Powell testimony, Fed meeting highlight case for 'insurance'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A confidence shock driven partly by the U.S. trade war is at the center of an increasingly persuasive argument for Federal Reserve policymakers seriously considering cutting rates for the first time in a decade.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday set the stage for the rate cut this month, as records from policymakers’ latest meeting showed increasing fear that a U.S.-China trade war that has done little to directly restrain growth is indirectly causing businesses to hold back on buying equipment, giving workers a raise and hiking their prices.

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Asia stocks rise, dollar sags as Fed chair sets stage for rate cut

TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian stocks rose and the dollar sagged on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reinforced prospects of a U.S. interest rate cut later this month.

In an appearance before his congressional overseers on Wednesday, Powell confirmed that the U.S. economy is still under threat from disappointing factory activity, tame inflation and a simmering trade war.

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U.S. to probe French plan to tax tech companies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered an investigation into France’s planned tax on technology companies, a probe that could lead to the United States imposing new tariffs or other trade restrictions.

“The United States is very concerned that the digital services tax which is expected to pass the French Senate tomorrow unfairly targets American companies,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement announcing the investigation.

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Ryanair sees risk to 2020 growth if 737 MAX grounded beyond November

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The boss of Europe’s Ryanair Holdings (RYA.I) warned on Wednesday the impact of the prolonged grounding of Boeing Co’s (BA.N) 737 MAX on the airline’s growth plans may start to spill over to next summer if the airplane is not flying again by November.

Europe’s largest budget carrier needs up to eight months to take delivery of some 50 newly built planes left at the factory by the grounding crisis, so it may have to trim its capacity growth plans for summer 2020 if 737 MAX flights have not resumed by November, Chief Executive Michael O’Leary told Reuters.

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Lockheed Martin says will keep Pennsylvania plant open

(Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp has decided to keep the Sikorsky helicopter plant in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, open after U.S. President Donald Trump pressed its chief executive to continue operations, the company said on Twitter on Wednesday.

“At the request of President Trump, I took another look at our decision to close the Coatesville, PA, facility and have decided to keep it open while we pursue additional work,” Lockheed Martin quoted CEO Marillyn Hewson as saying.

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Europe should brace for U.S. tariffs on several fronts: German official

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - European Union member states should brace for U.S. tariffs on several fronts in the months ahead, a senior German official warned late on Tuesday, just hours before Washington launched a probe of a planned French digital tax that could trigger future tariffs.

Peter Beyer, Germany’s transatlantic coordinator and member of parliament, said while there was continued U.S. interest in dialogue with Europe, the Trump administration nonetheless appeared poised to impose tariffs over disputes about aircraft subsidies, the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline and European car imports.

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IBM proposes changes to law shielding internet firms from user content liability

(Reuters) - International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) proposed changes to a 1996 law that protects internet companies from liabilities related to what users post on their platforms.

In a blog post on Wednesday, IBM called for a fresh look at Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230), which exempts developers of online services from lawsuits stemming from user-posted content such as restaurant reviews or social media photos. (ibm.co/2JqXHE0)

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Domestic airfares soar in Indonesia despite government price cap

SINGAPORE/JAKARTA (Reuters) - When Resti Novita Sari booked to fly from Jakarta to her hometown of Padang to visit family for the Eid holiday, airfares were 40% to 60% higher than she had paid in previous years.

“It made me think twice about buying airplane tickets,” she said, adding that she eventually paid 1.7 million rupiah ($120.48) each way for the short flight from the island of Java to Sumatra.

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Last Volkswagen Beetle drives into the sunset

PUEBLA, Mexico (Reuters) - Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) rolled the last Beetle off the assembly line on Wednesday, the end of the road for a car that ran from Nazi Germany through hippie counterculture but failed to navigate a swerve in consumer tastes toward SUVs.

Serenaded by a mariachi band and surrounded by proud factory workers, the final units of the retro, rounded compact were celebrated at a VW plant in Mexico’s central Puebla state morethan 80 years after the model was introduced in Germany.

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U.S. oil companies slash Gulf of Mexico production as storm bears down

HOUSTON (Reuters) - U.S. oil producers on Wednesday cut nearly a third of Gulf of Mexico crude output as what could be one of the first major storms of the Atlantic hurricane season threatened offshore oil production and began soaking Louisiana with heavy rains.

Fifteen production platforms and four rigs were evacuated in the north central Gulf of Mexico, according to a U.S. regulatoras oil firms moved workers to safety ahead of a storm expected to become a hurricane by Friday.

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