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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trexit? Online bettors play early end to Trump presidency: Germany asks U.S. for classified briefing on Lockheed's F-35 fighter

Wed May 17, 2017 | 6:37 PM EDT Trexit? Online bettors play early end to Trump presidency President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he addresses the graduating class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy during commencement ceremonies in New London, Connecticut, U.S. May 17, 2017. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque Trexit? Online bettors play early end to Trump... By Angela Moon and Alistair Smout | NEW YORK/LONDON Bettors on both sides of the Atlantic are ramping up wagers in niche online markets over whether Donald Trump will serve out a full term as U.S. president in the wake of controversies surrounding the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey. Some, such as the online political stock market PredictIt, have seen record volume during the last two days on contracts focused on whether Trump will be impeached. Others based in the United Kingdom are drawing bets on the less-specific question of whether Trump remains in office until his term expires in January 2021. The contract on PredictIt titled "Will Donald Trump be impeached in 2017?" saw volume of more than 100,000 contracts in the last 24 hours after reports of a memo written by Comey that said Trump had asked him to end the Federal Bureau of Investigation's probe into ties between former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia. At one point early on Wednesday, the price of a "yes" contract on the impeachment question jumped to a record 33 cents, implying a 33 percent probability that Trump would be impeached. That compares with only 7 percent just over a week ago. By late in the day, however, the price had slid back to 27 percent, just above where it ended late Tuesday at 24 percent. PredictIt is jointly run by Washington political consultancy Aristotle and Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. All of its users are registered U.S. voters. The bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair (PPB.I) (PPB.L) said bettors there had laid out more than 5,000 pounds ($6,470) on an early departure for Trump in the hours after it was reported Trump had asked Comey to shut down the FBI's investigation of Russia ties. In all, the question of whether Trump will make an early exit has drawn more than $270,000 in wagers, while a related question on whether Trump will leave in 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020 or later has garnered more than $480,000. Also In Business News 'Trump Trade' turns to trepidation as investors unwind Asia drops as White House turmoil hits risk sentiment, dollar bruised British betting firm Ladbrokes (LCL.L) cut the price of a Trump impeachment to odds-on at 4-5 from 11-10, equivalent to about 56 percent probability that Trump will be removed from office. "Political punters are wondering how many more scandals can Trump overcome," said Ladbrokes spokeswoman Jessica Bridge. "And despite the short price on offer, money has poured in for the president to be impeached, leaving us with little option but to cut the odds." (Reporting by Angela Moon in New York and Alistair Smout in London; editing by Phil Berlowitz, G Crosse) =============================== A Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealth fighter jet lands at the Avalon Airshow in Victoria, Australia, in this file photo dated March 3, 2017. Australian Defence Force/Handout via REUTERS By Andrea Shalal | BERLIN The German Air Force this month sent the U.S. military a written request for classified data on the Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) F-35 fighter jet as it gears up to replace its current fleet of fighter jets from 2025 to 2035. The letter, sent by the Air Force's planning command and seen by Reuters, makes clear that the German government has not yet authorized a procurement program and is not committed to any particular aircraft to replace its current warplanes. It said the defense ministry would carry out "an in-depth evaluation of market available solutions, including the F-35, later this year," with a formal "letter of request" to be issued in coming months. ADVERTISING Germany's interest in the F-35 - the Pentagon's most advanced warplane and its costliest procurement program - may surprise some given that it is part of the four-nation consortium that developed the fourth-generation Eurofighter Typhoon, which continues to compete for new orders. The Eurofighter is built by Airbus (AIR.PA) as well as Britain's BAE Systems (BAES.L) and Leonardo (LDOF.MI) of Italy. Germany will need to replace its current fleet of fourth-generation warplanes - Tornadoes in use since 1981 and Eurofighters - between 2025 and 2035. The F-35 is considered a fifth-generation fighter given stealth capabilities that allow it to evade enemy radars. Berlin's letter also comes amid growing tensions between the West and Russia over Moscow's support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, with NATO officials saying that Russian naval activity now exceeds levels seen even during the Cold War. Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and Italy - key NATO allies of Germany - are already buying the F-35 fighter jet to replace their current aircraft, and other European countries such as Switzerland, Belgium and Finland are also looking at purchasing the fifth-generation warplane. Germany's gesture may be aimed at strengthening its hand in negotiations with its European partners over the scale and timing of development of a next generation of European fighters. Any moves to buy a U.S. built warplane could run into political resistance in Germany, which has strong labor unions. But military sources say buying the F-35 could make sense for Germany given steady declines in the cost of the U.S. jets, and technical challenges with the Eurofighter. EIGHT-HOUR BRIEFING In the letter, the Air Force said a small team of air force officers was gathering data to prepare for a detailed analysis of alternatives for a new warplane. The group was working closely with the ministry's "Task Force Future Air Combat System," which aims to make a recommendation for a political decision in mid-2018, he said. "In order to understand (the) F-35's cutting-edge technologies, the German Air Force is requesting a classified brief of the F-35's capabilities in general and especially concerning sensor suites, information management and operational capabilities," the letter said. Also In World News Trump asked Comey to end investigation of Michael Flynn: source South Korea's Moon says 'high possibility' of conflict with North as missile crisis builds The letter said a video conference suggested by U.S. officials in Bonn would help speed up the process. A source familiar with U.S. weapons programs said the classified briefing requested by Germany would likely last around eight hours. Since Germany is not part of the international consortium that funded development of the stealthy new fighter, the request for classified information must first be approved by the U.S. government, but U.S. officials said they did not expect any problems securing the needed marketing license. The Pentagon's F-35 programs office declined comment on the letter. No comment was immediately available from Lockheed. The F-35 is in operational use by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force, which last month carried out its first operational deployment of a small number of jets to Estonia for training with other U.S. and NATO military aircraft. The U.S. Air Force this month also announced this month that it plans to bring the F-35 to the Paris Air Show in June. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Keith Weir)

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