U.S. Commerce OKs exports on goods in transit to Hong Kong through August 28

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday it will allow exports of some goods to Hong Kong through August 28 under existing license exceptions after it announced it was suspending those exceptions.

The department said it was taking the action because China imposed new security measures on Hong Kong that “undermine its autonomy and thereby increase the risk that sensitive U.S. items will be illegally diverted.”

The department said licenses will need to be obtained going forward, but shipments of items on Tuesday that were on the dock for loading or en route aboard a carrier may proceed to their destination.

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Franklin Paul)

India set to ship drug sought by Trump for coronavirus

By Zeba Siddiqui and Sumit Khanna

NEW DELHI/AHMEDABAD (Reuters) – India is set to begin shipping the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to the United States where President Donald Trump has touted it as a potential weapon against the coronavirus.

“The first shipments should start next week,” said Sudarshan Jain, secretary general of Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA).

India is the world’s largest producer of hydroxychloroquine but last month banned most exports to secure its own supplies, drawing warnings of retaliation from Trump.

This week India allowed some exports of the drug and Trump has thanked New Delhi for the decision.

Jain said companies in India are ramping up capacity to meet the U.S. demand, including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, IPCA Laboratories and Cadila Healthcare.

Cadila has increased production tenfold to 30 metric tonnes per month and is ready to produce more if needed, Managing Director Sharvil Patel told Reuters.

Companies are ramping up while battling a three-week nationwide lockdown India imposed on March 25.

Cadila is based in western India’s Gujarat state, a drug production hub where industry insiders say the shutdown has forced companies to contend with supply chain disruptions and worker shortages.

“There are 28 manufacturers of hydroxychloroquine in Gujarat,” said H.G. Koshia, a senior drugs department official. “All of them have enhanced production in view of rise in demand.”

The IPA’s Jain said firms were confident they could produce adequate quantities to meet both global and domestic demand.

“The government is getting a lot of requests from other countries,” Jain noted.

India is stocking at least four months’ supply and has agreed to export to at least 30 countries, according to export body Pharmexcil’s estimates.

Hydroxychloroquine is unproven as a treatment https://in.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-usa-hydroxychloroq/special-report-doctors-embrace-drug-touted-by-trump-for-covid-19-without-hard-evidence-it-works-idINKBN21O2VH but its use has soared as the United States has quickly become the epicentre of the pandemic.

U.S. deaths due to coronavirus topped 16,400, while India’s death toll stands at 199.

(Additonal reporting by Neha Dasgupta in New Delhi; writing by Abhirup Roy and Zeba Siddiqui; editing by Aditya Kalra and Jason Neely)

China issues order to implement U.N. sanctions on North Korea

A North Korean flag flies on a mast at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Commerce Ministry issued a ban effective from Tuesday on several imports from North Korea, including coal, iron ore, lead concentrates and ore, lead and seafood, a move that is in line with U.N. sanctions announced this month.

Beijing issued the banning order on Monday.

U.N. sanctions must be implemented 30 days after the resolution was approved in a vote on Aug. 6.

The Chinese government said any cargoes already on their way to China would be cleared by customs as usual before the U.N. sanctions deadline.


(Reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Edmund Blair)


Wall Street retreats after Dow breaches 22,000

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., July 19, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Tanya Agrawal

(Reuters) – The Dow breached the 22,000 mark briefly in early trading on Wednesday, powered by Apple’s stellar results, before stocks retreated sharply across sectors as investors locked in gains.

Apple <AAPL.O> jumped as much as 6.46 percent to a record high, after the world’s largest publicly listed company reported strong results and iPhone sales, and signaled its upcoming 10th-anniversary phone is on schedule. The stock is up about 30 percent this year.

Microsoft <MSFT.O> and Facebook <FB.O> were among the top drags on both the S&P and the Nasdaq.

However, the S&P 500 information technology index <.SPLRCT> is up about 22 percent year to date, leading other sectors, as investors look for growth in an otherwise low-growth environment.

