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Trump denies telling White House counsel to fire Mueller

U.S. President Trump speaks at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia
U.S. President Donald Trump departs after delivering remarks at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

April 25, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he had never ordered his White House counsel at the time, Donald McGahn, to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as described in the report Mueller wrote about the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

“As has been incorrectly reported by the Fake News Media, I never told then White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller, even though I had the legal right to do so. If I wanted to fire Mueller, I didn’t need McGahn to do it, I could have done it myself,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The Democratic chairman of the House judiciary panel has issued a subpoena for McGahn to testify and provide documents to the committee, but it is not clear whether the White House will comply. Trump has vowed to fight every subpoena from House Democrats probing his administration.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Source: OANN

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Putin: nothing wrong with us giving passports to east Ukraine residents

Men walk past a banner in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk
Men walk past a banner, which reads "We were born in DPR (Donetsk People's Republic)! DPR is five years old", in a street in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

April 25, 2019

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday there was nothing wrong with easing rules for residents of Ukrainian rebel regions to receive Russian passports, a decision that prompted condemnation and calls for more sanctions against Moscow.

Speaking to reporters at the end of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Putin said Poland, Romania and Hungary grant citizenship to their ethnic kin outside their borders and he saw no reason why Russia could not do the same.

“It caused a negative reaction. That’s strange,” Putin said.

“How are Russians in Ukraine worse than Romanians, Poles or Hungarians? I don’t see anything unusual here.”

Putin signed an order on Wednesday saying that residents of the Donestk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine were entitled to apply for Russian citizenship under an expedited procedure to be processed within three months.

The European Union condemned Russia’s move on Thursday, calling it another attack by Moscow on Ukraine’s sovereignty.

“The timing … shows Russia’s intention to further destabilize Ukraine and to exacerbate the conflict,” the spokesperson for the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who won a presidential election in a landslide on Sunday, said the Russian move showed Moscow was waging war in Ukraine and called for additional sanctions against Russia.

Rebellions broke out against Ukrainian government rule in east Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions in 2014 shortly after a pro-Russian president was toppled in Kiev in a popular revolt.

Moscow, which also annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region that year, provided military help for the separatists in the east, according to evidence gathered by Reuters, although Russian officials have denied providing material support.

Five years of war have killed 13,000 people. A ceasefire signed in 2015 ended major combat but deadly clashes still occur regularly. The United States and EU have maintained financial sanctions against Russia since 2014 over its Ukraine policies.

Putin said on Thursday that Moscow was willing to work with Zelenskiy if he implemented the full terms of the 2015 truce agreements, brokered in the Belarus capital Minsk with international support. Both sides accuse each other of violating the agreements.

“If those coming to power in Kiev find the strength to implement the Minsk agreements, we will do all we can to cooperate and we will do everything to normalize the situation in south-eastern Ukraine,” Putin said.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Maria Vasilyeva in Vladivostok, Jan Strupczewski in Brussels; Writing by Christian Lowe and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Gareth Jones and Peter Graff)

Source: OANN

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Chipotle receives subpoena related to Ohio illness incident

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Chipotle Mexican Grill is seen at the Chipotle Next Kitchen in Manhattan
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Chipotle Mexican Grill is seen at the Chipotle Next Kitchen in Manhattan, New York, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

April 25, 2019

(Reuters) – Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc said on Thursday it received another subpoena from U.S. federal prosecutors, seeking information related to an outbreak that left hundreds of people sick last year in an Ohio restaurant.

Over the past three years, the company has faced a number of subpoenas regarding sicknesses linked to its restaurants following an E. Coli, salmonella and norovirus outbreaks at the company’s outlets dating back to late 2015 that affected hundreds across several states.

The latest subpoena is the fourth and is part of an ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Central District of California.

Last August, a type of bacteria found in meat and pre-cooked food left at unsafe temperatures was responsible for making hundreds of people ill in a Powell, Ohio restaurant.

