Day: February 12, 2022

U.S. and allies tell citizens to leave Ukraine as Russia could invade ‘at any time’

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U.S. and allies tell citizens to leave Ukraine as Russia could invade 'at any time'© Reuters. A satellite image shows a close-up of troops and equipment at Oktyabrskoye air base, Crimea February 10, 2022. 2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

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By Jeff Mason and Tom Balmforth

WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – The United States and its allies urged their citizens to leave Ukraine right away to avoid a Russian invasion, including a possible air assault, that Washington said on Friday could occur anytime.

Moscow accused Western nations of spreading lies to distract from their own aggressive acts.

The United States and Europe stepped up their warnings of an imminent attack while the Kremlin, jostling for more influence in post-Cold War Europe, rejected a joint EU-NATO diplomatic response to its demands to reduce tensions as disrespectful.

Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops on the Ukraine border but denies it plans to invade.

U.S. officials, while pressing for diplomacy, said Russia could invade before the conclusion of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 20 and may seek to seize the capital Kyiv and other cities.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Americans could not expect military evacuation if they remained in Ukraine and should leave within 48 hours.

“We continue to see signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border,” Sullivan told reporters. “We are in the window when an invasion could begin at any time.”

“If a Russian attack on Ukraine proceeds, it is likely to begin with aerial bombing and missile attacks that could obviously kill civilians without regard to their nationality,” he said.

Australia and New Zealand became the latest countries to urge their citizens to leave as soon as possible, joining Britain, Japan, Latvia, Norway and the Netherlands. Israel said it was evacuating relatives of embassy staff.

Russia wants guarantees from the West, including a promise of no missile deployments near its borders, no NATO membership for Ukraine, and a scaling back of the alliance’s military infrastructure.

The West describes Russia’s main demands as “non-starters” but is willing to talk about arms control and confidence-building steps.

After Sullivan’s briefing at the White House, Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy appeared to mock his comments:

“Some reasonable people were hoping U.S.-fanned hysteria was waning,” he posted on Twitter (NYSE:). “Maybe they put a jinx on it, because scaremongers have clearly got second wind. Our troops are still on our territory and I wonder if the U.S. will invade Ukraine itself – someone has to, after such a panic campaign.”

The EU and NATO alliance delivered a joint reply to Russia this week on behalf of their member states as diplomatic efforts continue to try to diffuse the crisis.

Russia on Friday said it expected individual answers from each country, and called the collective response “a sign of diplomatic impoliteness and disrespect”.

It later said that Western countries, with help from the media, were spreading false information about its intentions to try to distract attention from their own aggressive actions.

‘MASSIVE CONSEQUENCES’

Washington will send 3,000 extra troops to Poland in coming days to try and help reassure NATO allies, four U.S. officials told Reuters. They are in addition to 8,500 already on alert for deployment to Europe if needed.

Earlier, commercial satellite images https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/satellite-images-show-new-russian-military-deployments-near-ukraine-2022-02-11 from a U.S. firm showed new Russian military deployments at several sites near the border.

Biden told NBC News on Thursday that things in Ukraine “could go crazy quickly,” and on Friday held a call about the crisis with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Poland and Romania, as well as the heads of NATO and the EU.

The leaders agreed to make coordinated efforts to deter Russian aggression, including by being ready to impose “massive consequences and severe economic costs” if it chose military escalation, the White House said after the call.

Washington also expressed concern that Russia and China were cooperating at the highest level, with a senior administration official saying on Saturday the two were “working to undermine us.”

A partnership agreement between Moscow and Beijing shows they are in “fundamental alignment” that is growing closer, and a meeting between Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping shows Beijing sees Moscow’s moves regarding Ukraine as “legitimate,” the official told reporters accompanying Blinken on a flight from Australia to Fiji.

U.S. officials believe the crisis could be reaching a critical point, with rhetoric from Moscow hardening, six Russian warships reaching the Black Sea, and more Russian military equipment arriving in Belarus.

“We continue to see very troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Stocks extended declines, with the down around 1.9%. Gold and oil prices rose. The rouble fell to its lowest level against the dollar since March 2020.

