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Australia’s biggest oil companies plot £42bn megamerger – latest update

Thanks for joining me. House prices rose for a second month in a row as more affordable mortgage rates helped buyers chase a smaller number of homes for sale. 

House prices rose by 0.5pc in November compared to October, according to the Halifax house price index.

5 things to start your day 

1) World in new era of low growth and high interest rates, says BlackRock | Significant shift means inflation will be far more volatile than in recent years

2) How Britain and Germany teamed up to defeat France on electric car tariffs | Relaxation of negotiated Brexit trade terms marks a setback for Paris

3) Homeowners should have less power to object to new housing, says Lord Wolfson | Next boss urges ministers to overhaul Britain’s antiquated planning system

4) Blackstone Mortgage Trust at risk of ‘liquidity crisis’, says hedge fund boss | Souring commercial loans could trigger a cash crunch, warns Muddy Waters chief

5) Matthew Lynn: Furlough has turned Britain into a nation of scroungers | What’s left of our country’s working culture has been trashed by the £70bn handout

What happened overnight 

Shares fell after a retreat on Wall Street as crude oil prices slipped on expectations that supply might outpace demand.

Stock markets fell more than 1pc in Tokyo and Hong Kong. On Wednesday, the S&P 500 fell 0.4pc in its third straight loss though the index remains near its best level in 20 months.

Brent crude, the international standard, fell 3.8pc to $74.30 per barrel and US crude tumbled roughly 4pc on Wednesday as expectations built that the world has too much oil available for the slowing global economy’s demand. US crude sank below $70, down more than $20 since September. 

In trading overnight, US crude was up 29 cents at $69.67 per barrel. Brent crude rose 31 cents to $74.61 per barrel.

China reported that its exports rose 0.5pc in November, the first year-on-year month of increase since April, but imports fell.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index fell 1.8pc to close at 32,858.31. South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.1pc lower to 2,491.64.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 1pc to 16,295.83 on renewed heavy selling of technology and property shares. The Shanghai Composite index dropped was flat at 2,969.49.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.1pc to 7,173.30. Bangkok’s SET lost 0.6pc and the Sensex in India fell 0.1pc.

In the United States, signs of a cooling jobs market dampened market confidence. The Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 leading companies drop 0.2pc to 36,054.43. The broader S&P 500 fell 0.4pc to 4,549.34, while the Nasdaq Composite index, which is technology-heavy, fell 0.6pc to 14,146.71.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury bonds  fell 6 basis points to 4.112pc after hitting a fresh 3-month low of 4.106pc, suggesting the bond market is anticipating a weak jobs report on Friday.

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