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In our news wrap Wednesday, President Trump has signed the USMCA, the new North American trade agreement among the U.S., Canada and Mexico. At a White House ceremony that excluded top Democrats, Trump declared the deal will bolster growth and keep jobs in the U.S. Also, Israel’s ruling cabinet delayed voting on annexing parts of the West Bank, saying it needs more time to make arrangements.
In the day's other news: A chartered plane landed in Southern California with nearly 200 Americans evacuated from the viral outbreak in China. They were screened during a stop in Alaska and will be screened again.
In China, officials reported nearly 6,000 cases and 132 deaths so far.
We will have a detailed report after the news summary.
President Trump has signed the new North American trade agreement involving the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The White House ceremony excluded top Democrats. Mr. Trump used the moment to proclaim the so-called USMCA will bolster growth and keep jobs in the U.S.
President Donald Trump:
The USMCA is the largest, fairest, most balanced and modern trade agreement ever achieved. There's never been anything like it. Other countries are now looking at it, but there can't be a border like that because, believe it or not, that's by far the biggest border in the world, in terms of economy, in terms of people. There's nothing even close.
The USMCA includes tougher rules on labor and automotive content than did the old North American Free Trade Agreement. Otherwise, it leaves existing trade largely unchanged.
It may be some months before the agreement is implemented.
In Israel today, the ruling Cabinet delayed voting on annexing parts of the West Bank, saying that it needs more time to make arrangements. The annexation would be part of the Mideast peace proposal announced by President Trump.
Meanwhile, Palestinians turned out in the West Bank and Jerusalem to protest the plan. That led to clashes with Israeli troops, who were firing tear gas.
In Syria, government troops captured one of the largest rebel-held towns in the country's northwest. It is located in Idlib province and controls a highway that connects Damascus to Aleppo. Syrian forces, backed by Russian air assaults, have been battling to retake Idlib. The president of neighboring Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, warned the Russians today to stop the bombing.
The European Parliament has overwhelmingly approved Britain's departure from the European Union. Today's vote was the last major step before Brexit officially happens on Friday. Some lawmakers were moved to tears as they said goodbye.
But the Parliament's Brexit coordinator said the split can no longer be avoided.
Today's vote is not a vote in favor or against Brexit. It's a vote for an orderly Brexit, against a wild, against a hard Brexit. I will be very honest with you. If we could stop Brexit by voting no today, I would be the first to recommend it.
The pro-Brexit leader, Nigel Farage, waved the British flag in farewell, and he told the gathering — quote — "We love Europe. We just hate the European Union."
Separately, the European Union rolled out security guidelines today for next-generation mobile networks. It didn't ban Chinese telecom giant Huawei, despite U.S. warnings that China uses the company's technology for espionage. At the same time, Huawei denied a German newspaper report that the Berlin government has evidence supporting the U.S. claim.
Back in this country, Boeing says that it lost money last year, for the first time since 1997. The company reported today that it ran $636 million in the red, caused mainly by the grounding of the 737 MAX.
The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged today. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the current rate is fostering faster growth and hiring.
The unemployment rate has been near half-century lows for well more than a year, and the pace of job gains remains solid. Participation in the labor force by people in their prime working years, ages 25 to 54, is at its highest level in more than a decade.
Powell also said that the viral outbreak in China could slow the global economy, but that it is too soon to tell by how much.
And, on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 11 points to close at 28734. The Nasdaq rose five points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.
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