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1. UK looks to ban Chinese nuclear firm from country’s energy projects – reports15:14[−]

The British government is probing ways to block China’s state-owned nuclear energy company from future power projects in the UK, according to media reports citing government sources.

The move could see China General Nuclear (CGN) kicked out of a French-Chinese consortium which is planning to build the £20 billion ($27.6 billion) Sizewell C nuclear power plant on the Suffolk coast and another one in Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex.

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FILE PHOTO. © REUTERS / Suzanne Plunkett
London gives go-ahead for ?20bn nuclear plant to secure UK’s energy future, reopens talks with French electricity giant EDF

According to both Bloomberg and the Independent, unnamed sources have confirmed a recent report by the Financial Times that first brought to light the UK government’s stance on China’s participation in the projects.

There isn’t a chance in hell that CGN builds [Sizewell C],” a source cited by the Financial Times claimed, noting that “given the approach we’ve seen to Huawei, [UK authorities] aren’t going to be letting a Chinese company build a new nuclear power station.” The source also revealed that UK authorities were already in talks with the main developer of Sizewell C, the French state-backed company Électricité de France S.A. (EDF), regarding chances to find new partners for the project. CGN didn’t respond to requests for comment on the report, while EDF declined to give any.

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UK government begins purge of China’s Huawei from country’s 5G rollout

The UK and China have been cooperating on nuclear power projects since a deal reached by former Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015. CGN is an investor with a 33% share in the Hinkley Point C nuclear facility in Somerset, one of the largest infrastructure projects in the UK, currently under construction.

Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian called China and the UK “important trade and investment partners” at a briefing on Monday, noting that as it is in everyone's interests to cooperate “in the spirit of mutual benefit” the UK should “provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies.

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British and China national flags © REUTERS/Andy Wong
China is right to expose Britain’s rank hypocrisy, London can’t adopt the moral high ground AND demand special trade deals

The British government has been increasingly critical of China’s policies of late, namely with regard to its stance on Hong Kong, the alleged mistreatment of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang, and the handling of the initial Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan province. Boris Johnson’s administration recently blocked China’s Huawei Technologies from taking part in the set up of the UK's 5G wireless network, while Britain’s national security adviser ordered an investigation into the takeover of the UK’s major chip producer by the Chinese firm Nexperia NV.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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2. Bitcoin bulls back as world’s top crypto surges towards $40,00013:03[−]

The world’s most popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin, jumped 15% on Monday to over $39,000, following two days of steady gains that may mean a turn towards a bullish crypto market.

The cryptocurrency pared some of the gains, trading at about $38,300 as of 9:00am GMT, after briefly topping $39,000 for the first time since mid-June. Bitcoin fell below $30,000 last week amid a global stock sell-off, raising concerns that the crypto could fall even further.

With the latest surge, more than $700 million of bitcoin short positions were liquidated on Monday, the most in at least the past three months, data from Bybt.com showed. Bitcoin futures also surged, with over 1,000 contracts traded within 10 minutes.

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FILE PHOTO: Representations of virtual currency bitcoin are seen through broken glass.
Bitcoin plunges below $30,000 amid broader cryptocurrency market sell-off

Bitcoin’s gains were followed by other cryptocurrencies, with the second-most valuable crypto ethereum up around 8% to above $2,300. The entire cryptocurrency market has added over $114 billion in value as of Sunday evening, according to Coinmarketcap.com.

Experts explain the bullishness with several factors, including recent uplifting comments from Twitter, Tesla, and Ark Invest CEOs at a bitcoin conference called ‘The B-Word’. Elon Musk said that Tesla may once again begin accepting bitcoin for its vehicle purchases, adding that both Tesla and space exploration company SpaceX own bitcoin, while he personally has bought bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin.

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FILE PHOTO: Representations of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Dash, Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin.
Russian central bank warns domestic stock exchanges against crypto-related funds

Also, Amazon Inc. has recently listed a job posting for a digital currency and blockchain expert, seen as a sign the e-commerce giant plans to work with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. An Amazon spokesperson said the company is “inspired by the innovation happening in the cryptocurrency space,” and is “exploring what this could look like on Amazon,” as cited by Bloomberg.

The crypto market has recently been hit by concerns over the carbon footprint and energy consumption of bitcoin mining, a regulatory crackdown on the crypto in China, and criticism coming from European and US officials. Bitcoin is still around $27,000 off its mid-April high of nearly $65,000. However, some experts believe that the stresses bitcoin has been under are starting to wear off, indicating a return to the bullish crypto market.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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3. Russia inks deals worth over $3.5 BILLION during MAKS 2021 Air Show11:39[−]

Agreements worth around 265 billion rubles ($3.59 billion) were signed during Russia’s biennial MAKS 2021 international air show, which ended Sunday, exceeding the results of the previous MAKS 2019.

Major domestic aviation deals included the sale of Sukhoi Superjet 100 and IL-114-300 aircraft, as well as Mil helicopters. Other agreements included deliveries of unmanned aerial vehicles, engines, aviation electronics, radars, aircraft munitions, and armored and motor vehicles.

Russia’s state defense conglomerate, Rostec, announced agreements worth over $3 billion for the delivery of 161 aircraft, both military and civilian. State arms exporter Rosoboronexport alone signed 13 contracts totaling $1.2 billion during the event.

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Russian Air Force's Russkiye Vityazi (Russian Knights) aerobatic team perform during an opening of the MAKS 2021 air show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, Russia.
Russia’s Rostec inks over $3 billion in deals to supply 160+ aircraft at MAKS 2021 Air Show

MAKS has become Russia’s premier showcase of the latest developments in domestic aviation, both civilian and military. Nearly 500 products were presented to the public this year, including 50 newly developed aircraft models. Among the state-of-the-art developments unveiled at the show was Sukhoi’s new single-engine supersonic stealth fighter, Checkmate. Around 30,000 people came to see it live.

Russia also unveiled the new MC-21-310 medium-haul airliner, as well as a regional turboprop IL-114-300 and the Baikal light multipurpose aircraft. Russian Helicopters presented its upgraded Mi-171A3 choppers for operation on offshore oil platforms, new avionic equipment, and a new firefighting system. United Engine Corporation presented projects for shaft-turbine engines and a demo version of a new engine core.

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A Kamov Ka-52 Hokum-B helicopter stands at Kubinka air base before the Victory Day parade at Red Square in Moscow, Russia
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Foreign aircraft producers were also given the opportunity to exhibit their products, including some never before seen in Russia. Among those were the wide-body long-haul Airbus A350-1000, medium-haul Airbus A220-300 and the turboprop Pilatus PC-12NGX.

A US company took part in the show for the first time. Cirrus aircraft manufacturer presented two aircraft.

Overall, a total of 831 companies from 56 countries took part in the event, both online and offline, the organizers said.

“The 15th MAKS 2021 aerospace show has exceeded the results of 2019 in terms of the number of contracts signed and the scale of the business program,” they stated. Russia’s previous MAKS 2019 air show brought the country around 250 billion rubles.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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4. Russia is finally embracing the electric vehicle boom10:40[−]

Late in the race, Russia has recently announced investments targeting electric vehicle (EV) growth in an attempt to catch up with the transition across the rest of Europe.

Russia is expected to start work on its EV infrastructure creation, starting in Moscow. The city plans to install 200 EV charging stations annually, until 600 are established by 2023, beginning in 2021.

The head of the city's transport department, Maxim Liksutov, stated "There are around 2,000 (electric) cars in Moscow now and their number increases every year by about 10-15%. Charging infrastructure has to appear for it to grow more."

Within the next decade, the city will also see its public transport shift to electric. Mosgortrans, the cities bus and tram network owner, intends to increase its electric bus fleet from 600 to 1000 by the end of the year, aiming for 2,000 electric buses to replace the existing petrol and diesel-fuelled fleet by 2024.

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Nissan Leaf electric car
Sales of electric cars growing in Russia but trend not exactly catching on

However, Russia is way behind the rest of Europe when it comes to EV, with just 11,000 electric cars registered across the country, compared to 1 million across the EU in 2019. But this figure is expected to increase in the coming years, with an anticipated 1,000 EV to be sold in Russia in 2021, expecting this figure to double annually in subsequent years.

This comes just weeks after reports that Russia has introduced a new state program, which will see an investment of $11 billion in the development of EV transport. This is around double the previously designated funding for the program.

Much of the funding for the program will come from the introduction of a tax on the sale of traditionally-fuelled cars as well as two new tariffs on the import of foreign electric vehicles.

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Press service of The Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation / Zetta
Mass production of first Russian electric car to start by end of year

Under the program, Russia expects to produce 3,000 in 2022, growing to produce 217,000 EV annually by 2030. At present Russia does not manufacture any electric cars, meaning there is significant potential to develop this part of the country’s strong automotive sector.

Russia’s automotive industry makes up a significant part of the country’s economy and employment, with over 600,000, or 1% of the workforce, employed in the sector. Russia continues to be the fifth-largest auto market in Europe with a production rate of 3.1 million vehicles each year. This puts it in a strong position to transition to EV manufacturing in the coming years.

Although late to the table, Russia could have a competitive edge on other European producers with cheaper EVs available for consumers. The anticipated Zero Emission Terra Transport Asset, or Zetta, is expected to cost just $6,100, making it cheaper than many alternatives and less than Germany’s EV subsidy scheme, theoretically giving consumers a free car.

Ruslan Edelgeriev, climate adviser to President Putin has stated, “Leading automakers, globally and in Russia, are announcing new electric vehicle lines. A lot of them plan to stop making internal combustion engine cars by 2030.” Further, “In the next 20-30 years everyone will transition to electric vehicles.”

Private companies are also buying into the EV craze as Russian engineering firm L-Charge has announced that it will be providing on-demand mobile charging for electric cars via an app, allowing EV owners to request a charge across Moscow. If successful, the company plans to expand to Paris, Berlin, New York, Amsterdam, and London. This could be the first of many private initiatives if Russia is successful in its EV manufacturing and uptake plans.

While Russia hasn’t been known for its innovation in EV, significant investment, the willingness to make the shift, and the country’s automotive manufacturing know-how and low costs could give it a competitive advantage as it catches up with the rest of Europe.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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5. Global central banks to boost share of Chinese yuan while reducing US dollar holdings – surveyВс, 25 июл[−]

One third of central banks worldwide will add the yuan to their reserve assets in the nearest future, prompting the rise of the Chinese currency, a global survey shows.

According to the Global Public Investor survey, published by the London-based Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), 30% of central banks plan to increase their yuan holdings over the next 12-24 months, up from only a 10% increase last year.

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China cheers Russia’s move away from US dollar in favor of yuan

OMFIF claims the yuan's rise is likely to be a global trend, but may be especially strong in Africa, where nearly half of central banks are set on boosting their yuan reserves.

The findings also showed that 20% of the world’s central banks want to reduce their US dollar holdings in the coming months, while 18% plan to cut their euro reserves and 14% their holdings of euro-zone sovereign debt.

In one such move, Russia has fully eliminated the US dollar from its National Wealth Fund, reducing its share from 35% to zero. Meanwhile, the country raised the amount of Chinese yuan in the fund to 30.4%, which put it in second place after the euro with 39.7%.

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© Getty Images / Mike Kemp
Ditching dollars: Russia dumps $5 BILLION from its oil fund in favor of yuan & euro

According to OMFIF data, central banks, sovereign wealth funds and public pension funds currently control a total of $42.7 trillion in assets. Central bank reserves globally jumped some $1.3 trillion in 2020 to a new peak of $15.3 trillion. The majority of global central banks insist that financial markets depend on their monetary policies. However, only 40% believe these policies need to be actively updated.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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6. VC firms are pouring billions of dollars into green techВс, 25 июл[−]

Green technology is quickly emerging as the hottest investment sector for venture capitalists, with private firms completing $7.7 billion in deals this year.

ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing: it's in every media outlet and on every bank's business plan. A rush to what many call alignment of values with investment goals has led to a flourishing new industry with funds popping up like mushrooms after the rain. Green-tech startups are the new dotcoms, it seems, and the danger of a bubble seems distant—for now.

Interestingly enough, things were very different just a few years ago, as the Wall Street Journal's Scott Patterson noted in a recent article. The past decade, he wrote, saw a pullout of investors from the green energy technology field after a couple of notable demises—one of solar company Solyndra back in 2011 and one of battery maker A123 Systems a year later.

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From today's standpoint, this is ancient history. Now, hardly a week goes by without a breakthrough of some sort in batteries, solar power tech, or, say, hydrogen. Most of these breakthroughs have to do with cost and efficiency, which are the two things that can guarantee a product a long life. Yet, most of these breakthroughs never make it to the consumer. They never make the leap across the so-called valley of death between the lab and the market. Especially if funding is scarce and hard to come by.

Venture capital funds are changing this, the WSJ's Patterson writes, citing data from PitchBook, a private capital market research provider. According to PitchBook, venture capital funds are seen completing $7.7 billion worth of green tech deals this year, which would be up from $1 billion ten years ago.

It's not just venture capitalists, either. JP Morgan earlier this month launched not one but three new sustainability investment funds. This was only the latest move in a rush to set up clean energy investment funds to take advantage of growing investor appetite for environmental, social, and governance, commonly known as ESG, investing.

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Police officers float on a boat on the river Ahr as damaged houses reflect onto the water and wyneyards are seen on the hills in the background, in Mayschoss, Rhineland-Palatinate, western Germany, on July 21, 2021, after devastating floods hit the region. © CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP
The floods in Germany show how fear-mongering about climate change is preventing us from combating actual disasters

Demand for new investment opportunities by a new generation of investors is one driver of this trend. Another, more important driver is government support for low-carbon technology. The European Union has tied its post-pandemic recovery funding program to commitments by national governments to invest a solid portion of the funds in low-carbon energy. This is effectively an open invitation to anyone doing anything in green tech. The Biden administration has also opened up the US federal purse for green tech startups.

Now, the EU and the US are discussing something they are calling a green technology alliance. In a joint statement, the two said, "We intend to lead by example through becoming net-zero greenhouse gases (GHG) economies no later than 2050 and implementing our respective enhanced 2030 targets."

With such solid support, investment in green tech has become a lot less risky for investors... except in the part where a technology simply has no chances of survival as happens to an awful lot of breakthroughs that sound so groundbreaking in the lab but never cross the valley of death. However, this is a risk inherent in any startup investment.

We've seen some instances of this risk materializing in the EV space recently. First, EV and hydrogen vehicle startup Nikola suffered a major share price drop when a report from a short-seller revealed that the company's CEO had overstated the company's progress on its flagship model. The revelation cost Nikola a huge deal with GM, too. Another EV maker, Lordstown, recently teetered on the brink of collapse as the company ran out of money before it started commercial production of its Endurance truck.

Many more startups, not just in the EV space but also in other green tech fields, will go under if their products don't live up to the hype. But at least now they have access to abundant funding, unlike a few years ago. Then, it was a buyers' market. Now, it's a sellers' market, and buyers are lining up, eager to take part in the energy transition. How long before the situation escalates into a bubble? That would depend on how many more Solyndras and A123 Systems there are out there.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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7. US shale sees light at the end of the tunnelВс, 25 июл[−]

The US oil and gas sector was torn apart during last year’s COVID-19 fueled market mayhem, but it appears that America’s shale patch is back on track, looking as healthy as ever.

The US oil and gas sector is recovering from last year’s market slump. But unlike the previous boom-and-bust cycles, the industry has held off on boosting production and has focused on strengthening balance sheets, repaying loans, and rewarding shareholders. As a result of the rallying commodity prices this year, and most of all, the discipline in capital spending, the US shale patch is now financially stronger. Bankruptcies have been fewer and far apart in recent months, and the energy loan default rate has dropped to the lowest level since the oil market crashed in March and April last year.

In addition, low interest rates have prompted many US oil and gas firms to raise new debt, most of which goes to repaying existing liabilities, not to drilling more wells.

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US Energy Defaults Drop Significantly

One indicator shows that the credit quality of the loans and bonds in the US oil and gas sector has significantly improved in recent months.

The energy sector’s trailing twelve-month (TTM) default rate stood at 9.1% in July, Fitch Ratings said in a report on Wednesday. The energy default rate has fallen below the double-digit percentage for the first time since April 2020. The default rate is also considerably down from the 20.3-percent peak in March, Fitch Ratings noted.

Smaller defaults and higher oil prices are set to further push the energy default rate down to 5% by the end of this year, the rating agency says. This year will see smaller defaults compared with as many as four defaults of $1.5 billion-plus size issuers in 2020, according to Fitch Ratings.

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To compare, at this time last year, Fitch Ratings was estimating the energy default rate to finish the year 2020 at 18%. In the second quarter of 2020 alone, energy generated $5 billion of defaults.

This year, Fitch Ratings does not expect “many bankruptcies coming in the next few months. Only 2% of our Top Market Concern Loans relates to energy,” Eric Rosenthal, Senior Director of Leveraged Finance at Fitch Ratings, told Forbes’ Senior Contributor Mayra Rodriguez Valladares.

Defaults on bonds have also significantly dropped this year, according to Fitch Ratings.

“Energy makes up only 10% of our Top Market Concern Bonds list, down from 57% as of one year ago. There has been only $3.2 billion of YTD high yield energy defaults compared with $14.4 billion for the same period in 2020,” Rosenthal told Rodriguez Valladares.

Energy Bankruptcies Slow Down

This year, the default rate is considerably down, as companies with unsustainable liabilities have already filed for bankruptcy over the past year, while the others are using record cash flows to pay down debts.

The number of North American producers that filed for bankruptcy protection in the first quarter of 2021 reached the highest number for a first-quarter since 2016, yet the wave of bankruptcies has significantly slowed since the peaks in the second and third quarter of 2020, law firm Haynes and Boone said in its latest tally to March 31. Even though the number of first-quarter 2021 bankruptcies was the highest for a Q1 since 2016, it showed the trend of slowing filings after 18 oil and gas producers filed in the second quarter of 2020 and another 17 in the third quarter, the two quarters in which the oil price crash and the crisis were most severely felt by indebted producers.

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The US Shale Patch Is Borrowing Again

US oil and gas firms are taking advantage of the high oil prices and historically low-interest rates to seek financing.

Higher oil prices and low-interest rates have prompted listed independent US oil producers to raise in March the most financing via debt and equity issues since August last year, the EIA said in April.

This time around, the borrowed money is being used for repayment of previously drawn credit facilities or bonds, not for relentless drilling of new wells and chasing record production growth.

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“Since crude oil prices began increasing, US crude oil producers have been raising debt and equity to refinance debts, resume drilling activities, or purchase acreage,” the EIA said.

Low corporate bond yields have also contributed to lower interest rates on new bonds and reduce the cost of issuing debt, the EIA noted.

Historically low interest rates give additional incentives to US shale drillers to raise new debt and refinance existing liabilities. Currently, it’s as cheap for the US energy sector to raise new debt as it was seven years ago, when oil was $100 per barrel, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

How Long Will Discipline Hold?

So far this year, US oil and gas firms have been sticking with promises of capital discipline and prefer to show investors the money to drilling themselves “into oblivion,” as Harold Hamm warned back in 2017.

Higher oil prices and expected record cash flows could heal the balance sheets of many shale producers this year.

Even if US shale wanted to significantly raise production in response to $70 oil, it would take at least nine months to see a meaningful jump in output, Rystad Energy said in an analysis earlier this month.

