News Archive

Facebook says all directors elected, shareholder proposals rejected

BOSTON (Reuters) – All eight of Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) director nominees were elected at its annual meeting on Thursday, and all six shareholder proposals urging reforms, including to its voting structure and content oversight, were rejected, company executives said.

FILE PHOTO – The Facebook logo is shown at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California, U.S. May 26, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo

They did not immediately give vote tallies at the annual meeting in Menlo Park, California, which was webcast.

That left unclear to what extent outside investors cast ballots in favor of the company and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who with other insiders controls about 60 percent of votes at the world’s largest social media network.

Facebook has been under scrutiny from regulators and shareholders about its internal controls and oversight after it failed to protect the data of some 87 million users that was shared with now-defunct political data firm Cambridge Analytica.

Zuckerberg at the meeting outlined changes it plans in response such as verifying the identity of advertising and increasing security spending.

Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Richard Chang

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U.S. hits allies with tariffs as trade war fears rise

WASHINGTON/PARIS (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday said it will impose tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, ending months of uncertainty about potential exemptions and reigniting fears of a global trade war.

The move, announced by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a telephone briefing on Thursday, angered top U.S. allies and suggested a hardening of the Trump administration’s approach to trade negotiations.

It also sent a chill through financial markets, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI down around 0.5 percent. Shares of industrial heavyweights Boeing (BA.N) and Caterpillar (CAT.N) were each down about 1 percent, while shares of U.S. steel and aluminum companies rallied.

A 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent tariff on aluminum will be imposed on imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico starting at midnight (0400 GMT on Friday), Ross told reporters.

“We look forward to continued negotiations, both with Canada and Mexico on the one hand, and with the European Commission on the other hand, because there are other issues that we also need to get resolved,” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced the tariffs in March as part of an effort to protect U.S. industry and workers from what he described as unfair international competition. Temporary exemptions were granted to a number of nations and permanent ones to several countries including Australia, Argentina and South Korea.

U.S. trading partners had demanded that the exemptions be extended or made permanent.

“Today, France and the EU disapproves, of course, these measures,” France’s junior trade minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne told reporters in Paris. “We are getting ready to put in place safeguards, rebalancing measures because we won’t let unjustifiable and unjustified measures go unanswered.”

Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Mass called the tariff decision unlawful.

  • U.S. Commerce chief: Any reprisals over metals tariffs unlikely to hit U.S. economy
  • U.S. stocks on defense as White House looks set to impose import tariffs
  • Germany’s Maas says our response to America First is ‘Europe United’

The Trump administration also has threatened to impose tariffs on car imports, is engaged in negotiations with China to reduce America’s yawning trade deficit and has said it will punish Beijing for stealing its technology by imposing tariffs on $50 billion of imports from China.

And it is engaged in talks with Canada and Mexico to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The Mexican peso weakened by more than 1 percent against the dollar, briefly crossing the 20-to-the-dollar threshold to the weakest versus the greenback in 14 months.


The tariffs, which have prompted several challenges at the WTO, are aimed at allowing the U.S. steel and aluminum industries to increase their capacity utilization rates above 80 percent for the first time in years.

They could also deal a heavy blow to non-U.S. producers.

“The decision announced today is a significant threat to the 22,000 Canadian households whose livelihoods are directly supported by employment in Canadian steel,” said Joseph Galimberti, president of the Canadian Steel Producers Association.

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“We would like Canada’s response to this tariff to be immediate and significant,” Galimberti said, adding that the response should “certainly include steel being imported from the United States.”

Ross himself heads to Beijing on Friday where he will attempt to get firm deals to export more U.S. goods in a bid to cut America’s $375 billion trade deficit with China.

After months in which it appeared the Trump administration had been backing away from tariffs amid infighting between the president’s top economic advisers, Washington has over the past week ramped up its threats on trade.

German magazine Wirtschaftswoche reported on Thursday that Trump had told French President Emmanuel Macron he wanted to stick to his trade policy long enough that Mercedes-Benz cars were no longer cruising through New York. Shares of BMW (BMWG.DE), Daimler (DAIGn.DE) and Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) fell.

