$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Disney Again Makes History with Earning Above $7B for 2018

Walt Disney Studios is again ending the year on a high note, posting more than $7 billion in global box office earnings, thanks to hits such as “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”

“This is only the second time in history any studio has surpassed the $7 billion mark, after Disney’s own industry-record 2016 global gross of $7.6 billion,” the company said in a statement on Monday.

“The Studios’ estimated international box office gross through December 9 is an estimated $4.069 billion, marking our second biggest year and the third biggest in industry history,” it added.

Disney’s success comes as the studio is set to release “Mary Poppins Returns” on December 19, which is expected to top the box office during the holiday season.

​”To date, four of the top eight worldwide releases of the year are from The Walt Disney Studios, including the top two global and top three domestic releases,” the company said.

“Avengers: Infinity War,” made by Disney’s Marvel subsidiary, led the way, earning $2 billion alone. It is followed by superhero movie “Black Panther,” which earned $1.35 billion worldwide.

“Incredibles 2,” made by Pixar, another Disney subsidiary, earned $1.24 billion.

Other top box office earners for 2018 are “Ant-Man and The Wasp,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” which has held the number one spot at the North American box office for the third consecutive week.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.


China, US Discuss Next Stage of Trade Talks

China and the United States discussed the road map for the next stage of their trade talks on Tuesday, during a telephone call between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Earlier this month in Argentina, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a truce that delayed the planned Jan. 1 U.S. hike of tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

Lighthizer said on Sunday that unless U.S.-China trade talks wrap up successfully by March 1, new tariffs will be imposed, clarifying there is a “hard deadline” after a week of seeming confusion among Trump and his advisers.

China’s Commerce Ministry, in a brief statement, said Liu had spoken with Mnuchin and Lighthizer on Tuesday morning Beijing time on a pre-arranged telephone call.

“Both sides exchanged views on putting into effect the consensus reached by the two countries’ leaders at their meeting, and pushing forward the timetable and roadmap for the next stage of economic and trade consultations work,” the ministry said.

It did not elaborate.

The Harvard-education Liu, Xi’s top economic advisor, is leading the talks from China’s end.

Global markets are jittery about a collision between the world’s two largest economic powers over China’s huge trade surplus with the United States and Washighton’s claims that Beijing is stealing intellectual property and technology.

The arrest of a top executive at China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has also roiled global markets amid fears that it could further inflame the China-U.S. trade row.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.


Goodyear Halts Tire Production in Venezuela as Economy Slips

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is halting production in Venezuela, making it the latest international corporation to abandon a South American nation in economic crisis, officials said Monday.

 

Spokesman Eduardo Arguelles told The Associated Press that Goodyear-Venezuela had made the “difficult decision” to no longer produce tires in the country, which has seen an economic contraction worse than the U.S. Great Depression.

 

“Our goal had been to maintain its operations, but economic conditions and U.S. sanctions have made this impossible,” Arguelles said.

 

The company had endured tens of millions in losses in recent years as the Venezuelan bolivar plummeted in value against the U.S. dollar. The company based in Akron, Ohio, moved to deconsolidate its Venezuelan subsidiary in the fourth quarter of 2015, but continued to operate with a staff of about 1,100 from the depressed industrial city of Valencia.

Workers who arrived at the plant Monday were stunned to find it was no longer in operation.

 

“They closed doors without saying anything,” said Luis Aponte, a union worker who said government workers were on site assessing the situation.

There was no immediate response from the government.

 

The announcement came after a letter issued “to whom it may concern” circulated online stating the company had been forced to cease operations and that starting Monday no one in Venezuela would be authorized to continue producing the company’s products.

 

The letter also said Goodyear would fulfill its financial obligations to workers.

 

Goodyear’s retreat from Venezuela adds it to a growing list of corporations that have ceased operations in the country. Some of those enterprises, like General Motors, had assets including factories and vehicles seized by the government. Others chose to cut their losses because shortages, inflation and currency and prices controls made business difficult.

