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Fitch Shifts Mexico Debt Outlook From Stable to Negative

Fitch Ratings changed its outlook on Mexico’s long-term foreign-currency debt issues Wednesday from “stable” to “negative,” citing the potential policies of President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The leftist Lopez Obrador has tried to smooth anxieties in the business community, but upset many on Monday by cancelling a partly built, $13 billion new airport on the outskirts of Mexico City.

The private sector had strongly backed the airport project, but Lopez Obrador called it wasteful. Instead he plans to upgrade existing commercial and military airports. He made the decision based on a public referendum that was poorly organized and drew only about 1 percent of the country’s voters.

 

Alfredo Coutino, Latin America director at Moody’s Analytics, said the decision to cancel the airport project “added not only volatility but also uncertainty to the economy’s future, because it signals that policymaking in the new administration can be based more on such kind of subjective consultation and less on technical or fundamentals consistent with the country’s needs.”

“The cancellation has certainly introduced an element of uncertainty in markets and investors,” Coutino wrote, “which could start affecting confidence and credibility.”

Fitch confirmed its BBB+ investment-grade rating for Mexican government debt, but said Wednesday “there are risks that the follow-through on previously approved reforms, for example in the energy sector, could stall.”

Lopez Obrador has said he will review private concessionary oil exploration contracts granted under current President Enrique Pena Nieto’s energy reform, but won’t cancel them if they were fairly granted. The fear is that future exploration contracts may be delayed or cancelled.

Lopez Obrador won’t take office until December1, but has already announced major policy decisions.

 

Some of his policy announcements – like fiscal restraint, respect for the independence of the central banks and a pledge to avoid new debt – earned praise from investors.

But Fitch noted the decision to cancel the airport “sends a negative signal to investors.”

Lopez Obrador has also pledged to have the state-owned oil company, Pemex, build more refineries to lower imports of gasoline.

Fitch wrote that this type of proposal will “would entail higher borrowing and larger contingent liabilities to the government.”

 

 

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Bolsonaro’s Economic Guru Urges Quick Brazil Pension Reform

The future economy minister tapped by Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro insisted on Tuesday that he wanted to fast-track an unpopular pension reform to help balance government finances despite mounting resistance to getting it done this year.

Paulo Guedes, whom Bolsonaro selected as a “super minister” with a portfolio combining the current ministries of finance, planning and development, has urged Congress to pass an initial version of pension reform before the Jan. 1 inauguration.

“Our pension funds are an airplane with five bombs on board that will explode at any moment,” Guedes said on Tuesday. “We’re already late on pension reform, so the sooner the better.”

He called the reform essential to controlling surging public debt in Latin America’s largest economy and making space for public investments to jump-start a sluggish economy. Markets surged in the weeks ahead of Bolsonaro’s Sunday victory on the expectation that he could pull off the tough fiscal agenda.

Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa stock index rose 3.7 percent on Tuesday, boosted by strong corporate earnings and the resolve shown by Guedes on pension reform.

Yet the University of Chicago-trained economist, who is getting his first taste of public service, met with skepticism from more seasoned politicians.

Rodrigo Maia, the speaker of the lower house of Congress, said on Tuesday that reform is urgent, but cautioned that the conditions to pass it were still far off.

Major Olimpio, a lawmaker from Bolsonaro’s own party who helped run his campaign, agreed the political climate was not ready for reform.

Even Bolsonaro’s future chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, said in a Monday radio interview that he only expects to introduce a reform plan next year.

After a meeting with Lorenzoni, Guedes said the decision on timing was ultimately a political one that the chief of staff would weigh.

“We can’t go from a victory at the ballot box to chaos in Congress,” Guedes told journalists.

On other issues, Guedes made clear he was the final word on economic matters, laying out plans to give the central bank more institutional independence and clarifying comments made by Lorenzoni about exchange-rate policy.

“You are all scared because he is a politician talking about the economy. That’s like me talking about politics. It’s not going to work,” Guedes said.

Hot Button Issues

While advisers work out the details of his economic program, Bolsonaro revisited some of his most contentious campaign promises on Monday night: looser gun laws, a ban on government advertising for media that “lie,” and urging a high-profile

judge to join his government.

In interviews with TV stations and on social media, Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old former Army captain who won 55 percent of Sunday’s vote after running on a law-and-order platform, made clear he would push through his conservative agenda.

Bolsonaro said he wants Sergio Moro, the judge who has overseen the sprawling “Car Wash” corruption trials and convicted former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of graft, to serve as his justice minister.

Barring that, he said he would nominate Moro to the Supreme Court. The next vacancy on the court is expected in 2020.

Bolsonaro had not formally invited Moro as of Tuesday afternoon, and the judge remained noncommittal on the proposal.

“In case I’m indeed offered a post, it will be subject to a balanced discussion and reflection,” Moro said in a statement.

Media Showdown

Late on Monday, Bolsonaro said in an interview with Globo TV that he would cut government advertising funds that flow to any “lying” media outlets.

During his campaign, the right-winger imitated U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy of aggressively confronting the media, taking aim at Globo TV and Brazil’s biggest newspaper, the Folha de S.Paulo.

“I am totally in favor of freedom of the press,” Bolsonaro told Globo TV. “But if it’s up to me, press that shamelessly lies will not have any government support.”

Bolsonaro was referring to the hundreds of millions of reais the Brazilian government spends in advertising each year in local media outlets, mainly for promotions of state-run firms.

The UOL news portal, owned by the Grupo Folha, which also controls the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, used Brazil’s freedom of information act as the basis for a 2015 article that showed Globo received 565 million reais in federal government spending in 2014. Folha got 14.6 million reais that year.

Globo said on Tuesday that federal government advertising represented less than 4 percent of the revenue for its flagship channel, TV Globo, without providing more detailed figures.

Grupo Folha did not reply to requests for comment.

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Ocean Shock: Lobster’s Great Migration Sets Up Boom and Bust 

This is part of “Ocean Shock,” a Reuters series exploring climate change’s impact on sea creatures and the people who depend on them. 

A lobster tattoo covers Drew Eaton’s left forearm, its pincers snapping at dock lines connecting it to the American flag on his upper arm. The tattoo is about three-quarters done, but the 27-year-old is too busy with his new boat to finish it. 

Eaton knows what people here in Stonington have been saying about how much the boat cost him. 

“I’ve heard rumors all over town. Small town, everyone talks,” he says. “I’ve heard a million, two million.” 

By the time he was in the third grade, Eaton was already lobstering here on Deer Isle in Downeast Maine. By the time he was in the eighth grade, he’d bought his first boat, a 20-footer, from a family friend. The latest one, a 46-footer built over the winter at a nearby boatyard, is his fourth. 

