Oil prices jump as focus swivels to OPEC, Russia meeting on output cuts By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A maze of crude oil pipes and valves at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas

SEOUL (Reuters) – Oil climbed on Wednesday, reversing most of the prior session’s losses, as investors pinned hopes on a Thursday meeting where OPEC members and allied producers will discuss output cuts to shore up prices that have tumbled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Brent crude () was up by 72 cents, or 2.3%, at $32.59 per barrel by 0044 GMT after falling 3.6% on Tuesday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude () rose $1.30, or 5.5%, to $24.93 a barrel after dropping 9.4% in the previous session.

Thursday’s meeting between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, is widely expected to be more successful than their gathering in early March. That ended in failure to extend cuts and a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia amid slumping demand.

But doubts remain over the role of the United States in any production curbs.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC member countries and Russia are likely to agree to cut output, but that accord could be dependent on whether the United States would go along with cuts. The U.S. Department of Energy said on Tuesday that U.S. output is already declining without government action.

“Saudi Arabia and Russia continue to hammer out a deal … What is clear is that the United States must be involved,” ANZ Research said in a note.

U.S. crude production, meanwhile, is expected to slump by 470,000 bpd and demand is set to drop by about 1.3 million bpd in 2020, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday.

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Buffett’s Geico offers $2.5 billion credits as coronavirus cuts driving


(Reuters) – Geico Corp, part of billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, said on Tuesday it will offer about $2.5 billion of credits to its 19 million auto and motorcycle policyholders, reflecting the decline in driving stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett walks through the exhibit hall as shareholders gather to hear from the billionaire investor at Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Scott Morgan/File Photo

The insurer said it will offer a 15% credit on policies up for renewal between April 8 and Oct. 7, averaging about $150 per auto policy and $30 per motorcycle policy.

Geico said it has about 18 million auto customers and 1 million motorcycle customers.

The announcement came one day after Allstate Corp said it would return more than $600 million to policyholders, mostly through a “payback” of 15% of premiums for April and May on about 18 million policies. [nL1N2BU0PO]

Many Americans are driving less because of stay-at-home orders aimed at curbing the pandemic.

Geico said vehicle accidents are down considerably, though it expects a return to near-normal levels as the pandemic subsides.

“The ongoing crisis has widespread effects that will linger,” Geico Chief Executive Todd Combs said in a statement. “Our customers have been loyal, and we are committed to doing all we can to help them.”

State Farm and Progressive Corp are also reviewing their premium practices in light of the decline in driving.

Geico earned $35.57 billion of premiums in 2019, and paid out $28.94 billion, or 81.3%, to cover loss claims.

Pretax underwriting gains totaled $1.51 billion, after accounting for underwriting expenses.

Berkshire, based in Omaha, Nebraska, has owned all of Geico since 1996.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Editing by Lisa Shumaker



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Allstate to return $600 million in auto premiums to customers as pandemic cuts driving By Reuters


© Reuters. Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Seattle

By Suzanne Barlyn

(Reuters) – U.S. insurer Allstate Corp (N:) said on Monday that it would return more than $600 million in auto insurance premiums to customers as many Americans stay home and drive less due to “shelter-in-place” orders to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

Most customers will receive a “payback” of 15% of their monthly premium in April and May, the company said.

A smaller U.S. auto insurer, American Family Insurance in Madison, Wisconsin, also said on Monday that it would return a total of $200 million to auto insurance customers beginning in mid-April. Customers will receive $50 per vehicle covered by their policies, the company said.

“There are very few silver linings out there, but auto insurance companies are definitely one of them,” said Piper Sandler analyst Paul Newsome about coronavirus.

Fewer accidents generally lead to a lower claim frequency and Newsome expects insurance companies with large auto portfolios, such as Progressive Corp (N:), Travelers Companies Inc (N:) and Allstate, to post good first quarter results.

The payments show how coronavirus could provide a silver lining for at least one industry – auto insurance companies – as more drivers stay off the roads.

Allstate’s payback, which will apply to 18 million policies issued by Allstate and its Esurance and Encompass units, follows a data analysis by the insurer of 23 million cars that showed driving mileage being down between 35% and 50% in most states, Allstate Chief Executive Officer Tom Wilson said during a call with reporters on Monday.

