Investors focussed on a stream of solid earnings reports after a lukewarm reception for U.S. President Donald Trump's tax plan unveiled on Wednesday, as some details of the plan were largely anticipated by investors.Corporate earnings continue to show strong results for the quarter. Comcast , up 2.1 percent, was the top boost to the benchmark S&P 500 index after reporting results. "Most folks were expecting a build in earnings acceleration and that's what we've got," said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston. "First-quarter earnings are expected to show growth of 12.4 percent, the best since 2011, according to Thomson Reuters data.U.S. crude settled down 1.3 percent at $48.97 per barrel and Brent settled off 0.7 percent at $51.44 on the day.
PARIS (Reuters) - French prosecutors are investigating the decision by global soccer body FIFA to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar, a source close to the investigation said on Thursday. The national financial prosecutor's office (PNF), which specialises in investigating economic crimes, began a preliminary investigation last year. The source added that former FIFA president Sepp Blatter was interviewed as a witness by Swiss prosecutors in the presence of two French magistrates in Switzerland on April 20. FIFA has been in turmoil since several dozen sports officials, including a number of senior FIFA officials, were indicted in the United States on corruption-related charges in 2015. As a result, only 22 of the 24 executive committee members voted.
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Fernando Alonso had a hunch that entering next month's Indianapolis 500 was going to be a big deal but on Thursday he confessed to a misjudgement - the race was even bigger than he had imagined. "What is for sure is that the impression of how big is the Indy 500 has increased in my opinion after these days, how the people get super-excited about the race," said the McLaren driver. Britain's Hill, also a double Formula One world champion, is the only man to have won the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race. Alonso has set himself a punishing schedule for the next few weeks, flying to the United States immediately after the Bahrain Grand Prix. He will heading back across the Atlantic next week for practice before coming back to his home Formula One race in Barcelona.
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Triple Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has hailed Serena Williams as an inspiration after the world's top female tennis player hit back at comments made by former men's number one Ilie Nastase about her unborn child. Nastase was quoted by Romanian and some British media last week as saying in response to William's pregnancy announcement: "Let's see what colour it has. Hamilton, who has 'Still I Rise' - the title of the same poem - tattooed across his back, is friends with Williams and invited her to last year's Mexican Grand Prix. "She's not only one of the greatest people I know, she's just a born leader...reading what she's written just inspires me and hopefully inspires others." Williams won the Australian Open in January, her 23rd grand slam title, while pregnant.
BULLE, Switzerland (Reuters) - Swiss Stefan Kueng won the second stage of the Tour de Romandie on Thursday after beating his breakaway companion in a sprint. The BMC rider was one of four who raced away from the pack in a stage that was shortened to 136.5 km due to snow falls at the start. Ukrainian Andriy Grivko was second and Italian Fabio Felline retained the overall lead. The tough conditions took their toll as several riders crashed, including one of the overall contenders, Frenchman Warren Barguil, who abandoned the race after sustaining a hip injury. (Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
BARCELONA, (Reuters) - Third seed Rafael Nadal remained on course for a 10th Barcelona Open title after reaching the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Kevin Anderson on Thursday. World number one Andy Murray also advanced as he stepped up his recovery from an elbow injury by breezing past Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-4 6-4. It was Nadal’s 50th victory at the tournament and the Mallorcan never looked in danger against world number 66 Anderson, forcing 10 break points in the match. Nadal, who broke the big-serving South African twice, said the rain throughout the morning in Catalonia meant the newly-renamed Rafa Nadal Court was moving slower than usual. I much prefer it when the ball is doing more,” Nadal said.
BERLIN (Reuters) - Former world number one Maria Sharapova eased past fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-5 6-1 on Thursday to reach the Stuttgart Grand Prix quarter-finals and continue her winning comeback from a 15-month doping ban. She has yet to drop a set in Stuttgart where she has won the title three times. I executed a great plan today and I was really glad I pulled that off," Sharapova told reporters. Makarova cleverly mixed up the height and depth of her shots during rallies on the very quick Stuttgart clay with Sharapova still lacking match practice. Makarova wasted her only break opportunity at 5-5 and Sharapova never looked back.
GENEVA (Reuters) - She escaped the bombs of Syria, and almost drowned when her dinghy capsized off Greece, but Yusra Mardini then competed at the Olympics and has now been appointed a U.N. goodwill ambassador to be a voice for people seeking shelter from war. Mardini had to swim for hours after capsizing in the Mediterranean with her sister. Granted refugee status by Germany, she swam at the Games last August as one of 10 athletes in the first-ever refugee Olympic team which she hopes will become a permanent fixture. "Of course I'm really hoping that in the next Olympics there will be a new refugee Olympic team, and I am sure that all the world is supporting that because it was a really good idea," she said. U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Kelly Clements said plans for that were not finalised.
