The dollar held steady against its peers on Wednesday, showing little reaction to U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address which touched upon trade and budget issues but provided investors with few surprises.
 
In an annual speech on Tuesday outlining his priorities for the coming year, President Trump said that illegal immigration was an urgent national crisis and reiterated his vow to build a border wall.
 
Trump also said any trade agreement with China “must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.”
 
The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was little changed at 96.072, after briefly touching a near two-week high of 96.135.
 
“Trump’s address did not contain surprises. He did not, for example, declare a state of emergency (over border funding) nor make surprising comments about China,” said Ayako Sera, senior market economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust.
 
“The fall by the Australian dollar appears to have generated more attention,” Sera added.
 
The Australian dollar tumbled after central bank chief Philip Lowe opened the door to a possible rate cut after more than a year of signaling tighter future policy.
 
In his first public speech of the year, Lowe said rates could go in either direction, depending on the labor market and inflation.
 
The Aussie dollar was last down 1 per cent at $0.7165.
 
The Reserve Bank of Australia has left its official cash rate at a record low of 1.50 per cent since August 2016 and Governor Lowe had repeatedly emphasized the next move was more likely to be up.
 
The euro was little changed at $1.1400 after slipping 0.25 per cent the previous day to its lowest since Jan. 28.
 
The single currency was pressured after a survey released on Tuesday showed euro zone businesses expanded at their weakest rate since mid-2013 at the start of the year.
 
The dollar edged down 0.15 per cent to 109.78 yen after posting a gain of 0.4 per cent overnight.
 
While the Japanese currency’s big gains against the downtrodden Aussie was seen as a factor weighing on dollar/yen, the greenback stayed in reach of a five-week peak of 110.165 yen reached on Monday.
 
The dollar has been managed to hold its ground although U.S. Treasury yields declined the previous day and pulled back from one-week highs.
 
“The dollar is managing to draw support in spite of lower Treasury yields thanks to a combination of a dovish-sounding Federal Reserve and U.S. data, which has been relatively strong on the whole recently,” said Shusuke Yamada, chief Japan FX and equity strategist at Bank Of America Merrill Lynch.
 
The Australian dollar was down more than 1 per cent at 78.66 yen.
 
The pound remained on the back foot following a slump overnight. The currency was a shade lower at $1.2950 after brushing $1.2923, its lowest since Jan. 22.
 
Sterling had lost nearly 0.7 per cent on Tuesday on a weak Purchasing Managers’ Index data and uncertainty about Brexit talks.
 
UK cabinet ministers have secretly held talks on plans to delay Brexit by eight weeks, the Telegraph newspaper reported late on Tuesday.
 
The delay would postpone Brexit to May 24. Currently, Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29. 
 
 
Source: Reuters
 
In a bid to contain the increasing number of refugees and asylum seekers wanting to illegally force their way to greener pastures, the US has deployed an additional 2,000 troops to its border with Mexico.
 
That much information was revealed by the Pentagon which noted that the addition will bring the total number of troops stationed on the southern border to about 4,300.
 
The Pentagon added that the soldiers would help border-patrol agents, carry out surveillance work and install miles of razor wire.
 
In addition, the US defence department said 3,750 extra soldiers would be sent to the border, although many will replace troops already there. The first deployments took place in November.
 
“Additional units are being deployed for 90 days, and we will continue to evaluate the force composition required to meet the mission to protect and secure the southern border,” a Pentagon statement said.
 
The move by the Pentagon comes after President Donald Trump battled Congress for funds to build a wall along the border saying such a measure is needed to stop illegal immigration.
 
 
Source: Routers
Embattled president of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro is claiming that US president Donald Trump is out to kill him by ordering his assassination.
 
Maduro, 56, made the submission an interview with Moscow’s RIA news agency as his main global backer Russia called on Wednesday for mediation in a standoff deepening geopolitical splits.
 
“Donald Trump has without doubt given an order to kill me and has told the government of Colombia and the Colombian mafia to kill me,” Maduro said, reprising a constant accusation of his and Chavez’s over the years.
 
Maduro’s comments comes hours after the country’s Supreme Court placed a travel ban on opposition leader Juan Gaido whose accounts were also frozen.
 
 
Source: NAN
The first-ever report on the health of refugees and migrants in Europe revealed that they tend to be healthier than the residents of host countries.
 
Australia has announced the last four children still in Nauru detention centre will soon be moved to the US after the two countries struck a deal.
 
Nauru is a tiny island country, covering just 21km2, located northeast of Australia and close to the equator where hot and humid temperatures prevail all year.
 
It was one of two camps where refugees and asylum seekers were put after Australia announced five years ago that anyone who tried to claim asylum after arriving by sea would never be allowed to settle.
 
