Source Match International News
By Matt Siegel and Tom Miles SYDNEY/GENEVA (Reuters) - Several member states of the World Trade Organisation voiced frustration after India's demands for concessions on agricultural stockpiling led to the collapse of the first major global trade reform pact in two decades. WTO ministers had already agreed the global reform of customs procedures known as "trade facilitation" in Bali, Indonesia, last December, but were unable to overcome last minute Indian objections and get it into the WTO rule book by the July 31 deadline. "We have not been able to find a solution that would allow us to bridge that gap," WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo told trade diplomats in Geneva, just two hours before the final deadline for a deal lapsed at midnight (2200 GMT Thursday). Most diplomats had expected the pact to be rubber-stamped this week, marking a unique success in the WTO's 19-year history which according to some estimates would add $1 trillion and 21 million jobs to the world economy.
By Martin Petty HANOI (Reuters) - Japan will give six navy boats to Vietnam to boost its patrols and surveillance in the South China Sea, Japan's foreign minister said on Friday, in the latest sign of a strengthening of alliances between states locked in maritime rows with China. The deal represents a notable shift in the two countries' close diplomatic and investment ties towards defense, a move likely to irk an increasingly assertive China that is pressing hard on claims to nine-tenths of the potentially energy-rich sea, and worrying much of the region. "International security is getting more complicated... prosperity only comes with stability in the South China Sea and the East China Sea," Kishada told a news conference in Hanoi. "I hope this equipment will strengthen the ability of Vietnam's coastal enforcement authorities." Vietnam enjoys tight business ties with Japan, its biggest investor, but relations with Hanoi's largest trade partner, China, are at their worst in three decades and analysts believe that has sharpened the debate within Vietnam's secretive Communist Party over long-term foreign policy strategy.
British scientists are to map 100,000 complete DNA code sequences in a project that will make the country a world leader in genetic research on cancer and rare diseases, the prime minister said on Friday. David Cameron announced Â£300 million ($507 million, 378 million euros) in deals to fund the mapping project, predicted to be complete by 2017. The project will sequence the genetic codes of about 75,000 patients with cancer and rare diseases, and those of their close relatives. Both the healthy and the tumour cells of the cancer patients will be mapped, meaning about 100,000 will be sequenced in total.
A series of explosions caused by a gas leak killed 25 people and injured 267 in Taiwan's second city on Friday, sending flames shooting 15 storeys into the air, setting ablaze entire blocks and reducing small shops to rubble. Rescue authorities said police and soldiers had been drafted in to help firefighters after the midnight explosion and blaze gutted a district in the port city of Kaohsiung packed with shops and apartment buildings. Four firefighters were among the dead. President Ma Ying-jeou pledged tough measures to prevent any recurrence of the incident.
Firefighters fought back a large fire at a coal power plant in northern England on Thursday. A total of 15 fire crews battled the blaze, which sent thick smoke and flames high into the sky over the Ferrybridge Power Station near Knottingley, West Yorkshire. The National Grid said the fire had not affected electricity supply because the plant was shut down for the summer season. "West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has indicated the fire is now being brought under control," SSE said in a statement.
TEL EL-HAYAT, Lebanon (AP) — The Syrian refugee woman huddled in the latest room she calls home, a peeling, run-down place outside a north Lebanese village. The mother of six doesn't know how she'll pay the rent. She's gotten by over the past year by taking a series of lovers who would pay for her housing.
By Umaru Fofana FREETOWN (Reuters) - Sierra Leone has declared a state of emergency and called in troops to quarantine Ebola victims, joining neighboring Liberia in imposing controls as the death toll from the outbreak of the virus hit 729 in West Africa. The World Health Organisation said it would launch a $100 million response plan on Friday during a meeting with the affected nations in Guinea. The WHO on Thursday reported 57 new deaths in the four days to July 27 in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, raising the death toll to 729. It said the number of Ebola cases had topped 1,300.
By Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A three-day ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip went into effect on Friday and appeared to be holding, with negotiators due to travel to Cairo to discuss a longer-term solution. The 72-hour break announced in a joint statement by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was the most ambitious attempt so far to end more than three weeks of fighting, and followed mounting international alarm over a rising Palestinian civilian death toll. After the truce began at 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT), Gaza's streets began to fill with Palestinian families. In Israel, sirens that have sent tens of thousands running for shelter daily fell silent.
Royal Bank of Scotland said on Friday that a vote by Scotland to become independent from the rest of the United Kingdom could significantly increase its costs and have a material impact on its business. RBS, which is 81 percent-owned by the British government, said earlier in the year that it was considering its options should Scots vote to end the 307-year union. The bank has been careful not to enter the political debate over Scottish independence, repeatedly saying that the matter is one for the Scottish people to decide.
The war diaries of British poet Siegfried Sassoon have been published online for the first time, revealing early drafts and unpuplished material caked with mud from the trenches. In scrawled ink now almost a century old in places, the booklets are filled with names and addresses, scribbled drawings and notes, draft poetry and diary entries of Sassoon's life as he went to war.
By Wayne Cole SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian shares were mostly under water on Friday after a sudden slump on Wall Street spilled over globally, though a surprisingly strong pick up in manufacturing helped Chinese markets hold at seven-month highs. In a promising omen for world growth China's official measure of industrial activity (PMI) rose to 51.7 in July from 51.0 in June, beating forecasts of 51.4 and the highest in 27 months. All of which helped China's stock markets top up the week's hefty gains. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was off 1 percent.
A 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Gaza militants went into effect Friday, as a diplomatic push for a more durable end to almost four weeks of bloodshed gained pace. As the humanitarian truce began at 0500 GMT, the skies over the Gaza Strip fell silent, although in the preceeding two hours there was heavy Israeli fire and the sound of outgoing rockets. Earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that once the ceasefire was under way, Israeli and Palestinian representatives, including from Hamas, would begin more durable truce talks in Cairo, in a move confirmed by Egypt. As the truce took hold, Gaza doctor Belal al-Dabour tweeted: "This ceasefire should give us a glimpse on our life for the coming months after Israel destroyed everything.
By Leika Kihara and Stanley White TOKYO (Reuters) - Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda came out fighting on Friday, giving a spirited defence of the economy's performance after a run of weak data, and reiterated his readiness to expand stimulus if inflation faltered on the path to his 2 percent target rate. "The BOJ is not aiming at achieving the price stability target of 2 percent temporarily. "I would like to emphasize that...given the BOJ's clear and strong commitment to the 2 percent inflation target, it is a matter of course the BOJ will make adjustments if necessary to ensure the target is met," he said at a seminar. He stressed that the BOJ will vigilantly monitor how a decline in real income affects consumer spending.
By Wayne Cole SYDNEY (Reuters) - Activity in China's vast factory sector expanded at the fastest pace in 27 months in July, while industry surveys across Asia showed a pick up in export orders that hinted at a long-awaited revival in global trade. China's official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 51.7 in July - the strongest since April 2012 and up from 51 in June, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday. The upbeat result was echoed in the HSBC/Markit China measure of manufacturing which climbed to an 18-month peak of 51.7, from June's 50.7. "Taken literally, these PMIs signal an exceptionally strong start for third quarter growth in China," said Annette Beacher, head of Asia-Pacific research at TD Securities in Singapore.
