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Wheat prices hit record high after Indian export ban

May 16, 2022: Wheat prices surged to a new record high on Monday after India decided to ban exports of the commodity as a heatwave hit production.

The price jumped to 435 euros ($453) per tonne as the European market opened.

Global wheat prices have soared on supply fears since Russia's February invasion of agricultural powerhouse Ukraine, which previously accounted for 12 percent of global exports.

The spike, exacerbated by fertiliser shortages and poor harvests, has fuelled inflation globally and raised fears of famine and social unrest in poorer countries.

India, the world's second-largest wheat producer, said on Saturday that it was banning exports after its hottest March on record.

New Delhi said factors including lower production and sharply higher global prices meant it was worried about the food security of its own 1.4 billion people.

Export deals agreed before the directive issued on May 13 could still be honoured but future shipments needed government approval, it said.

However, exports could also take place if New Delhi approved requests from other governments "to meet their food security needs".

India, which possesses major buffer stocks, previously said it was ready to help fill some of the supply shortages caused by the Ukraine war.

The export ban drew sharp criticism from the Group of Seven industrialised nations, which said that such measures "would worsen the crisis" of rising commodity prices.


EU cuts eurozone growth forecast as Ukraine war bites

May 16, 2022: The European Commission on Monday sharply cut its eurozone growth forecast for 2022 to 2.7 percent, blaming skyrocketing energy prices caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The war also spurred the EU's executive to revisit its eurozone inflation prediction for 2022, with consumer prices forecast to jump by 6.1 percent year-on-year, much higher than the earlier forecast of 3.5 percent.

"There is no doubt that the EU economy is going through a challenging period due to Russia's war against Ukraine, and we have downgraded our forecast accordingly," EU executive vice president Valdis Dombrovskis said.

"The overwhelming negative factor is the surge in energy prices, driving inflation to record highs and putting a strain on European businesses and households," he added.

The EU warned that the course of the war was highly uncertain and that the risk of stagflation -- punishing inflation with little or no growth -- remained a real risk going forward.

If Russia, the EU's main energy supplier, should cut off its oil and gas supply to Europe completely, the commission warned that the forecast would worsen considerably.

"Our forecast is subjected to very high uncertainty and risks," EU commissioner Paolo Gentiloni told reporters.

"Other scenarios are possible under which growth may be lower and inflation higher than we are projecting today. In any case, our economy is still far from a normal situation," he said.

For the EU as a whole, including the eight countries that do not use the euro as their currency, the commission had also forecast growth of four percent in February, but has now cut this to 2.7 percent, the same level as for the eurozone.

The sharp reduction in expectations is in line with the forecast made in mid-April by the International Monetary Fund, which predicted 2.8 percent growth for the eurozone this year.

The EU's warning for the months ahead lands as the European Central Bank is increasingly expected to increase interest rates in July to tackle soaring inflation.

Critics warn that this could put a brake on economic activity just when the economy faced the headwinds from the war in Ukraine.


CNG stations to remain closed for indefinite period

May 16, 2022 (MLN): The All-Pakistan CNG Association has announced that CNG stations will remain closed for an indefinite period.

After a hike of Rs70, the price of CNG in Pakistan has reached a new high of Rs300 per kilogram which is difficult for association to sell at this price.

In a statement, CNG Dealers Association Chairman Abdul Sami Khan said that the price of Re-Gasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) has also been increased without any consultation. Expressing concerns over the price hike, the chairman said that investments worth billions are being wasted in the CNG sector, as per news report.

He added that CNG was considered a cheap fuel but a massive increase would reduce its demand.

The Chairman demanded that the government should provide RLNG to the CNG sector at subsidized rates, otherwise, it should completely end the CNG sector.

The distribution losses for Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) have been enhanced to 18 percent. Similarly, distribution losses are 8 percent for the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Ltd (SNGPL).

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Sri Lankan energy minister assures sufficient fuel stocks soon

May 16, 2022: Sri Lankan Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera on Monday assured the public of adequate fuel in the country soon.

In a statement on his Twitter page, Wijesekera said that with the arrival of a diesel cargo on Sunday and three fuel vessels in the near future, adequate fuel will be made available nationwide.

He also requested the public not to queue or re-fill in the next three days until the fuel station deliveries are completed.

Sri Lanka has been facing a severe fuel shortage, triggering almost daily power cuts in the past few months.


China’s property investment down 2.7%

May 16, 2022: China's investment in property development went down 2.7 percent year on year in the first four months of 2022, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Monday.


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