Standing on the seawall after hauling lobster traps for about 12 hours on a foggy day this August, he says he’s making plenty of money to cover the boat loan. He’s unloaded 17 crates, each carrying 90 pounds of lobster, for a total haul of nearly $5,500. It’s a pretty typical day for him. 

Eaton belongs to a new generation of Maine lobstermen that’s riding high, for now, on a sweet spot of climate change. Two generations ago, the entire New England coast had a thriving lobster industry. Today, lobster catches have collapsed in southern New England, and the only state with a significant harvest is north in Maine, where the seafood practically synonymous with the state has exploded. 

The thriving crustaceans have created a kind of nautical gold rush, with some young lobstermen making well into six figures a year. But it’s a boom with a bust already written in its wake, and the lobstermen of the younger generation may well pay the highest price. Not only have they heavily mortgaged themselves with pricey custom boats in the rush for quick profits, they’ll also bear the brunt of climate change — not to mention the possible collapse of the lobstering industry in Maine as the creatures flourish ever northward. 

Shifts by 85 percent of species

In the U.S. North Atlantic, fisheries data show that at least 85 percent of the nearly 70 federally tracked species have shifted north or deeper, or both, in recent years when compared with the norm over the past half-century. And the most dramatic of species shifts have occurred in the last 10 or 15 years. 

Just in the last decade, for example, black sea bass have migrated up the East Coast into southern New England and are caught in the same traps that once caught lobsters. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, only 50 percent of lobster caught in the United States came from Maine. That started to shift in the 2000s, and this decade, nearly 85 percent of all lobster landings are in Maine. 

Pushed out of their traditional habitats by dramatically rising ocean temperatures and other fallout from climate change, the lobsters are part of a global dislocation of marine species that threatens livelihoods and cultures in the lands where they once thrived. 

On this island where two-lane roads twist around cedar-shingled houses and the rocky shore, lobstermen set the rhythm, often rising hours before dawn and resting not long after sunset. 

Although young guns like Eaton are flush with cash now, old-timers know that lobsters no longer thrive in warming waters to the south, and they’ve heard the talk about how fast the Gulf of Maine is warming. They fret that lobsters will start failing here, too, and Stonington will lose its mantle as lobster capital of the world to somewhere in Canada. And these days, there’s not much to fall back on if it does. 

They remember back when fishermen could catch plenty of cod, pollock and halibut if lobsters weren’t filling their traps. 

Until recently, shrimp was a reasonably reliable catch for local fishermen. But in 2014, regulators closed the shrimp fishery entirely. 

“Here you’ve got these coastal fishing communities that are totally based on what comes out of the water,” says Ted Ames, a commercial fisherman who became a scientist and co-founded the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries. 

He sits in the research center’s main conference room overlooking Stonington harbor, where hundreds of lobster boats bob on their mooring balls and the docks bustle with fishermen and their traps. 

In coastal Maine, he says, there’s little to sustain a community other than lobster and tourism. 

“You eliminate lobsters, and you have an instant Appalachia, right here.” 

 

Lobstering over time 

Unlike kids in most fishing communities around the world, youngsters here in Stonington clamor to get on the water. The gold-rush fever has gotten so bad, the local high school even has a program that encourages students to graduate before heading off to make a living from fishing. 

The skippers program, as it is known, offers the allotment of traps as a reward for staying in school. And when the students graduate, it streamlines the process of getting a full Maine skipper license, gradually increasing the number of traps to the maximum of 800. 

Deer Isle-Stonington High life sciences teacher Seth Laplant sympathizes with the students who chafe at being in school. 

“We have students that, you know, run their own business during the summer and do very well, and then they come back here and they have to ask to go to the bathroom,” he says. “It’s like a completely different world for them, and some of them do struggle with that. They’re used to being their own boss, and they’re respected in the community and in their families as adults.” 

But like many teens, they still play the one-upmanship game. Only with these students, it revolves around the size of their boats or the number of traps they own. 

Colby Schneider tells the class he’s the part-owner of a 30-foot fishing boat. 

Alex Boyce can’t believe it. “Are you serious, you have a 30-foot Novi?” 

“Yes,” Colby shoots back. “Me, my brother and my mom went thirds on it.” 

Alex rolls his eyes. He’s still accumulating traps and owns about a third of the 150 traps that students in the program are permitted to use. And his boat is only 19 feet long. 

Later in the day, Alex gathers with his father and grandfather in his grandparents’ kitchen. 

“Every year he asks: ‘Do I have to go back to school? Can I go fishing?'” says his father, offshore lobsterman Theodore Boyce II. “He went one weekend and made $700 in two days. That’s a tough thing to say no to as a parent. … But if he doesn’t finish school, he doesn’t go fishing.” 

Alex interrupts his father: “I was going to say, you seem to have a pretty easy job saying no.” Theodore’s eyes dart toward his son, and Alex backs down. 

Alex’s grandfather, Theodore “Ted” Boyce, is a fisherman and retired teacher. The 69-year-old, who still fishes part time, hopes his grandson can make a decent living on the water, but he isn’t sure. 

Invasive creature

In the summer of 2017, chatter on the Stonington docks was that lobstering wasn’t going to be as lucrative as it had been in recent years. Lobstermen were pulling fewer lobsters, and the traps often came up coated with layers of slimy sea squirts — an invasive jellyfish-type creature. 

The arrival of the squirts may or may not be related to climate change or the size of the catch, but it seemed to be a harbinger. As autumn moved toward winter, many of the traps piled high near the docks were encrusted with squirt carcasses. 

And when the Maine fisheries released their 2017 landings numbers, the chatter on the docks turned out to be true: Maine lobstermen landed 15 percent less than the record haul in 2016, the lowest catch since the beginning of the decade. 

​Lobster rush 

The waters between the islands of Deer Isle, Isle au Haut and Vinalhaven tell the story of the lobster rush. 

Thousands upon thousands of colorfully painted buoys decorate the surface, marking the point where traps are strung below. Each fisherman has a color pattern: reds and whites, blacks and pinks, and yellows, oranges and greens. Most are striped horizontally, making them easier to identify when floating on their sides. 

Despite Maine’s reputation as a largely undeveloped state, it’s a thoroughly urban world under the water here. At the height of the summer, there are probably traps every 10 to 20 feet in the near-shore waters. 

To describe a lobster pot as a trap, though, is a bit insulting to most other traps. As a practical matter, this is free-range aquaculture. The traps are designed to allow smaller, younger lobsters to come and go as they please, feasting on rotten fish. Even larger lobsters come and go, although with a little more effort. 

The unlucky ones are snacking when the trap’s owner decides to check it. 

Lobster buoys like the ones off Stonington once punctuated waters along the entire New England coast. Between 1960 and 2000, Connecticut and Rhode Island in southern New England accounted for about 15 percent of the lobster harvest. Since 2010, however, lobster catches have collapsed in both states, with a combined haul of less than 2 percent. 

