Good morning. Today is Friday, November 18th.
Iran issued three more death sentences, after the first one on Sunday, in an effort to suppress anti-government protests that were sparked after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who allegedly broke the country’s headscarf rules. In the meantime, a false claim that Iran had sentenced 15,000 protesters to death was widely circulated in Western social media. One of those false posts was shared by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and was not taken down until 11 hours later. 11 hours.
- Get your well-checked news from today’s newsletter as you keep your music on and spirits up. Cheers.
—Özlem, with Tanem and Can
• Eurozone’s annual inflation was revised slightly lower to 10.6% from a preliminary reading of 10.7% in October, final data from the EU's statistics office showed on Thursday. Despite the revision, the year-on-year increase in consumer prices remained at a record high, while Eurostat confirmed its previous reading for monthly inflation at 1.5%.
- Zoom in: The main driver behind consumer inflation was energy prices, which contributed to the final reading by 4.44 percentage points and were 41.5% higher than the previous year. Another 2.74 percentage points came from the rise in food, alcohol and tobacco prices. Core inflation rose 0.7% month-on-month and 6.4% year-on-year.
• UK finance minister Jeremy Hunt announced a budget including spending cuts and tax hikes worth nearly £55 billion (€63bn) —2.5% of the country’s GDP— on Thursday to fix Britain’s finances and restore confidence among investors after a program of unfunded tax cuts by his predecessor wrecked the country’s fiscal credibility.
- Driving the news: The Chancellor of the Exchequer raised taxes on the UK’s biggest earners while extending a windfall tax on oil and gas companies. Hunt also raised state pensions and benefits in line with inflation, boosted the minimum wage, and imposed a cap on rent hikes for social housing.
- How it works: The budget lowered the threshold for the top 45% rate of income tax while freezing the tax thresholds for national insurance and inheritance tax until 2028, meaning that pay rises will push high earners into higher brackets as inflation surges. Hunt said the plan prioritizes “stability, growth, and public services” while protecting the most vulnerable.
• Turkey warned that beginning next month oil tankers will need to prove they are specifically insured to cross the country’s vital straits that connect the Black Sea with the Mediterranean, a move that could restrict flows of Russian oil as new European sanctions kick in.
- Why it matters: The EU and the UK are set to impose additional sanctions on Russian oil shipments on Dec. 5 that will dramatically affect the availability of industry-standard insurance.
• The Fed’s policy rate is “not yet in a zone that may be considered sufficiently restrictive,” said St. Louis Fed President James Bullard on Thursday. Bullard, a voting member on the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee, suggested the proper zone for the key rate could be in the 5-7% range, higher than current market pricing and unofficial Fed forecasts.
• Siemens reported quarterly results that beat expectations along with an order backlog of €102 billion as of end-September, sending its shares surging. In the three months to Sept. 30, the German technology and engineering group's earnings rose 38% to €3.16 billion while sales increased 18% to €20.57 billion.
• Thyssenkrupp proposed its first dividend in 4 years on Thursday after reporting that adjusted operating profit nearly tripled to €2.1 billion while sales grew 21% to €41 billion in its 2021/22 financial year, buoyed by soaring steel and materials prices. The German industrial group set a dividend of €0.15 per share, lower than a Refinitiv forecast of €0.19.
- Grim outlook: However, the group —which is viewed as a bellwether for the broader economy— warned that sales and profit will "nosedive" next year as high inflation and energy costs are compounded by an expected recession in Europe.
• Stellantis agreed to buy aiMotive, a Hungary-based developer of advanced AI and autonomous driving software, the automaker announced on Thursday, adding that the acquisition will enhance its core technology development, expand its global talent pool, and boost the mid-term development of its all-new STLA AutoDrive platform.
- In other news: The multinational company said it will reintroduce its Fiat brand to the US with the new all-electric 500e, a small urban vehicle that has been selling well in Europe.
