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Jul 25, 2018

Labor should oppose prosecution against Witness K, Steve Bracks says | World news I The Guardian

theguardian.com

Labor should oppose prosecution against Witness K, Steve Bracks says | World news

Luke Henriques-Gomes


The former Victorian premier Steve Bracks says the federal Labor party should speak up about the Turnbull government’s prosecution of the former Australian spy Witness K and his lawyer.
The former Australian Secret Intelligence Service operative and his lawyer Bernard Collaery face charges for conspiracy to breach section 39 of the Intelligence Services Act after revealing that Australia had bugged Timor-Leste’s cabinet rooms during lucrative oil and gas negotiations in 2004.
Bracks, Victoria’s second-longest serving Labor premier and an occasional adviser to Timor-Leste, called on the attorney general, Christian Porter, to drop the charges, which the former premier described as “shocking”.
He added that Labor should scrap the prosecution if it wins the next election. The opposition has been silent on the issue since the independent MP Andrew Wilkie used parliamentary privilege earlier this month to reveal the pair were being prosecuted.
Asked if the shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, and the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, should comment on the issue, he said: “They may give a public comment soon, I hope they do and I would encourage them to do so.”
An initial hearing on the case was scheduled at the ACT magistrates court on Tuesday but has been postponed until 12 September. Porter has said the decision to charge the pair was made by the commonwealth director of public prosecutions. The prosecution requires his consent.
The Timor-Leste government has said the charges are a matter for the Australian legal system, but the country’s former president, José Ramos-Horta, told ABC Radio on Wednesday it was “beyond comprehension Australia is prosecuting Witness K and solicitor Bernard Collaery”.
Bracks joined Timor Sea Justice Campaign activists, Balibo Five widow Shirley Shackleton, Victorian Trades Hall officials and the former Victorian Labor deputy premier John Thwaites at the protest against the prosecutions in Melbourne on Wednesday.
Speaking to the rally, Bracks suggested the government was seeking a suppression order in the case to avoid political embarrassment, including that the foreign affairs minister at the time, Alexander Downer, may be called to give evidence.
“Why would the Australian government go to the extent of choosing to proceed with a prosecution against Witness K and Bernard Collaery?” he said.
“What have they got to hide? What is the motivation ... You have to ask the question, why at the magistrates court in the hearing in Canberra in September, would the Australian government seek a suppression order? Why? They don’t want this strategy made public.”
Thwaites, who worked on infrastructure projects in Timor-Leste after he left politics, told the rally he was “sick in the stomach” when he heard about the charges.
“I believe Australia’s international reputation is being harmed by this,” he told Guardian Australia.
“We’re not going to be able to expect other countries to do the right thing and follow international law if we behave like this, if we breached the law in our actions in other countries and then cover that up, and then charge people who tell the truth.”
Thwaites said political pressure, including from Labor, would be “worthwhile”, but added that “the bottom line is that the government is responsible and the attorney general is responsible”.
Collaery, who was also a legal advisor to Timor-Leste, has said he and Witness K raised their concerns about the bugging operation through the proper channels.
The pair are charged with communicating information about the operation to ABC journalists and a producer.
Clara Chung, a member of Melbourne’s Timorese community, told the rally Timor-Leste had eventually gained a “fairer deal” because of Collaery and Witness K.
“We will never forget their favours,” she said.
Timorese activists were also expected to converge on the Australian embassy in Dili on Wednesday. 

Qualcomm Expects to Call Off $44 Billion Deal for NXP Semiconductors I Business I DealBook I NYT

nytimes.com

Qualcomm Expects to Call Off $44 Billion Deal for NXP Semiconductors



Qualcomm has been awaiting regulatory approval from China to complete its $44 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors.CreditChina Network/Reuters
SAN FRANCISCO — Qualcomm said it planned to call off its $44 billion deal to buy NXP Semiconductors by the end of Wednesday unless Chinese regulators approved it. The chip maker added that it would buy back $30 billion of its stock if the acquisition was terminated.
Image
Steve Mollenkopf, the chief executive of Qualcomm, which gave Chinese regulators until the end of Wednesday to approve the deal.CreditSteve Marcus/Reuters
The transaction may become an unintended casualty of the trade war between the United States and China. Washington recently leveled tariffs on numerous Chinese goods, and trade experts said the Chinese authorities appeared to be withholding approval of the Qualcomm deal to gain negotiating leverage in retaliation. Eight other jurisdictions, including the United States, had already approved Qualcomm’s purchase of NXP; China was the exception.
The developments followed actions by President Trump to aid Qualcomm this year. In March, he blocked a $117 billion hostile takeover bid for Qualcomm by a rival chip maker, Broadcom, after a federal committee said an acquisition would reduce research spending on wireless technology essential to national security.
Qualcomm announced the joint decision with NXP along with its quarterly earnings on Wednesday afternoon. The deadline for consummation of the deal is midnight Eastern time.
“We intend to terminate our purchase agreement to acquire NXP when the agreement expires at the end of the day today, pending any new material developments,” Qualcomm said in a statement, adding that it planned to pursue a stock buyback of up to $30 billion.
If the deal falls apart, it will be a setback for Qualcomm. The company, based in San Diego, is expected to immediately have to pay NXP a $2 billion breakup fee for failing to win regulatory approval for the transaction.
More broadly, Qualcomm must convince shareholders that it can expand its business without the Dutch-based chip maker, which was expected to speed Qualcomm’s expansion into chips for cars, mobile payments and other applications.

Trump pushes 25 percent auto tariff as top advisers scramble to stop him I The Washington Post.

washingtonpost.com

Trump pushes 25 percent auto tariff as top advisers scramble to stop him

by Damian Paletta


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Breaking: President Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday announced a limited deal to avoid a further escalation of trade tensions. In an unexpected press conference, the two leaders said the European Union would buy more soybeans and liquified natural gas from the United States as the U.S. and E.U. work to eliminate tariffs on industrial goods. Existing tariff plans would be put on hold, they said, while the steel and aluminum tariffs that Trump imposed earlier this year would be reexamined. This story will be updated.
Several of President Trump’s senior economic advisers believe he plans to push forward with 25 percent tariffs on close to $200 billion in foreign-made automobiles later this year, three people briefed on internal discussions said.
Trump wants to move forward despite numerous warnings from GOP leaders and business executives who have argued that such a move could damage the economy and lead to political mutiny.
But Trump has become increasingly defiant in his trade strategy, following his own instincts and intuition and eschewing advice from his inner circle. He has told advisers and Republicans to simply trust his business acumen, a point he tried to reinforce Wednesday morning in a Twitter post.
“Every time I see a weak politician asking to stop Trade talks or the use of Tariffs to counter unfair Tariffs, I wonder, what can they be thinking?” Trump said Wednesday. “Are we just going to continue and let our farmers and country get ripped off?”
Trump’s trade strategy, and his potential auto tariffs, hit a key juncture Wednesday, when the U.S. president is scheduled to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Trump said Tuesday that Juncker has come to negotiate with him over trade matters, suggesting that his hard-line stance had forced other leaders to offer concessions.
But so far there is little evidence that this trade approach is working, despite Trump’s pleas for patience and unity. The disunity within the White House and Trump’s insistence on pushing ahead on auto tariffs were described by three people briefed on the status of negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal internal deliberations.
Juncker is expected to propose two ideas to try to calm tensions with the White House, said a European official briefed on the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the E.U. position. One option would be lower tariffs among all major auto-exporting countries, while another would be a targeted deal between the United States and the E.U. to eliminate tariffs on industrial products, including cars.
Trump suggested a similar idea Tuesday evening on Twitter, but he seemed to suggest the Europeans would never accept the proposal he desired, making it appear that an agreement was still out of reach.
Trump has said imposing tariffs on foreign cars could push Americans to buy more U.S. automobiles, helping U.S. workers. But critics think tariffs would drive up the cost of all cars and pass those inflated prices on to consumers.
The United States imported a record $192 billion in new passenger vehicles in 2017. The E.U. charges a 10 percent tariff on imports of U.S. automobiles, and the United States has a 2.5 percent tariff on European cars. The United States also charges a 25 percent tariff on light truck and sport-utility vehicle imports from other countries. Complicating matters further, a number of top European automobile companies, such as BMW and Mercedes, already make many automobiles in the United States, as do Japanese companies such as Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Subaru.
Commerce Department officials are now considering a variety of options to address Trump’s insistence that cheap foreign cars are flooding the U.S. market, and some of those measures would stop far short of imposing tariffs, two people briefed on the discussions said. But several of Trump’s advisers think he is expected to follow the approach he took with steel and aluminum imports and choose the most severe restrictions and his favored tool — tariffs across the board, according to the three people briefed on White House discussions.
The constant back-and-forth of meetings, threats, tariffs and countertariffs has spooked many Republicans, splintering the GOP and many of the business groups that marched in lockstep with Trump last year in his push to lower taxes.
While Trump is meeting with Juncker, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) plans to introduce a bill that would make it much harder for Trump to impose tariffs on foreign automotive imports, showing more cracks in the Republican Party as members fear political consequences in the midterm elections.
Several months after Trump first imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, the United States is now in economic skirmishes with China, Japan, the E.U., Canada, Mexico and Turkey. Trump has also recently complained about what he views as unfair trade practices from India, suggesting he could soon turn his attention to the world’s second most-populous country.
The disharmony within the White House is spilling into public view, something that appears to be bothering Trump. On Wednesday, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said at a CNBC event that he and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow were at odds with others on how to proceed on trade, but that Trump made the ultimate decisions on his own.
“The president hears all the arguments, but he makes the final decision,” Mulvaney said.
Trump appears to be irked by people questioning his approach.
“When you have people snipping at your heels during a negotiation, it will only take longer to make a deal, and the deal will never be as good as it could have been with unity,” he said in another Wednesday morning Twitter post. “Negotiations are going really well, be cool. The end result will be worth it!”
Before Trump could impose tariffs on auto imports, the Commerce Department must issue a finding that they pose a national security threat to the United States. Several Republican lawmakers have said such a finding would be laughable, but the Commerce Department has flexibility to make a determination on its own.
A Commerce Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the process so far, said the review had not been completed and no final decisions had been made.
But even with a final decision at least one month away, many of Trump’s fellow Republicans are getting nervous.
“There are some in the economic community who view this as the bright line,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a Republican and former director of the Congressional Budget Office. If Trump does this, Holtz-Eakin said, many Republicans have told him they will no longer “support the president any more. They are done.”
There are growing signs, though, that Trump is cognizant of the GOP trade criticism and taking steps to try to quell a mutiny. His administration on Tuesday announced up to $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers who are facing retaliatory tariffs from Mexico and China, among other countries.
Farmers have called on Trump to back down from his tariff strategy, but Trump made clear Tuesday and Wednesday that he had no plans to, believing it gives him the upper hand in negotiations.
Trump’s defiance stands in sharp contrast to what happened in the White House last year, when senior advisers were able to prevent Trump from following his protectionist instincts on trade decisions. The president had wanted to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement and a trade deal with South Korea, but he was talked out of it.
Former senior economic adviser Gary Cohn was a lead voice among those cautioning Trump against protectionism, warning that a schism over trade would threaten the fragile GOP unity his party needed to pass the tax bill.
But Cohn is gone, having departed the White House shortly after Trump announced plans for tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Trump has cast off the more measured approach favored by advisers such as Kudlow, Cohn’s successor, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, instead arguing that an all-or-nothing stance garners the most respect from foreign leaders.
And the remaining pro-free-trade faction of the White House is less organized than a year ago. Last year, there was a process for weekly meetings on trade policy among top advisers. But that process has mostly broken down since Cohn’s departure, and there is not a broad consensus among White House officials how to proceed.
This has given Trump more running room to follow his own instincts, with his approach often backed up by Peter Navarro, one of his top trade advisers who often clashed with Cohn last year. Navarro is a trade hawk who thinks China and other countries have destroyed millions of American manufacturing jobs over decades through their trade policies.
The Commerce Department held an open meeting last week and heard from 45 different groups on the automotive review, with all but one cautioning against these tariffs. The only group that offered measured support was the United Auto Workers.
Some outside advisers have privately urged Commerce officials to tailor any restrictions so that they only affect advanced technology used in cars and not the cars themselves, creating an opening for U.S. companies without inadvertently driving up broad costs on consumers.
But Trump was presented with a similar array of proposals on the steel and aluminum tariffs, and he selected the most severe one, arguing it was needed to correct what he viewed as unfair practices by foreign countries.
“The one thing I do know about Trump is that he’s not going to back down,” said Steve Moore, who was a top economic adviser to Trump during the 2016 campaign. “He’s not going to be bullied. That means the ball is in these other countries’ court.”
Jeanne Whalen, Erica Werner and Quentin Ariès in Brussels contributed to this report. 

