Tag Archives: South Korea

South Korea pastor tests positive amid virus spike at church

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A conservative South Korean pastor who has been a bitter critic of the country’s president has tested positive for the coronavirus

SEOUL, South Korea —
A conservative South Korean pastor who has been a bitter critic of the country’s president has tested positive for the coronavirus, health authorities said Monday, two days after he participated in an anti-government protest in Seoul that drew thousands.

More than 300 virus cases have been linked to the Rev. Jun Kwang-hun’s huge church in northern Seoul, which has emerged as a major cluster of infections amid growing fears of a massive outbreak in the greater capital region.

Officials are concerned that the virus’s spread could worsen after thousands of demonstrators, including Jun and members of his Sarang Jeil Church, marched in downtown Seoul on Saturday despite pleas from officials to stay home.

Jang Shi-hwa, a disease control expert in Seoul’s southern Gwangak district, said Jun was tested Monday morning at an area hospital, which reported to her office that he had tested positive but did not exhibit any symptoms. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Jun was being transferred to a hospital for isolated treatment.

South Korea reported 197 new cases of the virus on Monday, the fourth straight day of triple-digit increases. Most of the new cases in the past few days have come from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, home to about half of the country’s 51 million people.

Churches have been a constant source of infections, with many failing to require worshipers to wear masks, or allowing them to sing in choirs or eat together.

Health workers have so far linked 319 infections to Jun’s church after completing tests on about 2,000 of its 4,000 members. Police are pursuing some 700 church members who remain out of contact.

Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip urged anyone who participated in the weekend protest to come forward for testing if they experience fever or other symptoms. Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there’s concern that the outbreak at the church could spread nationwide through its members’ activities.

“We believe we are in the early stage of a major outbreak,” she said.

President Moon Jae-in’s government has strengthened social distancing restrictions in the Seoul metropolitan area — a move it had resisted for months out of economic concerns — and urged residents to avoid visiting other parts of the country for two weeks.

Jun’s church has become South Korea’s second-biggest virus cluster, behind a branch of the secretive Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeastern city of Daegu that was tied to more than 5,000 cases following a surge of infections in the region in late February and March.

The country managed to stabilize the outbreak in the Daegu area by April after bringing medical resources and personnel to the region from other parts of the country. Health workers were able to quickly ramp up testing and aggressively trace contacts by extensively using cellphone location data and credit-card records.

But the resurgence of the virus in the greater capital area — which has 10 times more people than Daegu — has been a rude awakening for a country that had been eager to tout its gains against the virus.

While health workers were able to contain the outbreak in Daegu, where infections were mostly tied to the Shincheonji church, they’re now struggling to track transmissions and predict infection routes in the Seoul region, where clusters have been popping up from churches, restaurants, schools and other places.

Moon’s government is pressing charges against Jun for allegedly disrupting disease-control efforts by ignoring orders to self-isolate, discouraging worshipers from getting tested and under-reporting the church’s membership to avoid broader quarantines.

Jun’s lawyer, Kang Yeon-jae, denied the accusations during a news conference Monday, insisting that he only received self-isolation orders after returning home from Saturday’s rally.

During Saturday’s protest, Jun, who is known for provocative speeches that are often filled with bizarre claims, said the outbreak at his church was a result of an attack, accusing an unspecified opponent of “pouring” the virus onto the church.

Prosecutors pushed for Jun’s arrest, asking a Seoul court to revoke his bail.

Jun was indicted in March on charges of violating election laws ahead of April’s parliamentary elections by allegedly asking participants at his rallies to vote against Moon’s party, which would be illegal because the official campaigning period hadn’t yet started. Jun’s bail was granted on condition that he doesn’t take part in rallies that could be related to his pending case.

Shincheonji’s 88-year-old chairman, Lee Man-hee, was arrested earlier this month over charges that the church hid some members and under-reported gatherings. Lee and his church have steadfastly denied the accusations, saying they’re cooperating with health authorities.

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South Korean leisure trade braces for unfold of coronavirus

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The leisure trade is bracing for a attainable unfold of the novel coronavirus an infection, after two individuals who attended Milan Vogue Week examined optimistic for the virus.

Okay-pop singer Chungha went into self-quarantine after two workers members who accompanied her on the Milan journey have been confirmed with COVID-19 upon coming back from Italy on Feb. 24, the singer’s company MNH Leisure stated Sunday.

One of many workers on the Milan journey was confirmed with COVID-19 after reporting a fever. Subsequently, Chungha and the remainder of the workers that returned from Italy went into self-quarantine and have been examined for the novel coronavirus. One extra workers member was confirmed with the virus following the exams whereas Chungha’s take a look at outcomes got here out as detrimental Sunday.

