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Obama to Trump: Keep Russia sanctions separate from nuclear talks

Obama holds his final news conference at the White House in WashingtonBy Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama urged President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday to keep separate the issue of economic sanctions on Russia from the pursuit of talks to reduce nuclear stockpiles. Trump, who takes office on Friday after winning the Nov. 8 election, said in an interview with the Times of London published on Monday that he would propose offering to end sanctions on Moscow in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal. Obama's administration imposed the sanctions in 2014 after Russia's annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine.



Yellen: Expect Fed to gradually hike rates over next 3 yearsWASHINGTON (AP) ? Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says she expects the Fed to raise its benchmark interest rate several times a year through 2019, as it moves closer toward to its economic goals of maximum employment and stable inflation.
Fed's Yellen says 'makes sense' to gradually raise interest rates

FILE PHOTO - Federal Reserve Chair Yellen addresses news conference following FOMC meeting in WashingtonBy Ann Saphir SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - With the U.S. economy close to full employment and inflation headed toward the Federal Reserve's 2 percent goal, it "makes sense" for the U.S. central bank to gradually lift interest rates, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Wednesday. "Waiting too long to begin moving toward the neutral rate could risk a nasty surprise down the road - either too much inflation, financial instability, or both," Yellen told the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco. "In that scenario, we could be forced to raise interest rates rapidly, which in turn could push the economy into a new recession." The Fed raised short-term rates last month for only the second time since the 2007-2009 financial crisis, when it slashed rates to near zero and began buying massive amounts of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities to push down long-term borrowing costs.



Fed's Yellen expects drag of stronger dollar on U.S. exports to continueSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Wednesday that she expects the stronger dollar, whose rise in part is fueled by expectations the Fed will gradually raise interest rates, to continue to drag on U.S. exports. In response to questions from the audience at a Commonwealth Club of California event in San Francisco, Yellen also said that while the rise in equities also can be partly attributed to expectations of future Fed rate hikes, investors should take uncertainty into account, given that unexpected big rate hikes or cuts could affect stock valuations. ...
Xi portrays China as global leader as Trump era looms

Chinese President Xi delivers a speech during a high-level event in the Assembly Hall at the United Nations European headquarters in GenevaBy Tom Miles and Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - China will build a "new model" of relations with the United States, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday in a speech that portrayed China as the leader of a globalized world where only international cooperation could solve the big problems. Two days before the inauguration of Donald Trump who has promised to be a U.S. president putting "America first", Xi urged countries to resist isolationism.



Supreme Court nominee returns to bench as judge, not justice

FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2016 file photo, President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland is seen in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Garland has put on his judge?s robes again. Garland stopped hearing cases last March after he was nominated to fill the seat of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. But after Republicans blocked Garland?s confirmation it was announced in mid-December that the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit would again begin hearing cases. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)WASHINGTON (AP) ? Merrick Garland, the judge nominated by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Supreme Court, made his return to the courtroom on Wednesday to hear cases as a federal appeals court judge, not a Supreme Court justice.



West African bloc vows Gambia intervention at midnight

West African bloc vows Gambia intervention at midnightAfter more than two decades in power, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh faced the prospect of a midnight military intervention by regional forces, as the man who once pledged to rule the West African nation ...



South Korean court dismisses arrest warrant for Samsung chief

Samsung Group chief, Jay Y. Lee, leaves after attending a court hearing to review a detention warrant request against him at the Seoul Central District Court in SeoulBy Joyce Lee SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean court on Thursday dismissed a warrant to arrest the head of the Samsung Group [SAGR.UL], the country's largest conglomerate, amid a graft scandal that has led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. The pre-dawn decision by the Seoul Central District Court to allow Jay Y. Lee to go home is likely to come as a major relief to the company, whose leadership vacuum Lee has tried to fill since his father suffered a heart attack in 2014. Lee, who had been questioned for 22 hours last week and was held overnight on Wednesday while the court reached its decision, left the Seoul Detention Centre carrying a white shopping bag and climbed into a car without talking to reporters.



Trump health pick defends stocks, says Americans won't lose insurance

Rep. Tom Price testifies on his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary in Washington.By Toni Clarke and Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defended his stock holdings and proposals to dismantle Obamacare on Wednesday, saying Americans would not suddenly lose health insurance. Price told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, one of two that oversee the health department, that there was no connection between his purchase of certain health company stocks and his promotion of legislation that would have helped the companies.



Federal study on Dakota Access pipeline to move forward

FILE - This Sept. 29, 2016 file photo, shows a section of the Dakota Access Pipeline under construction near the town of St. Anthony in Morton County, N.D. Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the oil pipeline, asked a a federal judge on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, to block the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from launching a full environmental study of the $3.8 billion pipeline's disputed crossing of a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) ? A federal judge said Wednesday he won't keep the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from launching a full environmental study of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline's disputed crossing under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota.