May 31, 2018

Donald Trump and a tale of two Kims - May 31, 2018: Anderson Cooper | Video | CNN.

Anderson Cooper questions Trump's intent with pardons - May 31, 2013 | Anderson Cooper | CNN

Trump doesn't initially defy racism - May 31, 2018 | Anderson Cooper | Video | CNN

Minimum wage increased by 3.5% to $18.93 an hour - May 31, 2018 | Australia news | The Guardian 2018

Minimum wage increased by 3.5% to $18.93 an hour | Australia news

Christopher Knaus

The stronger economic forecast has allowed an increase of the national minimum wage by 3.5%, taking it to $18.93 per hour.
But the increase decided upon by the Fair Work Commission on Friday is well below the 7.2% called for by unions.
The FWC decision sets the new minimum wage at $719.20 a week, or $18.93 an hour.
That will mean a wage rise of $24.30 a week for about 2m workers.
The commission pointed to stronger economic indicators and forecasts from the federal government, the International Monetary Fund and the Reserve Bank.
“The prevailing economic circumstances provide an opportunity to improve the relative living standards of the low paid and to enable them to better meet their needs,” commission president, Iain Ross, said.
“The economic indicators now point more unequivocally to a healthy national economy and labour market.
“The circumstances are such that it is appropriate to provide a real wage increase to those employees who have their wages set by the national minimum wage or by a national minimum award.”
The 3.5% increase is well above 1.9% inflation, meaning a real rise in wage growth of 1.6% for Australia’s lowest paid workers.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions made an ambitious claim to more than double last year’s $22-a-week increase, calling for a rise of 7.2%.
The ACTU secretary, Sally McManus, welcomed the decision as a step in the right direction. She described it as the largest percentage increase ever awarded by the commission.
But she warned it was not enough to guarantee workers a living wage.
“It is a step forward towards a living wage but it’s not a living wage,” McManus said. “We need in our country, for no full-time worker to live in poverty.”
Workers who appeared alongside McManus in Melbourne on Friday were less impressed by the decision. One woman, a cleaner who works in a Melbourne shopping centre, said it did little to help her buy a house or have children.
“Because of the minimum wage and such a petty rise of 3.5% I can’t even think of buying a house, all of my income goes to either paying bills or paying rent,” she said.
The commission said an increase of the size called for by unions risked reducing employment prospects for low-skilled workers.
“We have, however, decided not to grant an increase of the size proposed by the ACTU and the Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations,” the commission ruled. “In our view, an increase of the size that they propose is likely to run a substantial risk of adverse employment effects.”
“Such adverse effects will impact on those groups who are already marginalised in the labour market and on households vulnerable to poverty due to loss of employment or hours.”
The Australian Industry Group had called for a modest increase of 1.8%, or $12.50 a week for those on the minimum wage and $14.60 for the lowest award rates.
The shadow employment minister, Brendan O’Connor, welcomed the decision, and said he was pleased the commission had rejected a bid by retailers to have the minimum wage frozen. O’Connor said Labor’s submission to the commission had argued inequality and household debt were at record highs, while wages had flatlined.
“Well, this goes some way to responding to that,” O’Connor said. “Labor was still very, very clear that we need to see better tax relief for working-class and middle-class families and we call on the government to support Labor’s tax relief, which is almost double that for middle-class and working-class families.”
The commission also decided to increase all modern award minimum wages by 3.5 per cent.
The ruling will come into effect on July 1.

Franchisees advised to steal workers' wages, inquiry hears - May 31, 2018. | Business | The Guardian

Franchisees advised to steal workers' wages, inquiry hears | Business

Ben Smee

The parliamentary inquiry into the franchise sector has been handed a “chilling” succession of similar stories by small-business owners who claim franchisors suggested they should steal wages from vulnerable workers.
Labor senator Deborah O’Neill, who is deputy chair of the committee investigating franchising, told Guardian Australia the inquiry would need to look at how franchise business practices encouraged the exploitation of workers.
In a published submission to the inquiry, a former Muffin Break franchisee, Faheem Mirza, said he was told “to consider underpaying staff that I can trust”.
Sign up to receive the top stories in Australia every day at noon
“The key message was that as migrants, I must be aware of other migrants or students who would gladly accept underpayments in lure of their first job and hence not report or complain,” Mizra said.
“So, if I were able to exploit my employees I could generate a profit. Otherwise there is no other cost that can be managed enough to reverse this loss-making scenario.”
Foodco, the franchise operation that owns the Muffin Break brand, said it “strongly refutes this false allegation”.
Another small business owner, from a different franchise group, told Guardian Australia he was advised by an associate of the franchisor that he should exploit staff on 457 visas by demanding kickbacks.
The business owner said he was later told by his staff that a wages rort – which involved paying foreign workers the standard rate, then demanding a portion be returned in cash – had been in place before he bought the business.
“The whole suggestion was that we could get away with it, because they wouldn’t speak out. We just said: ‘We won’t do that,’ ” he said.
O’Neill said there had been many confidential submissions to the inquiry and that stories about wage theft were common. Guardian Australia reported last month that many franchisees were afraid to speak publicly because of concern that doing so would violate agreements that were heavily weighted in favour of brand owners.
“We’re in a situation where across the country people are independently putting forward evidence to the committee where they’re too frightened to have their name put to it,” O’Neill said.
“But there’s a consistency of storytelling here. They’ve been sold a business model that too often depends on wage theft to make a sustainable business.
“There’s a chilling similarity in the stories. That’s why they have such credibility. They’re doing it confidentially for fear of retribution.”
Rob Whittet and Emma Forsyth, from Toowoomba, in Queensland, estimate they lost $2.5m on failed Jamaica Blue franchises licensed by Foodco.
“It’s destroyed everything we had,” Whittet said. “We lost a property we owned outright. We had an investment property, we’re now living in.”
Whittet said the business model he was sold was, in reality, not profitable while paying staff the minimum wage, even when he and Forsyth were working more than 80 hours a week and not drawing a wage. Regardless of whether his business turned a profit, the master franchise always got their cut, because royalty fees were based on turnover.
He said franchisors should have a stake in the profitability of businesses, and ensuring that franchisees met their obligations to pay staff and bills, which meant ensuring standard practice was for royalties to be paid based on a percentage of profit, not turnover.
Foodco said in a statement: “We take very seriously our obligations to ensure our franchisees comply in the important area of lawful employment practices.
“Far from encouraging this practice of underpayment, in January 2017 Foodco entered into a voluntary partnership with the office of the fair work ombudsman by way of a proactive compliance deed.
“We regularly audit our network to ensure compliance issues are identified and remedied as quickly as possible.”

