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Foxconn not in settlement talks with Qualcomm in Apple battle: attorney

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The lead attorney for the group of Apple Inc device assemblers seeking at least $9 billion in damages from Qualcomm Inc said on Sunday the contract manufacturers are not in settlement talks with the mobile chip supplier and are “gearing up and heading toward the trial” in April.
The group of contract manufacturers – which includes Foxconn parent Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, Pegatron Corp, Wistron Corp and Compal Electronics Inc – became embroiled in the dispute between Apple and Qualcomm last year.

In the supply chain for electronics, contract manufacturers buy Qualcomm chips and pay royalties when they build phones, and are in turn reimbursed by companies like Apple. Qualcomm sued the group last year, alleging they had stopped paying royalties related to Apple products, and Apple joined their defense.

The contract manufacturers have since filed claims of their own against Qualcomm, alleging the San Diego company’s practice of charging money for chips but then also asking for a cut of the adjusted selling price of a mobile phone as a patent royalty payment constitutes an anticompetitive business practice.

They are seeking $9 billion in damages from Qualcomm for royalties they allege were illegal. That figure could triple if the manufacturers succeed on their antitrust claims.

Ted Boutrous, a high-profile partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP who is representing the contract manufacturers, told Reuters that statements from Qualcomm executives suggesting there were meaningful settlement talks with the contract manufacturers were “false.”

China to halt additional tariffs on U.S.-made cars as trade dispute de-escalates

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will suspend additional tariffs on U.S.-made vehicles and auto parts for three months starting Jan. 1, 2019, the country’s finance ministry said on Friday, following a truce in a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

The Ministry of Finance, in a statement on its website, also said it hopes China and the United States can speed up negotiations to remove all additional tariffs on each other’s goods.

Apple to push software update in China as Qualcomm case threatens sales ban

SHANGHAI/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Apple Inc, facing a court ban in China on some of its iPhone models over alleged infringement of Qualcomm Inc patents, said on Friday it will push software updates to users in a bid to resolve potential issues.

Apple will carry out the software updates at the start of next week “to address any possible concern about our compliance with the order”, the firm said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Earlier this week, Qualcomm said a Chinese court had ordered a ban on sales of some older iPhone models for violating two of its patents, though intellectual property lawyers said the ban would likely take time to enforce.

“Based on the iPhone models we offer today in China, we believe we are in compliance,” Apple said.“Early next week we will deliver a software update for iPhone users in China addressing the minor functionality of the two patents at issue in the case.”

The case, brought by Qualcomm, is part of a global patent dispute between the two U.S. companies that includes dozens of lawsuits. It creates uncertainty over Apple’s business in one of its biggest markets at a time when concerns over waning demand for new iPhones are battering its shares.

May’s plea for EU help on Brexit cast as failure at home

LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempt to win assurances from the European Union on her Brexit deal was cast by opponents on Friday as a humiliating failure that did nothing to ease the parliamentary deadlock over Britain’s departure from the bloc.

With British politics in crisis, the ultimate outcome of Brexit remains unclear, with possible outcomes ranging from a disorderly Brexit with no deal to another referendum on EU membership.

May, who on Wednesday survived a plot in her party to oust her, asked EU leaders at a summit in Brussels for political and legal assurances that she said could convince the British parliament to approve her deal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron ruled out any reopening of last month’s treaty aimed at ensuring a smooth exit on March 29, though leaders assured her that it should not bind Britain forever to EU rules.

“It seems that the prime minister has failed in her bid to deliver meaningful changes to her Brexit deal,” the opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, said.

“We cannot go on like this. The prime minister should reinstate the vote on her deal next week and let Parliament take back control,” he said.

Asian shares jolted by grim Chinese data, growth risks

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares tumbled on Friday after China reported a set of weak data, fanning fresh worries of a slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy and leaving investors fretting over the wider impact of a yet unresolved Sino-U.S. trade dispute.

China’s November retail sales grew at the weakest pace since 2003 and industrial output rose the least in nearly three years as domestic demand softened further, underlining rising risks to the economy as Beijing works to defuse a trade dispute with the United States.

A Chinese statistics bureau spokesman said the November data showed downward pressure on the economy is increasing.

