Oil Futures Settle Sharply Lower On Demand Concerns

Israel Signals It Won’t Oppose U.S. Sale of F-35 Aircraft to UAE

Israel won’t object to the sale of “certain weapons systems” to the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, making it likely the U.S. will sellLockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 stealth jet to the Gulf country.

The Israeli announcement comes after a meeting between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the Pentagon on Thursday. Israel said the counterparts signed an agreement allowing it to acquire advanced weapons and upgrade its military.

The UAE has been seeking to buy the F-35 for several years, and Emirati officials said their recent agreement to normalize relations with Israel would enable a deal.

Israel had previously opposed the sale, a line Netanyahu repeated even after striking the peace accord with the UAE, saying it would compromise his nation’s military advantage.

U.S. law requires that arms sales to any country in the Mideast must not adversely impact “Israel’s qualitative military edge.”

The Trump administration had told Gantz of its plans to notify Congress that it intended to provide certain arms to the UAE, Israel’s premier and defense minister said in a statement.

Wells Fargo Does U-Turn on Cutting Perk for High-Earning Workers

On Wednesday,Wells Fargo & Co. told high-earning employees it would stop matching contributions to their 401(k) plans. By Friday, the bank reversed course.

The about-face followed a swift backlash from affected employees, who earn more than $250,000 a year, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

The measure was part of a larger set of changes the San Francisco-based firm rolled out this week to put “greater emphasis on how we support our lower-paid employees through our compensation and benefits program,” company spokesperson Beth Richek said in a statement. “After additional review and consideration, we have decided to continue offering the 6% company matching contribution to all 401(k) plan eligible employees.”

The drama unfolded as Wells Fargo undertakes a years-long cost-cutting initiative under Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf, who took over last October. He has repeatedly lamented the firm’s spending and pledged to eventually shave $10 billion in annual expenses. The company, which employed 274,900 people at the end of September, has embarked on workforce reductions that could ultimately number in the tens of thousands.

Covid Threatens Female Airline Pilots’ Progress

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Growing up in Amsterdam, Rachna Sharma Reiter felt like the exception. At age 7, she knew she wanted to be an airline pilot but never met any girls her age who shared that ambition. At flight school in the U.S., she was one of three women in a class of 150. After 16 years in the cockpit, she still finds herself being viewed as an anomaly. “It seems like things haven’t really changed,” says Reiter, who works for U.K. discount airlineEasyJet Plc. “Whenever I go somewhere, they always tend to think I’m a flight attendant, even when I’m in my pilot’s uniform.”

The path to the flight deck has never been easy for women. Beyond the gender assumptions, there are the structural forces impeding progress. Male-dominated militaries have long fed pilots into airline cockpits, though vets have taken a smaller share of the openings in recent years. Once women do make it in, everything from a male-centered training environment to work rules concerning maternity can slow their advancement.

Fed Gauge Shows 39 States Saw Economies Strengthen in September

Output strengthened in 39 U.S. states in September from a month earlier, with some of the best gains concentrated in northeastern territories including Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey, a Federal Reserve proxy showed.

Readings weakened in eight states, with the steepest drop in tourism-dependent Hawaii, and remained stable in three as the third quarter closed, according to the Philadelphia Fed’s State Coincident Indexesreport released Friday.

Longer term, several states have almost fully rebounded back to their pre-pandemic levels. Nebraska, Utah and Missouri climbed back in September to within 1 percentage point of their February readings, while Georgia, Kentucky, Montana and Oklahoma were less than 2 points away.

The indexescombine four state-level indicators — payroll employment, manufacturing hours worked, the jobless rate, and wages paid — to summarize current economic conditions.

Over the past three months, the reserve bank’s national index has increased by 2.3% as 48 states showed improvement and just two saw declines: Hawaii and New Mexico.

Oil Futures Settle Sharply Lower On Demand Concerns

Crude oil prices drifted lower on Friday, weighed down by worries about energy demand due to the surge in coronavirus cases in several countries and fresh lockdown measures.

Worries about excess supply in the market due to a surge in oil exports from Libya and data showing another increase in U.S. oil-rig count also impacted oil prices.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for December ended down by $0.79 or about 1.9% at $39.85 a barrel.

Brent crude futures were down by about $0.75 or 1.8% at $41.71 a barrel.

According to reports, crude output from Libya has exceeded 500,000 barrels per day and it is expected to increase further by the end of this month.

A report from Baker Hughes said U.S. oil-rig count rose for a fifth straight week, surging up by 6 to a total of 211 this week. Meanwhile, active U.S. rig count went up by 5 to 287 in the week ending October 23.

OPEC and its allies are scheduled to increase production by 2 million barrels per day from January. However, it remains to be seen whether the group will go ahead and increase output, considering the likely demand scenario in the wake of a surge in coronavirus cases and fresh lockdown restrictions in several places across the globe.

According to reports, the spread of coronavirus cases in France is getting out of control. Italy is seeing a surge in new cases, and several states across the U.S. have been reporting increases in infections.