Thai central bank says ready to curb resilient baht if needed

By Kitiphong Thaichareon and Orathai Sriring

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s central bank is still concerned about the strength of the baht and is ready to take further action if necessary, a deputy central bank governor said on Tuesday.

The baht’s gains have been driven by the country’s large current account surplus, and not speculation in the currency, Mathee Supapongse told a news briefing.

“We have a lot of weapons ready, but there is no speculation from foreign investors yet,” he said, adding the central bank was monitoring the market closely.

As Asia’s best performing currency in 2019, the baht rose nearly 9% against the dollar, putting more pressure on the export-dependent economy amid global trade tensions and markets are concerned the authorities will introduce capital controls, among other steps.

The baht traded at 30.24 per U.S. dollar at 0510 GMT.

Rising international reserves show the Bank of Thailand (BOT) has closely managed the baht by buying dollars, Mathee said. The reserves increased by $ 18 billion to $ 223 billion in 2019.

“If the BOT had not intervened, the reserves would not have risen and the baht may have been stronger than this,” he said.

But the central bank is mindful of side-effects and limitations of currency intervention, as it may face trade protagonist measures from other countries, he said.

On Monday, the U.S. Treasury said Thailand was close to triggering thresholds to be added to its currency monitoring list.

Mathee also said quantitative easing was not suitable for Thailand due to very high liquidity and it would largely benefit certain business groups.

The central bank will further relax rules to spur outbound investment to help ease upward pressure on the baht, he said.

Last year, the BOT introduced steps against short-term speculative inflows and relaxed rules to spur fund outflows in a bid to curb the baht’s strength.

In November, the central bank said within the next three months the limit exporters can keep proceeds abroad will be raised to $ 1 million per lading bill from $ 200,000 currently. Such proceeds account for about 80% of all exports.

While the baht’s appreciation has affected the economy by hurting export competitiveness, it has benefited importers and companies and individuals with foreign debt, he added.

The central bank has forecast Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy will expand 2.8% this year after growing by an estimated 2.5% in 2019, a five-year low.

(GRAPHIC: Thailand’s GDP, exports and consumption – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/13/367/367/Thailand’s%20GDP,%20exports%20and%20consumption.png)

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Trump: New sanctions on Iran but U.S. “ready to embrace peace”

A former U.S. intelligence official described Soleimani as “most experienced guerrilla fighter operating globally,” running operations with Iranian forces and proxy militias in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. The official described his death as “devastating,” and said the “very disruptive” assassination would likely cause a power struggle in Iran.  

Former acting CIA director: There will be “dead civilian Americans” as a result of Qassem Soleimani killing

In April 2019, the U.S. designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including the Quds Force, a “foreign terrorist organization.” In making the announcement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo singled out Soleimani. 

“With this designation, we are sending a clear signal, a clear message to Iran’s leaders, including Qassem Soleimani and his band of thugs, that the United States is bringing all pressure to bear to stop the regime’s outlaw behavior,” Pompeo said at the time. 

Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser under Barack Obama who was instrumental in the 2014 Iran nuclear deal, said there’s “no question that Soleimani has a lot of blood on his hands.”

“But this is a really frightening moment,” he added. “Iran will respond and likely in various places. Thinking of all US personnel in the region right now.” 

More than 700 Army paratroopers are headed to Kuwait, and as many as 5,000 more paratroopers and U.S. Marines were expected to be sent to the Persian Gulf in the coming days.

While speaking to reporters off camera earlier Thursday, Esper said there were indications militias loyal to Iran were planning further attacks against Americans. 

“Do I think they may do something? Yes, and they will likely regret it,” he said.

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Italy’s FITD fund ready to stump up 700 million euros in Pop Bari rescue

MILAN (Reuters) – A depositor protection fund financed by Italian banks is ready to cover half of a potential capital increase of 1.4 billion euros ($ 1.6 billion) to help rescue ailing lender Banca Popolare di Bari.

