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Belgium starts trial into Brussels bombings
  + stars: | 2022-12-05 | by ( Philip Blenkinsop | ) www.reuters.com   time to read: +2 min
BRUSSELS, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Belgium begins proceedings on Monday in its largest ever trial to determine whether 10 men played a part in the Islamist suicide bombings in Brussels in 2016 that killed 32 people and injured over 300. The Brussels bombings' trial has clear links to the French trial over the November 2015 Paris attacks. Six of the Brussels accused were sentenced to jail terms of between 10 years and life in France in June, but the Belgian trial will be different in that it will be settled by a jury not judges. Salah Abdeslam, the main suspect in the Paris trial, is also an accused, along with others prosecutors say hosted or helped certain attackers. In accordance with Belgium court procedure, the defendants have not declared whether they are innocent or guilty.
The price cap comes on top of an EU embargo on buying seaborne Russian crude oil as a measure aimed mainly at providing third-party countries with an option to still buy it if the transaction is at or below the price cap level. Below are the main elements of how the price cap is supposed to work:PRICE CAP LEVELThe price cap was set at $60 per barrel. Shipping companies will not be allowed to provide tankers for the transport of Russian crude unless the oil is sold at or below the $60 price cap. WHAT IS ALLOWEDProviding financial and shipping services for Russian crude oil is allowed if it is bought at or below the price cap as well as in an emergency. Specific projects which are essential for the energy security of certain third-party countries may be exempted from the price cap.
Persuading households that hoarded $1.9 trillion this year to spend will be far more difficult. Cities desperately want budgetary relief from expensive testing and quarantine enforcement mandates, and revive business investment and consumption. The question is how much of a boost combined efforts to relax zero-Covid and prop up the real estate sector will have. Yet a shopping boom seems unlikely, especially if China experiences a major outbreak as a result of looser controls. They do not reflect the views of Reuters News, which, under the Trust Principles, is committed to integrity, independence, and freedom from bias.
Oil storage tanks stand at the RN-Tuapsinsky refinery, operated by Rosneft Oil Co., at night in Tuapse, Russia. Oil prices jumped 2% on Monday after OPEC+ nations held their output targets steady ahead of a European Union ban and a price cap kicking in on Russian crude. "Prices are currently weighed down by expectations of slow demand growth, despite the EU oil import ban on Russian crude and the G-7 price cap. The adjustment to the EU ban and price cap is likely to support prices temporarily," Hittle said. Hittle added that the EU's looming embargo on Russian oil products, in addition to crude oil, from Feb. 5 should support crude demand in the first quarter of 2023, as the market is short of diesel and heating oil.
That is what OPEC+ has chosen to do with the crude oil market. There are several factors currently creating uncertainty in global crude oil markets, and some are likely to push and pull prices in opposing directions. Much of the focus in global oil market has been on the G7 price cap and the EU ban on Russian crude oil imports, both of which commence today. Stronger economic growth and easing COVID-19 restrictions in China are bullish for crude oil demand, but neither of these is locked in and the outlook is still uncertain. Overall, it's now a waiting game for OPEC+ and the global oil market to see how the various uncertainties pan out in reality.
The price cap, to be enforced by the G7, the European Union and Australia, comes on top of the EU's embargo on imports of Russian crude by sea and similar pledges by the United States, Canada, Japan and Britain. It allows Russian oil to be shipped to third-party countries using G7 and EU tankers, insurance companies and credit institutions, only if the cargo is bought at or below the price cap. Because the world's key shipping and insurance firms are based in G7 countries, the cap could make it difficult for Moscow to sell its oil for a higher price. Russia, the world's second-largest oil exporter, said on Sunday it would not accept the cap and would not sell oil that is subject to it, even if it has to cut production. In essence, such a decree would ban the export of oil and petroleum products to countries and companies that apply it.
