Nueva Helvecia, Feb 6 (AP/UNB) — When he was younger, the only thing that Enrique Morales knew about marijuana was that you smoked it to get high.
Today, the former driver for a dairy company is a horticulturist on a cannabis plantation about 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo and he says drops of marijuana oil have been key to treating his mother's osteoarthritis.
"My perception has now changed. It is a plant that has a lot of properties!" he said.
The company that owns the plantation, Fotmer SA, is now part of a flourishing and growing medical cannabis industry in Uruguay.
The country got a head start on competitors in December 2013 when it became the first in the world to regulate the cannabis market from growing to purchase, a move that has brought a wave of investment.
For Uruguayan citizens or legal residents over 18 years old, the law allows the recreational use, personal cultivation and sale in pharmacies of marijuana through a government-run permit system, and officials later legalized the use and export of medical marijuana to countries where it is legal.
No company has yet begun large-scale export operations, but many say selling medical cannabis oil beyond the local market of 3.3 million inhabitants is key to staying ahead of the tide and transforming Uruguay into a medical cannabis leader along with the Netherlands, Canada and Israel.
"The Latin American market is poorly supplied and is growing," said Chuck Smith, chief operating officer of Denver, Colorado-based Dixie Brands, which recently formed a partnership with Khiron Life Sciences, a Toronto company that has agreed to acquire Dormul SA, which has a Uruguayan license to produce medical cannabis.
"Uruguay is taking a leadership position in growing high CBD, high value hemp products. So we see that as a great opportunity from a supply chain perspective," he said, referring to the non-psychoactive cannabidiols that are used in medical products.
Khiron has said it should be able to export medical marijuana from Uruguay to southern Brazil under regulations of the Mercosur trade bloc, marking a milestone for Uruguayan marijuana companies focused on exports.
Fotmer, based in the small town of Nueva Helvecia, also currently employs 80 people and is investing $7 million in laboratories and 10 tons of crops that it hopes to ship to countries including Germany and Canada, which is struggling to overcome supply shortages in its cannabis market.
Fotmer*s 35,000 marijuana plants are sheltered in 18 large greenhouses measuring 12.5 meters by 100 meters (41 feet by 328 feet), where workers such as Morales change into special clothing, wash their hands with alcohol and wear gloves and surgical masks to avoid any contamination.
Helena Gonzalez, head of quality control, research and development for Fotmer, said the precautions are important in producing a quality product that can be used in medical research into the effects of cannabis products.
"Aiding that research is another of our objectives," she said.
The first crop of prized flowers will be harvested for their cannabis oil in March.
The oil containing THC and CBD will be extracted in its labs to eventually manufacture pills, creams, ointments, patches and other treatments for cases of epilepsy and chronic pain, among other ills.
Competition is arriving as well. In December, Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez inaugurated a $12 million laboratory owned by Canada*s International Cannabis Corp., which aims to produce and export medicine from hemp, a variety of cannabis that contains CBDs but has no psychoactive effects.
Despite the momentum, experts say there is one key problem: Countries including Ecuador, Cuba, Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala continue to prohibit both the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana and exports of cannabis products are subject to a complex web of international regulations that is still being developed.
Marcos Baudean, a member of Monitor Cannabis at the University of the Republic of Uruguay, says another difficulty is that the South American country is competing for market share. He said cannabis exports give the country a chance to expand beyond its traditional exports of raw materials into more sophisticated products involving science and biology.
Diego Olivera, head of Uruguay*s National Drug Secretariat, said Uruguay*s comprehensive cannabis law, along with its strong rule of law and transparent institutions, gives it a head start.
"Uruguay today has a dynamism in the cannabis industry that is very difficult to find in other sectors," he said.
New York, Feb 5 (AP/UNB) — Tesla is buying the battery company Maxwell Technologies Inc. about $218 million in stock.
The deal gives Tesla a boost in battery technology as it tries to cut costs and mass produce electric cars. Those improvements involve improving battery capacity and cutting down on recharging time.
David Lyle, the chief financial officer at Maxwell Technologies Inc. told analysts last month that because of recent technological developments, the San Diego company expected to form new partnerships within six months.
Tesla Inc. expects to deliver 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles this year, a growth rate of 45 percent to 65 percent compared with 2018. The company recently announced a 7 percent cut to its workforce.
Dhaka, Feb 3 (UNB) - Bangladesh and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) on Sunday discussed ways to further expansion of cooperation in the area of human resources, trade and investment, counter-terrorism, Islamic affairs and other potential areas in the coming days.
Terming Saudi Arabia as the best friend of Bangladesh, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen expressed happiness at the enhanced engagement between Bangladesh and the Saudi Arabia at the highest level in the recent years.
Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh Abdullah H.M. Almutairi met Abdul Momen at latter’s office and discussed the issues.
The Saudi envoy handed over a congratulatory message to the Foreign Minister from his Saudi counterpart on his appointment as the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh.
During the meeting, they discussed various issues of bilateral relations, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
They also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual concern as well as on cooperation in different multilateral platforms.
The Foreign Minister thanked the KSA envoy for his proactive role in expanding the bilateral brotherly relations between Bangladesh and the KSA.
He assured the envoy of full support of the Foreign Ministry in his future efforts to this end.
