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27 april 2017

  • Spanish Inflation Rises 2.6 percent YoY. Spanish inflation has accelerated beyond estimates for April, with an initial reading indicating that prices rose by 2.6 percent from the same period last year and follow a 2.1 percent increase in the prior year. The latest monthly figure also surpassed the 2.3 percent estimated price growth by economists. The economic data comes a few hours before the ECB’s rates decision and policy meeting statement today and follows an unexpectedly big slide in the euro area’s March inflation, retreating from a surge at the beginning of the year. Flash data from Germany also showed another jump in consumer prices this month from 1.6 percent to 1.9 percent in April. Read more on www.ft.com
  • Swiss Watch Exports Ends Slump Streak on Hong Kong Revival. Swiss watch shipments notched its first increase in 21 months in March, snapping their longest slump streak recorded as exports to Hong Kong lifted it from a two-year decline. According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, exports advanced 7.5 pct to 1.6 billion francs during the period. The figures gained from two extra business days, without which exports would have dropped 2.6 percent. The strong demand for luxury brand watches, such as Rolex, Omega and Cartier watches gave a push for Switzerland, which gets around 10 percent of its total exports from watch products. The improving trends in Asia and a jump in Chinese tourism in Europe have jumpstarted optimism that the slump in the industry has come to an end after it saw its biggest drop in shipments in seven years. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • BOJ Upgrades Economic Outlook, Stands Pat on Policy. The Bank of Japan ruled to keep its monetary policy unchanged and lifted its economic growth outlook during its latest policy meeting, an outcome widely expected by markets. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda reiterated to markets that the central bank is nowhere close to winding down its massive monetary stimulus, as inflation remains close to zero percent. In its released statement, the BOJ decided to maintain its interest rate at -0.1 percent and its goal of guiding 10-year JGB yields close to zero. In its latest quarterly review, the BOJ slashed its core CPI projection for the fiscal year to 1.4 percent from its prior prediction of 1.5 percent, putting the blame on the persistently weak services and producer prices. But it retained its estimate that inflation will hit its two year target during the business year ending in March 2019. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • Foreign Labor in Singapore Declines - MAS. Singapore’s dependence on foreign labor may be changing as the city-state’s central bank indicated a cautious employment outlook. The Monetary Authority of Singapore wrote in its macroeconomic review that it sees net employment growth to stay modest and uneven across sectors. It expects Singapore’s economy to expand by 1-3 percent in 2017, bolstered by the IT-associated segments amid new mobile-phone product launches and growing use of semiconductors. The MAS said that most of the job losses were low-skilled work permit holders and was concentrated in the manufacturing and construction sectors. In total, foreign employment shrank by 2,500, which excludes foreign domestic workers, the first contraction since 2009. During the fourth quarter of 2016, the jobless rate increased by 0.2 percentage point to 3.1 percent. The MAS also pointed out that in the second half of 2016, resident net employment was up by almost 11,400 but foreign headcount fell by nearly 11,700. Read more on www.cnbc.com
  • Chinese Industrial Profits Surge in March. Profits earned by China’s industrial companies soared 23.8 percent in March from the previous year, bolstered by a prolonged construction boom, however, the pace of growth eased from multi-year peaks seen in earlier months. Profits in March increased to 688.7 billion yuan ($99.9 billion), according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Industrial profits in the first quarter was up 28.3 percent to 1.7 trillion yuan, easing from a rise of 31.5 percent in the first two months but still strong enough to imply a recovery in fixed asset investment in China in the months to come. Higher government infrastructure spending and a booming housing market have lifted sales and prices of building materials. It revived profits for the country’s long-ailing “smokestack” industries like steel mills and smelters and also provided them stronger cash flow to trim debt. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • South Korea GDP Expands Quicker than Expected in Q1. South Korea’s economic growth picked up in the first quarter, as the country’s manufacturing sector and exports expanded despite a fallout from heightened geopolitical tensions in the Korean Peninsula. GDP grew 0.9 percent quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter, the Bank of Korea said. The annual expansion rate was 2.7 percent, higher from a pace of 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter. According to the central bank, quarter-on-quarter growth in private consumption expenditure has increased to 0.4 percent, helping counterbalance a 0.1 percentage point decline in government consumption to 0.5 percent. Expansion in manufacturing rose by 0.2 percentage points for an on-quarter increase of two percent, the construction sector was up four percent, however, services expansion fell 0.1 percentage points to only 0.1 percent. Goods and services exports climbed 1.9 percent quarter-on-quarter as outbound shipments of goods was up 2.6 percent. Read more on www.ft.com