The U.S. administration launched a national security investigation last week into car and truck imports, using the same 1962 law that he has applied to curb incoming steel and aluminum.

France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire had met with Ross on Thursday in a bid to end the stand-off over steel and aluminum.

“It’s entirely up to U.S authorities whether they want to enter into a trade conflict with their biggest partner, Europe,” Le Maire told reporters after the meeting.

Europe did not want a trade war, he said, but Washington had to back down from “unjustified, unjustifiable and dangerous tariffs”. The EU would respond with “all necessary measures” if the United States imposed them.

The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28 EU members, has said the bloc should be permanently exempted from the tariffs since it is an ally and not the cause of steel and aluminum overcapacity.

The EU has threatened to retaliate with tariffs on Harley Davidson motorcycles and bourbon, measures aimed at the political bases of Republican legislators who they wanted to stand up to Trump.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU would give a “smart, determined and jointly agreed” response to the new tariffs that she said would break WTO rules.

EU countries have given broad support to the Commission’s plan to set duties on 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) of U.S. exports, including whiskey and motorbikes, if Washington ends the EU tariff exemption. EU exports potentially subject to U.S. duties are worth 6.4 billion euros ($7.5 billion).

Reporting by Eric Walsh and David Shepardson in Washington, Ingrid Melander in Paris, Madeline Chambers in Berlin, Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels and Allison Martell in Toronto; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Susan Thomas

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SoftBank joins GM in self-driving car push; GM shares soar

(Reuters) – Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) will invest $2.25 billion in General Motors Co’s (GM.N) autonomous vehicle unit Cruise, the companies said on Thursday, a deal that validates the venerable Detroit automaker’s leadership in self-driving cars and sent GM shares up more than 10 percent.

FILE PHOTO: A self-driving GM Bolt EV is seen during a media event where Cruise, GM’s autonomous car unit, showed off its self-driving cars in San Francisco, California, U.S. November 28, 2017. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage/File Photo

The move by SoftBank’s $100-billion Vision Fund is one of the largest investments to date in self-driving technology by one of the highest-profile global technology investors.

It gives GM funds for wide-scale deployment of self-driving cars, which GM aims to roll out next year. The partnership values Cruise at $11.5 billion, a triumph for GM, which was criticized for overpaying an estimated $1 billion for the startup two years ago.

The GM share jump on Thursday was the stock’s largest one-day gain since the company re-listed after its 2009 bankruptcy.

  • Factbox: SoftBank backing more than a dozen mobility startups

Self-driving cars are expected to revolutionize the way people use vehicles and fundamentally change the business model of building and selling them. GM and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Waymo are often cited as the two top contenders. Alphabet, which plans to launch a robo taxi service later this year, underscored its own ambitions on Thursday, announcing a deal to buy up to 62,000 minivans from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCHA.MI) for its self-driving fleet.

GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said the company is still “on track” to begin deploying its Cruise AVs in commercial ride-sharing fleets in 2019. Barra said GM plans to launch its own ride and delivery services business, but said it might also explore “other opportunities” with some of the companies that SoftBank has funded, including Uber, Didi, Ola and Grab.

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Shares of GM rose 10.3 percent to $41.72 in early afternoon trade.

GM’s initial purchase of Cruise ignited a deal frenzy in Silicon Valley, which may accelerate after the SoftBank partnership.

Cruise operated with an unusual amount of autonomy after the purchase by GM, although Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt last year told a Fortune event that it was “not smooth sailing” at first. “It took us probably six months to a year to really figure out how to work well together and to achieve what we have now, which is mutual respect,” he said last July.

SoftBank also has invested billions of dollars in “dozens” of transportation-related startups, including many involved in some aspect of self-driving technology.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak said the deal affirmed that GM was one of the top contenders to deploy self-driving ride hailing. “GM has a meaningful seat at the table,” he said.

GM will also invest $1.1 billion in the unit after the deal closes, the company said.

SoftBank Vision Fund will own a 19.6-percent stake in GM Cruise once the transaction is completed, and will hold one of six seats on the company’s board. Its investment will be held in a preferred security that can be converted to GM common stock after seven years.

