Donald Trump

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It’s been 27 years since an incumbent U.S. president lost re-election, and judging by the health of the economy and other traditional metrics, Donald Trump looks unlikely to break the trend.

In addition to presiding over sustained growth and low unemployment, Trump enjoys a nation at relative peace, a well-funded campaign and the strong backing of the Republican Party. And yet, as he prepares to formally kick off his 2020 re-election bid with a prime-time speech in Florida, he has reason to be circumspect, Shannon Pettypiece and Mike Dorning report.

Most private forecasters expect the economy to slow entering the election year, as U.S. trade disputes threaten global commerce — hurting core voters like farmers — and the fiscal stimulus from Trump’s 2018 tax cut fades.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into election meddling by Russia, alongside other controversies that have dogged Trump’s administration, are also potential liabilities.

Trump trails six of his Democratic rivals in hypothetical head-to-head contests, a poll showed last week. And no president since 1952 has been re-elected with an approval rating below 48%. Trump has not exceeded 46% in Gallup polls since taking office.

Much hinges on the Democrats. The question is whether they can select a challenger able to attract the funding and support in battleground states needed to deny Trump a second term.

Global Headlines

Iran under pressure | The Pentagon plans to send about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East, even as Trump described as “very minor” the recent attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman that the U.S. has blamed on Iran. The Pentagon also released new photos and a timeline it said bolstered the case that Iran was behind the incidents. Tehran denies any involvement.

Click here to read how Trump’s campaign vow to get the U.S. out of costly foreign entanglements is colliding with the messy reality of commitments in the Middle East.

Trade turmoil | The chairwoman of the world’s biggest bicycle maker delivered an ominous message to China that its days as a global manufacturing hub may be numbered. Giant Manufacturing started rolling production of its U.S.-bound orders back home to Taiwan when Trump made his tariff threats last year, Cindy Wang reports. Trump’s top trade envoy, Robert Lighthizer, is due to appear before Congress this week to account for the trade conflict.

Scottish dilemma | Scots didn’t vote for Brexit and neither did they elect the Conservatives. So the likelihood of a Brexiteer such as Boris Johnson winning the race to succeed Theresa May as Tory leader and prime minister is forcing some hard choices north of the border. As Alan Crawford and Rodney Jefferson report, the sense in Edinburgh is that another referendum on Scottish independence is now inevitable.

As the Conservative field narrows further today, Alex Morales profiles Rory Stewart, the lesser-known candidate suddenly making waves.

Fall from grace | The holding company of the Brazilian construction and energy giant at the center of a massive Latin America graft probe has filed for bankruptcy protection. Odebrecht has struggled since the “Carwash” investigation, which started in 2014 and brought the construction industry to a halt as access to government projects was cut and executives jailed. The political fallout is still reverberating from Ecuador to Mexico, Peru and Brazil.

Waiting game | Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi still hasn’t named a cabinet five months after taking office, leaving investors in the mineral-rich nation facing endless delays. After a disputed election, Tshisekedi’s protracted talks with his coalition partner have almost paralyzed a nation ranked by the World Bank as one of the most difficult and corrupt places to do business.

What to Watch

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam today apologized for backing a bill to allow extraditions to China, as she seeks to defuse protests that have rocked the city. She declined to resign or withdraw the bill completely — key demands of protest leaders. Rights groups have urged a transparent probe into the death of Mohamed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood foot soldier who became Egypt’s first freely elected civilian president. He collapsed during a court hearing over an espionage case, with state-run media saying he suffered a “sudden heart attack.” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s candidate to head the European Commission — Manfred Weber, a German lawmaker in the European parliament — is struggling for momentum, which means she may need to instead focus on getting her preferred person into the European Central Bank’s top job. U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo meets today with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Washington. Mogherini said yesterday the EU will not support Jared Kushner’s Middle East peace plan without a two-state solution included.

And finally…You used to catch only rare glimpses of them in public — a waiter willing to risk jail time might accept them for the right price, street hawkers making offers for them under their breath. Today, U.S. greenbacks are widely used in Venezuela’s supermarkets and bodegas. As Andrew Rosati reports, with the bolivar devalued into irrelevance by Nicolas Maduro’s regime, the cash printed by the gringos he rails against is king. 

 

–With assistance from Karl Maier and Jon Herskovitz.

