UPDATE 4-Qualcomm enforces ban to halt some Apple iPhone sales in Germany

(Reuters) – U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) took steps to enforce a court order banning the sale of some iPhone models in Germany, a move that will likely see Apple Inc (AAPL.O) pull those models from its German stores.

FILE PHOTO: Customers stand in line at the Apple store in Berlin, September 19, 2014. REUTERS/Hannibal

A spokesman for Gravis, Germany’s biggest reseller of Apple products which is owned by telecoms company Freenet (FNTGn.DE), on Friday said it still had all Apple products on sale, including the iPhone 7 and 8 models.

Qualcomm a day earlier posted bonds of 1.34 billion euros ($1.5 billion) as part of a legal requirement by a German court, which found on Dec. 20 that Apple had infringed Qualcomm patents on power-saving technology used in smartphones.

Apple had earlier said it would pull iPhone 7 and 8 models from its 15 retail stores in Germany when the order came into force. That order took effect when Qualcomm posted the bonds.

Apple declined to comment on Qualcomm’s most recent move on Thursday.

The German case is Qualcomm’s third major effort to secure a ban on Apple’s lucrative iPhones over patent infringement allegations after similar moves in the United States and China, and is part of a global patent spat between the two companies.

According to the court order, Apple has to stop the sale, offer for sale and importation for sale of all infringing iPhones in Germany. Apple had said it was appealing the decision.

The court also ordered Apple to recall the affected iPhones from third-party resellers in Germany, according to a statement by Qualcomm.

In its previous statement on the decision, Apple had said it would continue to offer all of its phones at thousands of retail and carrier locations across Germany, a direct contradiction to Qualcomm’s interpretation of the order.

The Munich regional court was not immediately available for comment.

Kai Ruting, a German lawyer not involved in the case, said the court order was directed at Apple entities rather than third parties.

“These third parties are still free to sell the (affected) iPhones, and they sell the majority of iPhones,” Ruting said, adding, “the question of a settlement will be driven by the U.S. litigation and not the German case.”

Ruting said that Apple had strong arguments for the German court’s ruling to be reversed on appeal. If that happens, Qualcomm’s bond will be used to compensate Apple, he said.

Apple’s announced intention to pull iPhones from stores in Germany contrasts with how it has handled a court decision in China, where there was a much broader ban on iPhone sales after a court ruled the devices violated Qualcomm’s patents. Apple has continued to sell phones in China, saying it believed its phones were legal in the country.

Still, Apple also pushed a software update to address concerns over whether it was in compliance with Chinese courts.

Qualcomm has said those software updates were insufficient and that Apple must still withdraw its phones. Apple had filed a request for the Chinese court to reconsider its decision, but no outcome has been announced.

Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru, Stephen Nellis in San Francisco, Joern Poltz in Munich, Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt and Petra Haverkamp in Berlin; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Rosalba O’Brien

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Nissan’s Ghosn set to appear in Tokyo court on Tuesday

FILE PHOTO: Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, attends a press conference on the second press day of the Paris auto show, in Paris, France, October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Ousted Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) Chairman Carlos Ghosn is set to appear in a Tokyo court on Tuesday after he requested an open hearing to hear the reason for his detention.

It would be Ghosn’s first public appearance since he was arrested on Nov. 19 on allegations of financial misconduct. He has been detained since then and has also been re-arrested over further allegations.

The hearing will take place at 10:30 local time (0130 GMT) on Jan. 8, the court said on Friday.

Earlier this week, the Tokyo District Court approved an extension to Ghosn’s detention until Jan. 11. Ghosn has denied the allegations, local media has said.

Former Nissan executive Greg Kelly, who has been charged with conspiring to under-report Ghosn’s income, has been released on bail after the court ruled against extending his detention while he awaits trial.

Ghosn’s arrest has rocked the auto industry and strained Nissan’s ties with French automaking partner Renault SA (RENA.PA), where he still remains chairman and chief executive.

Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Himani Sarkar

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/FY9lmu-uNds/nissans-ghosn-set-to-appear-in-tokyo-court-on-tuesday-idUSKCN1OY0ER

Germany’s main rail operator reaches wage agreement with GDL union

BERLIN (Reuters) – Deutsche Bahn [DBN.UL] has reached a wage agreement with train drivers’ union GDL, Germany’s largest railway operator and the union said on Friday, averting strikes in the railway sector.

