“The political message is greater than the economic hit,” said Chiao Chun, a former trade negotiator for the Taiwanese government.

Even though about 90 percent of Taiwan’s imported gravel and sand comes from China, most of that is manufactured. China accounted for only about 11 percent of Taiwan’s natural sand imports in the first half of this year, according to the Bureau of Mines.

The two types of Taiwanese fish exports that China restricted last week — chilled white striped hairtail and frozen horse mackerel — are collectively worth about $22 million, less than half the value of the Taiwanese grouper trade that was banned earlier this year. They are also less dependent on the Chinese market.

As for Taiwan’s half-a-billion-dollar citrus industry, its shipments to China account for only 1.1 percent of the island’s total agricultural exports, according to Taiwan’s Agriculture Council. A popular theory is that Beijing singled out citrus farmers because most orchards are in southern Taiwan, a stronghold for the governing political party, the Democratic Progressive Party, a longtime target of Beijing’s anger.

Future bans may become more targeted to punish industries in counties that are D.P.P. strongholds, said Thomas J. Shattuck, an expert on Taiwan at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House. There may also be less retaliation against counties run by the Kuomintang opposition party “in an attempt to put a finger on the scale for Taiwan’s local, and even national, elections,” he added.

increasingly indispensable node in the global supply chains for smartphones, cars and other keystones of modern life. One producer, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, makes roughly 90 percent of the world’s most advanced semiconductors, and sells them to both China and the West.

simulated a blockade of Taiwan.

Even though some of the exercises took place in the Taiwan Strait, a key artery for international shipping, they did not disrupt access to ports in Taiwan or southern China, said Tan Hua Joo, an analyst at Linerlytica, a company in Singapore that tracks data on the container shipping industry. He added that port congestion would build only if the strait was completely blocked, port access was restricted or port operations were hampered by a labor or equipment shortage.

“None of these are happening at the moment,” he said.

Vessels that chose to avoid the Taiwan Strait last week because of the Chinese military’s “chest beating” activities would have faced a 12- to 18-hour delay, an inconvenience that would generally be considered manageable, said Niels Rasmussen, the chief shipping analyst at Bimco, an international shipping association.

If Beijing were to escalate tensions in the future, it would indicate that it was willing to put at risk China’s own economy as well as its trade and relations with Japan, South Korea, Europe and the United States, Mr. Rasmussen said by phone from his office near Copenhagen.

“That’s just difficult to accept that they would take that decision,” he added. “But then again, I didn’t expect Russia to invade Ukraine.”

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Todd Tucker Advances to Executive Vice President for Real Estate Operations and Qualifying Broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties

ROSWELL, Ga.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties, one of the largest and most successful real estate organizations in the country, recently announced Todd Tucker, formerly Georgia Properties Senior Vice President of Real Estate Operations, is now Executive Vice President for Real Estate Operations and Qualifying Broker.Tucker is a celebrated real estate leader with decades of experience in training, technology, and brokerage management. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties is a full-service brokerage with 29 office locations throughout Georgia and more than 1,600 sales associates.

“Todd would easily make any list of who’s who in real estate for Atlanta,” said Dan Forsman, Georgia Properties Chairman. “He has taken on so many roles in our company and I couldn’t think of a better professional – and person – to lead our real estate operations and ensure our sales associates’ continued success.”

Added DeAnn Golden, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties: “I’ve been working with Todd for more than 20 years and his dedication to our industry, company and sales associates is absolutely unmatched.”

Tucker began his real estate career as a sales associate in April 1997 and quickly rose to a top producer. He joined the staff at Georgia Properties – then Prudential Georgia Realty – in 2003 as assistant broker in the North Cobb office (now Northwest Office). He then became the Managing Broker of the Douglasville West Georgia Office in 2004 and the broker of the East Cobb office in 2011. In addition to being managing broker for several of the Georgia Properties offices, he has also served as a trainer, technology trainer and safety officer. As part of his expanded role, Tucker oversees many facets of the organization, from the regional managers to facilities and commercial real estate to creator/facilitator of the Chairman’s Circle top associates mastermind groups where he currently oversees five top associates’ groups that meet monthly. Most recently, Todd is a pioneer leader of the newly created BHHS Global Mastermind groups with associate participation from all over the nation.

