The need to know

The need to know for the week ending 15th March 2024

The need to know from Reuters’ global network of journalists

Container rates drop to unsustainable levels, Maersk CEO says

The global container shipping market faces overcapacity in the coming years and the rates paid by customers have fallen to an unsustainable level, Maersk (MAERSKb.CO) CEO Vincent Clerc told the group's annual meeting of shareholders on Thursday.

Hapag-Lloyd to seek cost cuts after net profit slump

German container shipper Hapag-Lloyd (HLAG.DE) said on Thursday the global oversupply of container ships and a crisis in the Red Sea will force it to cut costs in 2024, adapting sailings and ports following a bruising 83% fall in net profit.

Exclusive: African cocoa plants run out of beans as global chocolate crisis deepens

Major African cocoa plants in Ivory Coast and Ghana have stopped or cut processing because they cannot afford to buy beans, four trading sources said, meaning chocolate prices around the world are likely to soar.

Australian farmers rip out millions of vines amid wine glut

Millions of vines are being destroyed in Australia and tens of millions more must be pulled up to rein in overproduction that has crushed grape prices and threatens the livelihoods of growers and wine makers.

Exclusive: Chinese buyers cancel, postpone Australian wheat buys amid global surplus

Chinese wheat importers have cancelled or postponed about one million metric tons of Australian wheat cargoes, trade sources with direct knowledge of the deals said, as growing world stockpiles drag down prices.

Exclusive: European regulator says it would pull Boeing approval if needed

The acting head of Europe’s aviation regulator has warned the agency would suspend its indirect approval of Boeing’s (BA.N) jet production if warranted, but told Reuters he felt reassured that the planemaker is tackling its latest safety crisis.

US airlines warn of more Boeing delivery delays due to safety crisis

U.S. air carriers warned on Tuesday that their plans to increase capacity were in doubt due to more jet delivery delays from Boeing (BA.N), as the hit to the airline industry from the planemaker's safety crisis worsens.

FAA audit finds issues in Boeing 737 MAX production, NYT reports

The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) audit of Boeing's (BA.N) 737 MAX production process after a panel blew off on an Alaska Airlines (ALK.N) jet in January failed 33 of 89 tests, the New York Times reported on Monday.

GE Aerospace to invest over $650 mln in factories, supply chain in 2024

GE Aerospace (GE.N) said on Tuesday it planned to invest over $650 million into its manufacturing plants and supply chain this year to boost its production capacity to support demand from commercial and defense clients.

How Finnish strikes over labour reforms are affecting companies

A strike by labour unions that has disrupted ports and the rail system is having an impact on Finland's exports and imports.

China lithium boom slows as sagging prices batter high-cost miners

A slump in the price of lithium, a key raw material in electric car batteries, is dragging on China's mining of the ultralight metal which together with a costly extraction process is prompting a reassessment of output growth and new project plans.

US to lend Lithium Americas $2.26 bln for Nevada's Thacker Pass mine

The U.S. Department of Energy plans to lend Lithium Americas (LAC.TO)<LAC.N> up to $2.26 billion to build Nevada's Thacker Pass lithium project, in what will become North America's largest source of the electric vehicle battery metal, the company said on Thursday.

Tin supply trapped in resource nationalism squeeze

It's no coincidence that nickel and tin are the two strongest performers in the London Metal Exchange (LME) base metals pack so far this year.

Raw materials squeeze jolts copper out of its torpor

The copper market has awoken from its year-long slumber.

Iron ore faces China fundamentals and sentiment hurdles

The tables have turned on iron ore with prices coming under pressure from a combination of fundamental and sentiment factors in dominant importer China that are likely to persist over the short term.

US, UK, French military shoot down Houthi drones after attack on bulk carrier, destroyers

U.S., French and British forces downed dozens of drones in the Red Sea area overnight and on Saturday after Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis targeted bulk carrier Propel Fortune and U.S. destroyers in the region, the U.S. military said in a statement.

Leader of Yemen's Houthis vows to attack more shipping lanes

The leader of Yemen's Houthis, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, said on Thursday the group's operations targeting vessels will escalate to prevent Israel-linked ships from passing through the Indian Ocean towards the Cape of Good Hope.

Twenty armed people board cargo ship off Somalia, security firm says

Twenty armed people have boarded a cargo ship off the coast of Somalia and have taken control of it, a maritime security firm said on Tuesday.

Zara owner Inditex flags one-week delays due to Red Sea crisis

The world's biggest apparel retailer Inditex (ITX.MC) said average shipping times have been delayed by about a week by the Red Sea crisis, as container ships carrying its products avoid the Suez Canal and travel around the southern tip of Africa.

