Day: September 17, 2022

Bank holdups snowball in Lebanon as depositors demand their own money

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Economy 3 hours ago (Sep 17, 2022 02:23AM ET)

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Bank holdups snowball in Lebanon as depositors demand their own money© Reuters. A man walks outside a closed Byblos Bank branch, where a man, according to security source, was detained after holding up the bank to access his own savings, in the southern city of Ghazieh, Lebanon September 16, 2022. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

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By Timour Azhari and Laila Bassam

BEIRUT (Reuters) -Five Lebanese banks were held up by depositors seeking access to their own money frozen in the banking system on Friday, in a spiralling spate of holdups this week spurred by frustration over a financial implosion with no end in sight.

Seven banks have been held up since Wednesday in Lebanon, where commercial banks have locked most depositors out of their savings since an economic crisis took hold three years ago, leaving much of the population unable to pay for basics.

On Friday morning, an armed man identified as Abed Soubra entered BLOM Bank in the capital’s Tariq Jdideh neighbourhood demanding his deposit, the bank told Reuters.

He later handed his gun to security forces but remained locked in the bank past sunset, negotiating with bank officials to withdraw his $300,000 in savings in cash, he told Reuters.

Soubra eventually left the bank with no money as part of a settlement negotiated by an influential sheikh, local media reported. He was not taken into custody.

Throughout the day, he had been cheered on by a large crowd of people gathered outside, including Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein, who carried out a hold-up in August to get his own deposits from his bank, which dropped charges against him.

“We’re going to keep seeing this happen as long as people have money inside. What do you want them to do? They don’t have another solution,” said Hussein.

BANKS ARE ‘WORTH MY SHOE’

The Depositors’ Union, an advocacy group established to help clients get access to their funds, described Friday’s hold-up spree as “the depositors’ uprising” and a “natural and justified reaction” to banks’ restrictions.

Lebanon’s banks association announced a three-day closure next week over security concerns and urged the government to pass laws to deal with the crisis.

Authorities have been slow to pass reforms that would grant access to $3 billion from the International Monetary Fund, and on Friday failed to pass a 2022 budget.

Without a capital controls law, banks have imposed unilateral limits on what most depositors can retrieve each week in U.S. dollars or the Lebanese lira, which has lost more than 95% of its value since 2019.

The four other hold-ups on Friday concluded in partial pay-outs with a total of $60,000 cash given to the assailants, most of whom were arrested while one went into hiding.

Jawad Slim entered a branch of LGB Bank in Beirut’s Ramlet al-Bayda area on Friday morning.

By nightfall, he agreed with the bank to leave with $15,000 in U.S. dollars and a cheque for $35,000 which he could cash in at a haircut, his brother told local media.

Security forces took him into custody but it was not immediately clear what charges would be pressed.

Separately, Lebanese citizen Mohammad al-Moussawi got $20,000 in cash from his account at the Banque Libano-Francaise bank after threatening employees with a fake gun.

“This banking system is tricking us and it’s worth my shoe,” he said, telling Reuters he would be going into hiding. BLF confirmed the incident took place.

In the fifth incident on Friday afternoon, a former member of the military got $25,000 in cash from his account at a BankMed branch outside of Beirut after firing shots inside the branch and threatening to commit suicide if he did not get the full amount, an industry source told Reuters.

The source said the man handed the money to his mother and was subsequently detained by security forces.

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Thailand GDP to grow 3%-3.5% this year as tourism rebounds – Finance Minister

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Economy 7 hours ago (Sep 17, 2022 03:15AM ET)

Thailand GDP to grow 3%-3.5% this year as tourism rebounds - Finance Minister© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Thai finance minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith speaks during an interview with Reuters in Bangkok, Thailand, REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

By Orathai Sriring and Kitiphong Thaichareon

BANGKOK (Reuters) -Thailand’s economy is expected to grow by 3% to 3.5% this year and 3% to 4% next year, helped by increased exports and a pickup in the vital tourism sector after reopening the country to visitors, the finance minister said on Saturday.

The Southeast Asian country expects eight million to 10 million foreign tourist arrivals this year, having received five million so far this year, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith told a Radio Thailand programme.

That is far above last year’s 428,000 visitors when the economy grew 1.5%, among the slowest in the region. In 2019 before COVID-19, there were nearly 40 million foreign tourists.

Thailand’s recovery has lagged others in the region due to a slow recovery in the tourism sector, which typically accounts for about 12% of gross domestic product.

“Our economic recovery is slow but stable,” Arkhom said.

Exports should increase 10% this year, boosted by a weak baht, and continue to support the economy next year, alongside tourism and government investment, he said.

The government reported on Saturday the jobless rate dropped to 1.3% in July, its lowest since the start of the pandemic, from 1.4% in June.

