Yearly Archives: 2019

    El Gobierno ecuatoriano y el movimiento indígena pusieron fin este domingo a once días de enfrentamientos y revueltas con un acuerdo que deroga el polémico decreto que elevaba el precio de los combustibles e iniciaron negociaciones para poner fin a la crisis.

    Las noticias de un acuerdo rompieron el rígido silencio del toque de queda que reinaba hasta ese momento en las calles de Quito, y sacó a miles de ecuatorianos a festejar, muchos de ellos con sus niños en pijama y bebés en brazos.

    QUITO SALE A FESTEJAR LA PAZ

    Familias enteras tomaron las calles en procesión, mientras en el parque del Arbolito, epicentro de los disturbios en la capital, una multitud de manifestantes gritaban insistentemente “¡Sí se puede, sí se puede!”.

    A la zona llegaban más y más gentes conforme transcurrían los minutos, concentrándose en las zonas de mayor iluminación y en ocasiones tratando de esquivar algunos cohetes que explotaban a baja altura y se desviaban de su trayectoria

    Atrás quedaban once días de batalla campal frente a las fuerzas de seguridad, con las que se batieron en esa misma zona entre las llamaradas de neumáticos ardiendo, barricadas y espesas cortinas de humo por el masivo uso de gas lacrimógeno que hicieron las fuerzas del orden.

    En la zona, los manifestantes empezaron a recoger las barricadas que les sirvieron de protección, especialmente en los últimos días en que las protestas se tornaron mucho más violentas y con una fuerte represión policial.

    Cientos de indígenas festejaban asimismo la “victoria de la lucha popular” en los exteriores de la Casa de la Cultura con bailes en los que portaban sus lanzas y hacían sonar tambores al grito de: “¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!”.

    Por el norte de Quito, caravanas de automóviles avanzaban en medio de un ensordecedor y constante sonar del claxon que rompió el tenso silencio de las últimas horas en las que los ecuatorianos habían estado a la espera del inicio del diálogo.

    LOS MEDIADORES: LA ONU Y LA CONFERENCIA EPISCOPAL

    La fiesta estalló en las calles poco después de que se anunciase que el Gobierno elaborará un nuevo decreto para sustituir el 883, que provocó las protestas, en un acuerdo con el movimiento indígena alcanzado con la mediación de la ONU y de la Conferencia Episcopal.

    “Como resultado del diálogo se establece un nuevo decreto que deja sin efecto el decreto 883, para lo cual se instala una comisión que elaborará este nuevo decreto”, anunció el coordinador de las Naciones Unidas en Ecuador, Arnaud Peral.

    “Con este acuerdo se terminan las movilizaciones y medidas de hecho en todo el Ecuador y nos comprometemos de manera conjunta a restablecer la paz en el país”, reza el texto, que leyó el coordinador de la ONU.

    Constató que el país está en “una situación grave, dramática desde hace doce días. Ha habido muertos, heridos, personas que han perdido su empleo, su entorno, que han sufrido por sus familias, muchísima angustia. Ya llegó el momento de la paz, del acuerdo, el momento de mirar el futuro para Ecuador”.

    La mesa técnica ya está sesionando con 9 representantes de los pueblos y nacionalidades indígenas y 6 del Gobierno, según la ONU.

    AL MENOS 5 MUERTOS Y UN MILLAR DE HERIDOS

    En los once días de revueltas murieron entre 5 y 7 personas y más de un millar resultaron heridas, según distintas fuentes.

    Los daños no han sido cuantificados pero los destrozos en Quito son masivos, sobre todo en el centro, y la pérdida de ingresos por falta de productividad se miden en decenas de millones de dólares.

    El levantamiento popular comenzó a raíz de un decreto con el que el presidente, Lenín Moreno, buscaba incrementar los ingresos del Estado frente a unas demandas del FMI y de otras entidades para conceder al país una línea de crédito de más de 10.000 millones de dólares.

