Oil and gas workers in southern Nigeria downed tools on Tuesday over the alleged non-payment of salaries, with the walk-out hitting production and threatening electricity supplies.
At least 12 flow, compressor and pumping stations operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) in Delta state were affected by the industrial action, the workers said.
A shut-down of the facilities was likely, affecting oil and gas production that has already been hit by a wave of militant attacks on infrastructure over the last year.
That in turn could shut off supplies to the Utorogu natural gas plant, which is one of the biggest in the country, with a knock-on effect on domestic power provision.
Protester Omonena Pascal told AFP they had contacted NPDC staff last week about the walk-out and that they “would not go back to our duty posts till our demands are met”.
There was no immediate response from the company, which is a subsidiary of the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Nigeria, an OPEC member and one of Africa’s biggest oil producers, has seen its economy battered by the fall in global crude prices as well as militant attacks on infrastructure in the south.
The rebels want a fairer share of revenue from the sector for local people, most of whom still live in dire poverty despite the billions of dollars generated over the years from oil sales.
Elon Musk says Twitter hiding key witnesses in bot battle
Elon Musk is accusing Twitter Inc. of hiding key witnesses in their legal battle over whether he must consummate a $44 billion buyout of the company, according to people familiar with the allegations.
Musk contends the social media company isn’t producing the names of employees specifically responsible for evaluating how much of Twitter’s customer base is made up of spam and robot accounts, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
Musk’s lawyers have asked the judge in the case to force Twitter to identify the workers so the defense can get their records and question them, the people said.
A letter asking Delaware Chancery Court Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick to compel Twitter to hand over the names was filed Tuesday under seal. Under the court’s rules, Twitter’s attorneys have five business days to decide what should be redacted from the filing as proprietary information.
A Twitter spokesman declined to comment on the filing.
Tesla Share Sale
The letter comes as the Tesla Inc. co-founder said Tuesday he is selling $6.9 billion of Tesla shares to avoid a sudden sale in the event he is forced to go ahead with the deal to acquire Twitter. That has prompted some analysts to predict the billionaire may settle the case.
So far Twitter has handed over the names of “records custodians,” who aren’t as familiar with the data at issue, the people said. Musk wants McCormick to force Twitter to come up with the names of the employees charged with monitoring those accounts, they said.
Both sides have issued a torrent of subpoenas to banks, investors and lawyers involved in the teetering transaction as they seek ammunition for an Oct. 17 trial.
“It’s another salvo in the discovery wars that are common in this kind of litigation,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who specializes in securities and merger and acquisition law. “Both sides are jockeying for position by targeting different information.”
War of the Bots
Twitter’s lawyers say they’ll need only four days in court to prove Musk is using questions about spam and bot accounts as a pretext to walk away from the deal. The company said it has turned over all its information about those accounts and that it intends to make Musk pay the $54.20 per share he originally agreed to.
Musk counters in court filings that Twitter’s handover of the that material hasn’t been robust and that the company has failed to produce evidence that spam bots account for fewer than 5% of its active users, as it has said in regulatory filings. He argues this gives him a legitimate basis for canceling the buyout.
He alleges Twitter’s disclosures show that the actual number of monetizable daily active users, or mDAU as the industry calls it, is 65 million less than the 238 million Twitter has claimed. He says Twitter also misrepresents how many of those users view advertising, the company’s main source of revenue. By his estimate, fewer than 16 million users see the majority of ads and should be counted as monetizable.
Consumer prices rose 8.5% in July, less than expected as inflation pressures ease a bit
Prices that consumers pay for a variety of goods and services rose 8.5% in July from a year ago, a slowing pace from the previous month due largely to a drop in gasoline prices.
On a monthly basis, prices were flat as energy prices broadly declined 4.6% and gasoline fell 7.7%. That offset a 1.1% monthly gain in food prices and a 0.5% increase in shelter costs.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones were expecting headline CPI to increase 8.7% on an annual basis and 0.2% monthly.
Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core CPI rose 5.9% annually and 0.3% monthly, compared with respective estimates of 6.1% and 0.5%.
Even with the lower-than-expected numbers, inflation pressures remained strong.
The jump in the food index put the 12-month increase to 10.9%, the fastest pace since May 1979. Butter is up 26.4% over the past year, eggs have surged 38% and coffee is up more than 20%.
Despite the monthly drop in the energy index, electricity prices rose 1.6% and were up 15.2% from a year ago. The energy index rose 32.9% from a year ago.
