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November 6, 2022 – rdspinvestments

November 6, 2022

Eli Lilly says some staff want to leave Indiana because of abortion ban, Financial Times reports

Stock Markets 6 hours ago (Nov 06, 2022 09:30AM ET)

Eli Lilly says some staff want to leave Indiana because of abortion ban, Financial Times reports© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical manufacturing plant is pictured at 50 ImClone Drive in Branchburg, New Jersey, March 5, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

(Reuters) – Some Eli Lilly (NYSE:) and Co employees have requested transfers from the drugmaker’s Indiana operations after the U.S. state’s lawmakers approved a bill that would ban most abortions there, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

Some staff had asked to relocate outside the state even though an Indiana judge has temporarily halted the ban, the Indiana-based pharmaceutical firm’s chief executive David Ricks told the newspaper in an interview.

His comments come after the Republican-controlled Indiana Senate passed a law in August banning most abortions. The U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned the national right to the procedure it had recognized in its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

An Indiana judge blocked the state in September from enforcing the new law while Planned Parenthood and other healthcare providers challenge it in court.

Ricks said the new restrictions had created challenges for people to come to work in Indiana and that if Eli Lilly wanted to attract and retain the best staff, it had to grow in other locations, the FT said.

Eli Lilly did not provide details on how many staff have asked to move from Indiana, the FT said.

But it quoted Rick as saying the restrictions would not become an impediment to working for the company and that the drugmaker would consider factors such as abortion when considering relocation requests.

China opposes Canada’s order on lithium mining investments

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Economy 16 hours ago (Nov 06, 2022 01:40AM ET)

China opposes Canada's order on lithium mining investments© Reuters.

BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Sunday said it will take the necessary steps to safeguard the rights and interests of its companies after Canada last week ordered three Chinese companies to divest their investments in Canadian critical minerals, citing national security.

In a statement, China’s commerce ministry said it urged Canada to stop politicising economic and trade issues.

China opposes Canada’s order on lithium mining investments

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Thousands march in Peru, demanding resignation of leftist President Castillo

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World 43 minutes ago (Nov 06, 2022 01:51AM ET)

5/5

Thousands march in Peru, demanding resignation of leftist President Castillo© Reuters. People carry a Peruvian flag, during a protest against the government of Peru’s President Pedro Castillo, in Lima, Peru November 5, 2022. REUTERS/Sebastian Castaneda

2/5

By Marco Aquino

LIMA (Reuters) – Thousands of people took to the streets across Peru on Saturday to demand the resignation of embattled President Pedro Castillo, a leftist whose government is under investigation for corruption.

Carrying the Andean nation’s vertically striped red-white-red flag and signs with anti-government slogans, protesters marched towards the opposition-dominated Congress in the capital Lima.

Castillo has called those who oppose his government “reactionaries” and “the enemies of people”.

Police with helmets and plastic shields launched several tear gas canisters in an attempt to disperse the crowds. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Castillo, who took office in July last year, has already survived two impeachment attempts. Opposition legislators are seeking a fresh trial against the president even though Congress recognized it would not gather sufficient votes.

“We see a government involved in corruption and Congress doesn’t react,” said Lucas Ghersi, a conservative lawyer who is one of the organizers of the march, called Peru Reacts.

In October, Peru’s attorney general filed a constitutional complaint against Castillo with Congress that the right-wing opposition hopes will end in his removal from office.

    Discontent has been rising in Peru. “I come for my children, for my grandchildren, because this government is becoming hell,” said Maria del Pilar Blancas.

“They want us to become one more Venezuela,” she said, referring to the South American neighbor that went into an economic freefall.

Similar protests were held in other cities across the country, including Arequipa, Chiclayo, Cusco and Trujillo, according to reports and images broadcast by local television channel Canal N.

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Energy & Precious Metals – Weekly Review and Outlook

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Commodities 22 hours ago (Nov 06, 2022 03:55AM ET)

Energy & Precious Metals - Weekly Review and Outlook© Reuters

By Barani Krishnan

Investing.com — Markets tend to overcorrect on the way down and overreach on the way up. A 2% drop in crude prices on China’s COVID lockdowns can be surprising given Beijing’s relative overzealousness in dealing with the pandemic when the rest of the world has moved on from it.

