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Exclusive Mexico cancels sugar export permits to the U.S. in absurd dis...


Mexico has canceled existing sugar export permits to the United States to avoid penalties in a dispute over the pace of shipments, a document seen by Reuters said, partly blaming the issue on unfilled positions at the U.S. Department of Commerce. It was not immediately clear what impact the cancellation would have on exports to the United States. The document, sent by Mexico's sugar chamber to mills on Monday, said existing permits would be reissued in April. Mexico's sugar mills are currently in full swing at the height of the harvest. The amount of sugar sent to the United States varies from season to season, with the document referring to a quota of 820,000 tonnes in 2016/2017. Ties between the United States and Mexico have frayed under Donald Trump, who sees trade skewed to favor the southern neighbor and is seeking to renegotiate the North American Free Trade agreement.

The document made no suggestion that the present dispute was related to the wider politics, but described as "absurd" an interpretation by "low-level" Commerce Department officials of a clause in so-called suspension agreements, which have regulated the sugar trade between both countries since the end of 2014. In the document, Chamber president Humberto Jasso says the interpretation relating to how much sugar Mexico can send in the six months up to March 31 means it would only be able to export 40 percent of the quota allocated by the United States in the period, causing a concentration in the second half of the season. The Economy Ministry said it could not immediately comment. Officials from Mexico's sugar chamber could not be reached for comment. It was not immediately clear how many sugar export permits were canceled or what penalties Mexico had faced.

The Mexican Economy Ministry decided to cancel the permits since it has no counterparts at the Commerce Department to resolve the issue, the document said."Because the Ministry cannot resolve the issue with the DOC, since officials in charge of making decisions have not been appointed, Economy Ministry attorneys in Washington insisted on sending a statement to the DOC acknowledging the problem and canceling existing exports, so that they can be re-issued as of April 1," the document adds.

Mill owners should consider legally challenging the decision, it said. Trump has not filled staff positions in several departments, a situation Mexican officials say has made it hard to negotiate on trade issues.

Global stocks, dollar up slightly as pivotal week for markets gets underwa...


An event-packed week for global markets got underway on Monday with stocks steady and the dollar recovering from a three-day fall as investors braced for a potential interest rate hike in the United States, a Dutch election and the first G20 finance ministers' meeting of the Trump era. Strong U.S. employment data and talk that European Central Bank policymakers had begun thinking about how to raise interest rates as inflation returns saw market participants, particularly in bond and currency markets, start to price in higher borrowing costs. Buying from the start of European trade on Monday halted three days of losses for the dollar which gained against both the euro EUR= and a basket of currencies. . DXYFed fund futures prices showed investors pricing in more than a 90 percent chance of an increase in U.S. overnight interest rates and the market's attention is now firmly on the scale of tightening further out."Improved growth and inflation prospects are allowing developed market central banks to sketch their exits from extreme accommodation at varying speeds," David Folkerts-Landau, group chief economist at Deutsche Bank wrote in a note to clients. Sterling GBP=D4 rose 0.4 percent against the dollar, however, ahead of a vote in Britain's lower house of parliament on legislation that will give the government permission to trigger Britain's exit from the European Union.

"The push and pull between solid growth momentum and political risks look set to continue in the near-term," Folkerts-Landau said. The world's most powerful finance ministers and central bankers convene in the German spa town of Baden-Baden on March 17-18, their first meeting since Donald Trump's U.S. election victory in November where his protectionist stance on international trade is likely to be a key issue. Gains in mining stocks and continued corporate deal-making activity helped European shares offset weakness in oil-related shares, with the benchmark STOXX 600 up 0.2 percent in early trades.

The FTSE 100 . FTSE was up slightly where along with mining blue chips a 1 percent gain for shares of HSBC (HSBA. L) supported the index. HSBC shares rose after Europe's biggest bank tapped an outsider, Mark Tucker, for its top job. In bond markets, euro zone government bond yields pulled back from multi-week highs, as nervous investors turned their focus to this week's Dutch parliamentary elections -- the next key gauge of populism in Europe.

Although the risk of a eurosceptic party coming to power in the Netherlands is small, a strong election performance could renew concerns about the popularity of the far-right in French presidential elections in April and May, said Erin Browne, head of macro investments at UBS O'Connor, a hedge fund manager within UBS Asset Management."If you see a eurosceptic party gains a significantly larger share of the vote than current polls suggest that could spill over into concern about the French elections and the National Front doing better in the second round of voting than is currently being predicted," she said. "That's the risk for markets with a view to the Dutch elections."A sharp pullback in oil prices which fell to their lowest in three months and are on track for a fifth day of losses also kept investor confidence in check. The slump in prices has occurred as more rigs are deployed to look for oil in the United States and as crude inventories in the United States, the world's biggest oil consumer, have surged to a record. [O/R]