Kellogg, Bridgestone, Kimberly-Clark and General Mills have all closed or reduced operations in recent years.

 

Julian Rodriguez, 62, said he spent over three decades working for Goodyear and was unsure how he’d make ends meet after losing his only source of income.

 

“This is a grave situation,” he said.

 

The International Monetary Fund has estimated that inflation in Venezuela could top 1 million percent by the year’s end.

 

President Nicolas Maduro activated an economic recovery plan in August that including increasing the minimum wage and printing a new currency, among other measures, but thus far the economy has shown few signs of improvement.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.


Japanese Economy Experiences the Worst Downturn in Four Years

Japan’s economy contracted 2.5 percent in the third quarter of this year, July-September, which marks the worst downturn in the past four years. 

The revised data released Monday was more than double the initial estimate of a 1.2 percent contraction.

The slide is in part driven by a series of natural disasters that hit Japan, which forced factories to cut production, and contributed to lower consumer demand and corporate investment. To a lesser extent, the U.S.-China trade dispute has had its impact on Japanese economy. 

The adjusted gross domestic product, the total value of a nation’s goods and services, also dipped 0.6 percent in the third quarter compared to the previous one, according to the data released from the Cabinet Office.

Economists, however, say that the setback for the world’s third-biggest economy is likely temporary.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.


Japanese Economy Experiences the Worst Downturn in Four Years

Japan’s economy contracted 2.5 percent in the third quarter of this year, July-September, which marks the worst downturn in the past four years. 

The revised data released Monday was more than double the initial estimate of a 1.2 percent contraction.

The slide is in part driven by a series of natural disasters that hit Japan, which forced factories to cut production, and contributed to lower consumer demand and corporate investment. To a lesser extent, the U.S.-China trade dispute has had its impact on Japanese economy. 

The adjusted gross domestic product, the total value of a nation’s goods and services, also dipped 0.6 percent in the third quarter compared to the previous one, according to the data released from the Cabinet Office.

Economists, however, say that the setback for the world’s third-biggest economy is likely temporary.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.


US, Western Diplomats See Political Motive Behind OPEC Oil Cut

Despite repeated calls by U.S. President Donald Trump for oil production to remain steady, the Saudi-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, along with Russia and its allies, announced Friday they would cut their pumping of crude to reduce oil flows onto the global market by 1.2 million barrels of per day, a bigger-than-expected cut. 

 

OPEC officials say there was no political motive behind the decision, arguing an oil glut forced the move and that their decision was spurred by oversupply concerns and forecasts for lower demand next year — as well as a surge of shale oil production in the U.S. 

Price slide

 

Oil economists agree that a reduction is needed to stem a further slide in prices, which fell 30 percent in October, and OPEC’s decision was praised by many market analysts. 

 

Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas, told Bloomberg: “Given how much expectations were downplayed around the outcome of this meeting, this result comes as a welcome surprise. OPEC has given the oil market a rudder that appeared largely absent.” 

 

Oil prices surged following the announcement, with a barrel of Brent crude jumping nearly 6 percent, to $63.11.  

But with the U.S. Senate determined to punish Saudi Arabia for the killing in October of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and prominent critic of the Gulf kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, some Western diplomats and analysts aren’t so sure that the Saudi-led cut was without a political motive.  

 

They argue Riyadh’s determination to force through a larger-than-expected cut was partly a warning shot in line with thinly veiled threats by Saudi officials to jolt the global economy, if the U.S. moves to impose sanctions on the kingdom for Khashoggi’s brazen killing.  

 

Pledge on sanctions

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has vowed to sanction Saudi Arabia after a briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel convinced them the Saudi crown prince ordered the killing, which took place Oct. 2 in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.  

 

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he wanted to “sanction the hell out of” the Saudi government. 

 

“A cut in production is one thing, but this was much larger than was forecast; and the Saudis had to go out of their way to persuade Moscow to agree,” a senior British diplomat said. 

