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LONDON, August 17, 2018 (News Wires) - Euro zone bond yields fell on Friday as upcoming talks between China and the US eased concerns about trade, but further sanctions were threatened on Turkey, tempering a return to riskier assets and leaving bund yields pinned to recent lows.

Asian and European stocks gained, with the dollar coming off the 13-1/2 month highs on Friday morning as next week´s talks between China and the United States eased concerns of a global trade war, and helped stem risk aversion in the broader markets.

Turkish bonds and the lira had also found some support on Thursday after Finance Minister Berat Albayrak assured international investors on a conference call that the country would emerge stronger from its currency crisis and that its banks were healthy.

Earlier supportive measures from the Turkish central bank and key ally Qatar have helped the Turkish lira strengthen, although it was little changed after Albayrak's call.

But threats of further economic sanctions on Turkey from Washington on Thursday caused the lira to weaken to 5.86 against the dollar from its previous close of 5.815, though it then recovered to 5.80.

Peripheral euro zone bonds, particularly in Italy, had been hit by concerns about European bank exposure to Turkey, as well as receding global risk appetite.

With Turkish risk looking to recede, Italian government bond yields found support in early trade on Friday and were 1- 2 basis points lower across the curve. Italy's 10-year was at 3.10 per cent.

Spanish and Portuguese government bonds were also lower in early trading.,

Italian 10-year yields hit a 2 1/2-month high of 3.20 percent on Wednesday, with the spread over German bonds also the widest since late May at 289 bps.

"We´re seeing some improvement, some stabilisation of risk appetite which implies some demand for BTPS," said Michael Leister, rates strategist at Commerzbank. "Looking at the spreads, we´re going to see some demand attracted to those extreme levels."

Despite the improving global backdrop however, investors are reluctant to add risk going into the weekend, meaning that safe haven assets such as Germany's 10-year government bond yield, the benchmark for the euro zone, remain well bid.

Germany's 10 year Bund was almost unchanged from Thursday´s close at 0.31 per cent, with the rest of the government bond curve also flat.

"Investors are sensitive to the headline risk that might come over the weekend," said Commerzbank's Leister.

"We would expect Bund yields to rise given concerns about Turkey and China are receding - we expected a sell-off - but there will be some demand not to be exposed over the weekend."

 

PARIS, August 14, 2018 (AFP) - European countries faced pressure on Tuesday to resolve a fresh standoff with the operators of the migrant rescue ship Aquarius which is stranded for the second time in the Mediterranean carrying 141 people.

France said it was in touch with other EU nations to "rapidly" find a port where the Aquarius could dock after it was refused entry by Italy and Malta, the two countries closest to its current location.

The Aquarius, which was left stranded with 630 migrants on board in June after being turned away by Rome and Valletta, resumed rescue operations off the Libyan coast last week.

In a statement late on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron's office voiced disapproval of Italy's "very tough political stance" -- milder language than two months ago when he accused the populist government of "cynicism and irresponsibility".

The 141 migrants on board the Aquarius were picked up on Friday in two separate operations and are in a stable condition, the French charity that operates the Aquarius, SOS Mediterranee, said.

In the first rescue, 25 people were plucked from a wooden boat bobbing on the seas off the Libyan coast, while another 116 were rescued from another larger vessel later in the day.

The second boat was overloaded and more than half of the passengers were unaccompanied children, mostly from Somalia and Eritrea. They had no food or water supplies at the time of their rescue, SOS Mediterranee said.

"We're asking all European countries to find a solution. We're asking them to be responsible and find a safe port in the Mediterranean," Sophie Beau, head of charity, told AFP on Monday.

NAIROBI, August 14, 2018 (News Wires) - An Ethiopian court has freed 11 police officers on bail after they were detained on suspicion of negligence in a grenade attack on a rally in June attended by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, state-affiliated media said on Tuesday.

The attack in the capital Addis Ababa on June 23 injured more than 150 and raised fears that a group or individual may want to use violence against Abiy, who has presided over a series of reforms and a rapprochement with Eritrea since taking power in April.

Among those freed on bail is the former deputy commissioner of Addis Ababa police commission Girma Kassa, Fana Broadcasting Corporation said. None of the police have been charged.