To contact the author of this story: Kathleen Hunter in London at khunter9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net, Alan Crawford

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump captured the Republican Party and then the presidency in 2016 as an insurgent intent on disrupting the status quo. As he mounts his bid for reelection, Trump is offering himself as the outsider once again — but it’s a much more awkward pitch to make from inside the Oval Office.

Trump is set to formally announce his 2020 bid on Tuesday at a rally in Orlando, Florida, where advisers said he aims to connect the dots between the promise of his disruptive first-time candidacy and his goals for another term in the White House. His promises to rock the ship of state are now more than an abstract pledge, though, complicated by his tumultuous 29 months at its helm.

Any president is inherently an insider. Trump has worked in the Oval Office for two years, travels the skies in Air Force One and changes the course of history with the stroke of a pen or the post of a tweet.

“We’re taking on the failed political establishment and restoring government of, by and for the people,” Trump said in a video released by his campaign Monday to mark his relaunch. “It’s the people, you’re the people, you won the election.”

That populist clarion was a central theme of his maiden political adventure, as the businessman-turned-candidate successfully appealed to disaffected voters who felt left behind by economic dislocation and demographic shifts. And he has no intention of abandoning it, even if he is the face of the institutions he looks to disrupt.

Those involved in the president’s reelection effort believe that his brash version of populism, combined with his mantra to “Drain the Swamp,” still resonates, despite his administration’s cozy ties with lobbyists and corporations and the Trump family’s apparent efforts to profit off the presidency.

“He’s still not viewed as a politician,” said Jason Miller, Trump’s 2016 senior communications adviser. “Voters don’t define him by the party label, they define him by his policies and his message of shaking up the status quo in Washington. That’s the biggest reason he was able to win blue states in 2016.”

Democrats, though, predict Trump won’t be able to get away with the outsider branding.

“How can you say: Forget about the last two years, he is an outsider, he is bashing down doors,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, a former senior Obama campaign official now at MoveOn.org. “People’s lives are harder because of what he has done as president. Voters are paying their attention and are not going to buy it.”

Republicans working with the Trump campaign but not authorized to speak publicly about internal conversations said campaign advisers believe that Trump is still perceived as a businessman and point to his clashes with the Washington establishment — including Congress, the so-called Deep State and members of his own party — as proof that he is still an outsider rather than a creature of the Beltway. Helping further that image, Trump advisers believe, is that his main Democratic foils are all career politicians: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, former Vice President Joe Biden and, yes, Hillary Clinton.

“He promised that he’d go to Washington and shake things up, and he certainly has,” said Trump campaign manager Tim Murtaugh.

Still, it’s not as though Trump is running from Washington. If anything, he’s wrapping himself in the trappings and authorities of his office. Last week, Trump granted behind-the-scenes access to his limousine, Marine One helicopter and Air Force One for an hourlong ABC News special meant to highlight the singular advantage he has over his rivals — that he already has the job they want.

And Trump is eager to use the power of the office to further his case for reelection. Last month in Louisiana, he promised voters a new bridge if he wins, and in the pivotal Florida Panhandle, he pledged new disaster relief money would flow in a second Trump term.

Trump advisers also point to his popularity among white working-class voters, who consider themselves “forgotten Americans” left behind and mocked by elite insiders. For those voters, many of whom in 2016 cast their first ballots in decades, Trump remains the embodiment of their outsider grievances, their anger stoked by his clashes with political foes and the rest of government (even when his party controls it).

Advisers believe that, in an age of extreme polarization, many Trump backers view their support for the president as part of their identity, one not easily shaken. They point to his seemingly unmovable support with his base supporters as evidence that, despite more than two years in office, he is still viewed the same way he was as a candidate: the bomb-throwing political rebel.

Americans acknowledge Trump is a change agent, but they are divided in their views of that change. Early this year, a CNN poll found about three-quarters of Americans saying Trump has created significant changes in the country, and they split about evenly between calling it change for the better and change for the worse. More recently, a March poll from CNN showed 42% of Americans think Trump can bring the kind of change the country needs.

___

Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writer Hannah Fingerhut contributed to this report.

___

Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire and Miller at http://twitter.com/@zekejmiller

FILE PHOTO: An Iranian navy boat tries to stop the fire of an oil tanker after it was attacked in the Gulf of Oman
FILE PHOTO: An Iranian navy boat tackles a fire on an oil tanker after it was attacked in the Gulf of Oman, June 13, 2019. Tasnim News Agency/Handout via REUTERS

June 18, 2019

By Babak Dehghanpisheh

GENEVA (Reuters) – If, despite its firm denials, Iran was behind attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf last week and a further four last month, they represent a calibrated yet risky pushback against a U.S. sanctions squeeze, regional experts say.

