Items filtered by date: Sunday, 16 April 2017

Stocks, dollar under pressure after soft U.S. data

Shares and the U.S. dollar dipped on Monday while U.S. bond yields slumped to five-month lows after soft U.S. economic data hurt investor sentiment already frayed by worries over North Korea and coming French elections.

That dwarfed any relief for market players after the U.S. Treasury department did not name China as a currency manipulator, avoiding an all-out confrontation on currencies between the world's two largest economies.

S&P 500 mini futures declined 0.15 percent to 2,324, edging near a six-week low of 2,317.75 touched in late March following U.S. President Donald Trump's defeat on healthcare reform.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.1 percent in holiday-thinned trade, while Japan's Nikkei fell as much as 0.6 pct to hit a five-month low before ending up 0.1 percent.

Most European share markets will be closed for Easter holidays.

A raft of Chinese economic data beat market expectations but did not produce notable market reactions as investors had been already optimistic following a recent string of positive China numbers.

China's economy grew 6.9 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, a tad above economists' forecast of 6.8 percent.

However, mainland Chinese shares fell, with Shanghai Composite Index down 1.0 percent at 3,212, risking a close below its 60-day average at 3,216, seen as an important support by investors and weighed by warning from top securities regulator to combat market misbehavior.

U.S. retail sales dropped more than expected in March while annual core inflation slowed to 2.0 percent, the smallest advance since November 2015, from 2.2 percent in February, data showed on Friday.

That helped to drive down the 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield to 2.200 percent, its lowest level since mid-November from around 2.228 percent on Thursday before a market holiday on Friday.

The yield had risen above 2.6 percent in December and again in March, from around 1.85 percent before the U.S. presidential election, on expectations of Trump's stimulus.

But growing perception that Trump will struggle to push any tax cuts and fiscal spending programs through the Congress has prompted unwinding of the "Trump" trade.

"At the moment, it is hard to see any factors that could drive up bond yields," said Hiroko Iwaki, senior strategist at Mizuho Securities.

"And compared to U.S. bond yields, which have given up much of their gains after the election, U.S. share prices, having gone through a limited correction, look vulnerable given potential developments in North Korea or the French election," she said.

Fed fund futures <0#FF:> rose in price, now pricing less than a 50 percent chance of a rate hike in its June 13-14 meeting for the first time in about a month.


Trump's administration declined to name any major trading partner as a currency manipulator in a highly anticipated report on Friday, backing away from a key Trump campaign promise to slap such a label on China.

"Concerns about U.S.-Sino trade frictions have eased for the time being," said Naoki Tashiro, the president of TS China Research.

"But this is also thought to be a part of a barter, namely the U.S. wants China to take tougher actions against North Korea in exchange," he said.

There is no sign of easing in tensions over North Korea's nuclear and missile program after the reclusive country's failed missile test on Sunday.

Trump's national security adviser said on Sunday that the United States, its allies and China are working together on a range of responses to North Korea.

"In essence, North Korea made a provocation that would not transcend the U.S. 'red line'. But depending on how China will react, Trump could lose his patience," said Makoto Noji, senior strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

Safe-haven gold gained as much as 0.8 percent to hit a five-month high of $1,295.5 per ounce on continued concerns on tensions over North Korea.

The dollar slipped to as low as 108.13 yen, a five-month low and 0.4 percent below its late U.S. levels.

The semi-annual U.S. Treasury currency report maintained the six countries on a "monitoring list" -- China, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan and Switzerland -- suggesting Washington could put more pressure on those countries to take steps to reduce their trade surplus with the United States in future.

The euro stood at $1.0622, little moved so far, and not far from a one-month low of $1.0570 touched last Monday, with focus on the French presidential election.

Ahead of the first round of voting on April 23, the race looked tighter. Two polls put any of the four frontrunners, including far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and hard-left challenger Jean-Luc Melenchon, within reach of a two-person run-off vote.

The Turkish lira jumped about 2.5 percent to 3.6300 per dollar versus 3.7220 on Friday after President Tayyip Erdogan snatched a victory in a referendum to grant him sweeping powers in the biggest overhaul of modern Turkish politics.

It last traded at 3.677.

Oil prices slipped on signs the United States is continuing to add output, undermining OPEC efforts to support prices. [O/R]

Benchmark Brent crude futures were down 1.0 percent at $55.34 a barrel.

By Hideyuki Sano | TOKYO

(Editing by Kim Coghill and Richard Borsuk)


Facebook video killing: shooting footage sparks US hunt for suspect

Police in the US are searching for a suspect who they said posted footage on Facebook of himself killing a man. In a separate video he claimed to have killed more than a dozen others.

