New York's benchmark crude oil contract broke above US$37 a barrel Friday for the first time since the Iraq war, kicked higher by tensions in major producer Venezuela. \nLight sweet crude for delivery in April leapt US$0.62 to US$37.26 a barrel at the close. Brent North Sea crude for April rose US$0.46 to finish at US$33.35. \nTraders feared a repeat of last year's interruption to supplies from violence-torn Venezuela, where at least eight people have been killed and dozens injured in recent days in unrest over an official refusal to hold a referendum to recall President Hugo Chavez. \n"People remember very well what happened when Venezuela went on strike," said Refco analyst Jim Still. "They are very nervous." \nTraders were also unsettled by news that Venezuela's UN ambassador Milos Alcalay quit his job Thursday in protest against the Chavez government's handling of the crisis. \nVenezuela is the third-biggest exporter in the OPEC, with a production quota of about 2.7 million barrels per day under new ceilings due to take effect next month. \nThe country accounts for 11.5 percent of OPEC's total official output and is a major supplier to the US, the world's largest oil consumer. \n"The recent unrest in OPECs only Latin American member has reminded traders of the strike that began there in late 2002, crippling oil exports," analysts at the Sucden brokerage firm wrote in a note to clients. \nGasoline stockpiles also worried the market. \n"People are extremely concerned at the gasoline prices at the moment because no one actually really knows the extent of the shortage," said GNI trader Lee Elliott in London. \nGasoline stores fell an estimated 1.4 million barrels to 202 million barrels last week, the US Energy Department said Wednesday. \nTraders are worried about whether there will be enough motor fuel available for the US and European summer, when demand for gasoline tends to pick up sharply as motorists take to the roads for vacations.
From the customer’s perspective, car rental is a straightforward business. The only uncertainty is whether the hire company will charge you for the scratch they discover when you hand back the vehicle. Hertz Global Holdings Inc’s bankruptcy protection filing on Friday last week was a reminder that today even the simplest business models are underpinned by a lot more financial complexity than meets the eye. The proximate cause of Hertz’s demise was of course the sudden collapse in bookings caused by COVID-19 travel restrictions. The company’s monthly revenue last month fell 73 percent year-on-year, a shortfall that even the most resilient
Uber Technologies Inc, Lyft Inc and Airbnb Inc have slashed thousands of jobs. Salesforce.com Inc and Visa Inc are letting employees work remotely for months; Twitter Inc and Square Inc are allowing them to do so for good. For the companies’ hometown of San Francisco, the moves are early signs of a dire blow. In a city with a long history of booms, busts and natural calamities, the COVID-19 pandemic has suddenly upended nearly a decade of prosperity. While municipalities across the US are grappling with economic fallout from the virus, San Francisco stands to take a deeper hit given its high
BULK PURCHASE: The French chain and Hong Kong-based Dairy Farm International reached a deal covering 224 stores, which is expected to be finalized by year’s end Carrefour SA yesterday announced it would acquire Wellcome Taiwan Co (惠康百貨) for 97 million euros (US$108.33 million), and bring all the Wellcome supermarkets (頂好超市) and Jasons Market Place stores nationwide under its banner within 12 months of the deal closing. The France-based hypermarket chain reached an agreement with Hong Kong-based Dairy Farm International Holdings (牛奶國際控股), the pan-Asian retailer that launched Wellcome Taiwan in 1987. The transaction involves 199 Wellcome supermarkets, which have average sales areas of 420m2 and 25 high-end Jasons Market Place stores, which have an average sales area of 820m2, as well as a warehouse in Taoyuan, Carrefour Taiwan (家樂福)
‘ONE-STOP SHOP’: A Miaoli official said that the factory in the Jhunan section of the Hsinchu Science Park would create more than 1,000 jobs and boost prosperity A new high-end IC packaging and testing plant planned by contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) in Miaoli County is expected to start operations in the middle of next year, Miaoli County Commissioner Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) said. Hsu wrote on Facebook that TSMC, the world’s largest pure wafer foundry operator, would invest NT$303.2 billion (US$10.1 billion) to build the plant, the largest-ever single investment in Taiwan. However, TSMC declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal, while a company board meeting on May 12 approved a spending plan worth NT$168.2 billion as part of its investment plans. Construction of the