'Conversation is still ongoing' - US Ambassador on President Trump's steel tariff on New Zealand

Despite US President Trump signing off on the KIWI Act last week, a new visa law to open up trade access to New Zealand businesses, it is not all smooth sailing with NZ-US relationship.

New Zealand is still subject to steel tariffs, which Foreign Minister Winston Peters is due to raise with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the weekend.

TVNZ1's Q+A asked US Ambassador Scott Brown why New Zealand should suffer, as the steel tariff was intended to impact China.

"New Zealand’s output of steel is almost de minimis and Australia owns that company. This conversation is still going on, it’s certainly far from done," Mr Brown said.

Q+A host Corin Dann asked why there was not a steel exemption for New Zealand.

"Australia's got one. We want one."

Mr Brown said he was "absolutely" still hopeful New Zealand could gain an exemption.

He said there was "constant communication" between the New Zealand Government and President Trump, when asked by Dann if a visit by the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern or Mr Peters would help the situation.

"There’s no question in my mind, and in the administration’s mind... that there’s not an incredible, fantastic relationship," Mr Brown said.

The KIWI Act was signed off last week, but why is New Zealand still under steel tariffs? Source: Q+A

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US stocks suffer worst loss in eight months as tech companies plunge

US stocks plunged to their worst loss in eight months today as technology companies continued to drop. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 831 points.

The losses were widespread, and stocks that have been the biggest winners on the market the last few years, including technology companies and retailers, suffered steep declines. Apple and Amazon both had their worst day in two and a half years.

The Nasdaq composite, which has a high concentration of technology companies, had its biggest loss in more than two years.

Alec Young, managing director of global markets research at FTSE Russell, said investors fear that rising interest rates and growing expenses are going to erode company profits next year.

"The tax cuts juiced earnings this year and that's not sustainable," he said. "The market's starting to say that the glass may be half empty."

The S&P 500 index sank 94.66 points, or 3.3 percent, to 2,785.68. The benchmark index fell for the fifth straight day, which hadn't happened since just before the 2016 presidential election.

The Nasdaq composite tumbled 315.97 points, or 4.1 percent, to 7,422.05. It's fallen 7.5 percent in just five days.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 831.83 points, or 3.1 percent, to 25,598.74. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks shed 46.45 points, or 2.9 percent, to 1,575.41.

After a long stretch of relative calm, the stock market has suffered sharp losses over the last week as bond yields surged. Stocks had come close to big drops in the last few days, but each time they recovered some of their losses. That didn't happen Wednesday as stocks fell further late in the day.

Apple gave up 4.6 percent to $US216.36 and Microsoft dropped 5.4 percent to $US106.16. Amazon skidded 6.2 percent to $US1,755.25.

Industrial and internet companies also fell hard. Boeing lost 4.7 percent to $US367.57 and Alphabet, Google's parent company, gave up 4.6 percent to $US1,092.16.

Insurance companies dropped as Hurricane Michael continued to gather strength and came ashore in Florida bringing winds of up to 155 miles an hour. Berkshire Hathaway dipped 4.7 percent to $213.10 and reinsurer Everest Re slid 5.1 percent to $US217.73.

Luxury retailers tumbled after LVMH, the parent of Louis Vuitton, said its sales growth in China slowed. Tiffany plunged 10.2 percent to $US110.38 and Ralph Lauren fell 8.4 percent to $US116.96.

The biggest driver for the market over the last week has been interest rates, which began spurting higher following several encouraging reports on the economy. Higher rates can slow economic growth, erode corporate profits and make investors less willing to pay high prices for stocks.

The 10-year Treasury yield remained at 3.20 percent, about where it was late Tuesday, after earlier touching 3.24 percent. It was at just 3.05 percent early last week and 2.82 percent in late August.

Technology and internet-based companies are known for their high profit margins, and many have reported explosive growth in recent years, with corresponding gains in their stock prices.

