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November 27, 2022 – rdspinvestments

November 27, 2022

Twitter CEO Musk says user signups at all-time high, touts features of “everything app”

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Stock Markets 7 hours ago (Nov 27, 2022 12:35PM ET)

Twitter CEO Musk says user signups at all-time high, touts features of © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An image of Elon Musk is seen on a smartphone placed on printed Twitter logos in this picture illustration taken April 28, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration//File Photo

(Reuters) – Twitter Inc (NYSE:) Chief Executive Elon Musk says new user signups to the social media platform are at an “all-time high”, as he struggles with a mass exodus of advertisers and users fleeing to other platforms over concerns about verification and hate speech.

Signups were averaging over two million per day in the last seven days as of Nov. 16, up 66% compared to the same week in 2021, Musk said in a tweet late on Saturday.

He also said that user active minutes were at a record high, averaging nearly 8 billion active minutes per day in the last seven days as of Nov. 15, an increase of 30% in comparison to the same week last year.

Hate speech impressions decreased as of Nov. 13 compared to October of last year.

Reported impersonations on the platform spiked earlier this month, before and in wake of the Twitter Blue launch, according to Musk.

Musk, who also runs rocket company SpaceX, brain-chip startup Neuralink and tunneling firm the Boring Company, has said that buying Twitter would speed up his ambition to create an “everything app” called X.

Musk’s “Twitter 2.0 The Everything App” will have features like encrypted direct messages (DMs), longform tweets and payments, according to the tweet.

In another tweet early on Sunday, Musk said he sees a “path to Twitter exceeding a billion monthly users in 12 to 18 months.”

Advertisers on Twitter, including big companies such as General Motors (NYSE:), Mondelez (NASDAQ:) International, Volkswagen AG (OTC:), have paused advertising on the platform, as they grapple with the new boss.

Musk has said that Twitter was experiencing a “massive drop in revenue” from the advertiser retreat, blaming a coalition of civil rights groups that has been pressing the platform’s top advertisers to take action if he did not protect content moderation.

Activists are urging Twitter’s advertisers to issue statements about pulling their ads off the social media platform after Musk lifted the ban on tweets by former U.S. president Donald Trump.

Hundreds of Twitter employees are believed to have quit the beleaguered company, following an ultimatum by Musk that staffers sign up for “long hours at high intensity,” or leave.

The company earlier in November laid off half its workforce, with teams responsible for communications, content curation, human rights and machine learning ethics being gutted, as well as some product and engineering teams.

(This story has been corrected to replace the inaccurate word “impersonations” in paragraph 4 with “impressions”)

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Rio Tinto reaches historic agreement with Juukan Gorge group

Rio Tinto reaches historic agreement with Juukan Gorge group By Reuters – Nov 27, 2022

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Global miner Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) Ltd has reached a restitution agreement with an Aboriginal group whose rock shelters in Western Australia it destroyed two…

Stocks, oil skid as China's COVID protests roil sentiment

Stocks, oil skid as China’s COVID protests roil sentiment By Reuters – Nov 27, 2022 1

By Scott Murdoch SYDNEY (Reuters) – Stocks and oil weakened on Monday as rare protests in major Chinese cities against the country’s strict zero-COVID policy raised worries about…

Dow futures dip after positive week

Dow futures dip after positive week By Investing.com – Nov 27, 2022 9

By Oliver Gray  Investing.com – U.S. stock futures were trading lower during Sunday’s evening trade, after major benchmark indices finished the holiday shortened week higher as…

ECB’s Makhlouf sees smaller interest rate hikes in 2023, if needed

ECB's Makhlouf sees smaller interest rate hikes in 2023, if needed© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen outside the European Central Bank (ECB) building, in Frankfurt, Germany, July 21, 2022. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/

DUBLIN (Reuters) – The European Central Bank will likely increase interest rates by smaller increments next year if further hikes are needed, governing council member Gabriel Makhlouf was quoted as saying on Sunday.

The ECB began to push up rates at its fastest pace on record in July and markets are betting on a 50-75 basis-point increase at the next Dec. 15 meeting. Makhlouf said this week that his mind is open on the size of that hike.

While policymakers have been adamant that rates need to increase further to help lower inflation, the account of their last meeting published on Thursday showed they cannot fully agree on their ultimate destination or pace.

“When we get into next year, the likelihood is that if the rates go up, they’ll go up by smaller increments,” Makhlouf, the Irish central bank chief, told Ireland’s Sunday Independent newspaper in an interview.

“Then we’ll have to see what’s happening to the euro area economy – so we can judge how much more we need to do. And over what pace do we need to do it… I think by the second half of next year we’ll see it (inflation) lower.”

