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FCA sets $14 million annual target compensation for CEO Manley: filing

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FILE PHOTO: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Mike Manley arrives at the memorial service held in honor of former CEO Sergio Marchionne in Turin, Italy, September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Massimo Pinca/File Photo

DETROIT (Reuters) – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) has set an annual compensation target for Chief Executive Officer Mike Manley consisting of pay, cash and equity bonuses of $14 million, the automaker said in a regulatory filing on Friday.

Manley took over as the head of FCA last July after the abrupt departure of his predecessor Sergio Marchionne. The company paid its new CEO 600,442 euros ($680,240) for 2018 and he will receive a bonus for 2018 of $367,000 to be paid this year.

Manley also was granted FCA 180,364 shares for his work in 2018, which will vest in 2019 if the company meets certain targets. The fair value per share on the date those were granted was $16.61, FCA said.

His target annual compensation consists of a base salary of $1.6 million, and a bonus of $2.4 million and an equity award valued at $10 million, both linked to the company hitting certain performance targets.

Former CEO Marchionne received 6.6 million euros in compensation for 2018, which consisted of nearly 2 million euros in base pay and an annual bonus for 2017 of just over 4.6 million euros.

For the 2014 to 2017 time period, Marchionne also received 2.8 million FCA shares. The fair value per share was $14.84, FCA said.

FCA chairman John Elkann received a base salary of 1.7 million euros and no annual bonus.

Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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S&P 500 posts highest close since November 8 on trade optimism

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 posted its highest closing level since Nov. 8 on Friday as investors clung to signs of progress in the ongoing trade talks between the United States and China.

Investors assessed a slew of headlines on the talks, with top trade negotiators from the two countries meeting to wrap up a week of discussions on some of the thorniest issues in their trade war.

If the two sides fail to reach a deal by midnight on March 1, then their seven-month trade war could escalate.

“People are expecting some sort of positive news on trade and tariffs with China fairly soon,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“But we won’t know until the end of next week,” he said, and, “there has been a lack of specifics.”

Optimism on the trade front and dovish signals from the U.S. Federal Reserve have driven the recent gains and left indexes well above their lows of December, when the market swooned on fears of an economic slowdown. The S&P 500 is now up about 19 percent since its late-December low.

The S&P 500 technology index was up 1.3 percent, leading gains among the 11 major S&P sectors, while the trade-exposed industrials index climbed 0.6 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 181.18 points, or 0.7 percent, to 26,031.81, the S&P 500 gained 17.79 points, or 0.64 percent, to 2,792.67 and the Nasdaq Composite added 67.84 points, or 0.91 percent, to 7,527.55.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

All three indexes registered gains for the week, with both the Dow and Nasdaq posting a ninth week of increases.

The number of New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq stocks hitting 52-week highs hit 367, the most since mid-September and outnumbered those hitting year lows by the widest margin in six months.

Stocks briefly pared gains after U.S. officials briefed on the negotiations said more time is likely needed in the talks given China’s resistance this week to American demands for specific steps by Beijing to end forced transfers of U.S. technology and certain other policies.

Afterward, President Donald Trump said there was a very good chance the United States would strike a deal with China to end the trade war, and that he was inclined to extend his March 1 deadline to reach an agreement.

“Right now the downside risk has been not as steep, but there’s always a concern that something happens last-minute,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

“Having a Chinese economy that stabilizes is constructive for global markets,” she said. “That’s what is key in terms of the market looking at the results.”

Kraft Heinz Co tumbled 27.5 percent, and was the biggest drag on the S&P along with a 1.7 percent fall in Class B shares of the company’s controlling stakeholder, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The packaged food company posted a quarterly loss, disclosed a Securities and Exchange Commission probe and wrote down the value of its iconic Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands.

Slideshow (2 Images)

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.99-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.45-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 64 new 52-week highs and three new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 112 new highs and 21 new lows.

About 6.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges. That compares with the 7.3 billion-share daily average for the past 20 trading days.

Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis

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Flattening U.S. yield curve in late 2018 ‘flashing red’ on economy: Fed’s Williams

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President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, John Williams, addresses a news conference in Zurich, Switzerland September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A flattening U.S. yield curve in December, which was close to being inverted, was “flashing red” about a deceleration in U.S. economic growth heading into 2019, despite some solid data at the time, New York Federal Reserve President John Williams said on Friday.

