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Asian stocks mostly lower ... Iran signs agreement with British consortium to develop oil ... Vatican denounces tax havens

May 17, 2018

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stocks are mostly lower today, wiping out early gains after strong factory data from the U.S. lifted shares on Wall Street the day before. Tokyo stocks have been the only bright spot as investors shrug off a report showing weak machinery orders a day after growth data came in lower than expected. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index finished 0.5 percent higher today, but the rest of the region was mostly in the red. Shares were mixed in Southeast Asia.

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — The European Union is calling for an end to President Donald Trump’s threats to slap tariffs on EU steel exports as a new deadline looms for the duties to enter force. French President Emmanuel Macron says “it’s Europe’s economic sovereignty, and what we are demanding is that we are exempted without conditions or time limits.” In March, Trump slapped tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum, but has granted the EU a temporary exemption until June 1.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian state TV is reporting that Tehran has signed an agreement with a British consortium to develop an oil field in the country’s south. The agreement is the first between Iran and a key Western ally of the United States since Washington last week announced it will pull out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers. The project would require more than $1 billion to produce 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day during the next decade in the 55-year old Karanj oil filed.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican says offshore tax havens and financial instruments such as derivatives are gravely immoral and unjust. In a new document released Thursday, the Vatican’s doctrine office teamed up with its social justice department to give a more solid moral foundation to the Holy See’s oft-repeated call for a more ethical global financial system. The document, approved by Pope Francis, calls for banks to create internal ethical committees to ensure decisions work for the common good and not just individual corporate bottom lines.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark is making sure that Airbnb hosts pay their taxes. Airbnb will start automatically reporting its users’ deals to taxation authorities in Denmark - the first country to do so. The deal closes a loophole in which hosts reported to tax authorities on a voluntary basis. Danish political parties on Tuesday agreed to limit room-rental services to a maximum of 70 days a year per property.

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