Facebook shares fall 9 percent on revenue miss I The Washington Post

washingtonpost.com

Facebook shares fall 9 percent on revenue miss




(Eric Gaillard/Reuters)
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Facebook shares fell 9 percent on lower-than-expected revenue numbers from its second-quarter earnings report Wednesday.
Revenue totaled $13.23 billion, shy of the $13.33 billion analysts expected, raising worries that the political and social backlash against the company is affecting its bottom line. The company beat the profit forecast, with $1.74 per-share earnings.
“Despite facing important challenges, our community and business are off to a strong start in 2018,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO. “We are taking a broader view of our responsibility and investing to make sure our services are used for good. But we also need to keep building new tools to help people connect, strengthen our communities, and bring the world closer together.”
Strong ad sales from Google, which is Facebook’s main competitor for online advertising, sent expectations for the social network’s earnings up, along with its stock price.
The number of monthly users — a key indicator of Facebook’s popularity — rose slightly, to 2.23 billion from 2.2 billion last quarter.
Facebook shares closed at $217.41, up more than 10 percent over the past month.
Hayley Tsukayama Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post. A Minnesota native, she joined The Post in 2010 after completing her master's degree in journalism. Follow
NASDAQ 7,932.24
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EU FX I CNBC

cnbc.com

Dollar softens as hope for US-EU trade deal rises

CNBC


119609144MW001_TWENTY_DOLLA Mark Wilson | Getty Images
The U.S. dollar dipped against a basket of currencies on Wednesday after a meeting between President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he hoped "to work something out on a fair deal with Europe," during his meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker. The talks come after the United States imposed tariffs on European Union steel and aluminum, and Trump threatened to extend those measures to EU-made cars.
The dollar traded down 0.32 percent versus a basket of major currencies at 94.31. The euro was up 0.21 percent at $1.1708.
Lack of clarity over where a brewing U.S.-European trade conflict is heading kept most major currencies, including the dollar, range-bound on Wednesday as Juncker traveled to Washington.
The European Commission is preparing a list of $20 billion of U.S. goods to be hit with retaliatory tariffs, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Wednesday.
Currency investors have also been keeping an eye on the Federal Reserve after Trump reinforced his criticism last week of the central bank's policy on raising interest rates, saying it could hurt the U.S. economy. He also accused the EU and China of manipulating their currencies.
"Short-term traders had to take notice of Trump's comments, but other countries did not take the bait. The dollar is fairly stable. There is no currency war," Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York, said in a note.
Against the yen, the dollar was 0.4 percent weaker at 110.75 yen per dollar.
The yen found some support early this week on expectations the Bank of Japan might be a step closer to scaling back some of its aggressive monetary stimulus.
The offshore yuan strengthened 0.37 percent against the dollar to 6.7658 yuan as traders took profits after the Chinese currency hit its weakest level since June 2017 on Tuesday. The Canadian dollar reached a two-week high against its U.S. counterpart as yield spreads between the two countries narrowed.
The loonie was 0.76 percent higher at 1.3052 Canadian dollars to the greenback.
The Australian dollar gained after data on Wednesday showed inflation remained stubbornly low last quarter despite fairly robust economic growth. It traded 0.23 percent higher at $0.7436.

Wall Street at Close Report: Dow jumps 100 points after Trump reportedly gets concessions from EU to avoid a trade war I CNBC

cnbc.com

Dow jumps 100 points after Trump reportedly gets concessions from EU to avoid a trade war