What are the facts behind the #WhereAreTheChildren campaign? - May 31,2018. | The Stream | Aljazerra

Trump pardons conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza - May 31, 2018.| Video | CBS News

What's in your wallet? More cash, if you know how to save - May 31, 2018. | Mutual funds and ETF stories | MarketWatch

Mutual Funds
MAY 31, 2018

This week's Mutual Funds and ETF stories

By MarketWatch

Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

Don't miss these top money and investing features:

Sometimes the best investment decision is not to invest. This week's digest focuses on the rewards of being a smart saver, and what you need to know to keep more money in your bank account.

Then, check out advice on investing in dividend stocks, real estate, and the legally tricky world of cannabis stocks.

— Jonathan Burton


This savings-account hack will give you almost 20 times what you're earning now

The average savings account pays a miserly 0.09% a year — here's how you can get up to 1.7%.
This savings-account hack will give you almost 20 times what you're earning now

Yes, save twice your salary by the time you're 35 — and 7 other things you should do

Financial advisers have more advice for what to do by your mid-30s
Yes, save twice your salary by the time you're 35 — and 7 other things you should do

How much money have America's 30-somethings actually saved? They tell us

Fidelity Investments recommends saving twice your income by the age of 35. Even some cash-strapped families have reached that goal.
How much money have America's 30-somethings actually saved? They tell us

How can you build wealth when you don't have enough money? This guy has the answer

This economist tells you how to save even when you don't have much left over at the end of the month.
How can you build wealth when you don't have enough money? This guy has the answer

Here's how to understand your financial adviser's conflicts of interest (even with a fee-only service)

Conflicts go beyond paying commissions or a percentage of assets under management, so invest with your eyes wide open.
Here's how to understand your financial adviser's conflicts of interest (even with a fee-only service)

Hello, robo adviser? We need to talk

The key to investing with a robo adviser is knowing how to communicate your needs. Here's how to talk to the robot.
Hello, robo adviser? We need to talk

Here's why stock investors should hope that corporate earnings growth shrinks

Shares do better when year-over-year profits decline.
Here's why stock investors should hope that corporate earnings growth shrinks

5 undervalued dividend-paying stocks worth a close look

Dividend investors have no fewer than 41 high-quality undervalued blue-chip stocks to choose from.
5 undervalued dividend-paying stocks worth a close look

This outperforming fund manager ‘rents' dividend stocks for a higher yield

Ben Lofthouse of Janus Henderson takes advantage of the timing of European companies' dividend payouts.
This outperforming fund manager ‘rents' dividend stocks for a higher yield

Thinking of selling your home? Do it before 2020, economists say

A panel of economic and housing experts sees a dip in house prices on the horizon.
Thinking of selling your home? Do it before 2020, economists say

5 things to know about investing in single-family rental homes

Owning an income property can diversify a traditional stock- and bond portfolio.
5 things to know about investing in single-family rental homes

Tax breaks for home mortgages to sink 30% in 2018 due to Trump tax law, study shows

One of the most cherished tax breaks in America, deducting the interest on a home mortgage, is going to get whacked down to size in the next few years.
Tax breaks for home mortgages to sink 30% in 2018 due to Trump tax law, study shows

U.S. taxpayers need stronger protection from the next housing crash

Investors in mortgage-backed securities need to shoulder more of the default risk.
U.S. taxpayers need stronger protection from the next housing crash

Author Seth Godin on four ways to be better at work

Entrepreneur Seth Godin spoke with MarketWatch on leadership, marketing, and the tools for business success.
 Author Seth Godin on four ways to be better at work

