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IMF pessimism + trade tensions = sickly stocks

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LONDON (Reuters) – Pessimism about global growth drove down world shares and commodity markets on Tuesday and left investors seeking refuge in the dollar, government bonds and gold.

People check their mobile phones as they stand outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain. Aug 23, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

The International Monetary Fund’s warning of a darkening outlook on Monday, after China’s confirmed its slowest growth rate in nearly 30 years, continued to weigh on the mood.

European shares followed Asia into the red as disappointing earnings from Swiss bank UBS (UBSG.S) compounded what had been a catastrophic 2018 for Europe’s banking sector .SX7E, which lost nearly 30 percent of its value over the year.

In its World Economic Outlook report, the IMF predicted the global economy would grow at 3.5 percent in 2019 and 3.6 percent in 2020, down 0.2 and 0.1 percentage point respectively from last October’s forecasts.

The downgrades heavily reflected weakness in Europe though, with Germany hurt by new car emission rules, Italy under market pressure due to Rome’s recent budget standoff with the European Union and Brexit worries aplenty too.

“We have seen a little bit of a pull back, but whether it’s the IMF growth downgrade or China related is neither here nor there,” said CMC Markets’ senior analyst Michael Hewson.

He pointed to the strong rebound markets like Germany’s Dax .GDAXI has seen since the end of December as well as other major global stock markets. .MIWD00000PUS

“We are at the top end of the range for this year and given the global uncertainty investors are probably taking the view that it is probably wise to take a bit of profit off the table.”

Futures markets pointed to another weak start for the U.S. later although the mood had improved a touch since Asian trading with Wall Street futures ESc1 1YMc1 NQc1 last off 0.5-0.7 percent. [.N]

In Asia, losses had been led by Chinese shares, with the blue-chip index .CSI300 off 1.2 percent. Japan’s Nikkei .N225 skidded 0.5 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index .HSI closed down 0.8 percent and Sydney faltered 0.5 percent. [.SS][.T]

In another sign of risk aversion, the Australian dollar AUD=D3, often used as a liquid proxy for China investments, eased 0.3 percent to $0.7134, putting it on track for a third straight session of losses.

The same worries had also sent copper, used in electrical wires and vehicles, drifting lower in the metals markets. [MET/L]

BREXIT PLANS

In the currency markets, the dollar .DXY held at a near three-week high as investors sought the relative safety of the U.S. currency.

That knocked the euro EUR= and most emerging market currencies, many of which have had a decent start to the year.

Sterling was a shade firmer at $1.29 after data showed British workers’ pay growth hit a new 10-year high and employment had grown by much more than expected in the three months to the end of November.

Otherwise traders were still waiting to see whether UK Prime Minister Theresa May can push her Brexit plans through the country’s bitterly divided parliament.

May had offered tweaks on Monday by seeking further concessions from the European Union on a backup plan to avoid a hard border between the British-administered province of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

But she had also refused to rule out leaving the EU at the end of March without any deal.

“Any upside for sterling in the near term may be limited,” said Capital Economics analyst Liam Peach. “Uncertainty would continue during the extended negotiations and there is no guarantee that it would last for only a short period of time.”

There was demand too for the safe-haven yen with the Japanese currency last buying at 109.41 per dollar. The euro was near the floor of its recent trading range at $1.1358 EUR=. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was barely changed at 96.393 .DXY.

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks in strong wind caused by Typhoon Lan, past an electronic board showing the graphs of the recent movements of Japan’s Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato

In commodities, the global growth worries pulled oil prices lower with Brent LCOc1 down 55 cents at $62.19 and U.S. crude futures CLc1 off 39 cents at $53.41. [O/R]

Euro zone government bond yields also fell. Most 10-year yields were down two basis points on the day with Germany’s at 0.225 percent DE10YT=RR compared to Friday’s one-month high close to 0.28 percent.

The European Central Bank holds its first meeting of the year on Thursday.

Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Richard Pullin and Jon Boyle

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Apple launches 10.5-inch iPad, updates Mini ahead of March 25 event

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Apple is seen at a store in Zurich, Switzerland January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

(Reuters) – Apple Inc in a surprise move on Monday launched a new 10.5-inch iPad Air and updated its 7.9-inch iPad Mini ahead of its March 25 event.

The new iPad models are already available for order at apple.com and in the Apple Store app in the United States and the UK, along with a few other countries.

The 10.5-inch iPad Air, which includes Apple Pencil, starts at $499 for the WiFi model and $629 for the WiFi plus cellular model.

The new iPad mini starts at $399 for the WiFi model and $529 for the WiFi plus cellular model, the iPhone maker said in a statement.

With the new launch, the iPad will come in four different screen sizes, ranging from 7.9 inch to 12.9 inch.

The iPhone maker had said it would hold a media event on March 25, where it is expected to launch a television and video service, its next-generation AirPods and an AirPower wireless charging mat.

Reporting by Sayanti Chakraborty in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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Tuskys to mentor 51 students from Hemland College

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Tuskys Supermarket chain has signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Hemland College and the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) to mentor 51 students from the college for three months.

Hemland College is currently working with NITA to implement the Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities (KYEOP), a government-run project that is funded by the World Bank.

The MoU is in line with the Tuskys internship programme whose objective is to offer the youth an opportunity to gain practical/employable skills through on the job training, coaching and mentorship.

Hemland College of Professional and Technical studies is a middle level college located in Thika town offering technical courses approved by the Ministry of Education and Technology. NITA is a State Corporation established under the Industrial Training (Amendment) Act of 2011.

In the KYEOP project, the youth are taken through training in various learning institutions, Hemland College being one of them. In the course of the sponsorship the students are attached to institutions in the relevant industry for three months as part of the training.

“It is an honor to work with Hemland College and NITA through the World Bank sponsored program to mentor the students and prepare them for the job market. Through Tuskys internship which has been running for several years, we have been able to offer on-job training opportunities to more than 10, 000 youths. Both training institution are aware of the success of Tuskys internship program and hence the decision to work with us,” said Simon Wamburu, Tuskys Senior Manager, Human Resource.

The Senior Manager added that Tuskys is looking at replicating this kind of apprenticeship in other tertiary institutions as part of Tuskys HR plan when approached by other like-minded partners. “We are already in partnership with the International Rescue mission (IRC) which aggregates students from institutions and place them in Tuskys for attachment,” he said.

According to the MOU signed, Hemland College in conjunction with NITA shall select the beneficiaries for participation in the apprenticeship programme and will be prioritied on the basis of trade and skills acquired.

Read: Why women lie about their age

On the other hand, Tuskys shall ensure that the beneficiary gets learning opportunities and are provided with a platform to learn practical job skills in various Tuskys department.

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Arab and Africa youth discuss scientific research

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Arab and African youth are converging in Aswan, Egypt, from 16-18 March, to discuss the future of scientific research, healthcare services and the effects of technology and creativity in the Arab world and on the African continent.

They are meeting under the banner of the Arab and African Youth Platform (AAYP), which is part of the World Youth Forum (WYF). The forum is an international gathering held annually under the auspices of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, the President of Egypt.

The youth will engage in session discussions, workshops and roundtable meetings throughout the forum, according to a press release from the WYF. Key among these discussions will be talks centred around how to benefit from the Nile Valley, as a means of cementing Afro-Arab relations.

Workshops will tackle the issue of developing the Sahel and promoting security and peace in this region of Africa. Seminars on entrepreneurship in an African context will also be held in addition to promoting the Youth Agenda. This meeting comes in the wake of Egypt’s assumption of the African Union’s chairmanship.

Participants will be treated to a trip to Aswan’s touristic and archaeological landmarks. The tour will also serve as a celebration of the city as the capital of the African youth in 2019. The city is Egypt’s civilization gateway to Africa. The first forum was held in 2017 and the second meeting brought together 5,000 youth participants from across the world in Sharm El-Sheikh in 2018.

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