PRESIDENT Obama has urged Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and other world leaders to stand together against the nuclear strength of North Korea at a White House dinner ahead of weapons talks today.It came as the White House repudiated remarks made by Donald Trump, who had proposed that Japan and South Korea make their own nuclear weapons to counter North Korea.
Mr Trump’s ideas weren’t raised when Mr Obama met with the Japanese and South Korean leaders in Washington DC on Friday, however White House spokesman Benjamin Rhodes said the idea was “catastrophic”.
“The entire premise of American foreign policy, as it relates to nuclear weapons for the last 70 years, has been focused on preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional states,” Mr. Rhodes said. “Frankly, it would be catastrophic were the United States to shift its position and indicate that we support somehow the proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional countries.”
Russian president Vladimir Putin snubbed today’s Nuclear Summit, despite holding one of the world’s great nuclear stockpiles.President Barack Obama greets Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, in the Blue Room of the white House prior to the Nuclear Security Summit. Picture: Official White House / Chuck KennedySource:SuppliedThe primary focus of conversations at last night’s dinner and those slated for today’s sessions is the need for allies to stand against North Korea.
However, leaders and foreign ministers will also focus on the risk of nuclear weapons being used in terror attacks. A special session today will be devoted to ISIS and nuclear security.Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the summit, Australia signed a nuclear co-operation agreement with Ukraine, paving the way for Australia to export uranium to the conflict-riddled zone.
Ms Bishop said in a statement that the exports would be “strictly controlled” to ensure the nuclear material is “only used for peaceful purposes”.“Under the agreement the use of Australian nuclear material for the development of weapons or explosive devices is strictly prohibited,” the statement said.
U.S. health officials on Thursday reported the first case in the country of a patient with an infection resistant to a last-resort antibiotic, and expressed grave concern that the superbug could pose serious danger for routine infections if it spreads.“We risk being in a post-antibiotic world,” said Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, referring to the urinary tract infection of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman who had not traveled within the prior five months.Frieden, speaking at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington, D.C., said the bacteria was resistant to colistin, an antibiotic that is reserved for use against “nightmare bacteria.”
The infection was reported Thursday in a study appearing in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. It said the superbug itself had first been infected with a tiny piece of DNA called a plasmid, which passed along a gene called mcr-1 that confers resistance to colistin.“(This) heralds the emergence of truly pan-drug resistant bacteria,” said the study, which was conducted by the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of mcr-1 in the USA.”The patient visited a clinic on April 26 with symptoms of a urinary tract infection, according to the study, which did not describe her current condition. Authors of the study could not immediately be reached for comment.The study said continued surveillance to determine the true frequency of the gene in the United States is critical.“It is dangerous and we would assume it can be spread quickly, even in a hospital environment if it is not well contained,” said Dr. Gail Cassell, a microbiologist and senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School.But she said the potential speed of its spread will not be known until more is learned about how the Pennsylvania patient was infected, and how present the colistin-resistant superbug is in the United States and globally.
In the United States, antibiotic resistance has been blamed for at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths annually.The mcr-1 gene was found last year in people and pigs in China, raising alarm.The potential for the superbug to spread from animals to people is a major concern, Cassell said.For now, Cassell said people can best protect themselves from it and from other bacteria resistant to antibiotics by thoroughly washing their hands, washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly and preparing foods appropriately.Experts have warned since the 1990s that especially bad superbugs could be on the horizon, but few drugmakers have attempted to develop drugs against them.Frieden said the need for new antibiotics is one of the more urgent health problems, as bugs become more and more resistant to current treatments. “The more we look at drug resistance, the more concerned we are,” Frieden added. “The medicine cabinet is empty for some patients. It is the end of the road for antibiotics unless we act urgently.” Overprescribing of antibiotics by physicians and in hospitals and their extensive use in food livestock have contributed to the crisis. More than half of all hospitalized patients will get an antibiotic at some point during their stay. But studies have shown that 30 percent to 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed in hospitals are unnecessary or incorrect, contributing to antibiotic resistance. Many drugmakers have been reluctant to spend the money needed to develop new antibiotics, preferring to use their resources on medicines for cancer and rare diseases that command very high prices and lead to much larger profits. In January, dozens of drugmakers and diagnostic companies, including Pfizer <PFE.N>, Merck & Co <MRK.N>, Johnson & Johnson <JNJ.N> and GlaxoSmithKline <GSK.L>, signed a declaration calling for new incentives from governments to support investment in development of medicines to fight drug-resistant superbugs.
Financial stocks weighed on Wall Street on Tuesday ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting as traders see very slim chances of a rate hike in the near term.The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will commence its two-day meeting on Tuesday to decide whether the U.S. economy has recovered enough to be able to absorb an interest rate hike.While traders have discounted a rate increase this month, they will parse Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech at a conference on Wednesday for clues on the health of the economy and the trajectory of hikes.
Yellen, who had dropped hints last month of a rate hike in the near term, was more vague on the timing last week after a dismal May employment report set off fresh concerns of the strength of the economy.All 10 major S&P sectors were lower, with financials falling more than 1 percent. The sector, which benefits the most if interest rates are raised, was on track to close lower for the fourth straight day.Wells Fargo and JPMorgan were among the top losers on the S&P.