UK's John Lewis has seen stock delays due to Red Sea crisis

The John Lewis Partnership has seen some delays to stock arrivals and a rise in freight charges due to the Red Sea disruption, the British retailer's finance chief said.

India Reliance fuel supply to Europe avoiding Red Sea, sources say

Most tankers carrying fuel from the world's biggest refining complex operated by India's Reliance Industries (RELI.NS) are sailing via the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the Red Sea, according to shipping sources and ship tracking data.

TSMC to win more than $5 billion in grants for a US chip plant, Bloomberg reports

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) (2330.TW), the world's largest contract chipmaker, is set to win more than $5 billion in federal grants from the U.S. government for setting up a chipmaking plant in Arizona, Bloomberg News reported on Friday.

Silicon Box to invest $3.5 billion in new chip plant in Italy

Singapore-based semiconductor firm Silicon Box will invest 3.2 billion euros ($3.50 billion) in a new plant in northern Italy under a government-backed deal, the Italian industry ministry said on Monday.

US grants $750 million for hydrogen projects across 24 states

The U.S. Department of Energy said on Wednesday it is granting $750 million to projects across 24 states that are building capacity to produce and use clean hydrogen.

Schneider Electric to invest $140 million to boost U.S operations

French electrical equipment maker Schneider Electric (SCHN.PA) said on Thursday it plans to invest $140 million this year to boost its U.S. manufacturing operations and hire more staff.

Chinese automakers open factories abroad as export clout causes friction

Chinese automakers seeking global growth are building more car factories in overseas markets, as foreign regulators mull imposing measures against imports of China-made electric cars.

Volvo invests in, taps Breathe Battery tech for 30% faster EV charging

Volvo Cars (VOLCARb.ST) has invested in UK startup Breathe Battery Technologies and will use its battery software to cut charging time for its next generation of electric vehicles by 30%, the two companies said on Tuesday.

Modi pledges $15 billion spending splurge as elections near

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved $15 billion worth of infrastructure projects in the last week as he bolsters support days before the schedule for national elections is to be announced, but the opposition Congress party was unimpressed.

Biden says U.S. Steel must remain domestically owned and operated

U.S. Steel Corp (X.N), which has agreed to be bought by Japan's Nippon Steel (5401.T) for $14.9 billion, must remain a domestically owned and operated American firm, President Joe Biden said on Thursday, opposing the proposed merger.

Yellen says US aims to ensure domestic EV maker success as China boosts exports

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday said President Joe Biden's administration is taking steps to ensure success of the domestic electric vehicle (EV) industry in the face of China's growing exports in the sector and heavy government subsidies.

Europe gets lucky with a mild, windy winter

With only a few more weeks left in the heating season, Europe is on course to end the winter with a record amount of gas in storage, sending prices sliding and dispelling fears about energy security.

German industry grows in Jan but car output remains weak

Industrial output in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, rose more than expected in January, raising hopes that the economy is finally bottoming out after a lengthy manufacturing recession.

India's January industrial output rises 3.8% y/y

Indian industrial output in January grew at a weaker-than-expected rate of 3.8% year-on-year on the back of slowdown in manufacturing and mining activity, government data showed on Tuesday.

US immigration fillip shifts economy's trajectory

With fears of a U.S. recession wiped away and financial markets bulled up on the growth trajectory again, an immigration fillip is playing a key role - and may even prove disinflationary to boot.

US pump prices set to jump as refinery outages nip supply, analysts say

U.S. motorists are likely to see gasoline prices turn sharply higher in the coming weeks as major refinery outages have cut supplies ahead of a seasonal jump in demand, analysts said.

Gasoline, food boost US producer prices in February

U.S. producer prices increased more than expected in February amid a surge in the cost of goods like gasoline and food, which could fan fears that inflation was picking up again.

German shipowners want clarity from Berlin on carbon trading

German shipowners' group VDR on Tuesday urged the Berlin government to provide legislation implementing European Union requirements to include the sector in the bloc's carbon trading system.

Comment: The pushback against ESG has hit Europe. Here’s how investors can ride out the storm

Ignored, ridiculed, embraced, sanctified, attacked. If you’ve been living it for long enough, it’s hard not to see the grim humour in the parable of ESG.

AliExpress targeted in EU probe over possibly illegal online products

Alibaba's (9988.HK) AliExpress could face a hefty fine after the European Commission on Thursday launched an investigation into dissemination of potentially illegal and pornographic materials, the third such probe after social media platform X and TikTok.