Earlier this month, Ethiopian federal prosecutors said they had charged five suspects with involvement in the incident, including a man released from prison under a government amnesty, but did not elaborate on the motive for the attack.

BRUSSELS, August 7, 2018 (News Wires) - The European Union and United States on Tuesday condemned violent attacks targeting the Zimbabwe opposition since elections last week, as 27 supporters of the MDC party were released on bail.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, declared winner of the country's first ballot since the downfall of Robert Mugabe, again vowed to protect rights, but the government has been accused of overseeing a brutal post-vote crackdown.

Last week's poll, which was marred by soldiers opening fire at a protest killing six people, was meant to re-launch Zimbabwe on the international stage and attract foreign aid and investment after the repression of the Mugabe era.

Mnangagwa won the presidential vote by a narrow margin, and the opposition Movement for Democratic (MDC) has accused him of rigging the result.

"The eruption of violence... stand(s) in sharp contrast to the high hopes and expectations for a peaceful, inclusive, transparent and credible election," said a joint statement from the EU, US, Canada and Switzerland.

It called for the government "to ensure that the Zimbabwean Defence Forces act with restraint, in full respect of international human rights norms".

The MDC has accused security forces of abducting and beating opposition activists and their families since the election result was declared early Friday.

"I've just finished going thru the evidence... We WON this election emphatically," MDC leader Chamisa tweeted, alleging election authorities used falsified figures to ensure Mnangagwa retained power.

Mnangagwa, who says any fraud allegations should be raised through the courts, said on Twitter that "transparency and accountability remain paramount. And despite the naysayers, in this new Zimbabwe, freedom will reign."

LONDON, August 5, 2018 (News Wires) - Britain is now likely leave the European Union without a deal due to the "intransigence" of the European Union, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told the Sunday Times.

The pro-Brexit minister said that the chances of a no-deal Brexit were now "60-40", laying the blame on EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

"I think the intransigence of the commission is pushing us towards no deal," he said in an interview with the Sunday Times.

"If the EU decides that the theological obsession of the unelected is to take priority over the economic wellbeing of the people of Europe then it's a bureaucrats' Brexit -- not a people's Brexit -- then there is only going to be one outcome."

He said that Barnier had rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's latest plan, agreed by her cabinet, on the grounds that "we have never done it before".

It was therefore up to the EU to "show us one that they can suggest that would be acceptable to us," said Fox.

"It's up to the EU27 to determine whether they want the EU Commission's ideological purity to be maintained at the expense of their real economies."

May met with French President Emmanuel Macron on the Mediterranean coast on Friday to lobby for her Brexit plan, which has divided her government and so far failed to win over EU negotiators.

The prime minister has just a few months before an agreement on Britain's divorce from the European Union -- set for March 29, 2019 -- must be forged in principle ahead of a EU summit in mid-October.

SINGAPORE, August 3, 2018 (News Wires) - Southeast Asia and Europe stressed the importance of pushing back against protectionism and the threat of global trade wars Friday, as their ministers work towards the eventual goal of a region-to-region free trade pact.

The US is embroiled in trade spats with China and close allies including the European Union, imposing tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods and heightening fears of economic pain that could spread worldwide.

At a meeting in Singapore, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini assured her Southeast Asian counterparts that they could count on Europe as a free trade partner.

"We stand on the side of a free and fair trade that benefits all, instead of damaging trade wars," she told reporters at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) forum.

Mogherini voiced hope that bilateral trade accords the EU is negotiating with several ASEAN states "will be the stepping stone towards a future region-to-region deal".

Washington escalated the trade row this week by saying it was considering more than doubling threatened tariffs on a range of Chinese imports worth $200 billion.

The US has already imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods, with another $16 billion to be targeted in coming weeks.

"There's been unanimity of concern over looming trade wars because as we know in a war there's no winners," Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told reporters on Friday.

"And worse, sometimes you're not in the war but you're gravely affected. And when we talk about trade war, we're talking about actual jobs of real people."

ASEAN, a 10-nation region of 650 million people with some of the world's fastest growing emerging economies, has been keenly forging free-trade pacts among its members and regional trading partners.

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