Scheer says Trudeau damaged ‘integrity’ of immigration system
 
Andrew Scheer says a 2017 tweet by Justin Trudeau welcoming refugees to Canada has weakened the immigration system. The Tory leader says irregular border crossings lead to longer waits for those hoping to immigrate “the right way.”
 
"Every asylum seeker child has now been removed from Nauru or has had their claim processed and has a clear path off the island," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday.
 
Women, families and children were held on Nauru, while single men were kept on Manus, an island belonging to Papua New Guinea (PNG), where some of them were kept for five years.
 
New Zealand 'back door'
 
At least 46 children were born on Nauru.
 
"Over the past five months, we've been working quietly and methodically to remove children from Nauru. Today, there are only four children on Nauru and they will resettle permanently in the US," David Coleman, Australian Immigration minister, told reporters.
 
When Morrison took over as prime minister last August, there were 113 asylum-seeking children on Nauru.
 
The US agreed in 2016 to accept up to 1 250 refugees from Nauru and Papua New Guinea, but the vast majority of them have not yet been accepted.
 
New Zealand has also offered to take some of the refugees, but Australia has declined the offer because it fears that would allow asylum seekers to enter through the "back door".
 
Australia has stopped publishing data on the number of refugees held in the centres. Local media and refugee advocates estimate close to 1 000 people are currently held.
 
According to David Manne, legal expert with the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, Sunday's announcement is good news for the children but said Australia still had no policy on what to do with ones who might arrive in the future.
 
"After years and years of around 200 children being sent from Australia to Nauru and being held in cruel and degrading conditions, finally they can rebuild their lives after the devastating harm that has been caused to them," Manne said.
 
"Any future arrivals under the Australian policy would resolve in other children being held in the same kind of inhuman conditions. What we don't have is any significant and detailed shift in Australian policy if asylum seekers were to assert their fundamental human rights to seek asylum."
 
 
Source:News24

The United States said on Thursday it was imposing visa restrictions on Ghana, accusing the African country of not cooperating in accepting its citizens ordered removed from the United States.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “has ordered consular officers in Ghana to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.

“Without an appropriate response from Ghana, the scope of these sanctions may be expanded to a wider population,” the statement said.

“Ghana has failed to live up to its obligations under international law to accept the return of its nationals ordered removed from the United States,” said DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

“We hope the Ghanaian government will work with us to reconcile these deficiencies quickly,” she said.

United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington on Tuesday said Nigeria should get the 2019 elections right in order not to disappoint those that looked up to it after the feat recorded in 2015.

 Symington made the remarks when he paid a visit to the Police Command in Kaduna.

“The State of Kaduna is an important place during this election. I am here to underscore a couple of key ideas.

 “The first being that these elections are really about Nigerians, decided by Nigerians under it’s laws which will define the future of Nigeria.

 “The election is also for others who have looked up to Nigeria’s example of democracy in the past especially if it would be as good as that of the elections of 2015.” 

He therefore said it was important for Nigerians to decide on the election’s credibility like they did in 2015, “so that it’s credit will be invested in democracy and freedom throughout West Africa and across the entire World.” 

He urged Nigerians to also interrogate politicians using hate speeches and disseminating fake news, as they are capable of dividing or causing problems among the people. 

“These kinds of negative speeches can have negative impacts in the future. 

“There are other people who have pointed fingers at those who are saying the elections would come out wrong, saying the elections can be right if every citizen of Nigeria act on the understanding that they are individually responsible for anything they get from the polls”, he stressed. 

He noted that so far, there has been cheering commitments from President Muhammadu Buhari and other leading candidates contesting to rule the country, to ensure that every vote counts. 

The U.S ambassador added that people must take responsibility for their actions, “first before God, second under the laws of the country, in the eyes of countrymen and lastly in the eyes of the world.” 

Symington therefore encouraged all Nigerians to participate peacefully in the elections, to guarantee free, fair, peaceful and a credible honest reflection of their choice.

Source:. (NAN)

In Washington this week, the US and China are due to hold their highest level talks since the two sides struck a temporary truce to their trade war.
 
They have until 1 March to come up with some sort of compromise or tariffs will be hiked again, and we march back into a trade fight that affects us all.
 
China watchers tell me Beijing is under increasing pressure to make a deal.
 
Here's why:
 
A slowing economy:
The trade war may not have caused China's slowdown, but it is definitely making things worse.
 
Growth data released last week showed China posted the slowest growth rate since 1990 but that in itself is not as worrying as other data points, including that consumer sentiment and retail sales are flatlining or weakening fast.
 
Small and medium-sized companies in China are feeling the chill with lower orders and inventories.
 
How worrying is China's slowdown?
A quick guide to the US-China trade war
Just how much pressure the Communist Party is facing because of a weakening economy was reflected in a rare acknowledgement by President Xi Jinping, whose legitimacy is based in part in keeping China strong.
 
