Record wheat output expected, arranging storage for harvest a worry

India is expected to harvest 291.95 mt of foodgrain in 2019-20

India is expected to produce record 106.21 million tonnes (mt) of wheat in the crop year 2019-20, according to the second Advance Estimates released on Tuesday.

Arranging storage for this harvest, which is set to far exceed demand, could be one of the many challenges the government may encounter in 2020-21 unless quick measures are taken to liquidate a big portion of the stock in the coming months.

The data released on Tuesday showed estimated wheat production in the 2019-20 crop year, which started in July 2019, is 2.61 mt more than the 2018-19 harvest and 5.71 mt more than the target for this year.

Assuming that almost 30-35 per cent of this huge production has to be purchased by state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies from April 2020, as has been the norm, almost 28-37 mt will be added on to the existing inventories.

This could further stretch the already precarious financial position of FCI, which according to the 2020-21 Budget document is projected to borrow 24 per cent more in 2020-21 at Rs 1.36 trillion from the National Small Savings Fund.

The data showed that total foodgrain stock (wheat+rice) in the Central pool as of February 7, 2020, was estimated to be around 57.81 mt, of which wheat stock was estimated to be 30.36 mt, a whopping 124 per cent more than the requirement.

Rice stock was estimated to be 27.41 mt, a staggering 260 per cent more than the required stock position on January 1 each year.

As of January 1, FCI along with state agencies had around 75.81 mt of storage space available with them, of which 62.64 mt is covered storage space, while another 13.20 mt is covered area plinth (CAP).

In the financial year 2019-20 (FY20), the Centre is projected to allocate 60.39 mt for targeted public distribution system and other welfare schemes, far less than the quantity procured.

Meanwhile, the second Advance Estimates show that among other major rabi crops, production of gram is estimated to be 11.22 mt, up 12.80 per cent from last year.

Output of mustard, the biggest oilseed crop grown during the rabi season, is projected to fall marginally to 9.11 mt, down 1.54 per cent from last year.

Total rabi foodgrain that also includes pulses and coarse grains, according to the second Advance Estimates, was projected at 149.60 mt, up 4.10 per cent than last year.

Together with kharif foodgrain production, India is expected to harvest 291.95 mt of foodgrain in 2019-20, which is 2.36 per cent more than 2018-19’s.

Photograph: Ajay Verma/Reuters

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Weinstein Jurors Focus on Predatory Assault, Most Serious Charge

The jurors in Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial asked to review more evidence about the alleged rape of actor Annabella Sciorra and attack on a “Project Runway” production assistant, indicating they are focusing on predatory sexual assault, the most serious charge against the fallen Hollywood power broker.

The jurors have been weighing the evidence for only two days, after hearing three weeks of testimony, and the charge comes first on the verdict sheet that may be guiding their deliberations. But as the seven men and five women call for testimony and other evidence to go over, their requests can offer clues to what they’re considering.

Weinstein has been charged with forcing oral sex on the “Project Runway” assistant, Miriam Haley, in 2006 and raping aspiring actor Jessica Mann in 2013. While the alleged rape of Sciorra in the 1990s is too old to be charged in New York state, the jury has been instructed to consider it in deciding whether to find Weinstein guilty of two counts of predatory sexual assault — each involving attacks on one of the two women plus Sciorra.

If convicted on that charge, Weinstein, 67, could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Weinstein says any sexual encounters with the women were consensual.

On Wednesday afternoon, the jurors returned to the courtroom to hear the testimony of actor Rosie Perez read back to them by court reporters. Prosecutors had called Perez, a colleague and friend of Sciorra in the 1990s, to rebut defense claims that Sciorra had fabricated her allegations in 2017 to advance a flagging acting career.

Read More: Weinstein’s ‘Trial of the Century’ Gets Its Own Podcast

Perez had told the panel she remembered calling Sciorra in the early ’90s and that her friend had told her in a haunted whisper, “I think I was raped.” She testified that she urged Sciorra to go to the police but that Sciorra had said she feared career reprisals from Weinstein.

“I can’t. He will destroy me,” Perez said Sciorra responded.

