Nigeria Holds Key Rate as Economic Growth Remains Sluggish

© Reuters.  Nigeria Holds Key Rate as Economic Growth Remains Sluggish © Reuters. Nigeria Holds Key Rate as Economic Growth Remains Sluggish

(Bloomberg) — Nigeria’s central bank held its benchmark rate for a third straight meeting as economic growth in the West African nation remains sluggish.

All nine members of the Monetary Policy Committee who attended the meeting voted to keep the rate at 13.5%, Governor Godwin Emefiele told reporters Friday in the capital, Abuja.

Key Insights

  • The central bank is caught between inflation that’s been above the target range for more than four years and an economy that’s still struggling to recover from a contraction in 2016. Growth in gross domestic product was lower than forecast and slowed for the second consecutive quarter in the three months through June. With limited scope to ease policy, the central bank has started forcing lenders — through regulations and penalties — to give out more credit in an attempt to stimulate growth.
  • Inflation eased to a 43-month low in August as food costs grew less. However, food-price growth may pick up again after President Muhammadu Buhari closed the border with Benin to halt rice smuggling and ordered the central bank to stop dollar supplies for some food imports.
  • The naira continues to be under pressure and by keeping rates on hold, the central bank would ensure portfolio investment doesn’t slump.

“Projections indicate that real GDP during the third and fourth quarter of 2019 would average 2.11% and 2.34% respectively, driven primarily by non-oil sector,” Emefiele said. “The headwinds to the growth prospects remain high — unemployment, rising public debt and high insecurity across the country.”

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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NASCAR notebook: Newman has potentially season-saving run

RICHMOND, Va. – Ryan Newman parlayed his strong run in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 into a significant move up the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff ladder.

Recovering from a lackluster qualifying effort, Newman finished fifth at Richmond Raceway to climb to ninth in the Playoff standings, 14 points to the good over 13th-place Alex Bowman with the Sept. 29 elimination race at the Charlotte roval up next.

“It was just a good team effort, good pit stops,” Newman said after the race. “The strategy wasn’t a whole lot to it, just put four tires on, but had a good short-run car. One time we had a good long-run car, but we could never get both.

“I think that, if we would have had both, we could have ran with those guys (race winner Martin Truex Jr. and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates who finished 2-3-4 before Erik Jones was disqualified after the race), but we were at our best probably when we were just holding good bias to a long-run car–but who would have known there were going to be that many green flag runs.”

Newman started 19th and was gratified he was able to drive forward in what he characterized as the best all-around performance of the season by his No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford team.

“Yeah, without a doubt,” Newman said. “The best team performance all-around throughout the entire weekend. We failed at qualifying. We got the car too tight, but, overall, just a great team effort to get the Roush Performance Ford a good run.

“What meant to me the most probably was just being better than we were the first race (in the spring). We ran ninth in the first race and qualified 30th or something like that, and we came back and showed that we were learning, and we’ll keep learning.”

RUN-IN WITH AUSTIN DILLON HURTS CHANCES OF TWO HENDRICK DRIVERS

An altercation with Austin Dillon early in the race put Hendrick Motorsports drivers William Byron and Alex Bowman squarely on the bubble entering the final event in the first round of the playoffs.

On Lap 111, two circuits after the green flag for Stage 2, Bowman dived low beneath Dillon, creating a four-wide situation on the backstretch. Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet slipped up the track into Dillon’s No. 3 Chevy, cutting Dillon’s left front tire.

Dillon’s car, in turn, bounced into Byron’s Chevrolet and cut the left rear tire on Byron’s car. Dillon retaliated against Bowman by spinning him, causing the second caution of the race.

“I’m going to shove that silver spoon up his (expletive),” Bowman said on his team radio, a reference to Dillon’s status as grandson of team owner Richard Childress.

“Yeah, we didn’t execute very well on top of it either,” said Bowman, who finished 23rd and sits 13th in the standings (two points behind Byron at the cut line). “So it’s definitely a bummer. We were really tight here in the spring, and we came here trying to build a car that would turn really well.

“It did that, but it just didn’t have any drive. When you’re on stickers, and the guys running 75 lap old tires are forward driving you, it’s not much fun. We didn’t have a good day. We didn’t have anything go our way either. We just struggled with the car all day. It’s a bummer, but (crew chief) Greg (Ives) and all of us will regroup and we should be strong next week.”