Deeply involved with both his community and industry, Tucker has held many positions in local Realtor organizations. He served as President of the Cobb Association of REALTORSⓇ in 2004 and President of West Georgia Board of REALTORSⓇ in 2009. He is a former Governor for the Graduate REALTORSⓇ Institute (GRI), past RPAC Trustee and past RIAC Trustee for the Georgia Association of REALTORSⓇ (GAR). Tucker was awarded Realtor of the Year three times in his career with his local Realtor Board and was honored with the Young Achievers Award from the Young Professionals Network (YPN) of GAR. Tucker has served in many positions on the state level over the years but most recently he served on GAR’s Nominating Committee and Special Media Task Force. He also holds the Accredited Buyers Agent (ABR) national designation, the Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI) designation and a broker’s license in Georgia and Alabama. He is a proud graduate of the University of Georgia.

“I look forward to seeing Todd excel in this new role,” said Gino Blefari, CEO of HomeServices of America. “He’s an extraordinary leader with the experience to help guide Georgia Properties in this new and exciting chapter of their growth story.”

“I couldn’t be prouder to take on this expanded role for our brokerage,” Tucker said. “We are more than a company, we are a family, and I am honored to take the responsibility of helping our family grow, thrive and prosper.”

ABOUT BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOMESERVICES GEORGIA PROPERTIES

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties is a full service real estate brokerage company offering residential, commercial and property management services. With over $5.2 billion in sales 2021, 29 office locations and more than 1,600 sales associates, the company continues to expand its footprint in the Atlanta Metro market, including North Georgia Mountain and Lakes and the Southern Crescent. To learn more, visit www.bhhsgeorgia.com.

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U.S. Gas Prices Fall Below $4 a Gallon, AAA Says. Here’s Why.

Gas prices in the United States fell below $4 a gallon on Thursday, retreating to their lowest level since March, a sign of relief for Americans struggling with historically high inflation and a political boost for President Biden, who has been under pressure to do more to bring down prices.

The national average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline now stands at $3.99, according to AAA. That’s still higher than it was a year ago but well below a peak of nearly $5.02 in mid-June. The average price has fallen for 58 consecutive days.

Energy costs feed into broad measures of inflation, so the drop is also good news for policymakers who have struggled to contain rising prices. It is a welcome development for Mr. Biden, who has spent recent weeks trumpeting the drop in gasoline prices, even as he pledges to do more to bring costs down. Mr. Biden has criticized oil companies for their record profits, and this year he released some of the nation’s stockpile of oil in an effort to reduce price pressures.

cost of gasoline at the pump is determined by global oil prices, which have tumbled to their lowest point since the war in Ukraine began in February, a drop that reflects in part the growing concern of a worldwide recession that will hit demand for crude.

said in a statement, citing it as one example of recent “encouraging economic developments.”

For consumers, falling gas prices offer a respite from a shaky economy, rapid inflation and other worries. “We have new rising diseases and inflation, and people expect a recession,” said Zindy Contreras, a student and part-time waitress in Los Angeles. “If I just had to not worry about my gas tank taking up $70, that’d be a huge relief, for once.”

Ms. Contreras has been filling up her 2008 Mazda 3 only halfway as a result of the higher prices, costing her $25 to $30 each visit to the pump, and she had found opportunities to car-pool with friends. These days, Ms. Contreras usually gets gas twice a week, driving 15 miles to and from work each week and an additional 10 to 50 miles a week, depending on her plans.

The national average price masks wide regional variations. Prices vary according to the health of local economies, proximity to refineries and state taxes, said Devin Gladden, a spokesman with AAA.

weaker demand because of high costs, a sharp decline in global oil prices in recent months and the suspension of taxes on gasoline in a handful of states.

Nearly two-thirds of people in a recent AAA survey said they had altered their driving habits because of high prices, mostly by taking fewer trips and combining errands. On Thursday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries revised down its forecast for global oil demand this year.

Regardless of the causes, the lower prices are a welcome change for drivers for whom the added expense — often $10 to $15 extra for a tank of gas — had become yet another hurdle as they sought to get their lives back to normal as the coronavirus pandemic eased.

“The affordability squeeze is becoming very real when you see these high prices at the gas pump,” said Beth Ann Bovino, the U.S. chief economist at S&P Global. “So, in that sense, it’s a positive sign certainly for those folks that are struggling.”

