Billionaires’ wealth declines as shares fall

Billionaires’ wealth declines as shares fall
Elon Musk has seen his wealth reduce (AFP)
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Updated 25 May 2022

Billionaires’ wealth declines as shares fall

Billionaires’ wealth declines as shares fall

RIYADH: Several top billionaires including Elon Musk have faced unexpected losses in their wealth as their companies’ shares have declined in an already volatile market. 

According to a Bloomberg report, Musk — the world’s richest person — lost 5.4 percent of his fortune, as Tesla shares slid almost 7 percent. Musk’s current wealth now is approximately $192 billion, his lowest since August 26.

According to the wealth index, his wealth last dipped below $200 billion in March. But markets, however, staged a rally lifting his net worth to $288 billion on April 4. Since then it declined again.

Meanwhile, Snap Inc.’s Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy also saw a considerable amount of their fortunes vanish. 

On May 24, Snap’s shares slid 41 percent in New York trading, which marked its biggest intraday decline ever. 

Some 30 percent of Speigel’s fortune, worth $1.4 billion vanished, while Murphy lost $1.8 billion or 36 percent of his wealth. 

According to the wealth index, Spiegel and Murphy have now a net worth of $3.4 billion and $3.1 billion respectively. 

 


Oil up, rebounds on renewed gasoline demand, weak dollar

Oil up, rebounds on renewed gasoline demand, weak dollar
Updated 50 min 31 sec ago

Oil up, rebounds on renewed gasoline demand, weak dollar

Oil up, rebounds on renewed gasoline demand, weak dollar
  • US crude inventories up more than 5 million barrels
  • Transneft restarts oil flows via Druzhba

NEW YORK: Oil prices rose on Wednesday, rebounding from losses early in the session on lift from encouraging figures on US gasoline demand and as a lower-than-expected US inflation figure drove investors into riskier assets.

Brent crude futures rose 68 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $96.99 a barrel as of 12:46 p.m. EST (1746 GMT). US West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 83 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $91.33.

US stocks

US crude oil stocks rose by 5.5 million barrels in the most recent week, the US Energy Information Administration said, more than the expected increase of 73,000 barrels. However, US gasoline stocks fell sharply as implied demand rose after weeks of lackluster activity during what is supposed to be peak summer driving season.

“Everyone has been very much focused on potential demand destruction, so seeing implied demand showing an outsized rebound for last week has probably given some comfort to those really concerned about that,” said Matt Smith, lead oil analyst, Americas, for Kpler.

Gasoline product supplied rose in the most recent week to 9.1 million bpd, though that figure still shows demand down 6 percent over the past four weeks compared with the year-ago period.

US oil refiners and pipeline operators expect strong energy consumption for the second half of 2022, a Reuters review of company earnings calls showed.

US consumer prices were unchanged in July due to a sharp drop in the cost of gasoline, delivering the first notable sign of relief for Americans who have watched inflation climb over the past two years.

That contributed to a rise in risk assets including equities, while the US dollar fell more than 1 percent against a basket of currencies. With most worldwide oil sales transacted in dollars, a weakening greenback is supportive for oil. However, crude's gains were modest.

Druzhba pipeline

The market earlier slipped as flows on the Russia-to-Europe Druzhba pipeline resumed, alleviating fears of another squeeze on world energy supply by Moscow.

Russian state oil pipeline monopoly Transneft restarted oil flows via the southern leg of the Druzhba oil pipeline, RIA news agency said.

Ukraine had suspended Russian oil pipeline flows to parts of central Europe since early this month because Western sanctions prevented it from receiving transit fees from Moscow, Transneft said on Tuesday.


Insilico raises $35m in Series-D round led by Aramco-backed Prosperity7 Ventures

Insilico raises $35m in Series-D round led by Aramco-backed Prosperity7 Ventures
Updated 10 August 2022

Insilico raises $35m in Series-D round led by Aramco-backed Prosperity7 Ventures

Insilico raises $35m in Series-D round led by Aramco-backed Prosperity7 Ventures

RIYADH: US-based Insilico Medicine has raised an additional $35 million in a Series D funding round led by Aramco-backed Prosperity7 Ventures.

According to FierceBiotech, with this new round the total Series D financing has reached $95 million.

The funds will allow the company to expand its artificial intelligence platform into other areas such as sustainable chemistry, green energy and agriculture.

The financing brought in Prosperity7 Ventures as a new investor.


Emirates airline invests over $2bn to boost customer experience 

Emirates airline invests over $2bn to boost customer experience 
Updated 10 August 2022

Emirates airline invests over $2bn to boost customer experience 

Emirates airline invests over $2bn to boost customer experience 

RIYADH: Dubai-based Emirates airline is investing over $2 billion to boost its inflight customer experience, according to a statement. 

The investment includes a program to retrofit over 120 aircraft with the latest interiors, in addition to an array of other service improvements across all cabins starting in 2022.

“While others respond to industry pressures with cost cuts, Emirates is flying against the grain and investing to deliver ever better experiences to our customers,” President Tim Clark said.

“Through the pandemic we’ve continued to launch new services and initiatives to ensure our customers travel with the assurance and ease, including digital initiatives to improve customer experiences on the ground,” he added. 

The airline’s latest initiatives include upgraded meal choices, new vegan menu, a “cinema in the sky” experience, cabin interior upgrades and sustainable choices. 


