The need to know

The need to know for the week ending 2nd February 2024

The need to know from Reuters’ global network of journalists

How companies are responding to attacks on ships

Attacks on vessels by Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen have disrupted international commerce on the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

Energy traders, shippers grapple with Red Sea fallout

To avoid the Red Sea, the supertanker Grand Bonanza set out early this month on a roughly 40-day journey carrying 1.8 million barrels of Abu Dhabi crude for TotalEnergies from the United Arab Emirates all the way around Africa to France.

Red Sea crisis causes delays of 10-15 days in Barcelona port

Ships are calling the Spanish port of Barcelona with a delay of 10 to 15 days as they have to travel around Africa to avoid potential attacks in the Red Sea, port chief Lluis Salvado told reporters on Monday.

GLOBAL ECONOMY Factories deliver mixed performance globally in January

Global factories delivered a largely patchy performance at the start of 2024, surveys showed on Thursday, as new orders spurred momentum in the United States, but soft Chinese demand left Asia's economies on a shaky footing and disruption to Red Sea shipping delayed deliveries in Europe.

Europe gains powers to tackle supply chain emergencies

EU countries and lawmakers on Thursday agreed to rules which will require Europe-based companies to prioritise production of key products to prevent a supply chain crisis such as that prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's Ukraine invasion.

Walmart and Adidas cargo aboard, one ship's voyage to avoid the Red Sea

When the Maersk Tanjong set sail from Thailand on Dec. 2, headed towards the Suez Canal to reach the U.S. East Coast, it was carrying cargo for retailers and clothing brands including Walmart (WMT.N), opens new tab, H&M (HMb.ST), opens new tab, Adidas (ADSGn.DE), opens new tab and ASOS , import and shipping data shows.

Adidas CEO flags delays and higher costs from Red Sea disruption

Adidas deliveries to retailers are being delayed by Red Sea shipping disruptions, the CEO of the sportswear company told analysts on Thursday, adding that soaring freight rates are weighing on gross margins.

WTO says its trade growth estimates appear 'overly optimistic'

The World Trade Organization will likely cut its estimates for goods trade growth for 2023 and 2024 due to a less buoyant global economy and the potential impact of disruptions to shipping through the Suez Canal, its chief economist said.

UK unveils DUP deal to restore Northern Ireland government

Britain unveiled a package of post-Brexit trading measures on Wednesday to strengthen Northern Ireland's place in the United Kingdom, a move welcomed by local politicians who are now expected to restore a power-sharing government.

West Africa's 'Brexit' moment spells trouble for the region

A decision by Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger to quit West Africa's economic and political bloc reverses decades of regional integration, leaving millions of people in limbo, and is likely to deepen the three junta-led countries' ties with Russia.

Teradyne pulled $1 billion worth of manufacturing from China amid US export controls

Teradyne (TER.O), opens new tab, a supplier of semiconductor testing equipment, pulled manufacturing worth about $1 billion out of China last year, a Teradyne spokesperson said on Monday, after U.S. export regulations led to supply chain disruptions.

Consumer goods giants could see margin recovery halt as price hike benefits abate

A strong margin recovery for consumer goods giants could face a setback as easing input costs after several quarters of biting inflation are offset by cautious customer spending even as product prices start to decline.

US logistics startup Flexport to lay off 20% of its workforce - The Information

Jan 26 (Reuters) - U.S. logistics startup Flexport is planning to lay off about 20% of its workforce in the coming weeks, The Information reported on Friday citing people familiar with the matter.

UPS to cut 12,000 jobs, explore options for Coyote business

United Parcel Service (UPS.N), opens new tab plans to cut 12,000 jobs and explore strategic options for Coyote, its volatile trucking brokerage business, after the world's largest parcel delivery company forecast full-year revenue below Wall Street's target.

Freight forwarder DSV's Q4 profit falls more than expected

Freight forwarder DSV (DSV.CO), opens new tab on Thursday posted a fourth-quarter operating profit before special items below expectations as it took another hit from declining freight rates and consumer demand.

Hapag-Lloyd posts Q4 operating loss as Red Sea crisis weighs on volumes

Hapag-Lloyd (HLAG.DE), opens new tab posted a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter operating loss due to lower transport volumes following the attacks on ships in the Red Sea, sending the container shipping group's shares down sharply.

India's Mahindra Logistics posts a loss for fourth straight quarter

Indian freight operating company Mahindra Logistics (MALO.NS), opens new tab reported a loss for a fourth straight quarter, hurt by mounting costs and a persistent decline in its express cargo business amid stiff competition.

C.H. Robinson misses fourth-quarter estimates on weak freight demand

Jan 31 (Reuters) - U.S. freight broker C.H. Robinson (CHRW.O), opens new tab missed analysts' estimates for fourth-quarter results on Wednesday, hurt by lower freight demand, sending its shares down about 4% in extended trading.

