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Lockheed nears $27 billion helicopter deal with Pentagon

( ) – Lockheed Martin Corp is expected to receive Pentagon approval on Thursday to begin production for 200 new heavy cargo helicopters for the U.S. Marines, a Defense Department official said on Tuesday.

The long-expected award for the CH-53K King Stallion will cost $87 million on average ea上海夜生活网ch and $105 million including spare parts and certain service contracts, said Colonel Hank Vanderborght, who heads the program for the Pentagon. The $27 billion program also includes more than $6 billion in research and development costs.

The new helicopter, in development by Lockheed’s Sikorsky helicopter business, can lift 36,000 pounds and would replace the CH-53E Super Stallion, which has operated as the backbone of field logistics for the U.S. Marines since the mid-1980s.

The Pentagon’s Defense Acquisition Board will meet on Thursday and it is expected to approve the beginning of production of the new helicopter, Vanderborght told . A Lockheed Martin representative declined to comment.

The expected approval by the Pentagon’s Defense Acquisition Board would be a major milestone for the largest U.S. defense contractor. Final terms of the production deal still are being finalized, a Defense Department official said.

Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson told reporters at the company’s annual media day last week that the 2015 purchase of helicopter maker Sikorsky from United Technologies Corp for $9 billion helped reshape the company.

Trump seeks to ‘reboot’ U.S. relationship with Egypt in Monday talks

WASHINGTON ( ) – President Donald Trump will seek to rebuild the U.S. relationship with Egypt at a Monday meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi focused on security issues and military aid, a senior White House official said on Friday.

“He wants to use President Sisi’s visit to reboot the bilateral relationship and build on the strong connection the two presidents established when they first met in New York last September,” the official said, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity.

Egypt has long been one of Washington’s closest allies in the Middle East, receiving $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid annually. The country is fighting an Islamist insurgency in Sinai, and hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police have been killed fighting insurgents.

The bilateral relationship was strained when former President Barack Obama criticized Sisi for cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s oldest Islamist group.

Sisi does not make a distinction between the Brotherhood, which says it is peaceful, and Islamic State militants. Egypt considers the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group.

Obama froze aid to the country for two years after Sisi, then a general, overthrew President Mohamed Mursi in mid-2013 after mass protests against Mursi’s rule. Mursi, a Muslim Brotherhood member, had been elected the previous year.

Human rights groups have estimated that at least 40,000 political prisoners have been detained by Sisi’s government.

Trump’s relationship with Sisi got off to a good start when they met last September in New York while Trump was running for president, the White House said.

Trump supports Sisi’s approach to counterterrorism, which includes both military and political efforts, his efforts to reform Egypt’s economy, and Sisi’s calls for “reform and moderation of Islamic discourse,” the official said.

Asked whether the United States would designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, as Egypt has, the official said Trump was interested in hearing Sisi’s views during the meeting.

“We, along with a number of countries, have some concerns about various activities that the Muslim Brotherhood has conducted in the region,” the official said.

‘MORE DISCREET WAY’

Sisi’s visit comes as the Trump administration has proposed massive cuts to U.S. foreign aid, the details of which are still to be determined. The White House anticipates aid to Egypt will continue but provided no details on Friday.

“We’re in the budget process right now and those discussions are ongoing as to how it will be broken out,” the official told reporters.

Some U.S. lawmakers have opposed loosening restrictions on aid to Egypt because of concerns about human rights in the country. The Trump administration intends to address human rights issues behind closed doors, the White House official said.

“Our approach is to handle these types of sensitive issues in a private, more discreet way. We believe it’s the most effective way to advance those issues to a favorable outcome,” the official said.

The official would not say whether Trump would discuss with Sisi the case of Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian-American who works with street children and was arrested in May 2014 on human trafficking charges. Rights groups have called for her release.

Hijazi has been held in custody for 33 months in violation of Egyptian law, which states that the maximum period for pretrial detention is 24 months.

A verdict was set to be read in a March 23 court session, but was postponed with no reason stated by the judge until April 16. The maximum possible jail sentence in her case is 25 years.

The White House is aware of Hijazi’s case “at the most senior levels,” the official 上海夜网told reporters.

“We are going to address this with Egypt in a way that we think maximizes the chances her case will be resolved in a satisfactory way,” the official said.

Trump national security aide McFarland may become envoy to Singapore: official

PALM BEACH, Fla. ( ) – President Donald Trump’s deputy national security adviser, K.T. McFarland, is expected to step down and has been offered the position of U.S. ambassador to Singapore, a U.S. officia上海夜生活论坛l said on Sunday.

The move will be seen as a victory for Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, who is retooling the national security team he inherited from retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who resigned as Trump’s first national security adviser in February.

McFarland, 65, is a former national security analyst for Fox News and was one of Trump’s original hires after he won the presidential election on Nov. 8.

The exact date of her departure was unclear, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

News of her pending departure came less than a week after Trump removed his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, from the National Security Council at McMaster’s urging. Bannon had a seat on the council’s “principals committee,” which included the secretaries of state, defense and other ranking aides. Flynn was forced to resign on Feb. 13 over his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, before Trump took office on Jan. 20.

McFarland’s expected departure will likely elevate the status of Dina Powell, who is deputy national security adviser for strategy. She had served in Republican President George W. Bush’s State Department, and had advised Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, during Trump’s transition to the presidency.

Trump’s White House has been rife with infighting and palace intrigue as the president has struggled to get past some early stumbles.

