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March 20, 2022 – rdspinvestments

March 20, 2022

S.Korea’s Yoon says he will move presidential office to defence ministry

S.Korea's Yoon says he will move presidential office to defence ministry© Reuters. South Korea’s president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol speaks during a news conference to address his relocation plans of the presidential office, at his transition team office, in Seoul, South Korea, March 20, 2022.Jung Yeon-je/Pool via REUTERS

By Josh Smith and Minwoo Park

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, breaking with decades of tradition, said on Sunday he will move the presidential office from the Blue House to the defence ministry compound, a step estimated to cost $40 million.

Yoon, who narrowly won a bitter March 9 election, had pledged to relocate the office to a more accessible place, and open the Blue House in Seoul to the public.

He also said on Sunday he would move his official residence to Hannam-dong, a neighbourhood that houses many business executives and diplomats.

Yoon’s plans have met with mixed reactions from South Koreans, as even supporters urge Yoon to limit the inconvenience to people and businesses near the new locations.

The Blue House move whipped up a fierce debate among feng shui experts after some rival Democratic Party officials accused Yoon of being influenced by masters of the ancient form of geomancy that originated in China.

The defence ministry headquarters is in the Yongsan neighbourhood of the capital, next to a massive former U.S. military base that has largely closed down and moved to south of the city.

“It’s difficult, but it’s a decision I made for the future of the country,” Yoon told a news conference. “I earnestly ask the people to understand that this is not simply a relocation of the place but my determination to serve the people, work properly and keep my promise with the people.”

Feng shui masters have said the Blue House location was inauspicious. Four of the six presidents in the country’s 25-year democratic history have been imprisoned or killed themselves after leaving office.

Yoon’s team has dismissed any suggestions the move was influenced by such considerations, saying it would improve public access and communications with aides, and that the Blue House executive mansion had become a “royal palace,” isolated and enclosed by forests and tight security.

Outgoing President Moon Jae-in had also said he would find a new office but abandoned the plan for security and logistical reasons.

Yoon said the defence ministry compound is already well equipped with national security and command facilities, making it easy to transition there without compromising security or inconveniencing residents.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance estimates the move will cost 49.6 billion won ($40.1 million), including relocating the defence ministry and renovating both the new office and official residence.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

Ukraine conflict opens diplomatic and energy opportunities for Qatar

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Commodities11 hours ago (Mar 20, 2022 01:21AM ET)

3/3

Ukraine conflict opens diplomatic and energy opportunities for Qatar© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov walks with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Moscow, Russia September 11, 2021. Alexander Nemenov/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

2/3

By Andrew Mills

DOHA (Reuters) – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has opened up diplomatic and commercial opportunities for gas exporter Qatar to expand energy sales to the West and bolster its alliance with Washington amid U.S. tensions with other Gulf Arab states.

Qatar has sought a largely neutral stance on the conflict, but while trying to avoid choosing sides, it has signalled through its response that it can offer significant political and economic assistance to Western partners.

With many European energy importers looking urgently for ways to ease their heavy dependence on Russia, Qatar has suggested it could direct more gas in future to Europe.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in contrast have resisted Western calls for a rapid rise in oil output to contain a jump in crude prices caused by the conflict in Ukraine.

Those two leading Gulf Arab powers, which sought for years to isolate Qatar, have seen their own relations with Washington strained in recent years, partly over concerns about U.S. security commitments to its Gulf Arab partners.

Meanwhile Qatar, which hosts the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East, was designated a major non-NATO ally of the United States last month – a status neither the UAE nor Saudi Arabia have been awarded.

It has sought to play a role throughout the Iran nuclear talks and has carried messages between Tehran and Washington.

On Monday Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani met his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. Talks focused on lifting barriers to completing the Iran nuclear deal, a source with knowledge of the Iran talks told Reuters.

“There was coordination with Washington prior to the Qatari foreign minister’s visit to Moscow, especially with regards to the JCPOA discussion,” the source said, using the acronym for the formal name of the nuclear accord.

A day before his Moscow trip, Sheikh Mohammed spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He also met counterparts in Germany and France, which are parties to the Iran talks along with the United States, Britain, China and Russia.

After the meeting Lavrov stepped back from earlier demands that had stalled negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear deal.

“It does appear that Qatar has played a role in discussions on the edges of the Iran talks. How direct and how consequential that role is open to question,” said Mehran Kamrava, a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar.

