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Asian markets on course to end week on positive note

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HONG KONG: The upbeat tone that has characterised this week helped Asian markets to fresh gains on Friday, with Hong Kong on course for a sixth straight day of rises.

Investors globally have been riding a wave of optimism since last week when the head of the Federal Reserve indicated it will likely slow its pace of interest rate hikes, while there were also signs that China and the US could eventually reach a trade deal.

And the gains were not limited to equities, with oil rising about 20 percent from 17-month lows at the end of December, while high-yielding currencies were being supported by a new-found demand for riskier assets.

Friday’s rally followed another positive lead from Wall Street, where dealers brushed off disappointing retail figures as they focused on the prospect that borrowing costs will not rise as much as previously feared.

Fed minutes Wednesday showed policymakers are happy to hold off any more rate hikes as they assess the state of the economy, backing up dovish comments last week by its head Jerome Powell.

There was a slight wobble in New York after Powell on Thursday suggested the bank’s securities holdings should be “substantially smaller” — a sell-off by the Fed of such assets would lift interest rates.

But the general mood remained upbeat as a number of other top Fed officials indicated they were happy to see a break in hikes.

“Markets are ultimately waiting to see if the Fed’s new rhetoric related to stepping back, does it translate to action, and does the Fed actually pause at some point,” Morgan Stanley economist Dan Skelly told Bloomberg TV in New York.

“That’s really what we are waiting for to see a sustained move higher” in stocks, he said.

 

 

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Trudeau’s Tory rival pledges balanced budget in 5 years

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Trudeau government in crisis after Canada minister's resignation

OTTAWA: Canada’s Conservative leader and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s main rival in upcoming elections pledged Friday to balance the government’s budget within five years, backtracking on a previous target.
An average of several recent polls gives the Tories a six percentage point lead over the Liberals ahead of the October ballot.
Andrew Scheer previously vowed that balancing the budget could be done within two years, but now claims “Trudeau has made an even bigger mess of the budget than I thought possible.
“And he has made the job of cleaning it up that much more difficult,” he said in a speech to the Canadian Club in Vancouver.
Canada’s economy surged after the Liberals took office in 2015 and unleashed a massive stimulus. But growth is forecast to slow this year.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau in his March budget pointed to 900,000 new jobs created since 2015 and the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years.
The government’s fiscal deficit, however, is projected to balloon to Can$19.8 billion (US$14.7 billion) — after Trudeau abandoned his 2015 pledge to run a few small deficits and return to balance this year.
Still, Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio is lower than its G7 counterparts and is expected to fall over the coming years from the current 30.7 percent.
Scheer said, “even the most optimistic projections don’t have the Liberals balancing the budget for 20 more years.”
“But if Canadians elect a Conservative government this fall, we will balance the budget in about a quarter of that time,” he said.

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Canada unveils air passenger bill of rights

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OTTAWA: Airline passengers in Canada will soon be eligible for significant compensation for delayed flights or lost baggage under regulations announced Friday by Transportation Minister Marc Garneau.
The measures follow a rising number of complaints about being stuck on the tarmac for hours, musical instruments being broken in transit and lost baggage.
“Our goal was to provide a world-leading approach to air passenger rights that would be predictable and fair for passengers while ensuring our air carriers remain strong and competitive,” Garneau said.
“These new regulations achieve that balance and will give air travelers the rights and treatment they pay for and deserve.”
Starting July 15, airlines will be required to disembark passengers after three hours on the tarmac if there is no prospect of taking off soon.
They would also need to compensate passengers bumped from overbooked flights up to Can$2,400 (US$1,800) and up to Can$2,100 for lost luggage.
As of December 15, additional measures will require airlines to pay passengers up to Can$1,000 for flight delays and cancellations, provide food, drink and accommodations, and rebook them on new flights — using competing airlines if necessary.
They would also have to seat children near a parent at no extra charge and develop new standards for transporting musical instruments.
The latter was in response to travelling musicians complaining on social media about broken guitars and other instruments during flights.
The rules apply to flights to, from and within Canada.
According to Canada’s government statistics agency, there are an average of 5.5 million take-offs and landings at Canada’s 91 airports each year.
Due to its vast geography, air transportation is crucial for connecting parts of the country. A flight from easternmost to westernmost Canada takes about eight hours.

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Vice President’s upcoming visit to further deepen friendship, advance CPEC development: China

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China supports Pakistan's crackdown on culprits involved in fraudulent cross-border marriages

BEIJING: Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan’s upcoming visit to Pakistan will further deepen high-level exchanges, friendship and mutual trust between China and Pakistan and advance development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) besides bilateral cooperation across the board, a Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesperson said on Friday.
“We believe the vice president’s visit will further deepen high-level exchanges, friendship and mutual trust between China and Pakistan and advance the CPEC development and our cooperation across the board,” Lu Kang said while responding to a question of APP regarding the significance of the visit during his daily press briefing held here.
He said the visit would inject a new impetus in a closer community of shared future in a new era for two countries.
The spokesperson said the Chinese vice president would be visiting Pakistan from May 26 to 28 at the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“Wang Qishan will be meeting with President Arif Alvi and hold talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan and exchange views on deepening bilateral relations and international and regional issues of mutual interests,” he added.
Lu Kang remarked that China and Pakistan were all-weather strategic cooperative partners and iron friends, adding, “We firmly support each other on issues concerning each other’s foreign interests.”

 

 

 

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