Oil prices slide amid concerns flare-up in China Covid cases could weaken fuel demand

International benchmark Brent slid over one percent to $55.49 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was trading down 1.2 percent at $52.48 a barrel as of 07:57 GMT.The recovering fuel demand in China propped up the oil market late last year. “Indeed, investors are struggling to see through short-term pain for long-term gain heading into the weekend, as Covid case counts in China are the most significant demand concern for traders,” Axi Chief Market Strategist Stephen Innes said in a note seen by Reuters.Beijing launched mass Covid-19 testing in some areas on Friday, while Shanghai was testing all hospital staff after reporting its first locally transmitted cases in two months on Thursday. Follow RT on

The price of crude dropped on Friday, receding from the 11-month highs hit last week. There may well be a bearish momentum developing (in oil markets),” said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta.The US Energy Information Administration is expected to report official oil inventory data on Friday, after industry data showed a surprise 2.6 million barrel increase in US crude inventories last week, compared with analysts’ forecasts for a 1.2 million barrel draw.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section Also on rt.com
Beijing tightens testing and quarantine rules in effort to curb risks from massive Chinese Lunar New Year migration

According to consultancy FGE, the seasonal boost to China’s gasoline demand typically seen during the New Year holidays will be moderated by the tightened restrictions this year.“We now have some data on vaccine rollouts, which show that acceptability is a bit on the low side, so pace of implementation may be slow… Experts say the new coronavirus restrictions in China could curb fuel demand for the world’s biggest oil importer. The authorities are now urging people not to travel during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.

India hopes to import more Iranian, Venezuelan crude under Biden

Also on rt.com
India’s December oil imports jump to highest level in three years

President Biden, however, has pledged to offer Tehran a path back to diplomacy and a return to the nuclear deal. Also on rt.com
Fuel demand in India is soaring despite pandemic

Earlier this week, India’s Pradhan criticized OPEC and its de facto leader Saudi Arabia for looking to tighten the market, diminishing export volumes and driving prices for oil importers higher.The surprise changes in the OPEC+ group policies make planning more difficult for oil-importing nations, Pradhan told Bloomberg.India, for one, depends on imports for over 80 percent of its oil consumption.This article was originally published on Oilprice.com “Some geopolitical changes are there,” Pradhan told Bloomberg, referring to expected policies from US President Joe Biden.The Indian minister reiterated his remarks from last month when he said that the world’s third-largest oil importer would like to have more opportunities to work for diversifying its sources of crude, including by resuming oil imports from Venezuela and Iran under President Biden.The Trump Administration had stepped up sanctions against Iran and Venezuela since 2018, looking to cut off oil sales from the two countries. India’s second-largest refiner, Nayara Energy, has also stopped buying Venezuelan crude, switching to Canadian, Kuwaiti, and Ecuadorian oil, according to Bloomberg shipping data. That is, if Iran returns to full compliance with that agreement, hammered out while Biden was President Obama’s vice president.After the sanctions on Iran and Venezuela’s oil exports were tightened in 2019 to include anyone dealing with crude from those two producers, India stopped importing oil from Iran in May 2019 and has significantly cut purchases from Venezuela.Reliance Industries, the largest refinery owner in India and the world, stopped buying Venezuelan crude oil in June last year. Reliance Industries is not alone in shunning Venezuelan oil, fearing repercussions from Washington. Follow RT on

India hopes it could diversify its oil suppliers under the new US Administration that could relax restrictions on oil exports from Iran and Venezuela, India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told Bloomberg TV in an interview.

We’re in a PERFECT STORM for gold prices edging higher, financial editor tells Boom Bust

Sean Hyman of the Logical Investor offers his insight on how the markets are faring amid hopes of the major stimulus.“I think we are in the perfect storm in the favor of gold and precious metals. Follow RT on

US President Joe Biden’s Treasury secretary pick, Janet Yellen, said on Tuesday that the new administration would focus on winning quick passage for the recently revealed $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan. In fact, I’m even more bullish on silver and platinum than even gold,” he says.According to Hyman, “there are all kinds of reasons why gold and metals should prosper.” He points to the upcoming stimulus and Yellen saying “go big,” as well as the US’ high debt, low interest rates, a falling dollar, and an overvalued bubble-like stock market.Hyman says that a $2,500 gold price is “easily obtainable” in the near term, and maybe even $3,000.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Russia slashes its foreign debt by $21.3 billion in 2020

Also on rt.com
Share of gold in Russian national reserves beats US dollar holdings for first time ever

Russia’s foreign exchange reserves saw a week-over-week decline by 1.2 percent, or seven billion dollars, as of January 15, 2020, and totaled $590.4 billion.According to the regulator, the drop came as a result of a decline in gold prices along with the negative revaluation of exchange rates.The nation’s international reserves are highly liquid foreign assets comprising stocks of monetary gold, foreign currencies, and special drawing right assets, which are at the disposal of the Central Bank of Russia and the government.The assets have been steadily growing over recent years and have exceeded the half-trillion-dollar target set by the regulator. “Decreases in debt liabilities to non-residents were observed for all sectors of the economy, of which the most noticeable decline was registered for other sectors under credits,” the regulator said.       The decline reportedly amounts to 4.33 percent compared to the beginning of last year. Russian forex reserves totaled $593.6 billion at the end of last year.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section Follow RT on

Russia’s foreign debt dropped $21.3 billion and totaled $470.1 billion as of January 1, according to the latest data revealed by the central bank. The central bank added that the country’s debt grew 1.39 percent during October-December 2020 versus the previous quarter.