The data “means that the worst is yet to come and policymakers will be very worried, particularly with consumption growth falling off a cliff,” said Sue Trinh, head of Asia FX strategy at RBC Capital Markets in Hong Kong.

May expects no quick Brexit breakthrough as she seeks EU help

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Britain’s weakened prime minister, Theresa May, said on Thursday she did not expect to secure a quick breakthrough in Brexit talks that would give her fractured party the reassurances needed to get her deal through parliament.

Arriving in Brussels just a day after a failed attempt to topple her at home, May was met largely by readiness to help from European Union leaders and one demand: tell us want you want.

“I recognise the strength of concern in the House of Commons and that is what I will be putting to colleagues today,” May said. “I don’t expect an immediate breakthrough, but what I do hope is that we can start work as quickly as possible on the assurances that are necessary.”

EU leaders were clear. They all said they needed to know exactly what May wanted to secure in Brussels but also warned that Britain could not reopen the divorce deal, or withdrawal agreement, signed off by both sides in November.

FOREX-Euro edges up on Italy boost, traders prepare for ECB meeting

LONDON, Dec 13 (Reuters) – The euro rose slightly in early trading on Thursday after Italy said it would cut its budgetary spending plans in a row with the European Union, although traders were in a cautious mood ahead of the European Central Bank’s monetary policy meeting.

Global markets were mostly positive at the start of the day on signs of easing Sino-U.S. trade tensions and expectations that China will increase support for its cooling economy.

Alvin Tan, a strategist at Societe Generale, said news that Italy was cutting its deficit target was supporting the euro, as it would help defuse a dispute with European officials in Brussels.

While the ECB is set to announce formally an end to its vast quantitative easing programme at a policy meeting later on Thursday, the move will be tempered by the central bank likely expressing caution about the outlook for the economy.

Investors are hoping to find out whether the ECB will start raising interest rates before ECB President Mario Draghi’s term ends in October next year.

“Everybody wants to have a hint regarding whether the ECB will raise interest rates next year but that will probably not happen,” said Yukio Ishizuki, senior currency analyst at Daiwa Securities.

Canada warns U.S. not to politicize extradition cases

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday warned the United States not to politicize extradition cases, a day after President Donald Trump said he could intervene in the affair of a Chinese executive detained in Canada at Washington’s request.

Freeland also told reporters that a second Canadian citizen could be in trouble in China. Authorities in China are already holding former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who was detained on Monday.

Officials say China had so far not linked Kovrig’s detention to the arrest in Vancouver on Dec. 1 of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, which infuriated Beijing. But Canadian diplomatic experts have said they have no doubt the two cases are linked.

Freeland said it was obvious the legal process should not be hijacked for political purposes and that Meng’s lawyers would have the option of raising Trump’s remarks if they decided to fight extradition.

“Our extradition partners should not seek to politicize the extradition process or use it for ends other than the pursuit of justice and following the rule of law,” she said when asked about Trump’s comments.

Her words mark another potentially difficult moment in ties between Canada and the United States, which were heavily strained during more than a year of talks to negotiate a new North American trade pact.

Others also questioned whether Trump might be misusing the extradition request.

Asian shares rally on U.S.-China trade thaw

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Asian equity markets rallied on Thursday on signs of easing Sino-U.S. trade tensions and expectations that China will step up efforts soon to support its cooling economy.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.8 percent, building on early gains made after British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote.

Financial spreadbetters expect shares in Europe to follow suit, with Frankfurt’s DAX seen opening 0.3 percent higher at 10,963 and Paris’ CAC expected to gain 0.2 percent. London’s FTSE is seen flat.

U.S. stock futures rose 0.4 percent, pointing to a firmer opening on Wall Street.

In Asia, gains were concentrated in Chinese shares, with Chinese blue-chips up 1.5 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gaining 1.1 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index ended 1 percent higher, while Australian shares gained 0.1 percent.

Markets are slowly growing less pessimistic about the chances of a Sino-U.S. trade deal after a slew of news this week pointed to easing tensions between the two powers.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Chinese state-owned companies have bought more than 1.5 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans in the first major U.S. soybean purchases in more than six months.

The purchases are the most concrete evidence yet that China is making good on pledges made when Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met on Dec. 1 and agreed to a 90-day detente to negotiate a trade deal.