The need to know

The need to know for the week ending 26th January 2024

The need to know from Reuters’ global network of journalists

Freight through Suez Canal down 45% since Houthi attacks - UNCTAD

Freight going through the Suez Canal has dropped by 45% in the two months since attacks by Yemen's Houthis led shipping groups to divert freight, disrupting already strained maritime trading routes, according to UN agency UNCTAD.

German chemicals sector shows strain of Red Sea supply crisis

Germany's chemicals sector, Europe's largest, is starting to feel the pinch from delayed shipments via the Red Sea, becoming the latest industry to warn of supply disruptions that have forced some companies to curb production.

Hapag-Lloyd to offer land transit through Saudi Arabia amid Red Sea disruption

German shipping group Hapag-Lloyd (HLAG.DE), opens new tab will continue to route its vessels around the Cape of Good Hope until further notice due to Houthi attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, it said on Monday, after announcing it was introducing land corridors through Saudi Arabia to mitigate the impact on its business.

Exclusive: China presses Iran to rein in Houthi attacks in Red Sea, sources say

Chinese officials have asked their Iranian counterparts to help rein in attacks on ships in the Red Sea by the Iran-backed Houthis, or risk harming business relations with Beijing, four Iranian sources and a diplomat familiar with the matter said.

Ukraine's Black Sea grain export success tested by Red Sea crisis

Ukraine has managed to boost its Black Sea grain exports to a level not seen since before Russia's invasion, although the Red Sea shipping crisis poses a new challenge to its crucial agricultural trade.

Boeing's MAX production issues ripple across aerospace industry

Boeing's (BA.N), opens new tab troubles with its 737 MAX jets are upending the aerospace industry's 2024 plans, changing airlines' fleet and expansion goals as U.S. regulators froze production of the best-selling jets.

Small Boeing suppliers lament new turmoil around 737 planes

Rosemary and Larry Brester have been running Hobart Machined Products since 1978, milling and grinding metal to make aircraft components out of a tiny building behind their home.

UK industry fears disruption from new post-Brexit border checks

British businesses are warning of a new wave of post-Brexit trade disruption because EU exporters are not ready for UK customs changes which start this month, and Britain's port infrastructure might be unprepared too.

Unilever's US, European market share slips as private label booms

Unilever, the maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, struggled to defend fourth-quarter grocery store market share across most of its categories in Europe and the United States, data shows, as it ceded some of its turf to private labels and cut products.

German support for EU supply chain law in doubt

Germany's support for a law requiring firms in the European Union to take action if they find their supply chains in violation of human rights has become doubtful after one of its ruling parties sided with business groups opposing the proposal.

Exclusive: Europe set to agree on supply chain emergency powers next week, EU lawmaker says

EU countries and lawmakers are expected to agree on rules next week which would force Europe-based companies to prioritise production of key products to prevent a supply chain crisis, a key lawmaker in charge of the legislation said on Wednesday.

European, US retailers absorb Red Sea shock, wary of hiking prices

Carrying more stock, switching to suppliers nearer to consumers and reducing dependence on China are tactics European and U.S. retailers used to build more resilient supply chains following disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PREVIEW Consumer goods makers set to post mixed sales as US prices ease more than in Europe

Consumer goods companies are likely to post stronger fourth-quarter sales growth in Europe than in the United States, monthly data indicates, boosted by persistently higher prices in countries like Britain, France and Germany even as Americans paid less.

US business activity picks up in January; inflation cooling - S&P Global survey

U.S. business activity picked up in January and inflation appeared to abate, with a measure of prices charged by companies for their products falling to the lowest level in more than 3-1/2 years, suggesting that the economy kicked off 2024 on a strong note.

Euro zone business downturn eases in January

Euro zone businesses faced a tough start to 2024 with activity contracting again in January as demand continued to fall while price pressures rose due to tensions in the Red Sea, a survey showed.

German business activity deteriorates in Jan - PMI

Germany's economic downturn worsened this month as both manufacturing and services activity contracted, with signs of Red Sea disruption hitting delivery times, a preliminary survey showed on Wednesday.

German exports to US, China fall sharply in December

Exports to Germany's most important overseas trade partners, including the United States and China, fell significantly at the end of last year, according to statistics office data on Monday.

