May, 2017

 

Brazil’s manufacturing PMI rises past 50 for first time since 2015

(Reuters) – Brazil’s manufacturing activity improved in April for the first month since January 2015, a private survey showed on Tuesday, underscoring expectations of a gradual recovery from the country’s deepest recession on record.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index BRPMIM=ECI compiled by research firm Markit rose to a seasonally adjusted 50.1 in April from 49.6 in March. Readings above the 50 threshold indicate improving business conditions for manufacturers.

Output and new orders rose for a second straight month, encouraging companies to increase purchases of raw materials. The improvement was led by the domestic market as new export orders decreased, Markit said in a report.

Official data have also showed signs of a tentative recovery in industrial output, which returned to 2009 levels after a three-year-long downturn. The national statistics agency last month said the worst seemed to be over for the sector.

“Brazil’s manufacturing industry kept itself in positive ground during April,” Markit economist Pollyanna De Lima said.

“Even so, manufacturers seem a way off from operating at full capacity,” she added, noting that manufacturers continued to cut jobs last month.

Economists forecast Brazil’s industrial output to grow 1.4 percent and gross domestic product to expand 0.4 percent in 2017, according to a weekly central bank survey. Brazil’s GDP fell more than 3 percent in each of the past two years.

(Reporting by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)


T-Mobile to roll out 5G in U.S. in 2019

(Reuters) – T-Mobile US Inc, the No.3 U.S. wireless carrier, said on Tuesday it plans to roll out fifth-generation network (5G) in the United States in 2019.

T-Mobile said it was targeting full nationwide 5G coverage by 2020.

New 5G networks are expected to provide speeds at least 10 times and up to maybe 100 times faster than today’s 4G networks, with the potential to connect at least 100 billion devices with download speeds that can reach 10 gigabits per second.

Bigger rivals Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc are already moving closer to adopting 5G technology.

While AT&T launched its 5G customer trial in December, Verizon plans to offer 5G network to certain customers in 11 U.S. cities in the first half of 2017.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)


Wall St. opens higher, Nasdaq hits record

(Reuters) – Wall Street opened higher on Tuesday, with the Nasdaq Composite hitting a record, boosted by strong corporate earnings, and ahead of the Federal Reserve’s meeting and Apple’s results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 40.56 points, or 0.19 percent, to 20,954.02.

The S&P 500 .SPX gained 4.11 points, or 0.17 percent, to 2,392.44.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 8.93 points, or 0.15 percent, to 6,100.53.

(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Savio D’Souza)


North Korea says U.S. bomber flights push peninsula to brink of nuclear war

SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) – North Korea accused the United States on Tuesday of pushing the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war after a pair of strategic U.S. bombers flew training drills with the South Korean and Japanese air forces in another show of strength.

The two supersonic B-1B Lancer bombers were deployed amid rising tensions over North Korea’s pursuit of its nuclear and missile programs in defiance of U.N. sanctions and pressure from the United States.

The flight of the two bombers on Monday came as U.S. President Donald Trump said he would be “honored” to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the right circumstances, and as his CIA director landed in South Korea for talks.

South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told a briefing in Seoul that Monday’s joint drill was conducted to deter provocations by the North.

North Korea said the bombers conducted “a nuclear bomb dropping drill against major objects” in its territory at a time when Trump and “other U.S. warmongers are crying out for making a preemptive nuclear strike” on the North.

“The reckless military provocation is pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula closer to the brink of nuclear war,” the North’s official KCNA news agency said on Tuesday.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been high for weeks, driven by concerns that the North might conduct its sixth nuclear test in defiance of pressure from the United States and Pyongyang’s sole major ally, China.

The U.S. military’s THAAD anti-missile defense system has reached initial operational capacity in South Korea, U.S. officials told Reuters, although they cautioned that it would not be fully operational for some months.

China has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the system, whose powerful radar it fears could reach inside Chinese territory. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang again denounced THAAD on Tuesday.

“We will resolutely take necessary measures to defend our interests,” Geng said, without elaborating.

Asked about Trump’s suggestion he could meet Kim, Geng said China had noted U.S. comments that it wanted to use peaceful means to resolve the issue. Trump has been recently been full of praise of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s efforts to rein in its neighbor.

“China has always believed that using peaceful means via dialogue and consultation to resolve the peninsula’s nuclear issue is the only realistic, feasible means to achieve denuclearisation of the peninsula and maintain peace and stability there, and is the only correct choice,” Geng told a daily news briefing.

It was widely feared North Korea could conduct its sixth nuclear test on or around April 15 to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the North’s founding leader, Kim Il Sung, or on April 25 to coincide with the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People’s Army.

The North has conducted such tests or missile launches to mark significant events in the past.

Instead, North Korea conducted an annual military parade, featuring a display of missiles on April 15 and then a large, live-fire artillery drill 10 days later.

“VIGILANCE, READINESS”

Acting South Korean president Hwang Kyo-ahn called for stronger vigilance because of continuing provocation by North Korea and for countries such as China to increase pressure on the North.

Soon after Hwang spoke, a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Seoul said the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, was in South Korea for meetings with the embassy and U.S. Forces in Korea.

Trump drew criticism in Washington on Monday when he said he would be “honored” to meet North Korea’s young leader.

“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Trump told Bloomberg News.

Trump did not say what conditions would be needed for such a meeting to occur or when it could happen.

“Clearly conditions are not there right now,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

Trump warned in an interview with Reuters on Thursday that a “major, major conflict” with North Korea was possible, while China said last week the situation on the Korean peninsula could escalate or slip out of control.

In a show of force, the United States has already sent an aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, to waters off the Korean peninsula to conduct drills with South Korea and Japan.

North Korea test-launched a missile on Saturday that appeared to have failed within minutes, its fourth successive failed launch since March. It has conducted two nuclear tests and a series of missile-related activities at an unprecedented pace since the beginning of last year.

The North is technically still at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty, and regularly threatens to destroy the United States, Japan and South Korea.

(Additional reporting by James Pearson in SEOUL and Ayesha Rascoe in WASHINGTON; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Paul Tait and Nick Macfie)


United CEO takes responsibility for passenger incident

(Reuters) – United Airlines (UAL.N) Chief Executive Oscar Munoz will tell the U.S. Congress on Tuesday he is taking responsibility for a series of failures that led to the April 9 forced removal of a passenger from a Chicago airplane that prompted worldwide condemnation.

Munoz apologized for the incident in written testimony. He cited four areas in which United should have acted differently. “Most importantly our employees did not have the authority to do what was right for our customers and for our company,” he said in the testimony. “As CEO that is my responsibility.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)


Reuters Tuesday Morning Briefing

North Korea

Pyongyang accused the United States of pushing the Korean peninsula to the “brink of nuclear war after a pair of strategic U.S. bombers flew training drills with the South Korean and Japanese air forces in another show of strength.

Washington

The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert for Europe, saying U.S. citizens should be aware of a continued threat of terrorist attacks throughout the continent.

Top aides to President Trump on Monday predicted the House of Representatives would move this week to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system. Republican lawmakers have struggled to unite around legislation, with moderates and conservatives within the caucus divided over key provisions.

Trump questions why Civil War had to happen.

Egypt

As Islamic State steps up attacks on Coptic Christians, it is also trying to assert hardline religious authority in the remote area near Egypt’s border with Gaza.

Graphic: Islamic State seeks to impose religious rules in Egypt’s North Sinai

Business

Bill Shine, co-president of Fox News Channel, has become the latest executive to resign in the wake of a sexual misconduct scandal at the cable channel. Shine has been named in a number of lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct at the company, and was blamed for not doing more to prevent it.

How two cutting-edge U.S. nuclear projects bankrupted Westinghouse.

Hollywood writers said they reached a tentative deal with representatives of movie and television studios on a new contract, averting a strike that could have blacked out talk shows and soap operas.

Bitcoin surged to an all-time high above $1,400, after more than tripling in value over the past year. Its most recent rise attributed to strong demand in Japan, where it’s been deemed a legal form of payment.

The Met Gala

Rihanna at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala - Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between - Arrivals - in New York City, REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Rihanna at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala – Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between – Arrivals – in New York City, REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Germany

The sharp increase in demand for “Made in Germany” goods from around the world is pushing Europe’s largest economy into overdrive — and, not coincidently, helping dispel worries about rising protectionism under U.S. President Trump.

Turkey

Turkey under President Tayyip Erdogan has turned its back on joining the European Union, at least for now, the bloc’s top official dealing with Ankara said, offering economic cooperation instead if both sides can restore friendly ties.

Japan

Tokyo risks being one of the unhealthiest Olympic Games hosts in years, as a smoking ban proposal exposes deep rifts over tobacco tax revenue, personal freedom and the dangers of passive smoking, which kills thousands of Japanese people each year.


U.S. consumer spending unchanged in March; inflation subsides

(Reuters) – U.S. consumer spending was unchanged in March for a second straight month and the overall monthly inflation rate fell for the first time in a year,confirming the weak domestic demand in the first quarter.

