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Oil Edges up on EU’s Proposed Russian Oil Ban, but Weak China Data Weighs

Clayton Lee

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A pump jack is seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

By Stephanie Kelly

(Reuters) – Oil prices edged higher at the start of Asian trade on Thursday, extending gains from the previous session, after the European Union proposed new sanctions against Russia that included an embargo on crude oil in six months.

Brent crude futures rose 22 cents to $110.36 a barrel by 0:02 GMT. WTI crude futures rose 15 cents to $107.96 a barrel.

Both benchmarks rose over $5 a barrel on Wednesday.

The proposal, which was announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and needs unanimous backing by the 27 EU countries to take effect, includes phasing out supplies of Russian crude oil in six months and refined products by the end of 2022. It also proposes to ban in a month’s time all shipping, brokerage, insurance and financing services offered by EU companies for the transport of Russian oil.

However, the EU faces the task of finding alternatives when energy prices have surged as it imports some 3.5 million barrels of Russian oil and oil products every day and also depends on Moscow’s gas supplies.

A handful of eastern EU countries are concerned that the halt would not allow them enough time to adapt.

Market participants awaited a meeting on Thursday of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allied producers, known as OPEC+.

The group is expected to agree to raise production targets by 432,000 barrels per day (bpd) for June, four OPEC+ delegates told Reuters, sticking to plans for a gradual ramp-up of monthly production.

In the United States, crude stocks rose modestly last week, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Stocks were up 1.2 million barrels as the United States released more barrels from its strategic reserves. [EIA/S]

Oil extends gains after news of EU’s Russian oil ban proposal

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Source: investing.com

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U.S. Senate Committee Backs Biden Nominee to Be Ukraine Ambassador

Clayton Lee

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Bridget Brink, nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testifies at her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved U.S. President Joe Biden’s nominee to be the next ambassador to Ukraine, veteran diplomat Bridget Brink, and planned to push for her quick confirmation by the full Senate.

Brink is expected to easily win confirmation to a crucial position that has been vacant for three years.

The committee held Brink’s confirmation hearing on May 10, just two weeks after Biden sent her name to the Senate. The quick action underscored the desire from both Biden’s Democrats and Republicans to send an ambassador to support Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as he faces Russia’s invasion.

The Senate is expected later this week to approve nearly $40 billion in military and humanitarian support for Kyiv.

A Michigan native who speaks Russian, Brink is currently U.S. ambassador to Slovakia. She has been a career diplomat for 25 years and has worked in Uzbekistan and Georgia as well as in several senior positions across the State Department and White House National Security Council.

Brink was confirmed by unanimous voice vote in 2019, when former Republican President Donald Trump nominated her for the position in Bratislava.

U.S. Senate committee backs Biden nominee to be Ukraine ambassador

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Article: investing.com

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Japan’s Trade Gap Widens As Import Costs Surge on Supply Pressures

Clayton Lee

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A cargo ship and containers are seen at an industrial port in Tokyo, Japan, February 15, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Tetsushi Kajimoto and Daniel Leussink

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s exports logged a third straight month of double-digit gains in April led by U.S. demand, but surging global commodity costs inflated the country’s import bill to a record, adding to worries about the rising cost of living.

Shoring up the prospects of a private demand-led recovery, however, was a gauge of capital expenditure that posted its first monthly gain in three months.

The mixed data on Thursday followed the yen’s falls to two-decade lows beyond 131 to the dollar earlier in May, which stoked fears of worsening terms of trade and added financial burdens for the resource-poor Japanese economy as import costs soar.

A weak yen, once considered a boon to the export-led economy, is now having less of an impact as shipments grow smaller, given the ongoing shift by Japanese manufacturers to offshore production.

Japan’s exports rose 12.5% in April from a year earlier, Ministry of Finance data showed, led by U.S.-bound shipments of cars and undershooting a 13.8% increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll. It followed a 14.7% rise in March.

Imports rose 28.2% in the year to April, versus the median estimate for a 35.0% increase, as a weaker yen helped boost already surging global commodity prices.

That resulted in a trade deficit of 839.2 billion yen ($6.54 billion), narrower than the median estimate for a 1.150 trillion yen shortfall but posting a ninth straight month in the red.

Analysts have warned of the risks of prolonged cost-push inflation to the fragile economy with external factors, not domestic demand, pushing import bills higher.

Separate data showed on Thursday Japan’s core machinery orders rose 7.1% in March from the previous month, versus a 3.7% increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll.

The volatile data series, regarded as a leading gauge of capital expenditure in the coming six to nine months, provided a glimmer of hope for a domestic demand-led recovery.

Japan’s economy shrank for the first time in two quarters in the January-March period as COVID-19 curbs hit the service sector and surging commodity prices created new pressures.

($1 = 128.3600 yen)

Japan’s trade gap widens as import costs surge on supply pressures

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Barclays Appoints Hossein Zaimi As Asia Pacific Markets Head

Clayton Lee

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A branch of Barclays Bank is seen, in London, Britain, February 23, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Barclays (LON:BARC) said on Thursday Hossein Zaimi had been appointed as its head of markets for Asia Pacific and would join the bank after a long career at rival HSBC

Zaimi will remain based in Hong Kong and report to Adeel Khan and Stephen Dainton, co-heads of Barclays global markets business and Jaideep Khanna, the bank’s head of Asia Pacific, a statement said.

Zaimi spent more than 17 years at HSBC and was most recently the global head of equities and global co-head of securities financing.

Barclays appoints Hossein Zaimi as Asia Pacific markets head

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