US stocks fall as market decline extends for third week

Agencies
September 19, 2020

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New York, Sept 19: Wall Street capped another turbulent week of trading Friday with a broad slide in stocks that left the S&P 500 with its third-straight weekly loss.

The S&P 500 fell 1.1per cent, led once again by a sell-off in technology companies, with Apple, Amazon and Alphabet weighing particularly on the market.

Technology stocks and other companies that powered the market's strong comeback this year have suddenly lost momentum this month amid worries that they have become too expensive.

The sell-off tempered later in the afternoon but still wiped out what had been a solid start to the week. The S&P 500 is on track for its first monthly loss since March. September is historically the worst month for stocks.

The market has been poised to just pull back, take a breather," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.

"Raising capital is prudent during a month that is known statistically, historically for being difficult for the market.

The S&P 500 fell 37.54 points to 3,319.47. The decline marks the the first 3-week losing streak for the benchmark index since last October.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 244.56 points, or 0.9per cent, to 27,657.42.

The Nasdaq composite shed an early gain, losing 116.99 points, or 1.1per cent, to 10,793.28. Smaller stocks also fell, with the Russell 2000 index of small caps giving up 5.82 points, or 0.4per cent, to 1,536.78.

Stocks have swirled this week despite the Federal Reserve's saying it expects to keep short-term interest rates at record lows through 2023.

Low rates typically turbocharge the market by encouraging investors to pay higher prices for stocks, but some investors may have been looking for the Fed to be even more aggressive.

Growth in some areas of the economy has also slowed after unemployment benefits and other aid from the federal government expired, and partisan disagreements in Congress are holding up a possible renewal of support. Investors say it's essential that such aid arrives.

To the extent that you don't get an additional fiscal cushion, the economy is going to be impacted by it, said Brian Levitt, global market strategist at Invesco.

Rising tensions between the world's two largest economies are also continuing to keep markets on edge. The United States said on Friday that it will ban downloads of the Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat on Sunday. It cited national security and data privacy concerns.

President Donald Trump's targeting of the Chinese tech industry has caused intermittent worries in the market about a possible retaliation against the U.S. industry.

Big Tech stocks have stumbled sharply this month on worries that their prices have grown too expensive following their virtuosic performance through the pandemic. Surging shares of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and others helped carry Wall Street back to record heights, even as the pandemic walloped much of the economy, as the coronavirus accelerated work-from-home and other trends that benefit them.

But they suddenly lost momentum two weeks ago, causing the market to swing with them. Because these companies have grown so massive, their stock movements have huge sway over broad market indexes, such as the S&P 500.

We certainly got a little short-term overbought and we headed into a time of the year that is not great for markets, Levitt said.

On Friday, several Big Tech stocks continued slipping. Apple dropped 3.2per cent, Microsoft fell 1.2per cent and Amazon slid 1.8per cent.

Also on the long list of concerns for markets is how the pandemic progresses, whether a vaccine for COVID-19 could indeed be available in early 2021 as many investors expect and what November's U.S. presidential election will do to the economy.

Treasury yields remain very low, showing the powerful strength of the Federal Reserve and continued expectations by bond investors for only modest economic growth and inflation. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.70per cent from 0.69per cent late Thursday.

A preliminary report on Friday said that consumer sentiment is improving at a faster pace than economists expected, which is key for an economy where spending by consumers is the main driver. But it follows other reports this week that showed growth in retail sales slowed last month and the number of layoffs across the country remains stubbornly high.

One factor that may have helped make trading bumpier than usual Friday is an event known as quadruple witching, which marks the expiration of futures and options on stocks and indexes. The event can drive swings in prices.

Other stock markets around the world made mostly modest moves.

In Europe, the German DAX lost 0.7per cent, and the French CAC 40 sank 1.2per cent. The FTSE 100 in London fell 0.7per cent. Markets in Asia closed mostly higher.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 0.2per cent to USD40.89 to per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 0.8per cent to USD42.95 per barrel.

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News Network
October 30,2020

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Paris, Oct 30: Social networking platform Twitter on Thursday removed former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's tweet, for violating its rules banning the glorification of violence, shortly after a violent knife attack in Nice, which left three people dead.

The tweet sparked an angry outburst on social media with many users calling out the former Malaysian prime minister.

Cedric O, France's Secretary for Digital Sector also condemned the post and urged Twitter to suspend the account of the former Malaysian prime minister and said in a tweet: "If not, Twitter would be an accomplice to a formal call for murder."

"I just spoke with the Managing Director of Twitter France. The account of former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad must be immediately suspended. If not, Twitter would be an accomplice to a formal call for murder," Cedric O tweeted.

Twitter first labelled the tweet with a disclaimer stating that the posting violated its rules but was being left up because it was in public interest. The networking site later completely deleted the tweet but left the remaining of the Twitter thread intact.

