The need to know

The need to know for the week ending 22nd March 2024

The need to know from Reuters’ global network of journalists

Somali pirates return, adding to global shipping crisis

As a speed boat carrying more than a dozen Somali pirates bore down on their position in the western Indian Ocean, the crew of a Bangladeshi-owned bulk carrier sent out a distress signal and called an emergency hotline.

India to prosecute 35 pirates who hijacked ship off Somalia, navy official says

India will bring in and prosecute 35 Somali pirates its navy captured on a hijacked ship off Somalia, a navy official said, in a departure from its recent practice of rescuing vessels and crew but leaving the disarmed pirates at sea.

Red Sea crisis adds 100,000 bpd to global fuel demand - Vitol CEO

The shipping industry is consuming an additional 100,000 barrels per day of fuel to sail longer distances needed to avoid traversing the Red Sea, Vitol Chief Executive Officer Russell Hardy said on Wednesday.

Intel prepares for $100 billion spending spree across four US states

Intel (INTC.O) is planning a $100-billion spending spree across four U.S. states to build and expand factories after securing $19.5 billion in federal grants and loans - and hopes to secure another $25 billion in tax breaks.

Mexican wave of nearshoring firms is all at sea

Mexico is in a prime spot for multinationals looking to move operations closer to their main markets. But the expected wave of nearshoring firms is yet to materialise due to rising costs, creaking infrastructure and political uncertainty, and so is the promised economic boom.

Warehouse developers bet on India as companies look beyond China

Land is getting hard to find in a sprawling industrial park in southern India where workers are scrambling to build modern new warehouses and factories for companies betting on the country's economic boom or diversifying their supply chains beyond China.

Foreign investment flows into China shrink 19.9% in Jan-Feb

Foreign investment flows into China shrank 19.9% in January-February from a year earlier to 215.1 billion yuan ($30 billion), data from the commerce ministry showed on Friday, even as the government gears up to woo foreign firms.

Europe's starch makers cut production as demand drops from pandemic-era peak

Starch makers in Europe have slowed production as a drop in demand - particularly from paper and cardboard manufacturers - and cheap imports from Asia leave them with excess capacity, and see little prospect of improvement before late this year.

Finnish labour unions extend export blockade

Finland's industrial, logistics and electrical workers will extend their ongoing two-week strikes by one week until March 31, the unions and their federation SAK said on Wednesday, after meeting with Minister of Employment Arto Satonen.

India's inflation, growth at risk from Red Sea crisis-driven oil price rise, govt says

India's inflation and economic growth are at risk from the rise in oil prices caused by disruptions in the Red Sea, the government said on Friday, highlighting the need to diversify trade routes.

Israel's Eilat Port faces layoffs amid Red Sea shipping crisis

Half the workers at Israel's Eilat Port are at risk of losing their jobs after the seaport took a major financial hit due to the crisis in Red Sea shipping lanes, officials said on Wednesday.

Pressure builds for charge on global shipping sector's CO2 emissions

The European Union, Canada, Japan and climate-vulnerable Pacific Island states are among 47 countries rallying support for a charge on the international shipping sector's greenhouse gas emissions, documents reviewed by Reuters showed.

Shippers turn to longer-term leases as tanker supply tightens

Rising oil tanker chartering rates due to global shipping disruption are forcing oil shippers to take on longer-term shipping charters, executives said this week at an energy conference in Houston.

Panel of EU lawmakers backs watered down supply chain audit law

A panel of lawmakers in the European Parliament on Tuesday backed a draft law requiring large companies in the bloc to check if their supply chains use forced labour or cause environmental damage.

In Ukraine's bombarded ports, ship buyers scout for deals

Since Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago, nearly 50 merchant ships have been languishing in its waters, stuck in ports too dangerous to sail from.

Shipping group CMA CGM to halt calls at Haiti's Port au Prince

French shipping group CMA CGM said on Friday it was suspending its calls at Port au Prince due to the worsening security situation in the Haitian capital.