The jurors also asked to see the messages involving Paul Feldsher, a movie director called as the first witness for the defense to undermine Sciorra’s claims that Weinstein assaulted her. Feldsher testified that Sciorra, his friend, had once confided in him that she’d done a “crazy thing” with Weinstein.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi had confronted Feldsher with a series of texts in which he said Sciorra and other accusers were a “dog pile of actresses who are suddenly brave and recalling repressed memories.” She also highlighted texts showing he’d been in nearly constant contact with Weinstein since the accusers began to make their claims public in 2017, and his remark that Weinstein had a “sex addiction.”

Late Wednesday, the jury asked to see “all communications” involving Sciorra, as well as those regarding Weinstein’s hiring of Black Cube, a private investigation firm founded by former Israeli intelligence officers, and another investigator. Prosecutors allege that Weinstein was tracking Sciorra’s response as reporters began digging into allegations that the producer had a history of abusing women.

New York State Supreme Court Justice James Burke told the jurors to return to court on Thursday to resume their deliberations.

The case is People v. Weinstein, 450293/2018, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).

Read More

  • Weinstein Was Jekyll, Hyde, Then Rapist, Witness Tells Jury
  • ‘I Think I Was Raped’: Jury Hears Rosie Perez Back Up Sciorra
  • Jessica Mann Is Grilled on Contact After Alleged Rape
  • Accuser Called Weinstein a ‘Soul Mate,’ Ex-Friend Testifies
  • Weinstein’s Dream Jury Is Conservative, Traditional, Skeptical
  • A #MeToo Moment Two Years in the Making

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Citizens’ wellbeing should be part of G20’s priorities, says report

The G20 needs to move beyond economic growth and GDP as a measure of progress and factor in human wellbeing and social prosperity, one of its key advisors has said in a new report.

In a hard-hitting report due to be submitted to the G20 group of leading developed and developing countries, experts said that issues including the climate emergency and mental health meant judging progress required a different yardstick of success.

Against a backdrop of heightened political unrest in several major western nations despite continued growth in economic prosperity, Dennis Snower, president of the Global Solutions Initiative, a thinktank with links to the group of rich nations, said they should adopt a “recoupling dashboard” to assess wellbeing and environment alongside GDP.

The report, shared exclusively with the Guardian, Die Zeit and Der Tagesspiegel, said there was an urgent need for all nations to use the dashboard to dramatically increase their focus on social prosperity, as a key tool in the fightback against growing political extremism across advanced economies.

In an interview with the Guardian to mark the launch of the report, Snower said: “The financial crisis of 2008 made all these issues much more salient. Lots of people are now saying ‘I’m sorry but this system sucks’.

“In addition to being materially prosperous, we need empowerment and agency – that is the ability to shape our destiny through our own efforts – and we need solidarity – that is we need to be embedded within our social circles.”

In a proposal floated ahead of the G20 summit in Saudi Arabia later this year, the dashboard would include four separate measurements of economic and social prosperity: GDP per capita and environmental performance, as well as two new indexes assessing the “solidarity” and “empowerment” of citizens.

All four dimensions would need to be in harmony to show a country was adequately serving the needs of its citizens, according to the proposals drawn up by Snower and Katharina Lima de Miranda, an academic at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

The empowerment and solidarity indexes are drawn from existing major surveys of wellbeing compiled by the UN, World Bank and OECD, including assessments of job security, education levels, life expectancy, charitable activity, trust in strangers and confidence in government.

Under the new dashboard, New Zealand, Finland and Iceland are among the most progressive nations on earth, while the US dramatically underperforms its level of GDP per head.

India, China and Mexico rank among the worst performers on the dashboard of 35 nations.

The report said that, over the past decade, the dashboard shows the empowerment of citizens and GDP levels in the UK have increased yet social solidarity has fallen, suggesting that the country has become more “neoliberal”.

Although the plan could face resistance from some G20 nations and there is no guarantee the dashboard will ultimately be adopted, Snower said the proposal was the first stage in a drive to get countries to look beyond GDP as a signal of success.

In the last four decades, globalisation and technological advances have generated significant growth in GDP, but have been accompanied by rising inequality, global heating and a sense of disempowerment among various groups.

