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Thu, 24 Apr 2014 06:26:01 -0400
By Tom Miles GENEVA (Reuters) - Russia has told the United States that its Ukraine-related sanctions on a Russian bank and Russian citizens are illegal under World Trade Organization rules and must be scrapped. Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said last week that Russia could launch a dispute at the world trade body to challenge U.S. sanctions. The latest warning, set out in a confidential document circulated at the WTO on Wednesday, explained what grounds Russia would have for doing so and made clear that Moscow believes it would win a trade dispute if it launched one. Member countries can claim some exemptions from WTO rules, however, including on grounds of national security.
Thu, 24 Apr 2014 06:05:12 -0400
MADRID (AP) — The recovery in the Spanish economy appears to be gathering steam.
Thu, 24 Apr 2014 06:01:42 -0400

Ukrainian security force officers walk past a checkpoint set on fire and left by pro-Russian separatists near SlavianskBy Mark Felsenthal and Alissa de Carbonnel TOKYO/DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday he was poised to impose new sanctions on Moscow if it does not act fast to end an armed stand-off in Ukraine, but there was a first, tentative sign that pro-Russian separatists were ceding ground. Moscow also flexed its economic muscles in its worst stand-off with the West since the Cold War, with the government suggesting foreign firms which pull out of the country may not be able to get back in, and a source at Gazprom saying the gas exporter had slapped an additional $11.4 billion bill on Kiev. Under an international accord signed in Geneva last week, illegal armed groups in Ukraine, including the pro-Russian rebels occupying about a dozen public buildings in the east of the country, are supposed to disarm and go home. Washington accuses Moscow of fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine while Russia denies this and counters that Europe and the United States are supporting an illegitimate government in Kiev.

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 05:22:55 -0400

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a joint news conference at the Akasaka Palace in TokyoBy Mark Felsenthal and Linda Sieg TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama assured ally Japan on Thursday that Washington was committed to its defense, including of tiny isles at the heart of a row with China, but denied he had drawn any new "red line" and urged peaceful dialogue over the islands. His comments drew a swift response from China, which said the disputed islets were Chinese territory. Obama also urged Japan to take "bold steps" to clinch a two-way trade pact seen as crucial to a broad regional agreement that is a central part of the U.S. leader's "pivot" of military, diplomatic and economic resources towards Asia and the Pacific. U.S. and Japanese trade negotiators failed to resolve differences in time for Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to shake hands on a deal at the summit.

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 04:53:29 -0400
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari said on Thursday that the United States and Japan made progress in trade talks but did not reach a final deal. "This is not something we can reach a conclusion in a short period of time," Amari told reporters. (Reporting by Leika Kihara and Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Dominic Lau)
Thu, 24 Apr 2014 04:16:06 -0400

A new five rand coin is displayed during its launch at the South African Mint.South Africa's current account deficit, while shrinking, presents a marked risk to the stability of the country's financial system, the Reserve Bank said on Thursday. Africa's most advanced economy relies heavily on foreign portfolio inflows to finance the gap, which narrowed to 5.1 percent of gross domestic product in the fourth quarter of 2013, from 6.4 percent previously. In its latest financial stability review, the bank said one of the more prominent risks to domestic financial stability was the impact of tapering of loose U.S. monetary policy and the effect that potentially higher interest rates in advanced economies could have on emerging markets. It said strikes in South Africa's key mining sector - whose exports accounted for about 60 percent of export revenue in 2013 - had not only hit production but also hampered debt repayment by both companies and individuals in the industry.

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 03:54:36 -0400
The biggest challenge for India's next government, due to take charge after election results in May, will be to pull the economy out of its deepest slump in decades. Thursday was the sixth round of voting, which runs to May 12, with one recent opinion poll showing that the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies may win an outright majority, ousting the Congress-led government. Here are 10 economic reform challenges that will require urgent attention from the new government: 1) GOODS AND SERVICES TAX (GST): India's most ambitious indirect tax reform would replace existing state and federal levies with a uniform tax, boosting revenue collection while cutting business transaction costs. GST, which could boost India's economy by up to two percentage points, has so far faced resistance from various states, including those governed by the Hindu nationalist BJP who fear loss of their fiscal powers.
Thu, 24 Apr 2014 03:43:19 -0400
Japanese and U.S. cabinet members are trying to hammer out a joint statement on trade but are not likely to reach a bilateral deal in the course of talks on Thursday, a Japanese official said. "There are too many issues remaining to wrap them up even if we worked through the night," the official said, just hours after President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered their trade negotiators to seek a deal, considered key for reaching an Asia-Pacific trade pact. Economy Minister Akira Amari and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman are focusing their efforts on crafting a joint statement, the official said on condition of anonymity.
Thu, 24 Apr 2014 03:18:03 -0400