Fred Imbert, Alexandra Gibbs


Stocks closed sharply higher on Wednesday after President Donald Trump reportedly obtained concessions from the European Union to avoid a trade war.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 172.16 points to close at 25,414.10 after falling more than 100 points earlier in the session. The Nasdaq Composite jumped 1.2 percent to an all-time high of 7,932.24 as Google-parent Alphabet, Facebook and Amazon all jumped. The S&P 500 gained 0.9 percent to 2,846.07, closing less than 1 percent from its record high, as tech rose 1.5 percent.
Dow Jones reported, citing an EU official, that the EU has agreed to import more U.S. soybeans. Dow Jones also said the EU agreed to lowering tariffs on industrial goods.
Caterpillar jumped to close 1.8 percent higher on heavy volume following the report. Ford shares nearly went positive after falling as much as 4 percent earlier in the day.
The report comes as Trump met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to discuss trade issues.Trade relations between the U.S. and EU had been strained in recent months. In June, the U.S. president threatened tariffs on imported cars from the European Union. Last week, the EU’s Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said that if the U.S. imposed these levies, it would be “very unfortunate,” and added that the bloc had prepared its own list of countermeasures.
Stocks also rose off their lows after a bipartisan group of Senators announced a bill that could potentially delay any auto tariffs implemented by the Trump administration. The bill would require "the International Trade Commission (ITC) to conduct a comprehensive study of the well-being, health, and vitality of the United States automotive industry before tariffs could be applied."
Both Boeing and General Motors reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings, but their full-year forecasts disappointed Wall Street. Boeing dropped 0.7 percent while General Motors fell 4.5 percent.
Boeing reaffirmed its 2018 earnings forecast while General Motors slashed its own estimates, citing "recent and significant increases in commodity costs" as well as currency headwinds for the cut.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Dow-component Coca-Cola reported earnings that topped estimates, pushing the stock up by more than 1 percent.
Wall Street has high hopes for this earnings season, with analysts polled by FactSet expecting a 20 percent year-over-year increase in second-quarter profits.
"For the most part, the earnings season has gone as expected," said Ryan Nauman, market strategist at Informa Financial Intelligence. But the biggest takeaway thus far "is the forward-looking narratives companies are giving, citing the stronger dollar and rising material costs."
Moving forward, "I think that's going to be the No. 1 headline from companies."
Nearly 30 percent of S&P 500 companies have reported quarterly results thus far. Of those companies, 82.6 percent have reported better-than-expected earnings, according to FactSet.
Facebook shares dropped nearly 10 percent after the close following the release of the company's quarterly earnings.
The Commerce Department is scheduled to release the first look at second-quarter economic growth on Friday. Economists polled by Reuters expect the economy to have grown by 4.1 percent.
"For several months, we've had this concern over what tariffs will do to the economy, while at the same time seeing a booming U.S. economy," said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Baird. He also said the market's overall trend has been to the upside, but added he would not be surprised "if we ran into a headwind after this earnings season. The global economy seems to be slowing down."
Friday's GDP report will follow disappointing new home sales data. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that new home sales dropped to their lowest since October 2017. Shares of hombuilder companies fell sharply on the data, with the SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB) sliding 1.9 percent.

Bonds Report I CNBC

cnbc.com

fresh economic data in focus

Alexandra Gibbs, Thomas Franck


U.S. government debt yields rose on Wednesday after President Donald Trump reportedly secured concessions from Europe, averting a trade war.
Dow Jones reported on the concessions shortly before Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker were scheduled to brief the press at a joint conference at the White House.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was lower at around 2.963 percent at 4:00 p.m. ET, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was in the red at 3.09 percent. Bond yields move inversely to prices.
The Treasury Department auctioned $36 billion in five-year notes at a high yield of 2.815 percent. The bid-to-cover ratio, an indicator of demand, was 2.61. Indirect bidders, which include major central banks, were awarded 67.2 percent. Direct bidders, which includes domestic money managers, bought 8.7 percent.

Oil Prices at Close Report: Oil prices rise after US crude inventories fall I CNBC

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Oil prices rise after US crude inventories fall

CNBC


Oil fracking California Getty Images
Oil prices rose for a second day on Wednesday after government data showed U.S. crude inventories fell to the lowest since February 2015, easing worries about oversupply that have weighed on markets in recent weeks.
However, trade was volatile following the report, with crude futures falling from session highs to lows and then rebounding, as traders digested the data, analysts said.
Brent crude was up 50 cents at $73.94 a barrel by 2:29 p.m. ET, after gaining half a percent on Tuesday. U.S. light crude rose 78 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $69.30, having risen nearly 1 percent in the previous session.
Overall, crude inventories fell by 6.1 million barrels in the week to July 20, EIA data showed, their lowest since February 2015. Analysts had expected a decrease of 2.3 million barrels.
However, much of the headline drop in crude stockpiles occurred in the West Coast.
"The West Coast is so isolated from the rest of the county that it's just not seen as critical to the overall inventory setup," John Kilduff, founding partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital, told CNBC.
Kilduff also noted that China has recently been making unusual purchases of Canadian crude, which is often sent to the U.S. West Coast.
U.S. crude imports fell by 2.5 million barrels, continuing a trend of large fluctuations in the nation's purchases of foreign oil.
"That has also caused probably some frustration with interpreting these builds or draws from week to week," said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 1.1 million barrels, EIA said, their lowest since November 2014.
"The decrease puts the focus once again on tightening supplies here in the U.S. and it also puts the focus on the fact that U.S. gasoline demand is going through the roof," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
Gasoline stocks fell by 2.3 million barrels, EIA data showed, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 713,000-barrel drop. Meanwhile, U.S. Midwest gasoline stockpiles fell to their lowest seasonally since 2015.
Sentiment was also supported by an International Monetary Fund report about skyrocketing inflation in Venezuela, limiting its ability to boost oil output, said Stephen Innes, trader at brokerage OANDA.
"Venezuelan oil production has already plummeted to a new 30-year low of 1.5 million barrels a day in June," he said.
Yemen's Houthi movement attacked a Saudi oil tanker in the Red Sea, causing slight damage, the Western-backed Arab coalition said on Wednesday, after the Houthis reported targeting a Saudi warship in the area.
Saudi Arabia and Sunni Muslim allies have been fighting in Yemen for three years against the Iran-aligned Houthis, who control much of North Yemen including the capital Sanaa and drove a Saudi-backed government into exile in 2014.
Oil prices have come under pressure this month as a trade dispute between the United States and China, as well as other major economic blocs, has raised the possibility of slower economic growth and weaker global energy demand as higher tariffs stifle imports.
But the global economy is still growing strongly and it is not clear how the trade dispute may impact business.
Reports that China will increase infrastructure spending have also helped reduce concerns that U.S.-China trade tensions will dent Chinese demand for oil.
— CNBC's Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.