Several countries around the world are staging attempts to move beyond GDP and focus instead on the wellbeing of citizens. Last year, New Zealand’s Labour coalition government unveiled what it said was a “world-first” wellbeing budget, raising its spending on mental health services and tackling child poverty.

Snower said that had nations monitored the wellbeing of citizens as much as GDP they would have had earlier warning signs about the fragmentation of society and rise of populist politics. He added: “Globalisation has costs that we’ve been blind to, and solidarity and empowerment have suffered.”

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Two-Time Super Bowl Champ Malcolm Jenkins & His Listen Up Media Sign With ICM

EXCLUSIVE: ICM has inked Malcolm Jenkins, a two-time Super Bowl champion, three-time Pro-Bowl Safety, producer and entrepreneur along with his production company Listen Up Media.

ICM will rep Jenkins in all areas except his NFL player contract.  NFL agent Ben Dogra will continue to represent Jenkins in all football-related matters. Jenkins is a 2020 NFL Walter Payton Man of the year finalist and is currently a safety for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jenkins is the only NFL safety to start every game since 2014 and with 11 interceptions and four pick-six among other leading Eagles statistics.  A three-time Pro-Bowler and three-time Defensive Captain, Jenkins will enter his 12th NFL season this fall.

In addition to being an NFL guest analyst for Showtime, HBO Now, ESPN and Amazon, Jenkins appeared on HBO’s Ballers, Comedy Central’s The Daily Show among others.

Jenksins’ production label Listen Up Media, led by marketing vet India Robinson, has several projects in development including sketch comedy and scripted series, documentaries and digital content with a focus on systemic issues in society. Jenkins is currently producing the feature length social documentary Black Boys, a co-production with Never Whisper Justice films. Directed by Sonia Lowman and executive produced by Jenkins, the doc is an intimate, inter-generational insight to Black male identity and opportunity at the intersection of sports, education and criminal justice. Jenkins is heavily involved with the editing of this film which is in post-production. Among those featured in Black Boys are journalist Jemele Hill, NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony, 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year & NFL legend Chris Long and renowned sociologist Harry Edwards among others.

As an entrepreneur, Jenkins has Damari Savile, a brick-and-mortar bespoke men’s clothing store in Philadelphia.  In 2018, he co-created the Players Coalition, a 501c3 and 501c4 non-profit to impact racial and social inequality.  Last year, he was chosen as a finalist for the third time for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for excellence on and off the field through his work with The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation and his social activism.

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100 Most Popular Rock Bands of All Time

Combining elements of rhythm and blues, country, jazz, and gospel, rock music has had a strong cultural impact throughout America and the world since its early inception in the 1940s and 1950s. In the three-quarters of a century that has followed, a number of bands have left an indelible stamp on the art form, captivating millions and pushing the genre to new and unforeseen heights in the process.

Using data from Spotify, Facebook, Ranker, and the Billboard 200 albums chart, 24/7 Tempo determined the 100 most popular rock bands of all time.

The bands on this list represent many different eras and movements in rock music, from British invasion bands like The Rolling Stones to arena rock acts like Guns N’ Roses to more recent experimental groups like Radiohead. For more on trends in recent music, see the most popular bands of the last 10 years.

While solo artists like Prince, David Bowie, and Elvis certainly belong in any conversation about rock’s greatest figures, this list only considers rock bands. For more on solo performers, see the most famous musician born the year you were born.

Click here to see the 100 most popular rock bands of all time.

To determine the most popular rock bands of all time, 24/7 Tempo generated an index based on the popularity of a band on streaming service Spotify, popularity on Facebook, Ranker user votes as of Feb. 11, 2020, and lifetime performance on the Billboard 200 album charts. Each component of the index was given equal weight.

Popularity on Spotify was based on the number of followers each artist has on the music streaming app, and Facebook popularity was based on the number of “likes” each artist has. User votes came from a list on crowdsourced ranking platform Ranker that ranks the best rock bands of all time. To be included on our list, a band had to appear on this Ranker list. Billboard 200 performance includes both position and number of weeks an album spent on the chart, which tracks the popularity of albums across all genres.

