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U.S. senator introduces bill to block Brazilian beef imports after ‘mad cow’ reports

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U.S. senator introduces bill to block Brazilian beef imports after 'mad cow' reports
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Jon Tester meets with striking members of the International Boilermakers Union Local D239 and their supporters outside Imerys Talc America Inc. in Three Forks, Montana, U.S., October 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

By P.J. Huffstutter

CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester on Thursday introduced legislation to halt the import of Brazilian beef into the United States and called for experts to review “the commodity’s safety” after media reports that Brazil delayed reporting two cases of mad cow disease.

The bill by Tester, a Montana Democrat, follows political pressure from U.S. cattle producers who have been calling for a halt to imports of Brazilian fresh beef due to questions about what processes Brazil uses to detect animal disease and other potential foodborne threats to consumers.

Brazil, the world’s largest beef exporter, suspended beef exports to top customer China after the South American country in early September confirmed two cases of “atypical” mad cow disease – or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) – in two separate domestic meat plants.

But the cases were originally detected in June, well before they were reported to trade partners and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), according to a Nov. 12 letter sent by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

USDA, which regulates beef imports into the United States, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

The United States imported $62.3 million of beef and beef products from Brazil in the first nine months of this year, a 36% increase over the same period a year earlier, according to U.S. Census Bureau trade data. In total volume, Brazil was the second-largest U.S. supplier of beef and beef product imports during that period, behind Mexico.

Political pressure on USDA has mounted in recent days, after two cases of a neurodegenerative disorder in patients in Rio de Janeiro state were reported earlier this month.

Officials with Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry said the cases were not related to beef consumption, tamping down fears of possible bovine spongiform encephalopathy causing human illness.

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Stock Markets

European stock markets mostly closed lower

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european stock markets

In yesterday’s trading, most European stock markets declined after the release of statistical data, which showed a decline in business activity in the region for the fifth month in a row.

The composite index of the largest companies in the region, Stoxx Europe 600, by market close fell by 0.3% to 441.47 points. Germany’s Dax Index fell by 0.56%; France’s CAC 40 – by 0.67%; Italy’s FTSE MIB – by 0.3% and Spain’s IBEX 35 – by 0.15%. Meanwhile, the British FTSE 100 added 0.15%, thanks to growth in shares of some major companies. 

Why are European stock markets falling?

According to final data, the composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) of the euro area, calculated by S & P Global, in November rose to 47.8 points from 47.3 points a month earlier. The dynamics of the indicator coincided with the preliminary estimate and with the expectations of analysts.

The indicator value below 50 points indicates a reduction in business activity in the sector. The index has remained below that mark for five consecutive months amid an energy and geopolitical crisis in Europe, the acceleration of inflation and rising interest rates, says Trading Economics.

PMI in the euro area services sector in November was 48.5 points, down 0.1 points compared with October. Preliminary data indicated that the indicator remained at the October level of 48.6 points.

Retail sales in the euro area fell 1.8 percent in October compared with the previous month, according to a report from the European Union Statistics Office (Eurostat). Analysts polled by Bloomberg expected on average a decline of 1.7 percent.

Sales of food, beverages and tobacco products in the currency bloc fell 1.5% in October compared with the previous month, with non-food products down 2.1%. Motor fuel sales increased by 0.3%.

Meanwhile, some support to the European market was provided by news about the relaxation of anti-coronavirus restrictions in several major cities in China.

The attention of market participants is gradually shifting to the last meetings of the US Federal Reserve System (Fed) and the European Central Bank (ECB) this year, which will be held next week.

The consensus is that both the U.S. and European Central Banks will slow the pace of key interest rate hikes to 50 basis points. The Fed has raised the rate by 75 bps at the previous four meetings, while the ECB has raised the rate at two meetings.

Earlier we reported that the main European stock indices fell during the trading on December 3.

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Stats had a positive effect on the European stock market. European growth stocks

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european growth stocks

West European stock indexes closed Wednesday’s trading with a confident growth. Traders evaluated the fresh batch of statistics and bought European growth stocks.

What influenced European stocks to high growth?

GDP volume in France rose 0.2% in the third quarter compared to the previous three months, final data from the national statistics institute Insee showed. The final data coincided with a preliminary estimate. Analysts, on average, had not expected a revision, according to a Trading Economics survey. GDP growth slowed from a 0.5% rebound in the second quarter.

Consumer prices in France, harmonized with European Union standards, rose 7.1% year-over-year in November. Insee also reported. The November rate of increase in consumer prices coincided with that of October, and analysts polled by Trading Economics expected inflation to remain at the same level.

Consumer spending in the country collapsed by 2.8% in October compared with the previous month. Analysts polled by Bloomberg expected a more moderate decline of 1 percent. The consensus forecast of experts polled by Trading Economics envisioned a 0.6% decline. The decrease in consumer spending was the maximum since April 2021.

The number of unemployed in Germany increased by 17 thousand in November, according to the Federal Employment Agency of Germany. The rise in the index was marked at the end of the sixth month in a row. Experts interviewed by Bloomberg agency, on average, predicted an increase of 13.5 thousand. Respondents to Trading Economics expected an increase of 13 thousand.

Additional positives for investors in European markets on Wednesday were messages about easing of coronavirus restrictions in a lot of cities in China. Note that Amazon’s stock price is also rising if you are interested in the U.S. stock market.

Earlier, we reported that U.S. stock indices were up 2.2-4.4%.

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U.S. stock indices today rose 2.2-4.4%

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U.S. stock indices today

The U.S. stock indices today closed the trading on Wednesday with the confident growth due to the statements of the Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, who confirmed that the U.S. Central Bank could slow down the basic rate rise as early as in December.

Judging by the quotations of futures on the level of the prime rate, U.S. stock market indices expect the Federal Reserve to raise it by 50 basis points (bps) in December – to 4.25-4.5%. The U.S. Central Bank has increased the rate by 75 bps at each of the previous four meetings. Against this background, the current stock price of Facebook also rose.

The report by the industry organization ADP, published on Wednesday, showed a slowdown in job growth in the U.S. private sector. Their number increased by 127,000 in November, the lowest rate since January, said the ADP. Analysts polled by The Wall Street Journal on average had forecast job growth of 190,000 after a jump of 239,000 in October.

Data from the U.S. Commerce Department, also released Nov. 30, showed higher-than-reported growth in the U.S. economy in the third quarter. U.S. GDP grew at an annualized rate of 2.9% in the July-September quarter, rather than the previously reported 2.6%. Experts polled by Trading Economics had expected an average revision of 2.7%.

Also, the Federal Reserve released its regional Beige Book survey Wednesday, showing that economic activity in the United States was little changed in the fall.

Federal Reserve banks in five counties reported a weak increase in activity in October and November, while the other seven reported a stable or slightly declining economy.

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average index was up 737.24 points (2.18%) at 34589.77 as of Wednesday’s market close.

  • Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 122.48 points (3.09%) to 4,080.11 points.

  • The Nasdaq Composite added 484.22 points (4.41%) to 1,468.

All three U.S. stock market indices closed November, with the Dow Jones gaining 5.3%; the S&P 500 gaining 4.6%, and the Nasdaq Composite gaining 3.3%.

Earlier we reported that Main European stock indices were rising during trading.

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