–By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

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Sports and General News

Risk trades continue to tilt towards deeper worries

Except stock markets

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Yen crosses are the lows, including USD/JPY down 42 pips to 107.60
  • Gold at the highs, up $ 16 to $ 1515
  • US 10-year yields down 5.4 bps to 1.73%

Those are all session extremes in a sign that the market is increasingly worried about China-US talks falling apart.

The caveat is that the S&P 500 is at 2996, well off the 2984 session low. That could a combination of the Powell put and quadruple witching providing support.

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Biden says Trump “could be impeached” based on House probe results

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday that President Trump “could be impeached” depending on the results of a House investigation into whether Mr. Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden’s son, Hunter.

“I know Trump deserves to be investigated. He is violating every basic norm of a president,” Biden said in Iowa. “Depending on what the House finds [Trump] could be impeached.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Trump repeatedly pressured Zelensky to open an investigation into Hunter Biden in a July call with the Ukrainian president. This interaction with Zelensky may be the subject of a whistleblower report to the inspector general of the intelligence community that the Trump administration is refusing to provide to Congress.

Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company owned by Mykola Zlochevsky, a wealthy associate of Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian Ukrainian president who was forced into exile in 2014. Zlochevsky was subsequently investigated for corruption, and a new prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, took over the investigation in 2015, according to Politifact

Speaking to reporters in Iowa on Saturday, Biden said that he had never spoken to his son about his business dealings in Ukraine. He accused Mr. Trump of “trying to intimidate a foreign leader” by asking Zelensky to investigate the younger Biden.

“Trump’s doing this because he knows I’ll beat him like a drum. And he’s using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me,” Biden said. He also said that Mr. Trump “crossed a line,” and called on the president to release the transcript of the July call with Zelensky.

For his part, Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and accused the media of trying to create a conspiracy. He pointed out that Biden, while he was vice president, threatened to withhold aid from Ukraine unless it ousted Shokin, which Ukraine agreed to do.

“The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, want to stay as far away as possible from the Joe Biden demand that the Ukrainian Government fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son, or they won’t get a very large amount of U.S. money, so they fabricate a story about me and a perfectly fine and routine conversation I had with the new President of the Ukraine. Nothing was said that was in any way wrong, but Biden’s demand, on the other hand, was a complete and total disaster. The Fake News knows this but doesn’t want to report!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

However, Shokin was perceived by the U.S. and its allies as not pursuing corruption cases aggressively enough, Politifact points out, and he was suspected of trying to protect pro-Russian interests. The case against Zlochevsky languished while Shokin was a prosecutor.

In a heated interview with CNN on Thursday, the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, admitted that he asked Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden and his son. However, Giuliani said he wasn’t ordered by Mr. Trump to investigate Biden and didn’t inform the president of his investigation until after the fact.

Bo Erickson and Rob Legare contributed reporting.

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World – CBSNews.com

Spain raised to A from A- by S&P, outlook stable

HIGH RISK WARNING: Foreign exchange trading carries a high level of risk that may not be suitable for all investors. Leverage creates additional risk and loss exposure. Before you decide to trade foreign exchange, carefully consider your investment objectives, experience level, and risk tolerance. You could lose some or all of your initial investment; do not invest money that you cannot afford to lose. Educate yourself on the risks associated with foreign exchange trading, and seek advice from an independent financial or tax advisor if you have any questions.

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A risk management plan to follow

Risk management 101

risk management

This article is for you if you want a starter on risk management that is practical and simple to follow. I have written recently on the attitude required to manage money. See this article here on talking about the M-word. I have also written previously on the use of leverage and how using too much leverage is the bane of many traders accounts: 5 trading mistakes to avoid: Mistake#1 over leveraging. This article combines those two principles into a practical guide to follow. In order to get the most of this article it will help if you have read the first two. This article is primarily aimed at those starting FX trading or those who have never laid out a risk management plan. I will make three points in this article all of which are designed to help you preserve your capital:

  1. Decide to trade with little leverage
  2. Decide when you will stop trading: The 10% rule
  3. Decide how to use your FX funds for the maximum benefit.

Some starting assumptions

Before we get into the point above, I want to outline two assumptions I have made.

Assumption #1

I am assuming that you want to manage your account in a way that allows you to grow that account so that you are trading a significant sum for yourself.

Assumption #2

I am assuming that you are wanting to responsibly manage your risk, so that you can make changes to your trading once certain parameters have been hit

With those two assumptions aside, let us look at a hypothetical example of a trader who has 10,000 units of currency in their account.