Likewise Friday’s 5% rally in oil, driven apparently by talk that China is easing its so-called COVID-Zero policy. 

Really?

Each time I hear speculation of Beijing backpedaling on its COVID policy, I’m reminded of John Kilduff’s short take on Chinese lockdowns, which, despite its seeming flippancy, is as accurate as any long McKinsey perspective on the matter. “You’ll hear today that China is reopening, only to hear next week that they’re re-closing,”  Kilduff, a founding partner of New York energy hedge fund Again Capital, told me. I laughed then, and still laugh at how right he was about people who take the Chinese government too seriously.

I’m inclined to believe the oil rally on Friday was in response to news that the Group of Seven nations, along with Australia, had finally agreed to set a fixed price on Russian oil. This had been a compromise to finding a floating rate which had been nigh impossible for proponents of the plan.

Vladimir Putin, who has weaponized Russian energy in every form, except by name, has threatened to withhold oil from countries that participate in the G7 plan, which simply intends to limit Moscow’s ability to fund the Ukraine war without throttling global crude supplies.

Fears of the Kremlin’s reprisal to the G7 plan had been one of the key elements that had put a floor under oil for months now, preventing it from sliding below $80 a barrel even during the summer selloff in crude.

Expectations that the Fed could still resort to a – despite countless back and forths on this – was another factor cited for oil’s upside on Friday. 

U.S. overshot forecasts again in October but the hedge funds that typically send the dollar rallying on that chose this time to hammer the greenback – handing a win to oil and the rest of the commodities complex.

To lend credence to the speculation of a Fed pivot, several policy-makers at the central bank were talking Friday about smaller rate hikes than the aggressive regime advocated by Chairman Jerome Powell just two days before at his all-important news conference that follows the monthly decision on rates.

Powell told reporters on Wednesday that he thought the time was approaching for the central bank to slow down – not pause – the pace of its rate hikes, and that could come as early as its December or February meetings.

But equally important, he stressed, was the “need to bring our policy stance down to a level that’s sufficiently restrictive to bring inflation down to the 2% objective over the medium term”.

Since March, the Fed has raised six times in a bid to contain , with four jumbo-sized hikes of 75 basis points from June onwards that brought rates to a peak of 400 basis points from just 25 in March.

The question is what is “restrictive” here. Chicago Fed President Charles Evan suggested on Friday that even a 50-basis-point hike could be a deterrent, versus the 75 basis points that policy-makers have become accustomed to.

“From here on out on rate hikes, it’s not front-loading anymore,” Evans said. “Even with smaller rate hikes, there is ample room to tighten monetary policy.”

The Fed’s target for inflation is just 2% per annum. But the Consumer Price Index, or CPI, has been expanding four times faster – growing 8.2% during the year to September, after a 40-year peak of 9.1% in the 12 months to June.

Evans’ remarks suggested that he wanted rate hikes to be less intense, even if it meant a longer road to getting inflation the Fed’s way.

The Chicago Fed chief made clear that he supported the 75-basis-point hike imposed for November. But he added: “If inflation reports are not favorable and the Fed still wants to hike expeditiously, you can do 50-bps, repeatedly. When the Fed is closer to the peak policy rate, it may reduce rate increases by 25 basis points, or risks may become two-sided.”

At least two other Fed policy-makers appeared to think alike.

“It makes a lot of sense for the Fed to switch to smaller rate increases,” Boston Fed President Susan Collins said Friday.

Tom Barkin, who heads the Richmond Fed, said a slowdown was already being completed by various decision-makers at the central bank.  “I can credibly say that the Fed has its foot on the brake,” he added.

Investors, economists and business leaders have warned for a while now that the Fed’s aggressive rate hikes could land the world’s largest economy in a recession – just 2-½ years after the last slowdown that broke out with the coronavirus pandemic in mid-2020.

The U.S. economy did sputter in the first two quarters of the year, with back-to-back negative growths of 1.6% and 0.6% in Gross Domestic Product that technically placed the nation in a recession. Third-quarter GDP, however, came in at a resilient 2.6%, raising questions of whether another economic slowdown was likely or a soft landing was possible instead.

