Crude Halts Decline as Demand Seen Burning Through Shale Output


Crude edged higher after the worst weekly decline in two years as OPEC shrugged off the threat that U.S. shale drillers will swamp the market with excess supplies.

Futures in New York advanced, breaking a six-session string of losses. Strong demand for crude coupled with restrained output from OPEC and allied suppliers will erase any remaining glut this year, United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei said. The price gain was muted as the U.S. government lifted its shale oil supply forecast and weakness in gasoline and diesel markets bled over.

Oil prices are supported by “statements from OPEC telling us they believe compliance to the cuts is going to be at historic highs,” Bart Melek, head of global commodity strategy at TD Securities in Toronto, said by telephone. “Ultimately, the market is well-supported around $60. We do see the market rebalance. Inventories will continue to drop.”

The U.S. benchmark crude contract lost almost 10 percent of its value last week amid concerns about the broader economy. Kuwait Oil Minister Bakheet Al-Rashidi characterized the selloff as a “correction only.” Meanwhile, OPEC compliance with crude output cuts rose to a record 136 percent in January, according to Bloomberg calculations.

West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery added 9 cents to settle at $59.29 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Total volume traded was about 16 percent above the 100-day average.

Shale Growth

Brent for April settlement declined 20 cents to end the session at $62.59 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, and traded at a $3.51 premium to WTI for the same month.

Shale drillers in places such as West Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota may imperil the carefully-laid plans of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and fellow travelers like Russia and Mexico. The number of rigs searching for U.S. oil jumped 34 percent in the past year and the Energy Information Administration projects shale-oil output to rise 110,000 barrels a day in March.

See also: Oil bulls run scared in global volatility as U.S. rivals Saudis

As a result, nationwide crude production is expected to exceed 11 million barrels a day before the end of this year. OPEC’s own analysts on Monday upped their estimate for how much oil non-cartel suppliers will pump this year by 250,000 barrels a day to 1.4 million a day.

Late in Monday’s trading session, U.S. government forecasters boosted their estimates for the backlog of unfracked oil wells explorers have amassed — an indicator of future supply growth — as well as how much crude domestic drillers will pump next month.

“Shale is coming and the expectation is that it will come stronger than in 2017, and this is something that we have to watch,” Al Mazrouei said Monday in an interview in Dubai. “But considering all factors, I don’t think it will be a huge distorter of the market.”

Gasoline Weakness

OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said the cartel and its non-OPEC partners need to continue cooperating beyond 2018 and that their accord is still a “work in progress.”

Gasoline futures fell 1.3 percent to settle at $1.6785 a gallon. The gasoline crack spread, a rough measure of the profit from refining crude into the fuel, declined to the lowest level since this time last year.

“It’s very hard to get a market to go up on an outright basis when cracks are clearly aimed downward,” Thomas Finlon, director of Energy Analytics Group LLC in Wellington, Florida, said by telephone. “Production of refined products is very high right now.”

Other oil-market news:

  • U.S. crude stockpiles probably rose by 3 million barrels last week, according to the median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
  • Crude inventories at the key pipeline hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, probably decreased by 1.7 million barrels last week, according to a forecast compiled by Bloomberg.
  • The S&P 500 index of energy stocks climbed 2 percent on Monday, with all 32 of the companies in the subgroup advancing.

— With assistance by Heesu Lee, and Grant Smith

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India's Union Budget 2018-2019


12 February 2018
| By Siddhartha Thyagarajan

In what was a populist budget in an election year, businesses could still take positives from some of its measures

Budget day in India is always a significant one, as government, trade organisations, media, political parties busily navigate through the fine print of the Finance Minister’s speech, and the interpretations, before voicing their own opinions. And this year, the CBI’s International Director Benjamin Digby was in Delhi on 1 February to witness it.

Although the past four years has seen budgets bring in structural reforms to the Indian economy – opening up more sectors to FDI, and offering tax holidays for start-ups and tax relief for SMEs – this was the last budget before elections.  As a result, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley took the opportunity to sweeten the lives of the poor and the marginalised through a push to healthcare and the farm sector.