Eurozone business activity slows as stricter lockdowns take heavy toll on service sector

This is after a significant drop of 7.3 percent last year. The regulator decided to keep interest rates and its wider stimulus programs unchanged after releasing additional support in December.“In this environment ample monetary stimulus remains essential,” Lagarde said.According to the ECB outlook, the eurozone’s GDP will grow 3.9 percent in 2021, and 2.1 percent in the next year. The regulator added that the numbers are highly dependent on the outcome of the pandemic.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section PMI above the 50 level separates growth from contraction.“Tighter COVID19 restrictions took a further toll on businesses in January,” Chris Williamson, the chief business economist at IHS Markit, said in a statement, adding that a double-dip recession for the region is looking “increasingly inevitable.”

Also on rt.com
Eurozone economy on track for double-dip recession

“Output fell at an increased rate, led by worsening conditions in the service sector and a weakening of manufacturing growth to the lowest seen so far in the sector’s seven-month recovery,” the report says.Earlier this week, President of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde acknowledged that the growing number of cases and new pandemic-related lockdowns across the region are disrupting economic activity, posing “serious risks” to the eurozone economy.“Activity in the manufacturing sector continues to hold up well, but services sector activity is being severely curbed, albeit to a lesser degree than during the first wave of the pandemic in early 2020,” Lagarde said during a press conference after the ECB meeting. Follow RT on

Business activity in the eurozone fell to a two-month low in January, preliminary data revealed on Friday shows, as tougher coronavirus-related lockdowns come into effect to stop the spread of new Covid-19 strains. HS Markit’s final Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which is considered a good gauge of economic health and combines both manufacturing and services, declined to 47.5 in January, versus 49.1 in December. Also on rt.com
Eurozone economy plunges back into severe decline after new coronavirus lockdowns

She also expressed concern over the slow vaccination roll-out across the EU amid the new Covid-19 strains.

Saudi Arabia remained China’s top oil supplier in 2020

Despite the higher US crude oil shipments, China’s total purchases of American energy products were just 38.7 percent of the $25.3 billion target in the deal, according to Reuters estimates.This article was originally published on Oilprice.com Also on rt.com
China’s biggest oil & natural gas basin reaches record output

Russia’s exports saw larger growth last year than the rise in Saudi exports, 7.6 percent compared to 2019. Follow RT on

For most of last year, Saudi Arabia—the largest oil exporter in the world—and its key partner in the OPEC+ deal, Russia, were head-to-head in a very close race for the top spot as the biggest crude oil supplier to China. Yet, the total average volume of Russian oil sales to China stood at 1.67 million bpd, just around 20,000 bpd on average lower than the Saudi shipments, according to Reuters estimates of the Chinese customs data in tons.This means that Saudi Arabia was the top supplier to China for a second year in a row, after clinching the top spot from Russia in 2019. In the end, Saudi Arabia edged past Russia, shipping on average 1.69 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil to China, according to data from China’s General Administration of Customs cited by Reuters.Saudi oil exports to China grew by 1.9 percent year over year in 2020. In that year, Saudi Arabia significantly raised its crude sales to the world’s largest oil importer, boosting its exports to China by 47 percent and beating Russia for the top Chinese supplier spot for the first time in four years.In 2020, Iraq was the third-biggest supplier of crude oil to China, while Brazil was fourth, capitalising on the buying binge of Chinese refiners in the spring and summer when oil prices were at multi-year lows. 

Also on rt.com
World’s largest trade pact led by China could crush US gas exports

Also of note in 2020, China more than tripled its crude oil imports from the United States to 394,000 bpd, after refiners accelerated US crude purchases in the latter part of the year as part of the US-China trade deal.

China ramps up iron ore imports from India by nearly 90% to meet growing demand

Also on rt.com
Australia’s economy may NEVER return to previous growth due to trade row with China – report

According to Tang, last year Chinese steel firms were using more low-grade ore, like India’s, in an attempt to lower costs.India’s Federation of Mineral Industries said it expected that purchases from China “will continue until March on strong demand,” but added it was too difficult to predict demand beyond then.Spot prices of iron ore with 62 percent iron content for delivery to China soared 73 percent in 2020, while 58 percent iron ore skyrocketed 91 percent, according to SteelHome consultancy.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section Australian shipments rose seven percent to 713 million tons, while Brazilian supplies were up 3.5 percent at 235.7 million tons.“The two countries’ rise could not fully meet China’s demand,” said Tang Chuanlin, an analyst with Citic Securities, as quoted by the South China Morning Post. Follow RT on

The world’s top steel producer, China, bought 44.8 million tons of iron ore from India last year, according to customs data. The 88 percent increase comes as Beijing diversifies from traditional suppliers like Australia. “Mills had to buy from other countries,” he added.China relies heavily on imported iron ore to fulfil more than two-thirds of its steel mills demand, which was boosted by Beijing’s stimulus for infrastructure. The country has churned out a record 1.05 billion tons of crude steel in 2020. Shipments from India were the highest in nine years, statistics showed. Australia and Brazil remained China’s top suppliers in 2020.