COLLEGE PARK, Md., Dec 5 (Reuters) - Top European Union officials intend to complain loudly to their U.S. counterparts at a trade meeting on Monday about the bloc's electric vehicles being cut off from tax credits in U.S. President Joe Biden's signature climate law. "The Inflation Reduction Act will be part of the range of discussions on trade," a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said in a statement. The U.S. side was "committed to continuing to understand EU concerns" through a newly established task force, the spokesperson added. European and South Korean officials criticized the Inflation Act at the G20 Summit in Indonesia last month. French officials say they are hopeful an executive order from the White House could give European nations a break, without the need for seeking revisions from Congress - a move the White House wants to avoid.
Urals oil discount widens as freight rates for Russian oil jump - traders, Reuters calculations, article with imageMarkets category · December 2, 2022Russian Urals oil's discount to dated Brent have widened significantly, under pressure from record high freight rates for tankers carrying Russian oil and sending sellers' revenues well below an agreed EU price cap, two traders said on Friday and Reuters calculations showed.
MELBOURNE, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Oil prices inched up in early trade after OPEC+ nations reaffirmed their oil output targets ahead of a European Union ban and price caps on Russian crude, which kick off on Monday. At the same time, in a positive sign for fuel demand, more Chinese cities eased COVID-19 curbs over the weekend. Brent crude futures climbed 39 cents, or 0.5%, to $85.96 a barrel at 2309 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 37 cents, or 0.5%, to $80.35 a barrel. "Given the unprecedented uncertainties, the OPEC+ watch and wait strategy appears very sound," RBC Capital Markets analysts said in a note. Reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Cynthia OstermanOur Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
BRUSSELS, Dec 4 (Reuters) - The EU will adapt its state aid rules to prevent an exodus of investment triggered by a new U.S. green energy subsidy package, the bloc's chief executive said on Sunday. "Competition is good ... but this competition must respect a level playing field," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a speech in the Belgian city of Bruges. "The (U.S.) Inflation Reduction Act should make us reflect on how we can improve our state aid frameworks and adapt them to a new global environment," she added. The topic is one of several on the agenda of the EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council meeting on Dec. 5. Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Gareth Jones and David HolmesOur Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Italy's Meloni may water down cash payments plan after EU talks
  + stars: | 2022-12-04 | by ( ) www.reuters.com   time to read: +2 min
ROME, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Sunday that she may water down plans to make it easier to settle small payments with cash rather than cards, following talks with the European Commission over the issue. "Until 60 euros, we would like not to force retailers to accept electronic payments. But let's say that the 60-euro threshold is indicative, for me it could even be lower," Meloni said in a video posted on Facebook. "Besides, there are obviously discussions on this with the European Commission, because the issue of electronic payments is one of the issues of the [EU recovery plan], so we have to see, we'll see how the discussions end," she added. Italy is the biggest recipient of the EU's post-pandemic recovery fund, standing to receive around 200 billion euros through 2026.
For more than 100 years, automobiles have been powered by internal combustion engines. Yet around the globe, consumers are slowly shifting to electric-powered vehicles and countries are putting bans of ICE-based engines into place. This disruption in the mobility space also includes automation, like driverless cars and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) applications. Cowen said the company is "well positioned in the growing electrical architecture space as well as with electronic and safety applications." "Deep experience designing purpose-built SoCs [system-on-chip applications] and a decade+ of real world driving data support its positioning," the report said.
Dec 4 (Reuters) - Egypt's blue-chip index outperformed regional peers to close higher on Sunday, while Saudi and Qatari stocks slipped on weakness in the financial and petrochemical sectors. They could fall further this week after OPEC+ agreed to stick to its oil output targets on Sunday but volatility is likely to continue after G7 countries and Australia also agreed a price cap on Russian oil. Saudi Arabia's benchmark index (.TASI) fell 0.9%, with Sabic Agri-Nutrients (2020.SE) down 4.2% and Sulaiman al-Habib Medical Services (4013.SE) 1.2% lower. Separately, Saudi oil behemoth Aramco's (2222.SE) base oil subsidiary Luberef announced its IPO price range between 91 and 99 riyals each. In Qatar, the index (.QSI) finished flat, as gains in energy stocks were partially offset by losses in financial stocks.
