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Berlin drops derogatory name for metro station after protests

BERLIN (Reuters) – Berlin’s public transport company BVG said it would rename a city centre metro station that has become notorious for bearing a name based on a derogatory word for Black people.

The announcement comes amid a worldwide reckoning with buried legacies of racism and colonial crimes underpinning many western societies that was sparked by the death in the United States of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of a police officer.

Berlin’s BVG said that the “Mohrenstrasse” metro station – literally Moor Street, using the medieval term for people from North Africa, would be renamed after another nearby street, the Glinkastrasse, named after 19th century Russian composer Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka.

The station, a few hundred metres from the Brandenburg Gate at the very centre of Berlin, has born a string of names since it was opened in 1908. It acquired its present name in 1991.

Though the word “mohr” is no longer used in modern German, its history – linguists say it had acquired a derogatory flavour by the 18th century – have caused complaints over its use in some street names.

Last month, unidentified activists taped over the station’s entrance, temporarily naming it “George Floyd Street”.

“Out of respect for the sometimes controversial debate about the street name, BVG has decided not to use it to name the metro station any longer,” it said. “BVG rejects all forms of racism and discrimination.”

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Polish president accuses German-owned tabloid of election meddling

WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish President Andrzej Duda suggested on Friday that Germany was trying to meddle in the presidential election after a German-owned tabloid newspaper reported on a pardon that he granted to a man who had served his sentence in a paedophilia case.

Duda, a conservative who faces a neck-and-neck race against a centrist opponent in a presidential runoff election on July 12, was angered by reporting by the Polish tabloid Fakt.

“Does Axel Springer, a company of German descent that owns the Fakt newspaper, want to influence the Polish presidential election?” Duda, an ally of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), said during a campaign rally in the western town of Boleslawiec.

“Do the Germans want to choose the president in Poland?” he said.

The case, in which the pardon was granted in March, was initially reported by the Rzeczpospolita daily, but Fakt followed up with more details on Thursday.

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, who also serves as prosecutor general, confirmed the pardon was related to a paedophilia case but said it consisted only of lifting a restraining order and the man had served out his entire sentence.

Duda had applied the law of pardon following a request of a victim who was now an adult, added Ziobro, who was shown speaking by Polish state TVP.

According to Fakt the man finished serving his sentence five years ago.

Earlier on Friday, Duda’s re-election campaign spokesman, called on the German ambassador to Berlin to talk to the owners of Fakt.

“We do not want this kind of foreign interference in the electoral process,” spokesman Adam Bielan told public radio PR1.

The German embassy referred questions to the German ministry of foreign affairs, which declined to comment.

Fakt denied meddling in the election, saying in a statement published on its website that it is run by Polish journalists and editors.

PiS has long accused foreign-owned media outlets of meddling in Poland’s affairs.

Duda’s spokespeople could not be reached for comment.

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Business

GM's China sales drop 5% in second quarter, underperforms industry recovery

BEIJING (Reuters) – General Motors Co’s (GM.N) vehicle sales in China dropped 5.3% between April and June from the corresponding period last year, underperforming the industry average amid a recovery from the coronavirus fallout on the world’s biggest auto market.

China’s overall figure, which includes passenger and commercial vehicles, rose 4.4% in April and 14.5% in May, said the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), adding that it expected auto sales to grow 11% in June.

GM, China’s second-biggest foreign automaker after Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), delivered 713,600 vehicles in the country in the second quarter, the company said in a statement, after reporting a drop of 43% in sales in the first quarter, due to the pandemic.

GM has a Shanghai-based joint venture in China with SAIC Motor Corp (600104.SS) which makes Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac vehicles. It has another venture, SGMW, with SAIC and Guangxi Automobile Group that produces no-frills minivans and has started making higher-end cars.

Sales of GM’s mass-market brand Buick rose 7.8% while Chevrolet dropped 27.7% for the latest quarter. Sales of premium brand Cadillac fell 12%, GM said in a statement on Friday.