Moscow has said it could take unspecified “military-technical” action if its demands are not met. This week it launched joint military exercises in neighbouring Belarus and naval drills in the Black Sea.

Diplomatic efforts have so far failed to yield results.

Four-way talks in Berlin between Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France on Thursday made no progress.

Russia openly mocked British foreign minister Liz Truss when she visited on Thursday and there was no breakthrough after talks between Putin and Macron earlier in the week.

“I’m not going to speculate as to (Putin’s) motivations, his intentions, or, at this point, his decisions,” said Sullivan. “All I will say is that we are ready either way.”

Exclusive-U.S. to send 3,000 additional troops to Poland, officials say

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World7 hours ago (Feb 12, 2022 03:40AM ET)

Exclusive-U.S. to send 3,000 additional troops to Poland, officials say© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division walk near the G2A Arena following their arrival at Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport, in Jasionka, Poland February 8, 2022. Patryk Ogorzalek/Agencja Wyborcza.pl via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WA

By Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States will send 3,000 additional troops to Poland, Poland’s Defence Minister said late on Friday, confirming an earlier Reuters report, as Russia held military exercises in Belarus and the Black Sea following the buildup of its forces near Ukraine.

The additional troops will be sent to Poland in the coming days, four U.S. officials told Reuters on Friday.

The deployment comes as Washington steps up warnings that Russia could be poised to invade Ukraine. Russia denies it plans to invade, saying it is defending its own security against aggression by NATO allies.

Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak wrote on Twitter (NYSE:) late on Friday that Poland is ready to welcome the U.S. troops anytime.

“The U.S. administration will send additional 3,000 troops to Poland due to the tense situation in Ukraine. I spoke today about this issue with (U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd) Austin,” he said. “We are ready at any time to welcome U.S. soldiers to Poland.”

The officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. troop deployment will come from the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and not from within U.S. forces in Europe.

They are expected to be in Poland by next week, they said.

One of the officials described it as a significant deployment.

Another official said the deployment order was signed by Austin at the direction of President Joe Biden.

The soldiers are in addition to the 8,500 troops already on alert to be ready to deploy to Europe if needed and the nearly 3,000 American troops the administration said earlier this month it would deploy to Poland and Romania.

A spokesperson for Poland’s Defence Ministry did not confirm any additional details about timing or where the troops would be coming from.

Russia has already massed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine, and this week it launched joint military exercises in neighboring Belarus and naval drills in the Black Sea.

While it denies plans to invade Ukraine, Moscow has said it could take unspecified “military-technical” action unless a series of demands are met, including promises from NATO never to admit Ukraine and to withdraw forces from Eastern Europe.

The United States and Britain have both warned an invasion could come within days.

The Biden administration has urged American citizens to leave Ukraine now, stressing it will not send U.S. troops into Ukraine to help them flee the country if there is a Russian invasion.

While the United States does not have any ships in the Black Sea currently, the U.S. Navy has sent four additional destroyers to Europe in recent weeks.

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

Biden tells Putin Ukraine invasion would bring decisive response

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Biden tells Putin Ukraine invasion would bring decisive response© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin meet for the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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By Trevor Hunnicutt and Dmitry Antonov

WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden told Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Saturday that the West would respond decisively to any invasion of Ukraine, adding such a step would produce widespread suffering and isolate Moscow.

In the latest effort to manage growing hostility, the two men spoke by phone for an hour a day after Washington and its allies warned that the Russian military, which has 100,000 troops massed near Ukraine, could invade at any moment. Moscow has dismissed those warnings as “hysteria.”

Neither side said there had been any breakthroughs. A senior Biden administration official said the call was professional and substantive, but that there was no fundamental change.

The Kremlin said Putin told Biden Washington has failed to take Russia’s main concerns into account, and it had received no “substantial answer” on key elements including NATO’s expansion and the deployment of offensive forces to Ukraine.

The senior Biden administration official said it was unclear whether Putin was committed to diplomacy even as he agreed to stay in touch with Biden.

The call took place as Israel, Portugal and Belgium joined the list of countries that have urged their citizens to leave Ukraine immediately.

The U.S. State Department ordered most of its embassy staff to leave Ukraine. The Pentagon said it was withdrawing about 150 military trainers.

