamps down on mining and heavy industry in a drive to clear its skies.

That will likely push buyers of refined zinc to look overseas for supplies, boosting international prices that this week marked their weakest since November at a touch below $2,500 per tonne, after chalking up substantial gains last year.

"It is starting to bite," said analyst Daniel Hynes of ANZ in Sydney. "The tightness is pretty much upon us."

"We are looking for zinc to push back to $2,800 in the second half ... The zinc market is set to stay tight over the short to medium term. This certainly should provide a bit of a reality check for the bears."

Imports of refined zinc from China's bonded zones could be resold on the local market for a profit of as much as $45 this week, Reuters calculations show, near the strongest since January 2016, when the country shipped in around 60,000 tonnes of refined metal.

China brought in just 25,600 tonnes in March and total imports are down by two thirds this year.

Traders have already been turning to local exchange stocks. Shanghai Futures Exchange zinc stocks have halved since February to near 100,00 tonnes, the lowest since February 2015.

Meanwhile, China's 'war on pollution' is entering its fourth year as it looks to dilute the environmental damage caused by years of breakneck economic growth, likely hitting production of base metals.

"The Chinese government is going to put a lot of pressure (on metals producers) to reform from an environmental perspective," said the head of metals at a China commodity trade house.

"Definitely we are going to see companies with limited domestic availability of concentrate. We should see some opportunities for imports of refined metal," he said, declining to be identified as he was not authorized to speak with media.

Source: Reuters

Brazil's Temer refuses to resign in face of investigation

Brazil's President Michel Temer on Thursday defiantly said he would not resign from office despite a Supreme Court decision authorizing an investigation into allegations he condoned bribery of a potential witness in a major corruption probe.

In a terse five-minute speech broadcast nationwide, Temer said he had done nothing wrong, that his presidency was helping turn around Brazil's stalled economy and that he welcomed an investigation so that he could prove his innocence.

"I did not buy the silence of anyone," Temer said, referring to the allegations made against him. "I will not resign."

The investigation into a sitting president sent Brazilian financial markets tumbling and raised doubts that Congress would pass Temer's ambitious austerity agenda.

Temer's situation grew more perilous after the Supreme Court approved an investigation into allegations against him, according to a source with direct knowledge of the decision.

A Supreme Court justice also approved plea-bargain testimony and an audio recording that allegedly captured him conspiring to obstruct justice with Joesley Batista, chairman of the world's largest meatpacker, JBS SA (JBSS3.SA). That approval allows the court to quickly make both the testimony and audio public.

Leaders of Temer's biggest allied party in Congress, the PSDB, said that if the allegations proved true, they would demand the resignation of three of their members who are in the president's cabinet.

"The president is absolutely convinced he committed no crime, but that has to be made clear to the eyes of everyone," a top presidential aide told Reuters.

Brazilian markets plunged on concerns the investigation could derail Temer's sweeping fiscal reforms.

Shares of state-controlled companies, such as Banco do Brasil SA (BBAS3.SA) and Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras SA, or Eletrobras (ELET6.SA), lost about a fifth of their value, and the nation's currency fell 7.5 percent, wiping out its gains for the year.

Brazil's Treasury and central bank said they stood ready to keep markets liquid before acting to smooth volatility in local currency and bond markets.

Source: Reuters

Brazil markets plunge as Temer scandal threatens reforms

A trader works at Mirae Securities in Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker
Brazilian markets plummeted on Thursday as allegations that President Michel Temer condoned bribes to silence a key witness deflated investor optimism about the prospects for his ambitious pension and labor reform agenda.

Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index .BVSP closed 8.8 percent lower, its biggest daily decline since the 2008 financial crisis. Trading had been halted for an hour after a 10 percent drop triggered a circuit-breaker mechanism.

Blue-chip stocks such as lender Itaú Unibanco Holding SA (ITUB4.SA) and state-controlled oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4.SA) dragged the index lower.

The declines slashed 26 billion reais ($7.7 billion) off the market values of Itaú and Petrobras.

The Sao Paulo stock exchange saw 3.1 million transactions, breaking a previous record set in October 2014, the day former President Dilma Rousseff won a narrow runoff election, according to exchange operator B3 Bolsa Balcão Brasil SA (BVMF3.SA).

Temer was caught on tape encouraging a prominent executive to pay a monthly fee to keep jailed former House Speaker Eduardo Cunha silent in the country's biggest-ever graft probe, sources said on Wednesday, confirming a report in newspaper O Globo.

"Brazilian stocks and assets and their currency have rallied very strongly up until really today. It's a big pullback and ... it at least brings the risk up to the surface again," Alliance Bernstein Managing Director of Equity Product Management Eric Sprow said.

The report threatened to torpedo a two-year rally in Brazilian assets as traders quickly reassessed the chances of success for efforts to streamline the country's social security system and reform labor regulations. As a result, policymakers' attempts to curtail the growth of public debt and foster economic growth may also be in doubt.

Strategists at JPMorgan Securities and UBS Securities downgraded their recommendations on Brazilian equities to "neutral," citing increased risks to the implementation of structural reforms.

Trader Thiago Castellan at São Paulo-based Renascença brokerage said: "For the market, it's not a question of whether Temer will be ousted or not. The question is whether it will be quick and for how long reforms will be delayed."

Temer denied the allegations on Thursday, saying he will not resign. His remarks disappointed traders who had hoped for a swift resolution to the political crisis, putting renewed pressure on Brazilian stocks and currencies going into the close.


The Brazilian real BRBY slumped 8 percent to 3.38 reais per U.S. dollar, the biggest percentage drop since the currency was devalued in 1999, wiping out its gains in 2017, while bond prices tumbled.

Strategists at Credit Suisse Securities revised forecasts for the Brazilian real, saying the reform agenda was likely to be put on hold. They expect the currency to weaken to 3.50 in three months and 3.70 in 12 months, compared to 3.20 and 3.50 previously.

