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JAKARTA, July 13, 2018 (News Wires) - Social media giant Facebook has assured the Indonesian government that personal data of about one million of its citizens had not been improperly accessed by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook has faced intense scrutiny, including multiple official investigations in the United States, Europe and Australia, over allegations of improper use of data for 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica.

Indonesia, where more than 115 million people use Facebook, has also been pressing the firm to explain how its citizens’ personal data was harvested by Cambridge Analytica via a personality quiz.

“Facebook has reported to the Communications Ministry that no data from any Indonesian users was collected,” Deputy Communications Minister Semuel Pangerapan said on Friday.

A Facebook official had told members of parliament in April that 1,096,666 people in Indonesia may have had their data shared, or 1.26 per cent of the global total.

This led Communications Minister Rudiantara, who goes by one name, to briefly threaten to shut down Facebook in Indonesia if personal data was found to have been breached.

But Facebook told Reuters on Thursday it had only indicated the number of Indonesian users “who could potentially have had their data accessed, not necessarily misused”.

“Both public records and existing evidence strongly indicate Aleksandr Kogan did not provide Cambridge Analytica or (its parent) SCL with data on people who use Facebook in Indonesia,” it added, referring to the researcher linked to the scandal.

Facebook says Kogan harvested data by creating an app on the platform that was downloaded by 270,000 people, providing access not only to their own but also their friends’ personal data.

Pangerapan said he believed Facebook had improved options for users to limit access to data, but did not say whether authorities would continue their inquiry.

The Indonesian communications ministry had sent a letter to the company in April seeking confirmation on technical measures to limit access to data in Facebook and more information on an audit the social media company was doing.

Britain’s information regulator on Wednesday slapped a small but symbolic fine of 500,000 pounds on Facebook for breaches of data protection law, in the first move by a regulator to punish the social media giant for the controversy. 

Washington, July 13, 2018 (News Wires) -- Citigroup Inc’s quarterly profit topped Wall Street estimates on Friday, helped by strength in its consumer banking business in Mexico, North America and Asia.

The third-largest US bank by assets, like its peers, also benefited from a cut in income tax rates and an expanding US economy that fuelled demand for loans.

Net income rose to $4.49 billion in the second quarter ended June 30, from $3.87 billion a year earlier, driven by a 14 per cent jump in net income for its global consumer banking.

Pretax profit from continuing operations increased 5 per cent.

Earnings per share rose to $1.63 from $1.28 and topped analysts’ average estimate of $1.56, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The bank’s provision for income tax fell by $351 million, following President Donald Trump’s corporate tax rate cuts.

Buybacks reduced shares outstanding by 8 percent from a year earlier, further boosting earnings per share.

Revenue rose about 2 per cent to $18.47 billion but came in slightly below the average expectation of $18.51 billion as revenue from its investment banking business fell 7 per cent.

 

BEIJING, July 13, 2018 (News Wires) - China’s trade surplus with the United States swelled to a record in June as its overall exports grew at a solid pace, a result that could further inflame a bitter trade dispute with Washington.

But signs exporters were rushing shipments before tariffs went into effect in the first week of July suggest the spike in the surplus was a one-off, with analysts expecting a less favorable trade balance for China in coming months as duties on exports start to bite.

The data came after the administration of US President Donald Trump raised the stakes in its trade row with China yesterday, saying it would slap 10 per cent tariffs on an extra $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, including numerous consumer items.

China’s trade surplus with the United States, which is at the centre of the tariff tussle, widened to a record monthly high of $28.97 billion, up from $24.58 billion in May, according to Reuters calculations based on official data going back to 2008.

The record surplus “won’t help already sour relations and escalating tensions”, Jonas Short, head of the Beijing office at Everbright Sun Hung Kai, wrote in a note.

Trump, who has demanded Beijing cut the trade surplus, could use the latest result to further ratchet up pressure on China after both sides last week imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s goods. Washington has warned it may ultimately impose tariffs on more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods - nearly the total amount of US imports from China last year.

The dispute has jolted global financial markets, raising worries a full-scale trade war could derail the world economy. Chinese stocks fell into bear market territory and the yuan currency has skidded, though there have been signs in recent days its central bank is moving to slow the currency’s declines.

China’s June exports rose 11.3 per cent from a year earlier, China General Administration of Customs reported, beating forecasts for a 10 per cent increase according to the latest Reuters poll of 39 analysts, and down from a 12.6 per cent gain in May.

China’s commerce ministry confirmed last month that Chinese exporters were front-loading exports to the US to get ahead of expected tariffs - a situation that could exacerbate any slowdown in shipments toward the year-end.

 

CAIRO, July 10, 2018 - The Egyptian Exchange (EGX) indexes posted collective gains at the end of Tuesday's session, backed by purchases by institutions and local investment funds while the Arab and foreign investors favoured sell-off.

The market capital gained about LE6.5 billion to reach LE887.5 billion amid transactions exceeding LE1.4 billion.

The EGX30 benchmark index went up by 0.86 per cent to close at 15,921.03 points.The small and medium cap index EGX 70 increased by 0.54 per cent to 779.63 points, while the broader index EGX100 was up by 0.81 per cent to close at 1,993.33.

