Renault says will reopen Wuhan plant with partner Dongfeng on February 10

LONDON (Reuters) – Renault (PA:) will resume production at the factory it runs with Dongfeng Group (HK:) in Wuhan, Hubei province and the epicenter of the outbreak of a new flu-like virus, on Feb. 10, a spokeswoman for the French carmaker said on Tuesday.

The reopening of the plant will be eight days after the end of the extended Lunar New Year holiday in China, the world’s top car market.

On Monday, Beijing added three days to the week-long holiday, which will now last until Feb. 2 as it seeks to limit the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected thousands and killed more than 100.

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U.S. Treasury chief Mnuchin says optimistic about U.S.-UK trade deal

© Reuters. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at Chatham House in London © Reuters. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at Chatham House in London

By Elizabeth Howcroft and William Schomberg

LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he was optimistic the United States and Britain, soon to be out of the European Union, would strike a trade deal this year and that he had discussed it with Britain’s finance minister on Saturday.

U.S. President Donald Trump is keen for progress on trade talks before November’s presidential election, while in Britain the prospect of a deal has been touted by Brexit supporters as a way to offset the impact of leaving the EU and to exert leverage over the bloc in trade talks between London and Brussels.

“I’m quite optimistic. I think the prime minister and the president have a very good relationship,” Mnuchin told an audience at the Chatham House think tank in London.

Mnuchin said he had a breakfast meeting with his British counterpart minister Sajid Javid on Saturday, having also spoken to him this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“We’re focused on trying to get this done this year because we think it’s important to both of us,” he said.

After the United States recently concluded the initial phase of a trade agreement with China, deals with Britain and the European Union were now the priority, Mnuchin said.

While Mnuchin conceded that Britain may need to finalize some issues with the EU before it could discuss them with Washington, he didn’t see this leading to a delay.

“I think a lot of the issues can be dealt with simultaneously and again we look forward to continuing a great trade relationship, and, if anything, I think there will be significantly more trade between the U.S. and the UK,” he said.

Asked by a reporter if Britain’s plan to implement a digital services tax on U.S. technology giants such as Facebook (O:) and Google (O:) could hinder the trade negotiations, Mnuchin said that he discussed the issue on Saturday with Javid.

Washington is threatening to put tariffs on products from the EU’s member states if they follow through with a plan to introduce a new tax on U.S. tech giants.

“The U.S. feels very strongly that any tax that is designed specifically on digital companies is a discriminatory tax and is not appropriate,” Mnuchin said.

Britain has said it intends to implement the tax, while France has put off its plans to wait for broader negotiations within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Mnuchin said he wanted to narrow the U.S. trade deficit with the EU but that differences between the bloc’s member states would complicate negotiations.

“When we talk about the EU, one of the challenges is some of these issues are really only a couple of countries, but I think, as you know, because of the EU we can’t negotiate these things on a bilateral basis,” he said.

“One of the challenges of dealing with the EU is even within the EU they have different views,” he added.

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China’s says 444 new confirmed cases of coronavirus

The number of deaths surge as well

The number of deaths surge as well

Wuhan city reports that another 15 people died on Friday, bringing the death toll to 41.

China also reported today that a relatively healthy young man was killed by the virus. That raises the risk that it might be more deadly that previously believed.

The sequence of confirmed cases:

  • Jan 17: 41
  • Jan 19: 62
  • Jan 20: 201
  • Jan 21: 291
  • Jan 22: 440
  • Jan 24: 830
  • Jan 25: 1287
UK virus researchers estimate 250,000 people in Wuhan will have coronavirus in 13 days.

There are a dozen or so confirmed cases outside the country, with many more under monitoring.

Australia has now also raised its travel alert for the province of Hubei to its highest level and warns ‘do not travel’ to the area.

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China’s commerce ministry says China welcomes competitive US products into China’s markets

IS there less to this trade deal than we suspect? Not an encouraging headline.

China commerce ministry official 

  • says China welcomes competitive US products to enter china’s markets
  • says China hopes US to create conditions to facilitate imports to china
  •  says China’s purchase of US. agricultural goods will not impact imports from other countries
  • says China will expand imports based on market conditions and in line with WTO rules

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Chinese Vice Premier Liu He says China 2019 GDP will be above 6%

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Iran says U.S. bears blame for Iranian forces shooting down plane

Iran said Tuesday that dozens of people had been arrested over the Islamic Republic’s apparently unintentional shooting down of a Ukrainian jetliner last week. The arrests come amid Iranian vows to fully and openly investigate the firing of the surface-to-air missile that downed the plane, killing all 176 people on board.

But while Iran confessed to shooting the jet down — three days after the fact and under intense international pressure — its president asserted Tuesday that the “root causes” of the tragedy were U.S. actions.  