What will really bring about Fed consensus on a rate pivot is data overwhelmingly pointing to slowing inflation. 

For that, the October update of the CPI – due next Thursday – shouldn’t be another scorcher for prices.

If it is, then the Fed pivot is as believable as the China reopenings.

Oil: Market Settlements and Activity 

Futures of New York-traded WTI, or West Texas Intermediate, and London-traded Brent closed up 5% Friday as oil bulls found their rhythm after being stymied for days over news of COVID lockdowns in top oil-importing nation China. 

Both crude benchmarks had also slumped on Thursday in a belated reaction to the Federal Reserve’s renewed pledge from a day earlier to keep raising interest rates to curb inflation at four-decade highs. 

The Fed’s stance then had driven the , which pits the greenback against the euro, yen, pound, Canadian dollar, Swedish krona and Swiss franc, to a three-week high of 113.035 on Thursday. 

But on Friday, the Dollar Index dropped to below 111 at one point despite the United States adding 261,000 jobs last month in its October nonfarm payrolls report, almost 35% more than the 195,000 anticipated by economists.

Ed Moya, analyst at online trading platform OANDA, noted that the nonfarm payrolls report was “mostly hot, [with] a strong headline number, upward revisions, and further wage growth,” yet the “dollar is getting crushed here.”

“If the dollar continues to slide here, oil’s strength could be relentless,” Moya added.

did a final trade of $92.60 on Friday, after officially settling the session a penny higher at 92.61 – up $4.44, or 5%, from Thursday. The session high was $92.81, marking a nine-week high after the U.S. crude benchmark breached $90 this week for the first time since Oct. 11. For the week, WTI rose 5.4%.

last traded at $98.75, after officially settling at $97.67 – up $3, or 3%, per barrel. The global crude benchmark hit a session high of $98.74. Its weekly gain was about 2%.

Friday’s oil rally was further fueled by fears of the Kremlin’s reprisal to the G7 plan to cap the selling price of Russian oil in order to limit Moscow’s ability to fund its invasion of Ukraine without throttling global supplies. Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened in the past not to deal with countries that participate in the G7 plan or to suspend crude exports altogether, in retaliation against the scheme.

Oil: WTI Outlook

“WTI’s action remains well supported by the 100-Day SMA of $88.60, with a scaling towards the 200 Day SMA of $97.70 next on bulls’ agenda,” SKCharting.com’s chief technical strategist Sunil Kumar Dixit, said, referring to the Simple Moving Average. 

Immediate upside target/resistance for WTI would be the 50-week Exponential Moving Average of $93.77, he added.

Gold: Market Settlements and Activity 

It sounded almost like one of those allegations of manipulation you commonly hear in gold – only this time, those making the accusation were gold bears, not bulls.

Gold had its best percentage win in 2-½ years on Friday as the hedge funds that typically hammer the yellow metal at any given opportunity gave it surprising love instead after the monthly U.S. jobs report again overshot expectations – a situation that would normally benefit the dollar rather than gold.

U.S. gold futures settled Friday’s trade up 2.8% as the benchmark contract finished up $45.70 at $1,676.60 per ounce on New York’s Comex. Investing.com data showed it was the biggest percentage win for gold in a day since April 2, 2020, when the benchmark contract then rose 2.9%.

On a weekly basis, December gold rose 1.9% for its best week in four.

The , which is more closely followed than futures by some traders, settled Friday at $1,681.38. Just on Thursday, spot gold hit a five-week low of $1,616.69.

Gold: Price Outlook 

Dixit of SKCharting said gold prices will likely retreat a little here before picking up again.

“As gold becomes overbought on intraday 4 hour timeframes, some pull back towards $1,673 and $1,660 can not be ruled out,” said Dixit. “If prices slide lower towards $1,645, buyers will use it for re-accumulation while others may use correction as an opportunity to cover shorts.”

Dixit said gold bulls’ breach of $1,681 is likely to lead to an extended rally in the  $1,720-$1,785 area, though some sideways movements will keep the yellow metal volatile too.