Visitors are silhouetted against the logo of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in TokyoInvestment in infrastructure and natural resources will continue to underpin economic activity in sub-Saharan Africa, although capital outflows sparked by tighter global financial conditions pose a risk to growth, the IMF said on Thursday. "The main downside risk to this generally positive baseline scenario is the risk that growth in emerging markets might slow much more abruptly than currently envisaged," the International Monetary Fund said in its latest Regional Economic Outlook. "As advanced economies tighten their monetary policies, frontier market economies will also face higher funding costs and a heightened risk of reversal of capital flows," it said. The IMF forecasts economic growth of 5.5 percent for sub-Saharan Africa this year, up from 4.9 percent last year.

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 02:49:00 -0400

A woman gets her finger marked with ink before casting her vote at a polling station, in Malda district of West BengalIndia's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party was set to make gains in two big states in the south and east that began voting on Thursday in the sixth phase of a mammoth general election that could help it build a stable majority in parliament. A final set of opinion polls predicted a strong showing by the BJP and its allies in Tamil Nadu in the south and West Bengal in the east that could make it less dependent on the two women who rule those states and who have in the past proved to be fickle coalition partners. The Hindu nationalist-led opposition, led by prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, is riding a wave of public anger across India against the ruling Congress party over a slew of corruption scandals and a slowing economy. A little over 180 million people were registered to vote on Thursday in the sixth phase of the world's biggest election that will end on May 16 when votes are counted from across India.

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 23:04:49 -0400
BEIJING (AP) — China's government says it will open 80 projects in eight state-run industries to private and foreign investors as part of efforts to make its slowing economy more efficient.
Wed, 23 Apr 2014 20:37:16 -0400

A Scottish Saltire flag and a Union flag of the United Kingdom fly above Standard Life House in Edinburgh, ScotlandRatings agency Standard & Poor's said there were "important considerations and uncertainties" that factored into the creditworthiness of banks should Scotland vote to end its 307-year union with England in September. Britain's three main political parties have been campaigning fiercely to keep the union intact, arguing that both countries are better off together, while Scotland's nationalists believe a split would give them the economic freedom to prosper. In a report published on Wednesday, S&P said it counted the existence of a Scottish central bank, the Scottish government's attitude towards helping struggling banks, changes to financial regulation and independent Scotland's currency among crucial factors that could impact its ratings on the country's banks. It added that its ratings on British banks currently assumed that the UK government would provide extraordinary support to systemically important banks under stress.

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 18:39:18 -0400

President Obama watches South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe move to their seats at the opposite ends of the tableBy Linda Sieg and Matt Spetalnick TOKYO (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will use a state visit to Japan on Thursday to try to reassure Tokyo and other Asian allies of his commitment to ramping up U.S. engagement in the region, despite Chinese complaints that Washington's real aim is to contain Beijing's rise. Obama will be treated to a display of pomp and ceremony meant to show that the U.S.-Japan alliance, the main pillar of America's security strategy in Asia, remains solid at a time of rising tensions over growing Chinese assertiveness and North Korean nuclear threats. It was unclear, however, whether a last-ditch round of talks between U.S. and Japanese negotiators would yield a breakthrough on a two-way trade pact seen as crucial to a broader trans-Pacific agreement that Obama has championed. The challenge for Obama during his week-long, four-nation tour will be to convince Asian partners that Washington is serious about its promised strategic "pivot" towards the region, while at the same time not harming U.S. ties with China, the world's second-biggest economy.

