Daily Archives: March 18, 2015

U.S. rebukes Israel's victorious Netanyahu on Mideast policy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures to supporters at party headquarters in Tel Aviv March 18, 2015.  REUTERS/Nir Elias

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures to supporters at party headquarters in Tel Aviv March 18, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Nir Elias


(Reuters) – The White House on Wednesday scolded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following his re-election victory for abandoning his commitment to negotiate for a Palestinian state and for what it called “divisive” campaign rhetoric toward Israel’s minority Arab voters.

Even as U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration congratulated Netanyahu for his party’s decisive win in Tuesday’s ballot, the White House signaled its deep disagreements – and thorny relationship – with Netanyahu will persist on issues ranging from Middle East peacemaking to Iran nuclear diplomacy.

In a hard-right shift in the final days of campaigning, Netanyahu backtracked on his support for eventual creation of a Palestinian state – the cornerstone of more than two decades of peace efforts – and promised to go on building Jewish settlements on occupied land.

Such policies could put him on a new collision course with the Obama administration. Some Obama aides had privately left little doubt during the Israeli election campaign of their preference for Netanyahu’s center-left challenger, Isaac Herzog.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Wednesday reaffirmed Obama’s commitment to a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict and said that based on Netanyahu’s comments, “the United States will evaluate our approach to this situation moving forward.”

Netanyahu’s insistence that there will be no Palestinian state while he holds office, seen as a maneuver to mobilize his right-wing base when his re-election prospects were flagging, angered the Palestinians and drew criticism from the United Nations and European governments. Chances for restarting long-stalled Middle East peace moves already had been low.

U.S. lawmakers were divided on Netanyahu’s hardened stance. Democratic U.S. Senator Chris Murphy said it could worsen relations with Washington and make it more difficult for the United States to play a “hopeful role in mediating a solution.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he hoped the United States and Israel would see the election as “an opportunity to start over.” But he said: “A two-state solution is impossible as long as Hamas exists and runs Gaza.”

DEEP CONCERN

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Cleveland, Earnest said the administration would communicate its concern directly to the Israeli government over much-criticized rhetoric used by Netanyahu’s campaign.

Netanyahu charged on election day in Israel that left-wingers were trying to get Arab-Israeli voters out “in droves” to sway the election against him. “The United States and this administration is deeply concerned about rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens,” Earnest said.

Arabs comprise about 20 percent of Israel’s population of eight million and have long complained about discrimination. They emerged from Tuesday’s vote as the third largest party.

Two weeks ago Netanyahu defied Obama with a politically divisive speech to Congress attacking U.S.-led nuclear talks with Iran. Earnest predicted that Netanyahu’s re-election would have no “material impact” on the sensitive Iran negotiations.

Secretary of State John Kerry called Netanyahu on Wednesday to congratulate him and Obama will follow suit “in coming days,” Earnest said. He said that after previous elections Obama had waited a similar amount of time, holding off until Netanyahu was formally given the go-ahead to form a coalition.

Although Netanyahu must still put together a coalition, his victory all but guarantees that Israel’s president will give him the first opportunity to form a government.

U.S. officials had privately signaled their hopes for an election outcome more in sync with Obama’s agenda, especially with an end-of-March deadline looming for a framework nuclear deal in negotiations between Tehran and world powers.

“The unprecedented security cooperation between the United States and Israel, including our strong military and intelligence relationship, will continue,” Earnest said.

(Additional reporting by Julia Edwards and Jeff Mason in Washington; Writing by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Howard Goller)


Source: Newsjyoti Politics

Guess profit beats on improving traffic, online business

(Reuters) – Apparel retailer Guess Inc
reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as traffic
improved and the company’s online business grew.

Guess shares were up 11 percent in heavy after-market
trading on Tuesday.

Net income attributable to Guess fell to $53.9 million, or
63 cents per share, for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31 from
$69.6 million, or 82 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell 9.3 percent to $696.7 million. Analysts on
average had expected a profit of 57 cents per share on revenue
of $704.6 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Ramkumar Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Joyjeet
Das)


Source: Newsjyoti

UPDATE 2-Target to lift minimum wage to $9 an hour -source

(Changes attribution to source, adds labor movement background)

(Reuters) – Target Corp. will raise the
minimum wage for all of its workers to $9 an hour, matching
moves made by rivals such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and TJX
Cos, a source familiar with the matter said.

Target will put the new wage levels into effect next month,
said the source, who confirmed the news reported earlier by Dow
Jones.