Comment: Labour abuse is rampant in fashion. Here’s how three brands are trying to change the narrative

The global apparel and footwear industry is one of the biggest in the world. It also has the dubious distinction of being synonymous with endemic human rights violations.

IMF says global 'soft landing' in sight, lifts 2024 growth outlook

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday edged its forecast for global economic growth higher, upgrading the outlook for both the United States and China - the world's two largest economies - and citing faster-than-expected easing of inflation.

China's factory activity expands on export order boost - Caixin PMI

China's factory activity expanded in January thanks to stable growth in output, quicker logistics and the first rise in new export orders since June, helping lift business confidence to a nine-month high, a private-sector survey showed on Thursday.

Euro zone economy lags global growth as Germany struggles

The euro zone's economy stagnated last year, underperforming the rest of the world as former powerhouse Germany struggled with an industrial malaise that has no end in sight, data showed on Tuesday.

Strong US worker productivity keeps labor costs in check in fourth quarter

U.S. worker productivity grew faster than expected in the fourth quarter, keeping unit labor costs contained and giving the Federal Reserve another boost in the fight against inflation.

UK businesses start 2024 with confidence at two-year high - Lloyds

British businesses started 2024 with their confidence at the highest level in nearly two years but their plans for more staffing are not translating into accelerating wage growth, according to a survey published on Wednesday.

German car sales to lag global recovery, industry warns

German car sales are lagging the recovery in the global passenger car market, with 2024 sales expected to be 25% below pre-pandemic levels, data from German auto association VDA showed on Tuesday.

Human Rights Watch warns carmakers over China forced labour risk

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday urged automakers such as Tesla, Volkswagen and BYD that produce cars in China to do more to ensure materials that could be made using Uyghur forced labour do not enter their supply chain.

China's vehicle production to drop 11.5% this year: IHS Markit

China's light vehicle production will drop 11.5% this year to around 21.6 million vehicles and will rebound by 7.5% next year, research firm IHS Markit predicted on Monday.

Hyundai Motor to supply Italy's Iveco with new electric van for Europe

Iveco Group (IVG.MI), opens new tab and Hyundai Motor (005380.KS), opens new tab have struck a deal for the South Korean group to supply a fully electric light commercial vehicle to the Italian truck and bus maker, expanding an existing partnership agreement, they said on Thursday.

Tesla to bring LFP battery supply chain to US - Bloomberg News

Tesla (TSLA.O), opens new tab is expanding its battery facility in Sparks, Nevada to bring the supply chain for cheaper lithium iron phosphate batteries (LFP) to the United States, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.

Exclusive: Chinese automakers hit by production issues with Huawei computing unit

Some Chinese automakers have had to delay deliveries of flagship models due to production issues with a computing unit made by tech giant Huawei (HWT.UL), five people with knowledge of the matter said.

India likely to keep economic growth momentum in FY25 despite risks

India expects its economy to grow around 7% in the next fiscal year despite new geopolitical risks emerging from the Red Sea crisis that could affect global inflation and economic output.

Impact on commodities due to chaos in the Red Sea

Attacks on shipping vessels by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the crucial Red Sea shipping lane have disrupted shipping in the Suez Canal, the fastest sea route between Asia and Europe.

Shipping giants can withstand Red Sea crisis: podcast

Houthi attacks near the Suez Canal are slowing global trade. In this Exchange podcast, Zvi Schreiber, CEO of shipping platform Freightos, discusses how the sector was caught by surprise, but excess container ships and more air cargo capacity are helping limit the immediate pain.

New H&M CEO Daniel Ervér 'concerned' about Red Sea disruptions

H&M's new CEO on Wednesday said Red Sea disruptions to shipping are a concern for the fashion retailer, but that higher transport rates are not yet hitting profit.

Trafigura assesses Red Sea risks after tanker attacked by Houthis

Commodities trader Trafigura said on Saturday it was assessing the security risks of further Red Sea voyages after firefighters put out a blaze on a tanker attacked by Yemen's Houthi group a day earlier.

Whirlpool says Red Sea crisis will start to impact its European business

Whirlpool Corp (WHR.N), opens new tab said on Tuesday its European business would start feeling the impact of the Red Sea crisis, as vessels sailing through one of the world's most important shipping routes come under attacks from the Iran-backed Houthi militia.

Red Sea crisis unlikely to end soon, Hapag-Lloyd CEO says

Attacks on cargo vessels in the Red Sea by Yemen-based Houthi rebels are unlikely to end soon, forcing shipping companies to avoid the route through the Suez Canal, the head of Germany's Hapag-Lloyd (HLAG.DE), opens new tab told reporters on Wednesday.

