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Us Restaurant Workers Target Low Wages In Campaign Against Sexual Harassment

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– Restaurant workers in seven U.S. cities on Tuesday lobbied state and local lawmakers to combat sexual harassment in the industry by shifting from the $2.13 federal minimum wage for tipped employees to a higher “fair” wage.

Some 70 percent of workers who receive tips in addition to their hourly pay in the United States are women.

The combination of low hourly pay and dependence on customer gratuities makes them particularly vulnerable to harassment from customers and colleagues, said Saru Jayaraman, president of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) which advocates for better working conditions.

Women workers earning their state’s full minimum wage before tips reported half the rate of sexual harassment as women in the states that pay $2.13 per hour, according to a study from ROC, which has called on lawmakers to follow the lead of California, Washington, Nevada and four other states that pay the more generous “fair” wage.

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United Seattle intern Meena Vasudevan holds a sign in support of better federal wages during a #NotOntheMenu rally demanding an end to sexual harassment and to bring awareness to the federal subminimum wage of $2.13 an hour in the restaurant industry in Seattle, Washington, U.S. February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson“This is not about sex, this is about power,” said Jayaraman. “When you shift the power balance … sexual harassment gets cut in half.”

Seventeen states, including New Jersey and Texas, as well as the District of Columbia pay tipped workers $2.13, a federal minimum wage that has not changed in more than two decades. New York, Florida and the remaining states pay somewhere in between.

Slideshow (5 Images)New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is among the lawmakers already weighing a move to the higher “fair” wage.

ROC’s national day of action on Tuesday included rallies in Philadelphia, Seattle and Oakland, as well as actions in Washington, D.C., Detroit, New Orleans and Oakland, California.

The restaurant industry, which employs half of American women at some point in their lives, has an advantage over other industries when it comes to addressing sexual harassment because it was already advocating for a clear policy solution when the #MeToo social media movement against harassment gained momentum late last year, said Jayaraman.

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Asia Shares Rebound As Fidgety Us Rate Fears Shift Again

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SYDNEY – Asian shares rebounded on Friday as comments from a Federal Reserve official eased worries about faster rate rises in the United States, while the dollar ticked higher as investors dipped their toes back into riskier assets.

Indications were mixed for other global equity markets, with E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 up 0.3 percent but London’s FTSE futures slipping 0.2 percent.

Financial markets have fluctuated wildly this month as investors fretted about how fast the Fed might raise rates in the wake of data showing a pick up in U.S. inflation.

Even though broader U.S. price pressures still appear modest for now, markets are fully pricing in three rate hikes this year, one more than was seen just a few months ago. Some analysts even expect four.

That in turn has stoked anxiety that many central banks will start to tighten policy and raise borrowing costs, hurting corporate earnings and clouding the outlook for what had been expected to be another solid year of global economic growth.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.9 percent on Friday to add on to the previous week’s 3.9 percent gain.

It is still down more than 4 percent in February so far, however, after global equity markets were mauled at the start of the month by worries that inflation is picking up.

Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.7 percent.

China’s SSE Composite index and the blue-chip CSI300 both pared early gains after the government seized control of acquisitive financial conglomerate Anbang Insurance, in a dramatic move that underscores Beijing’s intent to crackdown on financial risk.

The gains in Asia followed a sell-off Thursday after minutes of the Fed’s last meeting showed policy makers were confident about the economic outlook. That prompted some investors to boost the chance of faster rate hikes.

St Louis Fed President James Bullard tried to tamp down expectations of four rate hikes in 2018, instead of the widely anticipated three, saying on Thursday policymakers need to be careful not to increase rates too quickly because that could slow the economy.

The Fed had caused a so called “taper tantrum” in May 2013 when it signaled it was time to stop pumping cash into the U.S. economy, a move that created havoc in financial markets particularly Asia.

But analysts are more upbeat about the outlook for the region despite prospects of rising U.S. inflation and rates.

“Financial market volatility has not dented our constructive view on Asia’s growth outlook for this year,” said Khoon Goh Singapore-based Head of Research for ANZ.

