North America

The U.S. and U.K. are weighing additional penalties against Russia over the use of chemical weapons, with options ranging from sanctions against oligarchs to the extreme step of targeting the nation’s sovereign debt, Bloomberg News reported. British officials plan to push for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to continue to pressure Russia to provide answers over its use of banned substances, and will raise potential measures with key European allies, including France and Germany, in the coming weeks.
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Offshore drilling rig contractor Seadrill said on Thursday it had taken an additional $2.9 billion non-cash impairment on its assets due to a bleak outlook for the sector, which has reduced demand for its drilling rigs, Reuters reported. Seadrill, which in February filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States for the second time in four years, said it expected offshore drilling demand to remain depressed well into 2021, with some degree of market recovery seen by mid-2022.
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The United States on Thursday agreed to a four-month suspension of retaliatory tariffs imposed on British goods such as Scotch whisky over a long-running aircraft subsidy row, with both sides pledging to use the time to resolve the dispute, Reuters reported. The U.S. administration under former President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on Scotch whisky and other European Union food, wine and spirits, which the industry says have put its future at risk.
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A U.S. judge on Wednesday quashed a bid to widen the scope of a civil lawsuit by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that accused miner Rio Tinto of fraud at its Mozambican coal business, a court filing showed, Reuters reported. The SEC filed a complaint against Rio in 2017 with allegations that it had fraudulently concealed the decline in value of the business. Rio had acquired Riversdale mining for $3.7 billion in 2011, on the premise it would be able to barge 30 million tonnes of coal per year down the Zambezi river, and rail a further 12-15 million tonnes of coal per year to port.
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Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of the country’s telecoms regulator over a label that aims to curb the dominance of Carlos Slim’s telecommunications company America Movil, Reuters reported. The ruling deals a blow to one of the country’s largest companies in its ongoing fight to peel back restrictions. Mexico’s Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) acted within the constitution when it determined that the America Movil Economic Interest Group, made up of Telcel and other subsidiaries, is a “preponderant agent”, the court said in a statement.
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Mexico does not see the need to reduce its oil exports, as many Latin American producers did last year, because demand and pricing for its flagship crude remains firm, the head of state oil company Pemex’s commercial arm said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. Mexico briefly joined an effort by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies last year to reduce production to revive crude prices but it limited its contribution to the cuts to 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) for a couple of months through June. The nation had to curb fuel imports amid lower demand.
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Central banks from Asia to Europe escalated their efforts to calm panicking markets, pledging to buy more bonds and signaling more policy accommodation, after U.S. Treasury yields surged to the highest level in a year, Bloomberg News reported. The Reserve Bank of Australia waded in with more than $2 billion of unscheduled purchases, while Korea announced buying plans for the next few months. European Central Bank Executive Board member Isabel Schnabel said more stimulus could be added if the surge in yields hurts growth.
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Petroleos Mexicanos had its first back-to-back quarterly gains in four years as the weakening of the peso boosted the value of its dollar-denominated crude, Bloomberg News reported. Fourth-quarter net income was 123.2 billion pesos ($5.9 billion), following a profit in the previous quarter and compared with a year-earlier loss of 171.5 billion, Pemex said on Friday. Its currency-related gains more than offset operational losses. Pemex has struggled to reverse 16 years of production declines and meet a government goal to reduce imports of fuel and produce more gasoline domestically.
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An agreement on the overhaul of cross-boarder corporate tax rules is within reach by a summer deadline now that Washington has dropped a proposal that could let U.S companies opt out of the future deal, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday after a meeting with G20 counterparts, Reuters reported. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday told the G20 meeting that Washington was dropping the former Trump administration’s demand for a “safe harbor” clause in talks to reform global taxation rules, which other countries said would make a deal impossible.
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