Dramatic drop

Even Massachusetts Bay, which sits on the southwestern edge of the Gulf of Maine, has seen the catch dip dramatically. In the 1980s and 1990s, when lobster’s popularity with U.S. diners exploded, Massachusetts boats accounted for 20 to 30 percent of the harvest. Today, their share hovers around 10 percent. 

Southern New England lobsters once were protected from the warm water temperatures in Long Island Sound by upwelling from the Labrador current that tucked in along the coast of eastern Connecticut, Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts. 

As the waters in the sound became warmer and warmer during the summer months, the cooling current couldn’t keep up, and cold-water species such as lobsters no longer thrived in southern New England. And what remained of the lobster stock was vulnerable to an unsightly shell disease that made them worthless at the market. 

But even as the lobster business boomed in Maine, the waters here were warming faster than almost any other body of water in the world. 

Since 1980, the waters in the Gulf of Maine have steadily heated up, but that warming accelerated in the last decade. In fact, the average sea-surface temperature has been between 1 and 4 degrees Fahrenheit above the norm for most of the 2010s. 

The warming is driven by direct and indirect effects of climate change, says Andrew Pershing, chief science officer of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. 

He says oceans the world over are absorbing heat from the warming atmosphere. The gulf’s warming, however, is compounded by its position in the North Atlantic, which is close to the weakening Labrador current flowing from the north and a strengthening warm Gulf Stream current flowing from the south. 

“You know,” says Ames, the lobsterman turned scientist, “lobster is the best example of global warming we have.” 

‘Go-getters’ 

Perley Frazier has been working these waters for more than 50 years. And at 70 he still hauls the maximum permitted 800 traps. 

His buoys, black on top, white in the middle and red on the bottom, are usually found a mile or so from town, near islands that once were quarried for granite by Italian immigrants. The stone was used in the construction of the George Washington Bridge in New York and the John F. Kennedy memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. 

No one works in the quarries anymore, he says as he slows his boat, Jericho’s Way. 

The rising sun winks off the peaks of swells and the thousands of buoys ahead of him. Without checking his chart plotter, he picks out a string of his buoys from about 100 yards away. 

Behind Frazier, his daughter, Lindsay Frazier Copeland, and son-in-law, Brad Copeland, prepare to hook a buoy and haul up traps. After a haul of three keepers, Lindsay and Brad shove the traps back into the water. Frazier throttles up and spins the boat a few feet to the next buoy. It’s a well-practiced routine, and not much said is among the crew, called sternmen. 

“It’s hard work, this,” Frazier says during one of their smoke breaks. “It’s hard to find a good sternman who wants to work this hard.” Since this trip, in fact, Brad and Lindsay have moved to Florida, and Frazier has put his boat up for sale. 

On the way to the docks to unload his harvest, Frazier points to a trawler heading into port. It’s one of the few non-lobster boats in the town — a herring trawler that goes offshore to catch the small fish, which are used almost exclusively for bait. 

And they can’t land enough herring to satisfy the local need for lobster bait; it’s trucked in from New Jersey, among other places. There are even stories of frozen fish heads from Asia finding their way into Maine lobster traps. 

These days, Frazier is using cowhide and discarded fish carcasses as bait. Others are using menhaden, or pogies, which migrated north into these waters even as the herring population has dropped off. 

Not much else to catch

The truth is, apart from lobster, there’s not much to catch here. And certainly not in the numbers that fishermen could make a living on. 

Until this century, only about 50 percent of all fishing revenue in Maine came from lobstering, according to U.S. fisheries data. In the 2000s, that started to steadily rise until, in 2016, it topped 82 percent. 

Later, Frazier sits in his armchair at home, after saving the largest five lobsters he caught for dinner. He sips a Canadian whiskey and recalls the days when there were other ways to make a living on the water besides lobster. 

Take shrimp, for instance. “They always said shrimp needs cold water. Well, we haven’t had any cold water,” Frazier says. 

“That’s the biggest thing — my biggest worry is about global warming. I mean, I’ve seen different fish that’s supposed to be down south that’s up here already, right now.  

 

“We got like triggerfish and we’re gettin’ butterfish, and fella told me the other day … that he had a seahorse.” 

He looks at all the new boats being added to the local fishing fleet and isn’t sure lobster can sustain them. 

“These guys, they got three-quarters of a million just in the boat,” he says. “And the gear, another quarter-million dollars. They are a million.” 

Maine’s fishing fleet is the newest in the nation among states with more than 200 U.S. Coast Guard-documented commercial fishing vessels. And it’s not close. Maine’s boats are an average 24 years old. The average age of the next two states, Massachusetts and Louisiana, is 31. Alaskan boats’ average age is 37, Oregon, 45. 

Still, Frazier doesn’t begrudge the money that younger skippers on newer boats are making. 

“I mean, these guys work hard and they go hard and put a lot of time in,” Frazier says. “Young guys, go-getters. And they did it right at the exact right time.” 

Six-figure income 

Back when Drew Eaton was in grade school, it took him two years to buy that first boat, which a family friend’s daughter no longer used. 

“I could buy half the boat and the motor the same year,” he says. He worked for the lobsterman the next summer to pay off the balance. 

Eaton left Stonington after graduating from high school and went to Pennsylvania for a year to study automotive collision repair. He didn’t stay in that field for long. “I worked in a body shop for a year, and I was getting $12 an hour,” he says. 

So he returned to what he knew. 

The young lobsterman’s boat now easily produces a six-figure income before expenses. He doesn’t linger on doubts about the future of lobstering in Maine. He leaves that for others. 

When he bought his last boat, he says, his parents were skeptical. “They thought I was going too quick.”  

Eaton was 22 and it was the same type of boat his father had just bought. 

“And then I started catching more than Dad. And then I wasn’t moving so quick.” 

And besides, he says, “I am young enough that if I fail, I can start over again in something totally different.” 

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Pacific Trade Pact to Start at End of 2018 After Six Members Ratify

A landmark 11-member trade deal aimed at slashing barriers in some of Asia Pacific’s fastest growing economies will come into force at the end of December, the New Zealand government said on Wednesday.

The deal would move forward after Australia informed New Zealand that it had become the sixth nation to formally ratify the deal, alongside Canada, Japan, Mexico and Singapore.

“This triggers the 60 day countdown to entry into force of the Agreement and the first round of tariff cuts,” said New Zealand Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker. His country is responsible for official tasks such as receiving and circulating notifications made by members of the pact.

The original 12-member deal was thrown into limbo early last year when President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement to prioritize protecting U.S. jobs.

The 11 remaining nations, led by Japan, finalized a revised trade pact in January, called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The success of the deal has been touted by officials in Japan and other member countries as an antidote to counter growing U.S. protectionism, and with the hope that Washington would eventually sign back up.