Ford to pay $365 million in US import tariff evasion case

Ford Motor (F.N) will pay $365 million to resolve U.S. allegations it violated a federal tariff law by misclassifying and understating the value of hundreds of thousands of its Transit Connect vehicles.

EU Parliament approves compromise on vehicle pollution limits

The European Parliament approved on Wednesday tougher emissions standards for some vehicles in a deal that watered down the initial European Union proposal, following objections from some member states.

German coalition partner may block EU packaging waste plans - sources

Germany's Free Democrats (FDP), junior partner in Chancellor Olaf Scholz's coalition, have raised objections to EU plans to cut packaging waste, government sources told Reuters, potentially blocking a provisional deal made in Brussels.

Europe’s paper M&A chase is predictably fiddly

Europe’s big packaging deal is progressing, but the outcome is still unclear.

EU attempts to smooth South American complaints over deforestation policy

The European Union's environment policy chief will tour South America this week in an attempt to alleviate fierce criticism from the region over a landmark EU law that will ban imports of goods linked to the destruction of forests.

Ford has big goals for software sales to small business truck fleets

HomeTown Services, a heating and cooling repair company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is getting ready to install driver monitoring cameras in some of its trucks, and already uses streamed data to remind drivers not to sit too long in idle vehicles, wasting gasoline.

Renault expects closing of electric vans JV with Volvo and CMA CGM by early April

Renault expects the closing of its joint venture in electric vans with Volvo and French shipping group CMA CGM to happen by the beginning of April, a spokeswoman told Reuters on Wednesday.

Mango adapts as climate change makes fashion less seasonal

Spanish retailer Mango is honing in on adaptable clothing to help customers adjust to wild swings in temperature as climate change makes fashion less seasonal, Chief Executive Toni Ruiz told Reuters.

Exclusive: Trafigura, Mercuria switch bunkering to Mauritius amid attacks, tax dispute, sources say

With more ships heading around the Cape of Good Hope due to attacks in the Red Sea region and a shutdown in their main South African bunkering operations, Mercuria and Trafigura have started refuelling services in Mauritius, four sources said.

Russian diamond ban creates costly delays, Antwerp diamond dealers say

Antwerp's diamond dealers face long and costly delays following an EU ban on Russian-origin diamonds that took effect on March 1 and has slowed imports, they say in a letter seen by Reuters.

Japan's overworked, underpaid truckers left behind in wage bonanza

As Japan's big companies prepare to hand out their heftiest pay hikes in decades, trucking firm owner Ikuko Sakata feels like she inhabits a different reality.

Zara owner Inditex slashes China stores in digital focus

Zara-owner Inditex (ITX.MC) more than doubled its pre-tax profits in China last year even as the fashion retailer scaled back its physical presence, closing a fifth of its stores in the country in a sign its focus on online sales is bearing fruit.

Zalando bets on Gen Z and logistic services as it sees return to growth

Zalando (ZALG.DE) will target younger buyers and encourage more brands to use its network to sell into complex European markets, the German online fashion retailer said, after forecasting a return to growth this year.

Alibaba plans to invest $1.1 bln in South Korea, Yonhap reports

Alibaba Group (9988.HK) plans to invest $1.1 billion in South Korea over the next three years to build a logistics center and expand businesses, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported on Thursday, citing a business strategy document of the company.

Retailer Walmex to invest around $2 billion in 2024

Mexican retailer Walmex (WALMEX.MX) is set to invest around 34.5 billion pesos ($2.05 billion) in 2024, up 19% from previous year, according to a filing published on Tuesday.

SAIC's MG to open second Europe parts centre by the summer

MG Motors, a unit of Chinese automaker SAIC (600104.SS), will open a second European parts centre by the summer of 2024 in France to meet the country's growing demand for its vehicles, a spokesperson told Reuters on Thursday.

Exclusive: Italy in talks with China's Chery on car plant

The Italian government is holding talks with China's Chery Auto as part of efforts to attract another major automaker to the country in addition to Stellantis (STLAM.MI) and increase national car production, two sources told Reuters.

India's Tata Motors to build $1.1 bln plant in Tamil Nadu

India's Tata Motors (TAMO.NS) has signed a deal to build a 90 billion rupee ($1.09 billion) manufacturing plant in Tamil Nadu, the southern state's industries minister said on Wednesday on social media platform X.

China prepares $27 bln chip fund to counter growing US restrictions, Bloomberg reports

China is in the process of raising more than $27 billion for its largest chip fund to date to accelerate the development of cutting-edge technologies to counter a U.S. campaign to thwart its rise, Bloomberg News reported on Friday.

