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LONDON/BRUSSELS, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Britain and the European Union on Thursday played down the chances of clinching an immediate Brexit divorce deal but diplomats said they were edging closer to a legal compromise that Prime Minister Theresa May hopes will win over the British parliament. If she fails, May will have to decide whether to delay Brexit or endanger the world's fifth largest economy by leaving without a deal on March 29. May's biggest problem is the so-called Irish backstop, an insurance policy to keep the border open between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland if a future trade deal falls short after Brexit.
Euro zone government bond yields rose after surveys showed business activity was surprisingly firm in February, on hopes of a new Brexit deal and as the market continued to digest the latest FOMC minutes. French business activity rose more than expected as manufacturing growth helped offset slack in services that has dogged firms in the wake of anti-government protests, the French purchasing managers' index (PMI) showed.
A rise in China-bound exports of British oil may soften the potential blow to the sale of UK crude to Asia from a no-deal Brexit, export data showed and trade sources said, offsetting likely lower shipments to South Korea. While Britain and the European Union remain in talks over Brexit, tariffs and other terms governing Britain's trade with most of the globe would be set under World Trade Organization rules under a no-deal departure from the EU.
Britain posted its biggest budget surplus on record in January despite a slowing economy, putting finance minister Philip Hammond on course to announce the lowest annual borrowing since 2002 in a fiscal ...
London Metal Exchange (LME) three-month copper came tantalisingly close on Wednesday with a mini-surge to $6,426.50, challenging the upper band of the $5,725 to $6,440 range that has defined the market since July 2018. Glencore (Frankfurt: 8GC.F - news) set the ball rolling with an announcement that an "updated mine plan" at its Mutanda copper operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo would reduce output by 100,000 tonnes per year. What really primed the move, however, was a dramatic tightening in LME time-spreads.
Factories across the euro zone unexpectedly shunted into reverse this month as activity in manufacturing powerhouse Germany declined again amid trade tensions and struggles in the auto sector, surveys showed. While that downturn was offset by a much faster than expected acceleration in services activity - which meant overall private sector growth picked up modestly - it will likely worry policymakers as factories also drive the bloc's dominant service industry. IHS Markit's Flash Composite Purchasing Managers' Index, which is seen as a good guide to economic health, rose to 51.4 this month from a final January reading of 51.0, above a Reuters poll median expectation for 51.1 but still below where it has been for much of the past four years.
British lawmakers could be given a vote on a revised Brexit deal as soon as next week as negotiators in Brussels scramble to clinch last-minute changes to divorce accord that would avoid a potentially disorderly exit from the European Union. Unless Prime Minister Theresa May can get a Brexit deal approved by the British parliament, then she will have to decide whether to delay Brexit or thrust the world's fifth largest economy into chaos by leaving without a deal on March 29. May, once a reluctant supporter of EU membership who won the top job in the political chaos following the 2016 referendum, has promised to give lawmakers a chance to decide what to do about Brexit on Feb. 27 unless she can bring back a deal.
Euro zone government bond yields hovered near recent lows before the release of a survey of euro zone businesses that is expected to confirm subdued growth in the region and keep demand for bonds strong amid optimism over U.S.-China trade talks. Similar readings for the euro zone's two largest economies, France and Germany, will precede the region-wide number. Final January inflation figures for Italy are also due, at a time when economic prospects for the euro zone's third largest economy look particularly bleak.
SAN FRANCISCO/LONDON, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co Ltd on Wednesday unveiled a nearly $2,000 folding smartphone in a bid to top the technology of Apple Inc (NasdaqGS: AAPL - news) and Chinese rivals and reignite consumer interest amid slumping sales. The Galaxy Fold will go on sale on April 26 and take advantage of new and faster 5G mobile networks. The device looks similar to a conventional smartphone, but then opens like a book to reveal a display the size of a small tablet at 7.3 inches (18.5 cm).
Britain's opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will meet European leaders in Brussels on Thursday to discuss how to try to break the deadlock over Brexit and seek to reassure them that parliament does not want to leave without a deal. With (Other OTC: WWTH - news) just 37 days until Britain is due to leave the EU, Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking changes to the agreement she struck with Brussels last year to try to win the backing of British lawmakers. May has rejected a proposal put forward by Corbyn, and endorsed by EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, for a permanent customs union with the EU because she says it would prevent Britain having an independent trade policy.
Three lawmakers from Britain's governing Conservatives quit over the government's "disastrous handling of Brexit" on Wednesday, in a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May's attempts to unite her party around plans to leave the European Union. The lawmakers, who support a second EU referendum and have long said May's Brexit strategy is being led by Conservative eurosceptics, said they would join a new independent group in parliament set up by seven former opposition Labour politicians.
Making changes to the contentious Irish backstop is the only way to secure a Brexit agreement, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said before Prime Minister Theresa May heads to Brussels on Wednesday to try to salvage her deal. The key sticking point in Brexit negotiations is the so-called backstop, an insurance policy to prevent the return of extensive checks on the sensitive border between EU member Ireland (Other OTC: IRLD - news) and the British province of Northern Ireland.