Energy & precious metals – weekly review and outlook

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Commodities 23 hours ago (Nov 27, 2022 04:23AM ET)

Energy & precious metals - weekly review and outlook© Reuters.

By Barani Krishnan

Investing.com – When you hear it from Jim Cramer, you know enough people are talking about it. From oil-producing nations to day traders who are long crude, expectations are growing by the day for prices to rip back higher. Why? Because there’s a meeting of the OPEC+ coming. Because crude has lost almost 20% of its value in just three weeks – too much, some say. Because the West will soon have an embargo on Russian crude. Because Vladimir Putin is so mad with the G7 and EU for trying to put a cap on the selling price of Russian oil that he will definitely ban exports to any country participating in the plan.

These are all, of course, the arguments of oil bulls. To each of these, those short the market have their responses too. But before we get into debating any of them, let’s hear it from Cramer first. CNBC’s morning programming anchor and stock picker said charts were suggesting that the “mother of all buying opportunities” for oil is coming next month. Relying on the analysis of commodities strategist and futures-options broker Carley Garner, Cramer’s explanation as to why a reversal in crude prices is imminent includes the observation that Thanksgiving is usually the period when oil markets tend to bottom – ahead of the final OPEC meeting of the year that typically falls in late November or early December.

Right on cue, U.S. crude hit a 10-month low of $75.08 on Monday before Thanksgiving on Nov. 24. The Saudi-led 13-nation OPEC, or Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and their 10 allies steered by Russia, are to meet on Dec. 4. Cramer thinks investors will gear up to buy oil from next month, citing Garner’s opinion.

“She thinks there could be one last washout from this week, possibly early through December, and that washout could take crude down to the low $70s, or even the mid-$60s,” Cramer told his listeners on Tuesday, the day after New York-traded West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, crude, hit the mid-$70s, its lowest since January. “Once we get there [to the next low], she believes that could be the mother of all buying opportunities,” Cramer said.

Last year, after Thanksgiving on Nov. 25, WTI fell 12% the following day, touching a low of $67.40, and lost 21% for all of November 2021. Over the course of the next six months, crude rebounded with virtually no stop, gaining 73% in all to reach almost $115 by the beginning of May 2022.

“Throw in the fact that holiday weeks tend to have very light volume, that means any moves tend to get blown out of proportion because it doesn’t take [as] much to move a commodity – or a stock frankly – during these lighter periods,” Cramer said.

But some traders think oil may continue facing headwinds in the near term from China’s worsening coronavirus crisis, which is stirring memories of the country’s original devastation from the pandemic nearly three years ago.

A record number of new COVID-19 cases in No. 1 oil-importing nation China has made local authorities more determined to hold on to the country’s tough Zero-COVID policy, weighing on crude prices.

But a case review has also exposed a critical flaw in China’s Zero-COVID strategy: a vast population without natural immunity. After months with only occasional hot spots in the country, most of its 1.4 billion people have never been exposed to the virus, the Washington Post reported this week.

Chinese authorities, who on Thursday reported a record 31,656 infections, are scrambling to protect the most vulnerable populations, the report added.

According to Australia-New Zealand bank ANZ, the surge in new infections has already affected mobility and fuel demand in China, with implied oil demand seen lower by 1 million barrels daily than average, at 13 million barrels per day.

Crude prices also fell for a third straight week this week after European officials failed to agree on a price cap for Russian oil, despite debating a level thought to be more generous than a level that could risk retaliation from the Kremlin in the form of production or export cuts. Diplomats from the Group of Seven nations, or G7, have been discussing a Russian oil price cap between $65 and $70 a barrel with their European Union diplomatic counterparts over the past few days, but have been unable to reach an agreement, Reuters reported.

The aim of the G7 and EU is to limit the revenue from oil that could fund Moscow’s military offensive in Ukraine without disrupting global oil markets, but the proposed level is broadly in line with what Asian buyers are already paying.

“So long as the suggested cap on Russian oil remains higher than what the market initially thought, the general impression is the Kremlin will react less adversely in terms of limiting its exports and production,” John Kilduff, founding partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital, told Investing.com. “That would be a negative for oil.”

High prices have also seemed to have started to weigh on diesel demand in the United States, where distillate inventories – comprising diesel and – have been slowly rising over the past few weeks, reports and data showed.

U.S. distillate inventories are still below the five-year average, but the gap in stocks compared to previous years has slowly started to narrow, suggesting that high prices are hitting demand, while encouraging more refinery output thanks to solid refining margins.

