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Evening Update 14 May

Strike - Today is the 18th day of the ongoing train strike, with drivers upping the ante, by blocking train depots and access to offices for non-striking workers. At Marseille St Charles station, rail workers blocked the arrival and departure of trains.

The escalation follows a call from unions to workers, to show the strike is not losing strength, after the number of striking drivers fell from 34% last month to 14.5% last week.

SNCF now fear that more militant union members might take matters into their own hands to create even further disruption.

Rescue - Three emergency crew from Nice were injured during a mountain rescue operation in the Mercantour yesterday. The incident happened when a group of climbers got into difficulties and a helicopter was dispatched to assist. During the rescue, a large boulder detached from the mountain, causing an avalanche, but not further injuring any of the climbers. Three emergency crew and one climber are recovering in Pasteur Hospital in Nice.

Award - Prince Albert has been awarded the Medal of Honour at the Ellis Island Honour Society in New York. The medal, officially recognised by the US Senate as one of the most prestigious honours in the country, rewards those who embody the values of tolerance, fraternity, diversity and patriotism. Several members of Prince Albert’s maternal family immigrated to the US from Ireland via Ellis Island.

BUSINESS

China has welcomed a pledge from Donald Trump to help save one of China's biggest telecoms companies ZTE. The firm has suspended operations, after the US banned American companies from selling it components, because ZTE were making shipments to Iran and North Korea. However, Mr Trump has now tweeted, that he will work with China’s President, to help ZTE get back into business fast, saying too many jobs in China were at risk. China has called the comments positive.

Economists are warning the dramatic upswing in oil prices over recent months could create a particularly hostile environment for global investors. The price of crude has gone from $26 two years ago, to $77 today, as the balance between supply and demand steadily tightens.

Economists with Citigroup say President Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, constitutes a major geopolitical shift, which could trigger a move in the direction of stagflation, where a combination of subdued economic growth and rampant inflation, would create a hostile environment for risk assets.

SPORT

Motor Racing - Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton said his dominant Spanish Grand Prix victory yesterday, has revitalised him after a difficult start to the season. Hamilton now has a 17-point advantage over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who finished fourth.

Formula 1 is next in Monaco in two weeks and  preparations are in full swing. Over the weekend the Principality hosted the Historic Grand Prix, which saw several former drivers back on the track including Mika Hakkinen, Eddie Irvine, and John Watson. Cars from each of the important decades raced the world famous track, with prizes presented by Prince Albert, in three days of racing hailed a huge success by both attendees and the organisers, the Automobile Club de Monaco.

Tennis - Britain's Johanna Konta beat Magdalena Ry.bari.kova in the first round of the Italian Open today, to register her second win in eight days over the Slovak. Konta, ranked 22nd in the world, beat the 16th seed 6-4 6-3 in an hour and 48 minutes.

Serena Williams’ coach says he is confident she can win the French Open even though she came back too early after giving birth. The 23-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t played a match on clay since reaching the finals in Paris two years ago.

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