The agreement includes an overall pay rise of 6.1 percent over a period of two years and five months, state-owned Deutsche Bahn said in a statement.

Deutsche Bahn already reached an agreement with larger EVG union in December, after a walkout that paralyzed rail traffic in large parts of Germany.

Reporting by Thomas Seythal; Editing by Joseph Nasr

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/companyNews/~3/gJlVPoKNzGc/germanys-main-rail-operator-reaches-wage-agreement-with-gdl-union-idUSS8N1Y400Y

Tesla to start delivering Model 3 to China buyers in March

A 2018 Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle is shown in this photo illustration taken in Cardiff, California, U.S., June 1, 2018. Picture taken June 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

BEIJING (Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) said on Friday it plans to start delivering Model 3 cars to customers in China in March, cementing a time frame that the U.S. electric vehicle maker’s chief executive, Elon Musk, tweeted about late last year.

The California-based firm, which aims to accelerate Chinese sales that have been hit hard by the impact of trade tension between Washington and Beijing, said in a statement the starting price for a Model 3 in China would be 499,000 yuan ($72,000).

Tesla cut prices for its Model 3 last month, the third time in the last two months for the firm to adjust prices in China.

In November, Tesla cut the prices of its Model X and Model S in China by 12 to 26 percent.

Reporting by Yilei Sun in BEIJING and Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI; Editing by Christopher Cushing

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/JzCFRiO-npI/tesla-to-start-delivering-model-3-to-china-buyers-in-march-idUSKCN1OY0LA

U.S.-China trade talks boost European shares as commodity stocks, banks rally

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Staff

LONDON (Reuters) – News of talks between Beijing and Washington over an ongoing trade war between the world’s biggest economies boosted European shares on Friday after a gloomy week during which a rare revenue warning from Apple caused havoc.

Stocks sensitive to developments in the trade war, like carmakers, industrials, and miners, boosted the market while bank shares also rallied after China announced it would hold vice ministerial trade talks with the U.S. on Jan 7-8.

The mining sector .SXPP jumped 2 percent, the top gainer as copper prices recovered thanks to the trade talks, while autos .SXAP rose 1 percent and banks .SX7P climbed 1.3 percent.

Oil stocks .SXEP also rallied 1.8 percent after news of the China-U.S. trade talks boosted crude prices more than 1 percent.

Overall Europe’s STOXX 600 rose 0.8 percent while Germany’s DAX jumped 1 percent and the leading euro zone stocks index .STOXX50E gained 0.9 percent.

Outside trade-related moves, Bayer (BAYGn.DE) shares climbed 2.4 percent to top the DAX .GDAXI after a U.S. judge overseeing lawsuits alleging its glyphosate-based weed killer causes cancer issued a ruling that could restrict evidence the plaintiffs consider crucial to their cases.

Tech stocks .SX8P, which plunged 4 percent after Apple’s revenue warning, rose 0.6 percent on Friday – still underperforming the market.

Chipmaker AMS (AMS.S), which provides the facial recognition technology used in the latest iPhone, rose 1.3 percent – a hesitant recovery after Thursday’s 23 percent plunge.

Reporting by Helen Reid, Editing by Josephine Mason

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/companyNews/~3/rXJvReohTCw/u-s-china-trade-talks-boost-european-shares-as-commodity-stocks-banks-rally-idUSL8N1Z40U3

House Democrats Just Passed A Bill That Undercuts Trump’s Abortion Policy

WASHINGTON — House Democrats passed a bill to try to end the government shutdown on Thursday night that would also undercut a major anti-abortion policy Donald Trump implemented as one of his first acts as president nearly two years ago.

The bill will not become law, with both the Senate and Trump already saying they won’t consider it as both sides continue to fight about funding for the wall, but Democrats note that the language repealing Trump’s abortion policy already received unanimous bipartisan support in a Senate committee last year.

Trump’s Mexico City Policy, also called the “global gag rule” by opponents, prevents US funding from going toward international organizations that “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.” While every Republican president since Ronald Reagan has implemented a similar policy — and every Democratic president has repealed it — Trump’s version applies to more organizations and is further reaching than any of its predecessors. It has been credited by global health interest groups with causing the closure of women’s health clinics around the world.