Silk Road trade on track: Freight train sets off from China to Russia, drastically cutting travel time

Follow RT on

A special China-Europe freight train departed from Dongguan in South China’s Guangdong province to Russia on Wednesday. The number of Sinotrans-operated China-Europe freight trains traveling from South China reached 686 last year, and comprised 61,324 standard containers worth about $3 billion.Initiated in 2011, the China-Europe rail transport service is considered a significant part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to boost trade between China and other countries participating in the program. The ambitious multi-trillion-dollar initiative was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. It is the first export train used by a local home-appliance company since Guangdong opened its China-Europe freight service in 2015.The special train service will improve the export of goods made in Guangdong to the European market amid the global Covid pandemic, said Sinotrans, the operator of the China-Europe freight service in Dongguan. That’s up 50 percent on the previous year, the railway operator said.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section It will arrive in Moscow within 15 days, cutting the travel time by two-thirds compared with the sea route. Also on rt.com
Freight traffic between China & Europe hit all-time high in 2020

More than 140 countries and international organizations have inked agreements on jointly building the project since then.The BRI aims to boost connectivity and cooperation between East Asia, Europe, and East Africa. It is expected to significantly boost global trade, cutting trading costs by half for the countries involved, according to expert estimates.According to the China State Railway Group, a record 12,400 freight-train trips between China and Europe were made in 2020. According to China Daily, the train is loaded with 50 containers of goods made by the Guangdong-based Midea Group company, a leading home-appliance manufacturer.

Work-from-home option leaving big cities nearly empty, as RT’s Boom Bust discovers

“A lot of properties as we continue to reopen the economy over 2021 are going to be bought by large businesses, conglomerates, probably, a lot of foreign companies.”For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section Follow RT on

San Francisco is now struggling with a mass exodus of tech workers due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with city leaders warning that this will have a severe economic impact. RT’s Boom Bust discusses the issue with Jeffrey Tucker, Editorial Director for the American Institute for Economic Research to explore what the future of remote work could mean for the economy.“The numerous researches that have been done since the pandemic lockdowns began shows that there’s been a decline year-over-year of apartment prices by about 25 percent,”  said Boom Bust co-host Ben Swann.He added that tech workers continued moving away from such places as San Francisco, where the cost of living is ungodly and they don’t have to physically be in an office.Jeffrey Tucker expects a huge and dramatic shift for the entire real-estate sector, as occupancy rates of commercial properties and residential properties in major cities are far lower.“I’m expecting a dramatic deflationary pressure to hit all big cities, such as New York and Chicago,” the economist said.

We’re all going to be trillionaires because US dollar has no bottom & bitcoin has no top – Max Keiser

“They are just throwing money while everybody is in lockdown an at home, the economy is in shambles, all the small businesses we think are closed, we have no more price signals,” she says. Max agrees, saying: “They’ve been arguing there won’t be inflation, now they are saying they will print some money.” He adds: “We are all going to be trillionaires because fiat has no bottom. The $1.9 trillion economic and healthcare relief plan was revealed last week. The dollar has no bottom and bitcoin has no top. This is said to be the largest economic response in US history, Stacy notes. Follow RT on

Hosts of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert, look at the very large stimulus package the Biden Administration hopes to pass. So contemplate this.”For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Bitcoin sell-off wipes out $100 billion from crypto market in just two days

Follow RT on

The total market value of all cryptocurrencies has lost about $100 billion over the past 48 hours, after the world’s top digital asset, bitcoin, slumped around 10 percent as crypto fever cooled off. Experts tied its rally to a number of factors, including growing interest from large institutional investors. It was trading at $1,238.49, after hitting an all-time high of $1,439 on Tuesday. Also on rt.com
Cryptocurrency market value hits record $1 trillion as bitcoin reaches new eye-popping highs

The plunge in major digital assets evoked an enormous drop in the market value of all cryptocurrencies from about $1.06 trillion to under $920 billion.Despite the latest drop, bitcoin has still been up over 150 percent in the past three months. The world’s number-one cryptocurrency has dropped almost 18 percent over the past week.Bitcoin has seen a wild rally in recent weeks, briefly hitting $41,940 earlier this month before its recent sharp drop.The second-biggest cryptocurrency by market value, ether, was also down around 10 percent over the past 48 hours. Bitcoin’s recent price surge was also boosted by massive investor outflow from gold, which is commonly the preferred inflation hedge for traders.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section Bitcoin was trading at $31,375 per token at 14:40 GMT, having lost nearly 10 percent day to day, according to Coinmarketcap.com.

Bitcoin & US tech stocks biggest market bubbles right now – Deutsche Bank survey

When asked specifically about the 12-month fate of bitcoin, which surged 300 percent last year, and about Tesla, which skyrocketed nearly 750 percent, a majority of respondents said they were now “more likely to halve than double in value,” Deutsche Bank said. At the same time, a quarter of investors said economic growth or markets could force their hand.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section The survey, which was based on responses from 627 market professionals, revealed bitcoin is viewed as the most extreme case, as half of respondents gave the digital currency a rating of 10 on a 1-10 bubble scale.US tech stocks were seen as the next largest bubble, Deutsche Bank said, with an average score of 7.9 out of 10 and 83 percent of respondents giving it a tech bubble rating of 7 or higher.The survey also found that investors think bitcoin and electric car manufacturer Tesla are more likely to fall than rise over the next year. Also on rt.com
‘Amazon wouldn’t be nearly as large’ if US was a real economy – Peter Schiff responds to Elon Musk’s call to break up monopolies

The respondents, however, said it’s not clear exactly what might “pop” those bubbles.According to the poll, “easy monetary situations” supportive of bubbles are likely to stay, with 71 percent of respondents telling Deutsche Bank they don’t believe the US Federal Reserve will tighten policy before the end of 2021. Follow RT on

Nearly 90 percent of respondents in Deutsche Bank’s monthly investor survey said some financial markets are in bubble territory now, with cryptocurrency bitcoin and US technology stocks topping the list.

