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Economy

China-US trade hopes lift stocks as oil prices surge

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NEW YORK: Global stocks pushed higher Wednesday on renewed optimism over talks to resolve the China-US trade war, while oil prices surged after Saudi Arabia confirmed it was on track to trim crude exports.

Europe’s major stock markets followed Asian exchanges higher, with Frankfurt and Paris both ending day 0.8 percent higher. London rose 0.7 percent.

Wall Street also had a solid day, with major indices rising for a fourth straight session.

Gains in the US moderated somewhat in the final 40 minutes of trading after talks to end the US government shutdown between President Donald Trump and congressional Democratic leaders broke down. But the S&P 500 still finished 0.4 percent higher.

“Stocks were extremely oversold,” said Bill Lynch of Hinsdale Associates. “There’s optimism today that the market can continue to be strong.”

Brent crude oil pushed above $61 per barrel, with OPEC cutting output and concerns easing over weak demand growth.

The dollar, meanwhile, sank to its lowest level against the euro since October as Federal Reserve meeting minutes, and statements from Fed officials, made clear the US central bank was in no hurry to hike interest rates again soon.

The dollar also declined against the British pound, despite lingering uncertainty over Brexit.

On Wednesday, in a setback to Theresa May, British lawmakers voted to force the prime minister to quickly set out an alternative plan for Brexit if she loses a crucial vote on her EU withdrawal deal next week.

 

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Business

Is Uber buying Careem for $3.1b?

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DUBAI: According to the rumors making rounds here today it seems that Uber is about to acquire Careem for $3.1b!

Sources privy to NPTV have insinuated that the deal will be announced tomorrow (Tuesday 26th March). Initially Uber will pay $1.4 billion in cash and the rest in notes convertible to Uber shares.

It comes as Uber prepares for its initial public offering — expected next month — which could see the rideshare giant’s value increase to $100 billion.

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Crime

Confiscated goods’ auction fetches over Rs. 16 b in 5 years

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ISLAMABAD: The authorities concerned have amassed Rs. 16.124 billion through auction and disposal of different confiscated/smuggled goods during the last five years.
The confiscated goods are disposed of through open public auction as provided in auction/customs rules. A variety of smuggled goods have been confiscated in the country by Pakistan Customs during the period and these included tea, auto parts, cigarettes, medicines, antiques, crockery, vehicles, cloth, tires and tubes, diesel, electronic goods, and narcotics etc.
Elaborating procedure for the auction of confiscated goods, sources at Finance and Revenue Division on Sunday said as per auction rules, the Collector or an authorized officer shall nominate an auctioneer from amongst registered auctioneers to conduct an auction of confiscated goods.  The amounts and names of the highest and second highest bidders are recorded in the file by customs staff supervising the process along with copies of National  Identity Card as well as NTN of the successful bidder.
The auctioneer on receipt of a certificate issued by Collector or an authorized officer to the effect that the whole amount of bid has been realized, issues under his seal, a delivery order. The sources said there are certain items like arms and ammunition, liquor/narcotics and like goods which cannot be put to auction.
It is pertinent to mention here that goods like confiscated narcotics and expired/banned/hazardous items/goods, not fit for human consumption, are destroyed.  However, arms and ammunition of prohibited and non-prohibited bores are disposed of by allocating the same to an agency/department having anti-smuggling powers for their official use.

 

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Economy

Greek homes in Airbnb fever

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ATHENS: For Dimitra Dionysopoulou, who lives in the shadow of the Acropolis, there is no mistaking the signs of the Airbnb takeover in her neighborhood.
“Renovation noise, debris disposal bins on every street, and rolling luggage,” said the 50-year-old Athenian mother.
Dionysopoulou has lived her entire life in the middle-class district of Koukaki, now in the midst of a home-sharing frenzy. In 2016, it was named Airbnb’s fifth fastest growing neighborhood globally with an 800-percent jump in activity.
Its selling point? Walking distance from one of the world’s most visited archaeological sites, as well as the state-of-the-art Acropolis museum.
Hundreds of apartments in Koukaki’s aging concrete buildings are now on offer. Rents have doubled and entire families of tenants have been pushed out by cash-hungry owners, said Dionysopoulou.
“Three families I know have already left, and we are currently trying to find a home for a fourth,” she told AFP.
Greece is the eurozone country hardest hit by the 2008 economic crisis, losing around a quarter of its gross domestic product, suffering a surge in unemployment and a severe debt crisis that prompted bailouts from the EU and the IMF as wages stagnated and housing prices fell.
Dionysopoulou is not alone in feeling that the Airbnb phenomenon, as in other major cities, has run amok.
Greek authorities this year belatedly introduced registration and tax rules for Airbnb homeowners.
According to Angelos Skiadas, head of Greece’s tenant association, the home-sharing craze has even spread to far-off Athens suburbs with no tourist interest.
“Homeowners think this is a cure-all that will solve their problems for life. Many use Airbnb as a threat (to raise the rent),” he said.
The shortage is particularly acute on popular islands where visiting civil servants, teachers, and university students are unable to find affordable housing beyond May when the tourist season begins to pick up, Skiadas noted.
“It’s a bubble,” he said, before adding: “Things will balance out.”
Hoteliers also say the situation is out of control. Their trade association commissioned a study from Grant Thornton that found that more than 76,000 properties in Greece were available on home-sharing platforms.
The study argued that declining availability had pushed up rents in central Athens by 9.3 percent in a year, disproportionately affecting poorer segments of the population such as pensioners and single-parent families.
In a sign that Koukaki has reached the saturation point, the government this month moved to halt the construction of a nearly completed nine-floor hotel with a stellar view of the Parthenon.

 

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