These were some of the highlights:


The budget announced the launch of a flagship national health protection scheme. The programme, which some analysts now call “ModiCare”, plans to cover 100 million poor and vulnerable families. This would imply coverage for around 500 million beneficiaries, who will get INR 500,000 per family per year. The scheme will be the world’s largest state-funded healthcare programme.


The budget increased the outlay for defence by 7.81 per cent from the previous year. The increased outlay will be supplemented by a Defence Industrial Policy, which is to be announced soon. In addition, the government announced that it would build two defence industrial production corridors in India.

Infrastructure, Aviation, and Airports

The 2018-2019 budget also increased the outlay for infrastructure. There are multiple new greenfield airports in the offing and an aim to increase the number of airports, currently at 124, fivefold.

Bond Market

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also stated during the budget speech that the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) will consider a proposal to make it mandatory for large companies to raise about a fourth of their financing needs in the bond market. The scope may extend to smaller companies in due course.

What does this mean for business?

While Ease of Doing business was a key priority for the current government, this budget aims to make life a little easier for the common man, thus taking the focus away from business for the time being.

But, after the budget telecast, CBI members gathered for a roundtable discussion and reception hosted by Sherry Madera, Special Adviser for Asia, City of London and organised in partnership with UK India Business Council (UKIBC). The CBI in collaboration with the UKIBC had reached out to members late last year and compiled a set of recommendations which was submitted to the Union Finance Ministry in January 2018.

Participants agreed that, despite the populist focus, some of the announcements bode well for business. The intent to deepen the bond market to build it as an alternate source for corporate funding will reduce the pressure on banks – currently the primary source of funding for corporates – at a time when the system is in crisis over non-performing assets. This will help corporates diversify their risk further.

Increased outlays to healthcare, defence, infrastructure development, and aviation, present an excellent opportunity for companies in these sectors.

During his visit, Digby also met member companies, key Indian government officials and trade bodies such as the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) to further bolster the business relationship, between the UK and India.

Siddhartha Thyagarajan, Policy Adviser, India, CBI

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Trump Plans 'Reciprocal Tax' on Some U.S. Trading Partners


WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump said Monday he planned to announce as soon as this week what he called a “reciprocal tax” on trade, aimed at countries that he said are taking advantage of the U.S.

Mr. Trump’s blueprint for the tax surprised some of his top aides, who warned that no formal plans have been prepared. Mr. Trump’s comments came during a meeting in the White House with mayors and governors to discuss overhauling the nation’s roads and bridges.

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Memphis teen creates subscription box to inform, inspire African-American girls


Whenever 17-year-old Journi Prewitt and her relatives spend time together, she always gravitates toward caring for the younger children. That earned her the nickname “Mother Hen.”

“I would go out of my way to do anything for the little people around me,” said the Memphis, Tenn.-based teen. “That’s when I noticed how much making a change in children’s lives mattered to me.”

Prewitt put this passion into action by creating a subscription box service for African-American girls ages 5 to 19, called Black Butterfly Beautiful. Her goal was to inspire young black girls to read, learn more about their history and culture, and build up their self-esteem.

“I wanted to make something to inspire little girls because I didn’t have anything like this growing up,” said Prewitt, who started the business in June 2017. “I was picked on for being dark-skinned and for having natural hair. If I had something like this growing up, I would have been more self-aware.”

Each monthly box has a timely theme, is curated based on subscriber age and features a book with African-American characters, products from black-owned businesses and other items with uplifting words and imagery.

Items in the box feature sayings like, “‘Your brown is beautiful,’” Prewitt says. “The sole purpose is to help with self-worth and really knowing who you are before anyone else can tell you different.”

Subscriptions can last three months, six months or 12 months, with prices depending on the length of service. A one-time box is also available.

One past box focused on three generations of black female activists; another highlighted award-winning African-American actresses.

“I want girls to see that there are a variety of things in the world for them to do.”