    En la reunión, celebrada en un colegio a unos 30 kilómetros de Quito y transmitida en directo, Moreno dijo solemnemente que el acuerdo ha significado “sin duda algún sacrificio de cada una de las partes”.

    Y afirmó que no existe “otro principio más maravilloso que la paz” y agradeció a los militares y policías porque sabe de la “sacrificada, esforzada labor que cumplen”, porque muchos de ellos están también lesionados.

    Eran particularmente emotivas las imágenes de policías estrechando la mano y abrazándose con los mismos manifestantes con los que se habían estado enfrentando hasta apenas una hora antes.

    UN ACUERDO POR TERMINAR

    En cuanto a las demandas indígenas, el presidente de la Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas (Conaie), Jaime Vargas, sostuvo, en un resumen del proceso “de lucha y resistencia”, que los indígenas han tenido más de 2.000 heridos, más de mil presos, alrededor de diez asesinados, alrededor de más de cien desaparecidos en el país”, así como “tortura de las Fuerzas Armadas y de la Policía Nacional”.

    En esa línea, pidió la renuncia de la ministra de Gobierno (Interior), María Paula Romo, y del titular de Defensa, Oswaldo Jarrín, pues “solo así el pueblo ecuatoriano tendrá paz y libertad y tendremos la oportunidad de seguir dialogando para construir proyectos participativos, que beneficien verdaderamente al país y al pueblo”.

    Encuentre en BLU Radio las principales noticias del mundo y los hechos internacionales. Información actualizada en video, imágenes y artículos periodísticos de Latinoamérica, Estados Unidos, Europa, Medio Oriente y el resto del mundo.

     

      Santo Domingo, 14 oct (EFE).- El expresidente dominicano Leonel Fernández afirmó este lunes que las primarias del Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), celebradas el pasado 6 de octubre, fueron un “fraude” y un “crimen bochornoso”.

      “Me permito afirmar, categóricamente, que durante la realización de las primarias, a nivel presidencial, se orquestó un plan con el deliberado propósito de vulnerar sus resultados y presentar como ganador a quien no obtuvo el respaldo mayoritario del pueblo”, dijo Fernández en un discurso emitido por radio y televisión.

      El discurso, de 36 minutos, repasó todas las supuestas pruebas que había ido presentando el equipo de Fernández a lo largo de la última semana para alegar la comisión del fraude y aportó nuevas sospechas sobre el proceso.

      En las primarias del PLD se impuso el exministro de Obras Públicas Gonzalo Castillo, ahijado político del presidente, Danilo Medina, y que fue nombrado candidato presidencial del partido oficialista en las elecciones de mayo de 2020.

      El exmandatario alega que se adulteró el software de las urnas informáticas, que se usaron por primera vez, que se cometieron irregularidades en la transmisión de los votos, además de la compra de votos, denunciadas por los observadores independientes.

      Entre las nuevas sospechas, Fernández aseguró que funcionarios del Ministerio de Obras Públicas fueron a la sede de la Junta Central Electoral (JCE) en julio pasado, cuando Castillo anunció su candidatura, aprovechando la excusa de un incendio, para tener acceso a las urnas.

      Fernández, que en las primarias buscaba optar a un cuarto mandato, convocó una manifestación para este lunes frente a la sede de la JCE “para exigir que se investigue a plenitud e inmediatamente este crimen bochornoso”.

      “Nuestra lucha no es por una candidatura presidencial. Nuestra lucha es por devolverle dignidad a la política. Es por el fortalecimiento de nuestras instituciones. Es por la consolidación del Estado de Derecho. Es por el respeto a la Constitución”, agregó.

      A modo de conclusión, Fernández adelantó que, “en el transcurso de los próximos días”, hablará de “la situación que concierne al partido”.

      En los últimos días se había rumoreado que Fernández está barajando la posibilidad de renunciar a su militancia en el PLD, partido que preside, para presentarse a las elecciones por otra formación.

      Algunos cercanos colaboradores llegaron a difundir en las redes sociales el supuesto logotipo y siglas de la formación política que fundaría Fernández.

