World stocks mostly lower…China defends maritime claims
BANGKOK (AP) – Shares are mostly lower in Europe and Asia after the latest report of surging prices in the U.S. appeared to keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates in coming months. London, Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai are lower while Sydney and Hong Kong closed higher. U.S. futures are down. On Wednesday, the S&P 500 rose 0.3%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1% and the Nasdaq rose 0.2%. Inflation jumped 7% last month, its fastest year-over-year pace in nearly four decades, but in line with forecasts. Fed Chair Jerome Powell has said the Fed stands ready to raise rates to fight inflation. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.75%.
BEIJING (AP) – China is defending what it calls historical rights to virtually the entire South China Sea, following a new U.S. government report saying Beijing’s claims are almost entirely invalid. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson called the State Department report an attempt to distort international law, confuse the public, sow discord and disrupt the regional situation. The U.S. report says China’s territorial claims are vague and have no legal basis. China meanwhile again rejected a 2016 international arbitration ruling that mostly invalidated its vast maritime claims. The region has been tense because six other governments claim all or part of the strategically vital waterway.
NEW DELHI (AP) – India and Britain have formally launched talks to pursue a free trade deal that is expected to boost their trade by billions, making it one of the most ambitious negotiations to take place after Brexit. Britain’s international trade secretary met in New Delhi today with her Indian counterpart. Actual negotiations will begin next week. Both sides hope the deal will spark huge benefits for several industries, from food and drink to cutting-edge renewable technology. Britain estimates the deal could potentially double its exports to India, raising two-way trade by $38 billion a year by 2035 by unlocking India’s huge and growing market.
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – Europe’s natural gas crisis isn’t letting up. Prices are high. Reserves that are relied on in cold weather are low. Major Russian supplier Gazprom isn’t selling gas like it used to. Pipeline operators say that if there’s a cold winter, the continent’s gas companies will need to import more than they have in the past. Whether more gas is out there to be had is the big question. Analysts say prices have been so high recently, tankers loaded with liquid gas headed for Asia have been turning around in the middle of the ocean to take advantage of lucrative sales in Europe. Analysts say that’s only part of the solution.
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) – The director of Africa’s Centers for Disease Control says the organization is talking to Pfizer about bringing its COVID-19 treatment pill to the continent, which has just passed 10 million cases. The discussions come as the director is urging governments and citizens not to relent on vaccinations and preventive measures as various countries are coming down from waves of increased infections from the omicron variant. At least 39 countries have reported the new variant and the average increase of cases in Africa is about 11 percent.