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Global Stocks Fall After Apple Trims Sales Forecast

Stock markets around the globe dropped Thursday after tech giant Apple said that sales of its devices had fallen sharply in China last month, perhaps signaling a broader slowing in the world economy.

The widely watched Dow Jones industrial average of 30 prominent U.S. stocks plunged 2.8 percent — more than 660 points — by the close of trading, after stock indexes in Europe and Asia closed with smaller losses. Apple’s stock was down nearly 9 percent.

The stock declines came after Apple announced late Wednesday that its holiday sales were lower than it had expected, especially in China, the world’s second-biggest economy after the United States. In addition, a key gauge of U.S. manufacturing unexpectedly hit a two-year low in December, indicating weak demand and exports.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook blamed the company’s sales shortfall on the trade battle President Donald Trump is waging against China. 

“While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in greater China,” Cook wrote. “In fact, most of our revenue shortfall to our guidance, and over 100 percent of our year-over-year worldwide revenue decline, occurred in greater China across iPhone, Mac and iPad.” 

​More to come

Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said the contentious U.S.-China relations would force other U.S. companies to cut their sales estimates in China. 

“It’s not going to be just Apple,” Hassett told CNN. “There are a heck of a lot of U.S. companies that have sales in China that are going to be watching their earnings being downgraded next year until we get a deal with China.”

He said slowing consumer demand in China would give Trump an edge in trade negotiations. 

 

“That puts a lot of pressure on China to make a deal,” he said. “If we have a successful negotiation with China, then Apple’s sales and everybody else’s sales will recover.”

The U.S. economy remains strong, with the country’s 3.7 percent jobless rate at a nearly five-decade low. But economists say the U.S. economy could be slowing, and uncertainty in global economic fortunes has led to volatile daily swings in stock indexes in recent weeks.

In 2018, U.S. stock indexes suffered their worst year in a decade, with most of the losses recorded in December. The Dow was off 5.6 percent for the year, with the broader Standard & Poor’s index of 500 stocks down 6.2 percent.



Judge Blocks NYC Law Demanding Airbnb Disclosures

A federal judge says a New York City law forcing Airbnb and HomeAway home-sharing platforms to reveal detailed information about its business seems unconstitutional.

Judge Paul Engelmayer on Thursday blocked the law from taking effect on Feb. 2, finding there’s a greater than 50 percent chance the companies would prevail on claims that the law violates the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The ruling comes at an early stage of the litigation. Lawyers for the city and the companies will gather additional evidence before Engelmayer makes a final ruling.

The city did not immediately comment.

The San Francisco-based Airbnb in a statement called the ruling a “huge win.”

The law was passed last summer.

 



Could Tesla Price Cuts Mean Demand is Slowing?

Tesla made about 9,300 more vehicles than it delivered last year, raising concerns among industry analysts that inventory is growing as demand for the company’s electric cars may be starting to wane.

If demand falls, they say, the company will enter a new phase of its business. Like other automakers, Tesla will have to either cut production or reduce prices to raise sales. A drop in demand could also curtail the company’s earnings and jeopardize CEO Elon Musk’s promise to post sustained quarterly profits.

On Wednesday, Tesla did cut prices, knocking $2,000 off each of its three models. The company said the cuts will help customers deal with the loss of a $7,500 federal tax credit, which was reduced to $3,750 this month for Tesla buyers and will gradually go to zero by the end of 2019.

“They have for a long time had more demand than supply,” Gartner analyst Michael Ramsey said. “It’s becoming apparent that that dynamic is changing.”

Tesla reported that it produced 254,530 cars and SUVs last year and delivered 245,240.

The company’s deliveries for the full year matched Wall Street estimates, but its figures for the fourth quarter didn’t reach expectations. Tesla said it delivered 90,700 vehicles from October through December. Analysts polled by data provider FactSet expected 92,000.

Jeff Schuster, a senior vice president at the forecasting firm LMC Automotive, said demand for Tesla’s lower-priced Model 3 has been artificially high for the past six months as the company overcame production problems at its Fremont, California, factory.

“You’ve had these inflated months because of delayed deliveries,” Schuster said. “We’re probably getting to that point where we’re getting to equilibrium and consumers aren’t necessarily waiting for vehicles.”

Last year, Tesla reported that about 420,000 buyers had put down $1,000 deposits to join the Model 3 waiting list.