Gina Martin Adams, chief equity strategist for Bloomberg Intelligence, said the stocks have become more volatile in the last few months because investors have concerns about their future profitability.

"Amazon recently announced they were increasing wages, Facebook is spending a ton on security," she said. "Semiconductors have the most exposure to China out of segments in the S&P 500."

Sears Holdings nosedived after the Wall Street Journal reported that the struggling retailer hired an advisory firm to prepare a bankruptcy filing that could come within days. The stock fell 16.8 percent to 49 cents. It was more than $US40 five years ago.

Sears has closed hundreds of stores and sold several famous brands or put them on the block as it sees more customers abandon its stores.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 2.4 percent to $US73.17 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 2.2 percent to $US83.09 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline shed 2.7 percent to $US2.02 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1.2 percent to $US2.39 a gallon. Natural gas rose 0.6 percent to $US3.28 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose 0.2 percent to $US1,193.40 an ounce. Silver dipped 0.5 percent to $US14.33 an ounce. Copper fell 0.9 percent to $US2.78 a pound.

Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.2 percent, South Korea's Kospi dropped 1.1 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.1 percent.
The CAC 40 in France dropped 2.1 percent, Germany's DAX lost 2.2 percent and the FTSE 100 in London fell 1.3 percent.

Stocks from emerging markets were also hard hit. Investors see many of these countries as being vulnerable to higher U.S. interest rates, which can pull away investment dollars. Brazil's Bovespa lost 2.5 percent and the Merval in Argentina sank 2.2 percent.

The dollar fell to 112.59 Japanese yen from 113.05 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose to $US1.1525 from $US1.1496. The British pound rose to $US1.3197 from $US1.3146.

FILE- This Jan. 4, 2018, file photo shows the interior of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 10. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
The interior of the New York Stock Exchange. Source: Associated Press

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Bug in IT system used to count euthanasia bill submission costs taxpayers $75,000

A bug in an IT system used to count submissions to the controversial euthanasia bill ended up costing $75,000 to find 700 missing forms.

There were an un-precedented 37,000 submissions to the End of Life Bill and more than half were hard copies and had to be manually scanned in.

During that process 700 went missing and a consultant was brought in to find them and make sure no more got lost.

William Devos from the Office of the Clerk said it was a massive task involving multiple searches on different databases.

The $75,000 cost included a $10,000 audit, $45,000 for the consultant and $20,000 for two temporary staff.

Mr Devos said the bug itself took only $3500 to fix.

The IT system was developed by Parliamentary Service and has only been in use since late last year.

rnz.co.nz

Mr Seymour, author of the End of Life Choice Bill, debated the pros and cons with Dr Peter Thirkell of the Care Alliance, which opposes euthanasia.
Source: 1 NEWS

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Snow in the deep south, rain and gales forecast for central New Zealand

The wintry blast that brought snow to high country areas of the South Island overnight is set to sweep up the country with gales and heavy rain.

Snow fell in high country areas of Otago and Southland overnight, closing roads.

MetService says snow fell down to 200m in Southland.

State Highway 94 between Te Anau and Milford is closed from Hollyford Road because of snow and a rising avalance risk, and is likely to remain closed until midday.

MetService forecaster Heath Gullery said the cold weather system wasn't over yet.

Heavy rain warnings and watches are in place for north west Nelson, the ranges of Buller and the Richmond Range.

Mr Gullery said Up to 100mm of rain could fall in north-west Nelson.

Gales of more than 90 km/h are also expected for the Kaikoura coast and in Wellington.

Yesterday, temperatures dropped rapidly as the front moved up the South Island.

rnz.co.nz

This was a delight for locals as a cold snap hit the lower South Island today. Source: 1 NEWS


Motorcyclist dies after crashing into tree in Rotorua

A motorcyclist has died in a crash in Rotorua this morning.

Police were called to the crash at 1.51am.

The motorcycle was the only vehicle involved and the driver died at the scene after colliding with a tree.

The Serious Crash Unit is investigating.
 

Police car generic.
Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS