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Pound slumps against dollar amid UK recession fears

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Sterling has crashed as low as $1.0350 as Asian markets opened to trade while some analysts warn it could sink to parity with the greenback.

The pound plunged to a record low against the dollar as traders grow increasingly fearful of a deep UK recession after new finance minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, unveiled a controversial tax-cutting mini-budget.

Sterling dropped to as low as $1.0350 in early Asian trade on Monday, according to Bloomberg data, with some commentators warning it could sink to parity with the greenback.

Investors began dumping the pound on Friday after Kwarteng, who was put in place by Liz Truss after she became prime minister earlier this month, set out plans to slash taxes in a bid to kickstart the ailing British economy.

And the selling continued on Monday after he said he intended to unveil further reductions, despite his budget causing ructions on London’s markets, with the FTSE 100 losing around two percent.

“You’ve got to buy the dollar as a risk off-trade. There is nowhere else to go,” said Rabobank strategist Michael Every in Singapore.

“The BOE are going to have to step in today, surely, at which point everyone’s going to end up with massively higher mortgage rates to try and stabilise sterling.”

READ MORE: EU nations earmark almost half a trillion dollar to deal with energy crisis

Oil and gold steady after drop

The collapse sent the dollar higher broadly and it hit multi-year peaks on the Aussie, kiwi and yuan and a new 20-year top of $0.9528 per euro.

In stocks, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 1 percent to a two-year low. It is heading for a monthly loss of 11 percent, the largest since March 2020. Japan’s Nikkei fell 2.2 percent.

Last week, stocks and bonds crumbled after the United States and half a dozen other countries raised rates and projected pain ahead.

Oil and gold steadied after drops against the rising dollar last week.

The dollar index climbed to a fresh 20-year high on Monday, capping oil price gains.

Gold hit a more-than two-year low on Friday and bought $1,643 an ounce on Monday.

Brent crude futures were up 17 cents, sitting at $86.29.

READ MORE: Oil prices climb on weak dollar, supply concerns

Source: TRT World

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Inflation clouds Black Friday sales in US shopping season

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US retailers unveiled a trove of fresh promotions on Friday, as they try to coax sales from reticent shoppers whose holiday cheer has been tempered by inflation and worries over a softening economy.

Cautious shoppers have hunted for the best deals at stores and online as retailers offered new Black Friday discounts to entice consumers eager to start buying holiday gifts but weighed down by inflation.

Due to elevated prices for food, rent, gasoline and other essentials, many people were more selective and reluctant to spend unless there was a big sale on Friday.

Some were dipping more into savings, turning to “buy now, pay later” services that allow payment in instalment, or running up their credit cards at a time when the Federal Reserve is hiking rates to cool the US economy.

This year’s trends are a contrast from a year ago when consumers were buying early for fear of not getting what they needed amid supply-network clogs.

Stores didn’t have to discount much because they were struggling to bring in items.

Online discount rates were 31 percent on Thanksgiving, up 7 percent from the previous year, according to Salesforce data.

Shoppers wait to enter the Nike store at the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville, Tennessee. (AFP)

High customer traffic

Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan, where discounts included 60 percent off fashion jewelry and 50 percent off select shoes, was bustling with shoppers early on Friday.

The traffic was “significantly larger” on Black Friday compared to the previous two years because shoppers feel more comfortable in crowds, Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said.

Customer traffic was also higher than last year at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, according to Jill Renslow, executive vice president of business development of the shopping centre.

She said 10,000 people were at the sprawling mall during the first hour after the 7 am opening, though inflation prompted many shoppers to figure out what to buy before showing up.

Major retailers, including Walmart and Target, stuck with their pandemic-era decision to close stores on Thanksgiving Day, moving away from doorbusters and pushing discounts on their websites.

Shoppers walk the aisles of Walmart for Black Friday deals in Dunwoody, Georgia. (AFP)

Spike in online sales

Rob Garf, vice president and general manager of retail at Salesforce, said Salesforce data showed online sales spiked in the evening during the holiday this year, suggesting people went from feasting to phone shopping.

Shoppers spent $5.3 billion online on Thanksgiving Day, up 2.9 percent from the holiday last year, according to Adobe Analytics, which monitors spending across websites. Adobe expects that online buying on Black Friday will hit $9 billion, up just 1 percent from a year ago.

Black Friday saw some of the labour unrest that has rippled through the retail industry over the past year.

A coalition of trade unions and advocacy organisations are coordinating strikes and walkouts at Amazon facilities in more than 30 countries under a campaign called “Make Amazon Pay.”

READ MORE: Amazon: Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020 biggest online sales ever

Fears of mass shootings

At Walmart stores, some employees had Wednesday’s deadly shooting at a company store in Virginia in the back of their minds.

Jude Anani, a 35-year-old who works at a Walmart store in Columbia, Maryland, said the company offers training on how to react in such circumstances, but he would like to see more protection.

He was happy to see police officer standing outside the store, as is typical on Black Friday, and wished that was the case “most of the time during the year.”

Analysts consider the five-day Black Friday weekend, which includes Cyber Monday, a key barometer of shoppers’ willingness to spend.

The two-month period between Thanksgiving and Christmas represents about 20 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales.

Source: TRT

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Russia targets extra profits of energy firms

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LNG exporters will face a 34% tax, while Gazprom will have to pay nearly $30 billion to the state budget

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Monday which will raise taxes on the country’s energy industry in 2023-2025. Russian oil and gas firms reported record profits this year, despite sanctions.

The profit tax for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporters has been raised to 34%. The higher levy concerns LNG producers that exported at least one shipment by the end of 2022.

According to the document, energy giant Gazprom will owe an additional 1.8 trillion rubles ($29.6 billion) to the state budget in 2023-2025.

In addition to that, the law provides for an adjustment in calculating the severance tax on natural gas from January 1, 2023, and a temporary increase of mineral extraction tax rates by 380 rubles per ton of coal.

The tax changes are expected to add an additional 3 trillion rubles ($50 billion) to the state coffers over the next two years.

Putin also approved a new rule that will set a limit on oil and gas revenues that can be allocated to finance budget expenditures at 8 trillion rubles ($131 billion) a year in 2023-2025. Starting from 2026, the figure is to be indexed by 4% yearly. This is expected to ensure the stability of budget spending and minimize the impact of the volatility of oil and gas revenues on the economy.

READ MORE: Russia’s Gazprom to pay record dividend
Earlier this month, it was reported that the Russian budget received 41.4% fewer taxes in September than in March. Analysts believe the drop is due to a decrease in Russia’s energy exports because of Western sanctions. At the same time, energy giants like Gazprom have reported record profits this year.

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Russia pursues de-dollarization in trade with China: official

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Russia and China have been promoting settlements in their national currencies other than the U.S. dollar and euro, said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Novak on Friday.

Energy trade between the two countries has been steadily growing, up 64 percent in monetary terms so far this year and they are working on expanding the share of national currencies in energy transactions, Novak said in a TV interview, according to Russia Today (RT) .

“We are switching to settlements in rubles and yuan for the energy resources supplied,” Novak said.

The national currencies were also used to purchase various types of equipment from China, he said.

China has been Russia’s largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years, according to official data.

Source(s): CGTN

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