Tanker capsizes off coast of Japan, seven deaths confirmed, media reports

A South Korean-flagged chemical tanker has capsized off the coast of Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan, with seven deaths confirmed, public broadcaster NHK reported on Wednesday, citing the coastguard.

Pakistan port attack kills two soldiers, eight militants, say officials

Pakistani security forces on Wednesday repulsed a gun and bomb attack by militants on a complex outside the strategic port of Gwadar, which killed all eight militants and two soldiers, officials said.

Red Sea fighting traps two oil ships in Houthi waters

Two tankers, containing oil and toxic waste, are stuck in the Red Sea in the firing line between Western naval forces and Yemen's Houthi militants despite repeated efforts by the United Nations to empty and move the ships to avoid a spill.

EU backs supply chain audit law after Italy switches sides

European Union governments backed a proposed law requiring large companies in the bloc to check if their supply chains use forced labour or cause environmental damage after Italy switched sides.

EU eyes easing green rules on farmers to defuse protests

The European Commission proposed on Friday an easing of a series of rules on leaving land fallow or rotating crops, offering concessions to farmers who have protested with tractor blockades across Europe over the past few months.

Late German upset threatens to sink EU nature law, sources say

The European Union's flagship policy to restore damaged environments is hanging in the balance after objections inside Germany's coalition government have threatened to sink the law at the last minute, EU officials said on Tuesday.

German entrepreneurs value EU achievements, but competitiveness seen at risk

Germany's entrepreneurs value the European Union for the political stability and market access it delivers but say the bloc is too bureaucratic, a survey of 3,000 companies of the German chamber of commerce DIHK showed on Wednesday.

US regulators urge Congress to look into grocery profits

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission recommended Thursday that policymakers look further into profits at grocery store operators that remain elevated since the pandemic and promotions that consumer products makers offer retailers.

Hydrogen adoption will cost Europe, US more than $1 trillion

Europe and the U.S. will have to spend in excess of $1 trillion for building infrastructure to enable widespread use of hydrogen fuel, an executive at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T) said on Monday.

Exclusive: Boeing mulls shedding Airbus work in potential Spirit Aero deal

Boeing (BA.N) is looking at how Spirit AeroSystems (SPR.N) could shed or sharply reduce its ties to Airbus (AIR.PA), as the supply-chain giant's work for the European planemaker poses complications in rival Boeing's attempt to acquire its former subsidiary.

Exclusive: Boeing defense suppliers delivered 80% on time in 2023 amid supply-chain snags

Boeing's (BA.N) defense, space and security suppliers improved their on-time deliveries in 2023, but still fell below a measurement for satisfactory performance, according to metrics and a presentation from the company seen by Reuters.

Brazil's Embraer sees supply chain bottlenecks hampering 2024 deliveries

Brazilian planemaker Embraer's (EMBR3.SA) estimate for 2024 aircraft deliveries could be higher if it were not for supply chain issues, CEO Francisco Gomes Neto said on Monday.

US consumers still reeling from earlier price rises even as inflation slows

High prices and inflation have emerged as a political issue ahead of presidential and congressional elections in the United States and are severely complicating the Federal Reserve’s effort to engineer a soft landing.

Japan's factory activity declines slow, service sector picks up

Japan's factory activity shrank at a slower pace in March, while further expansion in the service sector supported overall growth in the private sector, a business survey showed on Thursday.

China's upbeat industrial output, retail sales tempered by frail property

China's factory output and retail sales beat expectations in the January-February period, marking a solid start for 2024 and offering some relief to policymakers even as weakness in the property sector remains a drag on the economy and confidence.

US factory production rebounds from weather-induced slump

Production at U.S. factories increased more than expected in February amid a rise in temperatures, but data for the prior month was revised sharply down as manufacturing remains hamstrung by high interest rates.