      Las primarias han abierto la crisis más grave en la historia del PLD, formación que ha estado en el poder desde 1996, con la única interrupción del periodo 2000-2004.

      (c) Agencia EFE

        Tuzantán (México), 13 oct (EFE).- Fuerzas mexicanas disolvieron la caravana de migrantes que el sábado salió de Tapachula, estado de Chiapas, con el fin de llegar a Estados Unidos, informó este domingo el abogado y activista Luis García Villagrán, que aseguró que “este Gobierno se volvió el perrero de Donald Trump”.

        García dijo a Efe que cientos de miembros de las fuerzas federales detuvieron la víspera a 613 migrantes que avanzaban por la carretera costera de Chiapas y los devolvieron a la Estación Migratoria “Siglo XXI”, de donde habían partido unas 14 horas antes.

        El abogado desestimó la versión difundida la noche del sábado por el Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) en un comunicado según el cual esa institución “llevó a cabo acciones para invitar a las personas extranjeras (…) a acudir al Instituto para conocer las opciones de regularización de su estancia en el país”.

        El boletín oficial aseveró que esas acciones se efectuaron “con pleno respeto a los derechos humanos” y que luego de que las autoridades “dialogaran con los integrantes del contingente, las personas extranjeras accedieron a subir al transporte que el INM les proporcionó para trasladarlos a la Estación Migratoria Siglo XXI”.

        “Cada uno será atendido de manera personalizada y con quienes corresponda se dará inicio al procedimiento administrativo migratorio o en su caso se procederá al retorno asistido a sus países de origen”, acotó el INM.

        Pero García, quien ha ayudado a los migrantes en sus trámites de regularización en el país, dijo que los agentes gubernamentales actuaron violentamente contra los extranjeros, muchos de ellos mujeres y niños. “Hay un niño perdido y cinco heridos”, afirmó.

        El activista señaló que todos los 613 detenidos eran solicitantes de refugio ante la Comisión Mexicana de Ayuda a Refugiados (Comar), lo que les permitía transitar libremente por todo el estado de Chiapas (sureste). “Eso es muy claro en los lineamientos de la Comar. Ellos (los agentes) se pasaron eso por el arco del triunfo”, abundó.

        “Es un abuso de autoridad, una represión terrible, increíble. Levantaron a las mujeres, a los niños. Es la represión más grande contra los migrantes por parte de un Gobierno que se dice republicano y demócrata, y sobre todo que dice respetar los derechos humanos. Este Gobierno se volvió el perrero de Donald Trump”, declaró.

        Otros migrantes que se habían adelantado lograron eludir a los agentes en las inmediaciones de Huixtla, perdiéndose en la espesura, dijo el abogado, sin precisar el número de quienes consiguieron huir.

        Expuso que los migrantes por ahora están evaluando sus opciones, y que muchos quieren continuar su marcha por las vías del tren. “Pero yo lo veo muy peligroso”, indicó.

        “AQUÍ NOS VAMOS A MORIR”

        En todo caso, añadió, están determinados a no regresar a sus países de origen. “Me dijeron ‘Aquí nos vamos a morir, pero a nosotros nadie nos regresa. Yo no vine hasta acá para que me regresen'”, refirió.

        Desde octubre de 2018 se registró un fuerte aumento del flujo de migrantes, en su mayoría centroamericanos, que acceden a México desde Guatemala con el objetivo de llegar al vecino país del norte.

        A principios de junio pasado, Estados Unidos y México llegaron a un acuerdo migratorio después de que el presidente estadounidense, Donald Trump, amenazara con imponer aranceles a todos los productos mexicanos.

         

          US President Donald Trump (L) chats with Russia's President Vladimir Putin as they attend the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / Mikhail KLIMENTYEV (Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

          RIYADH (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Saudi Arabia on Monday for the first time in over a decade, seeking to capitalize on growing influence borne of military advances in Syria, strong ties with regional rivals and cooperation on energy policy

          Moscow accrued power in the Middle East in 2015 by sending troops to Syria, where it and Iran have been key backers of President Bashar al-Assad amid civil war, while the United States pulled back.