  • U.S. Mortgage Activity Climbs to 5-Week Peak. Mortgage application activity in the U.S. increased to a five-week peak as borrowing costs on 30-year home loans fell to their lowest levels in five months, according to Mortgage Bankers Association data. The group said its gauge on mortgage applications climbed 2.7 percent to 406.2 points in the week ended April 21. The interest rates on 30-year, fixed-rate conforming mortgages fell two basis points to 4.20 percent, its weakest since the week of Nov. 18. The average rate was 4.23 percent the previous week. Mortgage rates have dropped alongside U.S. Treasury yields, which reached five-month lows the week earlier due to safe-haven bids for U.S. government debt. The mortgage industry group said its seasonally adjusted measure of application activity to purchase a home was down 1.0 percent to 236.0, a five-week low. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • Canadian Retail Sales Slipped in February. Retail sales in Canada dropped more than expected in February, pulled down further by vehicle purchases and cheaper prices for gasoline. However, the fall did not change expectations for solid economic growth in the first three months of 2017. According to Statistics Canada, sales were 0.6 percent lower as economists expected a 0.1 percent decline. January was revised marginally higher to an increase of 2.3 percent from the initially posted 2.2 percent. Of the 11 retail sectors, sales dropped in February in five which accounted for 67 percent of the total. Volumes were down 0.1 percent in total. The vehicle and parts sector reported a 1.8 percent decline, due to weaker new car sales. Gasoline stations sales fell 3.6 percent, the first drop in three months, as a result of lower prices. Excluding the two, retail sales were 0.5 percent higher. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • French Job Security Rises to Highest Level since 2008. French worries regarding unemployment declined to post-crisis lows, as consumer confidence was not affected by the nation’s first round of voting in the presidential election this month. A gauge of the nation’s sentiment came in at 100 for the fourth month in a row as French voters went to the polls to choose the two top candidates that will have face each other in the round-off vote in May. However, in step with the private sector, French consumers were not affected by the uncertainty surrounding the vote. According to statistics body Insee, household anxiety over unemployment are now at the lowest level since the financial crisis, falling by four pts in April. The country’s unemployment rate has difficulty declining towards single digits in the last five years, registering at 10 percent in February. Despite this, the broader euro area unemployment has significantly fallen, down to a seven-year low as the recovery has quickened this year. Read more on www.ft.com
  • Government Borrowing Lowest Since Financial Crisis- ONS. According to the Office for National Statistics, government deficit slid by 20 billion pounds to 52 billion pounds at an annual basis in March. ONS said that the numbers were the lowest since the financial crisis in 2008. The Office for Budget Responsibility had projected that deficit would clock in at 51.7 billion pounds. The OBR also estimated that government borrowing would rebound this 2017 as tax receipts decline. Chancellor Philip Hammond’s said he wants to lower the deficit at a more gradual rate than his predecessor.Government borrowing represented 2.6 percent of the GDP in the most recent financial year, exactly in line with the OBR’s estimates. The deficit in UK’s public finances has contracted since reaching a peak level of almost 10 percent of the total GDP in the immediate wake of the global financial crisis. Read more on www.bbc.com
  • Australia’s Inflation Moves Closer to RBA’s Target. Australia’s headline CPI accelerated in the previous quarter, moving closing towards the bottom end of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s target range, underlining its decision to keep rates unchanged. Headline CPI advanced 0.5 pct during the period, against an estimated 0.5 percent. At an annual rate, core inflation advanced 2.1 pct, missing the 2.2 percent and returning to target for the first time since the third quarter of 2014. RBA Gov. Philip Lowe has indicated the central bank’s willingness to tolerate a slowdown in inflation, cautioning that a quickened return to target rate means interest-rate cuts that could further escalate the house prices. In the minutes of the RBA’s latest monthly policy meeting, he said that property and job markets required extensive monitoring, shifting the bank’s original focus on inflation. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
Ulasan awal

27 april 2017

