U.K. to seek further Russia sanctions from allies, including U.S.

WASHINGTON — The U.K.’s top diplomat was expected to deliver a speech in Washington on Tuesday calling for fresh sanctions against Russia, urging a continued hard line, according to prepared remarks released by the embassy.

Jeremy Hunt, the country’s new foreign secretary, was expected to call on allies to “go further” in implementing comprehensive sanctions against Russia, and for the European Union and the U.S. to stand “shoulder to shoulder” when faced with threats from Moscow.

“That means calling out and responding to transgressions with one voice whenever and wherever they occur, from the streets of Salisbury to the fate of Crimea,” Hunt was due to say, referring to the southern English city of Salisbury, where a nerve-agent attack targeted a former Russian spy and his daughter. The U.K. and its key allies, including the U.S., have blamed Russia for the attack.

This will be Hunt’s first visit to Washington as foreign minister, a post he was given last month following the resignation of Boris Johnson. During his visit to Washington this week, Hunt is expected to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior U.S. officials to discuss a long list of foreign policy concerns.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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Asian stocks up on hopes trade tensions may ease, Trump comments…

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian stocks rose on Tuesday, supported by hopes Beijing and Washington would dial back trade hostilities, though comments from the U.S. president about the yuan and Federal Reserve policy capped gains and weighed on the dollar.

FILE PHOTO – Men walk past an electronic board showing market indices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, March 2, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

In an interview with Reuters on Monday, President Donald Trump said that China was manipulating its currency to make up for having to pay tariffs imposed by Washington on some imports from China. This kept global trade conflict concerns alive and dented some of the market optimism ahead of upcoming U.S.-China trade talks.

He also said he believed the euro was being manipulated.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS climbed 0.6 percent.

Australian stocks lost 0.9 percent, South Korea’s KOSPI .KS11 gained 0.3 percent and Japan’s Nikkei .N225 fell 0.1 percent.

Wall Street’s major indexes rose on Monday on optimism over trade talks between the United States and China, though they fell from session highs after Trump’s comments. [.N]

Immediate focus was on the lower-level trade talks due to start this week between the United States and China. Speculation that the talks might help ease trade tensions has shored up the broader equity markets over the past few sessions.

Market optimism was tested, however, after Trump said he did not “anticipate much” from the discussions.

“Given the little progress made on the U.S.-China negotiations in the past six months, investors’ expectations are still low,” wrote Tai Hui, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

“Ongoing negotiation is good news, and that’s what the market is riding on at this stage, but a sustainable agreement to end this tension still seems unlikely at this point.”

Chinese shares rose, with the Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC climbing more than 1 percent, helped by bargain hunting of consumer and healthcare firms after their recent slump.

In currency markets, the dollar came under pressure after Trump reiterated his displeasure at the Fed’s rate hikes, saying the central bank should do more to help him boost the U.S. economy.

“The Fed looked to have strengthened its hawkish stance at the August policy meeting. But since then, the side effects of the U.S.-China trade war have started to appear, and Republicans struggled to win a special election in Ohio,” said Daisuke Uno, chief strategist at Mitsui Sumitomo Bank in Tokyo.

“Against such a background, Trump’s latest jab at the Fed appears to have become stronger compared to the last time (in late July).”

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies .DXY was down 0.35 percent at 95.549, extending losses from the previous day.

The euro brushed a 12-day high of $1.1544 EUR=, stretching its gains after climbing about climbing about 0.35 percent overnight.

The U.S. currency touched 109.775 yen JPY=, its lowest since late June.

The onshore Chinese yuan CNY=CFXS rose to as high as 6.828 per dollar, its strongest since Aug. 9. The currency was on track for its fourth session of gains, pulling further away from 6.934, its weakest since January 2017 marked last week.

China’s yuan has weakened to a 19-month low against the dollar earlier this month amid concerns towards the country’s economic growth, Sino-U.S. trade war worries and a broad rally by the dollar.