But when adjusted for inflation consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, increased 0.3 percent, ending two straight months of decline,the Commerce Department said on Monday.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast consumer spending,rising 0.2 percent. The data was included in last Friday’s first-quarter gross domestic product report, which showed consumer spending increasing at a 0.3 percent annual rate – the slowest since the fourth quarter of 2009.

The economy grew at a 0.7 percent pace in the first quarter,the worst performance in three years.

March’s increase in real consumer spending sets it up for an acceleration in the second quarter. Consumption is likely to be supported by a pick-up in wage growth. A report on Friday showed private wages recorded their biggest increase in 10 years in the first quarter.

Spending in the first-quarter was constrained by a mild winter, which undercut demand for heating and utilities production. Delays by the government issuing income tax refunds as part of efforts to combat fraud also weighed on consumer spending as did rising inflation pressures.

The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index fell 0.2 percent in March, the first decline since February 2016 and the biggest drop since January 2015.

In the 12 months through March the PCE price index increased 1.8 percent after rising 2.1 percent in February.

Excluding food and energy, the so-called core PCE price index slipped 0.1 percent, the first and largest drop since September 2001, after increasing 0.2 percent in February.

In the 12 months through March, the core PCE price index increased 1.6 percent after advancing 1.8 percent in February.

The core PCE is the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation measure.

The U.S. central bank has a 2 percent target.

Personal income gained 0.2 percent last month after rising 0.3 percent in February.

Income at the disposal of households after accounting for inflation increased 0.5 percent, the biggest gain since December 2015. Savings increased to $849.1 billion from $819.0 billion in February.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)


Gunman kills one, injures others at San Diego pool party

(Reuters) – A man holding a gun in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other opened fire on people around a swimming pool in a San Diego apartment complex, killing one and injuring others before police shot him dead on Sunday, media said.

The gunman launched his attack during a birthday celebration in the complex in the city’s University City section, NBC News’ San Diego affiliate reported.

One resident, who identified himself as John, told KFMB-TV he saw the gunman “sitting, drinking a beer in one hand with a gun out in the other” in the pool area.

He said he and his wife saw “three people laying on the ground shot” and one wounded victim trying to crawl to another to give assistance.

Two police officers arrived and confronted the gunman, who exchanged gunfire with the officers before he was shot, the witness said. Some of the victims were taken away in cars to hospital before paramedics made it to the scene.

The gunman was killed after pointing his weapon at police, San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman told reporters. She did not identify the suspect or mention a possible motive.

Eight people were injured when the shooting broke out just after 6 p.m. local time (0100 GMT Monday), Zimmerman said, several of them left in a critical condition.

Media including NBC’s affiliate and CNN, citing Zimmerman, reported late Sunday night that a female victim had died. Media reports said the gunman was a resident of the complex.

(Reporting by Mike Blake in San Diego; Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Chris Michaud in New York; Editing by Paul Tait and Andrew Heavens)


Defiant North Korea hints at nuclear tests to boost force ‘to the maximum’

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea suggested on Monday it will continue its nuclear weapons tests, saying it will bolster its nuclear force “to the maximum” in a “consecutive and successive way at any moment” in the face of what it calls U.S. aggression and hysteria.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said a “major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, while China said last week the situation on the Korean peninsula could escalate or slip out of control.

In a show of force, the United States has sent the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group to waters off the Korean peninsula to join drills with South Korea to counter a series of threats of destruction from North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“Now that the U.S. is kicking up the overall racket for sanctions and pressure against the DPRK, pursuant to its new DPRK policy called ‘maximum pressure and engagement’, the DPRK will speed up at the maximum pace the measure for bolstering its nuclear deterrence,” a spokesman for North Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement carried by its official KCNA news agency.

North Korea’s “measures for bolstering the nuclear force to the maximum will be taken in a consecutive and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership,” the spokesman said.

Reclusive North Korea has carried out five nuclear tests and a series of missile tests in defiance of U.N. Security Council and unilateral resolutions. It has been conducting such tests at an unprecedented rate and is believed to have made progress in developing intermediate-range and submarine-launched missiles.

It test-launched a missile on Saturday which Washington and Seoul said was unsuccessful, but which nevertheless drew widespread international condemnation.

‘TOP PRIORITY’

South Korea said the United States had reaffirmed it would shoulder the cost of deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system to counter the North Korean threat, days after Trump said Seoul should pay for the $1 billion battery.

In a telephone call on Sunday, Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, reassured his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin, that the U.S. alliance with South Korea was its top priority in the Asia-Pacific region, the South’s presidential office said.