“NOT TRYING TO HEDGE”

Although Doha has in recent years, like Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, strengthened its diplomatic and economic ties with Moscow, it has maintained a strong partnership with Washington.

While the UAE abstained from a U.S.-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution last month, and U.S. President Joe Biden has yet to speak directly to Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he met Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the White House in January.

“Qatar is not trying to hedge like Saudi Arabia and the UAE…The bottom line is this little country that’s sitting on this huge gas field which is going to generate massive amounts of money believes it has only one ultimate source of protection. And that’s the United States,” said Martin Indyk, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former U.S. Middle East peace envoy.

Among the world’s largest producers of liquified (LNG), Qatar is one of the wealthiest nations per capita and is home to barely three million people, 85% of them foreign workers.

On the international stage, Qatar’s central role has been to host Afghan peace talks that led to the 2020 agreement for the U.S. withdrawal.

It remains an essential link between Western nations and the Taliban-led government, hosting the West’s Afghan diplomatic missions and even flying officials into Kabul, whose airport Qatar helps manage and control.

“Now, whenever there is an opportunity, (Qatar) just goes for it. They’re marketing themselves as an extension of U.S. foreign and security policy in a way that no other Gulf country is doing,” said Andreas Krieg a professor at King’s College in London.

‘AN ENORMOUS OPPORTUNITY’

When Qatar decided to hike LNG production by 2027, some questioned how Qatar would find customers. But now, amid strong demand and high prices, Western leaders are urging Qatar to boost supplies to Europe amid concerns about Russia, which currently supplies some 30-40% of the continent’s gas needs.

“The renewed interest in diversifying European gas supplies presents an enormous opportunity for Qatar to sell the vast new supplies coming onstream,” said Justin Alexander, director of Khalij Economics, a Gulf-focused consultancy.

Qatar’s energy minister Saad Al-Kaabi recently stressed new LNG volumes are meant for customers in Asia and Europe, pivoting from earlier messaging that the extra gas was largely for Asia.

However Qatar has not yet announced new long term European contracts, which Alexander says will take time to negotiate and require new infrastructure to receive Qatar’s LNG tankers.

(Reporting and writing by Andrew Mills; editing by Dominic Evans, William Maclean)

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

China reports first COVID deaths in more than a year

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World10 hours ago (Mar 20, 2022 01:46AM ET)

China reports first COVID deaths in more than a year© Reuters. People line up amid snowfall at a mobile nucleic acid testing site, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Beijing, China March 18, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) -Mainland China reported its first COVID-19 deaths in more than a year on Saturday, according to a post on the National Health Commission’s website that said two people died in the northeastern region of Jilin.

China reported only two COVID deaths for all of 2021, the last of those on Jan. 25.

The country is maintaining a “dynamic clearance” approach which aims to cut transmission as soon as possible, using stringent measures such as short and targeted shutdowns and quick testing schemes where cases are found.

Jilin, bordering North Korea and Russia, accounts for more than two-thirds of domestic infections in the latest wave.

One of the dead was not vaccinated, said Jiao Yahui, a senior official with the National Health Commission. The direct cause of death for both victims was underlying diseases, Jiao told reporters in Beijing, while their COVID symptoms were mild.

One victim was 87 and the other was 65, according to The Paper, a Shanghai state-run publication.

More than 95% of the nearly 30,000 people hospitalised with COVID in China have mild or no symptoms, Jiao said.

The latest deaths raised China’s cumulative toll to 4,638. China reported 2,228 new confirmed coronavirus cases for Friday, down from 2,416 a day earlier.

Of the new cases, 2,157 were locally transmitted, compared with 2,388 a day earlier, with 78% appearing in Jilin while others were found in the southeastern province of Fujian, the southern province of Guangdong, and elsewhere.

New asymptomatic cases, which China counts separately from confirmed cases, totalled 1,823, compared with 1,904 a day earlier. As of Friday, mainland China had a cumulative total of 128,462 confirmed cases.

The deaths quickly became one of the top-trending topics on Chinese social media. “Two new COVID deaths in Jilin” was prominent on China’s Twitter-like Weibo (NASDAQ:) platform, with many users hoping for more information on the two victims.

“For what reason did this happen?,” said one social media user. “The details should be released in a timely way.”

Others voiced support for China’s dynamic-clearance policy while criticising talk of opening up.