In this week’s inventory report covering the week ended Nov. 18, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said distillate stocks , with production rising to an average of 5.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel inventories are still about 13% below the five-year average for this time of year, but two months ago, they were more than 20% below the five-year average for that time of the year.

A flotilla of ships is carrying distillate fuel to New York Harbor to shore up stocks ahead of the winter, further easing supply worries, Reuters said in a report last week citing traders and shipping data. At least 11 vessels that can carry about 3.6 million barrels of distillate, which includes low-sulfur diesel and home heating oil, will arrive in New York Harbor in late November and early December, the report added. That would be equivalent to about 4% of all the U.S. East Coast’s distillate fuel imports in 2021.

With all the negativity in the market, “could OPEC+ go even further [with production cuts] if the outlook continues to deteriorate when it meets again in a couple of weeks?” OANDA analyst Craig Erlam asked in a recent oil market commentary.

Notwithstanding the double whammy of the tumbling Chinese demand for oil and the deadlock over the Russian oil price cap, those long crude expect a market rebound by next week in anticipation of remedial action by OPEC+ when it meets Dec. 4.

OPEC+ already has in place an agreement to cut production by 2 million barrels per day till the end of next year to boost Brent and U.S. crude prices, which have fallen some 40% from their March highs.

Earlier this week, Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman indicated that OPEC+ will likely add to those cuts when it meets Dec. 4.

Oil: Market Settlements and Activity

Crude prices fell for a third straight week after European officials could not agree on a price cap for Russian oil despite debating a level deemed more generous than the market thought to trigger export or production reprisals from the Kremlin.

A record number of new coronavirus cases in No. 1 oil importer China that hardened the resolve of local authorities to hold on to the country’s tough Zero-COVID policy also weighed on crude prices.

Adding to the market’s somber mood were thinner-than-usual trading volumes after Thursday’s U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, an event that typically prompts traders to take longer breaks till the weekend.

New York-traded , or WTI, did a final trade of $76.55 per barrel on Friday after settling the official session at $76.28, down $1.66, or 2.1%, on the day. The U.S. crude benchmark, which hit a 10-month low beneath $76 on Monday, was down 4.5% for the week, after back-to-back losses of 10% and 4% in weeks prior.

London-traded did a final trade of $83.91 per barrel on Friday after settling the official session at $83.63, down $1.71, or 2%, on the day. The global crude benchmark slumped to a nine-month low of under $83 on Monday, and was down 4.5% for the week, after back-to-back losses of 9% and 3% in weeks prior.

Oil: WTI Price Outlook

While a further drop in U.S. crude prices can hardly be ruled out, the extent of any downside should be limited to the 200-month Simple Moving Average, or SMA, of $72.50 and the 50-month Exponential Moving Average, or EMA, of $71, said Sunil Kumar Dixit, chief technical strategist at SKCharting.com.

“These levels may defend WTI against sell off and provide uplift to broken support turned resistance zone,” Dixit said.

He said a closer look at WTI’s price action indicated a “great deal of possibility” for a short-term rebound from the support areas of $72 and $70.

If this upside were to extend, then WTI could target the 100-Week SMA of $81.50 and the 50-Day EMA of $85.50, followed by the 50-Week EMA of 89.50, Dixit added.

Gold: Market Settlements and Activity

Gold prices ended the week almost unchanged on continued bets for smaller U.S. by the U.S. Federal Reserve offset worsening economic indicators.

U.S. gold futures’ benchmark contract finished Friday’s trading down $8.40, or 0.5%, at $1,754 per ounce on New York’s Comex. For the week, December gold ended nearly flat after losing 0.9% the previous week.

The , which is more closely followed than futures by some traders, settled at $1,754.68 an ounce, down 70 cents, or 0.04%, on the day. For the week, the spot price rose +0.3%.

But positive cues from the minutes of the Fed’s November meeting, released earlier this week, provided a tailwind for gold prices.

A majority of Fed policy-makers behind this month’s U.S. rate hike thought it was time to slow down the central bank’s aggressive pace of monetary tightening, minutes of that meeting released on Wednesday said.

“The minutes of the November 1-2 Fed policy meeting show that a substantial majority of participants thought a slowing in the pace of interest rate hikes would be appropriate soon,” the Fed’s policy-making Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC, said.

The minutes were the clearest sign yet that the Fed was ready to take its foot off the rate hike pedal after carrying an intensive acceleration in rate hikes over the past seven months to cool inflation.

Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, during the year to October, growing at its slowest pace in nine months after peaking with a 9.1% growth during the 12 months to June.