The targeting of six vessels on a major artery for world oil supplies was a vivid reminder of the stakes involved in the standoff pitting Iran against the United States and its regional allies.

The latest two attacks, on Thursday, were much more complex than last month’s because the tankers were moving rather than at anchor as previously, said Hossein Aryan, a military analyst who served 18 years in Iran’s navy before and after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Two government security sources, one American and one European, also noted the sophistication of the attacks, which damaged the tankers without seriously injuring anyone. They told reporters this indicated deliberate calculation.

The two sources, who declined to be named, said the attacks appeared designed to show that Iran could create chaos if it wanted to but at this point did not want to, perhaps in the hope of persuading the United States and other antagonists to back off rather than trigger conflict.

They did not provide direct evidence of Iranian involvement, but the United States and Saudi Arabia have blamed Iran publicly for both sets of attacks.

Whereas some U.S. sources said they believed Iran encouraged allied militants or militia to carry out last month’s attacks, the U.S. military has released a video and still images which it says show Iran’s Revolutionary Guards removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the latest vessels to be targeted.

Tehran expressed concern over the May attacks and said the footage released after the latest ones by the United States military proved nothing and Iran was being made a scapegoat.

Germany said last week the video was not enough to apportion blame, while Britain said no other state or non-state actor could have been responsible. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for an independent investigation.

The head of the company which owns the Japanese tanker hit said last week its crew had reported flying objects damaged the ship, but Aryan said whoever attacked it and a Norwegian tanker had attached magnetic limpet mines with a timer when they were anchored or using a boat or marine drone when they were moving.

Iran’s military said on Monday that if it decided to block the Strait of Hormuz, a vital gateway in the Gulf for the oil industry, it would do so publicly, and both Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani have said Iran does not want war.

Tehran has been at pains to underline its capabilities, however.

“If attacked, we can make the maritime regions unsafe for the aggressors,” said an Iranian official who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.

BACKFIRED?

Ali Vaez, director of the Iran Project at the Crisis Group think-tank, and other regional sources said that if Iran was responsible, it was clearly trying to show it could threaten global oil supply with a view to deterring the U.S. and its allies from further ratcheting up the pressure.

Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and other regional rivals are backing U.S. efforts to cut off Iran’s oil exports with pledges to boost their own oil production to keep prices stable. But a fifth of the world’s oil passes through the Gulf of Oman and the attacks hit vessels on both sides of the waterway.

“The message being sent by Iran is that we can disrupt operations on east and west. If they can’t export, no one should,” said a Gulf industry source who asked not to be identified.

U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 international nuclear deal last year and reimposed sanctions, aiming to push Tehran to negotiate over its ballistic missile program and regional policy, which Washington says is destabilizing the Middle East.

Washington then sent an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and Patriot missiles to the region last month in a show of force against what U.S. officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests there.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on Monday the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what he said were defensive purposes, citing concerns about a threat from Iran.

Vaez said Tehran did not appear to have been cowed so far.

“The irony is that the U.S. maximum pressure strategy was supposed to temper Iranian behavior,” he said. “In practice, however, it has clearly backfired.”

LOW COST

Iran could use relatively inexpensive asymmetric attacks to inflict costly damage, according to Tom Sharpe, a former commander in Britain’s Royal Navy who is now a communications consultant.

“They have jet skis and fast boats that are trained for swarm attacks and just one £1,000 jet ski could disable a £1 billion warship,” he told Reuters.

Sharpe said the United States and Western allies were prepared to tackle such attacks.

But the ability of Iran-linked groups to strike goes beyond the Strait of Hormuz.

In the same week that the four oil tankers were attacked off the coast of the Emirates last month, Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis struck two oil pumping stations within Saudi Arabia with armed drones.

A few days later, a rocket was fired near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, which had already evacuated non-emergency staff a week after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise trip to Baghdad to talk to Iraqi officials about U.S. concerns of threats from Iran-backed militias.

Two Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary groups said talk of threats was “psychological warfare” by Washington.

During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, both Iran and Iraq attacked tankers and merchant ships in the Gulf, which drew the United States into the conflict.

Iran learned lessons from that period, which became known as the “Tanker War,” and now has many more tools at its disposal, such as mines and speed boats, to use in asymmetric warfare to send a signal, Aryan said.