  • TransferWise ventures into Singapore. TransferWise Ltd. will be bringing their transfer money offerings to Singapore in an attempt to bring changes to the bank`s dominance of the country`s market. The startup will allow individuals to send cash overseas at a more affordable costs, instead of the usually expensive way of going through banks. Moreover, it also has better exchange rates and their fees fall around 0.5 to 1%. TransferWise is currently coordinating with DBS Group Holdings to gain access to domestic payment networks. The company was able to handle around $1.2B of money transferred per month, since more than a million clients are heavily reliant on their services. It has chosen the island city-state as their hub in the Asia Pacific region. This is beneficial for the nation as well, given their longstanding push to convert into a technology center. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • Salesforce reduces CEO pay after criticism. Salesforce Inc.`s chief Marc Benioff`s compensation was slashed by 60% after stakeholders voiced out their disapproval of the amount. The board trimmed down his pay package to $13.2M from $33.4M the previous year. Two years ago, the company received over half of the investors` thumbs up about the executives` salary however, after increasing the sum in 2016, feedback from stockholders revealed that they consider the overall magnitude of Benioff`s income as exceedingly high. A proposal to expand the performance-linked stock units for him and other senior employees was then raised. The company mainly sells business software that enables users to access services through networks instead of the usual installation. Despite the cuts, the CEO remains one of the wealthiest in Silicon Valley, with a net worth of around $4.2B. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • Line declines after expenses impact profits. Line Corp., the Japanese messaging application, went down by 10.% after the company disclosed a heavily-dented operating profit for the first quarter due to piling expenses. It reported that expenses rose by 22.4% annually to ¥35.2bn. Factors initiating the increase in costs include workforce growth, system development, and a relocation of headquarters. These have dragged profit to ¥4m, a 24.6 decrease from last year`s results. Line initially predicted higher figures fueled by advertising in the six month ending this June. However, the hike in spending is expected to prevail until Q2 due to expansion, marketing, and investments in cloud AI. Currently, it`s Tokyo-listed shares dropped 8.8% to ¥3,850. Read more on www.ft.com
  • Dropbox profit surges ahead of IPO. Dropbox Inc.`s reported the company is now generating a profit which excludes taxes and interests, as investors are keeping a close watch on their performance after disclosing a potential IPO. The file-sharing business has always touted their speedy progress compared to similar firms, which is forecast to lead them to financial maturity. Last year, Dropbox also stated they are free cash flow positive and has surpassed a $1B revenue on a yearly basis. It is currently coordinating with bankers to discuss their share sale, and given their figures, majority of the advisers are positive they are ready to go public by year end. Aside from this, the business has recently established a $600M credit facility from six lenders which was headed by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • China Evergrande`s buybacks under scrutiny. Traders are preparing for Evergande`s outlook after a string of repurchases failed to control its stock from dropping 6%. This comes amid suspicions that the property developer may have breached its limits regarding the amount of shares it can buy. The company has bought back 4.95 of their shares in the previous weeks, raising allegations about possible market manipulation. The shares they have purchased comprised around a third of all their trading, prompting an accounting research group to come to such conclusion. Analysts theorize that the buybacks came as the firm needs a higher valuation to inject their holding into a Shenzhen-listed vehicle, which it has announced last year. A team of investors have already provided $4.4B for the deal, giving the entity a value four time larger than what is implied by their HK shares. Read more on www.ft.com
  • Didi Wants to Generate $5 Billion for Global Expansion. Didi Chuxing announced its plan to generate $5 billion to finance its international expansion, according to people familiar with the transaction. Sources said some of the investors include Bank of Communications and Softbank Group. Didi, which was last valued at $34 billion in August, has been working on its expansion in Latin America. In January, the Chinese firm inked a strategic accord with Brazilian ride-hailing company 99. Read more on uk.reuters.com
  • Deutsche Bank Logs Higher Net Income, Revenue. Deutsche Bank reported a €575 million ($626 million) net income and a €7.3 billion ($7.9 billion) revenue in the first quarter of the year. The financial services provider published its results since the completion of an $8.5 billion capital raise earlier in line with strategic changes it unveiled last month. Chief Executive John Cryan said he is pleased with the firm’s start to the year, saying their cost-cutting undertakings are starting to pay off as client engagement is strong, the activity is improving, and asset flows are going back across the company. Read more on www.marketwatch.com