That cushion — cash not spent on gasoline that can go elsewhere — also extends to businesses, particularly as the price of diesel fuel drops. Diesel, which is used to fuel, for instance, farm equipment, construction machinery and long-haul trucks, has also fallen from a June record, though at a slower pace than gasoline prices.

The drop in the price of gas is also good news for the economy, as businesses face less pressure to pass energy costs on to their customers — a move that would add to the country’s inflation problem.

hurricanes later this year could damage Gulf Coast refineries and pipelines, choking off supplies.

For now, though, the steady drop in the cost of fuel offers Americans a reprieve.

“If gasoline prices stay at or near the levels they have reached, that would mean much more cushion for households,” Ms. Bovino said.

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In a Summer of Feints, Russia and Ukraine Try to Predict Enemy’s Next Move

SLOVIANSK, Ukraine — At one point on the front line, Ukrainian soldiers advanced by creeping on their bellies 50 yards at a time, digging new trenches at every stop. Elsewhere, soldiers with the 93rd Brigade captured about three miles of wheat fields — and a Russian tank. Another unit liberated a village last week.

Out on the rolling plains of eastern Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, soldiers and commanders are pointing to these modest gains as a measurable result of Ukraine’s strategy of publicly, and frequently, making its intentions known to attack Russian forces along another front: southern Ukraine.

The Russian Army, Ukrainian officials and Western analysts say, has been diverting soldiers to the south to meet a potential offensive — allowing Ukraine to regain slivers of land in the east.

strike with precision far behind Russian lines.

making a difference, but with everything in this war, much remains opaque: Rumors run rampant, propaganda is pervasive, and both Ukraine and Russia are quick to tout advanced weapons — like the HIMARS — while keeping operational details secret.

Some analysts say Russia’s slowdown in the east has less to do with splitting its attention or Ukraine’s weapons than with a need to rebuild and redeploy its battered forces.

The Pentagon highlighted that problem in a news briefing on Monday, where Colin Kahl, under secretary of defense for policy, estimated that 70,000 to 80,000 Russian troops had been killed or wounded since the invasion began, a staggering loss that exceeds the official U.S. military casualty counts in the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

the podcast “War on the Rocks,” on Monday. But he added that Russian forces were still testing lines in the east, putting pressure on Ukrainian forces in the northeast, and making at least a limited attack in the south. “So you see now a kind of much more active battlefield,” he said.

Regional leaders on Monday outlined the steady toll of that activity. Mayor Ihor Terekhov of Kharkiv, in the northeast, which Russians have bombarded steadily since failing to seize it early in the war, reported at least seven explosions early on Sunday and said shelling continued on Monday, killing one civilian and damaging several homes.

“There is definitely no military infrastructure in this peaceful and densely populated area,” he wrote on Telegram.

In the eastern province of Donetsk, part of the Donbas, the regional official Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram that Russian forces had killed five civilians and injured 17 on Sunday.

In the Donbas, the Russian Army has narrowed its offensive at least for now to an assault on the city of Bakhmut and the towns of Pisky and Avdiivka, all of which are being hammered daily by artillery.

On a recent visit, Bakhmut seemed to be teetering. Explosions and the metallic whistles of incoming shells rang out every few minutes. The only people on the streets appeared to be drunk, poor or elderly, with nowhere to run.

With the enemy close and tensions high, some vigilantism emerged. Residents beat an apparently intoxicated man who had started a fire with a cigarette.

The deputy mayor, Oleksandr Marchenko, said in an interview that Russians were closing in from three sides about six miles outside town, pointing to smoke from burning villages nearby. An outdoor market was reduced to a tangle of twisted sheet metal from obliterated stalls. In one backyard, a body lay under a sheet beside a fresh shell crater.

The fighting in the countryside between the Donbas towns, in contrast, has been a war of small steps that Ukrainian forces say are mostly in their favor. Soldiers are still dying every day, but Russia’s once-punishing artillery barrages targeting front lines have petered out, compared to their earlier furious pace.

On a recent, sweltering summer morning, Sgt. Serhiy Tyshchenko walked a warren of trenches dug into a tree line, tracing his troops’ slow advance on a southern rim of the eastern front line.

The focal point of the war has moved elsewhere, he said. “Our position is not a priority for us or for them,” he said.