UK economy picks up speed but Red Sea crisis hits factories

Britain's economy started 2024 on a stronger footing, according to a survey of businesses published on Wednesday that prompted investors to reduce their bets on the Bank of England moving quickly to cut interest rates.

UK retail sales dive in January at fastest pace in 3 years: CBI

British retail sales volumes slid in January at the fastest pace for three years, according to an industry survey on Thursday which echoed weak official data published last week.

Japan Dec industrial output seen rising; outlook uncertain - Reuters poll

Japan's industrial output likely expanded in December thanks to the easing of supply constraints, although the outlook for this month appears to be cloudy amid disruption in automobile production, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.

Taiwan Dec export orders in worst fall in 6 months, outlook poor

Taiwan's export orders fell more than expected in their worst performance in six months in December, with the outlook for the island's high-tech products remaining poor due to growing doubts about global economic growth.

More German firms leave China or consider exit - survey

The proportion of German firms exiting the Chinese market or considering doing so has more than doubled to 9% in the past four years, according to a survey by the German Chamber of Commerce in China.

Stellantis buys Brazil's DPaschoal in another components push in Latam

Stellantis (STLAM.MI), opens new tab said on Friday it is buying a 70% controlling stake in Brazilian automotive services firm DPaschoal, in the automaker's latest move to expand its presence in Latin America.

Primark hopeful customers won't notice Red Sea disruption in stores

Associated British Foods' (ABF.L), opens new tab Primark clothing business is currently coping with disruption to Red Sea shipments and is hopeful customers will not notice any difference to the stock in stores, its finance chief said on Tuesday.

Biden administration announces $207 million for fertilizer, rural clean-energy projects

The Biden administration is spending $207 million on domestic fertilizer and renewable energy projects, as part of an effort to boost supplier competition for U.S. farmers and ranchers and help lower energy costs for agricultural producers, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Monday.

US announces $325 mln to repair EV chargers, cut battery costs

The U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy will invest$325 million across three programs to advance EV technologies, repair chargers and cut battery costs, the White House said in a statement on Friday.

In Wisconsin, Biden talks $5 billion bridge, highway spending

U.S. President Joe Biden is pushing $5 billion into transportation projects around the country during a visit Thursday to Wisconsin, hoping his cheery economic pitch takes root in a high-value state in the 2024 election.

US clean electricity momentum stalls slightly in 2023

Clean electricity generation in the United States hit new highs in 2023 but expanded by its smallest margin in more than a decade, due to below-normal wind speeds and a drop in hydro power output due to drought, data from think tank Ember shows.

Fractured world is changing investment geography

The quasi-Cold War between Washington and Beijing, and rising protectionism, are already hurting foreign direct investment.

Chipmakers among 15 US firms eyeing $8 bln Vietnam investment - US official

Fifteen U.S. companies, including semiconductors firms, have expressed interest in investing $8 billion in Vietnam in clean energy infrastructure, contingent on the country's progress on renewable energy rules, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

Chipmaker TI forecasts earnings below estimates as automotive demand sputters

Chipmaker Texas Instruments (TXN.O), opens new tab forecast first-quarter revenue and profit below market estimates on Tuesday, as early signs of weakness in the automotive sector add to worries over a persistent supply glut in its industrial markets.

Battery maker LG Energy Solution projects slowdown of global EV market

South Korean battery maker LG Energy Solution (LGES) (373220.KS), opens new tab on Friday predicted slowing growth in the global electric vehicle (EV) market this year, signalling further challenges ahead amid intensifying competition from Chinese rivals.

GM to invest $1.4 billion in Brazil by 2028

General Motors (GM.N), opens new tab is set to invest 7 billion reais ($1.42 billion) in Brazil between this year and 2028, the company said on Wednesday, in a bid to boost "sustainable mobility".

Truck maker Volvo braces for 2024 by adjusting production amid weak order intake

Swedish truck maker AB Volvo (VOLVb.ST), opens new tab on Friday reported a bigger-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter profit but a weak order intake as it adjusted lower production levels amid softening demand.

French regulator fines Amazon France Logistique 32 million euros

French regulator CNIL said on Tuesday it had fined Amazon France Logistique (AMZN.O), opens new tab 32 million euros ($35 million) for what the CNIL said was an "excessively intrusive" surveillance system set up to monitor the performance of staff.

