Good morning. It is Thursday, March 2nd.
The situation in Ukraine's eastern city of Bakhmut is becoming tougher in the face of a months-long Russian offensive led by its Wagner mercenaries, with an advisor to Ukraine's president saying the military might pull back in order to prevent more losses. However, the comment was swiftly corrected by the Ukrainian military, stating there were currently no plans to abandon the strategically important city, which has also become a symbol of Ukraine's resistance in the eastern Donetsk region.
- Scroll down to find out more, and tune in for some calming jazz in the background.
—Can and Tanem
• German consumer prices, harmonized to compare with other EU countries, rose by an annual 9.3% in February, exceeding expectations of a 9.0% increase and slightly higher than a 9.2% rise in the previous month, preliminary data from the Federal Statistics Office showed on Wednesday. Compared to January, prices increased by 1.0%, Destatis added, also beating forecasts of a 0.7% month-on-month rise.
- Zoom in: Despite relief measures, energy prices in February were 19.1% higher on the year, while food prices surged by 21.8%. The so-called core inflation –which excludes volatile energy and food prices– rising to an estimated 5.8% from 5.6%.
- Meanwhile: The seasonally adjusted rate of unemployment in Europe’s largest economy stood at 5.5% in February, unchanged for a sixth consecutive month and in line with market expectations, reflecting firm labor market conditions.
• Euro area manufacturing activity contracted for the eighth straight month in February, an S&P Global survey showed on Wednesday. The Final Eurozone Manufacturing PMI was confirmed at 48.5, slightly below a reading of 48.8 in the previous month. Despite the drop in the headline measure, factory production volumes broadly stabilized as the Manufacturing Output Index for the bloc rose to a 9-month high of 50.1, just crossing the 50-mark that separates growth from contraction.
- The US: The seasonally adjusted S&P Global US Manufacturing PMI posted 47.3 in February, up slightly from 46.9 in January, but down from the earlier released ‘flash' estimate of 47.8. The latest data indicated a solid deterioration in the health of the goods-producing sector, despite the pace of decline softening to the slowest for three months.
- Britain: The final Manufacturing PMI for the UK came in at 49.3 in February, up from 47.0 in the month prior and the earlier estimate of 49.2. Although the PMI remained below the neutral mark of 50.0 for the seventh successive month, this was the best reading during that period.
- Global output: At 50.0 in February, up from 49.1 in January, the JP Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI –a composite index produced by JP Morgan and S&P Global in association with ISM and IFPSM– posted a reading identical to the no-change mark, halting a five-month run of signaling contraction.
• China's manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace in more than a decade in February, an official index showed on Wednesday, smashing expectations as production zoomed after the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions late last year. The manufacturing PMI shot up to 52.6 from 50.1 in January, according to China's National Bureau of Statistics, well above a forecast of 50.5 and the highest reading since April 2012.
• Germany’s recently-nationalized utility Uniper will appoint the head of EON’s UK business Michael Lewis as its new chief executive, according to a statement on Wednesday. The German government has replaced Uniper’s top management after it nationalized the company with a €34.5 billion rescue package. Uniper is facing huge losses, totaling €19.1 billion last year.
• Britain’s advertising regulator banned Lufthansa from using an ad that implies the German airline is protecting the planet and warned against misleading consumers about the impact of air travel on the climate.
via The Guardian
- Zoom in: The ad featured a plane in flight with the slogan "Connecting the World. Protecting its Future", which the Advertising Standards Authority ruled could not run in the UK as there are “currently no environmental initiatives or commercially viable technologies in the aviation industry which would substantiate the absolute green claim” that Lufthansa is protecting the world’s future.
• Airbus warned customers that they would face longer waits for its newest jetliner, the long-range A321XLR, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, adding to pressure on carriers trying to source planes to meet surging demand for travel. The delays vary by airline, with deliveries typically sliding by a matter of months, the sources said.
- A step back: Airbus is facing production issues and regulatory scrutiny over a new center fuel tank that enables the narrow-body jet to make long-range flights. The market entry of the jet initially planned for 2023, has already been pushed back to mid-2024. The delay could cause the market entry to be pushed back even further to late 2024 or early 2025, causing concern among buyers.
