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N. Korea documentary focuses on Kim-Trump ties, not summit breakdown

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The film showed the two leaders smiling and shaking hands even after they ended the summit without a deal and saying they had agreed to “sit face-to-face more often” and would continue “constructive dialogue.”

At one point, Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, whom Pyongyang’s state media previously slammed for making “reckless remarks” by comparing the country with Libya, was seen stone-faced during the summit, while Trump and other U.S. participants were all smiles.

The two countries “can overcome twists and turns and ordeals and go forward if both sides make fair proposals based on principles that are mutually accepted and respected, and engage in negotiations with the right attitude and willingness to resolve problems,” a presenter said.

Senior North Korean officials have accused the U.S. side of making “unreasonable demands” and warned Kim might “lose his willingness to pursue a deal.”

But the documentary’s brushing over the collapse and focus on the rapport between the two leaders signaled Pyongyang was not about to walk away from negotiations, experts say.

Trump has said that North Korea wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, while the North Korean officials said they had only demanded a partial easing in exchange for dismantling its main nuclear site at Yongbyon.

“The summit was an important change to bring the two countries’ relations to a new height based on the mutual respect and trust shared by the two leaders,” the presenter said.

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From econoboxes to hypercars, new EVs dominate Geneva Auto Show

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The new Alfa Romeo Tonale will offer a variety of conventional and electrified powertrains when it comes to market. Significantly, Alfa sees plug-in hybrids as the top of its performance ladder, according to brand boss Tim Kuniskis.

On the all-electric side, there’s not just the Pininfarina Battista but the 1,005 horsepower Carmen, a retro-futuristic sports car that marks the revival of one of the classic “golden era” brands, Hispano Suiza. And, while not delivering quite the horsepower numbers of its hypercar, Aston Martin will go all-electric with another entry debuting in Geneva. Though officially dubbed a “concept,” its all-terrain show car teases the crossover that will be offered next year through its alternative Lagonda brand. That marque hasn’t been used on a new model in decades and, going forward, Lagonda will produce only BEVs.

As for Ferrari, the F8 Tributo model it is launching in Geneva uses a conventional twin-turbo V-8 for power. But company officials have confirmed they are developing their own new platform for future hybrid products.

As many battery-based models as there are on display at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, the count will only grow going forward, industry observers anticipate.

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Irish whiskey continues to thrive in the US, thanks to millennials

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Millennials have been accused of killing canned tuna, motorcycles and diamonds. But they’re actually helping at least one industry: Irish whiskey.

Over the last five years, the volume of Irish whiskey sold in the U.S. grew by 61 percent, according to the Irish Food Board. In 2018 alone, sales grew by 9.4 percent compared to the previous year, netting distillers roughly $1 billion in revenue.

Last year also marked the ninth straight time that spirits took market share from beer, according to David Ozgo, the Distilled Spirits Council’s chief economist.

American millennials are driving the growth of Irish whiskey in the U.S., in part, due to their willingness to spent more on higher quality alcohol, Ozgo said.

Despite its growth in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, Irish whiskey still represents less than 3 percent of the case volume of all spirits sold. But spirits companies are trying to change that, spending more on marketing pushes for their brands. For example, when Diageo, the world’s largest spirits purveyor, re-entered the booming market in 2017 with Roe & Co., it increased its marketing spending by 20 percent compared to the previous year.

Irish whiskey tends to be smoother and less smoky than its Scottish cousin scotch and less sweet than American and Canadian varieties.

Jameson, owned by French spirits giant Pernod Ricard, remains the market leader. But there are some upstarts looking to make their own mark on the space. In 2013, there were just three distillers in Ireland: Cooley, Irish Distillers and Dingle Distillery. Now, there are 18 facilities with eight more on the way, according to the Irish Food Board.

Ozgo also noted that cocktails featuring Irish whiskey have become more popular menu items over the years. New York City’s The Dead Rabbit, named the World’s Best Bar in 2016 by Drinks International, devotes about half of its menu to such cocktails, but its bartenders are also trained to help customers learn more about the alcohol.

“What I generally see is, people say whiskey as a general term, and then that’s where we say, ‘Well, Irish whiskey is a huge part of our DNA and what we’re known for,'” said Jillian Vose, the bar’s beverage director.

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Better economic data needed before Wall Street returns to all-time highs

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Stocks kicked off 2019 with a bang as U.S.-China trade tensions simmered while the Federal Reserve signaled patience in raising rates. However, stocks will need improving economic data to make a run at the record levels set last year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 are both 4 percent away from their all-time highs. The Nasdaq Composite is trading about 5.5 percent away from its record. However, the main catalysts that led stocks to this point — declining worries over China trade and Fed monetary policy — have largely been priced in. Meanwhile, the economic data have been mixed at best.

The recent weakness in economic data comes as at a time when global central banks fret over a potential slowdown in the global economy, which investors fear could hurt corporate profits.

“What the market needs and must have is a spate of data suggesting the economy continues to expand, albeit slowly, but not stalling,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. “That worry that the economy could stall out has the market worried.”

The Citi Economic Surprise Index, a widely followed barometer of how economic data do relative to economist expectations, is currently near negative 35 and hit its lowest level since August 2017 earlier this month. A negative print on the index shows a majority of economic data are missing estimates; a positive print indicates data are outperforming expectations.

Citi economic surprise index in past 2 years

Source: FactSet

U.S. jobs creation came near to a screeching halt in February as only 20,000 jobs were created. While some experts attributed the weak print to factors like the weather and the government shutdown, it was still the worst month of jobs creation since September 2017.

The National Federation of Independent Business’ small-business optimism index, meanwhile, remained near its lowest levels since the 2016 election in February despite inching higher.

Retail sales, a widely followed barometer of consumer health, unexpectedly rose 0.2 percent in January. However, December sales were revised down to show a 1.6 percent decline.

“[Monday’s] retail sales report wasn’t enough to clear the earlier one out,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth. “December is still a question mark in people’s minds.”

“You have to see an improvement in retail sales,” he said. “That’s another potential catalyst.”

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