Financial companies led U.S. stock indexes mostly higher in morning trading Wednesday as investors pored over the latest batch of company earnings and deal news. IBM surged on strong quarterly results, lifting technology sector stocks. Energy companies declined as early gains in crude oil prices faded. KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,560 as of 11:30 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 135 points, or 0.6 percent, to 23,132, lifted by a big gain in IBM. The Nasdaq composite slid 1 point to 6,622. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 4 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,502. More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange. The S&P 500 and Dow posted record highs on Monday and Tuesday. BETTING ON BANKS: Financial stocks notched some of the biggest gains. Assurant rose $5.30, or 5.5 percent, to $101.16. TECH STAR: IBM jumped 9.5 percent after the technology company delivered strong quarterly results. Its shares rose $13.90 to $160.40. DONE DEAL: Anthem, the second-largest U.S. health insurer, climbed 3.5 percent after announcing that it's entered a prescription benefits management deal with CVS. Anthem shares added $6.61 to $193.87. CVS rose 78 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $73.41. BANKING ON IT: Northern Trust shares picked up 5.4 percent after the bank's earnings and revenue beat Wall Street's estimates. The bank also said it plans to cut $250 million in annual spending by 2020. The stock added $4.95 to $96.05. DO OR DO NOT: Electronic Arts slid 3 percent after the video game company said it will postpone an upcoming "Star Wars" game to make changes. The game was scheduled to be released next year or early in 2019. EA is also closing down its Visceral Games studio. Shares lost $3.46 to $112.52. BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.34 percent from 2.30 percent late Tuesday. ENERGY: Oil prices lost some of their gains from earlier in the day. Benchmark U.S. crude added 10 cents to $51.98 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 2 cents to $57.86 a barrel in London. The move weighed on energy stocks. Chevron slid $1.51, or 1.3 percent, to $118.71. CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.99 yen from 112.18 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1776 from $1.1772. MARKETS OVERSEAS: European stock markets were moving higher. Germany's DAX gained 0.3 percent, while France's CAC 40 rose 0.4 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.3 percent higher. U.S. stocks were poised for a solid opening, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.2 percent. In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was little changed. South Korea's Kospi lost nearly 0.1 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was flat.

Wherever people gather to celebrate, unwind, have fun or engage in a party where the beat is turned up and the atmosphere is vibrant, Coca-Cola is there with its unmistakable, thirst quenching taste. And so it was last Wednesday in St Lucia under a tropical moonlight surrounded by the ambience generated by the Ti Bananne Restaurant at the Coco Palm Hotel that St. Lucians, for more than two hours, sampled the delights that could be gleaned from the world’s most popular beverage; while experiencing first hand the brand’s evolution. Never a brand to play second fiddle, Coca-Cola’s global “One Brand” strategy consolidates the “iconic appeal of original Coca-Cola across the Trademark, uniting the Coca-Cola family under the world’s number one beverage brand.” This comes to life under the campaign; Taste the Feeling. Coca-Cola boasts a new look that showcases the choice consumers have between Coca-Cola Original Taste; Coca-Cola No Sugar which maintains the taste of Original but without sugar and calories and Coca-Cola Light Taste which also has no sugar or calories but has a lighter taste. St. Lucia is one of the first markets to roll out this new look, dubbed “Full Red”. [image_gallery] ‘Taste the feeling’ was more than just the campaign message last night as patrons sampled the variants of the drink and got a true feel of the magic that for decades has positioned Coca Cola as a globally dominant brand. This universal feeling touches older and younger generations alike, as the experience of popping a cap, hearing the fizz and that first taste is impactful from the first time and holds nostalgic power as a touchstone years on. One partygoer at last night’s event summed it up nicely by saying that when you take the first taste you get the feeling to take another taste, and another taste, and another, and another until the bottle is empty.

