The need to know

The need to know for the week ending 29th March 2024

The need to know from Reuters’ global network of journalists

Baltimore bridge collapse to cause logistics headaches, not supply chain crisis

The catastrophic bridge collapse that closed the Port of Baltimore to ship traffic on Tuesday is causing some logistics headaches, but is unlikely to trigger a major new U.S. supply chain crisis as competing East Coast ports are poised to handle more cargo, economists and logistics experts say.

Companies react to Baltimore bridge collapse

A major bridge collapsed on Tuesday in the U.S. port of Baltimore after being struck by a container ship, plunging cars into the river below.

Ship that hit Baltimore bridge also involved in 2016 Antwerp accident

The ship that caused the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on Tuesday was also involved in an accident in the port of Antwerp, Belgium, in 2016.

Collapse highlights need to protect critical foundations

The collapse of Baltimore's Key Bridge has highlighted what engineers say is an urgent need to better protect the piers holding up spans over shipping channels as the size of cargo ships has grown in recent decades.

Insurers could face losses of up to $4 billion after Baltimore bridge tragedy, analyst says

Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse could cost insurers billions of dollars in claims, analysts say, with one putting it at as much as $4 billion, which would make the tragedy a record shipping insurance loss.

GM, Ford will reroute Baltimore shipments after bridge collapse

U.S. automakers General Motors (GM.N) and Ford (F.N) will reroute affected shipments after a bridge collapse in the U.S. shuttered the Port of Baltimore, but the companies said on Tuesday the impact will be minimal.

Collapsed US bridge spans hard assets to high-tech

It was only a matter of time before the United States became yet another weakened link in the global supply chain.

US supply chain task force to discuss Baltimore bridge collapse

A U.S. federal supply chain task force will meet on Wednesday to assess the Baltimore bridge collapse and port closure, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said, adding that the Biden administration did not want financing concerns to hold up bridge reconstruction.

Fast-fashion retailer H&M delayed some campaigns due to Red Sea crisis

H&M (HMb.ST), the world's second-biggest listed fashion retailer, postponed the start of some Spring/Summer campaigns to adjust to shipping delays caused by the Red Sea crisis, CEO Daniel Erver said on Wednesday.

Maersk will avoid Red Sea despite EU security operation

Shipping company Maersk (MAERSKb.CO) said on Friday it was too early to resume sailings through the Red Sea due to a continued elevated risk level, despite an initiative by the European Union to increase safety in the region.

Global freight acceleration will lift fuel prices

Global trade flows have showed signs of accelerating at the start of 2024, as the major industrial economies began to pull out of the slump that started in late 2022, which should boost demand for transport fuels such as diesel.

More than 20% of global oil refining capacity at risk, analysis finds

More than a fifth of global oil refining capacity is at risk of closure, energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie found in analysis published on Thursday, as gasoline margins weaken and the pressure to reduce carbon emissions mounts.

Chocolate prices to keep rising as West Africa’s cocoa crisis deepens

Surveying the stripped landscape of her farm - dotted with pools of cyanide-tainted, tea coloured waste water left by illegal gold miners - is enough to make Janet Gyamfi break down.

Hershey, Mondelez bet big on Easter as cocoa price crisis looms

Hershey (HSY.N), Mondelez (MDLZ.O) and other confection-makers are employing promotions and pitching more non-chocolate Easter treats like cookies 'n' cream bunnies at a time when soaring cocoa prices threaten their profits and shoppers balk at high prices.

Finnish unions extend strikes over labour reforms by another week

Finland's industrial, logistics and electrical workers have agreed to extend strikes in protest against planned labour market reforms to a fourth week, the head of trade union association SAK said on Wednesday.

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 and foreign CEOs dance ever trickier tango

Beijing is awash with dance partners this week as CEOs of 100 or so multinational giants such as Apple (AAPL.O) and AMD (AMD.O) gathered for the two-day China Development Forum.

US, Mexico to partner on semiconductor supply chain development

The United States will partner with Mexico to explore semiconductor supply chain opportunities, the State Department said on Thursday, as the Biden administration pushes to reduce reliance on China and Taiwan for the technology.

US, Vietnamese top diplomats discuss greater chip cooperation, State Dept says

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son discussed expanding cooperation in semiconductors and supply chain diversification in a meeting on Monday in Washington, the State Department said.

