Bangkok, Oct 25 (AP/UNB) — Stock prices were mixed Thursday in early European trading as markets settled somewhat after steep declines in Asia and the U.S. spurred by worries over trade and the U.S. economy.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor's 500 were higher, suggesting a likely revival of buying sentiment.
Britain's FTSE 100 lost 0.3 percent to 6,943.14 while Germany's DAX added 0.1 percent to 11,198.04 and the CAC 40 in France climbed 0.7 percent to 4,987.78.
It was unclear if the gains were a return to calm or only a respite from the torrent of selling on Wall Street overnight that spurred further selling of technology-related shares in Asia.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index swooned 3.7 percent to 21,268.73. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended 1 percent lower at 24,994.46 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 sank 2.8 percent to 5,664.10.
But late in the day, the Shanghai Composite index erased its early losses to end up only 0.5 points at 2,603.80. Benchmarks in Thailand and Indonesia also logged gains.
As in New York, Asia's losses were heaviest for technology companies. Semiconductor maker Tokyo Electron lost 4.3 percent and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. dropped 4.4 percent. South Korea's Samsung Electronics sank 3.6 percent and Japanese telecoms and energy giant Softbank lost 4.4 percent.
Other sectors also felt the pain.
Toyota Motor Corp. gave up 2.7 percent while Hong Kong-based retail supply chain giant Li & Fung Ltd. lost 1.3 percent. Also in Hong Kong, airline Cathay Pacific's shares dropped as much as 6.5 percent but ended 3.8 percent lower after it said it had discovered a data breach affecting 9.4 million passengers.
Still, some market observers were taking the latest bout of volatility in stride.
"I think the Hong Kong market is really very close to bottom, because when you look at the value, it's very extremely cheap. So how low can it get? Maybe it will reach 24,000 before we find the bottom," said analyst Francis Lun of Geo Securities.
In New York, the futures contract for the S&P 500 gained 0.5 percent to 2,678.70 while that for the Dow also jumped 0.5 percent, to 24,738.00, suggesting recent losses may have whetted appetites for bargains.
The Nasdaq composite with its hefty roster of tech stocks has now fallen more than 10 percent below its August peak in what Wall Street calls a "correction." Its 4.4 percent tumble on Wednesday to 7,108.40 was its biggest drop since August 2011 but it is still up 3 percent for the year.
The S&P 500 has lost about 9.4 percent from its Sept. 20 peak and has given up its gains for the year, as has the Dow. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks is down 4.4 percent for the year.
Disappointing quarterly earnings and outlooks are stoking investors' worries that Corporate America's tax cut-fueled earnings growth will fade in coming months as interest rates rise and the trade conflict with China raises costs.
Recent signs the housing market is cooling are adding to jitters over prospects for U.S. economic growth.
A shift into less volatile assets has pushed bond prices higher, sending the yield on the 10-year Treasury note down to 3.12 percent from 3.16 percent late Tuesday.
About 24 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 had reported third-quarter results as of Wednesday. Of those, 57 percent delivered earnings and revenue results that topped Wall Street's forecasts.
As selling in share markets abated, other markets also regained equilibrium.
Benchmark U.S. crude lost 9 cents to $66.73 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday it edged up 0.6 percent to settle at $66.82 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 8 cents to $76.25 a barrel.
The dollar rose to 112.31 yen from 112.23 yen. The euro rose to $1.1410 from $1.1393.
Dearborn, Oct 25 (AP/UNB) — Ford Motor Co.'s net profit fell 37 percent in the third quarter as sales slowed in the U.S. and China.
But the company still made $991 million from July through September, or 25 cents per share. Revenue was up 3 percent to $37.67 billion.
Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks reaffirmed the company's full-year guidance of making an adjusted $1.30 to $1.50 per share, and he said tariffs cost the company about $1 billion.
Of the $1 billion, $600 million was due to commodity cost increases due largely to U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Another $200 million came from retaliatory tariffs imposed by China on U.S. vehicles, with the balance from the cost of canceling plans to build a small vehicle in China, the Focus Active, that was to be exported to the U.S.
