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UK Inflation Rate Worries, EU’s Record Gas Storage, Airline Industry Recovery Signs

Shemesh Shahar
Latest News
April 19 2023 12:41AM

UK Inflation Rate Worries

The annual inflation rate in the UK remained in double digits in March, reaching 10.1%, raising concerns of further interest rate hikes by the Bank of England. Despite a drop in petrol and diesel prices, the costs of food, recreation, and culture caused consumer price inflation to remain high. The previous month’s inflation rate had been 10.4%, and expectations were for it to decrease to 9.8%. The double-digit inflation rate could impact the UK’s economic recovery and consumer spending.

Dominion-Fox News Settlement

Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News settled a defamation lawsuit for $787.5m, less than half of what Dominion had initially sought in damages. The agreement was reached just before the opening arguments in Delaware, where Dominion, a voting technology firm, had alleged that Fox News had defamed it by promoting false claims that its machines helped rig the 2020 election in favor of Joe Biden. The settlement is one of the largest-ever defamation cases in the US.

EU’s Semiconductor Investment

The EU plans to invest €43bn ($47.2bn) in the production of semiconductors to increase its share in global production from 10% to 20% by 2030. The EU Chips Act is similar to the plan signed by President Joe Biden last year to boost microchip manufacturing in America and reduce production in China. The EU’s investment aims to ensure the bloc’s technological independence, reduce reliance on foreign imports, and promote economic growth.

Sudan Ceasefire Violation

A “ceasefire” between Sudan’s ruling military junta and the Rapid Support Forces, a militia, was violated by both sides just as it was set to begin. The fighting between the two forces has resulted in at least 270 civilian deaths and over 2,600 injuries in four days. UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the situation was becoming catastrophic, and the violence is likely to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Sudan.

London Property Price Drop

Central London property prices fell nearly 5% YoY in March, the steepest decline in three and a half years. The UK’s economic outlook, coupled with fears of a further decline in the housing market, deterred wealthy buyers from committing to deals. The price of property in prime areas of the capital fell to £1,261 per square foot, the lowest level since mid-2021, continuing the downward trend that started in late 2022 after a buoyant 18 months.

EU’s Record Gas Storage

The EU has achieved a record level of natural gas storage, reaching 55.7% of capacity at the start of April, the highest level since at least 2011. The mild winter contributed to the surplus, raising hopes that the bloc can reduce its dependence on gas imports from Russia. The level is around 20% higher than the average of the previous five years, and it has further increased to 56.5% in the past two weeks.

Carbon Emission Taxation Approved

The European Parliament has approved legislation to tax imports based on their carbon emissions, making climate regulation part of the global trade rules for the first time. The import tax aims to encourage countries worldwide to put a price on carbon-dioxide emissions while protecting EU manufacturers from countries with less stringent regulations. The tax credits countries that put a price on carbon, allowing importers to deduct payments made for overseas emissions from the amount owed at the EU’s borders.

Airline Industry Recovery Signs

The airline industry is showing promising signs of recovery as more carriers report strong sales and increased earnings. UK-based easyJet (LSE:EZJ) raised its earnings forecast for the second time this year, joining other European airlines that are already back in profit despite economic headwinds and rising inflation. Even with the expected rise in airfares of up to 15%, Ryanair’s (NASDAQ:RYAAY) CEO Michael O’Leary predicts that bookings will not be impacted, suggesting that passengers are willing to pay higher prices.

US Arms Makers’ Supply-Chain Issues

Despite billions of dollars in support from the US government, weapons makers are still facing supply-chain issues that are hindering efforts to produce more arms for Ukraine and refill stocks for the US and its allies. Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), one of the biggest US arms makers, reported a fall in sales of its long-range missiles, known as the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, in the latest quarter. Defense companies are buying machinery from overseas to make more in-demand artillery shells, but they are taking longer than expected to boost production.

India’s Population Overtakes China’s

According to the UN’s World Population dashboard, India has overtaken China as the world’s most populous nation, with a population of over 1.428 billion people. With half of its population under the age of 30, India is set to be the world’s fastest-growing major economy in the coming years. This demographic shift will have a significant impact on India’s economy and society in the years to come.