Business activity fell slightly in New York State in June

Business activity in New York State declined modestly in June, according to the Empire State Manufacturing Survey 2024. Although the overall business conditions index rose ten points, it still stands at -6.0, a level below zero. New orders were unchanged, while shipments showed an increase. Delivery times were slightly shorter and the availability of supply, which is reported as a monthly indicator for the first time, was little changed. Stock levels remained unchanged. Labour market conditions remained weak as employment and hours worked continued to decline.

Retail sales growth in China exceeded expectations, but other economic indicators lagged

Retail sales in China in May beat expectations, rising 3.7% year-on-year. This exceeded the 3% growth forecast by Reuters economists. By contrast, other economic indicators such as industrial production and investment in fixed assets fell short of expectations. Industrial production grew by 5.6% year-on-year, below the 6% growth expected, while investment in fixed assets rose by 4%, just below the 4.2% forecast in the Reuters poll.

China banks’ May lending missed analysts’ expectations

Chinese banks extended 950 billion yuan ($130.93 billion) in new yuan loans in May. This represents an increase from 730 billion yuan in April. The figure is also down from 1.36 trillion yuan in the same month last year. The People's Bank of China does not publish a monthly breakdown, Reuters calculated the May data from the bank's January-May statistics released on Friday, comparing them with the January-April figures.

The Bank of Japan keeps interest rates in the 0-0.1 percent range

The Monetary Policy Board of the Bank of Japan (MPJ) unanimously decided to keep policy rates in the 0-0.1 percent range at its meeting today. Purchases of government bonds, corporate bonds and other money market instruments will continue as decided in March.

Unemployment falling and employment rising in Australia in May

The Australian unemployment rate fell to 4.0% in May from 4.1% previously, in line with forecasts, according to official data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Thursday. Employment rose by 39.7k from 38.5k in April, exceeding the consensus forecast of 30.0k. The Australian participation rate rose to 66.8% in May from 66.7% in April.

In the US, wholesale prices fall in May, signalling easing inflation

Wholesale prices unexpectedly fell in May, another sign that inflation is moderating. The Producer Price Index (PPI), which measures the prices received by producers in the market for goods and services, fell 0.2% during the month, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics said today. That decline reversed April's 0.5% increase and contrasts with the Dow Jones' 0.1% growth forecast. PPI excluding food, energy, and trade services was unchanged, versus expectations for a 0.3% increase.

US CPI stagnated in May: inflation eased

The Consumer Price Index showed no increase in May, indicating that inflation eased slightly in the U.S. economy, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. The CPI, an overall inflation index that measures the change in the price of a basket of goods and services in the US economy, remained unchanged during the month, although it rose 3.3% from a year earlier, the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected a 0.1% monthly increase and a 3.4% annual increase.

No growth in UK GDP in April 2024

UK monthly real gross domestic product (GDP) showed no growth in April 2024, compared with a 0.4% increase in March. Real GDP grew by 0.7% in the three months to April 2024 compared with the previous three months. Output in the services sector rose 0.2% in April, the fourth consecutive monthly increase, and for the three-month period as a whole, it expanded 0.9%. Production output fell by 0.9% in April, following a 0.2% increase in March, but increased by 0.7% overall over the three months.

Small business sentiment in the US improved in May

U.S. small business confidence and hiring plans rose to their highest levels of the year in May, but the upcoming U.S. presidential election also pushed uncertainty to a near four-year high, according to a survey released Tuesday. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said its small business optimism index rose eight-tenths of a point to 90.5 last month.

The labour market cooling in the UK

This month's figures show a continuing cooling of the labour market in the UK. Job vacancies are falling while unemployment is rising, although earnings growth remains strong. Both employment estimates from the Labour Force Survey and estimates of paid employment from HMRC's real-time information data have fallen in recent months.

Major brokerages expect the Fed to cut rates from September or later

The latest mixed data has prompted major brokerages to lower their expectations for a US Federal Reserve rate cut in September or beyond. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is widely expected to leave the benchmark overnight interest rate unchanged at its two-day meeting that ends on Wednesday. The range stands at 5.25-5.50%, where it has been since July last year.

Japan’s first quarter GDP fell slightly

Japan's economy contracted less than initially announced in January-March due to upward revisions to investment spending and inventory data, providing modest support for the central bank's plan to raise interest rates again this year.

Unemployment claims in the US up

In the week ending June 1, the seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims total was 229,000, up 8,000 from the previous week's revised level, according to preliminary data. The previous week's figure was revised up by 2 000, from 219 000 to 221 000. The 4-week moving average was 222 250, 750 fewer than the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised by 500, from 222 500 to 223 000.

The ECB has relaxed monetary policy

The Governing Council decided today to cut the ECB's three key interest rates by 25 basis points. On the basis of an updated assessment of the inflation outlook, underlying inflation dynamics and the strength of monetary policy transmission, it is now appropriate to ease the monetary policy stance after nine months of keeping interest rates unchanged. Since the Governing Council meeting in September 2023, inflation has declined by more than 2.5 percentage points and the inflation outlook has improved significantly.

Retail sales decreased in April in the euro area and the EU

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, estimates for April 2024 the volume of seasonally adjusted retail trade decreased by 0.5% in the euro area and by 0.6% in the EU, compared with March, according to its first estimate. In March, the volume of retail trade increased by 0.7% in the euro area and by 0.6% in the EU. On an annual comparison, compared with April 2023, the index for calendar-adjusted retail trade remained unchanged in the euro area and fell by 0.1% in the EU.

Job creation slowed in May in the US private sector

ADP reported Wednesday that private sector job creation slowed more than expected in May, signaling further weakness in the labor market. According to the payroll firm, companies added 152,000 jobs, down from a downwardly revised 188,000 in April and below the Dow Jones consensus estimate of 175,000. This is the lowest monthly level since February. That said, annual wage growth remained at 5%, a level it has held for three months.

Slight contraction in the French services sector in May

Activity in the French services sector fell slightly in May, after rising for the first time in almost a year in April. Sales continued to rise on the back of domestic demand and employment also increased. Inflationary pressures eased, with input costs and output prices growing at their slowest pace since 2021.

