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World oil prices climb to 4pc

Oil prices rose nearly 4% on Friday on signs of progress in US-China trade talks and stronger-than-expected economic data in both countries, including US employment and Chinese manufacturing activity numbers.

Brent crude ended the session up $2.07, or 3.5%, at $61.69 a barrel, but notched a drop of about 0.4% for the week. West Texas Intermediate crude settled $2.02, or 3.7% higher at $56.20 a barrel, but fell about 0.8% in the week.

US-China trade talks are progressing well and the United States aims to sign an initial deal this month, top Trump administration officials said, offering reassurance to global markets after nearly 16 months of tit-for-tat tariffs.

Gold prices decline

Gold prices eased on Friday as better-than-expected US jobs numbers and strong factory data from China bolstered sentiment for riskier assets.

Spot gold dipped 0.3% to $1,508.61 per ounce as of 02:32 p.m. EDT (1832 GMT) in New York trade. Prices were set for a weekly gain. US gold futures settled down 0.2% at $1,511.40.

In other precious metals, silver was down 0.7% at $18.01. Platinum rose 1.5% to $946.13 per ounce, after hitting its highest level since Sept. 25, at $954.12, en route to a weekly rise of about 2%. Palladium was 0.5% higher at $1,803.29. The metal was set to mark a four straight weekly gain, having notched up a record high of $1,824.50 an ounce on Wednesday.

Oil production paralyzed as Venezuela’s electricity crisis worsens

The power supply crisis in Venezuela is highly likely to continue in the coming months, affecting everyday life and paralyzing oil production in the country sitting on top of the world’s largest oil reserves, IHS Markit said in a commentary on Thursday. The major power outage in March this year disrupted severely the already crumbling Venezuelan oil production and threatened its oil exports. The massive outages in March may have made the headlines, but Venezuela continues to suffer to this day from frequent significant disruptions to the power supply for the capital Caracas, major cities, and oil processing sites.

China’s crude steel production up 8.4pc

China produced 748 million mt of crude steel in January to September, 8.36 percent higher from the same period last year, said China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) executive vice-chairman He Wenbo at a press conference on October 29. Domestic production of crude steel this year will likely increase 7.1percent from that in 2018, to stand at 994 million mt. He said “the growth rate is considered rather high given a high base in 2018.” He added that the additions in steel output were consumed domestically as both inventories and exports shrank. “Significant increase in manufacturing costs squeezed margins at steelmakers,” the official said, citing that sales profit rate across CISA member mills fell 3 percentage points year on year to 4.6percent in January to September. CISA data showed that, in January to August, steelmakers in China produced 665 million mt of crude steel, up 9.1percent from the same period last year.

 

China’s crackdown on sugar smuggling leaves global storage headache

A crackdown on sugar smuggling into China has left abundantly supplied markets in Asia and beyond struggling to absorb excess supplies, causing a wider storage problem for global markets. Vast tonnages of sugar smuggled into China are believed to be produced mostly in India or Thailand and shipped to Myanmar, Laos or Vietnam before entering the Chinese mainland. Those flows should more than halve this year to about 800,000 tonnes versus previous years when between 1.5-2.8 million tonnes would be smuggled in, according to Wang Weidong, a sugar analyst based in southern China. The crackdown comes as Beijing faces pressure from industry to extend hefty sugar import tariffs beyond 2020 and keep growth in licensed imports into China historically low.

Cheap natural gas threatens industry, despite Trump’s promises

Murray Energy’s bankruptcy filing on Tuesday underscored the continuing decline of the country’s coal industry. The nation’s largest privately owned coal producer became the eighth producer to file for bankruptcy since Donald Trump took office, emphasizing the contrast between the president’s rhetoric about restoring jobs and his actual ability to revitalize the industry. A half-century ago, coal supplied almost half the country’s electricity, but it provided only 27.5 percent last year, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). The agency projected earlier this month that the proportion of US electricity fueled by coal will continue declining in the coming years, providing 25 percent of energy in 2019 and 22 percent in 2020. While an average annual capacity of 5.6 gigawatts was retired each year Obama was in office, 9.6 gigawatts have been retired each year under Trump, Rhodium Group, an independent research company, told to source.

US house votes to ban uranium mining near grand canyon

The US House approved legislation Wednesday to permanently ban uranium and other hardrock mining near the Grand Canyon. The bill from Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, passed by a vote of 236-185. The legislation would permanently withdraw about 1 million acres of public lands north and south of Grand Canyon National Park from mineral extraction. The Obama administration announced a 20-year moratorium on new mining claims in those areas, but backers of the bill warn that the Trump administration could reverse course without a permanent ban in place.

North-east dairy farmers hit as Muller announces efforts to cut milk surplus

Bosses at the firm have admitted the moves will be “extremely unwelcome and destabilising” for farmers in the region. According to Muller 14 dairy farmers in Aberdeenshire and north Aberdeen , Scotland have been served a 12-month notice. These farms are said to “present heightened or complex logistical transport challenges for Muller”. Rob Hutchison, milk supply director for Muller Milk & Ingredients said: “We fully appreciate that these measures will be extremely unwelcome and destabilising for our farmer suppliers particularly in the north-east of Scotland, but the current situation is unviable and we must act. “We completed the largest single investment in fresh milk processing in Scotland in more than a decade at our dairy in Bellshill last year and we will continue to do what we can to stimulate new demand for fresh milk.

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