The sharp moves drove the market operator B3 to widen the limits on trading of several derivatives and put policymakers on alert.

The central bank sold $4 billion worth of new traditional currency swaps, increasing the stock of outstanding swaps by nearly a fourth from the current $17.7 billion.

Over the last two years, the bank has acted to reduce the amount of swaps, which function like future dollar sales to investors, from more than $100 billion by late 2015, to cut taxpayers' exposure to currency moves and limit market imbalances.

The National Treasury also swept to action, calling off an auction of fixed-rate and floating-rate bonds scheduled for Thursday and offering to buy or sell local notes in three extraordinary auctions in coming days.

Yields paid on Brazilian interest rate futures <0#2DIJ:> spiked as traders bet the central bank would be forced to cut rates at a slower pace as the reforms outlook dimmed.

Rate futures prices indicated traders saw a 79 percent chance that the central bank would cut the benchmark Selic rate by 50 basis points this month and a 21 percent chance of a 75 basis-point reduction. On Wednesday, most bets pointed to a cut of 125 basis points.

Source: Reuters

quarta-feira, 17 de maio de 2017

Brazil farm lobby seeks to dismantle indigenous affairs agency

A congressional panel backed by Brazil's powerful farm lobby recommended on Tuesday dismantling Indian affairs agency Funai, a move critics said would leave indigenous tribes unprotected from an advancing agricultural frontier.

Brazil's National Indian Foundation (Funai) has sought to protect tribes by guaranteeing their land so they can preserve their cultures. That has put it in conflict with farmers who clash with native communities over land rights as production in agricultural powerhouse Brazil moves further into the Amazon rainforest.

The report by a commission in Brazil's lower house of Congress also called for the prosecution of Funai officials for backing what it considered fraudulent land claims by indigenous groups with questionable native ancestry. It backed the revision of rulings on land borders related to such claims.

Fifty Indian men with body paint and feathered headdresses danced in a circle outside Congress to protest the report's recommendations and the fact they were not allowed into a commission meeting to comment on its findings.

"The death of the Funai would be a sort of genocide because it has advised us on how to survive," said Francisco, 42, the bare-chested leader of the Kaingang people of southern Brazil. "These lawmakers represent the interest of agribusiness, not our interests."


The report, which is expected to be approved by the commission later on Tuesday, proposed replacing Funai with a National Indigenous Office under the Ministry of Justice, thus replacing an agency run by anthropologists with one in the hands of politicians.

The parliamentary inquiry's recommendations on Funai will add momentum to a constitutional amendment before the lower chamber that would remove from the executive branch the final word on land dispute decisions and give it to Congress. The bill would also open up reservations to mining, which Funai has opposed on grounds it would destroy tribal cultures.

Brazil's 900,000 indigenous people make up less than 1 percent of the population, but they face higher rates of malnutrition, child mortality and unemployment than most other Brazilians, according to government data. They belong to 300 different nations and speak almost as many different languages.

The Funai agency is in disarray following the firing of its president on May 5 after he criticized a 40 percent budget cut that he said made it impossible for the agency to defend indigenous peoples from clashes with farmers.[nL8N1I74Q5]

A spokeswoman for Funai said the agency had no immediate comment on the report.

The report's author, congressman Nilson Leitao who leads the large block of lower-house legislators who represent farm districts, said Funai had ignored Indians' health and education, and the desires of some indigenous people to enjoy the fruits of economic development.

"There are Indians who want to become miners and producers, and they should have the freedom to decide for themselves. Funai has been over-protective and paternalistic," he told reporters. "The Indians could be living on a big mine while their people die of hunger."


Critics of the report, mainly from the leftist opposition to President Michel Temer's center-right government, said the farm lobby offensive against Funai highlighted Brazil's move toward relaxing environmental licensing and a plan to allow foreign companies to buy farmland again.

"If this report is adopted, there will be no place for the indigenous in the future of Brazil. The future will be for soy, corn and sugar cane," said Workers Party lawmaker Nilto Tatto. "This is the same vision that wants to destroy the forests of Brazil."

NGOs working on indigenous rights and environmental conservation in Brazil saw the report as a poorly-orchestrated attempt by the farm lobby to criminalize social movements.

The report criticized international organizations for interfering with internal Brazilian matters.

"It's part of a larger strategy to remove 'obstacles' that limit access by land speculators, ranchers, illegal loggers and mining companies to territories and their natural resources, especially in the Amazon," said Brent Millikan, Amazon campaign director for NGO International Rivers.

Source: Reuters

North Korea launches ferry service to Russia's far east

North Korea launched a ferry service to the Russian city of Vladivostok on Wednesday to develop links and boost economic cooperation, the North's state media said, as it faces increasing isolation over its weapons development.

Experts have said North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, may be hoping closer ties with Russia would help if China, the North's main economic benefactor, steps up sanctions against it over its weapons programs, in defiance of U.N. resolutions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that while Moscow was opposed to any new countries acquiring nuclear weapons, the world should talk to North Korea rather than threaten it.

The ferry, the Mangyongbong, set sail from the North Korean port of Rajin, the North's KCNA news agency said.

"Mangyongbong's operation as the Rajin-Vladivostok international tourist liner will make a positive contribution to developing marine transport and economic cooperation and tourism between the two countries," it added.

The Russian consul general based in the nearby city of Chongjin saw the ferry off, it said.

The Mangyongbong was in service between the North and Japan before Japan suspended its operations in 2006 after a North Korean missile test.

North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Sunday that landed in the sea near Russia.

The United States has been discussing possible new U.N. sanctions with China, which disapproves of the North's development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to deliver them.

Russia, especially the port of Vladivostok, is home to one of the largest overseas communities of North Koreans in the world, and they send home many thousands of dollars in much-needed hard currency each month.

