Iran’s central bank claims billions from German stock exchange

The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, on January 10, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 January 2018
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Iran’s central bank claims billions from German stock exchange

FRANKFURT AM MAIN: German stock market operator Deutsche Boerse said Thursday that Iran’s central bank had levelled claims for billions of dollars against its Luxembourg subsidiary Clearstream, which blocked the funds after the US accused Tehran of funding terrorism.
The central bank (Bank Markazi) demands some $4.9 billion (4.0 billion euros) of assets it says are held in Clearstream accounts belonging to it and to Italian bank UBAE, plus interest, Deutsche Boerse said in a statement.
If the assets themselves cannot be recovered, the Iranian institution wants damages in the same amount.
The long-running, complex case involves some $2.0 billion frozen in Clearstream accounts while court cases against Iran are heard in the US and Luxembourg, as well as some $1.9 billion Clearstream has already transferred to the US based on a 2013 court ruling.
That judgment saw Iran ordered to compensate around 1,000 American plaintiffs, including families of some 214 soldiers killed in a double suicide bombing in Lebanese capital Beirut in 1983 that claimed 299 lives.
Victims of a 1996 attack in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 Americans were also compensated.
“Clearstream believes that the claims against it are unfounded,” Deutsche Boerse said in its statement.


Japan ships fewer cars to US as export growth slows

Updated 16 August 2018
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Japan ships fewer cars to US as export growth slows

  • Japan’s exports to the US fell 5.2 percent year-on-year in July, down for a second straight month
  • Shipments to Asia, which account for more than half of Japan’s overall exports, rose 8.0 percent

TOKYO: Japan’s export growth slowed more than expected in July as shipments to the US fell for a second straight month, with the automotive sector down sharply and global trade disputes casting doubts over foreign demand.
Ministry of Finance (MOF) data out on Thursday showed exports rose 3.9 percent year-on-year in July, far below a 6.3 percent increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll. The rise followed a 6.7 percent year-on-year gain in June.
Japan’s exports to the US fell 5.2 percent year-on-year in July, down for a second straight month, due to a 12.1 percent decline in car shipments.
“The drop in US-bound car exports was in reaction to brisk sales seen there a year ago, boosted by the solid US economy and declines in oil prices,” said an MOF official in charge of compiling the data.
“We cannot say whether it was affected by trade tensions with the US.” US President Donald Trump has made the threat of heavy tariffs a core part of his agenda, with an eye on the US auto sector’s trade deficit with countries such as Germany and Japan, raising speculation about restrictions on US-bound car exports.
Japanese carmakers have so far shown no sign of rushing to boost car shipments to the US, which would happen if they anticipated higher tariffs were to be imposed on their products in coming months.
“While caution is heightening over US trade policy, US car sales are levelling off, causing Japan’s car exports to the US to level off as well,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.
“If capital outflows from emerging economies accelerate on top of this, it would cause a marked slowdown in global economy, further weighing on Japan’s exports.” Imports from the US rose 11.0 percent in the year to July, led by crude oil, motors and liquefied petroleum gas.
As a result, Japan’s trade surplus with the US fell 22.1 percent year-on-year to ¥502.7 billion ($4.55 billion). Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, rose 11.9 percent in July from a year ago.
Shipments to Asia, which account for more than half of Japan’s overall exports, rose 8.0 percent, led by semiconductor production equipment and electronics parts for China and sales of steel to Thailand.
Overall imports rose 14.6 percent in the year to July, roughly matching economists’ median estimate, resulting in a trade deficit of ¥231.2 billion, vastly exceeding the expected ¥50 billion.
Thursday’s trade figures came after gross domestic product (GDP) data last week showed Japan’s economy, the world’s third largest, rebounded in the second quarter from a January-March dip.
Analysts say global economic growth is likely to support Japan’s exports, but international trade conflicts are an ever-present risk to Japan’s export-reliant economy.
The impact on the broader economy from higher US tariffs on Japanese automotive exports would be significant, they say.
Japan’s economy grew at an annualized rate of 1.9 percent in the second quarter on the back of household and business spending, recovering from an earlier contraction.