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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Forex – Dollar Gains as U.S. Services Activity Hits Highest Since March

© Reuters.  © Reuters.

By Yasin Ebrahim

Investing.com – The dollar climbed against its rivals Friday as data showing ongoing strength in the U.S. services sector offset a continued slowing in manufacturing to a three-year low.

The , which measures the greenback against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, rose by 0.18% to 97.87.

The IHS Markit flash purchasing managers index for manufacturing slipped to a three-month low in January, but the services PMI rose to the highest level since last March.

Strength in the greenback was also supported by plunge in the pound and euro.

fell 0.29% to $ 1.308 and more losses could follow when trade negotiations between the U.K. and the EU begin after the U.K. leaves the trading bloc on Jan. 31, said Jane Foley, senior foreign-exchange strategist at Rabobank.

“Once those negotiations get underway in February and March, some of us could be in for a rude awakening,” Foley added.

fell 0.20% to $ .1013 shrugging off better-than-expected PMIs from Germany amid expectations that the European Central Bank is set to persist with negative rates at least until the end of the year.

fell 0.21% to $ 109.26 as the yen was supported by an uptick in safe-demand after the CDC confirmed that a second case of the coronavirus had been identified in the U.S.

rose 0.18% to C$ 1.315 as oil prices continued to retreat on fears that a continued spread of the virus could dent air travel, keeping a lid on oil demand.

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U.S. deports Honduran family with sick kids to Guatemala

Update: On Monday night, a federal judge in McAllen, Texas, denied a request to halt the deportation of the Honduran mother and her two children. The family was sent to Guatemala on Tuesday, according to a lawyer familiar with the case and the children’s father. In Guatemala, they will be required to choose between seeking refuge there or returning to Honduras. Read the original story below.


New York — Lawyers and advocates are mobilizing to try to stop U.S. immigration officials from deporting a young Honduran mother and her two sick children to Guatemala, where the Trump administration has sent dozens of asylum-seekers in recent weeks as part of a controversial deal with the Central American country.

The 23-year-old migrant mother and her two daughters — a 6-year-old and 18-month-old baby — were apprehended at the U.S. border in Texas in December and are slated to be sent to Guatemala on Tuesday, according to court records. The family’s lawyers say the two girls, who have been sick and were recently hospitalized, are in no condition to be deported to Guatemala.

A group of lawyers, led by attorneys from the group ProBAR, which provides legal assistance to asylum-seekers, sued the government last week in U.S. District Court in McAllen, Texas. They asked the court to block officials from sending the family to Guatemala and to order Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to release them so the children can continue further medical treatment at a local shelter. 

But the government said in a filing that it still plans to move forward with its plans to send the family to Guatemala on Tuesday, or whenever the mother and children have received medical clearance to travel.

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The government says the three family members are set to be deported on Tuesday, or when cleared for travel by a doctor. U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas

The 1-year-old girl has been undergoing treatment at a hospital near McAllen, but the government said she is expected to be released soon. The mother and the 6-year-old, the government said, do “not appear” to be “suffering from medical conditions that would prevent their removal” to Guatemala.

But the family’s lawyers disagree with this assessment and argue that continued detention and potential deportation are “inadvisable and dangerous” because of the children’s health. The 6-year-old has been diagnosed with the flu, and the infant has a fever and diarrhea, which the lawyers say stems from “inadequate” food and “unsanitary” living conditions while in CBP custody. 

The woman’s husband and the children’s father, who has been in the U.S. for more than a year, is pleading with the government not to deport his family.  

“If they return my family to Honduras, I’m expecting the worst. My daughters and my wife could be harmed,” the 26-year-old father told CBS News in Spanish. “And Guatemala is almost the same or worse because they don’t know anyone there.”

CBS News is not disclosing the names of the family members since they are subject to ongoing immigration proceedings. The three are identified by initials in court filings.

CBP did not respond to a series of questions about the family’s case, including whether the family is still going to be processed for removal to Guatemala on Tuesday.

If the family is deported to Guatemala, it will join 209 asylum-seekers from Honduras and El Salvador — including more than 50 children — who have been sent there by the U.S. under an “Asylum Cooperative Agreement” with the Guatemalan government. Those subject to the agreement are denied access to America’s asylum system at the U.S.-Mexico border and required to choose between seeking refuge in Guatemala or returning home. 

