Head of Japan's Olympic Committee indicted in France over corruption allegations

PARIS (Reuters) – The president of Japan’s Olympic Committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, has been indicted in France on corruption allegations, a judicial source confirmed on Friday.

He was indicted last month by the national financial prosecutor’s office in Paris, the source said.

Takeda, a retired equestrian sportsman who is helping to organize Japan’s hosting of the 2020 Olympic Games, was not immediately reachable for comment.

The Japanese Olympic Committee said it was not immediately able to comment. Tokyo 2020, the games’ organizing body, was not available for comment.

In 2016, French prosecutors announced an investigation into more than $2 million of payments made by the Japanese bidding committee to a Singaporean consultancy firm, Black Tidings, during the bidding for the 2020 games.

Takeda was questioned in 2017 by Japanese prosecutors in relation to those payments. The questioning took place at the request of French authorities, Kyodo News agency reported at the time.

Black Tidings is headed by Ian Tan Tong Hon, who is known to be friends with Papa Massata Diack, the son of disgraced former international athletics chief Lamine Diack.

Japanese officials said at the time that the payments were legitimate consultant’s fees, and a panel commissioned by the Japanese Olympic Committee said in 2016 that it found the payments to have been legitimate. (here)

Japan’s hosting of the Summer Games has been mired in setbacks, including an overhaul of the stadium design, which was abandoned in response to public anger over soaring costs, and plagiarism allegations over its original logo.

Takeda, 71, has long been involved in the Olympics movement, having competed as a show jumper in the 1972 and 1976 games.

He has been a member of the Japanese Olympic Committee since 1987 and its president since 2001, helping to coordinate the preparations for several Winter Olympics as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC was not immediately reachable for comment.

Takeda attended a ceremony in Tokyo on Friday along with former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, the president of Tokyo 2020, according to Mori’s office.

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Carlos Ghosn Faces New Charges in Japan as Pressure Mounts

TOKYO — Japanese prosecutors brought fresh charges on Friday against Carlos Ghosn, the embattled global auto chief who sits in a Tokyo jail.

The new allegations of financial wrongdoing raise the stakes in a showdown between Mr. Ghosn, until recently the head of the vast car-making alliance of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi, and the prosecutors, who have been working in tandem with whistle-blowers inside Nissan. It also signals that prosecutors remain undeterred by Mr. Ghosn’s recent assertion of innocence in court.

Mr. Ghosn, his top aide Greg Kelly and Nissan are now charged with understating Mr. Ghosn’s income through March 2018, according to a statement from the Tokyo District Court. Mr. Ghosn was also charged with improperly transferring personal losses to Nissan’s books in 2008.

Mr. Ghosn has been detained since November, when prosecutors seized him shortly after his corporate jet touched down at a Tokyo airport. He was later indicted, along with Mr. Kelly and Nissan itself, on suspicion of withholding millions of dollars in income from Nissan financial filings between 2011 and 2015, when he was both chairman and chief executive of the company.

The auto executive has denied the allegations, declaring at his first appearance at a court proceeding on Tuesday that he had been “wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations.”

The next step is likely to be Mr. Ghosn’s lawyers applying for bail, which could happen as soon as Friday. Motonari Otsuru, Mr. Ghosn’s lead lawyer in Tokyo, has said that he would ask for Mr. Ghosn’s release on bail. But even Mr. Otsuru, who is a former top prosecutor, has speculated that the authorities will seek to deny bail and that the executive’s detention could stretch for months as the two sides head to court.

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Japan fund managers keep equity exposure steady in December, trim bonds: Reuters poll

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese fund managers kept their overall exposure to stocks steady and trimmed their bond holdings in December, a Reuters poll showed.

Respondents on average allocated 39.1 percent of the model portfolios to stocks in December, unchanged from November.

December was a challenging month for equities, with global economic growth concerns adding to existing investor worries such as the trade war between the United States and China.

MSCI’s gauge of global stocks .MIWD00000PUS has declined 7 percent so far in December, touching its lowest since May 2017.

“In addition to the U.S.-China trade war’s impact on corporate performance, the Fed’s stance on monetary policy, slowing growth in emerging markets and Brexit are likely to keep weighing on equities,” said Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance.