LMC predicts that Tesla U.S. sales will rise in 2019 because it’s the first full year on the market for the Model 3. It anticipates sales to then fall by about 10,000 in 2020.

Losing the tax credit will hit those who have been holding out for the $35,000 version of the Model 3, Schuster said. At present, Tesla is selling only versions that cost at least $44,000. Under federal law, buyers get the full tax credit until a manufacturer reaches 200,000 in sales since the start of 2010. Tesla hit 200,000 in July but the full credit continued for vehicles delivered by Dec. 31. It was cut in half on Jan. 1 and will go away by the end of the year.

“You’ve had your early adopters, those early followers have already come in” to buy, Schuster said. “Now you’re trying to appeal to the mainstream market. I think that will have an impact on overall demand.”

At the same time, inventory appears to be rising. The company parked hundreds of cars at lots and Tesla stores all over the country at the end of last year, which could indicate excess stock. Tesla wouldn’t give inventory numbers but said it has lower stocks than its two biggest competitors, BMW and Mercedes.

The Associated Press found one lot on the north side of Chicago where Tesla was storing dozens of vehicles in late December, and Mark Spiegel, a hedge fund manager who bets against Tesla stock, said other lots were full across the country.

Tesla said it sometimes stores vehicles on lots as they’re being shipped to company dealerships across the nation. The lot in Chicago has fewer cars on it now, the company said. “Our inventory levels remain the smallest in the automotive industry,” the company said Wednesday.

Tesla also says Model 3 sales should grow worldwide as it expands distribution and begins to offer leases. Deliveries in Europe and China will start in February, and a right-hand-drive version is coming later in the year, the company said.

In addition, inventory dropped in the fourth quarter as Tesla “delivered a few thousand vehicles more than produced.”

Tesla said it had about 3,000 vehicles in transit to customers at year’s end. But even with that number, Schuster said production still exceeded deliveries, which doesn’t fit Tesla’s business model of building cars when they are ordered by customers. Still, even at 9,300, Tesla’s inventory is smaller than other automakers that have to stock dealerships, Schuster said.



Chewing the Fat with Pakistan’s BBQ Masters

The sweet aroma of mutton smoke drifts through a maze of crumbling alleyways, a barbecue tang that for decades has lured meat-eaters from across Pakistan to the frontier city of Peshawar.

The ancient city, capital of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, has retained its reputation for some of Pakistan’s tastiest cuisine despite bearing the brunt of the country’s bloody war with militancy.

University student Mohammad Fahad had long heard tales of Peshawar’s famed mutton.

“Earlier we heard of Peshawar being a dangerous place,” he told AFP — but security has improved in recent years, and he finally made the hours-long journey from the eastern city of Lahore to see if it could live up to the hype.

“We are here just to see what the secret to this barbecue is,” he says, excitedly awaiting his aromatic portion in Namak Mandi — “Salt Market” — located in the heart of Peshawar.

The hearty cuisine comes from generations-old recipes emanating from the nearby Pashtun tribal lands along the border with Afghanistan.

It is feted for its simplicity compared with the intricate curries and spicy dishes from Pakistan’s eastern plains and southern coast.

“Its popularity is owed to the fact that it is mainly meat-based and that always goes down well across the country,” says Pakistani cookbook author Sumayya Usmani.

The famed Nisar Charsi (hashish smoker) Tikka — named after its owner’s renowned habit — in Namak Mandi chalks up its decades of success to using very little in the way of spices.

For its barbecue offerings, tikkas — cuts of meat — are generously salted and sandwiched on skewers between cubes of fat for tenderness and taste, and slow-cooked over a wood fire.

Its other famed dish, karahi — or curry stew — is made with slices of mutton pan-cooked in heaped chunks of white fat carved from the sheep’s rump, along with sparing amounts of green chilli and tomatoes.

Both plates are served with stacks of oven-fresh naan and bowls of fresh yogurt.

“It is the best food in the entire world,” gushes co-owner Nasir Khan, adding that the restaurant sources some of the best meat in the country and serves customers from across Pakistan daily along with local regulars.

By Khan’s calculations, the restaurant goes through hundreds of kilograms of meat a day — or about two dozen sheep — with hundreds if not thousands served.

Hash and meat

The clientele at Nisar’s Charsi and other Salt Market eateries usually arrive in large groups, with experienced customers ordering food by the kilo and guiding cleaver-wielding butchers to their preferred cuts, which are then cooked immediately.