The analysis, based partly on data that Allstate collects from tracking products that some customers agree to use in exchange for discounts, and other sources,

Allstate’s data showed no difference between states that had “shelter in place” orders in effect and those that did not, Wilson said.

Still, some people who are still on the roads are driving faster on what are now less densely traveled roads, which could lead to more serious accidents, Wilson said.

Next Insurance, a commercial insurer in Palo Alto, California that covers small businesses also on Monday said that it would discount April commercial auto premiums by 25% because “stay at home” orders have reduced the insurers’ risks.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Top Michelin executives agree to pay cuts to help with COVID-19 response By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Michelin Group is seen ahead of a news conference to present the company’s 2018 annual results in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) – French tyre company Michelin (PA:) said on Monday that its leading executives had agreed to take pay cuts as a gesture of solidarity to help deal with the negative effects of the hit to its business from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Michelin said its managing partners Florent Menegaux and Yves Chapot had agreed to reduce their remuneration by around 25% for the months of April and May 2020.

Members of its Executive Committee had also voluntarilydecided to reduce their remuneration by around 10% during the same period, added the company.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Tesla cuts contractors from California, Nevada factories: CNBC


FILE PHOTO: The view of Tesla Inc’s U.S. vehicle factory which was open for business on March 18, despite an order by the Alameda county’s sheriff’s office to comply with a three-week lockdown in the San Francisco Bay Area, in order to rein in the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID), in Fremont, California, U.S., March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) is cutting contractors from its U.S. car and battery plants, CNBC reported on Friday, citing workers and a contract staffing agency.

The electric carmaker is axing contractors at both its vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, California, and at its Gigafactory outside of Reno, Nevada, according to the CNBC report cnb.cx/2UZf5EH.

The cuts affect hundreds of workers, the report said, citing people familiar with the decision.

“It is with my deepest regret that I must inform you that the Tesla factory shutdown has been extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, Tesla has requested to end all contract assignments effective immediately,” Balance Staffing, a workforce management company, said in a memo sighted by CNBC.

Balance Staffing told workers they would stay on the agency’s books and could find other work via their business, according to the report, which added that contractors hired with other temp agencies had received similar notices.

Tesla’s production and delivery was largely unaffected by the coronavirus outbreak in the first three months of the year, before it began suspensions at its Fremont plant last month.

Tesla and Balance Staffing did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Philip George and Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; editing by Jane Wardell



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Deep oil output cuts won’t offset unprecedented demand loss: IEA


FILE PHOTO: Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, speaks with the media during the International Energy Forum (IEF) in New Delhi, India, April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Altaf Hussain

LONDON (Reuters) – Deep output cuts by OPEC and other oil producing nations will not prevent a huge build up of crude, the head of the IEA said on Friday, urging the world’s richest economies to discuss broader ways to stabilise oil markets.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, told Reuters that measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus had lead to an “unprecedented” demand loss that could reach as much as a quarter of global consumption.

Birol spoke to Reuters after speaking to Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman ahead of a meeting of OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, on Monday to discuss cutting output to reverse the collapse in oil prices. [O/R]

Even with output cuts of 10 million barrels per day (bpd), the equivalent of 10% of global supply, oil inventories would still rise by 15 million barrels a day in the second quarter, Birol said. [O/R]

“This would mean that there will still be huge pressures on global oil markets,” the head of the energy watchdog said.

“Monday’s meeting with OPEC+ countries can well be a good start, but even the numbers people are talking about may not be enough to find a solution to the problem. It would only help to mitigate the damage we are seeing.”

He urged Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of OPEC and the current head of the Group of 20 major economies, to discuss broader ways to stabilise the global economy’s “meltdown”.

“Saudi Arabia, which has been a stabiliser of oil markets for many years can once again play a constructive role and as chair of the G20 can bring all key economies of the world, producers and consumers together, to have a dialogue to take measures to try to stabilize the oil markets.”

Birol said he was not aware of any measures taken by the U.S. administration to limit the country’s oil output. The drop in oil prices has, nevertheless, led to many fields shutting down there and a reduction in shale drilling, he said.

