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U.S. allies show support for strikes on Syria

( ) – U.S. allies expressed support on Friday for Washington’s missile strikes on Syria, calling them a proportionate response to Syrian forces’ suspected use of chemical weapons.

The strikes were denounced as illegal by Syria and its allies Russia and Iran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on the world “to reject such policies, which bring only destruction and danger to the region and the globe”. (Graphic locator map on attack – tmsnrt.rs/2nm68H0)

Iraq criticized “hasty interventions” in an apparent comment on the U.S. action.

But a wide range of U.S. allies from Asia, Europe and the Middle East expressed support, if sometimes cautiously, in similar terms.

“The U.K. government fully supports the U.S. action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime and is intended to deter further attacks,” a British government spokesman said.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters: “Many innocent people became victims from the chemical attacks.

“Japan supports the U.S. government’s determination to prevent the spread and use of chemical weapons,” he said.

Turkey viewed the strikes positively and the international community should sustain its stance against the “barbarity” of the Syrian government, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said.

In an interview with Turkish broadcaster Fox TV, Kurtulmus said Assad’s government must be punished in the international arena and the peace process in Syria needed to be accelerated.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Russia and Iran needed to understand that supporting Assad made no sense and that the escalation of the U.S. military role in Syria was a “warning” to “a criminal regime”.

“Use of chemical weapons is appalling and should be punished because it is a war crime,” Ayrault told and France Info radio.

上海夜生活论坛French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued statements saying Assad was solely to blame for the air strikes.

The Dutch government said: “The United States has given a clear signal that the use of poison gas crosses a line.” It also labeled the strikes a “proportionate” response.

“U.S. strikes show needed resolve against barbaric chemical attacks. EU will work with the US to end brutality in Syria,” the chairman of the council of EU leaders, Donald Tusk, said on Twitter.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the strikes sent “a vitally important message” that the world would not tolerate the use of chemical weapons.

“The retribution has been proportionate and it has been swift,” he told reporters in Sydney. “We support the United States in that swift action.”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which back rebels fighting Assad, said they supported the U.S. strikes and held only the Syrian government responsible for the attacks.

Other Gulf countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait, also expressed support for the attacks.

Some countries expressed reservations about the U.S. decision to launch strikes without authorization from the U.N. Security Council.

Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria. “At the same time, Indonesia is concerned with unilateral actions by any parties, including the use of Tomahawk missiles, in responding to the chemical weapon attack tragedy in Syria,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir said in a text message.

“Military actions, undertaken without prior authorization of the U.N. Security Council, are not in line with international legal principles in the peaceful settlement of disputes, as stipulated in the U.N. Charter.”

Supreme Court nominee to face confirmation vote April 7: Senate leader

WASHINGTON ( ) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the Senate would have a final vote on April 7 on President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, even as more Democrats opposed his confirmation

The Gorsuch nomination, McConnell told reporters, will hit the Sen上海夜生活ate floor next week after the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday approves him. McConnell added that Gorsuch will be “confirmed on Friday” of next week.

Senate Republicans continued to put the pressure on Democrats to lend enough support to Colorado appeals court judge Gorsuch to avoid a showdown that in turn could trigger McConnell to seek a change in Senate rules that would clear away a Democratic blockade against the nomination.

So far, about 26 of the 48 Democratic senators have publicly announced opposition to Gorsuch. Most of that group backs a growing effort to block a confirmation vote through the use of a procedural hurdle called a filibuster.

Sixty votes in the 100-seat Senate would be needed to stop a filibuster and allow a confirmation vote on Gorsuch. The confirmation would require a simple majority in favor. Republicans control the Senate 52-48.

Some Senate Republican aides suggested that if Democrats block a confirmation vote, McConnell might move quickly to change the rules. It was unclear, however, if he had enough votes to do so

Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that Gorsuch will face an uphill climb to get the 60 votes he would need to avoid a showdown over Senate rules.

“The bottom line is very simple, and that is that Gorsuch did not acquit himself well at the hearings and did not impress our caucus,” Schumer said, accusing Gorsuch of siding with powerful interests and expressing concerns about his independence from the president.

“It’s going to be a real uphill climb for him to get those 60 votes,” Schumer told reporters.

Trump is seeking to avoid another setback in Congress after major healthcare legislation he supported was pulled from the House of Representatives floor amid opposition within his own party on Friday.

The confirmation of Gorsuch, 49, would restore the nine-seat court’s conservative majority, a major campaign promise for Trump.

The Senate Judiciary Committee oversaw a four-day confirmation hearing for Gorsuch last week.

MONEY MARKETS-U.S. rate-cut bets slip after Trump shelves tariffs on Mexico

(Updates market action, adds graphic)

NEW YORK, June 10 ( ) – U.S. interest rate futures fell on Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump late Friday suspended a 5% tariff on Mexican tariffs as Mexico agreed to expand a program to stem the flow of illegal Central American migrants.

Still interest-rate traders’ expectations of multiple rate cuts in 2019, starting as early as July, remained high because of elevated trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Disappointing economic data last week, in particular a sharp deceleration in domestic jobs growth in May, increased conviction among traders that Fed policymakers will need to lower key lending rates soon to preserve the current economi上海夜生活c expansion, which this summer would be longest on record.

At 10:05 a.m. (1405 GMT), federal funds futures implied traders saw a 19% chance the U.S. central bank would lower key borrowing costs by a quarter point to 2.00%-2.25% at its June 18-19 meeting, down from a 25% probability late on Friday, according to CME Group’s FedWatch program.