Peshawar’s improved security has given business a boost, Khan said.

“We had a lot of troubles and pains,” he admitted, remembering friends lost during the years of devastating bombings and suicide attacks.

But some customers said they had been loyal to Peshawar’s cuisine even during the bloodshed.

“I’ve been coming here for more than 20 years now,” said Hammad Ali, 35, who travelled to Peshawar with eight other colleagues from Pakistan’s capital Islamabad for a gluttonous lunch.

“This taste is unique, that’s why we have come all this way.”

Orders generally take close to an hour to prepare, with customers quaffing tea and occasionally smoking hash ahead of the meal.

“They smoke it openly here,” explained Nisar Charsi’s head chef Mukam Pathan. “When someone smokes one joint of hash, they eat around two kilos of meat.”

For those looking for a little less lamb, the city’s renowned chapli kebab offers an alternative.

The kebab is typically made of minced beef and a mix of spices kneaded into patties and deep fried on a simmering iron skillet.

Rokhan Ullah — owner of Tory Kebab House — said the dish is most popular on cold, winter days that see ravenous customers flocking to its four branches across the city, overwhelming staff and making orders hard to fill.

“They eat it with passion… because one enjoys hot food when the weather is cold,” explained Ullah, who plans to expand in major cities across Pakistan.

Customer Muhib Ullah has been eating kebabs three to four days a week for the last decade.

“This is the tastiest and most famous food in Peshawar,” he declared.

Hours-long meals

For regular barbecue eater Omar Aamir Aziz, it is not just the heaping portions of meat that attract foodies to Peshawari cuisine, but the culture that has built up around the meal.

Other cities in Pakistan and abroad have more in the way of entertainment and nightlife options.

But in deeply conservative Peshawar, eating out is the primary leisure activity.

Meals tend to last for hours after the meat has been consumed as conversation continues over steaming cups of green tea.

“That’s what we have and that’s our speciality,” says Aziz. “We’ve been doing this for two, three, four hundred years.”



Brazil’s Bolsonaro Grabs Control Over Indigenous Lands

New Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro issued an executive order Wednesday making the Agriculture Ministry responsible for decisions concerning lands claimed by indigenous peoples, in a victory for agribusiness that will likely enrage environmentalists.

The temporary decree, which will expire unless it is ratified within 120 days by Congress, strips power over land claim decisions from indigenous affairs agency FUNAI.

It says the Agriculture Ministry will now be responsible for “identification, delimitation, demarcation and registration of lands traditionally occupied by indigenous people.”

The move stoked concern among environmentalists and rights groups that the far-right president, who took office Tuesday, will open up the vast Amazon rainforest and other ecologically sensitive areas of Brazil to greater commercial exploitation.

The executive order also moves the Brazilian Forestry Service, which promotes the sustainable use of forests and is linked to the Environment Ministry, under Agriculture Ministry control.

Additionally, the decree states that the Agriculture Ministry will be in charge of the management of public forests.

NGOs criticized

Bolsonaro, who enjoys strong support from Brazil’s powerful agribusiness sector, said during his campaign he was considering such a move, arguing that protected lands should be opened to commercial activities.

Brazil’s 900,000 indigenous people make up less than 1 percent of the population, but live on lands that stretch for 106.7 million hectares (264 million acres), or 12.5 percent of the national territory.

“Less than a million people live in these isolated places in Brazil, where they are exploited and manipulated by NGOs,” Bolsonaro tweeted, referring to non-profit groups. “Let us together integrate these citizens and value all Brazilians.”

Critics say Bolsonaro’s plan to open indigenous reservations to commercial activity will destroy native cultures and languages by integrating the tribes into Brazilian society.

Environmentalists say the native peoples are the last custodians of the Amazon, which is the world’s largest rainforest and is vital for climate stability.

Adding to the gloom for NGOs, Bolsonaro also signed an executive order to give his government potentially far-reaching and restrictive powers over non-governmental organizations working in Brazil.

The temporary decree mandates that the office of the Government Secretary, Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz, “supervise, coordinate, monitor and accompany the activities and actions of international organizations and non-governmental organizations in the national territory.”

Good news for farm lobby

After she was sworn in on Wednesday, new Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias defended the farm sector from accusations it has grown at the expense of the environment, adding that the strength of Brazil’s farmers had generated “unfounded accusations” from unnamed international groups.