Goldman Sachs shows best-in-decade performance as underwriting profits more than DOUBLE in last quarter of 2020

Also on rt.com
Like Obama, like Trump: Biden embraces Goldman Sachs bankers after Electoral College win

Apart from showing its best performance in a decade, the banking group also managed to untangle itself from the years-long scandal around the sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). While 2020 proved to be a rollercoaster year for global markets – and a death sentence to many small businesses – some fared extremely well amid the Covid-19 turmoil. The banking group was accused of misleading investors over bond sales totaling $6.5 billion that it helped to raise for 1MDB.Goldman Sachs also reached a separate settlement with the US Department of Justice in October, agreeing to pay $2.9 billion more to various regulators to resolve probes into its role in the 1MDB scandal. Follow RT on

Goldman Sachs Group made an exceptionally strong performance in the last quarter of 2020, raking in more than double the profits compared to the previous year despite global financial havoc inflicted by the ongoing pandemic. The record revenues primarily stemmed from equity underwriting, as the company took part in multiple juicy IPOs. Also on rt.com
Malaysia drops criminal charges against Goldman Sachs over looting of state fund after Wall Street bank coughs up BILLIONS

Think your friends would be interested? Last July, it reached a hefty settlement with the Malaysian government, agreeing to pay $2.5 billion and to guarantee at least $1.4 billion in assets in exchange for a dropping of all charges against the company and its leading executives, incumbent and former alike. Share this story! Investment banking itself has proven to be a gold mine for the company, surging 27 percent to $2.61 billion during the quarter, which constituted nearly 195 percent growth compared to the same period of the previous year. Reporting its earnings on Tuesday, Goldman Sachs showed impressive results.Rolling out the earnings sheet, Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO David Solomon said in a press release that “it was a challenging year on many fronts,” warning that 2021 might not be any better. 

Also on rt.com
‘Disconnect from reality’: Brits seethe as ‘one of richest UK men’ Chancellor Sunak claims people ‘BUILT UP SAVINGS’ under Covid

“We hope this year brings much needed stability and a respite from the pandemic, but we remain ready to handle a wide range of outcomes,” he said.Our Chairman and CEO David Solomon comments on $GS' full year and 4Q 2020 earnings results: https://t.co/CNvcV88Qempic.twitter.com/fFmPWKev8P— Goldman Sachs (@GoldmanSachs) January 19, 2021The investment banking company showed some 43 percent growth in revenues from trading in 2020, with its profits jumping 23 percent to $4.27 billion in the last quarter of the turbulent year.

Russia continues ditching US Treasuries as part of state de-dollarization policy

The UK is the third-biggest holder with $420.3 billion.Overall, foreign holders of US sovereign debt decreased their holdings by $15 billion in November to $7.53 trillion.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section However, the country’s central bank has been steadily cutting this investment since May 2017, in line with the state-supported de-dollarization policy, and in response to sanctions imposed by the White House. Also on rt.com
Share of gold in Russian national reserves beats US dollar holdings for first time ever

The regulator also turned to diversifying the national reserves, increasing bullion purchases in recent years to record levels, and earning the title of one of the world’s major gold purchasers.Japan remains the biggest holder of US Treasury bonds, though the country’s investments in November dropped by $9 billion to $1.26 trillion. China, ranked the second-biggest holder of US state debt, increased its share slightly to $1.063 trillion. The statistics, commonly published with a three-month lag, show the share of Russian holdings totaled a modest $4.968 billion. Follow RT on

The Russian central bank has continued getting rid of US Treasury bonds, with the share of investments in American debt shrinking 19.2 percent in November, according to the US Treasury Department. Investments in short-term Treasury securities amounted to $3.4 billion, while holding of long-term obligations totaled $1.568 billion.Russia used to be one of the major holders of US Treasuries.

India’s December oil imports jump to highest level in three years

Follow RT on

Crude oil imports in the world’s third-largest oil importer and consumer, India, surged in December 2020 to their highest in almost three years. Also on rt.com
Russia looking to bolster oil supplies to India for decades ahead

India turned from the worst-performing demand market in July into one of the fastest-growing fuel demand markets in November, lending support to oil prices together with strong demand in China and progress with vaccine development and rollout.India’s fuel demand has been boosted by one of the effects of Covid-19 on customer preferences—people avoid public transportation and prefer the comfort and relative isolation from other people in their own vehicles. This additionally boosts demand for gasoline and diesel for private vehicles.Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) increased crude oil throughput of its refineries to 100 percent in November 2020, as consumption of all petroleum products has almost reached pre-Covid levels, the country’s biggest refiner and fuel retailer said in December.READ MORE: Why India is the most exciting renewable market in the worldDespite the fourth-quarter rebound in fuel consumption, India’s crude oil demand for the whole of 2020 fell for the first time in more than 20 years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.According to Reuters estimates, India’s annual crude oil imports averaged 4.04 million bpd in 2020, the lowest in five years. India’s crude oil imports jumped by 29 percent in December 2020 compared to November and by 11.6 percent compared to December 2019, to more than 5 million barrels per day (bpd), according to the data obtained by Reuters.At the same time, provisional data from India’s Petroleum Ministry showed earlier this month that fuel demand in India posted its fourth consecutive monthly rise in December, to the highest since February 2020.Fuel consumption was still two percent below the levels seen before the pandemic, but the rebound in economic activity and transportation resulted in four straight months of rising fuel demand in India.   This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

Will staff ‘dog collars’ that buzz be the new workplace accessory in coronavirus era? Boom Bust finds out