“Typically at those big round numbers the market seems to hesitate … I’m looking at this as a situation where the underlying evidence as to why the stock market has responded well is the fertile climate for corporate profits which is likely to remain,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

The Dow has risen 11 percent in 2017, even as Wall Street is losing confidence that President Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress would be able to cut taxes and increase infrastructure spending this year.

The Dow hit the 20,000 mark in late January and crossed the 21,000 mark in just over a month on March 1.

Two-thirds of S&P 500 companies have reported their second-quarter earnings so far and 72 percent of them have beaten Wall Street’s expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. In a typical quarter, 64 percent of the companies beat expectations.

At 12:35 p.m. ET (1635 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was up 11.56 points, or 0.05 percent, at 21,975.48, the S&P 500 <.SPX> was down 7.04 points, or 0.28 percent, at 2,469.31.

The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> was down 34.35 points, or 0.54 percent, at 6,328.59.

Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower, with the telecommunications index’s <.SPLRCL> 1.05 percent loss leading the decliners.

Data showed U.S. private employers added 178,000 jobs in July, after adding 191,000 jobs in June. Economists polled by Reuters expected an addition of 185,000 jobs. The data comes ahead of the more comprehensive non-farm payrolls data on Friday.

AutoNation <AN.N> fell 6.19 percent after the largest U.S. auto retail chain, reported a fall in quarterly profit.

Cardinal Health <CAH.N> fell 9.34 percent after the drug distributor’s 2018 profit forecast missed analysts’ estimate.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,851 to 970. On the Nasdaq, 2,145 issues fell and 687 advanced.

(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

U.S. coal exports soar, in boost to Trump energy agenda, data shows

FILE PHOTO: Dump trucks haul coal and sediment at the Black Butte coal mine outside Rock Springs, Wyoming, United States, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/File Photo

By Timothy Gardner and Nina Chestney

WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. coal exports have jumped more than 60 percent this year due to soaring demand from Europe and Asia, according to a Reuters review of government data, allowing President Donald Trump’s administration to claim that efforts to revive the battered industry are working.

The increased shipments came as the European Union and other U.S. allies heaped criticism on the Trump administration for its rejection of the Paris Climate Accord, a deal agreed by nearly 200 countries to cut carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels like coal.

The previously unpublished figures provided to Reuters by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed exports of the fuel from January through May totaled 36.79 million tons, up 60.3 percent from 22.94 million tons in the same period in 2016. While reflecting a bounce from 2016, the shipments remained well-below volumes recorded in equivalent periods the previous five years.

They included a surge to several European countries during the 2017 period, including a 175 percent increase in shipments to the United Kingdom, and a doubling to France – which had suffered a series of nuclear power plant outages that required it and regional neighbors to rely more heavily on coal.

“If Europe wants to lecture Trump on climate then EU member states need transition plans to phase out polluting coal,” said Laurence Watson, a data scientist working on coal at independent think tank Carbon Tracker Initiative in London.

Nicole Bockstaller, a spokeswoman at the EU Commission’s Energy and Climate Action department, said that the EU’s coal imports have generally been on a downward trend since 2006, albeit with seasonable variations like high demand during cold snaps in the winter.

Overall exports to European nations totaled 16 million tons in the first five months of this year, up from 10.5 million in the same period last year, according to the figures. Exports to Asia meanwhile, totaled 12.3 million tons, compared to 6.2 million tons in the year-earlier period.

For a graphic on U.S. coal exports, click http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/USA-COAL-EXPORTS/010050650E9/index.html

Trump had campaigned on a promise to “cancel” the Paris deal and sweep away Obama-era environmental regulations to help coal miners, whose output last year sank to the lowest level since 1978. The industry has been battered for years by surging supplies of cheaper natural gas, brought on by better drilling technologies, and increased use of natural gas to fuel power plants.

His administration has since sought to kill scores of pending regulations he said threatened industries like coal mining, and reversed a ban on new coal leasing on federal lands.


Both the coal industry and the Trump administration said the rising exports of both steam coal, used to generate electricity, and metallurgical coal, used in heavy industry, were evidence that Trump’s agenda was having a positive impact.