In a statement on Monday, the FITD fund said it would stump up as much as 700 million euros to help the bank plug its capital shortfall, adding it had approved an immediate cash injection of 310 million euros.

Popolare di Bari, the biggest lender in the poorer south of the country, was placed under special administration earlier this month after racking up losses fueled by mounting bad loans.

Italy’s coalition government passed emergency measures worth up to 900 million euros after Popolare di Bari management said it urgently needed 1 billion euros, approving a cash injection into state-owned Banca del Mezzogiorno-Mediocredito Centrale.

Earlier this month Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia said the FITD contribution was necessary to comply with European Union rules on state aid to struggling private firms.

FITD, which recently financed a rescue package for Genoa-based bank Carige (MI:), will help Mediocredito in the restructuring of Popolare di Bari.

“The interbank fund assures the special commissioners (at the bank) of its support for the strategic and management measures needed,” FITD said.

Popolare di Bari’s rescue is the latest episode in a string of banking crises that have hit Italy since 2015 and cost the state and other Italian banks some 23 billion euros.

Like other regional banks it never recovered from Italy’s worst post-war recession, which bankrupted thousands of businesses, saddling banks with a mountain of unpaid loans.

Popolare di Bari’s problem debts stand at 23% of total lending this year, up from 13% in 2011.

(For a chart on banking rescue in Italy, click https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/ITALY-BANKS-RESCUES/0H001QXR0B0X/eikon.png)

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Cycling: Enraged Pinot ready to fight back on the Tour

ALBI, France (Reuters) – Thibaut Pinot is ready to use his rage to surge back into contention on the Tour de France as the race heads to his favorite terrain, the mountains. The Frenchman was the best placed of the pre-race favorites on Monday when he was caught at the wrong end of a peloton split in crosswinds.

He lost one minute, 40 seconds to slip down to 11th overall, more than two and a half minutes behind leader Julian Alaphilippe.

Defending champion Geraint Thomas, however, is in the driving seat in second place, just 1:12 behind the Frenchman and 1:21 ahead of Pinot.

During Tuesday’s rest day, Groupama-FDJ’s Pinot was still fuming at the positioning error that ruined his until-then perfect opening week, but he and his team vowed to bounce back.

“I feel frustration, I feel anger, I feel rage,” the 29-year-old Pinot, third overall in 2014, told reporters, his face a mask of cold determination. Making up for lost time on Thomas and his Ineos team mate Egan Bernal, who is only four seconds behind the Welshman, is a tough ask especially with an individual time trial that should favor the defending champion on Friday.

“Do not write our obituary,” team manager Marc Madiot said. “You’re going to see some outstanding Thibaut Pinot. His victory at the Giro Di Lombardia (one of five Monument classics last October) showed that he is a champion.

“His rage the other night shows that he can be a great champion.”

Madiot described Monday’s fiasco as “a blow to the liver”, saying his protégé was “1-0 down at halftime in a Champions League game”.

“We’re only midway through the race and, good for us, the hardest part is yet to come,” he said. After Wednesday’s flat 11th stage, the Tour will hit the Pyrenees, with a couple of tough climbs featuring in Thursday’s 12th stage and a mountain-top finish at the Col du Tourmalet on Saturday.

“I know that I have the legs. I can’t wait for Saturday, I have so much rage in me. The finish at top of the Tourmalet is going to hurt, the legs will do the talking,” said Pinot.

“We’re going to be aggressive, we have a team for that in the mountains,” he added, citing team mates Sebastien Reichenbach, David Gaudu and Rudy Molard. If the disappointment of Monday is not behind him yet, Pinot will use it for motivation.

“I’ve had some tough times in my career and I’ve always bounced back,” he said.

“I know that on the morning of the time trial on Friday and on Saturday before the Tourmalet stage, I will think of all this.”

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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ECB Officials Ready to Add Stimulus But Won’t Say When or How

© Reuters.  ECB Officials Ready to Add Stimulus But Won’t Say When or How © Reuters. ECB Officials Ready to Add Stimulus But Won’t Say When or How

(Bloomberg) — European Central Bank policy makers reiterated their readiness to add monetary stimulus for the euro zone, but signaled they’re not yet united on when or how to act.