Follow RT on

While the largest-ever vaccination campaign is now underway across the world, some companies are exploring new technologies that would help keep employees from getting too close to each other in the workplace. RT’s Boom Bust talks to Mollye Barrows of America’s Lawyer about the public vaccine rollout and the backlash over precautions being taken in the workplace. According to Barrows, a factory in France has been accused of treating its employees like dogs, after the company asked them to wear a social-distancing device, ‘dog collars’ as critics say, that emit a high-decibel sound if employees are too close to one another.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

China attracts flood of foreign direct investment amid Covid-19 pandemic

At the same time, investments by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations increased by 0.7 percent.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section Financial inflows from the Netherlands and the UK advanced 47.6 percent and 30.7 percent respectively. Follow RT on

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in China hit a record $144.37 billion in 2020, as the world’s second-largest economy keeps on recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce. Meanwhile, foreign investment in the advanced-technology industry expanded by 11.4 percent year on year, and high-tech service sector investments rose by 28.5 percent. The latest data released by the ministry shows that FDI saw a 4.5-percent year-on-year growth in dollar terms, and a 6.2-percent increase when expressed in yuan.Foreign inflows into the country’s service industry advanced 13.9 percent year on year, totaling $112 billion and accounting for nearly 80 percent of the entire FDI portfolio. Also on rt.com
Like it or not, US no longer holding world in its palm, China is – Professor Richard Wolff to RT’s Boom Bust

The ministry stressed that the latest figures show China has managed to emerge from Covid-19 and meet its target of stabilizing foreign investment in 2020, bucking the downward trend in global foreign investment.Foreign investments from the top-15 FDI countries and regions grew by 6.4 percent, and took 98 percent of the total FDI to the Chinese mainland.

Pandemic profiteer: Morgan Stanley makes a killing during coronavirus crisis

Earnings jumped 51 percent in the final three months of the year. The Wall Street bank’s net income applicable to common shareholders surged to $3.39 billion, or $1.81 per share, in the fourth quarter against $2.09 billion, or $1.30 per share, a year earlier.Analysts had forecasted a profit of $1.27 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.Morgan Stanley confirmed plans to buy back $10 billion worth of its shares this year. Also on rt.com
Goldman Sachs shows best-in-decade performance as underwriting profits more than DOUBLE in last quarter of 2020

“We saw exceptional support from central banks and strong fiscal policy supports during the health crisis. We supported our clients and were extraordinarily active, and very disciplined around our risk, and that led to record results,” said chief financial officer Jon Pruzan.Revenue from the institutional securities business, its largest source of income, rose to $7 billion from $5.05 billion recorded a year ago.Morgan Stanley’s trading unit, which is housed within the institutional securities business, benefitted from the US elections and the release of coronavirus vaccines across the world, which boosted high trading volumes during the last quarter of 2020.Net revenue grew to $13.64 billion versus $10.86 billion last year. Follow RT on

Morgan Stanley managed to substantially capitalize in 2020. The US investment bank beat fourth-quarter earnings forecasts to round off the lender’s best year on record. Revenue from the company’s investment banking division advanced to $2.30 billion from $1.58 billion in 2019, while revenue from sales and trading rose to $4.22 billion from $3.19 billion.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section The bank’s shares rose 2.5 percent to $76.88 in premarket trading, the highest since late 2000.

Russian gasoline imports surge after lifted moratorium

Follow RT on

Russia’s imports of gasoline surged eight times in November compared to October, after the end of a four-month ban on refined oil product imports ended in October. Also on rt.com
Russia keeps global grain supplies high despite Covid crisis

Russia was considering the measure since early April after oil prices crashed and led to much cheaper refined oil products outside Russia. Last year, after the oil price collapse and the crash in demand in the pandemic, Russia’s government banned between June and October imports of refined oil products, including gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, to protect its refining industry from cheap imports. The ban on imports of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and gasoil was enacted to ensure the energy security of the Russian federation and stabilize the domestic fuel market, the government said in the decree at the time. In Russia, however, the price of fuels didn’t change much because of the nature of its regulations.Demand for oil products at Russia’s gas stations crashed by 40-50 percent because of the lockdowns in the spring, Alexander Novak, the then Energy Minister and currently Deputy Prime Minister, said at the end of April. Gasoline production at Russia’s oil refineries slumped to the lowest level in 15 years in May as the country curtailed crude oil production as part of the OPEC+ deal and as lockdowns slashed demand for fuels.Read more on Oilprice.com: US shale is gaining influence over oil marketsBack in June, Russia’s independent fuel retailers’ association—which does not include the vertically integrated oil firms in Russia—said that the market shouldn’t expect a return of demand to pre-coronavirus levels in the following six months.After the ban on fuel imports ended on October 1, Russia’s imports of gasoline jumped eight-fold in November from October in terms of volumes and surged seven-fold in terms of value, with November imports worth $4.9 billion, according to Federal Customs Service’s data cited by news agency TASS.This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

EasyJet summer bookings jump 250% on hopes of lockdown restrictions easing

“We know there is pent-up demand – we have seen that every time restrictions have been relaxed – and so we know that people want to go on holiday as soon as they can,” he told the BBC, adding that EasyJet offers confidence for the post-pandemic travel market.“We have been pleased to see that some customers are making plans for their summer holidays now, with EasyJet holidays bookings for summer ’21 up 250 percent compared to the same time last year, and with May currently proving to be the most popular month for holiday bookings at the moment.”According to Lundgren, the vaccination program underway in the UK and Europe was “undoubtedly the key to unlocking travel again.” EasyJet was ready to ramp up its flying schedule as soon as customer confidence returned, he said. The airline industry is hoping for increased demand when lockdown restrictions are eased. Also on rt.com
UK’s largest airline, EasyJet, offers passengers discounted Covid-19 tests in desperate effort to encourage travel