Target shares fell 1 percent in extended trade. The company
has said it does not disclose wage levels.

Labor groups and allies across the country for some three
years have been pressing for higher pay, especially at retailers
and fast-food companies.

The movement had its biggest success last month when
Wal-Mart said it would move to the $9 minimum in April and $10
an hour next year.

That immediately raised the pressure on Target, which is
competing for employees with Wal-Mart. Women’s advocacy group
UltraViolet, for instance, recently ran a Web ad campaign that
targeted devices located near three Target stores.

Banner ads read, “Did you know there’s a Walmart near you
that pays higher minimum wage than Target?”

(Reporting By Dan Burns and Peter Henderson; Editing by Chris
Reese and Jonathan Oatis)


Source: Newsjyoti

One killed, five wounded in shooting spree in Phoenix suburb

A police officer keeps watch outside a room at the Tri-City Inn, one of the scenes of a multiple location shooting that has injured at least four people in Mesa, Arizona
(Reuters) – One person was killed and five others wounded when a gunman opened fire on Wednesday at a motel and at least three other locations across the Phoenix suburb of Mesa before he was captured in a manhunt, police said.

 

Police used a stun gun to subdue the suspect and led him out of a residential complex in a white full-body suit with his wrists shackled and took him to a hospital, television station 12 News, an NBC affiliate, reported.

Acting Police Chief John Meza confirmed the arrest but did not immediately provide details.

The gunman, who was not publicly identified, first opened fire inside a Mesa motel, where he killed one man and wounded two women, Mesa police spokesman Esteban Flores told reporters.

The shooter, described as a man in his 40s with a tattoo on his neck, then went to a nearby restaurant that is operated by a trade school and shot and wounded an adult student there, Flores said.

After driving off in a vehicle he carjacked at the restaurant, the gunman went to a nearby apartment complex where he barged into a home and shot a man, then went to another apartment complex and shot another man, Flores said.

“We don’t know the motive. We know there was some type of argument at the first location, at the motel,” Flores told reporters.

He said six people were shot in total, including one who died and another who was in critical condition.

Dozens of police officers stood at the site of the first shooting – the Tri-City Inn motel and an adjacent tattoo parlor.

The East Valley Institute of Technology, the trade school near where the shooting started, and nearby Mesa Community College were placed on lockdown as a precaution due to the shooting, the campuses said on their Twitter pages.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said in a statement that he had spoken to the mayor of Mesa and offered the support and resources of the state, including the Department of Public Safety, in handling the shooting.

“Right now, our hearts and prayers are with the people of Mesa, the individuals affected by this tragedy, and all law enforcement and first responders working to assist the victims,” Ducey said.

(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Lisa Lambert and Bill Trott)


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Apple supplier Jabil Circuit forecasts revenue above Street

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n”>(Reuters) – Jabil Circuit Inc, which makes phone casings for Apple Inc, forecast revenue for the current quarter above average analyst estimate, helped by strong demand for iPhones.

Apple, one of Jabil’s biggest customers, had said it sold a 74.5 million iPhones in the December quarter.

Jabil said it expects manufacturing services revenue to rise 42 percent for the third quarter ending May 31. The business makes iPhones casings.

The company also forecast third-quarter core earnings of 43-55 cents per share on revenue of $4.35 billion-$4.55 billion.

Analysts on average were expecting a profit of 47 cents per share on revenue of $4.43 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The contract electronics maker reported a net income attributable of $52 million, or 27 cents per share, in the second quarter ended Feb. 28, compared with a loss of $38.7 million, or 19 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company reported core earnings of 50 cents per share. Revenue rose to $4.31 billion from $3.58 billion a year earlier.

Analysts had expected core earnings of 45 cents per share on revenue of $4.27 billion.

Shares of Jabil, whose customers include Apple Inc, Cisco Systems Inc and Ericsson, closed at $22.65 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik and Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru)


Source: Newsjyoti Tech

Fed opens door wider for rate hike but downgrades economic outlook

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks at a news conference following the two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington March 18, 2015. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts


(Reuters) – The Federal Reserve on Wednesday moved a step closer to hiking rates for the first time since 2006, but downgraded its economic growth and inflation projections, signaling it is in no rush to push borrowing costs to more normal levels.

The U.S. central bank removed a reference to being “patient” on rates from its policy statement, opening the door wider for a hike in the next couple of months while sounding a cautious note on the health of the economic recovery.