SoftBank will initially invest $900 million and a further $1.35 billion when Cruise vehicles are ready for commercial deployment, subject to regulatory approval.

GM said it would break out reporting on GM Cruise financials as a standalone segment, starting in the second quarter. The automaker said it expects to spend about a billion dollars this year and next on self-driving vehicle development and commercialization.

Many self-driving car contenders expect ride hailing services will be the main users of the technology. Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) has talked about creating a network of self-driving cars, Alphabet’s Waymo is rolling out its plan, and Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] sees self-driving technology as key to its future. New Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi on Wednesday also said he was in talks to use Waymo technology on the Uber network.

SoftBank will take a stake in a newly-created unit, GM Cruise Holdings, whose assets include Cruise Automation, the self-driving vehicle unit based in San Francisco, and Strobe, a small self-driving sensor developer that Cruise acquired last year.

GM President Dan Ammann said GM Cruise also would oversee monetization of data generated by the company’s self-driving vehicles, which he has said could provide greater margins than GM’s traditional business of buying and selling cars.

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru and Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Peter Henderson and Nick Zieminski

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BNP Paribas to cut international retail banking posts in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s BNP Paribas plans to cut 91 posts in Paris that deal with retail banking activities outside its key European markets, such as Poland, Turkey or on behalf of its U.S. subsidiary BancWest, the bank said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of French bank BNP Paribas is pictured during the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 25, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

The headquarters of the unit in Paris has 292 staff and employees whose jobs are cut will be offered other posts in the region, according to the FO trade union. A BNP spokeswoman confirmed there would be no layoffs.

According to the union, management said the move was due to the growing maturity and desire for greater independence of the 15 units that made up the bank’s international retail banking activities in Central and Eastern Europe, Turkey, China and the United States.

The FO union added that as part of the move, the human resources team in Paris will be cut to 31 from 59 jobs.

Overall, BNP has 41,000 international retail banking employees in 15 countries.

Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Adrian Croft

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U.S. consumer spending accelerates; job market strengthening

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumer spending posted its biggest gain in five months in April, a further sign that economic growth was regaining momentum early in the second quarter, while inflation continued to rise steadily.

FILE PHOTO: Job seekers line up to apply during “Amazon Jobs Day,” a job fair being held at 10 fulfillment centers across the United States aimed at filling more than 50,000 jobs, at the Fulfillment Center in Fall River, Massachusetts, U.S., August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

Other data on Thursday showed a bigger-than-expected drop in the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits last week. Moderately rising inflation and a tightening labor market bolstered expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month.

“Consumer spending is accelerating and inflation is holding firm in a tightening labor market, so the Fed is likely to stay on course with those gradual rate hikes this year despite the signs of uncertainty elsewhere in the world from populism and trade protectionism,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, jumped 0.6 percent last month, the Commerce Department said. That was the largest rise since November and followed a 0.5 percent increase in March.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast consumer spending advancing 0.4 percent. Spending was boosted by higher prices for gasoline and other energy products. Nondurable goods purchases surged 0.9 percent. There were also increases in purchases of long-lasting goods. Outlays on services rose 0.5 percent, lifted by demand for household utilities.

Prices continued to gradually rise last month. The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding the volatile food and energy components increased 0.2 percent for the third straight month.

That left the year-on-year increase in the so-called core PCE price index at 1.8 percent. The core PCE index is the Fed’s preferred inflation measure. The U.S. central bank has a 2 percent inflation target.

Economists expect the annual core PCE price index will breach the Fed’s target in the coming months. The Fed increased borrowing costs in March and has forecast at least two more rate hikes for this year.

U.S. financial market were little moved by the data. The dollar fell against the euro on signs of easing political tensions in Italy. Prices for U.S. Treasuries rose.

Stocks on Wall Street were trading lower after the Trump administration decided to impose metal import tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union, sparking new concerns of a trade war with the United States’ main allies.

LABOR MARKET TIGHTENING The moderate inflation also helped support consumer spending last month. When adjusted for inflation, consumer spending rose 0.4 percent in April after increasing 0.5 percent in the prior month. That suggests an acceleration in consumer spending after it grew at a 1.0 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, the slowest pace in nearly five years.

The solid consumer spending added to data on trade and industrial production that have left economists anticipating a pickup in economic growth in the second quarter.

Factory activity looks set to strengthen further, with the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago reporting its business barometer rose 5.1 points to 62.7 in May.

But the housing market appears to have taken a further step back. Contracts to buy previously owned homes dropped 1.3 percent in April, the National Association of Realtors said in another report on Thursday.

Gross domestic product estimates for the April-June period are above a 3.0 percent rate. The economy grew at a 2.2 percent pace in the first quarter.

Households dipped into their savings to fund purchases last month, with income growth remaining sluggish, a concern for some economists. Personal income rose 0.3 percent after a gain of 0.2 percent in March. Wages increased 0.4 percent. Savings fell to $419.6 billion last month from $445.7 billion in March.

“The real question is whether that level of consumption growth is sustainable and I just don’t think that is likely unless income gains accelerate,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania.

But with the labor market rapidly tightening, there is hope that wage growth will gain steam. In a separate report on Thursday, the Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 221,000 for the week ended May 26.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 228,000 in the latest week. The labor market is viewed as being close to or at full employment. The jobless rate is near a 17-1/2-year low of 3.9 percent, within striking distance of the Fed’s forecast of 3.8 percent by the end of this year.

Labor market strength is likely to be underscored by May’s employment report, which is scheduled for release on Friday. According to a Reuters survey of economists, nonfarm payrolls probably increased by 188,000 jobs after rising by 164,000 jobs in April.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao and Andrea Ricci

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"They are … low cost, pretty stones"

The Anglo American subsidiary this week said it would produce diamonds for the US market at a facility in the UK, and sell them for around US$800 per carat under a new brand called Lightbox.

Industry observers have said it looked like a move to definitively split the value of both types of diamonds in consumers’ eyes, shoring up mined diamond prices.

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The Diamond Producers’ Association CEO Jean-Marc Lieberherr said in a statement this week the companies producing synthetic diamonds were the ones needing to be more open about their processes, not the miners.  

“The DPA has always been clear that more fair and transparent practices need to be adopted by synthetic diamond producers,” he said.

“We are very confident that [De Beers unit] Element Six will set a new standard in disclosure and marketing of synthetic diamonds, which will in the end benefit consumers and bring much needed clarity to this new category.

“It is clear from the Lightbox positioning that they will market synthetic diamonds for what they are – low cost pretty stones and not for what they are not – real diamonds, rare, precious and inherently valuable.”

This is a similar line to the one Bruce Cleaver took in explaining the new business, without the positive spin on making diamonds more accessible.

The DPA chairman is also De Beers vice president for marketing, Stephen Lussier, who said in the same press release his company was not undermining mined diamond demand.

“De Beers Group’s commitment to the Diamond Producers Association is stronger than ever,” he said.

The companies likely hit by this move will be synthetic diamond producers, who currently make up about 2% of the diamond market.

Brilliant Earth currently has 1ct diamonds for sale at prices between $2,000 and $20,000.

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Wall St. lower as fresh tariffs rekindle trade war fears

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell on Thursday after the United States decided to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, sparking fresh worries over a trade war with its top allies.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

U.S Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent levy on aluminum imports from its allies would go into effect at Thursday midnight.

Mexico’s economy ministry imposed “equivalent” measures and said it will stay in place until the United States eliminates its tariffs.

Mexico targeted pork legs, apples, grapes and cheeses as well as steel. Shares of U.S. food companies were lower with Tyson Foods (TSN.N) down 3 percent and Kraft Heinz (KHC.O) off 2.5 percent.

Shares of Boeing (BA.N) fell 1.4 percent and Caterpillar (CAT.N) declined 1.8 percent. The stocks were among the biggest drag on the Dow Jones Industrials.

“The market is worried about retaliation, they are looking for what would come from the EU side,” said Zhiwei Ren, managing director and portfolio manager at Penn Mutual Asset Management in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

“But this is another negotiation tactic on the U.S. side and they want to use tariffs as a bargaining tool for other negotiations.”