          On the eve of Putin’s trip, U.S. troops were evacuating northern Syria as their erstwhile Kurdish allies struck a deal with Assad’s Russian-backed army aimed at halting a Turkish offensive.

          Russia has also strengthened ties with both Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran, which are locked in a decades-old contest for influence that veered towards open conflict after a recent spate of attacks on oil assets in the Gulf that Riyadh and Washington blame on Tehran. Iran denies the charges.

          Tensions with Iran, which is locked in several proxy wars with Saudi Arabia including in Syria, have risen to new highs after Washington last year quit a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran and re-imposed sanctions.

          Putin, accompanied on the trip by his energy minister and head of Russia’s wealth fund, is due to hold talks with King Salman and de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with whom Putin says he has friendly relations.

          The strengthened ties have seen non-OPEC Russia, once regarded as a rival in oil markets, join OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia in forming an alliance known as OPEC+ to support crude prices by restraining output.

          Ahead of the visit, Putin, who offered to provide Russian defense systems to the kingdom after Sept. 14 attacks on its oil facilities, said he could also play a positive role in easing tensions with Tehran as he had good ties with both sides.

          Any progress on long-mulled Saudi plans to purchase the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems would cause disquiet in Washington, which announced over the weekend it was sending around 3,000 troops and additional air defense systems to Saudi Arabia following last month’s attack.

          OIL AND INVESTMENTS

          Asked about concerns Riyadh was cozying up to Moscow, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said he saw no contradiction.

          “We don’t believe that having close ties with Russia has any negative impact on our relationship with the United States,” he told reporters on Sunday. “We believe that we can have strategic and strong ties with the United States while we develop our ties with Russia.”

          Russian and Saudi flags lined the streets of Riyadh ahead of Putin’s one-day visit, which includes a performance by Russia’s Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra. Putin then travels to the United Arab Emirates.

          In meetings with Saudi leaders, the Russian president will discuss the OPEC+ pact, which has seen production cut by 1.2 million barrels per day since January.

          A forum will convene 300 Saudi and Russian CEOs. The two sides are expected to sign more than $2 billion of deals, including a joint investment by state oil giant Saudi Aramco and Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund.

          RDIF head Kirill Dmitriev said a number of Russian investors were interested in a planned initial public offering of Aramco, which could sell between 1% and 2% through a local listing as early as November ahead of a potential international offering.

          Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Russia’s Gazprom is interested in cooperating with Saudi firms on natural gas.

          Moscow, the world’s largest wheat exporter, made some progress in accessing the Saudi and Middle Eastern markets when the kingdom agreed in August to relax specifications for wheat imports, opening the door to Black Sea imports.

          Reporting by Stephen Kalin and Olesya Astakhova; Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Lincoln Feast

           

            HealthNow Building

            Buffalo’s largest health plan is facing a federal whistleblower lawsuit, accused of overcharging school districts and the state and federal government by more than $85 million.

            The complaint against HealthNow New York, the parent company of BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, comes from Madelyn Barnes, a retired auditor from the company. The complaint was filed Feb. 3, 2016 under seal in U.S. District Court for Western New York. She is represented in the suit, which was unsealed Oct. 7, by Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP.

            The suit accuses HealthNow of perpetrating a five-year “scheme” through 2013 tied to services billed to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, ambulatory surgery centers and home health care providers that paid inflated reimbursements despite language limiting payments to lesser rates. The result, the suit says, were “significant overpayments” to facilities across the state.

            An analysis identified $52 million in overpayments during 2013 for both private commercial and government Medicare/Medicaid claims; and more than $33 million in overpayments in 2014 after the problem was discovered, according to the suit.

            Julie Snyder, senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for HealthNow New York, said in an email statement that the company only received a copy of the complaint Oct. 8 and is now reviewing the allegations. The company was aware of the allegations, however, during an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the New York State Attorney General.