Chungha and the remainder of the workers who have been confirmed detrimental for the virus are in self-isolation, as requested by the Korea Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, the corporate stated in an announcement. All promotional occasions for the singer’s newest music launched Saturday have been canceled.

Minhyun of NU’EST was additionally examined after a rumor of novel coronavirus an infection unfold. The singer, who additionally attended Milan Vogue Week, and his workers have been examined out of precaution and have been all confirmed to not be contaminated. The artist can also be in self-quarantine.

Learn additionally: Coronavirus takes heavy toll on Okay-pop

Singer-actor IU, actresses Tune Hye-kyo, Han Ye-seul and Park Min-young and woman group Blackpink’s Lisa are additionally amongst Korean celebrities who attended Milan Vogue Week.

“The actress and the workers who accompanied Han to Milan didn’t present any signs and weren’t notified to get checkups,” an official at Han’s company Companions Park advised The Korea Herald.

EDAM Leisure, which represents IU, stated that IU was not affected by the virus. Tune’s company UAA was quoted in a neighborhood media outlet stating the actress was “not displaying any uncommon signs or well being points”.

The Milan Vogue Present, which happened Feb. 18-24, was closely impacted by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus because the occasion neared its finish.

In the meantime, taking pictures for tvN’s Hello Bye Mama is to renew Tuesday, as a workers member who confirmed signs of an infection examined detrimental. Taking pictures was suspended after one worker went into self-quarantine with signs of respiratory sickness.

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Samsung Electronics confirms coronavirus case at phone

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SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) said on Saturday that one coronavirus case had been confirmed at its mobile device factory complex in the southeastern city of Gumi, causing a shutdown of its entire facility there until Monday morning.

Samsung Electronics, the world’s top smartphone maker, said the floor where the infected employee worked would be shut down until the morning of Feb. 25.

“The company has placed colleagues who came in contact with the infected employee in self-quarantine and taken steps to have them tested for possible infection,” Samsung said in a news release.

Samsung’s factory in Gumi accounts for a small portion of its total smartphone production, and it makes high-end phones, mostly for the domestic market. Samsung produces most of its smartphones in Vietnam and India.

Gumi is close to the city of Daegu, home to a church at the center of South Korea’s largest coronavirus outbreak.

South Korea said on Saturday that the number of people infected with the coronavirus in the country had more than doubled to 433.

Samsung said production at its chip and display factories in other parts of South Korea would not be affected.

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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‘Parasite’ investors rake in big money after Best Picture win

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A tiny South Korean hedge fund hit the jackpot when it made a long-shot investment in the surprise Oscar-winning movie “Parasite,” according to a report Wednesday.

The Seoul-based fund Ryukyung PSG Asset Management Inc. plunked down $500,000 to help bank-roll the genre-bending satirical thriller and is poised to rake in millions after the award, according to Bloomberg News.

The movie by Bong Joon Ho cost $11 million to make — peanuts by Hollywood standards — and has already earned  $165 million at the box office, according to the outlet

The flick became the first non-English-language film to ever to win an Academy Award for best picture Sunday, sending box office sales soaring.

The movie earned $539,000 on Monday, a 24 percent post-Oscars spike.

The fund, which only invests in movies distributed by Korea’s CJ Group, has returned more than 72 percent for investors since its launch in July 2018, according to the outlet.

The company has also profited from other Korean films including “Extreme Job” and “Exit.”

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Investors charge back into stocks on signs coronavirus spread is slowing

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LONDON (Reuters) – A drop in the number of new coronavirus cases and the Federal Reserve chairman’s optimistic view of the economy lifted world stocks for a third day on Wednesday and sparked a 2% rally in oil prices, on hopes the epidemic’s effects would be contained.

FILE PHOTO: An investor monitors share market prices in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 25, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris.

China reported its lowest number of new coronavirus cases since late January, lending weight to a prediction from its senior medical adviser that the outbreak might be over by April. A continued decline in new cases would inflict would keep the epidemic from doing as much economic damage as initially feared,

Those reports encouraged investors to get back into equities at the expense of bonds, gold and the Japanese yen — safe-haven assets that benefited as the virus death toll mounted.

“The virus may retard the modest upturn in global trade and manufacturing output which we predict to unfold from the second quarter of 2020s. But it seems unlikely to derail it,” analysts at Berenberg told clients.

The damage to Western economies in particular “will likely be modest and mostly temporary,” the bank said.

MSCI’s global equity index rose 0.12% to stand just off Tuesday’s record highs .MIWD00000PUS. A pan-European equity index rose to a record as automobile stocks — which depend on exports to China — jumped 1.2% .SXAP.