Australia said the agreement will boost agricultural exports, set to be worth more than A$52 billion ($36.91 billion) this year despite a crippling drought across much of the country’s east coast.

“It will give Australian grain farmers a good reason to smile, at a time when drought conditions have played havoc for many, by ensuring improved market access and better grain prices once more favorable seasonal conditions return,” said Luke Mathews, trading and economics manager at industry body, GrainGrowers Australia.

The deal will reduce tariffs in economies that together amount to more than 13 percent of global GDP — a total of $10 trillion. With the United States, it would have represented 40 percent.

The five member countries still to ratify the deal are Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam.

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Zimbabwean Widows Punished by Tribal Courts for Selling Gold-rich Land

When massive gold deposits were discovered about a decade ago in Chimanimani, eastern Zimbabwe, the rural district became famous for attracting hundreds of artisanal miners from across the country every year.

Wealthy small-scale prospectors regularly offer residents generous deals for their land, locals say. To many widows selling their unused land, that kind of money can be life-changing and a source of greater autonomy.

But in recent years, widows in Chimanimani have found that taking a deal can have consequences. Many say they have been taken to tribal courts by their husbands’ families for selling portions of their land.

“I feel bruised,” said Mavis, a 63-year-old widow from Haroni village who did not want to disclose her surname.

“I lived in peace as a widow in my home until last year, when I sold an unwanted acre of my late husband’s land to korokoza,” she said, using a colloquial term for an artisanal gold miner.

He paid her $2,000 in cash. “All hell broke loose,” Mavis explained.

When her male relatives found out about the sale, they reported her to the tribal court.

“The accusations were insane. They said I bewitched my husband, even though he died way back in 1979, in the colonial war,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The cultural norms of the Ndau people, who make up the majority of the population in Chimanimani, forbid widows from owning land their husbands leave behind or selling that land unless a male family member controls the transaction.

As her uncles laid claim to her late husband’s property, Mavis joined a growing number of widows whose male family members have denied them the right to sell land they are supposed to legally inherit.

“In our village, I am the fourth widow since 2017 to be brought to (tribal court) for selling land without male approval,” she said.

Her case is still ongoing.

Tribal Justice

According to Zimbabwe’s latest census, which was conducted in 2012, there are more than half a million widows in the country.

Throughout rural areas, widows routinely find themselves harassed and exploited by in-laws claiming the property their husbands left behind, rights activists say.

O’bren Nhachi, an activist and researcher focusing on natural resources and governance, said the problem has gotten worse in Chimanimani over the past few years, as the gold rush has pushed up the value of land.

“Chimanimani was a poor backwater district until gold was discovered. Suddenly, local land prices shot up because artisanal gold diggers are paying huge sums to snap up plots,” he said. “This has brought conflict, with male family members using patriarchy as a tool to dispossess widows of potential land sales income.”

Although Zimbabwe’s constitution gives women and men equal rights to property and land, in many rural communities tradition overrides national legislation, experts say.

Tribal custom dictates that chiefs are the custodians of communal land, and responsible for allocating land to villagers.

“A woman cannot sell land unless she has obtained permission from my Committee of Seven,” said Mutape Moyo, a tribal headman in Chimanimani, referring to the group of elders — all men — who hear cases in the local customary court.

But this makes it unclear who has legal ownership of land, Nhachi said.

“The laws of the country say the state is the owner of all land. Tribal chiefs are merely ‘custodians’. Does custodian mean they are owners?”

In a country where women carry out 70 percent of the agricultural work – according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization – Nhachi said more women need to be made aware of how to legally hold onto their land if their husbands die.

He said he would like to see the government implement legal awareness programs and properly define who owns and distributes land in rural Zimbabwe.

No Recourse

Provincial administrator Edward Seenza, the head civil servant of Manicaland province, where Chimanimani is located, said that if widows lose their land in tribal courts, there are ways for them to appeal and reverse the ruling.

“If anyone is unhappy with a village head’s decision, they can speak to a chief,’ he said. “Where this does not produce the desired result, they can take their complaint to the district administrator and further up to my office.”

But activists say few rural women know they have that option. And those who do are often too poor or too scared to travel to a government office.

Seenza said that so far, not one woman has come to him to appeal a tribal court ruling.

And without legal help, widows denied the right to sell their land can be left devastated.

Rejoice, a 38-year-old widow from Chipinge district, sold her late husband’s mango orchard two years ago to a wealthy gold digger for $4,000. She needed the money to pay for medication to treat a kidney tumor.

Her father-in-law took her to tribal court.

“I was ordered to refund the buyer, in cash, with punitive interest; pay court fines for ‘disrespect’; and surrender the rest of the land to male family custodians,” said Rejoice, whose name has been changed to protect her identity.

She paid back the buyer as much as she could, but still owes him some money. And her husband’s family is still fighting for ownership of the land, she added.

The court told her that if she does not honor the ruling, she could be thrown out of her home.

“I will end up a destitute, living on the roadside,” she said. “The thought of this gives me sleepless nights.”

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US Survey: What Pay Gap? Men Less Aware of Women’s Workplace Struggles

Far more men than women think their companies offer equal pay and promote the sexes equally, yet younger generations are wising up, a U.S. entertainment industry survey found on Monday.

Only a quarter of women think their employers pay them the same as men, while twice as many men believe their company has no gender pay gap, according to the survey by CNBC, a business news channel, and job-oriented social networking site LinkedIn.

About one third of women said both sexes rise up the ranks at the same rate in their workplaces, while more than half of men think the promotion rates are equal, according to responses from at least 1,000 LinkedIn members who work in entertainment.

“Men, typically we found across industries … they’re not as cognizant as their female counterparts to these issues,” said Caroline Fairchild, managing editor at LinkedIn.

Other surveys in finance and technology have revealed similar findings, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Congress outlawed pay discrimination based on gender in the federal Equal Pay Act in 1963, yet public debate over why wages still lag drastically for women has snowballed in recent years.

Last year in the United States, working women earned 82 percent of what men were paid, the Pew Research Center found.

According to the CNBC-LinkedIn survey, four in five women said the workplace holds more obstacles to advancement for women than for men, but only about half of men held the same opinion.

However the survey found that younger men were more likely than their older peers to say they were aware of the obstacles that stop women from succeeding at work, according to Fairchild.

“Perhaps the old guard of the industry is thinking a certain way, but we are seeing a perception change in what perhaps younger people in the industry are thinking,” she added.

A U.S. appeals court in San Francisco ruled in April that employers cannot use workers’ salary histories to justify gender-based pay disparities, saying that would perpetuate a wage gap that is “an embarrassing reality of our economy.”

A handful of U.S. cities and states ban employers from asking potential hires about their salary histories.