            Snyder issued an updated statement this evening: “The facts underlying the complaint have been known to HealthNow for several years. Our attorneys continue to review the lengthy complaint, but our initial review suggests that it is full of oversimplifications and misstatements of a very complicated set of facts. The damages the plaintiff alleges, for example, are highly exaggerated. HealthNow has at all times worked to resolve the billing errors identified by its auditors in the most fair and comprehensive way. Further, we fully cooperated with government authorities, and from our investigation, found no evidence of any significant cost to any state or federal health care program resulting from HealthNow policies.”

            HealthNow is the region’s largest commercial health plan, with 2018 revenue of $2.6 billion and net income of $47 million. In addition to its BlueCross BlueShield division in Buffalo, the company operates a second division in the Albany market, BlueShield of Northeastern New York. Both markets were affected by the overpayment, the suit said.

            According to the court filing, the discrepancy was discovered in 2013 by HealthNow’s reimbursement integrity unit, where Barnes worked, during routine internal auditing that found the company had disregarded or ignored its contractual provisions for at least 16 years.

            Barnes told investigators she continued to push for review of contracts to determine the scope of the overpayments and to push for repayment, but HealthNow’s administrators directed that the issue be dropped and stated that only very limited recoveries would be pursued.

            Harvest Festival Encourages Support for Local Food Economy, Black & Minority Farmers 

            Free event for families on October 19 at P.S.74 Hamlin Park 

            BUFFALO, NY – October 10, 2019—The Good Food Buffalo Coalition and Strong Community Schools will host a Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 19 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at P.S. 74 Hamlin Park Academy BPS #74, at 126 Donaldson Road, Buffalo, NY 14208. This free event is organized by the Good Food Buffalo Coalition, led by Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP), and is presented in partnership with Buffalo Public Schools New Education Bargain’s Strong Community Schools.

            The Harvest Festival is an opportunity for families to enjoy a free hot breakfast and lunch, participate in hands-on activities and demonstrations, and learn more about the Buffalo Farm to School (F2S) initiative and the Good Food Purchasing Program. Now in its fifth year, the Buffalo Farm to School (F2S) initiative enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing patterns and educational practices in K-12 schools. The Good Food Purchasing Program is a national movement to encourage public institutions like city agencies and public school districts to adopt food procurement policies that support environmental sustainability and strong local economies including small black and minority-owned businesses and farms in the community.

            The Good Food Buffalo Coalition is a local network of more than 20 grassroots groups dedicated to the five values of the Good Food Purchasing Program—sustainability, nutrition, strong local economies, valued workforce, and animal welfare— rooted in a commitment to racial equity.  The Harvest Festival provides a way to demonstrate as well as celebrate these values.

            One hundred bags of fresh produce from Urban Fruits & Veggies, a local urban farm, will be distributed to families at the event. Teachers in attendance will also receive seed packets from Fruition Seeds, an organic seed company in the Finger Lakes.

            “The Buffalo F2S initiative connects schools, farms, and community partners to improve student nutrition through agriculture, health, and nutrition education; and strengthens the local economy by supporting local farmers and small food producers. Buffalo spent over $2.6 million last year on local foods so that our students may enjoy healthy and delicious menu options each and every day at school,” said Bridget O’Brien Wood, Food Service Director for Buffalo Public Schools.

            “We are excited to hold a fun, free event for the local community,” said Rebekah Williams, Community Organizer at MAP. “This event is made possible through the collaboration of the Good Food Buffalo Coalition partners, and we are especially pleased to support a local black farmer in procuring the 100 bags of fresh veggies. Small farmers are struggling. Farmers of color are especially vulnerable. Although there are efforts to support Minority Women Business Enterprises in Buffalo and throughout New York State, as of 2017, there were only 139 black farmers and 125 Indigenous farmers, compared to 57,155 white farmers —that means black farmers make up only a quarter of one percent of farmers in New York State. The Good Food Purchasing Program promotes the procurement of healthy, sustainably-produced local food that provides opportunities to marginalized farmers and that’s what we’re trying to show.”

