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31-01-2018 Details
Natural Gas Futures Sink 4% as Forecasts Turn Milder
Natural Gas Futures Sink 4% as Forecasts Turn Milder

Natural gas futures fell sharply on Wednesday, as updated weather forecasting models called for milder weather, which should dampen demand for the heating fuel.

Front-month U.S. natural gas futures tumbled 13.0 cents, or around 4.1%, to $3.065 per million British thermal units (btu) by 9:10AM ET (1410GMT), after hitting a three-week low of $3.022 earlier in the session.

The commodity rose almost 0.9% on Tuesday as traders reacted to a blast of cold weather which upped demand for the heating fuel.

But fresh models released overnight showed that temperatures won't be as cold as previously expected through both the upcoming six- to 10-day and eight- to 14-day periods.

Natural gas prices typically rise during the winter months as colder weather sparks indoor-heating demand. The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption.

Meanwhile, market participants looked ahead to this week's storage data due on Thursday, which is expected to show a draw in a range between 90 and 110 billion cubic feet (bcf) in the week ended Jan. 26.

That compares with a decline of 288 bcf in the preceding week, a fall of 87 bcf a year earlier and a five-year average drop of 160 bcf.

Total natural gas in storage currently stands at 2.296 trillion cubic feet (tcf), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

That figure is 519 bcf, or around 18.4%, lower than levels at this time a year ago and 486 bcf, or roughly 17.5%, below the five-year average for this time of year.

A recent blast of cold weather across parts of the U.S. over the past few weeks has resulted in unusually strong storage withdrawals for natural gas, bringing storage levels to the low end of a five-year range.

31-01-2018 Details
Ending North Korea oil supplies would be seen as act of war, says Russia
Ending North Korea oil supplies would be seen as act of war, says Russia

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The delivery of oil and oil products to North Korea should not be reduced, Moscow's ambassador to Pyongyang was cited as saying by RIA news agency on Wednesday, adding that a total end to deliveries would be interpreted by North Korea as an act of war.

The U.N. and United States have introduced a wave of sanctions aimed at curbing North Korea's development of nuclear weapons, including by seeking to reduce its access to crude oil and refined petroleum products.

"We can't lower deliveries any further," Russia's envoy to Pyongyang, Alexander Matzegora, was quoted by RIA as saying in an interview.

Quotas set by the U.N. allow for around 540,000 tonnes of crude oil a year to be delivered to North Korea from China, and over 60,000 tonnes of oil products from Russia, China and other countries, he was quoted as saying.

"[This] is a drop in the ocean for a country of 25 million people," Matzegora said.

Shortages would lead to serious humanitarian problems, he said, adding: "Official representatives of Pyongyang have made it clear that a blockade would be interpreted by North Korea as a declaration of war, with all the subsequent consequences."

Last week, the United States imposed further sanctions on North Korea, including on its crude oil ministry.

In his first annual State of the Union speech to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, President Donald Trump vowed to keep up the pressure on North Korea it from developing missiles which could threaten the United States.

North Korea on Saturday condemned the latest U.S. sanctions. and Russian deputy foreign minister Igor Morgulov said Russia had no obligation to carry out sanctions produced by the U.S.

The ambassador also denied charges by Washington that Moscow, in contravention of U.N. sanctions, was allowing Pyongyang to use Russian ports for transporting coal.

"We double-checked (U.S.) evidence. We found that the ships mentioned did not enter our ports, or if they did, then they were carrying cargo that had nothing to do with North Korea," he is cited as saying.

Reuters reported earlier that North Korea had shipped coal to Russia last year which was then delivered to South Korea and Japan in a likely violation of U.N. sanctions.

31-01-2018 Details
Stocks - European Markets Open Lower, Fresh Earnings on Tap
Stocks - European Markets Open Lower, Fresh Earnings on Tap

European markets opened lower on Tuesday, weighed by downbeat sentiment in the U.S. and Asia overnight and as investors remained cautious before a fresh batch of corporate earnings reports.

The EURO STOXX 50 slipped 0.28%, France’s CAC 40 fell 0.11%, while Germany’s DAX 30 eased down 0.33% by 03:30 a.m. ET (07:30 GMT).

U.S. and Asian markets were pressured lower overnight amid growing caution as U.S. President Donald Trump was set speak to Congress in his first official State of the Union address.

Market participants were also looking ahead to the Federal Reserve's upcoming policy decision on Wednesday for potential indications on the pace of interest rate hikes this year. The U.S. central bank is widely expected to raise rates three times in 2018.