The World Economic Forum reported a global economic gap of 58 percent between the sexes for 2016 and forecast women would have to wait 217 years before they are treated equally at work.

Gender inequality in the workplace could cost the world more than $160.2 trillion in lost earnings, according to the World Bank. The figure compares the difference in lifetime income of everyone of working age and if women earned as much as men.

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Scientists: Producing Bitcoin Currency Could Void Climate Change Efforts

Demand for bitcoin could single-handedly derail efforts to limit global warming because the increasingly popular digital currency takes huge amounts of energy to produce, scientists said on Monday.

Producing bitcoin at a pace with growing demand could by 2033 defeat the aim of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, according to U.S. research published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Almost 200 nations agreed in Paris in 2015 on the goal to keep warming to “well below” a rise of 2°C above pre-industrial times.

But mining, the process of producing bitcoins by solving mathematical equations, uses high-powered computers and alto of electricity, the researchers said.

“Currently, the emissions from transportation, housing and food are considered the main contributors to ongoing climate change,” said study co-author Katie Taladay in a statement. “This research illustrates that bitcoin should be added to this list.”

Mining is a lucrative business, with one bitcoin currently selling for about $6,300 (4,900 British pounds).

In 2017, bitcoin production and usage emitted an estimated 69 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, the researchers said.

That year, bitcoin was involved in less than half of 1 percent of the world’s cashless transactions, they said.

As the currency becomes more common, researchers said it could use enough electricity to emit about 230 gigatons of carbon within a decade and a half. One gigaton is equal to one billion metric tons of carbon.

“No matter how you slice it, that thing is using a lot of electricity. That means bad business for the environment,” Camilo Mora, another co-author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Bitcoin mining, however, is becoming more energy efficient, said Katrina Kelly-Pitou, research associate at the University of Pittsburgh.

She said bitcoin miners are moving away from sites such as China, with coal-generated electricity, to more environmentally friendly utilities in Iceland and the United States.

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Zimbabwe President Asks Business Leaders to Address Shortages

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa met with business leaders Monday in an effort to assure the public his government can stabilize the sinking economy. But as one business leader explains, uncertainty about the cash supply and the currency in use makes it hard for the economy to function.

Addressing business executives at the State House, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said his government was “working day and night to stabilize the economy.”

Zimbabweans are dealing with an acute shortage of most essentials, including fuel, medical drugs, cooking oil, and clean drinking water. Prices have been rising, though not at the same rate as in 2008, when the official annual inflation rate reached 231 million percent.

Mnangagwa asked businesses to fix the shortages by bringing more products to market.

“I am advised that some manufacturers have been holding back products from retailers. This, if true, is regrettable,” he said. “The fear to lose wealth and savings as happened during the 2008 economic meltdown is currently unnecessary. I greatly appreciate and understand all your concerns and anxieties.”

The president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Sifelani Jabangwe, told VOA if any companies are holding back goods, it is because they know getting resupplied will be impossible.

“The reality is the rates are moving and there is no [foreign] currency coming,” he said. “The manufacturer or wholesaler knows that the stock they are holding is the last, if they sell that and lose out they are finished and we have lost that company. So if there is anyone holding any product it is probably because they are waiting to understand what direction [the rate of exchange is going], but I do not think there are many companies that are doing that. A lot of companies have actually run out of materials.”

The heart of the issue is a lack of useable cash. Since Zimbabwe abandoned its own dollar in 2009, the country has mostly used U.S. dollars, the British pound and South African rand to conduct transactions.

But in recent years all three currencies have been hard to find, paralyzing the economy and forcing the country to rely on bondnotes, a currency the government began printing two years ago to ease cash shortages.

Monday, President Mnangagwa said the “multi-currency system of exchange is here to stay.” He said people’s bank balances are safe and there is no reason for people to spend or move their savings.

But the value of the bondnote is unquestionably falling. The government insists its currency trades on par with the U.S. dollar. On the black market however, a dollar is now worth close to four bondnotes.

 

 

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Report: Africa Not Creating Enough Jobs for Booming Youth Population

A new report says African nations are failing to create enough jobs for a booming young population even as some countries have seen strong economic growth.

The latest Ibrahim Index of African Governance sounds a warning for a continent where the sub-Saharan population is projected to double by 2050.

 

The report released Monday says Africa’s overall GDP has risen nearly 40 percent over the past decade but the continent’s average score for sustainable economic opportunity has increased just a fraction of 1 percent.

Africa is seeing the rise of young opposition leaders in countries like Uganda, Zimbabwe and Cameroon who are impatient with some of the world’s oldest or longest-serving heads of state. Earlier this month, some in East Africa said they would unite with like-minded colleagues in West and southern Africa to form a movement to challenge the misrule that has plagued the continent.

 

Experts warn of coming turbulence as about 60 percent of Africa’s population is under age 25, with birth rates among the highest in the world and health conditions improving for many. The United Nations says sub-Saharan Africa is projected to be the source of more than half of the world’s population growth between now and 2050, straining countries’ abilities to provide good education, jobs and health care.

 

“Africa has a huge challenge ahead. Its large and youthful potential workforce could transform the continent for the better, but this opportunity is close to being squandered,” Mo Ibrahim, the Sudan-born billionaire who leads the foundation behind the new report, said in a statement. “The evidence is clear — young citizens of Africa need hope, prospects and opportunities. Its leaders need to speed up job creation to sustain progress and stave off deterioration.”

 

Strong economic growth doesn’t necessarily lead to more opportunities, the new report says. Nigeria, Angola, Sudan and Algeria have some of the highest GDP in Africa but are among the lowest for job creation.

 

The report also warns that education in 27 countries across the continent is now on the decline, further hurting the young population’s future.

 

And “alarmingly, citizens’ political and civic space in Africa is shrinking,” the report adds, meaning less room for an increasingly connected, tech-savvy population to express concerns and seek solutions, with potentially explosive results.

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China’s Yuan Sinks to 10-Year Low Against Dollar

China’s yuan sank to a 10-year low against the dollar on Monday, coming close to breaking the politically sensitive level of seven to the U.S. currency.

The yuan declined to 6.9644 per dollar at midday, passing its most recent low in 2016 before recovering slightly. It was the lowest level since May 2008.

The currency’s weakness is one of a series of elements fueling Washington’s trade complaints against Beijing. The U.S. Treasury Department declined this month to label China a currency manipulator but said it was closely watching Beijing.

Chinese authorities have promised to avoid “competitive devaluation” to boost exports amid a tariff war with U.S. President Donald Trump over Beijing’s technology policy. But they are trying to make the state-controlled exchange rate more responsive to market forces, which are pushing the yuan lower.

The level of seven yuan to the dollar has no economic significance, but could revive U.S. attention to the exchange rate.

Chinese authorities are likely to “stand their ground” and prevent a “capitulation beyond the 7 level,” Mizuho Bank said in a report Monday.