“It was the U.S. that caused such an incident to take place,” Iran’s state-controlled news agency Tasnim quoted President Hassan Rouhani as saying. The Iranian regime has blamed the Trump administration for ratcheting up tensions with the controversial decision to kill senior Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a January 2 drone strike in Baghdad.  

Iranian forces shot the plane down hours after launching a barrage of ballistic missiles at military bases in Iraq housing hundreds of U.S. forces, in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani. Officials in Tehran have said their forces were on high-alert for any U.S. response to the missile attack, and the operator who fired on the plane believed it was an incoming American missile.

Iran’s attack on the bases killed no one, but U.S. officials have dismissed speculation that Iran might have deliberately missed the troops in a bid to prevent further escalation of hostilities with the U.S.

The U.S. forces in Iraq had “multiple hours” of warning that an Iranian strike was coming, a senior U.S. official told CBS News on Monday. But American troops at the main base struck by Iran told CBS News they had just minutes to take cover, and many still can’t believe everyone escaped unscathed. One American commander said Iran was “shooting to kill.”

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World – CBSNews.com

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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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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Uruguay says Argentina will review 30% ‘tourism tax’ – media

© Reuters.  Uruguay says Argentina will review 30% 'tourism tax' - media © Reuters. Uruguay says Argentina will review 30% ‘tourism tax’ – media

By Maximilian Heath

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s Tourism Minister has committed to reviewing a 30% “tourism tax” applied when travelers from the country pay for goods and services abroad in U.S. dollars, Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez told local news portal Infobae.

The new law, which has hit traditional Argentine Southern (NYSE:) hemisphere summer holiday destinations like its smaller neighbor Uruguay, applies to all such expenses incurred when using credit cards outside of the country.

Vazquez said in an interview published by Infobae late on Saturday that representatives of the Uruguayan Chamber of Tourism traveled to Argentina to talk with representatives of the Fernandez government.

“They got what they hoped to get: a commitment to some potential flexibility in the timing of the measure …and a commitment from the minister of tourism (Matías Lammens) to review the situation in 180 days. We will see what happens,” Vázquez told Infobae.

A spokesman for the Argentine Ministry of Tourism declined to comment.

Argentina is in the grip of a prolonged recession and annual inflation is running at more than 50%.

The credit card charge aims to help prop up the local peso and was introduced by the new government of Alberto Fernández as part of an “economic emergency” law passed by Congress in December.

The government is due to repay around $ 100 billion in maturing debt this year and is in negotiations with creditors about a restructuring.

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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Oscars to go host-less for second year, ABC says

2/2 © Reuters. An Oscar statuette awarded to Audrey Hepburn for her humanitarian work is pictured at the exhibition © Reuters. An Oscar statuette awarded to Audrey Hepburn for her humanitarian work is pictured at the exhibition “Intimate Audrey” in Brussels 2/2

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The 2020 Oscars ceremony in February will again have no host, the head of ABC Television Entertainment said on Wednesday.

“Let me confirm it now. Together with the Academy (of Motion Pictures), we have decided there will be no traditional host again this year,” Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, told television reporters.

The 2019 Oscars was the first in 30 years to have no host and saw the audience on broadcaster ABC (N:) rise to 29.6 million Americans, breaking a four-year trend of falling viewership for the live ceremony.

Burke said the decision not to have a host for the Feb. 9 event, the most prestigious awards in the movie business, was prompted by last year’s success, when rock band Queen opened the show with a live performance to celebrate the box office success of the musical “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Burke said organizers planned on “repeating what worked for us last year – huge entertainment value, big musical numbers, big comedy.”

“A lot of incredible elements have already come together and convinced us that we are going to have an incredibly entertaining show again,” she added, without giving details.

Nominations for the 2020 Oscars will be announced on Monday.

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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Sports and General News

Iraqi PM says he was schedule to meet with Soleimani the morning he was killed

PM speaks in Parliament

PM speaks in Parliament

Iraqi parliament is starting the process of voting to expel the US military from the country. The PM says the milling of Soleimani and Muhandis was a political assassination and that permission was not sought by the Iraqi government.

“I was supposed to meet Soleimani at the morning the day he was killed, he came to deliver me a message from Iran responding to the message we delivered from Saudi to Iran” the Iraqi PM said, highlighting that Soleimani was carrying a response from Iran to a Saudi initiative to diffuse tensions in the region. That came after Trump called the Iraqi PM and asked him to mediate.

This is a draft resolution so the final vote won’t take place today but could take place this week. Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said it is in the interest of both Iraq and the US to end the US troop presence there. The resolution would also ban the use of Iraqi airspace.

He said Soleimani played an important role in managing different militias.

The US isn’t in the habit of leaving any country that asks so I don’t know how effective this week by. The risk is that the US departing will leave a power vacuum and allow ISIS to regain a foothold or spark some kind of civil war. For oil traders, it also raises risk that Iraq’s production could be attacked.

Update: The first draft of the resolution passed the vote.

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