Australia said on Sunday it was evacuating its embassy in Kyiv, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling on China to speak up for Ukraine and not remain “chillingly silent” as Russia massed military forces on its border.

Morrison’s comments to a news conference followed criticism by China of a meeting of the U.S., Australian, Japanese and Indian foreign ministers last week in Melbourne.

“The coalition of autocracies that we are seeing, seeking to bully other countries, is not something that Australia ever takes a light position on,” Morrison said.

TELEPHONE DIPLOMACY

Biden was due to compare notes with French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke with both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Saturday, according to the White House. Biden’s top military and diplomatic officials held calls with their Russian counterparts.

Putin also spoke with Alexander Lukashenko, leader of Ukraine’s northern neighbor Belarus, which is engaged in major joint military drills with Russia.

After Macron’s call with Putin, a French presidency official said there were no indications from what Putin told Macron that Russia is preparing an offensive against Ukraine.

“We are nevertheless extremely vigilant and alert to the Russian (military) posture in order to avoid the worst,” the French official said.

Russia said on Saturday that it had decided to “optimize” its diplomatic staff numbers in Ukraine, fearing “provocations” by Kyiv or others. It said its embassy and consulates in Ukraine continued to perform their key functions.

A U.S. official on Saturday said there was no telling what Putin has decided, but that the steps Russia is taking “in plain sight” make them fear the worst.

ZELENSKIY CALLS FOR CALM

Biden told Putin during their call that the United States is pushing for diplomacy but ready for “other scenarios,” the White House said.

In Kyiv, several thousand Ukrainians filed through the center of the city, chanting “Glory to Ukraine” and carrying banners that said “Ukrainians will resist” and “invaders must die.”

Zelenskiy, who attended police drills in the southern Kherson region, echoed Washington’s assessment that a Russian attack could happen at any time, but stressed that it was important for Ukrainians to remain calm.

“The best friend of our enemies is panic in our country,” he said.

Putin, jostling for influence in post-Cold War Europe, is seeking security guarantees from Biden to block Kyiv’s entry into NATO and missile deployments near Russia’s borders.

Washington regards many of the proposals as non-starters but has pushed the Kremlin to discuss them jointly with Washington and its European allies.

Moscow has repeatedly disputed Washington’s version of events, saying it has massed the troops near the Ukrainian border to maintain its own security against aggression by NATO allies.

Also on Saturday, the Russian military said it had used “appropriate means” to make a U.S. submarine depart from Russian waters in the far east after the vessel ignored a Russian order to surface, Interfax news agency reported.

The submarine was detected in Russian waters as elements of Russia’s Pacific Fleet conducted naval exercises near the Kuril islands, the defence ministry was quoted as saying.

In a statement, a U.S. military spokesman denied it had carried out operations in Russian territorial waters.

Marketplace suspends most NFT sales, citing ‘rampant’ fakes and plagiarism

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Stock MarketsFeb 12, 2022 11:40AM ET

Marketplace suspends most NFT sales, citing 'rampant' fakes and plagiarism© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Cameron Hejazi, CEO and co-founder of the NFT marketplace Cent reacts in this handout photo in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., July 2021. Handout via REUTERS

By Elizabeth Howcroft

LONDON (Reuters) -The platform which sold an NFT of Jack Dorsey’s first tweet for $2.9 million has halted most transactions because people were selling tokens of content that did not belong to them, its founder said, calling this a “fundamental problem” in the fast-growing digital assets market.

Sales of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, soared to around $25 billion in 2021 https://www.reuters.com/markets/europe/nft-sales-hit-25-billion-2021-growth-shows-signs-slowing-2022-01-10, leaving many baffled as to why so much money is being spent on items that do not physically exist and which anyone can view online for free.

NFTs are crypto assets that record the ownership of a digital file such as an image, video or text. Anyone can create, or “mint”, an NFT, and ownership of the token does not usually confer ownership of the underlying item.

Reports of scams, counterfeits https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-tech-art-idUKL8N2TM0VV and “wash trading” https://www.reuters.com/technology/unreal-demand-irregular-sales-worth-billions-fire-up-wild-nft-market-2022-02-07 have become commonplace.