“Herd immunity, even opening up to allow people to exercise, this is not going to work,” said another person on Weibo.​

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

China on the right side of history over Ukraine war – foreign minister

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World14 hours ago (Mar 20, 2022 02:10AM ET)

China on the right side of history over Ukraine war - foreign minister© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi poses for a picture prior to meeting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome, Italy October 31, 2021. Tiziana Fabi/Pool via REUTERS

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China stands on the right side of history over the Ukraine crisis as time will tell, and its position is in line with the wishes of most countries, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

“China will never accept any external coercion or pressure, and opposes any unfounded accusations and suspicions against China,” Wang told reporters on Saturday evening, according to a statement published by his ministry on Sunday.

Wang’s comments came after U.S. President Joe Biden warned his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on Friday of “consequences” if Beijing gave material support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

During the video call, Xi told Biden the war in Ukraine must end as soon as possible and called on NATO nations to hold a dialogue with Moscow. He did not, however, assign blame to Russia, according to Beijing’s statements about the call.

Wang said the most important message Xi sent was that China has always been a force for maintaining world peace.

“We have always stood for maintaining peace and opposing war,” Wang said, reiterating that China will make independent judgements.

“China’s position is objective and fair, and is in line with the wishes of most countries. Time will prove that China’s claims are on the right side of history.”

Also on Saturday, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said that sanctions imposed by Western nations on Russia over Ukraine were increasingly “outrageous”.

The United States and its European and Asian allies have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia for the Feb. 24 invasion of its neighbour, which they call a war of aggression by President Vladimir Putin. He says he launched a “special operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine.

While saying it recognises Ukraine’s sovereignty, Beijing has repeatedly said that Russia has legitimate security concerns that should be addressed and urged a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

(This story corrects spelling of “suspicions” in second paragraph)

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

Saudi Arabia hikes oil investments as it profits from price surge

Stock Markets22 hours ago (Mar 20, 2022 07:20AM ET)

Saudi Arabia hikes oil investments as it profits from price surge© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed natural gas pipeline is placed in front of displayed Saudi Aramco logo in this illustration taken February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

By Saeed Azhar and Maha El Dahan

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s state oil company Aramco (SE:), under pressure from the West to boost output amid soaring prices, pledged on Sunday to hike investments by around 50% this year as it reported a doubling in 2021 profits.

Oil prices leapt 50% last year as demand recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, and then surged above $100 a barrel to 14 year highs in February after Russia invaded Ukraine, leading Western nations to urge major producers to increase output.

Aramco said it would boost its capital expenditure (capex) to $40-50 billion this year, with further growth expected until around the middle of the decade. Capex was $31.9 billion last year, up 18% from 2020 – indicating an increase of about 50% for this year at the middle of the guidance range.

Asked if Aramco would pump more oil to fill any gaps in the market left by the war in Ukraine, CEO Amin Nasser said it would produce according to guidelines from the Saudi energy ministry.

The company has said it plans to raise its “maximum sustainable capacity” to 13 million barrels a day by 2027, and wants to increase gas production by more than 50% by 2030. Its average hydrocarbon production was 12.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day last year.

Aramco made $110 billion in net profit in 2021, up from $49 billion a year earlier and compared with analysts’ mean estimate of $106 billion, according to Refinitiv Eikon.

With a rise in both output and prices, analysts expect net profit to reach $140 billion in 2022.

Aramco’s shares rose over 4% in early trade to a high of 43.85 riyals, valuing it at 8.76 trillion riyals ($2.34 trillion).

A $2 trillion valuation was a goal sought by de-facto Saudi leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before the company’s record $29.4 billion initial public offering in 2019.

He has announced plans to sell more Aramco shares.

The surge in Aramco’s valuation on Sunday moved it above that of Microsoft (NASDAQ:), though it remains behind Apple (NASDAQ:)’s $2.68 trillion.

The Saudi government said last month that Crown Prince Mohammed, who is leading a huge investment drive to diversify the kingdom’s economy, had transferred 4% of Aramco shares to the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

BOOSTING CAPEX

“They are ramping up the reinvestment quite substantially and they are likely to use (the free cash flow) to de-lever the balance sheet,” said Yousef Husseini, head of the materials team at EFG Hermes Research.

Aramco said its free cash flow was $107.5 billion last year, compared with $49.1 billion in 2020. It declared a dividend of $75 billion for 2021, in line with its earlier pledge.

The company said it also planned to develop a significant hydrogen export capability and become a global leader in carbon capture and storage technology.

Nasser told an earnings call that global oil demand was growing healthily and spare production capacity was declining.

