Helicopters ferried U.S. staff from the American embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday out of apparent concern about perceived threats from Iran, which U.S. sources believe encouraged Sunday’s attacks on four oil tankers in the Gulf.The sabotage of the tankers, for which no one has claimed responsibility, and Saudi Arabia’s announcement on Tuesday that armed drones hit two of its oil pumping stations have raised concerns Washington and Tehran may be inching toward conflict.A U.S. government source said American security experts believe Iran gave its “blessing” to tanker attacks, which hit two Saudi crude oil tankers, a UAE-flagged fuel bunker barge and a Norwegian-registered oil products tanker off Fujeirah near the Strait of Hormuz.
China may have no interest in continuing trade negotiations with the U.S. now, as it sees little “sincerity” in U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent approach.If the U.S. doesn’t make any new moves that truly show sincerity, then it is meaningless for its officials to come to China and have trade talks, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.The U.S. has been talking about wanting to continue the negotiations, but in the meantime it has been playing “little tricks to disrupt the atmosphere,” it wrote, citing Trumps steps this week to curb Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co.
The U.S. announced a rollback of steel tariffs against Turkey that it originally levied in August as trade and diplomatic relations deteriorated because of Turkey’s economic crisis and a row over the Turkish government’s detention of an American pastor.The decision cuts in half the 50% tariffs paid on Turkey steel imports, leaving the 25% Section 232 levy, implemented March 2018, in place. Turkey told the World Trade Organization last year that levies on steel and aluminum shipments violated the rules of international commerce.
Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had assured him Washington won’t seek restrictions on auto exports -- a nearly $50 billion trade sector that could cloud a state visit next week by President Donald Trump. Motegi told a press conference in Tokyo on Friday he contacted his counterpart after Bloomberg reported on a draft executive order that people familiar with the matter said Trump is expected to sign this week. Under the proposed deal, the U.S. would give the EU and Japan 180 days to agree to limit auto imports into the U.S. in return for delaying new auto tariffs.
The Bank of England, preparing for a possible no-deal Brexit, is trying to harness reams of real-time digital data on traffic jams, card payments and shipping in case it has to make a snap decision to raise or cut interest rates.The BoE typically has plenty of time to think about its next steps for the world’s fifth-biggest economy. It announces its rate decisions every six weeks or so after studying established economic indicators, many of which take weeks to prepare.But it might have to move much more quickly if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal to cushion the shock, a real prospect for later this year with Prime Minister Theresa May struggling to break a Brexit impasse in parliament.
Asian shares were struggling to end a bleak week in the black on Friday as upbeat U.S. economic news and solid company earnings offered only a fleeting respite from the interminable Sino-U.S. trade dispute.Shanghai stocks slipped amid the fallout from President Donald Trump’s move to block China’s Huawei Technologies from buying vital American technology.
Gold prices marked time on Friday, after seeing its biggest one-day percentage loss in a month in the previous session, on a firmer dollar and increased investor appetite for riskier assets due to strong U.S. data and corporate results.Spot gold was mostly unchanged at $1,286.44 per ounce as of 0536 GMT.U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,287.20 an ounce.Spot gold fell 0.8% on Thursday, its biggest one-day percentage decline in a month after risk sentiment improved.
Oil prices rose again on Friday and were on track for the first weekly gains this month, as rising tensions in the Middle East stoked fears of supply disruption.Brent crude futures were at $73.00 a barrel at 0303 GMT, up 38 cents, or 0.5%, from their last close, rising for a fourth straight session. Brent was up 3.4% for the week, on track for its first gain in three weeks.U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $63.32 per barrel, up 46 cents, or 0.7%. WTI was also up for a fourth day and was headed for a weekly gain of 2.7%, the first rise in four weeks.