Dias used to be the head of the farm caucus in Brazil’s Congress, which has long pushed for an end to land measures that it argues hold back the agricultural sector.

“Brazil is a country with extremely advanced environmental legislation and is more than able to preserve its native forests,” Dias said. “Our country is a model to be followed, never a transgressor to be punished.”

In comments to reporters after her speech, she said that decisions over land rights disputes were a new responsibility for the Agriculture Ministry. However, she indicated that in practice, the demarcation of land limits would fall to a council of ministries, without giving further details.

Bartolomeu Braz, the president of the national chapter of Aprosoja, a major grain growers association, cheered Wednesday’s move to transfer indigenous land demarcation to the Agriculture Ministry.

“The new rules will be interesting to the farmers and the Indians, some of whom are already producing soybeans. The Indians want to be productive too,” he added.

Environmental fears

Three-time presidential candidate and former Environment Minister Marina Silva, who was beaten by Bolsonaro in October’s election, reacted with horror to the move.

“Bolsonaro has begun his government in the worst possible way,” she wrote on Twitter.

Dinamã Tuxá, a member of Brazil’s Association of Indigenous Peoples, said many isolated communities viewed Bolsonaro’s administration with fear.

“We are very afraid because Bolsonaro is attacking indigenous policies, rolling back environmental protections, authorizing the invasion of indigenous territories and endorsing violence against indigenous peoples,” said Tuxá.

Under the new plan, the indigenous affairs agency FUNAI will be moved into a new ministry for family, women and human rights.

A former army captain and longtime member of Congress, Bolsonaro said at his inauguration on Tuesday that he had freed the country from “socialism and political correctness.”

An admirer of Donald Trump, Bolsonaro has suggested he will follow the U.S. president’s lead and pull out of the Paris climate change accord.

In addition to the indigenous lands decree, the new administration issued decrees affecting the economy and society on Wednesday, while forging closer ties with the United States.



На Донбасі 2 січня втрат немає – штаб ООС

Українські військові не мають втрат на Донбасі впродовж доби 2 січня, повідомляє штаб операції Об’єднаних сил. За цими даними, підтримувані Росією бойовики п’ять разів порушили режим припинення вогню, не застосовуючи озброєння, заборонене Мінськими угодами.

«Опорні пункти наших військ були обстріляні з гранатометів різних систем, великокаліберних кулеметів і стрілецької зброї в районі хутора Вільний населеного пункту Станиця Луганська на Луганському напрямку, а також поблизу селища Опитне на Донецькому напрямку та населеного пункту Водяне на Маріупольському напрямку. Окрім вищезазначеної зброї, в районі селища Піски на Донецькому напрямку зафіксовано роботу ворожого снайпера», – ідеться в ранковому зведенні.

В угрупованнях «ДНР» та «ЛНР» ще не повідомляли про бойові дії 2 січня.

27 грудня Тристороння контактна група заявила про погодження перемир’я з нагоди новорічних свят з 29 грудня. Проте в день, коли мав настати режим тиші, військові заявили про його порушення.

Це вже принаймні шоста спроба домовитися про перемир’я лише за 2018 рік. Припинення вогню й раніше проголошувалися як безстрокові, але порушувалися практично відразу. При цьому сторони заперечують свою вину в цих порушеннях і звинувачують противників у провокаціях.

Унаслідок російської гібридної агресії на сході України з квітня 2014 року в регіоні, за даними ООН, загинули понад 10 тисяч 300 людей іще станом на кінець 2017 року – відтоді нових даних не оголошували.



Lawyers Request Seizure of Japanese Assets for Korean Forced Labor

Lawyers for South Koreans forced into wartime labor have taken legal steps to seize the South Korean assets of a Japanese company they are trying to pressure into obeying a court ruling to provide them compensation.

Lawyer Lim Jae-sung said Thursday the court in the city of Pohang could decide in two or three weeks whether to accept the request to seize the 2.34 million shares Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. holds in its joint venture with South Korean steelmaker POSCO, which are estimated to be worth around $9.7 million.

Lim said Nippon Steel has been refusing to discuss compensation despite a ruling by South Korea’s Supreme Court in October that the company should pay 100 million won ($88,000) each to four plaintiffs who worked at its steel mills during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. The court made a similar ruling on Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in November, triggering a diplomatic spats between the countries.

It’s unlikely the Japanese companies will follow the South Korean rulings. The Japanese government has expressed strong regret over the rulings and considers all wartime compensation issues settled by a treaty both countries signed in 1965.