 

Initially, the Kremlin refused to scale back its own output at the meeting in Vienna, and Russian envoy Alexander Novak had to rush back to Moscow for talks. On Friday, the Saudi and Russian envoys haggled in Vienna for two hours, consulting their governments by phone during the bargaining, OPEC officials said. 

 

Some analysts see the Russian agreement for the production cut as further evidence of the warming ties between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi crown prince, who enthusiastically shared a high-five a hand slap at last week’s Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires. 

 

In the run-up to the meeting featuring the OPEC countries and a so-called Russia-led super cartel of 10 oil-producing countries, including Kazakhstan, analysts had forecast that a muddled middle course would be plotted, with Saudi Arabia likely to be more cautious about defying Trump while moving to bump up prices.  

 

On Wednesday, the U.S. leader tweeted he hoped OPEC would “be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted.” He added: “The World does not want to see, or need, higher oil prices!” 

 

In October as sanctions talk flared in Washington, Saudi officials warned that the Gulf kingdom could exploit its oil status to disrupt the global economy, if it wanted. The Saudi government threatened to retaliate against any punishment such as economic sanctions, outside political pressure or even “repeated false accusations” about the Khashoggi killing, although it walked back the threat subsequently following signs that the Trump administration had no appetite for imposing sanctions on the long-term U.S. ally.  

Saudi Arabia doesn’t wield the same level of power on the oil market — thanks in part to U.S. shale oil production — as it did in 1973, when it triggered an oil embargo against Western countries for supporting Israel. However, it still wields enormous influence, analysts say. The U.S. is the third-biggest destination for Saudi crude. OPEC accounts for about one-third of global crude production. 

 

If the U.S. Congress decides to impose sanctions, the Saudis could react by reducing oil exports further and force prices to rise to $100 a barrel, some market experts said. 

 

Exemptions for importers

U.S. officials said they had expected that OPEC would decide to cut production. They said that is why U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo granted exemptions last month for eight oil-importing countries to continue to buy oil from Tehran when announcing details of the reimposition of sanctions against Iran. 

 

This week, U.S. senators are due to take aim at the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen and will hold an unprecedented vote on ending U.S. support for the war. 

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.


IMF Approves $3.7 Billion Loan for Oil-rich Angola

The International Monetary Fund says it has approved a three-year loan of about $3.7 billion for Angola, which seeks to diversify its economy and curb corruption after a new president took office last year.

The IMF said Friday that the loan aims to help the southern African country restructure state-owned enterprises and take other measures to improve economic governance.

 

Angola had experienced a surge in growth because of oil exports under former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, but poverty and cronyism persisted. A fall in commodity prices years ago tipped the Angolan economy into crisis and showed that it was too reliant on oil.  

 

President Joao Lourenco, who succeeded dos Santos, has distanced his administration from his former boss, pledging to fight corruption and meeting with government critics.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.


China Exports, Imports Weaken Ahead of US Talks

China’s export growth slowed in November as global demand weakened, adding to pressure on Beijing ahead of trade talks with Washington.

Exports rose 5.4 percent from a year ago to $227.4 billion, a marked decline from the previous month’s 12.6 percent increase, customs data showed Saturday. Imports rose 3 percent to $182.7 billion, a sharp reversal from October’s 20.3 percent surge.

That adds to signs a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy is deepening as Chinese leaders prepare for negotiations with President Donald Trump over Beijing’s technology policy and other irritants.

Exports to US rise

Chinese exports to the United States rose by a relatively robust 12.9 percent from a year ago to $46.2 billion. Shipments to the U.S. market have held up as exporters rush to fill orders before additional duty increases, but forecasters say that effect will fade in early 2019.

Imports of American goods rose 5 percent to $10.7 billion, down from the previous month’s 8.5 percent growth. China’s politically volatile trade surplus with the United States widened to a record $35.5 billion.

