Oil plunges to $57

Updated 13 December 2014
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Oil plunges to $57

NEW YORK: The rout in oil prices advanced Friday after the International Energy Agency lowered its forecast for global oil demand next year.
In its monthly oil report, the agency said global oil demand in 2015 will grow by 900,000 barrels a day — 230,000 less than previously forecast — to 93.3 million.
“While demand growth is still expected to gain momentum in 2015 from 2014, the acceleration is now looking more modest than previously foreseen, in line with the ever-more tentative pace of the global economic recovery,” the IEA said.
The benchmark US oil price tumbled more than 3 percent, at one point dropping to $57.34, the lowest intraday price since May 13, 2009, when the global economy was still in recession. Around midday in New York, it was down $2.063, or 3.4 percent, at $57.90. Brent, the international standard, was down $1.72, or 2.7 percent, at $61.96.
The IEA said several years of record high prices have “induced the root cause” of the rout in oil prices in recent months. Production in countries outside of OPEC, such as the US, has surged to its highest growth ever while the growth in demand is at five-year lows. The fall in oil prices gathered pace in late November when OPEC left its output target unchanged.
The agency also dampened expectations that the fall in oil prices will automatically be a boon for the global economy.
“The adverse impact of the oil price rout on oil-exporting economies looks likely to offset, if not exceed, the stimulus it could provide for oil-importing countries against a backdrop of weak economic growth and low inflation,” the IEA said.
It highlighted the impact on Russia, which has been particularly hard hit by the market sell-off.
Others, however, believe the benefit to the consumer outweighs the negatives for energy producers.
In a note last month, Barclay’s estimated that a 20 percent decline in gas prices in the US results in $70 billion of savings for consumers, money that helps restaurants, clothing stores, movie theaters and other businesses that depend on discretionary spending. Gas prices have dropped 30 percent since June, to $2.60 per gallon from this year’s peak of $3.70.
Related reports — Page 11


Australian court fines Apple $6.7 million over iPhone ‘bricking’ case

Updated 28 min 39 sec ago
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Australian court fines Apple $6.7 million over iPhone ‘bricking’ case

SYDNEY: An Australian court fined US electronics giant Apple Inc. A$9 million ($6.7 million) on Tuesday after a regulator accused it of using a software update to disable iPhones which had cracked screens fixed by third parties.
The Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sued the world’s biggest company by market value for “bricking” — or using a software update to disable — hundreds of smartphones and tablet devices, then refusing to unlock them if the devices had been serviced by non-Apple repairers.
On Tuesday the Australian Federal Court found in the regulator’s favor, saying Apple had breached the country’s consumer law by telling some 275 customers they were not eligible for a remedy if their device had been repaired by a third party.
“The mere fact that an iPhone or iPad had been repaired by someone other than Apple did not, and could not, result in the consumer guarantees ceasing to apply,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said in a statement.
“Global companies must ensure their returns policies are compliant with the Australian Consumer Law, or they will face ACCC action,” Court said.
An Apple spokeswoman said in an email the company had “very productive conversations with the ACCC about this” without commenting further on the court finding.
The ACCC said after it told Apple about its investigation, the US company sought to compensate customers whose devices were made inoperable by the software update, known as “error 53.” So far, Apple had contacted about 5,000 customers, the ACCC said.
Apple has also offered to improve staff training, information about warranties and consumer law on its website, and processes to ensure compliance, the ACCC said.