1. Decide to trade with little leverage

Leverage is simply the ability to trade a position sizes larger than your account size. Think of your account size vs your account size.If you have a 10,000 size account then trading without leverage will involve trading a lot size that is equivalent to your account size. So, if your account size is 10000 then trading without leverage will involve trading a mini lot of 0.10 See screenshot below for an example of a non-leveraged trade on a 10,000 account.

trading pyschology

The less leverage you use, the easier it is on your trading psychology. So, do yourself a massive favour and de-leverage. I personally trade without leverage and only leverage up on the highest conviction trades, e.g interest rate surprises on major central banks. Furthermore, I rarely have more than two positions open at the same time on different pairs.

2. Decide when to stop trading: The 10% rule

Take this rule from me, it will save you money. So, let’s say you take this lesson on board that you are trading without leverage on your account and your account keeps going down. When do you stop trading and realise that you are not quite ready to trade? Don’t wait until you have lost 50%+ of your account. You can know that something is wrong when you have lost 10% of your account. This is the point where you say, ‘Ok, I am trading without leverage and I have lost 10%, so I need to reassess what I am doing’. Take an FX trading course, pay someone to mentor you, just stop doing what you are doing as you need more practise.

3. Decide how to use your FX funds for the maximum benefit.

This is when you can make leverage work for you. Say you have put aside 10,000 units of currency for trading and you are trading without leverage. In this instance there is no need to put all of your trading balance in with your broker. Instead, why don’t you put aside some of the money into another investment. A good example in the UK would be to invest in premium bonds. You could put 8,000 units in premium bonds with no risk of devaluation (aside from inflation) of your investment and a chance of outperforming, but you can access your funds quickly if you needed to pull them across into your trading account. It is a good balance between offering a chance of growth vs safety and accessibility. I have bought premium bonds as a place to put my annual tax contributions before I have to hand them over to HMRC and had two winning bonds since April this year. Including one while I was on holiday, nice bonus on money that would otherwise be doing nothing.

can I make money trading forex

Answering some common objections.

Objection #1 : But I won’t make much money trading without leverage?

This may be true in the short term, but medium to longer term you will make money. If you can generate double digit returns over the course of a year you will be right up there with the best of them. Also, if you can prove to yourself that you can manage money responsibly you will have much more confidence adding extra capital into your trading account. You don’t want huge equity swings in large accounts as they are not acceptable or practical for your trading psychology.

Objection #2 : But I don’t want to stop trading if I lose 10% of my account?

Trading can be addictive, so don’t get hooked. Why not take 3 months out of your trading to stick to demo trading. Then, after 3 months of profitable demo trading, get back onto your live account

Objection #3 : But I like the thrill of the market by using high leverage

The 90/90/90 rule is that 90% of new traders lose 90% of their account in 90 days. Even experienced traders can succumb to the pull of the markets. You are never above needing to manage risk. The moment you think you are above the ‘rest of them’ is often the final thought before a fall. The number one cause of trading disasters is using too much leverage. If you want to keep enjoying the thrill of the market in an irresponsible way you need to budget for it in the way that you would budget for a holiday or household expense. In other words, it is money that you should already considered as spent. You are also establishingterrible habits that will prevent trading ever becoming a full time business for you as you will be unable to either attract investors or safely manage larger personal funds. Finally, the thrill can be addictive and may end up in you losing way too much money and that impact will overspill in other areas of your life impacting your relationships which you cherish and your own mental well being.

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A big fiscal splash still a step too far for Europe

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron visits the Chateau de By ( © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron visits the Chateau de By (“By Castle”) in Thomery in support of the European Heritage Days

Mark John, European Economics Editor

LONDON (Reuters) – Prodded by worries about the worst global economic outlook in a decade and electorates still smarting from years of austerity, euro zone governments are starting to loosen their budgetary purse strings.

Don’t expect “new deal” investment programs to transform the region’s economy, however, or even the fiscal shot in the arm that European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi says is needed — at least, not until things get much worse.

“There is a shift towards talking about stimulus but there is no dramatic leap forward,” said Philippe Legrain, adviser to the European Commission during the aftermath of Europe’s 2009 sovereign debt crisis and author of the book “European Spring”, a diagnosis of Europe’s economic failings.

“There is no sense of urgency so far … That might happen when the euro zone enters recession.”