Gold Price at Close Report: Gold steadies near 1-year low as dollar slips I CNBC

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Gold steadies near 1-year low as dollar slips

CNBC


PROSPECTING GOLD AP
Gold ticked higher on Wednesday, but was still hovering near one-year lows as the dollar slipped, while hopes for a trade deal with Europe rose during meetings between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and President Donald Trump.
Spot gold rose 0.71 percent to $1,232.88 per ounce. U.S. gold futures for August delivery settled up $6.30 at $1,231.80.
During a meeting Wednesday afternoon with Juncker, Trump said he hoped "to work something out on a fair trade deal with Europe."
Juncker visited the White House as trade relations between the EU and the U.S. have soured. The U.S. has slapped tariffs on European steel and aluminum imports, to which the EU has retaliated.
A deal would signal relief from strained trade tensions between the U.S. and EU over the past several months. Meanwhile, the members of the U.S. Senate introduced a bipartisan bill to delay auto tariffs. Earlier, the Washington Post reported that Trump was considering a 25 percent tariff on foreign-made cars.
The euro hit a session high against the dollar on the news.
"The dollar continuing to creep slightly lower has been helpful across the board in commodity demand," said David Meger director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures. "There's no (other) driving course, but adequate bargain hunting into these dips we've been seeing."
A sliding greenback makes dollar-denominated gold cheaper for holders of other currencies, which could potentially boost demand.
"There is scope for the dollar to ease a bit, which should provide support for gold, though an aggressive rally in the short term is unlikely. From a medium-term perspective we think this is a reasonable level to add length" buy, said Marcus Garvey, commodities strategist at ICBC Standard Bank.
ICBC expects the gold price to average $1,260 an ounce in the third quarter and $1,300 in the fourth quarter.
Rising investor interest in gold can be seen in the holdings of the largest gold-backed, exchange-traded fund, New York's SPDR Gold Trust, which are up more than 1 percent to 25.803 million ounces since July 18.
SPDR holdings have been trending down since April 30, partly due to higher U.S. interest rates, raising the cost of holding gold, which earns no income, interest or dividends and costs money to store and insure.
The U.S. central bank raised interest rates in June for the seventh time since December 2015. A Reuters poll found expectations for two more hikes this year.
"In the short term, upside should be limited as headwinds from the U.S. rate cycle persist," Julius Baer analysts said in a note. "With the dollar expected to eventually roll over and upside pressure to U.S. bond yields easing, medium- to longer-term buying opportunities should open up."
Silver gained 0.9 percent to $15.58, after reaching an eight-day high of $15.63.
Palladium jumped 2.02 percent to $933, after earlier hitting $936.60, a nine-day high, while platinum added 1.41 percent to $840.20.

Trump secures concessions from Europeans to avoid trade war: DJ, citing EU official I CNBC

cnbc.com

Trump secures concessions from Europeans to avoid trade war: DJ, citing EU official

Christina Wilkie


President Donald Trump on Wednesday secured concessions from Europe, averting a trade war, the Dow Jones News Wire reported, citing a European Union official. The report came shortly before Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker were scheduled to brief the press at a joint conference in the White House Rose Garden.
The market rallied on the news. The Dow Jones Industrial Average popped Wednesday afternoon, rising about half a percent on the news.
The Europeans agreed to lower industrial tariffs and import more U.S. soybeans, Dow Jones reported.
Trump said earlier on Wednesday said he hoped "to work something out on a fair trade deal with Europe."
Trump spoke during a meeting with Juncker, who made his first visit to the Trump White House on Wednesday.
Trump and Juncker both said their aim was to lower tariffs and trade barriers between the U.S. and Europe. "If we can have no tariffs, and no barriers and no subsidies, the United States would be extremely pleased," Trump said.
The president said he and Juncker were working to achieve a "reciprocal" trade relationship. "We're making tremendous strides," Trump said, "and we expect something very positive to take place."
In brief remarks, Juncker also stressed the importance of meeting face-to-face, and threw a subtle jab at Trump's habit of tweeting threats at U.S. trading partners. "I think we have to talk to each other, and not at one another," Juncker said. "That's what we'll do today."
On Tuesday, Trump wrote a tweet that could be seen as the president talking "at" the Europeans. "The European Union is coming to Washington tomorrow to negotiate a deal on Trade," he tweeted. "I have an idea for them. Both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies! That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade! Hope they do it, we are ready - but they won’t!"
Trump Tweet
Juncker's visit came during what many experts see as an historic low-point for U.S.-European relations, which have become frayed by Trump's trade wars, his fondness for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump's skepticism of multilateral institutions like NATO and the European Union.
In announcing Juncker's visit, the White House said in a statement on July 17 that the two men would discuss "a wide range of priorities, including foreign and security policy, counterterrorism, energy security, and economic growth," with a "focus on improving transatlantic trade and forging a stronger economic partnership."
Trump's own comments about Europe, however, have repeatedly stood in stark contrast to the White House message. "The European Union -- outside of China and a couple of others -- treats us, on trade, as badly as you can be treated," Trump said during a May visit from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. "They have trade barriers. Our farmers aren’t allowed, to a large extent, to sell their product into the European Union.”
According to Trump's own Department of Agriculture, however, this is not true. On the contrary, the USDA reported that in 2017, American agricultural exports to the European Union totaled $11.2 billion, making Europe the fifth largest export market in the world for U.S. farmers.

Facebook is about to show whether data scandal hurt business I Money I CNN.

money.cnn.com

Facebook is about to show whether data scandal hurt business

Seth Fiegerman


Four months after the Cambridge Analytica scandal humbled Facebook and shaved tens of billions of dollars from its market value, the company's stock is once again trading at record highs.