Air freight rates rise amid Red Sea crisis and in run-up to Asia's Lunar New Year

Global air freight rates have climbed for the first time in seven weeks ahead of Asia's lunar new year and as attacks on Red Sea shipping prompt companies to secure costlier air cargo space.

Ship carrying 16,000 sheep and cattle stranded off Australia

A ship carrying around 14,000 sheep and 2,000 cattle is marooned off the coast of Australia in sweltering heat after it was forced to abandon a trip through the Red Sea, causing outcry from people concerned about the animals' welfare.

EU aiming to launch Red Sea naval mission by mid-Feb

EU member states want to launch a Red Sea naval mission by mid-February to protect ships from attacks by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi militia and could decide its command structure on Wednesday, foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

More grain ships divert from Red Sea this week after attacks

More ships carrying grain were diverted from the Suez Canal to sailings around the Cape of Good Hope this week after attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, shipping analysts said on Friday.

China EV battery maker CATL expects weaker earnings growth for 2023

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) battery giant CATL (300750.SZ), opens new tab forecast net profit growth of up to 48.1% in 2023 on Tuesday, representing sharply weaker growth than the previous year as it grappled with slowing demand and stiff competition.

EU needs trillions of investment for 2050 climate target - research

The European Union will need 1.5 trillion euros ($1.6 trillion)per year of investments to meet its 2050 net zero emissions target, research backed by Green EU lawmakers said on Monday.

PREVIEW Logistics, delivery heft could help Amazon margins, profitability

Whether (AMZN.O), opens new tab can cash in on its delivery heft by boosting fee revenue from its "Buy With Prime" service after a 2022 overhaul of its logistics network will be a big focus for investors when the e-commerce giant reports fourth-quarter results on Thursday.

Brazil port moves disabled ore vessel from berth

The damaged Vale Beijing, the world's largest iron-ore carrier, was being moved from berth in Brazil for repairs, opening up space at a port responsible for about 10 percent of the world's iron ore exports, the harbor pilot's office in Sao Luis said on Tuesday.

US officials deliver warning that Chinese hackers are targeting infrastructure

Hackers linked to the Chinese government are targeting critical U.S. infrastructure, preparing to cause "real-world harm" to Americans, FBI Director Christopher Wray told a congressional committee on Wednesday.

Farmer protests disrupt Belgian supermarkets' supply chain

Protesting farmers have blocked the distribution centres of Colruyt (COLR.BR), opens new tab, one of Belgium's biggest supermarket chains, a spokesperson confirmed, while local media reported that distribution centres of discount supermarket chain Lidl were also targeted.

Germany could oppose EU supply chain law on child labour

A letter by two top German ministers on Thursday suggested the government would oppose a draft European law which would require large companies to take action if they find their supply chains employing child labour or damaging the environment.

Pentagon plans AI-based program to estimate prices for critical minerals

The U.S. Department of Defense plans to develop a program to estimate prices and predict supplies of nickel, cobalt and other critical minerals, a move aimed at boosting market transparency but one that throws a new, uncertain variable into global metals markets.

Russia cuts gasoline, diesel exports to offset refinery outages

Russia has reduced gasoline exports to non-CIS countries to compensate for unplanned repairs at refineries, the Ministry of Energy said on Wednesday, as the country grappled with the impact of fires and drone attacks on its energy infrastructure.

India on track to export record-low diesel to Europe in Jan as Red Sea risks weigh

India's exports of low-sulphur diesel to Europe are poised to hit a fresh two-year low in January, after an unprecedented high last month, as Red Sea security risks drive up freight costs, trade sources and analysts say.

India's Dixon Technologies posts 86% rise in Q3 profit on electronics boom

Dixon Technologies (India) (DIXO.NS), opens new tab reported an 86% growth in third-quarter profit on Wednesday, benefiting from growing demand for technology gadgets and rapid expansion of electronics manufacturing in the country.

Russia the driver behind China's aluminium import boom

China's imports of unwrought aluminium more than doubled year-on-year in 2023 and were the second highest annual total since the start of the century.

IKEA cuts prices to boost sales as raw material costs ease

IKEA is investing in price cuts on some products across a range of countries, including Belgium, Canada and India, as the furniture retailer aims to unwind increases it introduced in 2022.

Europe's solar panel manufacturers ask EU for emergency support

Europe's solar panel manufacturing industry has urged the European Union to step in with emergency measures to avoid local firms shutting down under price pressure from Chinese imports, a letter seen by Reuters showed.

Ancora-led group takes $1 bln stake in Norfolk Southern in bid to oust CEO - WSJ

An Ancora Holdings-led investor group has taken a roughly $1 billion stake in Norfolk Southern (NSC.N), opens new tab and nominated a majority slate of directors to the railroad operator's board in a bid to oust CEO Alan Shaw, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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