Economists now see a one-in-four chance of a euro zone recession in the coming year. The possibility of a no-deal Brexit in the coming weeks or months should also be concentrating minds across the 19 countries that use the euro.

Advocates of pro-growth policies are pegging their hopes on France’s Emmanuel Macron emerging as the region’s pre-eminent politician and incoming ECB chief Christian Lagarde doubling down on Draghi’s lobbying of debt-averse northern governments.

Europe’s response to the crisis of a decade ago — protracted austerity combined with massive central bank stimulus and still-unfinished banking reforms — saved the euro but has left many of its economies numbed. Euro zone growth was just 0.2 percent in the second quarter of 2019.

While the ECB’s 2.6 trillion euro stimulus program may have helped kick-start a post-crisis recovery of sorts, deep cuts to public spending are blamed for exacerbating poverty and shredding Europe’s welfare safety nets.

Stung by the rise of anti-establishment parties across the continent, and with regional powerhouse Germany on the brink of recession, governments are starting to act.

In Angela Merkel’s last months as German chancellor, politicians in Berlin are for the first time in years publicly questioning a self-imposed balanced budget rule and exploring ways to spend off-budget.

In its first budget since the “yellow vest” street protests began last year, France will this week offer 9 billion euros of tax cuts and put on hold some earlier debt-cutting promises.

“The priority now is to address the totally justified anger of those who are not making ends meet,” Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin told Le Parisien daily.

Even more eye-catching was last week’s announcement by the Netherlands, one of the euro zone’s fiercest advocates of fiscal probity, of new spending on health and housing. An ambitious national investment fund will be launched there next year.

And Italy’s new government has signaled it will deliver an expansionary 2020 budget while it drums up support for its campaign to re-focus the EU’s budget rules to promote growth.

But hard evidence of a game-changing shift remains absent, even as record-low debt costs have opened the door to an estimated 140 billion euros of spending by the end of 2021.

WISHFUL THINKING

Merkel on Friday had the chance to use domestic concern about climate change as cover to issue new debt to re-set the economy on a green path and inject some short-term stimulus.

But the plan announced, offering a headline figure of 50 billion euros of new measures but in a budget-neutral package spread over four years, fell short of some expectations.

“We think any boost to demand would be too small to make much difference to short-term growth prospects in the euro-zone as a whole,” Andrew Kenningham of Capital Economics wrote in a note entitled “Wishful thinking about German fiscal policy”.

He noted that the package fell well short of the stimulus announced by Merkel’s coalition in 2009/10, worth 1.5% of GDP.

And while there was much excitement at media reports that the Dutch government would funnel 50 billion euros — 6% of GDP — into its proposed investment fund, the final announcement omitted any specific figure.

“The Dutch did not give Draghi a mind-blowing farewell present,” noted Marcel Klok, senior economist at ING bank.

Euro zone finance ministers agreed this month that fiscal policy must “play a part” in countering the downturn but made clear they planned no coordinated stimulus like the 200 billion euro package agreed in 2008 after Lehman Brothers collapsed.

Christian Odendahl of the Centre for European Reform said it was clear from resistance within the bloc to a common budget to help out euro zone nations in difficulty that there is limited appetite to shake up the current EU framework.

Moreover Italy’s push for “green” investments to be exempted from national deficits has got short shrift in Brussels, a source close to the matter said, adding that any flexibility would be no more than 0.25 GDP points of the structural deficit.

“I’m not sure the review of fiscal rules will get far,” said Odendahl. “The political dynamic in Europe has not shifted.”

Some think that may change if the French get their way.

As the close of the Merkel era allows Macron to emerge as the region’s de facto leader, France is already pushing the idea of a “growth compact” while expressing vocally its concerns about the German slowdown.

Many expect his compatriot Lagarde to amplify Draghi’s call for fiscal support when she arrives at the ECB next month.

“She will have to do a lot beyond simple monetary policy to persuade governments to play their role,” said Legrain.

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Thomas Cook has approached UK government for bailout funds: FT

(Reuters) – Britain’s Thomas Cook Group Plc (L:) has approached the UK government for a bailout in an attempt to save itself from collapse after its lenders threatened to pull out of a proposed rescue deal, the Financial Times reported late on Friday.

The move comes after the British travel firm’s stakeholders requested an extra 200 million pounds ($ 250 million) in talks to finalize the restructuring plan.