Sales of the no-frills brand Wuling grew 9.7%, but those of Baojun tumbled 30.7%.

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Asian stocks set to follow U.S. jobs rally, China in focus

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian stocks were likely to track a firmer Wall Street session on Friday after strong U.S. jobs data although growing Sino-U.S. tensions and a worrying surge in coronavirus cases is likely to cap gains.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures rose 0.45% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 futures climbed 0.58%.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.14%.

“While June data reflected a big improvement in the U.S. labor market, the recent sharp acceleration in new virus cases plus the prospect of an end to unemployment benefits by the end of July are two big layers of uncertainty,” said NAB Markets analyst Rodrigo Catril, adding that the uptick in U.S. cases could mean extended headwinds for the labor market.

Wall Street ended Thursday higher following a record increase in payrolls and a decline in unemployment. U.S. markets are closed on Friday in observance of Independence Day.

However, investor focus is shifting to worsening strains between China and the United States.

More than 75 U.S. members of congress sent a letter to the President Donald Trump urging him to take make a formal determination on whether China’s treatment of Muslim Uighurs and other groups constitutes an atrocity.

The U.S. State Department also warned American companies including Amazon.com Inc, Walmart Inc and Apple Inc to check their supply chains and ensure they are not doing business with entities linked to alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province.

Separately, Congress passed legislation seeking to punish banks that do business with Chinese officials who implement Beijing’s draconian new national security law on Hong Kong.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.92%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.36%, the S&P 500 gained 0.45% and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.52%.

The positive economic data also pushed oil prices higher.

Brent crude futures settled at $43.14 a barrel, rising $1.11, or 2.6%. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled at $40.65 a barrel, up 83 cents, or 2.1%.

Investors still embraced the safe-haven dollar and gold, which usually rise when risk appetite declines, as an acceleration in new COVID-19 cases across the country prompted fresh restrictions.

The dollar index rose 0.058%, with the euro up 0.01% to $1.1239.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.02% versus the greenback at 107.53 per dollar, while sterling last traded at $1.2468, up 0.02% on the day.

Spot gold rose 0.4% to $1,777.04 per ounce

U.S. Treasury yields ended the day lower ahead of the July 4 long weekend, with the benchmark 10-year yield fell 1.1 basis points at 0.6709%.

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European stocks surge as cyclicals rally, U.S. jobs data awaited

(Reuters) – European shares climbed on Thursday as encouraging economic data from across the globe and hopes of a COVID-19 vaccine lifted sentiment ahead of the crucial U.S. jobs data.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 1.2% to mark its fourth consecutive day of gains. Banks .SX7P, automakers .SXAP and travel & leisure .SXTP firms were the top gainers, jumping between 2.7% and 3.4%.

Financial markets entered the second half of the year on a cheerful note earlier this week, as business surveys showed a coronavirus-induced slump in global manufacturing eased in June.

Adding to optimism, a COVID-19 vaccine developed by German biotech firm BioNTech (BNTX.O) and U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (PFE.N) was found to be well-tolerated in early stage human trials.

All eyes are on the U.S. payrolls data, due at 1230 pm GMT. Economists have estimated that job numbers rose by 3 million in June, rebounding further after a historic 20.69 million plunge in April.

However, a spike in U.S. infections fuelled uncertainty.

New U.S. cases of COVID-19 jumped nearly 50,000 on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, marking the biggest one-day rise since the start of the pandemic.

“Given the ongoing threat from stubbornly rising infection numbers in key U.S. states, there seems to be little potential for the labour market report to produce a distinct upward push to the general market sentiment, as it did four weeks ago,” UniCredit analysts wrote in a note.

The end of the lockdown failed to bring a surge in employment in Spain as data showed that the 900,000 jobs lost at the peak of the pandemic had not been regained.

Among individual movers, Associated British Foods (ABF.L) jumped 7.3% after saying trading in its Primark fashion stores that reopened after the lockdown has been “reassuring and encouraging”.