Swiss consumer prices rose by 0.3% in May

The consumer price index (CPI) rose by 0.3% in May 2024 compared with the previous month, reaching 107.7 points. Compared to the same month last year, inflation was +1.4%. These are the results of the Federal Statistics Office (FSO). The increase of 0.3% compared to the previous month is due to several factors, including the rise in the price of renting a home and international package holidays. The price of various fresh vegetables and petrol also rose. In contrast, the price of heating oil and foreign red wine fell, as did the price of additional accommodation.

Intel fights AMD with new data centre chips

Intel on Tuesday unveiled its next-generation Xeon server processors in a bid to regain market share in the data center market, and revealed that the Gaudi 3 artificial intelligence accelerator chips will be priced much lower than rivals' products.

New orders in US manufacturing increased in May

New orders rose again in May in the US manufacturing sector, leading to a faster expansion of production in the middle of the second quarter of the year. Strengthening business confidence brought positive expectations, boosting hiring, purchasing activity and the accumulation of finished goods inventories. The pace of input cost inflation accelerated to its fastest pace in more than a year, to which firms responded by raising their selling prices.

Euro area manufacturing shows possible signs of recovery in May

The eurozone manufacturing sector's prolonged slump may have turned a corner last month, according to a survey that showed new orders fell at the slowest pace in two years, leading to an improvement in business confidence. The HCOB's latest euro-area manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), compiled by S&P Global, rose to 47.3 points in May from 45.7 points in April, rising below the 50 level that indicates a 23rd monthly increase in activity.

Chinese manufacturing PMI fell to a three-month low of 49.5 in May

China's manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 49.5 in May from 50.4 in April, hitting a three-month low. This data was disappointing, especially in light of recent strong industrial activity indicators, and significantly below market and expert expectations that had forecast growth. The main reasons for the decline were a fall in new orders (49.6) and new export orders (48.3), which after two months of expansion turned into contraction again.

Euro area inflation growth in May 2024

Eurostat flash estimates that annual inflation in the euro area is expected to be 2.6% in May 2024, up from 2.4% in April. The highest annual inflation rate is expected in services, which could rise to 4.1% from 3.7% in April. Food, alcohol and tobacco inflation is expected to fall slightly to 2.6% from 2.8% in April. Non-energy industrial goods inflation may fall slightly to 0.8% from 0.9% in April. Energy price inflation, on the other hand, may increase to 0.3% from -0.6% deflation in April.

US GDP growth slowed in the first quarter of 2024

US real GDP grew at an annual rate of 1.3% in the first quarter of 2024, according to the second estimate of the Bureau of Economic Analysis, compared with 3.4% growth in the fourth quarter of 2023. The current estimate uses more detailed data than last month's preliminary estimate, which projected growth of 1.6%. The new estimate reflects a downward revision to consumer spending.

Moderate economic growth in Switzerland in the first quarter of 2024

Switzerland's sports-adjusted GDP grew by 0.3% in the first quarter of 2024. The services sector grew again and private consumption grew solidly. However, industrial production stagnated. Manufacturing value added (-0.2%) fell slightly in the first quarter and chemicals & pharmaceuticals (-0.9%) continued its weak performance of recent quarters. Value added in other industries remained broadly stable.

Australian CPI data – annual inflation rose to 3.6% in April

The monthly CPI index rose by 3.6% in the 12 months to April. The most significant price increases were in Housing (+4.9%), Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages (+3.8%), Alcohol & Tobacco (+6.5%) and Transport (+4.2%). The monthly CPI index rose by 3.6% in the 12 months to April, following a 3.5% increase in the 12 months to March. The annual movement in the monthly CPI excluding volatile items and holiday travel was 4.1% in April, unchanged from March.

Australian retail sales data in April 2024

Seasonally adjusted retail sales in April 2024 rose by 0.1% month-on-month, while they increased by 1.3% compared to the same period last year. Due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 epidemic, trend estimates between March 2020 and June 2022 are not available as these trends are unlikely to accurately reflect the evolution of retail activity.

Amazon is in talks with Italy to invest billions of euros in its cloud plan

Amazon's computing unit AWS is in talks with Italy to invest billions of euros to expand its data centre business in the country, as part of the tech giant's drive to boost its cloud services in Europe, four people familiar with the matter said. According to the sources, the size and location of the investment are being discussed between the parties, with one of them saying Amazon Web Service (AWS) is considering expanding its current Milan site or building a new one.

China sets up third fund with $47.5 billion to boost semiconductor sector

China has set up its third planned state-backed investment fund to boost the semiconductor industry with a capital of 344 billion yuan ($47.5 billion), according to a government-maintained company registry announcement. The investment of hundreds of billions of yuan in the sector puts into perspective President Xi Jinping's ambition for China to become self-sufficient in semiconductors. This commitment has taken on renewed urgency after the US imposed a series of export control measures over the past few years, citing Beijing's fears that it could use advanced chips to boost its military capabilities.

G7 Finance Summit begins, with Ukraine and China as main topics

Finance leaders of the Group of Seven industrial democracies began a two-day meeting in Italy on Friday to reach a common position on the need for a loan to Ukraine and to oppose China's "unfair" industrial policies. However, statements from officials ahead of the meeting in Stresa in northern Italy suggest that no concrete details will emerge on the US push for a loan to Ukraine backed by future proceeds from some $300 billion of frozen Russian assets.

UK retail sales in April 2024

In April 2024, the volume of UK retail sales fell by 2.3%, compared with a revised decline of 0.2% in March 2024, down from 0.0%. Sales volumes fell across most sectors, with clothing retailers, sports equipment, toy and game stores and furniture stores performing particularly poorly, driven by low footfall due to bad weather.

Unemployment benefit claims in the US down, according to data out today

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to underlying strength in the labor market that is expected to continue to support the economy. A second weekly decline announced Thursday by the Labor Department reversed much of the jump earlier in the month, bringing claims to levels last seen at the end of August last year. Although job growth is slowing due to the cumulative effect of large Fed rate hikes in 2022 and 2023, layoffs remain very low.

French private sector down in May

Business activity in the French private sector contracted again in May, although the decline was weaker than in the previous year. New orders rose on the back of strong demand in the domestic market, while exports continued to fall. Employment continued to rise for the fourth month in a row.

Price growth slows in the UK: CPI falls to 2.3% in April

Consumer prices (including housing costs) have risen by 3% over the past year, a slower pace than the 3.8% increase seen previously. On a monthly basis, prices rose by 0.5% in April, compared with 1.2% in April last year. Consumer prices excluding housing costs rose 2.3% over the past year, 3.2% lower than a year earlier. On a monthly basis, the CPI rose 0.3% in April, compared with 1.2% in April last year.

New Zealand keeps interest rate on hold

In New Zealand, restrictive monetary policy has reduced pressures on the economy's capacity, which has moderated consumer price inflation. Annual consumer price inflation is expected to return to the central bank's target range of 1-3 percent by the end of 2024. The decline in inflation is partly due to lower price increases for imported goods and services. Globally, inflation has also eased in a number of advanced economies from its previous 30-year peak. However, services inflation is slowly falling and expected interest rate cuts continue to be delayed.

Canadian Consumer Price Index – slight fall in inflation rate in April

Statistics Canada will release its April Consumer Price Index report on Tuesday morning. Economists expect Canada's annual inflation rate to fall slightly last month from 2.9% in March. The RBC forecast prices were 2.7 percent higher in April compared with a year earlier.The Bank of Canada will be watching Tuesday's report closely as it prepares for its June 5 interest rate decision. Financial markets are leaning toward a rate cut in July, but economists say new inflation data will help to firm expectations.

IBM makes more artificial intelligence models open source and does business in Saudi Arabia

IBM announced on Tuesday that it will make a family of artificial intelligence models available as open source software and will contribute to the training of an Arabic-language artificial intelligence system in Saudi Arabia. The company, based in Armonk, New York, has a different strategy for exploiting AI than some of its competitors, such as Microsoft, which closely guards its AI models and charges for access. IBM, like Facebook owner Meta Platforms, prefers to provide open access to its models. On Wednesday, it unveiled the "Granite" family of AI models that can be customised for businesses.

Oil price up on uncertainty after Iranian president’s death

Oil prices continued to rise on Monday amid political uncertainty in major producing countries after the Iranian president died in a helicopter crash and the Saudi Arabian crown prince cancelled a trip to Japan citing health concerns about the king. Brent rose by 41 cents, or 0.5%, to $84.39 a barrel, after earlier rising to $84.43, the highest since 10 May.

Stable inflation in the euro area and the EU

Euro area annual inflation was 2.4% in April 2024, unchanged compared with March 2024. A year earlier the rate was 7.0%. EU annual inflation was 2.6% in April 2024, also stable compared with March. A year earlier the rate was 8.1%. The data were published by Eurostat.

Toyota shut down its Mexican plant several times after suppliers faced labour shortages

Toyota Motor was forced to shut down production at a Mexican plant several times in February and March after a shortage of local labour forced suppliers to halt production, according to people familiar with the carmaker's operations. Toyota halted production for a total of 19 days in February and March at its plant in Tijuana, Mexico, where it makes the Tacoma pick-up truck, according to two people. Technical problems at the plant also contributed to the shutdown.

In the US, the pace of price increases is slowing, but inflation remains a concern

The pace of price increases in the United States showed signs of slowing last month after a series of higher-than-expected inflation figures fuelled concerns about the world's largest economy. The Labor Department said consumer prices rose 3.4% in the 12 months to April, compared with 3.5% in the previous month. Higher rents and petrol costs accounted for much of the rise in the cost of living.

Change in France’s consumer price index (CPI) in April 2024

In France, the consumer price index (CPI) rose by 0.5% in April 2024 compared with the previous month, and by only 0.2% in March. The increase was mainly due to slight rises in the prices of services (+1.0% after 0.0% the previous month), transport (+5.6% after -0.9% the previous month), insurance services (+3.6% after -2.4% the previous month) and food (+0.1% after 0.0% the previous month). Manufacturing and tobacco remained unchanged at +1.3% and +1.4% respectively. Energy prices fell at a slower pace compared with the previous month, -0.3% after -0.7% in the previous month.

German investor morale hits two-year high in May

German investor sentiment improved more than expected in May, reaching its highest level since February 2022, according to the ZEW economic research institute. The economic sentiment index rose to 47.1 points from 42.9 points in April. "Following the stronger-than-expected growth of the German economy in the first quarter of 2024, both the perception of the current situation and economic expectations have become more positive," said Achim Wambach, President of ZEW.

Microsoft invests €4 billion in France

Technology and software giant Microsoft will invest 4 billion euros ($4.3 billion) in France as part of its annual "Choose France" business summit, vice president and president Brad Smith told Le Figaro newspaper. Smith said that much of the investment money will be focused on the artificial intelligence (AI) sector and that Microsoft will set up a data centre in Mulhouse, France.

Amazon invests $1.3 billion in France and creates 3000 jobs

Amazon announced on Monday that it is investing more than 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in its French operations and creating more than 3,000 permanent jobs in the country. The French presidency said on Sunday that Amazon and other companies including GSK and Accenture will announce billions of euros in investments as part of the country's annual "Choose France" event, which starts on Monday.

Canadian labour market beats expectations, adding 90,000 jobs in April

Canada's labour market added a net 90,400 jobs in April, with the employment rate remaining unchanged at 6.1 percent, Statistics Canada said on Friday. The increase exceeded analysts' expectations, with employment growth driven by an increase in part-time employment, the federal data agency said, adding that 50,000 part-time jobs were created in April.

UK GDP grew by 0.4% in March 2024

Monthly real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated to have increased by 0.4% in March 2024, following an unrevised increase of 0.2% in February 2024 and 0.3% in January 2024. Real GDP is estimated to have increased by 0.6% in the three months to March 2024 compared with the three months to December 2023.

Bank Of England keeps interest rates stable after today’s meeting

The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) sets monetary policy to achieve the 2% inflation target and to support growth and employment. At its meeting ending on 8 May 2024, the MPC voted 7-2 to keep the Bank Rate at 5.25%. Two members favored lowering the Bank Rate by 0.25 percentage point to 5%. The Committee's updated forecasts for economic activity and inflation will be included in the May Monetary Policy Report, and market expectations are for the Bank Rate to fall from 5¼% to 3¾% by the end of the forecast period, down from the 3¼% end-point in February.

“US Fuel Demand: Economic Slowdown?”