The company was locked in talks with “multiple” potential investors, including the government to provide the additional 200 million pounds, the FT reported, citing two people briefed on the situation.

The last-minute demand for the additional funding puts the 900 million pound recapitalization plan agreed by the company with its Chinese shareholder Fosun (HK:) last month at risk, the company had earlier said on Friday.

Thomas Cook, one of the world’s oldest holiday companies, could leave hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers stranded if it fails to find funds.

Thomas Cook did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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Stock Market News

What3words: ‘Life-saving app’ divides opinion

A woman rescued from near Everest’s base camp after a fall, a business traveller caught up in a terrorist attack in Somalia and a diving accident in the Maldives. Three successful rescues which relied on three simple words.

What3words divides the world into three-metre squares and gives each one a unique three-word address in order for people to be easily found in emergencies, and to give the billions of people without a formal address access to one for the first time.

But the start-up is also dividing opinion, and among the stories of rescues there are people questioning whether a mapping system which public services are increasingly relying on, should be in the hands of a technology firm.

The London-based start-up was set up by Chris Sheldrick in 2013, following frustration at how difficult it was to get people meeting at the correct location.

The firm has gone from strength to strength, with 60 UK emergency services now using it.

This week it announced new partnerships with car-makers in India and China, and with a firm offering emergency services on behalf of travel insurers.

Few would doubt its usefulness in emergency situations – if people do not know exactly where they are, they can use the app to provide first responders with their exact three-word location.

But in a blogpost written earlier this year, technology expert Terence Eden questioned the business model.

Mr Eden, who has been involved in campaigning for international open-tech standards for the last decade, is concerned that the firm has a closed system.

“The algorithm used to generate the words is proprietary. You are not allowed to see it. You cannot find out your location without asking what3words for permission.

“If you want permission, you have to agree to some pretty long terms and conditions – and understand their privacy policy. Oh, and an API agreement. And then make sure you don’t infringe their patents.”

He also questions the cultural merits of using words rather than the numbers generated by map co-ordinates.

“Numbers are (mostly) culturally neutral. Words are not. Is mile.crazy.shade a respectful name for a war memorial? How about tribes.hurt.stumpy for a temple?”

In response, what3words founder Chris Sheldrick told the BBC: ‘We believe that the best way for what3words to gain widespread global adoption is by operating as a business.

“Being proprietary alone doesn’t ensure success, but it offers a vehicle to provide substantial upfront promotion of a new standard. Operating as a business has allowed us to sustain our work with large-scale global partners, support them through the integration stages, and help them produce and distribute materials to market what3words to their extensive consumer bases.”

And it has fans among the UK emergency services. Just this week, Inspector Mark Proctor from the North Yorkshire Police blogged about its benefits.

“Everywhere in the world now has an address, even a tent in the middle of a field or a ditch on the North York Moors,” he wrote.

“For example corrosive.koala.daffodils will take you to the picnic bench on the cinder track cycle route near Ravenscar, and tracking.forgotten.buzz will take you to the summit shelter on Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales.”

But in a Twitter discussion on the topic, others working in the field expressed reservations.

Ross Fullerton, chief information officer at the London Ambulance Service, tweeted some of his, with the caveat that these were his own views and not those of his employer: “Doesn’t handle multilingual situations at all, Some inappropriate language for certain contexts. And not compliant with any open standards. Not much is really free in the long term, what assurance is there here? I do get the benefits but there needs to be balance.”

In the same Twitter thread, someone else pointed out that each square uses three different words in each of the 37 languages supported by the firm, meaning that each grid square actually has 37 different addresses, which could be confusing.

Others have asked what happens if the firm goes bust, because the details are not shared on a public database, so the whole system would be effectively lost.

Emergency services’ computer systems – known as computer-aided dispatch (CAD) – usually lack the ability to accurately find 999 callers who are unsure of their location.

But work done on how to get GPS co-ordinates from mobile devices to the emergency service, produced the Advanced Mobile Location (AML) specification, which silently and automatically sends an SMS containing the GPS co-ordinates to the emergency authority. It is available on both Apple and Android handsets.

The problem arises in integrating AML with the CAD, which is difficult, and that’s why the emergency services are looking for alternatives.

While what3words does not charge the emergency services and charities to use the service, businesses which use it “to improve customer experience” must license its API (application programming interface) and SDK (software development kit).

It currently has more than 1,000 partnerships with businesses, charities and institutions, including Domino Pizza, AirBnB, Lonely Planet and the United Nations.