“That signal is to show to the Arab states and to the United States that, despite all their military might and presence in the region, the lines of communication in the region are vulnerable, to show that vulnerability.”

The danger for Iran, if it is pursuing that strategy, is that a small incident could quickly escalate, observers say.

“This is an extremely risky strategy,” said Ali Alfoneh, senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. “The gamble of Islamic Republic strategists … may end up provoking a war Iran can ill afford.”

(Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington, Julia Payne in London and Parisa Hafezi and Rania El Gamal in Dubai; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Source: OANN

(Adds Guatemala, background)

WASHINGTON, June 17 (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Monday that U.S. authorities would begin next week removing millions of immigrants who are in the United States illegally.

“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump tweeted, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. “They will be removed as fast as they come in,” he said. He did not offer specifics.

There are an estimated 12 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally, mainly from Mexico and Central America.

Under a deal reached earlier this month, Mexico has agreed to take Central American immigrants seeking asylum in the United States until their cases are heard in U.S. courts.

The agreement, which included Mexico pledging to deploy National Guard troops to stop Central American immigrants from reaching the U.S. border, averted a Trump threat to hit Mexican imports with tariffs.

Trump also said in the tweet that Guatemala “is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement.”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence suggested last week that Guatemala could receive asylum seekers from its neighbors as a so-called safe third country.

Details of the plan have not been made public, and Guatemala has not publicly confirmed talks that the U.S. State Department said were taking place in Guatemala on Friday.

U.S. rights group Human Rights First said, however, it was “simply ludicrous” for the United States to assert that Guatemala was capable of protecting refugees, when its own citizens are fleeing violence.

Mexico has agreed that if its measures to stem the flow of migrants are unsuccessful, it will discuss signing a safe third country agreement with the United States.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Peter Cooney)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is threatening to remove millions of people living in the country illegally on the eve of formally announcing his re-election bid.

In a pair of tweets Monday night, Trump said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would next week “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.”

“They will be removed as fast as they come in,” he wrote.

An administration official said the effort would focus on the more than 1 million people who have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges but remain at large in the country. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to explain the president’s tweets.

It is unusual for law enforcement agencies to announce raids before they take place. Some in Trump’s administration believe that decisive shows of force — like mass arrests — can serve as effective deterrents, sending a message to those considering making the journey to the U.S. that it’s not worth coming.

Trump has threatened a series of increasingly drastic actions as he has tried to stem the flow of Central American migrants crossing the southern border, which has risen dramatically on his watch. He recently dropped a threat to slap tariffs on Mexico after the country agreed to dispatch its national guard and step-up coordination and enforcement efforts.

A senior Mexican official said Monday that, three weeks ago, about 4,200 migrants were arriving at the U.S. border daily. Now that number has dropped to about 2,600.

Immigration was a central theme of Trump’s 2016 campaign and he is expected to hammer it as he tries to fire up his base heading into the 2020 campaign.

Trump will formally launch his re-election bid Tuesday night at a rally in Orlando, Florida — a state that is crucial to his path back to the White House.

U.S. Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Gallagher leaves court with his wife after the first day of jury selection at the court-martial trial at Naval Base San Diego
U.S. Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher leaves court with his wife Andrea, her name tattooed on his wrist, after the first day of jury selection at this court-martial trial at Naval Base San Diego in San Diego, California , U.S., June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

June 18, 2019

By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) – Opening arguments are set to begin on Tuesday in the trial of a U.S. Navy SEAL court-martialed on charges of murdering a wounded Iraqi prisoner and shooting unarmed civilians, a war crimes case that has drawn the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump.

A jury was selected on Monday in the trial of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, City News Service and the Fox affiliate in San Diego reported.

Gallagher, a 39-year-old career combat veteran, has denied all the charges but could face life in prison if convicted in the trial arising from his 2017 deployment to Mosul, Iraq.

The platoon leader is charged with murdering a wounded, helpless Islamic State fighter in his custody by stabbing him in the neck, and with attempted murder in the wounding of two civilians – a schoolgirl and an elderly man – shot from a sniper’s perch in Iraq.

He maintains that fellow SEAL team members in his platoon, who turned him in and are testifying against him under grants of immunity, are disgruntled subordinates who fabricated allegations to force him from command.

Details of the jury were not immediately available. A Navy spokesman said on Monday between 5 and 15 jurors would be selected from a pool, half of whom are officers and the other half enlisted men.

The proceedings in a military courthouse at U.S. Naval Base San Diego are due to last three weeks.

