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Lagarde Says Trade Spat May Dent Business Confidence

The world economy is enjoying the fastest and broadest expansion in years, though risks remain amid early signs of a potential trade war, the specter of tighter financial conditions as well as increased public and private indebtedness. Those issues promise to be some of the main topics of discussion as central bankers and finance ministers gather in Washington this week for spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Here are the latest developments from the meetings, updated throughout the day. (Time-stamps are local time in Washington.) International ...

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EU, IMF mull Greek debt relief; no talks on bailout extension

The euro zone and International Monetary Fund are discussing options for future debt relief for Greece at meetings this week in Washington, but are not considering any extensions of the Greek bailout, top euro zone officials said. “There are no talks of such things as an extension of the Greek programme. The Greek authorities are very much focused on the exit from the programme and finalising this by August,” said Mario Centeno, the chairman of euro zone finance ministers. “There are still decisions to take on the continuation of this ...

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London’s Fight to Remain a Financial Hub After Brexit

Can the City of London survive Brexit? Banks are preparing for the worst and are pretty sure they will lose much of the freedom they now enjoy to trade with the European Union. But just how bad Brexit gets for banks hinges on the details that will be worked out in political negotiations, as well as private talks between firms and supervisors. There are five battlegrounds that could spell the difference between a modest and a major hit. Equivalence of Regulations The EU rebuffed the U.K.’s plan for “mutual recognition” ...

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U.S. recession risks seen rising sharply in 2019 and 2020: Kemp

Energy market professionals estimate there is a 40 percent chance of the U.S. economy entering recession before the end of next year, rising to a little over 50 percent before the end of 2020. The results are based on a survey sent by Reuters to 7,000 energy market professionals between April 13 and April 17, with responses received from 700. There is a wide dispersion of views, and most see only a low risk of recession in 2018, but the assessed probability increases significantly in 2019 and especially 2020. The ...

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China and the U.S. Seek Allies to Strengthen Sides in Trade Tussle

The U.S. and China look to be preparing for a protracted confrontation over trade and investment as they each try to line up allies for their cause. The struggle for support is being waged worldwide, with its locus shifting this week to Washington and the semi-annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund. Behind the battle: an effort by each country to gain an edge in their standoff over everything from steel to semiconductors. Much of the jockeying is likely to play out at Thursday’s meeting of finance ministers and central ...

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Global economy sprinting ahead but trade war could end the race

The global economy will race further ahead this year, expanding at its fastest pace since 2010, but trade protectionism has the potential to quickly tire it out, the latest Reuters polls of over 500 economists worldwide suggest. The risk of a trade war between the United States and China threatens to curb the economic momentum created by years of policy stimulus. That was the biggest worry of economists, foreign exchange and bond market strategists polled by Reuters [POLL/]. In the latest global economic survey, three-quarters of over 250 economists said ...

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G-20 nations slammed for being ‘too slow’ in tackling tax havens following the Panama Papers

G-20 countries are “weak” and have moved “too slowly” in improving transparency over financial secrecy two years after the Panama Papers revealed how wealthy individuals hide their money, an international corruption watchdog said Thursday. Transparency International warned that 10 G-20 nations have “very weak” legal frameworks that do little to help law enforcement officials and citizens find out who really owns companies within their borders. It said that France, Germany, Italy and Brazil have “significant” room for improvement. The U.K. remains the only G-20 country to have a central register ...

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European Union urges ‘cool heads’ in global trade dispute

The European Union’s Economic Affairs Commissioner appealed to world financial leaders on Thursday to keep a cool head over world trade disputes, noting protectionism posed the biggest risk to Europe’s robust economic growth this year. “The rhetoric and the announcements of recent months must be a concern for all of us for all of us who believe in the benefits of free trade, which of course must be subject to the proper rules and safeguards,” Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said in prepared remarks to be delivered in a speech at the ...

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Belt and road’s real aims? Expanding China’s global influence and military presence, US study says

China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” – a massive infrastructure programme that Beijing says is aimed at promoting global trade and economic growth – is actually intended to expand the country’s political influence and military presence, according to a report issued on Tuesday. The report by the US-based research group C4ADS questions China’s portrayal of the trillion-dollar programme as strictly meant to promote economic development. President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy programme is working to reinforce China’s links to Southeast Asia, Europe and Africa through networks of roads, ports, railways, power ...

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Leading German Think Tanks Raise Growth Forecasts for 2018, 2019

A group of leading German think tanks on Thursday raised their growth estimates for Europe’s largest economy, but warned that a further increase in trade tensions between the world’s largest economies would undermine the global expansion. “The German economy is experiencing a boom,” the group said in its spring report, which usually serves as a reference for the German government’s own economic predictions. The think tanks now forecast growth of 2.2% in 2018 and 2.0% in 2019. Last fall, they predicted growth of 2.0% in 2018 and 1.8% in 2019. ...

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New Italy forecasts to raise 2018 GDP growth to 1.6 percent – government sources

Italy will slightly raise its forecast for economic growth this year to 1.6 percent from 1.5 percent when the Treasury issues new projections next week, government sources have told Reuters. The forecast for 2019, on the other hand, will be lowered to 1.4 percent from 1.5 percent currently, the sources said, due to the negative effect on the economy of planned increases in sales tax. The increase in this year’s forecast may surprise economists, as most recent data has pointed to a slowdown. Industrial output posted monthly drops in January ...

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U.S. Jobless Claims Fell Last Week

The number of Americans claiming new unemployment benefits fell last week for the third time in four weeks, signaling continued health in the labor market. Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., decreased by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 232,000 in the week ended April 14, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected 225,000 new claims last week. Initial claims remain near levels last seen in the 1970s. They have held below 300,000 for 163 consecutive weeks, the longest streak in ...

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U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Rose in March

An economic index that measures U.S. business trends continued to increase in March. The Conference Board Leading Economic Index rose 0.3% to 109, following increases with the index in January and February. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal were expecting the index to rise by 0.3%. Comprising 10 components, including initial claims for jobless benefits, factory orders and the S&P 500’s price change, the index is intended to signal swings in the business cycle and to smooth out some of the volatility of individual indicators. “The LEI points to ...

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Fed’s Brainard Says Now Isn’t Time to Lower Capital, Liquidity Rules

A senior Federal Reserve official sees “signs of financial imbalances” in parts of the economy and says now isn’t the time to lower capital or liquidity rules for the largest banks. Fed governor Lael Brainard, an Obama appointee who has one of three current votes on the Fed’s board of governors, pushed back against recent moves by Trump-appointed officials to loosen the reins on the nation’s biggest banks. “Prudence would argue for waiting until we have tested how the new framework performs through a full cycle before we make judgments ...

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UK Retail Sales Fall More Than Forecast

UK retail sales declined more than expected in March, the Office for National Statistics showed Thursday. Retail sales including auto fuel, dropped 1.2 percent month-on-month in March, in contrast to a 0.8 percent rise in February. Sales were forecast to fall 0.6 percent. Similarly, excluding auto fuel, retail sales volume dropped 0.5 percent reversing a 0.4 percent rise in February. Economists had expected a 0.4 percent decrease. On a yearly basis, overall retail sales volume growth eased to 1.1 percent in March from 1.5 percent a month ago. Economists had ...

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