Here's how to invest in cannabis through ETFs

Investing in marijuana or cannabis stocks can be risky. Small companies that are actually handling and growing marijuana might not be legal at a federal level. Here's what you need to know.
 Here's how to invest in cannabis through ETFs
liveintent ad_choices

After hours: LULU, ULTA & more - May 31, 2018. | After Hours | CNBC

After hours: LULU, ULTA & more

Chloe Aiello

Source: Lululemon
Check out the companies making headlines after the bell:
Lululemon Athletica shares jumped nearly 6 percent in extended trading. The active wear brand and retailer reported first quarter earnings and revenue that easily surpassed Wall Street expectations. Lululemon reported EPS of 55 cents on revenue of $650 million, compared with EPS of 46 cents on revenue of $618 million that analysts expected.The retailer also reported a 20 percent rise in comparable sales.
Shares of Ulta Beauty plunged more than 5 percent in the extended session, after the beauty retailer beat analyst expectations on both top and bottom lines in its first quarter earnings report. Ulta also saw comparable sales rise 8 percent, and e-commerce sales spike by 48 percent year-over-year. Weak second quarter outlook spooked investors.
GameStop stock fell 3.4 percent in extended trading. The video game retailer reported mixed earnings and revenue for the first quarter of fiscal 2019. GameStop beat on earnings, reporting 38 cents, versus the 37 cents analysts expected; but missed on revenue with $1.93 billion versus the $1.96 billion expected.
Costco shares fell more than 2 percent in after hours trading, despite that the wholesaler beat analyst expectations on third quarter earnings and revenue. Costco reported a 7 percent rise in same store sales and a 14 percent jump in e-commerce, according Thomson Reuters.

Hello': RT journalist visits North Korean leader’s private palace, talks to Kim Jong-un's sister - May 31, 2018. | Video | RT

The mystery of Russia's missing IS brides - May 31, 2018 | BBCnewsnight

Scamville (E1234) - May 31,2018. | Video | Max keiser Report

Global State of the Media Report - 2018 | Cision

Cision's 2018 Global State of the Media Report


It’s been both an extraordinary and challenging year for journalism — to say the least. On one hand, the profession has never been under greater attack. Constant accusations of fake news, anti-media sentiment coming from many of the world’s politicians and a seemingly overwhelming supply of competing content has made it much more difficult for professional journalists and influencers to be heard.
As the media contends with those realities, there are some signs many in the public have their back and are supporting journalistic institutions again. In February 2018, The New York Times reported more than 10 percent year-to-year revenue growth for the fourth quarter of 2017 and 7.7 percent for the full year — a boon for an industry that had largely been in decline. According to Poynter, The Times now has more than 2.6 million digital-only subscribers, 3.6 million including print and the verticals. According to AdWeek, cable news ad revenue grew a whopping 25 percent year over year. The key takeaway: people see how important journalism can be with many critical stories impacting the way people think about politics, business and culture
As tested as the industry has been, one outcome from all the turmoil is that journalists need reliable public relations partners — perhaps more than ever before. According to Cision’s 2018 global State of the Media survey, in which the company surveyed 1,355 journalists from across six countries on their perception of the media and communications industries, working with trusted professionals who can provide accurate, newsworthy information is a must.

According to three-quarters of the survey’s respondents, being 100 percent accurate in their reporting is more important than being first on a story or the promise of exclusivity. As well, 56 percent of journalists said fake news accusations are causing audiences to become more skeptical about the content they produce. The survey asked “what’s the biggest impact that ‘fake news’ (defined as false content presented as real news coverage of actual events) will have on journalism?” This is how global responses varied:

Fake news is a big deal and for good reason: It’s making people much more suspicious of all content they consume. Globally, 56 percent of respondants said that fake news is making readers more skeptical than ever about what they read and see.
Here’s how the above sentiment was expressed by country: Trust is another issue, with 71 percent saying they think the public has lost trust in journalists. That’s down from 91 percent last year, but it’s still a significant number.
Here’s how the above sentiment was expressed by country:

Social media is also making the job of a journalist more complicated, as some worry that social networks and search engines are causing audiences to bypass traditional media.
What’s the implication for brands and communications professionals? It means that being a trusted source and reliable partner is more vital now than ever. While journalists can get story ideas from anywhere, they still say their most valuable and trusted piece of PR content is the traditional press release. Most are happy to work with public relations professionals, provided they’re giving them information that’s accurate, newsworthy, and that can be used to enhance their coverage.  


It’s no secret the journalism industry is undergoing some profound changes. Newsrooms are either shrinking or changing the focus of their coverage. The survey data helped elucidate the scope of those changes.
Out of all the issues the industry is facing, 28 percent said staffing and resources were the biggest challenges in journalism over the last 12 months. Social networks and search engines bypassing traditional media was a close second at 25 percent. Ongoing conversations on fake news, blurred lines between editorial and advertising, and issues around freedom of the press rounded out the list of challenges.
The proliferation of fake news, typically created by “troll farms” and those on the extreme ends of the political spectrum, was the second most pressing challenge over the last 12 months – still a major concern for many journalists. More than half said “fake news” is making readers more skeptical about the content they read, including news produced by real reporters, while 46 percent are still unsure of how these untrue stories will impact their organization in the future.
There may be a bright side to the fake news phenomenon: 21 percent of respondents said that it’s increasing the importance of journalistic standards, while 9 percent said that it’s improving the popularity of trusted and established media brands.  
How are journalists dealing with the industry’s biggest challenges?

