London, Sep 23 (AP/UNB) — Britain's Labour Party opened its annual conference on Sunday facing a huge choice — whether to change policy and call for a new referendum that could halt the country's departure from the European Union.
The support of the main opposition party would be a major boost to campaigners for a second vote on Brexit.
Ever since the U.K. voted in 2016 to leave the EU, Labour has said it will respect the result — but it wants a closer relationship with the bloc than the one that Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative government is seeking.
Now, with EU divorce negotiations stuck and Britain due to leave the bloc in March, many Labour members think the left-leaning party must change its course.
"Labour have to come to a decision. The time has gone for sitting on the fence," said Mike Buckley of campaign group Labour for a People's Vote.
More than 100 local Labour associations have submitted motions to the conference, which starts Sunday, urging a "People's Vote" — a new referendum — with a choice between leaving on terms agreed by the government or staying in the EU.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has long opposed the idea of such a vote. He told the Sunday Mirror newspaper "I'm not calling for a second referendum."
But, he said, if Labour's conference "make a decision, I will not walk away from it and I will act accordingly."
Deputy leader Tom Watson was even firmer. "We must back it if Labour members want it," he told The Observer newspaper.
Still, Labour faces a major political dilemma. Most of the party's half a million members voted in 2016 to remain in the EU, but many of its 257 lawmakers represent areas of the country that wanted to leave.
"For Labour to adopt a second referendum policy would spell political disaster in all those Labour seats that voted leave," said Brendan Chilton of the pro-Brexit group Labour Leave.
New York, Sept 21 (AP/UNB) – U.S. stocks moved broadly higher in early trading Friday, extending gains from a day earlier when the market climbed to all-time highs. Technology companies accounted for much of the market's gains. Retailers and other consumer-focused stocks also rose. Utilities and other high-dividend paying stocks lagged. Oil prices were headed higher.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 6 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,937 as of 10:20 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 39 points, or 0.2 percent, to 26,696. The Nasdaq composite climbed 8 points, or 0.1 percent, to 8,036. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,724. The Dow and S&P 500 each hit all-time highs Thursday.
BETTING ON TECH: Gains in technology stocks helped drive the market higher. Electronic Arts rose 1.8 percent to $115.47.
HIT THE STORES: Retailers and other consumer-focused stocks also took solid gains. Macy's added 1.7 percent to $35.77.
TARIFFS TROUBLE: Micron fell 3.7 percent to $44.37 after the chipmaker said its profits would be hurt by tariffs on Chinese imports that go into effect on Monday. The latest U.S. tariff hike on Chinese goods in a dispute over Beijing's technology policy involves an additional 10 percent tax on $200 billion of Chinese imports. The tariffs will rise to 25 percent on Jan 1. Beijing has said it would retaliate by imposing tariffs of 5 or 10 percent on $60 billion of U.S. goods including coffee, honey and industrial chemicals.
UNAPPETIZING RESULTS: United Natural Foods slumped 15.4 percent to $28.64 after the food distributor reported disappointing earnings and sales.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 0.9 percent to $70.96 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 1.1 percent to $79.05 a barrel in London.
BOND YIELDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury held at 3.07 percent.
CURRENCY: The dollar rose to 112.67 yen from Thursday's 112.48 yen. The euro edged down to $1.1744 from $1.1776. The British pound weakened to $1.3072 from $1.3268 after British Prime Minister Theresa May said talks over exiting the European Union are at an impasse.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX gained 0.6 percent, while France's CAC 40 rose 0.9 percent. London's FTSE 100 index climbed 1.5 percent. Major indexes in Asia finished mostly higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.7 percent and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 0.8 percent. Seoul's Kospi added 0.7 percent. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 picked up 0.4 percent.
Beijing, Sep 21 (AP/UNB) — Asian stocks rose Friday after Wall Street hit a new high and a survey showed Japanese manufacturing accelerating.
KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.4 percent to 2,766.86 and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 advanced 1 percent to 23,905.76. Seoul's Kospi added 0.4 percent to 2,332.94 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent to 6,181.90. India's Sensex was 0.7 percent higher at 37,369.88 and benchmarks in Taiwan, New Zealand and Southeast Asia also advanced.
WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index set records as a wave of buying pushed prices higher. Technology stocks, banks and health care companies accounted for much of the rally. Energy companies declined along with crude oil prices. The S&P 500 rose 0.8 percent to 2,930.75. The Dow gained 1 percent to 26,656.98. The Nasdaq composite climbed 1 percent to 8,028.23.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "The resilience in the U.S. market is evident here and the breakout further renews the momentum," said Jinyi Pan of IG in a report. Still, "warning signs are abundant" amid U.S.-Chinese trade tensions, Pan said. "Cautiousness in the form of stop losses may be ever so important with the uncertainty in post-tariffs exchanges lingering into next week."
TRADE TENSION: The latest U.S. tariff hike on Chinese goods in a dispute over Beijing's technology policy takes effect Monday, when Washington imposes an additional 10 percent tax on $200 billion of imports. The tariffs will rise to 25 percent on Jan 1. Beijing announced it would retaliate by imposing tariffs of 5 or 10 percent on $60 billion of U.S. goods including coffee, honey and industrial chemicals.
JAPANESE MANUFACTURING: A preliminary version of Japan's monthly purchasing managers' index showed factory activity accelerated in September. The PMI rose to a three-month high of 52.9 from August's 52.5 on a 100-point scale. The measure of new export orders rose to a four-month high.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 6 cents to $70.26 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 55 cents on Thursday to close at $70.32. Brent crude, used to price international oils, advanced 6 cent to $78.28 per barrel in London. It tumbled 70 cents the previous session to $78.22.
CURRENCY: The dollar gained to 112.77 yen from Thursday's 112.46 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1784.
Washington, Sep 20 (AP/UNB) — U.S. and Canadian negotiators — facing a deadline at the end of the month — will extend until at least Thursday their negotiations to keep Canada in a North American trade bloc.
After her second meeting of the day with U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland told reporters they plan to keep talking on Thursday.
"Our officials now have more work to do and will continue to work this evening. Ambassador Lighthizer and I agreed to meet again tomorrow," she said Wednesday evening.
President Donald Trump began negotiations last year to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
The U.S. and Mexico reached a preliminary deal last month designed in part to shift more auto production to the United States. But Canada wasn't part of that agreement. Freeland is trying to get America's No. 2 trading partner back into the trade bloc.
The countries are under pressure to reach a deal by the end of the month when Lighthizer must make public a copy of the full text of the agreement with Mexico. Until then, he has wriggle room to reinstate Canada.
Among other things, the negotiators are battling over Canada's high dairy tariffs and policies meant to keep the country's culture from being overwhelmed by U.S. movies and television. Canada also wants to keep a dispute-resolution process that was part of NAFTA; the Trump administration wants U.S. courts to have jurisdiction.
Trump considers NAFTA, which took effect in 1994, a job-killing disaster for the United States. The agreement tore down most trade barriers between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, leading to a surge in trade, but it encouraged U.S. automakers and other manufacturers to move south of the border to take advantage of low-wage Mexican labor.
Trump has said he wants to go ahead with a revamped NAFTA — with or without Canada. It is unclear, however, whether Trump has authority from Congress to pursue a revamped NAFTA with only Mexico, and some lawmakers say they won't go along with a deal that leaves Canada out.
But others are also turning up the heat on Canada.
"Members are concerned that Canada does not seem to be ready or willing to make the concessions that are necessary for a fair and high-standard agreement," House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said in a statement this week. "While we would all like to see Canada remain part of this three-country coalition, there is not an unlimited amount of time for it to be part of this new agreement."
In Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadian negotiators would continue to defend the country's agricultural policies.
"Our team is down in Washington right now digging in," he said. "We've been very clear that we're interested in what could be a good deal for Canada, but we're going to need to see a certain amount of movement in order to get there."
Beijing, Sep 19 (AP/UNB) — China unveiled a slew of changes under mounting pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump over technology.
Beijing promised to cut tariffs, open its auto industry and buy American exports. But none of that was what Trump wanted: An end to development policies Washington says are based on theft of know-how and might erode U.S. industrial leadership.
Exporters scrambled to replace lost orders after Trump pulled the trigger in July with his first round of tariff hikes on $50 billion of Chinese imports. Waves of job losses loom over factory towns. So far, however, Chinese leaders express confidence in their $12 trillion-a-year economy and are refusing to budge on tactics they see as a path to prosperity and global influence.
The communist leadership appears no more likely to back down after Trump escalated their dispute Monday by approving penalties on an additional $200 billion of Chinese goods, according to economists, political analysts and business groups.
"Contrary to views in Washington, China can — and will — dig its heels in," said the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, William Zarit, in a statement. "We are not optimistic about the prospect for a resolution in the short term."
