Inflation sparks global wave of protests for higher pay

Inflation sparks global wave of protests for higher pay
Trucks gather to protest against the high price of fuel in Parla, on outskirts of Madrid. As food costs and fuel bills soar, inflation is plundering people’s wallets. (AP)
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Updated 25 June 2022

Inflation sparks global wave of protests for higher pay

Inflation sparks global wave of protests for higher pay
  • Economists say Russia’s war in Ukraine amplified inflation by further pushing up the cost of energy

NEW YORK: Rising food costs. Soaring fuel bills. Wages that are not keeping pace. Inflation is plundering people’s wallets, sparking a wave of protests and workers’ strikes around the world.

This week alone saw protests by the political opposition in Pakistan, nurses in Zimbabwe, unionized workers in Belgium, railway workers in Britain, Indigenous people in Ecuador, hundreds of US pilots and some European airline workers. Sri Lanka’s prime minister declared an economic collapse Wednesday after weeks of political turmoil.

Economists say Russia’s war in Ukraine amplified inflation by further pushing up the cost of energy and prices of fertilizer, grains and cooking oils as farmers struggle to grow and export crops in one of the world’s key agricultural regions.

As prices rise, inflation threatens to exacerbate inequalities and widen the gap between billions of people struggling to cover their costs and those who are able to keep spending.

“We are not all in this together,” said Matt Grainger, head of inequality policy at antipoverty organization Oxfam. “How many of the richest even know what a loaf of bread costs? They don’t really, they just absorb the prices.”

Oxfam is calling on the Group of 7 leading industrialized nations, which are holding their annual summit this weekend in Germany, to provide debt relief to developing economies and to tax corporations on excess profits.

“This isn’t just a standalone crisis. It’s coming off the back of an appalling pandemic that fueled increased inequality worldwide,” Grainger said. “I think we will see more and more protests.”

The demonstrations have caught the attention of governments, which have responded to soaring consumer prices with support measures like expanded subsidies for utility bills and cuts to fuel taxes. Often, that offers little relief because energy markets are volatile. Central banks are trying to ease inflation by raising interest rates.

Meanwhile, striking workers have pressured employers to engage in talks on raising wages to keep up with rising prices.

Eddie Dempsey, a senior official with Britain’s Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, which brought UK train services to a near standstill with strikes this week, said there are going to be more demands for pay increases across other sectors.

“It’s about time Britain had a pay rise. Wages have been falling for 30 years and corporate profits have been going through the roof,” Dempsey said.

Last week, thousands of truckers in South Korea ended an eight-day strike that caused shipment delays as they called for minimum wage guarantees amid soaring fuel prices.

Months earlier, some 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) away, truckers in Spain went on strike to protest fuel prices.

Peru’s government imposed a brief curfew after protests against fuel and food prices turned violent in April. Truckers and other transport workers also had gone on strike and blocked key highways.

Protests over the cost of living ousted Sri Lanka’s prime minister last month. Middle-class families say they’re forced to skip meals because of the island nation’s economic crisis, prompting them to contemplate leaving the country altogether.

The situation is particularly dire for refugees and the poor in conflict areas such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Myanmar and Haiti, where fighting has forced people to flee their homes and rely on aid organizations, themselves struggling to raise money.


TASI rises as earning season continues: Closing bell

TASI rises as earning season continues: Closing bell
Updated 10 sec ago

TASI rises as earning season continues: Closing bell

TASI rises as earning season continues: Closing bell

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index rose in the last hours of Wednesday, as the market was boosted slightly by new positive earnings reports.

TASI edged up 0.81 percent to finish at 12,646, while Nomu, the parallel market, declined 2.28 percent to end at 21,533.

This was led by a 9.94 percent leap in Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair following a 26 percent profit surge to SR58 million ($15 million) in the second quarter.

PIF-owned ACWA Power Co. added 0.81 percent, after announcing it will sign a $2.4 billion wind power deal with Uzbekistan's Ministry of Investment & Foreign Trade.

Al Moammar Information Systems Co. added 0.19 percent as it signed a SR39 million contract with the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture

Alamar Foods Co edged down 1.29 percent, despite reporting a SR66 million net profit in the first half of 2022, a 10 percent increase from the first half of last year.

Arabian Centres Co. added 0.19 percent, after reporting a higher second-quarter profit of SR128 million.

Al Jouf Cement Co. rose 0.78 percent, after Abdul Karim Al-Nuhair was appointed CEO after Jamal Al Amer resigned.