The yuan, also known as the renminbi, or “people’s money,” has declined by almost 10 percent against the dollar since April as China’s economy cooled and U.S. and Chinese interest rates went in opposite directions. That helps exporters cope with tariffs of up to 25 percent imposed by Trump on billions of dollars of Chinese goods. But it raises the risk of inflaming American complaints about Beijing’s trade tactics.

“The last thing they will do is to escalate the tension by starting a currency war amid a trade war,” Macquarie Group said in a report last week.

A Treasury report on Oct. 17 said China failed to meet criteria to be labeled a currency manipulator, a status that can trigger sanctions. But it said Beijing was, along with Japan and Germany, on a list of governments whose currency polices would be closely monitored.

A weaker yuan also might encourage an outflow of capital from the world’s second-largest economy. That would raise borrowing costs at a time when its leaders are trying to shore up cooling growth.

The People’s Bank of China has been trying to make its exchange rate mechanism more efficient by increasing the role of market forces.

The exchange rate is set each morning and allowed to fluctuate by 2 percent against the dollar during the day. The central bank can buy or sell currency — or order Chinese commercial banks to do so — to dampen price movements.

Some forecasters say Beijing’s stance might change if Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, make no progress at a possible meeting during a November gathering of the Group of 20 major economies.

The central bank tried to discourage speculation by imposing a requirement in August that traders post deposits for contracts to buy or sell yuan. That allows trading to continue but raises the cost.

Beijing imposed similar controls in October 2015 after a change in the exchange rate mechanism prompted markets to bet the yuan would fall. The currency temporarily steadied but fell the following year.

 

 

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Japan, India Leaders Build Ties Amid Trade, Security Worries

The leaders of Japan and India are reaffirming their ties amid growing worries about trade and regional stability.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived Saturday, was meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a resort area near Mount Fuji on Sunday. Modi is also visiting a nearby plant of major Japanese robot maker Fanuc.

 

Relations with China are a major issue shared by Modi and Abe, as their cooperation may balance China’s growing regional influence and military assertiveness.

 

“The India-Japan partnership has been fundamentally transformed and it has been strengthened as a ‘special strategic and global partnership,'” Modi told Kyodo News service. “There are no negatives but only opportunities in this relationship which are waiting to be seized.”

 

Modi chose Japan among the first nations to visit after taking power four years ago. He has been urging countries in the Indo-Pacific region to unite against protectionism and cross-border tensions.

 

In another sign of closer relations, India and Japan are also set to hold their first joint military exercises involving ground forces, starting next month.

 

Abe has just returned from China, where he met President Xi Jinping and agreed the two nations were “sharing more common interests and concerns.”

 

President Donald Trump’s policies that have targeted mostly China with tariffs, but also Japan and other nations, accusing them of unfair trade practices, are working to prod India and Japan to promote their economic ties.

 

The Japanese Foreign Ministry said the leaders had lunch at a hotel in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo, and exchanged a wide range of views on pursuing “a free and open” Indo-Pacific region. Abe told Modi about his recent trip to China, and both sides agreed on the need to cooperate closely on getting North Korea to drop nuclear weapons development, the ministry said in a statement.

 

Japan’s investment in India still has room to grow. Japan is helping India build a super-fast railway system.

 

Abe has made bolstering and opening the nation’s economy central to his policies called “Abenomics,” and has encouraged trade, foreign investment and tourism.

 

Although Japan has long seen the U.S. as its main ally, especially in defense, Abe is courting other ties. He has also been vocal about free trade, which runs counter to Trump’s moves to raise tariffs.

 

Earlier this year, Japan signed a landmark deal with the European Union that will eliminate nearly all tariffs on products they trade. European and Japanese leaders pledged to strengthen their partnership in defense, climate change and human exchange, to send what they called a clear message against protectionism.

 

Abe and Modi will hold a more formal summit Monday in Tokyo.

 

 

 

 

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French FinMin: Eurozone not Prepared Enough to Face New Crisis

There is no risk of contagion from Italy’s budget crisis in the European Union but the euro zone is not prepared enough to face a new economic crisis, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told daily Le Parisien on Sunday.

The European Commission rejected Italy’s draft 2019 budget earlier this week for breaking EU rules on public spending, and asked Rome to submit a new one within three weeks or face disciplinary action.

“We do not see any contagion in Europe. The European Commission has reached out to Italy, I hope Italy will seize this hand,” he said in an interview.

“But is the eurozone sufficiently armed to face a new economic or financial crisis? My answer is no. It is urgent to do what we have proposed to our partners in order to have a solid banking union and a euro zone investment budget.”

Eurozone officials have said that Rome’s unprecedented standoff with Brussels seems certain to delay the reform process and probably dilute it for good.

Le Maire also said French banks with branches in Italy had issued corporate and household loans totaling 280 billion euros ($319 billion).

“This sum is manageable but substantial,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Istanbul to Unveil New Airport, Seeks to be World’s Biggest

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held plenty of grand opening ceremonies in his 15 years at Turkey’s helm. On Monday he will unveil one of his prized jewels — Istanbul New Airport —

a megaproject that has been dogged by concerns about labor rights, environmental issues and Turkey’s weakening economy.

Erdogan is opening what he claims will eventually become the world’s largest air transport hub on the 95th anniversary of Turkey’s establishment as a republic. It’s a symbolic launch, as only limited flights will begin days later and a full move won’t take place until the end of the year.

 

Tens of thousands of workers have been scrambling to finish the airport to meet Erdogan’s Oct. 29 deadline. Protests in September over poor working conditions and dozens of construction deaths have highlighted the human cost of the project.

 

Istanbul New Airport, on shores of the Black Sea, will serve 90 million passengers annually in its first phase. At its completion in ten years, it will occupy nearly 19,000 acres and serve up to 200 million travelers a year with six runways. That’s almost double the traffic at world’s biggest airport currently, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson.

 

“This airport is going to be the most important hub between Asia and Europe,” Kadri Samsunlu, head of the 5-company consortium Istanbul Grand Airport, told reporters Thursday.

 

The airport’s interiors nod to Turkish and Islamic designs and its tulip-shaped air traffic control tower won the 2016 International Architecture Award. It also uses mobile applications and artificial intelligence for customers, is energy efficient and boasts a high-tech security system.

 

All aviation operations will move there at the end of December when Istanbul’s main international airport, named after Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, is closed down. Ataturk Airport now handles 64 million people a year. On the Asian side of the city, Sabiha Gokcen Airport handled 31 million passengers last year. It will remain open.

 

Erdogan is expected to announce the official name of the new airport, part of his plan to transform Turkey into a global player.

 

Turkish Airlines will launch its first flights out of the new airport to three local destinations: Ankara, Antalya and Izmir. It will also fly to Baku and Ercan in northern Cyprus.