But the bill House Democrats passed Thursday night would get rid of the ban on funding to organizations that merely promote abortion. Tucked into the legislation to try to end the government shutdown is a section that would weaken the Mexico City Policy. It uses double negatives to declare that under the bill foreign NGOs would “not be ineligible for” US government funding “solely on the basis of health or medical services, including counseling and referral services.”

Republicans and anti-abortion groups opposed the bill and cast it as part of Democrats’ pro-abortion-rights agenda. “On day one of the new Congress, Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are already trying to foist a radical pro-abortion agenda on the nation,” anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement Wednesday. “The House’s spending bill would repeal this successful pro-life policy.”

But the language was already approved on a bipartisan basis in the Senate Appropriations Committee last year. In fact, it was part of a much larger bill that received support from all 31 members of the committee in June with a public statement of support by vocally anti-abortion Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The language was a small part of the Senate’s 2019 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, which never made it to a full Senate vote, but would have funded the State Department and related programs through September of this year. A Democratic aide with knowledge of the negotiations told BuzzFeed News that the specific language pertaining to the Mexico City Policy in that bill was adopted without a vote. The policy had the support of Democrats as well as Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who have been known to vote against their party on abortion legislation and wanted to “lessen the effects,” of Trump’s policy.

Democrats now argue that since Senate Republicans already supported the bill in committee, they should support it now. “It would be the height of irresponsibility and political cynicism for Senate Republicans to now reject the same legislation they have already supported,” a joint statement on the bills made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on New Year’s Eve read.

Justin Goodman, the communications director for Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, contested the idea that the bill’s language is anything less than bipartisan. “The entire bill was approved by everyone,” he said.

Economy Energy banned from taking on new customers

Close up of woman's hand setting temperature control on oven.Image copyright Getty Images

Energy supplier Economy Energy has been banned from taking on new customers until it improves its customer service.

The energy regulator, Ofgem, said the ban would remain in place for three months to allow the firm to improve its customer contact procedures.

It must also address billing and payment failures, and issue customer refunds in a timely manner.

Ofgem said if the company – which has 244,000 customers – failed to improve it could have its licence revoked.

In addition to the ban on new customers, Economy Energy has also been prevented from requesting one-off payments and increasing direct debits.

Anthony Pygram, Ofgem’s director of conduct and enforcement, said: “Ofgem is taking action to protect customers from suffering more harm from the unacceptable level of customer service provided by Economy Energy.

“We expect the supplier to take immediate action to rectify its failings or face having its ban extended.

“All suppliers are required to treat their customers fairly. Where they do not, Ofgem will take the necessary steps to ensure suppliers change their behaviour and to prevent further harm to customers.”

If Economy Energy fails to make improvements within three months, Ofgem can extend the ban and, ultimately, cancel the company’s licence.

The Shutdown Isn’t Ending Any Time Soon, Even After The House Passed A Plan To Reopen The Government

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives passed legislation to fully fund the government Thursday evening, but it is heading nowhere, and Congress is bracing for a potentially long shutdown.

Nine federal departments and numerous agencies have been shut down since Dec. 22. An estimated 800,000 federal workers are affected. The House bills would fund the rest of the government through the end of September, except for the Department of Homeland Security, which would receive short-term funding until Feb. 8.

Both bills passed Thursday with the support of all Democrats and just a handful of Republicans (seven Republicans voted in favor of reopening most of the government through September, while five Republicans voted in favor of the DHS spending bill).

But it will do no good. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said he will not bring the bills forward for a vote in the Senate, despite senators unanimously agreeing to a similar plan last month. And President Donald Trump has said he will refuse to sign off on the House package because it does not include border wall funding. Trump has dug in on demanding $5 billion in wall funding be added to any spending bill.

That is a nonstarter for Democrats, who now control the House. Trump and congressional leaders will meet again on Friday, but a breakthrough does not seem imminent. Lawmakers first feared a shutdown that would last days. Then members of Congress started talking about it in terms of weeks. Now they openly speculate about it lasting months.