In a separate statement he said “although economic conditions have improved considerably, the outlook remains uncertain due to various macro-economic and geopolitical factors.”

($1 = 3.7515 riyals)

As fighting rages in Mariupol, Ukraine’s Zelenskiy appeals for help from Israel

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World9 hours ago (Mar 20, 2022 08:04PM ET)

6/6

As fighting rages in Mariupol, Ukraine's Zelenskiy appeals for help from Israel© Reuters. A general view of market Barabashovo after a fire caused by shelling, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv, Ukraine March 19, 2022. REUTERS/Oleksandr Lapshyn

2/6

(Adds report of shelling from Kyiv mayor; U.S. defense secretary on hypersonic missiles)

By Pavel Polityuk

LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Russian and Ukrainian forces fought for the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Sunday, where residents are trapped with little food, water and power, while Ukraine’s president appealed to Israel for help in pushing back Russia’s assault.

In the capital, Kyiv, shellfire hit several homes and a shopping centre in the Podil district late on Sunday, killing at least one person, the city’s mayor said.

In his latest appeal for help from abroad, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed the Israeli parliament by video link and questioned Israel’s reluctance to sell its Iron Dome missile defence system to Ukraine.

“Everybody knows that your missile defence systems are the best… and that you can definitely help our people, save the lives of Ukrainians, of Ukrainian Jews,” said Zelenskiy, who is of Jewish heritage.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has held numerous calls with both Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin to try to end the conflict.

Mariupol has suffered some of the heaviest bombardments since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Many of its 400,000 residents remain trapped with little if any food, water and power.

Burying his neighbours in a makeshift grave by the roadside, a man who identified himself as Andrei said they had died not by shelling but of ailments, stress and cold after weeks without access to medical help.

Fighting continued inside the city on Sunday, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said, without elaborating.

Russia called on Ukrainian forces in Mariupol to lay down their arms, saying a “terrible humanitarian catastrophe” was unfolding.

It said defenders who did so were guaranteed safe passage out of the city and humanitarian corridors would be opened from 1000 Moscow time (0700 GMT) on Monday.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said over 7,000 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Sunday, more than half of them from Mariupol. She said the government planned to send nearly 50 buses to Mariupol on Monday for further evacuations.

Russia and Ukraine have made agreements throughout the war on humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians, but have accused each other of frequent violations of those.

Mariupol city council said on Telegram on Saturday that several thousand residents had been “deported” to Russia over the past week. Russian news agencies said buses had carried hundreds of refugees from Mariupol to Russia in recent days.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told CNN the deportation accounts were “disturbing” and “unconscionable” if true, but said Washington had not yet confirmed them.

Russian forces bombed an art school on Saturday in which 400 residents were sheltering, but the number of casualties was not yet known, Mariupol’s council said.

Reuters could not independently verify the claims. Russia denies targeting civilians.

On Saturday, Zelenskiy called the siege of Mariupol a war crime and “a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come.”

Greece’s consul general in Mariupol, the last EU diplomat to evacuate the city, said it was joining the ranks of places known for having been destroyed in wars.

“What I saw, I hope no one will ever see,” he said.

FEW ADVANCES

Capturing Mariupol would help Russian forces secure a land corridor to the Crimea peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Putin says Russia’s “special operation” is aimed at disarming Ukraine and rooting out dangerous nationalists. Western nations call it an aggressive war of choice and have imposed punishing sanctions aimed at crippling Russia’s economy.

Ukraine and its Western backers say Russian ground forces have made few advances in the last week, concentrating instead on artillery and missile strikes.

Zelenskiy’s adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Sunday there had been a relative lull over the past 24 hours, with “practically no rocket strikes on cities”. He said front lines were “practically frozen”.

Later on Sunday, however, Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko reported several explosions in the capital’s Podil district and said rescue teams were putting out a large fire at the shopping centre. He said at least one person was killed.

Reuters was not able to immediately verify the report.

The U.N. human rights office said at least 902 civilians had been killed as of midnight Saturday, though the real toll was probably much higher. Ukrainian prosecutors said 112 children had been killed.

The U.N. refugee agency said 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced, including some 3.4 million who have fled to neighbouring countries such as Poland. Officials in the region said they were reaching capacity to comfortably house refugees.

Russia said it had launched cruise missiles from ships in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, as well as hypersonic missiles from Crimean airspace. Hypersonic missiles travel faster than five times the speed of sound and their speed, manoeuvrability and altitude make them difficult to intercept.