British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Wednesday that he was hopeful that a Brexit deal could be passed by the British parliament if the government's attorney-general is in a position to change his advice on its implications for the Irish backstop. "With (Other OTC: WWTH - news) vision and statesmanship on both sides, this can be done and I am hopeful it will be," Hunt added.
Policies bought by European Union customers from British insurers would still be valid if the UK crashes out of the bloc next month with no deal, the EU's insurance watchdog said on Tuesday. The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) published recommendations for national insurance watchdogs on how to treat policies that EU customers have bought from UK-based insurers. The Bank of England has warned that "contract continuity" problems could arise, such as it becoming illegal to pay out on a claim, if the EU made no contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit.
Sterling shot past $1.30 on Tuesday on hopes that Prime Minister Theresa May will make progress in seeking changes to her Brexit deal with the European Union, although some traders struggled to explain the size of the move. "I'm fairly certain it's not news-related and it's due to technical factors," said Neil Mellor, currencies analyst at BNY Mellon, referring to some large buy orders reportedly in the market and triggered when sterling hit $1.30. Some strategists pointed to media reports that May was dropping the so-called 'Malthouse compromise', a Brexit proposal that has united both eurosceptic and pro-EU factions within her divided Conservative Party.
A disorderly Brexit would deliver "a significant shock" to an already weakened European economy, European Central Bank vice-president Luis de Guindos told French daily Le Monde. With (Other OTC: WWTH - news) six weeks until Britain is due to leave the bloc, UK Prime Minister Theresa May is yet to win ratification of British lawmakers for her Brexit deal. De Guindos said financial companies were well prepared to deal with an orderly Brexit but a scenario in which Britain exits the EU without an agreement was bound to hurt the euro zone.
British workers' pay growth maintained its fastest pace in a decade in late 2018 and job creation stayed strong, data showed, suggesting the labour market was buoyant ahead of Brexit as the broader economy ...
The National Farmers' Union (NFU) is demanding a written guarantee from the government that Brexit won't undermine British farming standards. The union's president Minette Batters will make the call at their conference later today amid growing concerns about the implications of Brexit for farming - whether a deal is struck or not.
Britons could face shortages of fresh food, price rises and less variety if the country leaves the European Union next month without agreeing trade terms, food industry officials say. With (Other OTC: WWTH - news) no deal in sight as Britain's March 29 exit date approaches, supermarkets are stockpiling, working on alternative supplies and testing new routes to cope with an expected logjam at the borders but say they face insurmountable barriers. "You can't stockpile fresh produce, you haven't got any space and it wouldn't be fresh," said Tim Steiner, head of online supermarket pioneer Ocado.
The British government will use tools including tariffs and quotas to make sure its farmers are not left at a competitive disadvantage by Brexit, environment minister Michael Gove will say on Tuesday. It is due to set out later this month the tariffs it plans to levy if Britain leaves without a deal on March 29. Trade minister Liam Fox has denied media reports that he supports slashing tariffs on all imports to zero in order to keep prices low for consumers.
No one in Europe would oppose a British demand for an extension of talks on Britain's exit from the European Union beyond the March 29 deadline, the head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker told the Stuttgarter Zeitung in an interview. With only weeks left to the exit date, Britain's parliament does not want to accept the withdrawal agreement that has been reached between Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU, and many EU officials see postponing the exit date as the only way to avoid Britain crashing out without any deal. If such a request were to be made, no one in Europe would oppose it.
Euro zone banks operating in Britain must be prepared for Brexit by March as any remaining supervisory concerns should have been address in the coming weeks, European Central Bank supervisory chief Anrea Enria said on Monday. "With (Other OTC: WWTH - news) regard to euro area-based banking groups with operations in the United Kingdom, the current focus is on risk management, trading capabilities and the future activities of branches in the United Kingdom," Enria said on Monday. "The ECB expects banks to have addressed any remaining concerns by March this year," Enria said at a European Parliament event in Brussels.
Brexit is a major concern for Formula One world champions Mercedes (Xetra: 710000 - news) who fear the 'mother of all messes' could cause massive damage to Britain's motorsport industry while also helping rivals Ferrari (Xetra: 30092157.DE - news) , team boss Toto Wolff said on Monday. Speaking to reporters on the first day of pre-season testing at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, the Austrian suggested a chaotic British departure from the European Union was the nightmare scenario for his team.
Seven Labour lawmakers quit on Monday over leader Jeremy Corbyn's approach to Brexit and a row over anti-Semitism, saying Britain's main opposition party had been "hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left". In a direct challenge to Corbyn, the seven centrist MPs (BSE: MPSLTD.BO - news) said they were courting others from across parliament to join their group, saying "enough is enough" in keeping silent over their doubts about the Labour leader's fitness for office.
The European Union on Monday told small businesses to prepare for more bureaucracy and costs should Britain crash out of the bloc without a deal, the latest step in its contingency plans reflecting the potential impact of a hard Brexit. Economy Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said the risk of a no-deal Brexit was increasing and that checks on goods moving between the EU and the United Kingdom would be introduced immediately should that scenario come true. A lot depends on the ability of businesses trading with the UK to get up to speed with the customs rules that will apply on day one in case of no deal," he said in a statement.