Fed funds contracts suggested traders priced in about a 48% chance the Fed would reduce the overnight costs for banks to borrow reserves from each other by 75 basis points at year-end. This compared with a 54% likelihood late Friday, the FedWatch tool showed.

Sterling rises off five-month low vs euro after April pay data

LONDON ( ) – Sterling pulled away from five-month lows versus the euro on Tuesday after British wages in the three months to April rose faster than expected.

The pound has been on the backfoot in recent weeks as investors sit on the sidelines while the contest to succeed Theresa May as leader of the Conservative party and country heats up.

Worse than expected data on Monday showing the British economy shrank 0.4% in April added to the pound’s worries.

But sterling found relief after wage growth in the three months to April came in at 3.1%, exceeding a forecast by a poll of economists for 3%. Employment growth slowed but the jobless rate held at its lowest since 1975, the official figures showed.

Wage growth is outstripping inflation and the Bank of England has said it will need to raise interest rates – probably faster than the market expects – to keep inflation close to its 2% target.

The pound recovered from five-month lows against the euro of 89.325 pence hit earlier in the session and rose 0.3% to 88.93 pence.

Versus the dollar the British currency rose 0.3% to $1.2728 from around $1.2694 before the data.

British Gilt yields rose around a basis point across the curve after the labour market data, moving away from 2-1/2 year lows hit last week. The exporter-heavy FTSE 100 trimmed gains after sterling rallied.

“The British labour market remains rather resilient and provides little cause for concern, as the unemployment rate continues to be unchanged at a very low level,” said Marc-André Fongern, a strategist at MAF Global Forex in Frankfurt.

“Given that average earnings have improved steadily, we expect a slightly optimistic BoE in the near future.”

Investors have largely ignored economic data releases in Britain recently, believing the BoE is unlikely to act until Britain decides how, when and even if it will leave the European Union. The United Kingdom 上海夜生活论坛is scheduled to exit the bloc on Oct. 31.

David Cheetham, an analyst at online broker XTB, said the UK economy looked to be far from thriving but given the “dual headwinds of ongoing political uncertainty and a slowing global economy”, current levels of activity were about as good as could be expected.

Analysts at Danske Bank said softer UK data in recent weeks, including Monday’s GDP numbers, suggested “the economy is likely to see a minor deterioration in fundamentals, which is set to weigh on GBP”.

Investors are concerned the next British prime minister could put the country on course for a no-deal Brexit after May failed to get her withdrawal agreement through parliament. Eurosceptic Boris Johnson is the bookmakers’ favourite to win the contest.

Thousands at rallies demand Trump release tax returns

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON ( ) – Tens of thousands of people marched through midtown Manhattan and dozens of U.S. cities on Saturday to demand that President Donald Trump release his tax returns and t上海夜生活o dispute his claim that the public does not care about the issue.

Organizers of “Tax March” in more than 150 cities across the country and beyond wanted to call attention to Trump’s refusal to disclose his tax history, as his White House predecessors have done for more than 40 years.

The marches coincide with the traditional April 15 deadline for U.S. federal tax returns, though the filing date was pushed backed two days this year.

There were no reports of violence or arrests, in contrast to a clash between Trump supporters and opponents that erupted at a rally in Berkeley, California, where nine people were arrested.

Two of the biggest tax marches took place in New York and Los Angeles, with each drawing about 5,000 people, according to estimates by reporters. No official estimates were immediately available.

In Manhattan, a good-natured crowd rallied at Bryant Park before marching up Sixth Avenue to Central Park.

Among the marchers was an oversized inflatable rooster, sporting an angry expression and a sweeping metallic orange hairdo meant to resemble Trump’s signature style.

“Thanks to Trump, I think that releasing your taxes when you run for president now has to be a law,” said New Yorker Marni Halasa, 51, who arrived in a tutu and leggings made of fake dollar bills and holding a sign that read “Show Me The Money!”

In Washington, more than 1,500 protesters gathered on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol, where members of Congress addressed the crowd before it marched to the Lincoln Memorial.

“We are taking the gloves off to say knock off the secrecy Mr. President,” said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, which would play a leading role in tax reform measures being considered in Congress.

He described Trump’s refusal to release his taxes as being “like a teenager trying to hide a lousy report card.”

TAX REFORM

Among the marchers was Melinda Colwell, 34, a stay-at-home-mother from Ledyard, Connecticut. She said she was concerned that conflicts of interest in Trump’s tax returns might foreshadow selfish interests in his tax reform policies.

“I think it’s important to know how that could influence his decisions and how he could benefit from the decisions being made,” she said.

As a candidate and as president, Trump has refused to release his tax returns, citing an ongoing audit by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS has said that Trump can release his tax returns even while under audit.

The White House could not be reached immediately for comment on the marches.

Events were also planned in cities in Europe, Japan and New Zealand.

The marches were launched by a single tweet, organizers said. A day after the massive Jan. 21 women’s march in Washington and other cities, comedy writer Frank Lesser tapped out on Twitter, “Trump claims no one cares about his taxes. The next mass protest should be on Tax Day to prove him wrong.” It has been retweeted more than 21,000 times.

In Los Angeles, television director Mike Stutz turned up at the march dressed in costume as a Russian general and said he was called General Bullshitski. He carried a sign that read: “What Tax Returns? Putin paid cash. Trust your oligarchs,” referring to allegations of contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin.

Joe Dinkin, spokesman for the Working Families Party, one of the groups organizing the marches, said investigations into the Trump campaign’s alleged connections to Russia underscore the need to disclose his returns.

“Without seeing his taxes, we’ll never really know who he’s working for,” said Dinkin, who expects the marches to draw at least 100,000 protesters.

There have been some glimpses into Trump’s tax history. Last month, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported on two pages of Trump’s 2005 return that were obtained by investigative reporter David Cay Johnston and released by DCReport.org. They showed Trump paid $38 million in taxes on more than $150 million in income.

And in October, The New York Times reported that Trump had declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 federal tax return, citing three pages of documents from the return.

Obama officials work against time to wrap banking rules

WASHINGTON ( ) – U.S. officials are striving to put finishing touches on a slew of banking rules before President Barack Obama leaves office and hands regulatory power to Donald Trump who has vowed to rewrite the existing financial rule book.

President-elect Trump will take over on Jan. 20 and his fellow Republicans will have control of Congress and government agencies, allowing the new administration to block or roll back many of the last-minute changes.

But by completing far-advanced work on some banking standards in the next 10 weeks, Obama officials would raising the chances that some elements of the regulatory framework will survive.

Some rules are meant to flesh out the Dodd Frank Act of 2010 designed to prevent the next global financial crisis. Trump campaigned on a pledge to scrap the law but now he says only some provisions must go to lighten the regulatory burden.

The Federal Reserve is working on rules to govern matters such as executive pay, market stability and what investments Wall Street may hold.

Last month, Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White said her agency would “in the near term” finish a rule on one thorny issue: how mutual funds manage derivatives.

The SEC and ban上海夜网k regulators have also for years struggled to finalize a rule that would tie more banker pay to the long-term health of their firms rather than short-term performance of Wall Street firms.

With only about 40 working days until the handover, it is not clear which, if any, of those standards will get across the finishing line.

“Just look at the calendar,” said Tom Quaadman of the Chamber of Commerce. “These are intricate rules and there’s not much time.”

The executive pay rule exemplifies the challenge.

Six federal agencies have a say on the compensation standard meant as part of Dodd Frank and a final draft has not yet been offered, industry officials told .

It would be nearly impossible to circulate a final rule and get the agencies to endorse it while still satisfying standards for clearing such paperwork, several lobbyists who have opposed the rule said.

Banking regulators declined to comment on when the compensation rule might be completed.

NO TIME TO CHAT

Simple logistics also pose a challenge.

New federal rules come into force once they have been published in the Federal Register and employees there typically need several days to typeset a rule.

That means Obama officials need to lodge paperwork with the Federal Register at the beginning of the inauguration week at the latest.

Some sixteen copy editors are due to forego leave and be on hand in the coming weeks to process final rules expected from dozens of agencies, said an official familiar with the operation, but not authorized to speak to the media.

“These days, people do not spend a lot of time hanging around the coffee maker,” he said.

Some freshly-minted rules also face the prospect of getting erased under a 1996 law known as the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to block a regulation within 60 working days of being drafted.

One such rule allows students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges to seek loan forgiveness. The Department of Education finalized it days before the Nov. 8 election, meaning Republicans who have raised objections to it will have a chance to block it.

President George W. Bush was the first to trigger the Review Act when he block labor regulations that his predecessor Bill Clinton had enacted at the end of his term.

Binance hackers shift stolen bitcoin, identity still unclear: researchers

LONDON ( ) – Hackers who stole bitcoin worth over $40 million from the major Binance cryptocurrency exchange have moved the tainted coins to a number of digital wallets, researchers said on Thursday, potentially throwing up clues to those behind the heist.

Binance, one of the world’s biggest exchanges, said on Wednesday that hackers had stolen around 7,000 bitcoin through phishing and viruses, the latest in a string of cryptocurrency thefts to hit exchanges across the world.

According to London-based blockchain analytics company Coinfirm, the hackers have moved the stolen bitcoin through several digital walle上海夜生活ts, with almost all the coins now sitting in seven digital addresses.

Theft remains a major problem for the emerging cryptocurrency sector, with high profile hacks alarming regulators and raising questions for larger investors over whether digital coins can be safely stored and traded.

Losses of digital coins from hacks and fraud hit $1.2 billion between January and March, around 70 percent of the level for all of 2018.

Although the movement of cryptocurrencies can be traced, the identity and location of the hackers or owners of the wallets holding the stolen coins is unknown, Coinfirm said.

Still, the findings may offer clues to the identity of the hackers.

To convert bitcoin to traditional money, hackers would have to move the stolen coins to a cryptocurrency exchange, which usually require details of account holders’ identities. But such checks are, in reality, far from watertight, said Pawel Alexsander, Coinfirm’s chief information officer.

QUICK RESPONSE

“Exchanges are obliged to have KYC (know-your-customer) processes in place. In practice, many of them do not do this properly,” he said. “People can open fake accounts, and deposit the funds to that account.”

Binance, which is based in Malta but has over 400 workers spread across more than 40 countries, was the highest profile exchange to be hit since hackers stole cryptocurrency worth $530 million dollars from the Tokyo-based Coincheck in January 2018.

A Binance spokeswoman did not immediately respond to calls and messages seeking comment.

Cryptocurrency markets have largely shrugged off the Binance hack, with bitcoin last up 1 percent at around $6,000, its highest since mid-November.

Analysts and traders said that was down to Binance’s relatively quick response to the hack. CEO Changpeng Zhao said in a website post on Wednesday that the company would use a fund to cover users’ losses.

Coinfirm has 130 clients across the world in the cryptocurrency sector and traditional finance, from wallet providers to exchanges, as well as one of Japan’s three megabanks.

