Brent posts 4th straight yearly gain

Updated 01 January 2013
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Brent posts 4th straight yearly gain

Brent crude futures closed in on a record full-year average daily price for 2012 last night, even with oil prices mixed in choppy trading as uncertainty about a US budget deal to avert mandated spending cuts and tax hikes continued to buffet markets.
Brent crude futures were on pace to post a fourth consecutive full-year gain, though the rise of nearly 3 percent in 2012 will lag considerably the 13.3 percent rise in 2011.
US crude edged higher yesterday in morning trading in New York, but was on tap to end the year more than 8 percent lower from its 2011 finish, after three straight yearly gains.
Brent February crude dipped 18 cents to $ 110.44 a barrel at 1554 GMT, heading for a third straight lower settlement, having fallen to $ 109.38 before pushing back above the 200-day moving average of $ 109.88.


Saudi Arabia, Russia and China give EU trade reforms thumbs down at WTO

Updated 5 min 1 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia, Russia and China give EU trade reforms thumbs down at WTO

  • China is suing US and EU at WTO
  • Kingdom warns new rules are concerning

The EU’s new rules against countries dumping cheap goods on its market got a rough ride at a World Trade Organization meeting, where China, Russia and Saudi Arabia led a chorus of disapproval, a trade official said on Thursday.

The EU, which is in a major dispute with China about the fairness of Chinese pricing, introduced rules last December that allow it to take into account “significant distortions” in prices caused by government intervention.

A Chinese trade official told the WTO’s anti-dumping committee that Beijing had deep concerns about the new methodology, saying it would damage the WTO’s anti-dumping system and increase uncertainty for exporters, an official who attended the meeting said.

China argued that the concept of “significant distortion” did not exist under WTO rules, and the EU should base its dumping investigations on domestic prices in countries of origin, such as China.

The EU reformed its rules in the hope they would allow it to keep shielding its markets from cheap Chinese imports while fending off a Chinese legal challenge at the WTO.
China said that when it joined the WTO in 2001, the other member countries agreed that after 15 years they would treat it as a market economy, taking its prices at face value.

But the US and the EU have refused, saying China still subsidises some industries, such as steel and aluminum, which have massive overcapacity and spew vast supplies onto the world market, making it impossible for others to compete.

China is suing both the US and the EU at the WTO to try to force them to change their rules.

Legal experts say the dispute is one of the most important in the 23-year history of the WTO, because it pits the major trading blocs against each other with fundamentally opposing views of how the global trade rules should work.

In the WTO committee meeting, Saudi Arabia said the new rules were very concerning, and it challenged the EU to explain how EU authorities could ensure a fair and objective assessment of “significant distortion.”

Russia said the EU rules violated the WTO rulebook and certain aspects were unclear and created great uncertainty for exporters. Bahrain, Argentina, Kazakhstan and Oman also expressed concerns.

But a US trade official said the discussion showed that appropriate tools were available within the WTO to address distortions affecting international trade.