The yuan has since pulled back slightly from the trough, with the People’s Bank of China taking steps perceived by investors that the authorities were not going to allow the currency to keep depreciating indefinitely.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note US10YT=RR was near a six-week low of 2.815 percent plumbed overnight in the wake of Trump’s interest rate comments.

Oil prices were mixed after gaining the previous day, when investors grew more concerned about an expected fall in supply from Iran due to U.S. sanctions. [O/R]

U.S. crude futures CLc1 were up 0.33 percent at $66.65 per barrel while Brent LCOc1 dipped 0.1 percent to $72.12 per barrel.

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China Industrial Output, Retail Sales Growth Miss Expectations

China’s industrial production and retail sales grew weaker-than-expected in July amid subdued expansion in fixed asset investment, highlighting difficulties in the domestic economy that are over and above the external uncertainties.

Industrial production growth held steady at 6 percent annually in July, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Tuesday. Economists had forecast a faster growth of 6.3 percent.

Retail sales grew at a slower pace of 8.8 percent year-on-year in July, slower than the 9 percent increase in June. Sales were forecast to climb 9.1 percent in July.

In the first seven months of 2018, fixed asset investment grew 5.5 percent from the same period of last year compared to 6 percent increase in the January to June period.

Another report from the NBS showed that housing sales advanced 16.2 percent and sales of commercial units grew 5.5 percent.

The activity and spending data for July all came in below consensus expectations, despite surprisingly strong external demand, Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics, noted.

The economist said this highlights the continued strong headwinds to domestic demand from slower credit growth.

The urban unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent in July from 4.8 percent a month ago, the statistics bureau reported.

In July, China’s State Council decided to take more “proactive” fiscal steps to help the economy grow in a reasonable pace amid external uncertainties, but to avoid a strong stimulus.

The International Monetary Fund had urged Chinese authorities to ‘stay the course’ and not to loosen credit if growth falls below target.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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North Korean leader says his country's health sector has 'nothing to be proud of'

  • During a visit to the a medical appliances factory, North Korean leader Kim Jung Un said “there is nothing to be proud of in the public health sector.”
  • He promised personal attention to the work of updating the factory in keeping with the goal to “radically” improve domestic production and modernization, state media reported.
  • Since a June summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore, the North Korean leader has been on visits to various industrial sites and factories, often criticizing sluggish development.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took aim at his country’s health sector, state media reported on Tuesday, the latest salvo of public criticism unleashed as part of his campaign to jump-start economic development.

Since a June summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore — where Kim lauded the city-state’s economic progress and “world-class” amenities — North Korea’s authoritarian leader has been on a blitz of visits to various industrial sites and factories, often criticizing sluggish development.

During a visit to the Myohyangsan Medical Appliances Factory in North Phyongan province northeast of the capital Pyongyang, Kim strongly condemned the lack of visible modernization at the factory, state media outlet KCNA said on Tuesday.

Saying “there is nothing to be proud of in the public health sector,” Kim promised personal attention to the work of updating the factory in keeping with the goal to “radically” improve “domestic production, automation and modernization,” KCNA said.

In another site inspection to Samjiyon, a northern county near China, Kim criticized poor workmanship on a railway to the border with China to be completed next year, calling for even roadbeds, accident-free construction and increased electricity production, according to a KCNA report on Sunday.

After launching a number of ballistic missiles last year — including one believed to be capable of striking anywhere in the United States — Kim has since suspended his testing programs and embarked on an effort to spur economic development in his politically and economically isolated country.

North Korea argues that its move to end missile and nuclear weapons testing should be acknowledged by easing international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council and a number of countries because of the weapons programs.

During a recent trip to Wonsan, Kim said the ongoing construction of a coastal tourist area there represented “an acute standoff with hostile forces trying to stifle the Korean people through brigandish sanctions and blockade,” describing the construction as “a do-or-die struggle” in “such a difficult time as now,” KCNA reported last week.

To press North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile program, the U.N. Security Council banned North Korea’s sale of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood in a bid to slash by a third the country’s $3 billion annual export incomes, while capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

The United States, which has led the sanctions campaign, has also stepped up its own sanctions on North Korea, and says it won’t ease pressure until North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons.

