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US grants eight countries Iran sanctions waivers: Bloomberg

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The U.S. government has agreed to let eight countries, including close allies South Korea and Japan, as well as India, keep buying Iranian oil after it reimposes sanctions on Tehran from next week, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing a U.S. official.

Iran’s biggest oil customers – all in Asia – have been seeking sanctions waivers to allow them to continue buying some of its oil.

Bloomberg reported that close U.S. allies South Korea and Japan had received waivers along with India, which relies heavily on supplies from Iran. A list of all countries getting waivers was expected to be released officially on Monday, Bloomberg said.

A Chinese official told Reuters that discussions with the U.S. government were ongoing and that a result was expected over the next couple of days.

“We think Trump will agree to China importing some volumes, similar to the treatment that India and South Korea receive,” Clayton Allen of Height Securities said in a note on Friday.

South Korea’s foreign ministry declined to comment, and Japanese officials were not immediately available for comment.

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Another country that has been seeking a sanctions waiver is Turkey, which takes significant volumes via pipeline from neighboring Iran.

Turkey’s Energy Ministry said on Friday it had heard rumors of waivers but added it had not received written notification of any exemption on buying Iran oil after the United States reimposes sanctions on Tehran on Nov. 5.

Although some waivers had been expected, crude oil prices fell, with Brent futures down by 10 cents at 0752 GMT to $72.79 per barrel, as the number of waivers granted surprised many traders.

Analysts said, however, that Iranian oil sanction waivers would likely only be temporary.

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“The U.S. may use waivers to slow-walk implementation, but these will not apply indefinitely,” Allen said.

Goldman Sachs said it expects Iran’s crude oil exports to fall to 1.15 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of the year, down from around 2.5 million bpd in mid-2018.

Reporting by Henning Gloystein in SINGAPORE and Aizhu Chen in BEIJING; Additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin in SEOUL, Osamu Tsukimori in TOKYO, Gulsen Solaker in ANKARA; Editing by Richard Pullin and Tom Hogue

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Hope Hicks denied under oath knowing about Trump’s hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels

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Former White House communications director Hope Hicks on Wednesday denied under oath knowing anything about the hush-money scheme set up by former Trump "fixer" Michael Cohen to pay off President Donald Trump's former mistresses.

"Hicks told lawmakers today that she did not have knowledge during 2016 campaign of hush-money payments made in run-up to election," reports CNN's Manu Raju. "Also she wouldn’t discuss what she learned about those payments during her time at White House because of immunity claims."

Hicks told lawmakers today that she did not have knowledge during 2016 campaign of hush-money payments made in run-up to election, per sources. Also she wouldn’t discuss what she learned about those payments during her time at WH bc of immunity claims https://t.co/GZWqzCzpGX

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Federal Reserve chair defiant in face of Trump threats: ‘The law is clear — I have a four-year term’

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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sounded a defiant note on Wednesday as he announced that there would be no further cuts to interest rates for the time being.

Even though President Donald Trump has been publicly calling for a rate cut to spur additional economic growth ahead of his reelection campaign, Powell kept interest rates at their current level and signaled that he did not foresee any interest rate cuts for the rest of the year.

Powell was asked by a reporter if he was concerned about being "demoted" by Trump in the wake of this announcement, the Federal Reserve Chairman said he wasn't worried.

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John Dean explains the big mistake Hope Hicks made by stonewalling Congress

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Former White House counsel John Dean, a key figure in the Watergate scandal, said Wednesday on CNN that there was a serious flaw in the attempt to prevent longtime Trump confidant Hope Hicks from testifying to Congress.

White House lawyers have asserted that Hicks has absolute immunity and is not legally required to testify about her time as Trump's director of communications. Hicks testified Wednesday during a closed-door hearing before the House Judiciary Committee — where she reportedly refused to answer questions about her White House job.

"Privilege is not being asserted here. Instead, the White House says that Hicks has absolute immunity regarding the time that she spent at 1600 Pennsylvania. Does absolute immunity even exist? And if so, can you explain to me the difference between the two?" CNN host Brooke Baldwin asked Dean.

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