The SP Composite 1500 Steel index .SPCOMSTEEL rose 1.1 percent on the tariffs news, led by gains in AK Steel (AKS.N) and US Steel (X.N).

Friction between the United States and its trading partners have roiled financial markets, especially after President Donald Trump in March decided to impose the metal tariffs.

Adding to the trade worries was a report that Trump aimed to push German carmakers out of the United States altogether, after launching a national security probe last week into car and truck imports.

At 11:26 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 238.06 points, or 0.97 percent, at 24,429.72, the SP 500 .SPX was down 12.60 points, or 0.46 percent, at 2,711.41 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 5.88 points, or 0.08 percent, at 7,456.58.

Ten of the 11 major indexes were trading lower with the technology sector .SPLCT being the only gainer with a 0.2 percent rise.

A 2.5 percent jump in shares of Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) and 1.3 percent rise in Facebook (FB.O) shares capped losses on the tech-heavy Nasdaq .IXIC.

The biggest percentage gainer on the SP 500 was General Motors (GM.N), which surged 9.8 percent after Japan’s SoftBank Group (9984.T) decided to invest $2.25 billion in its autonomous vehicle unit.

Dollar General (DG.N) declined about 8.2 percent and Dollar General (DLTR.O) dropped 12 percent after both discount retailers missed Wall Street estimates for their quarterly same-store sales.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.64-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.16-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The SP index recorded 17 new 52-week highs and eight new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 114 new highs and 29 new lows.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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As Trump talks of trade losses, China is a win for U.S. East Coast ports

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – For America’s fastest growing East Coast ports, trade with China equals billions of dollars of investment and thousands of well-paid jobs in the heart of Trump country and not, as the president portrays it, the death knell for America’s middle class.

The view from one of the ship-to-shore cranes at Wando Welch Terminal operated by the South Carolina Ports Authority in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, U.S. May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Randall Hill

At Atlantic ports in the southern United States, harbor channels are being deepened to handle bigger ships moving through a widened Panama Canal; cranes are being heightened to unpack the larger stacks of containers; new ship berths and expanded rail hubs are opening the door wider for the imported goods demanded by American consumers and businesses.

Exports are on the rise too, and could be boosted if President Donald Trump strikes deals to export tens of billions of dollars in commodities and energy to China in an effort to cut America’s $375 billion trade deficit with the world’s second largest economy.

“China is where the growth is,” said South Carolina Ports Authority chief executive Jim Newsome. “I don’t think the world can function without free trade … The global supply chain is based on trade and I don’t think you can walk that back.”

Interviews with officials at key southeastern ports as well as federal employment data illustrate a piece of the U.S. trade puzzle often lost in the back and forth among national policymakers amid talk of tariffs and import restrictions.

Concern over a trade war flared anew this week as Washington said it still held the threat of imposing tariffs on $50 billion of imports from China unless Beijing addressed theft of American intellectual property, and China responded that it was ready to fight back.

One reason for China’s success in winning market share in the United States has been investment by American port operators to ensure that goods get to U.S. stores with relative speed and without losing their cost advantage.

Charleston, for example, touts a 29-day window for getting goods from Shanghai to Atlanta. Research published last year by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis found that for many goods the journey from China to the United States adds as little as 3 percent to the wholesale cost.

Along with other south Atlantic ports like Savannah, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida, officials in Charleston spent years planning for that future and along the way created thousands of the sort of blue-collar middle-wage jobs that Trump’s election campaign pledged to expand.

“It is an issue that has been glossed over – the importance of these hubs…Absolutely the investments have been critical to the trade with China,” said Michigan State University economist Oren Ziv, who is in the initial stages of research on how port investments affect local economies.

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China’s rise as a global manufacturing center, as Trump often notes, displaced many manufacturing jobs in the United States, particularly producing lower-value goods like furniture.

One influential and widely cited study by economists David Autor, David Dorn and Gordon Hanson estimated that the “China shock” caused the loss of 2.4 million manufacturing jobs in the United States between 1999 and 2011. Other studies have disputed this, saying the numbers were much lower, and that trends like automation by successful manufacturers played an outsized role.

But whatever the impact, the flood of imports has required more labor to move those goods around the country.