Dutch will spend $2.7 billion on improving infrastructure to keep ASML

The Dutch government said on Thursday it would spend 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion) to improve transport and other infrastructure in the Eindhoven region to ensure the Netherlands' largest company ASML (ASML.AS) doesn't move its operations abroad.

Texas attorney general opens investigation into parts supplier for Boeing

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton has opened an investigation into a supplier of parts for Boeing (BA.N), Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc (SPR.N) after what he said were recurring issues with certain of those parts, his office said on Thursday.

New planemaker chief says Boeing faces 'pivotal moment'

The new head of Boeing's (BA.N) troubled commercial airplane unit said the U.S. planemaker faces a "pivotal moment" as it works to boost quality and address significant concerns from regulators and airline customers after a panel flew off a 737 MAX 9 jet in January.

US provides Maryland $60 million to start rebuild of collapsed Baltimore bridge

The U.S. government awarded the state of Maryland an initial $60 million in emergency funds on Thursday to clear debris and begin rebuilding the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, an extraordinarily fast disbursement after such a disaster.

Shipping industry faces fuel dilemma in bid to cut emissions

The shipping industry is under increasing pressure to decarbonize, but unclear regulatory guidelines, including around what sorts of cleaner fuels large vessels should run, is complicating that path to net zero, according to executives.

US looks to reboot aluminium sector with a new smelter

The U.S. is going to build its first primary aluminium smelter in 45 years.

Exclusive: China commerce minister to head to Europe to make EV case

China's commerce minister will travel to Europe in April for discussions about the European Commission's investigation into whether China's electric vehicle industry has benefited from unfair subsidies, four people briefed on the plan told Reuters.

WTO: China initiates dispute over US tax credits for EVs, renewables

China has initiated dispute consultations with the United States regarding tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act to promote the production of electric vehicles and renewable energy, the World Trade Organization said on Thursday.

German industry sceptical of China's vow to treat foreign firms equally

A fresh pledge by Beijing to treat foreign companies like domestic rivals drew a cool response from one of its biggest trading partners, Germany, where industries called for concrete actions rather than words to create a true level-playing field.

Yellen to warn China on excess production capacity, wants constructive talks

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday she intends to warn China about the negative effects of Beijing's subsidies for its clean energy industries, including solar panels and electric vehicles, during a visit to the country.

US may soon unveil list of Chinese chip factories barred from receiving tech

The Biden administration is drawing up a list of advanced Chinese chipmaking factories barred from receiving key tools, three people familiar with matter said, to make it easier for companies to stem technology flows into China.

UK says rules of origin deal with Canada probably won't be extended

Britain said on Wednesday that post-Brexit trade arrangements with Canada that enable its carmakers to avoid high tariffs there were likely to expire next week, marking the latest deterioration in trade ties between the historic allies.

EU members call for revision of anti-deforestation law

A group of EU countries led by Austria is calling for urgent revisions to the bloc's anti-deforestation law set to go into effect at the end of the year, saying it could hurt European farmers, according to a document reviewed by Reuters on Monday.

Companies sell their businesses in Russia

Some Western companies have sold their Russian assets or handed them over to local managers to comply with sanctions over the war in Ukraine and respond to threats from the Kremlin that it may seize foreign-owned assets.

EU envoys strike new deal on Ukraine food imports

Ambassadors from European Union countries reached a revised deal on Wednesday to extend tariff-free food imports from Ukraine - with restrictions - after some states complained the original agreement risked destabilising the bloc's agricultural markets.

Europe's clean power sources on a record roll in early 2024

A record 60% of Europe's electricity was powered by clean energy sources in the opening two months of 2024, driven by strong year-on-year growth in hydro, solar and wind generation and a rebound in nuclear power production.

Green steel is possible and even affordable, but still unlikely

Decarbonising steel production is key to achieving global net-zero emission targets and the good news is that it can be achieved, and the cost isn't prohibitive for some uses.

Alibaba to buy Cainiao stake for up to $3.75 billion as it drops IPO plan

Alibaba Group (9988.HK) said on Tuesday it was offering to buy the 36% of Cainiao it does not already own for up to $3.75 billion, abandoning plans for an initial public offering (IPO) of the logistics business in Hong Kong.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba's bumpy restructuring journey

Alibaba (9988.HK) said on Tuesday it would shelve plans to list its logistics arm, the latest twist in the Chinese e-commerce giant's restructuring efforts since embarking on the biggest shake-up in its history a year ago.

Ocado Retail sales rise as sharper prices win customers

British online supermarket Ocado Retail said a focus on sharper prices helped it win more customers in its first quarter, driving a 10.6% revenue rise.