Investor Ackman opposes United Technologies’ aerospace merger with Raytheon: source

( ) – Billionaire investor William Ackman’s activist hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management LP is opposing United Technologies Corp’s planned $120 billion aerospace merger with defense contractor Raytheon Co, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The move makes Ackman the first major Wall Street figure to come out against the deal. On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump expressed concerns over the merger’s impact on competition, though he also said he hoped the deal would happen.

Ackman wrote an email to United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes early on Sunday morning to express his concerns about the proposed deal after reading press reports about it, the source said.

The fund manager, whose firm owns roughly 0.67% of United Technologies, had previously supported the company in its plans to split into three businesses – aerospace, Otis elevators and Carrier air conditioners.

“We are extremely concerned that such a transaction will significantly lower the business quality of pro-forma United Technologies’ aerospace business, and, to make matters worse, will be accomplished through the highly dilutive issuance of large amounts of Un上海夜生活网ited Technologies stock,” Ackman’s email, seen by , said.

A spokesman for Pershing Square declined to comment. Raytheon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“We are confident that our shareholders will see the merits of this transaction and the value it brings to them and the company. We will be working diligently in the days and weeks ahead to make sure that the details of the transaction are presented to and fully understood by all shareholders,” United Technologies said in a statement.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on Pershing Square’s opposition to the deal.

Activist hedge fund Third Point LLC also has a stake in United Technologies. Like Pershing Square, it supported the company’s break-up, but its views on the Raytheon deal are not known. A Third Point spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

The merger would reshape the competitive landscape by forming a conglomerate which spans commercial aviation and defense procurement. United Technologies provides primarily commercial plane makers with electronics, communications and other equipment, whereas Raytheon mainly supplies the U.S. government with military aircraft and missile equipment.

United Technologies and Raytheon shares have dropped 7% and 4.5% respectively since their deal was announced, as investors expressed disappointment with the low value of synergies the companies announced. Investors also fret that major clients of the companies such as the Pentagon would seek to review their supply chains.

Shareholders of United Technologies and Raytheon would have to approve the deal in separate votes.

Activist hedge funds are increasingly targeting announced deals and are seeking to upend them, often by betting that the acquirer’s stock would go up were it to walk away from the purchase.

Earlier this year, activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP sought to muster opposition against Bristol-Myers Squibb Co’s $74 billion acquisition of biotech Celgene Corp, but abandoned the effort after two leading proxy advisory firms backed the deal.

United Technologies’ deal with Raytheon also faces regulatory hurdles. The U.S. Defense Department and big customers like Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp and Northrop Grumman Corp will have a lot of clout in the antitrust review, and may worry about over-reliance on one company for a big suite of products.

ACKMAN’S CONCERNS

Ackman’s email said that if the company moves forward with the deal, he expects the substantial majority of other shareholders to also line up against it.

The deal with Raytheon would be structured as an all-stock merger of equals because United Technologies, which currently has a market capitalization of $106 billion, would separately spin off Carrier and Otis. United Technologies bulked up in aerospace last year with its $23 billion acquisition of avionics maker Rockwell Collins.

“We cannot comprehend why United Technologies would attempt to effectuate a merger with Raytheon now, when United Technologies’ shares are likely to be materially higher after the business separation is effectuated early next year,” Ackman’s email said.

This year, Ackman’s firm has been one of the hedge fund industry’s best performers delivering gains of nearly 40% in the first four months of the year. This follows a rough patch where he faced big losses on Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc and Herbalife Nutrition Ltd and lost a proxy fight with Automatic Data Processing Inc. He has vowed to make back the money that he lost by reshaping his organization.

FOREX-Chinese yuan falls to 2019 low on U.S.-China trade setback

* Yuan headed for sixth consecutive day of losses

* But most currencies little changed by trade war

* Risk aversion dominates FX

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh (Adds quote, updates prices)

By Tom Finn

LONDON, May 13 ( ) – China’s yuan was set for its worst daily fall in nine months on Monday as trade negotiations between the U.S. and China ended after President Donald Trump raised tariffs on Chinese goods.

Currency moves in response to the latest trade hostilities have been muted, but on Monday the yuan fell 0.8% to 6.9040, its weakest since Dec. 27.

The yuan has fallen for six consecutive days and some analysts believe it will breach 7 per dollar in coming months, a level last seen during the global financial crisis.

China would probably use its vast currency reserves to stop any plunge through 7 to the dollar, which could trigger speculation and heavy capital outflows.

Investors bid up the yen, which is considered a safe haven in times of stress given Japan’s status as the world’s largest creditor and its huge hoard of assets abroad.

The yen was 上海夜生活论坛0.25% higher at 109.700 yen, near last week’s three-month high of 109.470.

“Since demand for safe haven could exaggerate any gains in the yen, Japanese exporters could find themselves particularly disadvantaged in these circumstances. We expect the yen to be trading in the region of 108 on a 12-month view,” said currency analysts at Rabobank.

The world’s two biggest economies appear deadlocked. Washington demands changes to Chinese law; Beijing says it won’t swallow any “bitter fruit” that harms its interests.

President Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are likely to meet during a G20 summit in Japan at the end of June and discuss trade.

The Australian dollar shed 0.3% to $0.6976. A drop below $0.6960 would take the currency, already burdened by a dovish shift by the Reserve Bank of Australia, to its lowest since early January.

The Aussie is sensitive to shifts in risk sentiment and also serves as a proxy for trades related to China, Australia’s largest trading partner.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was flat at 97.318.