Both Ford and Mercedes-Benz use the system for in their vehicles and China’s WM Motors and India’s Tata Motors have just announced that they will use the system to help drivers navigate.

Traveller Assist, a company which provides emergency help for business and leisure travellers on behalf of insurance companies, also announced its formal partnership with what3words this week, after what it described as a successful pilot.

That trial included getting someone to hospital after a diving accident in the Maldives, and the rescue of a business traveller who was in Somalia when a car bomb exploded nearby. The security incident triggered his insurance policy and he requested an evacuation but did not know his exact location.

Another of its customers, Robert Ward, detailed how he was trekking with his wife at 4,500 metres in Dingbouch en route to Everest Base Camp.

His wife fell, injuring her head and shoulder, so her husband called the emergency number on their travel insurance documents.

Traveller Assist sent him a message via WhatsApp with a link to download the app, and in less than two minutes their location was identified, and a helicopter sent to transport the couple to hospital in Kathmandu.

“I’m not very tech-savvy, but after clicking on the link that was sent to me, I had the app within a minute and it was very simple to use.” Mr. Ward said.

“I’ve been telling everyone I know to download it because you just never know, do you?”

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BBC News – Technology

United States sending troops to bolster Saudi defenses after attack

© Reuters. U.S. President Trump and Australia’s Prime Minister Morrison hold joint news conference at White House in Washington © Reuters. U.S. President Trump and Australia’s Prime Minister Morrison hold joint news conference at White House in Washington

By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday approved sending American troops to bolster Saudi Arabia’s air and missile defenses after the largest-ever attack on the kingdom’s oil facilities, which Washington has squarely blamed on Iran.

The Pentagon said the deployment would involve a moderate number of troops – not numbering thousands – and would be primarily defensive in nature. It also detailed plans to expedite delivery of military equipment to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Reuters has previously reported that the Pentagon was considering sending anti-missile batteries, drones and more fighter jets. The United States is also considering keeping an aircraft carrier in the region indefinitely.

“In response to the kingdom’s request, the president has approved the deployment of U.S. forces, which will be defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense,” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a news briefing.

“We will also work to accelerate the delivery of military equipment to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to enhance their ability to defend themselves.”

The Pentagon’s late Friday announcement appeared to close the door to any imminent decision to wage retaliatory strikes against Iran following the attack, which rattled global markets and exposed major gaps in Saudi Arabia’s air defenses.

Trump said earlier on Friday that he believed his military restraint so far showed “strength,” as he instead imposed another round of economic sanctions on Tehran.

“Because the easiest thing I could do, ‘Okay, go ahead. Knock out 15 different major things in Iran.’ … But I’m not looking to do that if I can,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

But the deployment could further aggravate Iran, which has responded to previous U.S. troop deployments this year with apprehension. It denies responsibility for the attack on Saudi Arabia.

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which has been battling a Saudi-led military coalition that includes the UAE, has claimed responsibility for the strikes.

ATTACK LAUNCHED FROM IRAN?

Relations between the United States and Iran have deteriorated sharply since Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord last year and reimposed sanctions on its oil exports.

For months, Iranian officials issued veiled threats, saying that if Tehran were blocked from exporting oil, other countries would not be able to do so either.

However, Iran has denied any role in a series of attacks in recent months, including bombings of tankers in the Gulf and strikes claimed by the Houthis.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have fingered southwest Iran as the staging ground for the attack, an assessment based at least in part on still-classified imagery showing Iran appearing to prepare an aerial strike.

They have dismissed Houthi claims that the attacks originated in Yemen.

One of the officials told Reuters the strike may have been authorized by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The United States is wary of getting dragged into another conflict in the Middle East. It has troops positioned in Syria and Iraq, two countries where Iranian influence is strong and Iran-backed forces operate openly.

U.S. officials fear Iran’s proxies might attempt to strike American troops there, something that could easily trigger a broader regional conflict.

Saudi Arabia has said it was attacked by a total of 25 drones and missiles, including Iranian Delta Wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and “Ya Ali” cruise missiles.

U.S. Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said officials were still hammering out the best array of capabilities to defend Saudi Arabia, noting the difficulty combating a swarm of drones.

“No single system is going to be able to defend against a threat like that, but a layered system of defensive capabilities would mitigate the risk of swarms of drones or other attacks that may come from Iran,” Dunford said.

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