Sunday, 30 June 2019

Still no deal on top EU jobs despite all-night haggling

July 1, 2019

By Belén Carreño, Richard Lough and Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders were locked in all-night negotiations over the bloc’s top jobs, but as day broke on Monday there was still no deal on who should lead its executive as political groups jockeyed for influence.

When the leaders of the EU’s 28 member-states gathered for the emergency summit on Sunday, Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans was in pole position to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as the next European Commission president, under a deal hatched on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan last week.

However, the plan encountered stiff opposition from eastern European states as well as the center-right European People’s Party bloc before the summit even got underway, forcing Donald Tusk, the head of the European Council, to spend the night holding bilateral talks in search of a consensus candidate.

None appeared to emerge and by 0500 CET (0300 GMT) Timmermans was once again the favorite as the haggling continued, diplomats said.

The impasse underlines broader decision-making problems facing the EU, which has struggled to respond to a series of crises in recent years, from migration to climate change and the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

“It’s a bit like Brexit. We know what people don’t want but very few say what they want,” said one European diplomat, comparing the talks to Britain’s as yet unsuccessful attempts to leave the European Union.

The summit is a third attempt to fill five top posts running the European Union for the next five years, forging policy for the world’s biggest free trade area and more than 500 million people.

Other jobs up for grabs include the next president of the European Central Bank, but that decision will almost certainly be postponed as leaders try and break the deadlock of the Commission chief.

“NO WHITE SMOKE”

The plan to award Timmermans, a 58-year-old former foreign minister who speaks six languages, the Commission presidency was brokered by the leaders of France, Germany, Spain and Holland in Osaka after there was no majority support for the candidate of the EPP.

The EPP is the largest group in the EU parliament though it does not have a majority. As a trade-off, the EPP could be handed the less influential job of European Parliament president. But the plan has met with fierce resistance.

“The vast majority of EPP prime ministers don’t believe that we should give up the presidency quite so easily, without a fight,” Ireland’s center-right Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told reporters.

The EPP rebellion underlined how weakened German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose Christian Democrat party belongs to the group, has become as she prepares to handover to her successor.

A second European official described her as being in a “very weak moment”, struggling to control her party and with much scrutiny of her health after suffering two episodes of shaking in public.

To be appointed, the next Commission president needs the support of at least 72% of the 28 member states, who must represent at least 65% of the EU population.

“Still no white smoke,” Dutch liberal EU lawmaker Sophie in’t Veld said on Twitter. “No other major democracy in the world has such a bizarre and arcane method for choosing its political leadership.”

(Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke; Editing by Robin Emmott)

Greek conservatives tipped to oust leftists in early election

July 1, 2019

By Michele Kambas

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece’s opposition conservatives are expected to ride a wave of anger over continuing austerity measures to seize power from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s leftists in next Sunday’s election.

The country is heading for elections three months earlier than scheduled, after Tsipras called snap polls for July 7 following a defeat of his Syriza party to Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s New Democracy in European Parliament and local elections in May.

Polls suggest the defeat will be repeated on July 7. A poll by MRB for the Ta Nea newspaper showed the conservative New Democracy about nine points ahead with 35.4%-40.4% of the vote, broadly consistent with the results of the European elections.

Syriza stormed to power in 2015 on the back of a popular backlash against painful economic reforms in the crisis-hit country, which has required billions in bailouts from foreign lenders since 2010.

But shortly after gaining power on an anti-austerity platform, Tsipras, 44, was forced to relent to a new unpopular bailout plan, and more austerity, to stave off bankruptcy.

Detractors say posturing by Tsipras’ administration against reforms sought by creditors cost the country time, and billions of euros, while analysts say his U-turn ultimately cost him his voters.

All polls point to a victory for Mitsotakis, 51, an ex-venture capitalist and scion of a powerful political family who has mapped out his moves carefully since assuming the helm of New Democracy in early 2016.

Mitsotakis’s father, Constantinos, was prime minister of Greece from 1990 to 1993, while Kyriakos’s sister, Dora Bakoyiannis, served as foreign minister of the country under New Democracy governments.

“I believe what most opinion polls seem to indicate, that New Democracy will be very close to not only being first, but having enough votes in parliament in order to have an autonomous opportunity to run the country for the next predictable years,” said Theodore Couloumbis, a political analyst.

Under Greek electoral law, the party with the biggest share of the vote gets a bonus number of seats to secure a workable majority in the 300-seat parliament. A change to the electoral law in 2016 means any future polls would be under proportional representation, which favors smaller parties.

EMPTY COFFERS

The Syriza administration introduced a bonus to pensioners and tax cuts last month, triggering some misgivings from lenders worried the country could slip up on its post-bailout commitments.

Greece wrapped up its last economic adjustment program last year, but remains under financial surveillance to ensure it meets its fiscal targets.

That includes ensuring the primary surplus is at a consistent 3.5% of GDP each year until 2022, falling to 2.2% thereafter.

New Democracy, if elected, would use any fiscal space to reduce tax — cut corporate tax to 20% from 28% now and tax on dividends to 5% from 10% in the next two years. It would also examine cuts in income tax and VAT rates.

“They have taken more money out of people’s pockets than it was necessary so I plan to return some of it back to people and to the corporations in order to hopefully reinvest the proceeds in order to grow the economy,” Mitsotakis told Reuters in an interview in April.

Tsipras says his program is designed to help those most affected by financial turmoil, and that the country is much better off now, than it was before he took over.

“I was in the worst position, trying to pick up what could not be picked up – the broken shards of glass of all (my) predecessors,” Tsipras recalled from his election in 2015, speaking to Greece’s Open TV in an interview on June 27.

“I took over empty coffers, we couldn’t pay pensions month to month … I’m the prime minister who got the country out of memorandums that they put us into,” he said of his predecessors.

(Editing by Deepa Babington)

Djokovic adds former Wimbledon champ Ivanisevic to coaching team

July 1, 2019

(Reuters) – World number one Novak Djokovic has added former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic to his coaching team ahead of his title defence at SW19, the Serb has said.

“I am grateful to have Goran Ivanisevic on my side of the net. We have agreed to collaborate at #Wimbledon and hopefully many more in the future,” the 32-year-old wrote https://ift.tt/2XN5ww5 on his Facebook page.

Ivanisevic, who won the singles title at Wimbledon in 2001 after finishing runner-up in 1992, 1994 and 1998, will join Djokovic’s long-time coach Marian Vajda.

“I am thankful to Marian for supporting the idea to invite Goran and strengthen our team ahead of this important tournament,” added Djokovic, who begins his title defence against German Philipp Kohlschreiber later on Monday.

(Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Asia’s factory activity shrinks, U.S.-China trade truce fails to brighten outlook

July 1, 2019

By Leika Kihara

TOKYO (Reuters) – Factory activity shrank in most Asian countries in June as the simmering U.S.-China trade conflict put further strains on the region’s manufacturing sector, keeping policymakers under pressure to deploy stronger steps to avert a global recession.

The raft of manufacturing surveys followed the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, where leaders on Saturday warned of slowing global growth and intensifying geopolitical and trade tensions.

