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Top Democrats leave open option of Trump impeachment after Mueller report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top congressional Democrats left the door open on Sunday to the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump, but said they would first need to complete their own investigations into whether he obstructed justice in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

Party leaders have cautioned against impeachment just 18 months before the November 2020 presidential election, although prominent liberals have demanded the start of proceedings to remove Trump from office since the release of a redacted version of Mueller’s report on Thursday.

U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, whose panel would spearhead any impeachment proceedings, said Democrats would press ahead with investigations of Trump in Congress and “see where the facts lead us.””Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable,” Nadler said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The redacted version of Mueller’s long-awaited report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, the product of a 22-month investigation, outlined multiple instances where Trump tried to thwart the probe. While it stopped short of concluding Trump had committed a crime, it did not exonerate him.

Mueller also noted that Congress has the power to address whether Trump violated the law, and Democrats said it would be a matter of discussion in the coming weeks.

“That’s going to be a very consequential decision and one I’m going to reserve judgment on until we have a chance to fully deliberate on it,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, planned a conference call for Monday afternoon to discuss their next steps in response to the Mueller report. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote lawmakers last week to notify them of the call “to discuss this grave matter.”

Nadler on Friday issued a subpoena to the Justice Department to hand over the full, unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence by May 1. The Justice Department called the request “premature and unnecessary.”

Before drawing any conclusions, Nadler said Democrats want to hear from Mueller and Attorney General William Barr, who is scheduled to testify in early May. Nadler also said he would call former White House counsel Donald McGahn to testify.

Republicans have stood by Trump and an impeachment effort was unlikely to succeed in the Republican-led Senate.

Trump, who denounces the investigation as a witch hunt, claimed vindication from Mueller’s report. He has called for an investigation of how the FBI began the probe, and has tried to blame Democrats.

“How do you impeach a Republican President for a crime that was committed by the Democrats?” he wrote on Twitter.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren became the first major contender for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination to call for the start of impeachment proceedings, saying on Friday that “the severity of this misconduct” demanded it.

Julian Castro, former housing secretary under President Barack Obama and another 2020 contender, joined Warren.

Democratic House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, however, said, “I’m not there yet.”

He told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Congress needed to look at Trump’s finances and gauge Mueller’s intentions with his report. Even if Senate Republicans blocked any eventual Democratic impeachment effort, Cummings said, “I think history would smile upon us for standing up for the Constitution.”

Representative Tim Ryan, another Democratic presidential contender, said the party should wait until multiple ongoing investigations of Trump in Congress have had a chance to uncover more evidence.

“Let the process play itself out,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

While Trump’s team had indicated it would release a rebuttal to Mueller’s report, Rudy Giuliani, said that was not imminent.

“We planned to do it if we needed to. So far, we don’t think we need to,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Top Democrats leave open option of Trump impeachment after Mueller report

U.S. prepares to end Iran oil waivers; Asian buyers to be hardest hit

WASHINGTON/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The United States is expected to announce on Monday that buyers of Iranian oil need to end imports soon or face sanctions, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters, triggering a 3 percent jump in crude prices to their highest for 2019 so far.

Officials in Asia opposed the expected move, pointing to tight market conditions and high fuel prices that were harming industry.

The source confirmed a report by the Washington Post that the administration will terminate the sanctions waivers it granted to some importers of Iranian oil late last year.

Benchmark Brent crude oil futures rose by as much as 3.2 percent to $74.31 a barrel, the highest since Nov. 1, in early trading on Monday in reaction to expectations of tightening supply. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures climbed as much as 3 percent to $65.87 a barrel, its highest since Oct. 30.

U.S. President Donald Trump wants to end the waivers to exert “maximum economic pressure” on Iran by cutting off its oil exports and reducing its main revenue source to zero.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, was willing to compensate the potential supply loss, but it would first need to assess the impact before boosting its own production, a source familiar with Saudi thinking told Reuters.

In November, the U.S. reimposed sanctions on exports of Iranian oil after President Trump unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers.

Washington, however, granted waivers to Iran’s eight main buyers – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece – that allowed them limited purchases for six months.

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will announce “that, as of May 2, the State Department will no longer grant sanctions waivers to any country that is currently importing Iranian crude or condensate,” the Post’s columnist Josh Rogin said in his report, citing two State Department officials that he did not name.