Economic mobility across generations in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has improved as people are now more educated than their parents, but the poorest are still the most likely to remain the least educated, shows a new World Bank note released yesterday on End Poverty Day. Educational levels are a good indicator of economic and social mobility since people with more levels and higher quality of education generally have better incomes. The LAC region is a top performer in absolute intergenerational mobility – the share of individuals with more education than their parents—thanks to the great expansion of access to education over the last decades. However, LAC lags behind other developing regions in relative mobility, as those born to the least educated parents are significantly more likely to become the least educated in their own generation. “LAC has made remarkable progress in access to education, but more is needed to improve quality and increase access for children from the poorest rural and indigenous households,” said Jorge Familiar, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Without higher quality and a broader reach in education, the cycle of intergenerational poverty will continue.” The regional note onIntergenerational Mobility is drawn from research for the report“Fair Progress? Educational Mobility Around the World,”expected in 2018, whose early findings were released today as a preview to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. In LAC, school attendance varies widely among different socioeconomic groups. Although primary school has become almost universal across the region, significant differences remain in early education as well as secondary and tertiary schooling. Among three-year-old children, for instance, only half of those in the poorest households attend school, compared to 90 percent of children from the highest income level. Marginalized groups, including indigenous peoples, face additional barriers.For example, indigenous people are almost three times more likely to be extreme poor than non-indigenous people. These higher poverty rates lead to lower access to schooling for indigenous children. “Continued inequality between groups continues to be a problem,” said Oscar Calvo-Gonzalez, World Bank Practice Manager for Poverty and Equity in LAC. “Income and ethnic background are still determining factors in the region’s studentperformance in international assessments, where the socioeconomic positioncontinues to have a bigger impact on test score than in other parts of the world.” However, there is good news regarding the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test scores, where LAC lags behind other regions. Out of the seven LAC countries that participated in PISA, five improved their performance in reading test scores between 2009 to 2015. Moreover, there has also been a decrease in the effect of socio-economic background on the performance of LAC students in PISA tests. This suggests that there has been some progress with respect to intergenerational mobility and shows that quality of education, and not just access, will be key moving forward.

A mobile application that connects doctors and patients is offering free services as its contribution to hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean. Hurricanes Irma and Maria had a major impact on several Caribbean countries, including Barbuda, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Dominica and Puerto Rico. As local access to health care has become a challenge for hurricane victims, the team at eDocinesays it is eager to do its part in order to aid in these relief efforts. The “eDocine App” allows a patient to connect remotely to doctors via mobile video, audio or instant messaging. Until the end of December 2017, all live medical consultations with its verified doctors will be free of charge. An appeal is also being made to doctors in the Caribbean region to join the team of eDocine medical practitioners working together to help rebuild the region. Those interested in joining the effort should contact The eDocine Application can be downloaded from: Apple App Store: Android App Store: Key Features and Application for Patients: Integrated e-Health services -This is inclusive of video calls, audio calls, messaging consultations, scheduling house visits and scheduling of office appointments from a selection of the best doctors in the region. Qualified Professionals with Patient Regulated Rating System -eDocine employs a regulated certification system. Each doctor’s credentials are fact checked and stored before they are allowed to see patients on the platform. Patients are able to rate their patient/doctor experience through the app; which then becomes the overall rating of the doctor for the benefit of future patients. Freemedical advice from qualified professionals -Patients can ask a doctor any general medical question in the main feed section. This question is posted in the “doctor’s only forum” where only doctors can choose to respond. The patient’s ID is kept confidential at all stages throughout this process. Other patients can stay informed with current medical information, as the question and answer remain public to all viewers.

A Canadianmedical marijuana company announced on Tuesday that it had completed its first shipment of edible cannabis oil to the Cayman Islands. This is the second time a Canadian based company has exported cannabis oil to the island; CanniMed Therapeutics was the first, reporting on May 3, 2017 that it had successfully exported 12,960 ml of ganja oil the Cayman Islands. Peace Naturals Project Inc in release on Tuesday revealed that their product was purchased by Caribbean Medical Distributors, who work with a pharmacy service located in the Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital in George Town. The cannabis company also offers medicinal cannabis (ganja) varieties, in addition to their two flagship edible cannabis oil products: Omega and Cerene. How the ganja oil works According to the company website, the product comes with 1ml eyedropper, once the dosage amount is measured it can be added to food or be consumed on its own. A 30ml bottle of the company’s product retails for between $75- $99 CND, which is approximately, $49- $64 CI. According to Peace Naturals’ website, their products are “are not designed to eliminate underlying medical conditions”. Instead Peace Naturals say their “mission is to make our clients’ lives a little bit better by making their symptoms more manageable.” Earlier in 2017, Peace Naturals issued a voluntary recall of 74 lots of dried marijuana and cannabis oil, according to Health Canada, “two samples of leavescollected tested positive for piperonyl butoxide at low level concentration of 0.78 parts per million (ppm).” Health Canada further revealed that it had only received one adverse reaction report related to Peace Naturals Project Inc.'s products sold affected by the recall. Cronos Group, formerly known as Pharma Can Capital Corp, acquired Peace Naturals in late 2016.