But investors are about to learn whether Facebook (FB) is truly invincible.
Facebook reports its second quarter earnings results after the bell on Wednesday, providing the clearest glimpse yet into how its data debacle impacted user growth and ad sales.
News that the data firm Cambridge Analytica accessed information from as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission broke in the final weeks of the first quarter. Any serious fallout is more likely to appear in Wednesday's results.
Daniel Ives, an analyst with GBH Insights, wrote in an investor note this week that the results will be a "pivotal barometer" to assess "any fundamental damage" to the company in the wake of what he calls "the darkest chapter in Facebook's 14-year history." So far, he says, the damage has been "very contained" and is "much better than feared."
Facebook endured grilling from lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic and faces scrutiny from several federal agencies in the United States. Yet the company continues adding users across its portfolio of apps and remains a top destination for advertisers.
Related: Was your Facebook data shared with Cambridge Analytica? You can now find out
Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter expects Facebook to announce that it added 46 million daily users globally in the last quarter, only two million fewer than in the prior quarter. However, he expects Facebook to add just one million daily users in the United States and Canada.
Still, even sluggish growth could be considered a victory given the negative headlines and protests calling for users to delete Facebook. The company defied skeptics in April by reversing its first decline in daily users in the United States and Canada as the data scandal first came to light.
Meanwhile, the ad business shows no sign of slowing. The consensus among analysts is that Facebook will post revenue of $13.3 billion for the quarter, a surge of more than 40% from the same period a year ago. They attribute the increase to the company's formidable ad sales machine.
Facebook and Google remain by far the biggest platforms for marketers online. If anything, recent regulation may only add to that. During the quarter, a sweeping new data protection law took effect across the European Union. Big tech companies have more resources available to adapt to the policy shift.
Brian Wieser, an analyst with Pivotal Research, said in an investor note this month that early anecdotes suggest the General Data Protection Regulation is further "concentrating" advertising budgets with the "duopolists" of Facebook and Google (GOOGL). Earlier this week, Google's parent Alphabet reported a 26% increase in sales from the year prior despite the introduction of GDPR.
Facebook could also find a bright spot in Instagram, the photo-sharing service it acquired in 2012 for $1 billion. The app recently topped one billion active users and recently expanded into long-form videos, which offer tremendous potential for advertising.
Facebook doesn't break out financial data for Instagram, but Wieser says "consumption on Instagram is still growing." That should help in "mitigating" any drop in user engagement for the main Facebook app.
CNNMoney (New York) First published July 25, 2018: 12:03 AM ET

Xi: BRICS countries are contributors to globaL economy I CGTN Video

Highlights of President Xi's keynote speech at BRICS Business Forum I CGTN Video

Greece wildfires: ' I jumped from the flames' I BBC News

Farmers like me put Trump in office. Now his trade war is smothering us I The Washington Post

washingtonpost.com

Farmers like me put Trump in office. Now his trade war is smothering us.

by Kalena Bruce


China needs to be punished for stealing patented U.S. technology. This is not the right approach.


A farmer plants cotton seeds on his farm in Nashville, Ga., on June 21. (David Goldman/AP)
Follow KalenaBruce Kalena Bruce, a fifth generation rancher living in Stockton, Mo., operates a commercial ranch.
President Trump is considering expanding tariffs to apply to $500 billion worth of Chinese imports. This move would double the level of tariffs that Trump recently imposed on Chinese goods. It would apply to nearly all of China’s exports to the United States.
To mitigate tariff damage to U.S. farmers, who are already facing rising input costs and reduced export markets, the Trump administration announced Tuesday that it would extend them $12 billion in aid.
I am a farmer and a Trump supporter. I agree that China needs to be punished for stealing patented U.S. technology. But opening a new front in this trade war, while trying to reduce the blowback on farmers with a Great Depression-era transfer program, is not the right approach. It is the economic equivalent of treating a hangnail by cutting off your finger.
As Trump’s aid package tacitly admits, tariffs hit farmers especially hard. With farmers already facing economic head winds, including oversupply and drought, I predict that even with this aid, expanded tariffs would be the breaking point that puts some farmers out of business entirely. As the history of the Great Depression demonstrates, such federal and bureaucratic farm-support programs rarely compensate for the full burden of a trade war, while usually ushering in unintended consequences that distort the farm economy.
Farmers use a lot of steel, which Trump subjected to a 25 percent tariff in March. Combines, grain bins, fencing and cattle gating, which we are constantly upgrading and replacing, have become significantly more expensive as steel prices have jumped markedly because of the tariffs. This has taken a painful bite out of our already-slim profit margins.
Yet the most significant consequence of tariffs for farmers has been the inevitable tariff retaliation from trading partners, which reduces our export opportunities. For instance, China has targeted soybeans and hogs with steep retaliatory tariffs. These farm products are popular in China and fixtures on Midwest farms.
More than one-third of U.S. soybeans, the second-biggest crop in the nation, goes to China — about $12.4 billion worth. Since May, soybean prices have dipped about $2 per bushel to about $8.50 as export markets have dried up. For every dollar lower a bushel, farmers lose about 10 percent of their revenue.
Meanwhile, pork exports to China are down nearly 20 percent this year. China is an especially valuable market for pork farmers because it purchases the lower-value portions of the hogs, such as the tongue and ears, that are difficult to sell elsewhere. As a result of the limited export markets, meat is piling up in U.S. cold-storage warehouses. Since May, prices of lean hog futures have fallen by 14 percent.
Many of Trump’s farmer supporters like me are holding out hope that these tariffs are part of a grand strategy to reduce trade barriers for U.S. exporters. But with each passing day, and each new tariff, we get more nervous. Surely there is a less destructive way to hold China accountable for its intellectual property offenses without limiting U.S. export opportunities. This is where we could use a president who “makes great deals.”
Congress should rally behind potential legislation by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) that would give lawmakers more say in U.S. tariff policy, in line with the U.S. Constitution. This will give elected representatives from American manufacturing and farming communities an opportunity to make their voices heard and deliver the message that farmers want trade, not aid. It should be one of the few pieces of legislation in this politicized environment that garner bipartisan support. Such legislation would also return tariff power to Congress, whose enumerated powers under the Constitution include the “Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises.”
Until then, Trump must listen to his manufacturing and farming constituents who put him in office and pursue trade agreements that help us increase our gross and net earnings without corporate welfare. That starts with shelving plans to open a new front in the trade war with China.

