Mixed shares…Euro economy snag…Weed killer suit
HONG KONG (AP) – International stock markets were mixed Monday as investors evaluated China’s annual economic growth forecast and pledges for further reforms. Italian shares slumped after uncertain election results paved the way for political deadlock. Futures point to a lower opening on Wall Street. The dollar fell against the yen and the euro, reaching a new 17-month low against Japan’s currency. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose to just under $62 a barrel.
LONDON (AP) – A survey closely monitored by the European Central Bank is indicating that the 19-country eurozone economy hit a “speed bump” in February, likely reinforcing expectations that the bank won’t announce any fundamental changes to its super-easy monetary policy this week. Financial information firm IHS Markit says Monday that its main gauge of business activity across manufacturing and services fell by more than anticipated during the month. The so-called purchasing managers index slipped to 57.1 points from January’s 12-year high of 58.8. Anything above 50 indicates expansion.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Claims that the active ingredient in the widely used weed killer Roundup can cause cancer have been evaluated by international agencies, U.S. and foreign regulators and the product’s manufacturer – agribusiness giant Monsanto. Now, a federal judge in San Francisco will conduct his own review during an unusual set of court hearings scheduled to start Monday. It has big stakes for Monsanto and hundreds of farmers and others who have sued the company. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria will decide whether there is valid scientific evidence to support the lawsuits’ claim.
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump is embracing the potential for a trade war after announcing his intent to place tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, as he rebuffs allies who have pushed to be exempted from the stiff duties. White House officials say the protectionist policy will be made official in the next two weeks. The administration defended the decision yesterday from critics in Washington and overseas.
BEIJING (AP) – China’s top economic official set a robust growth target Monday and promised more market opening and cuts in a bloated steel industry that has inflamed trade tensions with Washington and Europe. The growth target of “around 6.5 percent” announced by Premier Li Keqiang to China’s ceremonial legislature, little-changed from last year, would be among the world’s strongest if achieved. The premier also promised progress on developing electric cars and other technology and better regulation of China’s scandal-plagued financial industries.