“Simply to know that coal no longer has to fight the government – that has to have some effect on investment decisions and in the outlook by companies, producers and utilities that use coal,” said Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association.

Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Energy Department, said: “These numbers clearly show that the Trump Administration’s policies are helping to revive an industry that was the target of costly and job killing overregulation from Washington for far too long.”

Efforts to obtain comment from exporters Arch Coal and privately held Murray Energy Corp were unsuccessful. Contura Energy, which emerged as part of Alpha Natural Resource’s bankruptcy and restructuring, and filed for public offering in May, declined to comment.

A spokesman for Peabody Energy, the largest coal producer, though without a major export profile, said the United States was generally a “swing supplier of seaborne coal.”

U.S. Energy Information Administration analyst Elias Johnson said the U.S. coal industry may now be better positioned to meet foreign demand because U.S. miners have learned to produce at lower cost, after coming through a series of recent bankruptcies.

“There’s the possibility that the U.S. will become more of a primary player in the global coal trade market,” he said.

But he added there are also plenty of reasons the spike in demand could be temporary. For one thing, U.S. coal production and transportation costs are much higher than for other producers such as Indonesia and Australia.

Because coal can often be transhipped from European ports before it is consumed, it is also hard to determine where shipments ultimately end up.

Johnson pointed out that some of the fuel shipped into Western Europe, for example, could be making its way to other places like Ukraine, which is having trouble securing coal from its separatist-held regions.

Trump said last month that his administration is offering more coal to Ukraine, but it was unclear how, given deals are typically worked out between companies.

(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Alden Bentley)

Trump seeks crackdown on ‘Made in America’ fakes

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump addresses the "Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration" at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is looking for ways to defend American-made products by certifying legitimate U.S. goods and aggressively going after imported products unfairly sporting the “Made in America” label, the White House said on Tuesday.

Trump, who campaigned on reviving the U.S. manufacturing sector, vowed on Monday that his administration would crack down on “predatory online sales of foreign goods” hurting U.S. retailers.

On Wednesday, Trump will discuss with small- and medium-sized manufacturers how to certify their products and keep out foreign counterfeits, a senior administration official told reporters. Their products include gutter filters, flags and pillows.

“There’s just too many examples of foreigners slapping on ‘Made in America’ labels to products and the worst insult is when they do it after they have actually stolen the product design,” the official said.

The United States loses about $300 billion a year to theft of intellectual property ranging from semiconductors to jeans, the official said.

In March, Trump signed an executive order that gave customs officials more authority to stop pirated and counterfeit items, the official told reporters.

The White House plans to work with the private sector on the new certification and verification system rather than create new regulations or spend taxpayer money, the official said, citing as a model the LEED system used to rate the environmental sustainability of building projects.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Howard Goller)

U.S. core capital goods orders, shipments increase in March

FILE PHOTO - Honda Motor Co's Acura NSX luxury sports car is seen in assemble line at the company's Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio, U.S., November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Maki Shiraki/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods rose less than expected in March, but a second straight monthly increase in shipments suggested business investment accelerated in the first quarter amid a recovering energy sector.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, increased 0.2 percent last month after an upwardly revised 0.1 percent gain in February.

Shipments of these so-called core capital goods rose 0.4 percent after jumping 1.1 percent in February. Core capital goods shipments are used to calculate equipment spending in the government’s gross domestic product measurement.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast core capital goods orders rising 0.5 percent last month after a previously reported 0.1 percent dip. March’s modest increase suggests some loss of momentum in the manufacturing sector after recent strong growth.

Manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the U.S. economy, is being underpinned by the energy sector revival.

Energy services firm Baker Hughes said last Friday that U.S. oil rigs totaled 688 in the week ending April 21, the most in two years. U.S. drillers have added oil rigs for 14 straight weeks and shale production in May was set for its biggest monthly increase in more than two years.

Business spending on equipment is expected to have accelerated from the fourth-quarter’s annualized 1.9 percent growth pace and will likely be one of the few bright spots when the government publishes its advance first-quarter GDP estimate on Friday.