The ferry service is expected to carry up to 200 passengers and 1,000 tonnes of cargo six times a month between North Korea and Vladivostok.

Source: Reuters

Brazil electoral court to take up case that may annul 2014 election

Brazil's President Michel Temer gestures during opening ceremony of the 20th conference of the march in defense of the municipalities, in Brasilia, Brazil May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
The head of Brazil's top electoral court said on Tuesday that justices would again next month take up a case that could annul the 2014 election on charges of illegal campaign financing and even unseat President Michel Temer.

Justice Gilmar Mendes, who also sits on Brazil's supreme court, said the trial would restart June 6 and that it could take up to a year before a verdict is reached.

It had been halted in early April so new testimony and arguments by the defense could be heard.

The case is a potential threat to Temer, who in 2014 was elected as vice president to President Dilma Rousseff, and could potentially be tossed from office depending on the full Supreme Electoral Court's ruling.

Temer took over the presidency a year ago when Rousseff was impeached on illegal budgetary maneuvers. Dilma and her supporters labeled it a "coup" orchestrated by Temer and his allies in an attempt to halt a sweeping political kickback investigation.

Despite the potential threat against Temer, Mendes, who is strongly linked to a party that is allied with Temer's, told Reuters in a March interview that the president would not necessarily lose power if the election were annulled because he was not the head of the ticket.

Prosecutors allege that Rousseff's Workers Party received millions in illegal campaign donations as part of a wider corruption scheme that involved billions in bribes paid by large construction firms in return for winning lucrative contracts from state-run oil company Petrobras.

Executives from the Odebrecht construction group have said in plea bargain testimony that they made 300 million reais ($97 million) in illegal campaign contributions to Rousseff's 2014 re-election campaign, which Rousseff strongly denies.

But they said Temer had not requested donations himself, which could bolster his lawyers' argument that he was not responsible for the illegal payments.

Source: Reuters

segunda-feira, 15 de maio de 2017

Correr é o melhor remédio

Os dados são preocupantes: cerca de 40% da população brasileira (o equivalente a mais de 57 milhões de pessoas) possui, pelo menos, uma doença crônica não transmissível (DCNT), revela Pesquisa Nacional de Saúde (PNS). Ainda de acordo com o levantamento feito pelo Ministério da Saúde, em parceria com o Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatísticas (IBGE), essas doenças, que envolvem a hipertensão arterial, o diabetes, os problemas na coluna, o colesterol e a depressão, são responsáveis por mais de 70% das mortes no país. Mas esse jogo pode virar. Bastam algumas mudanças na rotina. Uma delas é correr. Isso mesmo! O esporte pode ajudar a prevenir e combater praticamente todos os problemas crônicos de saúde. Confira.


A doença se dá quando veias e artérias se contraem ou perdem a capacidade de se dilatarem. Isso eleva a resistência para a passagem do sangue e aumenta a pressão sanguínea. Como o vasos do nosso corpo são recobertos internamente por uma camada muito fina e delicada, eles podem entupir ou romper caso o fluxo forte seja constante. Dependendo da região em que ocorrer o problema, a pessoa pode sofrer infarto, acidente vascular cerebral (AVC), insuficiência renal… “A hipertensão arterial pode ter diversos fatores, mas, na maioria das vezes, é a genética que prevalece. Por isso, quem possui parentes com a doença necessita de maior atenção”, alerta Celso Amodeo, cardiologista e especialista em hipertensão do Hospital do Coração (HCor), em São Paulo. Além da questão genética, indivíduos sedentários e que seguem um cardápio nada saudável, com muito consumo de sal e gorduras, também estão mais propícios a desenvolver a doença.

Proteja-se com a corrida Além de manter uma alimentação balanceada, fazer atividade física regularmente é uma das chaves para você ficar longe da hipertensão. O exercício ajuda a manter o peso sob controle, reduz o estresse e a frequência cardíaca em repouso, fatores diretamente ligados ao surgimento da doença. “A corrida ainda otimiza a ação de hormônios que controlam o sistema cardiovascular. Por tudo isso, propicia redução da pressão arterial, do açúcar no sangue e melhora o perfil dos lipídeos no sangue (colesterol e triglicérides)”, aponta Amodeo.


A doença ocorre quando a insulina (hormônio fabricado no pâncreas) produzida pelo corpo se torna insuficiente para normalizar a concentração de glicose na corrente sanguínea. “A insulina é responsável por promover a entrada do açúcar (glicose)  nas células”, esclarece Renato Zilli, endocrinologista do Hospital Sírio Libanês, em São Paulo. Geralmente, a diabetes tipo 2 acontece após o 30 anos de idade e está associada à genética, obesidade e ao sedentarismo. Se não for controlado, o problema pode levar a outras complicações como infarto, derrame, alterações na visão e nos nervos. “Muitos males que surgem em decorrência do diabetes estão entre as principais causas de morte no país”, alerta Zilli.

Proteja-se com a corrida Durante o exercício, seu corpo utiliza a glicose como combustível, o que ajuda a reduzir o nível de açúcar no sangue. Além disso, o treino aumenta a sensibilidade celular à insulina (ou seja, o corpo precisa de menor quantidade do hormônio para levar a glicose para dentro das células). “A atividade física tem um efeito sobre o metabolismo da glicose por até 24 horas. De modo geral, nas pessoas com diabetes e glicemias abaixo de 300 mg/dL, o exercício diminui imediatamente a taxa de açúcar e melhora o controle da doença em longo prazo”, conta Zilli. Segundo o médico, o ideal é realizar pelo menos 30 minutos de atividade física por dia, cinco vezes por semana.


Normalmente, essa alteração se dá em pessoas sedentárias, com dietas ricas em alimentos gordurosos ou com histórico de problema na família. “Manter o colesterol ruim (LDL) elevado por muito tempo pode desencadear doenças cardiovasculares, AVC, doenças nas artérias dos membros inferiores e insuficiência renal”, aponta Celso Amodeo.

