Yellen tone suggests choppiness for markets ahead

U.S. stock investors have been enjoying an extended period of low volatility and steady gains, but with the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates this year and major indexes near records, the market could get a bit choppier in coming weeks. Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Friday said she expected the U.S. central bank to raise rates in 2015, though the process was expected to be gradual, with the timing of the first hike dependent on the strength of economic data. Yellen's comments kept the likelihood of a September rate increase high.


Fed on track to hike rates as economic headwinds wane: Yellen

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was clearer than ever on Friday that the central bank was poised to raise interest rates this year, as the U.S. economy was set to bounce back from an early-year slump and as headwinds at home and abroad waned. Yellen spoke amid growing concern at the Fed about volatility in financial markets once it begins to raise rates, and a desire to begin coaxing skeptical investors toward accepting the inevitable: that a 6-1/2-year stretch of near-zero interest rates would soon end. The confident tone suggested the Fed wants to set the stage as early as possible for its first rate rise in nearly a decade, with Yellen stressing that monetary policy must get out ahead of an economy whose future looks bright.


Bank of England confirms EU exit research after email misfire

The Bank of England plans to assess the implications of a possible British exit from the European Union, it said in a statement, confirming an email it inadvertently sent to a newspaper about the supposedly confidential research project. The Guardian reported that an aide to a senior Bank official said in the email the project should be kept secret from most BoE staff and any journalists asking about it should be told the Bank was looking at a broad range of European economic issues. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was re-elected on May 7, has pledged to reshape Britain's ties with the EU before holding an in-out membership referendum by the end of 2017.


Greek PM says on final stretch toward deal with lenders

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Saturday his government was on the final stretch of negotiations with its international lenders on a cash-for-reforms deal that would not involve further pension cuts and harsh austerity. After four months of talks with its euro zone partners and the International Monetary Fund, Athens is scrambling for a deal that could release up to 7.2 billion euros ($7.9 billion) in remaining aid to avert bankruptcy as it remains shut out of bond markets. "We are on the final stretch of a painful and tough period shaped by the government's negotiations with the institutions," Tsipras, back from an EU summit in Riga, told his party's central committee.


ECB's Draghi urges euro zone to unite for economic reform

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has urged euro zone countries to unite in the task of reforming the bloc's economies, saying sharing sovereignty was an opportunity and not a threat. Draghi is pushing governments not to waste the time ECB money printing has bought them. In a message read to attendees at a conference in Rome, he said countries should act quickly on recommendations the central bank has made to complete economic and monetary union, many of which have not been carried out.


South Korea seeks deeper cooperation with Japan on China-led AIIB

South Korea called on Saturday for deeper cooperation with Japan on a China-led development bank, while Japan remained cautious about the lender, which it and ally the United States have held back from joining. A meeting between the Japanese and South Korean finance ministers was "an impetus to deepen cooperative relations" regarding the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), South Korea's Choi Kyung-hwan told host Taro Aso.


Renault in Turkey offers concessions to striking workers

The Turkish arm of French carmaker Renault on Saturday offered concessions including future salary adjustments and a cash lump sum to striking workers if they return to work. Production at the company's joint venture Oyak Renault has been halted for a week in a dispute with workers over pay and working conditions, which has also affected other producers in the northwest city of Bursa, including Tofas and Ford unit Ford Otosan. In a statement on Saturday, Oyak Renault said workers would not face disciplinary action, and would receive a cash payment of 1000 Turkish lira ($370) if production resumed at midnight on Monday.


Daimler and Qualcomm to develop in-car tech, wireless charging

Carmaker Daimler on Saturday announced a partnership with mobile technologies company Qualcomm Inc. to explore wireless recharging of mobile phones in cars as well as recharging of electric cars without cables. The move forms part of a broader push by Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, as well as rival German carmakers BMW and Audi to build their expertise in software and telecommunications to bolster their status as high-tech carmakers in an era when tightening emission rules force them to downsize engines, once a mainstay of profit. In a joint statement, Daimler and Qualcomm said they were assessing the application of wireless technology to charge their electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrid EVs without ever having to plug them in.


Firmer underlying inflation keeps Fed on rate hike path

Rising shelter and medical care costs boosted underlying U.S. inflation pressures in April, a welcome sign for the Federal Reserve as it contemplates raising interest rates this year. The Labor Department said on Friday its Consumer Price Index, excluding food and energy, increased 0.3 percent last month. It was the largest rise in the so-called core CPI since January 2013 and followed a 0.2 percent gain in March.


Germany, France usher Greece back to negotiating table

European leaders told Greece on Friday to return to the negotiating table for "intensive work" to wrap up a reform agreement before cash runs out, sidestepping Athens' demand for a comprehensive, long-term solution to its troubles. With his country risking default in as little as two weeks, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras flew to Riga to press German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande for a political push to break the impasse in technical-level talks with European Union and International Monetary Fund creditors. The leaders offered help, but told Tsipras to get back to focusing on talks with the so-called "Brussels Group" of European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF lenders - the trio bankrolling Greece since it nearly went bankrupt in 2010.

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