Oil markets have tightened this year because of supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

As a result, Brent prices have risen by more than a third since January, and WTI by more than 40 percent.

Analysts said they expected the Trump administration to push OPEC and its de-facto leader Saudi Arabia to stop withholding supply to calm market fears of oil shortages.

Trump spoke with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by phone last week, and discussed ways of “maintaining maximum pressure against Iran.”

The source familiar with Saudi thinking said any action by OPEC’s biggest producer depends on the certainty of scrapping the waivers and its effect on the oil market. Saudi Arabia has about 2 million barrels of oil per day of spare capacity.

Riyadh raised its oil output last year after the Trump administration pledged to bring Iranian crude exports to zero, only to grant waivers later triggering a decline in prices and build-up in oil inventories.

“The Saudis don’t want to make the same mistake again,” one OPEC source said.

Iraq, OPEC’s second largest producer, is committed to the global supply cuts taken by OPEC and its allies and any decision to raise production must be taken collectively, an Iraq oil ministry spokesman said on Monday.

Iraq is among major producers from OPEC and non-OPEC who are meeting next month in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as part of a panel committee to discuss the oil market and make output recommendations, the spokesman said.

ASIA HIT HARDEST
An end to the exemptions would hit Asian buyers hardest. Iran’s biggest oil customers are China and India, who have both been lobbying for extensions to sanction waivers.

Geng Shuang, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said at a daily news briefing in Beijing on Monday that it opposed unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran and that China’s bilateral cooperation with Iran was in accordance with the law.

He did not say whether China would heed the U.S. call to cut Iran oil imports to zero.

In India, refiners have started a search for alternative supplies.

The government, however, declined to comment officially.

“We are engaged with the U.S. administration on this matter and once the U.S. side makes a comment on this matter, then we will come up with a comment,” said a source at India’s foreign affairs ministry who declined to be named.

“I expect India to fall in line with the sanctions,” said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of Indian energy consultancy Trifecta.

South Korea, a close U.S. ally, is a major buyer of Iranian condensate, an ultra-light form of crude oil that its refining industry relies on to produce petrochemicals.

Government officials there declined to comment, but Kim Jae-kyung of the Korean Energy Economics Institute said the end of the sanction waivers “will be a problem if South Korea can’t bring in cheap Iranian condensate (for) South Korean petrochemical makers.”

Japan is another close U.S. ally in Asia that is also a traditionally significant buyer of Iranian oil.

The government also declined to comment ahead of an official U.S. announcement, but Takayuki Nogami, chief economist at Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC), said the end of the sanction waivers “is not a good policy for Trump.”

Prior to the re-imposition of sanctions, Iran was the fourth-largest producer among OPEC at almost 3 million bpd, but April exports have shrunk to well below 1 million bpd, according to ship tracking and analyst data in Refinitiv.

U.S. prepares to end Iran oil waivers; Asian buyers to be hardest hit

To survive trade battles, China manufacturers deploy every weapon they can

GUANGZHOU, China (Reuters) – Manufacturers in China facing trade barriers are deploying an array of moves to try to keep foreign customers – giving discounts, tapping tax breaks, trimming workforces and, occasionally, shifting production overseas to skirt tariffs.

Tit-for-tat tariffs from the China-United States trade war have been costly for many. Adding to the strain on Chinese manufacturers have been European Union duties on Chinese products ranging from electric bikes to solar panels.

March brought some encouraging news for manufacturers. Industrial output rose at its fastest rate since mid-2014 and exports rebounded more than expected, while first-quarter growth was better than expected.

Still, some manufacturers who depend on U.S. sales are struggling. At the Canton Fair in southern China this past week, they put on a brave face, but feared they will need to take more measures to survive if Beijing and Washington fail to seal a trade deal.

Botou Golden Integrity Roll Forming Machine Co lost some U.S. customers when tariffs pushed up prices for its machines making light steel girders and bars for building frames, according to Hope Ha, a saleswoman.

It now offers an 8 percent discount as a sweetener.

“We have to give discounts because they pay high tariffs,” said Ha.

Ball bearing maker Cixi Fushi Machinery Co gave long-term customers a 3-5 percent discount, according to representative Jane Wang.