In the financial sector, Al Rajhi Bank rose 1.59 percent, while the Saudi National Bank, the Kingdom's largest lender, increased 0.14 percent.

Among the Kingdom’s insurers, Amana Cooperative Insurance Co. gained 0.46 percent while Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insurance Co. fell 1.30, as both firms reported 50 percent and 53 percent narrowed losses in the first half, respectively.

Wataniya Insurance Co. sank 22.7 percent, after it saw its losses widen by 44 percent to SR37 million in the first half of 2022, while Alinma Tokio Marine Co. gained 1.23 percent, after turning into a profit of SR2.4 million in the first half of 2022.

In the energy market, Brent crude reached $92.14 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate declined to $86.71 a barrel, as of 3:18 p.m. Saudi time.


US asset manager Apollo acquires $400m stake in UAE’s Aldar Properties

US asset manager Apollo acquires $400m stake in UAE’s Aldar Properties
Updated 14 min 46 sec ago

US asset manager Apollo acquires $400m stake in UAE’s Aldar Properties

US asset manager Apollo acquires $400m stake in UAE’s Aldar Properties

RIYADH: US asset manager Apollo has acquired a $400 million minority stake in UAE-based Aldar Investment Properties, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi- listed Aldar Properties PJSC.

The acquisition is part of the previously announced $1.4 billion investment by Apollo into Aldar’s transformational growth initiatives, Aldar said in a statement.

“Apollo is a highly respected global investor, and this commitment displays strong belief in Aldar’s transformational growth agenda and reinforces the reputation of the UAE and Abu Dhabi, which are experiencing a trend of increasing capital inflows from long-term institutional investors,” CEO of Aldar Properties, Talal Al Dhiyebi, said.


Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum rise; Crypto hacking losses jumped 60 percent to $1.9bn 

Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum rise; Crypto hacking losses jumped 60 percent to $1.9bn 
Updated 24 min 5 sec ago

Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum rise; Crypto hacking losses jumped 60 percent to $1.9bn 

Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum rise; Crypto hacking losses jumped 60 percent to $1.9bn 

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded higher on Wednesday, rising by 1.39 percent to $24,340 as of 10:12 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ethereum, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $1,943.87 rising by 3.41 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

Crypto hacking losses jumped 60% to $1.9bn in first seven months

According to Chainalysis’ blog post released on Tuesday, losses caused by cryptocurrency hacks surged nearly 60 percent in the first seven months of the year to $1.9 billion, Reuters reported.

The stolen funds from hacking totaled $1.2 billion during the same period last year.

Using DeFi applications, which are often based on the Ethereum blockchain, it is possible to provide crypto-denominated lending outside of traditional banking institutions.

Despite the $190 million hack of cross-chain bridge Nomad and the $5 million hack of several Solana wallets in the first week of August, Chainalysis believes the trend will not reverse anytime soon.

Chainalysis said in the blog: “DeFi protocols are uniquely vulnerable to hacking, as their open source code can be studied ad nauseum by cybercriminals looking for exploits and it’s possible that protocols’ incentives to reach the market and grow quickly lead to lapses in security best practices.”

North Korea’s “bad actors,” namely elite hacking units like Lazarus Group, are responsible for much of the money stolen from DeFi protocols, according to a US firm.

Chainalysis estimates that so far this year, North Korea-affiliated groups have stolen approximately $1 billion of cryptocurrency from DeFi protocols.

As a result of the slump in digital assets prices, the blockchain intelligence firm saw a sharp 65 percent decline in crypto scams through July. In the year to July, scam revenue was $1.6 billion, down 65 percent from about $4.46 billion a year ago.

Celsius considers financing proposals amid bankruptcy

An attorney for bankrupt crypto lender Celsius Network said Tuesday that the lender has received multiple offers to help fund its restructuring, according to Bloomberg. 

In a bankruptcy hearing Tuesday, Joshua Sussberg of Kirkland & Ellis said Celsius was considering financing packages of “various shapes and sizes,” Bloomberg said. 

It is expected that several more proposals will be submitted, he said, without providing details about the existing proposals.

If Celsius is to avoid liquidation and restructure or sell its business, it needs to raise additional funds. In court papers, the company expects its liquidity balance to turn negative in October after reaching $66.4 million in August. 

Next week, Celsius will meet with the unsecured creditor's committee and will work expeditiously on the path forward, according to a tweet. The next hearing is slated for September.