German fashion house Hugo Boss (BOSSn.DE) rose 2.6% after it appointed Tommy Hilfiger executive Oliver Timm as its chief sales officer.

Scandal-hit Wirecard (WDIG.DE) slumped 27.1% after police and public prosecutors raided its headquarters in Munich and four properties in Germany and Austria.

Cardboard maker DS Smith (SMDS.L) fell 7.3% after saying it was too early to resume dividends in the short-term due to market uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Dutch construction company BAM Groep (BAMN.AS) dropped 11.6% as it warned of a “significant” loss in the first half of the year.

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Asian stocks near 4-month highs on vaccine hopes, eyes on U.S. payrolls

SYDNEY/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian stocks hovered near four-month highs on Thursday on hopes of a vaccine for COVID-19 while copper prices jumped to a more than six-month peak on a better global outlook and supply fears in top producer Chile.

All eyes are on U.S. employment data, due later in the day, which are expected offer further cues into how the world’s largest economy is coping with a rise in coronavirus cases in several states.

In a sign the positive sentiment will extend elsewhere, E-minis for S&P500 rose 0.3% while futures for Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.8% and those for Germany’s DAX climbed 0.8%. London’s FTSE futures added 0.6%.

Risk sentiment was whetted by a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, which was found to be well tolerated in early-stage human trials.[.N]

A vaccine for COVID-19, which has killed more than half a million people globally and shut down the world economy, has been long anticipated.

“Based on a vaccine trial containing 45 people, including placebos, the V-shaped recovery gnomes, are once again, reaching for the sky,” said Jeffrey Halley, Senior Market Analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside of Japan rose 1.5% to near levels seen in early March.

All major Asian indexes were upbeat with Japan’s Nikkei rising 0.1%, China’s blue-chip index adding 1.7% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 1.8%.

U.S. employment figures will help indicate whether the world’s largest economy can sustain its fragile recovery as new COVID-19 cases accelerate in several southern states.

Economists polled by Reuters expect private employers to show 2.9 new million new jobs June, which would follow a surprise increase in May. Casting some doubt over that projection, however, was a smaller-than-expected increase in jobs seen in the ADP report on Wednesday.

“A better-than-expected outcome could go some way to settling the near-term debate that the U.S. labor market will heal relatively quickly and justify new highs in U.S. equities,” said Stephen Innes, strategist at AxiCorp.

Wall Street ended Wednesday higher after key economic indicators showed a rebound in Chinese manufacturing activity as it recovers from the pandemic while sharp declines in European factory activity eased.

Equity investors shrugged off concerns about Hong Kong where police arrested more than 300 people protesting sweeping new laws introduced by China to snuff out dissent.

Those developments have raised concerns about China’s already strained relations with its major western trading partners, particularly the United States.

In commodities, the most-traded August copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange touched 49,570 yuan ($7,016.28) a tonne, its highest since Dec. 30, 2019.

Manufacturing activity rebounded in the United States in June, while the factory sector in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, contracted at a slower pace and top copper consumer China posted better-than-expected manufacturing data.

Meanwhile in Chile, where the number of COVID-19 cases have been climbing, miner BHP said it would begin to slow production at its small Cerro Colorado copper mine in the country.

Elsewhere, oil prices climbed and gold eased while the dollar was steady as encouraging macro data prompted investors to take on more risk.[O/R][GOL/]

Brent crude climbed 17 cents to $42.20 a barrel. U.S. crude rose 14 cents to $39.96 a barrel. U.S. gold futures were 0.21% lower, at $1,776.20.

The safe haven greenback was unchanged against the Japanese yen at 107.45. The euro was a shade higher at $1.1267 while sterling was slightly firmer at $1.2497.

The risk sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollar were 0.2% and 0.4% stronger respectively.

That left the dollar index at 97.044.