Russia deployed them for the first time in Ukraine on Saturday in a strike it said destroyed an underground depot for missiles and aircraft ammunition.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” program on Sunday Putin could have resorted to such weapons “because he’s trying to reestablish some momentum”, but said he didn’t see them as a game-changer.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu of Turkey, which like Israel has tried to mediate, said the sides were getting closer to agreement on “critical” issues.

Kyiv and Moscow reported some progress last week toward a political formula that would guarantee Ukraine’s security, while keeping it outside NATO – a key Russian demand – though each side accused the other of dragging things out.

In the southern city of Kherson, video seen by Reuters showed dozens of protesters, some wrapped in Ukraine’s blue-and-yellow flag, chanting “Go home” in Russian at two military vehicles with Russian markings. The vehicles turned and left.

“I want the war to be over, I want them (Russian forces) to leave Ukraine in peace,” said Margarita Morozova, 87, who survived Nazi Germany’s siege of Leningrad in World War Two and has lived in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, for the past 60 years.

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

IMF asked Pakistan to show how it would fund $1.5 billion subsidy package – minister

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Economy10 hours ago (Mar 20, 2022 05:10AM ET)

IMF asked Pakistan to show how it would fund $1.5 billion subsidy package - minister© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan June 4, 2021. REUTERS/Saiyna Bashir/File Photo

By Asif Shahzad

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – The International Money Fund (IMF) has asked Pakistan to explain how it would fund a $1.5 billion subsidy package announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said on Sunday.

“There are no issues. We have given them details as to where the funds would come from,” Tarin said, adding the IMF wanted details of the resources to fund the subsidy in fuel and electricity, which Pakistan has frozen for the next four months until the new budget.

The IMF has begun the seventh review of the $6 billion rescue package agreed with Pakistan in 2019, and Tarin said he will have a final meeting with the lender on Tuesday.

The IMF asked it will need to see the agreements of the dividends of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) as well as details of the spare funds the central government will get from provinces.

“We have done our homework,” Tarin said.

Some of the subsidy money would also come from above-target revenues Pakistan was getting this fiscal year, he had said previously.

Earlier this month, Tarin said revenue would hit 6.1 trillion Pakistani rupees ($34.2 billion), compared to a target of 5.8 trillion rupees.

Embattled Khan, facing a no-confidence move to oust him from office by opposition parties, had announced a cut in petrol and electricity prices despite a steep rise in the global

oil market.

The south Asian country had to undertake fiscal tightening measures to pass its last IMF review, which was delayed by months as the government struggled to complete prior action required by the lender to release $1 billion in February.

(Additional Reporting by Syed Raza Hasan; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman & Shri Navaratnam)

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

Energy & Precious Metals – Weekly Review and Outlook

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CommoditiesMar 20, 2022 06:08AM ET

Energy & Precious Metals - Weekly Review and Outlook© Reuters.

By Barani Krishnan

Investing.com — Is demand destruction setting in for oil at above $100 a barrel?

It’s a question that’s been asked since oil hit 2008 highs, and it heightened as we got to just above $130 on U.S. crude during the first week of March, while Brent stopped at just under $140.

Then as both benchmarks plunged to below $100 in last week’s trade, the question sounded almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy: Is demand destruction already happening in oil?

The probable answer is yes; but not to the extent yet that it can stay below $100 for long.

Anyone trading energy will know no matter the alternative or justification, finding enough barrels to make up for shut-in Russian exports – conservatively estimated at three million barrels per day – will be hard. 

The Paris-based International Energy Agency, or IEA, which made that estimate, adds: “The implications of a potential loss of Russian oil exports to global markets cannot be understated.”

Yet, oil prices might still fall from demand destruction as gasoline at record highs of above $4 a gallon at U.S pumps discourages drivers in the world’s largest consuming country from filling up their tanks as often as a year ago, when regular automobile fuel was at around $2.50 a gallon.

In that vein, the IEA, which mainly looks after the interests of Western oil importers, suggested this week that the onus might be on consumers and businesses to bring about a shift in consumption – like in the Covid-lockdown era – to bring crude prices down.

“Reducing oil demand does not depend only on governments but also citizens and corporations,” Fatih Birol, executive director at the IEA, said. “Measures that they should take would include lowering speed limits, making people work from home, more public transportation and urban car-free days.”

Such measures could quickly cut oil demand by 2.7 million barrels a day, Birol said.