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), demand for gasoline and diesel in the United States has plummeted to its lowest seasonal levels since the onset of the COVID pandemic, raising concerns about an economic slowdown. Monthly averages for the week ending May 3 show gasoline demand at 8.63 million barrels per day, a figure not seen since May 2020. Demand for distillates has also dropped to 3.6 million barrels per day, marking a seasonal low not observed since the pandemic began. The 3-2-1 crack spread, serving as a gauge for refining market sentiment, fell below $26.50 per barrel for the first time in approximately three months on Wednesday, the lowest level in three years. These numbers have sparked debate about whether economic activity is decelerating or if renewable energies are making strides in displacing fossil fuels. But taking a look on the US economic numbers, the reason of the decline is obviously the slowing economic activity.

American Oil and Natural Gas Production: Growth and Prices

American oil and natural gas production broke records last year, and this trend continues into this year. The average daily oil production in 2024 reached 13.12 million barrels, marking a 7.1% increase from the previous year. Natural gas production also saw an increase, with January levels up by 1.1% compared to a year ago. Currently, the price of WTI crude oil is around $85 per barrel, which is 7% higher than a year ago. This elevated price level may support further production growth, despite a slight decrease in the number of drilling rigs."

AstraZeneca says it is withdrawing COVID-19 vaccine worldwide as demand declines

AstraZeneca said on Tuesday that it had initiated a worldwide withdrawal of the COVID-19 vaccine due to a "surplus of available updated vaccines" since the pandemic. The company also said it would continue to withdraw marketing authorisations for the Vaxzevria vaccine in Europe. "Since then, as more variant COVID-19 vaccines have been developed, there is a surplus of available updated vaccines," the company said, adding that this has led to a reduction in demand for Vaxzevria, which is no longer being manufactured and supplied.

Shell to sell Singapore refinery and petrochemical assets to Chandra Asri and Glencore

Shell said on Wednesday that it has agreed to sell its Singapore refinery and petrochemical assets - Asia's main oil hub - to a joint venture between Indonesia's Chandra Asri Capital and Glencore Asian Holdings. The transaction will see Shell's entire stake in Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Singapore transferred to the joint venture CAPGC, Shell said in a statement.

Interest rates in Australia unchanged

At today's meeting, the Board decided to leave the target cash rate unchanged at 4.35 per cent and the interest rate paid on settlement balances unchanged at 4.25 per cent. Inflation remains high and is falling more gradually than expected. According to the latest information, inflation continues to moderate but is falling more slowly than expected. The consumer price index rose 3.6 percent in the year to the March quarter, up from 4.1 percent in the year to December.

China’s Nio turns to rival BYD to run new EV brand

Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio has struck a deal with larger rival BYD to source batteries for a lower-priced EV brand that aims to compete with Tesla, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said. The deal is a win for BYD, which is looking to expand its revenues beyond EV sales under its own brand. It also shows the impact of the Chinese market's relentless competition on the price of new EVs and batteries, which are the biggest single cost in a new vehicle.

Euro area economic recovery continued at the beginning of the second quarter

According to the latest HCOB PMI® surveys, the euro area economic recovery continued to make progress at the beginning of the second quarter, as overall business activity growth accelerated to an 11-month high. Once again, the expansion was driven by the services sector, where output levels improved solidly and at a slightly faster pace than the average since 1998. An increase in new business inflows supported higher activity and the fastest pace of job creation in ten months, while business confidence remained strong.

Growth in petrol demand slows this year due to the growth of electric vehicles in China and the US

Analysts say global gasoline demand growth could halve in 2024, squeezing refiners' margins in the second half of the year, driven by the switch to electric cars in China and the US and a return to normal consumption after last year's jump following COVID-19. Demand is expected to rise by 340,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 26.5 million bpd this year, the lowest growth since 2020, down from 700,000 bpd growth last year, as China nears its peak in transport fuel demand and the US exceeds it, according to consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

Is Boeing in trouble?

Boeing is now grappling with a surge in whistleblower claims, following the tragic deaths of two individuals, raising serious concerns about safety and transparency within the company. The recent passing of a second whistleblower, Joshua Dean, 45, adds to the growing unease surrounding Boeing's operations. Dean, a former quality auditor at Spirit AeroSystems, one of Boeing's major suppliers, succumbed to a rapidly advancing infection on Tuesday morning. His death comes just two months after another whistleblower was reportedly found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. These incidents have sparked fears among legal representatives that at least 10 other whistleblowers, who are pushing for reforms within Boeing, may be deterred from coming forward. The gravity of the situation cannot be overstated, as the lives and well-being of countless individuals hang in the balance.

U.S. employment growth slows in April

US job growth slowed more than expected in April and annual wage growth cooled, but it is probably too early to expect the Federal Reserve to start cutting interest rates before September as the labour market remains fairly tight. Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 175,000 last month, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday in its highly watched employment report. The March figures have been revised up, with the number of people employed rising by 315,000 from 303,000 reported earlier.

Sony and Apollo make $26 billion offer for Paramount Pictures

Sony Pictures Entertainment and Apollo Global Management have made a $26 billion cash offer for Paramount Global, according to the Wall Street Journal. The two companies filed a non-binding offer letter on Wednesday, signed by Sony Pictures CEO Tony Vinciquerra and Apollo partner Aaron Sobel, the WSJ reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

US labour market unchanged, productivity stalls in the first quarter

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits remained steady at a low level last week, suggesting that the labor market is still fairly tight and will continue to support the economy in the second quarter. Economists largely dismissed other data released by the Labor Department on Thursday that showed worker productivity growth nearly stalled in the first quarter, noting that the trend in productivity remains solid. They also argued that it was a seasonal quirk that tends to skew gross domestic product and productivity lower in the first quarter.

The consumer price index (CPI) in Switzerland rose by 0.3% in April 2024 compared with the previous month

In Switzerland, the consumer price index (CPI) rose by 0.3% in April 2024 compared with the previous month, reaching 107.4 points. Compared with the same month of the previous year, inflation was +1.4%. These are the results of the Federal Statistics Office (FSO). The increase of 0.3% compared to the previous month is due to several factors, including the rise in international package tours and air fares. Furniture and furnishings and petrol also showed price increases.

New Zealand’s labour market participation has fallen significantly

New Zealand's unemployment rate rose more than expected in the March quarter, despite a sharp fall in the number of people participating in the labour market, bringing the Reserve Bank of New Zealand closer to cutting interest rates ahead of the US Federal Reserve. The labour market is softening, with unemployment rising sharply to 4.3%, above the 4.2% level expected and the 4% rate reported three months earlier. A year ago, unemployment was 3.4%.