Senate Appropriations Committee chair Richard Shelby, whose committee is responsible for writing the bills that keep the government funded, predicted a deal is “months and months” away.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune attempted to convey optimism. “Eventually cooler heads are going to prevail, right?” he asked while boarding the Senate subway. Reporters stared back at him, and for a long, silent pause, neither side knew what to say until the subway doors finally slid shut.

Politicians have thrown out various proposals to end the shutdown, ranging from a short-term funding bill to passing major immigration reform in exchange for tens of billions of dollars in border security funding.

But while the House and Senate have been passing bills, the question remains of what Trump would agree to. Sen. Chris Coons, a Connecticut Democrat, said Thursday that a half dozen Republican senators have attempted to negotiate on behalf of the president, only for Trump to publicly denounce the deals they were supposedly advancing on his behalf.

“He is maddeningly difficult to negotiate with,” said Coons. “Negotiating back and forth with people who say they represent the president but aren’t able to get him to make a public commitment isn’t productive.”

Friday’s negotiation will be the first since Democrats formally took control of the House and Nancy Pelosi took over as speaker. Democrats are broadly opposed to Trump’s wall and argue Homeland Security already has enough funding appropriated for border security. The White House has alternately called for $1.6 billion and $5 billion in border wall funding this year, with Trump recently sticking to the $5 billion figure.

Congressional leaders and Trump had negotiated a funding deal without wall funding in December, but two days later Trump changed his position and rejected the agreement. A meeting between the sides Wednesday yielded no progress.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who represents a district with many government workers, says the shutdown has been “profoundly stressful” for them. Some workers have been furloughed, while others have been deemed essential and must continue to work without receiving a paycheck. “We’re no longer talking about missing one pay period and then getting the money later. We’re talking about the possibility of missing multiple paychecks,” said Raskin.

In theory, Congress could pass this deal or any other without Trump. If he were to veto a funding deal, Congress could override the veto with a two-thirds vote in each chamber. But that would require significant Republican support, and given Trump’s sway in the party, an override is unlikely. Republicans have rallied around the president and argued that Democrats are being unreasonable in their opposition to the border wall.

“We need something that we can pass that the president will sign that has border security in it,” said Sen. John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican. When asked about a veto override, Hoeven said reaching a deal was more likely — it’s just that no one knows what that deal would look like.

Oil prices rise by more than 1 percent on China-U.S. trade talks, OPEC cuts

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose by more than 1 percent on Friday, shaking off earlier losses, after China said it would hold talks with the U.S. government on Jan. 7-8 to look for solutions to a trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies.

FILE PHOTO: A gas torch is seen at the Filanovskogo oil platform operated by Lukoil company in Caspian Sea, Russia October 16, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were at $56.60 per barrel at 0741 GMT, up 65 cents, or 1.2 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures CLc1 were at $47.61 per barrel, up 52 cents, or 1.1 percent.

Both benchmarks are on track for solid gains in the first week of 2019 trading despite rising concerns that the Sino-American trade war will lead to a global economic slowdown.

The firmer prices came after China’s commerce ministry said it would hold vice-ministerial level trade talks with U.S. counterparts in Beijing on Jan. 7-8.

The two nations have been locked in a trade war for much of the past year, disrupting the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods and stoking fears of a global economic slowdown.

Data for December from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) on Thursday showed the broadest U.S. slowdown in growth in a decade.

Leading economies in Asia and Europe have already reported a fall in manufacturing activity.

U.S. bank Morgan Stanley said in a note following the release of the data that the weak data “increased the downside risks to an already moderating global growth outlook.”

Japan’s MUFG bank said in its 2019 oil market outlook that “on the demand side, oil has not been immune from the broad cross-asset sell-off as global growth concerns…mount downside pressure on oil demand”.

OPEC CUTS

Despite the turmoil, oil prices have received some support as supply cuts announced by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) kick in.

OPEC-supply fell by 460,000 barrels per day (bpd) between November and December, to 32.68 million bpd, a Reuters survey found on Thursday, although some of the fall were involuntary disruptions in Iran and Libya, which are exempt from cuts.

“Isolating the participating countries indicates their output would need to fall a further 940,000 bpd to be in adherence with their targets,” U.S. investment bank Jefferies said.

OPEC and non-members led by Russia – an alliance known as OPEC+ – agreed last December to reduce supply by 1.2 million bpd in 2019 versus October 2018 levels to rein in an emerging fuel glut.