(L-R) Economist and Lecturer in Banking and Finance at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, Jeremy Stephen, and moderator Lisa Cummins, Executive Director, UWI Consulting. (PHOTO: Richard Grimes)

The Barbados Government has been too late in implementing fiscal policies to pull the country out of the ongoing economic crisis. That is the position of economist and Lecturer in Banking and Finance at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, Jeremy Stephen. He made the remarks during a public forum on ‘Thriving in a Crisis’, one of several activities for International Business Week 2017, which runs from October 15 – 21. “The Minister of Finance has always been right at the wrong time. The policies have been right, but they’ve been far too late." He continued, “With that in mind, you’ve reached a situation where drastic remedies would have to be taken on both the onshore side of the country and the offshore side. [On the] Onshore side we are seeing right now with the effects of the NSRL [National Social Responsibility Levy], on global businesses…also the issue of getting access to foreign exchange, which might not necessarily impact international businesses in the room, but it will have an impact in the perceivable future – particularly given the implied cost of the Barbados dollar.” Stephen further asserted that government officials are perfectly aware of how to solve the country’s fiscal problems, but there are other considerations at play. “The issue has always been – which master are you serving?” he remarked. He noted that some easy decisions were not taken due to political considerations, such as the potential fallout from cutting expenditure too rapidly. “Of course, they have to balance the politics with the actual economics,” he said. [image_gallery] Saying it was necessary to access opportunities wherever they lie, Stephen referenced the rejected proposal in 2012/2013 to look to new sources of finance, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to reschedule the country’s debt. He said certain decisions should have been taken in 2012 – 2013 and maintained that had this been done the country’s debt profile would have been recovering by now. Stephen later said that any smart country would have restructured in 2012 and it bothered him that Barbados did not.Using Jamaica as an example, he said its political leaders took hard decisions at the right time, resulting in that Caribbean country giving itself room to reposition and recover. “They made the hard decision of should we tell investors the bad news now where it is easier to tell investors the bad news... Most people would have lost there and then; Jamaica paid with their currency being depreciated even further. However, what it did was to bring a lot of breathing room to Government,” he insisted. According to Stephen, Jamaica's government wasable to adjust its operational expenses, social spending, and introduce new efficiency and accountability mechanisms. “They went through major innovation as a country from a government level and then they realised that they could redirect some resources to the private sector,” he said. He added that Jamaica’s recovery is also due to a boom in appetite for investing in Jamaica, with its stock exchange yielding high returns.

