South America

Brazilian fuel distributors are scrambling to secure diesel supplies for March and April after state-run oil company Petrobras said it would not fully meet their demand, adding to uncertainty amid a sudden management shakeup, Reuters reported. National oil industry regulator ANP confirmed to Reuters that distributors are searching for alternative diesel supplies after Petrobras turned down their orders, but the agency played down concerns of diesel shortages during a bumper soy harvest.
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Member countries of the World Trade Organization are aiming to resurrect a dormant system for resolving trade disputes that has been a point of friction between the U.S. and other nations, the Wall Street Journal reported. The WTO’s Appellate Body, the apex of the Geneva-based group’s dispute-settlement system, has been effectively shut down since 2019 after the Trump administration blocked the appointment of new judges. U.S. complaints about the system, which predate the Trump presidency, center on Appellate Body rulings against tariffs and other remedies, limiting what U.S.

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Petrobras shares plunged 21% on Monday, wiping out 70 billion reais ($12.7 billion) in market value, as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro again slammed its pricing policies after he replaced the state-controlled oil company’s market-friendly CEO with a retired army general, Reuters reported. The selloff, following a series of analyst downgrades, deepened after Bolsonaro said the company’s fuel policy was only pleasing to financial markets and select groups in Brazil and should be changed as part of an effort to lower gasoline and diesel prices.

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More than 100 million workers across the world’s top eight economies may be forced to change occupations by 2030 due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released by consultant firm McKinsey & Company on Thursday, The Hill reported. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated globally trending changes in the workplace, prompting McKinsey to raise its prediction for how many workers will likely need to switch jobs in the top eight economies by 12 percent.
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Brazil on Thursday ditched a trade complaint against Canada over aircraft subsidies and called for wider negotiations between all aircraft producing nations to halt a slide toward aircraft trade wars, sidestepping the World Trade Organization, Reuters reported. The abrupt move by Brazil, home to the world’s third largest planemaker Embraer, comes as larger rivals Airbus and Boeing remain locked in a 16-year-old fight at the WTO that led to tit-for-tat transatlantic tariffs.

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The COVID pandemic has added $24 trillion to the global debt mountain over the last year a new study has shown, leaving it at a record $281 trillion and the worldwide debt-to-GDP ratio at over 355%, Reuters reported. The Institute of International Finance’s global debt monitor estimated government support programmes had accounted for half of the rise, while global firms, banks and households added $5.4 trillion, 3.9 trillion and $2.6 trillion respectively.
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Argentina’s state-owned oil producer looks set to avoid a hard default after creditors signed on to swap some of their bonds due next month and the central bank agreed to provide the company with the dollars it needs to pay back the remainder, Bloomberg News reported. YPF SA bondholders will exchange almost 60% of the $413 million note due in March, according to a company statement.

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Brazil looks set to break a key fiscal rule to provide another round of financial aid to the poor as lawmakers pile pressure on President Jair Bolsonaro to act fast during a second wave of Covid-19, Bloomberg News reported. Economy Minister Paulo Guedes has tried to protect the so-called spending cap rule by proposing an emergency constitutional amendment that would allow the government to reduce mandatory spending in other areas -- a process that would require lengthy negotiations with congress.

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Ecuador bonds fell for a second day as Sunday’s presidential election threatened to throw the Latin American nation back into economic turmoil, Bloomberg News reported. With less than 1% of votes left to count, Ecuador is heading for an April runoff between leftist Andres Arauz, with almost a third of the vote, and the indigenous party’s Yaku Perez, with 20.10%. To investors’ surprise, market friendly Guillermo Lasso is third with 19.49%, according to the National Electoral Council’s latest count.

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YPF SA, Argentina’s state-run oil driller and refiner, looks set to avoid a costly default next month after it won support for a debt swap from a large creditor group, Bloomberg News reported. The so-called Ad Hoc Bondholder Group, which holds 45% of YPF’s 2021 notes, expressed support for the exchange after the company increased its cash sweetener over the weekend, according to a statement. Bonds due in 2021 rose 4.5 cents to 95 cents on the dollar as of 10:40 am in New York, the highest since Jan. 8. The company’s shares climbed as much as 6%.

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