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Turkish tanks trained on northern Iraq in show of force ahead of vote

September 19, 2017

SIRNAK, Turkey (Reuters) – Turkish troops dug in on the country’s southern border on Tuesday and turned their weapons toward Kurdish-run northern Iraq, where authorities plan an independence referendum in defiance of Ankara and Western powers.

Tanks and rocket launchers mounted on armored vehicles faced the Iraqi frontier, about 2 km (one mile) away, and mechanical diggers tore up agricultural fields for the army to set up positions in the flat, dry farmlands.

The military drill, launched without warning on Monday, is due to last until Sept. 26, Turkish military sources said, a day after the planned referendum for Kurdish independence in northern Iraq.

A Reuters reporter saw four armored vehicles carrying heavy weaponry and soldiers taking positions in specially dug areas, their weapons directed across the border. A generator and satellite dish could be seen at one location.

The show of force reflects the scale of concern in Turkey, which has the largest Kurdish population in the region, that the vote could embolden the outlawed Kurdish PKK which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s southeast.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week Ankara would not shy away from using force if necessary, and the showdown has hit the Turkish lira. It weakened beyond 3.5 to the dollar on Tuesday for the first time in four weeks.

Turkey has long seen itself as protector of the ethnic Turkmen minority, with particular concern about the oil city of Kirkuk where Kurds have extended their control since seizing the city when Islamic State overwhelmed Iraqi forces in 2014.


Tensions spread to Turkish markets.

“The increasing tension before the referendum in northern Iraq continues to effect lira negatively,” Kapital FX Research Assistant Manager Enver Erkan said.

Cross-border trade, however, appeared to continue. Despite the nearby military maneuvers a kilometer line of traffic, mostly trucks and cargo, queued to enter Iraq at the Habour border gate.

Turkey’s strong economic ties to the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) will weigh on any response from Ankara. The KRG pumps hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day and has approved plans for Russian oil major Rosneft to invest in pipelines to export gas to Turkey and Europe.

The military exercises came as Turkey, the central government in Baghdad and their shared neighbor Iran all stepped up protests and warnings about the independence referendum in the semi-autonomous Kurdish northern Iraq.

The United States and other Western countries have also voiced concerns and asked Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani to call off the vote, citing fears the referendum could distract attention from the fight against Islamic State militants.

Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court ordered Barzani to suspend the vote and approved Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s demand to consider “the breakaway of any region or province from Iraq as unconstitutional”, his office said on Monday.

Turkey has brought forward to Friday a cabinet meeting and a session of its national security council to consider possible action.

(Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans and Ralph Boulton)

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British finance watchdog to implement European payments shake-up

September 19, 2017

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s financial watchdog said on Tuesday it will implement European Union rules aimed at opening the banking sector to greater competition.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), will also make payments cheaper and more secure.

The changes include a requirement for banks to open up their closely-guarded customer data to other firms, which can use it to offer better services, chipping away at banks’ dominance and ability to cross-sell their own products.

Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said in a statement that firms should ensure they understand what they need to do to get ready for the new regime.

The rule changes will affect banks and building societies as well as payment and e-money institutions, with fintech firms expected to benefit substantially from the changes.

PSD2 has to be implemented into national law by January 2018 – more than a year before Britain leaves the European Union.

(Reporting by Emma Rumney; editing by Alexander Smith)

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Leading Dermatologists Pave The Future During 2017 WDS Media Day

MILWAUKEE, Sept. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Women’s Dermatologic Society (WDS) presents its bi-annual Media Day on October 12, 2017 at the Gansevoort Meatpacking in New York City. The luncheon brings together the brightest minds in dermatology to explore the advances, techniques and…

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Airbus looks to China for A380 jumbo amid sluggish global sales

September 19, 2017

By Brenda Goh

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese airlines could need between 60 and 100 Airbus <AIR.PA> A380 jets over the next five or so years as passenger traffic grows, the plane maker’s China head said on Tuesday, amid rising questions over future demand for the super jumbo.

Strong demand in China – if translated into orders – would be a major boost for the A380, the world’s biggest jetliner, which has faced sluggish demand as airlines shift focus towards a generation of nimbler, more fuel-efficient long-haul planes such as the A350 and rival Boeing Co’s <BA.N> 787.