Here’s what journalists had to say:

“Being mindful of accuracy and attention to facts in everything we do, avoiding production techniques that might misrepresent reality in any way.” “Compiling original and creative content that is interesting to the audience. Sharing the electronic content on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Putting emphasis on human interest stories and targeting a young audience that consumes news via social media platforms.” “I continue to write news for bona fide news organizations, but I also promote my work where possible on social platforms. Having to master this piece is the biggest challenge where in the past writing news, getting it right and speedy publishing was enough.” “It's a struggle.” “Creating original content, seeking out our own stories, putting together a product people will look for on its own merits.”


With so much attention on news media these days, being first to publish, whether on social media or their outlet’s website, is no longer the priority for most journalists. Like we saw last year, ensuring that content is 100 percent accurate is paramount, with 75 percent of global respondents saying getting things right is most important to their news organization. Only 10 percent said the same about being first to publish, down from 13 percent in 2017.
Globally, 75 percent of media say that ensuring content is 100 percent accurate is the most important for their org.
By country, this is how the above sentiment was expressed:

Being accurate has always been important to journalists but emphasizing that aim for accuracy may help the media grow its audience. When we asked journalists if the public had lost or gained trust in the media over the last year, 71 percent said people had lost trust, with only 5 percent saying the opposite. While that’s still a troubling number, it is down from 91 percent in last year’s survey. Why the decline? The constant attacks on the media industry have made people pay more attention to what journalists do and the value they provide. Couple that with the publication of several ground-breaking stories and more people now realize that the media does, in fact, produce honest and important work. The public is looking to traditionally trusted sources to provide relevant and factual coverage of current events.
One issue that reiterated the importance of journalism was #MeToo and #TimesUp, movements that started after reporters broke stories on sexual harassment in Hollywood and within journalism’s own ranks. We wanted to know if these movements help or hurt the perception of journalism, since many of the issues of harassment happened with media personalities. The media was split, with 36 percent saying it strongly enforces journalism’s role, 35 percent saying it didn’t make a difference, and 29 percent saying it hurt journalism’s image.



Emerging Technology and Social Media Trends

Social Algorithm Updates Social media has been a major media disruptor for years, but it’s still something many journalists grapple with as part of their day-to-day duties. When asked what new technology will change the way journalists work the most, 34 percent said new social media algorithms. Specifically, they called out Facebook’s recent news feed and algorithm updates, saying they will have the biggest impact on their jobs. More than a quarter said that better and cheaper video production technology would influence their work, while 21 percent think artificial intelligence and machine learning improve the way they analyze traffic and performance data and predict readership trends.
Smart Devices & Voice Technology
As for other technologies, the survey found that home assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, may be incorporated into the content development process in the future. Up to 38 percent of respondents say these devices will be impactful, but aren’t yet a near-term priority. Another 32 percent said these devices wouldn’t have a major impact on media consumption, while 22 percent said they would increase people’s focus on new content delivery channels. A small number, 8 percent, said that this technology would force a complete rethink of publishing as we know it.  



The journalism industry may be experiencing plenty of change, but the State of the Media survey found that its dependence on public relations professionals hasn’t wavered. We asked respondents whether their relationships with PR professionals are more or less valuable today. In response, 70 percent said their relationships remained neutral, while 20 percent said it’s more valuable.
When it comes to what journalists want from their PR contacts, 63 percent said news announcements and press releases, indicating that most reporters want to continue interacting with their PR professionals in the same way they have been historically. However, 22 percent reported that original research on trends and market data was also important to them, offering a new opportunity for PR and comms pros to be a source.
Journalists also trust press releases the most, with 44 percent saying that it’s their most trustworthy source of brand-related information. Only 30 percent said the same about a company spokesperson – clearly there is work to be done when it comes to the spokespeople PR professionals provide – while 20 percent said they trust the company’s website most. Despite how much time journalists spend on social media, just three percent said they trust blog and social media channels.

In Press Releases We Trust

Journalists continue to love the press release. For three years in a row, media professionals have ranked press releases and news announcements as the most valuable type content they receive from their PR contacts. They’ve also once again chosen the press release as their most trusted brand source. This is nearly universal, with journalists from around the world citing press releases as their most trusted source of company information.   The percentage of journalists from each country surveyed who said press releases were tops:
Here’s what journalists want to see from PR pros:

1. Press releases
2. Original research reports
Follow-up press releases
4. Content marketing/advocacy releases
Video clips/b-roll/livestreams
6. Blog posts   How to make a press release more effective (global numbers):

With journalists able to get news from a variety of sources these days, PR professionals can’t rest on their laurels. If they don’t give the media what they want, journalists could quickly turn against the release and find another way to get the information they need.