The drop came after relentless interest rate hikes by the Fed, which has added 375 basis points to rates since March, from a starting point of just 25. Despite such an aggressive campaign, inflation remains more than three times higher than levels preferred by the central bank, which has vowed to get to its 2% target.

Runaway inflation had prompted the Fed to add 375 basis points to rates since March. Prior to that, rates peaked at just 25 basis points, as the central bank slashed them to nearly zero after the global COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.

After four straight jumbo-sized hikes of 75 basis points between June and November, markets expect the Fed to impose a smaller increase of 50 basis points at its upcoming rate decision on December 14.

Gold: Price Outlook

Gold needs to make a sustained break above two walls of resistance – the monthly Middle Bollinger Band of $1,796 and the 100-Week SMA of $1,802 – in order to extend a rebound that targets $1,820-$1,830 and $1,842, said SKCharting’s Dixit.

“In the event of volatility-driven prices drop, then $1,722 and $1,710 would be important levels of support, failing which, the current bullish trajectory in gold would lose credibility,” Dixit said.

For the week ahead, gold was projected to test $1,750-$1,740 – or even $1,722 – followed by a renewed upside attack on $1,788 and $1,802.

“Strong accumulation and acceptance above $1,800 can open the gates to $1,842, which is a major resistance and target,” Dixit added.

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

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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 — Friday’s U.S. jobs report for November will be the main highlight of the coming week as investors remain hopeful that the Federal Reserve will soon slow the pace of rate hikes. Remarks by Fed Chair Jerome Powell mid-week will be closely watched. Eurozone inflation data will also be in the spotlight, as will PMI data out of China amid concerns over a resurgence of COVID cases there. Here’s what you need to know to start your week.

  1. Nonfarm payrolls

Expectations that the Fed may soon slow the pace of its aggressive were boosted by last week’s from the central bank’s November meeting. Friday’s U.S. jobs report for November will put those expectations to the test.

Economists are expecting the U.S. economy to have added new jobs, in what would be the smallest increase since December 2020.

The jobs report is also expected to show that growth in is moderating, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold steady just above a five-decade low at .

It will be the last nonfarm payrolls report before the Fed’s final meeting of the year in December.

But investors have reason to remain cautious – five of the last six jobs reports have come in better than forecast and another strong reading could spell trouble for U.S. stocks.

  1. Fedspeak

Fed Chair Jerome is to discuss the economic outlook during an appearance at the Brookings Institution on Wednesday.

While Powell has indicated that the Fed could shift to smaller rate hikes next month, he has also said rates ultimately may need to go higher than policymakers thought would be needed by next year.

Meanwhile, St. Louis Fed President James and New York Fed President John are both due to make appearances on Monday.

The economic calendar also features the and the Fed’s favored measure of inflation – the – both of which are published on Thursday.

Other reports during the week include , , and the Fed’s .

  1. Retail stocks

As Wall Street reopens after the Thanksgiving holiday investors will be focused on how retailers are faring over the holiday shopping period, as well as the Fed’s next steps.

Black Friday sales got underway against a backdrop of persistently high inflation and cooling economic growth. Retailers are offering steep discounts both online and in store, which will likely impact profit margins in the fourth quarter.

rose by 2.3% to a record $9.12 billion on Black Friday, according to a report by Adobe Analytics on Saturday, but the percentage increase was well below the annual rate of inflation which is currently running at .

U.S. retail stocks have become a barometer of consumer confidence as inflation bites. So far this year, the S&P 500 retail index is down a little over 30%, while the has fallen 15%.

  1. Eurozone inflation

While there are tentative signs that inflation in the U.S. may be peaking, Wednesday’s Eurozone data is expected to show that price pressures in the bloc remain strong.

hit 10.6% in October, more than five times the European Central Bank’s 2% target.

The ECB raised rates by 75 basis points to 1.5% at its meeting in October, bringing its total hikes to 200 basis points since July for its fastest policy tightening on record.

Last week’s minutes of the ECB’s October meeting showed that while policymakers have been adamant that rates need to increase further to help lower inflation, they cannot fully agree on their ultimate destination or pace.

Market bets are fluctuating between a 50- and a 75-basis-point increase when ECB policymakers next meet on Dec. 15.

  1. China PMIs

As China grapples with a record number of COVID-19 infections and new lockdowns, hopes have dimmed for a reopening of the world’s second-biggest economy in the first quarter of 2023.

data on Wednesday will be closely watched as widespread COVID curbs continue to depress economic activity.

Officials have vowed to continue with virus restrictions despite the and the mounting toll on the economy.

China said on Friday it would that banks must hold as reserves for the second time this year, releasing liquidity to prop up a faltering economy.