Traders have priced in a 17.9 percent chance of a rate hike next month and a 29 percent chance in September, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.Adding to the uncertainty, recent opinion polls have indicated growing support for Britain’s exit from the European Union, prompting investors to rush to safe-haven assets such as gold and the yen.The yield on the 10-year German bond turned negative for the first time.One bright spot was the 0.5 percent rise in U.S. retail sales in May, compared with a 0.3 percent rise analysts had expected.
“There is a certain degree of reconciliation that needs to be made between the number of rate hikes the Fed sees for 2016 and those the markets expect,” said Bill Northey, chief investment officer at Private Client Group of U.S. Bank.Traders expect a less than 40 percent chance of a rate hike until February.At 11:05 a.m. ET (1505 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 103.06 points, or 0.58 percent, at 17,629.42.
The S&P 500 was down 12.54 points, or 0.6 percent, at 2,066.52 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 29.07 points, or 0.6 percent, at 4,819.38.Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,238 to 644. On the Nasdaq, 1,867 issues fell and 770 advanced.The S&P 500 index showed two new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 11 new highs and 49 new lows.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, while renewed job cuts in the energy sector boosted layoffs announced by U.S.-based employers in July.Despite the increases, the labor market remains healthy and will probably continue to support economic growth for the rest of this year. While other data on Thursday showed orders for factory goods fell for a second straight month in June, largely on weak demand for transportation equipment, there were signs spending cuts in the energy sector were easing.
“The data do indicate the economy and the labor market are improving. It appears that the collapse in the energy sector is ending. For two months now, new orders for mining and oil and gas field equipment were up,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania.Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 269,000 for the week ended July 30, the Labor Department said. Economists had forecast initial claims slipping to 265,000 in the latest week.
Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strong labor market, for 74 consecutive weeks, the longest streak since 1973. With the labor market perceived to be either at or approaching full employment, there is probably limited scope for further declines in claims.The dollar gained versus a basket of currencies, surging against the British pound after the Bank of England cut interest rates and resumed bond purchases in a move aimed at mitigating the impact of the country’s vote to exit the European Union.
Longer-dated U.S. Treasuries rallied and stocks on Wall Street were trading higher.Claims tend to be volatile around this time of the year when automobile manufacturers typically idle assembly lines for retooling. Some, however, keep production running, which can throw off the model the government uses to strip out seasonal fluctuations from the data.
Through the gyrations, the trend in claims has remained consistent with jobs market strength. The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 3,750 to 260,250 last week.This level of unemployment claims points to continued very subdued layoff rates at the start of the third quarter,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York.The claims data has no impact on July’s employment report, scheduled to be released on Friday, as it falls outside the survey period. According to a Reuters poll of economists, nonfarm payrolls likely increased by a healthy 180,000 jobs in July after surging 287,000 the prior month. June’s jump in job gains was viewed as unsustainable given anemic economic growth. Labor market strength is boosting consumer spending, which is expected to help the economy regain speed after growth braked to an average 1.0 percent annual rate in the last three quarters.
In separate report, global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas said employers in the U.S. announced plans to shed 45,346 workers from their payrolls in July, a 19 percent increase from June.Though it was the second straight monthly increase, layoffs were 57 percent lower than in July last year. Job cuts in the energy sector surged 796 percent to 17,725 last month.“This was somewhat unexpected in light of recent projections of increased oil prices and possible labor shortages in the industry,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer at Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
In a third report, the Commerce Department said new orders for manufactured goods declined 1.5 percent in June after falling 1.2 percent in May. Orders for machinery gained 0.2 percent, with orders for machinery, oil field and gas field machinery soaring 207.9 percent after vaulting 139.1 percent in May.Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft increased 0.4 percent in June instead of the 0.2 percent gain reported last month. These so-called core capital goods are seen as a measure of business confidence and equipment spending.
An outright drop in inventories and sustained weakness in business spending weighed on GDP growth in the second quarter, with output rising at a tepid 1.2 percent annualized rate after increasing at a 0.8 percent pace in the first three months of the year.The advance growth estimate reported last week could be revised to about a 1.0 percent pace, economists said, as the factory orders report showed lower nondurable goods inventories in June than the government had assumed in the GDP report.Factory goods dipped 0.1 percent in June. Inventories have declined in 13 of the last 14 months. Shipments increased 0.7 percent. That lowered the inventories-to-shipments ratio to 1.35 from 1.36 in May.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s government on Sunday won a vote of confidence in parliament as well as approval for his legislative program, parliament speaker Ismail Kahraman said.Yildirim is a close ally of President Tayyip Erdogan and a co-founder of the ruling AK Party. He was declared prime minister after he was elected as the new leader of the AK Party at a party congress.Yildirim’s appointment marks another step in Erdogan’s plan to create a full presidential system in Turkey.Yildirim replaces Ahmet Davutoglu, who said he was stepping down after weeks of tension with Erdogan.Kahraman said the result was 315 votes for approving the government and 138 against.