“The world does not have enough spare capacity, the world doesn’t have enough crude either,” Mike Muller, head of Vitol Asia, told an energy markets podcast on March 6. “The law of high prices is going to have to weed out the weaker demand and destroy it.”

Global oil demand stands at around 100.6 million barrels daily, with analysts estimating current shortfall at around 3.0 to 5.0 million per day, inclusive of Russia’s shut-in.

Armaan Ashraf, a senior analyst at FGE, adds that the situation was “very foggy” for cracker operations in Asia. It’s a “big risk” to buy naphtha when crude is at $130 a barrel, Ashraf said, adding that profit margins are going to stay poor for at least a month. 

Ehsan Khoman, head of emerging markets research at Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, had a similar view.  “Oil prices have become so disconnected from the marginal cost of supply – given the extreme shortage of oil – that they are marching to the level where demand destruction becomes prevalent,” said Khoman.  

But it also cannot be refuted that as long as the Russia-Ukraine conflict rages, keeping the market at below $100 will be tough.

Case in point: U.S. crude plumbing $94 lows last week and Brent around $96 on initial optimism over peace talks, before spiking back to above $106 and $109, respectively, on evidence those hopes were overrated. 

“I’m concerned that we don’t have enough oil at all here, and we need to go to $120 to $150 [per barrel], and then we get into economic destruction,” Paul Sankey of Sankey Research told CNBC. 

“There’s a major, physical, immediate outage that caught an already tight market with very low inventories,” he added.

Khoman of Mitsubishi UFJ , who expressed concerns about demand destruction, also said it could not be disputed that the Russia-Ukraine crisis “turbocharges today’s extreme supply shortages.”

Oil: Weekly Close & Technical Outlook

Oil prices closed Friday’s trade higher but still ended down for a second straight week.

U.S. crude’s , or WTI, benchmark settled up $2.01, or 1.9%, at $104.99 a barrel. For the week, WTI was down 4.2%, after the previous week’s decline of 5.5%.

London-traded , the global benchmark for oil, settled up $1.32, or 1.2%, at $107.96. Brent fell below $97 on Wednesday, compared with a March 7 high of $139.13. Like WTI, it was down 4.2% on the week, following through with the previous week’s drop of 4.6%.

Sunil Kumar Dixit, chief technical strategist at skcharting.com, said his analysis of WTI showed a market technically in a bearish state. 

“The outlook for the week ahead is broadly bearish with a potential for short-term recovery in prices,” said Dixit.

He noted that WTI’s weekly stochastic at 60/75 was bearish, with a negative crossover and RSI at 67 pointing south.

“A trade below the 5-week Exponential Moving Average of $103 may push WTI down to between $100 and $95. If it gets to $93, that will be an acceleration point to further downside, to the weekly middle Bollinger Band of $85,” said Dixit.

On the flip side, he said, if oil traded above $109.33, it could reach $111.50.

“Breaking and sustaining above $109.33 is essential to reach $111.50 and eventually $116,” he added.

Gold: Market Activity 

Who will win – the ambitious Fed or the inflation monster? 

The uncertainty pushed gold down for a second straight week, to its biggest weekly decline in percentage terms, since November.

Still, pressure prices combined with concerns about fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war played up gold’s dual economic-political hedge to bring it back above the $1,900 support it briefly broke earlier in the week.

The most-active gold futures contract on New York’s Comex, , settled down $21.65, or 1.1%, at $1,921.55 an ounce. For the week, the benchmark gold futures contract lost 2.8%, its most since the week to Nov. 19, 2021.

The Federal Reserve approved this week a 25-basis point increase at its March 15-16 meeting, its first increase since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis in March 2020. The central bank also cautioned that there could be as many as six more rate hikes this year, based on the number of calendar meetings for its policy-making Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC.

Following through with the Wednesday rate decision, Fed Governor Christopher Waller – one of the more hawkish members of the FOMC – said U.S. economic data is “screaming” for bigger half percentage point rate hikes in coming months to stamp out inflation.

Waller’s comments, along with similar hawkish messages from other Fed representatives, helped the dollar rebound Friday, thumbing down commodities denominated in the currency, including gold. The dollar fell more than 1% in the past two sessions combined as currency dealers reacted with disappointment to the Fed’s modest rate hike on Wednesday.

“The dollar is seeing massive inflows and that is short-term troubling for commodities,” said Ed Moya, analyst for Europe at online trading platform OANDA. “The dollar will benefit from a rapidly improving interest rate differential and steady safe-haven flows as investors (become) worrisome over the war in Ukraine’s impact on inflation and ultimately growth.”