Thailand’s definition of unemployment is narrow, however, and analysts say the figures do not catch its significant unofficial economy.

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Bank of Canada says it must communicate clearly on inflation – newspaper

Bank of Canada says it must communicate clearly on inflation - newspaper© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A sign is pictured outside the Bank of Canada building in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo

(Reuters) – The Bank of Canada’s senior deputy governor, Carolyn Rogers (NYSE:), says the current period of high inflation has focused the central bank’s efforts to communicate clearly and concisely, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported late on Friday.

The Bank of Canada has been trying to simplify its public outreach for a number of years, publishing videos and plain-language explainers of monetary policy.

“The best way to keep Canadians’ expectations on inflation low is to get inflation back to target,” Rogers told the Globe and Mail. “But in the meantime, we think that the more Canadians understand what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it, the more trust they’ll build in the Bank of Canada.”

The Bank of Canada hiked interest rates to 3.25% from 2.50% earlier this month, to their highest level in 14 years, and signaled its most aggressive tightening campaign in decades was not yet done as it battles to tame inflation.

“The scenario that we’re worried about is that Canadians look at the current rate of inflation, they think it’s here to stay, they start incorporating that thinking into long-term decision making,” the newspaper quoted Rogers as saying in a news conference after the rate hike.

U.S. Justice Dept asks appeals court to allow review of classified docs in Trump probe

U.S. Justice Dept asks appeals court to allow review of classified docs in Trump probe© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington, U.S., December 15, 2020. REUTERS/Al Drago/File Photo

By Jacqueline Thomsen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Justice Department on Friday asked a federal appeals court to let it resume reviewing classified materials seized in an FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate.

In the filing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, the Justice Department said the circuit court should halt part of the lower court decision that prevents prosecutors from relying on the classified documents in their criminal investigation into the retention of government records at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach after his presidency ended.

The department also asked that a third party appointed to examine all the records taken in the federal raid at Trump’s part, Senior U.S. Judge Raymond Dearie, not be permitted to review the classified materials.

The government asked the appeals court to rule on the request “as soon as practicable.”

Trump’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the unprecedented search of the former president’s property, the Justice Department has said it is investigating the retention of government records – some marked as highly classified, including “top secret” – as well as obstruction of a federal probe.

The Justice Department must now convince the Atlanta-based appeals court, with a conservative majority, to take its side in litigation over the records probe. Trump appointees make up six of the 11 active judges on the 11th Circuit.

The government’s motion comes after U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday rejected the same requests from the Justice Department.

Cannon, whom Trump appointed to the bench in 2020, had said she would tell Dearie, who is filling the role of a “special master” in the case, to prioritize the classified records in his review, which she set a Nov. 30 deadline to complete.

There were roughly 100 classified documents among the 11,000 records gathered in the FBI’s court-approved Aug. 8 search at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

If Cannon’s ruling stands, experts said, it would likely stall the Justice Department investigation involving the government records.

The government’s Friday filing at times directly took issue with Cannon’s prior decisions in the case. Prosecutors said the judge cited court papers from Trump’s lawyers that suggested the former president could have declassified the documents marked as classified, but those legal briefs stopped short of claiming Trump did so.

“The court erred in granting extraordinary relief based on unsubstantiated possibilities,” the government lawyers wrote.

The Justice Department also criticized Cannon’s direction that classified records be disclosed to Dearie and Trump’s lawyers as part of an outside review of all records taken in the search, and described the former president’s attorneys as potentially being witnesses to “relevant events” in the criminal probe.

The department is also looking into possible obstruction of the probe after it found evidence that records may have been removed or concealed from the FBI when it sent agents to Mar-a-Lago in June to try to recover all classified documents through a grand jury subpoena.

Trump’s lawyers had opposed the government’s latest requests to Cannon, telling the judge in a Monday filing they dispute the government’s claim that all the records are classified, and that a special master is needed to help keep prosecutors in check.

Trump’s attorneys instigated the litigation over the records investigation last month, seeking a third party to go over the materials taken by federal agents and determine if any should be shielded from investigators. The former president’s legal team argued that some materials could be covered by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege – a legal doctrine that can shield some presidential records from disclosure.

Cannon granted that request in a Sept. 5 ruling, rejecting Justice Department arguments that the records belong to the government and that because Trump is no longer president he cannot claim executive privilege.

Dearie said earlier on Friday he will hold his first hearing on the privilege review for the seized documents on Tuesday, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.

U.S. appeals court rejects big tech’s right regulate online speech

Stock Markets 19 hours ago (Sep 17, 2022 09:30AM ET)

U.S. appeals court rejects big tech's right regulate online speech© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Facebook, Google and Twitter logos are seen in this combination photo from Reuters files. REUTERS/File Photo

(Corrects to largely 2-1 ruling in second paragraph)

By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld a Texas law that bars large social media companies from banning or censoring users based on “viewpoint,” a setback for technology industry groups that say the measure would turn platforms into bastions of dangerous content.