He advanced by sending troops crawling on their stomachs at night among the roots and leaves of acacia trees, along three parallel tree lines beside wheat fields. Each time, they dug new trenches, gradually pushing back the Russians.

When he reached the former Russian line, a panorama of garbage emerged: Water bottles, empty cans of fish, plastic bags and discarded ammunition boxes lay everywhere. Flies buzzed about.

“They don’t care” said Sergeant Tyshchenko, “because it’s not their country.”

Yurii Shyvala contributed reporting from Sloviansk and Bakhmut, Ukraine, Maria Varenikova from Kyiv, Ukraine, Emma Bubola from London, Anastasia Kuznietsova from Mantua, Italy, and Alan Yuhas from New York.

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NewPoint Real Estate Capital and Morgan Properties Launch NewPoint Impact Providing Innovative Suite of Affordable Housing Financing Solutions

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–NewPoint Real Estate Capital (“NewPoint”), a pioneering real estate finance company, announces the launch of NewPoint Impact, a proprietary affordable housing lending platform that pairs private capital with government-subsidized products to deliver an innovative set of next-generation affordable housing financing solutions. NewPoint Impact is a partnership between NewPoint and Morgan Properties, one of the largest multifamily owners in the US.

Under the leadership of NewPoint’s Rob Wrzosek, who was recently elevated to President – Affordable Strategies, NewPoint’s Proprietary Affordable Team will work closely with the firm’s originators and mortgage broker partners to offer the suite of NewPoint Impact products that provides affordable housing developers with a full gamut of flexible, custom-tailored solutions from construction loans to long-term permanent financing. Financing amounts start at $8 million and are available to both for-profit and non-profit 501(c)(3) developers, with terms ranging from 2 to 40 years, depending on the execution.

NewPoint Impact will finance the construction and/or acquisition/rehabilitation of affordable housing through a variety of financial products, including:

“We created NewPoint to transform multifamily finance, and it’s impossible to do so without breaking new ground in affordable housing finance,” said David Brickman, Chief Executive Officer of NewPoint. “We have already established an affordable housing platform comprised of the foremost experts in Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA executions – now, through our partnership with Morgan Properties, we have created additional tools to bring unmatched value, speed and creativity to the organizations working to solve our nation’s affordable housing crisis.”

“Our goal with the NewPoint Impact products is to provide investors and developers with something fundamentally different in a sector that has remained relatively unchanged in recent years, despite a market that has evolved,” Wrzosek added. “These solutions solve for contemporary challenges and provide additional certainty in creating and preserving desperately needed affordable housing during an increasingly volatile environment.”

In 2017, Morgan Properties established its Special Situations platform to invest in equity recapitalizations, fixed-income securities and other alternative investment opportunities. Since launching the endeavor, Morgan Properties has been one of the most active Freddie Mac K Series investors, having closed on the acquisition of 29 B-Piece deals across $28 billion in loans. The partnership with NewPoint will afford Morgan Properties with the ability to provide liquidity to an increasingly supply-constrained affordable housing sector.

“The diminishing supply of affordable housing has put a massive strain on renters across the country. At Morgan Properties, it is in our DNA to provide solutions that make renting more accessible and provide a better living experience for all,” said Jason Morgan, Principal and President of Morgan Properties Special Situations. “Partnering with NewPoint is a great opportunity to not only lend our expertise and expand our credit platform, but also help developers jumpstart construction on these critically-needed affordable housing projects.”

With nearly a quarter of US rental households spending more than 50% of income on rent (Harvard JCHS), NewPoint Impact is committed to providing creative solutions to help expand the supply of high-quality, affordable rental housing to those in need. The NewPoint Impact financing solutions were created with direct input from leading affordable housing developers to provide a single source of low-cost financing focused on mitigating risks and maximizing efficiencies across all stages of a community’s lifecycle.

About Morgan Properties

Established in 1985 by Mitchell Morgan, Morgan Properties is a national real estate investment and management company headquartered in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Jonathan and Jason Morgan represent the next-generation leaders growing the platform and overseeing the business operations. Morgan Properties and its affiliates currently own and manage a multifamily portfolio comprised of more than 350 apartment communities and over 95,000 units located in 19 states. The Company is among the three largest multifamily owners in the nation and the largest in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York. With over 2,300 employees, Morgan Properties prides itself on its quick decision-making capabilities, strong capital relationships and proven operational expertise.