The April 18 subpoena, disclosed https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1058090/000105809019000015/cmg-20190331x10q.htm in a regulatory filing on Thursday, is seeking information related to the incidents of illnesses associated with the Ohio restaurant and restaurants in California, Massachusetts, and Virginia, that were covered under previous subpoenas.

Chipotle reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue and profit on Wednesday, driven by its new campaigns and its online ordering and deliveries initiatives.

The results were a reflection of Chief Executive Officer Brian Niccol’s push to increase delivery options, create new menus and grow its loyalty program.

The company even launched a campaign earlier this year, that showcases all the fresh ingredients used in its tacos and burritos, coming after the negative publicity it received from the 2015 incident.

The company’s shares were up about a percent before the bell.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

Source: OANN

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AbbVie beats estimates as Humira sales fall less than feared

A screen displays the share price for pharmaceutical maker AbbVie on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
FILE PHOTO: A screen displays the share price for pharmaceutical maker AbbVie on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 18, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

April 25, 2019

(Reuters) – Drugmaker AbbVie Inc’s quarterly revenue beat Wall Street estimates on Thursday, as the decline in sales of its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira was not as steep as expected.

The company also raised its adjusted earnings forecast for the year to between $8.73 and $8.83 per share from $8.65 to $8.75 to reflect continued business momentum.

Humira, which has long been the world’s best-selling prescription medicine, saw sales fall for the first time in years largely due to competition from new, cheap rivals.

The drug brought in revenue of $4.45 billion in the first quarter, a fall of 5.6 percent from last year but ahead of the $4.38 billion forecast by eight analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Net earnings fell to $2.46 billion, or $1.65 per share, in the three months ended March 31, from $2.78 billion, or $1.74 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, AbbVie earned $2.14 per share. Analysts on average had expected $2.05, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net revenue dropped 1.3 percent to $7.83 billion but beat the average analyst estimate of $7.75 billion.

(Reporting by Tamara Mathias and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

Source: OANN

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Bombardier cuts full-year earnings forecast on project delays

FILE PHOTO: Logo of Bombardier is seen in Zurich
FILE PHOTO: Logo of Bombardier is seen at an office building in Zurich, Switzerland, February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

April 25, 2019

By Arathy S Nair

(Reuters) – Canada’s Bombardier Inc cut its full-year profit and revenue forecast on Thursday, as delays in some large projects hit its dominant transportation unit that makes rail cars.

The forecast cut comes as the plane-and-train maker nears the end of a five-year turnaround plan after a round of heavy investment in plane production drove the company to the brink of bankruptcy in 2015.

Montreal-based Bombardier cut its 2019 revenue estimate by $1 billion to $17 billion, while adjusted core earnings are expected to be in the range of $1.50 billion to $1.65 billion, compared with its prior expectation of $1.65 billion to $1.8 billion.

The company also said it expects to deliver only 30 commercial planes in 2019, compared with 35 it had previously forecast, as the sale of its Q400 turboprop business is now anticipated to close mid-year.

Last November, Bombardier said it was selling the business to a unit of Longview Aviation Capital for $300 million and its corporate aircraft training business to CAE Inc for $645 million.

Bombardier cut its full-year revenue forecast by $750 million to about $8.75 billion for its transportation business and by $250 million to $1.15 billion for its commercial aircraft business.

The company, however, maintained its earnings forecast for its aerospace business and continues to expect free cash flow to breakeven, plus or minus $250 million.

Bombardier also forecast lower-than-expected adjusted core earnings, operating earnings and revenue for the first quarter, due to delayed aircraft deliveries, slower project ramp up at its transportation business and unfavorable currency swings.

It now expects revenue of about $3.5 billion for the three months to March 31, well below analysts’ estimate of $4.03 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Adjusted core and operating earnings are expected to be about $265 million and $170 million, respectively, compared with estimates of $334.97 million and $230.45 million.

The company is set to report first-quarter results on May 2.

(Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

Source: OANN

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‘Don’t shoot yourself in the foot’: Inside Mexico’s campaign to save NAFTA

FILE PHOTO: The flags of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are seen on a lectern before a joint news conference on the closing of the seventh round of NAFTA talks in Mexico City
FILE PHOTO: The flags of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are seen on a lectern before a joint news conference on the closing of the seventh round of NAFTA talks in Mexico City, Mexico March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/File Photo

April 25, 2019

By Dave Graham

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – In April 2017, a group of Mexican executives filed into the Texas governor’s mansion in Austin for a meeting they hoped would help save a trillion-dollar trade deal.

They had a simple pitch for their audience – Republican Governor Greg Abbott, a handful of business leaders and some party donors: it would be in Texas’ best interest to preserve the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Abbott was just one of the prominent names on a list of dozens of American politicians and business executives that Mexico would carefully compile to help save NAFTA from the relentless attacks of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Supplying them with up-to-date information on trade and investment flows, the Mexicans believed the Americans could persuade policymakers that scrapping NAFTA would hurt U.S. workers and companies. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2I9Q1Gb)

Rather than “be good to Mexico,” said Juan Gallardo, a prominent Mexican businessman who helped craft the strategy, the message was “don’t shoot yourself in the foot.”

The inside story of Mexico’s efforts to stop Trump from killing NAFTA – and to preserve its essence in a reworked accord – comes from interviews with more than 20 Mexican and U.S. officials, lawmakers and executives involved in the process.

After 18 months of talks and concessions by both sides, a deal was struck. Canada later signed on in what became known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which awaits ratification by lawmakers in the three countries.

But final approval has become more uncertain since Democrats took control of the House of Representatives from Republicans, a potential setback to Mexico’s best laid plans.

GIVING GROUND

Mexican business and political leaders, including the heads of the foreign and economy ministries, started scrambling to save the 25-year-old trade deal right after Trump’s election in November 2016.

Early on, they decided to avoid public confrontation with Trump, who had made blaming NAFTA for job losses, particularly in manufacturing, a centerpiece of his campaign.

“Tit-for-tat wasn’t going to work,” said Moises Kalach, head of the international negotiating arm of Mexico’s CCE business lobby. “We agreed not to even get into the ring.”

Trump showed no sign of backing off after taking office in January 2017, telling aides he wanted to withdraw simultaneously from NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), according to three Mexican business and government leaders.

When Trump pulled out of TPP that month, Mexican officials feared NAFTA would be next. In Mexico City, then-foreign minister Luis Videgaray and his counterpart in the economy ministry, Ildefonso Guajardo, flew to Washington to sketch out possible concessions for an overhauled trade pact.

Meeting with Trump’s economic advisors and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, they floated stricter content rules for auto manufacturing, tougher Mexican labor laws and changes to dispute resolution mechanisms, Mexican participants said.

Those early concessions would eventually evolve into new rules set out in the USMCA deal.

“I’m absolutely convinced that if that didn’t happen … NAFTA would have died in January 2017,” Videgaray told Reuters shortly before leaving office.

While Videgaray dangled concessions, Mexico’s private sector rolled out a lobbying operation underpinned by reams of data supplied by IQOM, a Mexican trade consultancy.

Headquartered in an old stone townhouse in Mexico City, IQOM collected data and intelligence to pinpoint U.S. businesses with the most to lose from a NAFTA repeal. Two top Mexican negotiators of the original NAFTA, Herminio Blanco and Jaime Zabludovsky, spearheaded the effort.

It was “a permanent, online, computer-based information-gathering drive,” said IQOM partner Zabludovsky. “And a lot of data crunching.”

Meanwhile, the CCE hired Washington lobbying firm Akin Gump in the summer of 2017 to help identify about 250 potential U.S. allies, Gallardo said.

Akin Gump and the CCE communicated daily and met regularly. The idea was to “engage with USMCA stakeholders on both sides of the aisle and in the Trump administration,” an Akin Gump spokesperson said, and build “CCE’s brand and reputation as a trusted partner.”

Throughout the process, Mexican negotiators were in close contact with their Canadian counterparts – even as Mexico also left the door open to a bilateral deal with the United States.