Futures indicated Wall Street would extend gains from Tuesday, when the S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted record closing highs ESC1 [.N].

In Asia, mainland Chinese and Hong Kong shares rose almost 1% .CSI300. The offshore-traded yuan reached two-week highs CNH=D3. The Thai baht, Korean won and Taiwanese dollar, reliant on Chinese tourism and trade, gained 0.3% to 0.5% THB= KRW= TWD=. The yen slipped 0.3% JPY=EBS to a three-week low against the dollar.

Brent crude futures rose from 13-month lows, helped by the likelihood producers would cut output LCOc1. Brent is still down almost 20% from its peaks in early January.

Some noted it remained unclear whether the coronavirus had peaked. Some Chinese companies said they were laying off workers as supply chains for goods had ruptured.

“Evidence suggests the positive mood will continue, and we see some coordination in markets with oil rallying, base metals up and Treasuries coming under pressure,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney. But “I am not ready to buy risk assets yet.”

U.S. RESILIENCE

Yields on U.S. Treasuries and German Bunds US10YT=RR rose 3 to 4 basis points. Ten-year U.S. yields are now 13 bps off the four-and-a-half-month lows hit late January though almost 30 bps below where they started 2020.

Yields had risen on Tuesday after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy was “resilient”. Powell also said he was monitoring the coronavirus, because it could lead to disruptions that affect the global economy.

The dollar had risen to four-month highs against a basket of currencies .DXY but inched off those levels on Wednesday.

U.S. markets also got a boost from signs President Donald Trump might be re-elected in November, since centrist candidates for the Democratic nomination appear to be struggling .

“Trump had a great start into the U.S. election season. After the early end of the impeachment trial in the Senate and the Iowa caucus chaos for the Democrats, betting markets suggest that Trump has a 58% probability of winning re-election on 3 November,” Berenberg noted.

The day’s big currency mover was the New Zealand dollar NZD=D3, which rose 0.8% for its biggest daily gain since December, after the central bank dropped a reference to further rate cuts, suggesting its easing cycle might be over.

Additional reporting by Stanley White in Tokyo, editing by Larry King

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Waning ECB stimulus bets push bond yields higher

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LONDON (Reuters) – Global bond yields rose on Monday, amid growing caution over the extent to which the European Central Bank will add stimulus to boost an ailing economy this week and rising hopes that Berlin could loosen its purse strings.

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, September 6, 2019. REUTERS/Staff/File Photo

Germany’s 30-year benchmark bond yield briefly broke into positive territory for the first time in more than a month, while U.S. Treasury yields climbed to 18-day highs.

Safe-haven assets have been caught up in the fixed income sell-off, with gold XAU= touching a one-month trough and Japan’s yen plumbing a five-week low. But equities failed to make gains, as weak Chinese producer prices data dampened the mood.

The bond moves comes as markets are gearing up for Thursday’s European Central Bank (ECB) meeting, which is widely expected to deliver a cut to interest rates and point to further bond-buying stimulus.

However, there is a growing chorus of opinion that ECB policymakers and other central banks with negative interest rates and sub-zero long-term sovereign bond yields are nearing the limits of stimulus policies.

Germany also starts to debate its 2020 budget in parliament later in the day, where Finance Minister Olaf Scholz’s speech will be scrutinized after Reuters reported Berlin was looking into creating a “shadow budget” to boost public investment and effectively circumvent limits set by its national debt rules.

“These stories have become more frequent in recent weeks,” said Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid. “Whilst the market always gets more excited by the headlines than is justified by hard evidence of any change in policy, it’s fair to conclude that market pressure and chatter on this story is building.”

Europe’s largest economy is teetering on the brink of recession, but strict national spending rules have tied policymakers hands on fiscal policy.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is also widely expected to cut interest rates next week as policymakers race to shield the global economy from risks, which also include Britain’s planned exit from the European Union.

With interest rates plumbing record lows in many countries and the effectiveness of further bond-buying muted by already record-low borrowing costs for governments, attention has turned to increased public spending or tax cuts to fire up growth.

A CHINESE CLOUD

The sell-off in fixed income markets failed to lift global stocks, where the mood was subdued amid concerns over the health of the world economy.

Data showing China’s mainland factory-gate prices shrank at their fastest pace in three years, as flagging demand at home and abroad forced some businesses to slash prices, saw Asian bourses slip lower.

In Europe, the pan-European stocks benchmark index STOXX 600 fell 0.4% in a second day of losses.

China-sensitive German stocks .GDAXI eased 0.3% while France’s CAC .FCHI dropped 0.6%.

