Strikes halt YPF’s output
Construction workers picketing over wages blocked roads in Argentina’s top crude-producing region on Saturday, halting output from an oilfield operated by YPF SA, company and union officials said. The Manantiales Behr field operated by YPF, in the southern province of Chubut, was shut down by the blockade staged by contractors working at the production site. YPF is the local unit of Spain’s Repsol YPF SA. The protest is the latest in a recent flurry of labor disputes to hit the Patagonian province. Work stoppages have raised concern about possible fuel shortages in Argentina as double-digit inflation stokes ever-higher salary demands. Guido Dickason, spokesman for the labor union involved in the protest, said that the protest would go on until a pay dispute with YPF was settled.
Growth forecast at 5.3%
The nation’s economy will expand 5.3 percent this year, powered by higher oil prices and more government spending in the Arab world’s largest economy, National Commercial Bank said. The economy will grow 4.2 percent next year, the -Jeddah-based bank said in an e-mailed report yesterday. The kingdom will “benefit from the recent positive oil price shock” as it raises output 6.2 percent to average 8.8 million barrels a day this year, compared with last year, the bank said. The kingdom, which depends on oil for 86 percent of its revenue, announced increases in government spending in March as protests calling for more job opportunities and democracy engulfed the Middle East. The package included US$67 billion on housing and funds for the military and religious groups that backed the government’s ban on domestic protests and followed a US$36 billion handout announced on Feb. 23.
UAE firm sees sales drop
Emaar Properties PJSC, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) biggest developer by market value, said revenue from apartment sales declined 81 percent in the first quarter and from villa sales 50 percent amid weak property demand. Income from apartment sales dropped to 375 million dirhams (US$102 million) and from villas to 60 million dirhams, according to Emaar’s earnings statement posted on the Dubai Financial Market yesterday. Overall revenue fell 31 percent to 1.98 billion dirhams in the first quarter, while profit slumped 45 percent. Emaar reported first-quarter earnings on April 24 and provided a breakdown of revenue yesterday. Emaar will need to “start relying more on international projects” to compensate for a decline in apartment deliveries in Dubai, said Majed Azzam, a Dubai-based analyst at AlembicHC Securities. Prices and margins are lower in international markets and Emaar’s earnings will be “hit this year, until the company resumes sales in Dubai,” he said yesterday.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
Food mogul dies
Wallace McCain, a billionaire frozen food mogul and philanthropist who helped turn a small Canadian french fry plant into the global McCain Foods Ltd empire and later went on to control meat processor Maple Leaf Foods Inc, has died. He was 81. McCain, co-founder of McCain Foods and chairman of Maple Leaf Foods, died on Friday night in Toronto after a 14-month battle with pancreatic cancer. The death was announced by the board of directors of Maple Leaf Foods on Saturday.