The fund managers kept their exposure to key equity markets unchanged from the previous month, with holdings of Japanese, North American and euro zone stocks steady at 48.8 percent, 28.7 percent and 13.2 percent, respectively.

The respondents shaved their overall exposure to bonds to 53.8 percent in December from 54.0 percent in November.

They nudged up their North American bond holdings to 30.7 percent in December from 29.5 percent in November, while trimming Japan bond exposure to 41.3 percent from 42.0 percent.

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Six U.S. Marines missing after two warplanes crash into ocean off Japan

TOKYO – A Marine refuelling plane and a fighter jet crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Japan’s southwestern coast after a midair collision early Thursday, and rescuers found one of the seven crew members in stable condition while searching for the others, officials said.

The U.S. Marine Corps said that the 2 a.m. crash involved an F/A-18 fighter jet and a KC-130 refuelling aircraft during regular training after the planes took off from their base in Iwakuni, near Hiroshima in western Japan.

The crash took place 320 kilometres (200 miles) off the coast.

Japan’s Defence Ministry said the aircraft carrying seven crew members in total collided and crashed into the sea south of the Muroto Cape on Shikoku island in southwestern Japan.

The Maritime Self-Defence Force, which dispatched aircraft and vessels to join in the search operation, said Japanese rescuers found one of the crew members in stable condition. The Marine Corps said the rescued crew was taken to a hospital at its base in Iwakuni and was being treated, but did not provide any other details.

Japanese officials said two crew members were in the F/A-18, and five others in the KC-130.

The crash is the latest in recent series of accidents involving the U.S. military deployed to and near Japan.

Last month, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan crashed into the sea southwest of Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, though its two pilots were rescued safely. In mid-October, a MH-60 Seahawk also belonging to the Ronald Reagan crashed off the Philippine Sea shortly after takeoff, causing non-fatal injuries to a dozen sailors.

More than 50,000 U.S. troops are based in Japan under the bilateral security pact.

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Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan discusses bilateral cooperation with Japan's Taro Kono

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan discussed broader and deeper bilateral cooperation with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kano over dinner on Tuesday (Dec 4), as part of his three-day working visit to Japan that will end on Wednesday.

The ministers also exchanged views on domestic developments in Japan and key regional developments, taking in Asean-Japan relations, the Rohingya refugee situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and Japan’s relations with its neighbours, including the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

The ministers also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), under which Singapore and Japan jointly provide technical assistance to third countries. The Japan-Singapore Partnership Programme for the 21st Century MOU underscores both countries’ commitment to support the future-oriented growth of Asean and the Asia-Pacific through technical assistance.

In a Facebook post on his arrival in Tokyo on Monday, Dr Balakrishnan said: “Japan and Singapore enjoy strong bilateral ties, and have been steadfast partners ever since we established bilateral relations 52 years ago in 1966. Our relationship is underpinned by our close economic cooperation, as well as strong people-to-people ties.”

In the last two days, he has met several senior Japanese officials, including general council chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Katsunobu Kato, Komeito chief representative Natsuo Yamaguchi and former defence minister Itsunori Onodera.

In these meetings, Dr Balakrishnan reaffirmed the excellent state of bilateral ties with Japan and explored ways to elevate bilateral and regional cooperation through new areas of collaboration.

On Wednesday, he will meet LDP policy research council chairman Fumio Kishida, former LDP secretary-general and former defence minister Shigeru Ishiba, special adviser to the Prime Minister Hiroto Izumi, Japanese academics and Singaporean business representatives in Japan, before concluding his visit.

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World stocks soar, dollar dips, yuan up on China-U.S. trade war ceasefire

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A truce in the U.S.-China trade war boosted global stocks to their highest in roughly three weeks on Monday, while sending the dollar lower and the Chinese yuan and several trade-dependent currencies higher.

The rally in equities follows an agreement between Washington and Beijing at the G20 summit in Argentina on Saturday that calls for a 90-day trade tariff truce. Oil prices jumped more than 3 percent.

“Today is mostly about celebrating the fact that the U.S. and China have delayed what could have been the some of the worst-case scenarios regarding their trade relations,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 243.98 points, or 0.96 percent, to 25,782.44, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 25.02 points, or 0.91 percent, to 2,785.19 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 88.86 points, or 1.21 percent, to 7,419.40.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 1.03 percent.

