Crypto Moves — Bitcoin and Ethereum decline; North Korea may be behind $100m crypto hack

Update Crypto Moves — Bitcoin and Ethereum decline; North Korea may be behind $100m crypto hack
Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded lower on Thursday, falling by 1.26 percent to $20,003.20. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 30 June 2022

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin and Ethereum decline; North Korea may be behind $100m crypto hack

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin and Ethereum decline; North Korea may be behind $100m crypto hack

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded lower on Thursday, falling by 1.26 percent to $20,003.20 as of 8:10 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ethereum, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $1,088.40, falling by 5.12 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

Russia investigating 400 cases related to cryptocurrency

The Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation is trying to detect around 400 cases in which cryptocurrencies are involved, the agency’s director, Yury Chikhanchin, revealed the number during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Russian law enforcement authorities have already initiated 20 criminal cases related to digital assets, Bitcoin.com reported. 

Chikhanchin acknowledged that Russians continue to actively use cryptocurrency platforms located outside the country.

“This phenomenon continues to exist. And only on two foreign sites, two exchanges, several hundred thousand Russian citizens participate in transactions worth tens of billions,”  he said. 

According to official data released earlier this year, the number of lawsuits related to cryptocurrency mining in Russia exceeded 1,500 in 2021.

Experts suspect North Korea behind $100 million crypto hack

Digital investigative firms have concluded that North Korean hackers are most likely responsible for an attack last week that took as much as $100 million in cryptocurrency from a US company, according to Reuters.

Cryptocurrency assets were stolen on June 23 from Horizon Bridge, a service provided by Harmony blockchain that transfers assets between blockchains.

The hackers’ activity since then suggests they may be affiliated with North Korea, which experts say is among the most prolific cyberattackers. 

The UN sanctions monitors say Pyongyang uses the stolen funds to finance its nuclear and missile programs.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Chainalysis, a blockchain firm working with Harmony to investigate the attack, said the attack pattern and high velocity of structured payments to a mixer were similar to previous attacks attributed to North Korea-linked actors.

“Preliminarily this looks like a North Korean hack based on transaction behavior,” said Nick Carlsen, a former FBI analyst who now works for TRM Labs investigating North Korea’s crypto heists.

A report released by another company, Elliptic, on Thursday indicated there are strong indications that North Korea’s Lazarus Group may be behind the theft.

“The thief is attempting to break the transaction trail back to the original theft,” the report said. “This makes it easier to cash out the funds at an exchange,” it added.

If this attack is confirmed then North Korea would account for 60 percent of total funds stolen in 2022, according to Chainalysis, totaling $1 billion in stolen funds.

South Korean officials and experts told Reuters that the recent drop in cryptocurrency values may have made it harder for North Korea to sell stolen assets.

(With inputs from Reuters)


Goldman sees strong case for higher oil prices despite negative shocks

Goldman sees strong case for higher oil prices despite negative shocks
Updated 13 sec ago

Goldman sees strong case for higher oil prices despite negative shocks

Goldman sees strong case for higher oil prices despite negative shocks
  • The investment bank kept its 2023 outlook of $125 unchanged

BENGALURU: Goldman Sachs said the case for higher oil prices was still strong with current supply shortfalls well above its expectations in recent months, despite a recent retreat led by factors including global recession concerns.

The market will remain in unsustainable deficits at current prices and balancing it will still require “demand destruction on top of the ongoing economic slowdown,” the investment bank said in a note dated Aug. 7.

Oil prices hovered near multi-month lows on Monday, pressured by lingering worries about an economic slowdown.

Goldman said a divergence between benchmark Brent prices, which averaged $110 a barrel in June and July, and the corresponding Brent-equivalent global retail fuel price of $160 per barrel was not enough to trigger enough demand destruction to end the supply deficit.

“The unprecedented discount of Brent prices, even wider than we expected, can be explained by the worsening Russian energy crisis, as it boosts the costs of transforming crude out of the ground (Brent) into retail pump prices around the world through surging EU gas prices, freight rates, USD and global refining utilization,” it said.

Goldman trimmed its Brent price forecasts for the third and fourth quarters to $110 and $125 a barrel, respectively, versus previous forecasts of $140 and $130. It kept its 2023 outlook of $125 unchanged.

The investment bank forecast US retail gasoline and diesel prices to rebound to $4.35 and $5.50 per gallon, respectively, by the fourth quarter and average $4.40 and $5.25 in 2023.

“We forecast that US retail fuel prices will rally into year-end then decline from 2Q23 onward as refining and marketing margins start to normalize,” Goldman said.

The US average retail gasoline price hit a peak of $5.02 a gallon in mid-June, data from the American Automobile Association motorist advocacy group showed. 


India may scrap wheat import duty to cool domestic prices, say sources

India may scrap wheat import duty to cool domestic prices, say sources
Updated 12 min 54 sec ago

India may scrap wheat import duty to cool domestic prices, say sources

India may scrap wheat import duty to cool domestic prices, say sources

MUMBAI: India could scrap a 40 percent duty on wheat imports and cap the amount of stocks traders can hold to try to dampen record high domestic prices in the world’s second-biggest producer, government and trade officials told Reuters on Monday.