–Reuters contributed to this report

Canada to boost defence, cyber security in Indo-Pacific policy, focus on ‘disruptive’ China

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Commodities 1 hour ago (Nov 28, 2022 04:27AM ET)

Canada to boost defence, cyber security in Indo-Pacific policy, focus on 'disruptive' China© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits members of the Canadian troops, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in the Adazi military base, Latvia, March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

By David Ljunggren and Ismail Shakil

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada launched its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy on Sunday, outlining spending of C$2.3 billion ($1.7 billion) to boost military and cyber security in the region and vowed to deal with a “disruptive” China while working with it on climate change and trade.

The plan, detailed in a 26-page document, said Canada would tighten foreign investment rules to protect intellectual property and prevent Chinese state-owned enterprises from snapping up critical mineral supplies.

Canada seeks to deepen ties with a fast-growing Indo-Pacific region of 40 countries accounting for almost C$50 trillion in economic activity. But the focus is on China, which is mentioned more than 50 times, at a moment when two-way ties are frosty.

Four cabinet ministers at a news conference in Vancouver took turns detailing the new plan, saying the strategy was crucial for Canada’s national security and climate as well as its economic goals.

“We will engage in diplomacy because we think diplomacy is a strength, at the same time we’ll be firm and that’s why we have now a very transparent plan to engage with China,” said Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.

In Beijing, a foreign ministry spokesman said Canada’s new strategy was “full of ideological bias, exaggerating and speculating the so-called China threat, and making groundless accusations and attacks against China”.

“China is strongly dissatisfied with this, resolutely opposes it and has already made stern representations to the Canadian side,” the spokesman, Zhao Lijian, added.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government wants to diversify trade and economic ties that are overwhelmingly reliant on the United States. Official data for September show two-way trade with China made up less than 7% of the total, versus 68% for the United States.

Canada’s outreach to Asian allies also comes as Washington has shown signs of becoming increasingly leery of free trade in recent years.

The document underscored Canada’s dilemma in forging ties with China, which offers significant opportunities for Canadian exporters, even as Beijing looks to shape the international order into a more “permissive environment for interests and values that increasingly depart from ours,” it added.

CHALLENGE CHINA

Yet, the document said cooperation with the world’s second-biggest economy was necessary to address some of the “world’s existential pressures,” including climate change, global health and nuclear proliferation.

“China is an increasingly disruptive global power,” it said. “Our approach … is shaped by a realistic and clear-eyed assessment of today’s China. In areas of profound disagreement, we will challenge China.”

Tension with China soared in late 2018 after Canadian police detained a Huawei Technologies executive and Beijing then arrested two Canadians on spying charges. All three were released last year, but relations remain sour.

This month, Canada ordered three Chinese companies to divest their investments in Canadian critical minerals, citing national security.

The document, in a section mentioning China, said Ottawa would review and update legislation enabling it to act “decisively when investments from state-owned enterprises and other foreign entities threaten our national security, including our critical minerals supply chains.”

In a statement, Perrin Beatty, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said, “Because the region is both large and diverse, one size definitely does not fit all.”

Canada’s priorities would need to be very nuanced both between and within countries, he added.

The document said Canada would boost its naval presence in the region and “increase our military engagement and intelligence capacity as a means of mitigating coercive behavior and threats to regional security.”

That would include annual deployment of three frigates, from two now, as well as participation of Canadian aviators and soldiers in regional military exercises, Defense Minister Anita Anand said at a separate news conference.

Canada belongs to the Group of Seven major industrialized nations, which wants significant measures in response to North Korean missile launches.

The document said Ottawa was engaging in the region with partners such as the United States and the European Union.

Canada needed to keep talking to nations it had fundamental disagreements with, it said, but did not name them.

($1=1.3377 Canadian dollars)

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Cuba wins China debt relief, new funds

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Commodities 1 hour ago (Nov 27, 2022 10:05AM ET)

Cuba wins China debt relief, new funds© Reuters. Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Monument to the People’s Heroes at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, November 25, 2022. Alejandro Azcuy/Courtesy of Cuban Presidency/Handout via Reuters

By Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) – China has agreed to restructure Cuban debt and provide new trade and investment credits to the beleaguered Caribbean Island nation after a meeting in Peking between the two Communist countries’ leaders.

Cuba Economy Minister Alejandro Gil said the latter had also donated $100 million to help the country cope with basic goods shortages and an energy crisis worsened by Hurricane Ian, which decimated western Pinar del Rio province in late September.

Gil was speaking in an interview with official media traveling with President Miguel Diaz-Canel as he returned home over the weekend from a tour of Algeria, Russia, Turkey and China.