EYE-OPENER

During negotiations, Mexico’s private sector had some 200 representatives in Washington updating its negotiators on how best to pitch the case to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, according to sources involved in the process.

Each member of Mexico’s team also had politicians or executives to target. Kalach of the CCE said he spoke to 36 U.S. state governors about the value of cross-border trade.

Mexican participants often expressed surprise about how little U.S. politicians knew about the extent of bilateral economic ties. Even in Texas, the state doing the most trade with Mexico, some officials appeared not to have grasped fully what a NAFTA termination could cost, Gallardo said.

At the April 2017 meeting in the governor’s mansion, the Mexican delegation gave a detailed breakdown of trade between Mexico and Texas to Abbott and the others, who included Gerardo Schwebel, executive vice president of the International Bank of Commerce, and oil tycoon Paul Foster, sources said.

Economic ties were explained “by players, by amounts,” Gallardo said. “That was an eye-opener… no one had ever put that together into one paper.”

Abbott eventually sent a letter to Lighthizer defending NAFTA – emphasizing that Texas exported more than $90 billion of goods to Mexico annually and that nearly a million jobs depended on free trade with the NAFTA partners.

In a second letter to Lighthizer, Abbott asked the Trump administration to “reconsider” its demand for a sunset clause that could have killed the new agreement in five years, a major Mexican concern. In the end, the clause was left out.

John Wittman, a spokesman for Abbott, confirmed the Austin meeting, adding that the governor had been engaged with various stakeholders and White House officials throughout NAFTA talks.

Lighthizer’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

HELP FROM WALL STREET

High among the list of prospective allies drawn up by Mexico were several top Wall Street executives, including Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase & Co, Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman and KKR’s Henry Kravis.

Dimon chairs the Business Roundtable, which, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was viewed by the Mexicans as a powerful voice in support of NAFTA. The banking executive proved particularly effective, Mexican and U.S. sources said.

Among others, a source familiar with the situation said, Dimon met with Kushner, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser until April 2018.

Calling Mexico a peaceful neighbor, Dimon publicly argued a trade agreement would help “ensure that the young democracy in Mexico is not hijacked by populist and anti-American leaders.”

Mnuchin held multiple meetings with counterparts, and offered his input to Lighthizer as he negotiated USMCA, a U.S. Treasury official said. Mnuchin sees Canada and Mexico as important trading partners, and believes free and fair trade with them benefits the United States, the official added.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment about the meetings. Representatives for Cohn, Schwarzman and Kravis declined to comment or did not reply to requests for one.

Kansas City Southern Chief Executive Officer Pat Ottensmeyer, whose company runs trains through Mexico, was a staunch advocate for NAFTA in the United States, and also consulted with top-level Mexican officials.

Between Trump’s inauguration and the end of 2018, Kansas City Southern said it had organized or participated in 65 meetings with lawmakers or regulators, as well as 76 speeches or conferences in defense of NAFTA.

Ottensmeyer recalled speaking to several cabinet members, including Lighthizer and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, when he was still head of the CIA.

The approach was to “literally talk to anybody and everybody who we thought was willing to listen and could be influential in the process,” Ottensmeyer told Reuters.

A representative for Pompeo declined to comment.

Within months, Mexico’s lobbying efforts began paying dividends: American politicians and business executives were making a case for NAFTA directly to the White House, pushing back on Trump’s ongoing threats to rip up NAFTA.

“From what I understand,” Gallardo said, “Trump never, ever in his wildest dreams imagined the kind of uproar this was going to create. And that’s what stopped him.”

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Additional reporting by Frank Jack Daniel and Anthony Esposito in Mexico City, Jennifer Hiller in Houston, Richard Cowan in Washington, David Henry in New York; Editing by Simon Webb, Brian Thevenot and Paul Thomasch)

Source: OANN

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Fed done raising rates; cut by end-2020 growing more likely: Reuters poll

Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

April 25, 2019

By Hari Kishan

BENGALURU (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve is done raising interest rates until at least the end of next year, while about a third of economists polled by Reuters who had a view that far out predicted at least one rate cut by then.