Executive Board member said in remarks broadcast Monday that loose policy is needed now “more than ever” and cuts and quantitative easing are both on the table. Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said the ECB has the “determination” to act but noted mixed readings on the economy and suggested there’s no need to rush into a decision this month.

“We have several Governing Councils to come in the next months,” Villeroy said in a CNBC interview. “If and when needed, there must be no doubt about our determination to act and our capacity to act. I repeat, if and when needed.”

Economic reports on Monday showed how there are silver linings amid the euro zone’s slowdown, as German saw a slight pick-up in May. At the same time, the Bank of France cut its growth estimate for the second quarter and said confidence among manufacturing executives has dropped to its lowest level in six years.

The euro area has been cooling for more than a year, driven by global trade tensions and political uncertainties that have especially weighed on manufacturers. Another Governing Council member, Bank of Finland Governor Olli Rehn, said last week that the slump should no longer be considered a “temporary dip” and that ECB has a number of instruments available for support.

Coeure, who is in charge of market operations and was a driving force behind QE, shared that view in his comments in an interview this weekend in Aix-en-Provence, France.

“We have piloting expectations for monetary policy — forward guidance; we have rates which are very low and we said we are ready to cut them even more if necessary — I always add if necessary; and we have a presence on financial markets with reinvestment of our portfolio of assets,” he said on BFM Business Radio. “We could hypothetically restart net asset purchases again if circumstances make it necessary.’’

IMF Job

Coeure also took the opportunity to rule himself out of the race to lead the International Monetary Fund when Christine Lagarde succeeds Mario Draghi as ECB president in November. European governments are actively discussing nominating Bank of England Governor Mark Carney as the next head, a person familiar with the matter said last week.

“My specialty is Europe, so I’d rather remain in Europe and continue to serve Europe; we’ll see how but there are different ways of doing it,” said Coeure, whose ECB term ends in December. “There are all sort of good candidates” for the IMF.

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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Fed’s Kaplan isn’t ready to cut interest rates: Fox Business Network

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan poses at a luncheon in El Paso © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan poses at a luncheon in El Paso

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan on Friday said he is not backing interest rate cuts until he sees clearer evidence the U.S. economy is in trouble.

“I don’t want to be cutting rates to do fine-tuning. I’d rather be adjusting policy if I thought there was some material deterioration,” Kaplan, who does not have a vote this year on interest rate policy decisions but participates in discussions at the U.S. central bank, said in an interview with Fox Business Network. “That’s why I want to take a little more time to see how events unfold.”

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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Boris Johnson: I don’t want a no deal Brexit but we must get ready for it

Johnson commits to leaving EU on October 31

Johnson commits to leaving EU on October 31

Boris Johnson is speaking to about 100 MPs and reiterating many of the things he has said before, including a promise to leave the EU by October 31.

“We are facing an existential crisis and will not be forgiven if we do not deliver Brexit on Oct 31. I believe I am best placed to lift this party, beat Jeremy Corbyn and excite people about conservatism and conservative values.”

“I don’t want a no deal Brexit. No one sensible would. But in order to be successful we must get ready for it. The more determined we are to pursue no deal the less likely we will have to deploy it.”

This is a pie-in-the-sky stance because I don’t believe the EU will reopen negotiations. There is no solution to the Irish border issue. Maybe he could finagle some changes in the political declaration but that isn’t going to fool anyone.

So this stance might make him PM but it’s going to be a quick downfall, especially if he’s forced to make leaving on Oct 31 a cornerstone of his policy.

How I imagine it will work is that he will let the government fall on Brexit and force an election call where he hopes to get a large Conservative majority. That’s the only way a Brexit is viable so long as parliament has the final say.

ForexLive

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Forex – Yuan Falls as U.S. ‘Not Ready for a Deal’; Dollar Ticks Higher

© Reuters.  © Reuters.