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated after this week’s rate increase that the central bank will be “nimble” as it tries to balance the fastest economic growth in nearly four decades with inflation, also growing at its most frenetic pace in 40 years. U.S. gross domestic product was up 5.7% last year after a 3.5% contraction in 2020, growing at its most since 1984. Inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index, or CPI,  expanded by 5.8% in 2021, its most since 1982. 

The Fed has two mandates: Aiming for “maximum” employment among Americans with a jobless rate of 4% or below, and keeping inflation at 2% or below a year. It has achieved stellar success with its first target, by bringing unemployment down to 3.8% in February from a pandemic- and record high of 14.8% in April 2020.  But its track record has been miserable on the second, with CPI growing by 7.9% during the year to February, even faster than December’s 7.0%.

Waller, who has consistently pushed for tighter monetary policy and higher fiscal discipline to tame inflation, said the risks from the Ukraine war led him to support more dovish colleagues on the FOMC in voting for a subdued rate hike at the March meeting.

But he said he might push for a series of 50-basis point increases at coming FOMC meetings to “front load” a tighter policy that would have a greater impact in tamping down inflation.

“Going forward that will be an issue – about going 50 – in the next couple of meetings,” Waller said, anticipating resistance from other FOMC members. “But the data is suggesting we move in that direction. I really favor frontloading our rate hikes. (Let’s) just do it, rather than just promise it.”

Most Fed officials see rates rising to around 1.9% by the end of 2022, if the FOMC keeps to 25-basis point hikes at its next six meetings.

Waller did not specify where he would like the bank’s rate to be by the end of the year. But CNBC said he appeared to be targeting a 2.0-2.25% level based on his push for a mix of 25 – and 50 – basis point hikes.

In projections issued at this week’s FOMC meeting, three policymakers projected rates should end the year at 2.375%, while one projected a closing rate of 2.625%. The most aggressive of them, St. Louis Fed president James Bullard  – who also happens to be Waller’s former supervisor – said rates should end the year at 3.125%.

Gold: Technical Outlook

Dixit of skcharting.com said after the previous week’s rejection at $2,070, April gold witnessed a bearish pin bar candle that led to the correction through $1,895 before settling at $1,921.

The weekly stochastic of 60/75 had a negative crossover with RSI 59 points south, all ingredients for a continuation of the downside if prices fail to break above $1,960-$1,985.

“Weakness below $1,920 may push gold down to $1,907, below which bears may gain extra strength causing more dents to the metal and $1,895 can give way, exposing $1,845-$1,820 over the upcoming week,” said Dixit.

Technicals aside, gold’s volatility comes largely from the war in Ukraine, which can continue to cause dramatic and wild swings, he said.

“Consistent buying above $1,920-$1,960 will be closely monitored by traders as any further acceleration on the war front can take gold back up to $2,010 and $2,070 in a short spell.”

Disclaimer: Barani Krishnan does not hold positions in the commodities and securities he writes about.

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

Saudi Arabia is China’s top crude supplier again as Russian oil falls 9%

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Commodities21 hours ago (Mar 20, 2022 07:35AM ET)

Saudi Arabia is China's top crude supplier again as Russian oil falls 9%© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A crude oil tanker is seen at Qingdao Port, Shandong province, China, April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia regained the spot as China’s top crude supplier in the first two months of 2022, having been leapfrogged by Russia in December, while Russian shipments dropped 9% as a cut in import quotas led independent refiners to scale back purchases.

Arrivals of Saudi crude totalled 14.61 million tonnes in January-February, equivalent to 1.81 million barrels per day (bpd), down from 1.86 million bpd a year earlier, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Sunday.

Imports from Russia totalled 12.67 million tonnes in the two months, or 1.57 million bpd. That compares to 1.72 million bpd in the corresponding 2021 period.

Demand for Russia’s flagship ESPO crude from Chinese independent refineries, known as teapots, was hit by Beijing’s crackdown on tax evasion and illegal trading of import quotas.

The government also cut its first batch of 2022 crude import allowances to teapots, aiming to eliminate inefficient refining capacity.

Imports from Russia could tumble in March as buyers worldwide shun its cargoes in the wake of the intensifying Ukraine crisis. But Reuters reported that Russian producer Surgutneftegaz was working with China to bypass Western sanctions and keep up oil sales.