About NewPoint Real Estate Capital

NewPoint Real Estate Capital (NewPoint) is a prominent commercial real estate finance company delivering lending solutions to investors of multifamily, affordable housing, seniors housing, healthcare, and manufactured housing properties nationwide. NewPoint leverages technology, data, capital, and the expertise of its industry-leading team to provide loan origination, servicing, execution, and a suite of Agency and curated proprietary products to meet the evolving needs of borrowers. In addition to being a Fannie Mae DUS®, Freddie Mac Optigo®, and HUD/FHA MAP and LEAN Lender, NewPoint also offers proprietary bridge and affordable housing financing. For more information, please visit https://newpoint.com.

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Turkey says ship carrying first Ukrainian grain on track for safe arrival

  • Ukraine consults U.S. in using HIMARS launchers, official says
  • Comment prompts Kremlin to accuse U.S. of direct involvement
  • First wartime Ukraine grain export ship reaches Bosphorus Strait
  • U.S. sanctions target ex-Olympic gymnast seen as close to Putin

ISTANBUL/LONDON, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Russia on Tuesday accused the United States of direct involvement in the Ukraine war while the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain to world markets since Moscow’s invasion anchored safely off Turkey’s coast after a problem-free journey.

Russia said it was responding to comments by Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy head of military intelligence, about the way Kyiv had used U.S.-made and supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers based on what he called excellent satellite imagery and real-time information.

Skibitsky told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper there was consultation between U.S. and Ukrainian intelligence officials before strikes and that Washington had an effective veto on intended targets, though he said U.S. officials were not providing direct targeting information.

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Russia’s defence ministry, headed by a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said the interview showed that Washington was entangled in the conflict despite repeated assertions that it was limiting its role to arms supplies because it did not want a direct confrontation with Moscow. read more

“All this undeniably proves that Washington, contrary to White House and Pentagon claims, is directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.

“It is the Biden administration that is directly responsible for all Kyiv-approved rocket attacks on residential areas and civilian infrastructure in populated areas of Donbas and other regions, which have resulted in mass deaths of civilians.”

There was no immediate reaction from the White House or Pentagon to the ministry’s assertions.

The Pentagon did deny, however, Moscow’s claims that Russia had destroyed six U.S.-made HIMARS since the war in Ukraine began on Feb. 24. Russia regularly claims it has hit HIMARS but has yet to show proof. read more

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of carrying out devastating missile attacks on civilian targets on an almost daily basis. Both sides deny deliberately targeting civilians.

The accuracy and long range of missile systems provided by the West were intended to reduce Russia’s artillery advantage, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Tuesday night said that despite those supplies, his country’s forces could not yet overcome Russian advantages in heavy guns and manpower.

“This is very much felt in combat, especially in the Donbas. … It is just hell there. Words cannot describe it,” he said.

A Russian diplomat said at the United Nations that the conflict in Ukraine does not warrant Russia’s use of nuclear weapons, but Moscow could decide to use its nuclear arsenal in response to “direct aggression” by NATO countries over the invasion. read more

At a nuclear non-proliferation conference, diplomat Alexander Trofimov said Moscow would only use nuclear weapons in response to weapons of mass destruction or a conventional weapons attack that threatened the existence of the Russian state.

“None of these two hypothetical scenarios is relevant to the situation in Ukraine,” Trofimov, a senior diplomat in the non-proliferation and arms control department of Russia’s foreign ministry, told the U.N. conference to review the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

SAFE PASSAGE

Meanwhile, a July 22 U.N.-brokered deal to unblock the export of Ukrainian grain had an initial success. Turkey said that the first loaded ship since Russia’s invasion more than five months ago was safely anchored off the Turkish coast. read more

The vessel, the Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni was at the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black Sea to world markets, around 1800 GMT on Tuesday, some 36 hours after leaving the Ukrainian port of Odesa.

A delegation from the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul, where Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and U.N. personnel work, is expected to inspect the ship at 0700 GMT on Wednesday, Turkey’s Defence Ministry said.

It was loaded with 26,527 tonnes of corn.

“We hope that there will be some more outbound movement tomorrow,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

Dujarric said there were about 27 ships in the three Ukrainian ports covered by the export deal that were ready to go.

