Business

By Alex Lawler LONDON - OPEC cut its forecast for growth in world oil demand in 2022 for a third time since April, citing the economic impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, high inflation and ongoing efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic. In a monthly report on Thursday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said it expects oil demand to rise by 3.1 million barrels per day (bpd), or 3.2%, in 2022, down 260,000 bpd from the previous forecast. Oil use has rebounded from the worst of the pandemic and is set to exceed 2019 levels this year even after prices hit record highs. However, high crude prices and Chinese coronavirus outbreaks have eaten into 2022 growth projections. "Global oil market fundamentals continued their strong recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels for most of the first half of 2022, albeit signs of slowing growth in the world economy and oil demand have emerged," OPEC said in the repo...
LONDON - British finance minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Thursday that energy companies have agreed to work with the government to help the people who need it the most, ahead of a further surge in energy bills going into the winter. "The Chancellor added the Government continues to evaluate the extraordinary profits seen in certain parts of the electricity generation sector and the appropriate and proportionate steps to take," a government statement said after a meeting between Zahawi, energy companies and Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Reporting by Muvija M; Editing by Kate Holton)...
BUDAPEST - Hungarian OTP Bank's Russian unit has attracted "serious interest" from potential bidders, but a Russian presidential decree banning the sale of Western banks could complicate any deal, deputy chief executive Laszlo Bencsik said on Thursday. CEO Sandor Csanyi said in April that OTP would exit the Russian market if a buyer came forward with an offer that makes business sense, adding that its market presence there could become a moral issue. He later said that OTP was under pressure from the government of Ukraine, where the bank is also present, to sell its Russian unit. A presidential decree, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and published last Friday bans investors from what Moscow terms unfriendly countries, which include members of the European Union, from selling shares in certain energy projects and banks until the end of the year. The decree provides for waivers in some cases. "The pr...
DUBLIN - A strengthening recovery in air travel "across all major regions" boosted second-quarter revenue at AerCap by 36% year-on-year to $1.67 billion, the world's top aircraft lessor said on Thursday. While Dublin-based AerCap said lease rents were negatively impacted by the loss of revenue from Russian aircraft in the quarter, the recovery in passenger demand led to higher overall levels of cash collection and greater utilisation of its fleet. It added that a number of supply chain issues would continue to constrain aircraft production over the next few years, supporting demand for lessors who now control more than half the world's fleet of aircraft. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by David Evans)...
By Joice Alves LONDON - Sterling fell against the euro on Thursday a day ahead of gross domestic product (GDP) figures which are expected to show further signs of a weakening British economy. The pound is one of the worst performers out of the G10 currencies this year, having fallen almost 10% against the U.S. dollar in 2022. On Thursday, sterling was roughly flat against a weakening dollar on the back of softer-than-expected U.S. inflation data. Traders said the UK currency's fall against the euro gave a clearer picture of the state of the economy. According to a poll of economists, UK GDP is expected to have shed 0.3% in the second quarter from a 0.4% growth in the first three months of the year. "On the back of the U.S. CPI inflation release the market has reassessed the amount of Fed rate hikes that could be in the pipeline," Jane Foley, head of FX strategy at Rabobank in London said. "The...
By Christoph Steitz and Matthias Inverardi FRANKFURT -RWE is holding talks with a larger number of suppliers of liquefied natural gas (LNG), not just Qatar and North America, CEO Markus Krebber said, as Germany's largest power producer continues its efforts to replace Russian gas volumes. RWE earlier this year said it was in discussions with potential LNG suppliers in the United States and Qatar, as Germany tries to diversify away from Russia, its largest supplier of natural gas. Sources told in May that talks with Qatar have proven difficult over disagreement regarding key contract clauses, most notably differences over how long supply agreements would run. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said last month Qatar had decided not to make a good offer and that potential importers had procured gas elsewhere for now, Bild am Sonntag reported. "We are talking to all kinds of suppliers, and there are certainly other...
By Huw Jones LONDON - Britain's government proposed a far-reaching financial services law last month to exploit "freedoms" to write its own capital market rules since leaving the European Union. Approval of what is the biggest markets reform in two decades is expected by May 2023. Liz Truss, the front-runner to become Britain's next prime minister, would give ministers "call-in" powers under the bill to override financial regulators such as the Bank of England, the Financial Times reported. She has also said she would revisit the Bank's mandate for curbing inflation, raising concerns about its independence. WHAT IS THE BILL ABOUT? Brexit means Britain can write its own financial rules instead of having to apply those agreed in Brussels. This could allow London, the world's second largest financial centre after New York, to attract and retain business, as it faces fresh competition from EU centres...
