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Exclusive: Canada farm minister informed that China has blocked two Canadian pork exporters

WINNIPEG, Manitoba/OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s agriculture minister said on Wednesday that her department officials have told her the Chinese government has suspended the export permits of two Canadian pork exporters, marking the latest irritant in a widening diplomatic dispute. FILE PHOTO: Canadian pork shoulders are being prepped on a butcher's counter at North Hill Meats in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Hyungwon KangAgriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in an interview with Reuters that she has not yet received an official notice from China of the permit suspensions, and would not identify the companies involved. She said both pork producers are based in the country’s eastern…

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Voters set to punish UK PM May’s Conservatives over Brexit delay

LONDON (Reuters) - English voters are expected to use local government elections on Thursday to punish Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party over its failure to deliver Brexit, revealing a divided and dissatisfied electorate. British Prime Minister Theresa May visits the Leisure Box while on the local elections campaign in Brierfield, Lancashire, Britain April 25, 2019. Peter Byrne/Pool via REUTERSMore than 8,000 seats on English councils - administrative bodies responsible for day-to-day decisions on local policy ranging from education to waste management - are up for grabs in the first elections since Britain missed its March 29 Brexit date. The results will paint a picture, albeit an…

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As records fall on Wall Street, investors seek bets on economic growth

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As the bull market gets a new lease on life, Wall Street is growing less fretful of a U.S. growth slowdown and betting on shares of companies in sectors that will benefit from the economic up-cycle, such as industrials and financials. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermidAfter tumbling nearly 20% from its peak at the end of 2018, the S&P 500 has rebounded strongly this year as U.S. economic data remain robust and the Federal Reserve has indicated a pause in interest-rate hikes. Last week’s U.S.…

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Venezuelan protests peter out as Maduro hangs on; U.S. and Russia squabble

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelans heeded opposition leader Juan Guaido’s call to take to the streets on Wednesday in a bid to force President Nicolas Maduro from power, but there was little sign of any concrete effects on what increasingly looked like a political stalemate. The standoff increased tensions between the United States and Russia, who accused each other of interference in the OPEC-member nation’s affairs, however. Guaido had called for the “largest march” in Venezuela’s history and said on Twitter that “millions of Venezuelans” were in the streets in “this final phase” of his move to oust Maduro. But by late afternoon, many of the protesters in…

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U.S. Fed sees no strong case for hiking or cutting rates

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday held interest rates steady and signaled little appetite to adjust them any time soon, taking heart in continued job gains and economic growth and the likelihood that weak inflation will edge higher. “We think our policy stance is appropriate at the moment; we don’t see a strong case for moving it in either direction,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said in a press conference following the end of the central bank’s latest two-day policy meeting. Overall, he said, “I see us on a good path for this year.” Fed policymakers said ongoing economic growth, a strong labor market and…

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Qualcomm Pegs Payment From Apple at $4.5 Billion to $4.7 Billion

Qualcomm will book a one-time payment of $4.5 billion to $4.7 billion next quarter from its settlement with Apple in a patent battle, the mobile chip maker said Wednesday as it reported its quarterly earnings.It was the first time investors got a look at how the agreement will help Qualcomm’s bottom line, and the company’s shares fell about 3 percent in after-hours trading. The stock had been up more than 50 percent in recent weeks, reflecting investor relief at the deal. However, Qualcomm’s forecasts suggested that Apple’s licensing fees will not substantially increase revenue as Apple catches up on royalties it didn’t pay while the two companies…

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Explainer: Venezuela crisis puts Trump policy to the test

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration faces a critical test of its Venezuela policy as opposition leader Juan Guaido, bolstered by vocal U.S. support, pressures the country’s military to abandon socialist President Nicolas Maduro and mounts mass protests to force him out. Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a rally in Caracas, Venezuela, May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Fausto Torrealba In its biggest political and diplomatic intervention in Latin America in years, the U.S. government has rolled out waves of punitive measures against Venezuela, including several rounds of sanctions on its leadership, vital oil sector and banks. With fewer levers left to pull and protests apparently petering out on…

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Barr defends clearing Trump on obstruction, chides ‘snitty’ Mueller letter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday fended off Democratic criticism of his decision to clear U.S. President Donald Trump of criminal obstruction of justice in the Russia inquiry and faulted Special Counsel Robert Mueller for not reaching a conclusion of his own on the issue. In his first congressional testimony since releasing a redacted version of the report on April 18, Barr also dismissed Mueller’s complaints that he initially disclosed the special counsel’s conclusions on March 24 in an incomplete way that caused public confusion about critical aspects of the inquiry. Illustrating tensions between the two men, Barr referred to as “a bit snitty”…

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Wall Street drops after Fed chair dampens rate-cut hopes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks ended lower on Wednesday and the S&P 500 snapped a three-day streak of record high closes as comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell appeared to dampen hopes the central bank could move later this year to cut interest rates. In its policy announcement, the Fed held rates steady as expected and struck a cautious tone on inflation. But Powell, speaking following the Fed statement, said a decline in inflation this year could be due to transitory factors. That seemed to throw cold water on views by some in the market that the Fed might make a preemptive bid to head…

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Traders see fading prospects for Fed rate cut

(Reuters) - Traders of U.S. short-term interest rate futures trimmed bets the Federal Reserve would cut rates before the end of the year after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell poured cold water on the idea. “We think our policy stance is appropriate at the moment; we don’t see a strong case for moving it in either direction,” Powell said in a news conference on Wednesday following the Fed’s two-day meeting, at which it kept rates unchanged. Powell noted the strength in labor markets, and said he believes that unexpectedly low inflation recently is probably due to “transient” factors that will likely fade, allowing inflation to rise back to…

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