“Higher inflation and a larger fiscal deficit in the United States will likely see U.S. bond yields move higher, but improved fundamentals in Asia mean the region is better placed to weather this than in 2013.”

Analysts expect the market to be in a “holding pattern” ahead of a slew of important U.S. January activity data on Tuesday, followed by global surveys on manufacturing activity on Thursday.

CURRENCIES

The dollar was up 0.1 percent at 106.91 yen amid rapidly shifting views in U.S. monetary policy.

The yen, which tends to benefit during times of heightened volatility or uncertainty, rose almost 1 percent overnight.

The euro dipped to $1.2303 after gaining 0.4 percent the previous day. The common currency has lost more than 0.75 percent so far this week, following its ascent to a three-year top of $1.2556 on Feb. 16.

Oil prices eased from two-week highs, as high U.S. crude exports outweighted lower crude inventories in the world’s biggest consumer of the fuel.

U.S. crude was off 3 cents at $62.74 per barrel and Brent eased 7 cent to $66.32.

Spot gold slipped 0.3 percent to $1328.05 an ounce.

Reporting by Swati Pandey;

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With Easy Ride Trial Nissan Takes New Step Toward Being Uber Competitor

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YOKOHAMA – Facing a future in which self-driving cars may curb vehicle ownership, Nissan Motor Co is taking its first steps to becoming an operator of autonomous transportation services, hoping to break into a segment set to be dominated by Uber Technologies and other technology firms.

In partnership with Japanese mobile gaming platform operator DeNA Co, the automaker will begin public field tests of its Easy Ride service in Yokohama next month, becoming among the first major automakers anywhere to test ride-hailing software developed in-house, using its own fleet of self-driving electric cars.

Easy Ride, which Nissan plans to launch in Japan in the early 2020s, is meant to feel more like a concierge service on wheels, making – for example – restaurant recommendations while the car is on the move.

The announcement follows an agreement by Nissan and its automaking partners Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp earlier this month to explore future cooperation with Chinese transportation services conglomerate Didi Chuxing.

These moves mark a push by the automaker to avoid becoming the “Foxconn of the auto industry”: a mere vehicle supplier to ride- and car-sharing companies.

“We realize that it’s going to take time to become a service operator, but we want to enter into this segment by partnering with companies which are experts in the field,” Nissan’s chief executive, Hiroto Saikawa, told Reuters in an interview this month.

A person close to the deal has said that the agreement is intended to explore opportunities for Nissan and others to supply battery-electric cars to Didi Chuxing for a new electric car-sharing service it is setting up in China.

He noted however that Nissan and its alliance partners could explore a broader agreement, which might possibly involve Nissan providing self-driving taxi technology to the dominant Chinese ride-hailing service.

NICHE MARKET

Creating an upscale autonomous taxi service, rather than trying to beat other companies on price, could help Nissan against bigger competitors like Uber, market experts say.

“By doing something with a more premium feel, it could allow Nissan to charge more for its service and potentially relieve some of that profitability pressure they could face if they were to try to race to the bottom in terms of pricing,” said Jeremy Carlson, automotive analyst at IHS Markit.

Automakers are looking for ways to profit from the rise of car-sharing services, which along with self-driving cars, are likely to lead to a decrease vehicle ownership and chip away at future profits.

IHS Markit expects global sales of autonomous vehicles will soar to more than 33 million units in 2040 from 51,000 in 2021, while Goldman Sachs has predicted that the ride-hailing market will grow eightfold by 2030 to be five times the current size of the taxi market.

Nissan has embraced new technologies, launching the Leaf, the world’s first mass-market electric car, in 2010. The company was an early proponent of self-driving cars, pledging in 2013 that it would market fully autonomous cars in 2020.

Although it has been rolling out automated highway driving functions and self-parking capabilities in a growing number of its models, rivals ranging from Tesla Inc to Subaru Corp have installed increasingly advanced self-driving features in their cars.

GM and Daimler AG are building and expanding car- sharing services, and GM has said it plans to launch a self-driving taxi service next year.

Nissan also has its own car-sharing service using its ultra-compact battery electric models, but after years of trials, the service is available only in Yokohama, home to the automaker’s headquarters.