U.S. House Speaker Ryan running for re-election: spokeswoman

WASHINGTON ( ) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan is running again for the job in the next Congress, a spokeswoman said on Thursday after a media report quoted several unidentified House Republicans as saying they expected him to step down next week.

“He is running,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.

The Hill cited four House Republicans as saying that they expected Ryan to step aside as Speaker after next Tuesday’s general election.

“Speculation is growing that Paul will not return,” the Hill quoted a “senior GOP lawmaker close to leadership” as saying.

It quoted a member of the Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans, as saying that if Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wins, Ryan will get “a good share of the blame” among House members who support Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Ryan last month told fellow Republicans that he would not defend or campaign for Trump and would instead focus on re-electing Republicans to keep the majority in the House.

This angered some Trump supporters in the House, who felt the Wisconsin co上海夜生活论坛ngressman should stand by Trump. One of them, Representative Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, tweeted: “if Paul Ryan isn’t for Trump, then I’m not for Paul Ryan.”

But Ryan, who as Speaker is the country’s highest-ranking Republican, has a great deal of support in the Republican caucus, and it is far from clear that his critics would be able to oust him if they tried.

House Republicans, who currently number 246, plan to have closed-door leadership elections in mid-November. Ryan is expected to win their nomination for Speaker at that gathering, but the actual election to the Speaker’s post would not be held until the new Congress convenes in January.

All members of the House, both Republican and Democrat, will vote in the Speaker election and Ryan will need 218 votes – a majority of the House’s 435 members – to win. This could be a challenge if Republicans lose a substantial number of seats in next week’s elections, and if some of those who remain decide to oppose Ryan.

UPDATE 4-ANC set to retain power in South Africa but support slips

* Results in from 64 percent of voting districts

* ANC share of vote could fall to 55-59 percent -analysts

* President Ramaphosa trying to halt slide in ANC support

* Jobs, land and corruption were key issues for voters

* For more stories on the elections: (Adds DA, EFF, analyst comment, updates results)

By Alexander Winning and Onke Ngcuka

PRETORIA, May 9 ( ) – Results from nearly two-thirds of voting districts in South Africa’s election put the African National Congress on course to retain power but heading for its worst performance in a national poll in its 25 years in government.

The former liberation party of Nelson Mandela has not won less than a 60 percent vote share since it swept to power in South Africa’s first all-race election in 1994, marking the end of white minority rule.

As of 1840 GMT on Thursday, ballots in 64 percent of 22,925 voting districts had been counted. The early tallies put the ANC on 57 percent in the parliamentary race, with the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) on nearly 23 percent and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on nearly 10 percent.

Based on those results, analysts predicted the ANC was set for a vote share of between 55 and 59 percent.

“The ANC result is going to be lower because of voter turnout, which could be the lowest at any parliamentary election since 1994,” political analyst Melanie Verwoerd said. “Turnout has been lower in areas where more black voters live, while the turnout has been higher in the white areas.”

She projected a vote share of 56-57 percent for the ANC.

South Africans voting on Wednesday for a new parliament and nine provincial legislatures had expressed frustration at rampant corruption, high unemployment and racial inequalities that remain deeply entrenched.

“The ANC have taken a hit in the polls — with an estimated near 5 percent loss on 2014 results — due to their failure to address key challenges affecting the South African population,” said Indigo Ellis, Verisk Maplecroft’s Africa analyst.

He cited youth unemployment of 53 percent, among the highest rates in the world.

Analysts have said that a poor showing for the ANC would embolden opponents of President Cyril Ramaphosa and risk a potential challenge to his leadership. The elections are the first test of national sentiment since Ramaphosa replaced scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma as head of state in February 2018.

“As long as the ANC gets more than 55 percent, things will be okay for Ramaphosa inside the ANC,” Verwoerd said.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, a government agency, also forecast a decline in support, predicting the ANC would get just over 57 percent of the parliamentary vote and about 50 percent in the provincial polls.

Turnout on Wednesday was just over 65 percent, according to the votes processed so far, the Electoral Commission said.

ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte said she expected the party’s vote share to grow as results from larger voting districts filtered through.

Mmusi Maimane, the DA leader, said he was content with his party’s performance so far, while EFF’s chairman Dali Mpofu said the results showed the party to be “the only growing big party”.

At the last election in 2014, the ANC won 62 percent of votes, the DA 22 percent and the EFF 6 percent.

Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo said the Electoral Commission hoped that results from around 90 percent of voting districts would be declared by 10:00 p.m. local time (2000 GMT), with the remaining results to be released on Friday morning.

RAMAPHOSA BAROMETER

Ramaphosa is trying to arrest a slide in support for the ANC, whose image has been tarnished in the last decade by corruption scandals and a weak economy.

Ramaphosa, who became ANC leader in December 2017 after narrowly defeating a faction allied with Zuma, has promised to improve poor public services, create jobs and fight corruption.

But he has been constrained by divisions within his own party, where some Zuma supporters still retain influence and oppose his agenda.

The ANC achi上海夜生活网eved its best parliamentary election result in 2004 under former president Thabo Mbeki, when it won 69 percent of the vote. But its support fell under Zuma, and it lost control of big cities like the commercial capital Johannesburg in local government elections in 2016.

The party now controls eight of the country’s nine provinces, with the DA in power in the Western Cape. Early results showed ANC ahead in Gauteng province, where Johannesburg and the administrative capital Pretoria are located, while the DA led in the Western Cape, home to Cape Town.

Election officials said voting had in general progressed smoothly but that there had been isolated disruptions caused by bad weather, unscheduled power outages or community protests.