“The important thing is that if gold manages to close the month above $1,735, the short and mid-term outlook will change to bullish. After 7 months of relentless beating, some bullish reaction for at least two to three months is expected.”

Gold commentator Mark Hulbert had a different opinion though,  saying the rebound was unlikely to last. 

Hulbert’s take was that the yellow metal had to have a complete meltdown before it could rise again from its ashes, not unlike the proverbial phoenix.

“Long-suffering gold bugs will likely have to suffer a while longer,” he wrote in a blog post that ran Friday. 

“That’s because gold traders on the whole have not thrown in the towel and thereby given up on the yellow metal. Only when this so-called capitulation occurs will contrarians be confident that a bottom is at hand. Though there have been several occasions this year when it appeared that capitulation was imminent, gold traders stepped back from the cliff every time.”

Friday was “yet another occasion” when gold bulls failed to do the necessary, added Hulbert.

Disclaimer: Barani Krishnan does not hold positions in the commodities and securities he writes about.

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Google Cloud Collaborates With Solana; SOL Price Surges

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Cryptocurrency 4 hours ago (Nov 06, 2022 04:00AM ET)

Google Cloud Collaborates With Solana; SOL Price Surges© Reuters. Google Cloud Collaborates With Solana; SOL Price Surges

  • Google (NASDAQ:) Cloud announced that the platform has decided to establish itself as a validator.
  • Following the announcement, SOL had a hike by 15% with its current price of nearly $40.
  • Google’s collaboration with Solana is to make the blockchain available to everyone with ease.

Solana’s native token SOL had a sudden surge by almost 15%, with a current price of nearly $40, following Google Cloud’s announcement that it has decided to launch a block-producing Solana validator and thus establish itself as a Solana validator.

The cloud computing platform tweeted on November 5, that the platform is launching a block-producing Solana validator:

Now that we got your attention… check this out: Google Cloud is running a block-producing @solana validator to participate in and validate the network.

— Google Cloud (@googlecloud) November 5, 2022

Following the announcement, Solana showed a massive hike in its price when compared to the previous days’ prices. While analyzing the growth of the coin in the last 24 hours, it could be noted that the price had risen by 2%, with a market cap of $12,883,722, 583 USD.

Seven Days’ SOL Price Source: CoinMarketCap

Previously, a few seconds before posting the already mentioned tweet, the platform had announced its collaboration with Solana to “bring Blockchain Node Engine to the Solana chain” by 2023, for making it easier for everyone to launch the Solana node in the cloud.

Since the Blockchain Node Engine is a “fully managed node hosting service”, which is already familiar among users, the integration of Solana would make the network easily available and accessible to everyone.

The Google Web3 Product Manager Nalin Mittal stated that “we want to make it one-click to run a Solana node in a cost-effective way”.

Furthermore, Mittal added that Google is also updating its BigQuery data warehouse with the content of Solana data, making it easier for the Solana developer ecosystem to access its historical data.

Though Solana had its all-time high price 0f $260 the last November, it had continuous plummets resulting from the frequent consensus failures on nodes. Thus, Google’s collaboration with Solana gives investors hope that the price would further surge into its highs, which made Solana founder Anatoly Yakonevo describe Google’s initiative as “a pretty big lift”.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions, as well as all the information shared in this price analysis, are published in good faith. Readers must do their own research and due diligence. Any action taken by the reader is strictly at their own risk. Coin Edition and its affiliates will not be held liable for any direct or indirect damage or loss.

The post Google Cloud Collaborates With Solana; SOL Price Surges appeared first on Coin Edition.

See original on CoinEdition

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Passenger plane crashes into Lake Victoria in Tanzania, 19 dead

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World 4 hours ago (Nov 06, 2022 01:31PM ET)

Passenger plane crashes into Lake Victoria in Tanzania, 19 dead

By Nuzulack Dausen

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – At least 19 people died when a passenger plane crashed into Lake Victoria in Tanzania on Sunday while trying to land at a nearby airport, the prime minister and airline said.

Flight PW494, operated by Precision Air, hit the water during storms and heavy rain, the state Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) reported.