Fed officials also slashed their median estimate for the federal funds rate – the key overnight lending rate – to 0.625 percent for the end of 2015 from the 1.125 percent estimate in December.

The cut to the so-called “dot plot,” together with other economic concerns cited by the Fed, sent a more dovish message than investors were expecting, and pushed market bets on the central bank’s rate “lift-off” from mid-year to the fall.

“Just because we removed the word ‘patient’ from the statement doesn’t mean we’re going to be impatient,” Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a press conference after Wednesday’s statement.

Stocks on Wall Street surged and oil prices jumped as much as 5 percent after the Fed statement. The dollar tumbled against other major currencies and the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield dipped below 2 percent for the first time since March 2.

In its quarterly summary of economic projections, the Fed cut its inflation outlook for 2015 and reduced expected U.S. economic growth. The policy statement repeated its concern that inflation measures were running below expectations, weighed down in part by falling energy prices.

“I just don’t see any price or wage pressure out there,” said Craig Dismuke, chief economist for Vining Sparks. “June is not off the table but it’s unlikely. September is the most likely time for the first rate hike. They might get one hike in this year, maybe two.”

The Fed noted that a rate increase remained “unlikely” at its April meeting and said its change in rate guidance did not mean it has decided on the timing for a rate hike. Yellen told reporters that a June move could not be ruled out.

The Fed statement, however, allowed enough flexibility for the central bank to move later in the year, stressing that any decision would depend on incoming data.

“The committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent objective over the medium-term,” the Fed said.

It had previously said it would be patient in considering when to bring monetary policy back to normal.

Goldman Sachs economist Jan Hatzius said in a research note that the Fed’s statement and projections suggested a hike in September rather than June, citing the “dot plot” shift and changes to the central bank’s assessment of the economy.

MUDDY DATA

Yellen has kept rates at near zero since taking over as head of the central bank in February, 2014, though she has also overseen a steady whittling of loose money promises.

And while she lays the ground for “lift-off,” the Fed continues to grapple with muddy economic data: strong job creation, continued growth, and healthy consumer demand in the United States, but a global collapse in oil prices and a rapid run-up in the dollar that could mean the Fed remains far from its 2 percent inflation target.

The Fed on Wednesday downgraded its view of economic activity, saying growth has “moderated somewhat,” a departure from its view in December, when it cited economic activity expanding at a solid pace.

Economists and investors were watching closely for the Fed to drop “patient” from its rate guidance language, as a sign that the central bank will shift toward making rate decisions on a meeting-by-meeting basis.

“Let me emphasize again, that today’s modification of the forward guidance should not be read as indicating that the committee has decided on the timing of the initial increase in the target range for the federal funds rate,” Yellen said in the press conference.

“In particular, this change does not mean that an increase will necessarily occur in June. Although we can’t rule that out.”

The federal funds rate has been at its low point since December of 2008. The last time the Fed raised rates was in June 2006, when a roaring housing market and strong economic growth prompted it to push its target rate to 5.25 percent.

There were no dissents on the Fed statement.

(Reporting by Michael Flaherty and Howard Schneider; Additional reporting by Richard Leong in New York; Editing by David Chance and Paul Simao)


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UPDATE 4-GM to shut Russian plant as sales slide

* GM to shut St Petersburg factory

* To take $600 million charge on Russian operations

* Russian car sales to fall as much as 35 pct this year -PwC

(Adds background on automakers’ troubles in emerging markets,
details of GM cuts in Russia, comments by Russian officials)

By Gleb Stolyarov and Maria Kiselyova

MOSCOW, March 18 (Reuters) – General Motors Co will
shut a Russian factory and wind down its Opel brand in the
country, taking a $600 million charge as it restructures to cope
with a prolonged slump in the once-promising market, the U.S.
carmaker said on Wednesday.

After several years of growth in excess of 10 percent, car
sales in Russia shrank in 2014 as the economy weakened, battered
by Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis and sliding oil
prices. The tumbling value of the rouble has caused consumers to
pull back on large purchases, and raised the cost to GM and
other manufacturers of importing parts.

GM’s retrenchment in Russia is the latest in a series of
moves by global automakers to scale back money-losing bets on
emerging markets that have failed to live up to the bullish
expectations industry executives subscribed to earlier in the
decade.

Last month, GM said it would close a factory in Indonesia
and scale back operations in Thailand. Ford
Motor Co took an $800 million charge earlier this year to
restructure troubled operations in Venezuela.