SHANGHAI - Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi's joint venture with Li Auto has applied for bankruptcy, according to a court filing, pointing to the end of a four-year-old partnership to make electric vehicles (EV). The company, 51% owned by Didi while 49% held by Li Auto, submitted the bankruptcy application to Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court on Thursday, a statement on a website run by the Supreme Court showed. Didi and Li Auto did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Didi and Li Auto, previously known as Chehejia, established Beijing Judian Chuxing Technology in 2018 to develop and manufacture customized smart electric vehicles for ride-hailing services. It was also among a series of partnerships Didi struck with major automakers including Volkswagen, Toyota and BYD with plans to adopt more EVs with autonomous driving technologies in its fleets. While Didi and BYD launched a co-developed EV model D1...
By Arriana McLymore and Siddharth Cavale - Walmart Inc could face an uphill battle to reclaim U.S. shoppers who opted for the neighborhood dollar store or Aldi rather than driving farther to a Walmart Supercenter when gasoline was $5 a gallon. While gasoline prices have dropped nearly 20% over the past month, there are no signs shoppers are returning to the nation's biggest retailer, according to foot traffic data reviewed by and analysts. Inflation remains at a 40-year high, devouring a large chunk of the grocery budgets of many Americans, especially Walmart's legions of cost-conscious shoppers. Foot traffic at Walmart's 3,573 U.S. Supercenters and its 370 discount stores (as of Jan. 31, 2022) fell 2.7% on average from June 1 through July 25 versus a year earlier, according to data from Placer.ai, a location analytics firm. Meanwhile, traffic rose 11.5% at Aldi, owned by German discount grocer Aldi Süd, and...
By Divya Rajagopal and Rod Nickel TORONTO - Suncor Energy could reap over $8 billion and boost returns to unhappy shareholders if it sells its Petro-Canada gas station business, but Canadian antitrust rules and the need for the unit's steady profits could deter that move, analysts and shareholders said. Suncor's poor safety record and lackluster stock performance prompted a demand for changes from activist Elliott Investment Management, so Canada's second-biggest oil producer replaced its CEO in July and agreed to review its retail fuel unit by the end of this year. Analysts estimate the unit could be worth C$5 billion to C$11 billion ($8.61 billion). But it could be hard to actually get that price, since potential buyers are aware of the pressure that Suncor management is under. "The way they are going about the sale, they won't get a good price," said Rafi Tahmazian, director and senior portfolio manager of Canoe Financial...
PRAGUE -Russian oil flows through the Druzhba pipeline to the Czech Republic should resume within two days as problems with paying transit fees should be resolved, the chairman of Czech pipeline operator MERO Jaroslav Pantucek told Czech Television on Thursday. Druzhba flows to Slovakia and Hungary restarted on Wednesday after Hungarian oil group MOL paid transit fees through Ukraine instead of Russia, and Pantucek said its customer PKN Orlen was taking the same steps on Thursday. "As oil flows today to Slovakia and Hungary, MOL as the customer took practical steps for the pipeline to operate...I am informed by our customer that it is taking identical steps today so I expect that very soon, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow oil will be flowing here as well," Pantucek said. PKN had no immediate comment and PKN Orlen's Czech unit ORLEN Unipetrol declined to comment. MOL and its Slovak subsidiary Slovnaft paid the Ukrainian oil tr...
HONG KONG - Chinese insurer Ping An Insurance Group believes HSBC has overstated the challenges and difficulties of spinning off the bank, according to a source with direct knowledge of the thinking of the Asia-focussed bank's biggest shareholder. The bank has came under pressure from Ping An in April to explore options including spinning off its mainstay Asia business to increase shareholder returns. HSBC pushed back against the proposal earlier this month. Ping An declined to comment, while HSBC did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (Reporting by Selena Li in Hong Kong and Lawrence White in London; Wriitng by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editnig by Kim Coghill)...
By Sonali Paul MELBOURNE - The Australian state of New South Wales on Thursday poured cold water on a proposal for government assistance to secure gas imports through an import terminal being built by the country's richest man to avert a forecast shortfall in 2023. Australia's competition watchdog last week warned that the country's southern states face a gas supply crunch in 2023, and Energy Minister Chris Bowen and his state counterparts are due to discuss the issue at a meeting on Friday. Ahead of the meeting, mining billionaire Andrew Forrest's Squadron Energy wrote to energy ministers this week offering to speed up development of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal it is building in New South Wales, saying it could be ready in mid-2023 if a government entity agreed to use the terminal to secure gas supplies, a Squadron spokesperson said on Thursday. The Australian Energy Market Operator has said Squadron's P...