The U.S.-based Cent executed one of the first known million-dollar NFT sales when it sold the former Twitter (NYSE:) CEO’s tweet as an NFT https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/twitter-boss-jack-dorseys-first-tweet-sold-29-million-an-nft-2021-03-22 last March. But as of Feb. 6, it has stopped allowing buying and selling, CEO and co-founder Cameron Hejazi told Reuters.

“There’s a spectrum of activity that is happening that basically shouldn’t be happening – like, legally” Hejazi said.

While the Cent marketplace “beta.cent.co” has paused NFT sales, the part specifically for selling NFTs of tweets, which is called “Valuables”, is still active.

Hejazi highlighted three main problems: people selling unauthorised copies of other NFTs, people making NFTs of content which does not belong to them, and people selling sets of NFTs which resemble a security.

He said these issues were “rampant”, with users “minting and minting and minting counterfeit digital assets”.

“It kept happening. We would ban offending accounts but it was like we’re playing a game of whack-a-mole… Every time we would ban one, another one would come up, or three more would come up.”

“MONEY CHASING MONEY”

Such problems may come into greater focus as major brands join the rush towards the so-called “metaverse”, or Web3 https://www.reuters.com/article/tech-yearender-buzzwords-idCAKBN2IZ11H. Coca-Cola (NYSE:) and luxury brand Gucci are among companies to have sold NFTs, while YouTube https://www.reuters.com/technology/youtube-will-explore-nft-features-creators-2022-01-25 said it will explore NFT features.

While Cent, with 150,000 users and revenue “in the millions”, is a relatively small NFT platform, Hejazi said the issue of fake and illegal content exists across the industry.

“I think this is a pretty fundamental problem with Web3,” he said.

The biggest NFT marketplace, OpenSea, valued at $13.3 billion after its latest round of venture funding, said last month https://twitter.com/opensea/status/1486843201352716289? more than 80% of the NFTs minted for free on its platform were “plagiarized works, fake collections and spam”.

OpenSea tried limiting the number of NFTs a user could mint for free, but then reversed this decision following a backlash from users, the company said in a Twitter thread, adding that it was “working through a number of solutions” to deter “bad actors” while supporting creators.

“It is against our policy to sell NFTs using plagiarized content,” an OpenSea spokesperson said.

“We are working around the clock to ship products, add features, and refine our processes to meet the moment.”

To many NFT-enthusiasts, the decentralised nature of blockchain technology https://www.reuters.com/technology/what-is-metaverse-2021-10-18 is appealing, allowing users to create and trade digital assets without a central authority controlling the activity.

But Hejazi said his company was keen on protecting content-creators, and may introduce centralised controls as a short-term measure in order to re-open the marketplace, before exploring decentralised solutions.

It was after the Dorsey NFT sale that Cent started to get a sense of what was going on in NFT markets.

“We realized that a lot of it is just money chasing money.”

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Large U.S. banks to drop mask mandate in U.S. offices; NYSE follows suit

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Stock Markets7 hours ago (Feb 12, 2022 07:25AM ET)

Large U.S. banks to drop mask mandate in U.S. offices; NYSE follows suit© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo for Goldman Sachs is seen on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The New York Stock Exchange is withdrawing its mask mandate for fully vaccinated people effective immediately, a source said on Friday, after several large U.S. banks also dropped their mask requirements at their U.S. offices. The NYSE, which is owned by Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE:) Inc, is now making masks optional on the trading floor and other public areas for fully vaccinated personnel and visitors, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, adding that the existing COVID-19 polices would still remain in place.

The exchange joins investment banks such as Goldman Sachs (NYSE:), JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:), which also said on Friday that they were dropping the requirement for staff to wear masks in the office.

Goldman Sachs will no longer require masks to be worn by employees at its U.S. offices from Monday and will leave it to individuals to decide if they want to mask up, a spokeswoman at the bank said.

For fully vaccinated employees of JPMorgan working out of their U.S. offices, masks have been made completely voluntary, according to a memo seen by Reuters.