Excluding one-time items, Ford says it made 29 cents per share, beating Wall Street expectations. Analysts polled by FactSet predicted 28 cents per share. Revenue also beat estimates, and Ford's shares rose 5 percent in after-hours trading to $8.59.
Ford also said it would not reach a previously announced goal of an 8 percent pretax profit margin by 2020 due to higher costs and deterioration of its European and China businesses.
Investors have been calling on Ford to detail $11 billion worth of cuts that were promised as the company tries to right-size itself to better compete globally. Ford says some employees will lose their jobs, largely white-collar workers.
Shanks and CEO Jim Hackett said they won't release further details until later. Under questioning from analysts, Shanks said the restructuring will take place gradually, mainly during the next five years.
At times there will be big moves, he said. "I know it's frustrating, but I hope that helps investors understand," he said. "We'll share everything we can with you when things are announced."
North America remained Ford's big profit center, where it made $2 billion before taxes, an increase of about $100 million. Shanks said that was due to selling more higher-profit SUVs and trucks and fewer low-margin cars as the market continued to shift away from sedans. So far this year, Ford's U.S. sales are down 2.4 percent.
Shanks said previous restructuring efforts improved North American performance by several hundred million dollars, but he wouldn't be more specific.
Ford lost $152 million pretax in South America, $245 million in Europe and $208 million in its Asia Pacific region including China. It also lost $196 million on autonomous vehicles and mobility services, but made $47 million in the Middle East and Africa and $678 million from its credit arm.
Analysts have complained that Ford hasn't given many details of the restructuring plan, and its stock price has fallen because of that. Its shares have lost about one-third of their value this year.
Ford has released some details. On Wednesday, it announced changes in Asian operations by making its China business a stand-alone unit and recruiting the head of local automaker Chery Automobile to be its new China CEO.
For months, dealers have been complaining about an aging vehicle lineup, with some vehicles essentially staying the same since the 2011 model year.
But at a meeting with U.S. dealers on Oct. 17 in Las Vegas, company executives showed off new models.
Included were the Ranger small pickup, which Ford started to produce this week, as well as new versions of the Escape small SUV and Explorer large SUV that will reach showrooms next year. Also coming in 2019 is a new Mustang GT500, as well as the Super Duty version of the F-Series pickup, and a new Transit van.
In an interview Wednesday, North America President Kumar Galhotra conceded that Ford had let its products get too old, but pledged not to let it happen again.
"Right now our product portfolio isn't as fresh as it should be, but by 2020 it's going to be the freshest in the industry," Galhotra said.
Ford announced previously that it would get out of the declining market for sedans in the U.S. to focus on SUVs, many with hybrid or electric drive systems. The iconic Mustang sports car eventually will be Ford's only U.S. car.
Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas last week downgraded Ford shares from buy to hold and cut his one-year stock price target from $14 to $10.
Jonas wrote in a note to investors that the restructuring plan, while significant, "lacks visibility." He's concerned that "the capital markets do not have confidence in Ford to take decisive action fast enough."
Ford's earnings came the same day as Tesla Inc. delivered on CEO Elon Musk's promise to make money in the third quarter. The electric car and solar panel company earned $311.5 million, swinging from a loss of $619 million a year ago.
San Francisco, Oct 25 (AP/UNB) — Federal officials said Wednesday that Chevron Corp. has agreed to pay a nearly $3 million fine and spend $160 million on environmental improvements and upgrading oil refineries to resolve allegations the company violated pollution laws.
The U.S. Department of Justice said the agreement ends investigations in four states where Chevron's refineries caught fire or released harmful chemicals. The settlement calls for it to spend $10 million on environmental projects in those four states: California, Mississippi, Utah and Hawaii.
The San Ramon, California-based company agreed to spend $150 million upgrading refineries throughout the country.
DOJ said the $2.95 million fine will resolve several regulatory investigations, including the 2013 explosion and fire in Pascagoula, Mississippi, that killed a Chevron worker and a 2012 fire at its Richmond, California, facility that prompted 14,000 residents to be evacuated.
