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VIENNA, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - The oil ministers of the OPEC cartel are arriving in Vienna to discuss this week whether to increase production of crude oil and help ease the price of global energy.

The officials were gathering on Tuesday ahead of the official meeting Friday, when they will also confer with Russia, a non-OPEC country that has cooperated with the cartel to limit production since late 2016.

Analysts expect the group to discuss an increase in production of about 1 million barrels a day, ending the output cut agreed on in 2016.

Upon arriving, the energy minister of the United Arab Emirates, Suhail Al Mazrouei, said: "It's going to be hopefully a good meeting. We look forward to having this gathering with OPEC and non-OPEC."

MUNICH, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - Audi’s (NSUG.DE) board of directors will resume talks on Tuesday to address a leadership crisis at Volkswagen’s most profitable brand, sources familiar with the matter said, following Audi chief Rupert Stadler’s arrest.

Hours of negotiations by Volkswagen and Audi’s supervisory boards on Monday failed to reach an agreement on how to move on from news that German authorities had detained Stadler as part of their investigation into the group’s emissions test cheating.

The arrest of 55-year-old on Monday threw Volkswagen (VW) into turmoil as it struggles to draw a line under the scandal, which emerged after USregulators blew the whistle in September 2015 on the use of illegal software.

Stadler has been under fire from the media, politicians and VW’s powerful trade unions for his handling of the scandal, but he survived a major management reshuffle announced in August thanks to backing from the Piech and Porsche families that control Europe’s biggest automaker.

Last week, Munich prosecutors said they were investigating Stadler for suspected fraud and false advertising and for his alleged role in helping to bring cars equipped with illegal software on to the European market.

They said the decision to arrest him at his home in Ingolstadt in the early hours of Monday was made because they saw a risk that he could try to suppress evidence.

One source has said that Dutchman Bram Schot was the front runner to become interim Audi chief if Stadler is suspended from his duties.

VW shares were down 2.6 per cent in early trading. 

DAMIETTA, Egypt, June 18, 2018 (MENA) - Two container ships and two cargo vessels have arrived at the Egyptian Port of Damietta over the past 24 hours.

Seventeen other vessels are docked at the anchorage area waiting for their entry procedures to be completed, a statement by the Damietta Port Authority said Monday.

Two trains laden with 2,642 tons of wheat and 108 trucks carrying 5,872 tons of wheat left the port, the statement added.

SARASOTA, (United States), June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Along sun-splashed shorelines in the US state of Florida, home prices are on the rise, developers are busy building new complexes, and listings just blocks from the beach describe homes that are "not in a flood zone," meaning no flood insurance is required.

But experts warn that ignoring sea level rise won't prevent a looming economic crisis caused by water-logged homes that will someday become unsafe, uninhabitable and too costly to insure.

A reality check may come sooner than many may think, according to a report out Monday by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which finds as many as 64,000 coastal residences worth $26 billion in Florida are at risk of chronic flooding in the next 30 years, the life of a typical mortgage.

Across the United States, 311,000 coastal homes with a collective market value of about $120 billion in Monday's dollars are at risk of chronic flooding by 2045, it said.

By century's end, if current trends continue, more than $1 trillion in commercial and private US property may be at risk, "with Florida's coastal real estate among the most exposed," said the report.

And it's not because of the increased risk of hurricanes or storm surge.

Rather, the danger comes from flooding due to high tides -- sometimes called sunny day floods, or nuisance flooding -- when waterpools into streets, sidewalks, storefronts and homes.

"This risk is relatively near-term, well before places go underwater completely, and even in the absence of storms," said Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and policy director with the Climate and Energy program at the UCS.

Coastal real estate markets are not currently factoring in these risks, she said.

"But market perceptions can shift and they can shift quickly in some places," she added, describing a market correction as "inevitable."

To make the risks clearer to people, UCS released a searchable online map that shows where the danger is greatest, available atwww.ucsusa.org/underwater.

The online realty site Zillow provided data for the analysis but did not take part in the scientific research.