Proteja-se com a corrida Estudos demonstram que o treinamento físico regular melhora o perfil de lipídios no sangue. Ou seja, diminui o LDL e aumenta o HDL (colesterol bom). “Isso também tem impacto na redução da aterosclerose, com consequente diminuição do risco cardiovascular”, acrescenta o cardiologista.


O principal problema nas costas que acomete os brasileiros é a chamada lombalgia. “Essa dor pode ser apenas resultado de uma contratura muscular na região da lombar ou indicativo de algo mais grave, como uma hérnia de disco ou desalinhamento das vértebras”, alerta Ana Camila Gandolfi, neurocirurgiã especializada em neurocirurgia do esporte e colunista do SUA CORRIDA.

A Organização Mundial da Saúde (OMS) acredita que ao menos 80% da população mundial teve ou vai ter dor nas costas alguma vez na vida. “O sedentarismo crescente e ao hábito de ficar o dia todo sentado têm uma contribuição expressiva para o aumento do problema”, aponta Ana.

Proteja-se com a corrida Quando aliada a uma alimentação saudável, a corrida combate o sobrepeso, um dos fatores que contribuem consideravelmente para a lombalgia. Também fortalece a musculatura do core (formado pelo abdome, pelo quadril e pela lombar), o que previne incômodos na região. Além disso, promove a sensação de bem-estar, relaxamento e diminuição do estresse, reduzindo tensões que podem gerar dores nas costas. “Porém, é bom lembrar que, junto com a corrida, é importante fazer musculação. Isso porque, apenas a corrida não é suficiente para o fortalecimento do core e o impacto do esporte pode até agravar os problemas de coluna”, alerta Ana Camila.


É considerada um distúrbio afetivo. As pessoas com o problema se sentem muito tristes por um longo período de tempo e/ou sem motivo aparente, não têm vontade de fazer nada, ficam desinteressadas, sofrem com alterações no sono e na alimentação…

As causas para a depressão podem ser diversas: relacionamentos, trabalho, família etc. Além disso, existem alguns fatores que podem influenciar como personalidade do indivíduo, formação emocional e histórico na família. “Atualmente, cerca de 19% da sociedade tem depressão e não há campanhas para tratamentos e orientação”, afirma Yuri Busin, psicólogo e diretor do Centro de Atenção à Saúde Mental – Equilíbrio (CASME), em São Paulo.

O problema é bastante preocupante. Com o tempo, as pessoas depressivas que não passam por tratamento podem começar a perder o que conquistaram e até sentir vontade de tirar a própria via, pois não têm mais interesse nem energia para viver. “Esse desânimo, humor deprimido, indecisão, sentimentos de medo, insegurança e pessimismo irão atrapalhar o cotidiano do indivíduo, causando diversos prejuízos”, explica Busin.

Proteja-se com a corrida “A atividade física aumenta a produção de endorfina. Essa substância aumenta a sensação de bem-estar e ajuda a relaxar, o que minimiza os sintomas da depressão.” Além disso, o esporte estimula o convívio social, o relacionamento com as pessoas, ajuda a fazer novos amigos e a criação de metas para o futuro. Ou seja, a pessoa volta a enxergar diversos novos sentidos para a vida.

Fonte: Sua Corrida

Brazil, Mexico look to strengthen trade ties as NAFTA talks loom

A Mexican delegation of government and private sector representatives is in talks with Brazilian counterparts to close new supply deals of corn, soy and rice and reduce dependence on U.S. trade, members of the delegation said on Thursday.

In the second day of a three-day mission to Brazil, Raúl Urteaga, general coordinator of international affairs at Mexico's Ministry of Agriculture, said the main purpose of the visit is to accelerate business contacts between the two countries as part of broader efforts to diversify Mexico's trade ties with nations other that the United States.

The delegation also visited Argentina.

"The main reason for the mission this week is to look for Brazilian suppliers of grains," Urteaga said.

Mexico wants to substitute mainly U.S. corn suppliers.

A longer-term objective is to deepen an economic cooperation agreement between Brazil and Mexico. "Both sides are seeking better access to each other markets," Urteaga said without elaborating on any deals closed.

The Mexican visit coincides with looming talks to change the North American Free Trade Agreement and underscores Mexico's concerns about a possible overhaul of the pact with Canada and the United States.

Mexico's agricultural exports, ranging from beer to meat and tequila, total about $30 billion a year, with the U.S. buying 78 percent of the country's agricultural products, Urteaga said.

"The rhetoric coming out of Washington is only focusing on merchandise trade, and what matters here is the total account," he said referring to American companies operating in Mexico, which benefit from the trade of goods and services and can repatriate profits as a result of such exchanges.

Mexico's poultry industry uses about 10 million tonnes of corn and 3 million tonnes of soybean meal as animal feed each year, said César Macías, head of the National Union of Poultry Farmers, who is also in the delegation.

Mexico does not produce the yellow corn needed to feed animals, and the U.S. standing as the country's priority supplier may be coming to an end.

Feed represents 70 percent of chicken and egg production costs, he said.

"Trade with the U.S. is very efficient because of the infrastructure in place but we believe Brazil can also be competitive, especially if it can efficiently ship production out of its northern ports," Macías said.

Source: Reuters

Saudi Arabia, Russia push to extend oil output cuts until March 2018

Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world's two top oil producers, agreed on Monday on the need to extend oil output cuts for a further nine months until March 2018 to rein in a global crude glut, pushing up prices.

The timing of the announcement ahead of OPEC's next official meeting on May 25 and the statement's strong wording surprised markets, and the move is expected to go a long way to ensure that other OPEC members and producers who participated in the initial round of cuts fall into line.

In a joint statement that followed an earlier meeting, Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih and his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak said they had agreed to prolong an existing deal until March next year.