GM said it would stop production by the middle of 2015 at
its St. Petersburg plant which makes the Chevrolet Cruze, Opel
Astra and Chevrolet Trailblazer models. The idling of the plant
will mean the loss of 1,000 jobs.

GM also will wind down the Opel brand in Russia by December,
and stop assembling mass-market Chevrolet cars at GAZ,
a Russian vehicle factory, to concentrate on premium car sales.
GM said it would continue to assemble the current generation of
Chevrolet Niva sport utility vehicles at a joint venture with
Russian automaker Avtovaz OAO.

“This decision avoids significant investment into a market
that has very challenging long-term prospects,” GM President Dan
Ammann said in a statement.

Just four years ago, GM said its Russian operations were
gearing up to expand production capacity to 350,000 vehicles a
year, and called Russia “an important strategic market.”

FOCUS ON PREMIUM SEGMENT

Going forward, GM said it will focus on the premium segment
in Russia, which has held up better than the mass market, with
Cadillac and some U.S.-built Chevrolet cars. Russia accounted
for 1.9 percent of GM’s global sales in 2014, down from 2.6
percent in 2013. The automaker does not break out financial
results for the country, but consolidates Russian operations
with its GM Europe unit.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra has said Opel would regain
profitability by 2016, and the company reaffirmed that forecast
on Wednesday. The charge will primarily hit results for this
year’s first quarter, GM said.

Volatility in Russia has hit other automakers. Ford has cut
jobs at its joint venture factory in Russia, and Nissan Motor Co
Ltd earlier this week said it would halt production at
its St. Petersburg plant for 16 days.

Russia’s Economy Ministry said late on Wednesday that no
other foreign car company that operates an assembly line in
Russia has said it would leave the market, according to RIA news
agency.

“The Ministry of Economic Development of Russia cannot agree
with the assessment of the market by one individual company,”
RIA cited the ministry’s spokeswoman as saying.

Russian industry and trade ministry officials, quoted by
RIA, said GM suffered because it imported more than half of the
parts for its cars. Renault-Nissan and Volkswagen AG
source about two-thirds of car parts within Russia for the cars
they assemble there.

RUSSIAN MARKET SHRINKS

The Russian car market is forecast to shrink by up to 35
percent in 2015 according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
. The Russian Economy Ministry said it expects
the domestic car market to return to growth in 2016.

But analysts say Russia is in for tough times.

“At least 70 percent of cars currently sold in Russia are
sold at a loss. Auto groups only stay in this market to protect
their share in anticipation of growth,” said Oleg Datskiv,
general director of online automobile portal Auto-dealer.ru.

Opel sold 912 vehicles in Russia in February, an 86 percent
plunge from year-ago levels, said a spokesman at Opel’s base in
the German town of Ruesselsheim.

The Opel Astra has a starting price of about 800,000 roubles
($13,000) in Russia.

(Additional reporting by Andreas Cremer in Berlin, Ben Klayman
and Joe White in Detroit and Lidia Kelly in Moscow; Editing by
Elizabeth Piper Elaine Hardcastle and Matthew Lewis)


Source: Newsjyoti

UPDATE 2-Mexican retailer Walmex to slow expansion plans in 2015

(Recasts to show slowing pace of expansion, adds quote)

(Reuters) – Wal-Mart de Mexico
, the country’s biggest retailer, will expand more
slowly this year, and instead focus on making sure new stores
generate more money, Chief financial Officer Rafael Matute said
on Wednesday.

Walmex has suffered in the past two years from an economic
slump in the Mexican economy, forcing the company to sell assets
and focus on its supermarket business.

“This year, 2015, will be a year of pause,” Walmex Chief
Executive Officer Enrique Ostale said at an analysts’ meeting
that was streamed online. “We’re looking for a greater return on
our investments.”

The company will spend 12.4 billion pesos ($809.45 million)
this year on maintenance and the expansion of its sales floors,
Matute said at the meeting. He added the company would expand
its total sales floor area by 2.4 percent.

Walmex, which is controlled by Wal-Mart Stores Inc,
opened 132 outlets last year, and expanded its total shop floor
area by 3.9 percent, down from the 4.4 percent originally
expected.

Same-store sales fell 0.2 percent in Mexico last year, hurt
by weak demand and tough competition.

The retailer reported a 40 percent rise in fourth-quarter
profit last month.

Walmex shares were down 2.59 percent at 38.04 pesos in early
afternoon trading.