• LVMH is planning to buy back as much as €1.5 billion of its own stock between now and July 20, the world’s leading luxury goods company said in a statement on Wednesday. Shares for the group, led by French billionaire Bernard Arnault, rose 2% in early Paris trading, bringing the gain this year to 18% and giving the company a market valuation of about €404 billion, the highest in Europe.
• Tesla is set to revamp its top-selling Model Y, Reuters reported on Wednesday, with the changes involving the exterior and interior of the crossover electric vehicle and targeting of starting production in 2024. Code-named Project Juniper, the revamp would mean Tesla is on track to offer new versions of its top-selling models to address pressure from an ever-expanding selection of options for EV buyers.
- On a related note: The EV maker will create up to 6,000 jobs at its first Mexican automotive factory and is considering producing batteries in the center of the country as it eyes further investment, senior Mexican officials said on Wednesday.
• Ukraine’s military might decide to pull their troops from the eastern city of Bakhmut, where a bloody, months-long Russian offensive has been going on, an economic adviser to Ukraine’s president said Wednesday. Meanwhile, in a video posted by the Ukrainian military, a soldier said his country’s forces are still standing in Bakhmut, with no plans for a retreat.
- Why it matters: The ongoing battle in the eastern Donetsk region has become a symbol of Ukraine’s resistance, as Russia has been using its best troops from the mercenary Wagner group to encircle the strategic city.
• Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he is preparing for an upcoming visit to Moscow by Chinese President Xi Jinping for the opening of a metro line built by the division of a Chinese construction enterprise. Beijing has so far avoided calling the Ukraine conflict an "invasion" and continued diplomatic and economic support for Moscow.
- More drones: Russia’s defense ministry said the military prevented a "massive" drone attack on Crimea, claiming that six Ukrainian drones were shot down and four more were "put out of action." The statement came a day after the ministry said Ukrainian drones attempted to attack near Moscow.
• Finland’s parliament voted 184-7 to support the country’s bid to join NATO in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday, as they wait for Turkey and Hungary’s ratification. Hungary’s President Katalin Novák said earlier that she hoped lawmakers ratify Finland and Sweden’s NATO bid "as soon as possible" while Turkey had said talks with the two nations will resume on March 9.
• At least 43 people were killed and dozens injured after a passenger train carrying more than 350 people collided with a freight train in Greece, near the city of Larissa. Transportation Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned over the crash, saying he felt it was his "duty" to step down "as a basic indication of respect for the memory of the people who died so unfairly."
⚡ Lightning Round
- Nigeria’s opposition Labor Party said they will launch a legal challenge over the election results, where Bola Ahmed Tinubu from the ruling All Progressives Congress party was declared as the winner with 36.6% of the votes.
- International Atomic Energy Agency said near bomb-grade levels of uranium with 83.7% purity were found at an Iranian nuclear facility, from samples taken from the Fordow plant in January, CNN reported.
- China dismissed FBI suggestions that the Covid-19 pandemic may have been triggered by a virus leaked from a laboratory in China, saying the US is "politicizing origin-tracing."
• Belgium’s cyber security agency said China-sponsored hackers were behind a cyberattack in 2021 on a prominent politician. The security agency said that Belgian MP Samuel Cogati was subjected to an attack in Jan. 2021 when he wrote a resolution to warn of "crimes against humanity" against Uyghur Muslims in China.
• Investors have pulled out around $6 billion from Binance’s stablecoin after a regulatory crackdown on the crypto company in the US against the token, Financial Times reported. On Wednesday, Binance USD’s value was around $10.5 billion, down from $16.1 billion on Feb. 13, according to market tracker CoinGecko.
• Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving technology unit, laid off more employees in its second round of job cuts this year, totaling 209 workers or 8% of its workforce, Reuters reported on Wednesday, following Rivian, GM, Meta and other US companies in a bid to cut costs amid a looming recession.
• TikTok is developing a tool that will allow parents to prevent their teens from viewing content that contains certain words or hashtags on the social media app, as the China-based company looks to fix its public image as it is facing renewed scrutiny worldwide over its mental harm to teenagers.
- More scrutiny: Turkey fined TikTok ₺1.75 million ($87k) for not taking sufficient measures to protect users from unlawfully processing their data, joining a growing list of countries like the US and Canada that have started taking serious measures against the platform for having close ties to China’s government.
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