The United States and China agreed at the summit to restart trade talks after President Donald Trump offered concessions including no new tariffs and an easing of restrictions on tech company Huawei, providing some relief to businesses and financial markets.

But analysts doubt the truce will lead to a sustained easing of tensions while lingering uncertainty could dampen corporate spending appetite and global growth.

“It’s too early to turn optimistic. The two countries just kicked the can down the road and there’s no knowing what could happen next,” said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute in Tokyo.

“Global manufacturing activity hasn’t hit bottom yet. U.S. business confidence, particularly that of manufacturers, has been weakening and if this continues, it may hurt economies across the world.”

In China, Asia’s economic engine, the Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 49.4, falling short of market expectations and the worst reading since January.

It was the first time in four months that the keenly-watched index has fallen below the neutral 50-mark dividing expansion from contraction on a monthly basis.

Japan also saw manufacturing activity contract in June to hit a three-month low, offering fresh evidence of an economy under the pump as global demand weakens.

Separately, a Bank of Japan (BOJ) survey showed big manufacturers’ confidence hit a near three-year low, keeping its central bank under pressure to maintain or even ramp up a massive stimulus program.

In South Korea, factory activity shrank at the fastest pace in four months in June as the global trade slowdown deepened, prompting companies to cut production and shed more jobs.

Manufacturing activity also fell in Malaysia and Taiwan in a sign the U.S.-China trade conflict’s impact on the rest of Asia was broadening.

The U.S-China trade war has hurt business sentiment, threatened to disrupt supply chains and jolted financial markets, drawing warnings by policymakers over the widening fallout on the global economy.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde welcomed the resumption of trade talks between the two countries, but warned that more needs to be done to resuscitate a global economy that had already hit a “rough patch.”

Heightening worries over global growth have forced some Asian central banks, such as those in Australia, New Zealand and India, to cut interest rates.

While the G20 leaders said they stand ready to take further action to prop up growth, many major economies have little fiscal and monetary space to battle another recession.

Expectations of a U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate cut have put pressure on the European Central Bank and the BOJ to follow suit, despite their dwindling options to arrest stalling growth.

“If the Fed cuts rates, the BOJ and the ECB must do something more powerful to contain currency appreciation,” said Sayuri Shirai, a former BOJ policymaker who is currently professor at Japan’s Keio University.

(Reporting by Leika Kihara, additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Taiwan president to transit U.S. during trip to Caribbean allies

July 1, 2019

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will transit through the United States this month on a tour of diplomatic allies in the Caribbean, Deputy Taiwan Foreign Minister Miguel Tsao said on Monday, in a move likely to anger China.

Tsai will visit St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and Haiti on the July 11-22 trip, Tsao told reporters.

(Reporting by Yimou Lee; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait)

Xiaomi Mi 9 SE in for review

A lot like the Xiaomi Mi 9, but lighter and smaller. Also comes without the 3.5 mm audio jack and with more modest chipset and price - that's the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE's short story. Now that the phone is with us we will try and tell you the long one once we take it through our full testing procedure. You even might think SE stands for Small Edition, because it doesn't look that special. But when we tinkered around a little more, we realized it is a very snappy phone, with its Snapdragon 712 chipset and the 6 GB RAM. The weight of 155 grams and the small footprint will...

Jamaica beat Panama to reach third straight Gold Cup semi

July 1, 2019

(Reuters) – A second-half penalty from Darren Mattocks put Jamaica into their third consecutive Gold Cup semi-final on Sunday after a 1-0 win over Panama in Philadelphia.

Mattocks, who had come on as a substitute just two minutes earlier, struck from the spot with less than 15 minutes left.

“We lacked finishing,” said Panama coach Julio Dely Valdes. “Jamaica almost had no chances.”

Jamaica, runners up in 2015 and 2017, will play the United States in next Wednesday’s semi-final after the defending champions beat Curacao 1-0.

Mexico will play Haiti in the other semi-final a day earlier.

The final will be held in Chicago on July 7.

(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Greg Stutchbury/Peter Rutherford)

U.S. beat Curacao 1-0 to move into Gold Cup semis

July 1, 2019

(Reuters) – Weston McKennie’s first-half goal gave the United States a 1-0 win over Curacao in Philadelphia on Sunday to put the defending champions into the Gold Cup semi-finals.

With 25 minutes gone Christian Pulisic sent an inch-perfect cross to the back post where McKennie glanced a header home from close range.

U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen had to be on his toes, with Gevaro Nepumoceno coming close on more than one occasion, while at the other end Eloy Room made several stops for Curacao.

The win for the United States sets up a semi-final against Jamaica, runners-up at the last two Gold Cups, in Nashville on Wednesday.

Mexico will play Haiti in the other semi in Glendale, Arizona the day before.

The final will be held in Chicago on July 7.

(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Ships set sail in Japan’s first commercial whale hunt in more than 30 years

July 1, 2019

By Elaine Lies and Masashi Kato

KUSHIRO, Japan (Reuters) – Five small ships sailed out of harbor on Monday in Japan’s first commercial whale hunt in more than three decades, a move that has aroused global condemnation and fears for the fate of whales.

Japan has long said few whale species are endangered, and news in December that it was leaving the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to resume hunting was the culmination of years of campaigns by industry supporters and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose constituency includes a city that has long whaled.

“If we had more whale available, we’d eat it more,” said Sachiko Sakai, a 66-year-old taxi driver in Kushiro, a gritty port city on the northernmost main island of Hokkaido, where the whaling ships were waved out of harbor in a brief ceremony.

“It’s part of Japan’s food culture,” said Sakai, adding that she ate a lot of whale as a child. “The world opposes killing whales, but you can say the same thing about many of the animals bred on land and killed for food.”

The ships, which are set to be joined by vessels from the southern port of Shimonoseki, will spend much of the summer hunting for minke and Baird’s beaked whales.

Crew in orange life vests took positions on the decks as the blue-hulled ships sailed out of Kushiro, some with red banners fluttering from their masts.

Japan began whaling for scientific research a year after a 1986 ban on commercial whaling, aiming to gather what it called crucial population data, but it abandoned commercial whaling in 1988.

Critics said the program was simply commercial whaling in disguise, after the meat of animals taken in scientific whaling ended up on store shelves and in restaurants.

This year’s quota, including minkes, sei whales and Bryde’s whales, was about 220, the Nikkei newspaper said.

Environmentalists said the launch was delayed until after a summit of leaders of G20 major economies that Japan hosted, but whaling proponents have denied this.

Environmentalists worldwide urged leaders at the summit in the western city of Osaka not to ignore what they called a cruel assault on whales.

The quota set by Japan’s Fisheries Agency is to be adjusted annually, people in the industry say. As whaling will be limited to the exclusive economic zone, Japan will no longer take about 330 Antarctic minke whales a year, as it has done recently.

Whaling is a tiny industry in Japan. Whale makes up about 0.1 percent of all meat eaten in a year, with about 300 people directly linked to whaling.

Japan’s annual supplies of about 4,000 tonnes to 5,000 tonnes amount to 40 gm to 50 gm for each citizen, or about the weight of half an apple. Even whaling supporters say building demand will take time.