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Teva And Regeneron Announce Positive Phase 3 Fasinumab Results

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (REGN) announced positive topline results from a Phase 3, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of fasinumab in patients with chronic pain from osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee or hip. At the week 16 primary efficacy analysis, the study met both co-primary endpoints and all key secondary endpoints.

Fasinumab-treated patients experienced significantly less pain and significantly improved functional ability from baseline compared to placebo.

Interim safety data indicate that fasinumab was generally well tolerated, with similar adverse events (AEs) as those observed in previous fasinumab trials. At week 16, treatment discontinuations due to AEs had occurred in 6% of the placebo group patients, 5% of the fasinumab 1 mg every eight weeks group patients and 6% of the fasinumab 1 mg every four weeks group patients.

The fasinumab safety program was designed to capture all arthropathies (joint damage), including those identified due to symptoms and those identified by regularly-scheduled radiographic monitoring, the first of which was scheduled at week 24. Among the approximately 65% of patients who had completed their first radiographic assessment, the placebo-adjusted rate of adjudicated arthropathies was approximately 2%.

The majority of arthropathies were captured by the regularly-scheduled radiographic monitoring and involved isolated joint space narrowing, called RPOA-1 (rapid progressive OA type 1). No cases of osteonecrosis have been identified to date in this study.

The companies plan to present detailed results at an upcoming medical congress.

Regeneron and Teva are jointly developing fasinumab as part of a global collaboration agreement. In Japan and 10 other Asian countries, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation holds exclusive development and commercial rights for fasinumab.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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Amazon hires famed cardiologist for health care push

Amazon, pushing forward deeper into the health care field, has hired a world-famous cardiologist away from academia.

Maulik Majmudar, who is working at Massachusetts General Hospital and spent time at Harvard University, will be joining Amazon in hopes “of truly meaningful impact on the health and well-being of hundreds of millions of individuals throughout the world,” he said in making the announcement on Twitter on Monday.

Majmudar did not specify what kind of role he will be taking on at Amazon.

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Watergate Witness John Dean Thinks Trump Has A ‘Real Problem’ With Don McGahn

Watergate figure John Dean warned Monday that White House Counsel Don McGahn’s cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation represents a “real problem” for President Donald Trump.

“This is an invaluable witness. He’s a real-time witness. You can infer … that he might have been actually testifying very shortly after the events when they were fresh in his memory. He had knowledge of them,” Dean told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “The Lead.”

“He had been asked to do things that were not proper. … He resisted,” said Dean. “So this is pretty important testimony, and it’s taken Trump 48 hours almost to understand what’s going on here.”

Dean, who had served as White House counsel under Richard Nixon, spoke the day after Trump blasted him as a “rat” on Twitter, referring to Dean’s own cooperation with prosecutors during the Watergate scandal. Trump also suggested that McGahn had no information that could hurt him.

The New York Times had reported Saturday that McGahn spent more than 30 hours talking to Mueller’s team about situations at the center of the investigation into whether the president obstructed justice.

“That’s a lot of testimony,” Dean said on Monday. “So I think Trump has got a real problem here. And I’m not sure how he’s going to handle it.”

As for Trump calling him a rat, Dean said, “I’m not surprised. He thrives on insulting people in situations. So this is typical Trump.” He defended his actions 45 years ago, saying that he had battled against the Watergate coverup.

Trump has ripped the Times reporting as “fake.” He has portrayed McGahn’s cooperation as his idea and insisted that he has “nothing to hide.”

But while the White House gave McGahn the “greenlight” to answer questions in the investigation, “they have been in the dark” about the extent of his cooperation until the Times article, according to Times reporter Richard Schmidt speaking Monday on the newspaper’s podcast “The Daily.”

“I still don’t think they appreciate the extent to which McGahn has cooperated. We don’t know everything that McGahn did, but it’s more than they think,” he added.

The president “thought that McGahn was going to go in and sort of act as his personal lawyer and say to Mueller, ‘Hey, look, nothing wrong went on here,’” Schmidt said. “I don’t think the president appreciated what McGahn’s cooperation would actually entail.”