By Bernie Woodall, Ben Klayman and Paul Lienert DETROIT (Reuters) - The U.S. auto industry hasn’t appeared so healthy for years. They argue that a combination of cheap loans with extended terms, deep incentives from some dealers, and unsustainably high values for used cars, is making it far too easy for many Americans to buy new vehicles. Among those seeing a glass half empty is Morgan Stanley auto analyst Adam Jonas who says we may be heading towards what he terms “peak auto.” Jonas, one of the industry's top analysts based on Institutional Investor's 2013 annual rankings, says that cheap and extended loan terms and inflated residual values on leases are making it far too easy for many Americans to buy new vehicles. We’re in uncharted territory right now.” When figures for July auto sales are released on Friday, growth is expected to show a slight dip to a 16.7 million annualized rate from 17 million in June, according to economists polled by Thomson Reuters.
By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. job growth likely cooled a bit in July, but retained enough momentum to suggest the economy remained on solid ground. Still, it would mark the sixth straight month that employment has expanded by more than 200,000 jobs, a stretch last seen in 1997. The unemployment rate likely held at a six year-low of 6.1 percent, but could surprise on the downside after surveys showed Americans becoming more upbeat about jobs. "As long as we have job growth going in the right direction and the labor market tightening up, we are still in a good place," said Robert Dye, chief economist at Comerica in Dallas The economy grew at a 4.0 percent annual pace in the second quarter after shrinking at a 2.1 percent rate in the first three months of year.
Australia's Marc Leishman fired a six-under par 64 to seize a one-stroke lead in the Bridgestone Invitational with defending champion Tiger Woods four shots back. Leishman had eight birdies and two bogeys at Firestone Country Club and was one stroke in front of England's Justin Rose, South African Charl Schwartzel and American Ryan Moore. It makes this course a lot easier when you're on the fairway," said Leishman, who had top-10 finishes at the US PGA Tour's National and the British Open. Rose, the 2013 US Open champion who turned 34 on Wednesday, had five birdies in his five-under 65.
Google told European officials that forgetting isn't easy, especially when details are few and guidelines are murky regarding when personal privacy trumps public interest. The world's leading Internet search engine said that as of July 18 it had received more than 91,000 requests to delete a combined total of 328,000 links under Europe's "right to be forgotten" ruling. The most requests came from France and Germany, with approximately 17,500 and 16,500 respectively, according to a copy of a letter Google global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer sent to an EU data protection committee. Another 12,000 removal requests came from Britain, 8,000 from Spain, and 7,500 from Italy.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to strike hard against graft in the military, urging soldiers to banish corrupt practices and ensure their loyalty to the ruling Communist Party, state media reported on Friday. The vow to punish graft in the military came only days after the Communist Party began an investigation into former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, by far the highest-profile figure caught up in Xi's corruption crackdown. Xi said troops should remember where their priorities lie, the official PLA Daily reported. His remarks were made during a visit to a military base in the southeastern province of Fujian on Thursday to mark the 87th birthday of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
By Koh Gui Qing BEIJING (Reuters) - China's factories posted their strongest growth in at least 1-1/2 years in July as new orders surged to multi-month highs, two surveys showed on Friday, cementing bets that the economy is re-gaining momentum after a spate of stimulus measures. Now that looser monetary policy is having its intended effect, some analysts questioned the need for more economic stimulus in China, at least in the near term. "There is no reason in China to be concerned about growth right now," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics. Worried by a slowdown in the economy in the first quarter, China began easing policy in April by cutting taxes, hastening investment, and lowering the reserve requirement for some banks.
By Sarah Marsh and Richard Lough BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's bond and stock markets and peso currency dropped on Thursday after Latin America's No. 3 economy defaulted for the second time in 12 years following the collapse of last-ditch talks with holdout creditors. The default came after Argentina failed to strike a deal with lead holdout investors NML Capital Ltd, an affiliate of Elliott Management Corp and Aurelius Capital Management, in time for a midnight Wednesday EDT (0400 GMT) payment deadline. "Those who expect us to sign any old thing, threatening us that the world will come to an end otherwise, should not count on me," Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said in her first comments since the default. The government maintains it has not defaulted because it made a required interest payment on one of its bonds due 2033, but U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa in Manhattan blocked that deposit in June, saying it violated his ruling.