The largely 2-1 ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, sets up the potential for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the law, which conservatives and right-wing commentators have said is necessary to prevent “Big Tech” from suppressing their views.

“Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say,” Judge Andrew Oldham, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, wrote in the ruling.

The Texas law was passed by the state’s Republican-led legislature and signed by its Republican governor.

The tech groups that challenged the law and were on the losing end of Friday’s ruling include NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which count Meta Platforms’ Facebook (NASDAQ:), Twitter (NYSE:) and Alphabet (NASDAQ:) Inc’s YouTube as members.

They have sought to preserve rights to regulate user content when they believe it may lead to violence, citing concerns that unregulated platforms will enable extremists such as Nazi supporters, terrorists and hostile foreign governments.

The association on Friday said it disagreed with forcing private companies to give equal treatment to all viewpoints. “‘God Bless America’ and ‘Death to America’ are both viewpoints, and it is unwise and unconstitutional for the state of Texas to compel a private business to treat those the same,” it said in a statement.

Some conservatives have labeled the social media companies’ practices abusive, pointing to Twitter’s permanent suspension of Trump from the platform shortly after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters. Twitter had cited “the risk of further incitement of violence” as a reason.

The Texas law forbids social media companies with at least 50 million monthly active users from acting to “censor” users based on “viewpoint,” and allows either users or the Texas attorney general to sue to enforce the law.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Twitter hailed the ruling as “massive victory for the constitution and free speech.”

Because the 5th Circuit ruling conflicts with part of a ruling by the 11th Circuit, the aggrieved parties have a stronger case for petitioning the Supreme Court to hear the matter.

In May, the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, found that most of a similar Florida law violates the companies’ free speech rights and cannot be enforced.

(This story corrects to largely 2-1 ruling in second paragraph)

Hungary extends energy and food price caps amid soaring inflation

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Economy 7 hours ago (Sep 17, 2022 08:30AM ET)

Hungary extends energy and food price caps amid soaring inflation© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A driver fills a car at an Envi petrol station in Budakalasz, Hungary, June 13, 2022. Picture taken June 13, 2022. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

BUDAPEST (Reuters) -Hungary has extended price caps on fuels and basic foodstuff by three months until the end of the year in a bid to shield households from soaring costs, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff told a briefing on Saturday.

Budapest has sharply criticised the European Union for imposing sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, saying they have failed to weaken Moscow meaningfully while causing a surge in food and energy prices.

Combined with falls in the forint to record lows, the price rises have sent Hungary’s inflation to two-decade highs, forcing the National Bank of Hungary to hike its base rate sharply to 11.75%.

Announcing the price cap extensions beyond their original Oct.1 expiry, Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, also said the government would extend a cap on mortgage rates that was originally due to expire at the end of this year, by “at least six months”.

“We now assess that as long as the () sanctions are in place, there is no realistic chance for an improvement,” Gulyas told the media briefing.

Orban’s government has also decided to launch a support scheme for energy-intensive small businesses, covering half of the increase in their energy bills compared with last year’s levels, Economic Development Minister Marton Nagy said.

He said the government would also launch an investment support scheme for small businesses to help them improve their energy efficiency and cut costs.

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XRP Climbs 10% As Investors Gain Confidence

Cryptocurrency 12 hours ago (Sep 17, 2022 09:21AM ET)

XRP Climbs 10% As Investors Gain ConfidenceXRP Climbs 10% As Investors Gain Confidence

Investing.com – was trading at $0.36221 by 09:21 (13:21 GMT) on the Investing.com Index on Saturday, up 10.08% on the day. It was the largest one-day percentage gain since February 25.

The move upwards pushed XRP’s market cap up to $17.92182B, or 1.86% of the total cryptocurrency market cap. At its highest, XRP’s market cap was $83.44071B.

XRP had traded in a range of $0.34648 to $0.36251 in the previous twenty-four hours.

Over the past seven days, XRP has seen a stagnation in value, as it only moved 1.19%. The volume of XRP traded in the twenty-four hours to time of writing was $1.34660B or 2.25% of the total volume of all cryptocurrencies. It has traded in a range of $0.3219 to $0.3625 in the past 7 days.

At its current price, XRP is still down 88.99% from its all-time high of $3.29 set on January 4, 2018.

Elsewhere in cryptocurrency trading

was last at $19,854.6 on the Investing.com Index, up 0.85% on the day.

was trading at $1,423.85 on the Investing.com Index, a loss of 2.10%.