UPS forecasts 2026 revenue above estimates on cost cuts, margin growth

United Parcel Service (UPS.N) forecast 2026 total revenue above estimates on Tuesday, as the world's largest parcel delivery company unveiled a three-year plan prioritizing high-margin parcels and aggressive cost-cutting.

MercadoLibre to increase investments in Brazil to $4.6 bln in 2024

Latin American e-commerce giant MercadoLibre said on Tuesday it plans to invest a record 23 billion reais ($4.6 billion) in 2024 in Brazil, its main market, a 21.1% increase from 2023.

US economy continues to shine with help from consumers, labor market

The U.S. economy grew faster than previously estimated in the fourth quarter, boosted by strong consumer spending and business investment in nonresidential structures like factories and healthcare facilities.

China's industrial profits return to growth as conditions stabilise

China's industrial firms posted higher profits in the opening months of the year, official data showed on Wednesday, reinforcing signs that an economic recovery was gaining traction despite persistent sluggishness in the property sector.

China's March factory activity likely contracted for sixth month, at slower pace

China's manufacturing activity likely contracted for a sixth straight month in March but at a slower pace, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday, suggesting factory owners are still struggling for orders despite some green shoots in the economy.

UK factories expect to raise prices by most since last May, CBI says

British manufacturers increased their expectations for selling prices for a third month in a row to the highest level in almost a year as Red Sea shipping disruption hurts supply chains, an industry survey showed on Friday.

In the Market: Fed piloting another tricky soft-landing

The Fed is close to delivering a rare soft landing for the U.S. economy but it faces yet another fraught challenge: reducing cash in the financial system without disrupting markets.

ASML supplier Neways to build new plant in Malaysia

Neways, a key supplier to Dutch computer chip equipment maker ASML (ASML.AS), said on Friday it will build a new plant in Klang, Malaysia.

Australia to create $653 mln fund to expand solar panel manufacturing

Australia will set up an A$1 billion ($653 million) fund to help expand solar panel manufacturing at home, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Thursday, as it looks to ramp up its transition to renewable energy from coal power.

Hyundai Motor doubles down on EVs as it ramps up investment in Korea

Hyundai Motor Group (005380.KS) said on Wednesday it will invest 68 trillion won ($51 billion) over three years in South Korea to ramp up electric vehicle production and new mobility business and separately hire 80,000 new employees, doubling down at a time when other established automakers are slowing efforts.

Automakers face 'daunting' task to meet 2032 EV rules, industry says

Automakers face "daunting" government regulations to sell half of new vehicles by 2030 as electric or plug-in hybrids despite a U.S. decision to soften the final rules over its initial, tougher proposal, a top industry official said on Wednesday.

Tesla deliveries face hit from China slowdown, soft demand

Tesla (TSLA.O) is expected to report sluggish first-quarter deliveries next week as the boost from its price cuts wanes and the U.S. automaker grapples with strong competition for buyers in a slowing electric-vehicle market.#

Up to 10 companies bid for Deutsche Bahn's Schenker, Handelsblatt reports

Between seven and 10 companies have made non-binding offers for Schenker, the logistics subsidiary of German national rail company Deutsche Bahn, Handelsblatt business daily reported on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Deutsche Bahn, union agree flexible work hours in 'historic' deal

German national rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DBN.UL) and union GDL on Tuesday struck a wage deal giving train drivers the option to reduce their weekly working hours, ending months of dispute with a pact they say could be a model for other unions.

Racial tensions cost Germany Inc. skilled foreign labour

Manager Joerg Engelmann says he has pulled out all the stops to attract skilled foreign workers to his chemical engineering company in Chemnitz, east Germany. But once they arrived, the racial slurs and exclusion they experienced in the town have driven some of them away.

Europe’s gas stocks point to healthy supply next winter

The European Union will have plenty of gas in stock next winter and the remaining buyers of Russian pipeline gas in central Europe are working on alternative imports in case transit via Ukraine stops from January, analysts and companies said.

Asia crude imports surge as China, India snap up Russian oil

Asia's imports of crude oil are expected to rise to the highest in 10 months as heavyweights China and India lifted arrivals from Russia, but impending maintenance schedules and rising prices mean such levels may not be sustained.

Germany drops plans for domestic solar industry subsidies

Germany has shelved plans to subsidise its domestic solar manufacturing industry by rewarding consumers for buying European-made panels, after its ruling coalition parties failed to agree the policy, the economy ministry said on Wednesday.