Trump agreed during a Dec. 1 meeting with this Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to postpone tariff hikes by 90 days while the two sides negotiate. But penalties of up to 25 percent imposed earlier by both sides on billions of dollars of each other’s goods still are in effect.

Companies and investors worry the battle between the two biggest economies will chill global economic growth.

Chinese economy cools

The Chinese economy grew by a relatively strong 6.5 percent from a year earlier in the quarter ending in September. But that was boosted by government spending on public works construction that helped to mask a slowdown in other parts of the economy.

An official measure of manufacturing activity fell to its lowest level in two years in November. Auto sales have shrunk for the past three months, and real estate sales are weak.

Chinese leaders have responded by easing lending controls, boosting spending on construction and promising more help to entrepreneurs who generate the state-dominated economy’s new jobs and wealth. But they have moved gradually to avoid reigniting a rise in corporate and local government debt that already is considered to be dangerously high.

Tariffs

The Trump administration imposed 25 percent duties on $50 billion of Chinese goods in July in response to complaints that Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology. Washington also imposed a 10 percent charge on $200 billion of Chinese goods. That was set to rise to 25 percent in January but Trump postponed it.

Beijing responded with tariff hikes on $110 billion of American goods. Trump has threatened to expand U.S. penalties to all goods from China.

Washington, Europe and other trading partners complain plans such as “Made in China 2025,” which calls for creating Chinese global champions in artificial intelligence, robotics and other fields, violate Beijing’s market-opening obligations.

Trump said Beijing committed to buy American farm goods and cut auto import tariffs as part of the tariff cease-fire. Chinese officials have yet to confirm details of the agreement.

China’s Commerce Ministry expressed confidence the two sides can reach a deal during the 90-day delay. That indicates Beijing sees resolving the conflict as too important to allow it to be disrupted by last week’s dramatic arrest in Canada of an executive of Huawei Technologies Ltd., one of China’s most prominent companies, on accusations of violating trade sanctions on Iran.

Big trade disputes

Private sector analysts say that there is little time to resolve sprawling conflicts that have bedeviled U.S.-Chinese trade for years. That suggests Beijing will need to find ways to persuade Trump to extend his deadline.

Also in November, China’s exports to the 28-nation European Union rose 11.4 percent over a year earlier to $35.9 billion, down from October’s 12 percent growth. Imports rose 13.2 percent to $24.4 billion.

China’s trade surplus with the EU widened by 6.4 percent over a year earlier to $11.5 billion.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.


Stocks Drop 4 Percent in Rocky Week on Trade, Growth Worries

Wall Street capped a turbulent week of trading Friday with the biggest weekly loss since March as traders fret over rising trade tensions between Washington and Beijing and signals of slower economic growth. 

The latest wave of selling erased more than 550 points from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, bringing its three-day loss to more than 1,400. For the week, major indexes are down more than 4 percent. 

Worries that the testy U.S.-China trade dispute and higher interest rates will slow the economy has made investors uneasy, leading to volatile swings in the market from one day to the next.

Dispute between U.S. and China 

On Monday, news that the U.S. and China had agreed to a 90-day truce in their escalating trade conflict drove stocks sharply higher, adding to strong gains the week before. The next day, as doubts mounted over the likelihood of a swift resolution to the trade dispute, stocks sank. On Friday, another early rally faded into another sharp drop.

“We’re in a market where investors just want to sell any upside that they see,” said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA. “The volatility we’ve seen the last couple of weeks has been pretty extreme in both directions.”

The S&P 500 index fell 62.87 points, or 2.3 percent, to 2,633.08. The index has ended lower three out of the last four weeks. The Dow dropped 558.72 points, or 2.2 percent, to 24,388.95. 

The Nasdaq composite slid 219.01 points, or 3 percent, to 6,969.25. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks gave up 29.32 points, or 2 percent, to 1,448.09.

The S&P 500 and Dow are now in the red for the year again. The Nasdaq was holding on to a modest gain. 