Honda, GM fuel cell venture launches commercial production

General Motors (GM.N), opens new tab and Honda (7267.T), opens new tab have begun shipping fuel cell power systems to customers from a factory near Detroit, they said on Thursday, a new test of whether hydrogen power technology can achieve mass-market success.

Truck and bus maker Iveco partners with BASF for battery recycling

Italian truck and bus maker Iveco Group (IVG.MI), opens new tab has partnered with German chemicals group BASF (BASFn.DE), opens new tab for the recycling of lithium-ion batteries of its electric vehicles (BEVs), the two companies said on Tuesday.

Exclusive: Thailand aims for lithium output in two years, boosting EV ambitions

Thailand hopes to start producing lithium from a mine in its southwest in about two years, boosting its ambitions to become a regional electric vehicle (EV) production hub, according to government and company officials involved in the project.

British EV startup Arrival inches closer to insolvency - Sky News

British electric-vehicle company Arrival is heading closer to insolvency after lining up a new set of advisers to oversee contingency planning, Sky News reported on Monday.

Exclusive: Fortescue faces rare delays for China iron ore customs clearance - sources

At least two iron ore cargoes from the world's No.4 supplier Fortescue Metals Group (FMG.AX), opens new tab are facing unusual customs delays at north China's Caofeidian port due to inspections for solid waste, sources with knowledge of the matter said.

German train drivers ramp up pressure with longest strike yet

Train drivers walked off the job on Wednesday in Germany's longest rail strike yet, stranding commuters and piling pain on the country's economy, with both sides far from agreement.

Defense firm Lockheed forecasts dour 2024 profit on supply chain woes

Lockheed Martin (LMT.N), opens new tab forecast its 2024 profit below Wall Street expectations on Tuesday, as the U.S. defense contractor's largest aeronautics segment that makes the F-35 jets faces supply chain disruptions.

How hedge funds would trade Red Sea supply disruptions

Attacks in the Red Sea by Iranian-backed Houthi militants on shipping vessels have dealt global supply chains a fresh blow.

Funds sell copper as weak demand trumps supply pressures

Funds are adopting an increasingly bearish stance in the copper market, preferring to focus on a globally weak demand picture rather than signs of supply-chain stress.

Risk of EU prices rising, growth slowing from Red Sea attacks -EU trade chief

The European Union faces a risk of consumer prices surging and growth slowing due to disruptions to shipping through the Red Sea, though it has yet to feel an economic impact, a top EU official said on Tuesday.

UK food prices to keep rising through 2024, industry researcher cautions

British food and drink prices will continue to rise in 2024, contributing to an extended cost-of-living crisis, a prominent grocery industry researcher said on Thursday.

UK car industry warns of tariff risk from pause in Canada trade talks

Britain's decision to suspend talks with Canada on a free trade deal creates the risk of tariffs being imposed on British-made cars sold in Canada, the UK car industry warned on Friday, as it urged the two sides to return to negotiations.

Fin Sustainable Logistics buys bankrupt Urb-it to grow customer base

Fin Sustainable Logistics said on Tuesday it has acquired Urb-it, giving it access to the bankrupt sustainable delivery company's customers including Alibaba's (9988.HK), opens new tab AliExpress, Inditex's (ITX.MC), opens new tab Zara, and its technology.

US Navy intercepts missiles in Red Sea while escorting Maersk ships

Maersk (MAERSKb.CO), opens new tab said explosions nearby forced two ships operated by its U.S. subsidiary and carrying U.S. military supplies to turn around when they were transiting the Bab al-Mandab Strait off Yemen, accompanied by the U.S. Navy.

Climate change drives Amazon rainforest's record drought, study finds

SAO PAULO, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Climate change is the main culprit for a record drought in the Amazon rainforest that has drained rivers, killed endangered dolphins and upended life for millions of people in the region, according to a study released on Wednesday.

US crude stockpiles slump, gasoline builds amid winter storms - EIA

Jan 24 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stockpiles slumped while gasoline inventories jumped last week after winter weather hit crude production and imports, refining, and demand for fuel, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Dazhou Xingye plans to acquire logistics firm via asset swap, share issue

Says plans to acquire logistics firm for 4.4 billion yuan ($679 million) via asset swap, cash and share issue.

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