Europe’s energy crisis will worsen this winter. Already now the situation is forcing companies to partially suspend their work, among them the tableware manufacturer Arc International and the EU’s largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal. The New York Times writes about this.
“This is the most dramatic situation we have ever faced,” Arc International President Nicholas Hodler told the publication.
The head of the company has had to put a third of its 4,500 employees on leave to save money. Additionally, four of the company’s nine furnaces will be idle, and the rest will be switched from natural gas to diesel fuel. It is cheaper, but also more polluting.
“Industrial production in the eurozone fell 2.3 percent in July from a year earlier, the biggest drop in more than two years,” notes The New York Times.
What is causing Europe’s energy crisis? The answer to this question is already obvious. According to data provided in the article by the European Association of Metal Traders Eurometaux, half of all aluminum and zinc production in Europe was suspended. Among them are Arcelormittal, Europe’s largest steelmaker in Germany, and Alcoa, a global aluminum producer, forced to cut production at its smelter in Norway by a third. A similar situation is with the world’s largest zinc producer, Nyrstar, which has suspended production in the Netherlands.
In Germany, one of the largest toilet paper companies, Hakle, declared bankruptcy because of the “historic energy crisis.
Earlier, we reported that Norwegian natural gas companies may cut off British gas supplies amid turmoil and drought.
Demand in a market for smartphones in China fell 13.2% in a year, to a decade low – IDC
Demand in the smartphone market in China fell to 285.8 million units last year, according to research firm IDC. On a year-on-year basis, the figure fell 13.2% to below the 300,000 mark for the first time in a decade. The decline in demand was affected by tight restrictions under the “zero-tolerance” policy on COVID-19 and a slowdown in economic growth in the country.
In the fourth quarter, demand for mobile phones in the PRC declined 12.6 percent to 72.9 million handsets.
“The historically low level of supply is forcing smartphone manufacturers to think about how to build a more sustainable business model and a more focused marketing strategy,” says Will Wong, senior research manager at IDC.
As a positive factor, he notes the end of the policy of harsh anti-covids, which “provides the market with a tailwind.” That said, the expert thinks a quick recovery is unlikely, as consumers have been spending more money recently in areas such as leisure and services.
At the end of 2022, vivo maintained its market leadership despite a 25.1% drop in sales. Honor was the only brand in the top 5 to show sales growth (+34.4%), also due to a low comparison base. OPPO shipments were down 28.2%; Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was down 4.4%, and Xiaomi (HK:1810) was down 23.7%.
Earlier, we reported that the outlook for the likelihood of a recession in most markets has declined.
Predicting recession probabilities in most markets declined
Predicting recession probabilities have fallen sharply from the highs of 2022, the JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) model shows.
In seven of the nine asset classes tracked by the model, from European stocks to investment-grade bonds, current quotes suggest recession chances are below 50%. The value of the S&P 500 suggests traders see a 73 percent chance of an economic downturn in the U.S., up from 98 percent last October, Bloomberg wrote, citing data from the bank.
Do economists predict a recession?
“Most asset classes are showing a gradual reduction in recession risks Thanks to the opening of the Chinese economy, the collapse in gas prices in Europe, and a more pronounced than expected slowdown in U.S. inflation,” said JPMorgan strategist Nikolaos Panikirtzoglu. — The market now sees a much lower likelihood of a recession than in October.”
Meanwhile, his colleague Marko Kolanovic warned that investors may be underestimating the potential pressure that a slowdown in U.S. economic growth could put on stocks in the coming months. At the same time, factors such as a decline in industrial production and retail sales, as well as a rally in the bond market and the Federal Reserve’s promise to keep rates high will play into the bulls’ hands.
Economists, on the contrary, have become more pessimistic-their consensus forecast calls for a 65% chance of a recession versus a 50% chance in October, Bloomberg notes.
Negative signals are also observed in the bond market — the yield on three-month US government bonds exceeds the yield on 10-year securities, indicating that investors are waiting for a slowdown in economic growth in the coming months.
On the other hand, many market participants are hopeful that the world’s central banks will be able to give the economy a soft landing — and it’s precisely because of such hopes that risky assets have rallied in recent weeks.
“I don’t want to say growth will be outstanding, I just think it won’t be a nightmare,” HSBC strategist Max Kettner told Bloomberg. — There are simply no catalysts to a decline and no unpleasant surprises, so the only way is up.”
Earlier we reported that the U.S. Treasury is going to use emergency measures because the national debt is getting closer to the ceiling.
U.S. Treasury starts using emergency measures because of the approach of the state debt to the upper limit of debt obligations
Yesterday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress that her office had begun using emergency measures because the size of the national debt is approaching the upper limit of debt obligations. These measures will prevent a default in the next few months, notes MarketWatch.
According to the treasury secretary, “it is unlikely that the money and the emergency measures will be exhausted before early June.”
Late last week, Yellen warned in a letter to congressional leaders that the U.S. could reach the national debt ceiling on Jan. 19, and an increase or suspension of the limit is needed to avoid a default.
“Failure to meet the government’s obligations would irreparably harm the U.S. economy, the livelihood of all Americans, and global financial stability,” the document said.
The Debt Limit definition is the statutory limit on the U.S. government’s borrowing to pay its current obligations, including Social Security, Medicare, and military salaries. Currently, this limit is about $31.4 trillion.
Earlier we reported that the Central Bank of China again kept the prime rate at 3.65%.
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