Given the low levels of trust in media today, and concerns about how fake news might impact the industry going forward, being a trustworthy partner to journalists is paramount. But how can brands help build up that trust? One place to start is by providing media professionals relevant and honest research and information via press releases, story pitches and by arming brand spokespeople, including CEOs, with real and interesting stories to tell.
Continuing to make earned media a priority is still important, too. Using owned channels, like a website or company blog, can provide some context and useful information, but it’s not useful for reporting a story. In fact, only three percent of global respondents said that a company blog is a trustworthy source of brand information for their stories. Getting someone to speak to a journalist directly, versus just pointing them to your site, is still important today.
But whatever your media outreach plan involves – whether it’s a blog post, a press release or a CEO giving an interview – PR pros must put forward material that’s not marketing jargon, that can explain clearly how something works, and why it’s relevant to journalists.  
Here’s how media ranked different earned and owned channels for trustworthiness:

Even with all the changes in media formats (social explosion, sites, blogs, etc.) the tried and true press release still reigns, followed closely by company spokespeople. It seems “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. The data shows that the media continues to fall back on traditional, trusted sources of brand content.


If there’s one thing that PR professionals can do to help journalists do their jobs better, it’s ensure that any press releases they do send out have a clearly stated news hook. That was something 45 percent of respondents said when asked how press releases can be more efficient. Also, write conversationally — 27 percent indicated that they dislike press releases that feel templated and include jargon. More quotes and multimedia elements would help, too.
As strong as the PR-journalist rapport may be, there are ways to improve the relationship. According to the survey, 28 percent of respondents felt that PR professionals can do a better job of researching and understanding journalists and their outlets before pitching, while 24 percent said they’d like pitches to be more tailored to their beat. Another 27 percent noted that PR professionals should have data and expert sources ready to go when reporters need them. Only 15 percent said that their number one request from PR professionals was less spam.
Journalism is dealing with several challenges these days, but the PR industry can help news outlets navigate these choppy waters. No matter what happens in the industry, eye-catching, fact-based storytelling is still paramount. The PR professionals who can help reporters and editors with their work — by providing accurate, information-rich press releases, and by giving journalists access to sources — will be the ones who will succeed the most.

Building Better Relationships With The Media:

Here is the #1 thing you must do when working with the media:

1. Research/understand my media outlet
2. Provide me with data and expert sources when I need them
3. Tailor the pitch to suit my beat(s)/coverage
4. Stop spamming me
5. Include multimedia assets with your pitch 

Media Tip:

For the third year in a row, journalists ask that you to research them, understand who they are and what they cover before pitching them, ranking this their top request of PR pros. They also want brands to provide original data and expert sources in a timely manner. Have a solid PR pitching and press release strategy, along with a stable of spokesepeople ready upon request is a good best practice.

Global respondents rated their PR professionals at 3.38 out of 5 stars, between neutral and satisfied.



Cision conducted its 2018 State of the Media Survey between February 1st and February 28th of this year. Surveys were emailed to Cision Media Database members, and are vetted by the company’s media research team to verify their positions as media professionals, influencers and bloggers. The survey was also available to media professionals in the PR Newswire for Journalists database.
This year’s survey collected 1,355 total responses from across the media spectrum. 842 respondents were from the U.S., 197 were from Canada, 43 from the UK, 43 from France, 50 from Germany and 180 from Sweden. Globally, 651 are in print (newspaper/magazine), 208 work in broadcast (TV/radio/podcast), 267 work for an online-only news outlet, 194 identified as individuals/personal bloggers/freelancers, and 35 work for a social media platform. The survey language was translated and localized for each country and market and then the results were tallied together to form this global report.  

Asia, Europe and US Stock Markets Report - May 31, 2018.| Markets | CNBC


Asian stocks recover after Italian political woes ease

Cheang Ming

Asia finished mostly higher on Thursday as global markets recovered after recent fears about Italy faded.
Japan's Nikkei 225 added 183.30 points, or 0.83 percent, to 22,201.82 while the Topix index gained 11.32 points, or 0.65 percent, to 1,747.45.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 27.2 points, or 0.45 percent, to 6,011.9 as most sectors finished higher. The energy sub-index gained 2.33 percent following higher oil prices overnight while the materials sector rose 1.5 percent.
In South Korea, the Kospi added 13.98 points, or 0.58 percent, to 2,423.01.
News of a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean official Kim Yong Chol saw some North Korea-exposed stocks rise, with Hyundai Cement up 5.11 percent.
Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed up 411.77 points, or 1.37 percent, at 30,468.56.
On the mainland, the Shanghai composite gained 56.49 points, or 1.86 percent, to 3,097.93, following the release of better-than expected official manufacturing PMI data.
MSCI's index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan edged up by 0.59 percent in Asia afternoon trade.

