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War in Eastern Europe continues to impact global energy markets:
War in Eastern Europe continues to impact global energy markets:Oil futures settled
2% lower in volatile trading on Thursday, buoyed by hopes that Iranian oil could soon help replace disrupted supplies from Russia. In late-morning trading today, WTI futures were
up 4.0% at $111.70/bbl, Brent was up 3.6% at $114.40/bbl, and U.S. natural gas was 3.8% higher at $4.90/MMBtu.
The logistics fallout from the Russia-Ukraine crisis continues to spread:
Russian forces are
laying siege to Black Sea port cities. In Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, one person died after a Bangladeshi bulk carrier was struck by a Russian missile. Near the western trade hub of Odessa, an Estonian cargo ship sank after hitting a Russian sea mine.
Several of the world’s largest freight forwarders, including Switzerland’s Kuehne + Nagel and Germany’s DB Schenker, have
suspended services to Russia by air, land and sea. Airline fuel costs are
rising sharply as flights between Europe and Asia are forced to add several hours to avoid Russian and Ukrainian airspace. Analysts say the war could
lower global vehicle production by an estimated 1.5 million vehicles this year, roughly 2% of expected output. Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz pulled out of Russia on Thursday, while new production shutdowns were announced by Porsche and Russia’s largest carmakers.
Sovcomflot, Russia’s largest maritime and freight shipping company, is among U.S.-sanctioned firms. E-commerce sales in Russia and Ukraine are down a respective
53% and 96% since Feb. 1. Pittsburgh-based Alcoa will
stop buying materials from Russia that it uses to produce aluminum, furthering upward price pressure on the metal. A giant Ukrainian steel mill owned by ArcelorMittal, among the nation’s largest industrial complexes,
closed on Thursday. Canada’s Kinross Gold Corp., the only large western miner in Russia, will
suspend operations in Russia’s Far East. U.S. grains giant Archer Daniels Midland and Missouri-based Bunge began
closing Russian operations. Chicago wheat futures maxed out their daily trading swing for the third day in a row yesterday and are up
22% on the week to an all-time high.
The U.S. reported
52,292 new COVID-19 infections and 1,743 virus fatalities Thursday. New York City will
drop proof-of-vaccination requirements for restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues Monday.
Los Angeles County, Philadelphia and New Orleans dropped their indoor mask mandates. Apple will
drop mask mandates for most employees today. The National Football League and its union agreed to
drop all COVID-19 protocols.
Expired COVID-19 vaccine stockpiles are building in states where demand for shots is low. COVID-19 has led to a
rapidly expanding market for self-diagnostic medical products. The economy created a better-than-expected
678,000 jobs last month as the unemployment rate fell to 3.8%. U.S. worker productivity rebounded
6.6% year over year last quarter, curbing some growth in the cost of labor. The chairman of the Federal Reserve told lawmakers Thursday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was
likely to push up U.S. inflation. The median U.S. home listing hit a record
$392,000 in February, up 12.9% year over year and 26.6% compared to February 2020. Despite higher gas prices and surging hotel room rates, roughly
40% of Americans have plans to travel this year over spring break, up from 29% who traveled last year. Grocery retailer Kroger continued a streak of
strong sales and profits last quarter as U.S. consumers continue eating more at home. Best Buy’s quarterly earnings
fell below market expectations as supply chain disruptions shrank inventories. The retailer expects revenue to dip further this year before rebounding almost 10% by 2024. Shortages of Nike products damaged Foot Locker’s earnings last quarter, causing shares to drop as much as
30% late last week. Amazon-backed electric-vehicle startup Rivian apologized and
walked back a 20% price increase on existing pre-orders imposed earlier this week. Google is
developing radar technology that can sense a person’s movements and control their digital devices accordingly.
More news related to the war in Europe:
Average COVID-19 cases across the globe are down to about
1.5 million per day, a 27% decline from two weeks ago. New Zealand’s worst-ever COVID-19 wave is raging, with a record
23,194 new cases reported Thursday in the island nation of just over 5 million. Hong Kong reported a record
56,827 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, as public transit systems began cutting more services. Western Australia
opened its borders Thursday for the first time in 697 days, ending one of the world’s longest border closures linked to COVID-19. Nations reopening to tourism are frustrated by China’s effective lockdown of citizens to cross-border travel, which costs the industry nearly
$280 billion annually. South Korean consumer prices rose
3.7% in February, a near-decade high. Kia announced new goals to have
14 fully electric models by 2027 and sales of 1.2 million electric vehicles per year by the end of the decade.
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