EU to remove UK, Dutch overseas territories from tax haven blacklist

BRUSSELS ( ) – European Union finance ministers are set to remove this week the British overseas te上海夜网rritory of Bermuda, the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba and Barbados from the bloc’s blacklist of tax havens, an EU official said on Monday.

The three islands were added to the list in March because the EU found shortfalls in their tax rules that could favor tax evasion in other states.

The decision, which is due to be formalized by EU finance ministers in a meeting on Friday, will remove from the list the only EU territories that are currently on it.

EU countries are not even screened as they are deemed compliant, although the EU Parliament has accused seven of them of acting as tax havens. They are Luxembourg, Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, Hungary, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Listing decisions are made by the 28 EU governments. Each one of them has the power to veto any decision on the matter.

Jurisdictions are removed from the blacklist when they address their main shortfalls and commit to further reforms to increase tax transparency.

With this week’s removal of the three islands, the blacklist will shrink to twelve jurisdictions. It will still include the United Arab Emirates, Oman and the three U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Other jurisdictions on the list are Belize, Fiji, the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Dominica, Samoa and Trinidad and Tobago.

Blacklisted states face reputational damage and stricter controls on transactions with the EU.

The EU set up the blacklist in December 2017 after revelations of widespread tax avoidance schemes used by corporations and wealthy individuals to lower their tax bills.

The list initially comprised 17 jurisdictions, but it is subject to regular reviews. Countries with legal shortfalls are added if they do not amend their rules by set deadlines.

Schumer, McConnell elected top leaders in Senate

WASHINGTON ( ) – Democratic U.S. senators elected Chuck Schumer of New York as minority leader on Wednesday, and he tapped former presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders to help Democrats woo blue-collar workers, many of whom voted for President-elect Donald Trump.

Senate Republicans also met and voted to keep Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as the majority leader.

Schumer, 65, replaces the retiring Harry Reid of Nevada as the top Democrat in the Senate as the party prepares to deal with Republican Trump and Republican majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Schumer said Democrats had learned from the Nov. 8 election that they needed “a sharper, bolder economic message about returning the economic system which so many feel is rigged against them to one that works for the people.”

“We’re ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Republicans, working with soon-to-be-President Trump on issues where we agree, but we will go toe-to-toe against the president-elect whenever our values or the progress we’ve made is under assault,” Schumer, who has been in the Senate since 1999, told reporters after the Democrats’ closed-door election.

In a move recognizing the influence of Sanders with many working-class voters, Schumer asked the independent senator from Vermont to be caucus head of outreach. Sanders, who lost the presidential primary to former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton, said his job was to reach out to “grassroots America.”

Another liberal, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was given the role of vice chair of the conference while yet another progressive voice, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, was made conference secretary.

Senator Joe Manchin, a more conservative Democrat from West Virginia, was named vice chairman of the Democratic policy and communications committee.

Schumer said he knew there would be differences of opinion on the new team, but that together the gro上海夜生活up could “speak to the blue-collar worker in West Virginia, and Michigan, as well as the people who live along the coast.”

Trump’s economic populism helped him flip some once-reliably Democratic areas in blue-collar states while Democrats did better in large urban centers and coastal states.

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois remained minority whip, the No. 2 spot, while Senator Patty Murray of Washington was chosen as assistant Democratic leader.

In the House, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi announced she was running for minority leader again and said she already has the support of more than two-thirds of her caucus.

Pelosi, who may face a challenger, agreed this week to delay leadership elections until Nov. 30 after her fellow Democrats called for more time to reassess why they fell short of their goals in the Nov. 8 election.

CEO of Buffett’s Dairy Queen tries to find new tastes, keep franchisees happy

OMAHA, Neb. ( ) – The chief executive of International Dairy Queen Inc is counting on the 79-year-old brand, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, to adapt to changing consumer tastes rather than latch onto the latest fad, while ensuring that rising labor and food costs don’t squelch its franchisees.

Troy Bader, who became chief executive in January 2018, said his company wants to ensure that devotees keep ordering their Blizzards and chicken strips, without turning off customers seeking newer products or with specific dietary needs.

“About 5 percent of disposable income is spent on away-from-home dining occasions,” Bader, 54, said in an interview during Berkshire’s recent annual shareholder weekend. “Transactions in the restaurant industry have been flat, so even if wages are going up, what I have for disposable, discretionary spending is not. That’s why you’re seeing so much competition.”

Berkshire, whose 88-year-old chief executive favors the Dairy Queen vanilla orange bar, paid $590 million for the Bloomington, Minnesota-based company in 1998.

Dairy Queen’s more than 7,000 locations, including 2,000 in the United States and Canada, recorded more than $4.5 billion of sales in 2018. Bader said 2019 has been “good so far” despite bad U.S. and Canadian weather.

“Bomb cyclones and polar vortexes don’t bode well … when 50 percent of your sales are ice cream,” he said. Bader named McDonald’s Corp and Chick-Fil-A as key rivals.

Labor is the fastest-rising cost for franchisees, especially when rising minimum wages, an issue on which Bader said Dairy Queen has no position, squeeze margins as customers favor such menu items as the $5 Buck Lunch. Also rising is the cost of branded candies that Dairy Queen adds to ice cream.

Bader said adapti上海夜网ng to changing consumer habits is not a new idea.

“It’s actually evolutionary, it’s not revolutionary,” he said. “When we look at trends, you have to decide which you’re going to lead in, which you’re going to follow, and which you may not participate in at all because they may not be right for or important for your brand.”