U.S. President Donald Trump said China has agreed to “reduce and remove” tariffs below the 40 percent level currently charged on U.S.-made vehicles. That helped boost shares of European automakers more than 3 percent .SXAP.

The White House also said the existing 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would be increased to 25 percent if no deal was reached within 90 days.

MSCI’s all-country world index .MIWD00000PUS climbed 0.25 percent, its sixth straight daily gain.

The U.S. dollar fell broadly as currencies battered by trade tensions staged a comeback.

“The G20, the dinner in particular, has ignited quite a robust risk rally and that’s coming at the dollar’s expense,” said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington.China’s offshore yuan CNH= gained about 1 percent to 6.8796. The Australian dollar, viewed as a barometer of Chinese growth, was 0.5 percent higher against the greenback.

The New Zealand dollar NZD= gained 0.6 percent, while the U.S. dollar lost 0.6 percent against the Canadian dollar CAD=.

Sterling gave up early gains and dived to its lowest since the end of October as investors dumped the currency on growing concerns about British parliamentary approval for a Brexit deal.

“Until the British parliament votes on the deal next week we are going to see a steady drum beat of Brexit headlines, which is going to keep the pound weak,” Danske Bank strategist Morten Helt said. Lawmakers are to vote Dec. 11 on Prime Minister Theresa May’s agreement on leaving the European Union.

U.S. Treasury yields rose after the U.S.-China deal boosted stocks and reduced demand for safe-haven U.S. debt, but they reversed course at midday as risk appetite faded.

Germany’s 10-year government bond, the benchmark for the euro area, initially rose four basis points to 0.347 percent DE10YT=RR, then eased back to 0.3 percent.

Yields on riskier southern European bonds were down across the board. Italian bond yields hit their lowest level in just over two months on reports that Rome was negotiating a lower budget deficit with the EU and a new capital key from the European Central Bank.

Oil prices got an extra boost as Canada’s Alberta province ordered a production cut, while OPEC and allied exporting countries looked set to reduce supply.

U.S. crude oil futures settled at $52.95 per barrel, up 3.97 percent. Brent crude futures settled at $61.69 per barrel, up 3.75 percent.

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European stocks wilt after tech reboot fails

LONDON (Reuters) – Europe’s share markets drooped back into the red on Thursday, as investor worries about slowing global growth in the face of rising U.S. interest rates and trade tensions outweighed crucial Brexit progress.

Chinese markets had extended their slump in Asia amid the trade war with the United States, and with Wall Street closed later for Thanksgiving and trading therefore lighter than normal, Europe followed suit.

The region had plenty of concerns of its own. Italy was back under pressure in both stock [.EU] and bond markets [GVD/EUR] as sparring resumed over its budget plans, while a batch of disappointing company earnings added to the gloom.

The dollar also edged lower for a second day as traders sold the greenback going into Thanksgiving and after Wall Street had seen Apple shares, which have slumped $280 billion in recent weeks, fail with an attempted rebound. [.N][/FRX]

“I think that the recent moves in equities have largely been about big tech catching up with the rest of the market,” said Eoin Murray, the head of investment at Hermes Investment Management.

“Post the (global market) wobbles at the end of January, it has really only been big tech that has run off into the stratosphere … So this is simply big tech coming back down to earth.”

Europe’s tech duly sector lost another 1 percent, but it wasn’t the worst performer. Banks fell as much as 1.6 percent weaker and mining companies and other resources firms dropped nearly 2 percent before clawing some ground back. [.EU]

The falls also reflected the bitter Sino-U.S. trade war, encouraging investors to take money off the table before U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, meet in Argentina next week.

The focus is on whether they can make any progress on their trade feud. Singapore, considered as a bellwether for international trade, became the latest to warn about the potential impact of the tensions on Thursday.

“Risks in the global economy are tilted to the downside,” said Loh Khum Yean, the city state’s permanent secretary for trade and industry.

RUSH FOR THE BREXIT

With no U.S. trading to look forward later, traders contented themselves by watching Europe’s Brexit drama continue to unfold.

Sterling jumped back up to $1.29 and 88.50 pence per euro after London and Brussels agreed on a text setting out their post-split ties that EU leaders are expected to endorse at a summit on Sunday.