"As part of this settlement, Chevron U.S.A. Inc. has agreed to significant investments at its refineries to enhance the safety and reliability of operations," company spokesman Braden Reddall said. "We believe these measures build on existing efforts to enhance safe practices at Chevron refineries."
Chevron in 2013 paid $2 million in fines and restitution and pleaded no contest to six charges related to the Richmond fire, which sent thousands of residents to hospitals, many complaining of respiratory problems. Chevron entered the plea to charges filed by the California Attorney General's Office and the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office, including failing to correct deficiencies in equipment and failing to require the use of certain equipment to protect employees from potential harm.
It also agreed to spend $20 million on improving the Richmond facility to settle claims made by California regulators.
Dhaka, Oct 24 (UNB) - The government on Wednesday signed an agreement with Chinese and Japanese companies to build the country’s biggest-ever urea fertilizer factory in Narsingdi with the annual production capacity of 9.24 lakh metric tonnes.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI), Japan senior vice president Hajime Nagano and China National Chemical Engineering No 7 Construction Co Ltd (CC-7) China Chief Executive Officer Wang Da Lin and Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) Chairman Shah Md Aminul Haq signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides.
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu and Japanese Ambassador in Dhaka Hiroyasu Izumi witnessed the signing that took place at a city hotel.
The project titled ‘Ghorasal Polash Urea Fertilizer Project (GPUFP)’ will be implemented at the place of the existing two very old fertilizer factories -- Urea Fertilizer Factory Ltd (UFFL) and Polash Urea Fertilizer Factory Ltd (PUFFL).
Once implemented, the factory will produce 2,800 metric tonnes of Granular Urea a day, which is about three times higher than that of the existing two fertilizer factories.
This project will be implemented through ‘Bidder Financing’ process, spending Tk 10,460.91 crore.
Of the amount, the government will provide Tk 1,844.19 crore while the rest of the amount, Tk 8,616.72 crore, will come as commercial loan.
Officials said the project will be implemented maintaining the highest standard and using world-class environment-friendly green technology.
Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had directed the Industries Ministry to build a modern urea fertilizer factory replacing the old two ones.
Later, this month, the Executive of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved a proposal for setting up Ghorashal Palash Urea Fertiliser Factory at a cost Tk 10,460 crore which will be completed by 2022.
Currently, Shahjalal Fertiliser Factory in Fenchuganj of Sylhet is the country’s biggest fertilizer factory having the production capacity of 5.81 metric tonnes.
Beijing, Oct 24 (AP/UNB) — "Both ignorant and malicious" was how the official China Daily newspaper recently described comments by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, offering a stinging insight into the current bitter tone of discourse between the countries.
The White House's move to expand Washington's dispute with Beijing beyond trade and technology and into accusations of political meddling has sunk relations between the world's two largest economies to the lowest level since the Cold War.
A major speech by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Oct. 4 was the clearest, highest-level sign that U.S. strategy was turning from engagement to confrontation. Pence accused China of interfering in the midterm elections to undermine President Donald Trump's tough trade policies against Beijing, warned other countries to be wary of Beijing's "debt diplomacy" and denounced China's actions in the South China Sea.
"What the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country," Pence told an audience at the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington.
Both sides are trading increasingly sharp accusations over human rights and global hegemony, exposing an ideological divide that pits the two on a path of confrontation with no clear resolution in sight.
While a military clash has not been ruled out, American-based analysts envision a continuing push-and-pull for dominance between Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, China's most dominant — and repressive — leader since Mao Zedong. Xi's aggressive foreign policy and authoritarian ways have altered views of China across the board.
"What has happened is a sea change in U.S. perceptions of China," said June Teufel Dreyer, an expert on Chinese politics who teaches political science at the University of Miami. While Chinese officials privately say they're concerned about the sharp deterioration in ties, especially given the massive links between the two in trade, immigration and education, it appears Beijing is more than willing to go toe-to-toe under the new circumstances.