The ministers pledged "to do whatever it takes" to reduce global inventories to their five-year average and expressed optimism they will secure support from producers beyond those in the current deal, the statement said.

"There has been a marked reduction to the inventories, but we're not where we want to be in reaching the five-year average," Falih told a briefing in Beijing alongside Novak.

"We've come to conclusion that the agreement needs to be extended."

Saudi, the defacto leader of OPEC, and Russia, the world's biggest producer, together control a fifth of global supplies, but have been spurred into action as crude futures LCOc1CLc1 have languished around $50 per barrel.

Under the current agreement that started on Jan. 1, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and other producers including Russia pledged to cut output by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) during the first half of the year.

While it was broadly expected that OPEC and Russia would agree to extend the cut, the timing and wording of the statement sent crude prices up more than 1.5 percent in Asian trading.[O/R]

"I think OPEC and Russia recognize that in order to get the market back on their side they will need 'shock and awe' tactics where they need to go above and beyond a simple extension of the deal," said Virendra Chauhan, Singapore-based analyst at Energy Aspects.

"The market will also be looking at export cuts and not just production cuts, which is what is required to rebalance the market."

Russia's top producer Rosneft helped prepare the deal and is ready to comply with the extension, according to Russian media.


If producers maintain their cuts at the current pace, it could push the market into a small deficit by the fourth quarter, said Edward Bell, director for commodity research at Emirates NBD in Dubai.

But one major unknown will be the response of low-cost U.S. shale producers, which could undermine the unified effort to prop up the market.

The United States did not participate in the original agreement to cut supplies and producers there have ramped up output this year, buoyed by the recovery in prices from multi-year lows hit in January 2016.

U.S. drilling activity RIG-OL-USA-BHI last week rose to its highest in two years, while U.S. production has jumped more than 10 percent since its mid-2016 trough.

A jump in U.S. exports to Asia, the world's biggest and fastest growing market and the last region in which OPEC supplies dominate, is a particular worry for the producer club.

"Russia and Saudi Arabia may be trying to coordinate a push to keep access to their most important market (China) in their favor and encourage Chinese importers to displace alternative cargoes," said Bell.

An OPEC source familiar with the market situation told Reuters earlier on Monday that oil inventories in floating storage have declined by one-third since the start of the year.

Source: Reuters

Brazilian banks turn up heat on scandal-hit Odebrecht

The corporate logo of the Odebrecht SA construction conglomerate is pictured at its headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Nacho Doce - RTS12P0M
Banks are raising the heat on Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht SA to put its house in order after months of treating the scandal-hit company with kid gloves because of fears its collapse could hurt their balance sheets, sources said.

Odebrecht has agreed to accelerate asset sales as part of a deal with creditor banks to let the heavily indebted company keep $800 million from the divestiture of its water and waste unit announced last month, enough to fund its cash needs for two years, according to several executives, bankers and lawyers involved in the talks.

The conglomerate also agreed to surrender to creditors all dividends from its crown jewel, petrochemicals unit Braskem SA (BRKM5.SA), and to place more assets as collateral for loans under renegotiation, said the people, who asked not to be named because the terms of the agreement with creditors were not made public.

"All the parties agreed that steps to resolve this drama once and for all must be taken carefully but quickly," said one of the people involved.

The agreement shows how creditor banks holding a big chunk of Odebrecht's 76 billion reais ($24.34 billion) in outstanding debt are growing increasingly assertive.

In part, banks' new-found confidence stems from a plea deal struck by Odebrecht in December with U.S., Brazilian and Swiss prosecutors, which drew a line under the main legal risks to the group.

Odebrecht and Braskem admitted to bribing officials in 12 countries, mostly Latin America, and agreed to pay $3.5 billion in fines in return for freedom from prosecution.

Lenders also feel they have given Odebrecht enough time and have dealt with other headaches in their credit portfolio over the last year, giving them more room to maneuver.

"Now the leniency deal is a reality, we believe that Odebrecht can downsize assets and liabilities at a faster pace," one senior banker said.

The tougher stance is evident from how banks are dealing with Odebrecht's 38 percent stake in Braskem, Latin America's No. 1 petrochemical firm.

While Chairman Emilio Odebrecht wants Braskem to lead the group's recovery, bankers believe they have the right to decide the fate of the stake - pledged as collateral for a debt restructuring of agribusiness unit Odebrecht Agroindustrial SA.

"It should be up to us, not Odebrecht, to decide what to do with Braskem," said the chief executive officer of a large Brazilian lender.


Once the nation's biggest employer, Odebrecht has been floored by Brazil's "Operation Car Wash" investigation into political kickbacks on state infrastructure contracts. Brazil's harshest recession on record has compounded problems for the family-owned group.

Restricted access to capital and a tarnished reputation led Odebrecht to miss a 12 billion-real asset sale goal for mid-2017.

The target has been extended until next year under the accord governing April's sale of Odebrecht Ambiental SA.

However, Brazil's government has joined creditors in pushing for the bulk of the target to be completed this year, officials, bankers and lawyers familiar with the restructuring told Reuters.

Some banks have balked at how slowly the Odebrecht family, which retains control over the company it founded in 1944, is selling shipbuilding, biofuels and oil drilling assets. Others question whether the family should retain command after its role in the corruption scandal.

In a statement to Reuters, Odebrecht said it is pursuing the downsizing, noting that gross revenue fell to around 90 billion reais ($29 billion) last year. The group declared gross revenues of 132.5 billion reais in 2015.

"After reaching agreements with judicial authorities in Brazil, U.S., Switzerland and Dominican Republic, the group is working to sign similar deals with other countries to take the group to a new standard of ethics, governance and transparency."

On Friday, Odebrecht named Luciano Guidolin, who played a key role in negotiating the plea deals, as its new chief executive officer.

Yet revelations that Odebrecht bribed politicians across Latin America have complicated efforts to win new contracts.