 

Nihat Demir, head of a construction workers’ union, said the rush to meet Erdogan’s deadline has been a major cause of the accidents and deaths at the site that employs 36,000 people.

 

“The airport has become a cemetery,” he told The Associated Press, describing the pressure to finish as relentless and blaming long working hours for leading to “carelessness, accidents and deaths.”

 

The Dev-Yapi-Is union has identified 37 worker deaths at the site and claimed more than 100 dead remain unidentified.

 

Turkey’s Ministry of Labor has denied media reports about hundreds of airport construction deaths, saying in February that 27 workers had died at the site due to “health problems and traffic accidents.” It has not commented since then.

 

Airport workers in September began a strike against poor working conditions, including unpaid salaries, bedbugs, unsafe food and inadequate transport to the site. Security forces rounded up hundreds of workers and formally arrested nearly 30, among them union leaders. The company said it was working to improve conditions.

 

Megaprojects in northern Istanbul like the airport, the third bridge connecting Istanbul’s Asian and European shores and Erdogan’s yet-to-start plans for a man-made canal parallel to the Bosporus strait are also impacting the environment. The environmental group Northern Forests Defense said the new airport has destroyed forests, wetlands and coastal sand dunes and threatens biodiversity.

 

These projects are spurring additional construction of transportation networks, housing and business centers in already overpopulated Istanbul, where more than 15 million people live. Samsunlu, the airport executive, said an “airport city” for innovation and technology would also be built.

 

The five Turkish companies that won the $29 billion tender in 2013 under the “build-operate-transfer” model have been financing the project through capital and bank loans. IGA will operate the airport for 25 years.

 

Financial observers say lending has fueled much of Turkey’s growth and its construction boom, leaving the private sector with a huge $200 billion debt. With inflation and unemployment in Turkey at double digits and a national currency that has lost as much as 40 percent of its value against the dollar this year, economists say Turkey is clearly facing an economic downturn.

 

Despite those dark financial clouds, the airport consortium hopes the world’s growing aviation industry will generate both jobs and billions of dollars in returns.

 

“Istanbul New Airport will remain ambitious for growth and we will carry on mastering the challenge to be the biggest and the best. That’s our motto,” Samsunlu said.

 

 

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China to Give Pakistan ‘Grant’ as UAE Mulls $6B in Aid

China plans to provide an unspecified financial “grant” to Pakistan while the United Arab Emirates is actively considering Islamabad’s request for a fiscal relief package of up to $6 billion to help the country deal with a looming balance-of-payments crisis, Chinese and Pakistani officials say.  

News of the anticipated financial aid came days after Prime Minister Imran Khan secured more than $6 billion in immediate financial support from Pakistan’s close ally, Saudi Arabia, during an official visit to Riyadh. 

Pakistan urgently needs foreign currency to shore up its depleting reserves of less than $8 billion, which is barely enough for servicing its debt and paying import bills. 

Khan’s nascent government, which took office two months ago and has inherited a debt-ridden national economy, estimates the country urgently needs about $12 billion to fulfill domestic and external liabilities. 

Khan is to travel to Beijing Nov. 2-5 on his first official visit to the country, where he is scheduled to meet President Xi Jinping and his Chinese counterpart. 

Chinese diplomats in Islamabad have announced ahead of Khan’s visit that it will result in “good news” in terms of securing financial assistance for Pakistan. 

“During the visit of the prime minister, we will provide, hopefully, a grant to the Pakistani government. Please look forward to the outcome of this visit. There will be more good news to follow,” said Deputy Chinese Ambassador Lijian Zhao, when asked whether Beijing would provide Khan financial assistance similar to the package the Saudis have pledged. He declined to speculate on the size of the grant. 

Under the Saudi deal, Riyadh will deposit $3 billion in the coming days with the central State Bank of Pakistan for one year, as balance-of-payments support. Additionally, Saudi Arabia will export oil to Islamabad worth more than $3 billion on a deferred-payment basis over the next three years. 

Khan’s government has rejected reports of any conditions attached to the Saudi aid package. 

Federal Minister Haroon Sharif, chairman of the Board of Investment, said Saturday that the Pakistani government had formally submitted a financial request to a visiting UAE delegation similar to what Saudis have pledged. The Gulf state, he noted, is one of the biggest oil suppliers to Pakistan. 

The minister told local Dunya TV the UAE delegation “positively” noted the Pakistani request and has promised to return with possible options in the next few days.

“It is expected to be a good package. I am unable to share the figures, but I think it would more or less be similar to the one Saudi Arabia has announced [for Pakistan],” said Sharif, who accompanied Khan during his visit to Saudi Arabia and will be part of the Pakistani delegation traveling to China. 

​IMF bailout plan 

In addition to pushing friendly countries to provide fiscal relief, Khan’s government has also turned to the International Monetary Fund to seek a bailout package. Formal talks are scheduled to begin in Islamabad on Nov. 7. Pakistan has taken advantage of repeated IMF bailouts in the past several decades. 

Analysts say the Saudi financial package and expected aid from both China and the UAE will most likely boost Pakistan’s negotiating position and may mean the country will require a smaller IMF arrangement. 

During Khan’s visit to Beijing, officials said the two countries would sign “many agreements” to boost trade and investment ties and launch the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is the flagship of Xi’s global Road and Belt Initiative. 

The two sides will sign a framework for launching industrial cooperation under CPEC and increasing Pakistani exports to China. 

CPEC, Khan’s visit to China 

The United States has persistently expressed concerns about the Chinese infrastructure and connectivity initiative, saying they are burdening partner nations like Pakistan with debt. The U.S. also criticized a lack of transparency about the terms of contracts under the infrastructure initiative and consequent effects on the economy, said Henry Ensher, acting deputy assistant secretary of state. 

He acknowledged in a speech in Washington this month the importance of China-led initiative. “But that role ought to be done, ought to be played in accordance with usual rules about the transparency and accountability so that people in countries that cooperate with China can see clearly what they are signing up for,” Ensher said. 

U.S. officials have already cautioned the IMF about entering into an arrangement with Pakistan, citing CPEC loans as a main factor for the country’s debt crisis and suspecting the IMF money would be used to pay back China. 

Islamabad and Beijing have vehemently rejected Washington’s assertions as “misplaced” and “irrelevant.” Both countries acknowledge Chinese loans under CPEC are just over 6 percent of Pakistan’s total domestic and external debts of about $95 billion.  

Since launching CPEC in 2013, China has invested $19 billion in Pakistan, building or upgrading its transportation network and power plants and putting into operation the key Arabian Sea port of Gwadar. 

The mega-project is expected to bring more than $62 billion to Pakistan in Chinese investment by 2030, ultimately linking Gwadar to the landlocked western Chinese region of Xinjiang and giving Beijing the shortest secure access to international markets. 

“We are building these projects totally based on mutual consultation and also mutual sharing. … Definitely, there is no private interest or unilateral interest from the Chinese side. We believe all the projects are mutually beneficial,” Yao Jing, Beijing’s ambassador to Islamabad, told reporters at the sprawling Chinese Embassy on Friday.  

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Equities’ Slide Sends Bonds Higher, Dents Greenback

Stock markets around the world tumbled Friday while U.S. Treasury prices rose along with demand for safer bets as better-than-expected U.S. economic data did little to ease anxiety over disappointing corporate profits and trade wars.

Wall Street closed above its session lows, but earnings reports from Amazon.com and Alphabet, issued late Thursday, rekindled a rush to dump technology and other growth sectors.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 1.19 percent. The global index went 13.7 percent below its Jan. 26 record close and clocked its fifth straight week of consecutive losses for the first time since May 2013.

With equities whip-sawing each day in reaction to the last big earnings beat or miss, investors braced for more volatility through the remainder of the U.S. earnings season and ahead of the Nov. 6 U.S. midterm congressional elections.

“Once the elections and earnings are out of the way we’ll have a calmer market but not necessarily a big move up,” said Ernesto Ramos, portfolio manager for BMO Global Asset Management in Chicago.

“Investors are anxious about 2019 earnings. They know 2018 is going to be phenomenal,” he said. “There’s been a lot of panic selling. One of the things you don’t want to do is buy or sell based on emotion. … The volatility is incredible.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 296.24 points, or 1.19 percent, to 24,688.31; the S&P 500 lost 46.88 points, or 1.73 percent, to 2,658.69; and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 151.12 points, or 2.07 percent, to 7,167.21.

There was some support from data that showed third-quarter U.S. economic growth slowing less than expected as a tariff-related drop in soybean exports was partially offset by the strongest consumer spending in nearly four years.

But while U.S. Treasury yields initially rose after the data, stock market volatility caused them to reverse course and fall to a three-week low.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 15/32 in price to yield 3.0793 percent, from 3.136 percent late Thursday.

The U.S. dollar slid alongside stocks after rising to a two-month high in morning trade after the GDP data.

The dollar index fell 0.35 percent, with the euro up 0.28 percent to $1.1406.

Doubt grew about whether the U.K. and the European Union can clinch a Brexit deal. Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, reported Friday that Brexit talks were on hold because Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet was not close enough to agreement on how to proceed.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.52 percent versus the greenback at 111.83 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.2834, up 0.15 percent on the day.

European and Asian stocks had led the way lower. The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.77 percent and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped one percent, hitting its lowest level since February 2017.

Bear markets — a price drop of 20 percent or more from recent peaks — have increased across indexes and individual stocks since the start of this year.

Oil prices rose Friday, supported by expectations that sanctions on Iran would tighten global supplies, but futures posted a weekly drop as a slump in stock markets and concerns about trade wars clouded the fuel demand outlook.

U.S. crude settled at $67.59 per barrel, up 0.4 percent, and Brent settled up 1 percent to $77.62 on the day.

Spot gold added 0.2 percent to $1,233.95 an ounce.

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US Stocks Plunge, Then Recover Some Ground Friday

U.S. stock market indexes fell sharply in Friday’s early trading, but saw losses ease later in the day. 

At one point the S&P 500 and the Dow were down by two percent or more, while the NASDAQ was off by 3.5 percent at one point. 

Investors worried about faltering growth, rising interest rates, trade tensions, and weak profit outlook for major tech firms, including Amazon and Google’s parent company.

By afternoon, losses moderated with the S&P off by 1.3 percent, the Dow down six-tenths of a percent, and the NASDAQ sliding 1.9 percent. 

Key European indexes dropped about one percent.Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off a bit more than one percent, while Japan’s Nikkei moved down four-tenths of a percent.

The market turbulence comes at the same time as U.S. unemployment is low, and reports show growth and consumer confidence are strong.

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US Economy Grew at Strong 3.5 Percent Rate in 3rd Quarter

The U.S. economy grew at a robust annual rate of 3.5 percent in the July-September quarter as the strongest burst of consumer spending in nearly four years helped offset a sharp drag from trade. 

The Commerce Department said Friday that the third quarter’s gross domestic product, the country’s total output of goods and services, followed an even stronger 4.2 percent rate of growth in the second quarter. The two quarters marked the strongest consecutive quarters of growth since 2014.

The result was slightly higher than many economists had been projecting. It was certain to be cited by President Donald Trump as evidence his economic policies are working. But some private economists worry that the recent stock market declines could be a warning signal of a coming slowdown.

The GDP report along with next week’s unemployment report for October are the last major looks at the economy before voters go to the polls in the mid-term elections.

For this year, economists are projecting the momentum built up should result in growth of 3 percent, the best annual showing in 13 years. But they believe the impact of Trump’s trade war with China and rising interest rates will slow growth in 2019 to around 2.4 percent, with a further decline to under 2 percent in 2020.

“I think we will see a significant slowdown, in part because economic growth has been raised to an artificially high level by the tax cuts,” said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at SS Economics in Los Angeles.

Trump in recent weeks has accelerated his attacks on the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates, contending that the higher rates by slowing the economy will work against his efforts to speed up growth through the $1.5 trillion tax cut package Trump got Congress to pass last year.

“Every time we do something great, he raises interest rates,” Trump said in an interview this week with the Wall Street Journal in which he again said he viewed the Fed as the “biggest risk” facing the economy “because I think interest rates are being raised too quickly.”

The central bank has raised rates three times this year and signaled it will raise rates one more time this year and expect to raise rates three times in 2019. Those moves are being made to ensure that tight labor markets, with unemployment at a 49-year low of 3.7 percent, and strong growth don’t trigger unwanted inflation.

The GDP report Friday was the government’s first of three reviews of overall economic activity for the July-September period.

The report showed that consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, surged at an annual rate of 4 percent in the third quarter, even better than the 3.8 percent gain in the second quarter and the best showing since last 2014.

Trade, which had boosted second quarter growth by 1.2 percentage points, shaved 1.8 percentage points off growth in the third quarter. Exports, which had surged at a 9.3 percent rate in the second quarter, fell at a 3.5 percent rate in the third quarter. Analysts had forecast this turn-around, saying it reflected the surge in exports of goods such as soybeans in the spring as producers tried to beat the higher tariffs being imposed by China in retaliation for Trump’s tariffs.

Another big swing factor in the third quarter was business restocking of their shelves. Inventories had trimmed 1 percentage point off growth in the second quarter but boosted growth by 2 percentage points in the third quarter.

Housing continued to be a drag, falling for a third straight quarter. Business investment, which had surged at an 8.7 percent rage in the second quarter, slowed to a small 0.8 percent gain the third quarter.