The president’s personal lawyers have also “never been given a full accounting” of what McGahn told Mueller, Schmidt said.  

Check out the rest of what Dean had to say in the video clip above. And listen to Schmidt delve into the McGahn story in the podcast below:

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Inspired by Malaysia, Singapore's political opposition parties look to work together

  • Seven of Singapore’s opposition parties say they’re considering a coalition to contest the next election, which is due by 2021.
  • Singapore has been governed by one political entity, the People’s Action Party, since independence.

Singapore’s political opposition does not have a strong track record.

The city-state, which celebrated its 53rd birthday this month, has been governed by one political entity, the People’s Action Party, since independence. In that time, the former trading outpost has been transformed into an advanced economy — a success story that bolsters the PAP in every election.

Singapore is home to multiple opposition parties, with eight to nine regularly contesting general elections. But poorly defined policies, a dearth of public engagement, and disunity have stymied their performance for decades.

Now, following a shock election result in neighboring Malaysia, opposition parties say they’re trying to change that.

Seven parties held a meeting late last month to discuss banding together to contest the next election, which is due by 2021. If a coalition were formed, it would still be unlikely to upset the PAP by then. The near-term goal is targeting the PAP’s two-thirds parliamentary majority, so the ruling party can no longer easily change the nation’s constitution, opposition leaders told CNBC.

“The current lack of debate in parliament is unhealthy,” said Goh Meng Seng, secretary general of three-year-old opposition group, the People’s Power Party. “There needs to be more diversity of opinions in decision-making processes, — if there isn’t a strong contest of ideas, parliament sittings won’t be taken seriously.”

    Helmed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, the PAP controls 83 seats in the 89-strong parliament. The remaining six are under the country’s largest opposition faction, the Workers’ Party, whose performance in the 2011 election saw the PAP’s vote share drop to its lowest-ever level at 60.1 percent. But then in 2015, the PAP saw its margin strengthen to 69.9 percent, boosted by a wave of nostalgia from Lee Kuan Yew’s death that year as well as government spending around the country’s golden jubilee anniversary, such as extra financial support for senior citizens’ healthcare.

    Because of its parliamentary majority, the PAP can easily change laws. In late 2016, it modified eligibility criteria for presidential candidates to ensure representation for minority ethnic groups, which resulted in only one candidate qualifying for the 2017 presidential election.

    “The weakness of individual parties has prevented any meaningful inroads into the political system, so we’re realizing that we can no longer go at it alone,” said Chee Soon Juan, leader of the Singapore Democratic Party, a 38-year-old opposition faction that hosted July’s meeting.

    The Prime Minister’s Office didn’t respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

    Asked to comment on a possible opposition coalition and Singapore’s political future, a PAP spokesperson referred CNBC to Education Minister Ong Ke Yung’s views on one-party rule. The minister told a conference last year that the island isn’t big enough for parties to hold drastically different views on national issues, according to a report in the Straits Times.

    While previous attempts at coalition-building have failed, there is a sense of cautious optimism this time around.

    July’s meeting came on the heels of Malaysia’s election in May, which saw an opposition coalition defeat a party that had ruled for more than 60 years. That was particularly inspiring, said Goh: “Malaysia and Singapore are so similar in terms of culture, racial mix and mentality so their change in government was a real eye-opener.”

    Biggest opposition party didn't participate

    Even if opposition parties are able to unite — a tall order given their disparate interests — it’s not certain how successful they would be.

    The Workers’ Party, seen as the most realistic alternative to the PAP, didn’t attend July’s meeting, leading to speculation that it may not be interested in a coalition. It declined to be interviewed for this story.

    With or without the Workers’ Party, however, any opposition coalition faces obstacles.

    For one, rules restricting freedom of expression and public assemblies have limited the opposition’s engagement with the public. Individuals and media organizations that criticize the government or judiciary have faced civil defamation lawsuits and other restrictions from the government, according to a 2017 report from Human Rights Watch.