The exports from one of the world’s top grain producers are intended to help ease a global food crisis.

“Our goal now is to have an orderly schedule so when one ship leaves port there should be other vessels – both those loading and those approaching the port,” Zelenskiy said.

For the safe passage deal to stick, there are other hurdles to overcome, including clearing sea mines and creating a framework for vessels to safely enter the war zone and pick up cargoes. read more

Known as Europe’s breadbasket, Ukraine hopes to export 20 million tonnes of grain held in silos and 40 million tonnes from the harvest now under way, initially from Odesa and nearby Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk.

Russia has called the Razoni’s departure “very positive” news. It has denied responsibility for the food crisis, saying Western sanctions have slowed its exports.

Adding to those sanctions, the United States on Tuesday targeted Alina Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast the Treasury Department described as having a close relationship with Putin. Putin has denied they are romantically linked.

The department said in a statement Kabaeva heads the National Media Group, a pro-Kremlin group of television, radio and print organizations.

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Reporting by Reuters bureaux; writing by Andrew Osborn. Mark Heinrich and Alistair Bell; editing by Nick Macfie, Grant McCool, Howard Goller and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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UK leadership candidate Truss: junk food taxes “are over”

LONDON, Aug 2 (Reuters) – The frontrunner to become British prime minister, Liz Truss, said she would scrap plans to restrict multi-buy deals on food and drink high in fat, salt, or sugar and would not impose any new levies on unhealthy food.

Britain already taxes sugar in soft drinks, and in May delayed until October next year rules banning deals such “buy one get one free” on food and drink high in fat, salt or sugar due to the cost-of-living crisis. read more

“Those taxes are over,” Truss said in an interview with the Daily Mail. “Talking about whether or not somebody should buy a two-for-one offer? No. There is definitely enough of that.”

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Truss said Britons wanted the government to focus on things like delivering good transport links, communications infrastructure and cutting National Health Service waiting lists.

“They don’t want the government telling them what to eat,” she said.

The ban was also due to include restrictions on free refills for soft drinks in restaurants. Limits on the location of unhealthy foods in shops are still due to go ahead in October.

Opinion polls of Conservative Party members, who will elect their new leader and the country’s next prime minister, show Truss is leading her rival former finance minister Rishi Sunak ahead of a result due on Sept. 5.

The chairman of Britain’s biggest supermarket group Tesco (TSCO.L), John Allan, in June criticised Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government for not being consistent on policy, including over anti-obesity measures. read more

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Reporting by Kylie MacLellan. Editing by Andrew MacAskill

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Apogee Enterprises Announces Amendment and Extension of Credit Facility

MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Apogee Enterprises, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOG) announced today that it has completed the amendment and extension of its senior unsecured credit facility. The agreement increases the company’s unsecured revolving credit facility to $385 million and provides for an uncommitted accordion feature allowing for an additional $200 million of borrowing capacity. The company will repay its current $150 million senior unsecured term loan using proceeds from the increased revolving facility. The new amended credit facility will mature in 2027.

“This amended credit facility provides Apogee with lower borrowing costs, an extended maturity, and increased flexibility as we execute our strategy in the coming years,” said Ty R. Silberhorn, Chief Executive Officer. “We’d like to thank our lenders for their continued confidence in Apogee and our strategic direction.”

Wells Fargo Bank, National Association acted as Administrative Agent and U.S. Bank National Association acted as Syndication Agent. BMO Harris Bank, N.A., Truist Bank and Comerica Bank are also lenders.

Additional details on the amended credit agreement can be found in the Company’s Form 8-K to be filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

About Apogee Enterprises, Inc.

Apogee Enterprises, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOG) is a leading provider of architectural products and services for enclosing buildings, and glazing products for framing art. Headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, our portfolio of industry-leading products and services includes high-performance architectural glass, windows, curtainwall, storefront and entrance systems, integrated project management and installation services, as well as value-added glass and acrylic for custom picture framing and displays. For more information, visit www.apog.com.

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How a New Corporate Minimum Tax Could Reshape Business Investments

WASHINGTON — At the center of the new climate and tax package that Democrats appear to be on the verge of passing is one of the most significant changes to America’s tax code in decades: a new corporate minimum tax that could reshape how the federal government collects revenue and alter how the nation’s most profitable companies invest in their businesses.