One executive at an E&P firm may have summed up this year’s motto of the US shale patch in the following comment in the Dallas Fed Energy Survey Q2 published at the end of June:

“Don’t take the bait, drillers: Stay capital disciplined and enjoy the higher prices for your product.”

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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8. India in talks with Russia over investments in Russian oil and gas assets – sourcesВс, 25 июл[−]

India is negotiating investments of between two and three billion dollars in Russian oil and gas exploration and production projects with the Russian government, the Business Standard newspaper reports, citing unnamed officials.

According to the paper, the Russian government has offered several oil and gas fields to India’s natural resources exploration firm ONGC Videsh and to any potential consortium it may form for the project.

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A view of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd refinery is seen in Mumbai, India.
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This will be for exploring and producing oil and gas in Russia. While the project and scope have not been finalized, talks have begun,” one of the sources told the newspaper.

Sources say the countries are also in talks over India's investment in oil and gas exploration projects in the Arctic, namely in the development of the Vostok Oil project. The project’s annual crude production could be up to 100 million tons, according to preliminary estimates.

The cited sources stated that three Russian Far Eastern regions, namely Yakutia, Sakhalin Oblast and Amur Oblast, have so far shown interest in investment by India in their oil and gas sectors.

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© Reuters
India wants more trade with Russia going beyond traditional sectors

India sees oil and gas-related interaction with Russia as a "flagship sector of commercial cooperation between the two nations,” India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said earlier. The country has also been looking at extending economic ties with Russia in areas such as coking coal, timber and liquefied natural gas (LNG), as it sees great potential there.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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9. Russia’s Rostec inks over $3 billion in deals to supply 160+ aircraft at MAKS 2021 Air ShowПт, 23 июл[−]

Russia’s state defense conglomerate Rostec has signed 230 billion rubles ($3.1 billion) worth of contracts for the supply of 161 aircraft during the MAKS 2021 Air Show.

The contracts include 77 airplanes, Rostec, which incorporates Russia’s 14 leading defense industry companies, revealed on Friday.

“The structures of the Rostec state corporation reached agreements to supply 161 aircraft. In particular, UAC will deliver 58 Sukhoi Superjet 100 and 19 regional Il-114-300 airplanes to customers. Russian Helicopters concluded agreements to deliver 84 helicopters, including the Mi-171A3, the Ka-62, the Mi-38, the Mi-8, and Ansat [models],” Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov said, as cited by the company’s press service.

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The company presented about 500 products at the air show with some 50 newly developed models, including airplanes, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, engines and many more.

“The outcome of the air show exceeded our expectations. Our companies inked agreements with partners amounting to 230 billion rubles,” Chemezov stated.

Earlier this week, Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport (part of Rostec) signed 13 export contracts to deliver Russian-made defense products including airplanes, helicopters, radars, aircraft munitions, armored and motor vehicles for over $1.3 billion.

Among the state-of-the-art developments unveiled by Rostec at MAKS-2021 is Sukhoi’s new single-engine supersonic stealth fighter Checkmate, designed to rival the US F-35, but intended to be superior in quality yet far cheaper.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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10. India rejects bids by Amazon & Flipkart to quash antitrust probeПт, 23 июл[−]

An Indian court has turned down appeals by Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart to call off an antitrust investigation into their business practices in the country.

By no stretch of the imagination can an inquiry be quashed at this stage. …The appeals are devoid of merit, and deserve to be dismissed,” the High Court in the southern Karnataka state said on Friday, adding that it saw the appeals as mere attempts to stall the court’s decision.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) launched an official inquiry last year into the practices of both US firms, following allegations from brick-and-mortar retailers that they promoted only certain sellers on their platforms and staved off competition.

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© Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas
Global crackdown on Big Tech mounting as India plans to expedite Amazon & Walmart antitrust probe

The probe was put on hold after both companies challenged it, arguing that the regulator lacked evidence, but the court reopened it last month.

The two firms may still appeal the decision in India’s Supreme Court, Reuters reported, citing insiders.

Flipkart said in a statement that it would review the court’s order, maintaining that all its practices were in accord with Indian laws.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment. It is currently facing another CCI probe for allegedly concealing facts and making false submissions when it wanted the regulator to sanction a 2019 deal with an Indian company.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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11. Zhukovsky cargo airport nails $150 million-worth in deals at MAKS 2021Пт, 23 июл[−]

Zhukovsky International Airport Cargo (ZHIA-Cargo) near Moscow has signed $150 million in agreements on the sidelines of the MAKS 2021 Air Show, the cargo operator announced on Friday.

Our business program was scheduled for two days, during which time we signed over a dozen agreements totaling some $150 million,” the freight hub’s chief officer Evgeny Solodilin told TASS on Thursday.

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Mi-171A2 helicopter at the rehearsal of the flight program for the MAKS 2021 Air Show, Zhukovsky, Russia, July 17, 2021.
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The agreements cover the cooperation of the cargo hub with international airlines and logistics operators that process the export and import of goods through Zhukovsky.

We will form a single chain of services, allowing cargo shippers to arrange transportation from the point of departure to the point of destination by all means of transport,” Solodilin specified.

In an earlier interview with TASS, the chief officer said that the volume of cargo turnover through Zhukovsky is expected to grow by some 66% next year to around 30,000 tons, from the 18,000 tons forecast for the current year. He noted that at present the airport has already fulfilled half of the cargo transportation schedule set for 2021.

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A prototype of Russia’s prospective fighter jet is displayed at the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky, Russia
Russia inks $1.2 billion-worth of military contracts at MAKS 2021 Air Show

Zhukovsky International Airport is located 40 kilometers southeast of Moscow. It began operating in 2016, with a logistics complex and a cargo terminal opening in July 2020. The airport is currently hosting the MAKS 2021 Air Show, an important biennial showcase for Russia’s aviation industry.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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12. Boom Bust looks into why Germany will have to pay Ukraine for non-existent gas transitПт, 23 июл[−]

Washington and Berlin have reportedly reached a deal regarding the completion of Nord Stream 2, a direct natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

RT’s Boom Bust investigates why the US is meddling in a project between two sovereign nations and pressuring Germany to pay Ukraine for future non-existent gas transit once the pipeline is operational.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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13. Russian central bank warns domestic stock exchanges against crypto-related fundsПт, 23 июл[−]

The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) advised domestic stock exchanges not to admit the shares of companies related to cryptocurrencies due to the high volatility, low transparency, and other risks crypto poses.

The regulator emphasized that digital assets carry increased risks for people who do not have sufficient experience and knowledge in the sphere.

Cryptocurrencies and digital assets are characterized by high volatility, low transparency of pricing mechanisms, low liquidity, technological, regulatory and other specific risks. Purchase of investment products tied to them exposes people who lack experience and professional knowledge to a high risk of losing money,” the CBR stated in a notice published on Thursday.

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© Jack Taylor / Getty Images
Don’t buy crypto! Russian central bank warns against investing in volatile digital currencies, citing risk of ‘enormous’ losses

It advised stock exchange operators against listing any securities, such as exchange-traded funds, that provide payments based on the prices of cryptocurrencies, digital assets issued abroad, cryptocurrency price indexes, crypto derivatives, and securities issued by cryptocurrency-related funds. Asset managers have been urged to exclude such assets from mutual fund portfolios, while brokers and trustees were not to offer them to nonqualified investors.

The recommendations are a preventive measure – they are aimed at preventing the offer of such instruments to a mass investor,” the regulator said.

Restrictions do not apply to national digital currencies, if issued, or digital assets issued in accordance with the Russian legislation covering the crypto and registered with the CBR.

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© Unsplash / Executium
‘Departing technology’: Cash going way of the dodo, will be replaced by digital money in coming decades, says Russian Central Bank

Russia passed a law regulating digital assets in June 2020, with the CBR announcing plans to study the risks of investing in cryptocurrencies. On June 21, the CBR governor Elvira Nabiullina recommended against investing in cryptocurrencies, dubbing crypto assets the most dangerous economic strategy.

Earlier, regulations were also added banning Russian public officials from owning crypto assets and obliging election candidates to report their crypto holdings.

Nonetheless, cryptocurrencies, especially bitcoin, have been used for fundraising by Russia’s civil and political activists and independent journalists, CoinDesk reports.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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14. Russia fines Facebook & Telegram for failing to delete illegal contentЧт, 22 июл[−]

A Russian court has slapped Facebook and Telegram with small fines on Thursday after the platforms failed to respond to illegal content claims.

The US social media giant was fined 6 million rubles ($81,000), while the messaging app’s fine was nearly double at 11 million rubles ($150,000).

Moscow’s Tagansky District Court said on Thursday it had fined Facebook for two different administrative offences, while Telegram was fined for three offences. The details of those have not been disclosed.

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Neither Facebook nor Telegram immediately responded to requests for comment, Reuters reported. Two similar accusations have been submitted against Twitter, with the court expected to rule on them later on Thursday.

Russia has been increasingly watchful in terms of regulation of social media, with a number of fines issued over the past several months for a variety of content violations. The country’s government has also been urging foreign tech firms to open offices within Russia, as well as to store citizens’ personal data on Russian territory.

Similar steps have been taken by other countries, including China, India and the UK. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently met with representatives of social media firms, warning them of potential fines amounting to 10% of their global revenues if they fail to curb hate and racism content on their platforms.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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15. Russia eliminating US dollar transactions in its foreign military deals – state arms exporterЧт, 22 июл[−]

The US dollar’s share in Russia’s military contracts with other countries is approaching zero, according to the country’s main defense contractor Rosoboronexport.

Most of Rosoboronexport's contracts are currently concluded in rubles or in the national currencies of partner countries. The share of dollars in our contracts is steadily approaching zero,” the company’s CEO Alexander Mikheyev told reporters at MAKS 2021 Air Show.

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A prototype of Russia’s prospective fighter jet is displayed at the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky, Russia
Russia inks $1.2 billion-worth of military contracts at MAKS 2021 Air Show

He noted that Russia has been deliberately abandoning the dollar in payments for its export arms contracts, which, for the past few years, have brought the country about $15 billion annually in US dollar equivalent, TV channel Zvezda notes.

This follows a broader trend towards de-dollarizing the Russian economy, with the country’s Central Bank and National Wealth Fund recently cutting use of the greenback in their transactions to zero.

The state arms-export company has had a successful week, nailing 13 international contracts totaling some $1.2 billion on the sidelines of the MAKS 2021 international air show, currently underway in Zhukovsky, near Moscow.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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16. RT’s Keiser Report asks whether US firms pandering to China signals end to American economic dominanceЧт, 22 июл[−]

Despite trade tensions between Washington and Beijing, major American corporations and Hollywood continue to shift to the growing Chinese market.

Max Keiser talks with Gerald Celente of TrendsResearch.com about what this trend means, and whether it’s another sign of China overtaking the United States as the world’s economic superpower.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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17. Russia inks $1.2 billion-worth of military contracts at MAKS 2021 Air ShowЧт, 22 июл[−]

Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport signed 13 contracts totaling $1.2 billion on the sidelines of the MAKS 2021 international air show, the company’s CEO Alexander Mikheyev told reporters.

Rosoboronexport used the MAKS 2021 potential to its maximum," Mikheyev said.

The list of deals includes orders for the Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jet, the Mi-35M and Mi-17B5 helicopters, Protivnik-GE radars, Verba surface-to-air missile (SAM) MANPADS and a variety of modern air defense weapons and armored vehicles.

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© RT
Weapon of the future, today: Russia unveils ‘Checkmate’, new 5th-generation lightweight stealth fighter, unmanned version in works

According to Mikheyev, the company used the air show to demonstrate its most advanced models of aircraft, helicopters, anti-aircraft and electronic warfare equipment, to more than 30 delegations from 20 countries, mostly from the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, Africa and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

During negotiations at MAKS 2021, the company's foreign partners showed interest in purchasing MiG-35D and Su-30SME fighters, Il-76MD-90A (E) military transport aircraft, Il-78MK-90A tanker aircraft, the Mi 28NE, Ka-52 , Mi-171Sh and Ka-226T helicopters, as well as air defense systems, including the Pantsir-S1 air defense missile system,” he specified.

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Mi-171A2 helicopter at the rehearsal of the flight program for the MAKS 2021 Air Show, Zhukovsky, Russia, July 17, 2021.
Russian Helicopters to ink deal at MAKS 2021 Air Show to sell civilian choppers to UAE

Mikheyev also noted that international partners showed interest in Russia’s newest supersonic stealth fighter Checkmate, which was unveiled at MAKS-2021.

A number of partners saw it live and were even given the opportunity to sit in the cockpit, and were highly impressed,” the CEO recalled.

The single-engine supersonic stealth fighter Checkmate is scheduled for its first test flight in 2023, with further prototypes being produced through 2025 and serial production set to launch in 2026.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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18. What’s really behind the EU’s latest effort to regulate cryptocurrencies? RT’s Boom Bust wants to knowЧт, 22 июл[−]

The EU has proposed legislation forcing service providers to report cryptocurrency transactions of $1,000 or more. While officials claim the new regulations target illegal activities, the real reason behind them may be taxation.

Crypto analyst Christy Ai tells Boom Bust who’s being targeted by these latest proposals.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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19. Russian ruble remains one of the world’s most undervalued currencies – Big Mac IndexЧт, 22 июл[−]

The Russian ruble is once again one of the most undervalued currencies in the world, according to the Big Mac Index, published by The Economist.

The rating is based on the buying power of global currencies according to the price of a McDonald’s Big Mac burger in different countries.

While the Big Mac costs $5.65 in the United States, in Russia the same burger costs only 169 rubles, or $2.27. According to these figures, the fair exchange of the Russian currency should be 29.91 rubles per one dollar. However, based on the current exchange of 73.65 rubles per dollar, the Russian currency is undervalued by nearly 60%.

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Oil pumping machines of the Tatneft company in the Almetyevsky district of the Republic of Tatarstan. © Sputnik / Maxim Bogodvid
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According to the index, the ruble is the second most undervalued currency behind the Lebanese pound, which is undervalued by nearly 70.2%. The list also includes the euro (undervalued by 11.1%) and the British pound (15.9%).

This is not the first time the ruble has featured in the Big Mac Index’s top undervalued currencies, having held a similar position in the ranking in January 2021, as well as in January and July last year.

The list also includes overvalued currencies such as the Venezuelan bolívar (overvalued by 47.7%), the Swiss franc (24.7%), as well as the Norwegian and Swedish krona (11.5% and 9.6%, respectively).

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RT
Russia’s sovereign wealth fund cuts US dollar reserves to ZERO

The Big Mac Index has been calculated since 1986 and is published twice a year. It’s based on the theory of purchasing power parity (PPP) of a currency, which assumes that, in the long term, the exchange rate should equalize the general value of a basket of goods and services in different countries.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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20. Russian lumber producer suggests privatizing country’s forestsСр, 21 июл[−]

Russian investors should be allowed to privatize two to three percent of the country’s forested area to avoid deforestation and increase commercial timber production, head of Russia’s largest timber holding in the Far East claims.

Konstantin Lashkevich, the CEO of Russia Forest Products, or RFP Group, shared this opinion with reporters on Wednesday, stating that once in private hands, the forests can be cultivated and restored for commercial use.

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‘Climate change is happening’: As wildfires destroy hectares of Siberian forest, local politician points finger at global warming

Over the past several years the number of forests with high-quality timber has been shrinking, and it may take 80 to 120 years for them to return to their natural growth. With this in mind, Lashkevich proposed to identify forest areas where it would be possible to grow timber for commercial use, following the example of New Zealand. However, according to Lashkevich this will only be possible if investors are allowed to privatize the land.

I will not do this, because it will kill my operating economy, and an investment model cannot be built without rights to the land or at least to the growing stock. We need investments of about five thousand dollars per hectare until the forest begins to grow,” Lashkevich said.

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© RIA
Putin: Russia’s climate & environment sector may see annual revenue of $50 BILLION

He proposed choosing climate zones with the best conditions for this purpose, which is only two to three percent of Russia’s entire forest territory.

58 percent of RFP Group’s shares belong to Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich and industrial magnate Alexander Abramov.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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21. Russian Helicopters to ink deal at MAKS 2021 Air Show to sell civilian choppers to UAEСр, 21 июл[−]

The Russian Helicopters Group announced plans to sign a deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the delivery of Mi-171A2 civilian helicopters, at the MAKS 2021 International Airshow later on Wednesday.

“Today, we will sign [the agreement] with our colleagues from the UAE for the delivery of the first Mi-171A2 civilian helicopter,” Russian Helicopters Group CEO Andrei Boginsky said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 TV channel.

“The helicopter will be delivered in its passenger configuration,” Boginsky noted, adding that he hopes to see the aircraft at the upcoming Dubai Airshow.

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Sukhoi superjet 100 (SSJ 100) passenger aircraft.
Rossiya Airlines signs deal for 15 Russian-built SSJ 100 aircraft at MAKS 2021 Air Show

Russia’s latest Mi-28NM attack helicopter also came into the spotlight at the MAKS 2021 Air Show, with a number of potential foreign customers having shown interest in its purchase, Russia’s military cooperation chief Dmitry Shugayev told reporters. He stated, however, that no official requests for delivery have been made so far.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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22. Global carmaker Stellantis to produce Fiat vans in RussiaСр, 21 июл[−]

Fiat Scudo light commercial vehicles will be produced in Russia by the end of 2022, multinational automobile manufacturer Stellantis has announced.

The world’s fifth-biggest automotive group, with 14 brands in its portfolio, plans to make Fiat vehicles at a car plant in the Russian city of Kaluga. The plant is a joint venture between Stellantis, which has a 70% stake, with Mitsubishi Motors owning the remaining 30%.

The plan is to turn the Kaluga plant into an export hub, producing engines and cars for export to Europe, Latin America, and North Africa.

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I am pleased to announce that, in addition to the Peugeot, Citroën, and Opel brands produced in Kaluga, Fiat Professional cars will also be added next year,” Stellantis’ Senior Vice President for Eurasia Xavier Duchemann said, as cited by Reuters. He added that he saw the prospect as “the beginning of a long history of the new brand in Kaluga.”

Ten years ago, the Kaluga plant produced Fiat vehicles – namely, Fiat Ducato – but production ceased with the end of the partnership between Fiat and the Sollers group. Currently, the plant produces the Peugeot 408, Citroën C4 sedan, Opel Zafira, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, as well as several Peugeot and Citroën vans. The plant is equipped with two assembly lines, allowing it to produce up to 125 thousand vehicles a year.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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23. Is US Big Pharma getting away with murder? RT’s Boom Bust investigatesСр, 21 июл[−]

US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson is considering a new liability strategy to handle the thousands of lawsuits the company faces over its controversial talcum powder.

The suits allege the company’s talcum products contain asbestos, and that their use has resulted in cancer for thousands of Americans.

Facing a legal onslaught, Johnson & Johnson is considering creating a separate liability company to deal with the claims. However, critics point out that this would limit the compensation paid to victims.

Mike Papantonio, host of ‘America’s Lawyer’, digs into the reports and the firm’s history of dealing with lawsuits.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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24. Rossiya Airlines signs deal for 15 Russian-built SSJ 100 aircraft at MAKS 2021 Air ShowСр, 21 июл[−]

One of Russia’s oldest airline companies, Rossiya Airlines, has signed an agreement to purchase 15 Sukhoi Superjet 100 passenger planes on the sidelines of the country’s annual MAKS 2021 airshow.

The airline will receive the planes, developed by United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), later this year, TASS reported on Wednesday.