($1 = 15.3190 pesos)

(Reporting by Gabriela Lopez; Writing by Gabriel Stargardter;
Editing by Leslie Adler and Andre Grenon)


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Senator McCain raps Air Force over Russian rocket engines

Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks sits for a portrait in New York

Chairman of the Armed Forces Committee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington February 11, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts


(Reuters) – Senator John McCain on Wednesday criticized the U.S. Air Force’s “troubling lack of urgency” in ending dependence on Russian rocket engines for space launches, saying there was still no strategy to replace them a year after Moscow seized the Crimea.

“Continued reliance on Russian rocket engines is unacceptable and it’s time the Air Force conduct itself accordingly,” McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told a hearing with senior Air Force officials.

McCain said Congress had given the Air Force $220 million this fiscal year and set a deadline of 2019 for replacing the engine.

Congress is pushing for development of a U.S. engine amid rising tensions between the United States and Russia over Moscow’s annexation last year of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

“Instead of giving the effort the level of attention needed, the Air Force has wasted a year doing very little to end our reliance on Russian rocket engines,” McCain said.

“If the Air Force is unwilling to do what is necessary to meet the 2019 deadline, they are going to have to figure out how to meet our space launch needs without the RD-180 (Russian engine),” he said.

McCain made his remarks a day after Air Force officials told lawmakers they planned to release a draft request for proposals next month and could award initial study contracts by the end of the 2015 fiscal year on Sept. 30.

The officials said the Air Force planned to focus the competition on launch services rather than development of a new American engine, since any engine must be closely integrated with the rocket it fuels.

The Russian-built RD-180 engine now powers the Atlas 5, one of two rockets used by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, which launches most big U.S. military and intelligence satellites.

Privately held Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, expects to be certified by June to compete for some of those launches, but it may be years before its Falcon Heavy rocket is certified to launch the heaviest intelligence satellites.

(Reporting by David Alexander and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Grant McCool)


Source: Newsjyoti Politics

Doctors’ unconscious bias may not influence their decisions

(Reuters Health) – – Doctors may have biases for or against people of different races and social statuses, but those unconscious views don’t overtly affect the care they deliver to their patients, a new study finds.

When tested with sample scenarios, most doctors showed some unconscious racial or social bias, but those biases largely did not influence their decisions about what care they would give the fictitious patients.

The study’s lead author told Reuters Health by email that past research has suggested a connection between unconscious biases and how patients are treated, so the new results are not definitive.

“We need to do formal observational trials to see what’s happening in real life and also look at other provider associated mechanisms such as empathy and mindfulness,” said Dr. Adil Haider of the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

He and his colleagues write in JAMA Surgery that gaps do exist between races in healthcare. For example, black patients are more likely to die after a traumatic injury than white patients.

For the new study, the researchers had 215 doctors – all normally involved in trauma care at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore – take tests to measure their level of unconscious bias for or against people of different races and social and economic statuses.

Most participants had measurable amounts of unconscious bias. On average, they had a moderate amount of racial bias and a strong preference for higher social class. Scores did not differ among doctors of different races, ages, medical specialties or training. Women, however, generally had lower levels of race and class bias relative to men.

The participating doctors were then asked what their treatment decisions would be in scenarios about people of different races and social statuses seeking care for various health problems.

Of 27 possible medical decisions the participants could make about the scenarios, the researchers initially found three that may have been affected by unconscious bias.

For example, doctors were less likely to order an imaging test for patients with sore necks after a motor vehicle accident if the patient was low in socioeconomic status, compared to a higher-status patient in similar condition.

Those links disappeared, though, when the researchers accounted for other factors that could influence decisions like the doctor’s own age and sex.

The study authors caution that they don’t know if their results reflect what happens in real life.

A previous study led by Dr. Lisa Cooper of Johns Hopkins Medical School, one of the new study’s authors, linked unconscious biases among primary care doctors to their communications with patients. If true, poor communication may ultimately lead to worse care for patients, the researchers point out.

Haider said trauma and acute care tends to be formulaic, and that may limit the impact of bias on medical decisions. Those biases may play a larger role, he added, in situations that require understanding and partnership between doctors and patients, such as managing a chronic condition like diabetes.

In addition to observing real-life interactions, “we need to figure out how to better communicate with all patients, who now are more and more diverse,” Haider said.

“We need to develop skills so that we can provide the best possible care to all patients no matter what their (socioeconomic) status is or where they come from,” he said.

SOURCE: bit.ly/1CvXTKt JAMA Surgery, online March 18, 2015.


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