But that was not enough, so the company suspended a product line generating $30,000 monthly revenue, she said.

“We will wait for the agreement and then we will see again,” she said. Now, the focus is on its main market, the Middle East.

Some have been able to pass along increased costs.

UNAVOIDABLE PRICE HIKES
California-based ACOPower has increased prices about 10-15 percent on some of its made-in-China, solar-powered refrigerators, said founder Jeffrey Tang.

“We have no choice,” he said. “We must increase the price.”

Tang says his portable fridges cannot be made affordably in other countries. But if there’s no trade agreement, and tariffs rise, the equation could change.

“Maybe I’ll just ship all the components to Vietnam to do the assembly.”

Aufine Tyre rented and filled a warehouse last year in California in anticipation of anti-dumping duties, which were later imposed. In another move to circumvent tariffs, it will soon open a plant in Thailand to make tires.

Jane Liu, a sales manager, said Aufine plans to send 50 containers a month from Thailand, with 220-240 tires in each, and later expand.

Some companies at the fair cheered Beijing’s move to trim China’s value-added tax to 13 percent from 16 percent at the start of April, and its pledge of tax rebates for exports.

“Things like this give us some protection or else we would suffer losses,” said Wills Yuan, a salesman at Ningbo Yourlite Import & Export Co in Shenzhen, which produces LED lights.

Shenzhen Smarteye Digital Electronics Co, a maker of surveillance cameras, which are not on the U.S. tariff list, was able to drop prices because of the tax break, according to sales manager Simple Yu.

“We save a lot on costs, so we can sell at a low price,” he said.

EXCHANGE RATE CONCERN
But Smarteye has worries, including increasing rent and labor costs that led it to trim its workforce.

Yu said he’s also concerned about the trade war’s potential effect on the yuan-dollar exchange rate. “Before it was 6.9 per dollar, now it’s 6.7 per dollar. We worry that it will go to 6.5.”

Electric bike makers have reacted nimbly to European anti-dumping duties of between 18.8 and 79.3 percent imposed in January. Many have started assembling some bikes in Europe; Zhejiang Enze Vehicle Co does so in Poland and Finland.

“We take the battery, frame, and the other parts, package them up separately and send them over to be assembled by partners,” said sales rep Dylan Di.

Anhui Light Industries International Co, which makes products ranging from plastic protractors for math to movie theater popcorn cups, says it has lost more than 1 billion yuan $149.2 million) after U.S. President Donald Trump raised import taxes.

Still, company representative Han Geng is optimistic the trade war will get resolved.

“It’s not good for America, not good for China,” he said, expressing the view that Trump knows the trade war is hurting business and “he will end it”.

When that day comes, Han said, “we will sell to America again… We need to make money. Everybody loves money.”

To survive trade battles, China manufacturers deploy every weapon they can

U.S. prepares to end Iran oil waivers, triggering price spike

WASHINGTON/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The United States is expected to announce on Monday that buyers of Iranian oil need to end imports soon or face sanctions, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters, triggering a 3 percent jump in crude prices to their highest for 2019 so far.

The source confirmed a report by the Washington Post that the administration will terminate the sanctions waivers it granted to some importers of Iranian oil late last year.

Benchmark Brent crude oil futures rose by as much as 3.2 percent to $74.31 a barrel, the highest since Nov. 1, in early trading on Monday in reaction to expectations of tightening supply. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures climbed as much as 3 percent to $65.87 a barrel, its highest since Oct. 30. [O/R]

U.S. President Donald Trump wants to end the waivers to exert “maximum economic pressure” on Iran by cutting off its oil exports and reducing its main revenue source to zero.

In November, the U.S. reimposed sanctions on exports of Iranian oil after President Trump unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers.

Washington, however, granted waivers to Iran’s eight main buyers – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece – that allowed them limited purchases for six months.

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will announce “that, as of May 2, the State Department will no longer grant sanctions waivers to any country that is currently importing Iranian crude or condensate,” the Post’s columnist Josh Rogin said in his report, citing two State Department officials that he did not name.

On April 17, Frank Fannon, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, repeated the administration’s position that “our goal is to get to zero Iranian exports as quickly as possible.”

Peter Kiernan, lead energy analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said “a severe loss in (Iranian) volumes will put pressure on the supply side, given the political uncertainty currently blighting other oil exporters, such as Venezuela and Libya.”