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Russia's Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jet at Maks-2021 airshow in Zhukovsky, Russia.
Five countries interested in Russia’s state-of-the-art Su-57 fighter jet

UAC Director General Yury Slyusar told reporters the developer is set to supply airline companies with another 30 SSJ 100 planes by the year’s end, adding to some 150 UAC aircraft already in operation.

SSJ 100 is a short-haul passenger plane with 103 seats and a cruising speed of 830 kilometers per hour. It is capable of landing on short runways of under two kilometers.

A modified version of the aircraft, the SSJ 100 LR, has a longer flying range of over 4,000 kilometers.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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25. China buys less Saudi crude as it slams the brakes on oil importsСр, 21 июл[−]

Saudi Arabia remained China’s single largest crude oil supplier in June, ahead of Russia, although Saudi shipments to the world’s top oil importer fell by 19% last month amid lower overall imports.

In June 2021, China imported 1.75 million barrels per day (bpd) of Saudi crude oil, China’s General Administration of Customs said on Tuesday. This volume was higher than the 1.62 million bpd crude oil imports from Russia, keeping the Kingdom ahead of Russia as China’s top oil supplier for an eight month running, according to the data quoted by Reuters.

The customs data in China showed local refiners didn’t import any crude from either Iran or Venezuela, the two OPEC members under US sanctions that restrict their oil exports.

Unofficially, however, China continues to import oil from Iran, often disguised as coming from other countries, including from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to previous Reuters reports.

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RT
Chinese drillers announce two MASSIVE oil & gas discoveries in Northwest China

China has put the brakes on overall crude oil imports in recent months, due to rising oil prices and a government crackdown on operations of some independent refiners.

China’s crude oil imports fell to around 9.77 million bpd in June, down by 2% on May and the lowest monthly level since the start of the year, customs data cited by Reuters showed last week.

Over the first half of the year, China imported 260.66 million tons of crude, or 10.51 million bpd per Reuters estimates. This was a 3% drop compared to the first half of 2020. The first-half figure was boosted by increased imports by independent refiners.

Since the first quarter, however, Beijing has begun cracking down on the teapots, as production of fuels both at independent refiners and state-owned majors was rising faster than demand, undermining refining margins and creating a glut.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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26. Five countries interested in Russia’s state-of-the-art Su-57 fighter jetВт, 20 июл[−]

Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport is holding talks with five countries eager to buy the Su-57 fifth-generation multirole fighter, the agency revealed at the MAKS-2021 air show on Tuesday.

This is one of the world’s best fighters based on its operational characteristics. It undoubtedly has various advantages. […] We expect high demand for this aircraft in the coming years. Five countries have already shown interest in this project. We are holding consultations,” Rosoboronexport’s CEO Alexander Mikheyev told reporters.

Russia's Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jet. © Sputnik / Vladimir Astapkovich

He added that the air show will host a presentation of the fighter jet featuring the latest aircraft-launched weapons.

The Su-57 fighter has attracted great interest from potential buyers worldwide after a government contract was signed for the jet under Russia’s state armament program despite competition from American, European and Chinese firms.

Russia's Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jet at Maks-2021 airshow in Zhukovsky, Russia. © Sputnik / Aleksey Mayshev

The Sukhoi Su-57 is a Russian-made fifth-generation multirole fighter equipped to destroy any type of air, ground and naval targets. The jet features stealth technology, it can develop a supersonic cruising speed and has the most advanced onboard radio-electronic equipment, including a powerful computer, a radar system spread across its body, and an armament placed within the fuselage.

The Ruselectronics Group, a subsidiary of Russia’s state tech company Rostec, announced it will present its latest innovations for the Su-57 at the air show, particularly the S-111 communications system.

Russia's Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jet. © Sputnik / Vladimir Astapkovich

The equipment provides radio-telephone communications and an exchange of the plane’s data with other aircraft of various designation as well as with ground, aerial and naval command and control posts. The equipment incorporates the state-of-the-art technology of high-speed data transmission and features advanced network solutions,” the company’s press office said in a statement.

Russia’s Su-57 fighter jet. © Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresensky

The MAKS-2021 international aerospace show kicked off on Tuesday in Zhukovsky, Moscow Region, and will run through July 25. Over 250 companies from 50 countries will attend the air show, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the opening ceremony.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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27. Welcome to Slavelandia? RT’s Keiser Report looks at the human catastrophe brought on by US inflationВт, 20 июл[−]

Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert look at the effects inflation is having in the United States, as the Federal Reserve continues to lower borrowing rates and print money.

Max interviews Gerald Celente of Trendresearch.com about the consequences of this policy.

“How many times has JPMorgan Chase been convicted of fraud? Only five, and nobody goes to jail,” Celente points out.

“The bigs are getting much bigger because they’re borrowing the money for nothing. As we, the little people of Slavelandia, have to pay a 27.5% interest rate when you’re late by a day on your credit card,” he adds.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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28. Global oil prices drop below $70 as OPEC+ reaches deal on output boostВт, 20 июл[−]

Major global crude benchmarks Brent and WTI continued to trade below $70 per barrel on Tuesday after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting countries (OPEC) and allies reached a deal to raise oil production.

US crude benchmark WTI fell nearly 8% and closed around $66 a barrel on Monday, marking the biggest one-day decline since September 2020. It now stands 13% below its peak high in over six years of $77 a barrel, reached in July.

Monday’s trading also saw international benchmark Brent crude plunging nearly 7% and settling below $69 a barrel.

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FILE PHOTO.
OPEC+ members agree to ramp up output by 400,000 barrels per day amid soaring oil prices

Oil prices dropped after OPEC+ reached an agreement on boosting oil production by 400,000 barrels a day each month starting in August amid increasing global demand. The deal was initially stalled by the United Arab Emirates when it demanded the cartel increase its baseline production quota, which is now to be raised.

OPEC+ nations are set to boost output gradually through September 2022, by which point oil production is supposed to settle back at pre-Covid-19 levels. The group is currently withholding some 6 million barrels of crude a day out of the 10 million barrels that were cut from the market during the worst of the pandemic.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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29. Does Microsoft have itself to blame for alleged Chinese cyberattack? RT’s Boom Bust investigatesВт, 20 июл[−]

The US has blamed Chinese hackers for a major breach of tech giant Microsoft. Investigative journalist Ben Swann joins the program to analyze the accusations and what they mean in an age of growing cybersecurity concerns.

Swann points out that Microsoft is famously bad for having software vulnerabilities that are easily exploitable by hackers.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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30. Bitcoin plunges below $30,000 amid broader cryptocurrency market sell-offВт, 20 июл[−]

Nearly $100 billion has been erased from the cryptocurrency market, with bitcoin dropping to its lowest level in four weeks.

The top cryptocurrency lost more than 6% on Tuesday, trading around $29,700, with rivals ethereum and XRP losing 9% and 11% respectively, CoinDesk data shows. The drop in crypto prices followed a major sell-off on global stock markets, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average having its worst performance since October 2020.

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Furthermore, bitcoin investment products and funds registered outflows for a second consecutive week, according CoinShares, reaching $10.4 million on July 16, after outflows of $6.9 million the previous week. However, bitcoin inflows for the year still stand at a hefty $4.2 billion.

Still, experts predict a further drop in bitcoin prices until the bullish market returns.

“I am expecting a strong dip towards $22k,” Patrick Heusser, head of trading at Crypto Finance AG, told CoinDesk.

There’s been a broad sell-off in global markets, risk assets are down across the board,” Annabelle Huang from crypto services firm Amber Group told CNBC, explaining the overall drop in crypto prices with “concerns of the quality and strength of economic recovery” and “broader risk assets turned weaker including high yields.

Coupled with recent bitcoin weakness, this just sent the crypto market down further,” she concluded.

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Since bitcoin’s all-time high of nearly $65,000 in April, its price has slumped over 50%. Bitcoin has been going back and forth between $30,000 and $40,000 since mid-May, then briefly broke below the $30,000 mark on June 22, after the People’s Bank of China banned the country’s financial firms from offering crypto-related services to customers.

“All signals are red as bitcoin continues to be weighed down by China’s ultimate crypto ban and worsening macroeconomic conditions from a surge in Covid variants,” Jehan Chu, founder of crypto-focused trading firm Kenetic Capital, told CNBC.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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31. George Soros & Bill Gates lead buyout of UK Covid testing companyПн, 19 июл[−]

A group of investors led by the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have financed the buyout of UK diagnostic technologies firm Mologic, which has developed a 10-minute coronavirus test.

To make the acquisition, the group has launched Global Access Health (GAH), a social enterprise aiming to expand access to affordable medical technology. The members of the GAH are reportedly set on investing over $41 billion in the acquisition deal. The transaction will include the buyout of all Mologic’s existing shares, including those held by two private investment managers, Foresight Group LLP and Calculus Capital.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has painfully demonstrated the fundamental inequities in global public health, and in particular the crucial importance of access to […] life-saving diagnostic tools. In this unique transaction, philanthropic funds and investors are working together […] to address at least one part of that failure by enabling a cutting-edge commercial business to focus all its resources on solving one of the world’s most pressing public health issues,” Sean Hinton, SEDF’s chief executive officer, has said, commenting on the deal.

Mologic was founded in 2003 by Mark Davis and his father Professor Paul Davis, one of the creators of the world's first home pregnancy test, ClearBlue. Mologic develops tests for a variety of diseases at affordable prices and recently received a CE mark (Conformité Européenne) for its coronavirus disease Covid-19 tests, which the company plans to sell at just $1 each.

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However, the Covid-19 test has yet to be approved for use in both the UK and the US. Mologic recently received £1 million ($1.4 million) from the UK authorities for its Covid-19 tests development, but later accused the government of “stonewalling” the usage of the tests within the country.

Mologic’s CEO Mark Davis welcomed the acquisition deal, stating that it means a transformation of his company into a social enterprise which he dubbed “a deliberate, logical and natural step focused on delivering affordable diagnostics and biotechnology to places that have been left underserved by the relentless pursuit of profiteering.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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32. S&P maintains Russia’s stable economic outlook despite sanctions and pandemicПн, 19 июл[−]

Rating agency Standard & Poors (S&P) has confirmed Russia’s foreign currency sovereign credit rating at BBB-/A-3, giving it a stable outlook.

The agency says Russia's external and fiscal balance sheets show strength and are likely to diminish risks to both fiscal and financial stability brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the prospect of further international sanctions against the country over geopolitical disagreements.

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S&P also acknowledged a possible upgrade to Russia’s rating in the case of further GDP growth and the easing of geopolitical risks.

The rating could go up if the country makes steps to curb long-term fiscal pressures from the aging population, as well as if Russia's fiscal buffers exceed the agency’s current expectations, “which could help mitigate commodity-related revenue volatility.

On the down side, the rating could drop if Russia faces further international sanctions, which could lead to capital outflows and financial stability risks. The government's balance sheet could also affect the outlook in the case of its substantial decline.

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The Russian government said the confirmed rating outlook is a sign that its economic policy has been well managed.

The decision by S&P Global Ratings to affirm Russia’s foreign currency sovereign credit rating is viewed by us as a yet another confirmation that the government’s economic policy is correct,” said Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, noting that the outlook proves “the Russian economy is resilient enough against potential external shocks.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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33. China’s crackdown on firms trading in US could kill $2 TRILLION listings marketПн, 19 июл[−]

New regulations concerning listings of Chinese firms on foreign exchanges are likely to mean that Beijing aims to put a lid on the US IPO market altogether, market experts say.

The Chinese State Council said in a recent statement that all businesses with 1 million or more users will have to get approval from the country’s cybersecurity regulator if they want to list overseas. Prior to that, Beijing also announced plans to amend the rules of “the overseas listing system for domestic enterprises,” as well as to enforce control of cross-border data flows and security. These steps may bring about an end to Chinese initial public offerings (IPOs) in the US, industry experts say.

It’s unlikely there will be any US-listed Chinese companies in five to 10 years, other than perhaps a few big ones with secondary listings,” Paul Gillis, a professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management in Beijing, told Bloomberg.

Until recently, there were some 248 Chinese companies listed on US exchanges, mostly tech firms, including eight state-owned enterprises, with a total market capitalization amounting to $2.1 trillion, CNBC reported, citing the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Now, the Invesco Golden Dragon China ETF (PGJ), which tracks US-listed Chinese shares, has reported that the number has dropped by a third over the past six months amid the regulatory crackdown.

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The situation escalated in June when China’s ride-hailing app Didi Global Inc. went for a New York listing despite objections from regulators, who reportedly suggested it list in Hong Kong instead. The company’s shares plunged nearly 20% after Beijing announced a cybersecurity probe, banning Didi’s new user registrations. US-listed Alibaba and Tencent have also recently fallen under government scrutiny.

Overall, US-traded Chinese stocks have decreased nearly 30% this month. Chinese authorities are putting high hopes on the Hong Kong exchange for domestic listings, planning to ease the regulation demanding Hong Kong IPOs seek the approval of the country’s cybersecurity regulator to make it more appealing to companies that wish to go public. Currently, the processing of IPO applications takes too much time due to the regulation.

With this in mind, the amount of new Chinese listings in the US may drop significantly in the near future, says Donald Straszheim, senior managing director of China research at Evercore ISI Group.

Beijing [is] not trying to stop all US listings. Still, business ties between the US and China are better than not. Beijing [is] trying to add a layer of protection against corporate foreign compliance,” Straszheim said in a note to CNBC.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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34. Greenland ditches oil exploration efforts after 50 years of failureПн, 19 июл[−]

Greenland is abandoning its ambition of 50 years of becoming an oil-producing nation, suspending its oil exploration strategy because of environmental and climate concerns.

Greenland, an autonomous territory part of Denmark, has been trying to find oil reserves for 50 years, without success, and it now considers that the climate concerns are far greater than the potential benefits of becoming an oil producer, the government of Greenland says.

According to one estimate from the US Geological Survey (USGS), Greenland’s offshore area, East Greenland Rift Basins Province, likely contains a mean estimate of 31.4 billion of barrels equivalent of oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids. Of the five assessed assessment units (AUs), North Danmarkshavn Salt Basin and the South Danmarkshavn Basin are estimated to contain most of the undiscovered petroleum resources, a 2007 report from the USGS says.

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Greenland has seen oil exploration since the 1970s involving major oil firms, including ExxonMobil, Shell, and Eni. None has resulted in a major discovery.

Now the left-leaning government of Greenland—a large island in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago—said it was abandoning the strategy to pursue oil resources. Greenland will also stop awarding oil exploration licenses.

Greenland’s government “has assessed that the environmental consequences of oil exploration and extraction are too great,” Greenland’s Minister of Natural Resources, Naaja Nathanielsen, said in a statement on Thursday carried by Reuters.

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“It is a decision where climate considerations, environmental considerations and economic common sense go hand in hand,” Nathanielsen said, adding that suspending the pursuit of oil resources “is the right choice.”

Greenland’s government believes that the future belongs to renewables, where the territory has much more to gain, the Associated Press quoted the government as saying.

At the end of last year, Denmark said it would stop extracting oil from the North Sea in 2050 and cancel its eighth licensing round, announced earlier last year.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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35. OPEC+ members agree to ramp up output by 400,000 barrels per day amid soaring oil pricesВс, 18 июл[−]

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies have agreed to boost oil supply starting in August, since prices have reached a three-year high as economies recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The cartel members and their allies, including Russia, Mexico, and Bahrain, will increase their output by 400,000 barrels a day from August. Production is expected to be raised until all of the previously halted output is restored.

The deal is expected to see the OPEC+ countries ramping up their total output by some two million barrels by the year’s end. The monthly production increases would then continue next year. The cartel and its allies also announced that they have extended the overall agreement until December 2022. It was previously scheduled to expire in April 2022.

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The agreement has become a sign of the strong bond between the cartel members demonstrates that “OPEC+ is here to stay,” Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told reporters following the video conference between members.

The decision was sparked by an increase in oil prices, which have hit a three-year record. The price of Brent crude has recently risen above $75 per barrel amid recovering oil demand.

Some media, including the Financial Times, reported that the prices could go up even further, as the planned output increase might not be enough to satisfy the soaring demand.

“The Meeting noted the ongoing strengthening of market fundamentals, with oil demand showing clear signs of improvement,” OPEC said in a statement after the talks.

Back in 2020, OPEC+ cut their production by a record 10 million barrels per day as lockdowns and flight bans led to a steep drop in demand. The oil exporters then gradually reinstated some supply, but they are still withholding some 5.8 million barrels per day of output. The cartel and its allies are expected to return to the pre-pandemic output levels by the end of 2022 if the agreement holds.

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The deal also included a compromise between OPEC members Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The two Gulf nations were engaged in a dispute, as the UAE was unwilling to extend the previously reached supply cut agreement beyond April 2022 without raising its own output quota.

The agreement raises the UAE’s production baseline from 3.2 million barrels per day to 3.5 million barrels per day starting May 2022, various media outlets reported. "We support strongly the agreement reached," UAE Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei told an Egyptian broadcaster.

Other members of the OPEC+ agreement, including Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kuwait, and Iraq, will also see their quotas raised. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Sunday that his nation would be increasing its output by 100,000 barrels per day each month starting August and will reach a pre-pandemic production level in May 2022.

Russia will produce an additional 21 million tons of oil this year and next, he added.

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36. Chinese refiners shatter records in JuneВс, 18 июл[−]

China’s refineries processed a record amount of crude oil last month, at 14.8 million bpd, up by 3.9% from May when run rates also broke records, Reuters reported, citing data from the national statistics bureau.

The average daily run rates for the first half of the year were even higher, at 15.13 million barrels—up by 10.7% from a year earlier, the data also showed.

Refinery runs globally surged by as much as 1.6 million barrels per day in June, up from a stagnant performance in May, the International Energy Agency said in its Oil Market Report for July published earlier this week.

After the June jump, which was the largest monthly increase since July 2020 as per Reuters estimates, refinery runs are expected to further jump through July and August. The increase over this month and next is expected at another 2.7 million bpd from June levels, the IEA said.

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China certainly accounted for a lot of that increase, but in the second half of the year, things may well change. A lot of the increase during the first half came from independent refiners, the so-called teapots, which just saw their second batch of import quotas reduced by Beijing as excess fuel supply has started eating into refiners’ margins and as the government tightens its grip on the independent refining industry.

According to FGE analysts, as cited by Reuters, run rates at independent refineries could decline by close to half a million barrels daily in the current quarter because of the quota cuts and a crackdown on quota trading between state oil majors and teapots.

Meanwhile, crude oil imports have been on the decline in the first half of the year, according to the latest customs data. It’s worth noting, however, that the decline was from unusually high import rates last year amid low oil prices that China used to fill up its inventories.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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37. India’s oil imports slide to nine-month low amid renewed lockdownsВс, 18 июл[−]

Crude imports of the globe’s third-biggest oil consumer, India, plunged last month amid a drop in consumption due to renewed coronavirus lockdowns.

The country imported some 3.9 million barrels a day in June, which was 7% less than the month before, Reuters reports citing trade sources.

India’s fuel demand showed a steady increase in February and March this year, but then dropped significantly in April and May, after the government issued new mobility restrictions amid the second wave of the coronavirus. The move left domestic oil refiners overstocked.

“We had enough inventory of refined fuel, so there was little scope to raise crude imports,” an anonymous source told Reuters. The source also noted that the export market was considered unattractive by India’s refiners, due to low potential for profits.

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Middle East’s share of India’s oil imports dives to 2yr low

According to tanker arrival data, however, India’s June’s imports were still some 22% higher than the same month last year, as the new lockdown measures were not as strict as during the worst of the pandemic in 2020.

Iraq remains India’s top oil supplier, followed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. India's overall imports from the Middle East rose to nearly 59% in June from 53% a month before, while the share of oil brought in from other regions decreased.

The drop in India’s crude imports follows a similar trend recently reported in China.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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38. EU court says Russia should limit gas supply to EuropeСб, 17 июл[−]

The Court of Justice of the European Union upheld on Thursday a lower tribunal's ruling which had said that Russia's access to the OPAL gas pipeline should be limited.

The court case is a win for Poland against an appeal of the lower court's ruling filed by Germany.

The OPAL pipeline, operated by OPAL Gastransport, is a 470-kilometer (292 miles) long pipeline, which links the operational Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline of Russian gas giant Gazprom to Germany.

The European Commission (EC) granted in 2016 an exemption to the OPAL operator from EU energy solidarity regulations, meaning that Gazprom could use OPAL to ship natural gas at almost full capacity of the pipeline.

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The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), based in Luxembourg, annulled in 2019 the 2016 decision that allowed Gazprom to increase gas shipments through the OPAL pipeline.

Germany appealed at the Court of Justice of the European Union and lost the case, after the court sided with Poland on Thursday.

According to today's court decision, which is final, the EU must take into account the concerns expressed by Poland, as well as Lithuania, about the rising Russian supply to Europe, because the exemption of Gazprom from EU energy legislation was "in breach of the principle of energy solidarity."

According to Reuters, the ruling is not expected to significantly change Gazprom's gas deliveries via OPAL, as they had already been reduced before the court case.

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Poland's gas company PGNiG said, commenting on the ruling:

"The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that the European Commission violated the principle of energy solidarity by issuing a decision on the OPAL gas pipeline. The verdict strengthens Poland's energy security and may be important for the further fate of the Nord Stream 2 project."

Poland is one of the most vocal opponents to the Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 project from Russia to Germany, concerned about Russia using gas sales and its gas monopoly Gazprom as a political tool. Poland, several other EU countries, and the United States see Nord Stream 2 as further undermining Europe's energy security by giving Gazprom another pipeline to ship its natural gas to European markets.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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39. Foreign travelers to China can now use digital yuan – central bankСб, 17 июл[−]

Foreign visitors no longer need to open a bank account to make e-payments in China, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) announced on Friday.

“Foreign residents temporarily traveling in China can open an e-CNY wallet to meet daily payment needs without opening a domestic bank account,” the bank said in its so-called white paper on e-CNY, China’s government-developed digital currency.

Despite e-payments being a major form of transactions in China, the country’s two leading mobile pay applications, operated by Tencent and Alibaba until recently, required a Chinese bank account to make payments within the country, which created difficulties for foreigners.

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© Getty Images
Chinese digital yuan now available at over 3,000 ATMs in Beijing

The PBOC’s move aims at eliminating this nuisance, with only a mobile telephone number now needed to make digital payments within the country.

“The internationalization of a currency is a natural result of market selection. The international status of a country’s currency depends on its economic fundamentals and the depth, efficiency and openness of its financial markets,” the central bank stated.

China has been developing e-CNY since 2014. Friday’s white paper outlines the main goals of the digital yuan, differentiating it from other digital payment tools by being legal tender, not requiring an actual bank account, supporting offline payments and providing “managed anonymity.”

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According to the Chinese central bank, the e-CNY “collects less transaction information than traditional electronic payments and does not provide information to third parties or other government agencies unless stipulated otherwise in laws and regulations.”

The PBOC has been testing its digital yuan in China for over a year, with more than 20.87 million personal and some 3.51 million corporate wallets opened. The combined transaction value of those amounted to some 34.5 billion yuan ($5.39 billion), the paper stated.

The bank did not provide information on when the digital yuan feature would be made available. However, CNBC has reported that its employee in China was already able to access the e-CNY through their domestic bank account.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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40. US waives sanctions on frozen Iranian oil funds... but there's a catchПт, 16 июл[−]

The United States has decided to temporarily waive sanctions on Iranian oil funds abroad but without returning Tehran's access to its bank accounts in Japan and South Korea.

"Allowing these funds to be used to repay exporters in these jurisdictions will make those entities whole with respect to the goods and services they exported to Iran, address a recurring irritant in important bilateral relationships, and decrease Iran's foreign reserves," the waiver, which the Department of State presented to Congress, said, as quoted by Iran's Mehr news agency.

This means the government in Tehran will be unable to withdraw the funds but can use them to pay accounts outstanding to South Korean and Japanese exporters. In fact, the money cannot be transferred to Iran at all, the State Department said.

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"The secretary of state previously signed a waiver to allow funds held in restricted Iranian accounts in Japan and Korea to be used to pay back Japanese and Korean companies that exported non-sanctioned items to Iran," a State Department spokesperson said as quoted by Mehr. "These repayment transactions can sometimes be time-consuming, and the secretary extended the waivers for another 90 days."

The sanction talks between the US and Iran have stalled lately as the government in Iran changed, with the new president known as a hardliner unlike his predecessor Hassan Rouhani who was hailed as a reformer when he came into power.

According to various reports citing participants in the negotiations, most of the work on the negotiations is done but what remains is the tricky part. Last month, an Iranian official said that the US had agreed to lift sanctions on the country's oil industry, but the US was quick to deny the report, saying "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."

The talks have currently been suspended with zero clarity on when they will resume.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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41. China’s Xiaomi overtakes Apple in global smartphone marketПт, 16 июл[−]

China’s Xiaomi Corporation has become the world’s second biggest smartphone producer, beating US rival Apple Inc by 3% in global shipments.

Xiaomi landed a 17% share in global smartphone shipments in the second quarter of 2021, behind Samsung with 19%, a report from research agency Canalys revealed. Apple came in third, with a 14% share of the market.

Xiaomi is growing its overseas business rapidly,” Canalys Research Manager Ben Stanton stated in a press release, noting Xiaomi shipments have soared 300% in Latin America and 50% in Western Europe, compared to last year.

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The report pushed the Chinese company’s shares 4.1% higher in Friday’s trading. Xiaomi’s success comes from a recent 83% surge in the company’s smartphone shipments, against a 15% increase for Samsung and only a 1% jump for Apple.

In its push into the premium smartphone market, the producer of everything from robot-cleaners to electronic tea-pots launched two flagship smartphones so far this year, with its Mi 11 Ultra offering one of the largest camera sensors ever installed in a smartphone. However, the average selling price of Xiaomi smartphones remains low compared to Samsung and Apple, which makes them increasingly attractive for consumers.

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Compared with Samsung and Apple, [Xiaomi’s] average selling price is around 40% and 75% cheaper respectively. So a major priority for Xiaomi this year is to grow sales of its high-end devices, such as the Mi 11 Ultra. But it will be a tough battle,” the report concluded.

Besides smartphones, Xiaomi is also testing other markets. Earlier this year the company set its eyes on launching an electric car business, and revealed plans to invest some $10 billion in the technology over the next decade.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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42. Will the digital dollar make bitcoin obsolete? RT’s Boom Bust has the answerПт, 16 июл[−]

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says that if the US established a central bank digital token, there would be no need for bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

RT’s Boom Bust asks crypto analysts Ben Swann and Christy Ai if that’s indeed the case.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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43. OPEC+ says oil demand may reach pre-pandemic level in 2022Пт, 16 июл[−]

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers project global oil demand to grow by six million barrels a day in the second half of 2021, reaching pre-pandemic levels by next year.

According to the July report, global oil demand may surge to about 96.6 million barrels a day. The indicator is expected to grow by some 3.3 million barrels a day, surpassing the 100 million barrels a day mark in 2022.

At the same time, the forecast for growth in oil supply from non-OPEC countries has been lowered by 30,000 barrels to about 63.8 million barrels a day.

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The organization sees Canada, Norway, Brazil, China and Guyana at the forefront of the predicted increase, while the United States is forecast to raise production of liquid hydrocarbons by a mere 0.06 million barrels a day.

The report predicts that gasoline and diesel will also rise in demand during a post-pandemic recovery in freight traffic and increasing population mobility, especially so in the United States, China and India.

The forecast is similar with regard to aviation fuel, with the number of domestic and international flights gradually rising.

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OPEC+, however, notes that the continued spread of the coronavirus and its impact on the growth of the global economy may affect the figures unpredictably.

OPEC+ countries in June increased oil production by 586,000 barrels a day, returning to the market some 26 million barrels daily which they cut during the worst of the pandemic.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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44. What happens when Chinese household wealth is unleashed? RT’s Keiser Report finds outЧт, 15 июл[−]

Chinese households have accumulated some $47 trillion in savings while Beijing is gradually allowing its citizens to invest overseas.

Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert speak with businessman Dan Collins, who has lived in China for many years, about China’s growing influence in the global economy.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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45. India bans Mastercard from adding new customers over data storage breachЧт, 15 июл[−]

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has banned US financial services company Mastercard Inc from issuing new credit and debit cards to Indian customers for violation of data storage rules.

The RBI said Mastercard had violated the country’s data storage law, which bans foreign card networks from keeping Indian payments data outside India.

Notwithstanding the lapse of considerable time and adequate opportunities being given, [Mastercard] has been found to be non-compliant with the directions,” the regulator said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Indian laws obligate all card networks operating in the country to store transaction data “only in India” and to let authorities have “unfettered supervisory access.

Mastercard said it was “disappointed” with the RBI's ban, alleging it has given regular updates on its compliance with Indian regulations on payment data storage ever since they were passed in 2018.

“We will continue to work with [RBI] to provide any additional details required to resolve their concerns,” the company said in an official reply.

The ban applies to both debit and credit cards Mastercard issues. It is due to come into force on July 22. It will not affect existing Mastercard customers in India, the regulator noted.

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The measure follows similar steps recently taken by Indian authorities against two more globally recognized card networks, American Express and Diners Club International.

India is currently putting high hopes in its domestic payments network, Rupay, increasingly promoted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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46. Chinese economy grows by nearly 8% as quarterly retail sales soarЧт, 15 июл[−]

China’s gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 7.9% in the second quarter compared to last year, its National Bureau of Statistics said Thursday. The growth rate slowed by more than half from the first three months of 2021.

In the first quarter, China's economy saw an unprecedented growth of 18.3%. Despite the slowdown in the second quarter, the statistics bureau stated that “China’s economy sustained a steady recovery” in its press release. It noted, however, that concerns still exists over the further spread of the pandemic and over “unbalanced” economic recovery.

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Meanwhile, the country’s retail sales beat forecasts, climbing 12.1% in June against 2020. The fastest-growing sector was beverages, soaring 29.1% year-on-year, while industrial production increased by 8.3%.

Among the biggest drivers for the Chinese economy in the second quarter were exports, with the country’s major trading partners easing lockdowns and vaccination measures picking up globally. China’s customs agency recently announced that exports rose by a hefty 32.2% in June, while imports surged by 43%.

In an attempt to drag the domestic economy from its post-pandemic limbo, Chinese authorities have recently promised an increase in support for companies that suffered from the surge in commodity prices, mostly small businesses but ones which nonetheless contribute to the majority of GDP growth, tax revenue and jobs.

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According to China’s State Council, there were a total of about 139 million small individually run businesses as of the end of April.

In a separate move keep the economic recovery thriving, the country’s central bank slashed the reserve requirement ratio of commercial lenders by half. The cut took effect on Thursday.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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47. Does global debt even matter anymore? RT’s Boom Bust investigatesЧт, 15 июл[−]

Global debt has reached its highest level since WWII as governments continue to pump money into their economies in an effort to recover from damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

RT’s Boom Bust asks the host of Economic Update, Professor Richard Wolff, why countries aren’t looking at the risks of loose monetary policy.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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48. Oil prices slip amid reports of OPEC+ reaching compromise on production boostЧт, 15 июл[−]

Crude prices fell nearly 1% on Thursday with the market bracing for a surge in supplies after reports that an output deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies has been reached.

Brent crude futures were down 59 cents, or 0.8%, to $74.17 a barrel. The US crude benchmark West Texas Intermediate dropped 62 cents, or 0.9%, and stood at $72.51 a barrel.

Thursday’s price decline followed another significant drop the previous day, with both benchmarks losing more than 2% after reports came out that OPEC+ reached a deal on an oil production increase.

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The prospect of increasing oil supplies to the tight market was due to be settled earlier this month, but a dispute broke out between OPEC+ members, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE was stalling the deal, unwilling to extend the previously reached supply cut agreement beyond April 2022 unless its production quota was raised.

The compromise was reportedly reached on Wednesday after OPEC+ agreed to raise the UAE’s baseline, or the maximum production volume, to 3.65 million barrels a day starting in April.

The baseline directly affects the actual amount of production cuts and output quotas. OPEC+ members cut the same percentage from their baseline during the pandemic, when oil was in oversupply. Having a higher baseline amid growing demand as the world is recovering from the Covid-19 crisis would allow the UAE to pump more.

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IEA warns of tight global oil supply if OPEC fails to boost production

The output increase agreement backed by most OPEC+ countries laid out a plan for the group to raise production up to 400,000 barrels a day until December 2022. However, the reports of the deal have not been officially confirmed.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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49. World’s first modular mini-reactor to be built in ChinaЧт, 15 июл[−]

China has launched the construction of the world’s first multi-purpose small modular reactor in the country’s southernmost Hainan province. Work on Linglong One, also known as ACP100, began on Tuesday, Xinhua reports.

Linglong One is a pressurized water reactor with a capacity of 125 MW – the first small commercial onshore modular reactor or SMR to be constructed in the world. After being launched, the SMR will be able to generate enough power to meet the energy demands of approximately 526,000 households annually.

It has been developed by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and will be part of China’s Changjiang nuclear power plant. The project was first introduced back in 2010, with construction, which was originally scheduled for 2017, postponed due to regulatory setbacks.

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In 2016, Linglong One became the first SMR to pass a safety review by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

SMRs can be used for power generation and heating, as well as seawater desalination. Such reactors are infinitely less expensive than traditional nuclear installations, and their construction and deployment takes much less time. Logistics are also an advantage, with small sizes allowing modular reactors to be delivered and set up for operation in any remote area.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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50. China cheers Russia’s move away from US dollar in favor of yuanСр, 14 июл[−]

Beijing has welcomed Russia’s decision to cut the US currency from its National Wealth Fund and give the yuan a bigger role, China’s Foreign Ministry has announced.

Last week, Russia fully eliminated the US dollar from its National Wealth Fund, reducing its share from 35% to zero. Meanwhile, it raised the amount of Chinese yuan in the fund to 30.4%, which put it in second place after the euro with 39.7%.

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Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Russia’s action shows confidence in China’s economic development and the future of the countries’ cooperation. He stressed that China would continue to boost cooperation with Russia, which he dubbed mutually beneficial, while supporting its ally in international and regional affairs.

China has firm belief in its currency, with high hopes of it becoming the world’s ‘currency of choice’ by 2050 under the country’s so-called dual circulation strategy. First mentioned at a meeting of China’s policy-making committee in mid-May, the initiative shifts the focus of the country’s economic development to its domestic market, or internal circulation, aiming to make China less reliant on the current export-oriented development strategy (external circulation).

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China has also been stepping up efforts to globalize the yuan by launching a pilot digital yuan program, as well as setting up a joint venture with SWIFT, the network that enables financial institutions to exchange information about banking transactions.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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51. Why does Elon Musk say he ‘hates’ running Tesla? RT’s Boom Bust finds outСр, 14 июл[−]

Tesla shareholders are suing Elon Musk over the carmaker’s 2016 acquisition of solar panel producer SolarCity.

They claim Musk used his influence to push through the merger to save a nearly bankrupt company he co-founded with his family, and asking the court to order him to repay Tesla the $2.6 billion it spent on SolarCity.

Investigative journalist Ben Swann tells Boom Bust what the conflict is all about.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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52. Foreign direct investment in China soars by nearly 34% this yearСр, 14 июл[−]

The Chinese economy attracted over 607 billion yuan ($91 billion) in foreign direct investment (FDI), in the first half of 2021, which is a 33.9% increase year on year, the country’s Ministry of Commerce said on Wednesday.

According to its report, the Chinese service sector drew in the largest amount of foreign capital – some 482.77 billion yuan ($74.61 billion) – soaring 33.4% year on year.

The high-tech industry also saw a significant increase in foreign investment – by 39.4%. High-tech services attracted 42.7% more investments than in 2020, while the high-tech manufacturing industry’s appeal rose by 29.2%.

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The document states that the volume of FDI coming from China’s key partners in the Belt and Road Initiative increased by 49.6%, while the intake from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was up by 50.7%.

The country’s cooperation with European countries yielded less, but still showed an increase of 10.3% year on year.

At the end of 2020, China attracted a total of $144.37 billion in foreign direct investments – 4.5% more than in 2019.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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53. Oil has become the hottest commodity on Wall StreetСр, 14 июл[−]

Crude oil has been having a great 2021 so far—a very different situation to last year’s when the pandemic devastated demand for all commodities fueling a price rout that lasted well into 2020.

Now, commodities are back with a vengeance, and nowhere is this vengeance clearer than in oil. Crude has become the hottest commodity for traders in the past few weeks as surging demand has topped all expectations, sparking a run on oil futures. According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, in mid-June, the ratio of bullish to bearish bets on oil in New York stood at a staggering 23 to 1. This compares with a ratio of 6 to 1 at the beginning of the year.

This is the speculative component of the price rally, and it is certainly a big component. But the fundamental component is a big one, too. OPEC+ stunned everyone earlier this month when it failed to reach an agreement on how to proceed with its production control beyond the current month. The UAE, a dissenter who had already criticized some aspects of the production cut deal, this time really dug its heels in and refused to make any concessions until concessions were made to it.

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IEA warns of tight global oil supply if OPEC fails to boost production

The latest update from this front is that the members of the oil-producing cartel have yet to make progress on the deal, according to unnamed sources familiar with the situation, who spoke to Reuters this week. The sources said Russia had been trying to bring the UAE and Saudi Arabia together to the negotiations table but was apparently having trouble succeeding, so a new meeting of OPEC+ was unlikely this week.

Meanwhile, however, there have been headwinds at play, too, namely fresh worry that the delta variant of the coronavirus could reverse the global economic recovery that has driven the surge in oil demand that few expected. Because of this worry, Reuters reported Monday, oil started the week with a loss, although a minor one, at less than a percentage point for both Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate.

On the stock market, oil traders have been taking profits. This has weighed on oil prices as well. Per Reuters’ John Kemp, last week hedge funds sold a total 34 million barrels of WTI and 5 million barrels of Brent as well as 14 million barrels of US gasoline. The selloff, Kemp noted, came from the closing of bulling positions to the tune of 55 million barrels—and not the opening of bearish ones, suggesting sentiment remained upbeat on the whole.

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High oil prices threaten global economic recovery

According to the Wall Street Journal, however, there may be a ticking bomb hiding among all these oil bets. That ticking bomb would be the option that many traders have been using to bet on oil reaching $100 by the end of 2022. Analysts are concerned that a reversal of oil’s fortunes would lead to an options selloff, which, due to the size of the options market in oil right now, would send ripples across financial markets.