The latest results come just days after Wall Street stocks touched record highs in a bounceback from a rout at the end of last year, thanks in large part to expectations that benchmark borrowing costs have now stopped in their tracks.

In a March 15 poll, more than 70 percent of economists had penciled in a hike this year. But a similar majority predicted no hikes or at least one rate cut by the end of 2020 in a March 29 survey, right after the Fed dramatically shifted its “dot plot” projections to suggest no more hikes this year.

The view the Fed’s tightening cycle, which began in December 2015, is over has strengthened further in the latest poll of more than 100 economists taken April 22-24. An increasing number of respondents are now predicting a rate cut by the end of 2020.

“I think the bar is pretty high for tightening,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief economist at High Frequency Economics. “They don’t just want inflation to get back up to 2 percent, but they want it to go above 2 percent for a while.”

Interest rate futures are already pricing in the likelihood of a rate cut later this year.

History shows the Fed has almost never raised rates after a very long pause in the middle of tightening. Many analysts say it would likely need inflation to run hot for a prolonged period to justify another rate hike, especially this late in an already long economic cycle.

But core PCE inflation – which the Fed watches closely – is not forecast to rise significantly. It is instead predicted to remain below the 2 percent target in each quarter this year and average 2 percent in each quarter next year.

“The Fed is going to be on hold indefinitely from here,” said Ethan Harris, head of global economics research at Bank of America. “It’s got nothing to do with growth data – the growth data look fine – the economy is coming back to trend. In fact, if anything, the data are slightly better than expected right now, so it’s all about inflation.”

With recent data coming in better than expected, the latest growth forecast for the January-March quarter was upgraded to an annualized 2.0 percent compared with 1.6 percent predicted in the previous poll.

The current quarter’s expansion was pegged at 2.5 percent but momentum is expected to gradually ease after that, falling to 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020.

Still, only a handful of economists have penciled in a recession by the end of next year.

While the median probability of a U.S. recession in the coming 12 months held steady at 25 percent compared to the previous month, it was down to 35 percent for the next two years from 40 percent in the March poll.

“We do not believe a recession is imminent. We do see GDP growth slowing over the next 18 months as fiscal stimulus tailwinds fade and previous tighter monetary policy actions take hold,” said Sam Bullard, senior economist at Wells Fargo.

“That said, event risk is high and has the potential to provide the catalyst for the next down turn.”

But the bond market is telling a different story, with the yield gap between U.S. 3-month bill rates and 10-year Treasuries – closely watched by the Fed and increasingly so by market participants – inverting in March.

An inversion, when shorter-dated maturities yield more than longer-dated ones, has in the past been a reliable predictor of recessions.

Over 60 percent of economists who answered an extra question said the bond market is giving a wrong steer this time.

“The long end of the curve is unusually low, and it is not driven by the risk of a recession in the U.S. as much as it is we have got chronically low rates outside of the U.S. and we have the big fat balance sheet,” added Bank of America’s Harris.

(Reuters poll graphic on U.S. recession probability: https://tmsnrt.rs/2O50W4M?eikon=true)

(Polling by Sujith Pai, Tushar Goenka and Anisha Sheth; Editing by Ross Finley and Hugh Lawson)

Source: OANN

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX was awarded the contract to launch a future NASA mission designed to intercept an asteroid and deflect it away from the Earth to avoid a potentially catastrophic impact.

NASA confirmed SpaceX will provide launch services for the June 2021 Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission via one of its Falcon 9 rockets.

The mission is expected to cost $69 million.

The DART will use a technique called a kinetic impactor to intercept the small moon of the asteroid Didymos in October 2022. At that point, scientists estimate the asteroid will be within 11 million kilometers of Earth. The unmanned spacecraft will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

According to NASA, the Didymos asteroid is 800 meters in diameter and its moon is 150 meters in diameter. It orbits the Sun once every 2.11 Earth years.

