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European Central Bank: Trump tariff move 'dangerous'

Europe's top monetary official criticized U.S. President Donald Trump's proposal to put tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as a "dangerous" unilateral move.

Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, said that the "immediate spillover of the trade measures ... is not going to be big." But he said such disputes should be worked out among trade partners, not decided by measures initiated from one side.

"Whatever convictions one has about trade ... we are convinced that disputes should be discussed and resolved in a multilateral framework, that unilateral decisions are dangerous."

"There is a certain worry or concern about the state of international relations. If you put tariffs against ... your allies," Draghi said, "one wonders who the enemies are."

Trump is expected to announce by the end of this week tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Trump has long singled out China for being unfair in trade practices, but experts say tariffs would hurt U.S. allies Canada and the European Union far more.

Draghi warned that unilateral moves like these tariffs could trigger retaliation — which the EU and China, among other, have already threatened.

The most important fallout, Draghi said, would be if tariffs raised fears about the economy. They could depress confidence among consumers and businesses, he said, which could weaken both growth and inflation.

Draghi also alluded to the kind of financial deregulation the U.S. is pursuing as a risk to the global economy. The U.S. Senate is considering a bill that would remove some of the banking safeguards imposed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers. The bill is sponsored by Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho but has attracted several Democratic sponsors as well.

Draghi didn't mention the bill specifically but said that the global financial crisis had been preceded by "systematic disruption of financial regulation in the major jurisdictions." He said that while European regulators are not looking to ease back checks on the financial sector "massive deregulation in one market is going to affect the whole world."

These uncertainties overshadowed a monetary policy announcement by the ECB, in which it hinted it is closer to withdrawing a key economic stimulus program.

The bank left unchanged its key interest rates as well as the size of its bond-buying stimulus program after its latest policy meeting. But in its statement it omitted an earlier promise that it could increase its bond-purchase stimulus in size or duration if the economic outlook worsens.

Draghi downplayed the step, saying it was a "backward-looking measure" that no longer fit today's circumstances. Economic growth in the eurozone hit a strong annual rate of 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter, making the prospect of added stimulus remote.

The bank has said it will continue buying 30 billion euros ($37 million) in bonds per month through September and longer if needed — but has given no precise end date.

The eventual end of the stimulus will have wide-ranging effects. It could cause the euro to rise in value against other currencies, potentially hurting exporters, and it could bring higher returns on savings as well as stiffer borrowing costs for indebted governments in the 19-country eurozone. It should make it easier for people and companies to fund pension savings. But it could make richly valued stock markets less attractive relative to more conservative holdings.

The euro was volatile after the ECB's statement, first jumping and then falling back to $1.2333 by end of day.

The stimulus program pushes newly printed money into the economy. That, in theory, should lower borrowing rates and raise inflation and growth. But while growth has bounced back, inflation has been slow to respond. It remains at 1.2 percent, stubbornly below the bank's goal of just under 2 percent, the level considered best for the economy.

The bond purchases were started March 2015 to help the eurozone bounce back from troubles over government and bank debt in several member countries including Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus, Spain and Italy. The economy is now doing better, but the bank has moved cautiously in ending its crisis measures for fear of roiling recently volatile financial markets.

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  • Musicians, fans and friends of Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” are honoring her legacy after news of her death Thursday. Franklin’s publicist said she died at her home in Detroit, according to The Associated Press. She was 76. >> Read more trending news  Fans are remembering Franklin’s singular presence, stage command and legendary performances. >>Related: Aretha Franklin dies at 76 Franklin’s family issued an official statement to The Hollywood Reporter: “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins knew no bounds.  “We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.” Family members confirmed Monday to WDIV-TV that Franklin, 76, was “gravely ill,” after a report from entertainment site Showbiz411 claimed she was being surrounded by friends and family in Detroit. >>Photos: Aretha Franklin through the years Franklin canceled several concerts this year due to health issues, Fox13Memphis reported. According to The Associated Press, “she was ordered by her doctor to stay off the road and rest up.” She performed in her hometown of Detroit in June 2017, the Detroit Free Press reported. She ended the concert with an appeal for those in the crown to, “Please keep me in your prayers,” according to the newspaper. She last performed in November at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation gala in New York City, the News reported. >>Related: The best Aretha Franklin songs: A timeline Franklin was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee. Her family moved to Detroit when she was young, according to Fox13Memphis. Franklin started singing when she was young, with encouragement from her mother, Barbara, and her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin. She started out singing gospel but launched a career in secular music after she turned 18. She rose to fame after signing in 1967 with Atlantic Records. Franklin’s career, spanning six decades, has spawned hits including “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Chain of Fools.” She’s considered one of the best-selling artists of all time, selling more than 75 million albums worldwide. Franklin was inducted in 1987 to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She’s earned 18 Grammy Awards and a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work. In 2005, then-President George W. Bush described Franklin as “a woman of achievement, deep character and a loving heart.”
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  • Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul, and while her rendition of the national anthem was soulful before Thursday’s NFL game between Detroit and Minnesota, some critics believed the song was too long. Those naysayers were drowned out by Franklin's fans, who said they needed to show a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. >> Read more trending stories Franklin wore her trademark fur coat and a Detroit beanie to signify her hometown. She sat down at a piano and belted out a 4-minute, 35-second version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Her version brought the house down at Detroit's Ford Field, and her performance quickly went viral. For reference, the average length of the last ten Super Bowl national anthems has been just under two minutes. Twitter had a field day with the song’s length, and so did the game’s broadcaster, CBS. The network put up a graphic that showed not only the time of possession by the Lions and Vikings, but also by Franklin. But Franklin’s legion of fans responded in kind, defending the song’s length. “That was a gospel version of the #NationalAnthem,” tweeted John Miller (@jfreemon63) “It's called seasoning folks. Prep takes longer ... but it tastes better.”
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