  • Takata Shares Suspended following Bankruptcy Report. Trading in Takata Shares were suspended Thursday following a report said the manufacturer is looking at the likelihood of a bankruptcy proposal which will form a new entity and ringfence its accountabilities. The report added Key Safety Systems would back the turnaround plan by setting aside ¥200 billion ($1.8 billion) and assist in creating a new operating entity. The money would be transferred to the airbag maker to help resolve claims connected to defective airbag inflators which have killed at least 16 people around the globe. A Takata spokesperson refused to provide a statement on the issue. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • Samsung Rebuffs Shift into Holding Company as Earnings Beat Projections. Samsung rejected a proposal by an activist investor to change into a holding company following its quarterly profit outmatched expectations on sales of components and smartphones. The conglomerate said Thursday espousing on such a scheme is not the best option for maximizing competitiveness. In October, an investor released a 10-page letter stating his desire for a holding company, a Nasdaq listing, additional non-partisan directors, and dividend payments worth 30 trillion won ($26.5 billion). Samsung posted a net income amounting to 7.49 trillion won ($6.7 billion) and quarterly dividend of 7,000 won ($6.19) in the first quarter. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • Deutsche Boerse Plans $218 Million Share Repurchase. After a failed merger with the London Stock Exchange Group, Deutsche Bank said it intends to compensate through a €200 million ($218 million) share repurchase. The German firm, which made the announcement Wednesday, said it would start buying shares in the second part of this year. The decision comes as the exchange operator readies to meet shareholders at its yearly gathering next month. A shareholder advisory service advised against supporting the board’s actions following the failed agreement and an insider trading probe against chief Carsten Kengeter. Read more on www.ft.com
  • Shares Pop on Twitter’s Stronger-than-Expected Quarterly Results. Twitter posted better than anticipated quarterly earnings and revenue, causing shares to surge over 10 percent after the results release. Earnings per share came in at 11 cents, beating estimates of 1 cent per share. Revenue for the period registered at $548 million, significantly higher than the expected $511.9 million. The company also posted its biggest net user addition, with its customer base rising to 328 million. The numbers were 7 million more than expected and denoted a 9 million quarter-on-quarter increase in monthly active users. The company said daily usage also accelerated for the Q4 to 14 percent annual growth. The firm did not release figures for daily active users. In premarket trading, Twitter shares advanced over 11 percent. CEO Jack Dorsey attributed the strong user growth and engagement to a series of changes that enhanced the social network platform.He added that the firm has rolled out product improvements at a faster rate, which helped the firm’s performance. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • Amgen’s Sales Growth Disappoints Investors. While Amgen managed to beat quarterly profit estimates, the slow sales growth disappointed investors and sent its shares down by 3 percent to $159.50. Sales of the company’s popular blockbuster and rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis drug brand, Enbrel, posted a sharp drop of 15 percent to $1.18 billion, below estimates of around $1.38 billion. Total sales fell 1 percent to $5.5 billion, close to average estimates of $5.6 billion. But the firm`s cost control helped offset the sharp decline in its Enbrel sales, resulting in the higher-than-estimated first-quarter profit. The drug has originally been the company’s main growth fuel, but Amgen had cautioned that pricing pressure would likely affect the franchise this year. Despite analysts predicting the weakness on the top line due to Enbrel, commercial operations chief Tony Hooper said Amgen was optimistic that sales of the product would rebound in the following quarters. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • Exxon’s Dividend Grows at Slowest Pace in 15 years. ExxonMobil announced a dividend hike of 2.7 pct for Q2, recording the slowest rate of payout growth for 15 years. The increase in the quarterly dividend to 77 cents fell short of analysts’ estimates and is significantly below the 6.4 pct average annual hike the firm has posted in more than 34 years. Projections saw a 5.3 pct hike in the payout to 79 cents for the current quarter. The last time the company’s dividend expanded at a slower rate was the time it announced a 1.1 pct hike back in 2002, following years of sluggish oil prices. The firm usually hikes its dividend during the second quarter of the fiscal year and then retains the levels for the next three quarters. Exxon is slated to announce its Q1 earnings on Friday and is projected to show a profit rebound due to the upward trend of oil and gas prices in the recent months. Read more on www.ft.com
  • BAT to Begin Quarterly Dividend Payments in 2018. British American Tobacco stated it seeks to introduce its quarterly dividend payments next year, with the first one in February 2018 along with its 2017 financial report. The firm said it will declare another interim dividend in December this year, to be given in February 2018 as included in its transition plan. BAT added it intends to declare dividends on a quarterly basis in four equal payments. The company said that this move will give investors a more regular income stream and will enable them to distribute dividend payments evenly. Read more on www.marketwatch.com