Markets upset since October 

Volatility has gripped the market since early October, reflecting investors’ worries that the Federal Reserve might overshoot with its campaign of rate increases and hurt U.S. economic growth.

Traders also fear that a prolonged trade dispute between the U.S. and China could crimp corporate profits and that tariffs will raises costs for businesses and consumers. Uncertainty over those issues helped drive the market’s sell-off this week. 

“The Fed has taken the punch bowl away in getting back to rates where they are today,” said Doug Cote, chief market strategist for Voya Investment Management. “We’re also going to get back to more normal volatility.”

At the same time, traders are also worried about a sharp drop in long-term bond yields as investors plow money into Treasurys, which tends to happen when investors expect slower economic growth. 

Technology stocks accounted for much of the market’s broad slide Friday. Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices slid 8.6 percent to $19.46.

Health care stocks take big hit

Health care sector stocks, the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 this year, took some of the heaviest losses. Medical device company Cooper lost 12.3 percent to $243.01.

Utilities, which investors favor when they’re fearful, eked out a slight gain. PPL Corp. gained 2.8 percent to $31.09.

Oil prices rose after OPEC countries agreed to reduce global oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day for six months, beginning in January. The move would include a reduction of 800,000 barrels per day from OPEC countries and 400,000 barrels per day from Russia and other non-OPEC nations. 

The news, which had been widely anticipated, pushed crude oil prices higher. U.S. benchmark crude rose 2.2 percent to $52.61 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 2.7 percent to $61.67 a barrel in London.

The Labor Department said U.S. employers added 155,000 jobs in November, a slowdown from recent months but enough to suggest that the economy is expanding at a solid pace despite sharp gyrations in the stock market. The unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent, nearly a five-decade low, for the third straight month. 

Bond prices rose, sending yields slightly lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.86 percent from 2.87 percent late Thursday. 

The decline in bond yields, which affect interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans, weighed on banks, which make more money when rates are rising. Morgan Stanley slid 3 percent to $41.32.

The dollar rose to 112.66 yen from 112.65 yen late Thursday. The euro strengthened to $1.1418 from $1.1373.

Small gains for gold, silver

Gold gained 0.7 percent to $1,252.60 an ounce. Silver climbed 1.3 percent to $14.70 an ounce. Copper added 0.6 percent to $2.76 a pound.

In other commodities trading, wholesale gasoline climbed 3.7 percent to $1.49 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1.5 percent to $1.89 a gallon. Natural gas gained 3.7 percent to $4.49 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX dipped 0.2 percent while the CAC 40 in France rose 0.7 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 jumped 1.1 percent. Major indexes in Asia finished mostly higher. 

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.8 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.4 percent. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gave up 0.3 percent. 

 

            

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.


Major Oil-producing Countries Agree to Cut Output

Oil prices climbed sharply Friday after OPEC and other producers led by Russia agreed to cut output to reduce global inventories of crude oil.

OPEC countries and the Russian-led coalition agreed to collectively slash oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day, said OPEC president Suhail Mohamed al-Mazrouei, more than the 1 million barrel cut the market anticipated.

After two days of negotiations, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries said they would cut 800,000 barrels a day, while non-OPEC allies agreed to an additional 400,000 barrels per day.

The cuts, from which OPEC members Iran, Venezuela and Libya are exempt, will begin in January and remain in effect for six months.

The deal highlights Russia’s new-found influence on the global oil market and the significance of Russia’s alliance with Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of OPEC.

Oil-producing nations have been under pressure to cut production to stabilize oil prices, which have dropped sharply over the past few months. Global oil prices have plummeted by more than 30 percent since early October.

The cuts were agreed to despite pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to maintain current levels of oil production, which have surged since the end of 2017.

The surge is primarily due to the U.S., which has increased production by 2.5 million barrels a day since early 2016, making the U.S. the world’s largest producer. 

On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “The World does not want to see, or need, higher oil prices!” 

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.