During this week several significant events transpired particularly in the industrial world. These changes have influenced directly or indirectly not only the growing global trade, but likewise the developing economy of countries worldwide. On one hand, some events have positively contributed to the various sectors of international or local economy and they serve as harbingers of more future developments. On the other hand, there were also events that have negatively impacted and in fact continue to threaten the various sectors of both international and local trade and economy.
Oil Price Continues to Improve in the Global Market
This week has been full of good news for oil traders. Last Monday, oil rate plummeted by $2. As such, U.S crude oil dipped down to $1.6 thus settling to a rate of $62.41 per barrel at the Merchantile Exchange (New York). The decrease also calmed down a 4-day protest prompted by the oil price, which previously raised up to $63.92 per barrel. Meanwhile, the rate of oil in Nigeria continued to increase. This was due to the recent discovery of an oil pipe leak and the militant protests, which forced Nigeria to cut a large percentage of its oil production and supply. Although the situation of Nigeria affected the international oil trade, it did not keep the rate of oil from improving. The significant decrease has been attributed to current negotiations with Iran regarding its plans for nuclear production.
Last Tuesday, the oil rate slipped further by 2% ($1.26). Hence, U.S crude oil settled to a price of $61.58 per barrel. Meanwhile in London, brent crude decreased by 1.32 cents and remained at $61.02. The same trend was followed by the rest of the oil market worldwide. Oil value further improved due to Nigeria’s statement to restore a large part of its production and supply and to OPEC’s decision to maintain out near the maximum level. Nigeria would increase its output by 75% in the coming weeks. The OPEC officials, too, said that they would keep oil production and supply close to the limit in order to avoid gaps and prevent the oil price from increasing.
After the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its report that crude oil inventories rose beyond the expected rates during the past 7 years, the oil rate slipped further last Wednesday by 2.5%. Based on the report, the inventories rose as high as 6.8M barrels during the past week. The results exceeded the expected rate of 1.6M barrels. Analysts added that the decision of OPEC to maintain the oil output close to the limit also contributed to this improvement. Another factor considered was Iran’s statement to maintain an adequate oil production and supply amidst the negotiations regarding its nuclear plans.
Several Partnerships Yield More Improvements in the World Trade
AT&T Inc. disclosed last Sunday its decision to acquire BellSouth Corp. for around $67B. This move was part of AT&T’s plan for further expansion especially in the southeastern region of the U.S. The agreement between the two companies would then bring Cingular Wireless, the leading wireless phone company in the U.S, under the sole ownership of AT&T. The deal would be completed within the span of one year. Although the transaction would need the approval of the anti-trust administrators including the Federal Communications Commission, analysts commented that the process would probably not encounter any opposition.
Upon the release of the news regarding AT&T’s acquisition of BellSouth, the stocks at the European telecom market significantly improved. The European division of DJ Stoxx telecoms rose by 2.2% thus ensuring more stability for 2006. BT earned as high as 4.3% up to a 7-month pence. Both the French and the Dutch telecom improved by 2%. Vodafone increased as high as 4.7% to a close 2 month 127.20 British pounds. The news of the acquisition excited several international telecom companies thus leaving positive results in this particular sector of trade.
Meanwhile in the gas industry, Linde AG, a leading supplier of medical and industrial gases and producer of warehouse machinery, agreed to pay 8.2B pounds ($14.$B) in order to acquire its rival, the British BOC Group. According to analysts, a counter-bid to buy BOC was least expected due to the pressure in the entire gas trade and the competitive amount proposed by Linde. The acquisition further boosted the assets and profits of the German company and placed it to the top place along with French Air Liquide as a leading gas industry worldwide.
Amidst the planned agreement of partnership with Arcelor, the Mittal family was rumored to lower its voting rights from 10-2 down to 2-1. This step would enable the Mittal clan to earn the support of many large investors and to still maintain a large percentage of voting stake. The leading steel company though denied those reports and stated that it would not precede the possible result of its negotiations with Arcelor, which is based in Luxembourg. The partnership though encountered several disapprovals thus causing the stocks of both companies to decrease.
A month ago, Whirlpool Corp. also disclosed its negotiations in order to buy Maytag Corp. Although both companies have not yet arrived at a decision, the proposed agreement has been opposed by the anti-trust division of the Justice Department. Recently, the sector has begun focusing its attention to the laundry appliance industry. Lawyers from the anti-trust department have initiated the process by gathering the testimonies of various rival companies regarding the possible impact of the merging to the entire appliance market. The deal would amount to $1.7B thus giving birth to the largest appliance manufacturer in the global market. Due to the opposition, the shares of both companies decreased.
Nike Inc. which is the number one athletic shoe producer worldwide, was rumored to buy Puma. The company denied the reports though and further supported its statement by saying that it expects more developments and expansion in its own products particularly with goods related to soccer sports. Nike, which would be sponsoring the 2006 World Cup in Germany, said that it would launch a wider advertising campaign compared to its efforts during the World Cup in Asia in 2002.