GDP growth in Germany in Q1 2024

The gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.2% in the first quarter of 2024 compared with the fourth quarter of 2023 - after adjustment for price, seasonal and calendar variations - after falling at the end of 2023 (by a revised -0.5% in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared with the previous quarter; previously: -0.3%). The Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) also reports that the modest growth was due to an increase in gross fixed capital formation in construction and in exports. By contrast, there was a decline in household final consumption expenditure.

Factory activity in China stagnated in April, but still points to an expanding economy

Chinese factory activity remained in expansion territory for the second consecutive month in April, the latest sign of an acceleration in the pace of economic recovery. The official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which measures sentiment among factory owners, was 50.4 in April compared with 50.8 in March, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Tuesday. The reading remained above the 50 watershed level indicating expanding activity, after March's reading capped five consecutive months of contraction.

Elon Musk discusses Chinese data transfer

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) -Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrived in Beijing on Sunday on an unannounced visit, where he was expected to discuss the rollout of Full Self-Driving (FSD) software and permission to transfer data overseas. The U.S. electric vehicle maker rolled out FSD, the most autonomous version of its Autopilot software, four years ago but has yet to make it available in China, its second-largest market globally, despite customer demand. Tesla has since 2021 stored all data collected by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai as required by Chinese regulators and has not transferred any back to the United States. Musk is looking to obtain approval to transfer data collected in the country abroad to train algorithms for its autonomous driving technologies. Tesla has sold more than 1.7 million cars in China since it entered the market a decade ago and the Shanghai factory is its largest globally.

Turkey is in talks with Exxon for LNG delivery

Turkey is negotiating a long-term LNG supply agreement with ExxonMobil to reduce its dependency on Russia. The potential deal involves 2.5 million tons of LNG annually for a decade, with an estimated yearly cost of nearly $1.1 billion. As a country with strong ties to Russia, Turkey is building a new supplier portfolio for its gas needs. Turkey has gas procurement contracts with several countries, including the United States. The goal is to diversify gas supply to address energy prices and ensure supply security.

Deutsche Bank down 5% after Postbank litigation resurfaces

Deutsche Bank shares fell 5% early Monday after reports of a long-running lawsuit could cost the largest German lender up to 1.3 billion euros ($1.39 billion). The case comes as a blow to Deutsche, which reported better-than-expected results last week that boosted its shares. It's the latest in a series of problems that have emerged with the purchase of no-frills Postbank.

Japanese Yen may strengthen, possibly due to Tokyo’s intervention

European traders are waking up to a jittery currency market after the yen reversed sharply from 160 per dollar on Monday, with some speculating that Tokyo could be behind the move while the country is on holiday. The yen's surge - which lifted the yen to 156.55/ dollar - came just hours after it slipped to the weaker side of 160/ dollar for the first time since 1990, a 34-year low.

The parent company would rather shut down TikTok than put it in American hands

ByteDance expects to take legal action to prevent TikTok from being banned in the US, but even if that fails, it would not sell it. The owner ByteDance would rather shut down TikTok than sell it, several sources told Reuters. The parent company wants to use legal means to prevent the otherwise loss-making video-sharing company from being banned in the US, but even if that fails, it would not sell it to the US.

BOJ leaves interest rate unchanged at today’s meeting

The Bank of Japan left its policy rate unchanged after Friday's monetary policy meeting, keeping the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0%-0.1%. The BOJ also said it will resume bond purchases as decided in March. The bank said earlier in March that it had previously bought bonds worth about six trillion yen ($83.5 billion) a month.

US economic growth more subdued than expected

US economic growth started the year much weaker than expected as consumer spending rose at a slower pace, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. Gross domestic product, a broad measure of goods and services produced in the January-to-March period, rose 1.6% on a seasonally and inflation-adjusted annual basis, the department's Bureau of Economic Analysis said.

Deutsche Bank’s first quarter results jump 10%

Deutsche Bank on Thursday posted a better-than-expected 10% rise in first-quarter profit as a rebound in fixed-rate trading and deal-making boosted revenues at its investment banking division. The gains mean investment banking has regained its position as Deutsche's biggest breadwinner from the giant's retail division, which has benefited from higher interest rates recently but suffered from client service disruptions.

JPMorgan worried about Tesla’s future

Tesla's (NASDAQ: TSLA) first-quarter 2024 earnings report showed weaker performance than expected. Quarterly revenue amounted to $21.3 billion, significantly below the Bloomberg consensus of $22.3 billion. Tesla's EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) of $1.578 billion in the first quarter also fell short of the consensus expectation of $1.734 billion. The most concerning metric highlighted by JPMorgan was Tesla's free cash flow, which plummeted to -$2.531 billion in the first quarter, much worse than JPMorgan's estimate of -$1.306 billion and significantly below the company's compiled consensus of -$406 million. This steep decline was attributed to a record accumulation of unsold vehicles, with Tesla producing approximately 47,000 more vehicles than it managed to sell in the first quarter of 2024, despite ongoing price reductions. At the same time, according to JPMorgan, the pressure on the company may decrease in the short term due to the announcements of accelerated introductions of Robotaxi and new products.

Tesla promises “more affordable” cars when the all-new Model 2 hits the shelves

Tesla on Tuesday announced it will introduce "new models" on its current platforms and production lines by early 2025, as it backed away from more ambitious plans to produce an all-new model at a cost of $25,000. Rumors of new proposals for a faster timetable led to a soaring of Tesla shares in after-hours trading, a much-needed boost after months of decline during which Tesla has struggled with fierce competition and declining sales. The increase came despite Tesla posting first-quarter results that fell short of Wall Street expectations.

US business activity growth slowed in April

US business activity continued to grow in April, but the pace of expansion slowed amid signs of weaker demand. The latest rise in output was the smallest so far this year, reflecting a slowdown in the pace of growth and a fall in orders in both manufacturing and services. In April, total new orders fell for the first time in six months. In response, companies cut employment for the first time in nearly four years and business confidence fell to its lowest level since November last year.

Services sector drag offsets manufacturing slump in UK private sector

UK private sector activity expanded for the sixth consecutive month in April, as a strong rebound in services sector output helped offset a slight decline in manufacturing output. Output growth was supported by a solid rise in the volume of new orders and a modest acceleration in hiring, all driven by the services economy. April data showed a steep rise in the average cost burden in the private sector, with the inflation rate rising sharply from March to its highest level since May 2023.