WRAPUP 2-Canada trade deficit shrinks slightly in March on higher oil exports

(Updates with fresh analysts’ comment)

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA, May 9 ( ) – Canada’s trade deficit in March shrank slightly to C$3.21 billion ($2.38 billion) but was still the 12th largest on record, Statistics Canada said on Thursday, underscoring the challenges still facing exporters.

Analysts in a poll had forecast a shortfall of C$2.45 billion. Statscan revised February’s deficit sharply upward to C$3.42 billion from an initial C$2.90 billion.

Canada, a major crude exporter, has been hit hard in recent years by lower oil prices and higher U.S. energy output, as well as a shift away from producing light trucks. It has posted just two trade surpluses since October 2014.

Exports grew by 3.2 percent with shipments of energy products posting a 7.7 percent gain. Crude oil export volumes, which had fallen by 10.9 percent from November to February, rose by 3.1 percent.

“We’re still not fully dug out of the hole that we put ourselves in the fourth quarter, but at least it’s a nice turn around in the export story,” said Ross Prusakowski, principal economist at Export Development Canada.

Prusakowski said there was modest upside potential for energy prices to increase further in 2019.

Exports of passenger cars and light trucks rebounded by 8.4 percent after dropping in February on lower auto output上海夜网.

Markets were unimpressed and the Canadian dollar held to a near-two-week low of 1.3496 to the U.S. dollar, or 74.10 U.S. cents.

Imports increased by 2.5 percent to a record C$52.26 billion as imports of consumer goods such as clothing, footwear and accessories rose by 6.7 percent. Imports of airliners plunged by 50.7 percent on a slowdown in deliveries of U.S. aircraft.

Stephen Brown, senior Canada economist at Capital Economics, said export volumes looked set to rise further in April.

“We expect trade to make a positive contribution to second-quarter GDP growth,” he said in a note to clients.

Canada’s trade deficit with the world in the first quarter rose to C$10.13 billion, the highest shortfall since the second quarter of 2016.

Canada sent 74.2 percent of all its goods exports to the United States in March. Exports to the United States rose by 1.3 percent while imports shrank by 0.4 percent and as a result, Canada’s bilateral trade surplus grew to C$3.62 billion from C$2.99 billion in February.

Separately, Statscan said new-housing prices were unchanged in March for the seventh month out of eight, with little or no growth in the major markets of Toronto and Vancouver.

Japan’s coincident index suggests economy may be in recession

TOKYO ( ) – Japan’s coincident indicator index declined in March and the government cut its assessment of the economy, a sign it may already be in recession as the U.S.-China trade war and weak external demand hurt activity.

Worries about the economy have grown as Japan’s exports and factory output were hit by China’s economic slowdown and the escalating U.S.-China trade friction, which had disrupted global supply chains.

The index of coincident economic indicators, which consists of a range of data including factory output, employment and retail sales, fell a preliminary 0.9 of a point in March from the previous month, the Cabinet Office said on Monday.

In its view on the index, the government described the economy as “worsening”. That compared with its previous assessment for February when it described the economy at “a turning point towards a downgrade”.

The index for leading economic indicators is compiled using data such as job offers and consumer sentiment and is seen as a forward-looking gauge of the economy. It slipped 0.8 of a point from February.

Clouding the outlook are government plans to raise a sales tax to 10 percent from the current 8 percent in October unless a big shock on the scale of Lehman Brothers’ collapse in 2008 hits the economy.

There is also speculation Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may postpone the sales tax hike as risks to demand grow, having already twice delayed it.

There are concerns the sales tax increase will damage private consumption as it did so when Japan raised the tax to 8 percent from 5 percent in 2014.

Japan releases gross domestic product (GDP) data on May 20, which will give a clearer read on the state of the economy and whether the government will proceed with the tax hike as sc上海夜生活论坛heduled.

The economy likely contracted at an annualized 0.2 percent in January-March as corporate and consumer spending weakened, a poll showed.

GRAPHIC-Take Five: Trade winds – World markets themes for the week ahead

May 10 ( ) – Following are five big themes likely to dominate thinking of investors and traders in the coming week and the stories related to them. 1/WATCH THOSE CURVES Moody’s warned this week that a trade war could tip the U.S. economy into recession next year. And U.S. President Donald Trump’s latest decision to hike tariff rates on Chinese goods has possibly brought that risk a bit closer. At least the bond market seems to think so — the yield on three-month U.S. Treasury bills is on the cusp of rising above 10-year yields.

A sustained curve inversion, as such a shift is called, would be seen as a sure-fire recession signal; in a normally growing economy, longer-dated borrowing costs are higher than short-term rates.

But the curve has sent a false alarm at least once before and some believe it is doing so again, above all because huge Fed purchases have depressed longer yields. Huge issuance of short-term debt is also likely to have contributed to the flattening.

Which brings us to another question. Given 2019 net borrowing will top $1 trillion, might Washington find itself scrambling to find buyers? Some dismal bond auctions recently have raised the question whether China is paring Treasury purchases — due to the escalating trade spat. Simmering tensions will keep the issue alive.

-EXPLAINER-What is an inverted yield curve -Flattened yield curve reason to be nervous, but US economy solid – Fed’s Evans -U.S. yields spike after dismal 10-year note sale

tmsnrt.rs/2zUqXiW

2/ TALK, TWEET, REPEAT Industrial output, retail sales, house prices: a batch of data due in coming days was supposed to give investors an idea about how China’s economy was faring against a backdrop of 10% U.S. tariffs and authorities’ stimulus policies.