Automobile Companies Seek Ways to Stabilize and Improve Their Market
Although a decline is expected in the car industry next year, automakers are moving to stabilize and improve their sales and profits. Particularly, DaimlerChrysler, the 5th largest car industry worldwide, expressed its positive outlook regarding its business. Earlier this year, the automaker released its latest goods and empowered its competitiveness in certain areas. The company is expecting its sales to increase in 2007 and 2008.
Meanwhile, General Motors stated last Monday that it would sell back 17.4% of its share to Suzuki Motor Corp. This decision was made by the large U.S car industry to boost its balance and improve its shared in the market. Moreover, GM has also been planning to sell a significant percentage of its shares from General Motors Acceptance Corp, its financial department. Among the rumored bidders is the Norinchukin Bank. Currently, Norinchukin is one of the leading financial companies in Japan. Other companies that expressed their desire to bid were Citigroup and Cerberus Capital Management. Citigroup is, currently, the biggest bank in the United States.
Global Trade Witness Some of the Most Important Trials
Finally, the four former administrators of Ahold faced the court on charges of fraud. Ahold was considered as the biggest supermarket and retailer in the world. Moreover, it served as an icon of success and stability in the business world. Yet this reputation was tainted when its former directors admitted to have falsified documents thus misleading several investors including the company’s own accountants.
Microsoft Corporation also sought last Friday the aid of the U.S federal courts in order to pressure IBM, Novell Inc., Oracle Corp., and Sun Microsystems Inc. in order to hand certain documents necessary in its dispute against the European Commission. In 2004, EC fined the giant company after discovering that Microsoft used its position to damage the other developers of softwares, which are vital for printers, pass log-ins, and file access. The company, which did not yet fulfill its sanctions according to the EC, asked the case to be tried in Luxembourg. It was found out though that the other evidences asked by Microsoft pertained to the internal archives of the EC subject to its own rules and norms.
Netac Technology, based in mainland China, also made historical headlines last month after charging U.S company PNY Technologies for infringement. Although the news came as a surprise for many Americans, some analysts consider it as a harbinger of future possibilities in the technological industry. Many U.S and other foreign companies were also expecting that China would finally intensify its fight against piracy after experiencing the need to protect its own products and trademarks. Recently, China has received foreign complaints particularly a warning from the Washington regarding the widespread piracy in the Asian country.
U.S. Encounter Recommendations and Feedbacks in Trade and Investment
Recently, trademark experts strongly emphasized the responsibility of American Business to register their names immediately in China. This was necessary in order to avoid falling as preys of brand squatters. Stephen Baker, who works at Baker & Rannells as a trademark lawyer, stated the increase of brand squatting cases. Alarmingly, some of these brand squatters even successfully obtained a huge amount of cash from individuals or big time companies that sought to maintain and fully own their web domain name. He commented that regardless whether U.S firms have future plans to expand in China, enlisting their trademark was necessary.
The interference of the U.S Republic Senators against the Dubai Ports World also roused concerns that it would affect an $8B investment of UAE into the U.S regarding an early-warning system. Although the deal was already approved previously, the protest from the senators pushed the government to make another review period. But businessmen and analysts particularly the American Business Group of Abu Dhabi (ABG) based in UAE stated that stopping the agreement could affect the decision of Arabs in investing their money into the country. As such, the organization would be sending its representatives to talk with some 120 Republican Senators.
China Faces Several Issues Significant to its Economy and Position in the World Trade
According to reports, several trading partners of China might raise their complaints against the country at the World Trade Organization. The move would be part of the traders’ objective of pushing Beijing in order to effectively implement the international rules of trade. According to a U.S senior official, several trading partners of China may raise their complaints against the country at the World Trade Organization. The move would be part of the traders’ objective of pushing Beijing in order to effectively implement the international rules of trade. James Mendenhall, the general adviser for the office of the United Sates Trade Representative commented that the efforts of China to fight piracy was not yet enough since the problem has continued to spread and affect other foreign industries.
Meanwhile, John Snow, the Treasury Secretary, also said that China needed to initiate more changes in its currency. He added that the need for more flexibility in its currency was necessary since its role in the international trade was expanding due to its growing economy. Snow commented that promoting equal trade in the international market was a common responsibility of all nations involved.
Cuban Tobacco and Spirits Industry to Expand in Russia
Exporters of Cuba rum and cigarette announced their plan to establish a Floridita bar in Moscow, Russia. The chain of restaurants has earned its fame through the years by accommodating many Hollywood celebrities and other personalities especially in 1940’s and 1950’s. The said bar would be a blend of a fine restaurant, a cigarette shop, and great Cuban music. The opening of the bar was hoped to improve the trade of Cuban tobacco and spirits in Russia