January 12, 2018 / 12:42 PM / a month ago

Friday Morning Briefing

Trump questioned taking immigrants from ‘shithole countries’ say sources, JPMorgan reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit and a loophole in the new U.S. tax law could allow firms to avoid paying billions of dollars.

United States

President Donald Trump questioned why the United States would want to have immigrants from Haiti and African nations, referring to some as “shithole countries,” according to two sources familiar with the comments. 

Trump will extend sanctions relief granted to Iran under its 2015 nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers, leaving the accord intact for now, according to a person familiar with the decision. However, Trump, who has vowed to scrap the pact, was expected to give the U.S. Congress and European allies a deadline for improving it, the person said. 

Trump canceled a trip to London scheduled for next month to open a new embassy, saying he did not want to endorse what he understood was an Obama-era decision to move out of the old one. 

The search for survivors from a devastating Southern California mudslide that has killed at least 17 people moved into its third day, with some 700 rescue workers expecting to find more dead victims. 

Pakistan

A surprise New Year’s Day tweet by President Donald Trump in which he appeared to decree an end to U.S. aid for Pakistan, sent U.S. officials scrambling to suspend security assistance without even knowing how much aid they were freezing, four U.S. officials said. 

Pakistan’s army chief told a top U.S. general the nation “felt betrayed” at criticism that it was not doing enough to fight terrorism, the military said, after Trump accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit”. 

Special report

Former workers describe troubling practices at a mortuary-body broker, including allegations of deceptive marketing and an account of how gold dental work was removed from corpses and sold. Authorities are now investigating. 

The body trade: Read the full series 

World

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD) agreed after all-night talks to a blueprint for formal coalition negotiations, party sources said, raising prospects of an end to months of political uncertainty. 

Tunisian authorities arrested another 150 people including local opposition leaders over unrest against price and tax rises that prompted troop deployments to restive towns, and activists called for renewed rallies at the weekend. 

The European Union and Turkey will see no progress in their relations as long as Turkey holds journalists in prison, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. 

An increased offensive in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province will spark a new migration wave, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, calling on Russia and Iran to warn Syrian authorities over attacks. 

Reuters TV: Ecuador grants Julian Assange citizenship 

Khansa, the Singapore Zoo's 46th orangutan baby, clings to its mother Anita during a media tour to showcase newborn animals at the Singapore Zoo January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Tech

Facebook began to change the way it filters posts and videos on its centerpiece News Feed, the start of what Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said would be a series of changes in the design of the world’s largest social network.

China’s Bitmain Technologies is eyeing bitcoin mining sites in Quebec, a company spokesman told Reuters, as expectations of a potential Chinese crackdown on cryptocurrency mining make the energy-rich Canadian province an attractive alternative. 

Smartphones, PCs and servers across the world have received software updates in recent days to plug security gaps on computer chips that cyber security researchers have described as the most serious threat in years. Read the explainer on how Spectre and Meltdown work and what will come next. 

Some Chinese users of Apple’s products who have created Apple IDs overseas to circumvent a new law that requires their personal data to be stored within China say they have been warned by the tech giant that they risk losing the data. 

Business

Corporate results for 2017’s final quarter will start pouring in next week and are expected to be laden with one-time charges as U.S. companies begin to cope with tax code changes, including a one-time tax on trillions of dollars in profits held overseas. 

JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as gains in net interest income offset a slowdown in trading revenue.

BlackRock reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, as the world’s biggest asset manager pulled in more money to its exchange-traded funds. 

A loophole in the new U.S. tax law could allow multinational corporations like Apple to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes on profits stashed overseas, according to experts. 

Breakingviews: Walmart pay hike is less than largesse  

China’s aviation authority demanded an apology from Delta Air Lines for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website, while another government agency took aim at Inditex-owned fashion brand Zara and medical device maker Medtronic for similar issues. 

Autos

Ford said it had confirmed a second death in an older pickup truck caused by a defective airbag inflator of Takata Corp and urged 2,900 owners in North America to stop driving immediately until they can get replacement parts. 

General Motors is seeking U.S. government approval for a fully autonomous car - one without a steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator pedal - to enter the automaker’s first commercial ride-sharing fleet in 2019, executives said. 

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