Financial stocks were mixed, as French lenders BNP Paribas (PA:BNPP) and Societe Generale (PA:SOGN) dropped 0.54% and 0.85%, while Deutsche Bank (DE:DBKGn) lost 1.39% and Commerzbank (DE:CBKG) added 0.15% in Germany.

Among peripheral lenders, Italy's Unicredit (MI:CRDI) edged up 0.17% and Intesa Sanpaol retreated 0.64%, while Spanish banks BBVA (MC:BBVA) and Banco Santander (MC:SAN) tumbled 0.90% and 1.21% respectively.

In earnings news, Koninklijke Philips NV (AS:PHG) reported a 9% increase in fourth-quarter adjusted profit. However, shares in the Dutch company were still down 2.51% in early European trade.

ArcelorMittal SA (AS:MT) added to losses, with shares down 0.99%. The Economic Times reported over the weekend that it and Japan's Nippon Steel are planning to put in a joint bid for bankrupt steelmaker Essar Steel.

In London, the commodity-heavy FTSE 100 slid 0.37%, weighed sharp losses in the mining sector.

Shares in Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) lost 1.41% and Glencore (LON:GLEN) tumbled 1.56%, while BHP Billiton (LON:BLT) and Anglo American (LON:AAL) plummted 1.56% and 2.61% respectively.

Financial stocks were also on the downside, as HSBC Holdings (LON:HSBA) declined 0.30% and Lloyds Banking (LON:LLOY) slumped 0.94%, while Barclays (LON:BARC) and the Royal Bank of Scotland (LON:RBS) lost 1.03% and 1.60% respectively.

Meanwhile, BAE Systems (LON:BAES) was one of the top performers on the index, with shares up 1.02%, closely followed by Royal Mail (LON:RMG) whose shares climbed 0.88%.

Late last week, Royal Mail said it reached an agreement with its main trade union following a fight over pensions, pay and working conditions.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a lower open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.54% drop, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.34% slide, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.40% decline.

30-01-2018 Details
Mexican economy likely grew 0.6 percent in fourth quarter: Reuters poll
Mexican economy likely grew 0.6 percent in fourth quarter: Reuters poll

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's economy likely bounced back in the final quarter of 2017, lifted by construction work following two devastating earthquakes that dented activity in the July-September period, a Reuters poll of analysts showed on Monday.

The median forecast of six analysts was that gross domestic product (GDP) likely grew by 0.6 percent in the October-December period. That compares with a contraction of 0.3 percent in GDP in the previous quarter.

Year-on-year, the economy likely expanded by 1.7 percent, according to the median prediction of 11 analysts.

The survey also showed that the economy would likely grow by 2.3 percent this year, compared with 2.1 percent in 2017.

The Mexican national statistics agency will publish a preliminary estimate for fourth quarter GDP at 0800 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Tuesday. Final figures for the quarter will be published by the agency on Feb. 23.

30-01-2018 Details
Gold Prices Continue Lower as Markets Await Fed, Trump
Gold Prices Continue Lower as Markets Await Fed, Trump

Gold prices declined on Tuesday, extending losses into a third session, as traders awaited a U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting for fresh catalysts.

Comex gold futures were down around $6.00, or 0.5%, to $1,334.40 a troy ounce by 3:10AM ET (0810GMT). It fell to a one-week low of $1,332.80 in overnight trade.

Meanwhile, silver futures shed 6.2 cents, or 0.4%, to $17.06 a troy ounce, after tumbling 31.4 cents, or 1.8%, a day earlier.

Gold futures lost 0.9% on Monday as the dollar extended its rebound from a three-year nadir and benchmark Treasury yields cleared their highest level since April 2014.

The dollar continued higher, rising almost 0.3% against a basket of six major currencies to 89.44 in early trade, having pulled up from a low of around 88.25 set last week, its weakest level since December 2014.

U.S. government debt yields also extended recent gains, with the benchmark 10-year note climbing to its highest level in almost four years at 2.733%.

The Federal Reserve is not expected to take action on interest rates at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting at 2:00PM ET (1900GMT) on Wednesday, keeping it in a range between 1.25%-1.50%.

The central bank will release its post-meeting statement as investors look for any change in language which could point more clearly to a rate hike in the months ahead.

This week's meeting will be the last under the leadership of Janet Yellen, before she is replaced by Fed Governor Jerome Powell.

The majority of economists believe that the Fed will hike rates in March, followed by another hike in June, with a third move higher arriving in December.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising rates, which increase the opportunity cost of holding nonyielding bullion.

Also on the agenda, market players will focus on President Donald Trump's State of the Union address later on Tuesday. The theme of Trump's address will be "building a safe, strong and proud America," a senior administration official told reporters on Friday.

According to the White House, the speech will focus on five main policy areas: jobs and the economy, infrastructure, immigration, trade and national security.

In other metals action, palladium prices slumped 1% to $1,072.15 an ounce.

Sister metal platinum meanwhile dropped 1.6% at $996.40 an ounce.

March copper shed 0.9% to $3.166 a pound.

30-01-2018 Details
Sanofi buys Ablynx for $4.8 billion in biotech M&A boom
Sanofi buys Ablynx for $4.8 billion in biotech M&A boom

By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Ben Hirschler

PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) - French drugmaker Sanofi (PA:SASY) has agreed to buy Belgian biotech company Ablynx for 3.9 billion euros ($4.8 billion), beating Novo Nordisk (CO:NOVOb) and marking its second big deal this month after buying Bioverativ.

The deal is a further sign of accelerating mergers and acquisition (M&A) activity in the global biotech sector and comes after Ablynx rejected a 2.6 billion euro offer from Denmark's Novo Nordisk.

Sanofi said on Monday it would pay 45 euros per share in cash for Ablynx, a premium of 21.2 percent over its closing price on Friday - and more than double the price before Novo went public with its initial offer.

This month has seen a spike in multibillion-dollar deals in biotech, with U.S.-based Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG) paying $9 billion for cancer specialist Juno Therapeutics, and several experts predicting a bumper year for M&A.

Such deals are being driven by the need of large drugmakers to tap the promising new medicines being developed by smaller rivals to help revive flagging growth.

"With Ablynx, we continue to advance the strategic transformation of our research and development, expanding our late-stage pipeline and strengthening our platform for growth in rare blood disorders," Sanofi Chief Executive Officer Olivier Brandicourt said.

Last week, Sanofi agreed to buy U.S. hemophilia specialist Bioverativ for $11.6 billion, its biggest deal for seven years and a major play to strengthen its presence in treatments for rare diseases.

Sanofi said Ablynx would boost long-term value for its shareholders, while the takeover was expected to have a neutral impact on Sanofi's business earnings per share (EPS) in 2018 and 2019.

EXPERIMENTAL DRUG

Sanofi is already one of Ablynx's big pharma partners, after striking a deal in July 2017 to find new treatments for inflammatory diseases.

By buying the company outright it will now get access to Ablynx's most promising asset, the experimental drug caplacizumab for treating the rare bleeding disorder acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura.

Brandicourt said caplacizumab would complement Sanofi's line-up of blood products, following the acquisition of Bioverativ and an earlier deal to obtain global rights for fitusiran from Alnylam.

Analysts at Liberum said Sanofi would be able to use its existing infrastructure and the recently acquired platform from Bioverativ to help to commercialize caplacizumab.

The rare blood drug was also the main attraction for Novo Nordisk.

The Danish group has sat out previous rounds of M&A in the drugs sector to focus on its core diabetes business but it now needs to find new products for its struggling smaller biopharmaceutical unit, where Ablynx would have been a good fit.

A spokesman for Novo Nordisk declined to comment on the Sanofi deal.

Shares in Sanofi were little changed in early trade, following news the French company was paying far more for a business than Novo had offered just a few weeks ago.

Pricing considerations were offset by relief that Sanofi was finally taking action to improve its drugs portfolio, following its past failure to land big deals.

Sanofi lost out on buying California-based cancer specialist Medivation to Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) in 2016, and also missed acquiring Swiss biotech company Actelion, which was bought by Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) last year.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and Lazard advised Sanofi on the deal while JP Morgan advised Ablynx.

29-01-2018 Details
Saudi foreign reserves rise for third straight month
Saudi foreign reserves rise for third straight month

DUBAI (Reuters) - The Saudi Arabian central bank's foreign reserves rose in December for a third consecutive month, a sign that higher oil prices may be easing pressure on the government's finances, official data showed on Sunday.

The bank's net foreign assets grew $2.0 billion from November to $488.9 billion last month, after increasing $1.0 billion in November and $8.3 billion in October. It was the first time since mid-2014 that the reserves have risen for three straight months.

The government has been using the reserves, which peaked at $737 billion in August 2014, to cover a big budget deficit caused by low oil export receipts.

The central bank did not explain the reasons for the December data, but a jump in oil prices to three-year highs has lifted revenues, and this may have reduced the need for the government to draw down the reserves - though not entirely removed it, as Riyadh is still running a deficit.

Other factors may also be responsible for the rise in reserves, such as changes in the pattern of transfers of money to Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, and weakness of the U.S. dollar, which boosts the non-dollar portion of the assets.

Also, the government launched a massive crackdown on corruption in November, saying it aimed to recover $100 billion of illicit funds in financial settlements with suspects. Some money from settlements may have bolstered the reserves.

The foreign assets, the vast majority of which are believed to be in U.S. dollars, are held mostly in the form of securities holdings and bank deposits. Securities holdings rose in December while deposits edged down.

Sunday's data also showed outstanding bank loans to the private sector shrank 0.8 percent from a year earlier in December, the 10th straight month of falling bank lending.

29-01-2018 Details
Shanghai turns lower after warnings
Shanghai turns lower after warnings

Chinese markets slipped into negative territory overnight after Fan Hengshan, vice secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission, wrote an op-ed that black swan or grey rhino high-impact events were likely to take place this year.
The warning from the the country's top economic planner comes as the first official Belt and Road bonds were issued on the Shanghai Exchange.
Shanghai -1% to 3,523.
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29-01-2018 Details
World stocks set for 10th straight week of gains, euro jumps
World stocks set for 10th straight week of gains, euro jumps

By Ritvik Carvalho

LONDON (Reuters) - World stocks were set for their 10th straight week of gains on Friday, while the euro jumped more than half a percent as comments by U.S. officials this week advocating their support for a weak dollar reverberated through currency markets.

The MSCI world equity index (MIWD00000PUS), which tracks shares in 47 countries was down 0.1 percent, though it was still set for its 10th weekly gain on the trot.

European shares edged up in early deals, with the pan-European STOXX index (STOXX) up 0.3 percent, although they were set for their first weekly drop this year as a rally in the euro weighed.

Earlier in Asia, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (MIAPJ0000PUS) rose 0.25 percent for the day, led by gains in Chinese financial and property shares.

It headed for its 11th straight day of gains, the longest sequence since 2015, and also for seventh straight week of gains for the first time since 2010.

Japan's Nikkei (N225) ended down 0.2 percent.

World equity markets have rallied over the past year, buoyed by a synchronized uptick in global economic growth in a boon to corporate profits and stock valuations.

Australian markets were closed for a public holiday.

The Dow (DJI) and S&P 500 (SPX) ended at their highest closing levels ever on Thursday although Wall Street relinquished bigger intraday gains after President Donald Trump said he wanted a stronger dollar.

Trump said on Thursday he ultimately wants the dollar to be strong, contradicting comments made by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin one day earlier.

While Trump's comments briefly helped the U.S. currency come off a three-year low, it had fallen further by early European trade on Friday as traders took the view that a protracted decline in the greenback may be likely.

"While President Trump’s comments prompted a short covering rally in the U.S. dollar, they won’t have alleviated investors separate concerns about recent belligerent US rhetoric on trade," said Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets in London.

The dollar index (DXY), which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, last stood at 88.89.

The euro meanwhile, had risen half a percent to trade just below its December 2014 high of above $1.25 hit on Thursday. (EUR=EBS)

With European Central Bank President Mario Draghi declining to lean against the recent euro rally and instead signaling that economic data pointed to "solid and broad" growth, investors were encouraged to push the currency higher.

Draghi also warned that the surge in the euro was a source of uncertainty and said the ECB might have to review strategy if U.S. comments on the benefits of a weak dollar lead to a change in monetary conditions.

Another big mover in currencies on Friday was Britain's pound, which rose as much as 1 percent after stronger than expected GDP numbers for the fourth quarter.

A fourth quarter GDP reading from the United States is also due at 1330 GMT.

Oil prices reversed earlier falls as the weak dollar was seen supporting fuel consumption.

U.S. crude futures (CLc1) were 0.2 percent higher at $65.61 per barrel after reaching $66.66 on Thursday, their highest since December 2014.

Brent crude futures (LCoc1) were up 0.1 percent at $70.47 per barrel.

Spot gold was half a percent higher at $1,354.41 per ounce after sliding 0.8 percent overnight. It set $1,366.06 earlier on Thursday, its highest since August 2016.

26-01-2018 Details

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