Reporting by Ron Bousso and Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Edmund Blair and David Clarke



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Bank of America cuts Brazil 2020 GDP forecast to -3.5% from -0.5%: report


FILE PHOTO: A Bank of America logo is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Bank of America on Thursday cut its 2020 forecast for Brazil’s gross domestic product (GDP) to a 3.5% contraction from a 0.5% fall, it said in a report, citing the strong impact on consumption and investment stemming amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The bank also revised its forecast for the Brazilian foreign exchange rate, saying it now sees the U.S. dollar at 5.2 reais from 4.8 reais previously.

Reporting by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama



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LendingClub cuts approval rates for high-risk borrowers as coronavirus spreads


FILE PHOTO: A LendingClub banner hangs on the facade of the the New York Stock Exchange in New York, New York, United States December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

(Reuters) – LendingClub Corp on Monday cut loan approval rates for some high-risk borrowers and increased income and employment verification requirements, in a sign that alternative lenders could pull back from lending as the coronavirus crisis deepens.

The online lending pioneer also said it had increased interest rates from 2% to 4% for new borrowers, depending on the loan grade.

Jack Dorsey-led Square Inc said last week it had tightened eligibility for loans and expected slow origination growth in the second half of March.

The actions by lenders comes as Washington last week reached a deal for a $2.2 trillion stimulus package to help businesses and millions of Americans hit by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Like other fintech and financial services companies, we are assessing the impact to our platform and the market, including the potential impact of aid on affected borrowers, but it is difficult to estimate with any precision,” LendingClub said.

Adding to uncertainty for borrowers, the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to a record of more than 3 million in the week ending March 21 as strict measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic brought the country to a sudden halt.

San Francisco-based LendingClub said it was waiving fee for late payments starting April 1 through May 31 to help its borrowers and has designed a hardship plan that allows eligible borrowers to easily skip up to two monthly payments.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli



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Standard Chartered freezes hiring, warns of bonus cuts: memo By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People pass by the logo of Standard Chartered plc at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto

LONDON (Reuters) – Standard Chartered (L:) has told staff it is freezing all external and internal hiring for two months and signaled it is likely to cut bonuses for 2020, as the Asia and Africa-focused lender grapples with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The bank would also re-prioritize discretionary investment for the time being, the company said in a memo seen by Reuters.

The memo said the lender expected to have to make “sensible adjustments” to any variable compensation for 2020 given its finances were “likely to be challenged”.

StanChart’s bonus pool was worth 1.3 billion pounds ($1.61 billion) in 2019, up from 1.2 billion pounds the year before.

StanChart also plans to re-invest the money saved on employee travel costs in technology to help staff work from home better, the memo said.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Bank of Canada Cuts Rates to 0.25%, Plans Asset Purchases By Bloomberg


© Reuters. Bank of Canada Cuts Rates to 0.25%, Plans Asset Purchases

(Bloomberg) — The Bank of Canada slashed interest rates for a third time in a matter of weeks, and announced what appears to be a large scale asset purchase program to help shield the nation’s economy from coronavirus fallout.

The Ottawa-based central bank lowered its policy rate Friday by another half a percentage point to 0.25%, adding in a statement that the unscheduled rate decision brings the rate down to its effective lower bound. The Bank of Canada also announced plans a new commercial paper purchase program as well as a minimum of C$5 billion ($3.5 billion) a week in government securities.

The move was necessitated by quickly deteriorating conditions, including a flood of new jobless claims last week, that suggest the economy is poised to produce one of the sharpest drops in economic activity in history. The energy-heavy Canadian economy is also having to contend with the crash in oil prices.

The Bank of Canada last cut rates to these levels in 2009, during the global financial crisis. A move toward large scale asset purchases would also be its first foray ever into so-called quantitative easing.

The move by the central bank is part of a wave of policy rate cuts and brings Canada’s benchmark rate closer to most other advanced industrialized economies.

The Bank of Canada has now lowered interest rates three times this month, with a cumulative easing of 1.5 percentage points. The Federal Reserve has also cut by 150 basis points this month. In addition to lowering borrowing costs, the central bank has also announced in recent days a slew of new liquidity measures to inject cash into the banking system and money markets and to ensure it can handle any market-wide stresses in the financial system.

 

 

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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