“China inflation data was probably the worst combination of prints the market could have hoped for,” said Stephen Innes, Market Strategist AXI Trader.

“While the enormous slide in China factory gate prices reminded us of what we already know, U.S. tariffs are sinking the Chinese economy and at a much quicker pace than anyone could have imagined.”

However, climbing bond yields helped lift European banking stocks .SX7P 0.3% – one of the few sectors in the black.

U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street after the S&P 500 .SPX ended flat in New York on Monday.

In currencies, the rise in Treasury yields helped lift the dollar to touch a five-week high of 107.50 yen JPY=EBS. The euro EUR=EBS was flat at $1.104 after reaching an overnight high of $1.1067.

The pound GBP=D3 traded near a six-week high of $1.2385 after a law came into force demanding that Prime Minister Boris Johnson delay Britain’s departure from the European Union unless he can strike a divorce deal with the bloc.

Oil futures hit their highest level in six weeks in Asia after Saudi Arabia’s new energy minister confirmed he would stick with his country’s policy of limiting crude output to support prices.

U.S. crude traded at $57.97 a barrel after hitting the highest since July 31. Brent crude futures climbed to $62.67 a barrel.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, who became Saudi Arabia’s new energy minister on Sunday, told reporters there would be “no radical” change in Saudi’s oil policy. Saudi Arabia is OPEC’s de facto leader.

Reporting by Karin Strohecker in London, additional reporting and graphic by Sujata Rao in London, additional reporting by Stanley White in Tokyo; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Sam Holmes and Alex Richardson

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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South Korea boycott hitting gross sales of Japan’s Uniqlo, firm says

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FILE PHOTO: A Uniqlo retailer is seen on fifth Ave in New York, New York, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

TOKYO (Reuters) – A boycott on Japanese items in South Korea has had an influence on informal clothes chain Uniqlo’s gross sales within the nation, the corporate mentioned on Friday, highlighting the widening financial hit from a diplomatic row over Tokyo’s wartime position.

Japan’s determination final month to tighten controls on exports of supplies that South Korea makes use of to make semiconductors and smartphone shows has prompted a shopper backlash in Korea, with shoppers boycotting Japanese merchandise from beer to pens.

Relations between the 2 U.S. allies at the moment are at their worst in a long time. The dispute is rooted in compensation for compelled laborers throughout Japan’s occupation and South Korea has repeatedly invoked its tough historical past with Japan, which colonized the Korean peninsula throughout World Battle Two.

“We will verify that there was an influence on the gross sales in Korea,” a spokeswoman for Uniqlo proprietor Quick Retailing (9983.T) mentioned, declining to provide figures.

The corporate’s latest determination to shut a retailer in Seoul was unrelated to the boycott, the spokeswoman mentioned, including that the contract for the property had ended and the corporate determined to not renew.

Japan cited safety issues for the curbs. The transfer, nevertheless, has additionally been seen as retaliation after a South Korean courtroom final yr ordered Japanese firms to compensate Koreans who had been compelled to work for Japanese occupiers throughout World Battle Two.

Japan has additionally eliminated South Korea from a listing of favored buying and selling companions.

Uniqlo is one in all Japan’s extra seen manufacturers globally outdoors the auto and electronics industries. It has near 190 shops in South Korea the place it sells round 140 billion yen ($1.three billion) of garments yearly, or 6.6% of its income.

Reporting by Ritsuko Ando and Chris Gallagher; Writing by David Dolan; modifying by Richard Pullin and Stephen Coates

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

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Asia shares hit six-month lows, bonds growth amid market shakeout

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares slid to 6-1/2-month lows on Monday and the yuan slumped to a greater than decade trough as a fast escalation within the Sino-U.S. commerce warfare despatched traders stampeding to conventional protected harbors together with the yen, bonds and gold.

FILE PHOTO: A girl walks previous an digital board exhibiting the inventory market indices of varied international locations exterior a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, October 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Markets have been badly spooked since U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly declared he would slap 10% tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese language imports, ending a month-long commerce truce. China vowed on Friday to battle again.

In response, China’s yuan CNH= CNY= burst past the psychological 7-per-dollar threshold in a transfer that threatened to unleash a brand new entrance within the commerce hostilities – a forex warfare.

“Every thing is promoting off proper now,” mentioned Ray Attrill, head of foreign exchange technique at Nationwide Australia Financial institution in Sydney. “We have now no motive to anticipate any cessation in promoting except we see any robust motion to defend any CNY or CNH weak spot.”

“Our working assumption is that we’re unlikely to see any significant decision to the commerce dispute anytime quickly.”