EU ban on Russian coal enters into force

EU ban on Russian coal enters into force
Updated 10 August 2022

EU ban on Russian coal enters into force

EU ban on Russian coal enters into force

BRUSSELS: The EU’s total ban on coal imports from Russia comes into force from midnight Wednesday, at a time the bloc is grappling with soaring energy costs following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Leaders of the EU’s 27 countries agreed the embargo in April in their first move targeting Russia’s key energy exports over its war on its pro-Western neighbor.

The measure was subject to a 120-day grace period before full implementation, to allow pre-existing contracts to be fulfilled.

The EU up to last year imported some 45 percent of its coal — worth an estimated €4 billion ($4.1 billion) — from Russia.

Overall, the bloc slashed its consumption of the polluting fossil fuel from 1.2 billion tons to 427 million tonnes between 1990 and 2020 as it pushed to hit climate goals.

But the closure of many mines across the continent led to an increase in Europe’s dependence on imports.

Some countries including Germany and Poland that used it to produce electricity were particularly reliant on Moscow.

In the face of cuts to Russian gas deliveries in recent months, EU members such as Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Italy have stepped up their use of coal-fired power plants.

Adding to the energy crunch, an EU plan to cut natural gas use by 15 percent in the face of rocketing prices came into force earlier this week.

During the first five months of 2022, the amount of electricity Germany produces from coal rose by 20 percent, according to energy analyst Rystad.

The embargo on Russia has pushed the EU to step up imports from other sources, including the US, Australia, South Africa and Indonesia.

But ending imports of Russian coal has already proved complicated for traditional mining nation Poland, which imported roughly 10 million tons from Moscow each year.

Its government imposed a total ban on Russian coal imports in mid-April, causing severe shortages and a surge in prices.

The cost of a ton of coal in Poland rose around fourfold from a year ago, leading to protests from the three million Poles still using it to heat their homes.


US consumer prices unchanged in July as cost of gasoline plunges

US consumer prices unchanged in July as cost of gasoline plunges
Updated 10 August 2022

US consumer prices unchanged in July as cost of gasoline plunges

US consumer prices unchanged in July as cost of gasoline plunges

WASHINGTON: US consumer prices were unchanged in July due to a sharp drop in the cost of gasoline, delivering the first notable sign of relief for weary Americans who have watched inflation climb over the past two years.

The Consumer Price Index was flat last month after advancing 1.3 percent in June, the Labor Department said on Wednesday in a closely watched report that nevertheless showed underlying inflation pressures remain elevated as the Federal Reserve mulls whether to embrace another super-sized interest rate hike in September.

The reading was the largest month-on-month deceleration of price increases since 1973 and followed on the heels of a roughly 20 percent drop in the cost of gasoline. Prices at the pump spiked in the first half of this year due to the war in Ukraine, hitting a record-high average of more than $5 per gallon in mid-June, according to motorist advocacy group AAA.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a 0.2 percent rise in the monthly CPI in July. The Fed has indicated that several monthly declines in CPI growth would be needed before it lets up on the aggressive monetary policy tightening it has delivered to tame inflation currently running at a four-decade high.

HIGHLIGHTS

The Consumer Price Index was flat last month after advancing 1.3 percent in June.

Food is one component of the CPI that remained elevated in July.

Real average weekly earnings rose 0.5 percent in July.

But the lower-than-expected CPI data ignited a strong rally in equity markets, with the S&P 500 index up 1.5 percent in mid-morning trading. Investors immediately pared bets the Fed would deliver a third straight 75-basis-point rate hike at its Sept. 20-21 meeting, instead seeing the US central bank likely to opt for a half-percentage-point hike.

“This is not yet the meaningful decline in inflation the Fed is looking for. But its a start and we expect to see broader signs of easing price pressures over the next few months,” said Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics.

US consumer prices have been surging due to a number of factors, including snarled global supply chains, massive government stimulus early in the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Food is one component of the CPI that remained elevated in July, rising 1.1 percent last month after climbing 1 percent in June.

In the 12 months through July, the CPI increased by a weaker-than-expected 8.5 percent following a 9.1 percent rise in June. Underlying inflation pressures, which exclude volatile food and energy components, also showed some green shoots despite remaining strong.

The so-called core CPI rose 0.3 percent in July, a 10-month low, after climbing 0.7 percent in June, helped by an almost 8 percent fall in the cost of airline fares, but still increased 5.9 percent in the 12 months through July, matching the pace in June.

Inflation in the cost of rent and owners’ equivalent rent of primary residence, which is what a homeowner would receive from renting a home, rose at almost the same pace as in June. Shelter costs comprise about 40 percent of the core CPI measure.

Tight labor market 

A separate Labor Department report on Wednesday showed real average weekly earnings rose 0.5 percent in July, the first monthly increase since last September and largest gain since January 2021.

Inflation pressures until recently had been concentrated in goods, but consumers have refocused spending on services as the pandemic eased. Fed policymakers are fearful that accelerating service-sector inflation will be more difficult to unravel.

There was little relief on that front, with prices for services excluding energy-related items rising at a 5.5 percent annual rate in July, the same pace as in the prior month, although there was a decline in the monthly reading.

Wednesday’s inflation reading followed the release last Friday of the Labor Department’s monthly employment report, which showed stronger-than-expected job growth and wage gains in July. The economy created 528,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell back to its pre-pandemic low. That employment data will make it harder for the Fed to bring the economy into balance soon.

Labor market tightness is also underscored by the fact that, although US job openings fell to a nine-month low in June, there were still almost two jobs for every unemployed person.