ZURICH - Credit Suisse shareholder Harris Associates' increased holding in the Swiss bank reflected an adjustment in how it reports stakes to the U.S. regulator, Finanz und Wirtschaft reported its Chief Investment Officer as saying. "Our stake has remained roughly stable, typically between 9 and 10%," David Herro told Finanz und Wirtschaft in a report published by the Swiss newspaper on Thursday after Harris Associates became the largest shareholder in Credit Suisse. "We manage assets for a large number of clients," he said, adding some had previously reported their shares independently. Harris Associates on Wednesday disclosed a 10.1% stake in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing showing it held 266 million shares in Credit Suisse at the end of July. The U.S. investor's stake was previously recorded at around 5.2%, according to Credit Suisse's website, but Harris is now the largest shareholder in the bank....
LONDON - Just 1% of British businesses have offered their staff a one-off cost-of-living payment, something the Bank of England had recently flagged as an upside risk for inflation pressure, an official survey of businesses showed on Thursday. The Office for National Statistics said 5.5% of companies employing more than 250 staff had offered such a payment in the three months leading up to mid-July. However, a lower proportion of small companies had done so, leaving an aggregate of 1.1% for all businesses. (Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Kate Holton)...
GENEVA - South Africa has negotiated a settlement with the European Union to clear hundreds of shipping containers of citrus fruit stuck in EU ports, the South African government said on Thursday. Shipments were disrupted after the trade bloc implemented new phytosanitary rules that led to a WTO dispute being declared in July, the first-ever WTO dispute settlement case initiated by South Africa. The EU imposed the new measures over concerns it had with the False Codling Moth (FCM) on citrus fruit, with new measures including enhanced cold treatment for oranges and additional phytosanitary declarations for grapefruit and soft citrus. The measures were published on June 21 and were set to come into force by June 24 when many shipments were already enroute to Europe. "The interim measures provide that the consignments be treated at the cold treatment facilities in the EU and the department to notify other EU member states," sai...
By Ron Bousso LONDON - Shell has launched a sale process for its 30% stake in the Cambo oil prospect in the British North Sea, potentially paving the way for the field's controversial development, industry sources said on Thursday. The London-based company hired investment bank Jefferies to run the sale process for the stake in Cambo, which has become a lightning rod for climate activists seeking to halt the development of new oil and gas resources. The British government has, however, come out in support of developing North Sea oil and gas resources following Russia's invasion of Ukraine as Western countries focus on energy security despite commitments to slash greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades. A Shell spokesperson declined to comment. Jefferies did not respond to a request for comment. Located in the West of Shetland region, the field is the second-largest undeveloped resource in the ageing Nor...
LONDON - A four-day "extreme heat" warning came into force in parts of England and Wales on Thursday, with temperatures poised to exceed 35 Celsius in another heatwave that could pressure water supplies and transport services. The Met Office said its amber warning, its second-most severe after red, will last until the end of Sunday, and cautioned that people vulnerable to extreme heat could face adverse health effects. Temperatures are expected to peak at 35C (95 Fahrenheit) on Friday and may hit 36C in some places on Saturday. Much of England and Wales, plus eastern parts of Northern Ireland and Scotland, are forecast to be "sunny and hot or very hot" on Thursday, the Met Office's website showed. The warning follows the driest July for England since 1935, when temperatures rose above 40C for the first time, turning a renewed spotlight to the impacts of climate change. Other European nations have also faced a s...
- Britain's top share index was flat on Thursday, weighed down by Rio Tinto and healthcare stocks, while the midcap index hit a fresh two-month high as global equities extended gains on relief from softer-than-expected U.S. inflation data. The FTSE 100 was little changed by 0718 GMT, with Rio Tinto falling 3.5% as the miner traded without entitlement to the latest dividend payout. Drugmaker GSK slid 2.1% after heavy selling in the previous session amid chatter over potential negative implication from U.S. lawsuits over Zantac, a drug that was withdrawn in 2019. Haleon, a consumer health company recently spun off from GSK, dropped 4.9%. London-listed shares of Antofagasta slipped 0.5% after the of Chilean miner reported a fall in half-year profit. The domestically focussed FTSE 250 index rose 0.4% as European and Asian stocks climbed. UK-listed shares of Dubai-based payments processor Network International jump...
- European shares opened higher on Thursday to extend gains from the previous session after data showed signs of U.S. inflation cooling, while Dutch insurer Aegon climbed after raising its full-year forecast. The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.4%, after clocking its best session in nearly two weeks on Wednesday on bets that the inflation reading will encourage the Federal Reserve to become less aggressive on interest rates hikes. Aegon jumped 7.5%, to the top of the STOXX 600, as it raised its forecasts for full-year operating capital generation and 2021-2023 free cash flow. The European insurance sector index was up 0.8% in early trading, and was among the top gainers. Zurich Insurance Group also added 1.3% as it reported a better-than-expected rise in operating profit in the first half. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)...