The deal has elicited strong criticism from advocates, who point to Guatemala’s skeletal asylum system and the fact that hundreds of thousands of Guatemalan families have trekked north to the U.S. southern border in the past two years, many of them fleeing endemic violence and extreme poverty. 

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups filed a lawsuit to try to block the administration from enforcing the agreement with Guatemala, as well as similar deals the U.S. forged with Honduras and El Salvador.


“This would break anyone’s heart” 

img-6157.jpg
The 1-year-old girl receiving medical treatment, with an IV in her arm.

The mother fled Honduras with her daughters in September 2019 after a gang demanded that she pay a “protection fee” for her small grocery store, according to her husband. He said the gang made several threats.

The mother and her children reached the U.S.-Mexico border in late December. During their first attempt to cross, they were kidnapped by an unknown group, the father said, noting that those who kidnapped his family asked him to pay $ 200 per person.

After pleas from the mother, the family was ultimately released, the father said. Two days later, a day before New Year’s Eve, the three again tried to cross the border and presented themselves to Border Patrol agents. They were then sent to the CBP facility in Donna, Texas, where officials detain migrants who the government intends to send to Guatemala or who are deemed ineligible for asylum under a sweeping restriction allowed by the Supreme Court.

Despite expressing fear of persecution, the mother was not referred for a so-called “credible fear” interview, the first test migrants must pass to pursue asylum claims in the U.S. Instead, the family was given what their attorneys called a “Hobbesian choice.”

“[Officials] presented the mother with a Hobbesian choice: return to Honduras from which she fled with her children in fear for their lives or be sent to Guatemala where she has no family, friends, contacts or job prospects and where she and her children likely will suffer from the same violence that compelled them to leave Honduras,” a filing by the family’s lawyers reads.

The father said his wife described the same occurrence over a phone call this week. “Those were the only options,” he added. “They were not given an option to ask for asylum here in the U.S.”

Fearing a return to “known threats” in Honduras, the mother chose to be sent to Guatemala, the family’s lawyers said. The government said the mother then underwent a so-called “threshold screening” with an asylum officer who determined she was not exempt from the U.S.-Guatemala deal.   

Like other migrants subject to this policy, the mother did not have access to counsel before or during the secreeing. One of the family’s lawyers said she tried to talk to her clients at the CBP facility in Donna, but was denied entry.

In their lawsuit, the lawyers also said the family’s continued detention, which has now reached more than 20 days, violates requirements set forth by the Flores Agreement, a court settlement that governs the care of children in U.S. immigration custody. The agreement mandates the government to release children from custody as expeditiously as possible and to detain them in the least restrictive settings as possible. 

The government in its legal filing denied that the family’s continued detention violates the Flores Agreement. 

The children’s father said the family’s detention and imminent deportation to Guatemala has taken an emotional toll on his wife. 

“She’s very bad emotionally. I know her. She’s a very happy person. I’m also a very happy man,” he said. “But with this situation — I don’t cry, because I’m ashamed, but when I’m alone in my bed, I tear up looking at photos of them and us together in Honduras. This would break anyone’s heart.”

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Forex – Dollar Edges Lower as U.S. Reports First Case of Deadly Coronavirus

© Reuters.  © Reuters.

By Yasin Ebrahim

Invesing.com – The dollar fell slightly Tuesday, pressured by losses against safe-haven currencies as the first case of the deadly Chinese coronavirus was reported in the U.S.

The , which measures the greenback against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, fell by 0.07% 97.49.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the first case of the coronavirus in the United States, CNN reported, citing a federal source outside the CDC.

The news followed earlier reports that the coronavirus in China had spread, raising fears that a widespread outbreak could disrupt tourism and hurt economic growth.

fell 0.21% to 109.95 and was flat at 0.968.

rose 0.36% to $ 1.306 on bullish labor market data showing better-than-expected U.K. wage growth and an unchanged unemployment rate at 3.8% in November.

fell 0.01% to $ 1.109 as better January German and eurozone ZEW data signaled that investor confidence was on the mend ahead of a crucial European Central Bank meeting later this week.

Some have suggested that euro will continue to lose ground against the dollar this year amid expectations that the European Central Bank will likely cut rates in September.