Fast forward and the stakes have been raised — quite a lot. On Friday, Washington hiked tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% and Trump, reverting to Twitter, has threatened more. Beijing warned it would retaliate, though it didn’t say how.

Negotiations to try to end a 10-month-old trade war between the world’s biggest economies are continuing, and markets have taken heart from China’s decision to stick with the talks. Another factor is China’s central bank, which assured markets it had “rich” policy tools to cope with external uncertainties. Weak economic data can only cement that resolve. -Trump’s tariff hike on $200 bln of Chinese goods takes effect -More China policy easing seen as lending slows, trade risks rise -Counting the cost of the U.S.-China trad上海夜生活论坛e war so far tmsnrt.rs/2Lzed8e

3/OIL SLICK The world economy seems to be shifting into a lower gear but Brent crude futures are holding above $70 a barrel, up 30% this year. Barclays sees a climb to $74-$75 in the coming year.

In the short-term too, oil looks well-supported. On the demand side, Chinese imports hit a record in April, possibly due to economic stimulus measures taking effect. And supply has been curtailed by a pipeline contamination issue in Russia and U.S. sanctions that have cut shipments from Venezuela and Iran.

Venezuelan exports have dropped 40% since January and Iran’s exports have more than halved, to one million barrels per day or less. They are expected to slide further in May.

None of these issues will be resolved anytime soon. Iran for one is threatening to retaliate against U.S. sanctions by breaching a nuclear pact signed in 2015. Sanctions have failed to dislodge Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro but they are likely to cut oil exports further in May, after the expiry of an April 28 deadline for U.S. firms to complete existing deals.

-U.S. sanctions and Venezuela’s exports and imports -OPEC supply squeeze seen supporting higher oil prices -Sinopec, CNPC skip Iran oil purchases for May to avoid U.S. sanctions tmsnrt.rs/2VThqU1

4/NO STICKER SHOCK Few U.S. data series have been as choppy in recent months as retail sales. December’s drop in core sales was the largest in nearly two decades — only to be followed by an equally large swing to the upside in January. Demand for big-ticket items like cars then pushed the March total to the highest in 18 months.

Consumer resilience, emboldened by a strong job market, was a key pillar of support for the U.S. economy in the first quarter. So the April reading will show if that willingness to spend continues into Q2.

estimates point to the first back-to-back rise in retail sales since November. Headline sales are seen up 0.2%.

The report comes soon after Trump imposed new tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports, but it is far too soon to see a meaningful impact from the trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Shoppers will probably not start reacting to sticker shock until the third quarter. -U.S. retail sales post biggest gain in 1-1/2 years in March -Fed rate cut likely if U.S. manufacturing continues to slow: Kemp tmsnrt.rs/2VVixm4 5/ITALIA DEJA VU Once again it seems there’s good reason to fret over Italy, the euro zone’s third-biggest economy — and one of its most indebted.

Tensions have flared within the ruling coalition over a corruption scandal that cost a junior minister his job. Rome may find itself footing the bill for a bank bailout after BlackRock ditched a proposed rescue of Carige. And finally, the European Commission has warned that Italian finances may deteriorate further. So another showdown with the EU might be looming.

How talks on deficit targets may pan out could become clearer at the May 16 Eurogroup meeting of finance ministers.

Signs of compromise will bring relief to Italian bond markets, where yields have seen their biggest weekly jump in three months with a rise of over 10 basis points. Contrast that to Spain and Portugal, often lumped in with Italy as the euro zone “periphery” — 10-year Spanish yields are at 2-1/2 year troughs while Portuguese yields have touched record lows.

The latest bond sell-off, which took Italian yields to 2.7%, is small compared to the rout a year ago when yields spiked to 3.4%. But who could be blamed for a sense of deja vu? -Rome scrambles to swerve Carige bank bailout after BlackRock pulls out -Italy coalition patches up rift after PM ousts junior minister

-Italy accuses EU of prejudice after grim economic forecasts

tmsnrt.rs/2LzsCkO

At Ethiopia flight memorial, white roses mark passing of lives

ADDIS ABABA ( ) – Bouquets of white roses surrounded aviation staff as they gathered at Bole International Airport on Sunday to remember the two pilots and six crew, who perished along with 149 passengers in the Ethiopia Airlines crash a week ago.

Weeping women held slender single stems in their shaking hands. Banks of the white flowers, the traditional color of mourning, were placed in front of a row of empty coffins at the ceremony.

A band – some of the musicians in tears – temporarily stopped playing as band members ran to comfort bereaved relatives who lunged forward, wailing in grief over the coffins.

“Our deep sorrow cannot bring them back,” an Orthodox priest in a traditional black turban and black robes told the crowd gathered outside an airport hangar.

“This is the grief of the world,” he said, as Ethiopian Airlines staff sobbed in each other’s arms.

Related CoverageFactbox: What we know about Boeing 737 MAX crash and what comes nextFrance’s BEA says Ethiopian jet’s flight data successfully recovered

At least the crash had taken place in Ethiopia – the holy land – he said, prompting “amens” from the crowd.

In Paris, investigators examined black box recorders to determine why the aircraft plunged into a field shortly after take off from Addis Ababa, searching for similarities to an October Lion Air crash that killed 189 people.

Both crashes involved the same model of plane – a Boeing 737 MAX 8 – causing aviation authorities to ground the model around the world after last week’s accident.

Data from the Ethiopian Airlines flight recorder had been successfully downloaded, France’s BEA air accident investigation agency said on Sunday. That information had been transferred to Ethiopian investigators, the agency said, adding that its technical work on the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder was now done.