He said Dairy Queen, despite its name, is exploring desserts for people who avoid dairy, but won’t dive into plant-based food, despite the frenzy last week when Beyond Meat Inc went public and its stock price soared.

“If appropriate for our brand, we will move in later,” he said. “Right now, the biggest opportunity is in our chicken strips, our burgers and other products.”

Another major initiative is technology, including the creation of a single electronic point-of-sale system.

Bader, a self-described “recovering lawyer,” had interviewed with Buffett before the billionaire gave Vice Chairman Greg Abel oversight over Berkshire’s non-insurance operating units. He now reports to Abel.

Buffett “was asking as many questions as we were. He wanted to know what you knew that he did not,” Bader recalled.

“What I find interesting with Greg was, he’s the same way. I’m not trying to say Greg is Warren. Nobody will ever be Warren. But he is really smart, and he is a really good study.”

SQM receives Chile’s approval for lithium plant expansion

SANTIAGO ( ) – Chilean lithium miner SQM on Thursday received environmental approval to expand its lithium carbonate production plant, the local environmental regulator told , marking a milestone as the company seeks to boost output of the coveted ultralight battery metal.

The $400 million plant expansion, once complete, would allow the Chinese-backed SQM to eventually produce as much as 180,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate a year from its Atacama salt flat operations in Chile.

SQM is the world’s number two producer of lithium, a key component in the batteries that power electric vehicles, cell phones and other consumer goods. China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp bought a stake in the firm last year.

SQM CEO Ricard上海夜生活论坛o Ramos earlier this week said he expected the expansion, if approved, would come online “in the future,” but did not specify a date.

SQM has previously said it hopes to be able to produce 120,000 tonnes annually by 2020, nearly double its current capacity of 70,000 tonnes.

Water has become a key sticking point for the expansion plans of both SQM and top competitor Albemarle, both of which operate in the Atacama desert, the world’s driest. Soaring lithium demand has raised questions about whether the Atacama salt flat can support current and future levels of production.

SQM vice president Alejandro Bucher said in a statement that he believed the plant expansion approved on Thursday would contribute to sustainable development of the region.

“One of the most relevant benefits of this project is the optimization of water use for production,” Bucher said.

GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares at five-month high, sterling rides Brexit twists

(Updates prices, comment; changes dateline, previous LONDON)

* World shares up for 7th session, touch highest since October

* Oil hits 2019 high, palladium at record

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, March 19 ( ) – Stock markets across the world rose on Tuesday for a seventh session, the longest winning streak of the year, while sterling wobbled against the U.S. dollar on expectations European Union officials would allow Britain a delay on Brexit negotiations.

Bets that the U.S. Federal Reserve will this week reinforce a market view that the U.S. monetary policy-tightening cycle is in the rear-view mirror have kept the bid on stocks alive, while the dollar index touched its lowest since March 1.

“There is optimism that the Fed is going to keep rates on hold, the economy is chugging along and we don’t see any inflation,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.

“Investors don’t want to miss out on the low interest rate environment which will help fuel the rise in stock prices.”

Investors will particularly look to see whether policymakers have sufficiently lowered their interest rate forecasts to more closely align their “dot plot,” which shows individual policymakers’ rate views for the next three years.

The CitiFX U.S. economic surprise index, which measures economic data against expectations, has been negative for over a month, and earlier in March, touched its lowest since August 2017.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 87.22 points, or 0.34 percent, to 26,001.32, the S&P 500 gained 6.04 points, or 0.21 percent, to 2,838.98 and the Nasdaq Composite added 12.30 points, or 0.16 percent, to 7,726.78.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.32 percent, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.57 percent.

Emerging market stocks rose 0.12 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.07 percent higher, while Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.08 percent.

BREXIT OPTIONS

In currency markets, sterling touched $1.3311 after slipping to as low as $1.3241 as traders expected EU officials to allow Britain a delay on Brexit negotiations, though the uncertainty kept the market volatile. Sterling was last trading at $1.3261, up 0.05 percent on the day.

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

The dollar index, tracking the greenback against six major peers, fell 0.16 percent, with the euro up 0.1 percent to $1.1347.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.03 percent versus the dollar to 111.39 per dollar.

Among commodities, oil prices were at 2019 highs, supported by supply cuts led by producer club OPEC. U.S. sanctions against oil producers Iran and Venezuela were also boosting prices, although traders said the market may be capped by rising U.S. output.

U.S. crude fell 0.44 percent to $58.83 per barrel and Brent was last at $67.32, down 0.33 percent on the day.

Precious metal palladium, used in things like car catalytic converters, dipped after it topped the $1,600 an 上海夜网ounce mark for the first time on supply concerns.

Palladium last lost 0.26 percent to $1,579.42 an ounce. Prices have nearly doubled since their mid-August lows and have surged more than 25 percent this year.

Spot gold added 0.3 percent to $1,307.54 an ounce. U.S. gold futures gained 0.45 percent to $1,307.40 an ounce.

Copper rose 0.76 percent to $6,474.00 a tonne.

U.S. Treasury yields followed German government bonds higher as the Fed’s interest rate policy-setting meeting began. Benchmark 10-year notes fell 4/32 in price to yield 2.6159 percent, from 2.601 percent late on Monday.

The 30-year bond fell 17/32 in price to yield 3.0375 percent, from 3.01 percent late on Monday.