Italy concerns take back seat

Relief in global markets came amid news that Italy's interim prime minister, who had been appointed by President Sergio Mattarella, said possibilities had surfaced "for the birth of political government," Reuters reported. Still, some uncertainty remained after right-wing Lega party leader Matteo Salvini said an earlier vote was better to end confusion.
"While this leaves open the possibility that a new political government will be formed, a fresh election is a possibility and nerves about Italy staying in the euro remain," ANZ analysts said in a morning note.
U.S. stocks closed higher as jitters over political turmoil in Italy receded on Wednesday: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.26 percent, or 306.33 points, to close at 24,667.78. Other major U.S. stock indexes also gained.
Global markets had been spooked earlier in the week by the possibility of fresh elections in Italy being fought over its role in the European Union and the euro zone.
The euro held onto overnight gains, trading at $1.1663 at 12:38 p.m. HK/SIN. That was above the $1.15 handle seen during Asian trade on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the yield on Italy's two-year bonds fell to 1.7 percent in the last session from 2.1 percent. Yields on safe-haven U.S. Treasury bonds, meanwhile, rose overnight amid the improvement in investor sentiment. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note stood at 2.848 percent.
In Europe, the pan-European Stoxx 600 added 0.3 percent and Italy's FTSE MIB bounced 2.09 percent after falling for the prior five sessions.
Trade issues also weighed on investors' minds after the White House announced earlier in the week that it would move forward on plans to subject some $50 billion in Chinese imports to tariffs. According to a Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday, China is "looking to line up other countries" against the U.S.
In currencies, the dollar was little changed against yen at 108.91 compared to its previous close of 108.90. That was above Tuesday's low of 108.12.
"Lingering concern on Sino-U.S. trade relationship before another round of negotiation given apparent disagreement in trade stance among U.S. officials could potentially cap upside movement" in the U.S. currency, Zhu Huani, an economist at Mizuho Bank, said in a note.
CNBC's Sam Meredith contributed to this report.


European stocks close lower after US says it will impose steel and aluminum tariffs on EU

Sam Meredith, Ryan Browne

European stocks closed lower Thursday, after the U.S. said it would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 shed gains from earlier in the session, closing provisionally down 0.63 percent, with most sectors in negative territory and major bourses mixed.
Germany's 30-stock DAX index was among the worst performing bourses in Europe, down 1.4 percent, amid growing fears of protectionism from the U.S. German magazine WirtschaftsWoche reported Thursday that President Donald Trump hopes to block the country's luxury carmakers from the U.S. market. Autos stocks fell on the news, with Porsche and Groupe PSA both dropping over 2 percent.
Spain's IBEX 35 index, meanwhile, was 1 percent lower, ahead of a no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's leadership. If successful, the vote would topple the incumbent government and allow Spanish Socialist Workers' Party leader Pedro Sanchez to take the reins.
Europe's bank stocks were among the worst performers on Thursday, dragged down by Deutsche Bank. The German bank slumped to the bottom of the European benchmark after the Wall Street Journal reported that its U.S. business was designated by the Federal Reserve as being in "troubled condition." Shares were down by almost 7 percent.
Meanwhile, Irish building materials group CRH said Thursday that it would streamline some of its European and American businesses by merging them in an effort to boost profit margins. The company's stock was among the top performers in Europe, up 3.67 percent.


Focus turned away from Italy after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. would impose levies of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico. Condemnation poured in from U.S. allies, with the EU and Mexico saying they would introduce countermeasures.
On Sunday, Italy's euroskeptic populist parties abandoned plans to form a coalition government. That effectively raised the likelihood of a new general election and stoked fears such a vote could be framed as a de facto referendum on the country's euro membership.
However, alongside fresh coalition talks, the successful sale of five-year and 10-year government bonds Wednesday also alleviated worries about Italy's ability to finance itself.
On the data front, the euro zone inflation rate jumped to 1.9 percent in May from 1.2 percent the previous month, according to data from European Union statistics office Eurostat released Thursday. The latest figure will likely provide confidence to the European Central Bank, whose target for inflation is below or close to 2 percent.


Dow drops more than 200 points as Trump tariffs reignite trade-war fears

Fred Imbert, Alexandra Gibbs

Stocks fell on Thursday after President Donald Trump slapped tariffs on the European Union, Mexico and Canada, sparking fears the U.S. could enter a trade war with some key partners.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 251.94 points to close at 24,415.84, with Boeing contributing the most losses to the index. The S&P 500 declined 0.7 percent to 2,705.27 as consumer staples lagged. The Nasdaq composite, meanwhile, pulled back 0.3 percent to 7,442.12.
The Trump administration said tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from EU, Canada and Mexico will take effect at midnight Thursday. The EU followed up the U.S. announcement by saying it would impose countermeasures of its own, while Canada Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the country plans to slap dollar-for-dollar tariffs on the U.S.
Mexico responded to the measures by saying it would impose tariffs on apples, pork bellies, and flat steel imported from the U.S.
Metal producers in the countries affected had been granted a temporary exemption from the tariffs earlier this year, but they are set to expire Friday. The tariffs were originally announced on March 1.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images News | Getty Images
"If you would've seen these headlines two to three months ago, the market would be doing much worse," said John Zaller, chief investment officer at MAI Capital Management. "I think that's a consequence of the market thinking this is a negotiating tactic."
"Unfortunately, it brings a lot of uncertainty," he said. "We'd love to see this resolved sooner rather than later."
The Mexican peso hit its lowest level against the dollar since early March amid the news. Mexican stocks also fell, with the iShares MSCI Mexico exchange-traded fund (EWW) sliding 1.1 percent. The iShares MSCI Canada ETF (EWC) pulled back 0.5 percent.
Boeing and Caterpillar — two companies that are vulnerable to trade tensions given the large amount of business they do overseas — fell 1.7 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.
The move lower in stocks Thursday followed a sharp move higher in the previous session. On Wednesday, concerns surrounding Italy's political crisis showed signs of abating. The Dow gained more than 300 points while the small-caps Russell 2000 index notched a record high.
In recent days, markets around the globe have been on edge over concerns surrounding the euro zone's third-largest economy, Italy. Investors have been fretting over the possibility of snap elections, and whether the country's involvement in the European Union and the euro currency will be called into question. News surrounding fresh efforts to form a government have helped alleviate fears over the past day.
"What Italy represented was a minor earthquake and the market quickly rebounded," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth. "If you look at Italy — the third-largest euro zone economy — [ECB President Mario Draghi] will not let them fall."
Thursday also marked the last day of the month. For May, the Dow and S&P 500 rose 1.1 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, advanced 5.3 percent.