Losing its factory lustre?
There is also evidence to show that foreign firms are diversifying their sourcing, production and supply chains away from China, if not pulling out altogether.
 
This recent survey conducted by QIMA, a leading Asian supply chain auditor, shows that 30% of more than 100 global businesses are diverting their sourcing from China to other countries.
 
As many as three-quarters of these companies have started sourcing suppliers in new countries.
 
If this trend continues then jobs in Chinese factories are at risk - a recent report looking at China's economy by JP Morgan points to rising unemployment as a major near-term risks.
 
Social stability is predicated on China's economic stability, and the Communist Party is well aware that its credibility lies in delivering the Chinese dream to its people.
 
The Huawei factor:
The fate of Huawei also hangs in the balance, both from a business and diplomatic standpoint.
 
China is big on symbolism and "doesn't believe in coincidences" Einar Tangen, an advisor on economic affairs for the Chinese government, told me on the line from Beijing.
 
Mr Tangen pointed to the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder, which took place on the day President Xi and US President Donald Trump met at the G20 summit and declared the temporary truce between the two sides, setting the 90 day deadline for talks.
 
What's going on with Huawei?
The Huawei exec trapped in a gilded cage
Another date looms next week, with the latest round of talks taking place on the day the US has to file the extradition treaty for Ms Meng.
 
"Both of these dates are seen as attempts by the US to use Huawei as leverage in the trade talks," says Mr Tangen.
 
The US is also reportedly preparing an investigation into Huawei which could see it banned from buying American chips, a move that crippled China's ZTE last year.
 
Mr Tangen warns that pushing Beijing will backfire.
 
"The Chinese see this as the US trying to push China down," he says.
 
"This is not about right or wrong. They view this in context of the 100 years of humiliation they suffered at the hands of the West and they don't want that repeated."
 
American firms want a deal But the US is also under pressure to make a deal.
 
American firms in China have complained about the impact of Trump's tariffs on their business but want the US to make a good deal.
 
"This administration has been willing to risk the health of the US economy with tariffs," says Stephen Kho, international trade partner at law firm Akin Gump in Washington DC.
 
"So now that we've come this far, businesses want to take advantage of this moment and walk away from these talks with something significant. They will want to see China's offer to buy more American goods along with promises of systemic changes."
 
A solution to the US-China trade war is good for us all.
 
The longer these two superpowers slap tariffs on each other's goods, the more expensive products will be for us, companies will report lower profits, and global growth will slow.
 
Both sides are under pressure to make a deal. But this is ultimately, as Mr Kho also points out, "a game of chicken." Whoever blinks first could also be the biggest loser.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
The Trump administration has lifted sanctions on three firms linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, an ally of President Vladimir Putin.
 
Curbs on aluminium giant US Rusal, En+ Group and JSC EuroSibEnergo were lifted after Mr Deripaska ceded control.
 
The oligarch has been linked to the probe into alleged Russian interference in US elections, and Democrats wanted the sanctions to continue.
 
But the Treasury Department said curbs on oligarch himself remained in force.
 
The companies were blacklisted last April when the Trump administration targeted people and businesses it said had profited from a Russian state engaged in "malign activities" around the world.
 
Russia releases 'sex seminar' model
Oleg Deripaska resigns from Rusal
US slaps sanctions on key Putin allies
That included Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, as well as international cyber attacks.
 
But earlier this month, Republicans in the US Senate blocked an effort to continue the sanctions against Rusal, the world's second largest aluminium firm and other Deripaska-linked firms.
 
They and the Trump administration argued the curbs could have an impact on the global aluminium industry. They also said Mr Deripaska had lowered his stakes in the firms so that he no longer controlled them, a sign the sanctions were working.
 
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced sanctions against Deripaska and other powerful Russians last April.
 
There has been pressure on the Trump administration by business groups to lift the sanctions on these three firms. That's because the announcement of the sanctions in April led global aluminium prices to briefly spike, as Rusal is one of the world's biggest suppliers.
 
But when the Treasury Department signalled its intentions in December, US politicians cried foul. They wanted the Trump administration to wait until a special investigation into Russia's interference into the 2016 US Presidential election had finished.
 
Earlier in January, in a significant break, 136 members of President Trump's Republican Party voted with House Democrats on a measure to oppose the lifting of sanctions. Although it was a largely symbolic vote - a similar measure the day before failed to get the necessary 60 votes to pass in the Senate - the large number of party defections was notable.
 
While the Treasury Department has insisted that the three firms have agreed to stringent new reporting requirements and that the Russian oligarch at the centre of the dispute, Oleg Deripaska, has significantly lowered his ownership stake, the lifting of sanctions less than a year after they were imposed is sure to once more raise questions about the Trump administration's commitment to punishing Russia for meddling in the 2016 election.
 