Trump, asked about his message to North Korea after the latest missile test, told reporters: “You’ll soon find out,” but did not elaborate on what the U.S. response would be.

Trump stepped up his outreach to allies in Asia over the weekend to discuss the North Korean threat and make sure all are “on the same page” if action is needed, a top White House official said.

“There is nothing right now facing this country and facing the region that is a bigger threat than what is happening in North Korea,” White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told ABC’s “This Week.”

The THAAD deployment has drawn protests from China, which says the powerful radar that can penetrate its territory will undermine regional security, and from residents of the area in which it is being deployed, worried they will be a target for North Korean missiles.

The United States is seeking more help from China, the North’s major ally, to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development. Trump, in the Reuters interview, praised Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as a “good man”.

Tension on the Korean peninsula has been high for weeks over fears the North may conduct a long-range missile test, or its sixth nuclear test, around the time of the April 15 anniversary of its state founder’s birth.

North Korea, technically still at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty, regularly threatens to destroy the United States, Japan and South Korea and has said before it will pursue its nuclear and missile programs to counter perceived U.S. aggression.

(Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Robert Birsel)


U.S. Congress negotiators set spending plan to avert shutdown, bolster defense

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Negotiators in the U.S. Congress reached a deal late on Sunday on around $1 trillion in federal funding that would avert a government shutdown later this week, while handing President Donald Trump a down payment on his promised military build-up.

The full House of Representatives and Senate must still approve the bipartisan pact, which would be the first major legislation to clear Congress since Trump became president on Jan. 20.

Prompt passage of the legislation was expected this week.

The funds, which should have been locked into place seven months ago with the start of fiscal 2017 on Oct. 1, would pay for an array of federal programs from airport and border security operations to soldiers’ pay, medical research, foreign aid, space exploration, and education.

“The agreement will move the needle forward on conservative priorities and will ensure that the essential functions of the federal government are maintained, said Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee.

If it is not enacted by midnight Friday, federal agencies would have to lay off hundreds of thousands of workers and require many others to continue on the job providing law enforcement and other essential operations without pay until the funding dispute in Congress is resolved.

“This agreement is a good agreement for the American people and takes the threat of a government shutdown off the table,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

He said the measure would increase federal investments in medical research, education, and infrastructure.

House and Senate appropriators worked into the night to draft the legislation for lawmakers to review.

Republican Representative Jim Jordan, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said he and other conservatives likely would not back the measure because it does not fulfill their promises to voters.

“I’m disappointed,” Jordan told CNN. “We’ll see how it plays out this week but I think you’re going to see conservatives have some real concerns with this legislation.”

A senior congressional aide said the Pentagon would win a $12.5 billion increase in defense spending for the fiscal year that ends on Sept. 30, with the possibility of an additional $2.5 billion contingent on Trump delivering a plan to Congress for defeating the Islamic State militant group.

Trump had requested $30 billion more in military funds for this year after campaigning hard on a defense build-up during the 2016 election campaign.

NO WALL MONEY

Several other important White House initiatives were rejected by the Republican and Democratic negotiators, including money for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border that Trump has argued is needed to stop illegal immigrants and drugs.

Instead, congressional negotiators settled on $1.5 billion more for border security, including more money for new technology and repairing existing infrastructure, the aide said.

Trump, in excerpts from a CBS News interview to air later on Monday, said a separate infrastructure plan would come within three weeks.

The Trump administration had earlier backed away from a threat to end federal subsidies for low-income people to get health insurance through Obamacare, the program that Trump had pledged to repeal.

Republicans are struggling over a repeal and replacement plan for former President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare law and it was unclear whether they would be able to bring such legislation to the House floor soon.

While Republicans control the House, Senate and White House, Democrats scored other significant victories in the deal.

Puerto Rico would get an emergency injection of $295 million in additional funding for its Medicaid health insurance program for the poor, according to the aide who asked not to be identified. The impoverished island, which is a U.S. territory, is facing a severe Medicaid funding shortfall.

Democrats also fended off potential cuts to women’s healthcare provider Planned Parenthood, while House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi applauded a nearly $2 billion hike in funds for the National Institutes of Health this year.

Coal miners and their families facing the loss of health insurance next month would get a permanent renewal under the spending bill.

While Trump has urged Congress to impose deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, most of its programs would be continued for at least the remainder of this year, according to the aide.

The House is likely to vote first on the package, probably early in the week, and send the measure to the Senate for approval before Friday’s midnight deadline.

If the legislation is enacted by week’s end, Congress would then have to begin focusing on a series of bills to fund the government at the start of the next fiscal year on Oct. 1.

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Paul Tait and Chizu Nomiyama)