Oil prices mixed as hope lingers for flagging US-China talks

Oil prices rose more than $1 a barrel on Monday but then fell with Wall Street as the negative turn in the US-China talks spooked investors. (Reuters)
Updated 14 May 2019
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Oil prices mixed as hope lingers for flagging US-China talks

  • China on Monday ignored a warning from President Donald Trump and moved to impose higher tariffs on a range of US goods
  • China’s top diplomat, State Councilor Wang Yi, indicated that Beijing hoped for a compromise

LONDON: Oil was mixed on Tuesday as tensions in the Gulf appeared to stop short of a military showdown and both sides in the US-China trade talks sounded conciliatory notes, signaling that a breakdown might be avoided.
Brent crude futures were at $70.40 a barrel at 0755 GMT, up 38 cents or 0.24 percent. Brent ended the previous session down 0.6 percent.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $60.92 per barrel, down 12 cents or 0.2 percent. WTI closed down 1 percent on Monday.
The negotiations between the United States and China appeared headed toward success last week but have largely unraveled over US accusations that Beijing sought vast, last-minute changes.
China on Monday ignored a warning from US President Donald Trump and moved to impose higher tariffs on a range of US goods including frozen vegetables and liquefied natural gas.
But the Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councilor Wang Yi, indicated on Monday that Beijing hoped for a compromise: “Both countries’ negotiating teams have the ability and wisdom to resolve each other’s reasonable demands.”
Trump on Monday said he expected to speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G20 summit in late June and have “probably a very fruitful meeting.”
“Market participants (are) increasingly having to do their own guesswork and read between the lines to ride the latest wave of volatility in the financial markets,” analyst Vandana Hari of Vanda Insights said.
“The US president’s comments likely tilted the balance in favor of the optimists, who continue to expect a rapprochement despite last week’s major setback in trade negotiations.”
Oil rose more than $1 a barrel on Monday but then fell with Wall Street as the negative turn in the US-China talks spooked investors.
In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers were among those attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, describing it as an attempt to undermine the global oil supply.
A US official said Iran was the likely culprit.
Tehran has been embroiled in an escalating war of words with the United States over stricter US sanctions, which have cut its oil exports and tightened global supply. Iranian officials denied responsibility for the incident.
A fifth of global oil consumption passes through the Strait of Hormuz from Middle East crude producers to global markets.


British Airways to resume Pakistan flights next week after a decade

Updated 23 May 2019
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British Airways to resume Pakistan flights next week after a decade

  • BA halted service to Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad
  • BA will begin the London Heathrow-Islamabad service with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

ISLAMABAD: British Airways will resume flights to Pakistan next week a decade after it suspended operations following a major hotel bombing, becoming the first Western airline to restart flights to the South Asian country.

BA halted service to Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in the capital Islamabad that took place during a period of devastating Islamist militant violence in Pakistan.

Security has since improved, with militant attacks sharply down in the mainly Muslim country of 208 million people, reviving Pakistan as a destination for tourist and investors.

“The final touches are coming together for the airline’s return ahead of the first flight on Sunday June 2,” British Airways said in a statement. It will launch a three-per-week service to London Heathrow, it said.

“We’re on board,” Pakistani Civil Aviation spokeswoman Farah Hussain said about the flights resumption.

BA, which is owned by Spanish-registered IAG, will begin the London Heathrow-Islamabad service with the airline’s newest long-haul aircraft, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

At present, only loss-making national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flies directly from Pakistan to Britain, but its ageing fleet of planes is a frequent source of complaints by passengers.

Middle Eastern carriers Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates have a strong presence in Pakistan and have been eating into PIA’s dwindling market share. Turkish Airlines also lays on a regular service to Pakistan.

Islamabad has been running international advertising campaigns to rejuvenate its tourism sector, which was wiped out by Islamist violence that destabilised the country following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

“We hope customers in both the UK and Pakistan will enjoy the classically British service we offer, with thoughtful bespoke touches,” Andrew Brem, Chief Commercial Officer at British Airways, said in BA’s statement.

BA said there will be a halal meal option in every cabin and the airline would also ensure sauces in every meal do not contain alcohol or pork.