The ECB will likely lower interest rates by 20 basis points and expand its bond-buying program in September while the Fed will leave rates on hold this year, said Hubert de Barochez, economist at Capital Economics.

rose 0.15% to C$ 1.306

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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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Forex – U.S. Dollar Little Changed, AUD/USD Pair Rises Ahead of Jobs Data

© Reuters.  © Reuters.

By Alex Ho

Investing.com – The U.S. dollar was near flat on Monday in Asia, while the Aussie dollar gained ahead of the release of the country’s latest jobs data.

The U.S. dollar index was near flat at 97.365. Figures released by the Commerce Department on Friday showed U.S. housing starts in December were well above economists’ estimates for 1.38 million and were the biggest gain in 13 years.

Retail sales were also on the rise and a gauge of manufacturing activity rebounded to its highest in eight months.

The positive data reduced chances that the Federal Reserve would slash rates when it meets later this month.

Meanwhile, the pair rose 0.2% to 0.6886 as traders awaited Australian jobs data due on Thursday. The Reserve Bank of Australia meets next month and might announce further stimulus following three rate cuts last year amid widespread bushfires.

The pair also rose 0.2% to 0.6620.

The gained 0.2% against the U.S. dollar after jumping late last week on strong economic growth figures. China reported that its gross domestic product grew 6% in the fourth quarter, meaning economic growth slowed to 6.1% in 2019. While this is in line with expectations, it’s also the country’s weakest growth in nearly three decades.

The pair was near flat at 110.17.

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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U.S. federal agencies on high alert as new cases of Coronavirus spread in China

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Forex – U.S. Dollar, CNY steady after trade deal

© Reuters.  © Reuters.

By Cornelia Zou

Investing.com – The dollar and the remained steady a day after China and the U.S. signed a phase one trade deal aimed at easing tensions between the two largest economies in the world.

The signing of the deal on Wednesday, Jan. 15, in the U.S. helped equities markets and lent some stability to currencies.

The that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies was slightly lower, down 0.02% to 97.30 by 8:30 PM ET (01:30 GMT). The index has remained strong after falling at the beginning of the year.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) set the reference rate for the yuan at 6.8878 on Friday, compared to 6.8807 on Thursday. The pair was essentially flat, down 0.01% to 6.8759 on Friday morning.

China’s economy grew 6.1% through 2019, the lowest rate of growth since 1990, according to numbers released by the National Bureau of Statistics Friday morning. The growth rate is lower than market expectations of 6.2% but within the 6% to 6.5% the central government set in early 2019.

Growth in the fourth quarter was 6%, unchanged from the previous quarter.

The Friday data follows the release of monthly export and import numbers earlier in the week that showed exports rising in December for the first time in five months and import growth beating estimates. Exports from China rose 7.6% year on year in December while imports jumped 16.3%, the largest monthly jump in more than a year.

The yen continued to weaken against the greenback. The pair was up 0.04% to 110.19.

The pair was down 0.17% and the pair lost 0.08%.

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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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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China’s yuan gains after U.S. drops China FX manipulator label

By Yoruk Bahceli

LONDON (Reuters) – China’s yuan climbed to its highest level since July on Tuesday and the Japanese yen plumbed eight-month lows as the U.S. Treasury Department reversed its decision in August to designate China as a currency manipulator.

The Treasury Department’s new report on currency manipulators could help explain the reason for the Swiss franc surging to a 33-month high against the euro, some analysts said. [L8N29J36G] Washington included Switzerland on a watchlist, although other market participants said it had been expected and broader safe-haven flows were behind the franc’s move.

The announcement on the yuan came as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He arrived in Washington ahead of Wednesday’s signing with U.S. President Donald Trump of a preliminary trade agreement aimed at easing tensions between the two countries.

“Washington’s decision to lift its designation of currency manipulator on China has added to the positive mood that has been already in place ahead of the signing of the trade deal,” said Minori Uchida, chief currency strategist at MUFG Bank.

People familiar with the negotiations said its removal was an important symbol of goodwill for Chinese officials.

China has also pledged to buy almost $ 80 billion of additional manufactured goods from the United States over the next two years as part of a trade war truce, according to a Reuters source.

The dollar rose as much as 0.3% against the Japanese yen to 110.22 yen , its highest since late May versus a currency that tends to weaken when investors are buoyant. It last stood at 109.97 yen.

