Oil prices fell on Friday, adding to steep losses from the previous session, and were headed for weekly declines on worries that renewed lockdowns following a surge in coronavirus cases in the United States and elsewhere would suppress fuel demand.
Brent crude was down by 25 cents, or 0.6 per cent, at $42.10 a barrel by 0341 GMT, after falling more than two per cent on Thursday.
United States oil fell 33 cents, or 0.8 per cent, at $39.29 a barrel after a drop of three per cent in the previous session.
Brent looks set for a weekly decline of nearly two per cent and United States crude for a fall of more than three per cent.
Trading was quiet with Singapore on holiday for an election.
While many analysts are expecting economies and fuel demand to bounce back from the pandemic, record daily increases in coronavirus infections in the United States, the world’s biggest oil consumer, raised concerns about the pace of any recovery.
“I do not suspect many oil traders will be looking to place significant bids in the market today, suggesting prices may continue to wallow into the weekend,’’ said Stephen Innes, Chief Global Markets Strategist at AxiCorp.
More than 60,500 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States on Thursday, setting a daily record, with Americans being told to take new precautions.
The tally was also the highest daily count yet for any country since the pathogen emerged in China late last year.
In Australia, the government on Friday will consider reducing the number of citizens allowed to return to the country from overseas, after authorities ordered a new lockdown of the country’s second-most populous city, Melbourne.
Oil inventories also remain bloated due to the evaporation of demand for gasoline, diesel and other fuels during the initial outbreak.
United States crude oil inventories rose by nearly six million barrels last week after analysts had forecast a decline of just over half that figure.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
China’s Qingdao appoint Wu as head coach to replace Machin
Promoted Qingdao had terminated the contract of former Sevilla and Espanyol boss Machin last month after one of his relatives had tested positive for COVID-19, preventing the Spaniard from travelling to China to take up the job.
The club confirmed the appointment of Wu in a post.
Wu, who has had multiple spells as Shanghai boss, guided the team to the Chinese FA Cup title in 2017 and was appointed their technical director the following year.
The 59-year-old has also managed Zhejiang Greentown and had a brief stint as Shandong Luneng caretaker boss in 2012.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
APC UK optimistic of Diezani’s prosecution by British Government
The All Progressives Congress (APC), UK chapter, says it has received favourable response from the British Government to prosecute former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke and other Nigerians suspected of fraud, bribery and corruption offences, living in the United Kingdom.
According to a statement signed by Mr Jacob Ogunseye, the APC UK Publicity Secretary, issued on Tuesday in Abuja, the assurance was given by British Minister of State for Security, James Brokenshire.
In the statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria , the British government also promised to help Nigeria fight corruption to a standstill.
It said Brokenshire’s promise followed a petition initiated by the APC UK legal department to the British government on the need to prosecute the former petroleum minister and other Nigerians suspected of fraud, bribery and corruption.
The statement said the petition was sequel to a plea by Ibrahim Magu, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at a virtual meeting before his suspension.
It said that Magu had appealed to Nigerians in Diaspora to assist the commission in putting pressure on the British government to repatriate the former minister to Nigeria to answer charges against her.
It said the APC UK legal department took up Magu’s challenge by initiating a legal process reminding the British government of Alison-Madueke’s arrest on October 2, 2015 by its National Crime Agency (NCA) in London.
It recalled that Alison-Madueke was arrested along side four other persons on suspicion of bribery and corruption offences, but was released on bail.
The statement said the department also demanded for a speedy trial of the former petroleum minister in the UK or in the alternative, facilitate her immediate repatriation to Nigeria to face graft charges.
The statement quoted Mr Ade Omole, leader of the chapter, as saying that a fair trial as enshrined in Article 6 of the Human Rights Act would be followed if Madueke was repatriated to Nigeria to face trial.
“APC UK supported the legal process with petitions through Members of Parliament and Peers in the House of Lords, the British Government was left with no choice but respond promptly to the issues raised.
“The British government responding through its Minister of State for Security, Rt. Hon. James Brokenshire, promised to work with the Federal Republic of Nigeria in ensuring that corruption is fought to a standstill and persons involved in criminal acts are duly prosecuted,” Omole said.