Rescuers in boats rushed to the wreckage, which was almost fully submerged, to pull out trapped passengers, local authorities said.

“All Tanzanians join you in mourning these 19 people … who have lost their lives,” Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told reporters in the lakeside city of Bukoba, close to the scene of the crash.

Investigators were looking into what happened, he added.

The plane left the commercial capital Dar es Salaam and “crash-landed” at 8:53 a.m. (0553 GMT) as it was approaching Bukoba airport, Precision Air – Tanzania’s largest privately owned airline – said in a statement.

The plane was carrying 39 passengers, including an infant, as well as four crew members, the airline added. It initially said 26 of the 43 people on board were rescued but later said 24 survivors were reported by emergency services at the scene.

A witness told TBC he saw the plane flying unsteadily as it approached the airport in poor visibility, saying it took a turn for the airport but missed and went into the lake.

Video and pictures on social media showed the plane almost fully submerged, with only its green and brown-coloured tail visible above the waterline of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake.

Footage from the broadcaster and onlookers showed scores of residents standing along the shoreline and others wading into the shallow waters to try to pull the aircraft closer to shore with ropes.

The two pilots survived the crash and were in touch with rescue workers from the cockpit before reporting that their oxygen supply was dwindling, Albert Chalamila, chief administrator of Tanzania’s Kagera region, told Reuters. They were dead when rescue workers reached them, but the two flight attendants survived, he said.

Precision Air identified the aircraft as an ATR42-500. The Franco-Italian manufacturer ATR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

First introduced almost 40 years ago, the ATR42 is the smaller of two series of short-haul turboprops made by ATR, a joint-venture of Airbus and Leonardo. The last fatal accident was in 2017, according to aviation-safety.net, a safety database.

“Precision Air extends its deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the passenger(s) and crew involved in this tragic accident,” the airline said. “The company will strive to provide them with information and whatever assistance they will require in this difficult time.”

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan called for calm.

“I have received with sadness the news of the accident involving Precision Air’s plane,” she tweeted. “Let’s be calm at this moment when rescuers are continuing with the rescue mission while praying to God to help us.”

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Top 5 Things to Watch in Markets in the Week Ahead

Top 5 Things to Watch in Markets in the Week Ahead© Reuters

By Noreen Burke

Investing.com — U.S. inflation data on Thursday could bring some insight into when the Federal Reserve might start to slow the pace of rate hikes. The outcome of the U.S. midterm elections on Tuesday, where control of Congress is at stake will also be in focus. China is to release trade and inflation data as Beijing’s zero-COVID policy continues to wreak economic damage. Meanwhile, the U.K. is to release GDP data on Friday which is expected to show the economy has entered a recession. Here’s what you need to know to start your week.

  1. U.S. inflation data

The U.S. is to release inflation figures for October on Thursday with market watchers on the lookout for indications that price pressures are cooling after a barrage of outsize rate hikes by the Fed.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said last week that policymakers will likely take rates higher than envisioned in their attempt to curb soaring inflation, so a hotter-than-expected reading would likely cement expectations for the Fed to continue its hawkish path.

But a cooler-than-expected reading could see markets become more focused on the higher probability of a recession.

Economists are expecting the annual rate of inflation to come in at and the monthly rate of inflation to rise by .

  1. U.S. midterm elections

The U.S. is gearing up for midterm elections on Tuesday where control of Congress and President Joe Biden’s agenda for the remaining two years of his term are at stake.

Republicans have been leading in polls and many analysts believe the likely result will be a split government, with GOP control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate for the second half of Biden’s term.

Democrats’ electoral hopes have been hammered by voter concerns about high inflation, and Biden’s public approval rating has remained below 50% for more than a year, coming in at 40% in a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.

  1. Stocks

Wall Street rebounded on Friday to close out a soft week, but the struggling equities rally will be tested in the coming days by the double-whammy of inflation data and U.S. midterms.

Despite Friday’s gains, the fell 1.39% for the week to snap a four-week winning streak, the shed 3.34% for the week and the fell 5.65%, its largest weekly percentage decline since January.

Inflation data has driven huge market moves this year, as persistently high readings forced investors to ramp up expectations for Fed .