  • Credit Suisse to Amass Capital Amounting to $4 Billion. Credit Suisse divulged its goal of generating capital amounting to 4 billion francs ($4.02 billion) from investors, shelving its plan to mount its IPO. The bank is anticipating this latest move to result in a CET1 ratio of about 13.4%. It logged a 596 million ($599 million) net income and a 5.5 billion francs ($5.53 billion) revenue in the first quarter of 2017. CEO Tidjane Thiam said the Q1 has been a good one, the best in a while. He added they are reaping the fruits of their restructuring efforts. Thiam mentioned the vital improvement in operations mixed with improved financial certainty, citing its agreement with US regulators in January. Read more on www.cnbc.com
  • Netflix coordinates with iQiyi to distribute shows. Netflix Inc. is currently in discussions to license its programs in China through iQiyi.com, the country`s streaming video services under Baidu Inc. The move is part of the company`s initial step to access a market that has isolated itself from their offerings. The companies` coordination will oblige by Chinese policies on film and TV imports, while Netflix`s shares surged 6.1% to $151.72 following the announcement. It has recently reached a million subscribers from several nations except for China, and has been looking for strategies to enter the nation to pursue its goal of reaching a global audience. The state has been under a crackdown on online content, hence foreign providers struggled to gain a niche in the market. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • McDonald`s scraps proposed sale of sake in Japan. McDonald’s Corp. announced it is cancelling initial plans of selling a 33% stake in their Japan unit, which signals a rebound for the food chain after a year of looking for potential buyers. It`s chief financial officer assured their decision will not impact their financial targets, adding they are positive of their customer-centered initiatives to grow the business and maintain its momentum. In 2016, the outlet was plagued with quarterly losses after a string of food scandals. Despite this, the company wasp able to recover and even projected a $76M of net income for this year. Two months ago, its same-store sales increased by 17%, which was largely due to customers attracted by the return of popular menu items. Aside from this, many were lured by their figurines from the then-hit Pokemon game. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • LG Display`s Q1 figures surge amid strong demand. LG Display has reported Won1tn of earnings for the first quarter, beating initial estimates of Won845bn. The increase came given the rising sales for large television panels. In addition, the company is also projecting a similar amount of panel deliveries by the next quarter, while TV panel shipments are expected to hike due to the device`s prevailing trend. Shares of the business gained 0.5% and rose to Won31,350 as well. However, despite the positive figures, investors remain wary of LG`s outlook in the future, since higher prices might lure customers away. Moreover, similar products are also being devised by rivals, such as Apple and Samsung. It has recently announced its plan to invest $1.75B in flexible OLED panels for mobile phones. Read more on www.ft.com
  • Dole Food explores IPO again. Dole Food is planning to return to the US stock market after being privatized by billionaire David Murdock around three years ago. The move will signify part of their shift in business after Murdock took the took over the company for $1.2B. Initially, the purchase faced disapproval from Delaware Court of Chancery over issues that he and another executive purposefully downed Dole`s stock price to make the transaction more affordable. The world`s biggest producer of bananas and pineapples has generated a slightly lower net revenue last year at $4.51B, while it disclosed a loss of $23.7M in the same period. The company has been struggling over a continuous rise of debt, which has already reached $1.2B in 2016 and is starting to be viewed as a risk to investors. Moreover, it is wary of current policies devised by Trump particularly in trade and immigration, as they foresee adverse impacts ahead. Read more on www.ft.com
  • AT&T forecasts withstand user loss. AT&T Inc. was able to maintain its 2017 profit expectations despite a massive decrease in wireless customers, signaling the tough competition in the industry.The Dallas-based company has lost 191,000 subscribers during the first quarter, while analysts still predicted a gain of 100,000. This highlights the telecom firm`s shift of business strategy to media, which first came after its acquisition of Time Warner Inc. for $85.4B. Like similar companies, AT&T is aiming to keep their clients while simultaneously increasing their revenue amid a price competition with smaller rivals such as T-Mobile US Inc. Even with a decline in users, the firm`s adjusted earnings is still projected to fall at mid-single digit, compared with experts` estimates of 3%. It also disclosed a revenue of $39.4B, which was only a tad lower by initial calculations of $40.6. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
Ulasan awal

27 april 2017

