Wednesday, 27 Jan 2021

New COVID Cases, Deaths Falling In US

Merkel Ready to Link Nord Stream With Russian Navalny Response

Chancellor Angela Merkel backed her foreign minister in putting the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline on the table in any potential response to the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny.

The German leader supports statements from Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who over the weekend warned that Berlin could change its backing for the project, Merkel’s chief spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said on Monday, adding that it’s “too early” to determine what the consequences of the chemical attack would be.

“The chancellor also holds the view that it’s wrong to rule something out from the start,” Seibert told reporters in Berlin. It was a shift for Merkel, who said on Aug. 28 that Nord Stream should be completed and remain a separate issue from Navalny.

Moments earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that the Kremlin sees no risk that Germany will block Nord Stream.

— With assistance by Raymond Colitt, and Gregory White

Colombia eases restrictions, but a happy public ignores rules

Country eases coronavirus restrictions as peak passes, but crowds in public spaces raise fears of a new spike.

Colombia is easing some coronavirus restrictions after months of lockdown.

But many people are flouting some of the rules that are in place to keep people safe while mixing in public areas.

Officials in the capital, Bogota, have found new ways to keep order – using clowns who mingle with the crowds and remind people to follow the rules.

Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti reports from Bogota, Colombia.

Qudian Q2 Non-GAAP Profit Falls – Quick Facts

Qudian Inc. (QD) reported that its second quarter non-GAAP net income declined by 97.4% year-on-year to RMB 29.9 million or $4.2 million, RMB 0.12 or $0.02 per ADS.

Second quarter total revenues were RMB 1.17 billion or $165.2 million, a decrease of 47.4% from last year. Total number of registered users as of June 30, 2020 reached 80.8 million, up 6.4% from June 30, 2019.

Min Luo, CEO of Qudian, said: “In light of unstable market conditions during the period, we adopted an extremely stringent approach for loan approvals while keeping focused on decreasing exposure to credit market risks. As such, our loan book business, as compared with the first quarter, maintained loan transaction volume that was relatively flat during the period.”

Gold rises ₹258, silver gains ₹837

Silver also gained ₹837 to ₹69,448 per kg, from ₹68,611 per kg in the previous trade

Gold prices on Monday rose ₹258 to ₹51,877 per 10 grams in the national capital supported by rupee depreciation, according to HDFC Securities.

The precious metal had closed at ₹51,619 per 10 grams in the previous trade.

Silver also gained ₹837 to ₹69,448 per kg, from ₹68,611 per kg in the previous trade.

The rupee depreciated 21 paise to 73.35 (provisional) against the U.S. dollar on Monday.

In the international market, gold and silver both were trading flat at $1,932 per ounce and $26.93 per ounce, respectively.

“Gold prices held narrow trading range on Monday in the absence of U.S. markets,” HDFC Securities Senior Analyst (Commodities) Tapan Patel said.

Navneet Damani, vice-president (commodities research) of Motilal Oswal Financial Services, said, “Gold in today’s (Monday) Asian session has been trading on a flat note and volatility remained low as U.S. markets remained shut on account of the Labour Day holiday.”

Maruti Suzuki India reports 11% rise in production in August

Utility vehicles contribute lion’s share of 44% in increase.

The country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India on Monday said its total production in August increased by 11% to 1,23,769 units.

The company had produced a total of 1,11,370 units in the same month last year, Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) said in a statement.

Passenger vehicles production stood at 1,21,381 units last month as compared to 1,10,214 units in August 2019, a growth of 10%.

Production of mini cars comprising Alto and S-Presso models were at 22,208 units as against 13,814 units in the year-ago month, up 61%.

Compact cars, comprising WagonR, Celerio, Ignis, Swift, Baleno, Dzire, were produced at a marginally higher rate at 67,348 units as against 67,095 units in August 2019, MSI said.

Production of utility vehicles — Gypsy, Ertiga, S-Cross, Vitara Brezza and XL6 — was up 44% at 21,737 units as compared to 15,099 units in the same month last year.

MSI said production of its light commercial vehicle Super Carry stood at 2,388 units as against 1,156 units in the year-ago month.

ACWA Signs Financing Pact for $650 Million Saudi Desalination Project

ACWA Power obtained financing to help develop a $650 million desalination project in Saudi Arabia.

The transaction is funded through “limited recourse ring-fenced project financing” with Al Rajhi Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Riyad Bank and Mizuho Bank Ltd. as initial mandated lead arrangers, the utility said in a statement. Riyad Bank and Bank AlJazira also provided equity bridge loans earlier this month.

Commercial operation of the seawater reverse osmosis desalination project, known as Jubail-3A, is scheduled toward the end of 2022.

New COVID Cases, Deaths Falling In US

On a day India overtook Brazil as the country second worst-hit by coronavirus, the United States recorded one of the lowest tolls in recent months in both new cases and deaths due to the pandemic.

With 33174 new cases reporting in the last 24 hours, the total number of infections in the country rose to 6277902 as of Johns Hopkins University’s latest update Monday.

406 COVID-infected deaths were reported in the same period, taking the national total to 185747.

These are the second lowest figures in 76 days.

The fall in new infections in the most populous states of California, Florida and Texas are reflected in the national total.

But COVID-19 cases are rising in 22 U.S. states, mostly the less-populated Midwest and Southern states, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams reminded state governments to get ready to distribute a COVID vaccine by November 1 “just in case” it is developed by that time.

India has become the country with the second-highest number of COVID cases after it recorded more than 90,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.

This is a national record in daily spike in India.

For the last seven days, an average of 75,000 new infections have been emerging in India per day.

On Monday, it increased to 90,802.

With a total of 4204613 cases, India surpassed Brazil, and is second only to the worst-affected country of the United States.

However, in the number of COVID-related deaths, India is still third (71642), behind Brazil (126650).

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