Patrick Ramage, head of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, called the move a face-saving solution that could eventually lead Japan to abandon whaling.

“It’s a good decision for whales, it’s a good decision for Japan, and it’s a good decision for international marine conservation,” he said.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies and Masashi Kato; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Trump says China trade talks ‘back on track,’ new tariffs on hold

July 1, 2019

By Roberta Rampton and Michael Martina

OSAKA (Reuters) – The United States and China agreed on Saturday to restart trade talks after President Donald Trump offered concessions including no new tariffs and an easing of restrictions on tech company Huawei in order to reduce tensions with Beijing.

China agreed to make unspecified new purchases of U.S. farm products and return to the negotiating table, Trump said. No deadline was set for progress on a deal, and the world’s two largest economies remain at odds over significant parts of an agreement.

The last major round of talks collapsed in May.

Financial markets, which have been rattled by the nearly year-long trade war, are likely to cheer the truce. Washington and Beijing have slapped tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s imports, stoking fears of a wider global trade war. Those tariffs remain in place while negotiations resume.

“We’re right back on track,” Trump told reporters after an 80-minute meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies in Osaka, Japan.

“We’re holding back on tariffs and they’re going to buy farm products,” Trump said, without giving details about the purchases.

Trump tweeted hours later that the meeting with Xi went “far better than expected.”

“The quality of the transaction is far more important to me than speed,” he tweeted. “I am in no hurry, but things look very good!”

The U.S. president had threatened to slap new levies on roughly $300 billion of additional Chinese goods, including popular consumer products, if the meeting in Japan proved unsuccessful. Such a move would have extended existing tariffs to almost all Chinese imports into the United States.

In a lengthy statement on the two-way talks, China’s foreign ministry quoted Xi as telling Trump he hoped the United States could treat Chinese companies fairly.

“China is sincere about continuing negotiations with the United States … but negotiations should be equal and show mutual respect,” the foreign ministry quoted Xi as saying.

Trump offered an olive branch to Xi on Huawei Technologies Co [HWT.UL], the world’s biggest telecom network gear maker. The Trump administration has said the Chinese firm is too close to China’s government and poses a national security risk, and has lobbied U.S. allies to keep Huawei out of next-generation 5G telecommunications infrastructure.

Trump’s Commerce Department has put Huawei on its “entity list,” effectively banning the company from buying parts and components from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval.

But Trump said on Saturday he did not think that was fair to U.S. suppliers, who were upset by the move. “We’re allowing that, because that wasn’t national security,” he said.

CHEERS FROM CHIP MAKERS

Trump said the U.S. Commerce Department would study in the next few days whether to take Huawei off the list of firms banned from buying components and technology from U.S. companies without government approval.

China welcomed the step.

“If the U.S. does what it says, then of course, we welcome it,” said Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese foreign ministry’s envoy for G20 affairs.

U.S. microchip makers also applauded the move.

“We are encouraged the talks are restarting and additional tariffs are on hold and we look forward to getting more detail on the president’s remarks on Huawei,” John Neuffer, president of the U.S. Semiconductor Association, said in a statement.

Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, however, tweeted that any agreement to reverse the recent U.S. action against Huawei would be a “catastrophic mistake” and that legislation would be needed to put the restrictions back in place if that turned out to be the case.

Last month, Rubio and Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner urged Trump to not use Huawei as a bargaining chip for trade negotiations.

Huawei has come under mounting scrutiny for over a year, led by U.S. allegations that “back doors” in its routers, switches and other gear could allow China to spy on U.S. communications.

The company has denied its products pose a security threat. It declined to comment on the developments on Saturday.

The problems at Huawei have filtered across to the broader chip industry, with Broadcom Inc <AVGO.O> warning of a broad slowdown in demand and cutting its revenue forecast.

Trump said he and Xi did not discuss the extradition proceedings against Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, who was arrested in Canada in December on charges alleging she misled global banks about Huawei’s relationship with a company in Iran.

RELIEF AND SCEPTICISM

Scores of Asia specialists, including former U.S. diplomats and military officers, urged Trump to rethink policies that “treat China as an enemy,” warning that approach could hurt U.S. interests and the global economy, according to a draft open letter reviewed by Reuters on Saturday.

Investors, businesses and financial leaders have for months been warning that an intractable tit-for-tat tariff war between the United States and China could damage global supply chains and push the world economy over a cliff.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Saturday urged G20 policymakers to reduce tariffs and other obstacles to trade, warning that the global economy had hit a “rough patch” due to the trade conflict.

Although analysts cheered a resumption of talks between Washington and Beijing, some questioned whether the two sides would be able to build enough momentum to breach the divide and forge a lasting deal.

“Translating this truce into a durable easing of trade tensions is far from automatic … especially as what’s in play now extends well beyond economics to include delicate national security issues of both immediate- and longer-term nature,” said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz.

The United States says China has been stealing American intellectual property for years, forces U.S. firms to share trade secrets as a condition for doing business in China, and subsidizes state-owned firms to dominate industries.

China has said the United States is making unreasonable demands and must also make concessions.

The negotiations hit an impasse in May after Washington accused Beijing of reneging on reform pledges made during months of talks. Trump raised tariffs to 25% from 10% on $200 billion of Chinese goods, and China retaliated by raising levies on a list of U.S. imports.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Michael Martina and Chris Gallagher in Osaka; Additional reporting by Koh Gui Qing in New York, Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Leika Kihara in Osaka and Jennifer Ablan in New York; Writing by Linda Sieg, Malcolm Foster, Jeff Mason and Paul Simao; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Himani Sarkar)

Osaka faces tough Wimbledon start against plucky Putintseva

July 1, 2019

(Reuters) – Second seed Naomi Osaka kicks off her quest for a third Grand Slam title against unseeded Kazakh Yulia Putintseva at Wimbledon on Monday in the Japanese’s first tournament since losing her world number one ranking.

Osaka’s early exit from the Birmingham Classic this month allowed Australia’s Ash Barty to overtake her as world number one, but she has welcomed the easing of pressure on herself as she heads into the year’s third Grand Slam tournament.

“Mentally it was way more stress and pressure than I could have imagined,” Osaka, 21, said on Saturday. “I think it’s better for me now to be… lower-ranked.” [nL8N2400M5]

In Putintseva, however, Osaka faces a tricky opponent who has beaten the Japanese in both of their two previous meetings, including at the Birmingham grasscourt warm-up event last month.

Putintseva, ranked 39th in the world, has never gotten past the second round at Wimbledon but has seven career victories against players in the world’s top 10 and won her maiden WTA title at Nuremberg in May.

In one of the more intriguing matches of the opening day, American Venus Williams, 39, a five-times champion at the All England Club, takes on compatriot Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff, who at the age of 15 is the youngest player to qualify for the main draw.

Williams had already won four of her seven Grand Slam titles before Gauff was born and the match has caught the eye of none other than Swiss maestro Roger Federer.

“I think that’s fascinating, that she plays Venus now,” the eight-times Wimbledon champion, whose management company Team 8 also looks after Gauff, told reporters.

“I think it’s a great storyline. I think that would be a great, wonderful experience for Coco and Venus.