A large percentage of JPMorgan’s staff has been vaccinated, the memo sent to all U.S. employees said, adding that contact tracing and mandatory bi-weekly testing will be carried out for unvaccinated staff entering the offices.

Staff at Morgan Stanley’s offices will not be required to wear masks, a spokeswoman for the bank said, as only vaccinated employees are allowed into their buildings.

Major U.S. banks have rolled out plans to bring their staff back to office in recent weeks after the number of COVID-19 cases registered a drop.

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

U.S. investors expect more volatility as Ukraine concerns spook markets

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EconomyFeb 12, 2022 11:31AM ET

U.S. investors expect more volatility as Ukraine concerns spook markets© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is seen delivering remarks on a screen as a trader works on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 15, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

By Sinéad Carew and Devik Jain

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Geopolitical worries have added another layer of volatility to an already-jumpy market as investors priced in the possibility of escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine, though some doubted the issue would weigh on U.S. asset prices over the longer term.

Reports of rising tensions between the two countries slammed stocks on Friday and lifted prices for Treasuries, the dollar and other safe-haven assets. Investors were already rattled by a hawkish turn from the Federal Reserve.

“The market is reacting because an actual invasion has not yet been priced in,” said Michael Farr of Farr, Miller and Washington LLC. “The severity of an invasion, if one occurs, will correlate to the severity of the market’s reaction.”

Russia has massed enough troops near Ukraine to launch a major invasion, Washington said on Friday. It urged all U.S. citizens to leave Ukraine within 48 hours.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said it remained unclear whether Russian President Vladimir Putin had definitively given the order to invade. Sullivan said he expected U.S. President Joe Biden to press for a phone call soon with his counterpart.

Despite market gyrations, some investors were skeptical whether a more serious conflict would drag broader markets over the longer term.

“The reaction the market is likely to have is selling until it becomes more evident what an invasion looks like and then what kind of response U.S. and European allies have to it,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. “We’re not suggesting making any changes predicated on the news cycle around the topic.”

The benchmark closed down nearly 1.9% while the tech-heavy Nasdaq was off around 2.8%. [.N/C] The moves followed weakness on Thursday sparked by expectations that the Fed will aggressively fight surging inflation. The Cboe Volatility Index, Wall Street’s fear gauge, was up for a second straight session, hitting its highest since the end of January.

Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial (NASDAQ:), said the impact of major geopolitical events on U.S. stocks has been limited.

“For instance, after JFK was assassinated in November 1963 stocks went on one of their best six-month runs ever,” he said. “The truth is a solid economy can make up for a lot of sins.”

Jay Hatfield, chief investment officer at Infrastructure Capital Management, said the S&P 500 would probably find support at around 4,200, more than 200 points below Friday’s closing level.

An intensifying conflict could add “more credence to our view that the Fed will be more dovish than the market currently believes as the war would make the outlook even more uncertain,” he said.

But the Fed could stay aggressive if oil prices keep surging. Crude has already soared to seven-year highs on Ukraine jitters.

“By pushing energy prices even higher, a Russian invasion would likely exacerbate inflation and redouble pressure on the Fed to raise interest rates,” said Bill Adams, Chief Economist for Comerica (NYSE:) Bank, in a Friday note.

“From the Fed’s perspective, the inflationary effects of a Russian invasion and higher energy prices would likely outweigh the shock’s negative implications for global growth,” he said.

On Friday futures settled up $3.03, or 3.3%, at $94.44 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose $3.22, or 3.6%, to $93.10 a barrel.

Worries over the conflict will “create volatility until people verify it’s true and what is the duration before international leadership steps in and to what extent does the rest of the world step in,” said Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital LLC in New York.

“We just have to see how this plays out over the weekend and whether or not international leadership can bring this under wraps,” he said.

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

TD Bank freezes two accounts that received C$1.4 million in support of Canada protests

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Stock MarketsFeb 12, 2022 11:55AM ET

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TD Bank freezes two accounts that received C$1.4 million in support of Canada protests© Reuters. Demonstrators gather downtown as truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 12, 2022. REUTERS/Blair Gable

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By Nichola Saminather

TORONTO (Reuters) -Toronto-Dominion Bank has frozen two personal bank accounts into which C$1.4 million ($1.1 million) had been deposited to support protesters fighting the Canadian government’s pandemic measures, a bank spokesperson said on Saturday.