Investing.com – The Chinese yuan fell, while the U.S. dollar ticked higher on Tuesday in Asia after U.S. President Donald Trump said Washington is “not ready to make a deal” with China.

The rose 0.2% to 97.685 by 11:50 PM ET (03:50 GMT). The pair edged up 0.1% to 6.9083.

Trump said on Monday that the U.S. is “not ready to make a deal” with China.

“I think they probably wish they made the deal that they had on the table before they tried to renegotiate it,” Trump said at a joint press conference in Tokyo. “They would like to make a deal. We’re not ready to make a deal.”

Trump said American tariffs on Chinese goods “could go up very, very substantially, very easily.”

The President added that he thinks the two sides could eventually reach “a great trade deal” sometime in the future.

At the conference, Trump also said he wanted exports to be “put on fair footing” in Japan through the removal of trade barriers, putting pressure on Tokyo to reduce the nation’s large trade surplus with the U.S.

The news seemed to have little impact on the yen. The pair last traded at 109.47, down 0.02%.

Meanwhile, the pair was down 0.1% to 1.1181. The currency pair rose earlier in the day after the European Union parliamentary elections showed a polarization of the 28-member block.

While center-right and center-left blocs are losing their shared majority, surges in the Greens and liberals meant parties committed to strengthening the union held on to two-thirds of seats, official projections showed.

“There is a polarization of the European parliament which is a kind of representation of the overall European political situation,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief currency strategist at Mizuho Securities in a Reuters report. “That will be broadly negative for the euro.”

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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EU Barnier: We are ready to give UK further guarantees that backstop is temporary

One more Brexit headline for the road

The EU’s Brexit negotiator Barnier tells Germany’s Die Welt:

  • We are ready to give Britain further guarantees that Irish backstop is only temporary
  • One possibility is a commitment to limit the backstop through an agreement on future relationship between Britain and EU
  • I don’t think there will be a fundamental objection to extending Brexit date, but there must be a clear purpose for an extension (nothing new with this headline)
  • in the event of an extension, the EU27 would want to know “What for?”. The answer cannot be that Britain wants to defer a problem.
  • If Britain submits a request for an extension, the EU council must reach an unanimous decision on March 21

We are into March with a March 29 end date.  We will see what gets said over the weekend.  

The GBPUSD is bouncing a little off the lows for the day at 1.3170 (trading at 1.3190). The 100 week MA is up at 1.3196.  

You would think the GBPUSD might run higher on a solution/compromise but liquidity is light. Nevertheless, the price is climbing off the lows into the close. 

GBPUSD climbing a lttle off the lows on the Barnier headlines

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Are you ready to break up with your phone?

There is a growing sense of unease among many smartphone owners about the amount of time we’re spending on our devices.

Google told me that around 70% of the Android users it spoke to wanted to “find a better balance” in their tech use.

But this puts the tech sector in an awkward spot. How can it help its customers detach from their phones when, for many firms, their business model relies on them doing the opposite?

Both Apple and Google have this year released digital tools – called Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing respectively – which let iPhone and Android users see how much time they are spending on various apps and how often they pick up their devices.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Many Android users will not have it yet as it is part of the Android Pie operating system, which has only been released by a handful of phone brands so far.

For those who have seen it, the results can come as a bit of a shock.

On my first day with Android’s Digital Wellbeing tracker, I unlocked my phone 200 times and spent more than three hours on it. This was alongside working a long shift in the BBC newsroom and being a mum. I’m sure it wasn’t all WhatsApp banter and Cats of Instagram but I was still horrified, to put it politely.

Rose La Prairie is a London-based Google engineer who was on the team which developed the tool.

She told me that the tech giant was well aware people might feel “guilt or shame” when confronted with the data for the first time, so designing the interface to be non-judgemental was crucial.

“Part of it was making sure we didn’t do things like big red arrows or big green arrows, or trying to make a judgement, or an assessment, of what is good or bad,” she said.

“When it comes down to it, when we talk to people, it very much depends on the individual, so what’s good for me might not be good for someone else.”