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Paramount Players: Execs Matt Dines & Ali Bell Exiting

EXCLUSIVE….Developing…We’re hearing that Paramount Players creative executives Matt Dines and Ali Bell are departing the label that they arrived to in late August 2017. While these two key execs are departing the label, the Paramount Players will remain in operation under the oversee of Paramount Motion Pictures Group president Wyck Godfrey.

Dines, we hear is heading to Jonah Hill’s production company and will become a producing partner there. Hill recently produced Richard Jewell, executive produced and starred in the Netflix limited series Maniac, and directed, wrote and produced the 2018 A24 movie Mid90s.

While at Paramount Players, Dines worked on such features as Nobody’s Fool and Playing With Fire. Bell during her tenure oversaw What Men Want, Dora and the Lost City of Gold and the upcoming Monster Problems on Feb. 21, 2021.

Prior to Paramount Players, Bell was President of Production and Development for Ivan Reitman & Tom Pollock’s production banner, The Montecito Picture Company & Ghost Corps. There, she produced Ivan Reitman’s Draft Day and the Ed Helms/Owen Wilson comedy Father Figures. Bell served as an Executive Producer on Ghostbusters, Baywatch and Hitchcock. Before that, she was director of development at David Heyman’s Heyday Films, and before that she was at the Paramount division Nickelodeon Movies and worked on SpongeBob SquarePants: The Movie, Nacho Libre and Lemony Snicket.

Before Paramount Players, Dines was production VP at MGM developing Everything, Everything based on the YA novel, the Valley Girl remake, the YA novel Every Day, the upcoming Bradley Cooper-attached Deeper, and the Terry Hayes crime thriller Pilgrim. Dines worked for Spyglass before that.


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California's sustainable aviation effort: Biofuel

New York (CNN Business)Delta Air Lines plans to become carbon neutral over the next decade. But that doesn’t mean it will stop emitting carbon. In fact, it can’t.

“We will continue to use jet fuel for as far as the eye can see,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian in an interview Friday on CNBC. “We’ll be investing in technologies to reduce the impact of jet fuel. But I don’t ever see a future where we eliminating jet fuel from our footprint.”
Delta will need to use carbon offsets to become carbon neutral, either buying them in the market or investing in different projects to reduce carbon in the atmosphere such as tree planting programs.

    Air travel creates a significant amount of carbon emissions. Delta reports that in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, its carbon dioxide emissions came to 37.7 million metric tons, with 98% of that coming from aircraft emissions.
    Flying is one of the worst ways to travel from a carbon emissions standpoint, said Peter Miller, a scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    “If you’re going between DC and New York, and you have the option for how to travel, flying that short-haul flight is the worst of the three options,” he said. “Driving is not as bad, especially if you have a fuel efficient car. The train will generally be the best.”
    Delta (DAL) says it will spend a total of about $1 billion over the next 10 years to meet its carbon neutral target over the next 10 years. It said that target includes all of its businesses, including a Pennsylvania oil refinery that it owns.
    While that’s a significant amount of money, it’s unlikely to be a major hit to the company’s bottom line. Spending another $100 million a year would have reduced its 2019 profit by only about 2%.
    At this point Delta can’t say how much of its carbon neutral goal can be accomplished through reducing its actual emissions versus offsets.
    Delta says it is the first global airline to make such a pledge. JetBlue (JBLU) recently made a similar pledge, saying it would offset carbon dioxide emissions from jet fuel for all domestic JetBlue flights beginning in July.
    Airlines are concerned that environmentally-conscious consumers might avoid air travel because of its carbon footprint. That is a larger issue in Europe, which has rail systems that provide competition to flying. The German term “flugscham” or flight shaming, has become the center of a movement there.
    Efforts to reduce energy consumption makes good business sense. Fuel is the second largest cost at every major airline, behind only labor costs. Delta spent $8.5 billion on fuel last year.
    Dirty planet but a clean conscience? The truth about airplane carbon offsetting
    “There’s not a lot of opportunity for airlines to become more [energy] efficient,” said the NRDC’s Miller. “If there were technologies that were available to be more fuel efficient, airlines would have adopted them already.”
    Still, Miller said Delta’s pledge is admirable, although he will remain skeptical until the details are known.

      “It’s like someone saying ‘I’m going to lose 50 pounds,’ or ‘I’m going to get an A in that class.’ Great, that’s an admirable goal. But what are you going to do to get there?” he said.
      “I wouldn’t criticize them for setting an ambitious goal without knowing all the details,” he said. “But I want to see how they meet the goal.”
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      Pound euro exchange rate: GBP/EUR falls despite unexpectedly upbeat UK inflation

      Although Sterling failed to gain on the euro the currency was able to edge up against a handful of currencies after UK inflation unexpectedly rose to a six-month high. 

      In January consumer price pressures rose by 1.8 percent year-on-year, compared to December’s 1.3 percent.

      Although this isn’t far off the Bank of England’s (BoE) 2 per cent target, Senior UK economist at Capital Economics Ruth Gregory argued that the latest figures were “unlikely to move the dial on the outlook for interest rates”.

      She also added:

      Meanwhile, the single currency managed to recover after Tuesday saw the euro US dollar exchange rate plummet to a three-year low. 

      Figures from China showed that the number of new Covid-19 cases fell for the second day in a row, which boosted the single currency after yesterday’s increased fears the outbreak would weaken the German economy. 

      Yesterday’s German ZEW survey revealed that investor sentiment deteriorated at a faster pace than expected, plummeting from the previous month’s four-year high.

      ZEW President, Achim Wambach stated that the “feared negative effects of the coronavirus epidemic in China on world trade have been causing a considerable decline of the indicator of economic sentiment for Germany.”

      Looking ahead, the single currency could come under pressure tomorrow if Germany’s Gfk consumer confidence index shows the decline in sentiment forecast by economists.  

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      Pound US dollar exchange rate: GBP/USD dips as ‘Brexit fog’ continues to haunt UK economy

      Although inflation moved closer to the Bank of England’s (BoE) target, Robert Alster, Head of Investment Services at Close Brother Asset Management, was downbeat in his analysis, commenting: “[D]espite this greater economic optimism, the UK is not yet out of the Brexit fog and the 31 December cliff-edge is only getting closer.”

      “The Bank of England [BoE] will be trepidatious about bold monetary decisions until the scale of this post-EU disruption is known.”

      Sterling also struggled after the EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier dashed Downing Street’s hopes of a Canada-style trade deal. 

      Mr Barnier said a UK-EU trade deal was a “different ball game”, while the UK’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, David Frost, has also recently insisted that the UK would not align with EU rules in a post-Brexit trade deal.

      The threat of a possible no-deal following the termination of the transition period later this year is leaving investors wary of GBP.  

      The US dollar, meanwhile, benefited from today’s better-than-expected US construction data, with building permits hitting a 13-year high at 1.551 million in January.

      The “greenback” also remains in demand due to its safe-haven status as the coronavirus leaves markets jittery over a near-term global economic slowdown. 

      The next shift in the GBP/USD exchange rate could be caused by the Federal Open Market Committee’s policy meeting minutes. 

      Any bullish comments from the Federal Reserve about the American economy could prove USD-positive. 

      Looking ahead to tomorrow, we could see the pound head higher if January’s UK retail sales report confirms forecasts and rises from -0.6 percent to 0.7 percent in January. 

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      Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trades

      Asian stock markets are mixed on Thursday despite the positive cues overnight from Wall Street and higher commodity prices. Investors are cautious after China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, reported a sharp increase in the number of new coronavirus cases.

      Hubei province reported an additional 242 deaths and 14,480 new cases related to the coronavirus, as of February 12. However, the province said the increase came after officials adopted a new methodology for counting infections.

      The Australian market is rising for a third straight day following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street and on higher commodity prices.

      However, gains are modest following news that China’s Hubei province reported a sharp increase in new coronavirus cases. Investors also digested mixed local corporate earnings results.

      The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 14.50 points or 0.20 percent to 7,102.70, off a high of 7,145.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 20.00 points or 0.28 percent to 7,205.30.

      In the banking space, Westpac is adding more than 1 percent and ANZ Banking is rising 0.2 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is down 0.2 percent.

      National Australia Bank reported that its unaudited cash earnings for the first quarter were slightly higher than analysts’ estimates, while revenues rose less than 1 percent. The bank’s shares are rising more than 2 percent.