The Cleveland division of police said on Sunday it was looking for Steve Stephens in connection with the shooting of 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr in the city’s Glenville neighbourhood. Police said Stephens was armed and dangerous.

“Suspect did broadcast the killing on Facebook Live and has claimed to have committed multiple other homicides which are yet to be verified,” the police said in a statement, referring to Facebook’s live-streaming video service.

Facebook later clarified that Stephens had posted a video, rather than broadcast live, although he had appeared on Facebook Live at one point in the day.

The video of the attack was on Facebook for about three hours before being removed.

Officers believe Stephens, who worked for a behavioural health agency, might be driving a white or cream-coloured sports utility vehicle.

In January, four people in Chicago were accused of attacking an 18-year-old disabled man and broadcasting the attack on Facebook Live while shouting “fuck Donald Trump” and “fuck white people”.

A month later, the accused pleaded not guilty to assaulting the victim.

-The Guardian
Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report

  • Published in U.S.

Marcos should pay first for poll protest: Robredo camp

MANILA - The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday filed a motion before the Supreme Court seeking clarification of its order directing her to deposit P15.44 million for her petition to dismiss the poll protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
According to Atty. Romulo Macalintal, the rules do not require them to deposit the amount yet, and insisted that Marcos should be the one to pay first because he filed the election protest.
"Lahat ng election protest, ganoon. Uunahin muna ang nagpoprotesta. Kapag natapos na ang mga nabuksang balota at tingin niya ay meron siyang na-recover, at sa tingin ng pinoprotesta ay dapat sagutin 'yan, saka namin pabubuksan ang ballot boxes," he said in a press conference.
The High Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, directed Robredo and Marcos to shell out a total of P81.46 million for their separate election protests.
Of this amount, P66.02 million will be used for the retrieval of poll materials for the protest of Marcos, while P15.44 million will be used to retrieve election materials for Robredo's petition.
Macalintal, however, said Marcos should pay a total of P185 million because Marcos' protest has a first cause of action that includes all 92,000 clustered precincts.
This part of his protest, said the counsel of Robredo, is also the reason why the vote-counting machines used in the 2017 elections were not returned to Smartmatic on time.
"Actually, meron pang naka-pending na negotiations betwen Comelec and Smartmatic kasi sinisingil ng Smartmatic ang Comelec ng close to P2.9 billion because Comelec failed to return on time itong mga vote-counting machine," he said.
Macalintal, meanwhile, stressed that they are not abandoning their obligations. He said they just want to the order of the Supreme Court clarified.
"We are not abandoning our obligations... We just want to be clarified kung bakit kami magbabayad ngayon e wala pa namang pruweba na meron na siyang nare-recover na mga balota," he said.



BIR urges taxpayers to file ITR today or pay penalties

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Monday urged the public anew to file income tax returns and pay taxes, or pay the consequence of being late.

"Paalala lang sa lahat ng ating tagapakinig, last day of filing po ngayon. Hindi na kami mag-e-extend. Please, mag-file na po kayo at magbayad, kasi tomorrow po, kapag bukas po kayo mag-file ay may penalty na tayo for late filing and late payment," Marissa Cabreros, BIR Assistant Commissioner, said in an interview on GMA News' "Balitanghali."

The deadline for filing an ITR is actually on April 15, but the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) moved the date this year as it falls on Black Saturday, a special non-working holiday.

The BIR last week said it will not extend the deadline, and tax returns filed late will be slapped with corresponding penalties.

The penalties may either be a 25-percent surcharge, a 20-percent interest per year or a compromise penalty.

Cabreros noted the BIR can accommodate last-minute taxpayers until 5:00 p.m.

"Ang BIR office po is bukas hanggang alas-singko ng hapon, so 8:00 to 5:00 po kaming bukas. Ang mga bangko po, nakiusap po kami na mag-extend sila ng banking hours. 'Yung iba ho kasi hanggang alas-tres, pero nakiusap kaming mag-extend ng 3:00 to 5:00 para i-accommodate po ang mga taxpaters na may pahabol po na babayaran ngayong araw na ito," she said. — Jon Viktor Cabuenas/VDS, GMA News


Pence: US era of strategic patience with North Korea over

US Vice-President Mike Pence has said his country's "era of strategic patience" with North Korea is over.
Mr Pence made the remarks at the demilitarised zone (DMZ), the area dividing the two Koreas, during a visit to South Korea to reaffirm ties.
His visit comes amid escalated tensions on the peninsula, with heated rhetoric from both North Korea and the US.
He arrived in Seoul on Sunday hours after North Korea carried out a failed missile launch.
On Monday, the US and South Korea launched a joint air force military exercise to ensure readiness against North Korea, according to South Korean media.
Mr Pence, whose father served in the Korean War, was speaking on Monday at the truce village of Panmunjom, where the war's armistice was signed.
He told reporters: "There was a period of strategic patience, but the era of strategic patience is over."
The US wants to achieve security on the peninsula "through peaceable means, through negotiations", he said, "but all options are on the table".
Mr Pence also reiterated the US commitment to South Korea, saying it was an "iron-clad alliance", and that North Korea "should not mistake the resolve" of the US to stand with its allies.
Earlier in the day he visited Camp Bonifas, a United Nations military compound near the DMZ, and on Sunday he met with US military families stationed in South Korea.
Mike Pence, who is set to meet the acting president of South Korea later, will visit four nations on his 10-day Asia tour.
He has denounced North Korea's ballistic missile test on Sunday as a "provocation".
Also on Sunday, Lt Gen HR McMaster, the US top security adviser, said his country was working on a "range of options" with China, the first confirmation the two countries were co-operating to find a solution to the North Korean issue.
China, historically Pyongyang's sole major ally, has reiterated its call for North Korea to stop all tests, and has also called for a peaceful solution.
US President Donald Trump, who stated last week that the US and its allies may "deal with" Pyongyang if China did not, said on Sunday that Beijing was "working with us on the North Korean problem".
Besides Sunday's launch, North Korea has held a series of large-scale events in the past week including a massive celebration and military parade on Saturday.
It has denounced the US deployment of an aircraft carrier group to the region, saying it would respond by "force of arms" to "reckless moves".
Observers have said North Korea may conduct a sixth nuclear test soon, with activity reported at nuclear facilities, according to the website 38 North.
Meanwhile about 1,000 US airmen and fighter jets are taking part in a combat training exercise in South Korea, reported Yonhap news agency. South Korea has sent about 500 personnel and planes. The Max Thunder exercise will last for two weeks.

BBC News

  • Published in U.S.

Duterte likens self to ‘pragmatic’ Trump

DOHA – US President Donald Trump may have been receiving a barrage of criticisms but at least he reaped some praises from President Duterte, who has likened himself to Trump.

Speaking before the Filipino community here on Saturday, Duterte said Trump was similar to him as both of them can think profoundly even if they appear to be brash.

“Trump is a realist and a pragmatic thinker,” Duterte said.

Duterte said Trump would not have become a billionaire if he were stupid.

“Trump is profound even if he does not seem to be one. Just like me, I am not that bright but I am very deliberate,” he said.

“Talagang pinag-isipan bago kita murahin (I really think it over before I curse at you).”

Duterte then narrated his phone call with Trump after the American billionaire won the presidential race.

He recalled how Trump had told him that “I was doing right” in the fight against illegal drugs.

Last January, Duterte said he shared a lot of similarities with Trump, who assumed the US presidency that month.

“Look at his inaugural speech. He will stop drugs. Gago din! We’re not different. He will really kill you,” Duterte said.

Duterte has been likened to Trump because both of them are fond of issuing inflammatory statements and provocative remarks, which their respective spokespersons and Cabinet officials later clarify and interpret.


Taipan Yuchengco passes away

MANILA, Philippines - Insurance and banking taipan and former ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco passed away Saturday night. He was 94.

Yuchengco, a certified public accountant, was founding chairman of the Yuchengco Group of Companies, including the Ri-
zal Commercial Banking Corp. and Mapua Institute of Technology. He also served as chair of the boards of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, Philippine Fuji Xerox, Benguet Corp., the Bank of America Savings Bank, and Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corporation, among others.

Yuchengco was born on Feb. 6, 1923 in Binondo, Manila to Don Enrique and Maria Hao Tay. A graduate of Far Eastern University, he earned his Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Columbia Business School in 1950, and has since held distinguished professorships in insurance and in finance and economics.

Yuchengco is former Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations. He also served as Philippine ambassador to the People’s Republic of China from 1986 to 1988, and to Japan from 1995 to 1998.

In 2001, Yuchengco was appointed by then-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as presidential special envoy to China, Japan and Korea. In 2004, he was tapped by Arroyo as presidential adviser on foreign affairs.

Among his numerous awards and decorations he received were Outstanding Manilan in Diplomacy in 1995; Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star, by the Emperor of Japan (1993); and Management Man of the Year from the Management Association of the Philippines (1992).

Yuchengco’s wake will start on Tuesday, April 18, at the Santuario de San Antonio Parish at Forbes Park in Makati City, according to a Facebook post by Star columnist Krip Yuson, editor of the magazine Ermita that was published by the taipan’s son Boy in the 1970s.
(The Philippine Star)

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