Ms La Prairie thinks that most people should be able to self-regulate by using the product.

“For some people seeing the data will be enough, it’s that reminder of how you spend your time and what you do on your phone.” she said.

“There will be some people who will need a little extra reminder, and I put myself in that camp.”

For those people, the dashboard can be set to mute notifications, make the phone display go black and white at a certain time (such as bedtime) and set an alert after a certain amount of screen time on an app.

But it is not really in Google’s interests for you to not be on your phone, is it?

‘Good experience’

Unlike Apple’s hardware-focused business model, Google is advertising-driven and that very much requires eyeballs on screens.

“I think what we really care about is making sure users have a good experience,” Ms La Prairie says.

“People want to figure out how they use their devices in a different way and we really want to make sure we can help users with that.”

It’s worth noting that what she doesn’t say is: “Turn the phone off.”

The mobile phone industry’s response to the issue is, well, interesting. Some firms believe that they can wean us off our big screen smartphones with the help of… smaller screen smartphones.

Devices like the Nokia phone from HMD Global and the tiny Palm phone are marketed as companion devices – in Nokia’s case with less functionality, in Palm’s case just smaller – to give us a break from our main device.

“It’s quite apparent that the industry still wants to keep selling phones,” said CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood.

“It is a little bit ironic that they are trying to sell you a little phone to do the same thing [as your big phone].”

Ultimately, Mr Wood believes it really comes down to willpower.

“You can have all the different type of gadgets but it’s down to you as an individual how much you want to spend time on your phone,” he said.

Catherine Price wrote the book How To Break Up With Your Phone after having a baby and realising one day that the baby was watching her and she was watching her mobile.

“I realised I didn’t want that to be her impression of a human relationship, but I also didn’t want it to be the way that I was living my own life,” she said.

“Breaking up with your phone does not mean dumping your phone or throwing it under a bus, it just means taking a step back to create a relationship that is actually good for you. It’s becoming friends with your phone.”

In her book, Ms Price lists a 30-day plan to reclaim this “friendship”. Her top tips include:

  • Turn off all the notifications you can bear to. Just leave the ones you actually want, for me that is phone calls and text messages because they are real people trying to contact me, in particular, in real time, plus my calendar and maps
  • rearrange your home screen so that it only contains apps that have a practical purpose that are not tempting. Your home screen should not have email, or social media, or the news or a dating app, or games. Put them into a folder on an interior page so you can’t see their icons, you have to actively open them
  • Get your phone out of your bedroom. You will need to have something on your bedside table that takes the place of the phone… like a book. When you go to reach for that phone you will encounter the book instead
  • Get a standalone alarm clock. If your phone is your alarm clock you are guaranteeing that your phone will be the first thing you interact with in the morning
  • There is a plug-in called Facebook Demetricator, which tells you how many times your post has been “liked”. You still may go back to see that people have liked your post, but you’re not going to be checking compulsively to see when 17 gets to 20 and 25 gets to 30, it can help break that habit.

As for me – well I’ve got over the shock of seeing how often I reach for my phone. But have I changed?

‘Feel guilty’

I still find myself on my device, having picked it up to, say, check the weather forecast, only to suddenly find myself on social media 10 minutes later, still with no idea about whether or not I need an umbrella.

That said, I do genuinely use my handset a lot for work, to navigate my way around, and to keep up with the endless communications from my children’s school. I tell Ms La Prairie I’d like to be able to differentiate between time well-spent on my smartphone and time wasted.

Apparently I’m not the only one.

“The way we think about use is intentional and unintentional, and people really care about the unintentional because it makes you feel guilty,” she tells me.

“A great version would be how to we crack that nut, and distinguish between intentional and unintentional.”

So is 2019 going to be the year we break up with our phones? Analyst Mr Wood isn’t convinced.

“For me, 2019 is the year when people are going to be more aware of the amount of time they are spending on their phones,” he said.

“But breaking up with their phones? That’s a very big ask.”

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