The backlog for civil construction unit Odebrecht Engenharia & Construção SA shrank 50 percent over two years to December 2016 to $17 billion, the lowest since 2008, according to preliminary financial data seen by Reuters.

Emilio Odebrecht has created stricter compliance structures and vowed to keep family members out of the group's boardrooms.

A person familiar with Odebrecht SA's finances said management agreed to book all of December's fine in last year's income statement, alongside heavy asset writedowns and charges related to the bribery scheme.

That would lead to the group posting a record loss, to be announced in the coming weeks, the person said.

The question is whether the company can rebuild its order book after it was banned from bidding on Brazilian public works contracts and shown the exit from at least four other Latin American countries.

Several top Brazilian officials are lobbying antitrust and auditing agencies to avoid additional penalties.

"I've seen many people spreading the word that Odebrecht will not survive, but that goes against this whole idea of designing leniency deals," said Carlos Lima, a prosecutor in the Car Wash taskforce. "We want the company working and we want it clean."

Source: Reuters

sexta-feira, 12 de maio de 2017

Trump denies collusion with Russia after firing Comey

(FILE) US President Donald J. Trump meets with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (out of frame) in the Oval Office at the White House, Washington, DC, USA, 10 May 2017. EPA/Molly Riley / POOL
The president of the United States denied on Thursday any collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia in his first interview since firing FBI chief James Comey, who was conducting an investigation into the matter.

"There was no collusion between my campaign and the Russians," Trump said in the interview with US network NBC.

The president said that investigating him and his campaign is a waste of public money, but also insisted that he wants the probe to be done "absolutely properly."

"I want that to be so strong and so good. And I want it to happen," added Trump, who said he also wanted to know if Russia did something to affect the campaign.

The interview came two days after the dismissal of Comey, who was investigating the alleged links between Russia and Trump's presidential campaign.

Trump called Comey "a showboat" and told NBC he believed the FBI had been out of control for some time.

He also claimed that Comey had personally assured him that he was not under investigation by the FBI.

"I said, 'If it's possible would you let me know, am I under investigation?'" Trump said, to which the former FBI director reportedly replied: "You are not under investigation."

Aside from the FBI, Congress is also investigating suspected Russian interference in the November election, including the alleged relationship between Russian officials and the president's campaign.

Source: EFE

Venezuelan opposition marches in memory of young man killed at protest

Opposition supporters march in Caracas, Venezuela, May 11, 2017. EFE/Miguel Gutierrez
The Venezuelan opposition took to the streets on Thursday in eastern Caracas to pay tribute to Miguel Castillo, who was shot and killed earlier in the week at an anti-government protest.

The marchers set out from the San Ignacio de Loyola high school, which Castillo had attended and, with prayers and hymns, continued toward Las Mercedes, in the Baruta district, where he was fatally shot on Wednesday.

Source: EFE

Lula graft testimony fails to lift his Brazil presidential hopes

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's combative testimony before a federal judge this week did little to dismantle the graft case against him and improve his chances of securing a new term in office.

Lula, a founder of the leftist Workers Party (PT) that controlled Brazil's presidency from 2003 until last year, can only run in next year's presidential election if he avoids a conviction that is upheld on appeal.

Steady questioning by crusading Judge Sergio Moro on Wednesday uncovered no bombshell revelations to shake supporters' steadfast belief that Lula is innocent and the victim of a political witch hunt. Nor did it do much to knock down corruption charges that stand between Lula and a third shot at the presidency.

"Lula left the courtroom the same size as he went in. His testimony will not legally save the former president," said the centrist Green Party congressman Alvaro Dias.

"But politically, there was a repercussion that both fuels the PT's followers and enrages his opponents, as he tried to transform a legal procedure into a political show."

In recent polling, Lula sits atop surveys of potential candidates for the 2018 election but he also has the highest rejection rate, showing strong opposition to him among many Brazilians.

Lula's case is part of an investigation known as "Operation Car Wash" which unearthed how Brazilian construction firms paid billions in political kickbacks and bribes in return for contracts at state-run oil company Petrobras and other government-controlled companies.

The investigation has seen more than 90 prominent businessmen and politicians convicted. Scores of sitting federal congressmen across the political spectrum as well as one-third of conservative President Michel Temer's cabinet are being investigated.

Prosecutors allege Lula was given a beach apartment by construction firm OAS [OAS.UL] in exchange for helping it win lucrative government contracts.


Lula portrayed himself during his testimony as a victim of a vengeful, elitist media that wanted to get him "dead or alive." He also said Brazil's upper class could not stomach his social welfare programs that helped lift millions out of poverty during his eight years in office.

Still beloved by many working class Brazilians, Lula stepped down in 2011 with an 83-percent approval rating.

A former union leader who led strikes in the early 1980s that helped dismantle a two-decade military dictatorship, Lula rose from poverty to the presidency on the back of his ability to electrify crowds at campaign rallies.

He convinced Brazil's legion of poor voters that one of their own could finally rule the continent-sized country.

Moro deployed calm, persistent questioning to prevent the ex president from using his oratory skills to piece together a convincing, coherent explanation of the accusations against him.

Moro consistently interrupted to rein in Lula when his testimony veered toward what the judge labeled political stumping.

"If Lula's supporters hoped to turn May 10, 2017, into a landmark in his quest to return to the presidential palace, the repeated doubts in his testimony and the lack of an overwhelming street demonstration by supporters clouded that ambition," wrote Igor Gielow, a political analyst for the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, Brazil's largest.

The uncertainty of Lula's fate as he faces five corruption trials, and the political polarization that has encompassed Brazil, demonstrate how the country's institutions have matured, said Carlos Pereira, a professor of public administration at the Getulio Vargas Foundation.

"It's a historic moment that a Brazilian president is on trial at all, it shows the degree to which our system of checks and balances has strengthened," he said.