Analysts said a surprise win by Democrats could fuel concerns about more fiscal spending and the inflation outlook.

According to Reuters data, U.S. stocks have performed better in periods of divided government, with average annual S&P 500 returns of 14% in a split Congress and 13% in a Republican-held Congress under a Democratic president, compared with 10% when Democrats controlled both presidency and Congress.

  1. China data

Chinese and Hong Kong stocks jumped sharply on Friday amid speculation that Beijing may soon ease its strict zero-COVID curbs, but officials said Saturday that the country was sticking to its policy.

China is to release data on , and in the coming week which are expected to point to ongoing weakness in the world’s second largest economy as COVID curbs sap demand.

Beijing is also due to release data on foreign exchange reserves, which are being depleted as authorities seek to shore up the yuan which is on track for its worst year since 1994.

Down for eight months in a row, China’s foreign currency reserves are within a whisker of the psychological $3 trillion level amid broad-based dollar strength since the Fed began raising rates in March.

  1. U.K. GDP

The U.K. is to release preliminary data on third-quarter growth on Friday, which is expected to show that the economy contracted in the three months to September.

Last Thursday the Bank of England sharply as it sought to combat risks from an inflation rate running above 10% and warned of a long recession.

The BoE forecasts inflation will hit a 40-year high of around 11% during the current quarter, but that Britain has already entered a recession that could potentially last two years – longer than during the 2008-09 financial crisis.

–Reuters contributed to this report

Musk’s Twitter updates app to start charging $8 for blue checkmark

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World 3 hours ago (Nov 06, 2022 08:21AM ET)

2/2

Musk's Twitter updates app to start charging $8 for blue checkmark© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Twitter logos and U.S. dollar banknotes are seen in this illustration, August 10, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

2/2

By Rhea Binoy

(Reuters) -Twitter on Saturday updated its app in Apple (NASDAQ:)’s App Store to begin charging $8 for sought-after blue check verification marks, in Elon Musk’s first major revision of the social media platform.

The change comes a week after Musk took over the social media company in a $44 billion deal. The billionaire entrepreneur and CEO of electric car maker Tesla (NASDAQ:) cut half the staff at Twitter and has vowed to start charging users more.

In an update to Apple iOS devices, Twitter said those who “sign up now” for $7.99 a month can receive the blue checkmark next to their user names, “just like the celebrities, companies and politicians you already follow.”

Before Musk took over, blue check marks next to a person’s user name meant Twitter confirmed the account belonged to the person or company claiming it. It was not immediately clear how or if Twitter planned to verify the identity of the user beyond charging a fee.

According to the iOS notification, other benefits in the update include “half the ads”, the ability to post longer videos to Twitter and priority ranking for quality content.

Twitter and Musk, via Tesla, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Twitter’s new boss flagged the updates earlier this week in his push to monetize the social media network and make it less reliant on ads. Twitter is currently free for most users.

Twitter’s update said the new service with verification will be available in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

“As soon as we confirm it’s working well in the initial set of countries and we have the translation work done, it will roll out worldwide,” Musk said in a tweet on Saturday.

Twitter Blue will roll out in India in “hopefully less than a month,” Musk tweeted in reply to a question from a follower.

In a separate tweet, Musk also added that “fixing search is a top priority” on Twitter.

“We can beat that,” he replied in another tweet when a user pointed out that YouTube gives creators 55% of ad revenue.

“Twitter will soon add ability to attach long-form text to tweets, ending absurdity of notepad screenshots. Followed by creator monetization for all forms of content,” Musk added in a tweet.

As of Saturday, the update to Twitter Blue remained at the old price of $4.99.

Shortly after the update was available to users, Twitter’s early stage products executive Esther Crawford said the new service was not yet live.

“The new Blue isn’t live yet — the sprint to our launch continues but some folks may see us making updates because we are testing and pushing changes in real-time,” she said in a tweet.

Earlier this week, Crawford went viral after she retweeted a photo of herself sleeping on the office floor at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters after Musk’s takeover.

“When your team is pushing round the clock to make deadlines sometimes you #SleepWhereYouWork”.