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Asian stocks rise on vaccine hopes, eyes on U.S. payrolls

SYDNEY/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian stocks tracked Wall Street higher on Thursday although sentiment was cautious ahead of U.S. employment data while copper prices jumped to more than six-month highs on a better global outlook and supply fears in top producer Chile.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside of Japan rose 0.9% with all major indexes trading higher on hopes of a vaccine for COVID-19, which has killed more than half a million people globally and shut down the world economy.

Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.4%, China’s blue-chip index added 0.6% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 1.7%.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were flat.

U.S. employment figures due later in the day are expected to show if the world’s largest economy can sustain its fragile recovery as new COVID-19 cases accelerate in several southern states.

Economists polled by Reuters expect private employers to show 2.9 new million new jobs June, which would follow a surprise increase in May. Casting some doubt over that projection, however, was a smaller-than-expected increase in jobs seen in the ADP report on Wednesday.

“A better-than-expected outcome could go some way to settling the near-term debate that the U.S. labor market will heal relatively quickly and justify new highs in U.S. equities,” said Stephen Innes, strategist at AxiCorp.

Wall Street ended Wednesday higher after key economic indicators showed a rebound in Chinese manufacturing activity as it recovers from the pandemic while sharp declines in European factory activity eased.

Risk sentiment was whetted by a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, which was found to be well tolerated in early-stage human trials.[.N]

Equity investors shrugged off concerns about Hong Kong where police arrested more than 300 people protesting sweeping new laws introduced by China to snuff out dissent.

Those developments have raised concerns about China’s already strained relations with its major western trading partners, particularly the United States.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday that would penalize banks doing business with Chinese officials who implement a national security law.

In commodities, the most-traded August copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange touched 49,570 yuan ($7,016.28) a tonne, its highest since Dec. 30, 2019.

Manufacturing activity rebounded in the United States in June, while the factory sector in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, contracted at a slower pace and top copper consumer China posted better-than-expected manufacturing data.

Meanwhile in Chile, where the number of COVID-19 cases have been climbing, miner BHP said it would begin to slow production at its small Cerro Colorado copper mine in the country.

Elsewhere, oil prices eased and gold was a tad softer too while the dollar was steady in a sign of investor caution despite encouraging macro data.[O/R][GOL/]

Brent crude slipped 6 cents to $41.97 a barrel. U.S. crude was off 12 cents at $39.70 a barrel. U.S. gold futures was 0.12% lower, at $1,777.70.

The safehaven greenback was unchanged against the Japanese yen at 107.45. The euro barely moved too and was last at $1.1254 while sterling was treading water at $1.2477.

That left the dollar index at 97.139.

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Asian stocks set to track U.S. gains but Hong Kong jitters weigh

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian stocks were set to track Wall Street gains on Thursday as investors cheered signs the global economy was emerging from its coronavirus hibernation although trade is likely to be choppy as fresh concerns about Hong Kong keep investors cautious.

Also adding to market apprehension is June U.S. employment data due later in the day, which will show if the world’s largest economy can sustain its fragile recovery as new COVID-19 cases accelerate in several southern states.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 edged 0.06% higher, while Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures climbed 0.71% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures rose 0.4%.

Economists polled by Reuters expect private employers to show 2.9 new million new jobs June, which would follow a surprise increase in May. Casting some doubt over that projection, however, was a smaller-than-expected increase in jobs seen in the ADP report on Wednesday.

“The weaker than expected ADP report suggests some downside risk to consensus,” said Joseph Capurso, head of international economics at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Wall Street shrugged off the miss and ended Wednesday trading higher after key economic indicators showed a rebound in Chinese manufacturing activity as it recovers from the pandemic and sharp declines in European factory activity eased.

In Hong Kong, Hang Seng index futures lost 0.42%. Markets in the Asian financial hub were closed on Wednesday, the same day police in the city arrested more than 300 people protesting sweeping new laws introduced by China to snuff out dissent.

Those developments have raised concerns about China’s already strained relations with its major western trading partners, particularly the United States.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday that would penalize banks doing business with Chinese officials who implement a national security law.

On Wall Street, however, the focus was on positive data. The MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.45% and the S&P 500 rose 0.50%.