  • Turkey detains 9,000 police over putsch involvement. Turkey has suspended over 9,000 law enforcement officers due to suspicions of having connections with Fethullah Gullen, the alleged mastermind of last year`s failed coup. The move came amid nationwide operations, which covered 81 provinces and zoomed in on the network structure in the police forces. The state`s interior minister justified the action as a crucial step to resolving the issue, as the hunt for participant is still ongoing at present. Hundreds of thousands of individuals were arrested or fired from work following the incident, while the latest detention took place after a referendum extending Erdogan`s power was approved. The voting has divided the nation, with some in favor of the verdict while others cited worries on authoritarianism. Read more on www.aljazeera.com
  • Trump`s team to dig into aluminum imports. The US chief has formally requested an investigation regarding the import of aluminum and its effects on national security. The move comes after the metal`s production heavily decreased in the past years, giving rise to worries that might be insufficient to meet the needs of the defense industry in case war preparations become required. The proposal was also initiated by the Commerce Department and is expected to result in tariffs on foreign imports of the metal. This would affect China, one of the biggest exporters of the product, and may lead to strains on its relationship with the US especially since Trump has recently ordered a similar assessment of steel imports. The country has been alleged to have overproduced and dumped steel into the US market. Read more on www.edition.cnn.com
  • Trump mulls EO to eliminate Nafta. The US chief`s team has drafted an executive order that will enable the them to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, as stated to the media. It remains uncertain whether Trump`s next move will be to strike down the accord, which removed tariffs among US, Mexico, and Canada. He has long expressed disapproval for the pact and branded it as harmful for jobs, vowing to put it to an end if elected. Recently, he also pulled the nation out of the TPP.Two officials were reported to have said the initiative could be disclosed by next week. It was also not clarified whether the administration is just proposing a rigid negotiating tactic. The move came after a new tariff on Canadian softwood lumber was imposed. Recently, the US was also defeated in a trade battle with a Nafta signatory. Read more on www.bbc.com
  • Trump hints on biggest tax reform. The US chief has disclosed his proposal for a massive tax cut on business and individuals, reducing corporate rate by 15%. The trim down also covers overseas corporate profits brought back to the country. Under the overhaul, rates would halved from its present 35%,and categories for people would be down from seven to three-- 10%, 25%, and 35%. Trump`s economic adviser said this is the biggest tas initiative since 1986, and expressed his support for it. However, he acknowledged the legislation is likely to face condemnation from the Congress, who are concerned by the country`s continuously rising deficits. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, assured they will be working on the law as fast as they can, as this is one of the GOP bet`s key platform during the election. Read more on www.aljazeera.com
  • Pelosi speaks up on funding bill progress. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the funding decree is still undergoing discussion and that there are still "poison pills" the Democratic Party is seeking to eliminate. She insisted that despite several differences, both groups have made advancements hence they are not expecting a shutdown of the administration. However, she acknowledged they might need an extension in order to pass it since they still have to address a string of provisions to improve the bill. Debates have become heated among the parties as their deadline looms closer. Among the points argued upon is the White House`s request to finance Trump`s border wall, which was dismissed after the Democrats provided money for the boundary`s security instead. Read more on www.edition.cnn.com
  • NoKor Official Reiterates Nuclear Tests Will Never End. North Korea’s government official Sok Chol Won stressed the nation’s nuclear tests would never end as long as America continued its aggressive actions. He would not confirm the date of the country’s sixth nuclear launch but mentioned it won’t be shaped by external events. The official said this is a significant part of their ongoing efforts to bolster its nuclear forces. Previously, leading American cabinet officials imposed economic sanctions and diplomatic pressures in NoKor to curtail its actions, pressing for the continuation of discussions following a US Senate briefing on the threat posed by the country’s missile and nuclear undertakings. Read more on edition.cnn.com
  • HK Police Nabs Nine Pro-Democracy Activists. Hong Kong police arrested and indicted nine pro-independence activists over their role in a demonstration against the Chinese government’s interference in the election of two pro-democracy legislators in 2016. The rally prompted authorities to use pepper spray and batons against protesters who charged a barricade. Those nabbed were eventually released on bail and will appear in court May 5. One of them said their arrest symbolizes an unending political suppression in HK. The move marks the second time opposition personalities have been arrested in the city. Read more on time.com
