Oil prices ended mixed on Friday as the market continued to digest news that Washington was considering requests to temporarily waive rules requiring cleaner-burning gasoline that have contributed to fears of a supply crunch. \nA big buildup of US crude reported this week had set prices off on a gasoline-driven losing streak that has taken more than US$2 off the price of oil since it set a high on Wednesday. \nNew York light crude futures ended US$0.12 a barrel higher at US$34.39 a barrel, but Brent futures in London settled US$1.34 lower at US$30.21, as that market caught up with Thursday's price decline, which happened after its close. \nGasoline was down US$0.0037 cents to end at US$1.0722 a gallon, after falling nearly US$0.06 on Thursday, when the market first reacted to news of a possible waiver of clean fuel rules in some US states, which would make it easier for refiners to produce more. \n"We had some short-covering after the market over-reacted to [the gasoline waiver news] and sobriety returned to the market," said John Kilduff, senior vice president at Fimat USA. \nFears of gasoline tightness had propped up the market for much of the last month, analysts said. \nOn Wednesday, US government figures showed commercial crude stocks rising to their highest level in 19 months and gasoline inventories building to above year-ago levels, which unwound some of those concerns and brought US gasoline futures down about 8 percent from a record high price set on Wednesday. \nSome of the recent gasoline market tightness has been blamed on US federal rules requiring refiners to blend dozens of different kinds of gasoline for various states. \nEnergy Secretary Spencer Abraham said on Thursday the US Environmental Protection Agency was seriously considering requests from key gasoline consuming states for temporary exemptions from such requirements. \nTraders said the market sold on the news. \n"[A waiver] would remove manufacturing challenges that producers now face, thereby increasing gasoline yields -- we estimate by 3 percent to 4 percent," according to a Bear Stearns research note. \nBut some analysts said that the clean-burning fuel requirements were secondary to capacity problems and low stock levels in explaining gasoline prices. \n"Our view is that, even if some of these measures are introduced, they will not help much in easing gasoline supply. This is because they do not address the central issues currently contributing to US gasoline market tightness, namely low stock levels, accelerating demand and the inability of the US refining system to respond to surges in demand for its products," Barclays Capital said. \n"The big problems of low gasoline inventory and the inability of the US refining system to cope with surging demand still remain." \nTraders said skepticism about compliance had limited the impact of OPEC's agreement on Wednesday to forge ahead with its April 1, million-barrel-per-day supply cut. \nKuwait's foreign minister, on a visit to Washington, said on Friday that OPEC was not likely to cut back production when prices are much higher than the agreed price band of US$22 to US$28 a barrel. But Sheikh Mohammad al-Salem declined to say whether Kuwait will seek to reverse OPEC's decision. \nKuwait was one of the members who had recommended to the cartel's meeting this week that the group consider delaying tighter restrictions to allow prices to cool.
SELF-SUFFICIENCY: Alibaba is one of a number of Chinese firms that has answered Beijing’s call to invest in the development of cutting-edge technologies Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) yesterday unveiled a new server chip that is based on advanced 5-nanometer technology, marking a milestone in China’s pursuit of semiconductor self-sufficiency. The Chinese tech giant’s newest chip is based on micro-architecture provided by the SoftBank Group Corp-owned Arm Ltd, it said. Alibaba, which is holding its annual cloud summit in Hangzhou, China, said that the chip is to be used in its own data centers in the “near future” and would not, for the time being, be sold commercially. “Customizing our own server chips is consistent with our ongoing efforts toward boosting our computing capabilities with better
‘SHORT-TERM ECONOMIC PAIN’: A military takeover would only temporarily weigh on wafer production on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, IC Insights said Taiwan has more chip manufacturing capacity than any other economy in the world, US-based market information advisory firm IC Insights said in a research paper last week, cautioning that the nation’s strength could prompt China to attempt to take over Taiwan. Taiwan commanded 21.4 percent of global installed IC capacity, ahead of South Korea’s 20.4 percent, Japan’s 15.8 percent and China’s 15.3 percent, North America’s 12.6 percent and Europe’s 5.7 percent, IC Insights said. Taiwan is one of two countries that uses 10-nanometer technology or better to produce wafers, holding 62.8 percent of global capacity, with South Korea holding the remaining 37.2
AGGRESSIVE STEP: With the new processors, Apple is aiming at the high-end chips Intel has provided for the MacBook Pro and other top-end Macs for about 15 years Apple Inc on Monday took the most aggressive step yet to strip Intel Corp chips from its computers, announcing more powerful homegrown Mac processors alongside a total revamp of its MacBook Pro laptop computers. The company showcased the chips at an event called “Unleashed,” which also included its latest audio products. The new components, called the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, are 70 percent faster than its M1 predecessors, Apple said. It also unveiled a redesigned MacBook Pro, adding larger screens, MagSafe charging and better resolution. With the new processors and devices, Apple is aiming squarely at the high-end chips that Intel has
PRICE SPREAD: Oil trading under the Brent futures contract is giving the US a hefty edge in pricing, increasing the rush to secure cheap fuel as winter approaches Asian demand for US oil is rising as the energy crisis boosts prices for other crudes that are priced against the global Brent futures contract. China and other Asian buyers have been snapping up supertankers of US oil for delivery next month and seeking more for December, some traders have said. Most buyers are seeking US grades that had recently slumped to the lowest levels in more than a year, with an added incentive after Beijing awarded millions of tonnes of crude oil import quotas. A wide spread between Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil futures is accommodating higher US crude