India's March business activity ends fiscal year on strong note -PMI

India's business activity ended this fiscal year on a high note, expanding at the fastest rate in eight months in March, according to a business survey, suggesting the country would remain the fastest growing major economy.

Euro zone business activity close to stabilising in March, PMI survey shows

Euro zone business activity was within a whisker of returning to growth in March, outperforming expectations, according to a survey which showed inflationary pressures bucked a recent trend and eased this month.

Deutsche Bahn says Schenker deal more likely in second half

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) (DBN.UL) expects the signing of a deal to sell its logistics unit Schenker to take place in the second half of 2024, its finance chief Levin Holle said on Thursday.

Dutch high tech firm VDL to build factory in Vietnam

Dutch high tech firm VDL will build a new factory to make semiconductor manufacturing components in Vietnam, it said on Wednesday, as the Asian country grows in importance as an assembly and packaging hub in the chipmaking industry.

China’s automakers try turning Japanese

Electric-vehicle makers in the People's Republic want to go back to the future.

US new vehicles sales set to rise in March, report shows

U.S. new vehicle sales are expected to rise 12.1% in March, fueled by strong demand and vehicle availability, according to a joint report by industry consultants J.D. Power and GlobalData on Thursday.

EU new car sales rise 10.1% y/y in February, ACEA says

New car sales in the European Union rose 10.1% year-on-year in February, with the bloc's main markets all recording solid growth, Europe's automakers association said on Thursday.

Electric vehicle plans of Indian automakers

India said on Friday it would lower import taxes on certain electric vehicles produced by carmakers that commit to invest at least $500 million and start domestic manufacturing within three years.

Tesla trims output of cars in China amid slower EV sales growth, Bloomberg reports

Tesla (TSLA.O) has reduced its car production at its plant in China, Bloomberg News reported on Friday, as the U.S. electric vehicle-maker grapples with slow demand and strong competition in the market.

Mercedes-Benz to test 11 MWh battery to harness power swings at Rastatt plant

Mercedes-Benz (MBGn.DE) said on Wednesday it will test an 11 megawatt hour (MWh) battery at its Rastatt car factory in Germany from 2025 to help bridge the gap between swings in renewable energy output and its manufacturing requirements.

PepsiCo to invest $400 mln more in two new plants in Vietnam

U.S. food and drink maker PepsiCo Inc (PEP.O) has committed to investing an additional $400 million in Vietnam to build two new plants powered by renewable energy in the country, its government said on Friday.

Apple boss Tim Cook visits Shanghai with China sales under pressure

Apple (AAPL.O) CEO Tim Cook hailed China's importance in the firm's supply chain as he met suppliers including BYD Electronics (0285.HK) on Wednesday, local media said, on a visit that comes amid a drop in China sales for the iPhone maker.

UK's Next says Red Sea disruption won't prompt sourcing re-think

Disruption to shipments in the Red Sea will not prompt British clothing retailer Next (NXT.L) into a major re-think on where it sources its products, its boss said on Thursday.

Hedge fund optimism about diesel ebbs away

Portfolio investors took a breather last week after the earlier rush to repurchase short positions lifted oil and gas prices significantly since the start of the year.

Inventory builds, Red Sea concerns pressure Asia diesel margins

The profit margin for making diesel in Asia is coming under sustained pressure from a glut of supplies as major exporters boost shipments and fewer cargoes head to Europe because of concerns over shipping via the Red Sea.

Exclusive: TSMC considering advanced chip packaging capacity in Japan, sources say

Taiwan's TSMC (2330.TW) is looking at building advanced packaging capacity in Japan, according to two sources familiar with the matter, a move that would add momentum to Japan's efforts to reboot its semiconductor industry.

China's SMIC may have violated US export curbs to make Huawei chip, official says

The Biden administration said China's top chipmaker SMIC (0981.HK) might have violated U.S. export rules to produce a chip to power Huawei's Mate 60 Pro phone, but is still evaluating the situation, a senior Commerce Department official stated during a congressional hearing on Thursday.