Under the new rules for travelers entering the UK, arrivals are required to produce proof of a negative coronavirus test up to 72 hours before departure and to self-isolate for up to 10 days after entering the country.EasyJet, like other global airlines, has been struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated travel restrictions. International carriers have lately announced thousands of job cuts, scrapping some of their routes. Tougher lockdown rules across Europe, the closure of air corridors, and uncertainty about travel post-Brexit have added to pressure on the travel industry at the start of the year.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section Follow RT on

UK budget carrier EasyJet’s CEO Johan Lundgren said that bookings for this summer with its holidays arm were up 250 percent on last year.

US central bank is the SERIAL KILLER of small businesses – Max Keiser

He points out that if you give “the worst amongst us” the money printer, so they could literally just print untold sums without restraint, “then it’s like, imagine if Charles Manson was running the central bank” uninterrupted for 20 years.“Then serial killing would be America’s number one industry,” Max says, adding: “Today, we’ve got a central banker who is serial killing small businesses.” For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section “So, we’re back to medievalism,” says Max. Follow RT on

Keiser Report hosts Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert look at the lockdown carnage in the world of small businesses, which employ almost half of all American workers.

Canada scrambles to save Keystone XL pipeline expansion before Biden administration scraps it

Also on rt.com
The US has a lot of natural gas that may have to stay in the ground due to never-ending legal battles to get pipelines built

The latest news sent the shares of TC Energy, the Canadian energy major that operates the project, lower on Monday. Follow RT on

Top officials in the key oil-producing province of Alberta, Canada are calling on the country’s government to take urgent action to save the expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline to the United States. Then, the oil would travel via existing routes to refineries at the Gulf of Mexico.The $8 billion project has been strongly opposed by US landowners, Native American tribes and environmental groups, including Greenpeace. Earlier, Canadian and US media reported that President-elect Joe Biden would sign an executive order revoking the permit for expanding the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office. Works on extending the project had been halted under Barack Obama’s presidency, but restarted when President Donald Trump overturned his predecessor’s decision in 2019. Meanwhile, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has urged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reach out to the incoming US administration before Biden takes the oath of office.“This is the 11th hour and if this really is the top priority, as it should be, then we need the government of Canada to stand up for Canadian workers, for Canadian jobs, for the Canadian-US relationship, right now,” Kenney said, adding that Alberta’s financial exposure alone would exceed $783 million if the expansion doesn’t go ahead.The official noted that Canada reserves the right to retain legal counsel and seek damages under international free trade agreements if the controversial pipeline project is scrapped.“We hope President-elect Biden will show respect for Canada and will sit down and at the very least talk to us,” he said. US Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) has also spoken against the idea of expanding the pipe’s capacities. For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section Also on rt.com
Pipeline bottlenecks cost Canadian producers $20 billion

The Keystone XL pipeline is set to carry around 830,000 barrels of crude oil sands per day from the fields in Alberta to Nebraska in the US.

IEA cuts global energy demand outlook as renewed lockdowns weigh on fuel sales

“World oil supply is now expected to increase by 1.2 million bpd in 2021 following a record decline of 6.6 million bpd last year. “But it will take more time for oil demand to recover fully as renewed lockdowns in a number of countries weigh on fuel sales.”The energy watchdog also said that higher demand will allow supply to start rising this year. Much more oil is likely to be required, given our forecast for a substantial improvement in demand in the second half of the year.”

Also on rt.com
PetroChina makes HUGE gas find

The IEA has assumed that during the second half of 2021, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allied producers, known as OPEC+, will still withhold 5.8 million bpd of oil from the market as per the group’s April 2020 agreement.”However, OPEC+ has taken a more flexible approach to market management and will meet monthly to decide on output levels,” it said.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section Also on rt.com
Oil demand won’t fully recover until 2022 – IHS Markit

The IEA said that oil demand growth was projected to fall slightly during the first three months of this year but tougher government plans on additional travel restrictions could curb worldwide mobility once again. Follow RT on

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has cut its 2021 forecast for oil demand by 0.3 million barrels. That has prompted the agency to trim its first-quarter forecast for oil demand growth to 94.1 million barrels per day. The downward revision would see oil demand return to near last year’s levels.“The global vaccine rollout is putting fundamentals on a stronger trajectory for the year, with both supply and demand shifting back into growth mode following 2020’s unprecedented collapse,” said the report. According to the energy agency, world oil demand is now expected to rise by 5.5 million barrels per day (bpd) to 96.6 million this year, following an unprecedented collapse of 8.8 million bpd in 2020.“This recovery mainly reflects the impact of fiscal and monetary support packages as well as the effectiveness of steps to resolve the pandemic,” the agency said in a report published on Tuesday. It will take more time for oil demand to recover fully as renewed lockdown measures will further limit mobility, the IEA said.