Just over four months before Britain’s departure from the EU, Brexit negotiations and political uncertainty in Britain remain the key drivers for the pound, and many analysts are cautious about its prospects.

“With the UK and EU rushing to dot i’s and cross t’s on a Brexit deal, there’s some support for sterling at the moment and some upward pressure on the front end of the rates market,” said Societe Generale strategist Kit Juckes.

“Though it won’t take long before we refocus on the challenge facing the Prime Minister in getting House of Commons support for her Brexit deal,” he added.

The Brexit text had also seen the euro rise against the dollar which meant the single currency barely budged when ECB meeting minutes showed its policymakers were keen to affirm their plans to cut stimulus at the end of the year.

South Africa’s central bank triggered far more action though, as a tight decision to hike interest rate in what had already been a hard to call meeting sent its currency, the rand, up more than 1 percent.

Back in emerging economy share markets, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan had ended little changed after recovering from an initial wobble.

The index has managed to hold up so far in November after three straight monthly declines, but is on track for its worst annual performance since 2011.

Japan’s Nikkei had finished almost 0.7 percent higher but the ongoing trade and tech jitters saw Chinese shares close 0.4 percent in the red. [.SS]

“Investors are still wary about whether they’ll see further lows, given none of the issues that drove the recent correction have dissipated,” said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP.

In commodities, China-sensitive metals like copper fell [MET/L] and oil prices reversed, although they were still above one-year lows touched earlier this week. [O/R]

U.S. crude futures were last down 8 cents at $54.55 a barrel after hitting a one-year low of $52.77 on Tuesday. Brent eased 15 cents to $63.33, off Tuesday’s low of $61.71.

Gold rose, with spot prices at $1,227.98 an ounce.

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Oil price fall, China data hit stocks

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global stocks were on pace for their biggest drop in two weeks while oil prices weakened again on Friday and soft Chinese data hit demand for risky assets.

U.S. stocks were broadly lower, with energy shares .SPNY falling more than 1 percent as benchmark Brent crude touched a six-month low and U.S. crude fell below $60 for the first time since March after entering a bear market on Thursday.

“Everybody is starting to look at oil with a nervous eye, it’s probably too early to make any claims about oil falling because of demand versus supply but when you fall from $75 to $60 it all of a sudden makes people interested in what is going on in oil,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

Adding to pressure was data from China, which showed factory-gate inflation slowed for the fourth month in October on cooling domestic demand and manufacturing activity.

On the U.S. side, producer prices rose more than expected in October and at their fastest pace in six years but measures of underlying price pressure cooled, bolstering the view that the U.S. central bank is not facing a resurgence in inflation.

“China always is lurking in the background, they have been on the struggle bus all year and they are still on the struggle bus,” said Antonelli.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 189.2 points, or 0.72 percent, to 26,002.02, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 24.53 points, or 0.87 percent, to 2,782.3 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 114.76 points, or 1.52 percent, to 7,416.13.

World equities snapped a streak of seven straight days of gains on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve held interest rates steady but appeared to remain on track to raise its key interest rate next month.

Some investors had hoped that the sharp share price falls during what has been called “Red October” might have encouraged the U.S. central bank to take a more dovish approach toward monetary policy.

European shares were also hit by the prospect of Fed’s interest rate rises in the face of a global economy that has shown signs of slowing, apart from the United States.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.42 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS shed 1.05 percent.

The dollar, which had weakened sharply after mid-term elections, was on track to rise for its second straight day and was poised for a fourth straight week of gains.

Further dollar gains can pose headwinds for global risky assets as that translates into tightening financial conditions as most emerging market economies borrow in dollars. A strong dollar could also hurt earnings of multinational U.S. corporations.

The dollar index .DXY rose 0.13 percent, with the euro EUR= down 0.2 percent to $1.1339.

The equity weakness pushed bond yields lower. Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last rose 11/32 in price to yield 3.1911 percent, from 3.232 percent late on Thursday.

Oil prices fell to multi-month lows as global supply increased and investors worried about the impact on fuel demand of lower economic growth and trade disputes.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude CLcv1 fell 0.77 percent to $60.20 per barrel and Brent LCOcv1 was last at $70.07, down 0.82 percent on the day.

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