Good morning. Today is Thursday, November 17th.
SpaceX, Tesla, and recently Twitter chief executive Elon Musk said he is looking for a successor to over time replace him in the "Chief Twit" position, eventually, you know... Meanwhile, eyeing another seat that will soon be up for grabs, former president Donald Trump announced his bid for the US presidency. His track record so far in presidential races has been 50-50, so I guess we'll see how this goes.
- Before moving on to your daily brief, tune in to this playlist of dreampop classics. Have a good one.
—Can and Tanem
• British inflation hit a 41-year high in October, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday, a day before finance minister Jeremy Hunt is set to announce "tough but necessary" tax hikes and spending cuts to control price growth. Consumer prices rose 11.1% year-on-year in October, a big jump from 10.1% in September and exceeding a forecast of 10.9% by the Bank of England.
- Could have been worse: Inflation would have risen to around 13.8% in October had the government not intervened to limit the price of household energy bills to £2,500 (€2,860) a year on average, the ONS said.
- On a related note: The UK’s house prices rose by 9.5% year-on-year in September, according to the ONS, which was lower than the 13.1% jump in August as house prices rose sharply last September, coinciding with changes to the stamp duty land tax.
• Italian EU-harmonized consumer prices (HICP) rose 3.8% month-on-month in October and 12.6% from a year ago, data from the official statistics agency ISTAT revealed on Wednesday, revising down a preliminary estimate of a 4.0% month-on-month and a 12.8% year-on-year increase. October's 12.6% annual hike was up from +9.4% in September.
- Furthermore: The main domestic price index (NIC), rose 3.4% on the month and increased 11.8% annually —the highest since March 1984— accelerating from an 8.9% annual increase in September. Core inflation, which excludes the volatile fresh food and energy prices— rose 5.7% year-on-year in October, up from +5.3% in the month prior.
• Germany completed the country's first LNG terminal near the North Sea port of Wilhelmshaven, which will open in January, as Berlin attempts to become independent of Russian energy sources. At least one more terminal, at Brunsbuettel, is expected to become operational by early 2023, with facilities in Stade, Lubmin, and a second terminal in Wilhelmshaven also on the way.
• Barclays analysts cut their global economic growth forecast for 2023 to 1.7% from 2.2% as inflation is expected to remain high, forcing monetary policy to be “restrictive.” The brokerage also warned that 2023 looks set to be one of the weakest in four decades with advanced economies likely heading into a recession.
• Russia's economy contracted 4% from a year ago in Q3, according to data from Rosstat on Wednesday, improving slightly from the previous quarter where GDP fell by 4.1% year-on-year. Russia's central bank expects a 3-3.5% drop in output before a return to growth in the second half of 2023.
• Siemens Energy on Wednesday reported a record order backlog that grew 4.3% to €97.4 billion in year-to-September, mainly driven by its gas and power business, boosting its shares and overshadowing a widening net loss of €647 million that the company blamed on its struggling wind turbine division Siemens Gamesa. Siemens Energy expects to become profitable in 2024.
• Mercedes-Benz cut the price of some of its electric models in China, following market leader Tesla, which last month slashed prices in the latest sign of softening demand in the world’s largest EV market. “We aim to flexibly adjust operational strategies in response to shifting market demands,” the company said in a statement.
• Finnair is set to lay off a quarter of its cabin crew posts in Finland, according to a statement Wednesday, after the closure of Russian airspace overturned a business model based on flights to Asia, forcing the firm into steep cost cuts. Finland’s state-controlled carrier said talks on matters including outsourcing will begin on Nov. 23 and last at least six weeks.
• SpaceX is considering an offering of mostly secondary shares that could value the company at up to $150 billion, representing a 20% increase in valuation, Reuters reported. The offering would be aimed at helping employees and shareholders cash out, two of the sources said. That view appears to contradict earlier information from a separate source that the offering would raise up to $1 billion for SpaceX via a new share issuance.
• US retailer Target reported Q3 results “well below” its expectations and forecast a surprise drop in Q4 sales on Wednesday, as surging inflation and "dramatic changes" in consumer spending led to a decline in demand. The company said it would launch a cost-cut plan to save $2-3 billion over three years. Shares of the big-box retailer fell as much as 17% in trading.