Venezuela: Oil Sales Shift to Digital Currency

Venezuela has reverted to using digital currency for oil sales to circumvent the freezing of oil revenues in foreign banks after the reimposition of U.S. sanctions. PDVSA is accelerating the adoption of digital payment methods in oil export transactions by utilizing Tether, tied to the U.S. dollar. The Venezuelan state oil company had already experimented with Tether for oil sales in 2023. Following the expiration of a six-month temporary easing of sanctions, Venezuela managed to increase oil exports, but new buyers are now required to maintain a digital wallet. President Maduro continues to obstruct the opposition, and the easing of sanctions was contingent upon free and fair elections, a condition he violated. Amidst the reimposition of sanctions, new negotiations are underway between Venezuela and Chevron regarding the expansion of their joint venture in the Orinoco Belt. Nevertheless, the reimposition of sanctions did not prompt price fluctuations in oil markets, despite the loss of several supply sources.

Awesome or creepy? Microsoft VASA-1 is a new artificial intelligence model that turns photos into “talking faces “.

Microsoft's new artificial intelligence research promises a future where you can upload a photo, a voice sample, and create a live, animated talking head of your own face. VASA-1 takes a single portrait photo and a voice file and turns it into a realistic talking face video, complete with lip sync, realistic facial features and head movements. The model is currently only a research preview and no one outside the Microsoft Research team is allowed to try it, but the demonstration videos are impressive.

Tesla cuts prices in China, Germany and around the world

Tesla has cut prices in several of its major markets, including China and Germany, following price cuts in the US, as it grapples with declining sales of electric vehicles (EVs) and a sharpening price war, particularly with Chinese EVs. The price cuts came after Tesla, led by billionaire CEO Elon Musk, reported this month that global vehicle deliveries fell in the first quarter for the first time in nearly four years.

Airlines reroute flights after Israeli attack on Iran

Airlines changed flight routes over Iran, cancelling some flights and diverting others to alternative airports or returning planes to their departure points on Friday due to airspace and airport closures and security concerns following the Israeli attack on Iran. Iran closed its airports in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan after the attack and cleared the western part of its airspace of flights for several hours after the attack, according to the flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.

UK retail sales remain stable in March 2024

In March 2024, the volume of retail sales was unchanged compared to February, with an increase in motor fuel and non-food sales offset by a decline in food and non-food retail sales. However, in the quarter to March 2024, sales volumes increased by 1.9%, reflecting a recovery from low sales volumes over the Christmas period.

“Biden Administration: Brakes on Oil Prices”

"In the United States, as the presidential election and summer driving season approach, the Biden administration is striving to stabilize fuel prices to ensure the country's economic stability. White House economic adviser Lael Brainard emphasized the administration's commitment to maintaining fuel prices within the current range in a statement on Thursday, without detailing how this would be achieved. In the past, measures have been taken to preserve fuel prices, including pressuring OPEC/OPEC+ to increase crude oil production and selling hundreds of millions of barrels of oil from the national Strategic Petroleum Reserves. With summer approaching, fuel prices traditionally rise due to increased travel and transportation demand. Concerns about potential price spikes before this year's presidential election have prompted the administration to proactively address the issue. Brainard's remarks underscore the administration's recognition of the importance of affordable fuel for American consumers and businesses, especially in an election year. Focusing on stabilizing fuel prices, the administration is making broader efforts to support economic recovery and reduce inflationary pressures. Maintaining affordable fuel prices is crucial for sustaining consumer purchasing power and strengthening business operations."

Australian employment falls, unemployment rate rises to 3.8%

n March, Australian employment unexpectedly fell while the unemployment rate rose, reflecting tightening monetary policy settings. The economy shed 6,600 jobs, defying expectations for a 10,000-strong increase and following a rise of more than 100,000 in February, government data showed on Thursday. The unemployment rate rose to 3.8% from 3.7% in February. The data "point to a healthy and still tight labour market," said Su-Lin Ong, chief economist at the Royal Bank of Canada. "Despite below-trend economic growth, a consumer recession and subdued confidence, the labour market remains fairly resilient".

“Venezuela: Threat of Sanctions Return”

The Biden administration is considering the possibility of reintroducing oil sanctions against Venezuela as Nicolas Maduro has violated the terms of temporary sanctions relief. Maduro continuously attacks the opposition, using fabricated charges to exclude them from elections and arresting those accused of plotting against him. It is important for the government to ensure democratic elections in Venezuela, and if these conditions are not met, sanctions may be reinstated. Negotiations offer a potential avenue for easing tensions, but the ultimate outcome remains unknown. All of this is tied to efforts to increase Venezuelan oil production and enhance the influence of PDVSA.

Japan and South Korea Express Serious Concerns Over Yen and Won Weakness

Japanese and South Korean finance ministry officials have expressed "serious concerns" about the weakening of the yen and the won, warning that they might take steps to counteract volatility. This week is particularly significant as financial officials from around the world gather in Washington for the annual International Monetary Fund meeting and the Group-of-20 meetings. Small and medium-sized enterprises in Japan are struggling with the higher costs of imported materials, prompting the head of the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry to call for consideration of coordinated currency intervention with other countries to support the yen midweek. The South Korean government also highlighted that it discussed "serious concerns" with its Japanese counterparts regarding the weakness of the won and the yen, and warned that it might take steps against volatility. Additionally, Bank Indonesia announced on Tuesday that it had intervened to support the rupiah after the currency reached 16,000 per dollar for the first time in four years. Throughout these events, the possibility of a coordinated intervention to curb the strengthening dollar has been raised, but no concrete plans have been made yet.

Inflation to hold steady in March 2024 in the UK

The Consumer Prices Index including owner-occupied housing costs (CPIH) remains at 3.8%, while the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) falls slightly to 3.2% over the past year. Food prices are contributing to the fall, while fuel prices are partly offsetting it, with core inflation showing a slight decline for both indices.

“The US crude oil inventories rose”

According to data from the American Petroleum Institute, crude oil inventories in the United States increased by 4.09 million barrels this week, while refined products, including gasoline and diesel, remained stagnant. Subsequently, the Department of Energy reported that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve's crude oil inventories rose by an additional 0.7 million barrels, reaching the highest point since April last year. Despite market fears surrounding potential Israeli retaliatory measures to Iranian attacks, oil prices declined. Gasoline inventories decreased, while distillate inventories showed a slight decline compared to the five-year average. The latest data suggests that although there were inventory increases, the oil market continues to remain volatile.