  • Several Strikes Hit Ammunition Depot Near Damascus Airport. Two rebel sources in Syria disclosed multiple strikes hit an ammunition storehouse close to Damascus airport used by Iranian-backed fighters. They added their monitors operating in the eastern part of the capital where the rebel fighters are located had trailed about five strikes. The assault resulted in a fire with flames appearing to come from an army facility, which was said to be used by Iran to deploy arms by air to Iranian-supported militias operating along with Syrian forces. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • Venezuela Says to Leave OAS amid Political Tension. Venezuela announced it will quit the OAS, reacting to pressure from the regional bloc over how the government is tackling the nation’s political upheaval. Foreign chief Delcy Rodriguez said it would mount a two-year procedure to leave the group. As per President Nicolas Maduro, she added they will send a letter of complaint to the organization and begin the formal process. The move came following diplomats enacted a resolution holding a special gathering of regional foreign leaders to talk over Venezuela’s crisis. The opposition have mounted demonstrations for weeks, demanding for early elections. Read more on www.aljazeera.com
  • Islamic State Contends with Departure of Foreign Fighters. The Islamic State is dealing with foreign fighters who depart from the group and attempt to get into Turkey. Last week, people privy to the matter said some ISIS fighters surrendered to Turkish border police after staying in areas held by these terrorists for more two years. Dozens more foreigners have abandoned ISIS as of late, as the group’s capability to retain ground in Iraq and Syria crumbles. Some of these fighters are said to have averted arrest and made it through the Middle East country. Sources close to ISIS disclosed the group’s standing in its previous redoubt in Syria have dwindled. Read more on www.theguardian.com
  • China Declares Global Naval Role after Aircraft Carrier Deployment. China must step up its military capacity in order to safeguard its expanding overseas interests, according to the country’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi after the deployment of its first locally made aircraft carrier while pledging that Beijing will not pursue expansionism. The carrier was launched on Wednesday amid the increasing geopolitical tension over North Korea and other regional concerns regarding China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea and its encompassing military modernization program. In his address during a visit to Germany, Wang said Chinese firms and citizens had proliferated around the world, with millions of people living abroad and almost 30, 000 Chinese-backed firms listed in other nations. Given these circumstances, Wang said that China has a lot of reason to bolster its national defense capacity in order to protect its expanding global interests. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • Trump Administration to Hit North Korea with Tougher Sanctions. The U.S. is seen to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea and intensify diplomatic efforts designed to pressure the country to scrap its nuclear and missile programs. The strategy was announced following a briefing with all 100 senators. Earlier, Trump has argued for the launch of the THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea. Geopolitical concerns have escalated amid concerns that North Korea is laying out the groundwork for new weapons test-launches. In a joint statement released by the government, top national security officials said that the U.S. is aiming for stability and the peaceful way to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. It added that President Trump’s strategy looks to pressure North Korea into scrapping its arms programs by imposing stricter sanctions and other diplomatic measures. While the U.S. remains open to negotiations toward a peaceful path, they said that the country remains prepared to defend itself and its allies if tensions escalate. Read more on www.bbc.com
  • Trump Blasts Federal Court Shutdown of EO on Sanctuary Cities.President Donald Trump criticized a federal judge’s decision that suspended his executive order looking to withhold funds from the so-called “sanctuary cities” for illegal immigrants, with the Republican leader promising to take it up to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a Tweet, Trump attacked the Ninth Circuit, which also ruled against the travel ban, stating that he would appeal the sanctuary cities ruling to the Supreme Court. The Trump administration has targeted sanctuary cities in one of its directives. Sanctuary cities provide a safe zone for illegal immigrants and usually does not utilize municipal funds or resources to properly implement federal immigration laws. When asked during an interview if the president had considered collapsing the 9th Circuit Court, he said that the option has been considered, citing the majority of people that also wants the federal appeals court and its judicial district to be demolished. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • China Introduces First Locally-Made Aircraft Carrier. China introduced its first locally-made aircraft carrier Wednesday, following days of publicity highlighting this event. Senior government and army officials witnessed the said launch. The vessel, adorned with banners and red flags, then stopped next to the dock. The country’s military said the carrier is far from ready for usage, but it marked a major phase of improvement of the design and production of aircraft carriers. It added the ship will undergo several tests before testing it in the water. It is said the vessel will be called Shandong, after the eastern province in the Asian nation. Read more on www.nytimes.com
