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Government supporters hold a rally in support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on January 26, 2019 in Caracas.

Luis Robayo | AFP | Getty Images

Government supporters hold a rally in support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on January 26, 2019 in Caracas.

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that the international community should focus on helping to solve Venezuela’s economic and social problems and refrain from any “destructive” interference, Interfax news agency reported.

“The international community’s goal should be to help (Venezuela solve socio-economic problems), without destructive meddling from beyond its borders,” Alexander Shchetinin, head of the ministry’s Latin American department, was cited by Interfax as saying.

Earlier on Sunday U.S. President Donald Trump said in an interview to CBS that sending the military to Venezuela was “an option”.

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Citi sees rise in Chinese production of home appliances

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The report said the production increase has implications for rising demand for important metals that go into the manufacturing the products.

“White goods are important end markets for cold rolled and galvanized steel (and hence for zinc),” Citi said.

“Stainless steel use is also highly skewed towards kitchen applications (and, by implication, nickel and ferrochrome demand),” it added. “Air conditioners are big consumers of copper and a strong pick-up in production should create demand for copper tubes as well.”

The report said that weakness in Chinese consumer spending goes beyond those appliances, but stressed that a series of income tax benefits in place beginning late last year “should be the key catalyst for possible consumption recovery.”

In addition to its gross domestic product, China also announced its latest monthly figures for major economic barometers industrial production and retails sales.

Industrial output gained 8.5% year-on-year in March — easily beating the 5.9% gain estimated in a poll of economists by Reuters, and registering the fastest growth since July 2014.

Retail sales, meanwhile, grew by 8.7% in March year-on-year, beating Reuters’ projection of an 8.4% gain.

And figures for manufacturing activity rose unexpectedly in March, growing at the fastest clip in eight months, a private survey showed.

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RBS earnings Q1 2019

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The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) reported a net profit of £707 million ($912.2 million) for its first quarter on Friday, down 11% from the £792 million posted over the same period last year.

The figures exceeded expectations of £546 million according to a company-provided average of analyst forecasts. However, RBS shares fell 5% Friday morning as the bank warned of upcoming challenges due to continued Brexit uncertainty.

The news comes following the announcement Thursday that CEO Ross McEwan will step down in 2020. The bank has now launched a global hunt for his successor, with RBS executive Alison Rose tipped as favorite for the job.

Here are the key figures:

  • Net profit dropped 11.3% to £707 million from £792 million in the first quarter of 2018, but exceeded a prediction of £546 million.
  • The group’s net interest margin decreased by six basis points to 1.89%.
  • Total revenue was £3 billion, with total operating costs coming to £1.9 billion.
  • The bank’s impairment losses totaled £86 million, up from £78 million in the same period last year.

In the earnings statement, RBS said the “ongoing impact of Brexit uncertainty on the economy, and associated delay in business borrowing decisions, is likely to make income growth more challenging in the near term.”

The bank has long warned of the possible impact of the U.K.’s departure from the European Union, along with a highly competitive mortgage market. In the third quarter of 2018, RBS set aside £100 million to deal with economic uncertainties, including the fallout from Brexit.

The figures come amid what is proving to be a difficult earnings season for the European banks, with fellow British giant Barclays reporting a 10% drop in profits Thursday.

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Moldova will build highways with China firms

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Moldova is set to sign infrastructure deals with two Chinese contractors, according to the country’s State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure — marking the first time Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative has expanded into the eastern European country.

In an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Friday, Vitalie Iurcu said negotiations started several years ago, “and most probably this year, we should sign contracts” to build “almost 300 kilometers of roads in the Republic of Moldova.”

The Belt and Road is a massive infrastructure network involving roads, railways and ports that seek to connect China to more than 60 countries across three continents: Asia, Europe and Africa.

The two Chinese companies — which some reports say are China Hyway Group and China Railway Group — will finance the bulk of Moldova’s highway project. “85 percent will be financed by the Chinese partners, and 15 percent will be (the) contribution of the Moldovan government,” Iurcu told CNBC.

Critics have said that the Belt and Road project not only benefits Chinese firms and helps Beijing gain political leverage, but the high costs of some investment projects could also weigh on the national debt and economies of developing countries.

When asked about some of these concerns — sometimes referred to as a “debt trap” — Iurcu said Moldova has already conducted “deep feasibility studies” to ensure that these projects are “feasible” and “payable.”

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