Stagnant Inflation Data: The Fed Continues to Wait on Rate Cuts

The most recent data shows that there has been no progress this year in reducing inflation, thus the Federal Reserve needs more time before it can reduce interest rates, said Jerome Powell, Chair of the Federal Reserve on Tuesday. Powell mentioned that this year, the interest-rate committee has emphasized that they need greater confidence that inflation is sustainably moving towards the 2% target before it would be appropriate to lower rates. Although financial markets had previously expected the first rate cut to come in June, recent high inflation readings have now pushed the expected timing of the first cut to September, according to the CME FedWatch tool. Powell noted that inflation had "declined quite significantly over the second half of last year." However, inflation data released last week indicates that the 12-month annual inflation rate, measured by the personal consumption expenditures index, stood at 2.8% in March, little changed from February, and shorter-term 3-month and 6-month measures are likely to be even higher. Powell stated that if high inflation persists, the Fed can maintain the current level of interest rates, between 5.25%-5.5%, "for as long as needed." He added that the Fed has room to cut rates if the labor market unexpectedly weakens, and noted that the current level of rates is "restrictive," or putting downward pressure on demand, thus helping to cool inflation.

Netflix Dives Into Live Sports Entertainment: A Strategic Move to Outpace Streaming Rivals

Netflix has ventured into new territory within the streaming market by announcing that it will broadcast WWE events for a decade starting in 2025, in a deal worth $5 billion. This agreement allows the company to tap into WWE’s extensive fan base and strengthen its position in the live sports entertainment arena. Live broadcasts of sports events, such as the upcoming boxing match between Mike Tyson and social media star Jake Paul in July, enhance the platform's appeal, targeting not just younger audiences but also older demographics. The company is set to release its first-quarter report soon, anticipating significant growth in subscribers. This increase in the subscriber base is expected to be supported by stricter measures against password sharing and new, lower-cost, ad-supported subscription plans. Analysts predict revenues around $9.27 billion and higher subscriber numbers compared to previous quarters, which could further solidify Netflix’s market position while creating new opportunities to boost advertising revenue through regular live content broadcasts.

Variation in the number of people employed in the UK

In the UK, there was a slight decline of 18,000 (0.1%) between January and February 2024, followed by a significant increase of 352,000 (1.2%) in the year to February 2024. March 2024 saw a preliminary month-on-month decline of 67,000 (0.2%), but an annualised increase of 204,000 (0.7%) to 30.3 million, but caution is advised due to possible revisions. Also, the volatility of the Labour Force Survey estimates makes them worth using in conjunction with other indicators such as Workforce Jobs and PAYE Real Time Information. Source: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/APRIL2024

China’s first-quarter GDP growth stable, but demand remains weak in March

China's economy grew faster than expected in the first quarter, data released on Tuesday showed, providing some relief to officials trying to support growth amid prolonged weakness in the property sector and rising debt levels of local governments. However, a number of March indicators released alongside the GDP data, including housing investment, retail sales and industrial production, showed that domestic demand remains weak, dampening overall momentum.

In the US, retail sales grew by 0.7% in March, more than expected

Rising inflation in March did not deter consumers, who continued to shop at a faster pace than expected, the Commerce Department reported Monday. According to Census Bureau data, seasonally but not inflation-adjusted, retail sales rose 0.7% for the month, significantly faster than the Dow Jones consensus forecast of a 0.3% increase.

Iran launched attack on Israel

Iran launched over 200 drones and missiles at Israel, but US and British air forces participated in neutralizing threats before entering Israeli airspace. Minor damage sustained at Israel military base in the country's south. While no Israeli fatalities reported at this point, the country is staying on high alert. Airspaces of several regional countries have been closed, and their air defenses are also on high alert. Western allies of Israel and UN Secretary General condemn Iranian attack. we don't know how Iran is planning to continue the attacks from this point if the attacks continue at all, but Israeli officials vow significant retaliation is coming. Joe Biden warned his Israeli counterpart that the US would not participate in any attack on Iran but helps only in defensive operation. Many worried voiced heard on the internet about a possible start of WW3. While the attack is seriously destabilizing further the Middle East area, it would be too early to say how other nations around the globe are reacting to the situation.

UK GDP and sectoral performance in February 2024

Monthly real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated to have increased by 0.1% in February 2024, following an increase of 0.3% in January. Real GDP is estimated to have increased by 0.2% in the three months to February 2024, compared with the three months to November 2023. Output in the services sector rose 0.1% in February 2024, following a 0.3% increase in January, and rose 0.2% over the three months to February 2024. Production output rose 1.1% in February 2024, the largest contributor to monthly GDP growth, following a 1.1% fall in January, production output rose 0.7% over the three months to February 2024. Construction output fell by 1.9% in February 2024, following an increase of 1.1% in the previous month; construction output fell by 1.0% over the three months to February 2024.

China’s March exports and imports shrink, well below forecasts

China's March exports shrank sharply while imports also unexpectedly contracted, both falling far short of market forecasts, customs data showed on Friday, highlighting the difficult task for policymakers as they try to shore up a faltering economic recovery.

The ECB keeps interest rates unchanged and is committed to containing inflation

The ECB's Executive Board today decided to leave the three main ECB key policy rates unchanged, while the inflation outlook reinforces the medium-term projections. Future decisions will depend on the inflation outlook and monetary policy will remain data-dependent and subject to change from meeting to meeting.

Chinese CPI inflation eased to 0.1% in March, against expectations of 0.4%

China's consumer price index (CPI) stood at 0.1% in March, after a 0.7% increase in February. The market forecast was for a 0.4% increase. China's CPI inflation was -1.0% for the month in March, compared to a 1.0% rise in February, much worse than the 0.5% decline expected. China's producer price index (PPI) fell 2.8% year-on-year in March, compared with the 2.7% decline seen earlier. The figure was in line with expectations for a 2.8% decline.

