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Singapore’s DBS bank reports Q2 2021 earnings

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DBS Group Holdings in the central business district of Singapore.

Nicky Loh | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — DBS Group Holdings, the largest bank in Singapore and Southeast Asia, reported on Thursday second-quarter earnings that beat expectations as the economic recovery in its home market takes hold.

The bank’s net profit for the April-to-June quarter jumped 37% from a year ago to 1.7 billion Singapore dollars ($1.26 billion). That beat an average forecast of 1.42 billion Singapore dollars, according to analyst estimates on Refinitiv.

But compared with the previous quarter, net profit was 15% lower.

DBS shares in Singapore rose around 0.6% in early trade following the release of its financial results.

“Business momentum and asset quality have both been better than expected as the economic recovery from the pandemic takes hold,” the bank’s Chief Executive Piyush Gupta said in a statement.

“While risks remain, our pipeline remains healthy and we expect business momentum to be sustained in the coming quarters,” he added.

DBS announced a dividend of 33 Singapore cents per share for the second quarter. That’s an increase from 18 Singapore cents per share in the previous quarter after the Monetary Authority of Singapore lifted a cap on dividend payments.

Here are the other highlights from the earnings report:

  • The bank’s provisions for potential loan losses fell to 79 million Singapore dollars in the second quarter, compared with 849 million Singapore dollars a year ago.
  • Net interest margin, a measure of lending profitability, was 1.45% in the second quarter. That’s lower than 1.62% a year ago.
  • Customer loans rose to around 397 billion Singapore dollars in the first six months of 2021, 6% higher than the same period last year.

A day before DBS released second-quarter earnings, its smaller Singaporean peers — Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and United Overseas Bank — reported financial results that beat estimates.

OCBC, Singapore’s second-largest bank, reported a 59% year-on-year increase in net profit to 1.16 billion Singapore dollars in the second quarter. UOB’s net profit for the period was around 1 billion Singapore dollars, 43% higher than a year ago.

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U.S. envoy resigns over deportations, calls Biden policy flawed

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Daniel Foote testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing concerning cartels and the U.S. heroin epidemic, on Capitol Hill, May 26, 2016, in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — A senior State Department official overseeing the Biden administration’s Haiti policy has resigned, citing what he calls the United States’ “inhumane, counterproductive” response to the recent Haitian migrant surge along the Southern border. 

The diplomat, Daniel Foote, was appointed U.S. Special Envoy to Haiti in late July by President Joe Biden, following the assassination of Haiti’s sitting president, Jovenel Moïse. 

“Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed,” Foote wrote in a scathing resignation letter on Wednesday that was obtained by NBC News. 

The State Department denies that Foote’s proposals were ignored. Instead, department spokesman Ned Price said some of them were “rejected” because they were deemed “harmful” to promoting democracy in Haiti.

Foote wrote that his decision to resign now was in response to the decision by U.S. immigration authorities to deport thousands of Haitian migrants back to Haiti.

“The people of Haiti, mired in poverty, hostage to the terror, kidnappings, robberies and massacres of armed gangs and suffering under a corrupt government with gang alliances, simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy,” Foote wrote.

However, Price accused Foote of having “failed to take advantage of ample opportunity to raise concerns about migration during his tenure and chose to resign instead.”

A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021.

Paul Ratje | AFP | Getty Images

Since mid-September, more than 10,000 Haitian migrants have attempted to cross the Rio Grande river and enter the U.S. from Mexico near the tiny Texas town of Del Rio. The result has been a dual humanitarian and border crisis, with thousands of migrants amassing under a bridge with no food, water or shelter. 

In response, U.S. border patrol agents have detained thousands of people. While families with children have largely been permitted to apply for asylum, more than 500 people have been flown back to Haiti since Sunday, when deportation flights began, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The surge was triggered by several convergent factors, including the collapse of Haiti’s government in July, an earthquake in August that killed more than 2,000 people and a mistaken belief that the Biden administration would grant asylum and protected status to newly arrived Haitian migrants. 

“The collapsed state is unable to provide security or basic services, and more refugees will fuel further desperation and crime,” Foote wrote. 

Foote’s resignation is the latest blow to the Biden administration, which has struggled to deal with the flood of Haitian migrants. 

A migrant seeking refuge in the U.S. wades through the Rio Grande river from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico toward Del Rio, Texas, U.S. after getting supplies, in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico September 22, 2021.

Daniel Becerril | Reuters

Many of the migrants have not lived in Haiti for years, having fled the country to look for work in South America following Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake. 