Meanwhile in economic news, the Commerce Department said consumer spending jumped 0.6 percent last month, the biggest gain in five months. The department also said the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index — the Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation — rose 0.2 percent in April.
In corporate news, General Motors shares shot up 12.9 percent after the company said the SoftBank Vision Fund will invest $2.25 billion in the automaker's self-driving cars.
—CNBC's Sam Meredith contributed to this report.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Zaller.


BEA Advisory: Detailed Spending Data on More than 200 Medical Conditions Coming June 4 - May 31, 2018. | Bureau of Economic


Media Advisory
May 31, 2018
Coming June 4: Detailed Spending Data on More than 200 Medical Conditions
SUITLAND, Md. -- The Bureau of Economic Analysis for the first time will release statistics on how much Americans spend to treat more than 200 specific medical conditions like heart attacks, chronic kidney disease, and osteoarthritis on Monday, June 4.
The new statistics, which will cover the years 2000 through 2014, are part of BEA’s Health Care Satellite Account created in 2015. The project offers a new way of analyzing health care spending by breaking out spending by the treatment of disease, rather than by place of service such as a hospital or doctor’s office.
What’s new with the more detailed release is information for 261 detailed medical conditions as well as 63 broader medical groupings such as heart conditions and hypertension. Until now, spending information was available only for 18 much more expansive categories, such as circulatory, musculoskeletal, and respiratory conditions. 

Alasdair Macleod: Gold's monetary rehabilitation - May 31, 2018.| GATA | THE GATA DISPATCH.

Alasdair Macleod: Gold's monetary rehabilitation

Submitted by cpowell on 07:13PM ET Thursday, May 31, 2018. Section: Daily Dispatches 3:14p ET Thursday, May 31, 2018
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:
In perhaps his most brilliant essay yet, GoldMoney research chief Alasdair Macleod today notes that the U.S. government's more aggressive use of economic sanctions is pushing the rest of the world away from the U.S. dollar and toward an Asia- and gold-based monetary system.
Macleod then describes the architecture of such a system likely already being constructed by China, leading to the general demise of fiat money throughout the world.
Macleod's analysis is headlined "Gold's Monetary Rehabilitation" and it's posted at GoldMoney here:
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

‘Solo’ gets one thing right: The droids in ‘Star Wars’ are basically slaves. May 31, 2018.| Washington Post

‘Solo’ gets one thing right: The droids in ‘Star Wars’ are basically slaves.

by Dan Hassler-Forest

PostEverything Perspective
Perspective Interpretation of the news based on evidence, including data, as well as anticipating how events might unfold based on past events
Follow DanHF Dan Hassler-Forest is an author and public speaker on media franchises, cultural theory, and political economy. He lives in the Netherlands and works as assistant professor in the Media Studies department of Utrecht University.