The space agency predicts the “impact event” will occur Oct. 7, 2022.

Source: NewsMax America

FILE PHOTO: Used vehicles are lined up in lanes before being sold during a dealer-only auction at Manheim Detroit auction house in Carleton, Michigan
FILE PHOTO: Used vehicles are lined up in lanes before being sold during a dealer-only auction at Manheim Detroit auction house in Carleton, Michigan, U.S., June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

April 17, 2019

By Nick Carey and David Shepardson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Falling U.S. new vehicle sales through the rest of 2019 and into 2020 will bring more intense competition in the increasingly crowded market for SUVs and a continued decline in passenger car sales, executives and economists said at this week’s auto show in New York.

“There are more and more SUVs coming to market and I continue to see that market growing,” said Fred Diaz, chief executive of Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp. “It’s hyper competitive.”

The new SUVs at this week’s auto show included models from Toyota Motor Corp, Ford Motor Co, Subaru Corp, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai Motor Co.

After a long bull run, U.S. auto sales are expected to fall about 3 percent to 16.8 million units. That is still a respectable number, but the decline will increase competition for market share.

Much of the decrease will be driven by falling sedan sales. As recently as 2012, passenger cars made up more than 50 percent of U.S. new vehicle sales. But that number has dropped rapidly as American consumers have sought the greater comfort and space provided by larger pickup trucks and SUVs.

While those bigger vehicles are far more profitable for automakers, increased competition could lead to higher incentives in that segment that could squeeze profit margins just like with sedans over the years, industry officials said.

Executives also cited slowly climbing auto interest rates and the rising cost of new vehicles. Honda Senior Vice President Henio Arcangeli said uncertainty about the revised U.S. tax code also had an impact on sales.

In the first quarter, cars made up just over 30 percent of new vehicle sales.

Bob Carter, head of U.S. sales at Toyota, said the industry-wide passenger car market share could still fall slightly before hitting a bottom.

But for SUVs, the market has continued to grow and may see slight growth in 2019. That has automakers pushing out new SUVs to fight for sales.

According to data from automotive consultancy LMC Automotive, by the year 2023 there will be 90 mainstream SUV and crossover models on the U.S. market, as well as 90 luxury models. Those numbers compare with 2017 levels of 65 mainstream SUV and crossover models and 53 luxury models.

Patrick Manzi, senior economist at the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), said the growing competition favors those automakers bringing fresh vehicles to the market to grab consumers’ attention.

“If you don’t have the newest, hottest product, you’re going to have to stand out somehow,” he said.

One way to stand out with an older vehicle is to offer steeper discounts to potential buyers, Manzi added.

At the show, Ford’s luxury Lincoln brand launched a new SUV, the Corsair, which chief marketing officer Joy Falotico said had turned out to be “lucky timing.”

Lincoln sales rose 11.2 percent in the first quarter, driven by SUV sales even as Ford brand sales fell 2.2 percent.

“I am confident that sales trend will continue,” Falotico said.

Despite falling sedan sales, executives at Nissan Motor Co Ltd and Toyota said they remain committed to the segment.

Toyota’s Carter noted Americans still bought 5.3 million sedans in 2018.

“So maybe it drops another 10 percent, it’s still 4.8 million units and I care desperately about that market,” he said. “We’re absolutely committed to the truck and SUV market. But we’re as equally committed to the car market.”

(Reporting by Nick Carey and David Shepardson; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

Several Republicans hit back at Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, over the weekend after he said he was “sickened” by President Donald Trump’s actions as detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Romney said it was “good news that there was insufficient evidence to charge” Trump with conspiracy following the report’s release and that “the alternative would have taken us through a wretching process with the potential for constitutional crisis.”

However, he went on to slam Trump, writing, “Even so, I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Friday ridiculed Romney for his loss to President Barack Obama in 2012 – Trump took a similar swipe on Saturday – while Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani called Romney, “a hypocrite.”

