US threatens to impose sanctions on European products
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled last Tuesday that the EU had maintained illegal support to Airbus, prompting the US to threaten sanctions against European products in the first of two key aircraft subsidy decisions due this year, news wires reported. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the US would slap countermeasures on European goods unless the EU stopped “harming US interests”. WTO rules allow it to target any industry since all goods fall into one category. “It is long past time for the EU to end these subsidies,” he said.
Investors see big surge in prices, physical markets suggest caution
A global oil glut has been virtually eliminated thanks to an OPEC-led pact to cut supplies in place since January 2017 and due to rising global demand, figures published last Monday by OPEC showed.
 
Germany, Denmark hearing-aid makers form the world's third-largest supplier
Hearing-aid makers Widex and Sivantos agreed to merge on 16 May to form the world's third-largest supplier behind market leaders Sonova and William Demant. Germany's Sivantos, formerly known as Siemens Audiology, and Denmark's Widex will create a company worth more than €7bn ($8.28bn), including some €3bn in debt.
 
NAFTA deal within reach
The US were pushing until the last moment before the self-imposed deadline for a deal to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to be reached, while at the same time a top Mexican official held out the possibility of an agreement in the coming weeks, news wires reported.
UAE pours $45bn in oil refining
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), the state-owned energy company of the UAE, announced plans to invest $45bn over the next five years, along with partners, to create the largest integrated refining and petrochemicals destination in the world.
Venezuela seizes another foreign-owned factory
Venezuela's authorities seized last week a factory owned by the American cereal manufacturer Kellogg, news wires reported.
JAL to set up low-cost carrier
Japan Airlines is launching a low-cost carrier offering medium to long-haul flights, aiming to tap growing Asian demand for budget air travel.
HSBC makes first revolutionary blockchain move
The world's first commercial trade-finance transaction using blockchain was made last week by HSBC, the bank announced last Monday.
In Brief
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German economy growth slows down considerably
 
Germany's economic expansion is continuing in 2018, but GDP growth has slowed considerably, making investors and observers nervous. So far, the government sees no cause for alarm. In the first three months of the year, the German economy grew just 0.3%, half the pace seen in the previous quarter, according to the national statistics office. While leading research institutes had forecast that growth will slow down, the estimate fell short of their 0.4% expansion forecast for the beginning of 2018.

Eyeing business diversity, Statoil renames to Equinor
 
Shareholders in Norway's largest company, Statoil, approved last Tuesday the board's proposal to drop 'oil' from its name as it seeks to diversify its business and attract young talent concerned about fossil fuels' impact on climate change. From Wednesday on, the majority state-owned company changed its name to Equinor. The Norwegian government, which has a 67% stake in the firm, has approved the change. The oil and gas company said the name change was a natural step after it decided last year to become a “broad energy” firm, investing up to 15-20% of annual capital expenditure in “new energy solutions” by 2030.

Kaspersky Lab to shift core processes to Switzerland
 
Russian anti-virus software firm Kaspersky Lab, which is suspected by US authorities of helping the Kremlin's espionage efforts, said last Tuesday it was moving its core infrastructure and operations to Switzerland. By the end of this year, the production of its anti-virus software will be shifted to Zurich, and a data centre will be built there next year where information on most non-Russian customers will be stored. Development and data storage for the Russian market will remain in Russia, a Kaspersky executive told AFP.

China grants BMW license for self-driving road tests
 
China issued its first road test license to a foreign automobile firm granting BMW permission to test its self-driving vehicles. The Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology said last Monday that the license was issued based on a third-party appraisal. BMW applied for the license to test its 7-Series luxury sedans. The licenses allow the operators to use a 5.6km section of public road in Shanghai's Jiading District to test their smart cars. BMW currently has a team of 60 professionals based in Shanghai, developing self-driving technology.

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