Chinese trade and investment has slowed in recent years due to Cuba’s failure to meet restructured debt payments according to analysts and diplomats, a situation worsened by tighter U.S. sanctions, the pandemic and domestic economic inefficiencies.

“We are going to find mutually acceptable formulas for the ordering and restructuring of debts,” Gil said.

Analysts estimate the debt in the billions of dollars, although no official figures are available.

Cuba last reported its foreign debt in 2019 at $19.6 billion.

China is Cuba’s most important commercial partner after Venezuela, though trade has declined from over $2 billion in 2017 to $1.3 billion last year, according to the Cuban government.

Various investment projects have also ground to a halt.

Gil said China had agreed to quickly complete a floating dock, wind power and solar energy project, among others.

President Diaz-Canel told the official media after talks in Peking that debt was at the top of his agenda with President Xi Jinping who sympathized with the difficulties Cuba was going through.

The Cuban president said his Chinese counterpart indicated “a solution must be found to all the problems with Cuba, regardless of the debt, and that this cannot be what limits development.”

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Niece of Iran’s Supreme Leader urges world to cut ties with Tehran – online video

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World 1 hour ago (Nov 27, 2022 12:25PM ET)

Niece of Iran's Supreme Leader urges world to cut ties with Tehran - online video

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s niece, a well known rights activist, has called on foreign governments to cut all ties with Tehran over its violent crackdown on popular unrest kindled by the death in police custody of a young woman.

A video of a statement by Farideh Moradkhani, an engineer whose late father was a prominent opposition figure married to Khamenei’s sister, was being widely shared online after what activist news agency HRANA said was her arrest on Nov. 23.

“O free people, be with us and tell your governments to stop supporting this murderous and child-killing regime,” Moradkhani said in the video. “This regime is not loyal to any of its religious principles and does not know any rules except force and maintaining power.”

Khamenei’s office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

HRANA said 450 protesters had been killed in more than two months of nationwide unrest as of Nov. 26, including 63 minors. It said 60 members of the security forces had been killed, and 18,173 protesters detained.

The protests, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini after her arrest for “inappropriate attire”, pose one of the strongest challenges to the country’s clerical establishment since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Jalal Mahmoudzadeh, a member of parliament from the mainly Kurdish city of Mahabad, said on Sunday that as many as 105 people had been killed in Kurdish-populated areas during the protests. He was speaking in a debate in parliament as quoted by the Entekhan website.

WIDESPREAD OPPOSITION

Challenging the Islamic Republic’s legitimacy, protesters from all walks of life have burned pictures of Khamenei and called for the downfall of Iran’s Shi’ite Muslim theocracy.

The video was shared on YouTube on Friday by her brother, France-based Mahmoud Moradkhani, who presents himself as “an opponent of the Islamic Republic” on his Twitter account, and then by prominent Iranian rights activists.

On Nov. 23, Mahmoud Moradkhani reported her sister’s arrest as she was heeding a court order to appear at the Tehran prosecutor’s office. Farideh had been arrested earlier this year by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and later released on bail.

HRANA said she was in Tehran’s Evin security prison. Moradkhani, it said, had earlier faced a 15-year prison sentence on unspecified charges.

Her father, Ali Moradkhani Arangeh, was a Shi’ite cleric married to Khamenei’s sister and recently passed away in Tehran following years of isolation due to his stance against the Islamic Republic, according to his website.

Farideh Moradkhani added in her video: “Now is the time for all free and democratic countries to recall their representatives from Iran as a symbolic gesture and to expel the representatives of this brutal regime from their countries.”

On Thursday, the United Nations’ top human rights body decided by a comfortable margin to establish a new investigative mission to look into Tehran’s violent security crackdown on the anti-government protests.

Criticism of the Islamic Republic by relatives of top officials is not unprecedented. In 2012, Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, the daughter of late former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was sentenced to jail for “anti-state propaganda”.

Iranian authorities released on bail the activist and blogger Hossein Ronaghi on Nov. 26 to undergo medical treatment, according to his brother writing on Twitter.

Concerns had been growing about Ronaghi’s health after he went on a hunger strike last month.

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Clashes in Shanghai as COVID protests flare across China

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World 7 hours ago (Nov 27, 2022 05:51PM ET)

8/8

Clashes in Shanghai as COVID protests flare across China© Reuters. Students take part in a protest against COVID-19 curbs at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China seen in this still image taken from a video released November 27, 2022 and obtained by REUTERS.

