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General Motors plans to produce two new car models in South Korea

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The General Motors Global Headquarters shown on June 6, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan.

Bill Pugliano | Getty Images

The General Motors Global Headquarters shown on June 6, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan.

General Motors plans to produce two new car models in South Korea, a local lawmaker said, quoting GM executive Barry Engle as saying this at a meeting with South Korean members of parliament.

Engle, who is president of GM International, did not elaborate on whether the company’s plan for the two new car models was dependent on government support for the automaker, according to South Korean politician Kim Sung-tae, who attended the meeting.

GM announced last week it will shutter a plant in the city of Gunsan, in the southwest of South Korea, by May, and decide within weeks on the fate of the three remaining plants in the country.

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Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes add to oil market anxiety

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People greet soldiers with Azerbaijani and Turkish flags on Sept. 27, 2020 in Tartar, Azerbaijan as clashes continue at Azerbaijan-Armenia contact line.

Resul Rehimov | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Deadly clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan are unlikely to result in major disruptions to energy production and supplies, analysts say, despite the region being a critical corridor for pipelines transporting oil and gas to the global markets.

“There is not really much anticipation that this will boil over into something more serious for oil and commodity markets,” Edward Bell, a senior director at Dubai-based Emirates NBD bank, told CNBC.

“If the geopolitical premium is not already in the price, I don’t think we’re going to see much reaction here on in,” Bell added, despite a worry that recent clashes could impact production or pipeline facilities, which have been subject to illegal taps, attack and sabotage during periods of heightened tension in the past. 

The clashes between the two former Soviet republics in the South Caucasus are the latest flare-up of a long-running conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region of Azerbaijan run by ethnic Armenians. 

At the weekend, Armenia said Azerbaijan had carried out an air and artillery attack on Nagorno-Karabakh, but Azerbaijan said it had responded to Armenian shelling, according to NBC News, which has not been able to independently confirm the number of injuries or fatalities. 

Critical pipelines on watch as conflict evolves

Azerbaijan is the 24th largest crude oil producer in the world and a significant producer of natural gas, which both account for more than 90% of Azerbaijan’s exports. Its pipelines make it a strategic gateway to oil and gas in the Caspian and a growing source of energy security for Europe.

Azerbaijan has three crude oil export pipelines. The largest is the 1,768-km-long Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which transports crude and condensates through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. It has two main gas export pipelines, including the 693 km South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) that transports gas from the Shah Deniz field through Georgia to Turkey parallel to the BTC crude oil pipeline, according to the IEA.

Even so, Bell says the risk of further military action might not be enough to prompt a commodity price spike. 

“I think oil markets have become very attuned and very good at pricing in what is an actual disruption to output that would prompt prices going higher,” he said, suggesting that even a brief interruption to output or disruption to a pipeline would easily be recovered given the vast amount of spare crude and gas production capacity elsewhere around the world.  

A lower for longer recovery?

Crude oil traded in a tight range with a positive bias on Monday. Brent and WTI both fell 2% last week, with investors growing increasingly anxious that oil demand will fail to recover if countries reintroduce further Covid-19 restrictions.  

“The risks are to the downside at the moment,” said Bell, who expects prices to continue on a similar trajectory in the fourth quarter of this year.

“Market sentiment is somber due to surging infection rates and escalating U.S.-China tension,” analysts at ANZ said. “New Covid-19 case numbers are accelerating in major U.S. states, renewing fears of mobility restrictions challenging the ongoing oil demand recovery in the last quarter,” ANZ added. 

More crude is also being exported from Libya, which opened several export terminals and said production could rise significantly before the end of the year.

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Uber wins legal fight to regain London license

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A man holding up a smartphone with the Uber transport app visible on screen, while taxis queue in the background, on June 4, 2019. (Photo by Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images)

Olly Curtis | Future | Getty Images

Uber won its legal fight to continue operating in London on Monday, as a judge overturned a ban on the ride-hailing app by the city’s transport regulator.

Last year, TfL stripped Uber of its license for a second time — it first declined to renew Uber’s London license in 2017 — citing a “pattern of failures” that had put passengers at risk.

The watchdog said a glitch in Uber’s systems allowed unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other driver accounts and fraudulently pick up passengers in at least 14,000 journeys.

Uber had tried to allay the regulator’s passenger safety concerns, introducing a new system in April to verify drivers’ identities through a mix of facial recognition and human reviewers.

London is Uber’s largest market by far in Europe. The company has racked up around 3.5 million users and 45,000 drivers in the U.K. capital since launching there in 2012.

It’s the city’s top ride-hailing player but faces heavy competition from several new operators including India’s Ola and Estonia’s Bolt.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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Dow futures up 200 points following a 4-week losing streak

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Stock futures climbed in early morning trading on Monday following a four-week losing streak on Wall Street.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 213 points. S&P 500 futures and the Nasdaq 100 futures also traded in positive territory as well.

The S&P 500 and the 30-stock Dow were coming off their fourth straight negative week, shedding 0.6% and 1.8%, respectively. It marked the first time since August 2019 that the two benchmarks suffered a four-week losing streak.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq eked out a 1% gain last week, posting its first positive week in four as the technology sector rebounded slightly from the recent deep rout. 

Signs of a worsening pandemic continue to keep investors on edge. New daily coronavirus cases topped 1,000 in New York state on Saturday, marking the first time the state’s new infections have broken the 1,000 threshold since early June.

Major averages are on track to post steep losses for September, a historically weak month for stocks. The Dow and the S&P 500 have fallen 4.4% and 5.8%, respectively, while the Nasdaq has dropped 7.3%. The declines followed a massive comeback from the coronavirus sell-off that saw the S&P 500 climb more than 50% from its March bottom.

“When markets get to the kinds of extremes we saw a month ago, it tends to take a very deep correction before the worst is behind us,” Matthew Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak, said in a note on Sunday. “It also usually sees several ‘waves’ of a decline.” 

Investors continue to monitor the developments on further fiscal stimulus after negotiations between House Democrats and the Trump administration fell apart in early August.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday a last-minute coronavirus aid deal remains on the table as House Democrats try to forge ahead on a smaller aid package costing about $2.4 trillion. The chamber could vote on the bill as soon as next week.

Meanwhile on Saturday, President Donald Trump announced that he will nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

The move sets up a confirmation fight just weeks before Election Day. Hearings to consider Trump’s nominee are set to begin Oct. 12, Senator Lindsey Graham said late Saturday.

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