Only way is down: strong bid for negative-yielding KfW bond amid rates stasis

* German banks sells 5 bln euros of bonds at -0.267 pct yield

* Euro zone lenders, foreign central banks among buyers

* Deal paves way for other borrowers to do same

By Abhinav Ramnarayan

LONDON, March 15 ( ) – German development bank KfW’s 5 billion euro debt sale, at one of the most deeply negative yields on record for such a deal, is a clear sign investors are resigned to several more years of low interest rates in the euro zone, bankers and analysts said.

Triple-A-rated KfW, whose debt is guaranteed by the German government and often seen as a proxy for German Bunds, sold 5 billion euros of three-year bonds via a syndicate of banks on Tuesday at a yield of minus 0.267 percent.

Negative yields have been a feature of the euro zone bond market since the European Central Bank began stimulus measures to aid the bloc’s recovery from the debt crisis of 2010-2012.

But the KfW deal is one of very few benchmark-sized transactions to price at such a deeply negative level.

“Nobody really expects rising rates, given the statements by the ECB and (U.S. Federal Reserve) and given the economic data we currently get,” said Petra Wehlert, head of capital markets at KfW. “Investors live with what they get, and they feel comfortable enough to buy into negative rates at the short end (of the yield curve).

“Investors have to manage their cash, and if there is no change in environment, the risk is limited. KfW bonds are a Bund surrogate, and portfolio managers need to buy liquid securities,” she added, while acknowledging that demand had exceeded KfW’s expectations.

Comparable examples such as the European Investment Bank’s 5 billion euro three-year deal in January 2016 came at the height of the ECB’s now-terminated asset purchase scheme — and yet the yield on that deal was much higher, at minus 0.147 percent.

The fact that KfW was able to price at such a deeply negative yield even after new asset purchases ceased seems to confirm that investors expect the euro zone economy to flat-line for years to come, and that the ECB will be unable to hike rates meaningfully for the foreseeable future.

FEW ALTERNATIVES

Mark Byrne, a syndicate official at TD Securities, which managed the deal alongside BNP Paribas and JP Morgan, said the ECB’s deposit rate of minus 0.40 percent was a clear incentive for banks to invest in such a bond.

But it was not the only reason for the demand, he said: “Not all investors have access to this (deposit facility) — central banks, asset managers and some non-euro zone banks for example. So you must look at their alternative investments.”

He cited the example of three-year German Bunds, trading around minus 0.53 percent, and three-year French government bonds — with a lower credit rating than KfW — trading at minus 0.376 percent.

“So it makes sense (to buy KfW’s bond) if you are a global central bank that needs to hold euros as part of your portfolio,” Byrne said.

As a result, the two biggest types of investor in KfW’s deal were banks, who took 38 percent of the 5 billion euros sold, and central banks, who took 35 percent.

For banks, the deposit rate is a powerful incentive — paying 26 basis points to hold KfW’s 上海夜网debt could be seen as an improvement on paying 40 bps to hold cash at the ECB. Both count towards the regulatory requirement that lenders hold a proportion of assets in liquid and highly rated instruments.

“The high demand from the banks as a sector overall often has to do with regulatory demand,” said Commerzbank rates strategist Rainer Guntermann. “Most investors also suspect the ECB will take some of the supply in the coming weeks.”

U.S. firm FIS buys Worldpay for $35 billion in payments deal bonanza

( ) – Fidelity National Information Services Inc (FIS) said on Monday it has agreed to buy Worldpay for about $35 billion, with the U.S. financial services provider striking the biggest deal to date in the fast-growing electronic payments industry.

The financial technology sector is consolidating fast, with global payments set to reach $3 trillion a year in revenue by 2023 as more people switch from cash to digital payments for online and high street sales, consulting firm McKinsey predicts.

“Scale matters in our rapidly changing industry,” said FIS Chief Executive Gary Norcross, who will lead the combined powerhouse in banking a上海夜网nd payments infrastructure.

Growth in payment systems has kept deals rolling even as merger moves in other sectors have stalled on concerns about trade tensions and a global economic slowdown.

The FIS deal, valuing Worldpay at about $43 billion including debt, comes a little more than a year after U.S. firm Vantiv paid $10.63 billion for the payments firm, which was set up in Britain and spun off from Royal Bank of Scotland in 2010.

And in January, U.S.-based Fiserv Inc bought payment processor First Data Corp for $22 billion, while Italy’s Nexi plans to list in what could be one of Europe’s biggest initial public offerings (IPOs) this year.

FIS and Worldpay combined will have annual revenue of about $12 billion and adjusted core earnings of about $5 billion.

“Vantiv had yet to realize all the synergies from the Worldpay merger but FIS’s offer was too good to be refused,” a source close to the deal said.

Shares in Worldpay, which has provided payment processing services for more than 40 years, closed 9.9 percent higher and Fidelity’s edged down 0.7 percent.

“Parking the two companies together gives the enlarged business a very strong position by which to play the structural growth in digital payments. They will be able to provide clients a wider portfolio of services,” Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said.

Related CoverageShares in European payments companies rise on Worldpay takeover

Worldpay is a major player in card payments, particularly in Britain, while FIS, produces software for banks and asset managers as well as its financial services outsourcing business.

“FIS should accelerate its revenue growth, significantly expand its position in the merchant acquiring space and generate many synergies,” Worldpay shareholder Michael Schaefer, portfolio manager at Union Investment, said.

“DIVERSIFICATION PLAY”

Worldpay shareholders will receive 0.9287 FIS shares and $11 in cash for each share held, valuing the company at $112.12 per share, a premium of about 14 percent on its Friday close.

