Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.
1. Crude prices fell in Asian trade Thursday as refineries shut down by deadly storm Harvey in the key oil-producing US Gulf Coast struggled to get back online, further piling up supplies. The monster storm barreled into Texas on Friday as a Category Four hurricane, smashing homes and businesses and triggering massive floods.
2. Polish freedom icon Lech Walesa said Wednesday that Poland was pushing the European Union away, echoing comments made this month by French and German leaders against Warsaw’s rightwing government. The 73-year-old former president and Nobel Peace laureate spoke days after French President Emmanuel Macron said Poland was going “against European interests” and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Poland a “serious issue”.
3. Some in Washington are pushing for unilateral US action against the banks doing business with Pyongyang — a move that would set up a confrontation with China. World powers maintained a show of unity on Tuesday when the UN Security Council voted unanimously to condemn North Korea’s latest missile test, in which it provocatively fired an intermediate range weapon over Japan and into the ocean.
4. France’s tax authority is seeking €600 million ($US715 million) from Microsoft’s local subsidiary for billing French customers from Ireland, the weekly L’Express reported. The magazine reported that the bills concerned internet advertising and keywords for internet searches.
5. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned Britain again that it needs to clarify its position on key issues, as the latest talks continued in Brussels. Barnier had demanded on Monday that London start “negotiating seriously” as a March 2019 deadline looms and the talks stall over what comes first — the divorce settlement or Britain’s future relationship with the bloc.
6. Goldman Sachs economists downgraded the likelihood of a US government shutdown to 35% from their earlier call of 50% in the wake of Harvey, seen as one of the costliest US storms on record. “Allowing a partial government shutdown when federal relief efforts are underway would pose greater political risks than under normal circumstances, raising the probability that lawmakers will find a way to resolve disagreements,” the Goldman economists wrote.
7. Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair will not make an offer for assets of insolvent German airline Air Berlin, Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said, citing what he said was an opaque carve-up process. Air Berlin, Germany’s second-largest airline, filed for bankruptcy protection this month after shareholder Etihad Airways withdrew funding following years of losses.
8. Russian bank Otkritie’s dollar bond maturing in April 2019 tumbled to a record low, reversing the previous day’s gains as fears returned that holders of the lender’s subordinated debt would be asked to contribute to its rescue. The Russian central bank mounted one of its biggest ever bailouts of a financial institution on Tuesday, taking up to 75% of Otkritie, the country’s biggest private lender.
9. Qatar’s foreign minister said that his country was willing to negotiate an end to a Gulf diplomatic rift but had seen no sign that Saudi Arabia and other countries imposing sanctions on Doha were open to mediation. Kuwait and the United States are trying to heal a bitter dispute between Qatar and four Arab countries that has damaged business ties and disrupted travel for thousands of citizens in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.
10. A British man has been extradited from Germany after being accused of launching cyber attacks on the networks of Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays banks this year, the National Crime Agency said. Daniel Kaye, 29, from Egham, west of London, is accused of using an infected network to attack the banks’ systems.