International News 05/02
By 2023, China will become the world's largest car exporter, displacing Japan.
In 2023, China overtook Japan as the world's largest car exporter, thanks to the high sales of electric vehicles (EVs). According to data from Japan's trade organization, Japan's car exports increased by 16% to 4.42 million units, while China's car exports surged by 58% to 4.91 million cars. This is the first time since 2016 that Japan has lost its top position, which was previously held by Germany. Although Japan's car exports grew for the first time in two years, they still fall short of pre-pandemic levels. China's car exports, on the other hand, have risen due to the strong demand for EVs. Chinese manufacturers such as BYD have benefited from government support. Furthermore, China's oil-fuelled car exports to Russia have increased as other automakers have pulled out of the country. In response, Japanese automakers such as Toyota are reassessing their production strategies to decrease their dependence on petrol-powered cars and prioritise the production of electric vehicles.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has announced its first dividend distribution.
Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, has announced its first-ever dividend, just days before the 20th anniversary of Facebook. The company also reported strong revenue, exceeding expectations, thanks to robust advertising and device sales during the holiday season. Following the dividend announcement, Meta shares surged over 14% after trading hours, causing the company's market valuation to reach around $130 billion, making it five times larger than its competitors. The dividend will be 50 cents per share, and Meta has also approved an additional $50 billion share buyback. CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed satisfaction with the progress made in advancing AI and the metaverse. Meta's revenue for the quarter ending on December 31 rose by 25% to $40.1 billion, surpassing analysts' estimates. The company also expects its first-quarter revenue to be between $34.5 billion and $37 billion, which is higher than expected.
Crude oil prices fell by 2% after Middle East ceasefire talks.
Crude oil prices fell by over 2% after unverified reports of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and a power outage that caused a major US refinery to shut down. Brent oil futures for April 2024 delivery dropped 2.5% to $78.70 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures for March 2024 delivery experienced a 2.7% decline to $73.82 per barrel. Although there have been reports of a ceasefire, a Qatari official has stated that there is no official agreement, although Hamas has received a proposed ceasefire. Ongoing tensions in the Middle East, including attacks by Houthi forces in the Red Sea, have contributed to the volatility in oil prices. The Houthis have also declared their intention to attack US and British warships in self-defence. BP Plc has announced the closure of its 435,000 bpd refinery in Whiting, Indiana.