Duterte to lift martial law in southern Philippines as security forces lower terror threat | President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to end more than two years of martial law in the south of Philippines after government forces weakened Islamic m

Duterte to lift martial law in southern Philippines as security forces lower terror threat

Duterte to lift martial law in southern Philippines as security forces lower terror threat

Duterte to lift martial law in southern Philippines as security forces lower terror threat

Duterte to lift martial law in southern Philippines as security forces lower terror threat

Duterte to lift martial law in southern Philippines as security forces lower terror threat

Duterte to lift martial law in southern Philippines as security forces lower terror threat
Duterte to lift martial law in southern Philippines as security forces lower terror threat
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Correvio's heart drug fails to win FDA panel backing

Correvio's heart drug fails to win FDA panel backing

REUTERS: Independent experts to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday voted against Correvio Pharma Corp's drug to correct irregular rhythm in the upper chambers of the heart in adult patients.

The panel voted 11-2 against approval of the drug, Brinavess, citing serious safety risks.

Brinavess, currently available in 41 countries including the European Union and Canada, aims to restore normal heart rhythm in patients experiencing erratic rhythm due to a condition known as atrial fibrillation, or AFib.

The FDA is slated to announce a final decision by Dec. 24. It is not mandated to follow the recommendation of the panel, but generally does.

Correvio first filed a marketing application for Brinavess in 2006, but safety concerns led the FDA to decline approval and U.S. trials were later put on hold following the death of a patient treated with the drug. The hold still remains in place.

(Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph and Dania Nadeem in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

Lawmakers green light US space force

Lawmakers green light US space force

WASHINGTON: The United States is getting a new space force along with US$738 billion in military spending under an agreement backed by lawmakers on Tuesday (Dec 10) that fulfils a priority of President Donald Trump.

The fiscal year 2020 spending in the National Defense Authorization Act is a jump from the US$716 billion authorized last year, and will go to pay for a wide range of military activities.

It will also create a space-based sixth branch of the military, a priority of Trump's, after the army, air force, navy, Marine Corps and coast guard.

The bill has won the approval of Democratic and Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate armed services committees, making its passage in Congress likely.

The bill, which Congress must pass each year, allocates US$635 billion to the Pentagon, and another US$23.1 billion to the Department of Energy for the US nuclear arsenal's maintenance and fuel.

Operations in countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Somalia get US$71.5 billion, while the measure also pays for a 3.1 per cent increase in the salaries of military personnel, their highest in a decade.

It also gives US$5.3 billion in "emergency disaster recovery" for military bases in Florida and North Carolina damaged in hurricanes Florence and Michael last year.

That amount was much less than the US$9.2 billion requested by the White House, which wanted to devote a portion of the emergency funding to a wall on the Mexican border Trump has characterized as necessary to curb illegal migration from Mexico.

A controversial Trump campaign promise, the border wall has proven hugely divisive and will likely be fought over in future budget bills.

Elsewhere in the bill lawmakers have inserted provisions controlling the use of Pentagon funds including a ban on reducing the number of troops deployed in South Korea, delivering F-35 advanced stealth warplanes to Turkey and buying rail cars or buses from China.

Powell's 'half-full' US glass sturdy but still at risk for spills as Fed meets

Powell's 'half-full' US glass sturdy but still at risk for spills as Fed meets

WASHINGTON: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has taken a glass-half-full view of the U.S. economy but the trouble may be that the glass has gotten smaller and has a few cracks.

Over the next week it risks losing a few drops as deadlines approach for the United States to impose new tariffs on China, British voters decide what has been called a "nightmare" election between far-left and far-right candidates, and other central banks take stock of what seems an increasingly turgid global economy.

Powell offered the upbeat assessment two weeks ago at a speech in Rhode Island. James McCann, senior global economist with Aberdeen Standard Investments, said the metaphor is apt, given the resilience of the U.S. labor market, but only to a point.

"Our broad view is that the global economy has a lower speed limit that is setting in," and which may constrain the United States even if the trade war eases, he said.