            Event partners include Buffalo Public Schools Child Nutrition Services, Cicatelli Associates, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County, Eat Smart NY, Fruition Seeds, Grassroots Gardens of WNY, NeuWater & Associates, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Say Yes Community Schools, the SPCA of Erie County, and many more.

            For details about the Harvest Festival, visit bit.ly/HarvestFestivalBPS2019.

              FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., October 9, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

              NEW YORK (Reuters) – The biggest U.S. banks are expected to kick off the earnings season on a sour note next week due to falling interest rates, which may have pressured net interest margins enough to cause the sector’s first year-over-year earnings per share decline in three years

              While strength in mortgage banking and cheap valuations could provide support to the S&P 500 bank index .SPXBK, its performance depends on what reassurance executives provide on credit conditions, the outlook for loan growth and their ability to reduce deposit costs during their conference calls.

              Tuesday brings third quarter profit reports from Citigroup Inc (C.N), Wells Fargo and Co (WFC.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), and Goldman Sachs (GS.N). Bank of America (BAC.N) reports on Wednesday.

              The biggest U.S. banks will report a 1.2% decline in third-quarter earnings, while revenue is seen rising 0.9%, according to data aggregated by Refinitiv analyst David Aurelio. This would be the first profit decline since the same quarter in 2016, according to data from Factset.

              “Overall it’s shaping up to be a pretty challenging quarter because of the net interest rate environment,” said Fred Cannon, director of research for Keefe, Bruyette & Woods in New York, citing the flattening and temporary inversion of the U.S. Treasury 2-year/10-year yield curve during the quarter.

              Bank profits depend heavily on net interest income, or the difference between the rate they charge for long-term loans and the rate they pay for short-term borrowing.

              Executives from Citi, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan all cut their full-year forecasts for net interest income last month, citing macroeconomic concerns.

              Part of the problem is U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate cuts in July and September. And futures traders are betting on more Fed rate cuts going forward, including one in October.

              As a result, bank investors will listen for executive reassurance on the net interest margin outlook and their ability to mitigate weakness, said Manulife Investment Management’s Lisa Welch, who manages the John Hancock Regional Bank Fund.

              One offset to lower lending profits would be a reduction in interest rates banks pay their customers for deposits, as those rates rose while the Fed was hiking interest rates.

              “There’s going to be a lot of questions on how fast banks are able to bring down their deposit costs as loan yields are coming down,” said Welch, adding that she does not expect deposit costs “to come down as quickly as loan yields have fallen.”

              Mortgages may be another silver lining to lower rates in third-quarter numbers and future quarters as borrowers avail of cheaper rates. Refinancing, which accounts for most mortgage applications, has more than doubled from a year ago, according to Mortgage Bankers Association data released on Wednesday.

              “With rates being lower, we think mortgage activity will be very strong,” said Welch, pointing to First Horizon (FHN.N) as one bank that could benefit from mortgage demand.

              Bank of America and Wells Fargo should also benefit, according to KBW’s Cannon. To cope with rising demand, Wells Fargo is boosting its mortgage team, according to a memo seen by Reuters this week.

              But investors will also be on high alert for signs slowing U.S. economic growth is hurting debt repayments, said Mike Cronin, investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments.

              “Given that we’ve had some economic data that’s been a little weaker is there any trend in credit costs that raises concerns going into 2020?” said Cronin.

              So far, strong credit quality and bank balance sheets have reassured KBW’s Cannon, who is neutral on the sector. “But if we start to see meaningful credit deterioration that would change our minds about how we think about the banks,” he said.

              Cannon did not recommend buying banks going into earnings season due to the likelihood “consensus estimates come down in the quarter.” But on the plus side, he said, valuations do seem to reflect an expectation for further weakness.

              The S&P Bank index has gained 14% year-to-date, compared with a 16.5% advance for the S&P 500. But the sector’s trading multiple of 10.2 times earnings estimates for the next 12 months compares well to its historical average of 12.6 and the benchmark S&P’s current trading multiple of 16.4.

              Bank valuations look attractive to Manulife’s Welch, who does not expect a recession any time soon.