International credit rating agency, Standard & Poor's (S&P), has dropped Barbados' sovereign credit rating by one notch to CCC. In a statement issued this afternoon, S&P said: "We are lowering our long-term local currency rating on Barbados to 'CCC' from 'CCC+'. We are affirming our other ratings on Barbados, including the 'CCC+' long-term foreign currency sovereign rating. "The negative outlook reflects the risk of a downgrade given difficulty turning around fiscal policy (with parliamentary elections in 2018), a possible domestic debt exchange that could be a default under our criteria, and prospects for a balance-of-payments crisis." It also noted that Barbados' policy challenges include "high general government debt, deficits, and debt servicing requirements; limited appetite for private-sector financing; and a low level of international reserves raising the risk to sustainability of the peg to the U.S. dollar." According to the S&P, the CCC rating means that debts are currently vulnerable to nonpayment, and are dependent upon favourable business, financial, and economic conditions for the obligor (owing party) to meet its financial commitment on the obligation. In the event of adverse business, financial, or economic conditions, the obligor is not likely to have the capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation." The ratings agency saidit could revise the negative outlook to stable over the next 12 months "if the government succeeds in balancing its fiscal budget, either from implementation of fiscal measures or a prolonged rebound in growth; improves its access to financing, from private creditors locally and globally; and stabilises the country's external vulnerabilities and bolsters international reserves". S&P previously downgraded Barbados' credit rating in March 2017, when it lowered the sovereign credit rating to CCC+ from B-. See the full statement below: RATING ACTION On Sept. 27, 2017, S&P Global Ratings lowered its long-term local currency sovereign credit rating on Barbados to 'CCC' from 'CCC+'. We also affirmed our long-term foreign currency sovereign rating at 'CCC+. The outlook on both long-term ratings is negative. We also affirmed the short-term ratings at 'C'. The transfer and convertibility assessment for Barbados remains 'CCC+'. OUTLOOK The negative outlook reflects the potential for a downgrade over the next 12 months should the government fail to advance measures to significantly lower its high fiscal deficit, strengthen its external liquidity, and reverse its low level of international reserves. These scenarios would likely lead to further pressure on availability of deficit financing--be it from official or private creditors--and pose challenges for the fixed exchange rate regime. Any potential local currency debt exchange with commercial creditors, though not currently under consideration by the government, would most likely be considered a distressed debt exchange and constitute a default according to our criteria. We could revise the outlook to stable over the next 12 months if the government succeeds in balancing its fiscal budget, either from implementation of fiscal measures or a prolonged rebound in growth; improves its access to financing, from private creditors locally and globally; and stabilizes the country's external vulnerabilities and bolsters international reserves. RATIONALE Barbados' history of wider fiscal deficits and low growth since 2009 has resulted in a significant increase in general government debt and debt service needs. Limited appetite for government paper in the local market has led to reliance on financing from the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and the Central Bank of Barbados. Amid high current account deficits and limited external inflows, external liquidity has been weakening. The decline in international reserves reduces Barbados' capacity to defend the currency peg and increases the risk of a balance-of-payments crisis. Our ratings on Barbados reflect our view that its creditworthiness is currently vulnerable and is dependent upon favorable business, financial, and economic conditions to meet its financial commitments. Flexibility and performance profile: Rising debt and interest burden, limited financing alternatives, and high external vulnerabilities. As of June 2017, Barbados' gross central government debt represented around 140% of GDP, one of the highest debt levels among Latin American and Caribbean countries. We expect Barbados' net general government debt (which does not include NIS and central bank holdings of government debt and incorporates liquid assets) to rise toward 98% of GDP over the next three years from 95% in 2016. We consider this level of debt a key credit weakness, particularly given Barbados' narrow, open economy (which depends highly on tourism) and fixed exchange-rate regime. In addition, the general government interest to revenue burden is over 15%. We assess Barbados' contingent liabilities as limited, considering our view of the strength of the banking system, with assets around 170% of GDP and being fully foreign-owned. Financing sources have become increasingly limited over the last five years. Barbados has not tapped international capital markets since 2010. Financing from bilateral and multilateral lenders has slowed, in part, as Barbados has been slow to satisfy conditions for disbursement and advance projects associated with borrowing. Historically, local capital markets provided most of Barbados' financing. However, in recent years, the private-sector appetite has dried up on weak policy execution. The government has relied on the central bank and NIS; they met 85% of the financing requirements during 2015 and 2016. Commercial banks have had a limited appetite to finance the central government deficit. During fiscal year 2017/2018 (fiscal years go from April until March), the central bank aims to reduce financing to the central government to only 1% of GDP, from the 6% in 2015/2016 and 8% in 2016/2017. The NIS has already exceeded its own prudential limits on government paper, and the growth rate of financing provided by the NIS has already decreased. The government announced in May 2017 fiscal adjustment measures that are among the most significant to date in an effort to balance its fiscal year 2017-2018 budget. They