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Stocks: Signs of spring?

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After a strong finish to an otherwise flat first quarter, markets look poised to begin April with a spring in their step.

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US proposes extra tariffs on $50B in Chinese products to protest tech theft

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The Trump administration said Tuesday that it plans to slap 25-percent tariffs on approximately 1,300 products from China in response to Beijing’s alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property.

According to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, the mainly non-consumer products account for approximately $50 billion in annual imports. The items include industrial chemicals, motorcycles and medical devices.

However, the proposed tariffs would not take effect before a public comment period ends May 11.

The announcement comes 11 days after Trump levied “protective” tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum in response to what the administration has described as unfair trade practices.

In response, China raised import duties on American pork, fruit, aluminum and other products. China’s government said earlier its imports of those goods last year totaled $3 billion.

The latest sanctions are designed to punish China for using strong-arm tactics in its drive to become a global technology power, including pressuring American companies to share technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market, forcing U.S. firms to license their technology in China on unfavorable terms and even hacking into U.S. companies’ computers to steal trade secrets.

The administration sought to draw up the list in a way that limits the impact of the tariffs — a tax on imports — on American consumers while hitting Chinese imports that benefit from Beijing’s sharp-elbowed tech policies.

As part of its complaint, the U.S. is bringing a WTO case against Chinese licensing policies that put U.S. companies at a disadvantage.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., praised the announcement in a statement, saying: “Nothing will ever change when it comes to China’s business practices until somebody starts pushing back.

“It is not too much to ask for China to stop stealing intellectual property and open up their markets that are closed due to heavy-handed Chinese government barriers to foreign business enterprises,” Graham said.

The Chinese embassy in Washington said it “strongly condemns” the planned tariffs, which it said “serves neither China’s interest, not the U.S. interest, even less the interest of the global economy.”

“As the Chinese saying goes, it is only polite to reciprocate,” added the embassy, which said Beijing would seek relief from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and “take corresponding measures of equal scale and strength against U.S. products in accordance with Chinese law.”

Even representatives of the tech industry, which has complained for years that China has pilfered U.S. technology and discriminated against U.S. companies, were critical of the administration’s latest action.

“Unilateral tariffs may do more harm than good and do little to address the problems in China’s (intellectual property) and tech transfer policies,” said John Frisbie, president of the U.S.-China Business Council.

And the Internet Association, which represents such companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, expressed concerns, too.

“There’s no doubt the U.S. government can and should address China’s trade practices,” Melika Carroll, the association’s senior vice president of global government affairs. “But consumers and American job creators should not be caught in the crossfire. … These tariffs will leave our customers worse off, stifle growth and make it harder for the digital economy to succeed.”

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said that the tariffs “are likely to create new challenges in the form of significant added costs for manufacturers and American consumers [and] run the risk of provoking China to take further destructive actions against American manufacturing workers.”

“If the imposition of tariffs is the first bid in negotiating a more level playing field,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said in a statement. “… the end product must be a new, strategic approach that includes negotiating a fair, binding and enforceable rules-based trade agreement with China that requires them to end their unfair trade practices once and for all.”

In January, a federal court in Wisconsin convicted a Chinese manufacturer of wind turbines, Sinovel Wind Group, of stealing trade secrets from the American company AMSC and nearly putting it out of business. And in 2014, a Pennsylvania grand jury indicted five officers in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army on charges of hacking into the computers of Westinghouse, US Steel and other major American companies to steal information that would benefit their Chinese competitors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump say many lawyers – seeking 'fame & fortune' – want to work for him

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President Trump boasted Sunday that many lawyers — with the prospect of “fame & fortune” — want to represent him in the Russia collusion investigation, amid news reports that Trump cannot hire top-rate lawyers for the job.

“Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case…don’t believe the Fake News narrative that it is hard to find a lawyer who wants to take this on,” Trump said over two tweets.

“Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted. “Problem is that a new lawyer or law firm will take months to get up to speed (if for no other reason than they can bill more), which is unfair to our great country – and I am very happy with my existing team. Besides, there was NO COLLUSION with Russia, except by Crooked Hillary and the Dems!”

TRUMP SHAKES UP LEGAL TEAM AHEAD OF POSSIBLE MUELLER INTERVIEW

Trump’s lawyer John Dowd resigned Thursday from the legal team handling special counsel Robert Mueller’s federal investigation into whether the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

VICTORIA TOENSING JOINS HUSBAND JOSEPH DIGENOVA ON TRUMP’S LEGAL TEAM IN RUSSIA PROBE

Dowd purportedly resigned over Trump’s recent public attacks on Mueller and the president’s desire to be interviewed directly by Mueller.

Trump replaced Dowd with veteran Washington lawyer Joseph diGenova.

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Doug Jones certified as winner of Alabama Senate race

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Democrat Doug Jones was certified Thursday by Alabama’s Secretary of State as the winner of the state’s Senate race, less than an hour after a judge rejected Republican nominee Roy Moore’s last-ditch attempt to challenge the election.

Earlier Thursday, Moore’s campaign alleged potential election fraud and asked a circuit judge for a restraining order to stop Alabama’s canvassing board from certifying Jones’ victory.

A judge then denied the request, leading Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill to certify Jones’ victory.

Jones, who will be sworn in Jan. 3, celebrated the certification and vowed to be “an independent voice” for Alabama.

“I am looking forward to going to work for the people of Alabama in the new year,” Jones said in a statement. “As I said on election night, our victory marks a new chapter for our state and the nation.”

DOUG JONES WINS IN MAJOR UPSET, ROY MOORE WON’T YET CONCEDE

Jones won more than 20,000 votes than Moore in the Dec. 12 election, becoming the first Democrat to win election to the Senate from the deeply conservative state in 25 years.

A Democrat winning the special election for the seat to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions was seen as just a remote possibility several months ago.

But Jones, a Birmingham attorney famous for prosecuting the KKK, caught a break after Moore was overwhelmed in recent weeks with multiple allegations of past sexual misconduct. Moore, the former chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, faced accusations he pursued romantic relationships with teenage girls while he was in his thirties.

He has denied the claims.

Since the election, Moore has refused to concede.

Moore’s attorney wrote in the wide-ranging complaint that he believed there were irregularities during the election, including that voters may have been brought in from other states. He attached a statement from a poll worker that she had noticed licenses from Georgia and North Carolina as people signed in to vote.

The complaint also noted the higher-than-expected turnout in the race, particularly in Jefferson County, and said Moore’s numbers were suspiciously lower than straight-ticket Republican voting in about 20 Jefferson County precincts. The complaint asked for a fraud investigation and eventually a new election.

Merrill said he has so far not found any evidence of voter fraud, but he has said that his office will investigate any complaint Moore submits.

Fox News’ Griff Jenkins and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.

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