The fact that they did not recently live in Haiti significantly complicates the legal question of whether they would qualify as refugees fleeing the unrest in Haiti, as well as the ethical question of whether to deport them back to a country many of them have not seen in years.

In Washington, President Joe Biden has come under sharp criticism from refugee organizations and key Democrats in Congress for his administration’s response to this latest border crisis.

They accuse the White House of leaning on a controversial Trump-era Covid-19 public health rule known as Title 42, that allows immigration authorities to immediately remove most undocumented border crossers without first giving them a chance to apply for asylum. 

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pressed Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to “immediately put a stop to these expulsions and to end this Title 42 policy at our southern border.”

“We cannot continue these hateful and xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws,” Schumer added.

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Volvo says it wants all its cars to be leather-free by 2030 

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Volvo is one of several automakers looking to change the materials used in its vehicles.

Artur Widak | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Volvo Cars wants all the models it sells to be leather-free by 2030, a move which represents the latest example of how automakers are looking to make their vehicles more sustainable.

In an announcement Thursday, the Swedish firm also said it wanted a quarter of the material used in its new cars to “consist of recycled and bio-based content” by 2025.

One of the interior materials it will look to use, called Nordico, is made up of textiles derived from recycled materials like polyethylene terephthalate bottles as well as “material from sustainable forests in Sweden and Finland, and corks recycled from the wine industry.”

While it intends to scrap the use of leather in its vehicles, the company said it would “continue to offer wool blend options from suppliers that are certified to source responsibly.”

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

In a statement, Stuart Templar, Volvo Cars’ director of global sustainability, said: “Finding products and materials that support animal welfare will be challenging, but that is no reason to avoid this important issue.”

In March, Volvo Cars — which is headquartered in Sweden but owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group — said it planned to become a “fully electric car company” by the year 2030.

“There is no long-term future for cars with an internal combustion engine,” Henrik Green, Volvo Cars’ chief technology officer, said at the time. “We are firmly committed to becoming an electric-only car maker and the transition should happen by 2030,” Green said.

A number of automotive manufacturers have announced plans to kit their vehicles out with materials other than leather. Back in 2019, Elon Musk’s Tesla said the interior of its Model 3 was “100% leather-free.”

Other examples include Porsche — a brand owned by the Volkswagen Group — offering customers a leather-free option for the interior of the Taycan, an all-electric sports car.

As concerns about sustainability mount, companies from a range of sectors are looking at new ways of packaging and delivering their products in a bid to mitigate their environmental footprint.

In June, consumer goods giant Unilever said a prototype of what it described as a “paper-based laundry detergent bottle” had been developed for its brand OMO and would be introduced to Brazil by early next year.

Earlier this month, online food delivery business Just Eat said it would work with CLUBZERO to trial reusable packaging in London over a three-month period.

In Feb. 2020, Just Eat said it had, together with packaging firm Notpla, developed a “fully recyclable” takeout box lined with seaweed.

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EU plans to make USB-C mandatory for Apple iPhones and other devices

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gelmold | iStock | Getty Images

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, on Thursday put forward a new law that would force smartphone manufacturers and other electronics makers to equip their devices with a standard USB-C charging port.

The proposed legislation is designed to cut waste and make life easier for consumers who would theoretically be able to use one charger for multiple devices.

It could have a huge impact on Apple, as the company still uses its own Lightning connector to charge iPhones. The company has recently equipped some iPads and MacBooks with USB-C ports.

A spokesperson for Apple said in response that the firm stands for “innovation and deeply cares about the customer experience.” 

“We share the European Commission’s commitment to protecting the environment and are already carbon neutral for all of our corporate emissions worldwide,” they said.  

“We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world. We look forward to continued engagement with stakeholders to help find a solution that protects consumer interest, as well as the industry’s ability to innovate and bring exciting new technology to users.”

Rivals like Samsung and Huawei have equipped some of their latest phones with USB-C ports, while many of their older handsets have micro-USB ports.

Under the legislation, USB-C would also become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld video game consoles.

The commission said it also wants tech firms to stop bundling chargers with their devices.

European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said in a statement: “European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers.”

She added: “We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger. This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions.”

EU Commissioner Thierry Breton noted that, “with more and more devices, more and more chargers are sold that are not interchangeable or not necessary. We are putting an end to that.”

The proposal is part of a revised Radio Equipment Directive that will need to pass a vote in the European Parliament before it becomes law.

If the proposal does become law, device makers will have two years to comply with the new legislation.

In 2020, the European Parliament voted in favor of new rules on a common charger, suggesting the latest proposal may have broad support.

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