PRAYERS PAUSED

In the Ethiopian capital, families and airline staff were focused on honoring their dead.

At the airport memorial, a banner offered “deepest condolences and comfort” to the families of the deceased crew.

A female flight attendant spoke warmly of the deceased captain, Yared Getachew.

“He was a really nice person, a good person, all the words you can find to talk about a good person apply. He was a very kind human being,” she said, before dissolving in tears.

A service for the families of passengers – more than 30 nationalities were onboard – was also held beneath the pink stone spires of Addis Ababa’s Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Families and relatives of the victims threw themselves on the coffins as they arrived and kissed pictures of loved ones.

Incense was waved over the coffins, but there was so much weeping that prayers had to be paused. Afterwards, some said the service meant they could now shift focus from grieving for the dead to caring for the living.

“Her husband is now left with an 上海夜网infant, he has to shift his attention to his life and raising his baby,” said Getachew Negatu, a friend of one of the stewardesses onboard the flight.

“Her father and mother, including her sisters, are devastated by this grief. Everyone has got to come back to life as we … cannot live like this forever.”

The families were offered charred earth from the crash site to bury, because most of the bodies were destroyed by the impact and fire. Identifying the small remains that have been collected may take up to six months.

U.S. judge orders Arkansas to pay Planned Parenthood in narrow ruling

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. ( ) – A U.S. district judge on Friday ordered Arkansas to continue payments to Planned Parenthood for its treatment of three women who challenged Governor Asa Hutchinson’s directive cutting off Medicaid reimbursements to the organization.

The order applied only to the cases of the three plaintiffs, although the judge suggested that Planned Parenthood as an organization might successfully challenge the cutoff.

Judge Kristine Baker held that the three women, identified in court papers as “Jane Does,” had demonstrated they would incur irreparable harm should they not be able to access contraceptive care and other services through Planned Parenthood. 

Arkansas is one of several Republican-controlled states that have cut funds for the organization after the release of videos by an anti-abortion activist group, the Center for Medical Progress, in which Planned Parenthood officials are seen discussing transactions involving fetal tissue.

Planned Parenthood has denied any wrongdoing.

The preliminary injunction the judge issued on Friday follows a temporary restraining order she put in place two weeks ago.

The judge declined to bar the introduction of the videos in further proceedings, but dismissed them from immediate consideration as “inadmissible hearsay.”

Hutchinson, a Republican, said in a statement the ruling was limited to the three women and that he would direct the state health department to “prohibit funding to Planned Parenthood consistent with the Court’s ruling.”

In Washin上海夜生活gton, U.S. congressional Republicans this week challenged Planned Parenthood’s eligibility for federal funds, while the health organization’s president said defunding it would restrict women’s access to care and disproportionately hurt low-income patients.

Planned Parenthood gets about $500 million annually in federal funds, largely in reimbursements under Medicaid, the government’s healthcare program for the poor.

In Arkansas, reaction from social conservatives to the judge’s move was swift.

“Arkansans have made it clear time and again they do not want public dollars subsidizing abortions,” said Jerry Cox, president of the Family Council of Arkansas. 

Planned Parenthood has said almost all of its work in the state covered services other than abortions.

The Arkansas contracts with Planned Parenthood involved services including nurse practitioners, pharmacy and family planning and were delivered through the Arkansas Medicaid program. No state funds were used for abortions, except in the case of incest, rape or when the life of the mother was at stake, state health officials said.

A spokesman for the state attorney general said no decision had been made regarding an appeal of the ruling.

Trump knocks off Walker in key state of Iowa: poll

WASHINGTON ( ) – Donald Trump has surged ahead of the pack of Republican presidential candidates in the key state of Iowa, knocking off Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who had been the leading contender there, a poll released on Friday showed.

Walker had been leading among the 17 Republicans seeking the party’s nomination for the November 2016 election in the early voting state of Iowa, which borders Wisconsin.

The Quinnipiac University survey showed 27 percent of likely Republican caucus voters in the Midwestern state backed Trump, the outspoken businessman and television personality who has seen his lead in national public opinion polls grow in recent weeks despite a string of controversial comments.

Another 21 percent said they supported former neurosurgeon Ben Carson and 9 percent backed U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement.

The university’s July poll found Walker leading among 18 percent of likely participants in the state’s Feb. 1 caucus, followed by Trump and Carson with 10 percent each. In the poll released on Friday, just 3 percent said they would pick Walker.

“With five months until the balloting, anything can happen. But the field has become a two-tiered contest – Donald Trump and Ben Carson ahead and everyone else far behind,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll said in a statement.

The results also showed the handicap that Washington experience has become in the minds of potential Republican voters, Brown said.

He added that Carson, who scored better than Trump among those surveyed when it came to honesty, empathy and temperament despite Trump’s edge on leadership, pointing to the ex-surgeon’s potential to gain support when other Republicans drop out of the race.

The findings also highlight the challenge for Walker, who had been leading most Iowa polls earlier in the summer and has in rec上海夜生活论坛ent weeks tried to jump-start his campaign.

Quinnipiac’s survey released on Friday polled 1,038 likely Iowa Republican Caucus participants from Aug. 27 to Sept. 8 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Sterling regains poise as fresh Brexit developments eyed

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

* Graphic: Trade-weighted sterling since Brexit vote tmsnrt.rs/2hwV9Hv

LONDON, March 19 ( ) – The pound edged higher on Tuesday thanks to broad dollar weakness against its rivals as investors waited cautiously for developments on Brexit negotiations with less than two weeks before the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union.