At major China chip fair, firms ramp up call to buy domestic

Chinese semiconductor-related companies pulled out all the stops at one of the country's largest chip-sector fairs this week to pitch domestic buying, echoing Beijing's call to galvanize support for an industry facing growing geopolitical strains.

Shein to market supply-chain infrastructure to global brands, WSJ reports

China-founded fast-fashion company Shein will make its supply-chain infrastructure and technology available to global brands, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing a letter to investors from Executive Chairman Donald Tang.

Temu operator PDD Holdings beats revenue estimates as year-end promotions boost sales

Low-cost e-commerce giant PDD Holdings (PDD.O) beat Wall Street estimates for fourth-quarter revenue on Wednesday, driven by the robust growth of its global platform Temu and end-of-year sales festivals in China, including Singles Day.

Major sugar producers sued over alleged US price-fixing scheme

United Sugar, Domino’s and other major producers were accused in a new Manhattan federal lawsuit of artificially inflating the price of granulated sugar, forcing buyers to pay more for the sweetener in a market valued at more than $13 billion.

Exclusive: US explored adding more cobalt to defence stockpiles, sources say

The U.S. looked into buying cobalt for defence stockpiles last year, three sources with knowledge of the matter said, adding the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) could consider purchases in future despite deciding against them in its latest plan.

Trade will be high on agenda during Xi's visit to Paris in May, sources say

Trade will be high on the agenda when Chinese President Xi Jinping meets his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Paris in May, diplomatic sources say, Xi's first Europe trip in five years amid mounting EU-China tensions.

UK sees trade talks on hold until after India's election

The latest round of trade talks between Britain and India has concluded without a deal, with a British official saying an agreement could not be finalised ahead of the upcoming Indian elections.

Nuclear fuel supply shift must cut reliance on Russia, says US energy official

New U.S. funding to boost domestic nuclear fuel production is a historic step but the world's nuclear consumers must also shift supply chains to meet the goal of loosening Russia's grip on the industry, a U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) official said.

US solar factories need more government support to succeed, report says

U.S. efforts to build a domestic supply chain for solar energy components is stalled and will require urgent government action to support the factories needed to compete with China, according to a report published on Wednesday.

Solar suppliers call for EU aid as imports crush margins

The European Union is set to require solar developers to source components from local suppliers under a new Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA) but for many manufacturers there are more pressing concerns.

Germany's wind power industry calls for Berlin support for port expansion costs

The German government must take into account expansion costs in its national ports strategy as more capacity is urgently needed to meet increased wind power demands in the country's energy transition plans, the BWE wind power association said.

Albemarle looks to shed more light on lithium pricing

Albemarle (ALB.N), the world's largest producer of lithium, has announced it will conduct a series of auctions for its products on the Metalshub digital trading platform.

LME plans to list Saudi port as a copper and zinc delivery point

The London Metal Exchange (LME) plans to list Jeddah, a Saudi Arabian Red Sea port city, as a new delivery point for copper and zinc subject to consultation on a technical change to the LME's warehouse location framework, it said on Tuesday.

Japan's Itochu, Taiwan's U-Ming Marine Transport to study joint operation of ammonia-fuelled ships

Japanese trading house Itochu Corp (8001.T) will study joint ownership and operation of ammonia-fuelled ships with Taiwan's U-Ming Marine Transport Corp (2606.TW), Itochu said in a statement, as Japan is bets on ammonia to cut emissions.

Dairy firm Almarai to invest over $4.8 bln under five-year plan

The Middle East's biggest dairy firm Almarai (2280.SE) plans to spend over 18 billion riyals ($4.8 billion) through 2028 under a new plan aimed at boosting growth while focusing on areas including supply chain capabilities and food security.

US probing Adani Group and founder over potential bribery, Bloomberg reports

The United States has widened its investigation of India's Adani Group to focus on the conduct of its founder, Gautam Adani, and whether the company may have engaged in bribery, Bloomberg News reported on Friday.

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