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LONDON, Sept 24, 2018 (News Wires) - Oil prices jumped more than 2 percent to a four-year high on Monday after Saudi Arabia and Russia ruled out any immediate increase in production despite calls by US President Donald Trump for action to raise global supply.

Benchmark Brent crude hit its highest since November 2014 at $80.94 per barrel, up $2.14 or 2.7 per cent, before easing to around $80.75 by 11:50 GMT. US light crude was $1.25 higher at $72.03.

"This is the oil market's response to the OPEC+ group's refusal to step up its oil production," said Carsten Fritsch, commodities analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and its biggest oil-producer ally outside the group, Russia, on Sunday effectively rebuffed a demand from Trump for moves to cool the market.

"I do not influence prices," Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters as OPEC and non-OPEC energy ministers gathered in Algiers for a meeting that ended with no formal recommendation for any additional supply boost.

Trump said last week that OPEC "must get prices down now!", but Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Monday OPEC had not responded positively to Trump's demands.

"It is now increasingly evident, that in the face of producers reluctant to raise output, the market will be confronted with supply gaps in the next three-six months that it will need to resolve through higher oil prices," BNP Paribas oil strategist Harry Tchilinguirian told Reuters Global Oil Forum.

Commodity traders Trafigura and Mercuria said on Monday that Brent could rise to $90 per barrel by Christmas and pass $100 in early 2019, as markets tighten once US sanctions against Iran are fully implemented from November.

JPMorgan said US sanctions on Iran could lead to a loss of 1.5 million barrels per day, while Mercuria warned that as much as 2 million bpd could be knocked out of the market.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as well as top producer Russia has been discussing raising output to counter falling supply from Iran, although no decision has been made public yet.

A source familiar with OPEC discussions told Reuters on Friday that OPEC and other producers have been discussing the possibility of raising output by 500,000 bpd.

"We expect that those OPEC countries with available spare capacity, led by Saudi Arabia, will increase output but not completely offset the drop in Iranian barrels," said Edward Bell, commodity analyst at Emirates NBD bank.

Mexico City, September 23, 2018 (News Wires) - Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he does not want to fight with US President Donald Trump on immigration.

Trump's hardline approach on the subject has ramped up tensions and riled Mexicans, who he previously claimed would pay for the construction of a wall between the two countries.

But the leftist Lopez Obrador told reporters in the border state of Sonora on Saturday that angry exchanges were not the answer.

"We are not going to fight with the US government, we are not going to fight with President Donald Trump," he said.

"The migration problem is not resolved by building walls or by use of force, but it's a diplomatic job of respect," added Lopez Obrador, who takes office on December 1.

On Saturday, US authorities announced the start of construction on a five-metre wall along a 6.5-kilometre stretch of the Texan border town of El Paso.

Trump's insurgent campaign for the White House played heavily on a pledge to build a wall on the southern border and to deport millions of undocumented migrants, amid what he claimed was a crisis of immigration.

He initially demanded that Mexico pay for the barrier, a demand Mexico repeatedly rejected. Congress has so far approved $1.6 billion of $25 billion Trump had sought.

Much of the border already has fencing or other barriers, but Trump has ordered a "contiguous, and impassable physical barrier," which scientists say would threaten more than 1,000 species of animals.

BEIJING/WASHINGTON, September 18, 2018 (News Wires) - China said on Tuesday that it has no choice but to retaliate against new US trade tariffs, raising the risk that President Donald Trump could soon impose duties on virtually all of the Chinese goods that America buys.

The commerce ministry’s statement came hours after Trump said he was imposing 10 percent tariffs on about $200 billion worth of imports from China, and threatened duties on about $267 billion more if China retaliated against the US action.

The brief statement gave no details on China’s plans, but Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing later that the US steps had brought “new uncertainty” to talks between the two countries.

“China has always emphasised that the only correct way to resolve the China-US trade issue is via talks and consultations held on an equal, sincere and mutually respectful basis. But at this time, everything the United States does does not give the impression of sincerity or goodwill,” he added.

Geng said he would not comment on “hypotheticals” such as what measures Beijing might consider apart from tariffs on US products, saying only that details would be released at the appropriate time.

Trump had warned on Monday that if China takes retaliatory action against US farmers or industries, “we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately $267 billion of additional imports.”

The latest US duties spared smart watches from Apple and Fitbit and other consumer products such as baby car seats. But if the administration enacts the additional tariffs it would engulf all remaining US imports from China and Apple products like the iPhone and its competitors would not likely be spared.

Last month, China unveiled a proposed list of tariffs on $60 billion of US goods ranging from liquefied natural gas to certain types of aircraft - should Washington activate the tariffs on its $200 billion list.

China is reviewing plans to send a delegation to Washington for fresh talks in light of the US action, the South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday, citing a government source in Beijing.

Collection of tariffs on the long-anticipated US list will start on Sept. 24 but the rate will increase to 25 per cent by the end of 2018, allowing US companies some time to adjust their supply chains to alternate countries.

So far, the United States has imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese products to pressure Beijing to reduce its huge bilateral trade surplus and make sweeping changes to its trade, technology transfer and high-tech industrial subsidy policies.

Beijing has retaliated in kind, but some analysts and American businesses are concerned it could resort to other measures such as pressuring US companies operating in China.