Maybe China will prompt U.S. to reclaim the gold weapon I GATA I THE GATA DISPATCH


Maybe China will prompt U.S. to reclaim the gold weapon

Submitted by cpowell on 05:34PM ET Wednesday, July 25, 2018. Section: Daily Dispatches 1:40p ET Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:
Now that China seems to have seized control of the gold price, capping and suppressing it to knock commodity prices down, thereby easing the de-facto devaluation of the yuan in China's trade war with the United States, the gold sector is more demoralized than ever. The only pulses left in the sector seem to belong to mining executives and internet sites touting shares to an ever-diminishing audience.
But if China now is using gold to advance the yuan's devaluation and gain trade advantage against the United States, offsetting the burden of U.S. tariffs, the United States is not helpless. The United States could take the gold weapon away from China any time it wants to. That is, the U.S. could start buying metal surreptitiously or openly, effectively devaluing the dollar as well and nullifying the trade advantage China gets by devaluing the yuan.
After all, a few days ago President Trump chastised the Federal Reserve for continuing to raise interest rates, thereby strengthening the dollar too much for his taste. Trump could use gold as a weapon against the Fed as well as against China.

Of course the president tends to contradict himself quickly on anything important. But governments nearly everywhere are getting more stupid every day and more frequently resorting to stupid and obvious tricks for market rigging. They may beat each other up sooner rather than later. Gold will still be around for the sane.

CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.
CPowell@GATA.org

* * *

GoldCore's O'Byrne: Gold price suppression devastates South Africa I GATA I THE GATA DISPATCH


GoldCore's O'Byrne: Gold price suppression devastates South Africa

Submitted by cpowell on 04:28PM ET Wednesday, July 25, 2018. Section: Daily Dispatches 12:29p ET Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:
In video commentary today, GoldCore's Mark O'Byrne notes the devastation inflicted on South Africa and other gold-producing developing countries by the commodity price suppression policies of developed countries. O'Byrne's commentary is headlined "Gold Production in South Africa Continues to Collapse, Down 85% Since 1970," is four minutes long, and can be viewed at YouTube here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEEKBvGkPIU&t=1s
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.
CPowell@GATA.org

Supposedly Bullish Gold’s CoT Signal I Sunshine Profits.

sunshineprofits.com

Supposedly Bullish Gold’s CoT Signal

Supposedly Bullish Gold’s CoT Signal July 25, 2018, 10:07 AM Przemysław Radomski , CFA


przemyslaw-radomski
At first sight, yesterday’s session was quite boring – gold ended the session practically unchanged while silver and mining stocks were only a little higher. The USD Index was practically unchanged. But just because nothing happened in the market in terms of the daily closing prices, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have anything interesting to discuss. We do. There is a boomerang topic that just came back once again – the Commitment of Traders report for gold seems to be favoring higher gold prices as the current readings were seen at previous local bottoms. Are we going to see a CoT-driven rally shortly?
We wouldn’t count on that. A few months ago – in late March – we discussed the silver CoT as the situation in it was critical (the “large speculator’s” position moved below 0) and was likely to trigger an explosive rally. At least that’s what gold promoters would have you believe. On March 26th, 2018, we wrote that the implications of the signal were unclear and thus that it was not a big deal. Silver’s daily closing price was $16.58. The silver chart that we included in that had a target of about $15.40. We admit, it took longer for this level to be reached than we had originally thought (we made profits on the sideways trading in the meantime, so it was not that bad), but after all, this price level was reached and there was no explosion in the price of silver, or gold.
Since the issue of the CoT reports comes back every now and then it seems useful to quote the entire section that we dedicated to this issue:

Silver CoT – Really Important?