              “If we’re wrong and go into a mild recession we think the banks will hold up much better” than going into financial crisis, she said, citing underwriting improvements.

              But, after a spate of weak manufacturing data, Aberdeen Standard’s Cronin is looking for data to stabilize before recommending the sector.

              “There is a lot of downside priced into the stocks but overall I’d still say I’m not really positive on the group just yet,” he said.

              Reporting by Sinéad Carew with additional reporting from Imani Moise and Elizabeth Dilts Marshall; Editing by Alden Bentley and Rosalba O’Brien

               

                ROCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump added muscle to the legal team defending against an impeachment investigation led by congressional Democrats on Wednesday, after 2020 re-election rival Joe Biden called for the first time for his impeachment

                Biden, who is at the center of a controversy over Trump’s dealings with Ukraine that led the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives to open an impeachment inquiry, had previously refrained from making an outright plea for impeachment.

                Trump continued to paint the probe as a partisan smear, and accused the U.S. intelligence officer who filed the whistleblower complaint that sparked the furor of having political motives. He also added former U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy, best known for his investigations of the administration of Trump’s Democratic predecessor, to his outside legal team.

                During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Biden, the Democratic front-runner to face Trump in next year’s presidential election, took the gloves off.

                “With his words and his actions, President Trump has indicted himself. By obstructing justice, refusing to reply with a congressional inquiry, he’s already convicted himself,” Biden said. “In full view of the world and the American people, Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts.”

                “To preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached.”

                Trump fired back on Twitter.

                “So pathetic to see Sleepy Joe Biden, who with his son, Hunter, and to the detriment of the American Taxpayer, has ripped off at least two countries for millions of dollars, calling for my impeachment – and I did nothing wrong,” Trump wrote.

                The House began impeachment proceedings against Trump last month over his attempts to have Ukraine’s president investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

                Despite Trump’s allegations, which he made without evidence, that Biden engaged in improper dealings in Ukraine, there are few signs the controversy has damaged the Democratic former vice president’s 2020 prospects.

                Public opinion polls, including those taken by Reuters/Ipsos, have shown Biden’s support remaining relatively stable.

                WHISTLEBLOWER’S LAWYERS RESPOND

                Trump on Wednesday again described the inquiry as a partisan attack.

                “It turns out that the whistleblower is a Democrat, strong Democrat, and is working with one of my opponents as a Democrat,” Trump told reporters.

                Lawyers for the whistleblower responded in a statement, denying that political factors had influenced the complaint.

                “Our client has never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign or party,” they said in a statement. “Our client has spent their entire government career in apolitical, civil servant positions.”

                The day after the White House declared its refusal to cooperate with the impeachment probe, Trump added that he would respond if House Democrats “give us our rights.”

                The addition of Gowdy to Trump’s legal team marked a pivot from late September, when outside lawyer Jay Sekulow said there were no plans to beef up the legal team. Sekulow announced Gowdy’s hiring on Wednesday.

                The three congressional committees leading the inquiry were working on final arrangements on Wednesday to interview the whistleblower.

                The State Department this week abruptly blocked the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who had been in touch with Ukrainian officials on Trump’s behalf from speaking to the inquiry.

                The investigation is focused on whether Trump used almost $400 million in congressionally approved aid to Ukraine as leverage to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to begin an investigation of the Bidens.

                Trump has defended the July 25 phone call to Zelenskiy.

                Most Democrats want to impeach Trump, even if that means weakening their party’s chances of winning back the White House in 2020, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.

                The poll, conducted on Monday and Tuesday, found that 55% of Democrats said their party leaders should press ahead with impeachment even “if it means a lengthy and expensive process that could weaken their chances of winning the presidency in 2020.”

                An even higher number – 66% of Democrats – agreed that Congress should pursue impeachment, “even if that means they will need to postpone efforts to pass laws that could benefit me.”

                Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Richard Cowan, Mark Hosenball, Susan Heavey and Makini Brice in Washington and Karen Freifeld in New York; Writing by Alistair Bell and Scott Malone; Editing by Grant McCool and Peter Cooney

                 

                 

                  LONDON (Reuters) – A dive in the dollar catapulted the euro higher and flattened stocks on Thursday, as the first U.S.-China trade talks since July and a report accusing the European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi of going rogue jostled for attention

                  Markets were bombarded from all sides by denials and counter-denials on both the U.S.-China trade talks and the countdown to Brexit, by Turkey’s military push into Syria and by a blizzard of weak data stretching from Japan to France.

                  Asia had enjoyed a broadly positive finish but European stocks then spent their opening spell dithering [.EU] as the more serious action took place in the currency markets, where the euro EUR=EBS suddenly popped to a two-week high above $1.10 versus the dollar.

                  The greenback was weaker across the board – partly due to market chatter about a currency pact with China to stop devaluation – but there was plenty else too.

                  The Financial Times reported that the ECB had restarted its bond-buying program last month despite objections of its own officials, a further sign of how the move has reopened divisions within the institution.

                  “The view on the currency story could be swinging here,” said Saxo Bank’s head of European currency strategy, John Hardy, “And the market is sensing that euro-dollar is the pressure point.”

                  Perhaps the main mover overnight was a rally in China’s offshore yuan, which strengthened to its best levels in more than two weeks after a Bloomberg report that said U.S. and Chinese officials were reviving a currency pact first mooted earlier this year that stops further tariff hikes in return for commitments to hold the yuan stable.

                  As well as the ECB resistance to Draghi’s latest moves, Hardy said that could also have a read-across for the euro, with the United States expected to lay out sanctions next week in retaliation for Europe’s past aid for planemaker Airbus.

                  U.S. S&P 500 mini futures ESc1 traded down 0.1%, with a large part of early losses cut after the New York Times reported that Washington would soon issue licenses allowing some U.S. firms to supply non-sensitive goods to China’s Huawei Technologies.

                  MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS gained 0.1% while Japan’s Nikkei .N225 rose 0.45%. Shanghai shares .SSECalso rose 0.8%.

                  “DIRE” TRADE SITUATION

                  Top U.S. and Chinese negotiators were scheduled to meet in Washington on Thursday and Friday to try to end a bruising 15-month-old trade war.

                  Without significant progress, U.S. President Donald Trump is set to hike the tariff rate on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods to 30% from 25% next Tuesday.

                  “Barring any surprise today, it looks like their talks are breaking down. The tariff (rate) will be hiked. The situation looks dire,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

                  China is unlikely to be willing to make an easy compromise with a U.S. president who seems increasingly vulnerable to domestic political pressure as opposition Democrats seek to impeach him, analysts also said.

                  U.S. Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden called for the impeachment of Trump for the first time in a deepening partisan fight over a congressional investigation of the Republican president.

                  “Mr. Trump’s recent impeachment risk has turned the timetable against him,” Chi Lo, senior economist at BNP Paribas Asset in Hong Kong, wrote in a report to clients.

                  “While China is not eager to reach a trade deal, Mr. Trump is, however, under pressure to get at least a temporary deal done to help his re-election bid before his impeachment risk rises and the U.S. economy weakens further,” Chi said.

                  U.S. Treasuries yield slipped back after having risen to 1.594% on Wednesday, pressured partly by this week’s heavy bond supply.

                  The 10-year Treasuries yield dipped to one basis point to 1.577% US10YT=RR although the ECB chatter helped push euro zone yields slightly higher.

                  The price of front-end Fed funds rate futures has been gained on increasing bets on more rate cuts by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The November contract FFX9 is almost fully pricing in a 0.25 percentage point cut on Oct. 30.

                  In commodities, oil prices also dipped on wariness over U.S.-China talks. Brent crude LCOc1 futures fell 0.15% to $58.23 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 lost 0.11% to $52.53 per barrel.

                  Copper CMCU3 rose as much as 1.1% to $5,749 a tonne, however, after falling 0.3%. It looked set to be its best day in a month.

                  Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Gareth Jones

                   

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