After bringing in Ogi Redzic, who previously led the automotive business group of mapping data firm Here Technologies, to head Renault-Nissan’s mobility services division in early 2016, Nissan in the past year or so has begun to gear up its strategy to compete in the new transportation area.

Its partner DeNA is one of the world’s biggest social gaming networks with 30 million users. The company’s expertise in developing real-time user interfaces and payment systems will help give shape to the taxi service platform.

The company already operates a user-sourced car-sharing app in Japan, and had been developing a self-driving taxi system with a Japanese robotics start-up before teaming up with Nissan.

Additional reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu in Beijing

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Asia Shares Rebound As Fidgety Us Rate Fears Ebb Again

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SYDNEY – Asian shares rebounded on Friday as comments from a Federal Reserve official eased worries about faster rate rises in the United States, while the safe-haven yen held on to its gains amid heightened volatility across markets.

Financial markets have fluctuated wildly this month as investors fretted about how fast the Fed might raise rates in the wake of data showing a pick up in U.S. inflation.

Even though broader U.S. price pressures still appear modest for now, markets are now fully pricing in three rate hikes this year, one more than was seen just a few months ago, and some analysts now expect four.

That in turn has stoked anxiety that many central banks will start to tighten policy and raise borrowing costs, which will hit corporate earnings, which have boomed thanks to a synchronized uptick in global growth.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 1 percent, adding to the previous week’s 3.9 percent gain.

It is still down more than 4 percent in February so far, however, after global equity markets were mauled at the start of the month by worries that inflation is picking up.

Japan’s Nikkei edged 0.4 percent higher and South Korea’s KOSPI index rose 1.1 percent. China’s SSE Composite index and the blue-chip CSI300 each rose 0.7 percent.

All Asian markets except Philippines eked out gains following a sell-off on Thursday after minutes of the Fed’s last meeting showed policy makers were confident about the economic outlook. That prompted some investors to boost the chance of faster rate hikes.

St Louis Fed President James Bullard tried to tamp down of expectations of four rate hikes in 2018, instead of the widely anticipated three, saying on Thursday policymakers need to be careful not to increase rates too quickly because that could slow the economy.

That was enough to send U.S. shares rallying, despite the negative lead from Asia and Europe. On Wall Street, the Dow added 0.7 percent, the S&P 500 ended a tad firmer while the Nasdaq lost 0.11 percent.[.N]

The Fed had caused a so called “taper tantrum” in May 2013 when it signalled it was time to stop pumping cash into the U.S. economy, a move that created havoc in financial markets particularly Asia.

But analysts are more upbeat about the outlook for Asia despite prospects of rising U.S. inflation and rates.

“Financial market volatility has not dented our constructive view on Asia’s growth outlook for this year,” said Khoon Goh Singapore-based Head of Research for ANZ.

“Higher inflation and a larger fiscal deficit in the United States will likely see U.S. bond yields move higher, but improved fundamentals in Asia mean the region is better placed to weather this than in 2013.”

Analysts expect the market to be in a “holding pattern” ahead of a slew of important U.S. January activity data on Tuesday, followed by global surveys on manufacturing activity on Thursday.

(For a graphic on ‘MSCI global equities index through the year’ click reut.rs/2CDKMb6)

CURRENCIES

The dollar sagged broadly on Friday after its recovery this week faded as U.S. Treasury yields declined from their recent peaks.

Benchmark 10-year note yields were last yielding 2.9317 percent, after rising to a four-year high of 2.957 percent on Wednesday.

The euro was little changed at $1.2311 after gaining 0.4 percent the previous day. The common currency has lost 0.75 percent so far this week, following its ascent to a three-year top of $1.2556 on Feb. 16.

The yen, which tends to benefit during times of heightened volatility or uncertainty, rose almost 1 percent overnight to last fetch around 106.8 per dollar.

Oil prices hovered near two-week highs, supported by lower U.S. crude inventories, but gains were capped by a surge in U.S. exports. [O/R]

U.S. crude added 6 cents to $62.83 per barrel and Brent eased 1 cent to $66.38. Spot gold ticked lower to $1329.01 an ounce.

Reporting by Swati Pandey;

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