Bitcoin’s market cap was last at $380.52639B or 39.51% of the total cryptocurrency market cap, while Ethereum’s market cap totaled $174.53341B or 18.12% of the total cryptocurrency market value.

Japan issues special typhoon warning as ‘unprecedented’ storm approaches

Japan issues special typhoon warning as 'unprecedented' storm approaches

TOKYO (Reuters) -The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a special typhoon warning on Saturday for Kagoshima prefecture on Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s main islands, as the region braces for a powerful and potentially destructive super typhoon.

The warning came after the weather agency earlier in the day urged residents to evacuate parts of the Kyushu, ahead of the typhoon Nanmadol, expected to bring up to half a metre (20 inches) of rain when it makes landfall on Sunday.

Nanmadol, classified as a super typhoon by the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center, has the potential to be the most destructive tropical storm to strike Japan in decades.

The 14th typhoon of the season was near Japan’s southern Minami-Daito Island heading northwest at 20 kph (12 mph) on Saturday afternoon. Winds at the centre of the storm were blowing at 198 kph (123 mph) and gusting up to 270 kph (167 mph), according to the JMA.

“Unprecedented” storms and rainfall could strike the area, JMA official Ryuta Kurora said at a televised news conference, urging residents there to evacuate before it gets dark.

Southern Kyushu could receive 500 mm (20 inches) of rain on Sunday, while the central Tokai region could see 300 mm (12 inches) the agency forecast.

The special typhoon warning would be the first such alert for any prefecture north of the Okinawa island chain, domestic media reported.

Kyushu Railway Co began halting some train lines on Saturday ahead of wider suspensions on Sunday. Hundreds of weekend flights in the southern region were being cancelled, broadcaster NHK reported, causing confusion among passengers travelling over the long weekend.

Convenience store chain Seven-Eleven Japan would temporarily shut about 610 stores in the Kyushu and Chugoku regions from Saturday night, local media reported.

The storm was forecast to curve east and pass over Tokyo on Tuesday, before moving out to sea by Wednesday.

Domestic broadcasters aired footage of strong winds and rain already lashing down on Japan’s southern island chain of Okinawa as the storm approached.

Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan ceasefire holds up after border fighting

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World 16 minutes ago (Sep 17, 2022 10:15AM ET)

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Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan ceasefire holds up after border fighting© Reuters. Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov and Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon attend a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan September 16, 2022. Sultan Dosaliev/Kyrgyz Presidential Press Service/Hando

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BISHKEK (Reuters) -Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan reported no major combat incidents on Saturday, indicating that a ceasefire they agreed after intense fighting on Friday remained in effect despite accusations of sporadic shelling by both sides.

The two former Soviet republics clashed over a border dispute this week, accusing each other of using tanks, mortars, rocket artillery and assault drones to attack outposts and nearby settlements, leaving at least 54 dead.

Central Asian border issues largely stem from the Soviet era when Moscow tried to divide the region between groups whose settlements were often located amidst those of other ethnicities.

Kyrgyzstan, which said 24 of its citizens had been killed and about 137,000 evacuated from the conflict area, accused Tajik forces of shelling its border outposts on several occasions on Saturday.

Tajikistan has not given any official casualty numbers, but security sources said 30 people have been killed this week, including 15 who were in a mosque that Tajikistan says was struck by a Kyrgyz drone.

The administration of Tajikistan’s northern Sughd province – where the clashes erupted – said tensions were easing in the border area.

“As a result of meetings between Tajik and Kyrgyz delegations the situation on the border is stabilising, people are returning to normal life,” it said in a statement.

Both countries host Russian military bases and are members of several Russia-led military and economic blocs.

Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon and his Kyrgyz counterpart Sadyr Japarov were attending a meeting of a Russia- and China-led regional body this week when the border violence erupted.

On Saturday, Japarov said in an address to the nation that Kyrgyzstan would not give up any land in the disputed area.

“We will not stop even for a minute our efforts to settle the Kyrgyz-Tajik dispute as quickly as possible,” he said.

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Bank of New York Mellon chief auditor Bradnock dies

Stock Markets 15 hours ago (Sep 17, 2022 11:10AM ET)

Bank of New York Mellon chief auditor Bradnock dies© Reuters.

(Reuters) – Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:) Corp’s chief auditor Paulette Mullings Bradnock has died, the company said in a statement on Saturday.

“BNY Mellon is deeply saddened at the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Paulette Mullings Bradnock, who had served as our Chief Auditor since 2015,” the bank said.

She worked as the director of internal audit at American International Group (NYSE:) before moving to BNY Mellon in May 2015, according to her Linkedin profile.

Prior to that, Bradnock worked with JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:) for more than two decades where she held multiple senior positions.

She also served as the vice-chair of the board of trustees at her alma mater Queens College.

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