include raising the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) on imports and domestic manufactured goods to 10% from 2% and a 2% fee on foreign currency transactions and the sale of Barbados National Terminal Corp. Ltd. (BNTCL), which stalled last fiscal year because of the Barbados Fair Trading Commission concerns of possible monopoly practices. However, a weak track record of execution, the introduction of the measures half way into the fiscal year, the likely overestimation of one-off revenues, and political considerations while moving to an election year in 2018 leads us to assume that the measures will fall short of balancing Barbados' budget this year and next. Therefore, our base case expects a general government deficit (and change in general government debt) of 4% of GDP during 2017-2020. General government fiscal results include an NIS surplus below 1% of GDP during the same period, down from a 3% in 2011. Lower profitability is attributed to central government arrears on the NIS. In an additional effort to reduce near-term pressure on the budget and financing requirements, the government also announced it's considering a debt liability management exercise on local currency debt held by the NIS, central bank, and other government-related entities (GREs). Central bank and NIS holdings represent around 40% of gross central government debt. The government expects to finalize a voluntary debt exchange operation that extends maturities without net present value losses before the current calendar year ends. A transaction only focused on intragovernmental debt is not a default under our criteria. But it highlights the extent of fiscal stress, and if it's extended to private-sector creditors, it would likely constitute a default under our criteria. The liability management operations being considered by the government do not include foreign-currency-denominated debt. There are not external commercial maturities until 2019, but we estimate a debt service of around US$200 million per year during 2017 and 2018. Strong receipts from tourism, low private-sector demand, and low oil prices resulted in flat imports, which helped reduce Barbados' current account deficit (CAD) to 5% of GDP as of 2016, below the 10% average of the previous five years. Our base case expects that tourism continues to perform adequately, and that low oil prices and the NSRL further discouraging consumption (and imports) would result in an average CAD of 4% during 2017-2019. Foreign direct investment won't be able to fully finance the CAD, which should keep pressure on the level of international reserves during 2017-2019. International reserves stood at US$317 million as of June 2017. Usable international reserves, which we consider for assessing external liquidity, are even lower; we subtract the monetary base from international reserves because reserve coverage of the monetary base is critical to maintaining confidence in the exchange-rate regime. Barbados' usable reserves have been negative since 2013, and the position continues to deteriorate, in part because of the central bank's deficit financing, which has expanded the monetary base. We expect Barbados' gross external financing needs to be above 200% of current account receipts (CAR) plus usable reserves. We expect narrow net external debt to average about 30% of CAR during 2017-2019. Our external assessment also considers that net external liabilities of a projected 140% of CAR during 2017-2018 are substantially higher than narrow net external debt. Finally, in our view, data on Barbados' international investment position have inconsistencies and are not timely. In our opinion, monetary financing to the central government is at odds with sustaining Barbados' currency peg to the dollar, and it significantly curtails the central bank's ability to act as a lender of last resort in the financial system. Low inflation is a reflection of global conditions rather than effective monetary policy execution given the fixed exchange-rate regime. Institutional and economic profile: Subdued economic growth prospects and weakened policy track record. With about US$16,771 per capita GDP projected for 2017, Barbados is still one of the richest countries in the Caribbean. Strong flows of tourists and the expansion of the Sandals hotel helped Barbados to grow 2% in real terms during 2016, the highest rate of growth posted since 2009. This contributed to an improved economic assessment. However, historical growth has been below that of peers with a similar level of economic development, and the economy depends highly on tourism. Growth over the next several years balances a reduction in length of stay and marginal growth in average tourist expenditure with higher arrivals, especially from the U.S. market. A second source of growth would be two major hotel projects that would open operations on the island in 2019 – the Hyatt and the Sam Lord's Castle project by Wyndham. But growth would be held back by recurrent tourism project delays, higher taxes, low private-sector confidence and consumption, and a significant level of red tape, which weakens Barbados' overall economic profile. Barbados has a stable, predictable, and mature political system, which has traditionally benefited from consensus on major economic and social issues. The government has alternated between the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP). Parliamentary elections are due by June 2018. Despite the unpopularity of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart (DLP), the election is likely be close given divisions within BLP led by opposition leader Mia Mottley. Both parties have similar priorities: to restore growth and maintain the currency peg with the U.S. dollar. Despite the fact consensus supports and acknowledges the need for adjustment, there has not been success on this front. Private-sector confidence in the current government has fallen on ineffective and slow policy responses. This includes recurrent delays in many investment projects, the failure to enact a comprehensive fiscal adjustment plan, and declines in international reserves. Slow actions have weighed on our policy assessment compared with when Barbados was higher-rated. Transparency and timeliness of data publication are also weaker than higher-rated sovereigns.

