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Death toll from northern Burkina Faso attack rises to 32
15 November 2021, 7:35 PM

At least 32 people, including 28 military police officers and four civilians, were killed in Sunday’s attack on a police post in northern Burkina Faso, the government said on Monday, increasing its earlier death toll of 20.

President Roch Kabore decreed three days of national mourning for the victims of the attack, which took place near a gold mine in Inata. The government said it was carried out by unidentified armed men.

Burkinabe security forces and civilians are regularly targeted by militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State, particularly near the country’s borders with Mali and Niger.

Landmark opioid trial of 3 major pharmacy chains nears its end
15 November 2021, 5:58 PM

A lawyer for two Ohio counties urged a federal jury on Monday to hold three major pharmacy chains responsible for fueling an opioid epidemic in their communities as the first trial the companies have faced over the drug crisis neared its end.

Mark Lanier, a lawyer for Lake and Trumbull counties, told a federal jury in Cleveland that a verdict in the case against CVS Health Corp, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc and Walmart Inc would have ramifications all across the country.

“You get to decide what will be the most seminal case in pharmacy history,” Lanier said in his closing arguments.

The counties accused the companies of creating a public nuisance in the form of the epidemic by failing to prevent excessive amounts of addictive pain pills from flooding their communities or identify “red flags” of misuse.

“A pharmacy is not a gum ball machine,” Lanier said. “They have more responsibility than simply taking your money and getting you your pills.”

The trial is the first the pharmacy chains have faced in thousands of lawsuits by states and local governments seeking to hold them liable for an epidemic that US health officials say has led to nearly 500,000 opioid overdose deaths over two decades.

Should the jurors find the pharmacies created a public nuisance, US District Judge Dan Pollster would decide how much they owe to abate, or address, it. The counties’ lawyers have said the costs are potentially $1 billion for each county.

The companies have denied wrongdoing and have said the blame falls on others, including doctors and government regulators. Their lawyers are expected to deliver closing arguments later on Monday.

The Ohio trial follows recent setbacks for plaintiffs pursuing some of the 3 300 opioid cases filed against drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies.

Oklahoma’s top court last Tuesday overturned a $465 million judgment against drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, and a California judge this month ruled in favor of four drugmakers in a case brought by several large counties.

Those lawsuits also accused the companies of creating a public nuisance. A similar lawsuit by Washington state against three drug distributors also heads to trial on Monday.

Swiss franc rises vs euro, dollar hovers around 16-month high
15 November 2021, 4:46 PM

The euro touched a May 2020 low against the safe-haven Swiss franc on Monday, and the dollar hovered around a 16-month high as US inflation raised bets on a Federal Reserve interest rate hike.

With inflation fears rising and concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic pressuring global economic growth, the Swiss franc hit 1.0530 against the euro overnight, its highest level versus the single currency in 18 months. It was up 0.1% at 1.0535 at 1210 GMT.

Interest for the euro/Swiss franc cross has grown sharply, said Simon Harvey, senior FX market analyst at Monex Europe, “because the Swiss franc is a natural hedge against inflation.”

Supply-chain bottlenecks and soaring energy costs are slowing euro zone growth and will keep inflation high for even longer than had been thought, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde told a hearing of the European Parliament’s committee on economic affairs on Monday. She said euro zone inflation would ease next year.

Swiss National Bank governing board member Andrea Maechler said modest Swiss inflation, at an annual rate of around 1.2%, was capping the franc’s rise. But she reiterated the SNB’s commitment to currency market interventions designed to limit, if needed, the effect that the Swiss franc’s strength has on Switzerland’s export-orientated economy.

Another safe haven, the US dollar, was not far from a 16-month high it touched on Friday after data showing a sharp jump in US consumer prices last month encouraged markets to price a first Fed rate increase by July next year.

The dollar index – which measures the currency against six peers – edged 0.1% lower at 95.038 as traders awaited clues on the Fed’s interest rate hike plans.

Investors will be watching any comments at a virtual summit between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday.

Gains in the heavily euro-weighted dollar index have also been helped by a drop in the single currency, with ECB’s Lagarde continuing to push back on market bets for tighter policy.

Lagarde “reiterating the dovish outlook of policymakers” kept the euro in check, said Jane Foley, Head of FX Strategy at Rabobank London.

The euro edged 0.1% higher at $1.1452, not far from Friday’s 16-month low.

In Britain, the pound rose 0.2% to $1.3436, ahead of a data-heavy week with employment, inflation and retail sales numbers expected to provide clues about whether the Bank of England will raise rates in December, as expected by markets. On Friday, sterling touched its lowest level this year versus the dollar.

CyrusOne to go private in $15 bln deal with KKR, Global Infrastructure Partners
15 November 2021, 2:37 PM

US data centre operator CyrusOne Inc said on Monday it would be bought by KKR & Co Inc and Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in a deal valued at about $15 billion, including debt.

The buyout is the latest deal in the data-center space, with Blackstone purchasing QTS Realty Trust Inc for $10 billion in June.

KKR and GIP will pay $90.50 in cash for each CyrusOne share, which represents a 5.9% premium to the company’s closing price on Friday.

Reuters had reported in September that Dallas-based CyrusOne was working with investment bank Morgan Stanley to explore strategic alternatives, including a potential sale.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022, CyrusOne said.

South Sudan’s president sacks finance minister and interior minister
12 November 2021, 9:58 PM

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has sacked his finance minister and his interior minister, without giving reasons for the changes, state television and his press secretary said late on Friday.

Kiir removed Athian Ding Athian from the post of finance minister, replacing him with Agak Achuil Lual, while interior minister Paul Mayom Akec was replaced by Mahmoud Solomon Agook.

Kiir’s press secretary Ateny Wek Ateny said the changes would not affect the functioning of the government.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but descended into fighting two years later when forces loyal to Kiir and to his then-rival Riek Machar clashed in the capital.

The civil war, which ended with a peace deal in 2018, killed 400,000 people and triggered Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

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