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More Fed officials say caution is needed before more rate hikes

RIVERWOODS, Ill./CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Reuters) - Another clutch of U.S. Federal Reserve officials said on Wednesday they would be cautious about any further increases in interest rates so that the central bank could assess growing risks to an otherwise solid U.S. economic outlook. FILE PHOTO: A police officer keeps watch in front of the U.S. Federal Reserve building in Washington, DC, U.S. on October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File PhotoThe presidents of three of the 12 Fed regional banks, from Chicago, St. Louis and Atlanta, all pointed to a need for greater clarity on the state of the economy before extending the central bank’s rate hike campaign into a…

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie set to divorce

(Reuters) - Billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon.com Inc, and wife MacKenzie Bezos, are divorcing after 25 years of marriage, the couple said in a joint statement on Twitter on Wednesday. FILE PHOTO: Amazon CEO Jeff and wife MacKenzie Bezos arrive at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, California. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/File PhotoJeff Bezos, 54, is the world’s richest person, with a fortune that has soared to more than $160 billion thanks to his stake in Amazon, which again became Wall Street’s most valuable company this week, surpassing Microsoft Inc. The couple decided to divorce after a long period of “loving exploration”…

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Forget fantasy Brexit, UK tells lawmakers as crucial deal debate begins

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government cautioned lawmakers on Wednesday that it was a delusion to think that the government would be able to negotiate a new divorce deal with the European Union if parliament voted down her deal next week. Demonstrators hold EU and Union flags during an anti-Brexit protest opposite the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, December 17, 2018. REUTERS/Toby MelvilleThe future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain - with options ranging from a disorderly exit to another referendum - because British lawmakers are expected on Jan. 15 to vote down the deal that May struck with the EU in November. May…

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British parliament cannot stop Brexit: junior minister

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s parliament cannot stop Brexit, a junior minister in the department managing the exit from the European Union said on Wednesday. “Is there a parliamentary route by which Brexit can be stopped? I do not believe so,” Chris Heaton-Harris told a parliamentary committee hearing. “With the legislation that we have passed, if we do not leave with a deal, currently, we will be leaving without a deal.” Reporting by Kate Holton and Kylie MacLellan; editing by David MillikenOur Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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World stocks near four-week high on U.S.-China trade optimism, oil climbs

LONDON (Reuters) - World stocks extend their gains to hit a near-four week high and oil prices rose on Wednesday on optimism that the United States and China may be inching toward a trade deal, soothing fears an all-out trade war could hit a slowing global economy. FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby MelvilleDelegations from China and the U.S. ended talks that had lasted longer than expected in Beijing on Wednesday amid signs of progress on issues including purchases of U.S. farm and energy commodities and increased access to China’s markets. Officials said…

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Northern Irish DUP: PM May must ditch the backstop to get our support

FILE PHOTO: Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson MP speaks to media after the DUP annual party conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland November 24, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh KilcoyneLONDON (Reuters) - The Northern Irish party which props up Prime Minister Theresa May’s government bluntly warned it would vote against her Brexit deal unless the backstop arrangement was removed from it. The Democratic Unionist Party’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson cast as “window dressing” British proposals to give the Northern Irish assembly the power to vote against new EU rules if the border backstop comes into force after Brexit. “The only thing which could swing the DUP round is…

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Kremlin says we won’t use detained ex-U.S. marine as a pawn

FILE PHOTO: Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen detained in Russia for suspected spying, appears in a photo provided by the Whelan family on January 1, 2019. Courtesy Whelan Family/Handout via REUTERS MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin on Wednesday rejected a British suggestion it might use a former U.S. Marine detained in Russia on espionage charges as a pawn in a diplomatic game and said it reserved the right to conduct counter-intelligence activities. Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who also holds a British passport, was detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service on Dec. 28. His family have said he is innocent and that he was in Moscow…

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Australian police investigate suspicious packages sent to diplomatic missions

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Police in Australia are investigating suspicious packages sent to a wide range of embassies and consulates on Wednesday, which officials said included the U.S. and British missions in Melbourne, but there were no reports of harm to staff. Domestic media reported more than a dozen foreign offices received the packages and that some staff said they contained asbestos, a material used in building that can cause cancers and other health problems. There were no details of any possible motive and some of the targeted sites that Reuters reporters visited were open later on Wednesday afternoon. “The packages are being examined by attending emergency services,”…

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U.S.-China trade talks conclude as hopes of a deal build

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese and U.S. teams ended trade talks in Beijing on Wednesday that lasted longer than expected and officials said details will be released soon, raising hopes an all-out trade war that could badly disrupt the global economy can be avoided. A woman walks past a bench painted in the colours of the U.S. flag outside a clothing store in Beijing, China January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas PeterThe talks were extended into an unscheduled third day, showing both sides were “serious”, China’s Foreign Ministry said. Share prices jumped in Asia and markets in Europe and the United States were expected to follow suit as the lengthened…

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U.N. asks Australia to consider resettling Saudi teen who fled family

SYDNEY/BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United Nations has asked Australia to consider refugee resettlement for an 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled to Thailand saying she feared her family would kill her, the Australian government said on Wednesday. Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, a Saudi woman who claims to be fleeing her country and family, is seen in Bangkok, Thailand January 7, 2019 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. TWITTER/ @rahaf84427714/via REUTERSRahaf Mohammed al-Qunun arrived in Bangkok on Saturday appealing for asylum. Australia said it would consider resettling her if the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) deemed her a refugee. “The UNHCR has referred…

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