Before moving to mining stocks, we would like to reply to a few questions that we just received. Every now and then we are requested to comment on the CoT reports as they continue to be viewed as a very important tool in determining precious metals prices. Just as often, we explain that in our opinion, the usefulness of these reports is overestimated as there are many other indicators for PM prices that appear more useful in determining the precious metals’ direction, for instance the RSI.
A good indicator should have a trading range that’s rather stable and signals that are followed by similar action. The former is mostly missing, and the latter is not coherent.
Let’s take the silver CoT as an example and let’s use Large Speculators as a proxy for the entire report’s data.
Let’s start with the big picture, so that we can determine the buy and sell zones.
CoT Silver - large speculator's position
What was the buy zone? Based on the 2007 – 2012 data, one might think that it’s the level of 20,000 contracts as that was when silver’s price reversed. But no – this level didn’t’ stop silver in 2012 and in the following years. So maybe the interesting level was about 5,000 contracts as the 2012 bottoms suggested. Nope – the amount decreased below it in mid-2013 and so did the price of silver. The number finally reached about 0 in 2013. “That must have been the true bottom” – the CoT followers stated. Oops – 5 years later and silver is still well below the level that it reached in mid-2013. It was about $20, so the white metal is currently more than $2 below it.
Before continuing the above discussion of support levels for the number of large speculators’ positions… You know what else is interesting? The large speculators’ position in light of silver’s powerful rally in 2010 and 2011.
In general, if silver’s price goes up, the large speculators’ position goes up. If silver’s price goes down, the large speculators’ position goes down. When the large speculators’ position gets to/above a certain level it, becomes overbought and indicates a downswing and if it gets to/below a certain level, it becomes oversold and indicates an upswing.
Nice and simple, right? The problem is that there is no “certain level” during both up- and downswings. You already read about the difficulty regarding the overbought/support levels in the previous paragraph. The same goes for the overbought/resistance level. The 2016 and 2017 levels were well above the previous maximums and using the previous readings would have generated incorrect signals.
But that’s now that main point. The main point is that the entire link broke down during the biggest upswing of the past decade. The large speculators’ position rallied according to the general “rule” and… More or less in the middle of the upswing, it started to decline. The large speculators’ position became totally useless in predicting the final top for the rally. If that was the case during the key rally of the past decade, then should you really trust this tool when it comes to timing the details of the key decline of the decade? It seems that we are in the early stage of this kind of movement, so should one really bother with looking at the CoT numbers, which could be useful… to a point after which they could provide the opposite of useful signals? The way situation developed in 2010 and 2011 should make you really doubt the CoT numbers’ usefulness in the following months.
Naturally, the entire previous paragraph assumes that the current price regime is different from the previous months’ back-and-forth trading. If only we had seen something suggesting that this situation is different than everything else that we saw in the past 10 years.
Oh wait, we did.
CoT Silver - large speculator's net position
The large speculator’s position just moved below 0, which indicates a new data regime. In other words, we saw a breakdown in the number of positions of large speculators, which suggests that… Well, they will move to a new low – but nobody knows what this low would be. That’s the smaller problem, though.
The bigger problem is that if silver is starting its major – final – decline, then we might not be able to trust the CoT data at all, just like one shouldn’t have trusted it in 2010 and 2011.
Taking both factors into account makes any bullish implications of the above charts rather insignificant at this time.
By the way, did you notice how the analyses that discuss the CoT data are almost always focused on short or (in the best case) medium term? If you feature the big picture, you see how incoherent the implications are and why this tool should be used at best as something that confirms other types of analysis and not on a stand-alone basis.
To be honest, the above paragraph is not entirely correct – the CoT analyses are usually not focused on any charts at all. Long-term CoT charts (like the one that we featured for silver) would put the comments into perspective and it would be clear that they are not that meaningful.
The comments are about a given position in any part of the report that was reached, the differences between them (net position), or about the dynamics (commercials added crazy XYZ to their already huge position!) and they are often accompanied by comments on how big, small, or whatever the position is, or how remarkably fast or slow a given move in the levels of a given position is taking place. Whichever of the above is the case, it is said to be bullish. On one hand, the above may seem strange to those who are new to the precious metals market, and on the other hand, not blindly agreeing that CoT’s are bullish for gold and silver may appear outrageous to those, who think that gold will move much higher in the next few years.
This way of thinking is indeed very specific, but is it still analysis? No. It’s an example of confirmation bias a.k.a. wishful thinking.
We actually do think that gold and silver will soar in the coming years, but that doesn’t mean that we’ll say that everything about these markets is bullish. Whenever something is bearish, neutral, or unclear, we’ll call it exactly that. There are tons of factors that currently support lower precious metals prices in the next few months, and we will not just ignore them – we will take advantage of the upcoming slide, make money while precious metals decline (sometimes profiting on the corrective upswings like we did in early July) and then get back in the precious metals market at much lower prices and with much bigger capital.
Why are we discussing all this? Because the positions shown in the gold CoT report are similar to what we saw in July 2017 and December 2017.

Gold’s CoT Signal

CoT Gold - large speculator's net position
Gold bottomed and rallied in July and December 2017, so the above chart seems bullish for the next few weeks. Naturally, a rally could follow, but it’s not likely to. Both mentioned cases are taken from the time when gold was trading sideways and the odds are that this stage is over. Consequently, the CoT values are not a tool that should be currently applied.
When we wrote about the RSI several days ago we emphasized its usefulness during big rallies and during sideways trading and its uselessness in the case of medium-term declines. If you read that analysis, you probably already know what we’re going to say. If you didn’t read it – we encourage you to do so.
We compared expecting the RSI to be useful during big declines to chopping a tree using a fork. Using CoT reports during big declines may be compared to chopping a tree using a spoon. It’s not the same as the RSI, but it’s in the same ballpark and it’s just as pointless to be using it when trying to take advantage of the big downswings. This goes for both taking advantage of the downswings by betting on lower PM prices and for simply waiting for great buying opportunities.
Both mentioned cases – July 2017 and December 2017 were buying opportunities that were indicated by the RSI indicator. Last week we discussed it in detail how these signals work during upswings and during sideways trading and how they don’t work during declines. It’s the same with the CoT readings. We already quoted a sizable part of our previous analysis above, so we don’t want to put another big quote below, but combining the analysis that we did quote (about silver CoT) and our last week’s discussion of the RSI’s implications during big downswings makes it clear that the current “signal” from gold’s CoT is of very little meaning.
CoTs are very similar to the RSI in terms of usefulness (the RSI being more useful in our view) – especially during sideways trading patterns, but they will likely not be of much help during big declines. And we have one right now.
You can hate it, you can scream “gold manipulation!”, and you can ignore it. But all this won’t change that the CoT report is most likely not going to help you during the big moves. It may even give you false signals leading to substantial losses and/or missed opportunities.
Finally, since the above discussion may trigger emotional responses, we think a few things should be emphasized.
Sir Isaac Newton said: Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend, but my greatest friend is truth. Paraphrasing the above, we can say: gold is our friend, silver is our friend, but our greatest friend is truth.
We think that both metals will move much higher in the coming years. In particular, we are not perma-bears - we were bullish (in terms of long-term investments) on precious metals for years – until April 2013.
We work for investors, not for gold/silver producers, or gold/silver sellers and our loyalty stays with the former. Therefore, we will not promote gold ownership (except as insurance) when we think that it’s going to move substantially lower and we are doing this for gold and silver investors (so that they can invest at better prices or profit from the decline), not against them. We are the precious metals investors’ true friend – the one that will tell you the harsh truth when things are bad if it’s likely to benefit you, instead of telling you sweet lies that may be pleasant to hear.

Summary

Summing up, the outlook for the precious metals is extremely bearish for the following weeks and months, and even though there are some signs suggesting that a big rally is just around the corner, it’s not necessarily the case as these signs: gold’s CoT numbers and gold’s daily RSI are not particularly useful during big, medium-term declines. There is some strength in the PM market today, but it’s very unlikely to be a start of a really big upswing.
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Please note that the above is based on the data that was available when this essay was published, and we might change our views on the market in the following weeks. If you’d like to stay updated on our thoughts on the precious metals market please subscribe to our Gold & Silver Trading Alerts.
Thank you.
Sincerely,
Przemyslaw Radomski, CFA
Founder, Editor-in-chief, Gold & Silver Fund Manager

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