Saudis stand tough as top Gulf diplomats in Washington for Qatar talks

Three top Gulf diplomats were in Washington Tuesday as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sought to help resolve the stubborn Qatar crisis.With a one-week Saudi deadline looming for Qatar to meet its tough demands, Tillerson had talks with Qatar Forei…

June 27, 2017

Federer poised for record Wimbledon triumph

Twelve months after shutting down his season in the wake of a devastating semi-final defeat, Roger Federer returns to Wimbledon as favourite to capture a record-breaking eighth title and become the tournament’s oldest champion.The evergreen Swiss super…

June 27, 2017

‘Dragon Tattoo’ star Michael Nyqvist dead at 56

Michael Nyqvist, the Swedish star of the original “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” films, died at the age of 56 on Tuesday after battling lung cancer, his manager said.

“On behalf of Michael Nyqvist’s representatives and family, it is with deep sadness that I can confirm that our beloved Michael, one of Sweden’s most respected and accomplished actors, has passed away quietly surrounded by family after a year long battle with lung cancer,” Alissa Goodman said in a statement to AFP.

“Michael’s joy and passion were infectious to those who knew and loved him. His charm and charisma were undeniable, and his love for the arts was felt by all who had the pleasure of working with him. “

Nyqvist, who had been acting in his native Sweden since the early 1980s, won global fame and critical acclaim for his role opposite Noomi Rapace in three movies based on Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” novels.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and its two sequels, all released in 2009, made more than $215 million at box offices worldwide.

Nyqvist played Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative reporter who teamed up with feisty rebel hacker-turned-detective Lisbeth Salander (Rapace) in the first movie as they searched for the disappeared niece of a business tycoon.

Nyqvist — who had more than 50 film credits — went on to forge a successful career in Hollywood, starring in “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011), “John Wick” (2014) and “Frank and Lola” (2016).

In 2010, Nyqvist published “När barnet lagt sig” (“Just After Dreaming”), an acclaimed memoir detailing his earliest childhood memories after his adoption, experiences at theatre school and tracking down his biological parents at age 30.

He is survived by his wife Catharina, and their children Ellen and Arthur.

June 27, 2017

Fugitive Mexican ex-governor accepts extradition

A Mexican former governor wanted on corruption charges agreed on Tuesday to be extradited from Guatemala back to his country.”I accept the extradition” requested by the Mexican government, former Veracruz state governor Javier Duarte, 43, said in a cou…

June 27, 2017

Painless patch could replace flu jab: study

Vaccines delivered via a painless, throw-away patch could one day eliminate the need for needle-and-syringe flu injections, researchers said Wednesday after completing a preliminary trial.Equipped with micro-needles, the patches vaccinated against infl…

June 27, 2017

Venezuela president claims coup, harangues Trump

Venezuela’s embattled president Tuesday repeated claims of a US-backed coup attempt against him and angrily warned President Donald Trump that Venezuela would fight back against such a move.President Nicolas Maduro’s comments came a day after he announ…

June 27, 2017

NAFTA foes, supporters debate renegotiation

With talks to begin in August to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, dozens of industry, agriculture, labor and economic officials offered their views to the Trump administration on Tuesday. The US Trade Representative opened three day…

June 27, 2017

Facebook to livestream Champions League football games

Facebook will broadcast Champions League matches for American internet users under a deal with Fox Sports, which will host the livestreams on its pages, the channel said Tuesday.The partnership will involve two group matches per day, four round of sixt…

June 27, 2017

China facing largest diabetes epidemic in the world: study

China is facing the largest diabetes epidemic in the world with around 11 percent of its population suffering from the metabolic illness, while nearly 36 percent are prediabetic, according to a US study published Tuesday.The survey, which included 170,…

June 27, 2017

Darwin’s ‘strangest animal ever’ finds a family

Charles Darwin, Mr. Evolution himself, didn’t know what to make of the fossils he saw in Patagonia so he sent them to his friend, the renowned paleontologist Richard Owen. Owen was stumped too. Little wonder.”The bones looked different from anything he…

June 27, 2017

Durant, Jordan congratulate Westbrook on MVP award

Russell Westbrook received congratulations on his first NBA Most Valuable Player award Tuesday from former Oklahoma City teammate Kevin Durant and Hall of Fame playmaker Michael Jordan.Westbrook took the honor at the NBA Awards show Monday in New York,…

June 27, 2017

Big investor payouts seen at US banking giants

As they await this week’s stress test results, US banks face a dilemma their European counterparts can only dream of: what to do with a pile of excess cash?

The answer is expected to become clearer on Wednesday after US markets close, when the Federal Reserve weighs in on plans by large US banks to pay out dividends and buy back stock in the final part of the two-phase stress tests.

Large US banks are widely expected to get the green light on their plans after the Fed last week said all 34 banks it examined could withstand a severe recession.

If the Fed approves the banks’ plans, payouts are expected to be especially rich at the largest American institutions, including Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, which analysts estimate could return all of their profits to shareholders.

“Banks will make significant increases in their payouts this year,” predicted Richard Bove, an analyst at Rafferty Capital.

But he said the stream of dividends and buybacks have a downside: If companies are returning money to shareholders, it means they are not investing in their businesses.

“These guys don’t know how to use it,” he said. “They have excess funds sitting in the banks that are doing nothing.”

– ‘Red flag’ –

The Fed released the first half of the bank stress tests last week, which revealed American banks hold $357 billion in excess capital, said Morgan Stanley analyst Betsy Grasek.

She predicted bank payouts would be the loftiest since the 2008 financial crisis.

According to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices, the financial sector doled out $29.5 billion to shareholders in the first quarter, more than the $27.5 billion paid by technology companies.

Gregori Volokhine, president of Meeschaert Financial Services said the financial condition of American banks has become “very clean” in the wake of tougher regulations imposed after the crisis.

Yet some question the message behind the bank’s paying out large dividends rather than putting the funds to work in the core business at a time when new fintech technologies are becoming more viable.

“This should be a red flag,” said Neil Barofsky, partner at Jenner & Block, a former inspector general of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, which was enacted at the height of the 2008 crisis.

The payouts are generally welcomed by shareholders, who analysts say are being shortsighted.

“The message seems to be ‘You the banks are in good shape, now give us your money,’ instead of, ‘Now that the banks are doing better, let’s lend more to stimulate the economy,'” Volokhine said.

Analyst Bove said it would be better to see the banks put money into fintech to enable them to compete with companies like PayPal, Square or Apple Pay. Another option could be acquisitions, although the regulatory appetite for US deals is unclear.

“But you don’t throw away money and that’s what they are about to do,” he said.

June 27, 2017

Merkel backs restarting TTIP talks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday she wanted to resume talks between the European Union and the United States on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).”I am in favour of resuming negotiations on such a free trade accord -…

June 27, 2017

Serena Williams bares body, love story for Vanity Fair

Serena Williams unveiled her pregnant body in a nude Vanity Fair cover photo Tuesday and detailed the story of her romance with fiance Alexis Ohanian in an article for the magazine.The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion is shown in profile facing left…

June 27, 2017