The British currency got off to a volatile start to the week, shedding half a percent in late London trading on Monday, after John Bercow, the speaker of Britain’s parliament, said Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal could not be voted on again unless a different proposal was submitted.

While traders have steadily reduced their fears that Britain will crash out of the EU without a deal in recent weeks, Bercow’s move means more uncertainty in the short term as the government 上海夜网races to convince opposing lawmakers to back May’s deal or request for an extension.

“The predominant notion adopted by the market is that as long as the worst case scenario of hard Brexit is avoided by delaying Brexit, the pound is a buy on dips,” Rabobank strategists said in a note.

That view was shared by Morgan Stanley strategists who said the pound remained a buy on dips. The U.S. bank’s positioning tracker showed broader market positions on the pound was broadly neutral.

Against the dollar, the pound firmed 0.1 percent higher at $1.3267. It rallied to a 9-month high against the greenback to nearly $1.34 last week and is down less than a percent from those highs.

Against the euro, the pound was broadly steady at 85.55 pence.

Despite the latest political developments, various gauges of volatility indicators for the pound ticked lower on Tuesday, reflecting a broader drop in currency market volatility.

Preview: Atletico Madrid – Girona

In the first round of the second half of the season, tenth-placed Girona will try to hand Atlético Madrid their first defeat at the Wanda Metropolitano in La Liga. So far, only Chelsea in the Champions League and Sevilla last Wednesday in the Copa del Rey have achieved a victory at Atlético’s fortress.

Flashscore presents the key facts before the match:

In the previous clash between (their only other official match in all competitions), the ‘Colchoneros’ came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 after two late goals in the final 15 minutes.

Girona are travelling to Madrid after a superb 6-0 win over Las Palmas in their previous match. Even though they have suffered two losses away from home recently, the Catalans are still among the top eight away teams in LL and have scored at least one goal in seven of their nine away clashes so far.

The managers for the two sides outlined the key points to consider for this match. Girona coach Pablo Machín talked about how difficult it is to score against 上海夜生活论坛Atlético (they have only conceded three goals at home all season in LL), while Diego Simeone warned that “Girona are a very intense and offensive side”.

It will be match number 350 for Diego ‘El Cholo’ Simeone at Atlético. Under the guidance of the Argentinian, the ‘Rojiblancos’ have notched an impressive 400 goals in LL (W147, D48, L36).

Players to watch: With the team’s top scorer Christian Stuani injured (ten goals), Michael Olunga will have to take charge upfront and after a hat-trick within 45 minutes last weekend, he could be just the man to spoil Atletí’s party.Top 5 Real Madrid players who are succeeding on a loan Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – We need to talk about the Top 5 Real Madrid players who are currently succeeding away from the club and are currently on a…

As for Atlético, it might be the right moment for Vitolo to make his debut in LL, after remaining on the bench for the last two fixtures.

Stat attack: Three of the last four wins for the ‘Colchoneros’ have been 1-0, a result that has been repeated in 32% of all of Atl. Madrid’s fixtures this season in LL.

As for Girona, they have scored in their last seven away LL matches.

Missing players

Atletico Madrid: Filipe Luis (thigh injury), D. Godin (suspension), N. Gaitan (doubtful)

Girona: J. Suarez (shoulder injury), P. Alcala (doubtful), C. Stuani (doubtful).

Simeone admitted that the Copa del Rey exit was his mistake

Diego Simeone, the Atletico Madrid head coach, admitted that the elimination from the Copa del 上海夜网Rey is his responsibility as he made a lot of mistakes and Sevilla deserved to go through after a 5-2 win on aggregate.

Atletico lost the first leg 2-1 after two late goals and they were defeated in the reverse match as well – and Simeone was sent from the sidelines in this bitter 3-1 loss to their rivals. Atletico were eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League by AS Roma and Chelsea and in La Liga, they are 11 points behind the league leaders, Barcelona.

The Argentinian coach spoke about this loss as he said, according to Goal: “The responsibility for this elimination and the Champions League is all mine. There are still four months left in the season and between La Liga and the Europa League, we’ll keep competing like we always have. Our opponent took advantage of their chances. Sevilla finished their chances both here and in the first leg. This made them more comfortable in the tie. We were close to turning the match around in the first half and scoring the equaliser in the second, but [Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio] Rico played well.”Kieran Trippier talks about his decision to leave Tottenham Nedim Maric – The English right-back changed the environment this summer, moving from rainy London to sunny Spain.Trippier is having a good start at Atletico Madrid. After rigorous…

He also added that they wanted to play the finals in their home stadium: “We had dreams of playing the final in our stadium. We’re going to pick ourselves up because this team has always done so. Now we need to think about La Liga. I think Sevilla were better and when that’s the case, you have to congratulate them.”

In the end, Simeone claimed that they will need to learn from their mistakes and start improving: “We need to study what we did wrong and improve from that. We have to fight to finish as high up in La Liga as possible and we also have the Europa League.”

Joao Mario joins West Ham

The Portuguese international has joined the Hammers until the end of the season.

Inter Milan midfielder Joao Mario has joined West Ham United on a season long loan move, the club from London have confirmed.

The 2016 Euro winner has joined the club at London Stadium and is excited to get started in the Premier League as he spoke to West Ham’s official website:

– I am really happy to be here, – said the new No18. – It’s a really amazing experience to join this amazing team and I am just glad to be here.

– It was a fast move. I have spoken with everyone around the team and, for me, it is exciting to play in the Premier League. I spoke with the coach and for me, I am really happy to be training for an amazing coach, also.

