By Shinichi Saoshiro TOKYO (Reuters) - Caution ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's speech at the annual gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, limited movements across global markets on Friday. Asian stocks tracked an overnight dip on Wall Street and edged down early in the session, while geopolitical tensions helped shore up crude oil prices. Risk markets were wary of the U.S. central bank hinting at near-term interest rate hike which could divert some of the massive liquidity that has drenched global markets.
As central bankers converge on this mountain resort Thursday for an annual conference on monetary policy, a couple of top Federal Reserve officials took the chance to renew a push for interest-rate hikes, citing improvement in employment and inflation. "The case is strengthening" for a rate hike, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan told CNBC television, whose open-air studio here overlooks the craggy peaks of the Grand Teton National Park. Kansas City Fed President Esther George, whose bank has hosted the conference here since 1978, had an even stronger message.
A senior executive of South Korea's Lotte Group has died, the country's fifth-largest family-run conglomerate said on Friday, amid a sweeping criminal probe into the business. Lotte Group, in a text message to reporters, said it confirmed the death of Vice Chairman Lee In-won through police and other sources. Yonhap News Agency, citing unnamed sources, reported a body believed to be Lee's was found on a walking path outside Seoul on Friday morning.
By Henning Gloystein SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices dipped in early trading on Friday after the Saudi energy minister tempered expectations of strong market intervention by producers during talks next month. International benchmark Brent crude oil prices were trading at $49.55 per barrel at 2114 ET, down 12 cents from their previous close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 7 cents at $47.26 a barrel.
A Texas jury said on Thursday a General Motors Co ignition switch, linked to nearly 400 injuries and deaths, was not to blame for a fatal 2011 crash, according to a company statement. The verdict in Harris County, Texas, was the second in favor of GM this year in lawsuits over the now recalled ignition switch. Plaintiff Zachary Stevens alleged that a defective switch caused him to lose control of his 2007 Saturn Sky and crash into another vehicle, killing the other driver.
Apple Inc issued a patch on Thursday to fix a dangerous security flaw in iPhones and iPads after researchers discovered that a prominent United Arab Emirates dissident's phone had been targeted with a previously unknown method of hacking. The thwarted attack on the human rights activist, Ahmed Mansoor, used a text message that invited him to click on a web link. Instead of clicking, he forwarded the message to researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab.
The regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unveiled on Thursday a program aimed at homeowners who are paying their mortgages on time but whose loan-to-value (LTV) ratios are too high to qualify for traditional refinance programs. "This new offering will give borrowers the opportunity to refinance when rates are low, making their mortgages more affordable and thus reducing credit risk exposure for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," said FHFA Director Melvin Watt in a statement. Because this program for high LTV borrowers will not be available until October 2017, the agency said it will extend the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) until Sept. 30, 2017 as a bridge to the new high LTV program.
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