Fed survey finds widespread concerns over trade

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve’s latest nationwide survey released Wednesday reveals that despite growing worries about the impact of President Donald Trump’s trade battles, the overall economy remained solid.The Fed said that many of its 12 regions saw slight gains in retail sales and home sales. Auto sales remained flat and farmers struggled with heavy rains.“The outlook generally was positive for the coming months with expectations of continued modest growth, despite widespread concerns about the possible negative impact of trade-related uncertainty,” the Fed report said.The report, known as the beige book, will be used for discussion at the next Fed meeting on July 30-31 when it is expected to cut its policy rate for the first time in a decade.That view has strengthened following comments Fed Chairman Jerome Powell made in congressional testimony last week and in a speech on Tuesday in Paris. Powell emphasized Fed concerns over rising uncertainties related to trade tensions and a global slowdown and promised that the central bank “will act as appropriate” to sustain the current expansion, now the longest in U.S. history.A rate cut would un-do some of the credit tightening that occurred after the Fed raised rates four times last year, hikes that Trump has strongly attacked.Supporters of a rate can point to the beige book’s assessment that despite tight labour markets, inflation has remained at stubbornly low levels below the Fed’s target of 2% annual price increases.The report found that in the period from mid-May through early July, inflation was stable to slightly lower, even though some districts were seeing increased production costs due to higher tariffs and rising labour costs.The impact of the increases on consumers has been retrained, the Fed report said, because companies have not been able to pass on price increases due to brisk competition.The report said that farmers in the St. Louis, Minneapolis and Kansas City districts have had to contend with heavy rains and flooding that has delayed planting and ruined crops.Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press read more

Outrage and revulsion voiced by UN over suicide attack on voter registration

“The UN family in Afghanistan feels a deep sense of revulsion at today’s outrage,” said the Head of the Mission, Tadamichi Yamamoto, adding that “the killing appears to be part of a wholly unacceptable effort by extremists to deter Afghan citizens from carrying out their constitutional right to take part in elections.”Sunday’s attack took place when a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt, blew themselves up near the election facility in the west of Kabul – an area mostly populated by Shi’ite Muslims, according to UNAMA.The UN Secretary-General António Guterres strongly condemned the attack and said that those responsible must “swiftly be brought to justice.””They must not be allowed to suceed in deterring Afghan citizens from carrying out their constitutional right to take part in forthcoming elections,” he added. Mr. Yamamoto expressed his deep condolences to the family and victims, and wished the injured a speedy recovery.News reports said that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levan (ISIL) extremist group had claimed responsibility for the bombing, and many women and children are believed to be among the victims.Voter-registration began last week for parliamentary and district elections scheduled to take place on 20 October.UNAMA said that since then, “there have been a number of violent incidents around the country against the centres where citizens are required to sign up for the upcoming ballot.”Two police officers were shot and killed by armed assailants at a registration place in the city of Jalalabad on Thursday, and gunmen also torched a centre in Ghor; abducting electoral and security officials.They were released the following day. read more