The proposal is one of the last remaining tax increases in the package that Democrats are aiming to pass along party lines in coming days. After months of intraparty disagreement over whether to raise taxes on the wealthy or roll back some of the 2017 Republican tax cuts to fund their agenda, they have settled on a longstanding political ambition to ensure that large and profitable companies pay more than $0 in federal taxes.

To accomplish this, Democrats have recreated a policy that was last employed in the 1980s: trying to capture tax revenue from companies that report a profit to shareholders on their financial statements while bulking up on deductions to whittle down their tax bills.

reduce their effective tax rates well below the statutory 21 percent. It was originally projected to raise $313 billion in tax revenue over a decade, though the final tally is likely to be $258 billion once the revised bill is finalized.

would eliminate this cap and extend the tax credit until 2032; used cars would also qualify for a credit of up to $4,000.

Because of that complexity, the corporate minimum tax has faced substantial skepticism. It is less efficient than simply eliminating deductions or raising the corporate tax rate and could open the door for companies to find new ways to make their income appear lower to reduce their tax bills.

Similar versions of the idea have been floated by Mr. Biden during his presidential campaign and by Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts. They have been promoted as a way to restore fairness to a tax system that has allowed major corporations to dramatically lower their tax bills through deductions and other accounting measures.

According to an early estimate from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax would most likely apply to about 150 companies annually, and the bulk of them would be manufacturers. That spurred an outcry from manufacturing companies and Republicans, who have been opposed to any policies that scale back the tax cuts that they enacted five years ago.

Although many Democrats acknowledge that the corporate minimum tax was not their first choice of tax hikes, they have embraced it as a political winner. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, shared Joint Committee on Taxation data on Thursday indicating that in 2019, about 100 to 125 corporations reported financial statement income greater than $1 billion, yet their effective tax rates were lower than 5 percent. The average income reported on financial statements to shareholders was nearly $9 billion, but they paid an average effective tax rate of just 1.1 percent.

“Companies are paying rock-bottom rates while reporting record profits to their shareholders,” Mr. Wyden said.

told the Senate Finance Committee last year. “This behavioral response poses serious risks for financial accounting and the capital markets.”

Other opponents of the new tax have expressed concerns that it would give more control over the U.S. tax base to the Financial Accounting Standards Board, an independent organization that sets accounting rules.

“The potential politicization of the F.A.S.B. will likely lead to lower-quality financial accounting standards and lower-quality financial accounting earnings,” Ms. Hanlon and Jeffrey L. Hoopes, a University of North Carolina professor, wrote in a letter to members of Congress last year that was signed by more than 260 accounting academics.

the chief economist of the manufacturing association. “Arizona’s manufacturing voters are clearly saying that this tax will hurt our economy.”

Ms. Sinema has expressed opposition to increasing tax rates and had reservations about a proposal to scale back the special tax treatment that hedge fund managers and private equity executives receive for “carried interest.” Democrats scrapped the proposal at her urging.

When an earlier version of a corporate minimum tax was proposed last October, Ms. Sinema issued an approving statement.

“This proposal represents a common sense step toward ensuring that highly profitable corporations — which sometimes can avoid the current corporate tax rate — pay a reasonable minimum corporate tax on their profits, just as everyday Arizonans and Arizona small businesses do,” she said. In announcing that she would back an amended version of the climate and tax bill on Thursday, Ms. Sinema noted that it would “protect advanced manufacturing.”

That won plaudits from business groups on Friday.

“Taxing capital expenditures — investments in new buildings, factories, equipment, etc. — is one of the most economically destructive ways you can raise taxes,” Neil Bradley, chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. He added, “While we look forward to reviewing the new proposed bill, Senator Sinema deserves credit for recognizing this and fighting for changes.”

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Analysis: East Europe’s party is over as double-digit inflation bites

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ESZTERGOM, Hungary, Aug 5 (Reuters) – In the weeks that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, western Europe’s big economies began to falter. But further east it was still boom-time thanks to double-digit wage hikes and generous state handouts in some countries.

Not any more.

A sharp slowdown in retail sales and plunging confidence indicators show that the cost of living crisis has caught up with Europe’s eastern wing, where people now face a harsh reality check as stubborn double-digit inflation erodes their incomes while food price rises top 15%-22% and energy costs soar.