The yield curve flattens as the gap between short and long-dated yields narrow, suggesting investors’ worries about a slowing economy.

The yield curve inverts when shorter-dated yields rise above longer-dated ones. An inverted yield curve has preceded all U.S. recessions in the past 50 years.

Williams was giving closing remarks at a conference about quantitative tools, jointly sponsored by the New York Fed and the Atlanta Federal Reserve.

Reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Diane Craft

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Fed’s policy pause sets stage for broad overhaul

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NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – When Federal Reserve policymakers last month put a three-year rate-hike campaign on hold and backed ending a yearlong push to shrink their $4 trillion balance sheet, they cited increased risks to U.S. economic growth and the need for more time to sort through the data.

The Federal Reserve building is pictured in Washington, DC, U.S., August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo

But whether by design or by happenstance, their policy pause effectively cleans the central bank’s slate ahead of what could be a massive overhaul of how they manage the U.S. economy, including what tools it uses and how it communicates to the public.

Behind the Fed’s decision to spend the next year rethinking how it should go about ensuring that prices remain stable and employment plentiful are some of the same structural economic changes that led the U.S. central bank to put its current policy on hold in the first place.

The connections between the Fed’s new “patient” stance on policy, its decision to leave its balance sheet bigger than it had previously anticipated, and what looks set to be a tough debate over a possible new policy framework were on full display for the first time at a conference Friday on monetary policy in New York.

There, the influential chief of the New York Fed, John Williams, nodded to the U.S. economy’s new normal, where unemployment is plumbing its lowest levels in nearly 50 years, but inflation is barely touching the Fed’s 2-percent goal.

And though the Fed needs to guard against a surge in inflation, Williams said, “we must be equally vigilant that inflation expectations do not get anchored at too low a level.”

San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly, also speaking at the conference, concurred.

“Inflation has been below our target for a long time,” Daly said. “Complacency can go both ways and it’s important to be vigilant on both sides of the target, not just on the upside but also on the downside”

One central question in the Fed’s policy rethink is whether the Fed should react to periods of low inflation by allowing inflation to run hot for a time, Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida said in a speech Friday that outlined the scope of the Fed’s broad review.

Such a strategy could mean the Fed seeks to maintain an average rate of 2-percent inflation over any given period, rather than its current strategy of targeting its 2-percent level without regard to whether it has been able to meet that goal so far.

Though Clarida suggested the result of the policy review, expected to be complete by the first half of 2020, it could be that the Fed sticks with its current policy. “We suspect the Fed wouldn’t be asking this question if they didn’t already have some sense that a different way forward may be warranted,” wrote JP Morgan’s chief U.S. economist, Michael Feroli, in a note to clients.

Still, it was clear from remarks by policymakers at the event that not all were convinced of the need to change the Fed’s inflation-targeting, and the debate, which kicks off officially with an event Monday in Dallas, will be robust.

A Fed economic report released Friday showed why concerns about weak inflation have suddenly taken root. After raising rates amid faster-than-expected growth through 2018, the Fed said a series of developing risks likely began slowing the economy late in the year and into 2019.

That included weakening consumer spending and business investment, risks from a global slowdown and trade tensions, “deteriorated” risk appetite among investors, and even a nick to gross domestic product from the partial government shutdown.

Just as Fed policymakers’ new wariness about slow growth and low inflation helped shape the Fed’s January promise to be “patient” about further rate hikes, it may also have played a role as Fed policymakers coalesce around a plan to stop trimming their balance sheet later this year.

Investors have in recent months complained that financial conditions are tightening because of the Fed’s gradual reductions to its balance sheet, swollen from trillions of dollars of bond-buying in the post-crisis years.

In remarks Friday, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker and Fed Governor Randal Quarles suggested they supported an end to the balance sheet reductions for technical reasons relating to the amount of liquidity that banks and the Fed itself needs to keep markets running smoothly.

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard went so far as to suggest that the size of the balance sheet really has only “minor” impact on the economy, now that interest rates are well above zero.

But earlier this month remarks from San Francisco Fed’s Daly and Fed Governor Lael Brainard showed that at least a few policymakers want the balance sheet trimming to stop as part of an overall desire to stop tightening monetary policy.

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, writing by Ann Saphir; with reporting by Howard Schneider and additional reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Diane Craft

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