This comes following French President Emmanuel Macron's criticism of radical Islam after a school teacher, was beheaded by an 18-year-old for showing cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed in class.

In a series of 13 tweets, Mahathir Mohamad posting from his personal Twitter handle lashed out at Macron for not being "civilised" and for being "very primitive in blaming the religion of Islam and Muslims for the killing of the school teacher".

France's Secretary of State's remarks comes after another attack was witnessed on Thursday where a knife-wielding man killed two women and a man at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice and injured several others. The police detained the attacker and launched an investigation on terrorism grounds.

The attack in Nice was followed by a knife-stabbing attempt in France's southeastern city of Avignon and another one at the French Consulate in Saudi Arabia.

A few days ago, Samuel Paty, a school teacher, was beheaded by an 18-year-old teenager on the outskirts of Paris after he showed cartoons depicting the Prophet during a lesson. Paty was posthumously granted France's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur, and commemorated in the national ceremony at the Sorbonne University in Paris.

 

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News Network
October 25,2020

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Paris, Oct 25: More countries tightened anti-coronavirus measures on Saturday, with France extending a curfew and Belgium bringing forward its own curbs as new infections surged in many parts of the world.

The World Health Organization has warned of an "exponential" rise in infections threatening health systems’ ability to cope with a second wave of cases, testing many nations that appeared to have the virus under control earlier this year.

Governments are now struggling to balance new restrictions against the need to revive economies already battered by earlier draconian lockdowns after the virus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

But populations weary of social isolation and economic hardship have bristled at new restrictions.

Europe has seen a spike in new infections and taken a raft of new measures, mostly trying to avoid new nation-wide lockdowns — from night-time curfews to more restrictions on social gatherings.

After Germany recorded its 10,000th coronavirus death, Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "The order of the day is to reduce contacts, (and) to meet as few people as possible."

Polish President Andrzej Duda said Saturday he had become the latest public figure to test positive for coronavirus as the EU country faces record infection rates.

Duda, 48, said in a tweet that he had tested positive but "felt fine" and was still on the job.

Spain became the first European country earlier this week to officially record a million coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.

People across the country were bracing for a national state of emergency, overnight curfews and other new containment measures.

"They probably should have done this a long time ago or taken other steps, like restricting the number of people taking public transport or going to work," 22-year-old student Patricia Vazquez told AFP in the capital Madrid.

Colombia became the latest country to record a million confirmed Covid-19 cases on Saturday, as France recorded a 24-hour record of more than 45,000 infections a day after passing the same milestone.

The French government extended an overnight curfew to cover areas home to around 46 million people — two out of every three French.

"The difference compared to the first wave is that now we also have all the chronic pathologies of the winter period to take care of," emergency doctor Agnes Ricard-Hibon told local television.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said Saturday that another 700 million euros ($830 million) would be made available to help poor people who have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

On Friday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that "too many countries are seeing an exponential increase in Covid-19 cases and that is now leading to hospitals and intensive care units running close to or above capacity."

"We urge leaders to take immediate action to prevent further unnecessary deaths."

Across the planet, the pandemic has now claimed the lives of 1.1 million people and infected more than 42 million, with the WHO warning the northern hemisphere was at an especially critical juncture.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 224,000 deaths, followed by Brazil, India, Mexico and Britain.

In the US, the virus has become a central issue ahead of a November 3 presidential election, with President Donald Trump sparring over his handling of the pandemic with challenger Joe Biden.

"The idea that somehow this White House has done anything but completely screw this thing up is nonsense," said Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, who hit the campaign trail on Saturday to campaign for Biden, his former deputy.

The WHO’s message for nations to do more was echoed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), but moves to reintroduce restrictions were met with protest in parts of the continent.

In Naples, hundreds of demonstrators answered a call on social media to resist a new curfew, throwing objects at police and setting rubbish bins on fire.

The country is reeling from its worst post-war recession after a two-month national lockdown prompted by one of Europe’s worst outbreaks, and authorities have been reluctant to renew drastic quarantine restrictions.

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Agencies
October 27,2020

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Washington, Oct 27: The United States believes it killed seven senior leaders of al-Qaida in Syria in an airstrike last week as the leaders were meeting near Idlib, U.S. Central Command said Monday.

A Central Command spokeswoman, Maj. Beth Riordan, said the strike was conducted Oct. 22. She did not identify the seven leaders by name.

The removal of these AQ-S leaders will disrupt the terrorist organization's ability to further plot and carryout global attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians, she said.

AQ-S takes advantage of the instability in northwest Syria to establish and maintain safe havens to coordinate terrorist activities, she added.

"With our allies and partners, we will continue to target al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations. The U.S. also conducted an airstrike against al-Qaida in Syria, near Idlib, on Oct 15.

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