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As household consumption takes a hit, analysts are downgrading their GDP forecasts and the risk of a Europe-wide recession looms.

Families have started to tighten their belts. Poles are taking shorter holidays, Czechs are saving on restaurant bills while some seek second jobs, and in Hungary – where food inflation alone was an annual 22.1% in June – people are cutting down on grocery bills and purchases of consumer durables as a slide in the forint currency pushes up import prices.

“I went into the bakery one day and a loaf of bread cost 550 forints. I go in the next day and it costs 650. For God’s sake!”, exclaimed Lajos, a 73-year-old man shopping at a market in the northern city of Esztergom on the Danube river.

Standing by his bicycle, grey-bearded Lajos, who did not give his family name, said the surge in food prices had consumed some of his monthly pension and he would not be able to pay higher utility bills, which will rise after the government last month scrapped price caps for what it called higher-usage households.

So he is making his own plans.

“I can heat with gas but also wood … as I have a tile-stove. So with my wife we will move into one room, heat up the stove, put on some warm sweaters and watch TV like that.”

Across Hungary, retail sales growth (HURETY=ECI) slowed to an annual 4.5% in June from 10.9% in May, with furniture and electronic goods sales down by 4.3%, suggesting the impact of huge tax breaks and fiscal transfers from Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government before April’s elections has now faded.

Polish retail sales growth also slowed to an annual 3.2% in June from 8.2% in May, while Czech adjusted retail sales excluding cars and motorcycles dropped by 6.0% year-on-year in June after a fall of 6.6% in May, data showed on Friday.

“Households have reacted to the rising cost of living in a meaningful way, and the consumption of things has started to slow,” said Peter Virovacz, an analyst at ING in Budapest.

According to a survey by the National Bank of Hungary on Friday, commercial banks expect demand for loans to decline and credit conditions to tighten in the second half.

BELT-TIGHTENING

The slowdown in domestic demand, rising interest rates, government spending cuts and companies’ rising costs look set to dampen economic growth in Central Europe in the second half of this year and slow them down sharply in 2023.

Citigroup said Hungary’s economy could grow by close to 5% in 2022 but that there were downside risks to its 1% forecast for next year.

“The risk of prolonged high energy prices keeping inflation in double-digit territory even in 2023 and our updated Euro Area in-house forecasts point towards downside risks,” it said.

The Hungarian central bank still projects 2.0%-3.0% growth for 2023, and it will release new forecasts in September.

The Polish economy is expected to grow by 3.8% this year and 3.2% in 2023, according to government projections.

The Czech central bank, the first to call a halt to its rate-hike cycle on Thursday, predicts recession at the turn of the year as it sees the economy contracting 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2022 and 1% in the first quarter of 2023.

“Our base scenario includes a mild recession – a technical recession – we have two quarters in a row with a quarterly decline there… That would be a healthy recession, which also allows for cutting inflation,” Governor Ales Michl said.

While the summer is still expected to see a boom in the tourism sector, Poles have started to save on trips according to travel website Noclegi.pl.

“We can see that what characterizes this season is the shortening of trips, on average by one day, and postponing the booking until the last moment,” said Natalia Jaworska, an expert at Noclegi.pl. Poles have also begun to save on food.

Data from various restaurant payment services, like Sodexo, have shown falling spending in restaurants in the Czech Republic as well. The STEM polling agency’s latest survey in June found 80% of Czech households were cutting back or limiting their purchases because of fast-rising energy bills.

Czech consumer confidence hit a new low in July, according to the statistics office’s monthly survey, while a survey by think-tank GKI showed the Hungarian consumer confidence index in July plunged to its lowest level since April 2020 during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Martin Hulovec, a 43-year-old Czech film producer, said he was not worried about his income right now, but he was less optimistic about the future.

“The hard times have not arrived yet for me to deal with it immediately… but it will come,” Hulovec said.

“I will certainly seek more energy savings… I will definitely not buy new stuff for the kids, clothing or sport equipment. You can find that secondhand for half the price.”

And he too will be switching on the heating less when winter comes.

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Reporting and writing by Krisztina Than, Addditional repoting by Jason Hovet and Robert Muller in Prague, and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk in Warsaw, Editing by Hugh Lawson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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