“Coco is a nice girl, works really hard. I think she’s obviously got a wonderful future.”

Elsewhere in women’s draw, third seed Karolina Pliskova, who is fresh off her title win at Eastbourne on Saturday, faces China’s Zhu Lin.

Men’s world number one Novak Djokovic kicks things off on Center Court against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat the Serbian top seed in straight sets at Indian Wells in March.

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, the seventh seed, is in action on Court Two against Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano, while sixth seed Alexander Zverev begins his campaign against the Czech Republic’s Jiri Vesely on Court One.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

CLASSICAL/FINE ARTS RADIO STATION MANAGER WANTED IN ST. LOUIS

The Radio Arts Foundation (RAF) in St. Louis is looking for a CEO/General Manager who is an experienced and highly creative individual with a demonstrated history of thinking out of the box, who can work with the board to rethink, reimagine and redefine what it means to be a classical music and arts community-focused radio station and digital media enterprise in the 21st century.

The CEO/GM shall be the public face of Classic 107.3 and is expected to become a valued thought leader, collaborator and partner in the St. Louis arts community and fulfill the Board’s vision to make Classic 107.3 “The Voice for the Arts in St. Louis”.

The CEO/GM is responsible for the overall administration of the organization, including its programming, digital media enterprise, productions and strategic plan. Other key duties include fund development, sales and marketing, finance and community outreach. The position reports directly to the RAF Board of Directors.

For a copy of the complete job description please write to: radioartsfoundation@gmail.com

China June factory activity unexpectedly shrinks as trade war weighs: Caixin PMI

July 1, 2019

BEIJING, July 1 (Reuters) – China’s factory activity unexpectedly shrank in June as domestic and export demand faltered, a private sector business survey showed on Monday, pointing to further strains on its vast manufacturing sector as the Sino-U.S. trade war drags on.

The downbeat readings suggest the world’s second-largest economy is still losing steam despite a flurry of support over the past year, underlining an urgent need for more stimulus measures.

Leaders of the United States and China agreed at the G20 summit in Japan over the weekend to restart trade talks, giving investors some cause for optimism, though analysts say the lack of any substantive agreements from the meeting mean China’s economic woes are likely to persist.

The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for June came in at 49.4, the worst reading since January and below economists’ expectations of 50.0.

It was the first time in four months that the keenly-watched index has fallen below the neutral 50-mark dividing expansion from contraction on a monthly basis.

The survey finding was in line with an official gauge on factory activity published on Sunday, which showed manufacturing contracted at a faster-than-expected pace.

“China’s economy came under further pressure in June,” Zhengsheng Zhong, Director of Macroeconomic Analysis at CEBM Group, wrote in a note accompanying the data.

“It’s crucial for policymakers to step up countercyclical policies,” he said.

Factory output and new orders both fell for the first time since January, with some companies reporting they had halted production lines because of the trade dispute.

Business confidence dropped to the lowest in over seven years as a result, and manufacturers shed jobs for the third straight month.

The Caixin survey’s new orders sub-index – which measures new work both from home and abroad – fell sharply to 48.8 from 50.7 in the previous month.

Global fallout from the U.S.-China trade war is building as the dispute intensifies and enters its second year, disrupting supply chains, rattling financial markets and discouraging many companies from making new investments.

Tensions between the world’s two biggest economies escalated sharply in May, when talks to reach a broad deal collapsed as Washington accused Beijing of reneging promises on reforms. Both sides raised tariffs on each others’ goods and the White House threatened even more.

However, Chinese policymakers have been facing considerable weakness on the home front as well.

While tit-for-tat U.S.-China tariffs are expected to hit Chinese export-oriented firms hardest, the PMI survey suggested orders from domestic customers cooled faster in June than new business from abroad.

That’s despite a sustained economic support program that began early last year, ranging from higher infrastructure spending to tax cuts to a spate of measures aimed at keeping struggling smaller firms afloat.

While new exports orders shrank, pointing to further factory weakness in the third quarter, the drop was modest.

CEBM Group’s Zhong said that may reflect a rush by Chinese companies to ship goods to the United States ahead of any further tariffs. Similar “front loading” kept China’s headline export growth fairly resilient for much of last year before they sharply tapered off in the fourth quarter.

With the trade war threatening to grow longer and costlier, many economists believe Beijing will need to roll out more stimulus to meet its 2019 economic growth target of around 6-6.5 percent.

Market expectations are centering on further cuts in the amount of cash banks must hold as reserves and even higher fiscal spending, though some China watchers also expect the central bank to cut one or more of its key policy interest rates to reduce corporate borrowing costs.

(Reporting by Yawen Chen and Ryan Woo; Editing by Kim Coghill)

PG Walker to sign four-year, $141 million deal with Celtics

July 1, 2019

Three-time All-Star Kemba Walker has agreed to join the Boston Celtics on a four-year, $141 million deal, his agent, Jeff Schwartz, confirmed to ESPN.

Walker spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Charlotte Hornets.

Sources also confirmed to ESPN that as part of the agreement, Charlotte will send Walker to Boston as part of a sign-and-trade that will move point guard Terry Rozier to the Hornets. Rozier will then sign a three-year, $58 million deal.

Just a few weeks ago, Walker said he would take less than the five-year, $221 million “supermax” contract only the Hornets could offer him to stay in Charlotte.

The Charlotte Observer reported on Saturday, however, that team officials were set on paying less than $170 million because of concerns about the NBA luxury tax in the future.

In Boston, he will replace Kyrie Irving at point guard. A fellow free agent, Irving agreed to a four-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, according to multiple reports.

Walker, a 29-year-old Connecticut product, averaged 25.6 points and 5.9 assists while starting all 82 games for the Hornets last season. Those numbers are above his eight-year career averages of 19.8 points and 5.5 assists.

–Field Level Media

Oil jumps on Saudi, Russia support for supply cuts

July 1, 2019

By Florence Tan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose more than $1 a barrel on Monday after Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq backed an extension of supply cuts for another six to nine months ahead of an OPEC meeting this week.

Front-month Brent crude futures for September touched an intraday high of $66.14 a barrel and were up $1.12, or 1.7%, at $65.86 a barrel by 1252 GMT.

U.S. crude futures for August rose $1.10, or 1.9%, to $59.57 a barrel after earlier hitting a peak of $60.10, the highest in over five weeks.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies look set to extend oil supply cuts until at least until the end of 2019 as top producers on Sunday endorsed a policy aimed at propping up the price of crude.

OPEC, Russia and other producers, an alliance known as OPEC+, meet on July 1-2 to discuss supply cuts. The group has been reducing oil output since 2017 to prevent prices from sliding amid a weakening global economy and soaring U.S. output.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday he had agreed with Saudi Arabia to extend existing output cuts of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) by six to nine months.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the deal would most likely be extended by nine months and no deeper reductions were needed.

“While this needs to be ratified by the remaining members of the OPEC+ group, this appears to be a fait accompli,” ANZ analysts said in a note.

Oil prices have come under renewed pressure in recent months from rising U.S. supplies and a slowing global economy.

U.S. crude oil output in April rose to a fresh monthly record of 12.16 million bpd, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a monthly report on Friday.

