The need to know

The need to know for the week ending 28th April 2023

The need to know from Reuters’ global network of journalists

Sudan conflict threatens supply of key soft drink ingredient gum arabic

Sudan's eruption into conflict has left international consumer goods makers racing to shore up supplies of gum arabic, one of the country's most sought-after products and a key ingredient in everything from fizzy drinks to candy and cosmetics.

World's apparel and sneakers hub Vietnam struggles as US ban on Xinjiang cotton bites

Tighter U.S. rules to ban imports from China's Xinjiang are compounding pressure on Vietnam's apparel and footwear makers, hitting a sector that has already shed nearly 90,000 jobs since October in the global manufacturing hub as demand slowed.

China investment consensus cracks as politics fuel fears

Decades-long foreign bullishness on China's capital markets is breaking down, investment flows and interviews with fund managers suggest, with a new era of uncertainty fuelled by geopolitical risks and U.S. investors especially wary.

Companies' cost inflation is slowing but shoppers may wait for lower prices

The world's top consumer goods companies, making everything from instant noodles to soap and ice cream, are paying less for their raw materials and energy, but it may take time before shoppers see significantly lower price tags for household goods.

Inside a tub of Ben & Jerry's, Unilever's costs surge

Despite some signs inflationary pressures are easing, Unilever warned on Thursday of big increases in the prices of dairy, soybean oil, cocoa and sugar in the first half of this year - potentially bad news for fans of its Ben & Jerry's Half Baked ice cream.

Global retailers seek new ways to lure in shoppers as spending slows

Europe's cost of living crisis has benefited discount retailers but mid-market names are being squeezed as shoppers watch their spending, executives and analysts at an industry conference said on Tuesday.

Price hikes boost profits at global consumer giants; will spending last?

Major global brands like McDonald's, General Motors and Nestle posted steady first-quarter results built on higher prices, demonstrating that shoppers across major economies are still spending despite slowed economic activity.

Amazon rallies after research firm predicts upbeat retail sales

Amazon's stock rallied to its highest in more than two months on Friday after a research firm predicted the online heavyweight's retail business in North America is set to beat Wall Street's estimates.

Column: Global freight shows signs of bottoming out

Global freight volumes fell at some of the fastest rates for three decades earlier this year, but at the end of the first quarter showed signs of bottoming out.

Danish logistics firm DSV eyes recovery in global trade volumes

Denmark's DSV (DSV.CO), the world's third-largest freight forwarder, on Thursday predicted a recovery in global trade volumes after the firm surpassed profit forecasts in the first quarter despite seeing lower volumes and freight rates.

C.H. Robinson misses quarterly estimates on softening freight demand

C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc missed Wall Street expectations for quarterly sales and profit on Wednesday, as the logistics company grapples with falling freight demand against the backdrop of an uncertain economy.

UPS tempers 2023 revenue view as freight volumes remain strained

United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N) on Tuesday pegged annual revenue at the lower end of its prior forecast and warned of persistent pressure on parcel volumes, sending shares of the world's largest parcel delivery firm sharply down.

Amazon defeats consumer antitrust lawsuit over fulfillment centers Inc on Thursday defeated a private lawsuit in Seattle federal court that accused the national retailer of a scheme to curb competition for shipping and fulfillment services, causing consumers to pay more for purchases in violation of U.S. antitrust law.

Black Sea grain deal could start winding down next week ahead of 'expected' closure

A deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain could start winding down next week after Russia said it will not approve any new vessels unless their operators guarantee the transits will be done by May 18 - "the expected date of ... closure."

Column: Ukraine's grain export success placates market despite Russia's threats

Ukraine has shipped significantly more grain over the last several months than originally expected, especially corn, easing worries that were prominent last year over the country’s export program.

Flooding on Upper Mississippi River to halt barge traffic for weeks -USDA

All barge traffic will be halted across a wide swath of the Upper Mississippi River for weeks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday, as record winter snowfall in the upper Midwest is now melting and flooding into waterways.

China's factory activity likely grew at slower pace in April: Reuters poll

China's factory activity likely expanded at a slower pace in April, a Reuters poll showed on Friday, pointing to the strains on the manufacturing sector from weak global demand and a slow recovery in the long-depressed domestic property industry.