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 15:15:03 -0400
Environmental groups urged the United States on Wednesday to drop a challenge to India's massive solar program and said the World Trade Organization case would only hurt the growth of renewable energy resources. The United States is taking action at the WTO over the domestic content requirements in India's program, which aims to ease chronic energy shortages in Asia's third-largest economy. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has said making Indian solar developers use locally made equipment discriminates against U.S. producers, in breach of WTO rules, and could hinder the spread of solar power globally by making equipment more expensive. But green groups including the Sierra Club, Greenpeace USA and Friends of the Earth U.S. said supporting the U.S. industry should not come at the expense of India's push to cut fossil fuels and build a viable domestic renewables industry, which would in turn help global efforts to tackle climate change.
Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:58:02 -0400

This undated photo provided by Harvard Press shows French economist Thomas Piketty. In his new book, Piketty, who helped popularize the notion of a privileged 1 percent, sounds a grim warning: The U.S. economy is beginning to decay into the aristocratic Europe of the 19th century. (AP Photo/Harvard Press, Emmanuelle Marchadour)NEW YORK (AP) — In a new book, Thomas Piketty, the French economist who helped popularize the notion of a privileged 1 percent, sounds a grim warning: The U.S. economy has begun to decay into the pattern of aristocratic Europe of the 19th century. Hard work will matter less, inherited wealth more. The fortunes of the few will unsettle the foundations of democracy.

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:19:06 -0400

A money changer holds a stack of U.S. dollars at Kabul's largest money marketBy Jeremy Laurence and Mirwais Harooni KABUL (Reuters) - A $375 million hole in the Afghan budget is threatening public projects and civil servants' salaries, officials say, putting the aid-dependent economy under stress just as Afghanistan awaits a new leader and foreign troops prepare to go home. U.S., U.N. and Afghan finance ministry officials have discussed ways to resolve what they say has become a critical situation for the budget, with civil projects most at risk as international assistance starts to taper off. "If the political situation of the country does not become normal and businesses do not start again soon this problem will become even more worrying," Alhaj Muhammad Aqa, director general of the treasury at the finance ministry, told Reuters on Wednesday. "We will not only face problems in paying salaries of employees but we will have difficulties in other issues too." Funding for security will not be affected, as costs are met by foreign governments which recognize that any chance of stability in Afghanistan rests on quelling the Taliban insurgency.

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 12:53:50 -0400

People walk past a Crocs store in Quebec CityOTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian retail sales grew for the second consecutive month in February, by 0.5 percent from January, but still have not completely recouped December's weather-induced losses, according to Statistics Canada data released on Wednesday. The sales increase follows a 0.9 percent rise in January and a 1.4 percent drop in December. The value of sales was C$41.03 billion ($37.30 billion), still a shade lower than November's peak of C$41.05 billion. All the figures are seasonally adjusted. In volume terms, relevant for calculating real economic growth, sales advanced by 0. ...

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 12:43:53 -0400

Catalan President Artur Mas speaks during a meeting of the executives of the Catalan government at Palau de la Generalitat in BarcelonaCatalan President Artur Mas said on Wednesday he would call a non-binding vote on the region's independence in November to let locals at least express an opinion after Madrid blocked a full referendum. Calls for separation have become a headache for the central government as it fights massive unemployment and the scars of a long economic slump. If the vote is also blocked, Mas said he would call an election as a last resort which would be seen as proxy vote on independence. Opinion polls show that around half of the people in Catalonia support independence from the rest of Spain.

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 12:27:19 -0400
LONDON (AP) — Lackluster economic data out of China and the U.S. offset a string of positive developments in Europe to keep a lid on global stock markets on Wednesday following a strong run, particularly on Wall Street.
Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:42:13 -0400

A man passes the Bank of England in the City of LondonBy David Milliken and William Schomberg LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's hefty budget deficit has fallen to its lowest since the financial crisis, official data showed on Wednesday, helping the government argue it is delivering on a key economic pledge a year before a national election. The Bank of England, meanwhile, indicated it was not hurrying to raise interest rates, even if its members are somewhat divided about the economic outlook. The deficit in the 2013-14 tax year fell to 6.6 percent of gross domestic product from 7.4 percent in 2012-13 - in line with recent government plans. It was the smallest shortfall since 2007-08, though well above that of most other advanced economies - including the 3 percent expected of European Union countries - partly a reflection of how much the government used to rely on massive revenues from banking and housing before the financial crisis.

