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Exclusive: China plans to revive strategic Pacific airstrip, Kiribati lawmaker says By Reuters

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Exclusive: China plans to revive strategic Pacific airstrip, Kiribati lawmaker says By Reuters



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Students holding national flags of China and Kiribati wait for a welcoming ceremony for Kiribati’s President Taneti Maamau at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Jason Lee

By Jonathan Barrett

SYDNEY (Reuters) – China has drawn up plans to upgrade an airstrip and bridge on one of Kiribati’s remote islands about 3,000km southwest of Hawaii, lawmakers told Reuters, in a bid to revive a site that hosted military aircraft during World War Two.

The plans, which have not been made public, involve construction on the tiny island of Kanton (also spelled Canton), a coral atoll strategically located midway between Asia and the Americas.

Kiribati opposition lawmaker Tessie Lambourne told Reuters she was concerned about the project, and wanted to know whether it was part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

“The government hasn’t shared the cost and other details other than it’s a feasibility study for the rehabilitation of the runway and bridge,” Lambourne told Reuters. “The opposition will be seeking more information from government in due course.”

The office of Kiribati President Taneti Maamau did not respond to questions.

The Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to questions.

Despite being small, Kiribati, a nation of 120,000 residents, controls one of the biggest exclusive economic zones in the world, covering more than 3.5 million square kilometres of the Pacific.

Any significant build-up on Kanton, located 3,000 kilometres (1,864 miles) southwest of Hawaii and U.S. military bases there, would offer a foothold to China deep into territory that had been firmly aligned to the U.S. and its allies since World War Two.

“The island would be a fixed aircraft carrier,” said one adviser to Pacific governments, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the project.

The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet and U.S. State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) has in recent years been at the centre of a tussle between China and the U.S. and its Pacific allies.

In late 2019 it severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favour of China, in a decision overseen by Maamau, who went on to win a closely contested election on a pro-China platform.

The diplomatic shift, which mirrored events in the Solomon Islands, was a setback for self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as a province with no right to state-to-state ties. Taiwan counts the U.S. as an important international backer and supplier of arms.

Kanton has been used by the U.S. for space and missile tracking operations and its near 2-kilometre (6,562 ft) runway hosted long-range bombers during the war.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) said in a paper last year that Chinese facilities on Kiribati would be positioned across major sea lanes between North America, and Australia and New Zealand.

Beijing has labelled the think tank as “anti-China”.

Along with its strategic significance, the waters around Kanton are rich in fish, including tuna, although commercial fishing is prohibited as the island is in a marine protected zone.

There are around two dozen residents on Kanton who rely on subsistence fishing and supply ships.





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Chinese Producer Prices Surge, bur Consumer Prices Slow Down, Over Inflation By Investing.com

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Chinese Producer Prices Surge, bur Consumer Prices Slow Down, Over Inflation By Investing.com



© Reuters.

By Gina Lee

Investing.com – China’s producer price jumped in April, but consumer inflation saw modest gains, as soaring commodity prices increased concerns about inflation.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said that China’s grew 6.8% year-on-year in April, the highest since October 2017. It exceeded the 6.5% growth in forecasts prepared by Investing.com and March’s 4.4% growth.

Meanwhile, the consumer price index (CPI) fell 0.3% in April, lower than the 0.2% contraction in forecasts prepared by Investing.com but above March’s 0.5% decrease. The CPI grew 0.9% , slightly below the 1.0% growth in forecasts prepared by Investing.com while remaining above March’s 0.4% growth.

The widening gap between the CPI and PPI “suggests an uneven recovery of the economy,” said Raymond Yeung, chief China economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (OTC:) Ltd.

“Despite the commodity boom, the service sector has yet to catch up… wages are lagging and the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) will likely keep its policy stance ‘largely neutral,'”  he added.

Investors are also concerned that a commodities boom in the world’s biggest exporter, which was driven by increasing global demand and supply shortages, will lead to inflation globally as manufacturers start passing on higher prices to retailers.

Some central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, maintain the view that any inflation is temporary. However, Chinese policymakers insist that it can limit the impact of commodity prices on the domestic economy and control price growth. Meanwhile, the government also pledged to limit costs to firms by taking further measures to control the raw materials market.

The PBOC is also looking to slow down its stimulus measures rolled out as COVID-19 spread in 2020, due to concerns over the buildup of debt. Economists also expect a slowdown of credit expansion instead of interest rate growth.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party’s Politburo said in April that it will not hand down any sharp reversal of macroeconomic policies.