FIS shareholders will own about 53 percent in the combined firm and Worldpay’s about 47 percent, with Worldpay Chief Executive Charles Drucker becoming executive vice-chairman.

“This is a fast-changing industry and FIS was under pressure after Fiserv bought First Data in January,” another source close to the matter said, adding that Worldpay’s Drucker, who had come from Vantiv, was the driving force behind the deal.

“For FIS buying Worldpay means expanding beyond the world of financial outsourcing and tapping into payment processing and e-commerce, the source said, adding that it was a “diversification play” giving FIS access to the high-growth payments sector.

The companies said the deal would result in an organic revenue growth outlook of 6 to 9 percent through 2021, and $700 million of total core earnings savings over three years. They expect $500 million of revenue savings and are aiming to deliver nearly $4.5 billion of free cash flow in three years.

“The deal will lead to modest EPS accretion by 2020”, Norcross said in a conference call with analysts.

FIS, which has grown through acquisitions in the past 15 years, offers software and outsourcing services to banks, asset managers and insurers and in 2015 completed its buy of financial software company SunGard for $9.1 billion.

It had bought Metavante, which provides payment processing services to financial firms, for about $2.9 billion in 2009.

“FIS’ experience and expertise in getting cost to revenue synergies should give (the) market confidence that the targets announced around this deal are very doable,” Stephen’s analyst Brett Huff said in a note, adding that FIS could see increased revenue as companies step up outsourcing.

Centerview Partners and Goldman Sachs were financial advisers to FIS, while Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP served as legal advisers to FIS on the deal. Credit Suisse and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP served as financial and legal advisers respectively to Worldpay.

U.S. investor jailed by Russia tells Washington to keep distance: prison monitor

MOSCOW ( ) – A prominent U.S. investor being held in Russia on embezzlement charges has asked U.S. diplomats not to defend him because he is worried about his case becoming politicized, a prison monitor who visited him in custody said on Tuesday.

The detention last month of Michael Calvey, founder of the Baring Vostok private equity group, has strained U.S.-Russia ties and stoked talk of a possible U.S. boycott of an annual economic forum in June attended by President Vladimir Putin.

Calvey was detained along with three other executives from Baring Vostok上海夜生活网 after investigators accused them of stealing 2.5 billion roubles ($38.09 million), a charge he denies.

Ivan Melnikov, a member of a public body that monitors prisons, visited Calvey in custody on Monday and said the investor told him a U.S. diplomat had visited him and that Calvey had asked them not to play up his case publicly.

“He has asked (the U.S. diplomat) not to get actively involved in his defense because he is worried about the case becoming politicized,” Melnikov said.

Ties between Russia and the United States are at post-Cold War lows, strained by issues such as Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, the war in Syria, and espionage cases.

Calvey’s arrest has rattled some foreign investors who are worried about the business climate and some prominent Russian businessmen have called for him to be released from pre-trial detention on bail, saying his treatment has been too harsh.

The Kremlin has said Vladimir Putin does not plan to intervene in the case and that investigators should be allowed to do their job.

Melnikov said the U.S. investor was having problems receiving correspondence, but was in satisfactory condition.

“Calvey said he plans to continue with his projects in Russia when he gets out of pre-trial detention,” Melnikov said.

“He hopes they’ll get to the bottom of this case soon.”

Arch-eurosceptic Farage leads march over Brexit betrayal

SUNDERLAND, England ( ) – Nigel Farage, the politician who probably did more than anyone else to force Britain’s referendum on membership of the European Union, joined protesters at the start of a 270-mile march over what they call a betrayal of the Brexit vote.

The march comes after another tumultuous week for Prime Minister Theresa May in which parliament overwhelmingly rejected her divorce deal for a second time and lawmakers voted to seek a delay in Britain’s exit from the EU.

In the pouring rain in Sunderland, northeast England, which was the first place in Britain to declare a vote to leave the EU, Farage, wearing a flat cap and carrying an umbrella, said Brexit was now in danger of being scuttled by the establishment.

“We are here in the very week when parliament is doing its utmost to betray the Brexit result,” Farage said. “It is beginning to look like it doesn’t want to leave and the message from this march is if you think you can walk all over us we will march straight back to you.”

The march, which began with about 100 people, is due to end at parliament on March 29, the day the United Kingdom was supposed to leave the EU.

Britain’s crisis over EU membership is approaching its finale as May continues to fight to build support for her divorce deal, which is expected to be put before lawmakers for a third time next week. Many Brexit supporters in her own party oppose the deal, saying it ties Britain too closely to the EU.

May has given those critics an ultimatum – ratify her deal by Wednesday or face a delay to Brexit way beyond June 30 that would open up the possibility that the entire departure from the EU could ultimately be thwarted.

As leader of the eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence Party, Farage pressured former prime minister David Cameron to call the Brexit referendum and then helped lead the campaign to leave the EU. But he quit as the party’s leader in the days after the referen上海夜生活论坛dum.

In what pro-EU supporters said was a metaphor for his decision to walk away from the fallout of Brexit, Farage said he wouldn’t be completing the full two-week walk to London but would instead join campaigners for about a third of it.

Farage defended that decision and said as a member of the European Parliament he may have to take part in a vote on whether to approve the Brexit deal.

“I am quite a busy chap. I have a role in the European Parliament,” Farage said. “Don’t forgot the final vote is in the European Parliament. I think I ought to be there for that one.”

Koke unhappy with Atletico’s mistakes

Koke, the Atletico Madrid pl上海夜生活网aymaker, spoke about his side’s performance against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey as they were eliminated by Sevilla after a 5-2 loss on aggregate at the quarterfinal stage.