Manufacturing could get a lift from President Donald Trump’s proposed tax plan, announced on Wednesday, that includes cutting the corporate income tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent.

Last month, orders for machinery slipped 0.2 percent, but shipments increased 0.7 percent. Orders for primary metals rose in March as did shipments of these products. Electrical equipment, appliances and components orders and shipments also increased last month.

There were, however, declines in orders for fabricated metal products and computers and electronic products.

Last month overall orders for durable goods, items ranging from toasters to aircraft that are meant to last three years or more, increased 0.7 percent after surging 2.3 percent in February. Civilian aircraft orders increased 7.0 percent.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Exclusive: Venezuela increased fuel exports to allies even as supply crunch loomed

Venezuelan motorists line up for fuel at a gas station of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA in Maturin, Venezuela March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Bello

By Marianna Parraga and Alexandra Ulmer

HOUSTON/CARACAS (Reuters) – A gasoline shortage in OPEC member Venezuela was exacerbated by an increase in government-sanctioned fuel exports to foreign allies and an exodus of crucial personnel from state-run energy company PDVSA, according to internal PDVSA documents and sources familiar with its operations.

Leftist-run Venezuela sells its citizens the world’s cheapest gasoline. Fuel supplies have continued flowing despite a domestic oil industry in turmoil and a deepening economic crisis under President Nicolas Maduro that has left the South American country with scant supplies of many basic necessities.

That changed on Wednesday, when Venezuelans faced their first nationwide shortage of motor fuel since an explosion ripped through one of the world’s largest refineries five years ago. At the time, the government of then-President Hugo Chavez curbed exports to guarantee there was enough fuel at home.

This week’s shortage was also mainly due to problems at refineries, as a mix of plant glitches and maintenance cut fuel production in half.

Unlike five years ago, Caracas has continued exporting fuel to political allies and even raised the volume of shipments last month despite warnings within the government-run company that doing so could trigger a domestic supply crunch.

Shipments from refineries to the domestic market needed to be redirected to meet those export commitments, the internal documents showed.

“Should this additional volume … be exported, it would impact a cargo scheduled for the local market,” read one email sent from an official in the company’s domestic marketing department to its international trade unit.

Venezuela last month exported 88,000 barrels per day (bpd) of fuels – equivalent to a fifth of its domestic consumption – to Cuba, Nicaragua and other countries, according to internal PDVSA documents seen by Reuters.

That was up 22,000 bpd on the volumes Venezuela had been shipping to those two countries under accords struck by Chavez to expand his diplomatic clout by lowering their fuel costs through cheap supplies of crude and fuel.

The order to increase exports came from PDVSA’s top executives, according to the internal emails seen by Reuters.

Venezuela’s oil ministry and state-run PDVSA, formally known as Petroleos de Venezuela SA, did not reply to requests for comment for this story.


The strain on the country’s fuel system has been worsened by the departure of staff in PDVSA’s trade and supply unit who are key to ensuring fuel gets to where it’s needed and making payments for imports, three sources close to the company said.

The unit has seen around a dozen key staffers depart since Maduro shook up PDVSA’s top management in January. Among those who left was the head of budget and payments, two sources said.

“Every week someone leaves for one reason or another,” said a PDVSA source familiar with the unit’s operations.

Some have been fired, while others have left since the shake-up inserted political and military officials into top positions and bolstered Maduro’s grip on the company that powers the nation’s economy.

The imposition of leaders with little or no experience in the industry has further disillusioned some of the company’s experienced professionals and accelerated an exodus that had already taken hold as economic and social conditions in Venezuela worsened.

A recent internal PDVSA report seen by Reuters mentioned “a low capacity to retain key personnel,” amid salaries of a few dozen dollars a month at the black market rate.


The departure of staff responsible for paying suppliers, as well as a cash crunch in the company and the country, have led to an accumulation of unpaid bills for fuel imports into Venezuela.

Had those bills been paid, the supply crunch would have been less acute, the company sources said.

About 10 tankers are waiting near PDVSA ports in Venezuela and the Caribbean to discharge fuel for domestic consumption and for oil blending.