New York, Feb 2 (AP/UNB)-Stocks capped a bumpy day of trading Friday with modest gains, extending the market's winning streak to its third straight day.
Gains in technology companies, energy stocks and banks outweighed losses in retailers and elsewhere in the market.
Major indexes were higher much of the morning as investors applauded a burst of hiring in January by U.S. employers. That enthusiasm was tempered, however, by a disappointing revenue outlook from Amazon.
The solid jobs report came two days after investors got encouraging news from the Federal Reserve, which confirmed that it will be "patient" in deciding when to raise interest rates.
That policy shift, which the Fed signaled early last month, helped spur a turnaround in the market that led to January closing out with the biggest monthly gain since 2015.
That strong finish to the month, in addition to the latest jobs report, may have given some investors reason to take a breather Friday, resulting in the market barely squeaking out a gain.
"There's going to be a vacuum of positive catalysts next week, with the exception of a few individual earnings reports," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading & derivatives at Charles Schwab. "With this type of a rally behind us, it just looks to me like we're running out of a little bit of steam here in the near term."
The S&P 500 index rose 2.43 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,706.53. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 64.22 points, or 0.3 percent, to 25,063.89.
The Nasdaq composite dropped 17.87 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,263.87. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 2.64 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,502.05.
Stocks got an early boost Friday as investors welcomed the latest monthly U.S. hiring snapshot.
U.S. employers added 304,000 jobs in January, far more than the 165,000 that economists were expecting. The government also revised its December figures sharply lower, to 222,000 from 312,000. Even with the revision, hiring has accelerated since last summer, a development that has surprised economists, because hiring typically slows when unemployment is so low.
Despite the strong jobs report in the U.S., investors are seeing signs of weakness elsewhere in the global economy. Inflation among the 19 countries that use the euro eased in January, a sign of weakness in a region already beset by many challenges. Italy is in a recession and Britain appears to be headed for a disorderly exit from the European Union.
In the U.S., consumer confidence fell in January for a third straight month. The housing market is slumping as mortgage rates steadily increase. Sales of existing homes plunged in December and fell 3.1 percent in 2018.
The protracted trade war between the U.S. and its trading partners continues to be a significant worry for investors. On Friday the European Union introduced new measures to prevent steel produced for the U.S. market from flooding into Europe.
Two days of trade talks between the U.S. and China wrapped up Thursday without a deal but with an upbeat outlook. The continued negotiations come as investors are worried about a slowdown in China and the damage the tariffs could cause to the U.S. economy by raising prices on consumer products.
Amazon's latest outlook disappointed investors and weighed on the broader retail sector Friday.
The e-commerce giant cashed in on a strong holiday shopping season, and the company's quarterly earnings topped $3 billion for the first time. Both profit and revenue beat Wall Street forecasts, but the results couldn't outweigh disappointment over the company's outlook.
Amazon expects sales between $56 billion and $60 billion, while Wall Street analysts expected $60 billion. The stock fell 5.4 percent to 1,626.23.
Other big retailers also traded lower. Kohl's slid 2.9 percent to $66.69 and Target dropped 2.5 percent to $71.17.
Exxon and Chevron both made gains after beating forecasts despite a highly volatile period for oil prices. The price of benchmark U.S. crude fell about 40 percent during the final quarter of 2018. That sharp drop followed a year of price gains. For Exxon, it was the most profitable year since 2014.
Exxon rose 3.6 percent to $75.92 and Chevron gained 3.2 percent to $118.37.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose 2.7 percent to $55.26 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 3.1 percent to $62.75 in London.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.69 percent from 2.63 percent late Thursday.
The dollar strengthened to 109.51 yen from 108.66 yen on Thursday. The euro weakened versus the dollar to $1.1461 from $1.1479.
Gold fell 0.2 percent to $1,316.90 an ounce. Silver lost 0.9 percent to $15.93 an ounce. Copper dropped 0.4 percent to $2.77 a pound.
In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline rose 4.3 percent to $1.44 a gallon. Heating oil gained 1.9 percent to $1.91 a gallon. Natural gas dropped 2.8 percent to $2.73 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Seoul, Jan 31 (AP/UNB) — Samsung Electronics Co. has posted a near-30 percent drop in operating profit for the last quarter after seeing slowing global demand for its memory chips and smartphones. It still finished the year with record highs, but expects a decline in earnings this year.
The South Korean technology giant on Thursday said its operating profit during the October-December quarter declined 28.7 percent at an annual pace to 10.8 trillion won ($9.7 billion). Sales fell by more than 10 percent to reach 59.3 trillion won ($53.3 billion), while net income fell 31 percent to reach 8.5 trillion won ($7.6 billion).
Samsung, which has dual strength in parts and finished products, said demand for its memory chips decreased due to "mounting external uncertainties" and inventory adjustments at major customers, including data center operators and smartphone manufacturers. Samsung said sales of its Galaxy smartphone also weakened amid a stagnant global market.
For the whole year of 2018, Samsung posted an operating profit of 59 trillion won ($53 billion) on revenue of 244 trillion won ($219 billion), which were both record highs.
Samsung said it expects its overall annual earnings to decline this year because of the sluggish semiconductor market, although it sees its sales of memory chips and organic light-emitting diode panels used in mobile devices rebounding in the second half. The company also hopes the planned release of the new Galaxy S10 smartphone this year will boost its mobile devices business.