2/8

By Casey Hall, Josh Horwitz and Martin Quin Pollard

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) -Hundreds of demonstrators and police clashed in Shanghai on Sunday night as protests over China’s stringent COVID restrictions flared for a third day and spread to several cities in the wake of a deadly fire in the country’s far west.

The wave of civil disobedience is unprecedented in mainland China since President Xi Jinping assumed power a decade ago, as frustration mounts over his signature zero-COVID policy nearly three years into the pandemic. The COVID measures are also exacting a heavy toll on the world’s second-largest economy.

“I’m here because I love my country, but I don’t love my government … I want to be able to go out freely, but I can’t. Our COVID-19 policy is a game and is not based on science or reality,” said a protester in the financial hub named Shaun Xiao.

Protesters also took to the streets in the cities of Wuhan and Chengdu on Sunday, while students on numerous university campuses around China gathered to demonstrate over the weekend.

In the early hours of Monday in Beijing, two groups of protesters totaling at least 1,000 people were gathered along the Chinese capital’s 3rd Ring Road near the Liangma River, refusing to disperse.

“We don’t want masks, we want freedom. We don’t want COVID tests, we want freedom,” one of the groups chanted earlier.

A fire on Thursday at a residential high-rise building in the city of Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang region, triggered protests after videos of the incident posted on social media led to accusations that lockdowns were a factor in the blaze that killed 10 people.

Urumqi officials abruptly held a news conference in the early hours of Saturday to deny COVID measures had hampered escape and rescue efforts. Many of Urumqi’s 4 million residents have been under some of the country’s longest lockdowns, barred from leaving their homes for as long as 100 days.

On Sunday in Shanghai, police kept a heavy presence on Wulumuqi Road, which is named after Urumqi, and where a candlelight vigil the day before turned into protests.

“We just want our basic human rights. We can’t leave our homes without getting a test. It was the accident in Xinjiang that pushed people too far,” said a 26-year-old protester in Shanghai who declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.

“The people here aren’t violent, but the police are arresting them for no reason. They tried to grab me but the people all around me grabbed my arms so hard and pulled me back so I could escape.”

By Sunday evening, hundreds of people gathered in the area. Some jostled with police trying to disperse them. People held up blank sheets of paper as an expression of protest.

A Reuters witness saw police escorting people onto a bus which was later driven away through the crowd with a few dozen people on board.

On Saturday, the vigil in Shanghai for victims of the apartment fire turned into a protest against COVID curbs, with the crowd chanting calls for lockdowns to be lifted.

“Down with the Chinese Communist Party, down with Xi Jinping”, one large group chanted in the early hours of Sunday, according to witnesses and videos posted on social media, in a rare public protest against the country’s leadership.

URUMQI, BEIJING, WUHAN

Thursday’s fire in Urumqi was followed by crowds there taking to the street on Friday evening, chanting “End the lockdown!” and pumping their fists in the air, according to unverified videos on social media.

On Sunday, a large crowd gathered in the southwestern metropolis of Chengdu, according to videos on social media, where they also held up blank sheets of paper and chanted: “We don’t want lifelong rulers. We don’t want emperors,” a reference to Xi, who has scrapped presidential term limits.

In the central city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began three years ago, videos on social media showed hundreds of residents take to the streets, smashing through metal barricades, overturning COVID testing tents and demanding an end to lockdowns.

Other cities that have seen public dissent include Lanzhou in the northwest, where residents on Saturday overturned COVID staff tents and smashed testing booths, posts on social media showed. Protesters said they were put under lockdown even though no one had tested positive.

The videos could not be independently verified.

At Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University on Sunday, dozens of people held a peaceful protest against COVID restrictions during which they sang the national anthem, according to images and videos posted on social media.

ZERO-COVID

China has stuck with Xi’s zero-COVID policy even as much of the world has lifted most restrictions. While low by global standards, China’s case numbers have hit record highs for days, with nearly 40,000 new infections on Saturday, prompting yet more lockdowns in cities across the country.

Beijing has defended the policy as life-saving and necessary to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system. Officials have vowed to continue with it.

Since Shanghai’s 25 million residents were put under a two-month lockdown early this year, Chinese authorities have sought to be more targeted in their COVID curbs, an effort that has been challenged by the surge in infections as the country faces its first winter with the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

RARE PROTESTS

Widespread public protest is rare in China, where room for dissent has been all but eliminated under Xi, forcing citizens mostly to vent their frustration on social media, where they play cat-and-mouse with censors.

Frustration is boiling just over a month after Xi secured a third term at the helm of China’s Communist Party.

“This will put serious pressure on the party to respond. There is a good chance that one response will be repression, and they will arrest and prosecute some protesters,” said Dan Mattingly, assistant professor of political science at Yale University.