The prosecution’s case rests crucially on the SEAL team members’ testimony as there are no bodies or crime scenes from the Iraqi war zone. Names and other details about the alleged crimes were not disclosed.

PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT?

The opening of the trial was postponed several times by a lengthy round of proceedings to deal with defense allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

Gallagher’s lawyers sought dismissal of the charges after learning that Navy prosecutors had electronically tracked email communications of defense lawyers without a warrant, ostensibly to pinpoint the source of material leaked from sealed case files.

The presiding judge, a Navy captain, ultimately removed the lead prosecutor from the case and freed Gallagher from pre-trial confinement.

The judge also granted defense lawyers a potentially valuable edge in jury selection – the right to reject, with no reason given, two more potential jurors than they otherwise could exclude through the use of a peremptory challenge.

Before he was released from custody late last month, Gallagher had been ordered restricted to base at the nearby Naval Medical Center San Diego.

Trump said last month that he is considering pardons for a number of military service members accused of war crimes, and Gallagher’s case was believed to be one of those under review.

The prospect of presidential clemency seemed heightened by last month’s appointment to Gallagher’s defense team of Marc Mukasey, one of Trump’s personal lawyers.

Gallagher’s lead civilian attorney, Timothy Parlatore, has said his client has not sought a pardon.

(Reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman and Rich McKay; editing by Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A pumpjack is seen at sunset outside Scheibenhard, near Strasbourg
FILE PHOTO: A pumpjack is seen at sunset outside Scheibenhard, near Strasbourg, France, October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

June 18, 2019

By Aaron Sheldrick

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices were falling for a second day on Tuesday, after more signs that global economic growth is being hit by U.S.-China trade tensions, although losses were limited amid tensions in the Middle East after tanker attacks last week.

Brent crude futures were down 16 cents, or 0.3%, at $60.78 a barrel by 0215 GMT. They fell 1.7% in the previous session on concerns about slowing global growth.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 12 cents, or 0.2%, at $51.92. They dropped 1.1% on Monday.

The New York Federal Reserve said on Monday that its gauge of business growth in New York state posted a record fall this month to its weakest level in more than 2-1/2 years, suggesting an abrupt contraction in regional activity.

U.S. business sentiment has sagged as tensions over trade have escalated between China and the United States and on signs of softness in the labor market.

“The (oil) market is in a rut and desperately in need of some robust economic data to get it out of this funk,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets in Bangkok.

Oil prices have fallen around 20% since 2019 highs reached in April, in part due to concerns about the U.S.-China trade war and disappointing economic data.

U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping could meet at the G20 summit in Japan later this month. Trump has said he would meet Xi at the event, although China has not confirmed the meeting.

Putting further pressure on oil, the U.S. energy department said on Monday that shale oil output is expected to reach a record in July.

But tensions in the Middle East are likely to keep prices supported, analysts said.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on Monday the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what he said were defensive purposes, citing concerns about a threat from Iran.

Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since last Thursday when two oil tankers were attacked, which Washington has blamed on Tehran. Iran has denied involvement.

(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Richard Pullin and Joseph Radford)

Source: OANN

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees arrive at FCI Victorville federal prison in Victorville
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees arrive at FCI Victorville federal prison in Victorville, California, U.S. June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

June 18, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Monday that U.S. authorities would begin next week removing millions of immigrants who are in the United States illegally.

“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump tweeted, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. “They will be removed as fast as they come in,” he said. He did not offer specifics.

There are an estimated 12 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally, mainly from Mexico and Central America.

Under a deal reached earlier this month, Mexico has agreed to take Central American immigrants seeking asylum in the United States until their cases are heard in U.S. courts.

The agreement, which included Mexico pledging to deploy National Guard troops to stop Central American immigrants from reaching the U.S. border, averted a Trump threat to hit Mexican imports with tariffs.

Trump also said in the tweet that Guatemala “is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement.”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence suggested last week that Guatemala could receive asylum seekers from its neighbors as a so-called safe third country.

Details of the plan have not been made public, and Guatemala has not publicly confirmed talks that the U.S. State Department said were taking place in Guatemala on Friday.

U.S. rights group Human Rights First said, however, it was “simply ludicrous” for the United States to assert that Guatemala was capable of protecting refugees, when its own citizens are fleeing violence.