In all fairness, the chances of a sudden drop in oil prices are slimmer than they would normally be during a rally caused mostly by tightening supply. Normally, higher prices lead to greater production. This time, however, higher production is not coming. US shale producers are being extra-careful and are not in a hurry to bring back too many barrels. Supermajors are being targeted by activist shareholders to reduce their output rather than boost it. There’s Iranian oil that a couple of months ago many expected to quickly return to legal global markets, but it appears that it will take a while yet for Iran and the United States to seal a deal that would make this possible. Wild price swings are likely to continue as speculators try to make the best of the oil rally.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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54. US sees biggest inflation surge in 30 yrs, with consumer prices rising 5.4%Вт, 13 июл[−]

The US consumer price index jumped higher than expected in June, rising 5.4% compared to the same time last year. This marks its largest monthly gain since 2008, and the biggest surge in inflation the country has seen in 30 years.

Inflation surged 4.5% in June, surpassing the estimate of 3.8%, the US Labor Department reported on Tuesday. With the exception of food and energy, this is the largest shift the indicator has seen since September 1991.

Higher inflation was reflected by the surge in the consumer price index, or CPI, which saw its biggest increase since the 2008 global financial crisis.

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Influenced by issues with supply chains and a sharp increase in consumer demand amid the retreat of the pandemic, the CPI surged in sectors of the US economy which were more influenced by the shutdown than others. These include the used car market, which amassed about one third of the total CPI increase, as well as air fares and transportation costs.

Food and energy prices also added to the index, increasing 0.8% and 1.5% respectively. The gasoline index jumped 2.5% in June.

According to a New York Fed survey released on Monday, consumers may expect a further surge in prices, up to 4.8% in the next 12 months. However, another report, from Bank of America on Tuesday, states that inflation is a temporary issue, citing professional investors.

Upon its publication, the Labor Department’s report prompted a plunge in US stock market futures on Tuesday, while government bond yields showed a mixed reaction.

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55. RT’s Keiser Report looks into how government ‘solutions’ to deflation may lead to hyperinflationВт, 13 июл[−]

Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert talk to entrepreneur Jeff Booth, author of 'The price of tomorrow,' about the consequences of government money-printing pushing inflation higher while technological advancement is driving prices down.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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56. IEA warns of tight global oil supply if OPEC fails to boost productionВт, 13 июл[−]

Global oil markets are about to “tighten significantly” unless the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies resolve their issues and step up production, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warns.

“Robust global economic growth, rising vaccination rates, and easing social distancing measures will combine to underpin stronger global oil demand for the remainder of the year,” the agency predicts in its monthly report.

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OPEC stalemate could spark a new oil price war

It states that the current stalemate within OPEC+ may lead to a “deepening supply deficit,” resulting in higher fuel prices. These could “stoke inflation and damage the fragile economic recovery” of the post-pandemic world.

Brent crude prices, for instance, were trading close to a two-year high, at $75 a barrel on Monday, while US benchmark West Texas Intermediate was fetching $74 a barrel.

OPEC+ has been torn by a dispute between its two Middle Eastern member states, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, over the latter’s production output quota. The organization was about to approve a plan on output increase last week, but instead postponed the talks due to the last-minute disagreement. This left the output levels for next month unchanged, even though fuel consumption has been quickly restoring to pre-pandemic levels.

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OPEC's spat isn’t even about oil – it's about what comes after oil

The IEA report shows the OPEC+ standoff couldn’t have come at a worst time, with oil inventory stocks sinking to below-average levels. The agency also notes that the 400,000-barrel-a-day output increase OPEC+ is considering may be insufficient to help the market. According to IEA estimates, OPEC+ countries pumped 40.9 million barrels a day in June, which is at least 2.5 million barrels fewer than the agency projects for the second half of the year.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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57. Brexit redemption? With British trade surging, RT’s Boom Bust asks if fears of leaving the EU were justifiedВт, 13 июл[−]

The UK’s exports to the European Union in May rose to their highest level since October 2019, after plunging earlier this year when Britain officially left the EU’s single market and customs union.

British exports to the EU rose to $19.4 billion in May – nearly twice what they were in January, when Brexit officially took hold. Imports to Britain from the 27-nation bloc were also up from the start of the year.

RT’s Boom Bust talks to Hilary Fordwich of the British American Business Association about what these numbers mean, and whether Britain is better off economically as an independent country.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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58. High oil prices threaten global economic recoveryВт, 13 июл[−]

Since oil prices exceeded $70 per barrel earlier this year, analysts, economists, and central banks have been fretting about whether higher crude prices could disrupt the momentum in global economic recovery from the pandemic.

Most experts argue that inflationary pressure is no doubt rising in developing economies, which are more sensitive than developed markets to rising oil prices. Fuel and food prices generally account for more consumer spending in emerging economies, so they hurt them more than mature markets when oil prices rise. Inflation concerns have also started to emerge in the United States and other developed countries.

Yet, most analysts believe that oil prices—currently at around $75 a barrel—are not as high as to seriously slow down economic growth, especially in the US and Europe. In those areas, services account for a large and growing share of gross domestic product, and the cost of oil as a share of GDP is still below the long-term average.

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Organization of the Petroleoum Exporting Countries (OPEC) outside of OPEC's headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
Oil prices surge after OPEC+ fails to reach deal to boost global crude production

Oil prices have not reached the point yet where they could derail the economic rebound in developed markets, economists and analysts told The Wall Street Journal last week.

Globally, the cost of oil as a share of GDP, also known as the oil burden, will rise this year because of the higher oil prices, but it will still stay below long-term averages, according to estimates from Morgan Stanley cited by the Journal.

In 2021, the oil burden is set to increase to 2.8% of the world’s GDP if prices average $75 a barrel. But even this higher burden than in previous years would be lower than the long-term average of 3.2%, the investment bank says.

Oil would have to average $10 a barrel higher—$85—in order for the so-called oil burden to reach the long-term average, the Journal quoted a Morgan Stanley report from earlier this year.

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Oil price could hit $100 this year on tight supply and rising demand

Current economic projections for developed economies show that this year’s oil price rally will not be a significant bump to the post-pandemic growth recovery.

Just last week, the European Commission (EC) raised its short-term economic growth projection for the European Union and the Eurozone, expecting the economy to expand by 4.8% in 2021 and by 4.5% in 2022. The latest forecasts in the Summer 2021 interim Economic Forecast are 0.6 and 0.5 percentage points higher for the EU and the Eurozone, respectively, than in the spring forecast made just a quarter ago.

Still, the Commission expects rising energy and commodity prices to put upward pressure on inflation this year, alongside production bottlenecks and shortage of some raw materials.

However, pent-up consumer demand in developed economies, mostly in the United States and Europe, is set to sustain the economic rebound and offset, at least for now, the rising oil burden, analysts say.

In Europe and the United States, the pressure of higher oil prices on economic growth “is small in the context of the very strong growth expected as they emerge from the Covid crisis,” Bloomberg Economics’ Maeva Cousin and Ziad Daoud note.

That’s not only because current projections see a strong rebound in developed economies, but also because less oil is now needed to produce a dollar of GDP in mature economies where the share of the services sector is growing, according to the Journal.

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Russian drillers rejoice as oil continues to rally

Rising crude prices are expected to have a small effect on the overall economic growth and outlook on developed economies than they did a few decades ago. But higher prices are certainly challenging to developing economies, especially those heavily dependent on oil imports such as India. Inflationary pressures are stronger there, and analysts see $80 oil as the red line beyond which oil demand destruction begins.

“Above that, we would expect quite a bit of demand destruction to kick in,” Martijn Rats, chief oil analyst at Morgan Stanley, told CNBC earlier this month.

“That then would have implications for economic growth because if oil demand doesn’t grow quite as fast anymore then an awful lot of other industrial economic processes depend on that,” Rats noted.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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59. Modest trade turnover between Russia & US manages to grow despite sanctionsВт, 13 июл[−]

The trade turnover between Russia and the US jumped 7.7% in the first quarter, compared to the same period last year, to $3.88 billion. However, economic restrictions imposed by Washington continue to impede growth.

The figures were revealed by the press service of Moscow’s economic policy, property and land relations complex, or Mosprom. According to the data, Russia’s capital exports to the US market increased by 7.6% in the first quarter of 2021, to nearly $1.87 billion.

Moscow’s share of the overall turnover has been gradually increasing over the past three years: from 39.2% in 2018 to 52% in 2020, to the current 55.3%. Exports of industrial products from the Russian capital to the US market amounted to $1.02 billion, which is 29.2% more than in 2020. These include mechanical equipment and products for the metallurgic and electronic industries. Moscow also holds a huge share in the export of agricultural goods and confectionery products.

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The United States remains one of the key partners of the Russian Federation [in trade],” Mosprom quoted Deputy Mayor for Economic Policy, Property and Land Relations Vladimir Yefimov as saying.

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the increase in trade between Russia and the United States, saying it will inevitably benefit both countries. However, he lamented the restrictions imposed by Washington on the countries’ economic cooperation.

As a result of these restrictions, including for American companies, some Americans left with losses and gave their business into the hands of their competitors from other countries. Well, why? There is practically no sense, but there are losses, [on both sides],” Putin said at a press conference following the summit in Geneva in June.

As for the future of economic cooperation, Putin said “it depends on the American side, we are not introducing any restrictions.

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Russia must be realistic & realize that sanctions imposed by Western nations will ‘remain forever,’ deputy foreign minister warns

According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Russia was the United States’ 40th largest goods export market in 2019, and 20th largest supplier of imported goods.

In the latest round of sanctions targeting Moscow in April, the US government banned American companies from investing in Russian bonds. A month earlier, Washington announced an expansion of restrictions on exports to Russia, including defense-related items.

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60. Tesla shareholders want Elon Musk to pay back $2.6 BILLION carmaker spent on SolarCityПн, 12 июл[−]

Elon Musk is expected in court on Monday to testify about Tesla’s 2016 acquisition of another company he co-founded with his family, solar panel producer SolarCity.

Tesla’s shareholders have filed a legal complaint, accusing Musk of profiting from a deal under which the electric carmaker paid $2.6 billion for the struggling firm. The shareholders contend that the deal amounted to a bailout for SolarCity, which was nearly bankrupt at the time, and financially benefited Musk and his family much more than it did Tesla.

Back in 2016 Musk owned a 22% stake in SolarCity, which was founded by his cousins. He was also SolarCity’s chairman of the board, as well as CEO and chairman of Tesla. The deal to acquire SolarCity echoed Musk’s dream of transitioning to sustainable energy.

Tesla’s shareholders are asking the court to order Musk to repay Tesla what the company spent on SolarCity.

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In response, Musk has stated that the deal was fair and approved by the Tesla board and shareholders with no bias or pressure from him. Moreover, Musk insisted he was “fully recused” from negotiations regarding the deal. Last year, Tesla’s directors settled the dispute with the company’s shareholders for some $60 million, paid by insurance, without admitting fault.

If the shareholders win, the case would represent one of the largest judgments against an individual in recorded history.

Musk is the world’s third richest person with a net worth of $168 billion, according to Forbes. For a short period of time earlier this year he topped the list.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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61. Natural gas prices still have room to runПн, 12 июл[−]

US natural gas prices have more than doubled since last year’s pandemic-induced slump. Prices surged in the second quarter of 2021 by 40 percent, registering the largest quarterly rise since the second quarter of 2016.

The US benchmark natural gas price at the Henry Hub has traded above $3.60 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) so far in July. Extreme heat, rising liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, and lower than usual gas stocks in storage continue to support prices at the start of the third quarter.

Going forward, analysts expect higher volatility in prices as weather models and anticipated heat waves will be one of the key factors in determining price actions. Natural gas consumption in US electricity generation, however, is set to decline this year because of the much higher prices, which make coal more competitive. Coal-fired power generation is set for a short-term recovery this summer as higher prices of coal’s main fossil fuel competitor, natural gas, will discourage parts of gas-fired electricity generation.

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© Global Look Press/Jim West
The future of US liquefied natural gas hangs in the balance

Still, natural gas prices are currently at their highest since the middle of December 2018, driven by record US LNG exports, low domestic stock levels, and extreme weather both in the past winter and this summer.

Amid all this, natural gas production in the United States has stayed relatively flat in recent months, due to lower production of associated gas from oil-directed rigs.

Natural gas prices are expected to stay above $3/MMBtu in the coming two quarters. Downward pressure will likely emerge next year because of an expected rise in US natural gas production and a slowdown in export growth, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its Short-Term Energy Outlook for July published this week.

Last week, US natural gas prices jumped amid a tight natural gas market and expectations of high demand for electricity in hotter than usual weather in many parts of the United States. The Henry Hub rally as a heatwave gripped the Pacific Northwest resulted in the highest price for the prompt futures in more than two years.

Expectations of cooler weather this week have weighed on natural gas futures, but the weekly natural gas inventory report from EIA was constructive and sent prices higher on Thursday.

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The net injections into storage totaled 16 billion cubic feet (Bcf) for the week ending July 2, below the median analyst estimate of 27 Bcf and well below the five-year average net injections of 63 Bcf, the EIA said.

This week last year net injections into storage stood at 57 Bcf. As of July 2, working natural gas stocks totaled 2,574 Bcf, which is 190 Bcf lower than the five-year average and 551 Bcf lower than last year at this time.

The average rate of injections into storage so far in the refill season April-October is also lower, by 17%, compared to the five-year average.

For the whole refill season, the EIA sees injections 5% below the five-year average rate because record exports are set to outpace increase in natural gas production.

Rising natural gas demand outside the power sector and higher exports resulted in an average Henry Hub spot price of $3.25/MMBtu in the first half of 2021, also because of the brief spike in prices to $5.35/MMBtu during the Texas Freeze in February.

The Henry Hub spot price is set to drop from recent highs, the EIA forecasts in its July STEO. The average price for the third quarter is expected at $3.22/MMBtu, which will also be the average price for all of 2021, as per EIA’s latest estimates.

However, prices are expected to stay above $3.00/MMBtu for the rest of 2021, “driven by continuing record natural gas exports and rising demand for natural gas outside of the electric power sector amid relatively flat natural gas production.”

Next year, downward pressure from higher production and slowing export growth would lead to average Henry Hub spot price of $3.00/MMBtu in 2022, the EIA reckons.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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62. Beijing vows to respond as US blacklists 23 more Chinese companiesПн, 12 июл[−]

Beijing has promised to take “necessary measures” in response to the latest US blacklisting of Chinese companies over alleged human rights abuses and links to China’s military.

The Chinese Commerce Ministry has blasted the US move as “unjustified suppression of Chinese enterprises and a serious breach of international economic and trade rules.

The ministry vowed it would “take necessary measures to firmly safeguard Chinese companies’ legitimate rights and interests.” Although it did not specify what those measures would be, over the past several months Beijing has increasingly retaliated against US sanctions on Chinese companies and officials with its own.

The US Commerce Department last week blacklisted 14 Chinese electronics and technology firms, one of which is backed by a top Silicon Valley investment company, banning them from doing business with US enterprises without a special license.

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The US Commerce Department claimed the companies helped “Beijing’s campaign of repression, mass detention and high-technology surveillance” against the mostly Muslim Uighur minority in China’s far western region of Xinjiang. The US has been accusing the Chinese government of unlawful prosecution of the Uighurs, alleging that since 2017 Beijing has arrested some one million people in Xinjiang and sent them to forced labor camps, where they were tortured and forcibly sterilized.

China has repeatedly denied these accusations, defending its policies in Xinjiang as necessary for national security reasons.

Five more Chinese companies were blacklisted on Friday over their alleged ties with China’s military. Washington has been increasingly unhappy with Beijing’s recent military build-up, seen in the US as a threat to global stability.

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Yet another four firms were sanctioned for doing business with companies that had already been blacklisted.

The Department of Commerce remains firmly committed to taking strong, decisive action to target entities that are enabling human rights abuses in Xinjiang or that use US technology to fuel China’s destabilizing military modernization efforts,” Friday’s statement by the US Department of Commerce said.

Russia and Iran were also targeted in Washington’s most recent blacklisting. Eight companies were slapped with sanctions for allegedly exporting US technology to Iran, while seven more were sanctioned for their alleged involvement with Russia's military.

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63. Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to be completed in August – project coordinatorПн, 12 июл[−]

The construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will transport natural gas from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea, will be completed in August, the company in charge of the project announced on Monday.

We believe that construction will be completed at the end of August. We are now 98% complete... Our goal is to put the pipeline into operation this year,” Nord Stream II AG executive director Matthias Warnig said in an interview with the Handelsblatt newspaper.

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He stated that after its completion, the underwater pipeline linking Siberia’s gas fields to Western Europe will need three more months before it can start operating to obtain the necessary certificates and to conduct pre-launch tests. The first section of the pipeline was completed last month.

The construction has been delayed due to repeated US threats of sanctions against companies involved in the project. According to Warnig, US sanctions have delayed the project by a year and a half at the cost of millions of dollars. Washington claims the Russian pipeline poses a “grave threat” to Europe’s energy security and American national security. The US government under former president Donald Trump made it clear that Europe should buy more American gas instead of relying on Russian energy exports.

Washington also says it is concerned that Ukraine could lose out on $3 billion a year in gas transit fees that Moscow currently pays as part of a deal to keep using a network of Soviet-built pipelines running through the country to transport its gas into Europe.

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Russia has repeatedly denied that it intends to stop using Ukraine to transport gas after the current transit deal expires in 2024. In his interview, Warnig also said the transit of gas through Ukraine will continue even after the current deal expires.

The current US administration – reluctantly – dropped many of its previously imposed sanctions earlier this year, after Germany insisted that it sees Nord Stream 2 as a positive development. President Joe Biden said that he had taken office too late to stop the construction of the pipeline and that it would be “counterproductive” to sanction allies given that the project was close to completion.

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64. New coal plants are popping up all over AsiaВс, 11 июл[−]

Just five Asian countries are now producing the vast majority of the region’s coal, with little intention of reining in production as several companies invest in new coal plants.

According to a study released in June, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, and Vietnam are producing around 80 percent of all Asian coal, with plans to develop over 600 coal power units. Together, the projects are expected to produce around 300 gigawatts of energy.

The continued reliance is surprising considering the many alternative energy projects that could be more financially appealing, as the cost of building new coal plants is extremely high considering global aims to reduce reliance on coal power.

Carbon Tracker, the London-based think tank that published the report, claims that solar and wind power generate significantly cheaper energy, with costs around 85 percent lower than existing coal production. And by 2026, close to 100 percent of coal production will be more expensive than constructing and operating renewable projects.

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FILE PHOTO. Germany
G7 governments agree to end international funding for coal plants this year

Europe, for example, is already phasing out coal production at an increasing rate, as the U.K. plans to decommission the country’s coal plants a year earlier than expected, by 2024. In addition, many of the U.K.’s disused coal plants are now being converted for alternative energy use, including the creation of geothermal power plants.

Catharina Hillenbrand von der Neyen, head of company research and co-head of research at Carbon Tracker, stated of the findings, "The vast, vast majority of new coal projects that are currently being proposed is likely to be value destructive — a very bad deal for investors."

At present, China is the world’s largest investor in coal. And it plans to boost its coal energy production by 187 gigawatts, on top of its current 1,100-gigawatt output. In addition, in 2020 a Shanxi state merger established one of the world’s largest coal companies.

Despite aiming to become carbon-neutral by 2060, China’s reliance on coal hasn’t subsided as coal-powered industry accounted for 37 percent of its economic activity in 2020. In 2019, coal constituted around 57 percent of the country’s energy consumption.