China Jan-Mar industrial profit slump underlines patchy economic recovery

China's industrial firms' profits shrank at a slightly slower pace in January-March but the decline remained in the double-digits as the economy struggled to fully recover despite the country's exit from its zero-COVID policy.

U.S., Euro zone business activity accelerates to 11-month highs in April

U.S. and Euro zone business activity gathered pace in April, according to surveys released on Friday, despite central bankers signaling they are nearing the peak of their interest rate hiking cycles designed to cool demand enough among consumers to bring high inflation down.

US business spending on equipment weakening as demand for goods slows

New orders for key U.S.-manufactured capital goods fell more than expected in March and shipments declined, suggesting that business spending on equipment likely remained a drag on economic growth in the first quarter.

Euro zone recovery unexpectedly gathering pace in April

The euro zone economic recovery has unexpectedly gathered pace this month as the bloc's dominant services industry saw already buoyant demand rise, more than offsetting a deepening downturn in manufacturing, surveys showed.

U.S. Senate votes to overturn heavy duty truck emissions rules

The U.S. Senate voted 50-49 to overturn Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that aim to drastically cut smog- and soot-forming emissions from heavy-duty trucks but the White House said President Joe Biden would veto the measure.

US unions call on railroads to halt buybacks, ditch lean operating model

U.S. labor unions called on railroad operators to halt all stock buybacks until they improve safety and abandon their lean operating model, which regulators and shippers say has led to deterioration in the quality of service.

Column: U.S. diesel stocks tighten but fear of shortage eases

U.S. inventories of distillate fuel oils such as diesel and heating oil have been depleting since the start of March, reversing some of the accumulation over the previous five months, mostly because of an acceleration in exports.

Startup e-commerce platform Temu expands to Europe

Ultra low-cost e-commerce platform Temu, owned by PDD Holdings (PDD.O) has started selling to European markets including France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Walmart offloads second e-fashion brand in days with focus on margins

Walmart Inc (WMT.N) is selling plus-size fashion brand Eloquii Inc just over a week after it agreed to offload menswear label Bonobos, underscoring an effort to improve margins by narrowing focus and building on alternative revenue streams.

Column: Nickel faces huge supply glut as Indonesian output booms

The nickel market is facing a massive supply glut this year as surging Indonesian production continues to outpace global demand.

Hyundai Motor bolsters US presence with $5 bln EV battery venture

South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) said on Tuesday it had finalised a $5 billion electric vehicle (EV) battery joint venture in the U.S., boosting electrification efforts in its largest market.

Shipping group Maersk halts Sudan bookings over violence

Container shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk said on Tuesday it had stopped taking new bookings of goods for Sudan due to the ongoing clashes in the country.

COLUMN-Europe raises green energy climate hurdles with red tape revamp: Maguire

EU countries approved sweeping changes to the region’s carbon trading scheme and emissions laws this week, making industrial pollution more costly while generating billions of euros for funds to be used to accelerate Europe’s energy transition.

Column: Chile uses an old copper template for new lithium plan

Chile's assertion of state control over its lithium industry has sent shock waves through the new energy metals sector.

Chile's lithium move a further push for automakers to diversify supply chain

Chile's move to nationalise its lithium industry adds fresh supply chain uncertainty for global carmakers facing a shortage of electric vehicle (EV) battery materials and could provide fresh urgency to find new sources of the metal.

Taiwan chipmaker UMC says some happy to use China capacity others shun

A shift away from made-in-China chips amid Sino-U.S. tensions has opened up capacity that some customers are happy to use, Taiwanese chipmaker United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) said on Wednesday.

U.S. and South Korea agree to minimise chipmakers' uncertainties on subsidy requirements -ministry

The U.S. secretary of commerce and her South Korean counterpart agreed to "minimise uncertainties" of chipmakers' investments amid new U.S. semiconductor subsidies, Korea's industry ministry said on Friday.

Cargill needs months to fully cut out US firm fined for child labor

Cargill Inc will need months to fully sever ties with a U.S. company fined for hiring kids to do dangerous work cleaning meat plants, the head of the meatpacker's North American protein business said on Tuesday.

Toyota edges past 9.1 million vehicle output goal, warns chip shortage lingering

Japan's Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) set a global annual output record in the business year ended in March, just edging past its target of 9.1 million vehicles as factory disruption from global chip supply woes and pandemic lockdowns eased.

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