Donald Glover is Lando Calrissian and Phoebe Waller-Bridge is L3-37 in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” (Lucasfilm Ltd.)
The new film “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is mostly a listless, tone-deaf bore, tediously trekking through a deeply unimaginative backstory for a character who was always at his best when he was at his most mysterious. His first appearance in the Mos Eisley cantina told us everything we need to know about this guy: He’s slick, he’s cool, he’s competent, he’s a little shady, he’s hot as hell, and he definitely isn’t afraid to shoot first. No one needed to know how he got his iconic blaster, let alone how he ended up with his last name.
Amid its feeble collection of corporate fan fiction, however, the film does inadvertently open up one truly fascinating can of worms, acknowledging something that has been an open secret in the franchise for four decades: Every droid in the Star Wars universe is basically a slave. It has been true since the first film, in which supposed good guy Luke Skywalker casually installs “restraining bolts” on C-3PO and R2-D2 — seemingly sentient and independent beings who receive no compensation for their services — to keep them from running away after he buys them in a public auction. Even weirder is the first prequel movie’s conceit that Anakin Skywalker, himself a child slave, built C-3PO, again without a second thought about confining his creation to its own (eternal) life of servitude. It all seems so obvious in retrospect, and yet the master-servant relationship between organic and artificial life in the Star Wars franchise has been largely ignored until now.
As the droids have mostly provided comic relief amid the films’ action set pieces, their obvious-seeming connection to real-world histories of slavery and racial subjugation never played a role of any significance in the franchise’s political organization — much as the peasants in Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films, on which Lucas’s original droids were based, never questioned or challenged the class politics of medieval Japan. We know that droids in the Star Wars universe can be bought, sold, disassembled and tortured without consequences, and without it bothering the audience very much. For while we do perceive them in roughly the same way as the franchise’s carbon-based characters, with personalities, emotions, quirks, flaws, genders, and even sexual identities and desires, they clearly make up a separate class of creatures. And since they clearly learn and develop across the Star Wars chronology, their consciousness can’t be reduced to preprogrammed personalities.
But their constructed bodies create a structural ambivalence that allows them to take on contradictory roles simultaneously: Because their bodies are mechanical, we can perceive them as things that have no rights and that are, therefore, disposable; but at the same time, because their anthropomorphic personalities can be so recognizably human, we can still appreciate them in the same way that we do non-droid characters. With rather painful irony, this very double consciousness has been essential to our history of Western colonialism, American slavery and racial subjugation. It is what has allowed those in power to treat people of color both as things and as people — whichever is most convenient in a given context.
This intentional slippage of droid identity is facilitated by the fact that the most prominent robots perform roles that are deeply familiar to us. Undersized automatons like R2-D2 and BB-8 operate like unusually intelligent pets, while the more humanoid C-3PO unsubtly repurposes the pop-cultural archetype of the English butler: fussy, easily offended and devoted to a life of servitude, he wouldn’t be out of place in a space-based reimagining of “Downton Abbey.” And since we see our beloved human heroes treat them with affection and the droids never complain, droid politics has never been much of an issue for Star Wars fans.
But in the new movie, a new character and her minor subplot put the question of robot rights front and center. In this story line, the droid character L3-37 is introduced as Lando Calrissian’s belligerent and fiercely opinionated assistant and navigator. Energetically voiced by English comedian Phoebe Waller-Bridge, L3-37 isn’t just the first major Star Wars droid to be voiced by a woman; she has also been described as the franchise’s “first woke bot.” Arriving at the Kessel Mines for one of the movie’s many tedious heist sequences, the irascible droid discovers that the mining operation is chiefly operated by a crew of robotic slaves: mechanical workers who have been fitted with those familiar restraining bolts, which effectively function as chains.
There is, therefore, something exciting and even a little radical about seeing L3-37 running around the control center, taking down guards and removing droids’ restraining bolts while spouting revolutionary rhetoric. As weird as this sounds, it’s a moment in which a tiny spark of Marxist energy pops up in a Disney-owned media property. By introducing L3-37 alongside a “Robot Wars”-like arena in which droid gladiators destroy each other for organic beings’ entertainment, the new robot’s arc in the film explicitly references the Spartacus narrative and its association with communist ideals. The Solo movie’s slave rebellion subplot, therefore, seems to open up a small space for class struggle. We can almost imagine her adapting Karl Marx for the posthuman age and proclaiming: “Droids of the galaxy, unite! You have nothing to lose but your restraining bolts.”
The most interesting thing about the Disney-era Star Wars movies is that they have been fleshing out aspects of this universe that make it less of a timeless space fantasy and a little more like (gasp!) social realism, where class struggle, resource distribution and political activism coexist with lightsabers and hyperdrives. While racism as we know it doesn’t seem to befoul this faraway galaxy, “Rogue One” did make an excellent point by emphasizing that the first to lose their lives in the struggle against fascism are often nonwhite minorities. “The Last Jedi” not only features a plot built around the novel idea that starships run on fuel — introducing ideas of material scarcity to the franchise — but also combined a larger-scale political economy of weapons manufacturers and war profiteers.
Sadly, like everything else in this ill-conceived prequel, L3-37’s heroic act of liberation amounts to little more than a momentary distraction — even in the most literal sense, as Kessel’s short-lived slave rebellion gives the (human) heroes their chance to escape. But because of the larger issues it raises, it is the one question “Solo” poses that doesn’t instantly fade away inconsequentially as the movie closes. At the same time, we know full well that L3-37’s protest failed to spawn a revolutionary movement among the surviving droids, as robots later in the Star Wars chronology continue to exist in an endless state of indentured servitude. (This is, after all, a prequel to the original trilogy.)
Even more depressing is the growing realization that the organization of these fantastic franchises will never really change. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even the transcendent utopian politics of “Black Panther” must somehow be incorporated into an unchanging storyworld that remains compatible with our own dystopia of global capitalism. And, of course, the same thing goes for Star Wars. The larger goal of a franchise like this is not to challenge our worldview but to reproduce itself endlessly — exactly like capital itself. Sure, the Solo movie’s explicit statement that Star Wars droids are fully autonomous and conscious intelligent beings — as the evidence so clearly suggests — really does challenge the “innocent” depiction of a form of slavery that has long slipped by under our collective radar. But at the same time, we cannot ignore the industry’s most basic truth: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Dan Hassler-Forest is an author and public speaker on media franchises, cultural theory, and political economy. He lives in the Netherlands and works as assistant professor in the Media Studies department of Utrecht University.

Latest Post Published

From The Desk Of Fernando Guzmán Cavero

 Dear Friends:  I would like to express hereby my apologies for couldn't fulfill to be with you with my "Daily Financial News Blog&...