    Opposition leaders blame the government for hindering their respective parties, but some experts say it’s not that simple.

    So far, parties have simply been no match for the PAP in terms of policy or the caliber of candidates, according to Eugene Tan, associate professor of law at Singapore Management University.

    Most groups except for the Workers’ Party “tend to go into political hibernation in between general elections,” he said. “Opposition unity is also threadbare, and the ability to pool resources is not their forte either.”

    A deep-rooted fear of disruption associated with a change of government, or what local author Cherian George describes as “the politics of comfort,” also obstructs opposition growth.

    While many Singaporeans, including millennials, aren’t particularly loyal to the PAP itself, they worry that no other party is capable of steering the economy and continuing the island’s world-class standard of living. To the layperson, a vote for the opposition is often perceived as a threat to their material comfort.

    “Many people assume we’re opposing the success of this country, but that’s not at all the case — we simply want to be a meaningful alternative so people have a meaningful choice,” said Chee.

    Poorly defined policies are another major criticism of the opposition. Excluding the Workers Party and the SDP, most party websites lack detailed blueprints on hot-button issues such as health care, housing and population growth.

    Analysts also caution against any knock-on effects from Malaysia, noting that the opposition’s climb to power there was primarily achieved thanks to widespread backlash over former leader Najib Razak — a vastly different context to Singapore.

    Rising costs

    The island may lack a strong wave of anti-government sentiment, but discontent about rising prices and doubts over the PAP’s future leadership could work in the opposition’s favor.

    Despite its electoral mandate, the PAP has been criticized by many citizens for a 30 percent increase in water prices and this year’s 16.8 percent increase in electricity tariffs. The country’s goods and services tax is also expected to hit 9 percent, from 7 percent currently.

    The matter is exacerbated by entrenched perceptions of inequality. A government report released earlier this year revealed a slower pace of income growth for the bottom 50 percent households, contributing to a widening gap between rich and poor. A sizable program of transfers, subsidies and assistance exist for low-income Singaporeans, but social imbalances remain.

      In her 2018 book “This Is What Inequality Looks Like,” local sociologist Teo You Yenn examined structures of inequality that are less obvious. For example, subsidies for purchasing public housing apartments are mostly granted to married couples, making it tougher for unwed and single parents who tend to be more economically vulnerable, she pointed out.

      According to Goh of the People’s Power Party, public dissatisfaction with PAP policies, especially housing and retirement, will lead to the ruling party losing power within 15 years.

      Most Singaporeans have used the maximum amount of their mandatory retirement savings plan allowed for housing purchases, which has compromised their retirement financing, he explained. Many citizens, he added, can only sustain retirement by monetizing their housing investments, but even that is tricky.

      “Within 15 years, nearly 60-70 percent of (public housing apartments) will be 40-50 years old, and it will be difficult to sell them since banks turn cautious on loans to new buyers when flats hit the 40-year mark,” Goh stated.

      The PAP did not respond to criticism of its housing and retirement policies.

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      Asian stocks mixed; Nikkei down slightly as dollar sags

      Asian markets were mixed in early trading Tuesday, as Chinese stocks largely rose while Japanese and Australian indexes slipped

      Japan‘s Nikkei NIK, -0.07%  was 0.1% lower in morning trading, continuing Monday’s yen-fueled underperformance as the dollar’s losing streak hit five days. The latest drop came after President Donald Trump raised some concerns about the Fed’s rate-hike cycle. The dollar has hit eight-week lows in Asian trading, falling to ¥109.84 versus ¥110.07 in late New York action and ¥110.60 when Tokyo stock trading ended Monday. The U.S. dollar has fallen in 10 of the past 14 sessions versus the yen through Monday. However, the Nikkei has been holding up rather well with just a 1.6% decline in August as of Monday’s close. Insurance and shipping shares lagged Tuesday, as did big names such as Toyota 7203, -0.50% , SoftBank 9984, -0.45%  and Fujitsu 6702, -0.32% .