U.S. manufacturing orders in China are down 40 percent, according to the latest CNBC Supply Chain Heat Map data. HLS expects most carriers to extend their West Coast rates until December 14, holding at $1,300-$1,400 per forty-foot equivalent containers (FEU). The 2M Alliance of Maersk and MSC has suspended almost half of its U.S. West Coast services for December. is also impacting Vietnam, which has been booming as a manufacturing hub as more trade moved away from China. Canceled ocean sailings bound for Vietnam are up 50% for December.
Dec 4 (Reuters) - The European Union should file a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the next few months regarding the United States' green energy subsidy package, the head of the European Parliament's trade committee was reported as saying on Sunday. The U.S. and the EU have so far sought to be conciliatory about the bill, saying last week they would seek to tackle the bloc's concerns about the package, known as the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act. EU members worry the $430 billion bill, with generous tax breaks for U.S. companies, may disadvantage European companies from car manufacturers to makers of green technology. read moreOfficials from both sides are due to address the issue at a meeting next week, but Bernd Lange, the chair of EU parliament's trade committee, said he no longer expects a negotiated solution as only small changes could still be agreed through talks. Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Frank Jack DanielOur Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Dec 3 (Reuters) - Russia said on Saturday it would continue to find buyers for its oil, despite what it said was a "dangerous" attempt by Western governments to introduce a price cap on its oil exports. A coalition of Western countries led by the G7 group of nations agreed on Friday to cap the price of Russian seaborne oil at $60 a barrel, as they aim to limit Moscow's revenues and curb its ability to finance its invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin and high-ranking Kremlin officials have repeatedly said that they will not supply oil to countries that implement the price cap. "Regardless of the current flirtations with the dangerous and illegitimate instrument, we are confident that Russian oil will continue to be in demand." The G7 price cap will allow non-EU countries to continue importing seaborne Russian crude oil, but it will prohibit shipping, insurance and re-insurance companies from handling cargoes of Russian crude around the globe, unless it is sold for less than the price cap.
The letter, seen by Reuters, is signed by the head of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the U.S. Treasury, and mentions a loan provided by some Italian banks and state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP). The Italian government adopted on Thursday a scheme allowing ISAB to be placed under trusteeship, while Lukoil continues talks on selling the asset. A similar move was taken by Germany when in September it took control of a refinery owned by Rosneft (ROSN.MM). The government could call on "an oil company that operates in the sector, and it is obvious to everyone that this (company) could be Eni, and this will ensure continuity of production," he said. Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte and Alvise Armellini, Editing by Christina Fincher and Louise HeavensOur Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
The southern city of Shenzhen announced it would no longer require people to show a negative COVID test result to use public transport or enter parks, following similar moves by Chengdu and Tianjin. A video showing workers in Beijing removing a testing booth by crane on to a truck went viral on Chinese social media on Friday. CHINA OUTLIERThree years into the pandemic, China has been a global outlier with its zero-tolerance approach towards COVID that has seen it enforce lockdowns and frequent virus testing. China reported 32,827 new local COVID-19 infections for Dec. 2, down from 34,772 a day earlier. As of Friday, China reported 5,233 COVID-related deaths and 331,952 cases with symptoms.
The price cap will prohibit G7 companies dealing with the insurance, re-insurance or financing of oil trade or to handle Russian crude oil cargoes to third countries unless the oil was sold at or below the $60 per barrel price cap. From Monday, the EU itself will not be buying any Russian seaborne crude, which had made up 94% of all Russian crude imports by the 27-nation EU. A G7 price cap on the petroleum products will also be set at a later date, using exactly the same mechanism as for crude oil, the Commission said. Because the world's key shipping and insurance firms are based in G7 countries, the price cap would make it very difficult for Moscow to sell its oil at a higher price. The price cap review is an EU-specific mechanism that will require unanimity among the 27 countries that make up the bloc for any changes to the price level.