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Ukraine says Russian troops loot, occupy Kherson homes as battle looms

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World 31 minutes ago (Nov 07, 2022 10:02AM ET)

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Ukraine says Russian troops loot, occupy Kherson homes as battle looms© Reuters. Ukrainian soldiers prepare to fire a round on the frontline from a T80 tank that was captured from Russians during a battle in Trostyanets in March, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in the eastern Donbas region of Bakhmut, Ukraine, November 4, 2

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By Tom Balmforth

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine accused Russia on Monday of looting empty homes in the southern city of Kherson and occupying them with troops in civilian clothes to prepare for street fighting in what both sides predict will be one of the war’s most important battles.

In recent days Russia has ordered civilians out of Kherson in anticipation of a Ukrainian assault to recapture the city, the only regional capital Moscow has seized since its invasion in February.

Kherson, with a pre-war population of nearly 300,000, has been left cold and dark after power and water were cut to the surrounding area over the past 48 hours, both sides said.

Russian-installed officials blamed Ukrainian “sabotage” and said they were working to restore electricity. Ukrainian officials said the Russians had dismantled 1.5 km of power lines, and electricity probably would not return until Ukrainian forces recapture the area.

Kyiv has described the evacuation of the area as a forced deportation, a war crime. Moscow says it is sending residents away for safety.

The city lies in the only pocket of Russian-held territory on the west bank of the Dnipro River that bisects Ukraine. Recapturing it has been the main focus of Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the south which accelerated since the start of October.

The situation inside Kherson could not be independently confirmed. Ukrainian forces on the nearby frontline have told Reuters in recent days they expect a bitter fight against Russian troops, who cannot hold the city but are determined to exact a blood price before being forced out.

“While Kherson residents are being forcibly deported from their homes, talking about ‘evacuation’, ru-military and FSB officers are doing what they love most — robbing their houses,” Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted on Monday. “Robbery of those whom they came to ‘protect’ — the best ‘Russian world’ illustration.”

Ukraine’s military said in an overnight update that Russian forces, “disguised in civilian clothes, occupy the premises of civilians and strengthen positions inside for conducting street battles.” It also said Russian journalists were preparing to stage videos accusing Ukraine of hurting civilians.

Reuters was seeking comment from Russian authorities on the Ukrainian allegations. Moscow denies abusing civilians.

Russia sent thousands of troops to reinforce the Kherson area but has hinted in recent days that it could pull out. The deputy head of the Russian-installed administration, Kirill Stremousov, said last week Russia was likely to withdraw across the river, although there was silence from his higher-ups in Moscow.

‘THEY CALL PEOPLE MEAT’

Russia lost all of the territory it captured in northern Ukraine in the weeks after the invasion, and in recent months has faced major setbacks in areas it still holds in the east and south. President Vladimir Putin has responded to the losses by calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists and announcing the annexation of occupied territory.

But as more and more troops get sent to the front and casualties mount with few fresh signs of gains, there has been increasing disquiet within Russia over the conduct of the war.

Russia’s defence ministry took the rare step on Monday of denying that an elite unit had suffered catastrophic losses in a pointless assault, after Russian military bloggers posted an open letter from surviving members of the Pacific Fleet’s 155th marine brigade.

In the letter, addressed to Oleg Kozhemyako, governor of the unit’s Pacific coast base home region, the marines said that over just four days their unit had lost 300 men killed, wounded or missing, and half of their equipment.

They blamed generals seeking medals and bonuses: “They spit on everyone just to show off themselves,” the letter said of the commanders. “They call people meat”.

In a video message, Kozhemyako acknowledged the letter but said it exaggerated the losses: “We contacted the commanders. Yes there are losses, there’s heavy fighting, but they are far from what is written in this appeal,” the governor said.

The Russian Defence Ministry said: “Due to the competent actions of the unit commanders” only 1% of the marines had been killed and 7% wounded in the operation, many of whom had already returned to duty.

NATIONALISATIONS

In the biggest restructuring of Ukraine’s economy since the war began, Kyiv authorities announced the state takeover on Monday of Ukraine’s biggest oil refiner and producer, and engineering firms that make trucks, electric transformers and aircraft engines.