Asian share markets have been a sea of crimson with Japan’s Nikkei .N225 shedding 2.4% to the bottom since early June. It was the sharpest each day drop since March.

Australian shares slipped about 1.4% to spend their fourth straight session within the crimson, and South Korea’s Kospi .KS11 tumbled 2.2% to hit its lowest since December 2016.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares exterior Japan sank 2.1% to depths not seen since late January.In China, the blue-chip index .CSI300 fell 0.8% whereas the troubled Hong Kong market .HSI hit a seven-month trough. The ache shortly unfold globally, with E-Mini futures for the S&P500 ESc1 and FTSE futures FFIc1 each down over 1%.

Oil costs have been additionally pulled down once more on demand worries, whereas gold climbed 0.65% to $1,450.41 an oz..

The grim temper adopted declines on Wall Road on Friday with MSCI’s gauge of world shares posting its largest weekly lack of the 12 months.

The commerce dispute between the world’s two largest economies has already disrupted international provide chains and slowed financial progress.

The abrupt escalation capped a essential week for international markets after the U.S. Federal Reserve delivered a broadly anticipated rate of interest minimize and performed down expectations of additional easing.

EVER DEEPER CUTS

Up to now, traders will not be shopping for Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s declare that the 25-basis-point price discount was a mere “mid-cycle adjustment to coverage”.

Futures at the moment are pricing in deeper cuts than earlier than final week’s Fed assembly. The terminal U.S. price is seen at 1.22%, 93 foundation factors beneath the present efficient price.

Analysts at TD Securities are forecasting a minimum of 5 extra cuts from the Fed, amounting to 125 foundation factors of easing, over the approaching 12 months or so.

Bond markets have been nicely forward of the sport as U.S. 10-year yields US10YT=RR dived 7 foundation factors to 1.77%, a violent shift for normally cautious Asian hours. Yields in Australia and New Zealand touched all-time lows.

German 10-year authorities bond yields on Friday dropped to an all-time low of -0.502% and the nation’s total authorities bond yield curve turning damaging for the primary time ever.

The flight to security lifted the yen, which frequently positive aspects at time of stress because of Japan’s place because the world’s largest creditor. The greenback slipped to a seven-month trough of 105.78 yen JPY=, whereas the euro sank to its lowest since April 2017 at 117.64 yen EURJPY=.

That dragged the greenback index .DXY off 0.1%, although it was up towards most different Asian currencies and people uncovered to China or commodities together with the Australian greenback AUD=.

The Aussie AUD=D3, a liquid proxy for rising market and China threat, slipped to a contemporary seven-month trough at $0.6748 after shedding 1.6% final week.

The Swiss franc CHF= was additionally boosted by safe-haven demand from the escalating commerce tensions. Trump can be eyeing tariffs on the European Union, however is but to make any formal bulletins. The euro EUR= was comparatively regular on the greenback at $1.1119.

Sterling GBP= hovered close to 2017 lows at $1.2159, pressured by considerations about Britain exiting the European Union and not using a deal in place.

The pound has been whiplashed since late final month when Boris Johnson, a figurehead for the “go away” marketing campaign within the 2016 Brexit referendum, turned the nation’s prime minister.

Oil prolonged losses with U.S crude off 26 cents at 55.40 and Brent down 35 cents at $61.54.

Modifying by Sam Holmes and Richard Borsuk

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Samsung Electronics to launch Galaxy Fold in Sept after display screen issues

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FILE PHOTO: The Samsung Galaxy Fold cellphone is proven on a display screen at Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Unpacked occasion in San Francisco, California, U.S., February 20, 2019 REUTERS/Stephen Nellis

SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s (005930.KS) first foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Fold, will go on sale from September in chosen markets after the launch was delayed by display screen issues earlier this 12 months, the corporate mentioned on Thursday.

Samsung is hoping its extremely anticipated foldable cellphone will revive flagging smartphone gross sales however its rollout has been hampered by defects in samples reported in April.

The South Korean tech big mentioned in a press release it had made enhancements to the practically $2,000 cellphone and was conducting closing assessments. Modifications included strengthening hinges which early reviewers had discovered to be problematic.

The world’s prime smartphone maker has hailed the folding design as the long run in a phase that has seen few surprises since Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) groundbreaking iPhone was launched in 2007.

Chinese language rival Huawei Applied sciences Co Ltd has additionally introduced a folding handset, the Mate X, which is predicted to go on sale in September.

Samsung remains to be in talks with cell carriers world wide to determine on particulars of the Fold’s sale, a supply with information of the matter mentioned.

Reporting by Ju-min Park and Heekyong Yang; Modifying by Stephen Coates

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