Used vehicle prices posted a 0.4% monthly decline, while apparel prices also fell, easing 0.1%, and transportation services were off 0.5% as airline fares fell 1.8% for the month and 7.8% from a year ago.
Markets reacted positively to the report, with futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average up more than 400 points and government bond yields down sharply.
“Things are moving in the right direction,” said Aneta Markowska, chief economist at Jefferies. “This is the most encouraging report we’ve had in quite some time.”
The report was good news for workers, who saw a 0.5% monthly increase in real wages. Inflation-adjusted average hourly earnings were still down 3% from a year ago.
Shelter costs, which make up about one-third of the CPI weighting, continued to rise and are up 5.7% over the past 12 months.
The numbers indicate that inflation pressures are easing somewhat but still remain near their highest levels since the early 1980s.
Clogged supply chains, outsized demand for goods over services, and trillions of dollars in pandemic-related fiscal and monetary stimulus have combined to create an environment of high prices and slow economic growth that has bedeviled policymakers.
The July drop in gas prices has provided some hope after prices at the pump rose past $5 a gallon. But gasoline was still up 44% from a year ago and fuel oil increased 75.6% on an annual basis, despite an 11% decline in July.
Federal Reserve officials are using a recipe of interest rate increases and related monetary policy tightening in hopes of beating back inflation numbers running well ahead of their 2% long-run target. The central bank has hiked benchmark borrowing rates by 2.25 percentage points so far in 2022, and officials have provided strong indications that more increases are coming.
There was some good news earlier this week when a New York Fed survey indicated that consumers have pared back inflation expectations for the future. But for now, the soaring cost of living remains a problem.
While inflation has been accelerating, gross domestic product declined for the first two quarters of 2022. The combination of slow growth and rising prices is associated with stagflation, while the two straight quarters of negative GDP meets a widely held definition of recession.
Wednesday’s inflation numbers could take some heat off the Fed.
Recent commentary from policymakers has pointed toward a third consecutive 0.75 percentage point interest rate hike at the September meeting. Following the CPI report, market pricing reversed, with traders now anticipating a better chance of a lesser 0.5 percentage point move.
“At the very least, this report takes the pressure off the Fed at the next meeting,” Markowska said. “They’ve been saying they’re ready to deliver a 75 basis point hike if they have to. I don’t think they have to anymore.”
With Tesla stock sale Musk cashes up for Twitter
Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk sold $6.9bn worth of shares in the electric vehicle maker, tweeting it was important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock amid a legal showdown with Twitter Inc over a $44bn takeover deal.
Musk sold about 7.92 million shares on August 5, according to a series of regulatory filings that landed after US markets closed on Tuesday. He now owns 155.04 million shares in Tesla.
As speculation mounted over the reason for the disposal, Musk responded in a series of late-night tweets, saying he wanted to avert an emergency sale of stock.
Asked by followers if he had finished selling Tesla shares and would buy the stock again if the deal does not close, Musk responded: “Yes.”
But legal experts have suggested that if Musk loses his battle against Twitter and is forced to complete the acquisition or pay a stiff penalty, he could conceivably have to sell more Tesla shares.
Musk tore up his April 25 agreement to buy the social media platform and the two sides face a drawn-out legal battle that could still cost Musk billions of dollars. The two sides head to trial on October 17.
“He certainly is clarifying that he is cashing up for Twitter,” said Charu Chanana, strategist at Saxo Capital Markets Pte in Singapore. “The timing of the sale – just ahead of the US CPI release – does say something, though. The bear market rally has started to falter, and further repricing of Fed expectations could mean more pain for equities ahead, especially in tech.”
The latest sales bring total stock sales by Musk to about $32bn in less than one year. Tesla shares have risen about 35 percent from this year’s lows, though are still down about 20 percent this year.
Musk, the world’s richest person, had said in April that there were “no further TSLA sales planned” – after he sold $8.5bn worth of shares in the company back then.
Musk’s $250.2bn fortune is the world’s largest, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, but his wealth has fallen by about $20bn this year as Tesla shares declined.
The carmaker’s shareholders approved a three-for-one stock split last week, a move designed to attract an even larger number of retail investors given the shares’ recent rebound. Tesla’s better-than-expected second-quarter earnings have been a tailwind, along with landmark US climate change legislation that aims to boost the use of clean energy through a series of tax incentives.
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