The Impact of Reduced Oil Prices on the Transportation Sector. The precipitous drop in oil prices is among the most significant—and unexpected—forces in the global economy today. Thanks to a combination of increased production (especially in the U.S.) and muted demand, the spot price of West Texas Intermediate crude fell from US$109 in July 2014 to $45 in January 2015, and has since rebounded to above $50. The winners are obvious: consumers, owners of gas-guzzling vehicles, energy-intensive industries. So, too, are the apparent losers: oil exploration and services firms, countries that are dependent on fossil fuels, manufacturers of hybrid cars. The vital transportation sector has been a beneficiary of lower oil prices. Not only will it experience direct savings derived from lower fuel prices, but the expected uptick in consumer spending will positively impact global trade, and, consequently, transportation. But the benefits aren’t being shared equally by all modes of transportation.
Airlines Rail Trucking Secondary Impacts: LNG Ocean Shipping. UK inflation rate rises to 11-month high in December. Image copyright PA The UK's inflation rate rose to an 11-month high in December, with a sharp rise in air fares offsetting falling food and clothing prices. The rate as measured by the Consumer Prices Index rose to 0.2%, from November's 0.1%, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
It is the first time in a year that the rate has exceeded 0.1%, and the rise is higher than economists had expected. Air fares jumped 46% in December, the biggest rise for 13 years. December typically sees a high monthly increase in air fares, due to the Christmas holidays, but the ONS said this jump was the highest since 2002. But it warned that air prices were "highly variable" and said a November-to-December increase of more than 40% was not unusual.
Petrol prices, while lower than November, fell less than in the same period last year, so they also contributed to the rise in inflation, the ONS said. This jump in transport costs was partially offset by a drop in alcohol, tobacco and food costs. Wealth of richest 1% 'equal to other 99%' Image copyright Getty Images The richest 1% now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined, according to Oxfam. It uses data from Credit Suisse from October for the report, which urges leaders meeting in Davos this week to take action on inequality. Oxfam also calculated that the richest 62 people in the world had as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population. It criticised the work of lobbyists and the amount of money kept in tax havens. Oxfam predicted that the 1% would overtake the rest of the world this time last year. It takes cash and assets worth $68,800 (£48,300) to get into the top 10%, and $760,000 (£533,000) to be in the 1%. The figures carry various caveats, for example, information about the wealth of the super-rich is hard to come by, which Credit Suisse says means its estimates of the proportion of wealth held by the 10% and the 1% is "likely to err on the low side".
Some free market think tanks questioned the credibility of the figures. China economy grows at slowest pace in 25 years, latest GDP figures show | Business. China’s economy grew at its slowest rate in a quarter of a century in 2015, data released on Tuesday showed, increasing pressure on Beijing to address fears of a prolonged slowdown and ease the jitters affecting global markets. The full-year growth of 6.9% was only just short of government expectations of 7% but by contrast, growth in 2014 stood at 7.3%. The national bureau of statistics’ bulletin showed GDP growth at 6.8% in the three months to December, easing from 6.9% in the previous quarter – the slowest quarterly rate since 2009, when growth slowed to 6.2%.
The slide from the previous quarter was expected, but will add to concerns about the health of the world’s second-biggest economy as it confronts a range of challenges, including weak exports, high debt levels and slowing investment. China’s industrial output in December rose 5.9% from a year earlier, compared with forecasts for a 6.0% increase. The lack of surprises did at least offer some respite to stock and currency markets. IMF cuts global growth forecasts | Business. The International Monetary Fund has added to concerns about the health of the global economy by cutting its growth forecasts for the next two years and warning that recovery from the financial crisis could be derailed altogether if key challenges are mishandled. The Washington-based body said world output would be 0.2 points lower in 2016 and 2017 compared with forecasts made just three months ago – and that the risks to its predictions were to the downside.
In an update to its World Economic Outlook, the IMF said growth was put at 3.4% this year and 3.6% in 2017. It said central banks should continue to boost growth and that finance ministries should bolster investment spending where possible. It also warned that a “tide of refugees” was putting the EU under strain and that action was needed to ensure that migrants could find jobs. It added that the downward revisions largely reflected a more pessimistic view of the prospects for some countries in the emerging world since October.
European shares post sharp falls in early trading. Image copyright Getty Images European shares sank in early trading as the continued slide in oil prices unsettled investors. In early trading London's FTSE 100 was down 3%, Germany's Dax was down 3% and the Cac-40 in Paris was down 3.4%. Shares in Shell tumbled almost 6% after it said that annual profits would be slightly below City expectations. Oil shares were also hit by the continued fall in crude prices. Brent Crude was down 2.4% at $28.07 a barrel in early trading. Crude oil prices have been falling since 2014 but despite that fall, producer countries have maintained output. On Tuesday the International Energy Agency warned that oil markets could "drown in oversupply" in 2016.
Analysis: What's worrying the markets? "Investors have decided the world is a riskier place," said Laura Lambie, senior investment director at Investec Wealth Investment. "There's been a short-term change in sentiment," she said. Other analysts expect further stock market volatility. Shell warns of 50% cut in profits amid plunging oil price | Business. Shell has warned that its fourth-quarter profits may be 50% lower than last time with full year write-offs as high as $7bn (£5bn), underlining the damage being wreaked on the industry by low crude prices.
In the first preliminary results to be reported this year by any of the large oil companies, Shell said it expected earnings to come in at between $1.6bn and $1.9bn and full-year numbers as low as $10.4bn. Further losses will be taken in the last three months of the year, bringing the total amount of writedowns on the sale of assets and other one-off losses to as high as $7bn. The dismal figures ramp up the pressure on Shell’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, who is trying to justify the £35bn takeover of rival BG which must be agreed by more than 50% of Shell shareholders next week.
Van Beurden insisted he was pleased with Shell’s operating performance in 2015 and the momentum to reduce costs and improve competitiveness. An EU explainer for the easily bored: the cost to the UK. OK. I know what the institutions are, get the whole free trade bloc thing, and I totally appreciate maternity leave. How much does this actually cost? The EU budget is the one subject guaranteed to leave even the most hardened Brussels correspondent cry-laughing hysterically while downing La Chouffe in the Hairy Canary* at 2am.
Back of an envelope? If you want a lot of figures from a wide range of sources, Europe: In or Out? Everything you need to know by David Charter of the Times is a good read. Lies, damned lies and statistics? *glug glug glug* Mmmmm, Chouffe. Mmmmhmmm. Still sounds like a lot... What's Colin Farrell got to do with it? Sounds fancy. But I've got a senstitive stomach! Happy St Patrick's Day! But this guy down the pub said... What does the EU say? OMG Treaties! I'm detecting a theme. It's all good, David Cameron's on BuzzFeed! Did he talk about treaties? The treaties that everyone says it would be a complete nightmare to renegotiate? Is Britain better off in or out of Europe? The report unearths one profoundly important truth: if we decide to leave the EU, whether we flourish or fail will depend on the political and economic decisions we take in the wake of departure.
Of itself, leaving the EU will guarantee neither success nor failure. If we leave and follow the path of protection, xenophobia and isolation we will indeed face the economic decline so feared by Europhiles. Open Europe estimates that, under the protectionist scenario, leaving the EU would cost 2.2 per cent of GDP by 2030. Alternatively, if we embrace free trade, roll back damaging regulation, and take a balanced approach to economic migration, then we could be more successful outside the EU than within. There are many political reasons people want to leave the EU. It is estimated that the 100 most burdensome EU rules cost us £33 billion a year. It is ironic that leaving the EU would leave us better placed to pursue free-trade agreements with the rest of the world. Read: The cost of Europe.