Mexico has agreed that if its measures to stem the flow of migrants are unsuccessful, it will discuss signing a safe third country agreement with the United States.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

A man looks on in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Nanjing
A man looks on in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

June 18, 2019

By Shinichi Saoshiro

TOKYO (Reuters) – Investor caution ahead of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate meeting capped Asian stocks on Tuesday, while crude oil prices retreated as global growth worries overshadowed supply concerns stemming from recent Middle East tensions.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inched up 0.05%.

Australian stocks added 0.1% while Japan’s Nikkei dipped 0.05%.

The Fed, facing fresh demands by U.S. President Donald Trump to cut interest rates, begins a two-day meeting later on Tuesday. The central bank is expected to leave borrowing costs unchanged this time but possibly lay the groundwork for a rate cut later this year.

Fresh hopes for looser U.S. monetary policy have been a tonic for risk assets markets, which were buffeted last month by an escalation in the trade conflict between Washington and Beijing. The S&P 500 has gained 5% this month after sliding in May on trade war fears.

Focus is now on how close the Fed could be to cutting interest rates amid the raging U.S.-China trade war, signs of the economy losing steam and pressure by President Trump to ease policy.

“The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting is the week’s biggest event so there will be a degree of caution prevailing in the markets,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

“Expectations for a rate cut in July have increased significantly, so the markets could experience disappointment if the Fed does not send strong signals of impending easing.”

U.S. Treasury yields dipped on Monday after the New York Fed’s “Empire” gauge of business growth in the state showed a fall this month to its weakest in more than 2-1/2-years, fanning rate cut expectations.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies stood little changed at 97.507 after pulling back from a two-week high on the decline in Treasury yields.

The pound traded at $1.2542 after retreating overnight to a six-month low of $1.2532 on Monday on concerns that arch-Brexiteer Boris Johnson will replace Theresa May as prime minister. [GBP/]

The euro was a shade higher at $1.1224 after spending the previous day confined to a narrow range.

U.S. crude oil futures shed 0.08% to $51.89 per barrel after retreating 1.1% the previous day.

Oil prices had slipped on Monday as weak Chinese economic data released at the end of last week led to fears of lower global demand for the commodity. [O/R]

Concerns over weakening demand overshadowed tensions in the Middle East, which remained high following last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

(This version of the story corrects typographical error in paragraph 5)

(Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An oil rig is seen in the waters on the southern coast of Pengerang
FILE PHOTO: An oil rig is seen in the waters on the southern coast of Pengerang, Malaysia February 26, 2019. Picture taken February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

June 17, 2019

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices fell more than 1% on Monday after more poor Chinese economic figures fanned fears of lower worldwide oil demand.

Brent crude futures lost $1.07 to settle at $60.94 a barrel, a 1.73 percent loss. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 58 cents to settle at $51.93 a barrel, a 1.10 percent loss.

Prices have fallen around 20% since a 2019 high reached in April, in part due to concerns about the U.S.-China trade war and disappointing economic data.

China’s industrial output growth unexpectedly slowed to a more than 17-year low, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Friday. It grew 5.0% in May from a year earlier, missing analysts’ expectations of 5.5% and well below April’s 5.4%.

U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping could meet at the G20 summit in Japan later this month. Trump has said he would meet with Xi at the summit, although China has not confirmed the meeting.

“All the major reporting agencies are reporting that demand is going to be weaker,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “That has played into the market malaise. Things we would normally rally off of, we’re not.”

Bank of America Merrill Lynch lowered its Brent price forecast to $63 per barrel from $68 a barrel for the second half of 2019 on faltering demand.

Worries remained about increased tensions in the Middle East following last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The United States blamed the attacks on Iran but Tehran denied involvement.

Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday that countries need to cooperate on keeping shipping lanes open for oil and other energy supplies to ensure stable supplies.

Market participants also await a meeting between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, to decide whether to extend a production cut agreement that ends this month.

The group has been considering since last month moving the date of their policy meeting in Vienna to July 3-4 from June 25-26. After a meeting on Monday, Iran’s oil minister said he told his Russian counterpart that he still disagreed with the early July dates but could attend if the dates were shifted to July 10-12, the Iranian oil ministry’s news agency SHANA reported.

OPEC+ agreed to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day from Jan. 1.

In the United States, U.S. oil output from seven major shale formations is expected to rise by about 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July to a record 8.52 million bpd, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a monthly drilling productivity report on Monday.

(Additional reporting by Noah Browning in London and Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; Editing by Marguerita Choy, Mark Potter and Cynthia Osterman)

Source: OANN


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