Oil Prices Edge Lower In Choppy Trade
Oil prices were subdued on Monday as global leaders push for a diplomatic solution to Russia-Ukraine crisis. New reports on the progress in the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna also kept prices under pressure.
Benchmark Brent crude futures slipped 0.2 percent to $91.27 a barrel, while U.S. WTI crude futures were down 0.3 percent at $89.98.
Investors watched the latest developments in Ukraine as last-ditch diplomatic efforts continued to prevent what Western powers warn could be the imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia President Vladimir Putin have accepted in principle a French proposal for a diplomatic summit on the Ukraine crisis. The meeting would occur only if Russia doesn’t invade Ukraine.
Moscow continues to deny it plans to invade Ukraine and says it is already pulling troops back from areas near the border.
Meanwhile, talks in Vienna on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers have made “significant progress”, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
Separately, Iran’s top security official Ali Shamkhani said talks with European negotiators were ongoing and would continue.
Gold Slips From Eight-month Highs
Gold prices were little changed on Monday, after having hit a more than eight-month high earlier in the day.
Spot gold was marginally lower at $1,897.59 per ounce, while U.S. gold futures were virtually unchanged at $1,899.80.
Equities held steady as news of a summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin fueled hopes for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict.
The summit would occur after a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday.
U.S. officials said that the proposed summit would happen only if Russia did not attack Ukraine.
The potential breakthrough came after an increase in shellings across the line dividing Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels and the U.S. warning of an invasion of Ukraine in the coming days.
On Sunday, Russia extended military drills in Belarus, citing an increase in tensions along the Ukraine border.
In economic releases, data showed earlier in the day that the euro zone economy regained momentum in February, but high inflation persisted in services and manufacturing, adding to reasons for the European Central Bank to become more hawkish.
Microsoft To Fully Reopen Redmond Campus
Software behemoth Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) on Monday announced plans to reopen its Washington work sites.
“Our Washington state work sites will move to our sixth and final stage of the hybrid workplace model, effective February 28, 2022,” Redmond-based Microsoft said in blog.
Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela said the company will fully open its facilities to employees, visitors and guests.
“All campus services will return, including the Connector ride-share option for employees in the Puget Sound area. Additionally, we’re pleased to be joining other area businesses welcoming back more employees in the coming weeks,” Capossela added.
Meanwhile, the full re-opening of Microsoft’s work site doesn’t guarantee that all the employees will return to the campus. Microsoft said it believes “flexibility should be at the forefront of our evolving hybrid workplace.”
“Our approach to hybrid embraces schedule flexibility as standard for most roles and provides employees with the opportunity to determine how and where they work best, while making sure an individual’s plans align to the team agreements set with their manager. We’ve committed to empowering our managers with tools and resources to provide employees with the level of care they need during this transition, which includes the ability to approve requests to adjust their work site, location or hours,” Capossela added.
From February 28, employees will have 30 days to make adjustments to their routines and adopt the working preferences they’ve agreed upon with their managers.
Herald morning quiz: February 22
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FDA Pushes Vaccine For Children Under 5 Year Back For More Data
The US FDA has said on Friday that it will wait for the data of Pfizer, Inc. (PFE) vaccine’s three doses on children below 5 years before authorizing the shot. As per reports, the delay can be as long as eight weeks.
The Director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Peter Marks, MD, said that there will be a meeting held with the Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee this week to decide on the vaccine’s efficacy before the agency comes to a decision.
The drugmaker has already urged the agency to go ahead with the vaccine but Marks said, “in looking through the data we realized now… that at the time it makes sense for us to wait until we have the data of the evaluation of a mid dose before taking action.”
“If we feel something doesn’t meet (our) standard, we can’t go forward. Rather than an issue of having anyone question the process, I hope this reassures people that the process has a standard,” he added, reassuring the parents and caregivers of the children.
Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases had said that the vaccine for children under 5 years is going to be available by February but the vaccine would be authorized after its result after three doses.
The company, however, believes that the 3-microgram dosage that it has deemed suitable for children between 6 months to 4 years, is not going to have any adverse effects on them. Usually, adults receive a 30-microgram dosage for their vaccines.