In onshore trade, the yuan strengthened to as high as 6.8731 per dollar , its strongest since late July. China’s central bank set the midpoint of the yuan’s daily trading band at 6.8954 per dollar on Tuesday, its strongest fixing since Aug. 1.

The also firmed to its strongest level in six months, hitting 6.8662 yuan before easing off .

Chinese forecast-beating trade data also helped to boost optimism about the economy and the yuan.

Despite the optimism, some analysts said there were signs of a bid for safety.

The Swiss franc rose to its strongest since April 2017 at 1.0763 against the euro (), up nearly 0.5%. It rose 0.4% versus the dollar .

Some analysts said this reflected nervousness, as risky emerging market currencies such as the South African rand and Turkish lira fared poorly.

“The interesting question is how long can this optimism last, how much further can it go. A lot surely has to be in the price,” said Jane Foley, senior FX strategist at Rabobank.

“If we were to get another rise in tensions between the U.S. and China and if we were to turn our attention to phase two (of the trade deal)… it’s very likely that we will see the renminbi falling again,” Rabobank’s Foley said, adding that the currency might face a low at the 7.18 level hit in September.

In Europe, sterling weakened further on Tuesday, hitting a seven-week low against the euro at 85.95 pence before recovering. ()

The currency has come under pressure from weak data releases, raising the chances of a cut to interest rates by the Bank of England. Money markets forecast an almost 50% probability of a cut at a meeting on Jan. 30.

The euro was mildly supported by risk-on sentiment, remaining off a two-week low of $ 1.10855 () hit on Friday, last trading at $ 1.1124.

The gained 0.1% to 97.43 ().

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U.S. to Lift Yuan Manipulator Tag Ahead of China Trade Deal

© Reuters.  U.S. to Lift Yuan Manipulator Tag Ahead of China Trade Deal © Reuters. U.S. to Lift Yuan Manipulator Tag Ahead of China Trade Deal

(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump’s administration plans to lift its designation of China as a currency manipulator, people familiar with the matter said, removing an obstacle to a trade deal the two nations are set to sign this week.

The Treasury Department will make the move in a semi-annual report, expected to be released soon, after being delayed as the U.S. and China finalize a “phase one” trade pact, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in August first formally labeled China a currency-manipulator, a move that further escalated the trade war with Beijing after the country’s central bank allowed the yuan to fall in retaliation to new U.S. tariffs.

A Treasury Department spokeswoman declined to comment. A reporter for Fox Business Network earlier tweeted the news about Treasury’s plans.

Now that a deal is in sight, the designation is being lifted. The administration had at one point considered maintaining the label and instead announcing it would monitor the yuan with the possibility of lifting the designation in August of this year, according to the people.

The offshore strengthened to 6.883 per dollar on Monday.

Mnuchin’s August 2019 announcement prompted authorities in Beijing to increase transparency around how they manage the yuan. Some of that data has provided support for the Treasury’s view that the People’s Bank of China engages in competitive devaluations of its currency, the people said.

But economists have criticized the U.S. decision to call China a manipulator. The International Monetary Fund said in September the yuan is fairly valued and that there’s no evidence of manipulation. China’s weakening currency could also be attributed to a slowdown in growth.

China also doesn’t meet the criteria outlined in a 2015 U.S. law for formally designating a country a currency-manipulator. Mnuchin instead relied on a 1988 trade law that has a looser definition of currency manipulation to justify the claim. He did so after the yuan broke the 7 per dollar level for the first time since 2008, drawing Trump’s ire. Mnuchin had resisted using the label in the previous five reports he released.

The August announcement was made in a press release, outside the normal issuance of the report. That left currency strategists and policy experts without a full explanation for the decision. Treasury’s currency report examines 20 countries for possible currency manipulation, a number that was increased from 12 in May.

Trump was involved in drafting the press release, which on his direction refers to China as a “Currency Manipulator,” using capital letters, one of the people said.

When Treasury officials briefed congressional committees in August on their decision, they read quotes by Chinese leadership officials stating that they had all the necessary tools to prop up the yuan. According to the Treasury officials, those statements prove intent and serve as evidence that the country was manipulating its currency, two people familiar with the briefings said.

Mnuchin in October said that if a trade deal with China were signed, he would consider removing the manipulator tag, saying that signing an agreement would be “a big step in the right direction.”

(Updates with market move in sixth paragraph.)

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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