"Even in emerging markets the speed limit is slowing," with China and other large developing countries no longer the dependable props for global demand they were at the end of the 2007 to 2009 economic crisis.

The Federal Reserve meets this week and is likely to leave interest rates unchanged after cutting them three times this year. Policymakers on Wednesday will also provide updated projections for the U.S. economy and interest rates, their clearest statement yet of whether they think the rate cuts approved so far are enough to keep the economy rolling for another year.

In their last set of projections in September, policymakers at the median saw the U.S. economy growing 2per cent next year, roughly at trend, and officials have noted that markets that are sensitive to interest rates, such as housing and autos, have strengthened.

In October, at his last press conference, Powell spoke of "the makings of a possible settlement" in the United State's trade dispute with China. Other sources of trouble, such as the possibility of a disruptive "hard" departure of Britain from the European Union, also seemed less threatening.

Economic analysts looking ahead to next year also have been generally optimistic that 2019 will be seen as the year when growth and trade risks became their most acute, with the likelihood of a U.S. recession now easing.

STILL WAITING

But the global economy is slowing. The International Monetary Fund at its semi-annual meeting in October cut its world growth forecasts for this year and next and said the outlook remained "precarious."

And there's still no deal between the United States and China. While U.S. import levies due to take effect on Dec. 15 now appear likely to be postponed, they are not expected to be canceled outright - pushing that set of risks off into 2020. The next round of tariffs is to include many consumer products that have been excluded from the import tax so far to try to limit price rises at the shopping mall.

On the upside, however, it appears a long-elusive deal to overhaul the NAFTA trade pact is now in reach, with an agreement struck Tuesday and lawmakers in the United States, Mexico and Canada all poised to ratify.

Yet, as with the up-and-down negotiations over Brexit - still unresolved and with the country's political leadership now up for grabs - the weeks since Powell's last press conference have shown how shaky any forecast may be that depends on elected officials to lower "political risk."

Uncertainty over trade policy was a key reason the Fed cut rates this year, worried that businesses were scaling back investment plans to such a degree it could slow the economy overall unless the central bank took steps to counter it.

Since then, negotiations have dragged on, and in addition Trump announced plans for new tariffs on metals from Argentina and Brazil, and threatened them on an array of French products.

In Japan, the outlook has taken such a turn that the government rolled out a US$120 billion fiscal stimulus program, justified by both the short-term damage from the trade war and a generically weak outlook for 2020.

SHORT STEP TO BIG SLIDE

Perhaps the biggest risk is that China's economy will slow regardless of what happens in the trade spat with the United States, as Chinese officials try to slash the country's debts to more sustainable levels and spending falls as a result.

"We'll likely see overseas growth stagnate for most of 2020," said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Japan's Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

Other central banks have been acting to try to counter concerns of a sort of creeping stagnation.

Last week's surprisingly strong U.S. jobs report bolstered the case that the United States was so far immune from much of what may ail the world - be it Europe's endemic slow growth to the fallout of the very trade war that the United States initiated.

But BNP Paribas Chief Economist Daniel Ahn says it is a short step from a worse-than-expected trade outcome or a bit of bad economic data to the sort of stock market volatility that ends up hurting the broader economy when household wealth takes a hit.

Ahn said he is already expecting monthly U.S. job growth to slow next year and dip below 100,000, a level Fed officials often cite as the breakeven between a labor market absorbing new job market entrants and one that is effectively sidelining people who want to work.

That could also hurt consumption, the economy's key prop at this point, and keep U.S. growth stuck at around 1per cent through early next year, Ahn said. It would be the sort of "material change" in the economic outlook that Powell has said might prompt more rate cuts. BNP is expecting two cuts early next year.

"Sentiment may have gotten a little bit ahead of itself," Ahn said of the broad consensus that the United States and China were poised for a trade breakthrough, a conclusion partly based on the notion that President Donald Trump will want the issue resolved at some point during an election year. "We think markets should be not quite as sanguine."

(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Additional reporting by Leika Kihara in Tokyo; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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