Financial markets were buoyed by a thawing of U.S.-China relationship after leaders of the world’s two largest economies agreed on Saturday to restart trade talks.

Still, analysts remain skeptical that both sides can reach a deal soon.

“Until more details emerge, we are back at square one,” Alfonso Esparza, a senior market analyst at Oanda in Toronto, said in a note.

“The road ahead looks complicated as China demands more equal treatment, and the U.S. is pushing through on intellectual property protection.”

(Reporting by Florence Tan; editing by Richard Pullin)

South Korea June factory activity shrinks, export orders in longest slump on record

July 1, 2019

SEOUL, (Reuters) – South Korea’s factory activity shrank at the fastest pace in four months in June as the global trade slowdown deepened, prompting companies to cut back production and shed more jobs, a business survey showed on Monday.

New export orders contracted for the 11th straight month, the longest decline on record, which will likely add to pressure on the central bank to cut interest rates soon to reduce the risks of a recession.

The Nikkei/Markit purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 47.5, from 48.4 in May, marking the seventh decline in the past eight months.

The headline index dropped further below the 50-point level that separates growth from contraction, with major sub-indexes extending their weakness.

Total new orders from at home and abroad contracted for an eighth consecutive month, led by cooling demand from the key auto and electronics sectors. Fallout from the U.S.-China trade war was cited as a major factor, but export orders from all parts of the world were reported to be lower.

“Panellists reported that (the global trade slowdown) is taking its toll on their businesses, weighing on demand for goods and subsequently leading to cuts in production,” said Joe Hayes, an economist at IHS Markit.

Facing weak demand, factories lowered the prices of their goods and hit the brakes, cutting output at the sharpest rate in four years. Job losses continued for a second month.

Worried that the Sino-U.S. trade dispute will drag on, South Korean manufacturers were only slightly optimistic of a pick-up in production in the next 12 months, the survey showed.

“Manufacturers remain fairly subdued about the future, with even the prospect of new product lines failing to lift their spirits,” Hayes said.

South Korea’s economy contracted by a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in the January-March period from the previous quarter.

(Reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Japan manufacturing activity shrinks in June as weak global demand slams exports: PMI

July 1, 2019

TOKYO, (Reuters) – Japanese manufacturing activity contracted in June to hit a three-month low, a revised survey showed on Monday, offering fresh evidence of an economy under the pump as global demand weakened in the face of a heated U.S.-China trade conflict.

The final Jibun Bank Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) dropped to a seasonally adjusted 49.3 from 49.8 in May, and also down from a preliminary reading of 49.5.

The index was at its lowest since March, and remained below the 50 threshold that separates contraction from expansion for the second consecutive month.

The final reading for new export orders was 46.1, the worst slump since January, and underlining that frail global demand remains a major pressure point for the world’s third-largest economy.

“Japanese manufacturers continued to suffer from the slowdown in global trade volumes and weaker overseas demand conditions in June,” said Tim Moore, associate director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.

“Survey respondents linked the fall in exports to softer demand from customers in China, alongside a drag on sales from global trade frictions and weakness in the automotive sector.”

Manufacturers widely reported that lower sales to clients in China had acted as a brake on new export orders. Production volumes fell for the sixth month, marking the longest period of decline since 2012-13.

Japan’s export-focused economy is sensitive to changes in global demand, particularly in neighboring China, its largest trading partner. Faltering demand from overseas also poses a threat to the earnings’ outlook of Japan Inc.

There was some encouraging news on Japan’s industrial output front, with data on Friday showing production rose for a second straight month in May. Yet the outlook wasn’t as rosy, as manufacturers surveyed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said they expect output to fall 1.2% in June and increase only slightly by 0.3% in July.

Japan’s exports in May declined for the sixth month as China-bound shipments of semiconductor manufacturing equipment and car parts weakened, in a sign of a deteriorating outlook for growth.

Underscoring the risks Japanese firms face in the months ahead, the June PMI data signaled a sharp and accelerated reduction in unfinished work across the manufacturing sector.

The final reading for backlogs of work slumped to 44.7 from 46.6 in May, hitting the lowest level since January 2013, which was primarily attributed to a lack of pressure on operating capacity, including among intermediate goods producers.

“Manufacturers of capital equipment also signaled an export-led downturn in sales during June, while consumer goods producers bucked the overall trend by achieving a sustained rise in new work,” Moore said.

(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Uruguay ex-Mayor, senator likely winners in presidential primaries: exit polls

July 1, 2019

By Eloisa Capurro

MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) – Uruguayan primary elections look set to pit a former mayor against a senator in the presidential vote in October, according to early exit polls on Sunday evening in the South American country.

Polls after ballots closed showed former Montevideo mayor Daniel Martínez and Senator Luis Lacalle Pou winning the nominations for Broad Front and the National Party respectively, the two main factions expected to battle in out later this year.

Data from the three main local pollsters Cifra, Equipos and Opción, after voting closed at 7:30 p.m. indicated that Ernesto Talvi looked set to be the candidate for the Colorado Party, the third main political faction.

Uruguay’s electoral court has not yet given official data.

Martinez, a 62-year-old engineer, beat out Carolina Cosse, former Minister of Industry whose candidacy was backed by ex-President José Mujica. Also competing were former Central Bank president Mario Bergara and trade unionist Óscar Andrade.

Lacalle Pou, 44, a lawyer and the son of former President Luis Alberto Lacalle, was facing Senator Jorge Larrañaga and businessman Juan Sartori, who joined the party at the end of last year and had been surging lately in the polls.

Talvi, a 62-year-old economist, is a relative newcomer with the Colorado Party, but looks to have beaten out more experienced rival Julio María Sanguinetti, an 83-year-old lawyer who was the country’s president twice before.

Overall polls ahead of the Oct. 27 election currently suggests a closely fought race between the Broad Front party and the National Party, with a likely run-off in November, which happens if there is no clear winner in the first round.

The next president, who will take over from incumbent Tabaré Vázquez, will need to revive economic growth in the country that is expected to grow less than 1% this year, after the farming-heaving economy was hit by droughts and floods.

(Reporting by Eloisa Capurro; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Semenya vows no world championships if she can’t run 800m

July 1, 2019

By Gene Cherry

STANFORD, California (Reuters) – Olympic champion Caster Semenya said on Sunday she would not defend her world title in Doha next September if she could not run in the 800 meters because of new testosterone regulations imposed by the sport’s governing body.

“If I am not running 800 meters, I’m not running in the world championships,” the 28-year-old South African said after winning her favorite event in one minute, 55.70 at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting.

“No 1,500 (meters), nothing. I am just going to take a vacation, and then come (back to competing) next year.”

But Semenya, who is challenging International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) testosterone rules that could affect her career, is looking towards the next three Olympics.

“I expect to be in Tokyo, Paris and Los Angeles,” she said

The South African repeated that she would not take medication to satisfy the IAAF regulations, which are currently on hold for her after a court ruling.

Under the rules, XY chromosome athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs), like Semenya, must take medication to lower their natural testosterone levels if they are to compete at distances from 400m to a mile.

Testosterone is a hormone that increases muscle mass, strength and hemoglobin and the IAAF said its own research showed it gave a significant endurance advantage to athletes in the 400 meters to mile range.