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Russia looks to replace banned Australian coal exports to China

So, while China is increasing its investment in renewables projects, with it expecting to add 90 GW wind and solar capacity to the grid in 2021, the importance of coal cannot be overlooked.

However, the report predicts that renewable energy will overtake coal production in India and Indonesia by 2024. And it will become less economically viable than renewables in Japan and Vietnam by 2022.

Meanwhile, other Asian countries are following in the footsteps of Europe and abandoning coal production. For example, Thailand’s largest coal producer, Banpu, has said it will not pursue any new coal projects in a shift towards greener energy.

Chaimongkol, CEO of Banpu explained, “Since 2010, we talk about transformation. And since 2015, when I succeeded my predecessor as CEO, we started to implement a greener, smarter [plan]. For the past five years, we spent $2 billion and 90% of [that went on] … a greener investment, such as gas, such as renewable energy, and energy technology.” Further, ″[There are] a lot of megatrends happening — digitalization, decarbonization, decentralization — and that sped up Banpu to produce a new, greener, smarter strategy.”

While coal continues to fuel some of the largest Asian states, with more plants planned over the coming years, will these countries continue to pursue an energy strategy that is at odds with international green energy plans, or will they give in to renewables development?

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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65. Indian crypto exchanges say they’re not concerned about current bear marketВс, 11 июл[−]

Indian exchanges are unfazed by the current downturn in cryptocurrency trading, and see it as an opportunity to innovate until crypto starts its ascent again, Business Insider India reports.

A bear market brings in an opportunity for us to further strengthen security and work on building educational initiatives to bring more awareness around crypto as an asset class,” Ashish Singhal, CEO of India-based digital asset platform CoinSwitch Kuber, told the media. Singhal noted that “volatility is just a part of market building,” indicating that the market may see a steady recovery in the months to come.

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Other Indian crypto exchanges echoed the sentiment, including CoinDCX and WazirX. Sumit Gupta, CoinDCX’s CEO & co-founder, said that a strong regulatory framework may even “help propel the next growth phase of crypto adoption” in India. He also noted that the drop in the amount of cryptocurrency held on exchanges may mean that more people are holding their tokens off the exchange.

“Consolidation is widely considered to be a sign of the crypto markets maturing, with more investors adopting a longer-term approach towards crypto assets,” Gupta said.

To date, the amount of bitcoin held on exchanges compared to the total number of coins in circulation has dropped to 13% – its lowest in six months, as data from crypto analytics group Santiment shows. Similarly, the ratio of Ethereum held on exchanges fell to 18%. In India, the trading volume within most crypto exchanges fell nearly 50% since the peak reached in April.

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The recent rise in stocks of bitcoin mining companies like Riot Blockchain, Marathon Digital, and Nvidia is seen by experts as a good omen for cryptocurrency prices, with crypto research firm Fundstrat stating that bitcoin mining stocks traditionally rise and fall ahead of bitcoin itself. Other experts, however, suggest bitcoin will have to fall even lower – to at least $25,000 – before the market goes up again.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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66. OPEC's spat isn’t even about oil – it's about what comes after oilСб, 10 июл[−]

The UAE took oil market watchers by surprise this month when it dug its heels in and refused to agree to an extension of the current OPEC+ production control deal under its original terms.

The emirates demanded an adjustment of baseline production levels, noting that November 2018 was hardly reflective of current production realities. Traditionally one of the closest allies of Saudi Arabia, the UAE has gone against its bigger regional partner, prompting fears of far greater uncertainty.

Behind the scenes, however, it all makes sense. The UAE is simply preparing for a post-oil world and is trying to make the best of the oil it has before demand begins to shrink for good. At least, that’s according to sources in the know who spoke about the change in policy to the Wall Street Journal this month.

“This is the time to maximize the value of the country’s hydrocarbon resources, while they have value,” one of the WSJ sources said. “The aim of the investment is to generate revenue for the diversification of the economy, both for investment in new energy and, as importantly, in new revenue streams.”

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© Pixabay.com
Russia is making a mad dash to outrun peak oil demand

If this sounds familiar, it is because it is familiar. Russia is doing the same thing. The world’s third-largest producer has enough oil to keep production at current rates until 2080 and it has enough gas to last it for another 103 years, but it is investing billions in new oil reserves in Eastern Siberia. According to estimates, the giant Vostok project could tap some 100 million tons of crude annually.

This is happening in the context of forecaster after forecaster warning that peak oil demand is looming on oil producers’ horizons.

BP, for instance, predicted that in the worst-case scenario peak oil demand has already arrived, and in the best-case scenario, it will come in 2030. Norway’s Equinor expects peak oil demand sometime in 2027 or 2028. Rystad Energy sees demand peaking in five years, and the International Energy Agency expects peak demand over the next decade. All in all, forecasts are within the range of 2030.

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This means that Russia, the UAE, and all other big oil producers have very little time to diversify away from their main export commodity.

At the same time, they need money to fuel their economic diversification efforts. The most obvious place this money can come from is oil exports.

And this is why the UAE is standing up to its OPEC partners. While publicly it remains committed to the production curbs the cartel and its non-OPEC partners agreed last year, privately, like any self-respecting economy, the UAE is looking out for itself.

“Market share is a key factor here,” one oil industry executive from the Emirates told the WSJ. “We want a bigger market share, to monetize as much as we can from our reserves, especially when we have spent billions developing them.”

At the same time, the UAE will need the oil revenues to steer its economy away from oil—something that, according to recent reports from the IMF and Moody’s could prove a challenge.

Like other Gulf producers, the UAE has relied on oil revenues to fuel the non-oil parts of its economy for decades. It would be difficult to give up this habit without some social and economic repercussions.

It may be these that the UAE is trying to minimize with its approach to peak oil demand forecasts: the more money it manages to make from its oil while it’s still in demand, the bigger a social cushion it would have when economic diversification becomes inevitable, as most forecasts argue it will.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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67. Capital flight from Russia drops nearly 10% in first six months of yearСб, 10 июл[−]

The net capital outflow from the Russian Federation in January-June this year totaled $28.2 billion, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) reported on Friday.

This is a 9.6% decrease compared to last year, according to the regulator. At the end of the first half of 2020, the indicator stood at $31.2 billion.

The CBR explained that “investments of other sectors in foreign assets with a slight decrease in external liabilities” contributed to the change.

At the same time, the central bank added that, with regard to the dynamics of capital outflow in 2020, there was also a noticeable “decrease in banks’ external liabilities.” In 2020, net capital outflow from Russia by the private sector increased 2.2 times compared to 2019 and amounted to $47.8 billion.

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The CBR also said Russia’s positive foreign trade balance increased by 24.8% in the last six months compared to the same period last year and amounted to $62.4 billion.

At the end of the reporting period of 2020, the country’s foreign trade surplus stood at $50 billion.Russia’s trade surplus for 2020 totaled $89.4 billion, which was 45.9% less than in 2019.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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68. Bitcoin slides amid broader cryptocurrency market sell-offПт, 09 июл[−]

The price of bitcoin dropped below the $33,000 level on Friday for the first time in over a week, with most other major cryptocurrencies trading in the red.

The world’s top digital asset by market capitalization plunged to $32,639 during Friday trading. Ethereum was down 10.0% to $2,079, while other top-20 cryptos Cardano, Ripple, Dogecoin, and Polkadot were losing between 5% and 10%.

Over the last several weeks, bitcoin is down over 50% from its April price peak of nearly $65,000. The cryptocurrency market is facing mounting regulatory crackdowns around the world.

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The latest hit came from US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who chairs the Senate's Subcommittee on Economic Policy. Warren has called for “common-sense regulations” on cryptocurrency in the United States. She ordered the Securities and Exchange Commission to draw up legislation on crypto-market regulation by July 28, stating that unpredictable changes in the prices of “highly opaque and volatile” cryptocurrencies could “end badly” for traders.

This follows various actions undertaken by governments across the globe against crypto. China banned its financial institutions from offering any form of crypto services back in May, while the United Kingdom last month blocked Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, from carrying out regulated activities in the country.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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69. Are social media companies guilty of censorship when blacklisting individuals? RT’s Boom Bust wants to knowПт, 09 июл[−]

Former US President Donald Trump is suing Facebook, Google and Twitter for removing him from their platforms.

Investigative journalist Ben Swann breaks down the issue on Boom Bust.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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70. Russia raises GDP growth outlook as economy recovers faster than expectedПт, 09 июл[−]

The Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade has raised its forecast for the growth of the country’s economy in 2021, despite new administrative restrictions on business activity due to the third wave of the pandemic.

The ministry now expects the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) this year to be 3.8% instead of the previously expected 2.9%.

The old scenario conditions were formed in March based on the data for January-February. Now the data for April-May [shows] the economy is recovering faster than we expected [...] We expect to reach the pre-crisis level this month,” a representative of the ministry told reporters on Friday. He added that the potential for economic recovery has not yet been exhausted.

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Fitch Ratings upgrades Russia’s economic outlook for 2021

The improvement in the ministry’s forecasts follows a sizeable GDP growth shown by the country’s economy in both April and May this year. Both months saw a year-on-year growth of over 10%, which shows Russia’s economy is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic at a steady pace.

The growth trend seems to have been largely unaffected by the newly imposed administrative restrictions on business activity in a number of Russian regions due to the third wave of Covid-19. Amid rising infection rates and mortality from coronavirus, the toughest restrictions were introduced in Moscow, including the closure of food courts and zoos, as well as restricted access to restaurants for unvaccinated citizens. Moscow accounts for nearly 21% of the total regional product in Russia, Rosstat data showed.

The forecast GDP growth for 2021 will be the fastest upsurge Russia’s economy has seen since 2012, while the average annual growth in 2014-2019 was less than 0.5%, with a dramatic 3% decline in 2020.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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71. Twitter begins complying with new regulations in IndiaПт, 09 июл[−]

Twitter Inc.’s unit in India has appointed an interim chief compliance officer and is to assign other executives in the nearest future in order to comply with the country’s new IT regulations.

The media corporation announced the news in a court filing on Thursday following a lengthy legal battle with the Indian government over new IT rules. These require big tech companies including WhatsApp, Facebook, Google – and Twitter – to appoint executives from India for their units within the country.

California-based Twitter Inc. has recently posted job openings for the position of chief compliance officer, nodal officer and grievance officer for its India branch on Linkedin. In its Thursday filing to the Delhi High Court the company promised to fill all the required positions with Indian residents within eight weeks. It also announced it is setting up a liaison office in India.

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© Unsplash / Jeremy Zero
Twitter loses liability protection for user-created posts in India after failing to delete content

However, “While Twitter is striving to comply with the 2021 Rules, Twitter reserves its right to challenge the legality, validity... of the Rules," the company stated, as cited by Reuters.

Besides the executives’ origin, India’s new IT rules, which came into force in May, are aimed at regulating content on social media in accordance with Indian laws, as well as making tech companies act faster on legal requests – such as the removal of defamatory posts – and share information on the originators of such messages.

The rules were introduced following a growing spat between Twitter and Narendra Modi’s government that started earlier this year when the latter was ordered to remove a controversial hashtag linked to protests by Indian farmers.

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File photo © REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration
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Twitter’s filing came in response to the government’s own filing last week that denied Twitter liability protection against user-generated content in India, as it has failed to comply with the new rules. That filing came in a case launched against Twitter by a user of Indian origin who reported supposedly defamatory tweets and claimed the platform was out of compliance with those rules.

The Delhi High Court gave Twitter two weeks to make permanent appointments before the interim executives take up their new posts. It also stated that the government was free to act against Twitter if any further breach of the rules was detected.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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72. Can a shorter workweek make employees more productive? RT’s Boom Bust investigatesЧт, 08 июл[−]

Trials of a four-day workweek in Iceland were an overwhelming success, according to UK think tank Autonomy, which concluded that worker productivity did not suffer and even improved in some cases.

RT’s Boom Bust asks Professor Richard Wolff if a shorter workweek is a good idea and whether other countries should try the experiment.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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73. EU fines major German automakers over failure to deliver cleaner cars after Daimler rats on rivalsЧт, 08 июл[−]

The European Union has fined BMW, VW, Audi, and Porsche $1 billion for “cartel behavior” in conspiring to curb the development of clean-emissions technology, while Daimler got a pass for informing on its co-conspirators.

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager slapped German carmakers with the hefty fine, alleging that, even though the companies in question had the technology to cut harmful emissions, they deliberately shied away from competition, denying their customers the option to buy cleaner cars.

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An exhaust pipe of a car is pictured on a street in a Berlin © Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch
EU accuses German carmakers of blocking development of emissions cleaning technology

Today, the Commission took a decision against five car manufacturers – Daimler, BMW, as well as Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche, which are part of the Volkswagen group. The Commission imposed a total fine of €875 million. These car manufacturers illegally colluded to restrict competition in the area of emission-cleaning technology for diesel cars,” Vestager said in a statement posted on the European Commission website.

“'Factories compete with one another also when it comes to reducing carbon emissions from the cars. Manufacturers deliberately avoided to compete on cleaning better […] And they did so despite the relevant technology being available,” the statement reads.

Vestager outlined that, between 2009 and 2014, representatives of the five companies in question attended the so-called 'circle of five’ technical meetings, where they decided to put on hold the technological developments able to curb harmful nitrogen oxide gas emissions of their diesel cars.

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They knew that they had the technical possibility to clean better than required by law and compete on this important parameter relevant for consumers. Instead, they decided to collude by indicating to each other that none of them would aim at cleaning above the minimum standard required by law,” Vestager slapped.

The VW group will now have to pay the major portion of the fine, some $594 million (€502mn), while BMW is to pay the rest. Daimler was not fined, however, as it exposed the cartel to the European Commission.

VW said it would “carefully review” the EU’s ruling and decide whether to take legal action against the fine, according to a statement cited by Reuters. The group argues that fining companies over technical talks about emissions technology could set a questionable precedent.

The commission is entering new judicial territory, because it is treating technical cooperation for the first time as an antitrust violation. Furthermore, it is imposing fines, although the content of the talks was never implemented and no customers suffered any harm as a result,” Volkswagen said in a statement.

BMW, on the other hand, relieved the fine would bring the proceedings to a close, said its board of management had agreed to the settlement proposed by the European Commission.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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74. What’s the endgame with all this money printing? RT’s Keiser Report finds outЧт, 08 июл[−]

RT's Keiser Report looks into the potential problems that massive quantitative easing programs by central banks are creating for the global economy.

Max and Stacy ask Alasdair Macleod of Goldmoney.com about the dangers of too much liquidity causing currency depreciation and creating asset bubbles around the world.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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75. More than half of US states sue Google for ‘extravagant' fees in company’s app storeЧт, 08 июл[−]

District of Columbia and 35 US states filed a lawsuit against Google on Wednesday, accusing the tech giant of violating antitrust laws on its Android app store.

The plaintiff states claim Google is monopolizing the app store and abusing the power it has over app developers, while also phasing out competition over how users download and pay for apps on their Android devices.

Google uses anticompetitive barriers and mandates to protect its monopoly power,” the attorney general states in the suit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California on Wednesday. The case has 36 states as plaintiffs, including the District of Columbia, California, New York, North Carolina and Utah.

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FILE PHOTO: Jim Jordan pictured at a forum on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 29, 2021 © Reuters / Jonathan Ernst
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Google app store fees normally stand at 30% and are charged to the developers, who then typically pass the cost on to users who are buying apps or making in-app purchases. The case questions Google's use of these commissions, slamming the company’s policy in this regard as anticompetitive and alleging it steals profits from developers while also boosting prices for users.

To collect and maintain this extravagant commission, Google has employed anticompetitive tactics to diminish and disincentivize competition in Android app distribution. Google has not only targeted potentially competing app stores, but also has ensured that app developers themselves have no reasonable choice but to distribute their apps through the Google Play Store,” the case reads.

It also criticizes Google for banning rival app stores from being downloaded through its Google Play store, although they can still be sideloaded onto Google devices, which the state lawyers claim to be “unnecessarily cumbersome and impractical."

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Trump SUING ‘Big Tech giants’ Facebook, Google and Twitter

In response to the states’ complaint Wilson White, Google's Senior Director of Public Policy, posted a statement, claiming the case is ignoring Google Play's openness to sideloading and third-party app stores, which deprive Google of its rightful profits.

This lawsuit isn't about helping the little guy or protecting consumers. It's about boosting a handful of major app developers who want the benefits of Google Play without paying for it,” White alleges. He warned that “doing so risks raising costs for small developers, impeding their ability to innovate and compete,” while also “making apps across the Android ecosystem less secure for consumers.”

Three similar antitrust lawsuits have previously been filed against Google. In one of these the company was accused of an anticompetitive collusion with Facebook. The lawsuit alleged that in 2017 Facebook became a serious competitor to Google in the online advertising market. In this regard, the companies allegedly agreed to avoid competition in a number of areas.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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76. Covid restrictions drag down global air travel demand by 63% – IATAЧт, 08 июл[−]

An International Air Transport Association (IATA) report has revealed a significant decline in air travel due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions. It shows a 63% drop in May 2021 compared to the same period in 2019.

The IATA stated, however, that the situation in May looked a bit more cheerful than in April this year – by some 2.5%.

The airline industry body said that international travel has been much more affected by ongoing mobility restrictions than domestic travel. International passenger demand in May was 85.1% below May 2019, while total domestic demand was only 23.9% below the pre-pandemic level.

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American Airlines cancels hundreds of flights as US air carriers scramble to handle resurgence in travel demand

We are starting to see positive developments, with some international markets opening to vaccinated travelers,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh said at a briefing on Wednesday.

According to the IATA, Chinese and Russian air traffic continues to show positive growth compared to pre-crisis levels, while India and Japan are doing much worse than in 2019 due to recent outbreaks.

Walsh suggested that countries should coordinate better in order to help the airline industry recover, especially with regard to Covid-19 testing.

We’re seeing a wide variation in the requirements for things like testing... Clearly this is causing great confusion in the minds of consumers,” Walsh stated, adding that “too many governments continue to act as if the only tool in their anti-Covid-19 arsenal is a blanket border closure or an arrival quarantine.

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Russia and US to work towards restarting issuance of visas as ambassadors return to Moscow & Washington, reveals senior diplomat

He cited research results from global medical organizations suggesting that vaccinated travelers pose little risk to local populations, while pre-departure testing greatly lowers the chances of unvaccinated travelers importing Covid-19.

It is long past time for governments to start responding to this information with more nuanced data-driven, risk-based strategies. These will minimize the chance of importing Covid-19 while allowing the world to reopen to travel and all the opportunities it brings,” Walsh concluded.

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Meanwhile, the IATA data also states that global air cargo markets showed remarkable growth, rising 9.4% compared to May 2019, with seasonally adjusted demand increasing by 0.4% month-on-month in May, the 13th consecutive month of growth in that sphere.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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77. China’s oil industry is undergoing a serious makeoverЧт, 08 июл[−]

China’s establishment of a national pipeline network, PipeChina, last October is creating a shift in China’s oil and gas industry, which aims to create greater competition and encourage new players in the sector.

PipeChina acquired the oil and gas pipeline assets, storage facilities, and import terminals of the three state-run firms, China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC/PetroChina), China Petrochemical Corp. (Sinopec), and China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) upon its creation last year in an attempt to make the industry more efficient.

PipeChina acquired PetroChina’s Kunlun Energy Co. stakes, giving it a 60 percent share in its Beijing natural gas pipeline as well as a 75% share in its Dalian LNG company, at a cost of $6.23 billion. PetroChina gave up the most assets of the three majors in the deal.

