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(Reuters) - Hong Kong students and the government stood their ground on Monday ahead of talks aimed at defusing more than three weeks of pro-democracy protests that have blocked traffic around the Chinese-controlled city, but expectations of a breakthrough were low.

Student-led protesters are calling for free elections in the former British trading post, but China insists on screening candidates first. Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader, Leung Chun-ying, has said the city’s government was unwilling to compromise on China’s restrictions.

The talks between student representatives and senior city government officials, scheduled for Tuesday evening, may yield small confidence-building measures and an agreement to continue the dialogue, but are unlikely to bridge the chasm between the two sides or end the demonstrations.

"I don’t expect much from tomorrow’s meeting, but I still hold some hope for the talks," said protester Woody Wong, a 21-year-old student who camped overnight on Nathan Road, the main thoroughfare in the densely populated Mong Kok district.

POSSIBLE WIGGLE ROOM

The Hong Kong government’s scope for negotiation is severely limited by the ruling Communist Party in Beijing, which at the end of August announced the parameters for the 2017 election of Hong Kong’s leader that sparked the protests.

The government may have some wiggle room in determining how the committee that selects candidates for Hong Kong’s leadership election is picked, Sung said. The committee is now expected to be stacked with Beijing loyalists, anointing only candidates palatable to China’s Communist Party.

"There is some flexibility within the framework, but the problem is whether or not the students will accept it," said Sung. "No one knows because the students are all idealistic."

Leung, who has rejected calls by protesters to quit, said on Sunday that more time was needed to broker what he hoped would be a non-violent end to the upheaval.

"To work out a solution, to put an end to this problem, we need time. We need time to talk to the people, particularly young students," he told Hong Kong’s ATV Television. "What I want is to see a peaceful and a meaningful end to this problem."

Full Reuters Article

Phroyd

[In picture] Smoke rises from a village on the outskirts of the Syrian town of Kobani, seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border on October 15, 2014. According to the US military, American-led forces have conducted 21 airstrikes near Kobani in the last two days to slow the advance of Islamic State militants, they warned that the situation on the ground is fluid as militants try to gain territory.

Image credit: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

From the aftermath of the violence in Gaza, a Palestinian boy looks out of his family’s house that witnesses said was badly damaged during the recent conflict. Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged Israel this week to consider launching new peace efforts based on an Arab initiative presented in 2002 and rejected by the Jewish state.

Photograph: Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Deep cleansing breath into the weekend for equity markets

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Today’s rally off of solid earnings and encouraging economic data is welcome. Given the backdrop of a pause in the trade lower that was established yesterday, after a test lower, it appears as though the panic that had gripped markets earlier in the week has subsided for the time being.  

As anticipated, markets are being provided with an earnings narrative that is encouraging to equity investors. Of the  S&P 500 companies that have reported thus far most have delivered on both revenue and earnings growth for Q3. Earnings growth in energy, materials and consumer discretionary have complimented the revenue growth we have seen in the health care and utility sectors.  All in, 80 of the S&P 500 companies have reported thus far. Of those, 64 percent have beaten on bottom line and 63 percent have beaten on Wall Street revenue estimates. Broadly speaking, S&P 500 earnings growth for Q3 stands at 9.1%. Revenues are expected to rise by roughly half that much. All 10 sectors are expected to post healthy year over year growth. So far, so good.

To a large degree the surprise for some this earnings season has come from financials. Both Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley reported better than expected numbers – by a wide margin.

The economic data we received this morning also acted to support the market. It is not just that it was positive. It is that it was positive and that it came from housing and consumer sentiment readings. Housing starts unexpectedly climbed 6.3 percent in August to an annualized rate of 1.02 million. In addition, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary sentiment index for October rose to 86.4 – the strongest reading in seven years.

Between solid Q3 earnings, positive economic data and the possibility of a residual QE still on the table, markets have regained some of the ground lost in this three week test lower. We will still close out the week with significant technical damage to the markets and significant distance from where we stood on September 18th. Again watch the earnings and data. Next week is the busiest week for earnings so far this season with 127 S&P 500 companies reporting.

Picture of the day: Kurdish refugee children from the Syrian town of Kobani flash victory signs in a camp in the southeastern town of Suruc, in Turkey. The US military said it had air-dropped arms to Syrian rebels fighting ISIL militants near Kobani on Sunday, in what appeared to be the Pentagon’s first public acknowledgment it has delivered lethal aid to the rebels. 

Image credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

May be its time for Obama to think about his ideas and decisions?

Actually some people (it was a quite big crowd) were not satisfied with president Obama and his yesterdays speech. They left the hall during his performance and as Reuters reported it was a sign of mistrust, an action that “underscored his continuing unpopularity”.

Does it mean that the president has the lowest rate of national support ever?

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It could be surprising if mr. Obama kept his promises, but now many citizens are disappointed with his actions (inaction?) about stopping war in Iraq, border crisis etc…

A passenger looks out of the window of the bar car of a historic Tehran-bound train as it leaves Budapest, October 15, 2014. The luxury train that connects the capitals of Hungary and Iran, left Budapest for the first time on Wednesday, with 70 passengers set to cross the eastern Balkans, the Bosphorus and Kurdistan on the way to Persia. The two-week trip sets back each participant at least 9,000 pounds (US$ 14,400, euros 11,200) and some as much as 25,000 pounds including full service with private bathroom, a sightseeing program and the beautiful scenery that rolls leisurely by for about 7,000 kilometres (4,350 miles). “There is a huge vacuum in the tourist industry for people who would like to go to Iran, but want to do it in comfort and safety,” the founder of Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, Tim Littler, told Reuters while aboard a pre-war sleeper as a steam locomotive pulled the cars through the Hungarian plains. (Photograph Credit: Bernadett Szabó/Reuters)

Yen at around 110 to the dollar a key pain point for Japan firms: Reuters poll

Yen at around 110 to the dollar a key pain point for Japan firms: Reuters poll

TOKYO (Reuters) – Nearly half of Japanese firms think the government should start defending the yen at this month’s dollar high of 110, a Reuters survey shows, underscoring the threat that rising fuel and other import costs pose to a fragile economy.


Reuters: Business News

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