Chelsea's Eden Hazard celebrates after scoring during the Champions League Group C  match against Roma at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017.

Five months after lifting the Premier League trophy with Chelsea, Antonio Conte isn't happy with his team. A two-goal lead against Roma was established and then squandered in the Champions League on Wednesday. A 3-3 draw was recovered but Chelsea's susceptibility wereexposed, just as theyhad been in losing theirlast two Premier League games to high-flying Manchester City and struggling Crystal Palace. "We gave up too much tonight in terms of ball possession," said Conte, who is in his second season as Chelsea coach. "I go home tonight not being happy ... I didn't like the type of football we did for a long part of the game." After Edin Dzeko's double had briefly put Roma in front, Eden Hazard headed in his second of the night in the 75th minute to keep Chelsea two points clear of the Italian side at the top of Group C. Atletico Madrid arethree points further back after being held 0-0 by newcomer Qarabag, which earned theirfirst point in theirthird game. "It was a good result for both teams, but when you are 2-0 up at home you must win the game," Hazard said. "One point is enough today after two defeats, it's not easy to bounce back against a great team but we did." Chelsea had made a blistering start at Stamford Bridge with David Luiz curling a shot into the bottom corner after 11 minutes. The lead was preserved by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois' right boot denying Radja Nainggolan from close range and Chelsea extended its lead in the 37th. When Roma conceded possession in the Chelsea half, Hazard used his pace to launch a counterattack. Alvaro Morata was released down the left and the striker weaved through the defense before a deflected shot landed at the feet of Hazard, who was primed to sweep the ball into the net. Roma pulled one back five minutes before halftime when Aleksandar Kolarov ran onto his own pass past Cesar Azpilicueta and struck past Courtois. And it was another former Premier League winner with Manchester City player on the scoresheet on his return to England in the 64th when Dzeko unleashed a first-time volley through Courtois' arms after being set up by former Tottenham defender Federico Fazio. Courtois was beaten again by Dzeko six minutes later as Kolarov and Dzeko combined. Dzeko darted into space between Chelsea defender to meet Kolarov's free kick with a header. But Hazard came to Chelsea's rescue when headed in Pedro Rodriguez's cross and the hosts clung on for the point while giving manager Conte more concerns about his side's defensive sturdiness. "I think we suffered with possession, it wasn't easy in the first half despite (the fact) we scored two goals," Conte said. "The change of the system, it wasn't good but when you are in a difficult situation you have to change sometimes, to improvise. I think in the second half we changed, we came back to 3-4-2-1 and the situation changed."

Benfica's Alejandro Grimaldo, center, fights for the ball with Manchester United's Ander Herrera, left, during their Champions League group A at Benfica's Luz stadium in Lisbon, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017.

Manchester United took advantage of an embarrassing mistake by the youngest goalkeeper ever to play in the Champions League to beat Benfica 1-0 and maintain theirthree-point lead in Group A on Wednesday. Belgian goalkeeper Mile Svilar, making his Champions League debut at age 18, was deceived by a long free kick taken by Marcus Rashford in the second half, going over the line while holding the ball with his arms outstretched. He misjudged Rashford's shot and couldn't stop his momentum after stepping back toward the goal to make the catch. Svilar quickly moved forward and held the ball in front of him for a few seconds, looking toward the assistant referee behind the goal while trying to show that it hadn't crossed the line. However, with the help of goal-line technology, the referee confirmed that the ball had gone over — and Svilar punted the ball away in anger. Benfica players tried to console the young goalkeeper after the match, hugging and talking to him, with comfort also coming from United striker Romelu Lukaku, who's also Belgian. Svilar, who broke Iker Casilla's record as the youngest goalkeeper to play in the Champions League, appeared calm throughout the match at the Stadium of Light, but he had already struggled with a few crosses into the area. Just a few moments before the goal, he was almost too late to keep a corner kick from crossing the line. Benfica's starting goalkeeper until last season was Ederson, who is now thriving at Manchester City. It was the sixth goal of the season for Rashford, whose long-range shot from the left side flew straight toward the goal, rather than curled into the area as many expected. Benfica defender Luisao was sent off in second-half injury time for a foul that brought his second yellow card of the game. Manchester United reached nine points with its third straight win in Group A. It has a three-point lead over Basel, which defeated CSKA Moscow 2-0 in Russia. CSKA stayed with three points, while Benfica has zero points after three losses. There was a moment of silence before the match in honor of the wildfire victims in Portugal. Both teams wore black armbands.