• High-end US department store Macy’s increased its annual profit forecast on Thursday, as wealthier shoppers returned to the market with demand for luxury clothing and accessories after a hiatus during the pandemic, as well as a holiday shopping boost. On the other hand, rival retail Kohl’s, which caters to lower-income customers, cut back its annual forecast due to decreasing demand after a rise in prices.
• France and Germany are prepared to fire up their stalled fighter jet program, Future Combat Air System project, and a deal could possibly be reached within the upcoming days, the Financial Times reported. Two countries are to rekindle Europe's largest weapons program and are eradicating a key irritant of their bilateral relationship by relaunching this program.
• The UN announced that the Black Sea grain export deal was extended for 120 more days, settling down fears of yet another escalation in the global food crisis. The deal that ensures grain and fertilizer exports from Ukraine, one of the biggest grain producers in the world, was set to expire today.
- On the ground: Russian airstrikes hit energy facilities and residential areas in Ukraine once again, as the first snow of winter fell on the war-torn country, indicating the soon-to-come hardship if Russia's missiles keep taking out power as winter comes.
- On a related note: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that there will be "no peace" until they take back Crimea which was annexed by Russia in 2014 and the long-occupied Donbas region, adding that "a simple ceasefire won't do the trick," in an interview he gave to Bloomberg.
- In other news: A Dutch court handed down life sentences to three suspects it convicted of murder for their role in shooting down Malaysia Airlines passenger flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014. The men remain fugitives and are all believed to be in Russia, which will not extradite them.
• A day before the COP27's Friday deadline, nations remained far apart on key climate issues as the first draft of a climate deal said to keep a target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, but left many of the most contentious issues in the talks unresolved. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged countries to "stand and deliver" a strong climate deal, and that he hopes to see negotiators bridge their differences on financing a "loss and damage" fund.
- Who doesn't want to pay? Wealthy countries have opposed creating a loss and damage fund with fears that it could expose them to limitless liability for their historic contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
• US Republicans won a majority in the House of Representatives, reaching the 218 seats needed with the final call coming after more than a week of counting votes. The Republican victory sets the stage for two years of a divided US government, as Democrats held control of the Senate, giving the GOP power to rein in President Joe Biden's agenda.
- Meanwhile: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she would step down from her role, but remain in her seat at the lower chamber representing San Francisco, California as she has done since 1987.
• Iran's judiciary issued three more death sentences to anti-government protesters after they announced 1024 indictments last week that had been issued in relation to the protests in the Tehran province alone, according to an Amnesty International report.
• Twitter’s new thread composer will automatically divide long texts into 280-character pieces, saving users time and effort in typing longer posts. Currently, users have to hit the + button after every 280 characters or use third-party apps like Typefully or ThreadSmart to create long posts. Twitter is also offering an easy way to read threads, but only for its Blue members, and a program for long-form writing called Notes to a select set of writers.
- On a related note: EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said Elon Musk’s idea of a paid subscription model for Twitter’s blue check is “completely flawed.” Twitter recently offered the blue check to everyone for a $7.99 monthly fee. The service was suspended shortly after its launch, but Musk said it will come back on Nov. 29.
• FTX’s new CEO John Ray said the bankrupt crypto exchange had “a complete failure of corporate controls” and “a complete absence of trustworthy financial information,” according to a court filing. Ray said FTX failed to keep proper records for the digital assets it held for customers, used software to “conceal the misuse of customer funds,” and gave special treatment to its sister firm Alameda Research.
• Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the company wants to create more competition among game publishers, as it faces an EU anticompetition probe over its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the American game publisher behind Call of Duty, Warcraft, and Candy Crush. The EU regulators worry Microsoft might monopolize access to Activision’s console and PC video games.
• OnlyFans will add a shopping feature to allow content creators to sell merchandise directly to their viewers. The platform, in which a wide range of video content can be sold, will partner with the e-commerce program Spring in a bid to appeal to more influencers. OnlyFans will be the latest of the tech companies such as Meta, YouTube, and TikTok, which ventured into the social commerce market in recent years as a way to increase revenues.
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