While China targets to keep its consumer inflation at around 3% this year, the index is expected to be “significantly lower” than the official aim in 2021, said an NBS official.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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Benign food prices likely dragged India’s April inflation to three-month low: Reuters poll By Reuters

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Benign food prices likely dragged India’s April inflation to three-month low: Reuters poll By Reuters



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective face mask buys fruit in a market, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mumbai, India, August 20, 2020. REUTERS/Hemanshi Kamani

By Vivek Mishra

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Indian retail inflation likely eased to a three-month low in April on softening prices for vegetables and other perishable foods, a Reuters poll suggested, bringing the headline rate closer to the midpoint of the Reserve Bank of India’s medium-term target.

That reprieve would provide policymakers with some relief as they seek to keep prices under control amid growing risks that state-wide lockdowns and curfews imposed to tackle a record surge of COVID-19 cases could disrupt supplies and fuel prices.

Consumer price inflation was predicted to cool to 4.20% in April, just above the RBI’s 4% mid-point target and down from March’s four-month high of 5.52%, according to the poll of nearly 50 economists taken over the past week.

Forecasts for the headline figure ranged from 3.90% to 6.15%. The data will be released on May 12 at 1200 GMT.

“Base effects are significantly favourable in April, putting more than 150 basis points downward pressure on headline year-on-year inflation. Beyond this, onion prices have also fallen further,” noted Samiran Chakraborty, chief economist for India at Citi.

“On the other hand, prices of food excluding vegetables continue to exert upward pressure on inflation. Fuel prices remained broadly stable in April, likely due to the state elections.”

India will probably receive an average amount of rain in the 2021 monsoon, the India Meteorological Department said last month. Rain delivers about 70% of the country’s annual rainfall and helps drive up food and grain production, which keeps inflation in check.

However, the recent build-up in input costs, driven by high global commodity prices and supply chain disruptions, remains a major concern for the central bank.

The RBI raised its inflation projection for the first half of this fiscal year to 5.2% last month, still within the central bank’s target range of 2%-6%.

“Despite the expected easing in CPI to 4% levels and downside risks to growth, we expect the RBI to keep rates on hold at its June meeting and all through FY22,” said Teresa John, economist at Nirmal Bang.

“We expect the RBI to rely on yield curve management to ensure the smooth sailing of the borrowing programme and to keep benchmark linked rates from rising so as to aid the recovery. We also expect the RBI to continue with its liquidity support measures for the vulnerable sectors.”

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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Worst-paying blue chip employers bolstered CEO pay in pandemic, report says By Reuters

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Worst-paying blue chip employers bolstered CEO pay in pandemic, report says By Reuters



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A delivery staff member wearing a protective mask enters a KFC fast food outlet after a delivery, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatt

By Jessica DiNapoli

NEW YORK (Reuters) – More than half of 100 companies with the lowest median employee wages in the boosted CEO pay by changing the rules for assessing executive performance during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by a left-leaning policy group published on Tuesday.

The report from the Institute for Policy Studies found that 51 of these 100 companies, including beverage and snack maker Coca-Cola (NYSE:) Co, cruise ship operator Carnival (NYSE:) Corp and fast food corporation Yum Brands Inc, reduced median worker pay by 2% to $28,187 on average in 2020 compared to 2019, even as the median compensation for their CEOs rose 29% to $15.3 million.

The findings offer ammunition to investors opposing executive compensation hikes in non-binding votes held at the annual shareholder meetings of companies. More companies are facing shareholder backlash against their CEO pay this year than last, Reuters has reported.

The companies studied in the report bolstered executive compensation by lowering performance targets, giving retention bonuses and swapping out stock awards linked to financial results with time-based share grants, the report found.

A Carnival spokesman said in an email that CEO Arnold Donald received no cash bonus in 2020 and his total compensation in last year was down 29% versus 2019.

A Coke spokesperson referred comment to the company’s proxy statement, which notes that roughly 1,000 employees received special share awards, in addition to executives.

“We can’t rely on corporate boards to fix the problem of excessive CEO compensation,” Sarah Anderson, a co-author of the report, said in an interview. Anderson suggested in the report that companies with the highest CEO-to-average worker pay ratios should be taxed more.

The CEO-to-average worker pay ratio for the 51 companies in the report was 830-to-1.

The Yum Brands board authorized discretionary adjustments to bonus programs resulting in a $1.4 million bonus for CEO David Gibbs he otherwise would not have received, according to a securities filing. He also received a one-time stock award of $882,127, for a total 2020 compensation of $14.6 million, according to the filing.

The company’s board said the compensation boost was appropriate given that Gibbs and other executives helped stabilize the business and positioned it for success coming out of the pandemic.

In a prepared statement, Yum Brands said Gibbs gave up his base salary and used it to help fund one-time $1,000 bonuses for nearly 1,200 restaurant general managers. The company also awarded special bonuses to team members in company-owned restaurants globally.

Yum Brands identified a part-time worker at its fast food chicken chain KFC as its median employee, with a total compensation of $11,377, in the filing.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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