Oil markets have tightened this year because of supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

As a result, Brent prices have risen by more than a third since January, and WTI by more than 40 percent.

Analysts said they expected the Trump administration to push OPEC and its de-facto leader Saudi Arabia to stop withholding supply to calm market fears of oil shortages.

“If there is a time for the U.S. to be able to take a hard line it is now, with the Saudis having over 2 million barrels (per day) of spare capacity,” said Tony Nunan, oil risk manager at Mitsubishi Corp in Tokyo.

Trump spoke with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by phone last week, and the White House said he used the call to discuss ways of “maintaining maximum pressure against Iran.”

ASIA HIT HARDEST
An end to the exemptions would hit Asian buyers hardest. Iran’s biggest oil customers are China and India, who have both been lobbying for extensions to sanction waivers.

“We are engaged with the U.S. administration on this matter and once the U.S. side makes a comment on this matter, then we will come up with a comment,” said a source at India’s foreign affairs ministry who declined to be named.

Chinese government officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Zhang Huiyao, deputy general manager of crude at China’s Huatai Futures, said “the news today caught refiners by surprise,” but added that alternative “supplies from Russia, U.S. shale, and Saudi could easily fill the gap.”

Indian refiners are also already searching for alternative supplies.

“I expect India to fall in line with the sanctions,” said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of Indian energy consultancy Trifecta.

South Korea, a close U.S. ally, is a major buyer of Iranian condensate, an ultra-light form of crude oil that its refining industry relies on to produce petrochemicals.

Government officials there declined to comment, but Kim Jae-kyung of the Korean Energy Economics Institute said the end of the sanction waivers “will be a problem if South Korea can’t bring in cheap Iranian condensate (for) South Korean petrochemical makers.”

Japan is another close U.S. ally in Asia that is also a traditionally significant buyer of Iranian oil.

The government declined to comment ahead of an official U.S. announcement, but Takayuki Nogami, chief economist at Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC), said the end of the sanction waivers “is not a good policy for Trump.”

Nogami said he expected oil prices to rise further because of the U.S. sanctions and OPEC-led supply cuts.

So far in April, Iranian exports were averaging below 1 million barrels per day (bpd), according to Refinitiv Eikon data and two other companies that track exports and declined to be identified.

That is lower than at least 1.1 million bpd estimated for March, and down from more than 2.5 million bpd before the renewed sanctions were announced last May.

U.S. prepares to end Iran oil waivers, triggering price spike

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EURUSD1.2286525.1 (0.20%) 1.8
GBPUSD1.4028253.0 (0.38%) 2.5
USDCAD1.2903215.8 (0.12%) 2.6
USDCHF0.957309.3 (0.10%) 2.3
USDJPY106.33742.9 (0.40%) 1.8
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CURRENCY PUBLICATION ACTUAL ORDER TYPE ENTRY POINT STOP LOSS TAKE PROFIT
USD/CHF 22 April 2019 17:45 23 April 2019 18:00 Buy 1.0150-60 1.0130-1.1020 1.0200-1.0220
USD/JPY 22 April 2019 09:00 23 April 2019 18:00 Buy 112.00-10 111.70-111.50 112.60-113.00
USD/CAD 17 April 2019 17:25 18 April 2019 18:00 Buy 1.3340-50 1.3320-1.3300 1.3380
EUR/GBP 15 April 2019 09:00 18 April 2019 18:00 Buy 0.8650-70 0.8630-0.8650 0.8730-0.8750
USD/CHF 12 April 2019 17:45 16 April 2019 18:00 Buy 1.0010-0.9980 1.0010-0.9980 1.0060
USD/CAD 12 April 2019 13:00 16 April 2019 18:00 Sell 1.3340-20 1.3340-1.3360 1.3290- 1.3260
USD/CHF 3 April 2019 17:45 5 April 2019 18:00 Buy 0.9960-0.9980 0.9950 1.0000
XAU/USD 21 March 2019 17:45 28 March 2019 18:00 Buy 1310-13.00 1310.00 1320.00; 1330.00
NZD/USD 22 March 2019 17:45 27 March 2019 18:00 Buy 0.6890-0.6910 0.6880 0.6950-0.6980
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