The demonstrations, dubbed the “Freedom Convoy” by Canadian truckers opposing a vaccination mandate https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-canada-trucking-idCNL1N2UK2CD for cross-border drivers as well as other pandemic restrictions, are now in their third week. They have gridlocked the capital Ottawa and blocked U.S.-Canada border crossings, damaging trade between the two countries.

Early on Saturday, Canadian police began clearing protesters https://www.reuters.com/article/healthcoronavirus-canada-trucking/update-1-canada-police-start-to-clear-protesters-blocking-u-s-canada-bridge-idINL1N2UN09T blocking a key bridge linking Canada and the United States.

TD applied to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Friday to take the funds, which were sent through GoFundMe and bank transfers, so they can either be sent to the intended recipients or returned to the donors “who have requested refunds but whose entitlement to a refund cannot be determined by TD,” the bank said in a statement.

TD has been put “on notice that their actions are improper and disappointing,” Keith Wilson, a lawyer for the convoy, said in an email on Saturday, adding the convoy will seek a court order next week to release the donations to a new not-for-profit corporation that has been set up to manage and distribute them.

One of the bank accounts received a lump sum of C$1 million through GoFundMe, while the rest was sent to the second account through multiple bank e-transfers, the TD spokesperson said. TD does not know where the GoFundMe payment originated, they said.

GoFundMe took down the protest convoy’s donation page on Feb. 4 after it reached $10 million, prompting most of the protesters to turn to Boston-based GiveSendGo. GoFundMe has said https://twitter.com/gofundme it will refund the donations.

The Ontario Superior Court on Thursday ordered GiveSendGo to freeze all funds sent in aid of the protest. The crowdfunding platform defied that order in a tweet https://twitter.com/GiveSendGo/status/1491940399505682434 on Thursday.

The protest has raised C$11 million on GiveSendGo, Wilson said.

“We are also going to be taking the Ontario government to court to seek an immediate lifting of what we consider to be an unlawful order,” he said.

Canada’s other major banks did not immediately respond to emails asking if they were taking steps similar to TD.

The country’s anti-money-laundering agency told a parliamentary committee on Thursday that it has not seen a spike in suspicious transaction reporting from the banks in recent weeks.

($1 = 1.2736 Canadian dollars)

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

Canada police in standoff with protesters blocking bridge to U.S.

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Stock Markets18 hours ago (Feb 12, 2022 10:58PM ET)

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Canada police in standoff with protesters blocking bridge to U.S.© Reuters. A man reacts as truckers and supporters continue blocking access to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, in protest against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada February 11, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo

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By Kayla Tarnowski and Carlos Osorio

WINDSOR, Ontario (Reuters) – Canadian police made the first arrest of a protester blocking a key bridge to the United States on Saturday, more than a day after authorities moved in seeking to end the blockade of the important trade corridor.

Demonstrators opposing government pandemic restrictions have occupied the Ambassador Bridge for the fifth straight day, snarling international trade and prompting President Joe Biden to call for an end to the siege. But there was still no sign when traffic would resume.

Late on Saturday, Windsor Police arrested a 27-year-old male for a criminal offence in relation to the demonstration.

While police have successfully pushed back protesters from the foot of the Ambassador Bridge, which links Detroit and Windsor, more people were streaming into the area and the operation appeared to have stalled.

As the afternoon dragged on, some Canadians questioned what was behind the delay, given the order issued by a court on Friday to end the blockade and the imposition of a state of emergency declared by Ontario authorities.

“It would essentially send a message that the state is not able to retain control, where it’s attempted to do so,” Michael Kempa, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa, told CBC News.

“The longer this drags on, the longer people have the idea that what they are doing is not an illegal protest,” he said.

The Ambassador Bridge is North America’s busiest land border crossing. Since Monday, protesters in trucks, cars and vans have blocked traffic in both directions, choking the supply chain https://www.reuters.com/world/us/gm-cancels-two-shifts-lansing-plant-following-canadian-trucking-protests-2022-02-10 for Detroit’s carmakers.