US solar factories strike deal to produce 'Made in USA' panels

Two small solar manufacturers on Wednesday said they are joining forces to make panels that will enable their customers, U.S. solar project developers, to collect on a lucrative new federal subsidy for American-made clean energy equipment.

British farmers protest outside parliament over food imports

A convoy of tractors protested outside Britain's parliament on Monday against post-Brexit trade deals and what they called substandard food imports in the latest demonstrations by farmers globally.

Funding round helps kickstart British hydrogen strategy

The UK aims to install 10 GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030, with 6 GW of that from electrolyzers and the rest carbon capture, usage, and storage (CCUS).

Automotive computer chip maker NXP rolls out new platform

NXP (NXPI.O) Semiconductors NV, the biggest maker of computer chips for cars, on Thursday said it had introduced a new platform that will simplify and speed up software development for its customers.

Toyota plans to mass produce battery Hilux pickup truck by 2025, official says

Japan's Toyota (7203.T) plans to mass-produce a battery electric Hilux pickup truck by the end of 2025, the president of its Thailand unit said on Tuesday.

Renault in advanced talks with partners to recycle batteries, says executive

French automaker Renault (RENA.PA) is in advanced discussions with potential partners to extract and recycle lithium and other metals from used electric vehicle batteries, a company executive said, as it seeks to reuse more of the strategic raw materials.

International Paper stirs up possible bidding war over DS Smith

International Paper (IP.N) has stirred up a potential bidding war over British paper packaging firm DS Smith (SMDS.L), making a takeover offer that sent the shares of the FTSE-100 target over a two-year high.

Home Depot bulks up Pro-business with $18.25 bln deal for building products supplier SRS

Home Depot (HD.N) will buy building materials supplier SRS Distribution in an $18.25 billion deal, in the top U.S. home improvement chain's largest acquisition, as it looks to broaden its professional customer base to better tackle tepid demand.

India's Adani Ports to buy 95% of Odisha's Gopalpur Port for $162 mln

India's largest private port operator Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSE.NS) said on Tuesday it will buy a 95% stake in Odisha's Gopalpur Port for an equity value of 13.49 billion rupees ($161.74 million) to bolster its east coast presence.

Wipro GE Healthcare to invest $960 mln in R&D, manufacturing in India

Wipro GE Healthcare, a joint venture of India's Wipro Enterprises and a wholly owned entity of U.S.-based GE Healthcare (GEHC.O), said it would invest 80 billion rupees ($960 million) in the country in its manufacturing and research and development facilities.

Autonomous driving software maker Horizon Robotics files for Hong Kong IPO

Chinese autonomous driving software maker Horizon Robotics has filed for a listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange without disclosing any details about share issuance and value of the offering, the exchange's website showed on Tuesday.

Ford considers making new SUV in Valencia

Ford (F.N) is considering making a new sports-utility vehicle (SUV) at its plant in Valencia in Spain, the company said on Thursday.

Li-Cycle to cut 17% of staff amid battery recycling growing pains

Battery recycler Li-Cycle (LICY.N) plans to lay off 17% of its staff - including three senior executives - as it pares its ambitious global growth plans in order to save cash and focus on building a crucial processing facility in New York.

France's Macron says EU-Mercosur proposal is 'very bad deal' on visit to Brazil

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday during his visit to Brazil that a potential agreement between the European Union and the South American Mercosur trade bloc as it stands is a "very bad deal" and more climate commitments are needed.

Ship insurer Britannia is helping in Baltimore bridge probe

Britannia, the insurer of container ship the Dali, is working with the vessel's owner and U.S. authorities on the investigation into the collapse of Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge, the insurer said on Thursday.

Britain agrees $100 mln trade finance to boost Africa food security

Development lender British International Investment said on Monday it had agreed a $100 million finance facility with the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) to boost trade finance, farming and food security in the region.

Amazon appeals $34.6 mln fine by French regulator over staff monitoring

E-commerce giant (AMZN.O) said on Friday it has appealed French regulator CNIL's decision to fine the company 32 million euros ($34.58 million) for setting up a system to monitor employee activity and performance.

Amazon fined $7.8 mln by Polish consumer watchdog

Amazon (AMZN.O) has been fined 31 million zlotys ($7.8 million) in Poland for misleading customers about product availability and delivery dates, consumer watchdog UOKiK said on Wednesday.

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