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Following the restructure, PetroChina has taken a step back, but CNOOC and Sinopec have now opened more offices across the region to enhance distribution, decentralizing power for the first time. Sinopec also merged its natural gas upstream and downstream operations in anticipation of the change, aiming to expand its gas network in the region.

In the Spring, PipeChina started on the construction of a $1.3 billion 413.5km-long natural gas trunk line in the north of the country. The pipeline is expected to transport 6.6 billion cubic meters of gas or around 2% of China’s total gas consumption.

The pipeline will be connected with the Power of Siberia line, bringing Russian gas to China, as well as being connected to the national Shaanjing pipelines.

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PipeChina is also altering the Chinese oil and gas industry by striving to meet green energy targets encouraged at the international level, aiming to increase its carbon emissions and energy consumption to a peak before reducing emissions from 2030. This is in line with China’s eventual net-zero aim for 2060.

When talking of the company’s plans to reduce its carbon footprint Tang Shanhua, deputy general manager of business operations at PipeChina, explained that "In the next step, we will optimize our energy consumption structure and purchase more electricity that is generated from renewable sources through market trading."

PipeChina is currently exploring cold energy in liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and natural gas recycling as a means of reducing carbon emissions by the next decade. The firm is planning to establish more natural gas pipelines and storage facilities across the country but aims to eventually invest in hydrogen storage as well as carbon capture and storage (CCS) and transport technology as the world energy consumption gradually shifts away from fossil fuels.

Just this week, Sinopec commenced construction on a CCS project in the east of China, expected to be the country’s biggest, as part of the firm’s aim to become carbon-neutral by 2050. The carbon dioxide will come from Sinopec's Qilu refinery in the Shandong province and will then be used for hydrogen production, where it will then be injected into 73 wells in the Shengli oilfield to enhance oil production.

Sinopec expects to inject 10.68 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the oilfield over 15 years to increase crude oil production by as much as 3 million tonnes. Operations should commence by the end of the year with plans to carry out a similar project in the neighboring Jiangsu province.

As PipeChina aims to increase competition among national players by altering their roles in the oil and gas industry, as well as attracting new companies to participate in the sector, China’s majors are beginning to diversify their roles by expanding to the regional level and enhancing green energy practices through greater investment in innovative CCS and hydrogen production projects. This could be the move China needed to reinvigorate the national oil industry.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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78. China bans construction of new super skyscrapers over safety concernsСр, 07 июл[−]

The country with nearly half the globe’s 100 tallest buildings, China, has officially set a structure-height limit of 500 meters for all its future skyscrapers.

According to the country’s top planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), buildings taller than 500 meters will no longer be approved for construction. Also, structures over 250 meters are to be limited, while buildings taller than 100 meters will be examined with regard to the fire-rescue capacity of their locations.

Man looks at the Pudong financial district of Shanghai © Reuters / Carlos Barria

The NDRC issued the order late on Tuesday, citing concerns for construction safety as well as an oversupply of commercial offices as grounds for its decision.

The order comes two months after the as-yet unexplained wobbling of the 72-story SEG Plaza in China’s southern city of Shenzhen, which prompted a hasty evacuation and created chaos in the surrounding streets. At 984 feet (300 meters), SEG Plaza is one of the tallest skyscrapers in Shenzhen, housing a large electronics market and numerous offices. A handful of videos posted to social media showed parts of the structure swaying back and forth.

Lightning strikes are seen above the skyline of Shanghai's financial district of Pudong, China © Reuters / Aly Song

According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, China is home to 44 of the world's 100 tallest buildings, including five of the 10 tallest 500-meter structures.

However, the country suffers from high commercial vacancy rates, totaling some 7.9 million square meters of empty space as of the second quarter of 2021. The vacancy problem concerns Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, each of which have some notable tall buildings.

Man walks past skyscrapers Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai Tower and Jin Mao Tower at financial district of Pudong in Shanghai © Reuters / Carlos Barria

China’s tallest building, the 20-billion yuan (US$3.14 billion) Shanghai Tower, which boasts 128 floors, struggled since its completion in 2015 to fill its 576,000 square meters of space.

At the moment some 20 super skyscrapers are on the drawing boards in China, six of them taller than 500 meters and some scheduled for completion next year. The tallest among these is the 597-meter Goldin Finance 117 tower in Tianjin.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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79. Are ransomware attacks becoming the new norm for global companies? RT’s Boom Bust finds outСр, 07 июл[−]

In the wake of the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, which caused gasoline shortages on the US east coast this year, global businesses are facing an increasing number of cyberattacks.

RT’s Boom Bust talks to investigative journalist Ben Swann to find out what is behind the growing trend and what companies can do to protect themselves.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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80. Russia’s sovereign wealth fund cuts US dollar reserves to ZEROСр, 07 июл[−]

Russia has eliminated US currency from its National Wealth Fund while boosting the share of the euro, the Chinese yuan and gold, the country’s Finance Ministry announced on Tuesday.

The proportion of US dollars in the fund was reduced from 35% to zero, while the share of the British pound was lowered to 5%. The shares of the euro and the Chinese yuan were increased to 39.7% and to 30.4%, respectively. The share of the Japanese yen stands at 4.7% and the share of non-cash gold is 20.2%, the official statement by the Finance Ministry reads.

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Ruble strengthens to 11-month high as Russia squeezes out US dollar from its economy

These conversion operations were carried out with the funds of the NWF in foreign currency placed in accounts with the Bank of Russia as of July 1, 2021, as well as with federal budget funds in foreign currency in the equivalent of 31.6 billion rubles, credited to the Fund on July 2 this year in order to form it in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation,” the statement outlines.

The ministry indicated that the yuan and the euro are seen as an alternative to the dollar “as the currencies of Russia’s leading foreign economic partners,” while gold is viewed as “an asset capable of protecting the NWF’s investments from inflationary risks.”

The Finance Ministry explained that its latest steps were aimed “at ensuring the safety of the NWF funds in the context of macroeconomic and geopolitical trends of recent years, and decisions aimed at “de-dollarization” of the Russian economy.” The ministry’s action mirrors a similar move made recently by Russia’s central bank in order to reduce assets held in US currency.

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In April, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin told journalists that political tensions between Washington and other nations were undermining faith in the greenback globally.

Pankin said that US sanctions and unpredictable economic policy “call into question the reliability and convenience of using the American currency as the priority currency of deals.” As a result, the minister said, countries were now being “forced to take measures against the risk of economic losses and disrupted transactions,” while using other currencies in trade is becoming increasingly convenient on the international agenda.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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81. Jeff Bezos’ wealth soars above $211 BILLION after Pentagon calls off Microsoft contractСр, 07 июл[−]

Jeff Bezos has become the richest man in modern history after Amazon shares skyrocketed on news that the Pentagon is canceling a controversial cloud-computing contract with rival Microsoft.

Amazon shares jumped 4.7% on the announcement, prompting Bezos’ net worth to soar $8.4 billion on Tuesday alone. Bezos, who officially stepped down as Amazon’s CEO earlier this week but kept his 10.3% stake in the company, is now worth $211 billion – a record high since the Bloomberg index began tracking billionaire net worth back in 2012.

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The previous record of $210 billion was held briefly by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in January, but Musk’s fortune has since declined to a mere $181 billion. This makes him the world’s second-richest person, ahead of French luxury goods mogul Bernard Arnault, whose net worth is $168.5 billion.

The Pentagon announced on Tuesday that it was calling off a $10 billion cloud-computing contract it signed with Microsoft back in 2019, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI contract.

With the shifting technology environment, it has become clear that the Jedi Cloud contract, which has long been delayed, no longer meets the requirements to fill the DoD’s capability gaps,” the US Department of Defense (DoD) said in an official statement.

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The news may mean the DoD is set to divide the work on its cloud-computing technologies between Microsoft and Amazon, as well as other cyber-tech firms. Amazon repeatedly complained that the choice of Microsoft for the job made by the then-president Donald Trump and his administration was politically motivated.

The contract has been put on hold after Amazon filed a lawsuit challenging Trump’s choice, claiming he pressured military officials to choose Microsoft over Amazon for the contract due to Trump's animosity toward Bezos, who owns the Washington Post.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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82. OPEC stalemate could spark a new oil price warСр, 07 июл[−]

Nearly a week of formal and side talks and behind-the-scenes negotiations failed to resolve a dispute over baseline production levels at OPEC+.

The discord threw the group in its most serious crisis since March 2020, when the alliance’s leaders Saudi Arabia and Russia disagreed on oil supply management with global demand crumbling in the pandemic.

Now the dispute is between two Arab Gulf allies in OPEC—the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia—in what analysts see as the UAE looking to step out of the Saudi shadow in global political affairs.

The UAE is digging in its heels, making its approval of OPEC+ adding more supply to the market contingent on the group acknowledging that the UAE’s baseline for the cuts was too low and “unfair.”

The disagreement, which OPEC+ has been unable to overcome for five consecutive days, is bringing back the specter of last year’s oil price war when the alliance abandoned all deals for a month. Traders and analysts have already started to ask themselves: is this the dispute that will dissolve the production pact again? And will OPEC+ let its firm grip on oil market management slip, after being in such a favorable position this year with US shale keeping production flat and not unraveling the alliance’s efforts to keep markets tight?

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Oil prices surge after OPEC+ fails to reach deal to boost global crude production

Third Time’s Not a Charm

Despite mediation, consultations, and side talks in the weekend – after two days of ‘no deal’ outcome of meetings – OPEC+ failed a third time on Monday, called off the OPEC+ meeting, and said it hadn’t decided yet when the next meeting would be held.

The lack of agreement overproduction for next month likely means that OPEC+ will keep, for now, their production in August flat compared with July. This immediately sent oil prices jumping to the highest in three years, considering that global oil demand is bouncing back and the market was initially expecting at least a 500,000-bpd increase from the alliance in August.

“The market began factoring in the prospect of no additional supply hike from the OPEC/non-OPEC alliance in August,” Vanda Insights said in a daily note on Tuesday.

$90 Oil? No additional supply at a time when inventories are drawing down and demand is roaring back will likely send oil prices higher in the near term, at least until the group reaches some sort of a deal.

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Saudi Arabia says it is no longer an oil producing country

Oil at $85 to $90 a barrel is on the cards if OPEC+ doesn’t raise supply next month, Fereidun Fesharaki, chairman of industry consultant FGE, told Bloomberg TV in an interview. Fesharaki expects the group to reach some sort of compromise over the next one to three weeks, during which oil prices will continue to rise.

“No additional oil in August, at a time when the physical market is incredibly tight, can easily lead to prices overshooting above US$90 a barrel,” Amrita Sen, Director of Research at Energy Aspects, told Bloomberg.

New Price War?

The UAE-OPEC+ rift, however, now appears wider than initially thought on Thursday last week, when the first OPEC+ meeting failed to reach a consensus on oil policy going forward.

But at least for now, few analysts believe that there will be a repeat of the brief oil price war from the spring of 2020, when the OPEC+ producers pumped at will for a month and contributed to the crash in oil prices, the effects of which are still being felt in most OPEC+ economies.

Credit Suisse, in a note late on Monday, said the current impasse about raising supply in August had the ability to push Brent Crude to $80 a barrel in the near term. Early on Tuesday, Brent was trading above $77 and WTI was up above $76 a barrel.

“If Saudi and UAE are unable to resolve their differences, then it could lead to each man for himself approach and back to price wars, which is a draconian scenario for energy investors,” Credit Suisse analysts said.

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FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed oil pump jack is seen in front of displayed stock graph and Opec logo.
Oil market holding its breath as OPEC+ struggles to reach production deal

OPEC+ Has Much More at Stake Than Quota Baselines

This ‘draconian scenario’, however, is one of the most unlikely outcomes of the current deadlock, according to chief investment officers of energy funds who joined a live chat on Bloomberg on Monday with Lawrence McDonald, founder of The Bear Traps Report.

“[T]here is a low probability of a destructive breakdown with a large boost in production, that’s not happening,” an energy fund CIO in Canada said.

“We see strong demand (India, Europe) with real supply risk, it is not in OPEC’s interest to blow this opportunity,” a CIO in London said, noting that oil has a shot at $90 to $100 a barrel in the next six months.

Institutional investors, therefore, don’t see the OPEC+ pact breaking up, as it would be very unwise for the alliance to be sidelined as the key oil market mover again, after working for more than a year to show it is calling the shots (and burning the shorts) in the oil market.

“We do not believe that a price-destructive 'non-deal' is in the cards at this time. This is the strongest period OPEC+ has had in the market in decades and they don’t want to give that all up,” The Bear Traps Report’s McDonald notes.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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83. Student mugs teacher? Cyberattack strikes bitcoin education site with hackers demanding ransom in… bitcoinВт, 06 июл[−]

Bitcoin.org, an educational platform for trading in bitcoin, was hit by a cyberattack on Monday, which overloaded the site with traffic and prompted it to shut down.

To add insult to injury, attackers demanded 0.5 bitcoin, or $17,012, in ransom to stop their actions and restore the site’s operations, Decrypt reported.

The attack in question is called a distributed denial of service, or DDoS, a specific kind of cyberattack that targets a site’s host and infrastructure by flooding the host with traffic it is unable to contain, prompting the system to fail.

The site’s pseudonymous operator, Cobra, described Monday’s attack on Twitter as “absolutely massive.

At the same time, CoinDesk reported it was able to access Bitcoin.org without difficulty.

The attack comes less than a week after London’s High Court issued a default judgment against the site, because its operator Cobra decided not to appear in court, uneager to reveal its true identity. In the ruling the court stated that Bitcoin.org should stop hosting its copy of the Bitcoin white paper.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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84. Economic activity picks up across India as mobility levels riseВт, 06 июл[−]

India's economy picked up pace in June after a sharp decline in May due to the pandemic-induced lockdowns. Mobility levels rose by 24% nationwide after plunging to a 12-month low in May.

Two major state economies, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, were the fastest to recover after being hit with a new wave of the pandemic in April. Both saw a drop in Covid-19 cases since then and somewhat relaxed lockdown restrictions, which prompted a quick recovery in mobility and economic activity.

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FILE PHOTO
Indian hospital closed amid FAKE COVID VACCINE scam, as 2,500+ are feared to have been given saline & antibiotics instead

The improved vaccination rate also added momentum to the effort, Mint reports. However, vaccination rates differ from state to state, with heavily-populated Bihar and Uttar Pradesh falling far behind other regions.

Nationwide car sales more than doubled after dropping last month, with some 1.2 million registrations in June compared to only half a million in May. These figures were still 15% lower than the same period in 2019, however. Small- and medium-sized states had a better showing than large states on this indicator.

With lockdown restrictions eased across the country, mobility levels that had dropped to about half of pre-pandemic levels in mid-May soared to 81% of normal levels by the end of June. Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh showed the highest public mobility levels – 94% and 88% respectively. Furthermore, according to Google data, a number of districts in northern and central India have been showing greater public mobility than before the coronavirus outbreak. Those are Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand.

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A man climbs an an oil tanker parked outside a fuel depot in Mumbai, India
India’s oil demand expected to return to normal by end of year

Overall, unlike last year, when larger states performed poorly against smaller ones amid the pandemic crisis, this year India’s six largest state economies – Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and West Bengal – performed in line with the rest. These states account for more than half of India’s economic output.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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85. What’s the problem with neoclassical economics? RT’s Keiser Report explainsВт, 06 июл[−]

The Keiser Report looks at neoclassical economics, which bases value on a subjective satisfaction of utility, instead of the classical approach, where the value is based on the time and materials it took to create something.

Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert speak to Professor Steve Keen, of the UK’s Kingston University, about the popularity of using the first, a fantasy model of economics, and the problems it creates for the global economy.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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86. Canadian Keystone XL pipeline owner seeks $15 billion In damages from WashingtonВт, 06 июл[−]

TC Energy, the Canadian pipeline operator that was building the Keystone XL project is seeking $15 billion in damages from the Biden Administration.

According to the notice, the US administration violated the North American Free Trade Agreement with its decision to kill the $9-billion project that would have carried 830,000 bpd of Canadian crude to the United States. The company had to official drop Keystone XL after President Biden revoked a crucial permit.

Proponents of the Keystone XL project have argued that scrapping the pipeline would not diminish the demand for the heavy crude oil that the pipeline would have carried to US refineries. Instead, it would merely raise the United States’ dependence on crude oil from OPEC countries. An argument has been made that it would also kill jobs on both sides of the border.

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Organization of the Petroleoum Exporting Countries (OPEC) outside of OPEC's headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
Oil prices surge after OPEC+ fails to reach deal to boost global crude production

Opponents, on the other hand, argued that the Keystone XL was unnecessary because there were enough pipelines carrying Canadian crude into the US. It was on the grounds of this perceived lack of necessity for the infrastructure that President Obama suspended the project years ago before his successor, Donald Trump, revived it.

It was suggested back in January that if TC Energy did not challenge the permit rescission in court or through NAFTA, it might sell some of the pipes from the project to offset some of what has been invested so far.

Canadian oil sands production, meanwhile, is on the rise, suggesting demand is quite healthy. According to IHS Markit, oil sands output is on its way to rebounding to pre-pandemic levels and rise by 650,000 bpd between this year and 2030. Since most of the oil sands output not used locally goes to US refineries, this means the argument against additional pipelines may have been premature.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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87. Oil prices surge after OPEC+ fails to reach deal to boost global crude productionВт, 06 июл[−]

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers failed to agree terms on an oil output deal once again on Monday, prompting crude prices to rise to a three-year high.

Brent crude jumped 94 cents, or 1.3%, to $77.12 a barrel by market closing time in London – the highest since 2018. US oil benchmark WTI surged $1.50, or 2%, to $76.65 a barrel.

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FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed oil pump jack is seen in front of displayed stock graph and Opec logo.
Oil market holding its breath as OPEC+ struggles to reach production deal

OPEC+ called off talks on output levels with no new date to resume discussions, leaving the oil market in jeopardy. Critics speculate that the future of the organization itself is uncertain, with two of its key members at loggerheads after some 60 years of controlling the globe’s oil prices.

The core of the problem is a proposed eight-month extension on output curbs, which was rebuffed by the United Arab Emirates. The UAE, one of OPEC’s largest oil producers, wants its output raised, which is strongly opposed by the organization’s heavyweight Saudi Arabia, eager to keep a tight lid on output.

OPEC+ was set on cautiously increasing output by 400,000 barrels a day until December 2022, instead of the earlier agreed deadline of April 2022. The UAE, however, said it would only accept the extension proposal if it was granted the same terms for calculating its output quota as the Saudis. The UAE’s current quota dates back to 2018, which they view as proportionally too low and therefore unfair. The UAE repeatedly stated that it would accept the output increase but not the deal extension, but the Saudis insisted that the two terms must be agreed upon together.

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A man climbs an an oil tanker parked outside a fuel depot in Mumbai, India
India’s oil demand expected to return to normal by end of year

Last year, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic crisis, crude plunged below $20 a barrel. The situation forced OPEC+ to cut production by some 10 million barrels a day, or about 10% of pre-pandemic global demand. Production levels have now been partly restored, with about four million barrels a day returned to the market.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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88. Bezos steps down as Amazon CEO after 27 years as Andy Jassy officially takes overПн, 05 июл[−]

Jeff Bezos has officially ended his run as chief executive at Amazon, the online retailing behemoth that made him the world’s richest man, stepping aside to spend more time on his spaceship company and climate-change activism.