Nationally, jobs in transportation and “material moving” increased by 1.2 million between 2012 and 2017, according to federal data. That included more than 190,000 additional truck drivers with a median wage of $20 an hour, roughly 13 percent above the national median.

That set of occupations accounted for about 10 percent of the country’s overall increase in jobs during the period, behind only generally lower paying positions in food service and personal care.

The port in Savannah, the country’s fourth busiest container dock, now pushes 11,000 container loads of goods a day through its gates – 7 million microwave ovens worth of cargo space, about triple what was handled as of 2003.

The groundwork was laid when officials offered incentives for companies like Home Depot (HD.N) and others to build distribution centers on land owned by the port authority.

That has now burgeoned into 56 million square feet (5.2 million square meters) of warehouse space around the port, filled as fast as it can be built.

The vacancy rate in early 2018 was 0.52 percent according to Colliers International data supplied by Savannah Port officials.

A new rail hub designed to accommodate longer trains, along with $2 billion in dredging and other investments planned for the next decade will allow the port to compete for shipments of goods intended for destinations as far away as Chicago, said Georgia Ports Authority chief operating officer Ed McCarthy.


Jacksonville is also deepening its channel, having in recent years switched its business model from north-south trade with Puerto Rico as the anchor destination, to a focus on China.

In Charleston, container traffic has been growing on average 8 percent a year since the end of the 2007-2009 recession as trade flows reoriented from Europe to Asia.

A $560-million dredging project, split between the state and federal governments, will deepen the harbor from 45 to 52 feet (13.7 to 15.8 meters) and allow ships carrying up to 18,000 20-foot (6-meter) containers to unload; the current largest is 14,000 containers.

A new $1.5 billion terminal currently under construction will add the ability to handle an additional 700,000 containers a year when it opens in 2021, with further expansion planned.

To be sure, the benefits move in both directions.

Charleston, for example, ships about $2 billion worth of vehicles a year to China, aiding the rise of BMW’s (BMWG.DE) plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, as a source of high-end vehicles for the Chinese market. The Spartanburg plant is the single largest exporter of vehicles in the United States.

Likewise, if the Trump administration does manage to boost exports to China of agricultural goods and natural gas, the bigger ships and bigger harbors will have more outbound cargo.

The three ports are not major grain shippers like New Orleans or the Pacific Northwest, but exports of oil seeds, meat and wood pulp have been growing. They now account for about a quarter of U.S. wood pulp exports to China, and Charleston’s exports of meat grew tenfold to $107 million from 2003 to 2017.

But even if the boost in exports to China never happens, the dredging and expansion will continue, despite the trade debate raging in Washington.

“Why don’t we think this is an issue? We continue to grow,” said McCarthy of the Georgia Ports Authority.

“We have a terminal (Savannah) that can handle 5.5 million (containers). The design over the next 10 years is to handle 8 million and we are going to stay true to that.”

To view a graphic on Ports expansion capturing more Chinese trade, click:

Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by David Chance, Edward Tobin and Frances Kerry

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Deutsche Bank’s U.S. operations deemed ‘troubled’ by Fed a year ago: WSJ

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The United States Federal Reserve last year designated Deutsche Bank AG’s (DBKGn.DE) U.S. operations to be in “troubled condition”, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of the Deutsche Bank is pictured in Frankfurt, Germany, March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

The Fed’s assessment has not been previously been made public, it said, sending shares in the German lender down 5.5 percent by 1317 GMT, underperforming the German blue-chip DAX .GDAXI index, which was trading 0.6 percent lower.

  • Cost of insurance against Deutsche Bank default surges after WSJ report

The “troubled condition” status is one of the lowest designations employed by the Fed, The WSJ said.

The Fed downgrade caused the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to put Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, on its list of “Problem Banks”, it said.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the WSJ report and on its relations with the Fed, but said it was working to remedy weaknesses in its U.S. business identified by regulators.

It said in a statement that despite potential weaknesses in parts of its United States operations, the parent Deutsche Bank AG remained well capitalized and had adequate liquidity reserves.

Reporting by Edward Taylor; Additional reporting by Kathrin Jones; Editing by Maria Sheahan

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