      Chinese stocks opened mostly higher after a roller-coaster ride Monday, with big caps outperforming most other indexes in the region. The Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.77%  was up 0.5%, after rebounding 1.1% Monday, while the small-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, +0.44%  was up 0.2%. Financials again led the gains while energy lagged.

      Hong Kong stocks gave up early gains, as Tencent 0700, -0.68%  took a breather following its days-long rebound, while insurers took the lead. The Hang Seng HSI, +0.15%  was last about flat. AIA 1299, +1.49%  jumped a further 1.5% ahead of its first-half report, while Ping An 2318, +2.09%  and China Life 2628, +0.65%  were up some 1%. Meanwhile, smartphone-component makers AAC 2018, +5.29%  and Sunny Optical 2382, +5.40%  each bounced more than 3% following their recent swoons, and CSPC Pharma 1093, +8.98%  rebounded some 5% more to extend its post-earnings gain.

      Korea’s Kospi was up 0.3% after barely rising Monday, as Samsung 005930, +1.48%  and SK Hynix 000660, +3.88%  posted solid gains, while Hyundai Motor 005380, -2.35%  tumbled 2%.

      Australian stocks have been an Asia-Pacific outperformer the past few months, with the country’s benchmark hitting 10½-year highs at a time others in the region are down for 2018. But the ASX 200 XJO, -0.84%  was the noted laggard Tuesday with a 0.8% drop on broad declines. Leading the way is materials, coming after a muted earnings report from mining heavyweight BHP BHP, -1.69%  In New Zealand, the NZX 50 NZ50GR, -0.23%  rose after setting a record closing high the previous day.

      Singapore’s benchmark index STI, -0.32%  lagged, while Taiwan Y9999, +0.54%  and Malaysia FBMKLCI, +0.19%  gained.

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      Dollar slips amid Trump's criticism of Fed policy

      • The dollar slipped against the yen and a basket of major peers on Tuesday.
      • On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump spoke to Reuters and said he was “not thrilled” about the raising of interest rates by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell

      The dollar slipped against the yen and a basket of major peers on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he was “not thrilled” with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for raising interest rates.

      The dollar was also soft as investors pulled out of the safe-haven currency ahead of anticipated talks this week between China and the United States, which some market participants believe might lead to an easing in trade disputes.

      “At the moment, markets fear that Trump may have some impact on the Fed’s policy,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief currency strategist at Mizuho Securities.

      “Especially the dollar/yen, which is sensitive to the rate moves of the United States, remains under pressure.”

      The yen rose 0.18 percent to 109.87 yen as of 0050 GMT. The dollar on Tuesday fell below the psychologically-significant 110 yen level for the first time since June 28.

      The dollar index against a basket of six other currencies fell 0.44 percent to 95.475 as of 0041 GMT after touching as low as 95.440, its lowest level since Aug. 9.

      The greenback slipped after Trump said in a Reuters interview on Monday he was “not thrilled” with Powell’s raising of interest rates. Trump nominated Powell last year to replace former Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

      The U.S. president spooked investors in July when he criticized the Fed over tightening monetary policy. On Monday he said the Fed should be more accommodating on interest rates.

      Mizuho Securities’ Yamamoto said Fed officials don’t seem to be influenced by Trump’s comments.

      “As long as the U.S. economy is okay…then I think there is no reason to stop the rate hikes from the Fed’s point of view,” he said.

      Trump also said the U.S. central bank should do more to help him to boost the economy while he also accused China and Europe of manipulating their respective currencies.

      Escalating trade tensions between the United States and its trading partners and a plunge in the Turkish lira had pushed the dollar index to 96.984 on Aug. 15, its highest since June 2017.

      The dollar’s rally halted ahead of anticipated trade talks between Chinese and U.S. officials in Washington. Media reports have said the talks will take place in the next few days.

      The euro, which had slipped to a 13-month low early last week amid concerns that the Turkish crisis could hurt European bank, gained on Tuesday. The single currency rose 0.37 percent to $1.1523 as of 0051 GMT.

      The offshore Chinese yuan was 0.16 percent stronger at 6.8262 per dollar. The Australian dollar was 0.14 percent higher at $0.7350.

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