The Latest on the Spain-Catalonia political crisis (all times local): 3:25 p.m. French President Emmanuel Macron wants this week's European Union summit to show solidarity with Spain as Catalonia threatens to secede. Macron said Thursday in Brussels that the summit will "be marked by a message of unity around member states amid the crises they could face, unity around Spain." Macron, scheduled to meet with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on the sidelines of the summit, has been among the few leaders to clearly support Rajoy in his standoff with Catalan separatists. Many others, including EU officials, have insisted that the tensions are an internal Spanish affair. Spain's government on Thursday rejected a threat by Catalonia's leader to declare independence unless talks are held, and moved toward taking back the region's semi-autonomous powers. ___ 3:10 p.m. The spat between Spain and Catalonia over the region's independence isn't on the official agenda of a European Union summit in Brussels, but the pressing issue is still drawing comment. Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, arriving at the summit Thursday, says Spanish law must be obeyed — a nod to the Spanish government's insistence that Catalonia's attempt to secede is illegal. At the same time, Bettel said he would like to see a negotiated settlement to the deadlock between the authorities in Madrid and Barcelona. He says, "there is a constitution that must be respected." He adds: "I hope they are going to find a solution, political, diplomatic and they talk together. No other solution would be good." ___ 2:10 p.m. Spain's political parties are responding to the government's push to take over some or all of Catalonia's autonomous powers in response to a threat by the region's leader to declare independence. The Socialist opposition backs Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's moves but wants the measures to be limited in scope and time, according to PSOE's organizational secretary Jose Luis Abalos. The pro-business Ciudadanos (Citizens) party wants a swift triggering of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which would allow Madrid to suspend Catalonia's regional government. It also wants an immediate election in Catalonia. Ciudadanos, leads the opposition in Catalonia, second to the ruling pro-independence coalition. The far-left CUP Catalan party, a key ally to the separatists' minority government, said it remains committed "to proclaim the Catalan Republic as soon as possible." ___ 12:15 p.m. Civil society groups in Catalonia are calling for new protests over the jailing of their pro-independence leaders by Spanish authorities. Spain's National Court ordered the leaders of Assemblea Nacional Catalana and Omnium Cultural, the grassroots organizations behind the separatist bid, to be held for allegedly orchestrating protests in mid-September that hindered a judicial investigation into preparations for the banned Oct. 1 referendum. The group said that the first gathering will be later Thursday at the gates of the central government's office in Barcelona, but a bigger march is planned in Catalonia's regional capital for Saturday afternoon. ___ 10:20 a.m. Spain's government says the prime minister will hold a special Cabinet meeting on Saturday to trigger the process to take some or full control of Catalonia's semi-autonomous powers. The government was responding to a letter from Catalan president Carles Puigdemont who threatened to explicitly declare independence from Spain if no talks are offered. Puigdemont said in the letter that if Spain's government continues to "impede dialogue and continues its repression," Catalonia's parliament will proceed to hold a vote on declaring independence from Spain. Spain replied that the government would hold the special Cabinet meeting and "approve the measures that will be sent to the Senate to protect the general interest of all Spaniards." The measure falls under Article 155 of Spain's 1978 Constitution, but has never been used in the four decades since democracy was restored at the end of Gen. Francisco Franco's dictatorship. ___ 9:50 a.m. Catalonia's leader has threatened to explicitly declare independence from Spain if no talks are offered and central authorities follow through on a threat to take control of the region's semi-autonomous powers. Carles Puigdemont's warning came in a letter to Spain's leader minutes before the expiration of a deadline to back down on the independence bid. Puigdemont said in the letter that if Spain's government continues to "impede dialogue and continues its repression," Catalonia's parliament will proceed to hold a vote on declaring independence from Spain. Puigdemont, in an address to the regional parliament last week, declared independence but then immediately suspended it and challenged Spain to hold negotiations. A Spanish government official said the letter didn't answer the call for Puigdemont to clarify whether Puigdemont had already declared independence. The official said on customary condition of anonymity that the government plans to trigger Article 155 of the Constitution. ___ 8:50 a.m. Catalonia's separatist leader is facing an imminent deadline to withdraw a bid to secede from Spain. But an official from Carles Puigdemont's party says that he has no intention of doing that and he plans to make a full declaration of independence in the next few days if Spain's government resorts to taking over control of Catalonia's semi-autonomous powers. PDECat party coordinator Marta Pascal outlined Puigdemont's plans after a meeting late Wednesday. Spain has threatened to take direct control of the autonomous region if Puigdemont fails to meet the 0800 GMT (4 a.m. EDT) Thursday cutoff. Spain's government says it would be willing to hold off on doing that if the Catalan government were to call a snap regional election. But a Catalan official has ruled that out.