The fuel surplus was in part depicted by light distillate fuel stocks at Singapore’s refining hub climbing to a record 16.1 million barrels in by January.

Considering the planned cuts versus ongoing increases in U.S. crude production, which hit a record 11.7 million bpd by late 2018, FGE said it expected Brent prices to range between $55-$60 per barrel in the first months of 2019.

Some analysts doubt the OPEC+ group is able to support prices in the longer term, however.

“OPEC+ strategy for supporting prices over market share is not working, said MUFG bank.

“Not only are oil prices down nearly 40 percent since October (2018), they are in fact now below where they were when the group began their first iteration of output cuts back in January 2017,” the Japanese bank said.

MUFG said this was “a clear indication” that OPEC+’s interventionist strategy to support oil prices was not working.

Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Richard Pullin and Tom Hogue

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/_Cas7D1fGOM/oil-prices-rise-by-more-than-1-percent-on-china-u-s-trade-talks-opec-cuts-idUSKCN1OY02J

UPDATE 7-Oil prices rise by more than 1 pct on China-U.S. trade talks, OPEC cuts

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose by more than 1 percent on Friday, shaking off earlier losses, after China said it would hold talks with the U.S. government on Jan. 7-8 to look for solutions to a trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies.

FILE PHOTO: A gas torch is seen at the Filanovskogo oil platform operated by Lukoil company in Caspian Sea, Russia October 16, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were at $56.60 per barrel at 0741 GMT, up 65 cents, or 1.2 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures CLc1 were at $47.61 per barrel, up 52 cents, or 1.1 percent.

Both benchmarks are on track for solid gains in the first week of 2019 trading despite rising concerns that the Sino-American trade war will lead to a global economic slowdown.

The firmer prices came after China’s commerce ministry said it would hold vice-ministerial level trade talks with U.S. counterparts in Beijing on Jan. 7-8.

The two nations have been locked in a trade war for much of the past year, disrupting the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods and stoking fears of a global economic slowdown.

Data for December from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) on Thursday showed the broadest U.S. slowdown in growth in a decade.

Leading economies in Asia and Europe have already reported a fall in manufacturing activity.

U.S. bank Morgan Stanley said in a note following the release of the data that the weak data “increased the downside risks to an already moderating global growth outlook.”

Japan’s MUFG bank said in its 2019 oil market outlook that “on the demand side, oil has not been immune from the broad cross-asset sell-off as global growth concerns…mount downside pressure on oil demand”.

OPEC CUTS

Despite the turmoil, oil prices have received some support as supply cuts announced by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) kick in.

OPEC-supply fell by 460,000 barrels per day (bpd) between November and December, to 32.68 million bpd, a Reuters survey found on Thursday, although some of the fall were involuntary disruptions in Iran and Libya, which are exempt from cuts.

“Isolating the participating countries indicates their output would need to fall a further 940,000 bpd to be in adherence with their targets,” U.S. investment bank Jefferies said.

OPEC and non-members led by Russia – an alliance known as OPEC+ – agreed last December to reduce supply by 1.2 million bpd in 2019 versus October 2018 levels to rein in an emerging fuel glut.

The fuel surplus was in part depicted by light distillate fuel stocks at Singapore’s refining hub climbing to a record 16.1 million barrels in by January.

Considering the planned cuts versus ongoing increases in U.S. crude production, which hit a record 11.7 million bpd by late 2018, FGE said it expected Brent prices to range between $55-$60 per barrel in the first months of 2019.

Some analysts doubt the OPEC+ group is able to support prices in the longer term, however.

“OPEC+ strategy for supporting prices over market share is not working, said MUFG bank.

“Not only are oil prices down nearly 40 percent since October (2018), they are in fact now below where they were when the group began their first iteration of output cuts back in January 2017,” the Japanese bank said.

MUFG said this was “a clear indication” that OPEC+’s interventionist strategy to support oil prices was not working.

Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Richard Pullin and Tom Hogue

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/companyNews/~3/_VxCffs3jek/update-7-oil-prices-rise-by-more-than-1-pct-on-china-u-s-trade-talks-opec-cuts-idUSL3N1Z4073