The leadership transition went into effect on Monday having been finalized in May, with Andy Jassy, formerly head of Amazon’s cloud-computing business, taking over as CEO. Bezos, 57, will remain involved in the company as executive chairman, focusing on new products and “early initiatives,” he told employees earlier this year.

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A video protest sign on a truck paid for by the Patriotic Millionaires drives past a mansion owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as part of a federal tax filing day protest to demand he pay his fair share of taxes, in Washington, US
Wealthiest Americans aren’t paying tax because they run the system – Professor Wolff to Boom Bust

Bezos, who ranks as the world’s richest person, with a fortune estimated by Forbes at nearly $202 billion, founded Amazon in 1994. Jassy joined the company in 1997, after graduating from Harvard, getting in near the ground floor of a business that blossomed into a retailing giant with $386 billion in annual revenue.

The Amazon founder’s reduced role will give him more time for such ventures as Blue Origin, the rocket-ship firm that will take Bezos and other passengers into space on July 20, and the Washington Post, which he bought in 2013. His foundations include the Bezos Earth Fund, which invests in initiatives to fight climate change, and the Day One Fund, which helps homeless and low-income families.

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(L) Jeff Bezos © REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne; (C) © Pixabay/Arek Socha; (R) Richard Branson © REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Our unequal world does not need a billionaire space race. I’d send Bezos & Branson on a one-way ticket to the Moon

But the billionaire’s own carbon footprint will be growing considerably, after he reportedly bought a $165 million Beverly Hills mansion last year and ordered a 127-meter (416ft) yacht. The $500 million vessel is so big that it will require a motorized support yacht with a helipad, at least partly because its three giant masts preclude landing a helicopter on its deck.

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89. Crypto market struggles as both bitcoin & ethereum start week in the redПн, 05 июл[−]

Major cryptocurrencies are down on Monday despite a slight rally over the weekend, with bitcoin trading around 3% lower at $34,231 and Ethereum losing 3% at $2,272.

By Monday morning, the broader cryptocurrency market had also lost more than 2.8% of its value, data provider CoinMarketCap states.

A record high for bitcoin earlier this year – over $64,000 in mid-April – drove the broader cryptocurrency market to reach a value of more than $2 trillion. Since that time, the crypto market has lost over half its value and is currently worth around $1.4 trillion.

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© Sotheby's / Facebook
Crypto per carat! Sotheby's to accept cryptocurrency for diamond auction

Last month, bitcoin suffered a daily plunge of over 11%, dragging the cryptocurrency down to its lowest level this year – $28,993. The drop came after the People’s Bank of China summoned banks and payment companies and ordered them to stop facilitating crypto transactions in a further step of the nationwide crackdown on cryptocurrencies. Growing concerns about bitcoin’s energy use also added to stalling momentum for the crypto market.

However, experts say it’s not over for bitcoin – or cryptocurrencies in general.

“When you go too high, too fast, you are bound for a correction,” Alex Mashinsky, chief executive officer and co-founder of the centralized cryptocurrency lending platform Celsius, told Cointelegraph at Bitcoin 2021 in Miami. He also predicted that bitcoin could reach as high as $160,000 this year: “We haven’t seen the highs yet for 2021.”

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© Pixabay.com
Bitcoin will go all the way to $160K this year, CEO of crypto lending platform predicts

Increased institutional adoption of the crypto also sends a positive message, with Sotheby’s, the world’s largest broker of fine art and jewelry, for instance, announcing in June it will accept cryptocurrency for the first time as payment for a rare diamond, which is expected to fetch up to $15 million at an upcoming auction in Hong Kong.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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90. Covid pandemic propels record growth of Russian e-commerceПн, 05 июл[−]

Russian internet commerce spiked by almost 60% at the start of the Covid pandemic in 2020, rising to 3.2 trillion rubles ($44 billion), Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin revealed at the international industrial exhibition Innoprom.

Mishustin said the information platforms that had appeared in Russia over the past year had made it possible to directly connect producers and consumers.

He noted that, during the peak of the restrictions associated with the pandemic, nearly 45% of all the country’s businesses were able to switch to remote operation, giving online commerce a huge boost.

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Moet & Chandon Swarovski-crystallized champagne bottles are displayed at the Moet & Chandon suite during The Luxury Lounge in honor of the 2008 SAG Awards, held at the Four Seasons Hotel on January 25, 2008 in Beverly Hills,California. © Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon
Put a cork in it: France's Mo?t backs down in bubbling row with Russia & agrees to brand its posh plonk as plain ‘sparkling wine’

In his speech, Mishustin stated that, against the backdrop of the pandemic, entire sectors of the economy – including banks, urban transport, retail, telecoms and media – had completely transformed, which he said he viewed as a positive development.

He added that further efforts should nonetheless be made on a national level to fully automate production processes, logistics, and management decisions. In addition, he said that the use of artificial intelligence is also on the rise.

It is now widely used in the Russian medical sector. For instance, it analyzes data from computed tomography and MRI. It is also used for the development of anticancer drugs and vaccines, the Prime Minister claims.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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91. China cracks down on tech firms over their collection and use of personal dataПн, 05 июл[−]

Chinese regulators have launched a cybersecurity probe into three more US-listed tech companies, following last week’s order to remove the ride-hailing Didi app from China’s app stores, over data security risks.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on Monday opened a cybersecurity review into Yunmanman and Huochebang, both subsidiaries of the New York-listed Full Truck Alliance, and Boss Zhipin, an online recruitment platform listed on the Nasdaq.

CAC said the investigation had been launched to “prevent national data security risks.” Throughout the cybersecurity check, all three companies are prohibited to register new users.

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Chinese yuan’s share of global currency reserves hits new high

The crackdown on tech firms comes after Chinese regulators blocked Didi, the country's biggest ride-hailing platform, from being downloaded, mere days after its initial public offering in the US. China’s Uber-like platform gathers massive amounts of real-time data, using some of it for autonomous driving technologies and traffic analysis.

After checks and verification, the Didi Chuxing app was found to be in serious violation of regulations in its collection and use of personal information,” CAC claimed, demanding that the company fix its security issues. The crackdown does not affect existing Didi users, but will prevent new users from registry on the platform in the meantime.

The company will strive to rectify any problems, improve its risk prevention awareness and technological capabilities, protect users' privacy and data security, and continue to provide secure and convenient services to its users,” Didi said in a statement on Sunday.

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A Didi Chuxing staff member disinfects a vehicle in Beijing. © Reuters / Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Scanning digital health QR code becomes OBLIGATORY for passengers using ride-hailing services in Beijing

Last Thursday, Didi Global ended its first day on the New York Stock Exchange with a valuation of $68.49 billion, rising to nearly $74.5 billion when the markets closed on Friday. Didi made the biggest listing by a Chinese company in the US since Alibaba's breakthrough back in 2014. It also raised $4.4 billion in the Initial Public Offering (IPO).

The Chinese government has been focusing more closely on cybersecurity lately, in an effort to regulate a technology sector it had overlooked for years. Last month, China passed a new Data Security Law that stipulates how companies should collect, store and use data.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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92. Oil market holding its breath as OPEC+ struggles to reach production dealПн, 05 июл[−]

Oil prices are balancing above $75 a barrel after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and partners failed to agree on output policy. If the group fails to boost production, crude prices could surge.

Crude prices retreated slightly on Monday, with Brent futures down 0.11% to $76.09 a barrel, while US crude futures slipped 0.13% to $75.06 a barrel.

Oil prices initially shot up last week as reports started to emerge that OPEC and its non-member allies led by Russia were discussing a gradual increase in oil output.

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RT
Oil surges past $75 as OPEC+ discuses 2 million bpd output boost

The energy alliance, however, failed to agree on their output policy over two consecutive meetings, and plan to renew discussions later on Monday.

The deal is being blocked by the United Arab Emirates, which “unconditionally” supports an increase in production, but has issues over the basic elements of the deal.

The issue is putting a condition on that increase, which is the extension of the agreement,” UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail Al Mazrouei told CNBC on Sunday. He said that the current OPEC+ proposal “wasn’t a good deal” for the UAE.

The UAE is demanding a revision of the so-called baseline – a figure against which production cuts or increases for the OPEC+ countries are calculated – before extending the supply deal, Reuters reports. The bigger the baseline, the more oil a country is allowed to produce. The current baseline for the UAE dates back to 2018 and the country wants it raised if the deal is extended through 2022.

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FILE PHOTO: An oil tanker is seen at Jose refinery cargo terminal in Venezuela
Venezuelan crude exports soar 66% year-on-year

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister on Sunday called for “compromise and rationality” to secure the deal when the talks resume. Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television channel that the extension of the OPEC+ deal is “the basis and not a secondary issue,” and called for all sides “to balance addressing the current market situation with maintaining the ability to react to future developments.

If everyone wants to raise production then there has to be an extension,” he said, citing uncertainty about the future of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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93. Venezuelan crude exports soar 66% year-on-yearПн, 05 июл[−]

Crude oil exports from Venezuela inched up last month as traders rushed to sell Venezuelan crude to Chinese buyers ahead of the entry into effect of a new tax.

Reuters reports Venezuelan exports for Asia were most commonly masked as Malaysian oil, and the biggest portion of these entered Asia before June 12, when the new Chinese import tax entered into effect, raising the costs of fuel imports by as much as 40%.

Yet Venezuela also reported a rare increase in production last month, thanks to the restart of a crude upgrader under PDVSA’s joint venture with TotalEnergies and Norway’s Equinor. A blending plant was also restarted last month, contributing to the production increase.

According to shipping data cited by Reuters, PDVSA exported some 631,900 barrels per day (bpd) of crude last month, up by 6.5% from May and as much as 66% from June 2020.

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© Unsplash.com / Fredrick Filix
Iran and Venezuela swap jet fuel & gasoline cargoes

A couple of weeks ago, Venezuela’s oil minister, Tareck el Assaimi, told Bloomberg in an interview the government was investing in a reversal of its oil production decline and had plans to quadruple output by the end of the year.

“Without any financing, with our own money, we’ve been able to invest enough to stop the slide and start a gradual recovery,” El Aissami said.

Venezuela boosting oil production to 1.5 million bpd by end-2021 is an “impossible” target, Francisco Monaldi, an expert on Venezuela’s oil industry at Rice University, told Bloomberg.

“Even getting to that would be implausible in the medium term; production capacity has been falling since 2014 and there have been no oil rigs operating in Venezuela for a year,” Monaldi also said.

Earlier this year, state-owned PDVSA calculated it would need investments of $58 billion to boost production to where it was before Hugo Chavez rose to power in the late 90s. In 1998, Venezuela was pumping 2.3 million barrels of crude daily. The company said it planned to seek investments from both local and foreign companies to that end.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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94. Russia doubles electricity exports as cold winter & hot summer ensure lucrative price environmentВс, 04 июл[−]

Exports of Russian electricity have reached a record high since 2012, according to the country’s energy ministry, which projects that this year’s sales will nearly double compared to exports recorded in the first half of 2020.

Russian sales of electricity in the first half of 2021 may amount to 10.2 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) against 5.2 billion kWh sold in the same period a year ago. In pre-pandemic 2019, the country exported 9.3 billion kWh.

The growth was mostly boosted by the surging supplies to the Baltic States, which have more than doubled the year-on-year purchases of Russian electricity up to 3 billion kWh, while Finland has more than tripled imports to 3.9 billion kWh.

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RT
Exports of Russian crude to US soared to 12-year high despite ongoing political tensions

According to the ministry, the increase in supplies this year is the result of the favorable pricing environment, which it attributed to the prolonged cold and dry weather in winter and an abnormally hot summer.

Earlier this year, Russian power supplier Inter RAO said exports of electricity in 2021 may total 18 billion kWh.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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95. UK’s 4th largest supermarket Morrisons agrees to ?6.3bn takeover by SoftBank-owned Fortress Investment GroupСб, 03 июл[−]

Morrisons, one of the biggest supermarket chains in the United Kingdom, has approved a multibillion-pound takeover from SoftBank’s Fortress Investment Group.

Morrisons – which was valued at £6.3 billion (or £9.5 billion including debts) during the takeover – is the fourth- largest supermarket chain in the UK behind Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda, and it has hundreds of stores.

Calling the takeover a “fair and recommendable price for shareholders,” Morrisons Chairman Andrew Higginson said in a statement that Fortress Investment Group “has a full understanding and appreciation of the fundamental character of Morrisons” and has given directors of the supermarket chain “confidence that Fortress will support and accelerate our plans to develop and strengthen Morrisons further.”

Fortress Managing Partner Joshua A. Pack also claimed in a statement that the company fully recognized “Morrisons’ rich history and the very important role Morrisons plays for colleagues, customers, members of the Morrisons Pension Schemes, local communities, partner suppliers and farmers.”

He further added that Fortress was “committed to being good stewards of Morrisons to best serve its stakeholder groups, and the wider British public, for the long term.”

In 2019, Fortress – which is headquartered in New York City – purchased Majestic Wine, one of the UK’s biggest dedicated wine retailers, for £95 million.

Earlier this year, Asda, the UK’s third-biggest supermarket chain, was acquired by EG Group – a company owned by the billionaire Issa brothers, Zuber and Mohsin, and the British private equity company TDR Capital. Asda was acquired from the US supermarket chain Walmart, which had purchased Asda in 1999. The American company maintains “an equity investment in the business,” an “ongoing commercial relationship,” and “a seat on the Board” despite the recent acquisition.

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Brexit ‘sausage war’ truce as EU & UK agree 3-month extension to chilled meats grace period in Northern Ireland

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96. Russia’s wheat exports surge over 7% during current agricultural seasonСб, 03 июл[−]

Exports of Russian wheat have amounted to 36.2 million tons since the beginning of the current agricultural year, showing an increase of 7.1% against the same period a year ago, the Russian Ministry of Agriculture reports.

According to data published by the Federal Customs Service, overall exports of grains totaled 46.8 million tons during the current season, which started in July 2020. The figure marks a year-on-year increase of 10.3%.

Foreign sales of barley reportedly grew 38.4% to 6.1 million tons, while exports of corn amounted to four million tons, marking a growth of three percent.

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RT
Russia’s agricultural exports could top $30 BILLION this year

The data revealed by the International Grains Council shows that the price for Russian wheat with 12.5% protein was hovering around $251 per ton as of June 17, having seen a weekly decline of 5.6%.

Russia’s wheat export tax, which Moscow introduced on June 2 and which is changing every week, has risen to $41.30 per ton. This reportedly boosted Russian exports in June.

In the previous agricultural season, which ended June 30, 2020, Russian farmers had reportedly exported 41.7 million tons of grains, including 33.2 million tons of wheat. The ministry expects Russian grain exports to total 48 million tons in 2020-2021.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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97. Russian export duty for sunflower seeds comes into effectСб, 03 июл[−]

An export tax on sunflower seeds and rapeseed, approved by the Russian government earlier this year in an effort to curb rising food prices, came into effect in the country on Thursday.

The 50% export duty for sunflower seeds, at no less than $320 per ton, will be effective till August 31, 2022. The previously introduced 30% export duty for rapeseed is prolonged until the same date.

At the same time, export tax for soybeans has been reduced. Starting from July 1, the duty is calculated as 20% of the customs value of the product, but no less than $100 per ton. The export tax for soybeans had previously been 30%.

The lowering of the tariff will allow Russian farmers to export part of their produce. At the same time, the measure is expected to prevent domestic soybean prices from growing.

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RT
Russia’s agricultural growth will curb rising domestic food prices – Putin

In December 2020, Moscow announced a package of measures aimed at stabilizing domestic food prices. The steps include extending retail price cuts on Russian-made sugar and sunflower oil, and introducing quotas for exports of grains, as well as export duties for wheat, barley, corn, and soy.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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98. Jeff Bezos to step down as Amazon CEO after 27 yearsПт, 02 июл[−]

The founder of online shopping giant Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is set to officially step down on July 5 as the company’s chief executive officer.

Bezos, named the world’s richest man by Forbes magazine earlier this year, with assets worth some $189 billion, is set to quit his post to free up time for his space-travel venture, Blue Origin.

Initially built as an online bookstore back in the 1990s, Amazon is now one of the most valuable publicly traded companies in the world, with a market capitalization of $1.7 trillion.

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Bezos plans to keep his 10.3% stake in the company, as well as his position as executive chairman of Amazon's board.

He will hand the CEO role to Andy Jassy, who joined the e-commerce giant in 1997 and is currently leading Amazon’s cloud-computing business.

Meanwhile, Bezos is set to join the first crewed flight by his space company aboard the reusable New Shepard six-seater capsule. The launch is scheduled for July 20, the anniversary of the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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99. OPEC+ tries to reach compromise on oil output policy as UAE blocks production boostПт, 02 июл[−]

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers will continue talks on increasing oil output on Friday after the United Arab Emirates rejected a proposal aimed at settling the issue.

Negotiations between OPEC and its non-member partners stalled late on Thursday after the UAE rejected an output deal pushed by top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia.

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Oil surges past $75 as OPEC+ discuses 2 million bpd output boost

The two countries proposed to increase output by 2 million barrels per day by the end of 2021, but their proposal regarding remaining production cuts prompted the UAE to reject the deal altogether.

The UAE has called for a much higher production limit, which could upset the entire OPEC+ deal, essentially aimed at easing rising oil prices caused by growing demand.

The virtual meeting is set to resume later on Friday.

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Cars sit in a traffic jam on a street in Bangkok on February 5, 2021.
OPEC expects increase in global oil demand in 2021 amid world's post-pandemic recovery

OPEC+ initially cut crude output by almost 10 million bpd last year due to the drop in oil demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The current limit is around 5.8 million bpd. However, the plan was to lift production cuts when the crisis settles, presumably by the end of April 2022.

If Friday’s talks fail, the already tight global oil market may not get any extra oil, which could result in a supply deficit and a further price surge. Earlier this week, the price of crude jumped above $75 a barrel in New York for the first time since 2018.

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100. Virgin Galactic stock skyrockets as Richard Branson aims to beat Jeff Bezos into spaceПт, 02 июл[−]

Shares of Richard Branson's aerospace company Virgin Galactic soared 41% overnight on news that the billionaire will be onboard the test flight scheduled for July 11, ahead of rival Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin group.

Virgin Galactic’s stock price jumped to $61 per share during Friday morning trading on the St. Petersburg Stock Exchange. During premarket trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the company's stock rose by 37.3% to $59.33 per share.

Morning trading at the St. Petersburg stock exchange even had to be suspended for some 30 minutes due to increased volatility, as the shares surged by more than 20% within 10 minutes.

70-year-old Branson will become one of four members of the Virgin Galactic crew to launch on July 11 in support of his company’s commercial space travel aspirations. As ‘Astronaut 001’, he will do the job of “evaluating the customer spaceflight experience.”

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© Twitter/ Richard Branson
#BillionaireSpaceRace: Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson to beat Amazon’s Jeff Bezos into space by NINE DAYS

Branson is set to beat Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin group into orbit by nine days, with Bezos’ flight scheduled for July 20.

Virgin Galactic has already posted the countdown for the newly announced flight on its official website, YouTube channel, Twitter, and Facebook.

The company successfully tested its SpaceShipTwo Unity manned spacecraft on May 22. Following the test, it was granted official permission to fly into space with passengers on board by the US Federal Aviation Administration. Virgin Galactic now has three more test flights ahead of its first commercial launch.

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