The increase in manufacturing activity also propelled oil prices higher in anticipation of increased demand while gold and the dollar fell as the encouraging reports caused investors to take on more risk.

Brent crude rose 76 cents, or 1.8%, to settle at $42.03 a barrel. U.S. crude rose 55 cents, or 1.4%, to settle at $39.82 a barrel.

The improved sentiment weighed on the safehaven greenback with the dollar index down 0.265% and the euro up 0.03% to $1.1253.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.05% to 107.42 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.2477, up 0.06% on the day.

U.S. gold futures settled 1.1% lower, at $1,779.90.

U.S. Treasuries were weighed by the positive economic data and Federal Reserve meeting minutes, which signaled yield curve control was not coming anytime soon.

The benchmark 10-year yield was last up 2.9 basis points at 0.6824% on Wednesday.

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Asian stocks set to track U.S. gains but Hong Kong jitters weigh

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian stocks were set to track Wall Street gains on Thursday as investors cheered signs the global economy was emerging from its coronavirus hibernation although trade is likely to be choppy as fresh concerns about Hong Kong keep investors cautious.

Also adding to market apprehension is June U.S. employment data due later in the day, which will show if the world’s largest economy can sustain its fragile recovery as new COVID-19 cases accelerate in several southern states.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 edged 0.06% higher, while Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures climbed 0.71% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures rose 0.4%.

Economists polled by Reuters expect private employers to show 2.9 new million new jobs June, which would follow a surprise increase in May. Casting some doubt over that projection, however, was a smaller-than-expected increase in jobs seen in the ADP report on Wednesday.

“The weaker than expected ADP report suggests some downside risk to consensus,” said Joseph Capurso, head of international economics at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Wall Street shrugged off the miss and ended Wednesday trading higher after key economic indicators showed a rebound in Chinese manufacturing activity as it recovers from the pandemic and sharp declines in European factory activity eased.

In Hong Kong, Hang Seng index futures lost 0.42%. Markets in the Asian financial hub were closed on Wednesday, the same day police in the city arrested more than 300 people protesting sweeping new laws introduced by China to snuff out dissent.

Those developments have raised concerns about China’s already strained relations with its major western trading partners, particularly the United States.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday that would penalize banks doing business with Chinese officials who implement a national security law.

On Wall Street, however, the focus was on positive data. The MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.45% and the S&P 500 rose 0.50%.

The increase in manufacturing activity also propelled oil prices higher in anticipation of increased demand while gold and the dollar fell as the encouraging reports caused investors to take on more risk.

Brent crude rose 76 cents, or 1.8%, to settle at $42.03 a barrel. U.S. crude rose 55 cents, or 1.4%, to settle at $39.82 a barrel.

The improved sentiment weighed on the safehaven greenback with the dollar index down 0.265% and the euro up 0.03% to $1.1253.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.05% to 107.42 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.2477, up 0.06% on the day.

U.S. gold futures settled 1.1% lower, at $1,779.90.

U.S. Treasuries were weighed by the positive economic data and Federal Reserve meeting minutes, which signaled yield curve control was not coming anytime soon.

The benchmark 10-year yield was last up 2.9 basis points at 0.6824% on Wednesday.

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EU, Britain making 'very limited' progress in talks: Merkel

BERLIN (Reuters) – The European Union and Britain have made “very limited” progress in negotiations about their future relationship, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday, adding there was still a possibility that no deal would be agreed.

“Progress in talks is, to put it cautiously, very limited,” Merkel told parliament during a Q&A session.

“We have agreed with Britain to speed up the talks in order to seal a deal in autumn that must be ratified by the end of the year,” she said but added that Germany and the EU “must be prepared… for the possibility that a deal doesn’t materialise.”

Britain left the bloc on Jan. 31. A transition period, during which Britain remains in the European single market and customs union, expires on Dec. 31 and pressure is mounting to agree a free trade deal before then.

With the two sides still far apart, a round of “intensified negotiations” is scheduled for this week.

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