Trump's complaints strike at the heart of the Communist Party's view of itself as economic development leader — a venture capital investor on a national scale, boldly creating new industries.
That role has gained prominence since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012, despite the party's 2013 pledge to give market forces a "decisive role" in the state-dominated economy.
Reform advocates complain state-owned companies that dominate banking, energy and other industries are getting bigger. They say that ignores the lessons of three decades of market-style changes that propelled China's economic boom.
Beijing is still figuring out what Washington wants, said Citigroup economist Li-Gang Liu.
"The bottom line from the U.S. side is not clear," Liu said in an email. "Without clarity as to what President Trump wants from the Chinese exactly, it is difficult to see any progress ahead."
The ruling party sees initiatives including "Made in China 2025," which calls for state-led creation of global champions in robotics, electric cars and other fields, as essential for raising incomes for China's poor majority and restoring the country to its historic status as a technology and cultural leader.
Washington, Europe and other trading partners complain that explicitly nationalistic goals of creating Chinese global brands and promise subsidies to local competitors violate Beijing's promises to treat companies equally. American officials also say Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.
While rebuffing U.S. pressure, Beijing has unveiled other changes long sought by its trading partners.
The government announced in April it would allow full ownership of electric car manufacturers beginning this year and lift all ownership caps in the industry by 2020. Beijing agreed to join the European Union in proposing reforms of the World Trade Organization, which Washington complains is antiquated and unable to cope with Chinese-style challenges.
Chinese leaders appear to be wrestling with how to present their plans in a way that causes less foreign opposition, said Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. He said there was "considerable debate" about how to handle Washington at the leaders' annual summer retreat at the seaside resort of Beidaihe.
"I do think there is some internal debate about, Did we handle this right? Is there some way we can acknowledge to the U.S. side and others that we recognize there are changes we need to make?" said Haenle. But doing that without looking like Chinese leaders are "caving in to the United States will be a difficult endeavor to pull off."
Chinese leaders might have hoped cooperating on North Korea would win over Trump. But he went ahead with tariff hikes even after Beijing joined the "maximum pressure" campaign on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to give up nuclear weapons and Xi skipped the regime's 70th anniversary festivities this month.
"I don't think they have any great hopes that Trump is going to be any easier on them," said Haenle.
Beijing's conviction that it needs to accelerate technology development was reinforced by this year's near-death of ZTE Corp., one of China's biggest tech companies, said Citigroup's Liu.
ZTE announced it might shut down after Washington imposed a seven-year ban on sales of U.S. components and technology to the state-owned manufacturer of telecoms equipment, citing its exports to North Korea and Iran. To regain access, ZTE agreed to pay a $1 billion fine, replace its executive team and embed a U.S.-chosen compliance team in the company.
Chinese leaders realized "they don't have core technology," said Liu. "Made in China 2025" has "become more important than before and will be accelerated."
Some Chinese reform advocates see a possible way out: Restructure "Made in China 2025" and other initiatives to make them more market-oriented and strip out subsidies that irk Washington and other governments. They say that would pay dividends for China by encouraging creativity and efficiency through competition.
"That would be nothing more than promising further opening and reform. Government interference in business would be corrected," said Hu Xingdou, an economist in Beijing. "These are all good for the Chinese people."
Beijing might hope Trump will "move to a more conciliatory position," especially if his Republican Party suffers setbacks in November elections, said Haenle. But he said they doubt they know enough about American politics to try to influence the outcome by offering concessions.
The impact on China has been smaller than some American leaders hoped.
Monday's latest tariff hike might trim China's economic growth by 0.3 to 0.5 percentage points over the next year, Lillian Li of Moody's rating agency said in a report. But government stimulus spending and easier credit should offset that, leaving China's growth forecast unchanged at 6.6 percent this year and 6.4 percent in 2019, she said.
Citigroup estimates the first U.S. tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods will wipe out about 881,000 industrial jobs. That could rise to 3.5 million additional lost jobs over three to five years if the tariffs on $200 billion of imports increase to 25 percent, it said.
The dispute has a silver lining for some Chinese companies as some local governments act on longstanding complaints by cutting taxes and fees and simplifying bureaucracy.
Guangdong province, an export center adjacent to Hong Kong, announced changes on Sept. 10 that it said would cut costs for businesses there by 200 billion yuan ($31 billion) in 2018-20.
"We believe Chinese industries will come out of the trade war stronger than before," said Citigroup's Liu.