Thailand to benefit from semiconductor production rejig, says US commerce secretary

Thailand stands to gain from a move by the United States to diversify semiconductor production, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Wednesday, adding that American firms were ready to "supercharge" investments into the Southeast Asian country.

US business inventories unchanged in January

U.S. business inventories were unexpectedly unchanged in January as increases in stocks at retailers were offset by declines at manufacturers and wholesalers.

US leads global oil production for sixth straight year- EIA

U.S. crude oil production lead global oil production for a sixth straight year, with a record breaking average production of 12.9 million barrels per day (bpd), the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a release on Monday.

Britain to join EU semiconductor research programme

Britain said on Wednesday it was joining European Union efforts to develop and manufacture advanced semiconductors in Europe, pledging 35 million pounds ($45 million) to an overall 1.3 billion euro ($1.4 billion) research and innovation fund.

Germany's wind builders push for transport reform to curb delays

Germany's accelerated renewable energy targets are set to put pressure on all levels of industry and government.

As trade with China booms, some Russian companies are flourishing

Business at Nikita Minenkov's logistics company, based near the Amur River that marks the border between Russia and China, was going well. Since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine it's gone even better - company turnover has doubled for two years running.

US unions ask Biden administration to probe Chinese shipbuilding

Five U.S. labor unions on Tuesday filed a petition with the office of U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai requesting a probe into China's alleged unfair policies and practices in the maritime logistics and shipbuilding sectors, the USTR office said.

Exclusive: Investors push Zara owner Inditex to publish full supply chain

Investors want Zara owner Inditex (ITX.MC) to follow rivals H&M (HMb.ST) and Primark (ABF.L) in making its full list of suppliers public so they can better assess any supply chain risks.

As Tesco and Sainsbury's seize the moment, UK grocery laggards face uphill task

As British shoppers try to stretch their spending further each week, supermarket leaders Tesco and Sainsbury's are using their superior financial firepower to win over customers from debt-laden rivals struggling to compete.

Oracle adds generative AI features to finance, supply chain software

Oracle (ORCL.N) on Thursday said it is adding generative artificial intelligence features across its corporate software lineup, intensifying competition with Microsoft and other technology firms to sell the technology to businesses customers.

Vehicle software maker Applied Intuition raises $250 mln from Porsche, others

U.S.-based vehicle software supplier Applied Intuition has raised $250 million in its latest Series E funding round, valuing it at $6 billion, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

Rheinmetall sees record sales in 'new decade' of defence spending

German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall (RHMG.DE) expects record sales and increased profitability this year, as the war in Ukraine drives up defence spending in the NATO bloc in a trend set to buoy the company for years to come, it said on Thursday.

Tesla says it will take some time for production at German factory to fully resume

It will take some time until production at Tesla's (TSLA.O) German gigafactory near Berlin will fully resume, plant head Andre Thierig said late on Monday.

Tesla's German gigafactory reconnected to grid after week-long outage

Tesla's (TSLA.O) German gigafactory near Berlin has been reconnected to the electricity grid following a week-long outage caused by arson, the power firm in charge of fixing the disruption said in a statement late on Monday.

EU countries to demand bloc does more to help farmers, draft statement says

European Union country leaders will urge the EU to work quickly on more measures to support farmers in response to months of protests by angry agriculture workers, draft conclusions for an EU leaders' summit showed.

FedEx Express pilots seek to end mediation, union says strike possible

FedEx Express pilots have asked the National Mediation Board to release them from mediation with the delivery company, a move that could ramp up pressure for a contract deal by opening the door to a possible strike, their union said on Friday.

Dutch workers at semiconductor maker NXP to go on strike

Dutch employees of chipmaker NXP Semiconductors (NXPI.O) will go on strike on March 12 to demand higher pay, union FNV said on Friday.

Tyson Foods to close Iowa pork plant with 1,200 workers

Tyson Foods (TSN.N) will permanently close a pork plant in Perry, Iowa, the meatpacker said on Monday, eliminating jobs for about 1,200 workers.

China's Nio and CATL team up to develop longer life batteries

Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio (9866.HK) on Thursday signed a partnership agreement with battery giant CATL (300750.SZ) to develop longer life batteries as part of efforts to lower overall EV costs.

Philippine seafarers who survived Houthi Red Sea attack arrive home

Eleven Filipino seafarers arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday nearly a week after they survived a Houthi missile attack off Yemen.

UK deploys HMS Diamond warship to Red Sea to protect shipping

Britain will deploy its HMS Diamond warship to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to take over from HMS Richmond in defending commercial shipping in the region, the government said on Tuesday.

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