  • Venezuela Warns to Leave OAS as Maduro Faces Intense Pressure. Venezuela warned it will abandon its OAS membership, with foreign chief Delcy Rodriguez saying President Nicolas Maduro instructed her to initiate the nation’s departure from the bloc if the region’s foreign leaders convene on the Venezuelan crisis without the government’s support. Her remarks came before diplomats were slated to meet to tackle a plan to hold an emergency summit regarding this crisis. Hundreds of Venezuelan people have gathered on main streets and roads in March to seek Maduro’s resignation. These rallies have often ended in deadly clashes with security fighters. Read more on abcnews.go.com
  • WH blocks call to release Flynn file. The White House has dismissed clamors from the House Oversight Committee to issue documents related to Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who was ousted over misleading officials about his encounter with a Russian ambassador. The group wanted to look into the ex-aide`s payments, as he was said to have failed in reporting the money he got in 2015 to address a Moscow gala, wherein he sat beside Putin. However, the WH legislative director said he will not be able to accommodate the appeal because it is connected to Flynn`s activities before joining Trump`s cabinet members. Currently, the probe over his involvement in the alleged election meddling is still ongoing. He was also asked to show his security clearance before joining the administration earlier during the year. Read more on www.bbc.com
  • Russia intervenes in Ukraine power cuts. Russia has vowed to provide electricity to Luhansk region of Ukraine after the government decided to cut off power due to unpaid bills. A representative for the Kremlin explained the move serves as a humanitarian mission, although they have not detailed yet how to distribute the supply in the area. The regime decided to act on the conflict as unaddressed electricity charges have piled up to $97M, prompting them to disconnect the supply before midnight. The location`s emergency chief said the outage lasted for 40 minutes before they used their own resources, while it was confirmed that Putin`s side sent help through power lines. Tensions among the country and Russian separatists have intensified following the annexation of Crimea, resulting to over 10,000 deaths. Read more on www.aljazeera.com
  • Ivanka deals with a shower of queries in Berlin. Ivanka Trump was greeted with a string of attitude regarding her father`s comments on women during her first international event as an adviser. Trump`s daughter voiced out her advocacies to bring positive change for women in the US and acknowledged she is still unaccustomed to her new role. Her trip came after she was invited by German chancellor Angela Merkel, as they were both part of a conference at th W20 Summit which is aimed at empowering females. Ivanka also said she is still learning how she can make an impact while holding her current post. She had been one of those pushing for regulations beneficial to working women, although she has faced criticisms as well from the liberals over her alleged lack of action to moderate Trump`s conservative rhetoric. Read more on www.aljazeera.com
  • HK police arrests pro-democracy legislators after protest. Hong Kong law enforcement officers have detained Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung, two lawmakers in favor of independence, after a massive protest in China during their oath taking ceremony last year. During the event, the pair were disqualified and stripped of their titles after pledging their allegiance to HK and using expletive languages in their speeches. Yau and Leung were taken from their residences and were questioned about trying to retake their oaths. They can be sentenced to five years in prison if convicted, or be given a fine with a three-year jail term. This came after the state`s outgoing leader pushed to suppress dissent after a huge pro-freedom demonstration in 2014. Other lawmakers were also targeted for legal challenges, which, according to one, signifies the regime`s attempt to dissolve the democratic forces. Read more on www.theguardian.com
  • Court hinders Trump`s sanctuary city order. A court ruling has blocked the US chief`s order to halt financing for cities that serve as shelters for illegal immigrants. The judge who handles the case, William Orrick, has placed the initiative in limbo, but the administration pledged to issue an appeal. Trump has threatened the involved location that they may lose federal funds if they refuse to cooperate with the officials. He said added the approach was unacceptable as it was used as a weapon against those who disagree with his policies. This measure came after his plan to ban individuals from seven Muslim states were rejected twice. City governors have also voiced out their opinions, such as Judge William Orrick of NYC, who said the GOP bet`s move goes beyond his authority, and is considered unconstitutional as well. Read more on www.bbc.com
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