The “Freedom Convoy” protests, started in the capital Ottawa by Canadian truckers opposing a vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, entered its 16th day on Saturday. It has morphed into a wider protest https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/how-ottawas-anti-vaccine-mandate-protests-are-spreading-globally-2022-02-09 against COVID-19 curbs, with people joining in with smaller vehicles, including cars, vans and pick-up trucks.

During a meeting of his top advisers on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed border crossings cannot, and will not, remain closed, and all options remain on the table, a readout issued by his office said.

Early on Saturday, Windsor Police urged demonstrators to act lawfully and peacefully. Officers in black uniforms with yellow vests moved behind the demonstrators’ vehicles and, accompanied by police cruisers, slowly advanced on the protesters, pushing them back from the bridge entrance.

OTTAWA PROTESTS ESCALATE

The number of demonstrators had thinned to roughly two dozen early on Saturday from about 200 on Friday night.

“We are opening up this intersection to traffic. If you fail to comply with our instructions you will be arrested,” police told the crowd via a loudspeaker.

Protesters moved back in a noisy but peaceful retreat, dismantling tents and barbecues. But since then, police have not progressed, witnesses said. Concrete barricades have been set up in front of the police near the Ambassador Bridge to keep protesters from reclaiming any ground.

Some 4,000 protesters gathered in downtown Ottawa on Saturday and some tore down a fence that had been erected around the National War Memorial. Ottawa Police has established a new command centre consisting to federal and provincial police to respond to the escalation.

Protests have spread to other border points, including two smaller crossings in Alberta and Manitoba and Pacific Highway Border Crossing in British Columbia, strangling trade between the two countries.

Canadian police have said the protests have been partly funded by U.S. supporters and Ontario froze funds donated via one U.S. platform, GiveSendGo, on Thursday.

Toronto-Dominion Bank has frozen two personal bank accounts into which C$1.4 million ($1.1 million) had been deposited in support of the protesters.

The protests have inspired similar convoys and plans in the United States, France, New Zealand and Australia.

In Paris, French police fired tear gas https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/police-stop-50-vehicles-heading-paris-protest-convoy-2022-02-12 at demonstrators on the Champs Elysees avenue on Saturday shortly after a convoy carrying protesters against COVID-19 restrictions made it into the capital.

Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, General Motors (NYSE:) and Toyota Motor (NYSE:) Co all have announced production cuts. Companies have diverted cargo to stem losses amid production cuts.

The estimated loss from the blockades just to the automobile industry could be as high as $700 million, based on IHS Markit’s data, which puts the daily flow in vehicles and parts at $141.1 million day in 2021.

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Thousands march in Kyiv to show unity against Russian threat

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World30 minutes ago (Feb 12, 2022 01:02PM ET)

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Thousands march in Kyiv to show unity against Russian threat© Reuters. People take part in the Unity March, which is a procession to demonstrate Ukrainians’ patriotic spirit amid growing tensions with Russia, in Kyiv, Ukraine February 12, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

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By Pavel Polityuk and Valentyn Ogirenko

KYIV (Reuters) – Several thousand Ukrainians rallied in Kyiv on Saturday to show unity amid fears of a Russian invasion, as Ukraine’s leader told people not to panic and pushed back against what he said was a glut of bleak war predictions being reported in the media.

Tension has mounted as Russia has built up more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine and carried out large-scale exercises. The United States said on Friday an invasion could start at any moment. Russia denies planning to invade.

Ukrainians filed through the centre of Kyiv in a column, chanting “Glory to Ukraine” and carrying Ukrainian flags and banners that said “Ukrainians will resist” and “Invaders must die”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who attended police drills in southern Kherson region, said a Russian attack could happen at any time, but pushed back against what he called excessive amounts of information about a major looming war.

“The best friend of our enemies is panic in our country. And all this information is just provoking panic and can’t help us,” he said. “I can’t agree or disagree with what hasn’t happened yet. So far, there is no full-scale war in Ukraine.”

The United States and numerous Western governments have urged their citizens to leave Ukraine, and Washington on Saturday said it was ordering most of its Kyiv embassy staff to leave.