Increasingly, the perception that as China grew more prosperous it would fall in line with global values and international law has been exploded. Into that breach has come hardening U.S. rhetoric toward Beijing and actions to counter, deter or defy China's moves in the international sector, particularly its "Belt and Road" trade and infrastructure initiative that seeks to expand Beijing's economic and political footprint from Cambodia to Cairo.
Trump's first national security strategy, released last year, also labeled China a "revisionist power" alongside Russia.
Beijing's outrage at Pompeo, meanwhile, was prompted by his recent warnings to Latin American countries about the dangers of accepting Chinese infrastructure loans that are a key aspect of Xi's signature foreign policy project.
"U.S.-China relations have deteriorated to their worst point" since the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in Beijing that were crushed by the Chinese military, said Michael Kovrig, senior adviser for Northeast Asia at the International Crisis Group.
"It may not be a clash of civilizations, but it is a long-festering conflict of national, political and economic interest and systems that has reached a point of rupture," Kovrig said.
Xi has abandoned the strategy laid out by reformist leader Deng Xiaoping that China should bide its time and refrain from advertising its ambitions to become a world power. Instead, he has been accused of overreach by promoting China's drive to become a global technology leader by 2025, including by compelling foreign companies to hand over their know-how, and pushing Chinese-financed energy and transportation projects that leave target countries with unsustainable debt.
On the military front, a Chinese destroyer last month maneuvered perilously close to the USS Decatur in the South China Sea. The Chinese also denied a request for a U.S. Navy ship to visit Hong Kong and rejects U.S. concerns over its policies toward other countries.
"The U.S. simply aims to drive a wedge between China and relevant countries with those remarks," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday. "It is meaningless and futile."
The tart rhetoric is evident on both sides.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in a speech last week that China's government "is engaged in the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities that is straight out of George Orwell," referencing the internment of Muslims in the country's northwest in political reeducation camps.
This month, the United States went further by threatening to pull out of the Universal Postal Union because it says the treaty allows China to ship packages to the U.S. at discounted rates at the expense of American businesses.
Underlying the estrangement is the sense that Beijing lacks reciprocity, taking advantage of open markets and free societies to extend its interests, while denying the same benefits to companies, governments and individuals over which it has influence.
"My bottom line view is that Xi Jinping very much overplayed his hand taking advantage of the restrained and moderate (former President Barack) Obama," said Robert Sutter, a China expert at George Washington University. "Now he has an enormous American series of challenges to deal with, with no easy solutions."
While Chinese companies — often backed by easy credit from state banks — have been snapping up foreign assets, Beijing restricts such foreign purchases in key sectors such as energy, transport and telecommunications. Although China has loosened some joint-venture demands, including in the auto industry, that may be too little too late.
China is "not very willing to constrain itself under rules that it feels were forced upon it," said Dean Cheng, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. "This includes the international trading system, which is dominated by the U.S."
Still, attempts to contain China along the lines laid out during the Cold War would be "difficult, if not impossible," given the broad range of contacts across political, economic and personal spheres, Cheng said.
The U.S. has also reinforced ties with Taiwan — claimed by China as its own territory — building an impressive new de facto embassy there, approving a major sale of military parts and services, and authorizing companies to help the self-governing island democracy build submarines to defend itself from China's threats to use force to bring it under Beijing's control.
The tensions are underscored by political uncertainties in both countries. Trump faces a referendum of sorts on his policies in next month's midterm elections, while Xi has come under rare criticism at home since he forced through a constitutional amendment in March to allow him to lead indefinitely.
Xi is also beset by a slowing economy, made worse by U.S. tariffs that threaten the jobs of millions of Chinese workers. While China has retaliated with its own tariffs on U.S. goods, the loss of American markets will likely be a major drag on growth.
All such factors appear to speak poorly for any immediate resolution to the frictions.
Michael Mazza, a foreign policy expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington, said "competition will remain the norm" between the two countries unless China is willing to make significant changes in its domestic, economic and foreign policies.
"At this point, there is little reason to suspect that such a shift is in the offing," Mazza said.