Germany may tax American gas imports in response to US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 pipeline

Also on rt.com
One more European firm caves to US pressure on Nord Stream 2 project – media

Ernst added that the US had no right to just promote the economic interests of the American gas sector, and at the same time to degrade their so-called allies, turning them into subordinates. The chairman also urged the federal government to summon the acting US ambassador and clearly explain the US position.“It is also necessary to introduce penal duties on gas imports from the US,” Ernst said, expressing deep concern that the incoming president Joe Biden wouldn’t change the US’ “aggressive economic policy.”The call comes shortly after the White House announced restrictions against Russian-flagged pipe laying vessel Fortuna over its involvement in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany and Central Europe. Also on rt.com
Gazprom warns investors that Nord Stream 2 could be canceled as Trump announces more US sanctions in ‘parting gift’

“Although we do not comment on future sanctions measures, we will continue to exchange ideas with allies and partners on potential sanctions issues,” a spokesperson for the US embassy said, urging the German authorities to reconsider their position on Nord Stream 2.The move came a day before Joe Biden’s inauguration. Klaus Ernst, the chairman of the German parliament’s Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy said that penalties against corporations engaged in the Russian-led gas-provision project are unacceptable.“The fresh US sanctions against companies that participate in the construction of Nord Stream 2 won’t lead to the expected effect, but despite this, they are unacceptable,” the politician said. Follow RT on

Berlin should introduce punitive tariffs on imports of US liquefied natural gas (LNG) since Washington is pursuing its own ends by imposing sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, according to a German MP. The President-elect has previously opposed the project, but it remains unclear whether he’ll follow President Donald Trump’s hard line on the issue.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

‘Lather, rinse, repeat’: US Fed will crash the stock market like in 1987, strategist tells Boom Bust

Lather, rinse, repeat.”For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section “There’s nothing more misunderstood on Wall Street than inflation,” he says. Pento explains that there will be a super spike in interest rates in the second quarter of 2021, “and then I believe it will all come crashing down by the third quarter.”“There will be a fiscal drag on the economy, the Federal Reserve’s going to make a lot of noise about tapering, it’s going to crash the stock market, it’s going to look a lot like 1987,” he says. Follow RT on

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has affirmed his commitment to keeping interest rates low for the foreseeable future even as he expressed hope for a strong economic recovery. “And then yields will come back down again. Boom Bust explores how the economy is reacting to all the developments during the Covid-19 pandemic.The United States has a massive increase in “unproductive debt,” and is facing inflation, says Michael Pento, CEO of Pento Portfolio Strategies.

China becomes only major economy to record growth during pandemic

Follow RT on

China’s economy expanded by 2.3 percent last year despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. As factories started to get back online, China’s GDP rose by 3.2 percent in the April-June period and by 4.9 percent in the next three months. 

Also on rt.com
Move over, Hollywood! China overtook US as world’s biggest movie box office in 2020, set to keep title PERMANENTLY

China’s fast recovery was powered by positive dynamics in the industrial sector and trade, but domestic consumption, one of its key economic drivers, is still considered a weak spot. According to Monday’s data, the growth of retail sales slowed to 4.6 percent in December, and fell 3.9 percent for the full year. It also makes China the only major economy to avoid contraction in 2020, when most nations are still struggling to overcome the economic impact of the outbreak.  The Chinese economy roared back to growth in the second quarter, after a historic 6.8-percent contraction at the beginning of the year. In a dramatic turnaround since the deadly virus rattled the world’s second-largest economy at the start of 2020, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) jumped 6.5 percent in the final quarter compared to a year earlier, according to official data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday. The lockdowns affected restaurant revenues the most, as they fell almost 17 percent, while online sales, as well as sales of telecommunications equipment, cosmetics, and jewelry posted double-digit growth.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section Also on rt.com
China declares victory over absolute poverty nationwide, lifting 99 MILLION people from penury since 2012

The strong finish brought its GDP to 101.6 trillion yuan ($15.7 trillion) last year, according to the statistics agency.Although the annual growth rate was the slowest since the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, it is still better than most analysts had predicted. The result is higher than in the last full quarter before the pandemic hit, when its economy rose by six percent. The country’s economic recovery accelerated in the last three months of 2020 and returned to pre-crisis levels.

Beijing urges US to stop ‘baseless’ crackdown on its firms after Trump reportedly tightens supplies to Huawei

According to the report, a total of eight licenses from four companies were annulled, including those in respect of key chip supplier, Intel, and Japanese flash memory chip maker Kioxia Corp. Also on rt.com
US blacklists tech giant Xiaomi & major oil producer CNOOC in Trump’s final push against Chinese firms

The Commerce Department also signaled that “a significant number” of license requests for exports to Huawei, some of which were pending approval for months, are likely to be denied, Reuters said. Earlier this month, the Pentagon claimed that nine more Chinese firms have links to the Chinese military, including major smartphone maker Xiaomi and the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC), meaning that US investors will be prohibited from owning their stock.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section Follow RT on

China has slammed the latest US move against tech giant Huawei after the outgoing Trump administration reportedly revoked the licenses of companies working with the Chinese firm. However, the firm has enough chip inventories to keep its business running for up to two months, industry analyst Ma Jihua told the state-linked newspaper.The Trump administration has been ramping up pressure on Chinese businesses in recent months, adding more and more companies to the trade and investment blacklists over alleged security threats. Some companies, which had earlier been cleared to continue doing business with Huawei, now face the revocation of their licenses for exports to the Chinese firm, Reuters reported, citing sources. It is believed that US government agencies were still debating whether more than 150 licenses for $120 billion worth of goods and technology should be granted, while another $280 billion of license applications for Huawei have yet to be processed. American suppliers to Huawei are meant to receive special approval from the US government to continue doing business with Huawei after the company was added to the US blacklist, officially known as the Entity List. 
Read more

China hits back at ‘unjustified’ foreign laws that hurt its businesses

“We urge US to repeal the decision and stop baselessly cracking down on foreign businesses,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in response to the possible ban, according to the Global Times. Beijing also vowed to continue “to safeguard legitimate rights of Chinese businesses.”Neither US officials nor any of the affected companies have officially confirmed the license revocation so far.Huawei’s laptop business could be hit hard if Intel is unable to continue chip supplies to the company, the Global Times reported, citing analysts.