Sunday’s customs data showed that 259,937 tonnes of Iranian arrived in China in January, around the same level as in December 2021, the first imports recorded by official Chinese data since December 2020.

The shipments came as Tehran and Western nations hold talks on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal, pointing to a possible lifting of U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

No Iranian cargo were recorded by Chinese customs in February.

China’s official data also showed no imports from Venezuela, which is under U.S. sanctions as well, in January and February.

Here is the detailed breakdown of trade, with volumes in metric tonnes:

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

Top 5 Things to Watch in Markets in the Week Ahead

Top 5 Things to Watch in Markets in the Week Ahead© Reuters

By Noreen Burke

Investing.com — With a long-awaited rate hike from the Federal Reserve out of the way investors will be looking to see whether stocks are set for a sustained recovery or if more turbulence awaits. The war in Ukraine will remain in focus, with markets continuing to monitor headlines. Oil markets are calmer but concerns over supply shortages remain to the fore. The economic calendar is light but there will be two appearances from Fed Chair Jerome Powell during the week, while the Eurozone and the U.K. are to release PMI data. Here’s what you need to know to start your week.

  1. Stocks to sustain upswing?

U.S. stocks stormed back last week after the Fed delivered its first rate hike since 2018 along with an encouraging assessment of the U.S. economy.

Wall Street’s three main indexes notched up their largest weekly percentage gains since early November 2020 with the climbing 5.5%, the adding 6.2% and the rising 8.2%.

But investors must now wrestle with the question of whether the Fed will be able to fight soaring inflation without pushing the economy into recession.

Last week JPMorgan forecast the S&P 500 would end the year at 4,900, about 10% above Friday’s close, saying that markets “have now cleared the much-anticipated Fed liftoff with policy likely as hawkish as it gets.”

But concerns over stubbornly high inflation, sky-high commodity prices and few signs of an end to the war in Ukraine are continuing to cloud the outlook for investors.

  1. Ukraine war

Market watchers will continue to monitor the course of the war in Ukraine and headlines could continue to cause market turbulence in the upcoming week. Diplomacy efforts are ongoing even as Russian strikes on Ukrainian cities continue.

U.S. President Joe Biden is to join a NATO meeting on Wednesday and also a mid-week EU summit in Brussels, aiming to cement the new-found cohesiveness with European allies.

The West is risking rifts with China and India, which have not condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Friday, Biden warned his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, of “consequences” if Beijing gave material support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

China has not condemned Russia’s actions, though it has expressed concern about the war.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister said on Saturday that Western sanctions against Russia were “outrageous.”

  1. Fedspeak

On Monday, Fed Chair Jerome is to speak about the economic outlook at the annual conference of the National Association for Business Economics, less than a week after the Fed kicked off what is expected to be an aggressive monetary policy tightening cycle.

On Wednesday, Powell is to participate in a virtual panel discussion at a summit hosted by the Bank for International Settlements.

Several other Fed officials are also due to make speeches during the week, including New York Fed President John Williams, San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, Fed Governor Christopher Waller and Chicago Fed President Charles Evans.

The U.S. economic calendar is relatively light and will feature reports on , , both and , as well as and data.

  1. Oil prices

Last week oil prices recorded a second consecutive weekly decline, with both and ending the week down about 4%.

Oil prices have been on a roller coaster ride, hitting the highest levels in 14 years two weeks ago, boosted by the supply crunch from traders avoiding Russian barrels and dwindling oil stockpiles.

But prices were pressured by worries about demand after a surge in coronavirus cases in China, while faltering nuclear talks with Iran have been a wild card on the market.

The International Energy Agency has said oil markets could lose 3 million bpd of Russian oil from April. That loss would be far greater than an expected drop in demand resulting from higher fuel prices, the IEA said.

The Ukraine crisis has exacerbated the issue of limited output capacity. The world is set for a supply deficit of 700,000 bpd in the second quarter, the IEA has said.

  1. Eurozone, U.K. PMIs

The and the are to release PMI data for March that will be a litmus test of sorts of the impact from the war in Ukraine.

Generally, PMIs have held above the 50-mark that divides contraction from expansion. But after the ZEW index showed a in German investor morale in March, a recession in the euro area’s largest economy cannot be ruled out.

Markets shrugged off the slump in the ZEW index, focusing instead on efforts by central banks to curb inflation.

But as soaring energy costs squeeze household spending, a downbeat batch of PMIs might set off alarm bells.

–Reuters contributed to this report

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