A senior Chinese securities market official said US trade actions will not work as China has ample fiscal and monetary policy tools to cope with the impact. The government already has been ramping up spending on infrastructure.

“President Trump is a hard-hitting businessman, and he tries to put pressure on China so he can get concessions from our negotiations. I think that kind of tactic is not going to work with China,” Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of China’s securities regulator, said at a conference in the port city of Tianjin.

Trump’s latest escalation of tariffs on China comes after several rounds of talks yielded no progress. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week invited top Chinese officials to fresh discussions, but thus far nothing has been scheduled.

“We have been very clear about the type of changes that need to be made, and we have given China every opportunity to treat us more fairly,” Trump said in a statement. “But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices.”

Fang told the Tianjin forum that he hopes the two sides can sit down and talk, but added that the latest US move has “poisoned” the atmosphere.

A senior Trump administration official told reporters that the United States was open to further talks with Beijing, but offered no immediate details on when they may occur.

“This is not an effort to constrain China, but this is an effort to work with China and say, ‘It’s time you address these unfair trade practices that we’ve identified that others have identified and that have harmed the entire trading system,’” the official said.

So far, China has either imposed or proposed tariffs on $110 billion of US goods, representing most of its imports of American products.

“Tensions in the global economic system have manifested themselves in the US-China trade war, which is now seriously disrupting global supply chains,” the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said in a statement on Tuesday.

China's yuan currency slipped against the dollar on Tuesday after news of the U.S. measures. It has weakened by about 6.0 per cent since mid-June, offsetting the 10 per cent tariff rate by a considerable margin.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., Sept 11, 2018 (News Wires) - President Donald Trump is canceling a campaign rally in Missouri as a potentially catastrophic hurricane nears the East Coast.

Trump on Tuesday announced he's axing his planned visit to Cape Girardeau on Thursday. His campaign says that's the safest decision in light of the approaching hurricane.

Hurricane Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday night.

Trump had planned to urge the defeat of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill at the rally. He's backing her Republican challenger, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Trump won Missouri by 18 percentage points in 2016. McCaskill is a top target for Republicans seeking to expand the party's slim 51-49 edge in the U.S. Senate.

She is among 10 Senate Democrats up for re-election this year in states that Trump won.

 

SEOUL, September 6, 2018 (News Wires) - North Korea's Kim Jong Un has given his first time line to achieve denuclearisation, aiming for the end of US President Donald Trump's first term, and has agreed to a third summit with his South Korean counterpart, Seoul officials said on Thursday.

Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet in Pyongyang on September 18-20 and discuss "practical measures" towards denuclearisation, Moon's national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, said a day after meeting Kim.

The summit could provide renewed momentum to talks over denuclearisation between North Korea and the United States, after Trump canceled a visit to Pyongyang by his secretary of state last month citing lack of progress.

Kim told South Korean officials his faith in Trump was "unchanged" and that he wanted denuclearisation and an end to hostile relations with the United States before Trump's first term in office ends in early 2021, Chung said.

"He particularly emphasised that he has never said anything negative about President Trump," Chung said.

The remarks represent Kim's first timeline for dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

In previous, failed talks, North Korea has said it could consider giving up its nuclear programme if the United States provided security guarantees by removing troops from South Korea and withdrawing its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from the South and Japan.

US officials involved in the latest negotiations have said North Korea has refused to even start discussions about defining "denuclearisation" or other key terms such as "verifiable" and "irreversible", and has insisted the United States must first agree to simultaneous steps to reduce economic pressure.

Chung said Kim had stressed the need for the United States to reciprocate North Korea's initial moves, which have included dismantling a nuclear test site and a missile engine facility.

The US embassy in Seoul said it had no information to share on the matter.

WASHINGTON, September 4, 2018 (Reuters) - US President Donald Trump on Monday warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies Iran and Russia not to "recklessly attack" Syria's rebel-held Idlib province, warning that hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.

"The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Don’t let that happen!" Trump wrote in a tweet.

A source has told Reuters that Assad is preparing a phased offensive to regain Idlib.

The northern province and surrounding areas are the last major enclave held by insurgents fighting Assad, who has been backed by both Russian and Iranian forces in Syria's seven-year-old civil war. They are home to some three million civilians.

Trump has sought better relations with Russia since taking office in 2017 but the United States has been unable to rein in Moscow's military and diplomatic support for Assad.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said Washington views any government assault on Idlib as an escalation of Syria's war, and the State Department warned that Washington would respond to any chemical attack by Damascus.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, wrote on Twitter late on Monday: "All eyes on the actions of Assad, Russia, and Iran in Idlib. #NoChemicalWeapons" Iran called for militants to be “cleaned out” of Idlib, as it prepared for talks with Syria and Russia about confronting the last major enclave held by rebels opposed to Assad.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Damascus to discuss plans for an upcoming summit between the leaders of Iran, Russia and Turkey, which Tehran will host on September 7 to discuss Idlib, Iran's Fars news agency reported.

Turkey, which has long supported anti-Assad rebels, has co-operated with Russia and Iran on talks over Syria in recent years and has troops in the Idlib region on an observation mission.

Last week, Iran's defence minister travelled to Damascus and signed an agreement for defence co-operation between the two countries with his Syrian counterpart.

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