Stronghold gives back 26,200 bitcoin mining rigs to reduce debt

With the help of New York Digital Investment Group and WhiteHawk Capital, Stronghold Digital Mining Inc. has eliminated more than half of its debt and added liquidity, according to Bloomberg. Moreover, the company will restructure its convertible note.

It will return about 26,200 Bitcoin mining machines to NYDIG, which will wipe out the outstanding debt of $67.4 million from the original contract, Stronghold said in a statement Tuesday. 

WhiteHawk committed to restructuring and expanding Stronghold’s current equipment financing arrangements, reducing near-term payments, and providing more borrowing capacity of $20 million.

In the wake of the collapse of cryptocurrency prices from record levels reached in November, Bitcoin miners are struggling to raise capital and repay loans backed by the token or their mining rigs. 

The company is the latest Bitcoin miner forced to pay off an outstanding debt with its mining machines.

(With inputs from Reuters) 


India In-Focus — New Delhi boosts Saudi oil imports; shares end higher

India In-Focus — New Delhi boosts Saudi oil imports; shares end higher
Updated 31 min 41 sec ago

India In-Focus — New Delhi boosts Saudi oil imports; shares end higher

India In-Focus — New Delhi boosts Saudi oil imports; shares end higher

RIYADH: India’s crude oil imports from Russia in July fell for the first time since March along with its overall purchase, while supplies from Saudi Arabia rebounded for the first in five months, data obtained from trade and industry sources showed.

Indian refiners lifted more term supplies from Saudi Arabia as prices were attractive while prices for Russian supplies have climbed on robust demand.

India shipped in 877,400 barrels per day oil from Russia in July, a decline of about 7.3 percent from June, with Moscow continuing as its second-biggest oil supplier after Iraq.

Overall India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer, shipped in 3.2 percent less oil in July at 4.63 million bpd from June as some refineries planned maintenance turnaround from August, the data showed.

India’s oil imports from Saudi Arabia rose by 25.6 percent to 824,700 bpd in July, the highest in three months, the data showed, after the producer lowered official selling price in June and July compared with May. Saudi Arabia stayed at No. 3 spot among India’s suppliers.

Indian shares end higher

Indian shares closed higher on Wednesday, as investors pinned their hopes on strong earnings data amid signs of cooling inflation, sending the S&P BSE Sensex above the key 60,000 level for the first time since April 5.

The NSE Nifty 50 index closed 0.67 percent higher at 17,944.25 while the Sensex ended 0.7 percent higher at 60,260.13. Both indexes clocked their highest closing level in four months.

Indian rupee gains

The Indian rupee closed higher on Wednesday marking its biggest single-day gain in more than one week spurred by dollar inflows, as improved risk appetite drove a rally in equities while the greenback posted losses.

The partially convertible rupee closed at 79.4450 in its best session since Aug. 5. India’s foreign exchange markets were shut on Monday and Tuesday.

 

(With input from Reuters) 

 

 


Ajlan & Bros eyes $2bn investment in Tashkent city project: Top official 

Ajlan & Bros eyes $2bn investment in Tashkent city project: Top official 
Updated 37 min 7 sec ago

Ajlan & Bros eyes $2bn investment in Tashkent city project: Top official 

Ajlan & Bros eyes $2bn investment in Tashkent city project: Top official 

JEDDAH: Saudi conglomerate Ajlan & Bros Holding Group is eyeing an investment of $2 billion in a city project in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent as it signed multiple memorandums of understanding with Uzbek entities, the conglomerate’s CEO has confirmed. 

These MoUs were signed during the Saudi-Uzbek Business Council meeting in Jeddah on Wednesday. 

“The first agreement we signed was with the Tashkent city, the capital of Uzbekistan, and this is to cover multiple opportunities to develop infrastructure, commercial zones and industrial zones and retail zones in the city,“ Ali Al-Khatib, CEO of industrial manufacturing at Ajlan & Bros Holding Group told Arab News.

 Al-Khatib noted that the Tashkent city project is currently in its planning stage and things will be finalized soon after discussions with partners. 

The second agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture of Uzbekistan focuses on investments in the farming and agricultural sector. 

“We are also exploring the strategic red meat sector, where we aim to invest in the sector in Uzbekistan, and later bring it back to the Kingdom’s markets,” Al-Khatib added. 

He added that the investments in the agricultural sector could range between $50 million to $100 million.