ZURICH (Reuters) - Albania have been fined 100,000 Swiss francs (78,427.17 pounds) after their fans disrupted their World Cup qualifier away to Italy last month by letting off firecrackers, FIFA said on Thursday. Italy, who won 2-0, were also fined 15,000 Swiss francs, for "improper conduct among spectators (letting off incendiary devices)," soccer's governing body said. Brazil were fined 35,000 Swiss francs for homophobic chanting by fans in the game against Paraguay, while Argentina were fined 20,000 Swiss francs for the same offence against Chile. In other incidents, Iran were fined 50,000 Swiss francs over the "use of pyrotechnics among supporters and an overcrowded stadium" as well as the "non-use of FIFA branding items." There were also fines for Bosnia (35,000 Swiss francs), Poland (17,500 Swiss francs) and Montenegro (15,000 Swiss francs) for various incidents involving the use of pyrotechnics by fans during matches last month.
LONDON (Reuters) - Burnley manager Sean Dyche described midfielder Joey Barton's 18-month ban for breaching betting rules as harsh on Thursday. Barton, 34, received his punishment on Wednesday after admitting a Football Association charge relating to bets placed from 2006 to 2016. Former England international Barton, who plans to appeal against the ban, will not be offered another contract, Dyche said. "On the football side of things, we didn't want it to get in the way of thinking he was a worthwhile player to bring back. Barton returned to Burnley on a short-term deal in January for a second spell having helped them win promotion to the Premier League last season.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (pic) reminded anyone seeking soft loans to be aware of "agents or middlemen" claiming to represent Kojadi. He said there was also a case where a Malay couple was conned by Eddie Lee. "Kojadi is for Chinese SMEs. Dr Wee said Kojadi officers were more than willing to assist and mentor SMEs which need assistance. "If the SMEs want bigger loans, Kojadi officers can bridge these SMEs with other financial institutions," he added.
(Reuters) - Hull City must focus on picking up results on the road starting on Saturday at Southampton if they are to avoid Premier League relegation, manager Marco Silva has said. Silva, who took over from Mike Phelan in January, has overseen a dramatic upturn in Hull's fortunes at the KCOM Stadium, with the team unbeaten in eight league games. "We have to do our work well and take points at Southampton. Silva has no fresh injury concerns, although defender Omar Elabdellaoui is still struggling with a back problem from last month. Hull face a daunting trip to ninth-placed Southampton - a ground where they have failed to pick up a league victory since 1951 in the old second division.
Decked out in a chef's hat, white uniform and hygiene mask, the robot chef has been drawing big crowds and long queues at a university canteen in southern Guangdong province, according to Chinese media reports. Knife-shaved noodles, known as "dao xiao mian" in Chinese, are a Shanxi speciality. The machine cost about 5,000 yuan (RM3,163), the canteen manager, surnamed Dong, told news website Stnn.cc. On its first day at work, the robot chef had already made 400 bowls of noodles, greatly improving efficiency, he said. The robot chef also caused a stir online, with internet users questioning if its noodles tasted authentic.
(Reuters) - Swansea City are confident they can avoid relegation after ending their six-game winless streak against Stoke City last weekend, manager Paul Clement said on Thursday. "The players showed against Stoke that they can perform even when the anxiety and pressure is high," Clement told a news conference. The players are confident and I am confident that we can go and pick up valuable points in all of them." Clement said winger Wayne Routledge could still play a role this season after undergoing a hernia operation this week. Swansea visit Mourinho's United side who are unbeaten in 23 league games and are heading into a derby encounter at Manchester City later on Thursday.
LONDON (Reuters) - Wladimir Klitschko told IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua defeat was "nothing to be scared of" at a packed news conference ahead of their sell-out title fight at Wembley Stadium on Saturday. I shook it off and came back stronger," Klitschko, like Joshua a former Olympic champion, said. "I'm going to fight a guy whose age is exactly the number of how long I have been in boxing. London-born Joshua, like Klitschko standing at 1.98 metres, described Saturday's fight as a "stepping stone to greatness". This isn't rocket science -- this is just a fight," said Joshua, who held an open workout, as did Klitschko, at Wembley Arena on Wednesday.