Sat, Jan 18, 2020 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take



Trade deals boost oil

Oil held its biggest gain in almost two weeks on optimism over a more conciliatory trade approach by the US, but was still headed for a weekly drop amid persistent demand concerns. Futures in New York edged higher after closing up 1.2 percent on Thursday, after Washington and Beijing signed a phase-one trade deal on Wednesday, and the Senate passed the US-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement a day later. A big jump in American oil-product stockpiles last week highlighted sluggish demand. China pledged US$52.4 billion in additional purchases of US energy over this year and next year in the agreement, although there was some skepticism in the market about whether it would be able to reach the target. Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency warned in its monthly report that supplies from Iraq, the Middle East’s second-biggest producer, are potentially vulnerable due to rising political risks in the country and broader region.


China output at new high

China’s annual steel output notched a fresh record last year, surging to short of 1 billion tonnes amid healthy demand. Crude steel production jumped 8.3 percent to 903.86 million tonnes, the National Bureau of Statistics said. Output last month surged 12 percent from a year earlier to 76.48 million tonnes, the highest since August. Steel consumption increased 6 percent last year, supported by demand from infrastructure and property sectors, according to the China and Iron Steel Association. The group predicts the expansion would continue this year, forecasting growth of 2 percent. At the same time, elevated output reflects the challenges the world’s top steel market faces in reining in oversupply.


Interest rate unaltered

The central bank yesterday left its key interest rate unchanged, opting to monitor signs of green shoots in the economy as the government steps up fiscal spending. The Bank of Korea kept the seven-day repurchase rate at 1.25 percent in its first policy decision of the year, an outcome forecast by all but one of 22 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. One economist predicted a cut to 1 percent. The central bank gave a slightly more optimistic view of the economy in a statement released after the decision, adding that growth this year would largely be in line with its 2.3 percent projection in November last year. The economy is expected to perform better this year than last year and the government is determined to restore growth momentum through what it calls the most expansionary spending possible.


Barclays eyes job cuts

Barclays PLC is embarking on a plan to cut about 100 senior jobs, mostly in trading roles across its corporate and investment bank, as the British lender seeks to rein in costs. The bank has started trimming mainly managing director and director positions in London and Asian financial hubs, people familiar with the matter said. A spokeswoman for Barclays in London declined to comment on the cuts, which are among the first by a major investment bank this year. Securitized product sales for Americas head Jonathan Kitei, EMEA cash high-touch trading and sales head Tim Johnston and treasury head in India Anindya Das Gupta are leaving the bank as part of the cuts, people familiar with the matter said. All three declined to comment. About a dozen positions in Asia have been hit, though the cuts won’t result in a retreat from any business or market in the region, one of the people said.

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