“We have to be ready each day. It did not begin yesterday. It began in 2014, so, we are ready and this is why we are here,” Zelenskiy said in a reference to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and backing for an anti-Kyiv separatist insurgency in the east.

In a separate statement, the head of Ukrainian armed forces Valery Zaluzhny and Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said the aggressor won’t take Kyiv, Odessa, Kharkiv, or any other Ukraine’s city.

“We have strengthened the defense of Kyiv. We have gone through the war and due preparation. Therefore, we are ready to meet enemies and not with flowers, but with Stingers, Javelins and NLAW. Welcome to hell!”, Zaluzhny said, referring to an array of anti-rocket and anti-aircraft weapons received from the West.

The military says Ukrainian intelligence and the army have control of the situation on the borders and Kyiv is coordinating its actions with allies.

“Such a union of leading democracies has not existed for decades,” Zaluzhny and Reznikov said.

Zelenskiy voiced frustrations just last month with dire assessments of a war. Such warnings have taken their toll on the economic, piling pressure on the national currency.

U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will speak later on Saturday.

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

French COVID protest convoy defies Paris stay-away order

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World14 hours ago (Feb 12, 2022 10:22PM ET)

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French COVID protest convoy defies Paris stay-away order© Reuters. People gather as a vehicle convoy with French and Canadian flags passes, in Nantes, France, February 11, 2022 in this still image obtained from a video posted on social media. Photos Souvenir/via REUTERS

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By Antony Paone and Leigh Thomas

PARIS (Reuters) – A convoy protesting COVID-19 restrictions breached police defences and drove into central Paris on Saturday, snarling traffic around the Arc de Triomphe and on the Champs Elysees, as police fired tear gas at demonstrators.

Protesters in cars, campervans, tractors and other vehicles had converged on Paris from Lille, Perpignan, Nice and other cities late on Friday, despite warnings from Paris authorities that they would be barred from entering the capital.

Inspired by horn-blaring “Freedom Convoy” demonstrations in Canada, dozens of vehicles slipped through the police cordon, impeding traffic around the 19th century arch and the top of the boutique-lined Champs Elysees, a magnet for tourists.

Inside the city’s limits, motorists in the “Freedom Convoy” waved tricolour flags and honked in defiance of the police ban.

On the Champs Elysees, clouds of tear gas swirled through the terraces of bars and restaurants.

Riot police also threw tear gas grenades to keep order at an authorised street protest where demonstrators, including some “Yellow Vests” railed against President Emmanuel Macron’s coronavirus vaccine pass rules and the cost of living.

On the Champs Elysees, police used tear gas into the evening as sporadic scuffles continued and one person who collapsed on the sidewalk was brought to hospital for checks, police said.

France requires people to show proof of vaccination to enter public places such as cafes, restaurants and museums, with a negative test no longer being sufficient for unvaccinated people.

“We can’t take the vaccine pass any more,” said Nathalie Galdeano, who had come from southwest France by bus to participate in the protests.

Police said that they had arrested 54 people, handed out 337 fines by and stopped 500 vehicles trying to get into Paris in the morning. The Interior Ministry said about 32,000 people participated in protests nationwide, including 7,600 in Paris.

Less than two months from a presidential election, Macron’s government is eager to keep protests from spiralling into large-scale demonstrations like the anti-government Yellow Vest revolt of 2018.

That movement began as a protest against fuel taxes and grew into a broader revolt that saw some of the worst street violence in decades and tested Macron’s authority.

Grievances expressed by protesters in the “Freedom Convoy” extend beyond COVID restrictions, with anger simmering over a perceived fall in standards of living amid surging inflation.

Police had mobilised more than 7,000 officers, set up checkpoints and deployed armoured personnel carriers and water cannon trucks in preparation for the protests.

Separately police also said they had arrested five protesters in southern Paris in possession of sling shots, hammers, knives and gas masks.

Canadian truckers protesting a vaccine mandate for trans-border traffic have paralysed parts of the capital Ottawa since late January and blocked U.S.-Canada crossing points. Canadian police began clearing protesters blocking a key bridge linking Canada and the United States on Saturday.

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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