“Know what makes me sick, Mitt? Not how disingenuous you were to take @realDonaldTrump $$ and then 4 yrs later jealously trash him & then love him again when you begged to be Sec of State, but makes me sick that you got GOP nomination and could have been @POTUS” Huckabee tweeted.

Giuliani took aim at Romney during an appearance on CNN Sunday.

“Stop the bull. Stop this pious act that you weren’t trying to dig up dirt on people, putting dirt out on people,” he said. “What a hypocrite.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen as he leaves a police station in London
FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen as he leaves a police station in London, Britain April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

April 15, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange repeatedly violated his asylum conditions and tried to use the Ecuadorian embassy in London as a center for spying, Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno told Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

London police dragged Assange out of the embassy on Thursday after his seven-year asylum was revoked, paving the way for his extradition to the United States for one of the biggest ever leaks of classified information.

Assange’s relationship with his hosts collapsed after Ecuador accused him of leaking information about Moreno’s personal life.

Moreno denied to the Guardian that he had acted as a reprisal for the way in which documents about his family had been leaked. He said he regretted that Assange had used the embassy to interfere in other country’s democracies.

“Any attempt to destabilize is a reprehensible act for Ecuador, because we are a sovereign nation and respectful of the politics of each country,” Moreno told the Guardian by email.

“We cannot allow our house, the house that opened its doors, to become a center for spying,” the Guardian quoted Moreno as saying.

Supporters of Assange said Ecuador had betrayed him at the behest of Washington, that the ending of his asylum was illegal and that it marked a dark moment for press freedom.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden)

Source: OANN

Cans of Coca-Cola are pictured in the refrigerator during an event in Paris
FILE PHOTO: Cans of Coca-Cola are pictured in the refrigerator during an event in Paris, France, March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

April 23, 2019

By Nivedita Balu

(Reuters) – Strong demand for Coca-Cola Co’s low-calorie Coke Zero, new orange-vanilla cola and flavored waters pushed the beverage maker’s quarterly sales and profit well above Wall Street estimates, sending its shares up 2.2 percent on Tuesday.

The world’s biggest beverage makers, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo Inc, are responding to shifting consumer tastes by tweaking ingredients and experimenting with new flavors that are focused more on health conscious consumers.

These efforts have helped revive soda sales after a years-long slump.

Chief Executive Officer James Quincey said Coke Zero sales witnessed a double-digit percentage rise, while its new orange-vanilla Coke soda was also a hit.

Sales of the company’s carbonated drinks rose 1 percent, driven by strong performance of its Coke brand, while smaller, immediate consumption packages of its flavored water and sports drinks drove a 6 percent sales increase in that business.

Quincey is trying to make Coca-Cola a “total beverage company” by adding coffees, teas, smoothies and flavored waters to a portfolio that has traditionally offered aerated drinks.

It recently made a big bet on coffee with its $5.1 billion acquisition of Costa Coffee and is preparing to launch ready-to-drink Costa products in stores soon.

“They’re making progress with innovations in general … it is still early for a lot of these innovations, but we do like the increased focus that the company is bringing to its core brands and also its coffee products,” Edward Jones analyst John Boylan said.

Coke’s organic sales, which exclude the impact of currency swings and acquisitions, rose 6 percent, driven by price hikes and partly benefiting from bottlers stocking up more products due to Brexit uncertainty.

Revenue rose 5 percent to $8.02 billion, and the company earned 48 cents per share on an adjusted basis.

Analysts had forecast earnings of 46 cents per share on revenue of $7.88 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES.

For the second quarter, the company projected a 6 percent boost in comparable revenue from acquisitions and divestitures, but continues to see an impact from a stronger dollar. It maintained its core sales growth forecast for the full year.

“We are impressed with Coca-Cola’s ability to deliver a strong topline, suggesting that its refranchising (and) portfolio transformation are paying off,” Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog said.

(The story corrects first paragraph to say Coke Zero is a low-calorie drink, not low sugar; also corrects CEO’s surname to “Quincey” from “Quincy” in third and fifth paragraph.)

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Anil D’Silva)

Source: OANN



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