Semenya has refused to take the medication, saying: “I am a woman and I am a world-class athlete. The IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am.”

But the South African said that even if she eventually lost her case, she planned to continue competing.

“There are a lot of races that I can do, there are a lot of stuff that I can do,” she said.

“I am a talented athlete. I can play football (soccer), I can play basketball, I can do anything, I can run 100, I can run 200, I can run the steeple(chase), I can do anything I want.”

But the first objective is to win her case against the IAAF regulations.

“This is like a legal battle,” Semenya said. “It’s like war. You don’t give up. You beat me today, I beat you tomorrow.

“But I am not doing this for me. I am a world champion, I have achieved everything I ever wanted.

“At the end of the day I am doing this for those who can’t fight for themselves.”

EASY WIN

Semenya charged ahead about 600 meters into Sunday’s race and won by almost 15 meters over American record holder Ajee Wilson to claim her 31st consecutive final in the event. She last lost an 800 meters final in Berlin on Sept. 6, 2015.

The race was the fastest ever run in the United States, but the three-time world champion said she felt sluggish.

“I (would be) still sleeping at home,” she said, noting it was about midnight in South Africa.

The competition was Semenya’s first since the Swiss Federal Tribunal said she did not have to adhere to the IAAF regulations until her appeal against a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling in favor of the new rules is decided.

The IAAF has said the regulations are necessary to preserve the integrity of female athletics in the restricted events.

Earlier, Kenya’s world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech cruised to the fifth fastest time in the women’s 3,000 meters steeplechase, 8:55.58.

American Rai Benjamin showed he was ready to challenge for his first world 400 meter hurdles title when he ran 47.16 seconds – the ninth fastest of all time.

Christian Coleman also produced a 2019-leading time, winning the 100 meters in 9.81 seconds, as 37-year-old world champion Justin Gatlin showed he will again be a factor in Doha after taking second in 9.87.

Kenyan Tim Cheruiyot added the year’s fastest mile, 3:50.49. Michael Norman won the 400 meters in 44.62 and Swedish teenager Mondo Duplantis topped world champion Sam Kendricks in the pole vault, clearing 5.93 meters.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Stanford, California; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Japan big manufacturers’ mood hits near three-year low – BOJ tankan

July 1, 2019

By Leika Kihara

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese big manufacturers’ business confidence worsened to a nearly three-year low in the quarter to June, a closely watched central bank survey showed, in yet another sign of the growing economic toll exerted by slowing global demand and the bitter U.S.-China trade war.

Big non-manufacturers’ business sentiment improved slightly from three months ago, the Bank of Japan’s quarterly “tankan” survey showed on Monday, suggesting that solid domestic demand was partially offsetting weakness in overseas shipments.

The headline index for big manufacturers’ sentiment stood at plus 7 in June, worsening from plus 12 in March and falling short of a median market forecast of plus 9, the tankan showed.

The index for big non-manufacturers stood at plus 23 in June against plus 21 in March. That compared with a median market forecast of plus 20.

The data underscores the divergence between exporters, who are feeling the pinch from the trade conflict, and service-sector companies still benefiting from the resilience in private consumption.

Many analysts warn the downturn in external demand will spread to broader sectors of Japan’s economy, which could prod policymakers to ramp up fiscal or monetary stimulus.

The survey also showed big firms planning to raise their capital expenditure by 7.4% in the financial year to March 2020, versus economists’ median estimate of a 8.9% increase.

Japan’s economy expanded by an annualized 2.1% in the first quarter but many analysts predict growth to slow in coming months as the U.S.-China tariff row hurts trade, business sentiment and corporate profits. A scheduled sales tax hike in October may also curb consumption, they warn.

Any downturn in business spending could cast doubt on the BOJ’s argument a sustained economic recovery will gradually encourage firms to boost prices and wages, helping inflation accelerate.

The tankan’s sentiment indexes are derived by subtracting the number of respondents who say conditions are poor from those who say they are good. A positive reading means optimists outnumber pessimists.

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Soccer: Sun shining again for Mallorca after years of gloom

July 1, 2019

By Martyn Herman

(Reuters) – Abdon Prats, unlike Mallorca’s most famous resident and favorite son Rafael Nadal, could still stroll along one of the Balaeric island’s crowded tourist beaches undisturbed.

Then again, claycourt tennis king Nadal has never started a party quite like the one Prats ignited last weekend when he scored against Deportivo La Coruna to put Real Mallorca back amongst the elite of Spanish football after a six-year absence.

When Mallorca lost the away leg of their promotion playoff 2-0 a few days earlier it seemed the dream of hosting the Galacticos of Barcelona and Real Madrid next season was over.

But with eight minutes of the home tie left in a cauldron-like atmosphere at the Estadi de San Moix, local boy Prats buried a left-foot shot into the Deportivo goal to complete a stunning 3-0 victory, sending the crowd, including 12-time French Open champion Nadal, into delirium.

The final whistle triggered a red tide of fans who flooded the pitch and later Palma’s Placa Tortuga where thousands of ‘Los Bermellones’ partied the night away.

Two years earlier, still reeling from a 2010 bankruptcy, the 103-year-old club originally named after Spanish king Alfonso, dropped to the third tier and even diehard Reds could not have dreamed of such a turnaround.

After relegation from La Liga in 2013, ending a 16-year stay in which they twice finished third, won the Copa del Rey in 2003 and were runner-up in the last UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1999, the club entered a tailspin that saw them fall into regional soccer in 2017.

Real Mallorca are no strangers to strife. The club almost died in the 1970s. This time, however, there was a silver-lining in the form of an American consortium led by Robert Sarver, owner of NBA team Phoenix Suns, and NBA Hall of Famer Steve Nash, which bought the club for 21 million euros ($23.87 million) in 2016.

“They were tempted because of the club’s 100-year history, the great academy that produced players like (Spain and Real Madrid winger) Marco Ascensio and the Son Moix stadium which just by doing refurbishment was ready for La Liga,” sports lawyer Maheta Molango, who helped facilitate the deal and is now Mallorca’s CEO, told Reuters by telephone.

“The problem was that the club was literally in pieces. We lost eight million euros the first year and although we tried to steady the ship we went down (to the third tier).

“But getting relegated proved the club’s salvation. We were able to make drastic decisions.”

ROOT AND BRANCH

Swiss-born Molango, who once played for English seaside club Brighton & Hove Albion, scoring 20 seconds into his debut, said a root and branch restructuring took place.

Vicente Moreno was hired as coach in 2017 and players like midfielder Salva Sevilla and Slovakian defender Martin Valjent were added to a squad put together on a shoestring budget.

“They were sold a dream,” Molango said. “We had just been relegated but the owners conveyed a message of being solid, very serious. We said this we’ve been through a difficult time but this project can take off.

“Do you want to be in it from the start?”

The climb began. In the 2017-18 Mallorca won their section of Secunda B to return to the second-tier and last season finished fifth, before winning the playoffs.

Once the celebrations subside, Mallorca still owe around 17 million euros in bankruptcy debt but with La Liga’s television deal offering a minimum of 40 million euros, promotion offers the chance to get the club back on a level footing.