The Bank of Canada has stubbornly kept its interest rates at 5%

The Bank of Canada kept its overnight interest rate target unchanged at 5% at today's meeting, while the federal funds rate remained at 5¼% and the deposit rate at 5%. The central bank continues to maintain its policy of quantitative tightening. The global economy is expected to continue to grow at a rate of around 3%, while inflation in advanced economies is expected to moderate slightly. The US economy has proved stronger than expected, in particular thanks to support from resilient consumption and robust business and government spending. The euro area is slowly recovering from weak growth, and global oil prices have also risen significantly, by around $5 above January forecasts. Bond yields have risen since January, but tightening corporate credit spreads and rising equity markets have contributed to easing overall financial conditions.

Oil Price Decline and Inventory Expansion: April Situation Assessment

The oil price decreased today following the Energy Information Administration's report of a 5.8 million barrel inventory expansion up to April 5th. The growth in fuel stocks contrasted with significant declines the previous week. Gasoline and distillate inventories expanded, with gasoline up by 700,000 barrels and distillate by 1.7 million barrels. Oil prices stabilized, but concerns persist over the Middle Eastern situation and potential Iranian involvement, heightening supply security worries. Analysts suggest prices remain highly volatile, with any single news event capable of reigniting an upward trend, including attacks on Russian oil infrastructure or Israeli actions in Syria.

New Zealand’s central bank keeps interest rate at 5.50%

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) has decided to keep the official cash rate (OCR) at 5.50% for the sixth time in its April review. According to the RBNZ's Monetary Policy Committee, the economy is developing in line with expectations and high interest rates are reducing capacity pressures and inflation. The committee reached a consensus to keep the OCR unchanged, the RBNZ said.

Summary of Oil Market News and Inventory Changes – April 10.

According to the American Petroleum Institute (API), crude oil inventories in the United States increased by 3.034 million barrels in the week ending April 5, surpassing analysts' expectations. Inventories had decreased by 2.286 million barrels the previous week. Additionally, the Department of Energy (DoE) reported that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) increased by an additional 0.6 million barrels, reaching 364.2 million barrels, the highest level since last year. Oil prices declined due to ongoing ceasefire negotiations, although significant progress in resolving the conflict was not achieved. Both Brent and the U.S. WTI benchmark prices were lower, though still showing increases compared to the previous week. Gasoline inventories decreased, while distillate inventories increased compared to the previous week.

Citigroup CEO faces growth challenge from transformation

Investors rewarded Chief Executive Jane Fraser with a share price rise after Fraser announced in September a sweeping overhaul of Citi's dispersed structure and cost-cutting by laying off 5,000 employees. They then want to see growth in asset management and investment banking. Wall Street investors have welcomed Fraser's restructuring, but warned the CEO that there are serious challenges ahead to boost returns and catch up with rivals, including regulatory problems, weak earnings and an uncertain workforce.

Airlines are struggling with a shortage of aircraft as summer travel hits record levels

The global airline industry faces a summer squeeze as travel demand is expected to exceed pre-plague levels, while Boeing's production problems are causing a sharp drop in aircraft deliveries. Airlines are spending billions on repairs to continue flying older, less fuel-efficient aircraft and paying a premium to insure aircraft from lessors. However, some airlines are still being forced to reduce their schedules to cope with the shortage of available aircraft. At the same time, the number of travellers worldwide is set to rise to historic highs: 4.7 billion people are expected to travel in 2024, up from 4.5 billion in 2019.

Exxon continues to push forward

ExxonMobil is expanding its Fawley site in the United Kingdom to produce low-sulfur diesel, aiming to meet current British energy demands and lay the groundwork for future lower-carbon fuels. The new investment includes a hydrogen unit and plans for future biofuel production from vegetable oils. Exxon aims to increase low-sulfur diesel production by 40% to reduce imports to the United Kingdom. This investment contrasts with trends in Europe, where many refineries are converting to biofuel production or closing due to economic challenges. For instance, Scotland's Grangemouth refinery plans to cease refining activities by 2025 to become an import hub. Meanwhile, major oil companies have announced closures of European refineries, converting some to biofuel facilities, such as Eni's Livorno refinery in Italy and Shell's Wesseling refinery in Germany. Economic challenges and declining demand for transportation fuels may threaten over 20% of global refining capacity, particularly in Europe and China, according to Wood Mackenzie's report. The gradual phase-out of free carbon emission allowances and expected reductions in demand for transportation fuels in developed countries are likely to decrease European refining margins starting from 2030.

Oil and a potential issue

The spread of conflicts and coups in the Sahel region is causing concern in West Africa as it jeopardizes oil extraction projects and export terminals in coastal countries of the region. The escalation of extremist violence in the Sahel and the risk of its spread pose a serious threat to the United States and international security. The international community, including the United States and the European Union, has made strong commitments to combat instability and maintain regional stability, through financial support and military assistance. Key oil projects in the region, such as the Ghanaian Jubilee field and the Eni project in Ivory Coast, are crucial for regional economies but are endangered by instability. New infrastructure developments, such as the Benin-Niger pipeline, complement oil export opportunities but also pose risks due to instability. Maintaining regional stability and ensuring the security of oil projects are of paramount importance for economic and political stability in West Africa.

Microsoft launches AI centre in London

Microsoft has announced the creation of a new artificial intelligence (AI) centre in London, focusing on product development and research. The unit will be led by Mustafa Suleyman, the London-born co-founder of Google DeepMind, who was hired by Microsoft last month.

China’s Shimao goes into liquidation for non-payment of a $202 million loan

Chinese developer Shimao Group said on Monday that China Construction Bank (Asia) had filed for liquidation in Hong Kong over unpaid debts, a rare legal action by a state-owned bank during a property slump. The petition is over Shimao's failure to repay a HK$1.58 billion (US$201.75 million) loan and contrasts with legal action against rival firms such as China Evergrande Group and Country Garden by overseas lenders for defaulting on their debts.

Bayer’s $1.56 billion Roundup verdict reduced to $611 million

A Missouri judge slashed a $1.56 billion verdict against Bayer (OTC:BAYRY) to $611 million for three people who claimed its Roundup weed killer caused their cancer, by reducing punitive damages.Bayer said on Friday it is appealing. Roundup is among the most widely used weedkillers in the United States, though Bayer phased out sales for home use last year.Though Bayer has won the majority of its more recent Roundup trials, plaintiffs have won more than $4 billion of verdicts, including $2.25 billion in a single case in January. Bayer is appealing those verdicts.