In this June 30, 2017 file photo, ex-Tulsa police officer Shannon Kepler, left, arrives with his legal team for afternoon testimony in his third trial in Tulsa, Okla. Jurors in the fourth murder trial for Kepler, a white former Oklahoma police officer, heard a 911 call Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017 where his daughter screams to dispatchers that her father had shot her 19-year-old black boyfriend. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

A white former Oklahoma police officer was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in the off-duty fatal shooting of his daughter's black boyfriend after jurors in three previous trials couldn't decide whether to find him guilty of murder. Jurors deliberated about six hours Wednesday night before finding ex-Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler, 57, guilty of the lesser charge in the August 2014 killing of 19-year-old Jeremey Lake, who had just started dating Kepler's then-18-year-old daughter, Lisa. The jury recommended a sentence of 15 years in prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 20. Lake's death occurred four days before a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson on Aug. 9, 2014. Brown's killing touched off months of protests and became a catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement, which decries police violence against minorities and calls for greater transparency from law enforcement officials, especially in cases of officer-involved shootings. The issue of race had also become an undercurrent in each of Kepler's previous three trials, with only one African-American being selected for each jury and accusations by civil rights activists that Kepler's attorneys were purposely trying to exclude potential black candidates. Another racial element had been recently added to the case when Kepler argued that he couldn't be tried by state prosecutors because he's a member of an American Indian tribe. A judge determined the fourth trial in less than a year could move forward in state court. Kepler says he's 1/128th Muscogee (Creek). Kepler's attorneys said the 24-year-police veteran was trying to protect Lisa Kepler because she had run away from home and was living in a crime-ridden neighborhood. Defense attorney Richard O'Carroll said Lisa had been in and out of a homeless shelter after her father forbade her from bringing men home into the house. Kepler told investigators Lake was armed and that he was acting in self-defense, but police didn't find a weapon on Lake or at the scene. "He's bringing it, I'm bringing it," Kepler said from the witness stand. "It was either him or me. I'm not going to stand there and get shot." Kepler retired from the force after he was charged. Prosecutors said Kepler first watched his daughter and Lake from his SUV before approaching them on the street. Lake's aunt disputed Kepler's self-defense account and has said her nephew was reaching out to shake Kepler's hand to introduce himself when Kepler fired. During closing arguments, Tulsa County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray referred to Kepler's claim that he thought Lake was armed as "the phantom gun" defense. Neither O'Carroll nor District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler immediately returned phone calls seeking comment. Jurors in the previous three trials had deadlocked 11-1, 10-2 and 6-6, forcing the judge to declare mistrials. Although they couldn't agree on the murder charge, jurors in the first trial convicted Kepler of recklessly using his firearm.

Lil Rick brought the 'Energy'.

After a night of stiff competition, Lil Rick didn't have to beg as the crowd agreed with the judges' decision to give him the crown for the second year in a row. The top four contestants in the Party Monarch were: 1, Lil Rick (Energy) with 90 points wins Mazda 3 car, $10 000, among other prizes 2,Ras Iley & Grynner (D 2 Ah We) with 82 points, $20 000 3, Mr Dale Mistah Dale (Soca Famaleez) with 70 points, $15 000 4, Mikey (Feting and Brass) with 60 points won $10 000 Stay tuned to Loop News for full details on the competition.

Many agreed that RPB was the clear winner.

RPB has won the Sweet Soca competition at the 2017 Soca Royale. The top four contestants in the Party Monarch were: 1, RPB (Boat Ride) 90 points, winning a Mazda 3 and cash, among other prizes. 2, Nikita (Carry Festival)82 points, $17 500 3, Lil Rick (Blessings)72 points, $12 500 4,Marzville(Give It To Ya)48 points, $9 000 Stay tuned to Loop News for full details on the competition.


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