“It’s changed the model,” Malango said. “In Secunda the club was losing two to three million euros per year, all of a sudden we can become profitable much sooner.”

Nash posted footage of him celebrating with fellow American investor, former Bolton Wanderers player Stu Holden this week — his vision for the island team he “fell in love with” coming to fruition faster than he could have expected.

Molango says they are the model owners.

“The club was an embarrassment before and without the Americans it was going to disappear,” he said.

“They know the sports arena. They know that investing money does not equal success. The Phoenix Suns have not won a title but they know that it’s about being smart to run a project.”

Match gate receipts averaged 35,000 euros per game this season having slumped to 4,000 when the Americans came on board. They raked in 250,000 euros from the playoff alone.

“We have created new experiences for fans, a new VIP corner which is copied from NBA, a courtside concept, we are being creative, treating fans as customers,” Molango said.

Molango said “target is staying up” next season using the core of the current squad and a few experienced editions.

With 15 million tourists arriving every year the club also hopes to tap into a captive audience. “Not many realize that Mallorca has an historic football club, we’re changing that.”

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

Mavs lock up Porzingis with $158 million extension: reports

July 1, 2019

The Dallas Mavericks and center Kristaps Porzingis reached an agreement on a five-year, $158 million contract, according to multiple reports Sunday.

Porzingis, who did not play last season while recovering from knee surgery, was traded from the New York Knicks to the Mavericks on Jan. 31. He averaged 22.7 points in 48 games in 2017-18.

The new deal in Dallas is a max contract that will be the largest in Mavericks history in total dollars and per-season average. The Mavericks will now build around the 7-foot-3 Porzingis, who turns 24 in August, and 20-year-old guard/forward Luka Doncic, the NBA Rookie of the Year last season.

Porzingis averaged 17.8 points and 7.1 rebounds for the Knicks from 2015-2018 after they made the Latvian the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Knicks team president Steve Mills said in May that Porzingis had told the team he would not re-sign with New York and threatened to go back to Europe if he was not traded.

–Field Level Media

Middleton receives $178 million deal to stay with Bucks

July 1, 2019

All-Star forward Khris Middleton agreed to remain with the Milwaukee Bucks after free agency began Sunday night, landing a reported five-year, $178 million.

Middleton, who turns 28 next month, is a key cog for a team that had the NBA’s best record and reached the Eastern Conference finals before falling to the Toronto Raptors.

He explained his decision in a first-person account published by ESPN.

“We have unfinished business here in Milwaukee,” Middleton said. “This season was a stepping-stone for me personally and for us as a group. I achieved so many firsts on and off the court: I earned my first All-Star appearance; we made the Eastern Conference finals; I became a father.

“But I am not done. We are not done. The goal wasn’t to reach the Eastern Conference finals — we are on a mission to win a championship. I want to be a part of that mission, which is why I am staying here in Milwaukee for the next five years.”

Middleton averaged 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists this past season. He averaged a career-best 20.1 points the previous season.

Middleton, who declined a $13 million option to become a free agent, said he wants to win an NBA title with teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo, who won MVP honors this past season.

“It means a little more to me to work to win a championship with this group in this city because I was there for those darker days,” Middleton said. “Giannis and I have been through it all together. We have been at the very bottom and close to the top. When you rebuild a franchise brick by brick like that, it means a little bit more because you have literally put your blood, sweat and tears into improving. We have been called the worst team. I have been called the worst player in the league.

“I know now that I am a part of something special. It is not every day that a team wins 60 games. Some players will never get to say they accomplished that.

“I grew up with this franchise. As the years have gone on, I have seen more and more people show up at our games. The fans have been crazy these last few years. I look forward to raising my little girl in this city because I love it here. I don’t feel like I’m done with my community work either. It makes me so happy to work with our teachers and do movie nights with The Boys & Girls Clubs.

“Giannis and I want to win a championship together some day. We’ve both already gotten back in the gym this summer and are determined to make next season special. This team is on a mission to win it all for our city.”

The Bucks did say goodbye to guard Malcolm Brogdon, the 2016-17 Rookie of the Year. A restricted free agent, he was reportedly traded to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for a first-round pick and two second-rounders.

–Field Level Media

Japan to tighten export rules for high-tech materials to South Korea: media

June 30, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan plans to tighten restrictions on the export of high-tech material used in smartphones and chips to South Korea from July 4 in connection with a dispute over a South Korean ruling on war-time forced labor, the Sankei newspaper reported on Sunday.

The row between Japan and South Korea flared last October when South Korea’s Supreme Court ruled that Japan’s Nippon Steel must compensate South Koreans for forced labor during World War Two.

Japan maintains that the issue of forced labor was fully settled in 1965 when the two countries restored diplomatic ties, and has denounced the ruling as “unthinkable.”

The materials to be restricted are fluorinated polyimide which is used in smartphone displays, and resist and high-purity hydrogen fluoride (HF), which is used as an etching gas in the making of semiconductors, the paper said.

Resist is a thin layer used to transfer a circuit pattern to the semiconductor substrate. High-purity HF is used in etching silicon materials.

Japan will stop preferential treatment for these three materials for South Korea, meaning Japanese exporters will need to apply for export permission for each time they want to ship to South Korea, which takes about 90 days, the paper said.

A government announcement on the restriction is expected on Monday, it said.

Japan produces about 90% of fluorinated polyimide and resist worldwide as well as about 70% of etching gas, making it difficult for chipmakers to find alternative supplies, the paper said, pointing to potential impact on South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics.

Japan’s industry ministry and finance ministry were not available for comment on Sunday.

In January, Japan demanded talks with South Korea over the forced labor issue but South Korea has not responded, the newspaper said.

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi)

Papua New Guinea volcanic eruptions force 15,000 from their homes

June 30, 2019

By Alison Bevege

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Volcanic eruptions in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have forced 15,000 villagers in the country’s northeast to flee their homes, aid agencies said on Sunday.

Mount Ulawun on PNG’s northeastern island of New Britain exploded suddenly on Wednesday, shooting an ash column 18 km (11.18 miles) into the air, while nearby Manam erupted on Friday, sending dangerous pyroclastic flows down its slopes.

There were no reported casualties but the eruptions destroyed homes, plantations and wells, leaving villagers without food and water while ash columns disrupted domestic flights.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said as of Sunday, 3,775 people had fled the Manam eruption and 11,047 people from the Mount Ulawun eruption and taken shelter in refuge centres.

Volcanic ash has blanketed the area with tiny glass-like particles that can permanently damage the lungs, leading to sickness or death.

Leo Mapmani of the West New Britain Provincial Disaster Centre said health risks from the ash falls meant people were unable to return to their homes while the dust would damage food crops if rains did not wash it off soon.

“If it is on the hill tops and the tree tops and the wind blows, people will inhale it,” he told Reuters by telephone from West New Britain’s provincial capital of Kimbe.

Manam Island resident Jordan Sauba told local media his house was destroyed by ash and stones.

“We had nowhere to go so we went under the house and hid there for at least eight hours,” he said from Manam Island.