Only one vessel bringing fuel imports has been discharged since the beginning of the week, shipping data showed.

PDVSA ordered some of the cargoes as it prepared alternative supplies while refineries undergo maintenance.

The tankers sitting offshore will not unload until PDVSA pays for their cargoes, said shippers and the company sources.

Should PDVSA pay – up to $20 million per cargo – shortages could blow over relatively soon.

The cash-strapped company has struggled since the global oil price crash that began in 2014 cut revenue for its crude exports. PDVSA is tight on cash as it prepares for some $2.5 billion in bond payments due next month.

While the vessels sit offshore, lines of dozens of cars waited at gas stations in central Venezuela on Wednesday and Thursday. The shortages angered Venezuelans who already face long lines for scarce food and drugs.

PDVSA blamed the supply crunch on unspecified problems for shipping fuel from domestic refineries to distribution centers. The company said it was working hard to solve the gasoline situation by boosting deliveries to the worst-hit regions.

A shortage of trucks to move refined products has also caused bottlenecks, oil workers told PDVSA President Eulogio Del Pino during a visit to a fuel facility this week, asking for help. Trucks are in short supply because the country does not have enough funds to pay for imports of spare parts.

It was unclear when fuel supplies would return to normal, although by late Thursday PDVSA appeared to have distributed some fuel from storage to Caracas and the eastern city of Puerto Ordaz. Lines to fill up at gasoline stations shortened in both cities, according to Reuters witnesses.

Workers at the 335,000-barrel-per-day Isla refinery on the nearby island of Curacao operated by PDVSA said on Friday that the refinery had begun restarting its catalytic cracking unit, which could boost fuel supplies in the coming days.

(Additional reporting by Mircely Guanipa in Punto Fijo and Maria Ramirez in Puerto Ordaz; Editing by Simon Webb and Jonathan Oatis)

Japan Feb exports jump, surplus with U.S. raises fears of trade tensions

Shipping containers are seen at a port in Tokyo, Japan, March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato

By Tetsushi Kajimoto

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s exports grew the most in more than two years in February, rebounding from a Lunar New Year slowdown in January, as a widening trade surplus with the United States potentially raises tensions in the face of rising U.S. protectionism.

Annual export growth of 11.3 percent topped a 10.6 percent increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll and followed a 1.3 percent rise in January, marking the biggest gain since January 2015, Ministry of Finance data showed on Wednesday.

Exports to the United States rose 0.4 percent in February from a year ago, largely from bigger shipments of cars and auto parts.

Any rise in Japan’s trade surplus with the United States could be a cause of concern for Japanese policymakers, given that U.S. President Donald Trump has singled out Japan, China and Germany for their high net exports into the U.S. market.

“Japanese policymakers must be sensitive about trade surplus with the United States. The trade surplus is not at an alarming level, but is historically very low. However, such a logical argument may not get across to Trump,” said Tomoyuki Ota, head of the economic research department at Mizuho Research Institute.

“The fact that the trade surplus with the United States has been driven by rising car exports may cause Trump to pile pressure on Japanese carmakers to boost investment in America.”

Japan and the United States will start a high-level economic dialogue in mid-April, with Tokyo seeking ways to avoid trade friction on issues such as car exports by proposing an agenda focused on investment in U.S. infrastructure.

Japan’s trade surplus with the United States rose an annual 1.5 percent to 611.3 billion yen ($5.48 billion), posting the first increase since November although it had dropped a revised 26.5 percent in January.


The trade data highlighted an economic recovery led by overseas demand although the rebound from a Lunar New Year slowdown in China and other parts of Asia in January played a large part.

Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, rose 28.2 percent year-on-year in February, accelerating from a 3.1 percent gain in the previous month.

Demand for auto parts from China and for electronics components from Hong Kong contributed to export growth in February.This performance helped Japan log a surplus of 111.8 billion yen with China – its first in five years.

Analysts said February’s 8.3 percent growth in the volume of exports, and average export volume growth of around 4 percent in January and February, was a positive sign for Japan’s export-reliant economy in the current quarter.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Eric Meijer)