He added that the response from the British government was a strong indication of good things to come regarding suspects hibernating in the UK.
He stressed that the APC in UK had a good strategy and dedicated legal team that would ensure that looters did not commit crime in Nigeria and run to the United Kingdom to hide.
He said Nigerians should expect some traction on the near comatose criminal case involving the former petroleum minister going forward.
The statement quoted Brokenshire, as saying that: “The UK is continuing to lead international efforts to combat corruption, as evidenced by the commitments in the UK’s Anti-Corruption Strategy and the Economic Crime plan.”
He said the UK was determined to ensure that its society and economy remained hostile to illicit financial flows.
“As you will know, in 2018 the Financial Action Task Force assessed the UK as having the strongest controls of any country assessed to date.
“I am acutely aware of the negative impacts of grand corruption, including on developing countries.
“The International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre, hosted by the NCA, is working to recover stolen assets, share intelligence across jurisdictions, and build capacity to support grand corruption cases in developing countries,” he said.
He added that the centre had supported a number of high profile arrests involving politicians and public officials across the world.
“We are working closely with the government of Nigeria to prevent corruption, including providing support in-country.
“The NCA runs a number of multi-agency projects in Nigeria which target corruption as one of the threats to the UK,” Brokenshire said.
According to him, these projects provided specialist training, equipment, buildings and infrastructure.
He said it also provided UK-based mentors and intelligence to fight corruption at all levels, adding that the Department for International Development funds programmes to tackle corruption in the Nigerian public sector and oil industry.
Brokenshire assured the APC UK of UK’s commitment to combating corruption in Nigeria and other African countries.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
Dollar slips after political wrangling slows rally
A dollar rebound faltered on Tuesday as political wrangling over a United States relief plan and the gloomy outlook weighed on the currency.
After its worst month in a decade in July, the greenback started August on a firm note as some investors trimmed their short positions.
That only carried it so far, and the dollar edged down 0.2 per cent on Tuesday against a basket of currencies.
The euro – which gained five per cent at the dollar’s expense in July – inched up on the day, last up 0.2 per cent at $1.17875.
“I think the eurozone recovery will be a lot faster than the United States recovery and that growth differential will continue to drive higher,’’ Marshall Gittler, FX analyst at BDSwiss, said in a note.
The Aussie dollar edged ahead nearly 0.3 per cent after the central bank delivered no surprises by holding policy steady.
Australia’s central bank predicted the economic recovery will be uneven as the country’s second biggest state Victoria locks down to fight a resurgence of the virus.
Despite a slowdown in new United States virus cases and encouraging factory data, investors are reserving judgment on whether a United States economy with 30 million people out of work can really lead the world’s recovery.
Talks on a potential further economic relief package are ongoing, though top Democrats in the United States Congress and White House negotiators on Monday said they had made progress.
“The fiscal wrangling in the United States is the next key test for risk sentiment and if they manage to get a deal – which seems likely – that could be supportive of risk sentiment.’’
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Early voting in Belarusian presidential election begins
Polling stations for casting ballots in the Belarusian presidential election have opened in most regions of the country for citizens unable to vote during the national election day on Aug. 9, according to a Sputnik correspondent.
Early voting will take place from Aug. 4 to Aug. 8.
Polling stations will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (from 07:00 to 11:00 GMT) and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The voting is taking place in the presence of at least two members of the precinct election commission at the commission’s office.
According to the Belarusian Central Election Commission, more than 6.8 million citizens will be able to vote in the current presidential election, including 5,319 people currently residing abroad.
A total of 5,767 polling places have been set up for the vote, including 44 in Belarusian embassies and consulates in 36 foreign countries.
However, early voting is not being held in sanatoriums, preventoriums, hospitals, and other health organisations providing medical care in stationary conditions.
The presidential election in Belarus is scheduled for Aug. 9.
Five people are registered as candidates, including the current head of state, Alexander Lukashenko.
The campaigning started on July 14 and will last until Aug. 8.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)