Pereira noted that corruption has been endemic in Brazil for hundreds of years and leaders had acted with impunity until recently. But the autonomy given to investigators and courts in the 1988 constitution as the nation emerged from dictatorship paved the way to end that.

"Politicians held great sway over the judicial system, but now they are under its thumb. That is a new twist in Brazil," he said. "It is amazing, ironic and astonishing for an emerging democracy."

Source: Reuters

quarta-feira, 10 de maio de 2017

Brazil's inflation hits lowest in nearly 10 years in April

FILE PHOTO: A woman looks on prices at a food market in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares/File Photo
Brazil's annual inflation rate fell in April to its lowest level in nearly 10 years, data showed on Wednesday, bolstering the case for another steep interest rate cut by the central bank later this month.

Consumer prices rose 4.08 percent in the 12 months through April, slightly below market forecasts for a 4.10 percent increase and compared with a rise of 4.57 percent in the previous month, national statistics bureau IBGE said.

It is the lowest inflation rate in Brazil since July 2007, below an official target of 4.5 percent.

Prices edged up 0.14 percent on a monthly basis, easing from a rise of 0.25 percent in March, IBGE said.

Inflation tumbled rapidly from a 12-year peak of 10.7 percent in January 2016 as the worst recession in Brazil's history caused massive unemployment and reduced consumer demand.

President Michel Temer has hailed the drop in inflation as evidence that his austerity agenda was being successful. As price pressures eased, the central bank has started a long cycle of interest rate cuts that is expected to boost economic growth by bringing the benchmark lending rate from 14.25 percent last year to 8.5 percent by December.

The bank slashed rates by 100 basis points last month, the deepest cut to the rate in nearly eight years, to 11.25 percent. Most economists expect the bank to cut rates by another 100 basis points at its next meeting on May 31, but there are growing expectations for an even bolder cut of 125 basis points.

Source: Reuters

It's not just the VIX - low volatility is everywhere

The current slump in expectations of market volatility is not just a stock market phenomenon -- it is the lowest it's been for years across fixed income, currency and commodity markets around the world.

It shows little sign of reversing, which means market players are essentially not expecting much in the way of shocks or sharp movements any time soon. It's an environment in which asset prices can continue rising and bond spreads narrow further.

The improving global economy, robust corporate profitability, ample central bank stimulus even as U.S. interest rates are rising, and some fading political risk from elections have all contributed to create a backdrop of relative calm.

There is little evidence of investors hedging -- or seeking to protect themselves -- from adverse conditions.

It is most notably seen in the VIX index of implied volatility on the U.S. S&P 500 stock index, the so-called "fear index".

But implied volatility across the G10 major currencies is its lowest in three years, and U.S. Treasury market volatility its lowest in 18 months and close to record lows.

The VIX, meanwhile, has dipped to lows not seen since December 2006, is posting its lowest closing levels since 1993, and is on a record run of closes below 11. By comparison, it was at almost 90 at the height of the financial crisis.

Not much current "fear", then.

Implied volatility is an options market measure of investors' expectation of how much a certain asset or market will rise or fall over a given period of time in the future.

It and actual volatility can quickly become entwined in a spiral lower because investors are less inclined to pay up for "put" options -- effectively a bet on prices falling -- when the market is rising.

If a shock does come the cost of these "puts" would shoot higher as investors scramble to buy them. Surging volatility is invariably associated with steep market drawdowns.

According to Deutsche Bank's Torsten Slok, an investor betting a year ago that the VIX would fall -- shorting the index -- would have gained around 160 percent today. Conversely, an investor buying the VIX a year ago assuming it would rise would have lost 75 percent.

None of the huge political surprises of the past 12-18 months -- from Brexit to Donald Trump -- have managed to puncture the steady gain in risky assets, pushing actual volatility ever lower.

This phenomenon is playing out in major stock markets and the ripple effects are being felt in all asset classes.

Source: Reuters

Brazil on edge as ex-president Lula squares off with judge Moro

When Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Judge Sergio Moro meet for the first time in a courtroom on Wednesday, the contrasts - and the stakes - could hardly be greater.

One is the country's most popular president ever and the front-runner in next year's election - a former union leader who still whips up crowds with his fiery and folksy oratory. The other, a soft-spoken law professor who represents Lula's main obstacle to power.

The legacy and political future of Brazil's first working-class president are on the line as Lula faces one of the five criminal cases against him, part of the biggest corruption probe in the country's history.

While denying any wrongdoing, Lula and his lawyers have turned his defense into an attack on Moro himself, arguing the judge's track record in overseeing the graft probe has undermined his impartiality. Lula's supporters are traveling from across Brazil to the southern city of Curitiba to protest outside the court.

Local media has fed expectations of a confrontation with a breathless buildup to Wednesday's hearing. One news magazine's cover painted the two as masked wrestlers going head to head. On another, they are boxers "Settling Scores."

Pollster Datafolha found Moro was one of the few public figures who could beat Lula in the 2018 presidential race - though Moro denies he will enter politics.

The 44-year-old judge has avoided addressing the electoral impact of his decisions and discouraged portrayals of him as David to Lula's political Goliath.

Lula's testimony is just one more step in a three-year-old operation, insists Moro, who has kept lecturing public university students on criminal law as he runs the probe.

"I'm a little concerned by this climate of confrontation, these heightened expectations about something that may be totally banal," the judge said at a public event on Monday, regarding this week's hearing.

Moro has already sentenced dozens of businessmen and money launderers for a bribery scheme paying billions of dollars to politicians in return for public contracts, political favors and deals with state firms such as oil giant Petrobras (PETR4.SA).

Office holders in Brasilia must be tried by the Supreme Court, so prosecution has moved more slowly against alleged beneficiaries in the ruling Brazilian Democratic Movement Party and the Workers Party, which ran the country under Lula and his successor Dilma Rousseff from 2003 to 2016.