REUTERS/Marton MonusBUDAPEST, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Thousands of teachers, students and parents protested in the Hungarian capital on Saturday in solidarity with teachers fired from top Budapest secondary schools for taking strike action that the government deemed unlawful. After a nationwide teachers' strike in January 2022, the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban restricted strike action. Several teachers from three leading Budapest secondary schools were dismissed by an order from the Interior Ministry on Wednesday for joining demonstrations and not holding classes. Students held up banners "Hands off our teachers," and "Shame on Orban" at the rally in Budapest while some students organised a week-long 24-hour vigil at the Interior Ministry, which has responsibility for education. The government has said it would raise teachers' wages once the European Commission disburses EU recovery funding, with pay hikes coming over a period of 3 years.
The High Ambition Coalition of over 40 countries, including EU members, Switzerland, host Uruguay and Ghana, wants the treaty to be based on mandatory global measures, including curbs on production. That approach contrasts with the country-driven pledges advocated by countries including the United States and Saudi Arabia. Critics say such an approach would weaken a global treaty. Industry representatives at the talks touted the essential role of plastics in daily life, calling for the treaty to focus tackling waste rather than measures to sap production. Environmental group Greenpeace said that without a strong treaty, plastic production could double within the next 10 to 15 years, and triple by 2050.
Macron says "no panic" about possible French power cuts
  + stars: | 2022-12-03 | by ( ) www.reuters.com   time to read: +1 min
PARIS, Dec 3 (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron said there was no reason to panic about possible power cuts this winter, but he called on citizens to use less energy and on state utility EDF to restart nuclear reactors to prevent outages in case of cold weather. In an interview with French TV station TF1 recorded during his state visit to the United States this week, Macron denied that the risk of rolling blackouts was due to inadequate management of EDF's (EDF.PA) nuclear reactor restart programme. It is legitimate for the government to prepare for the extreme cases which would mean cutting off electricity for a few hours per day if we did not have enough power," Macron said. The head of French power grid operator RTE said on Thursday that France may face "some days" of power cuts this winter and the government has started briefing local authorities on how to handle any outages. Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Frank Jack DanielOur Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Ukraine urges tougher Western squeeze on Russian oil prices
  + stars: | 2022-12-03 | by ( ) www.cnbc.com   time to read: +1 min
The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Saturday for a lower price cap on Russian oil than the one agreed to by Ukraine's Western supporters, while Russian authorities called the $60-per-barrel cap harmful to free, stable markets. The cap is set to take effect Monday, along with an EU embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea. "It would be necessary to lower it to $30 in order to destroy the enemy's economy faster," Yermak wrote on Telegram, staking out a position also favored by Poland — a leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine. The Russian Embassy in Washington insisted that Russian oil "will continue to be in demand" and criticized the price limit as "reshaping the basic principles of the functioning of free markets." A post on the embassy's Telegram channel predicted the per-barrel cap would lead to "a widespread increase in uncertainty and higher costs for consumers of raw materials."
Russia has a "shadow fleet" of oil tankers to bypass western sanctions, the Financial Times reported. The EU has agreed on a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian oil after Poland wanted it set at just $30. Russia assembled what the industry described as the "shadow fleet" in a bid to counter new sanctions. Analysts estimate a shortfall as Russia still needs more tankers to maintain its export levels, according to the report. Rystad analyst Viktor Kurilov told the newspaper: "Russia needs more than 240 tankers to keep its current exports flowing."
The G7 and Australia said in a statement the price cap would take effect on Dec. 5 or very soon thereafter. "The Price Cap Coalition may also consider further action to ensure the effectiveness of the price cap," the statement read. The G7 price cap will allow non-EU countries to continue importing seaborne Russian crude oil, but it will prohibit shipping, insurance and re-insurance companies from handling cargoes of Russian crude around the globe, unless it is sold for less than the price cap. Because the most important shipping and insurance firms are based in G7 countries, the price cap would make it very difficult for Moscow to sell its oil for a higher price. The initial G7 proposal last week was for a price cap of $65-$70 per barrel with no adjustment mechanism.
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