The idea for Black Butterfly Beautiful grew out of the books and gifts Prewitt would give her 6-year-old cousin, who she says is like a little sister to her. It was Prewitt’s godmother who encouraged her to make the boxes available to all girls.

“My godmother helped me to understand that all girls in the world should have somebody that’s supporting them and in their corner.”

In that spirit, one of her next goals is to donate boxes to homeless girls in Memphis.

“Not only do they need someone to be there for them and care about them, they also need someone rooting for them just like anybody else. Donating a box to them would be really powerful.”

After a conversation with her younger brother, Prewitt decided to make bimonthly boxes for boys. She calls those boxes “Black Dragonfly.”

“My little brother saw my cousin getting a box, and he wanted one too,” she said. “I created the boys box to teach boys that being an athlete, actor or reality show star isn’t the only option for success. I wanted them to know that they can be CEOs and billionaires.”

Prewitt heads to college in the fall and plans to broaden her business.

“When I go to college, I want to start a new piece for college students called ‘Butterfly Destination’ that will have things college students need, like coupon books for food and groceries. I also want to start a nonbinary children’s box and call it the ‘Firefly Box.’ It will center around children who do not identify with the gender they were given at birth.”

Prewitt credits her mother, Shauntay Hampton-Prewitt, with teaching her the value of service.

“My mom instilled in me to create change, no matter what avenue,” Prewitt said. “As a teenager, it’s an amazing thing having a business that impacts people’s lives.” She wants to be seen as “a 17-year-old that’s doing something positive — yes, for herself — but more so for her community.”

Twitter @christenadot_

Related: Marley Dias, the brains behind #1000BlackGirlBooks, is touring with a book of her own »

10-year-old’s blessing bags for homeless capture Barack Obama’s attention »

Why parents need to talk to their kids, and celebrate, Black History Month »

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Two Dallas execs at center of national Latino chamber scandal


Two prominent Dallas executives, Javier Palomarez and Nina Vaca, are at the center of a brewing personnel dispute at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, according to court documents and published reports.

The nonprofit group that promotes Latino business interests, is reviewing allegations that its CEO Palomarez has engaged in sexual harassment and padded his salary, according to a January court filing in Dallas County District Court.

Vaca, chairman and CEO of Dallas-based Pinnacle Group, has been on the Hispanic Chamber’s board, but is no longer a member, according to the Chamber’s website. She is chairwoman of the Chamber’s Foundation, its philanthropic arm.

Palomarez has been president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Commerce, which represents more than 4.4 million Hispanic-owned businesses, and the business group’s Foundation since 2010.

Palomarez says that Vaca is behind the harassment charges and has led a campaign against him.  In Dallas County court filing, he said he is considering filing a lawsuit against Vaca and others associated with the chamber and foundation.

In the petition, which requests Vaca be deposed, Palomarez said that he believes she has defamed him before numerous members, directors and employees at both the chamber and its foundation.

Marcos Ronquillo, Palomarez’s attorney said he couldn’t comment on the pending legal matters. The petition asks for a court hearing.

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Better port ecosystem to help boost India's ease of doing business ranking: report


The study, Port Logistics: Issues and Challenges in India, undertaken by advisory firm Dun & Bradstreet (DNB) on behalf of Niti Aayog identifies the major problems faced on the ground by the end-users of ports—exporters, importers and freight forwarders.

The study, Port Logistics: Issues and Challenges in India, undertaken by advisory firm Dun & Bradstreet (DNB) on behalf of Niti Aayog identifies the major problems faced on the ground by the end-users of ports—exporters, importers and freight forwarders.

New Delhi: To achieve the ambitious target of having a 5% share in world exports and climb up the ranks in ease of doing business, India needs to address its port ecosystem, says a report commissioned by government think tank Niti Aayog. The report says that processes and operations across India’s ports are not standardized or uniform, costs and time for key processes are unpredictable and there is an unacceptable level of variation across ports as well as within ports.

It listed five issues—port congestion, custom clearance, shipping line issues and charges, documentation and paperwork and regulatory clearances—as the major hurdles leading to detention and demurrage challenges faced by traders in.