Authorities presented it as a wartime emergency measure. The companies are associated with billionaires once known for wielding political power in Kyiv, and the moves appear in line with a long-standing aim of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to rein in “oligarchs”.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, Monday morning passed without a major volley of Russian missiles, a rare comparatively quiet start to the working week which had become synonymous across Ukraine with renewed Russian air strikes over the past month.

Russia has rained missiles down on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure targets, acknowledging its aim to destroy Ukraine’s energy system, with intensive strikes often coming during morning rush hour on Mondays since Oct. 10.

Ukraine’s grid operator told consumers to brace for more blackouts in Kyiv and other regions on Monday as it seeks to reduce the strain on energy infrastructure damaged by the Russian missile and drone attacks. It scheduled shutdowns in Kyiv and the regions of Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Kharkiv and Poltava.

Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address that more than 4.5 million consumers were without power.

Both the White House and the Kremlin declined to comment on a report in the Wall Street Journal that U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had held talks with aides to Putin, aiming to reduce the risk that the war in Ukraine spills over or escalates into nuclear conflict.

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In final midterm push, Biden warns of threats, Trump hints at another run

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Economic Indicators 3 hours ago (Nov 07, 2022 02:45AM ET)

In final midterm push, Biden warns of threats, Trump hints at another run© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama attend a campaign for Democratic U.S. senatorial candidate John Fetterman and Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 5, 2022. REUTER

By Trevor Hunnicutt

YONKERS, N.Y. (Reuters) – President Joe Biden warned that a Republican win in Tuesday’s midterm elections could weaken U.S. democracy, while former President Donald Trump hinted at another White House bid, two days before votes in which Republicans could gain control of both chambers of Congress.

The comments, made at dueling rallies held in New York and Florida, highlighted the grim prospects that Biden’s Democrats face, despite fulfilling his promises to boost clean-energy incentives and rebuild crumbling roads and bridges.

Republicans have hammered Biden for high inflation and increased crime in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and non-partisan forecasters favor them to win control of the House of Representatives – and possibly the Senate as well. Democrats’ early leads in Senate races in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada have evaporated.

Control of even one chamber would allow Republicans to stymie Democrat Biden’s legislative agenda and launch potentially damaging investigations.

Biden warned that many Republican candidates are threatening democratic norms by echoing Trump’s false claims about a stolen election in 2020.

“Democracy is literally on the ballot,” he told students at Sarah Lawrence College, north of New York City. “You can’t only love the country when you win.”

At a Trump rally in Miami, meanwhile, the former president recycled many of his unfounded complaints about the 2020 election and hinted that he may soon announce another presidential bid.

“I will probably have to do it again, but stay tuned,” he said, castigating the Biden administration for everything from violent crime to dirty airports.

Trump’s advisers say an announcement about the 2024 presidential election could come sometime this month.

Despite Biden’s warnings about democracy, many of his fellow Democrats have emphasized more practical matters, such as their work to lower prescription drug prices and defend Social Security. While many have campaigned on abortion rights, opinion polls show that has faded as a top voter concern.

Republicans have questioned Democrats’ support for law enforcement and harnessed concerns about crime, which has emerged as a major election issue after murder rates increased during the COVID pandemic.

“In two short years, do you not feel the pain?” Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker said at a rally in Georgia. “This is on their watch.”

Democrats have been saddled by Biden’s unpopularity, which has forced him to hold back from campaigning in competitive states. Only 40% of Americans approve of his job performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Tuesday.

Biden spoke in normally safe Democratic territory outside New York City, where Republicans are threatening to make gains.

New York’s Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul is facing an unexpectedly stiff challenge from Republican Lee Zeldin, while Democratic House incumbents are locked in tight battles throughout the state.

Vice President Kamala Harris visited Chicago, another Democratic stronghold, where she said Democrats could pass national abortion-rights legislation if they added to their margins in the Senate. “If we pick up two more senators, the president can sign it into law,” she said.

First Lady Jill Biden visited Texas, a Republican-dominated state that has a handful of competitive races. “Choosing who leads our community is one way we can live out our faith,” she told worshippers at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston.

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