Atletico are out of the Copa del Rey now and Koke admitted that their opponent, Sevilla, were the better team in these two matches and they deserved to go through into to semifinals. The Copa’s final is going to be played at Atletico’s new stadium and the player admitted that it was a special motivation for him but it just wasn’t enough to make it through…

The key midfielder of the Spanish side spoke about this performance as he said, according to ESPN: “It is a hard blow. We really wanted to do well in this Copa, especially with the final in our new stadium. We did not play a good tie, they were the better team, and we must congratulate them. They were better in the decisive moments, we made two mistakes in the first leg, and then at the start today.”Kieran Trippier talks about his decision to leave Tottenham Nedim Maric – The English right-back changed the environment this summer, moving from rainy London to sunny Spain.Trippier is having a good start at Atletico Madrid. After rigorous…

He also insisted that the season has been good so far despite that: “We had been on a good run, although in these last three games we have not been good. But we will have to pick ourselves up, and this team always does that. We have to look at all the mistakes we made and improve as we are still up there in La Liga and the Europa League has given us a lot [before].”

In the end, Diego Simeone insisted that he is willing to take the full responsibility: “The responsibility of this exit, and the Champions League, is fully mine. And the responsibility to keep working the same as always. Now we must improve as there are still four months of the season left. I know this group, which keeps me relaxed. We will keep competing as we always have.”

Ince adamant United need more signings

The former Red Devil believes that Mourinho still has to reinforce some parts of his squad.

Manchester United will likely be in the market for around four players, according to Paul Ince.

The Red Devils completed a swap deal, adding Alexis Sanchez to their ranks, but letting Henrikh Mkhitaryan go in the process. And while they brought in some big names such as Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Neman上海夜生活ja Matić in recent years, Ince remains positive that Mourinho’s squad still need some new additions.

Speaking to Manchester Evening News, the former Red Devil insisted there is a busy summer ahead of the club from Old Trafford:Opinion: Solskjaer needs patience from Manchester United Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – As we enter into one of the most complicated moments for Solskjaer, we believe Manchester United needs to be patient with him.Ole Gunnar Solskjaer…

– There’s a seriously big summer coming for Manchester United. When you’re a club like that, you’re always trying to improve. And sometimes, that means current players lose out, but that’s just how it goes.

– Come summer, I’m expecting around three or four more players to come to Old Trafford. There are still issues to address, and it’s all José Mourinho forming his team.

– He came out the other day and said he thought Luke Shaw was world class. I can see what he’s getting at, but he’s gone from slating him and refusing to playing him to saying he’s one of the best in the world. I know what he’s trying to do, give him a boost, but I’m not sure it’s right to go calling him world class.

Lampard to be awarded Legends of Football honour

What makes Frank Lampard such a legend? 3 league titles, 177 goals and 609 top-flight appearances

One of the all-time greatest Premier League players, former West Ham United, Chelsea and Manchester City midfielder, will be the latest addition to the Legend of Football awarded club, according to PremierLeague.com. It which consists of the likes of Sir Bobby Robson, Sir Stanley Matthews, Kenny Dalgish and Steven Gerrard.

– It’s a real honour for me to receive the Legends Of Football award this year. Just seeing my name mentioned among those past winners is something to cherish, he said.Roma injury woes worsen with Zappacosta ACL surgery George Patchias – Roma has more injury problems, as Davide Zappacosta ruptures his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and undergoes immediate surgery.Italian defender Davide Zappacosta…

He will be awarded on the Legend of Football evening, which will be an event raising money for the Nordoff Robbins music therapy, which, with the help of music supports the needs of thousands sensitive and introverted children around the United Kingdom.

– Legends of Football is a fantastic event that combines the power and popularity of the Premier League and the music world to support the crucial work of Nordoff Robbins. This year we look forward to celebrating the career of Frank Lampard, who had a remarkable playing career and上海夜生活 is a Premier League icon. – said the Premier League Executive Chairman, Richard Scudamore.

Stoichkov believes that Guardiola has been successful because of money

Hristo Stoichkov, the former Barcelona striker, insisted that he believes that Pep Guardiola’s success at Manchester City goes mostly down to the amount of money he has been given as he can buy almost any上海夜生活网 player in the world.

Pep Guardiola has been incredibly successful in his career as he managed to win domestic league and cup with both Bayern Munich and Barcelona – to be added, he also won the Champions League with the Catalonian side. Now, he is about to win the Premier League with his new club but the former player of Barcelona believes that the money has been really important there…

The former Bulgaria international spoke about the former Barca coach as he said, according to Goal: “He was a born leader. Everyone was connected to him on the pitch due to his position in the midfield. Each play started through him. Ronald Koeman got the ball to Guardiola and he did the rest. He became the leader of the play at such a young age for that position. He had a long career with Spain, too.”Top 5 Real Madrid players who are succeeding on a loan Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – We need to talk about the Top 5 Real Madrid players who are currently succeeding away from the club and are currently on a…

He continued by adding that he has been impressed by Mourinho’s career as well: “Mourinho was always a coach, but few knew about it. Mourinho had a special position. He was writing down what each player did, or could not do in the training. Then he was telling Robson about it all. That’s why he is one of the greatest managers in the world. He was always one step ahead.”

In the end, Hristo Stoichkov claimed that Lionel Messi is the greatest player to him: “Messi cannot be compared to anyone. He is the greatest. I want him to win the World Cup, so people will stop comparing to the others. Nobody can do what he does at Barcelona.”