Late in the day, the Trade Ministry said it would restrict the export of some wheat-derived products like finely milled “maida” and semolina from Aug. 14, with only an inter-ministerial committee allowed to clear their shipment. Exports of the items are generally small.

India barred wheat exports in May after the crop suffered a heatwave, but domestic prices still rose to a record high. Yet, international prices are still way above the domestic market, making it unviable for traders to buy from abroad.

If the government does remove the duty, and international prices also fall, then traders say they could start importing, especially during the upcoming festival season, when higher demand typically drives domestic prices higher.

“We are exploring all possible options to bring down the prices,” said a senior government official who held a discussion with industry officials last week.

New Delhi could scrap the 40 percent import duty and impose stock limits on wholesalers and traders to signal to the market that the government will do everything in its power to keep prices in check, said the official, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the subject.

Domestic wheat prices ended last week at a record 24,000 rupees ($301.57) per ton, having risen 14 percent from lows struck after the government surprised markets on May 14 by banning exports, ending hopes that India could fill the market gap left by missing Ukraine grain.

Domestic prices are still nearly a third lower than global prices, said a Mumbai-based trader with a global trading firm, who described Indian wheat as the cheapest in the world.

India last imported wheat in the April 2017 to March 2018 financial year.

“If global prices fall by another 20 percent and Indian prices continue their rally, then maybe, sometime after a few months, imports might become feasible,” the trader said.

The government has limited options to intervene in the market this year since its procurement has fallen 57 percent to 18.8 million tons, said a New Delhi-based dealer with a global trading firm.


Oil hover near multi-month lows on demand worries

Oil hover near multi-month lows on demand worries
Updated 24 min 5 sec ago

Oil hover near multi-month lows on demand worries

Oil hover near multi-month lows on demand worries
  • Russian crude, oil products exports continue to flow ahead of an impending EU embargo

LONDON: Oil prices hovered near multi-month lows on Monday as lingering worries about demand weakening on the back of a darkened economic outlook outweighed some positive economic data from China and the US.

Erasing earlier gains, Brent crude futures were down 55 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $94.37 a barrel by 1331 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate crude was at $88.25 a barrel, down 76 cents, or 0.9 percent.

Front-month Brent prices last week hit the lowest since February, tumbling 13.7 percent and posting their largest weekly drop since April 2020, while WTI lost 9.7 percent, as concerns about a recession hitting oil demand weighed on prices.

“Last week’s price action left no doubt that recession-driven demand concerns have the upper hand over supply fears. One could even go as far as saying the war premium has evaporated,” PVM analyst Stephen Brennock said.

Both contracts recouped some losses on Friday after jobs growth in the US, the world’s top oil consumer, unexpectedly accelerated in July.

On Sunday, China also surprised markets with faster-than-expected growth in exports.

China, the world’s top crude importer, brought in 8.79 million barrels per day of crude in July, up from a four-year low in June, but still 9.5 percent less than a year earlier, customs data showed.

In Europe, Russian crude and oil products exports continued to flow ahead of an impending embargo from the EU that will take effect on Dec. 5.

Last week, the Bank of England warned of a protracted recession in Britain.

Gasoline demand in the US continues to weaken despite falling prices at the pump, and stockpiles are rising.

In terms of US production, energy firms last week cut the number of oil rigs by the most since September in the first drop in 10 weeks.

The US clean energy sector received a boost after the Senate on Sunday passed a sweeping $430 billion bill.


China’s Huawei set to finalize data center location in Saudi Arabia 

China’s Huawei set to finalize data center location in Saudi Arabia 
Updated 45 min 22 sec ago

China’s Huawei set to finalize data center location in Saudi Arabia 

China’s Huawei set to finalize data center location in Saudi Arabia 

RIYADH: China’s tech giant Huawei is soon to decide the location of its data center in Saudi Arabia, president of Huawei Cloud Middle East told Gulf News. 

The data center in Saudi Arabia will be Huawei’s second in the Middle East, following Abu Dhabi.

“We are in the final stages of the Saudi decision — the investment decision has already been made,” Frank Dai explained. “All that’s left is where in Riyadh should the facility be built.”

He added: “The Middle East remains central to our vision of how digital transformation can reshape economies, even change the world. This is only the beginning of what data-driven economies can achieve.”


Wizz Air to resume flights from UAE to Russia in October

Wizz Air to resume flights from UAE to Russia in October
Updated 08 August 2022

Wizz Air to resume flights from UAE to Russia in October

Wizz Air to resume flights from UAE to Russia in October

DUBAI: European budget airline Wizz Air will resume flights from Abu Dhabi to Moscow from October, it said on Thursday, more than five months after the carrier suspended all services to Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

The airline’s Abu Dhabi-based joint venture, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, will operate the daily flight from Oct. 3, with fares starting from 359 dirham ($97.74), it said in a statement.

Wizz Air, which in October 2021 announced the Abu Dhabi to Moscow flights would start in December that year, said on Feb. 27 it had suspended all flights to Russia.

Other Emirati carriers, including Emirates, have continued to operate services to Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ and the European airline. It is based in Abu Dhabi and is a UAE registered carrier.