      AMP reported a net loss for the full year after a A$2.4 billion impairment following the “fee for no service” scandal at the banking royal commission, and said it will not pay a dividend to shareholders. The wealth management company’s shares are lower by almost 3 percent.

      The major miners are also mostly higher. Rio Tinto is advancing almost 1 percent and BHP is adding 0.3 percent, while Fortescue Metals is declining more than 1 percent.

      South32 reported an 80 percent fall in underlying profit for the first half and declared a lower interim dividend compared to the prior year. However, the mining company’s shares are rising 0.4 percent.

      Oil stocks are also mostly higher after crude oil prices rose overnight. Santos is advancing almost 1 percent and Oil Search is adding 0.4 percent.

      Woodside Petroleum reported a nearly 25 percent drop in underlying profit for the full year and reduced its final dividend. The company’s shares are down 0.3 percent.

      Gold miners are mixed after gold prices edged higher overnight. Newcrest Mining is lower by more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is rising 2 percent.

      Newcrest Mining reported an 18 percent increase in underlying profit for the half year on higher gold prices and a weaker Australian dollar.

      AGL Energy said its half-year underlying profit declined more than 19 percent from last year and reduced its interim dividend payout. The power producer’s shares are gaining more than 4 percent.

      Shares of Caltex Australia are rising more than 3 percent after Alimentation Couche-Tard raised its takeover offer for the company to an indicative price of A$35.25.

      Telstra said its first-half profit decreased more than 7 percent on lower revenues, but will keep its interim dividend unchanged and reiterated the upgraded fiscal 2020 outlook announced in September 2019. The telecom company’s shares are losing more than 2 percent.

      In the currency market, the Australian dollar was quoted at $0.6734 on Thursday, compared to $0.6729 on Wednesday.

      The Japanese market is modestly higher in choppy trade following the positive cues from Wall Street. Investor sentiment was dampened after China’s Hubei province reported a sharp increase in the number of new coronavirus cases.

      The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 25.48 points or 0.11 percent to 23,886.69, after falling to a low of 23,793.94 earlier. Japanese stocks closed higher on Wednesday.

      Market heavyweight SoftBank is adding 0.5 percent after strong gains in the previous session. Fast Retailing is rising more than 2 percent.

      In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is advancing more than 1 percent, while Advantest is down 0.3 percent. Among auto stocks, Honda Motor is adding 0.7 percent and Toyota Motor is rising 0.5 percent.

      The major exporters are mostly lower despite a slightly weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is losing more than 1 percent, Panasonic is declining 0.6 percent and Sony is down 0.2 percent, while Canon is adding 0.3 percent.

      In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is gaining more than 3 percent and Inpex is advancing more than 1 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight.

      Among the other major gainers, Mitsui Mining & Smelting is rising more than 8 percent, Tokyo Tatemono is gaining more than 3 percent and Marui Group is advancing more than 2 percent.

      Conversely, Ebara Corp. is falling almost 10 percent, Citizen Watch is lower by almost 8 percent and Toppan Printing is losing 7 percent.

      In economic news, the Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were up 0.2 percent on month in January. That exceeded expectations for a flat reading following the 0.1 percent increase in December.

      In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 109 yen-range on Thursday.

      Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan are also higher, while Shanghai, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia are modestly lower.

      On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Wednesday as traders seem committed to continuing to push stocks to new record highs despite concerns about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. While China’s National Health Commission reported 2,015 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 97 additional deaths, a recent slowdown in the rate of growth in new infections led to optimism the outbreak is being contained.

      The Dow jumped 275.08 points or 0.9 percent to 29,551.42, the Nasdaq advanced 87.02 points or 0.9 percent to 9,725.96 and the S&P 500 climbed 21.70 points or 0.7 percent at 3,379.45.

      The major European markets also moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index advanced by 0.8 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

      Crude oil prices moved up sharply on Wednesday amid expectations that OPEC and allies will significantly cut crude production, and on reports from China that the number of new infections due to the coronavirus has come down a bit. WTI crude for March gained $1.23 or about 2.5 percent at $51.17 a barrel.

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