Russia keeps global grain supplies high despite Covid crisis

Since the early 2000s, this share of the global wheat market has quadrupled.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section That’s in line with pre-pandemic projections from industry experts, who said deliveries could be in the range of 32-to-42 million tons. Moscow introduced export limits for certain grains, including wheat, rye, barley, and corn, saying that the supplies should not exceed seven million tons. Last week, they approved raising the wheat export duty to €50 ($60) per ton from March 1. The country will also introduce export duties for corn and barley, of €25 and €10 per ton respectively, from March 15.The step is expected to protect domestic supply and stabilize the prices of several commodities, such as flour and bread, amid the economic upheaval from the Covid-19 pandemic and a plunge in oil prices.Booming agricultural production in recent years has enabled Russia to capture more than half of the global wheat market, becoming the world’s biggest exporter of grain, thanks to bumper harvests and attractive pricing. In the previous 2018-2019 agricultural season, Russia exported 35.2 million tons of wheat to the global market, after delivering a record 40.449 million tons in the previous season.In April, Russia capped grain shipments until July, to avoid domestic price spikes amid the global coronavirus crisis. Also on rt.com
Russia considers grain export quota to stabilize domestic food prices

In December, Russian authorities introduced an export limit of 17.5 million tons for certain grains for the remainder of the marketing year during the current season. Follow RT on

Exports of Russian wheat and meslin increased by 15.2 percent from January to November 2020, compared with the same period in 2019, and amounted to 33.6 million tons, according to the Federal State Statistics Service.

Russia plans earliest-ever shipment of Arctic LNG to Asia

Nevertheless, the tankers will use an ice-breaker on their return to Russia across the passage in February. According to Sovcomflot, which owns the ‘Christophe de Margerie’, a cargo ship has never made a February voyage in the eastern Arctic. Industry officials said that the vessels don’t need ice-breaker support as the current conditions in the eastern Arctic are mild. The cargo would become the earliest-ever shipment of liquefied natural gas to Asia, beating last year’s record by almost two weeks and paving the way for a record navigation season this year.The exact timing of the LNG shipment will depend on weather conditions and the thickness of the ice, according to officials. Follow RT on

Russian gas producer Novatek plans to send cargo from its Yamal LNG facility to Asian markets via the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in early May with the help of an ice-breaker, sources told Bloomberg. Its eastern part is usually shut for navigation for several months at the start of the year due to thick ice, which limits shipment potential. 

Also on rt.com
Russian Arctic sea route shipping tops 33 million tons in 2020

Novatek sent an eastbound LNG cargo via the NSR with ice-breaker support in late May in 2020, which was the earliest start to the navigation season in the area to date. Shipments continued to Asia through January, making it a record long navigation season in the eastern Arctic.Earlier this month, Novatek sent two LNG tankers (‘Christophe de Margerie’ and ‘Nikolay Yevgenov’) to China through the NSR. The planned February return voyage is part of “the systemic efforts to gradually extend transit navigation in the eastern sector of the Arctic,” said Sekretarev, adding: “In the future, the goal is to set up safe year-round navigation” across the Northern Route.Russia wants to turn the NSR into a major trade artery between Europe and Asia. Last year, 33 million tons of freight were transported using the Arctic route.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section “The possibility of such a voyage in May is under discussion,” said Nikita Sekretarev, spokesperson for Russia’s Sovcomflot shipping company. Stretching more than 5,000km between the Barents Sea and the Bering Strait, the NSR is the shortest passage between Europe and Asia.

Heathrow no longer Europe’s busiest airport as pandemic cripples travel demand

France’s main airport served some 21.1 million passengers in the January-November period, one million less than Heathrow had for the whole year.  Global air hubs saw annual passenger numbers plummet between 70 and 80 percent for the pandemic year, but some hubs logged smaller declines, allowing them to rise in the rankings. For example, the largest Russian airport in terms of passenger and cargo traffic, Sheremetyevo International Airport, climbed three spots in the list of busiest European air hubs and now sits in fifth place. The key airport received some 22.1 million passengers in 2020 – a steep decline compared to the nearly 81 million travelers it welcomed in the previous, pre-pandemic, year. Due to the 73 percent collapse in passenger traffic, Heathrow is set to fall to third place among other European airports. 

Also on rt.com
Almost 200 European airports may go bust, putting nearly 280,000 jobs at risk

Istanbul Airport has already outpaced Heathrow by passenger numbers, welcoming around 23.4 million people last year, and is likely to become Europe’s number one airport for 2020. He said “aviation is vital to us as a small island trading nation,” adding that he hopes that vaccines could facilitate a travel recovery later this year.For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section Heathrow is also set to fall behind Paris Charles de Gaulle. Sheremetyevo served 19.8 million passengers last year. 

Also on rt.com
Over half of Europe’s smaller firms may be bankrupt within a year – McKinsey poll

The new strain of Covid-19 threatens to deepen the crisis in the British aviation industry after dozens of countries halted travel to and from the country and the British government introduced new restrictions. Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye previously noted that the current government measures, such as testing rules for people arriving in England, cannot be maintained in the long-term. Follow RT on

London’s Heathrow Airport has lost its leadership position among European air hubs by the amount of passenger traffic last year, as most countries kept their borders shut to contain Covid-19.