Prosecutors say Lula masterminded the scheme during his eight years in office, but Wednesday's hearing focuses on whether he traded influence for the refurbishing of a beach condo.

On Monday, Moro began hearing testimony in a second trial against Lula, regarding 12 million reais ($4 million) of land bought by a construction firm to be used for his institute.

A conviction in either case, if upheld in an appeals court before elections in October next year, would bar him from seeking office.

While Lula's allies are calling for tens of thousands of partisans to convene in Curitiba, Moro posted a Facebook video discouraging a rival march by supporters of the investigation.

Yet even that call for restraint stirred controversy.

"Judge Moro, who ought to be impartial, is speaking directly to his supporters. That is not normal in a democratic system. In a democracy, politicians have supporters and adversaries - not judges," said Lula attorney Cristiano Zanin in a video response.

The exchange underscored that while both Lula and Moro face public scrutiny, the judge may have more to lose if the interrogation devolves into a contentious exchange.

A courtroom spat would stoke complaints from Lula supporters who call the investigation a political witch hunt and bolster his lawyers' demands that another judge try the case.

Attempts at such a legal maneuver are not uncommon, said Oscar Vilhena Vieira, dean of the law school at the Getulio Vargas Foundation. In Brazil, the same judge is usually responsible for overseeing an investigation and then ruling on a case.

Yet relations between Moro and Lula's team are especially tense amid their campaign to discredit him, which included the lawyers' complaint to the United Nations that the judge violated Lula's human rights during the corruption investigation.

Moro often cites the value of public support for the task force he oversees, pointing to the lessons of Italy's "Mani Pulite" graft probe in the 1990s to show the importance of popular opinion to sustain a major corruption investigation.

"From a political perspective, there is a greater risk for Judge Moro," said Vieira. "His rhetorical options are far more limited. He has to take great care not to fall into the traps set by Lula's lawyers."

Source: Reuters

segunda-feira, 8 de maio de 2017

Rosana Campos. Função: cuidar do próximo

Ontem faleceu a minha mãe.  Professora,  lecionava para crianças a as alfabetizava desde 1984. Trabalhou por 33 anos ensinando mais de 1500 crianças, tantas que após muitos anos,  quando uma a encontrava na rua,  ela já não era capaz de se lembrar.
Ela cuidou de 3 filhos,  muitos netos e faleceu de infarto, no PA da Vila Luzita em Santo André em 07/05/2017 acompanhada do marido,  3 dias após ter seu pedido de aposentadoria deferido, depois de 2 anos de espera.
Trabalhou a vida toda, se aposentou e morreu, sem poder curtir um só dia do descanso.

Oil rout driven by China, inventories and funds

An employee fills a motorcycle tank as another motorcyclist waits to buy petrol at a gas station in Hefei, Anhui province March 23, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer
The plunge in crude oil markets this week to a six-month low was likely driven by worries about Chinese economic growth, persistently high inventories and fund positioning.

U.S. crude oil CLc1 slumped by 5.0 percent to a low of $45.29 a barrel on Thursday, the lowest since November, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to curb production by 1.8 million barrels per day for six months from Jan. 1.

However, Friday saw a 1.5 percent bounce helped by assurances by Saudi Arabia that Russia is ready to join OPEC in extending supply cuts to reduce a persistent glut.

"People often reverse-engineer an explanation. But, I think the velocity of the move this week stems from China and its liquidity tightening. That spooked the market across all commodities," said Michael Tran, director of global energy strategy at RBC Capital Markets. "It's a commodities story rather than oil-specific."

Chinese manufacturing surveys this week triggered worries that the economic growth in the world's second largest economy may have peaked in the first quarter and China's central bank has moved to tighten credit leading to a fall in stock prices for the fourth straight week.Doubts that the OPEC-led supply cut of the past few months are deep enough to draw down bloated storage levels around the world are also weighing on prices. U.S. crude stockpiles fell less than expected last week as rising U.S. production offset reduced supply from OPEC.

As a result, oil traders may have finally given up on an early rebalancing of inventories in the crude market by OPEC.


One dominant group appeared to rush into the selling: managed futures firms, or Commodity Trading Advisors (CTAs), which manage about $340 billion in assets, according to BarclayHedge, a fund research group in Fairfield, Iowa.

These funds advise others on buying or selling futures, futures options, and foreign-exchange forward contracts. They often look at macro-economic trends across asset classes and trade dozens of markets using models to detect the start and end of moves.

For such firms, multiple signs of a trend change were clear this week: a nose-dive in Chinese iron ore futures DCIOcv1, big losses in gold and copper prices, and persistently high oil inventories that spooked crude oil traders.

Those fears appeared to be heightened by a note from J.P. Morgan analysts Thursday, citing increasing risk that Saudi Arabia would reverse its cuts and pump more crude. J.P. Morgan did not respond to requests for comment.

Even though oil prices have weakened since mid-March, speculators have maintained long positions, putting them in danger of a reversal like Thursday's sell-off.

"There are definitely some new shorts in the crude oil market. The systematic CTAs, the ones not trading fundamentals and purely technical, were definitely sellers," Nick Gentile, managing partner of commodity trading advisor NickJen Capital in New York, said.

As prices continued to fall, liquidation of timespreads added to the move, according to a note from Goldman Sachs.

Hedge funds are also losing faith that OPEC can accelerate the rebalancing of the oil market even if the group agrees to extend output cuts when it meets later this month.

The speed and direction of the selling this week was enough to cause the December 2017 crude contract price to fall below the December 2018 contract CLZ7-Z8, an indication of increasing worries about the overhang of supply.

Volumes spiked Thursday, with more than 940,000 front-month U.S. crude contracts changing hands, compared to the daily average of 535,000 contracts.

"The obvious thing is that the market was massively long. When it's a crowded trade, things tend to do the opposite very quickly," said Gentile.

Source: Reuters