Lawyers for forced laborers for Nippon Steel had set a Dec. 24 deadline for the company to respond to their request to begin compensation discussions, but the steelmaker did not respond. Lim said the lawyers decided not to file for a court order that would force Nippon Steel to sell its shares in the South Korean joint venture because they still hope to “amicably” settle the matter through negotiations.

Among the four plaintiffs in the Nippon Steel case, only 94-year-old Lee Chun-sik has survived the legal battle, which extended nearly 14 years.

South Korea says Japan used about 220,000 wartime Korean forced laborers before the end of World War II.



Іще один активіст у Криму повідомив про напад

Кримськотатарський активіст Різа Асанов повідомив про напад на нього невідомих людей, які, за його словами, за акцентом були вочевидь прибульцями з Росії.

Як написав він у фейсбуці, він відчув різкий біль у правому плечі й помітив чорний довгастий предмет, схожий на кийок, а потім відчув і різкий біль у потилиці. Після того він знепритомнів, а повернувся до тями, вже лежачи біля своєї машини, і почув чоловічий голос, який сказав: «Це останнє попередження». Другий голос відтак сказав: «У нашу наступну зустріч ти здохнеш».

За словами Асанова, коли він дістався до лікарні, йому діагностували забої і струс мозку. В підконтрольній Москві поліції на окупованому півострові, де активіст написав заяву про напад, йому не видали підтвердження про це, написав Асанов.

В інтерв’ю проектові Радіо Свобода Крим.Реалії Різа Асанов пов’язав напад із його «активною позицією». «У Криму є лише 10–15 осіб, які активно протистоять і дають інформацію. Ліквідуй їх, і все буде спокійно. Очевидно, почали нову політику «інтеграції» кримських татар», – сказав активіст.

Як повідомляє Крим.Реалії, в російській поліції у Криму ще не коментували слова Асанова.

Порушення прав людини в окупованому Росією Криму встановленою там із Москви владою викликає широке занепокоєння в Україні і у світі. Зокрема, цим порушенням присвячені вже три резолюції Генеральної асамблеї ООН, ухвалені 2016, 2017 і 2018 року. Росія заперечує, що коїть ці порушення.



Військові підтвердили зникнення колеги на Донбасі після заяв бойовиків про «полоненого»

Українські військові на лінії контакту на Донбасі підтвердили зникнення колеги після того, як бойовики угруповання «ДНР» заявили, що взяли в полон українського бійця.

Як повідомили у фейсбуці 128-ї окремої гірсько-штурмової Закарпатської бригади, відсутність одного з її військовослужбовців виявили ще в ніч із 28 на 29 грудня, і організовані тоді ж розшукові заходи станом на 2 січня результатів не дали. Пошуки військовослужбовця тривають, мовиться в повідомленні.

При цьому військові наголосили, що заяви російських гібридних сил про нібито проведені наступальні дії з боку підрозділів бригади «є «фейковими» та не відповідають не лише дійсності, а й здоровому глузду взагалі».

«Також підтверджуємо, що номер автомата АКС-74У, показаного в мережі, – дійсно закріплений за зазначеним військовослужбовцем», – додали військові.

Раніше 2 січня в командуванні групи російських гібридних сил, що становлять війська угруповання «ДНР», заявили, що взяли в полон українського бійця, який нібито «брав участь у невдалій спробі проникнення на територію», захоплену угрупованням, на південному напрямку. За цими твердженнями, військовий, у якого констатували переохолодження і якому надають медичну допомогу, нібито розповів про подробиці «планованого було наступу на маріупольському напрямку» Збройних сил України.

При цьому серед бойовиків і їхніх прихильників немає єдності у змалюванні обставин полонення українського бійця: за іншою їхньою версією, яку вони поширюють у соцмережах, той нібито «пішов на полювання і заблукав» і вийшов на позиції російських гібридних сил. У цій версії немає ніяких згадок про нібито «плани передноворічного наступу Збройних сил України», про які твердили раніше в Росії і серед підтримуваних і спрямовуваних нею бойовиків на Донбасі.

Напередодні Нового року в Києві попереджали про можливість збройних провокацій із боку російських гібридних сил із тим, щоб звинуватити Збройні сили України. Бойовики і Москва, зі свого боку, заявляли про нібито аналогічні плани українських військ.




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