PNG Red Cross, provincial governments, provincial disaster centres and the Salvation Army have taken emergency supplies to the shelters, IFRC PNG head Udaya Regmi told Reuters on Sunday.

It was unclear when villagers would be able to return to their homes, he said.

PNG Prime Minister James Marape visited the Ulawun refuge shelters in West New Britain province on Sunday. Marape had previously said he would send the defence force to help.

Steve Saunders, principal geodetic surveyor at the Rabaul Volcano Observatory told Reuters that Manam was expected to continue to erupt with active lava flows from the summit to the sea.

“Satellites are monitoring the gas and temperatures and we’re monitoring deformation to see if we have any uplift,” he said.

(Reporting by Alison Bevege; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Trump meets with Kim, crosses border into North Korea

June 30, 2019

PANMUNJOM, South Korea (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for the third time on Sunday amid hopes for new talks at ending North Korea’s nuclear programs.

Trump met Kim on the southern side of the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone separating the two Koreas.

Trump briefly crossed the inter-Korean military border into the North, becoming the first ever U.S. president to set foot in the reclusive country.

(Reporting by Robert Rampton, Hyonhee Shin, Jack Kim and Joyce Lee)

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Reports: Pistons, Rose near two-year deal

June 30, 2019

The Detroit Pistons and former Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose are expected to meet after free agency opens on Sunday and work toward a two-year deal, ESPN reported Saturday evening.

The Athletic reported the Pistons are the favorites to sign Rose.

Free agency opens at 6 p.m. ET, although no contracts can officially be signed until noon on July 6.

Rose, 30, averaged 18 points and 4.3 assists per game in 51 games (13 starts) for the Wolves last season, his first full year with the team after signing with Minnesota late in the 2018 season as a free agent following a buyout with Utah. His 2018-19 campaign ended in March with surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow.

A three-time All-Star and the 2010-11 league MVP with the Chicago Bulls, Rose has played for the Wolves, the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks since leaving Chicago in the summer of 2016. He has yet to average 20-plus points or six-plus assists since missing the 2012-13 campaign with a torn ACL.

In his 11-year career since the Bulls drafted him first overall in 2008, Rose has averaged 18.8 points and 5.6 assists in 546 contests (489 starts).

–Field Level Media

Trump lands at DMZ ahead of meeting with North Korea’s Kim

June 30, 2019

PAJU, South Korea (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump arrived at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas on Sunday ahead of his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited a guard post in the northernmost part of the South Korean side of the DMZ, looking into the North, where he will speak with U.S. and South Korean servicemen.

Trump and Kim are expected to meet at the Joint Security Area patrolled by soldiers from both Koreas near the inter-Korean border.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Hyonhee Shin and Jack Kim; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Red Dead Redemption 2 UPDATE: Big Red Dead Online news from Rockstar Games



RED Dead Redemption 2 on PS4 and Xbox One is getting some big updates in the coming months, some of which will likely prove very popular with Red Dead Online fans.

Counterclockwise: phones that rotate

Phones have had rotating controls since the early days. In the 19th century, if you wanted to call someone, you had to crank a handle (it generated the electric pulse that rung the bell of the other phone). In the 20th century, there was the rotary dial. While cell phones never had a rotary dial, the likes of the Sony CMD J7 had a Jog Dial - a wheel on the side of the phone that can be used to navigate menus. BlackBerry started with trackwheels too, but the iconic Pearl series introduced the trackball. The T-Mobile G1 had a trackball too. Of course, later models swapped out the...

Mexico into Gold Cup semis after shootout win over Costa Rica

June 30, 2019

(Reuters) – Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa saved from Keysher Fuller in a sudden death shootout to put his side into the semi-finals of the Gold Cup after the teams drew 1-1 in Houston on Saturday.

Raul Jimenez gave Mexico the lead in the 44th minute before Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz leveled from the penalty spot seven minutes after the break.

After a scoreless extra time both teams netted four penalties from their first five kicks. Carlos Salcedo was successful with the first penalty in sudden death before Ochoa’s save from Fuller put Mexico through 5-4.

Mexico will play Haiti, who beat Canada 3-2 earlier on Saturday, in the semi-final in Glendale, Arizona on July 2.

The other two quarter-finals will be decided on Sunday when Jamaica play Panama and defending champions the United States face Curacao.

(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Nintendo News: Good news for Switch after Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild 2 updates



NINTENDO Switch gamers received more good news this week about the console and a big update regarding the recently announced Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2.

PS4 Surprise UPDATE: Download these FREE PlayStation game bonuses today



PS4 console gamers have some great choices this weekend when it comes to free game downloads and bonuses, with more coming to the PlayStation Store next month.

Extradition bill fury likely to fuel numbers at Hong Kong annual rally

June 30, 2019

By Anne Marie Roantree

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong is gearing up for an annual pro-democracy march on Monday, the anniversary of its handover to Beijing, that could see a big crowd amid widespread anger over an extradition bill that has already seen millions take to the streets.

In recent years, the anniversary of the handover of the former British colony in 1997 has been marked by deepening despondency about what many residents see as increasing meddling by the mainland and the erosion of freedoms.

Beijing denies interfering but for many Hong Kong residents a proposed extradition law, that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial, is the latest step in a relentless march towards mainland control.

“If Hong Kong is no longer an international city, Hong Kong will perish,” former opposition lawmaker Margaret Ng said at a rally late on Friday.

“It’s our responsibility to let the world know.”

Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, who is backed by Beijing, promoted and then suspended the extradition bill after some of the biggest and most violent protests in the city in decades against it.

Lam apologized to the public for the upheaval the bill had caused and while she said she had heard the people “loud and clear”, she stopped short of activists’ demands to scrap it and rejected calls to step down.

Activists are also demanding the government drop all charges against those arrested during the latest protests, charge police with what they describe as excessive use of force and stop referring to the demonstrations as a riot, a term than can bring a heavier jail sentence.

Organizers of Monday’s anniversary march say they are confident that anger over the city government’s failure to withdraw the extradition bill will fuel numbers.

More than a million people have taken to the streets at times over the past three weeks to vent their anger and frustration at Lam, posing the greatest popular challenge to Chinese leader Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

THREAT AND FEAR

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, under a “one country, two systems” formula that allows freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China, including freedom of protest and a much-cherished independent judiciary.

Opponents of the extradition bill see it as a threat to the rule of law and fear it would put them at the mercy of China’s justice system where human rights are not guaranteed.

After promises that post-handover Hong Kong would enjoy autonomy, Beijing’s squeeze has fueled resentment and in 2014 sparked pro-democracy protests that paralyzed parts of the city for 79 days.

The failure of those protests to wrestle concessions on democracy, coupled with prosecutions of at least 100 protesters, most of them young, had discouraged many activists from going back to the streets – until recent weeks.

The turnout at the handover protest in 2018 was one of the lowest ever after Hong Kong’s opposition lost steam following the disqualification of pro-democracy legislators and the jailing of some of the most prominent activists. [nL3N1QX3RV]

Organizers said about 50,000 people rallied last year, while police put the number at 9,800 at its peak.

(Additional reporting by Jessie Pang; Editing by Sam Holmes, Robert Birsel)

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