Mueller concerns:
In a statement on Sunday, the US Treasury Department said the three companies had also agreed to "extensive, ongoing auditing" to ensure they had no ties with the Russian billionaire.
 
And Power company EN+, in which Mr Deripaska owned a controlling stake, welcomed the news from Washington. The London-listed company's shares plummeted when sanctions were announced last April have not recovered.
 
The firm's chairman, Lord Barker of Battle said: "This is the first time independent directors of a London listed Russian company, with the strong support of minority shareholders, have successfully removed control from a majority shareholder as a direct response to US sanctions policy."
 
But lawmakers across the political spectrum have said it is inappropriate to ease sanctions on companies tied to the oligarch while Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigates whether Mr Trump's 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Moscow.
 
Mr Deripaska, 51, has been a recurring figure in the investigation and has ties to President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who pleaded guilty in September 2018 to attempted witness tampering and conspiring against the United States.
 
Last week Belarussian model Nastya Rybka was briefly detained by Russian police, having claimed to have evidence of Russian interference in the election campaign obtained from Mr Deripaska.
 
Mr Deripaska has denied the allegations and successfully sued her.
 
President Trump denies collusion, and Moscow has denied seeking to influence the US election on Mr Trump's behalf, despite US intelligence agencies' finding that it did so.
 
 
 
Source: BBC
The confirmation of Felix Tshisekedi by the Constitutional Court of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been welcomed by the United States hours before the inauguration of the new leader.
 
“The United States welcomes the Congolese Constitutional Court’s certification of Felix Tshisekedi as the next President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement. “We are committed to working with the new DRC government.”
 
Tshisekedi has continued to receive backing from African leaders with South African president Cyril Ramaphosa congratulating the new leader on Monday and in a statement “called on all parties and all stakeholders in the DRC to respect the decision of the Constitutional Court”.
 
The presidents of Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi congratulated Tshisekedi in a series of Tweets on Sunday, echoing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – a bloc that includes South Africa and Angola – which also called for the transition of power to remain peaceful, backing off from earlier calls for a recount.
 
However, there are still fears of an eruption of post election violence in the country after main rival Martin Fayulu rejected the court ruling, called for protests and declared himself leader.
 
 
 
Source: daily news
The chairman of Chinese tech giant Huawei has warned that his company could shift away from Western countries if it continues to face restrictions.
 
Huawei has been under scrutiny by Western governments, which fear its products could be used for spying.
 
Speaking at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Mr Liang Hua said his firm might transfer technology to countries "where we are welcomed".
 
He also stressed that Huawei follows regulations wherever it operates.
 
US to 'seek Huawei executive extradition'
Full coverage of Davos 2019
Huawei makes smartphones but is also a world leader in telecoms infrastructure, in particular the next generation of mobile phone networks, known as 5G.
 
But concern about the security of its technology has been growing, particularly in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Germany.
 
Security concerns:
The company is banned from bidding for government contracts in the US, where intelligence services have raised questions about Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei's links to China's ruling Communist Party.
 
Last month, BT confirmed that Huawei equipment was being removed from a communication system being developed for the UK's emergency services.
 
Meanwhile, Germany is considering blocking the firm from its next generation mobile phone network.
 
Huawei has always maintained that it is a private company, owned by its employees, with no ties to the Chinese government.
 
The company says it remains committed to its £3bn investment in Britain.
 
The company's top executives rarely give interviews, but a number of journalists were invited to ask questions of Mr Liang on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
 
Germany might block Huawei from 5G
Mr Liang told them that if the company faced further hurdles to doing business in some countries, "we would transfer the technology partnership to countries where we are welcomed and where we can have collaboration with".
 
While he would not be drawn on whether Huawei could leave the UK, Mr Liang stressed that it would be up to British consumers to decide if they wanted to use the company's technology, before adding, that the "UK is the market that advocates openness and also free trade".
 
Mr Liang said anyone concerned would be "welcome" to inspect the firm's laboratories in China.
 
Even as the the storm surrounding Huawei continues to rage, Mr Liang's message was simple - the company's products would speak for themselves.
 
"We will focus on providing value by offering the high bandwidth ultra low latency and high connectivity [products] to our customers," he said.
 
In December, Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the founder of Huawei, was arrested in Canada and faces extradition to the United States over accusations the company flouted US sanctions against Iran.
 
Mr Liang called for a "quick conclusion" to the case, so that Ms Meng could regain "her personal freedom".
 
He also reiterated the company's claim that the detention of two Canadian nationals in China, seen by many as retaliation for the arrest of Ms Meng, "has no relation with Huawei".
 
 
 
Source: BBC
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