Weather fuels price rise
Oil prices rose to near US$99 a barrel yesterday on signs of colder weather in the US and Europe and continued weakness in the US dollar. "The onset of cold US weather is going to boost fuel demand," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with Purvin & Gertz in Singapore. Light, sweet crude for January delivery added US$0.58 to US$98.76 a barrel in Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, midmorning yesterday in Singapore. On Friday, the contract rose US$0.89 to settle at US$98.18 a barrel. Shum said data suggesting that OPEC is increasing production more quickly than expected is likely to keep a temporary cap on oil prices.
Euro's rise could hurt
The euro's rise against the dollar could force Berlin to lower its growth forecast for the eurozone's biggest economy, Deputy Economy Minister Walther Otremba said in an interview with the Handelsblatt business daily yesterday. "If the euro's exchange rate remains high for a while, it will be impossible to prevent negative effects on exports," he said. "The government would then also have to reexamine its growth forecasts," possibly as early as January. Berlin officially expects the economy to expand by 2.4 percent this year and by 2 percent next year, a marked slowdown from the relatively brisk pace of 2.6 percent last year.
Natixis Q3 profit up 16%
France's Natixis said on Sunday that its third quarter net profit increased by 16 percent to 437 million euros (US$647 million) despite a 407 million euro loss on the fallout from the US subprime credit crisis. Third-quarter net banking profit fell to 1.36 billion euros from 1.64 billion euros on a pro-forma basis last year, the bank said in a statement. Net profit for the first nine months of the year rose 15 percent to 2 billion euros, while net banking profit was up just 2 percent at 5.57 billion euros, it said. "The financial crisis in the summer generated a negative impact of 407 million euros." Natixis' earnings statement comes days after its main shareholders announced they would inject 1 billion euros into the company's bond insurance unit.
Commonwealth slams EU
The Commonwealth lashed out at the EU on Sunday for scrapping a trade deal with sugar-producing African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The EU voted in September to axe the "Sugar Protocol," under which 18 ACP countries received privileged duty-free access at subsidized prices to the EU market. The Commonwealth said it considered" the EC's unilateral denunciation of the Sugar Protocol as very regrettable." Europe initially slashed its sugar subsidies by 36 percent, in response to a WTO ruling that they were illegal, but then scrapped them completely. Europe has pledged millions of euros to help the ACP countries adapt to the changes.
British firms going green
Britain's largest companies are pledging to offer greener products and invest in research and technology as part of a wider push to reduce carbon emissions. In an unprecedented joint effort, 18 top firms were to publish a report yesterday in which they promise to develop new products and services that would allow customers to cut their carbon emissions. They said they will develop a standard for all businesses to report carbon emission levels.