LONDON, June 29,2018 (News Wires) - World stocks enjoyed a strong bounce on Friday with European shares recovering from a turbulent week of selling as investors’ fears of higher barriers to trade came closer to becoming reality.

MSCI’s index of world stocks rose 0.5 per cent by 1045 GMT, its strongest gain in three weeks, but its second quarter was still set to be in the red as investors priced in US tariffs set to be implemented next week.

The US administration is due to activate tariffs on Chinese goods worth $34 billion on July 6, which is expected to prompt a tit-for-tat response from Beijing.

European stocks rallied strongly, with the pan-European STOXX 600 up 1 percent and Germany’s trade-sensitive DAX up 1.2 per cent.

US stock futures also rose 0.3 to 0.4 per cent, though they briefly spiked lower after Axios reported that US President Donald Trump has repeatedly told aides he wants to withdraw from the World Trade Organization.

It was the latest sign of investors’ heightened sensitivity to any signs of deepening divides over trade. Tariff disputes have already mauled assets from the Chinese yuan to European autos stocks, and wiped $1.75 trillion off the value of world stocks since June 12.

The euro jumped after leaders at an EU summit reached an agreement on migration, rising 0.6 percent to $1.1635. That eased a threat to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition over the issue.

“The outcome of the summit tells us something about the severity of the situation,” said Jan von Gerich, chief analyst at Nordea in Helsinki.

“I’m not confident it will solve the underlying issues but there was a fear that the summit would fail and we could get a collapse of the German government, so that risk premium is being priced out,” he said.

STOCKS GAIN, YUAN PAIN

While Asian stocks rose, the Chinese yuan suffered its worst month on record, losing 3 per cent against the dollar in June as investors pulled money from a market likely to suffer from higher barriers to trade.

The Chinese yuan traded as low as 6.6441 to the dollar on Friday, its lowest since November, as investors speculated China may seek to devalue its currency to compensate for higher tariffs.

“We continue to believe that the yuan movements are largely reflecting EM FX movements, and are not a sign of a concerted effort to devalue,” said BBH currency strategists.

 

Despite gains on Friday, the CSI300 and Shanghai Composite are the world’s worst-performing major indexes this year.

In strong contrast to the yuan, the US dollar was set for its strongest quarterly gains since Q4 2016, helped by the US Federal Reserve’s move to raise interest rates in June, and expectations of further hikes this year.

The dollar index edged down 0.5 per cent to 94.924 on the day as the euro rose, and the greenback was up 0.1 per cent against the yen at 110.65.

European bonds diverged, with the EU Summit migration agreement pushing Germany’s Bund yields up while Italian 10-year government bond yields fell to a one-week low.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes held steady at 2.8419 percent and the yield curve widened slightly to 33.3 basis points.

Some investors see its flattening as a sign recession may be around the corner.

Intensifying trade tariff fears contrasted with a still strong picture of the global economy and robust company earnings growth.

 “Our view for this year has been that asset markets would likely underperform the real economy as peaking growth momentum, tighter financial conditions, higher inflation and more volatility would act as a drag on valuations even as EPS trends remain solid,” said Morgan Stanley analysts, cutting their index targets for MSCI Europe on Thursday.

Despite trade tensions, the STOXX 600 remained on track for its strongest quarter since Q1 2017, and Britain’s FTSE 100 was set for its biggest quarterly gain since 2010.

Oil prices extended their gains to fresh highs on a tighter market as USsanctions against Iran threatened to remove a substantial volume of crude oil from world markets amid rising demand.

US crude inched up 0.04 per cent to $73.49 a barrel. Brent crude rose 0.2 per cent to $78.01 per barrel.

Gold remained near 6 1/2 month lows, weighed down by trade worries, interest rate expectations and the strong dollar.

Spot gold traded up 0.2 per cent at $1250.81 per ounce, but was still headed for its worst monthly performance since November 2016.

Emerging stocks jumped 1.9 per cent, having hit a one-month low in the previous session. The index was still set for its worst month since January 2016 as the rising dollar battered emerging economies.

CAIRO, June 28, 2018 (MENA) - Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker had a meeting on Thursday with Swedish Ambassador in Cairo Jan Thesleff on
boosting bilateral co-operation and beefing up investments in Egypt, particularly in power projects.

During the meeting, Shaker said Egypt is looking forward to strengthen economic, trade and social ties with 28 EU member states, especially Sweden.

He further underlined challenges facing the electricity sector over the past period and genuine efforts and measures taken to fill the gap between electricity production and consumption.

From June 2014 till 2018, Egypt managed to add 25,000 megawatts of conventional and renewable energy sources to the country's power grid, the
minister said.

Over the past three years, Egypt signed contracts to set up 18 high-voltage power transformer stations with a total capacity of 500 kilo-volts, the minister added.

A feasibility study is being conducted to increase the capacity of the power linkage grid with Jordan to reach from 2,000 to 3,000 megawatts instead of 450 megawatts, he noted.

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