Joao Mario also added that his Portugal team-mate Jose Fonte played a major part in his move to London.West Ham suffer a tough injury blow Nedim Maric – After a promising start of the season, Manuel Pellegrini and West Ham will have to adapt after losing one of their crucial players.This weekend…

– Jose explained to me a little more about the Club and also the song we have, I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles and that, of course, it was really important for me上海夜生活网 to join West Ham!

– It’s a really historic Club with an amazing stadium and amazing players. I am just trying to know a little bit more about the Club every day and now I have some time to know more.

Hughton: “It was a big performance”

Chris Hughton, the Brighton and Hove Albion coach, admitted that he was very relieved after his side managed to pick up a 1-0 victory over Watford at home and it was very important in their fight for avoiding the relegation.

Hughton’s team were winless for seven matches in a row before this fixture started and they failed to score from open play for 10 hours – but they managed to end both of these runs. The coach was happy that his side was a big attacking threat for the guest throughout the whole match and they could have scored more goals than just one.

The talented coach spoke about his side’s performance as he said, according to Sky Sports: “It felt like a big win that today. It was a very good performance, a performance that deserved a win, more than a 1-0 scoreline. Of course, that [second] goal goes in, you are applying that bit more pressure on yourselves, but I thought we were very good today.”Opinion: Martin Odegaard is perfect for the Premier League Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – Given how much he’s been rejected by Real Madrid, we are convinced that Martin Odegaard is perfect for the Premier League.Martin Odegaard is finally…

He also added that he was happy that his side didn’t give any chances to Watford: “When you are playing against a team as good offensively as Watford, and you restrict them to minimal, half chances, it shows you have put in a very good performance defensively. The next phase is to take these games上海夜生活论坛 on and take our chances to make things easier for ourselves.”

In the end, Chris Hughton insisted that this win was very needed: “It is a win we needed. We go to Chelsea on Boxing Day, and while you never know, there won’t be too many people who expect us to pick up anything there. That being the case, it was important we got something out of the game today. We can go into that Chelsea game with that bit more confidence. We just need to make sure that in cases where we have a better chance of getting something, we put in performances like we did today.”

Fellaini spoke about his future at Manchester United

Marouane Fellaini, the Manchester United midfielder, spoke about his future at Manchester United and he revealed that he is “not sure whether he will stay at Old Trafford” if the club will make him another contract offer.

The Belgium international spoke about his situation as his contract is going to expire the upcoming summer and he can possibly leave the club – and he admitted that he has been thinking about this possibility. The 30-year old insisted that he expects another proposal by Manchester United but he doesn’t know yet how is he going to react.

The former Everton player spoke about his opini上海夜生活论坛on on that situation as he said, according to ESPN: “Honestly, I don’t know. I do have something in mind, but I cannot say anything about this yet. If Manchester didn’t want me anymore, they would have told me. They made an offer and they will likely make me another one. Whether I will accept that I am not sure. Those things don’t happen overnight.”Solskjaer “very pleased” after another failure to win George Patchias – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he was “very pleased,” even though United failed to win yet again.It is now ten games on the road since…

He also added that he also talked about it with José Mourinho and he respects his decision: “No, we talked about it. The manager is someone who respects his players’ decisions. This is my 10th season in England. Aside from my first experience at Manchester I only had good moments. Five years at Everton, five years at Manchester. I like the stability. It takes a couple of years before you build relationships. I know everyone by now — that is nice.”

In the end, Marouane Fellaini revealed further facts about his injury: “The inner ligaments were touched. One month later I played again, against Chelsea. But three weeks later, against Brighton, I felt pain again. I decided not to take the risk. I trained again, but not at 100 percent. It wasn’t an easy time, but hey, that’s how it works in football. It could have been worse. Two weeks before Bosnia, there was that attack from [Southampton striker] Shane Long.”

Kane: “My teammates deserve the praise, not me”

Harry Kane, the Tottenham striker, admitted that he asked his teammates for help with breaking Alan Shearer’s record ahead of the match against Southampton and he praised them for doing so.

Alan Shearer’s 22-year old record of 36 goals scored was broken – Harry Kane managed to level it in the match against Burnley and now, he has surpassed him by scoring another hattrick against Southampton and set a new benchmark of 39 goals. To be added, he has also become the world’s top scorer of 2017 by surpassing Lionel Messi by two goals and he admitted that he is very happy for that as he wants to score as many goals as he can.

The Englishman spoke about his feeling after breaking this record as he said, according to Sky Sports: “It was hard not to think about it going into the game being level. As always I wanted to win the game first and foremost, but of course, I wanted to score as a striker. To get that goal early on and get that record was a great feeling and I could enjoy the rest of the game.”Opinion: Martin Odegaard is perfect for the Premier League Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – Given how much he’s been rejected by Real Madrid, we are convinced that Martin Odegaard is per上海夜网fect for the Premier League.Martin Odegaard is finally…

He also added that he can feel how he has improved: “This year I would say physically I have improved, recovery from games, getting ready, we have such a busy schedule. Just making sure I’m ready for each game, eating right, recovering right with ice baths. I feel really good. I feel sharp and at my best.”

In the end, Harry Kane also thanked his teammates for making this possible to him: “I said to the lads before the game to try and set me up and they all did that, so I’ll have to take them out to dinner or something. That third goal today was good, the third goal against Burnley I think that summed up how I play with the tackle and then the touch and finish so there’s been some good goals, but hopefully some better ones in 2018.”