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British annual inflation accelerated in December to its highest level for almost three decades, official data showed Wednesday, fueled by price gains for clothing, food and furniture.

The rate hit 5.4 percent last month after striking a decade-high in November on jumping fuel costs, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.

Inflation was last higher in March 1992 when it had stood at 7.1 percent.

Economies worldwide are battling against decades-high inflation that is forcing central banks to hike interest rates, including the Bank of England which last month raised its key borrowing cost.

“The inflation rate rose again at the end of the year and has not been higher for almost 30 years,” said ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner.

“Food prices again grew strongly while increases in furniture and clothing also pushed up annual inflation.

“These large rises were slightly offset by petrol prices, which despite being at record levels were stable this month, but rose this time last year.”

Fitzner added that last year’s Covid lockdowns had impacted some items but the overall impact on headline inflation rate was “negligible”.


Iran and Oman agree to jointly develop shared oilfield

Iran and Oman have agreed to form a committee to jointly develop the Hengam oilfield, which straddles both countries’ sea border, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported its oil minister Javad Owji as saying on Monday.

In 2005, both countries signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop the Hengam oil field but the agreement did not materialize and Iran decided to develop the field independently in 2012.

“As the first basis of my talks with Omani Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Rumhi, it was agreed to form a joint technical committee to develop the next phases of the Hengam oil field in a seamless manner between Iran and Oman,” Owji said.

“Joint exploitation, in contrast to competitive exploitation, will be mutually beneficial to both countries as this method leads to less damage to the reservoir and allows for more extraction,” the oil minister added.

Last week, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported that Owji had agreed to revive a long-stalled project to lay an undersea pipeline to carry gas to Oman.

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Gold edges up; Wheat falls, soybean firm; UK to impose duties of up to 29% on Chinese aluminum extrusions

Gold edged up on Friday, heading for its first week of gains in five on persistent worries over economic growth and a weekly decline in the dollar.

A slide in US Treasury yields supported the safe-haven metal on the day, sending spot gold up 0.1 percent to $1,843.29 per ounce. Prices hit a one-week high earlier in the session.

US gold futures settled up 0.1 percent at $1,842.10.

Platinum falls

Silver fell 0.1 percent to $21.69 per ounce, but was up about 2.9 percent for the week.

Platinum fell 1.4 percent to $948.77, while palladium eased 2.4 percent to $1,958.81.

Wheat, corn ease

Chicago wheat fell for a third straight session on Friday, retreating further from a two-month high it hit earlier this week as technical selling pressured the market, traders said.

Corn also eased, as accelerated US planting and news that Argentina may expand an export volume cap weighed.

Soybeans gained on strong export demand, amid tight supplies.

The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade lost 31-3/4 cents at $11.68-3/4 a bushel, a 0.7 percent weekly decline.

CBOT corn ended 4-1/2 cents lower at $7.78-3/4 a bushel, ending lower for a third consecutive week.

Soybeans firmed 14-3/4 cents to $17.05-1/4 a bushel, logging a weekly gain of 58-3/4 cents, a 3.6 percent increase.

UK to impose duties on Chinese aluminum extrusions

Britain may impose anti-dumping duties of up to 29 percent on aluminum extrusions from China to protect domestic producers, a trade agency said on Friday.

Aluminium extrusions — widely used in the transport, construction and electronics industries — are being dumped in Britain at lower prices than they are sold in China, the Trade Remedies Authority said in an interim report.

“The TRA determined that there is already damage to the UK industry, having found clear evidence of price undercutting, indicating that UK businesses are struggling to compete with the dumped imports,” a statement said.

Provisional measures will be imposed as the TRA completes its investigation, requiring Chinese companies exporting to Britain to provide a bank guarantee beginning on May 28, it added.

Duties ranging from 7.3 percent to 29.1 percent were recommended, depending on the company and the level of dumping margin, the interim report said.

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“Artful Putin”… The rise in the ruble price to a record level against the dollar is causing an uproar on the communication sites

On Friday, the Russian currency recorded significant gains against its American and European counterparts, despite Western sanctions imposed on Moscow, causing an uproar on social media.

On Friday, the Russian currency hit two record levels in about an hour against the American and European currencies, and the dollar exchange rate fell, during trading, to below the level of 57 rubles, for the first time since April 2018, while the euro exchange rate fell below the level 60 rubles for the first time since April 2017.

In this context, social media sites were abuzz with this news, in reference to the reverse course of the sanctions imposed on Russia, while Russian measures prove their strength in the face of the West.

A number of social media pioneers and media professionals circulated this news, as the Egyptian media, Amr Adib, described the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, as “shitty”, as a result of the measures he took.

And one of the accounts commented, saying: “Putin is currently surrounded by a man against a man, and he is laughing at the whole West… and frankly… his right.”

The rise of the Russian currency comes after it had fallen in the second half of last March to historical levels, as it exceeded the level of 140 rubles to the dollar.

At the beginning of last March, the Russian Central Bank announced a set of measures to achieve financial and economic stability in Russia, the most prominent of which is obligating exporters in Russia to sell 80% of foreign exchange earnings on the Moscow Stock Exchange.

Experts believe that the Russian ruble is receiving support from the surplus in the trade balance, as imports in Russia fell by about 50%, which reduced the demand for the US currency.

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