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:40:57 -0400

FILE - The July 5, 2012 file photo shows a sunflower sitting in front of the Euro sculpture in Frankfurt, Germany. A closely-watched survey has found business activity across the 18-country eurozone running at a three-year high, in perhaps the clearest sign yet that the economic recovery is gaining momentum. Analysts said Wednesday's, April 23, 2014 positive data could take some of the pressure off the European Central Bank to take further steps to stimulate the economy at its next monthly policy meeting on May 8 despite stubbornly low inflation across the 18-country single currency zone. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, file)FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A closely watched survey has found business activity across the 18-country eurozone running at a three-year high, in perhaps the clearest sign yet that the economic recovery is gaining momentum.

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:30:03 -0400

Slovenia's Prime Minister Bratusek speaks with the media in LjubljanaBy Marja Novak LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia's coalition government, which averted an international bailout last year, could collapse on Friday if Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek loses the leadership of her party, Positive Slovenia. The center-left Positive Slovenia will elect a leader late on Friday and Bratusek has indicated that she will quit the government if her challenger Zoran Jankovic, the party's founder and mayor of Ljubljana, becomes the new head. "I can hardly imagine that I could lead the government without having the support of my own party," Bratusek told reporters earlier this week. A government collapse and early elections would slow efforts to make Slovenia's economy more productive and could hurt sovereign bonds, whose yields have fallen back to their 2007 level in the past month as investors regained confidence in the government's budget management.

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:28:00 -0400
U.S. stock futures barely budged in pre-market trading Wednesday as positive earnings news from U.S. companies was offset by a disappointing economic report from China.
Wed, 23 Apr 2014 07:55:11 -0400

Chinese Premier Li claps as he attends the opening ceremony of the BFA Annual Conference 2014 in BoaoChina will allow private investment in 80 projects spanning the energy, information and infrastructure sectors as part of reforms to increase privatization, Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday. In future, other sectors such as utilities, airports and oil and gas exploration will also be open to more private investment, he told a weekly cabinet meeting. His comments were posted on a government website and no further details were provided. Allowing more private investment in China's centrally planned economy is part of government's plans to reduce state intervention and let market forces play a bigger role in the world's second-biggest economy.

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 06:53:25 -0400

A general view shows construction activity on the Grand Renaissance dam in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz regionBy Aaron Maasho ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia's bold decision to pay for a huge dam itself has overturned generations of Egyptian control over the Nile's waters, and may help transform one of the world's poorest countries into a regional hydropower hub. By spurning an offer from Cairo for help financing the project, Addis Ababa has ensured it controls the construction of the Renaissance Dam on a Nile tributary. But the decision to fund the huge project itself also carries the risk of stifling private sector investment and restricting economic growth, and may jeopardise Ethiopia's dream of becoming a middle income country by 2025. The dam is now a quarter built and Ethiopia says it will start producing its first 750 megawatts of electricity by the end of this year.

News provided by: Economy News Headlines - Yahoo! NewsRussian memo to WTO says U.S. sanctions are illegalCentral bank: Spanish growth doubled in Q1Obama poised for new sanctions on Russia if no progress on UkraineObama reaffirms commitment to Japan on tour of Asia alliesJapan Amari: U.S., Japan remain apart in trade dealSouth Africa c'act gap risk to financial system stability - cbankFACTBOX-Key pending reforms facing India's next governmentJapan, US focusing on trade statement, final deal elusive: officialIMF says sub-Saharan Africa faces heightened risk of capital outflowsIndia's BJP eyes gains in south, east to cut clout of regional queensChina to open 8 state industries for investmentS&P warns of bank rating 'uncertainties' in independent ScotlandObama seeks to ease Asian allies' doubts during visit to JapanGreen groups urge U.S. to drop solar trade case against IndiaQ&A: A French economist's grim view of wealth gapHole in Afghan budget stirs unease as West starts packing bagsCanada retail sales up in Feb but still lower than NovemberCatalan leader to call independence vote despite Madrid resistanceChina, US data keep a lid on global stocksBritain's budget gap narrowest since financial crisisEurope recovery shows signs of strengtheningSlovenian government vulnerable to leadership challengeStock futures little changed ahead of openChina to allow private investment in 80 projectsPaying for giant Nile dam itself, Ethiopia thwarts Egypt but takes risks