China is the world’s fastest growing aviation market and is a key battleground for Airbus as well as Boeing which recently predicted the country would spend over $1 trillion on planes over the next 20 years.

“When I look at the market flow, the passenger flow, route by route and the economics, I’m fully confident that the Chinese carriers will need a minimum of 60 A380s over the next 5 to 7 years,” Airbus China Head Eric Chen said at an event in Beijing.

Airbus has sold five A380s to China Southern Airlines Co Ltd <600029.SS> but has otherwise failed to penetrate the market with the double-decker jet despite its robust demand forecasts.

The aircraft manufacturer believes the A380 will come into its own in markets that face booming tourism and congestion like China, but the aircraft has struggled to compete with smaller and more flexible twin-engined models.

In July, Airbus signed an agreement to sell 140 A320 and A350 planes to China in a deal worth almost $23 billion. China represents around 22 percent of Airbus global deliveries.

“What I can say is that if one airline takes the lead to order a large number of A380s, the others will follow. I would expect a domino effect and I’m working on it to produce that domino effect that has not happened yet,” Chen said.

He admitted though that it would not necessarily be an easy task to win over Chinese buyers.

“A lack of confidence to operate the A380, that is something to work on continuously with the airlines in China,” he said.

Europe’s largest aerospace company will on Wednesday inaugurate a completion and delivery centre for its A330 jet in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin. The facility is Airbus’ first for wide-body aircraft outside Europe and is expected to deliver its first A330 aircraft this year.

Francois Mery, chief operating officer at Airbus China, said that there was talk of placing more higher-value work in China, as the company has set a target of doubling its industrial cooperation activity in the country to $1 billion by 2020.

“It’s not only about the figure, it also about the content,” he said.

“They have the ambition of getting into the business, making their own aircraft, they need to develop all kinds of things. And so without being naive, of course we are working with them.”

Airbus’ comments came as the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC) [CMAFC.UL], which is leading China’s efforts to become a key player in the global civil aerospace market, on Tuesday announced 130 in orders for its C919 jet.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh, additional reporting by Tim Hepher in PARIS, writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Keith Weir)

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Bayer says needs more time for Monsanto deal approval

September 19, 2017

By Ludwig Burger

MONHEIM, Germany (Reuters) – German drugs and pesticides group Bayer <BAYGn.DE> said it would likely take until early next year to complete the planned $66 billion takeover of U.S. seeds group Monsanto <MON.N>, which it had previously expected to be under wraps by the end of 2017.

The European Commission has been scrutinising the takeover with a deadline of Jan. 8. Bayer said in a statement it had asked the regulator for an extension to Jan. 22, to which the EU Commission responded by saying it would take a decision shortly.

Liam Condon, head of Bayer’s Crop Science division, said: “An anticipated closing of the deal in early 2018 is now more likely than end of the 2017.”

The Commission last month started an in-depth investigation of the takeover, saying it was worried about competition in various pesticide and seeds markets.

Among a slew of markets where competition was at risk, the EU Commission at the time named Monsanto’s weed killer glyphosate, or Roundup, which competes with Bayer’s glufosinate; vegetable and canola seeds; and licensing of cotton-seed technology to peers.

More broadly, it said the deal might slow the race to develop new products, and that the European Union would try to prevent Bayer from becoming too dominant in combined offerings of seeds and pesticides with the help of digital farming tools such as connected sensors, software and precision machines.

Bayer, which was holding a media event on its Crop Science business on Tuesday, also said the division would face volatile global markets for the rest of the year but would slowly return to growth from 2018, including its embattled Brazilian business.

Bayer warned in June that poor sales at crop protection distributors in Brazil would full-year hit earnings.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Georgina Prodhan)

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Germany must not end combustion engine era like UK: Foreign Minister

September 19, 2017

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany must not phase out combustion engine cars as Britain is doing, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Tuesday in the wake of an emissions scandal that has damaged the reputation of the country’s powerful carmakers.

Gabriel, a Social Democrat (SPD), also said the production of batteries for electric cars in Germany is important and needs state support.

“I am convinced we must not agree on an end to the combustion engine.. we must take steps to strengthen e-mobility but we must not in the process lose sight of the potential of the combustion engine,” said Gabriel at an industry event.

Britain will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040.

(Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Caroline Copley)

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