The study, Port Logistics: Issues and Challenges in India, undertaken by advisory firm Dun & Bradstreet (DNB) on behalf of Niti Aayog identifies the major problems faced on the ground by the end-users of ports—exporters, importers and freight forwarders.

It also ranked 13 major ports and one non-major port on a Port Performance Index. It rated four ports (Mundra, JNPT, Kamarajar, Vizag) as good; seven (Cochin, Kandla, Paradip, Chennai, Mormugao, New Mangalore and VOC) as average and three (Haldia, Kolkata and MbPT) as poor.

The report comes at a time when major ports in India have been witnessing a good growth. As per the shipping ministry’s latest figures, the major ports in India have recorded a growth of 4.58%, handling 560.97 million tonnes of cargo during from April 2017 to January 2018 as against 536.41 million tonnes during April 2016 to January 2017.

Manish Sinha, managing director of Dun and Bradstreet – India said, “To increase India’s share in world exports, we need to strengthen India’s industrial sector and increase its product competitiveness. And to enhance product competitiveness, we would have to improve the infrastructure for trade. Ports are a key part of trade infrastructure.” He added that if the issues of the report are resolved in a set time-frame, it would further facilitate ease of doing trade in India.

While the DNB report emphasises strengthening port infrastructure, the shipping ministry is undertaking an ambitious Sagarmala project to promote port-led development. Under Sagarmala, the ministry aspires to reduce logistics costs for EXIM and domestic cargo leading to overall cost savings of Rs35,000 to 40,000 crore per annum.

A shipping ministry official on condition of anonymity said, “We were not aware about the Niti Aayog’s report. The ministry had earlier appointed an advisor and has been already introducing several changes suggested by them for ease of doing business.” These included exclusion of services of transportation of import cargo by ships on voyage charter from negative list, zero rating of services of transportation of export cargo by Indian ships and implementation of e-payment mode for collection of ocean freight.

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Starboard Unveils List of Candidates for Newell Board


Starboard Value LP has revealed the 10 candidates it will nominate to Newell Brands Inc.’s board as part of a proxy fight launched in response to the conglomerate’s recent performance.

The activist investor, which said it has 4% stake in the company, will nominate three former Newell directors—Ian Ashken and Martin Franklin, both of whom co-founded Jarden Corp., and Domenico De Sole, former chief executive of Gucci Group NV. All three resigned from the board last month.

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UN: Human Rights Declaration Still Relevant


The United Nations is embarked on a year-long campaign to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the U.N. General Assembly on December 10, 1948. Campaigners say the declaration is as relevant today as it was when drafted seven decades ago.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted in Paris in 1948 by a diverse group of countries under the leadership of former first lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt. The Declaration was designed to prevent the repetition of the horrific human rights violations that were committed during World War II.

The common thread in the Universal Declaration is that of anti-discrimination; the belief that everyone is equal and everyone has the same rights. U.N. Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville says many of the world’s human rights violations and problems stem from the failure to uphold that principle.

“I think in the current climate a lot of those issues are really crystallizing. You look at the #Me2 Movement,” he said. “So, even with all the advances there have been on women’s rights over the past 70 years, and there have been huge advances on women’s rights, nevertheless, suddenly you get the #Me2 Movement. And suddenly everyone realizes all sorts of ghastly stuff is going on affecting women, even the most privileged women in the most democratic and well-established countries.”

Colville notes human rights are not a given. He says it is a continuous struggle to get them and once that has been achieved to keep them.

Human Rights advocates believe in the Universal Declaration’s resilience. But they acknowledge this essential document will be challenged in the years ahead by new complex issues including rights to privacy and freedom of expression in the Internet age and the threat climate change poses to the right to life, food, water and housing.

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MiLB Expanding Hispanic Marketing Campaign Nationwide In '18

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MiLB is taking its Hispanic marketing campaign national in ’18 after a debut late last season in four pilot markets. The return of Es Divertido Ser Un Fan (“It’s Fun To Be A Fan”) as an organization-wide effort this season arrives with the creation of a trophy called the C…

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