Still, he said, the unrest is far from that seen in 1989, when protests culminated in the bloody crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

He added that as long as Xi had China’s elite and the military on his side, he would not face any meaningful risk to his grip on power.

This weekend, Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Ma Xingrui called for the region to step up security maintenance and curb the “illegal violent rejection of COVID-prevention measures”.

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Some Republicans criticize Trump for meeting with white supremacist

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World 5 hours ago (Nov 27, 2022 01:20PM ET)

Some Republicans criticize Trump for meeting with white supremacist© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump announces that he will once again run for U.S. president in the 2024 U.S. presidential election during an event at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. November 15, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some Republicans on Sunday criticized Donald Trump for dining with white supremacist Nick Fuentes at the former president’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida, even as Trump said the encounter was inadvertent.

Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson accused Trump of empowering extremism.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for a leader who’s setting an example for the country or the party to meet with an avowed racist or anti-Semite,” Hutchinson told CNN.

Representative James Comer, a Republican lawmaker from Kentucky, said Trump needed “better judgment (on) who he dines with.”

“I would not take a meeting with that person,” Comer told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Trump earlier this month said he plans to seek the Republican nomination to run for the White House again in 2024, though he could face challengers to that bid, including from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Fuentes has been described as a white supremacist by the U.S. Justice Department and he attended the Jan. 6, 2021, rally in Washington that preceded the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters. The Anti-Defamation League said Fuentes once “‘jokingly’ denied the Holocaust and compared Jews burnt in concentration camps to cookies in an oven.'”

Trump said the encounter with Fuentes happened during a dinner meeting last week with the rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, who himself has drawn widespread criticism for making anti-Semitic statements.

Trump in a message on his Truth Social media site said he met with Ye and “we got along great, he expressed no anti-Semitism, & I appreciated all of the nice things he said about me on ‘Tucker Carlson.’

“Why wouldn’t I agree to meet? Also, I didn’t know Nick Fuentes,” Trump wrote.

The White House slammed Trump, saying in a statement that “bigotry, hate, and antisemitism have absolutely no place in America — including at Mar-A-Lago.”

President Joe Biden shrugged off a question from reporters about the incident, saying: “You don’t want to hear what I think.”

David Friedman, Trump’s former ambassador to Israel, said anti-Semites “deserve no quarter among American leaders, right or left.”

“To my friend Donald Trump, you are better than this. Even a social visit from an antisemite like Kanye West and human scum like Nick Fuentes is unacceptable,” Friedman wrote on Twitter.

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Marketmind: China crisis brewing

Marketmind: China crisis brewing© Reuters. People hold blank sheets of paper during a demonstration against COVID-19 curbs following the deadly Urumqi fire, in Shanghai, China November 27, 2022. REUTERS/Josh Horwitz

By Jamie McGeever

(Reuters) – A look at the day ahead in Asian markets from Jamie McGeever.

Purchasing managers index (PMI) data will be the key economic driver for Asian markets this week, but the tone will be set by the increasingly tense political situation in China.

Thousands of people are taking to the streets in several cities across the country in an unprecedented protest against the government’s stringent COVID restrictions after a deadly apartment fire in Urumqi in the country’s far west.

The wave of civil disobedience and clashes between protestors and police come amid mounting frustration over President Xi Jinping’s signature zero-COVID policy. China has reported record new COVID cases for four straight days.

“Down with the Chinese Communist Party, down with Xi Jinping,” a crowd in Shanghai shouted in the early hours of Sunday, according to witnesses and videos posted on social media.

It’s safe to say that this does not happen very often, and the world is watching intently to see how Beijing handles the brewing crisis.

From an immediate market perspective, the COVID surge and nationwide unrest snuff out any hope China is about to re-open its economy. It doesn’t seem that the restrictions will be lifted any time soon, and growth will continue to suffer.

In that vein, PMI figures on Wednesday are expected to show that Chinese factory and service sector activity shrank again in November, another sign that Beijing will maintain its loose monetary policy stance.

If so, the yuan is likely to come under renewed pressure, especially after the central bank on Friday said it would cut the amount of cash banks must hold as reserves, injecting about $70 billion of liquidity into the struggling economy.

China manufacturing PMI vs Reuters poll https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/myvmonqnwvr/CHINAPMI.jpg

China stocks vs manufacturing PMI https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/gkvlwgqgepb/CHINAPMI2.jpg

Three key developments that could provide more direction to markets on Monday:

– Australia retail sales (October)

– Fed’s Williams speaks

– ECB’s Lagarde speaks

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