• China's Tencent said on Wednesday it would return capital to shareholders through a dividend distribution of its $20.3 billion stake in food delivery firm Meituan as its sales fell for a second straight quarter. The divestment plan follows China's regulatory crackdown on its tech groups, which started in late 2020 and brought their rapid growth to a grinding halt.
• Poland and NATO said the missile —reported to be an S-300 rocket— that hit Poland was probably fired by Ukraine's anti-aircraft defense system, and was not a Russian strike, easing the global concern that the strike could draw the military alliance into conflict. Yet, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia, not Ukraine, bears the ultimate responsibility for continuing its illegal war against Ukraine.
• Local officials in Russia said a fuel depot exploded in the southern border province of Orel, blaming Ukraine for the attack, while the war-torn country worked to restore power in seven regions, including the capital Kyiv, after Moscow fired a barrage of missiles on Tuesday.
- Meanwhile: Russian forces said they retreated workers from Ukraine's Nova Kakhovka, a city on the east bank of the Dnipro River.
• The European Commission said Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania are ready to join the visa-free travel Schengen Area, after proving that they all meet the criteria. Croatia completed its evaluation process in 2020 and received a positive assessment in 2021. For Bulgaria and Romania, the wait has stretched over a decade, with some EU countries opposing their accession over corruption, organized crime, and judicial reform concerns.
• Klaus Holetschek, a senior German opposition official, lobbied with the EU's executive branch to block the government's plan to decriminalize cannabis, trying to urge an EU veto. Holetschek told EU officials that the planned cannabis legalization "doesn't just endanger health, but also violates EU law."
- A step back: Germany's plan to legalize possessing limited amounts of cannabis and its sale for recreational purposes was an effort to combat the black market. The country's health minister unveiled the plan last month but said the government would only move forward if it got the "green light" from the European Commission.
• G20 leaders ended their summit by condemning Russia's war in Ukraine and warning that the conflict is making the already-delicate economy worse. Summit's closing statements showed the world leaders agreeing to denounce the war despite divisions among the group, such as China and India, that stopped short of directly criticizing the war.
- The closing statement: "Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy."
• Turkey has become a "new route for Russian oil" due to a "loophole" in EU sanctions, a study by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) found. The report said that an increasing amount of Russian crude oil is being refined in Turkey, and with the EU working to ban crude imports from Russia on Dec. 5, this loophole could become significant.
- A step back: Turkey has increased its Russian crude oil imports since the war in Ukraine began, and also stepped up its oil exports to EU and US ports.
• Former US President Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential elections, following his Republican party's disappointing midterm results which some party members blamed him for losing. Trump's decision to rerun for the third time, after losing the 2020 elections, comes as he faces a series of criminal investigations about holding top secret documents and attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
• Twitter's new CEO Elon Musk said that he expects to reduce his time at Twitter and find someone else to run the social media company over time, speaking at court over a shareholder lawsuit. Musk added that he hoped to complete an organizational restructuring this week.
- What happened overnight: Elon Musk asked his employees to decide by Nov. 17 evening if they want to remain a part of the business, in an email sent to the remaining Twitter staff.
• NASA's new moon rocket lifted off with three dummies on board as part of a mission to eventually put humans back on the Moon, an Apollo Project sequel that came half a century after the program ended. The Orion, expected to reach its destination by Monday, is planned to be propelled into a wide orbit around the Moon and then return to Earth with a Pacific splashdown in December.
via Reddit u/Snowrican
- Fun fact: The 98-meter-long Space Launch System is the most powerful rocket ever built by NASA, with the test flight costing $4.1 billion.
• Google agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement with 40 US states to resolve a probe into how the company tracked users' location data, even after they opted out of tracking by disabling the "location history" feature. The attorneys general said the settlement was a "historic win" for consumers, and the largest multi-state settlement in US history dealing with privacy.
• Airbnb said it will increase the amount of liability coverage for hosts up to $3 million in a bid to convince more people to turn their homes into short-term rentals. The company also said to pair newbies with a "superhost" to guide them through the process. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said they are taking steps to make prices more transparent while browsing listings, especially the cleaning fees, a major complaint of consumers.
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