The projections use a high-end scenario for sea level rise because that is an "appropriately conservative projection to use" when estimating risk to homes, often people's largest asset, Cleetus said.

Chronic inundation is defined in the report as flooding that happens at least 26 times a year.

By 2045, rising seas are expected to bring an extra 1.8 feet (55 centimeters) of water along Florida's coast, according to the UCS report.

By 2100, Florida can expect an average of 6.4 extra feet of water -- an awful lot given that the state's average elevation above sea level is only about six feet, with many places three feet or below. "This is a slow-moving disaster," said Cleetus.

The low-lying Tampa Bay area, Miami and The Keys island chain face the most peril from sea level rise.

One worry is that insurance premiums will increase so much that coastal homes become unaffordable for those with fixed or lower incomes.

Local governments may decide to cut power and water to flooded neighborhoods.

Many will risk losing their largest financial asset -- their homes -- and municipalities will forfeit huge amounts of revenue from property taxes.

In Florida alone, the "homes at risk by 2100 currently contribute roughly $5 billion collectively in annual property tax revenue," said the report.

SINGAPORE, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Google will invest $550 million in Chinese e-commerce powerhouse JD.com, part of the US internet giant’s efforts to expand its presence in fast-growing Asian markets and battle rivals including Amazon.com.

The two companies described the investment as one piece of a broader partnership that will include the promotion of JD.com products on Google’s shopping service. This could help JD.com expand beyond its base in China and Southeast Asia and establish a meaningful presence in US and European markets.

Company officials said the agreement initially would not involve any major new Google initiatives in China, where the company’s main services are blocked over its refusal to censor search results in line with local laws.

JD.com’s investors include Chinese social media powerhouse Tencent Holdings Ltd, the arch-rival of Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, and Walmart Inc.

Google is stepping up its investments across Asia, where a rapidly growing middle class and a lack of infrastructure in retail, finance and other areas have made it a battleground for US and Chinese internet giants. Google recently took a stake in Indonesian ride-hailing firm Go-Jek, and sources have told Reuters that it may also invest in Indian e-commerce upstart Flipkart.

Google declined to comment on the rumored Flipkart deal. The JD.com investment is being made by the operating unit of Google rather than one of parent company Alphabet’s investment vehicles.

Google will get 27.1 million newly issued JD.com Class A ordinary shares as part of the deal. This will give them less than a 1 percent stake in JD, a spokesman for JD said.

For JD.com, the Google deal shows its determination to build a set of global alliances as it seeks to counter Alibaba, which has been more focused on forging domestic retail tie-ups. Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, which is making big internet investments around the globe, is a major investor in Alibaba.

“This partnership with Google opens up a broad range of possibilities to offer a superior retail experience to consumers throughout the world,” said Jianwen Liao, JD.com’s chief strategy officer, in a statement.

 

LONDON, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Cryptocurrencies are not scalable and are more likely to suffer a breakdown in trust and efficiency the greater the number of people using them, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) said on Sunday in its latest warning about the rise of virtual currencies.

For any form of money to work across large networks it requires trust in the stability of its value and in its ability to scale efficiently, the BIS, an umbrella group for the world’s central banks, said in its annual report.

But trust can disappear instantly because of the fragility of the decentralized networks on which cryptocurrencies depend, the BIS said.

Those networks are also prone to congestion the bigger they become, according to the BIS, which noted the high transaction fees of the best-known digital currency, bitcoin, and the limited number of transactions per second they can handle.

“Trust can evaporate at any time because of the fragility of the decentralised consensus through which transactions are recorded,” the Switzerland-based group said in its report.

“Not only does this call into question the finality of individual payments, it also means that a cryptocurrency can simply stop functioning, resulting in a complete loss of value.”

The BIS’ head of research, Hyun Song Shin, said sovereign money had value because it had users, but many people holding cryptocurrencies did so often purely for speculative purposes.

“Without users, it would simply be a worthless token. That’s true whether it’s a piece of paper with a face on it, or a digital token,” he said, comparing virtual coins to baseball cards or Tamagotchi.

The dependency of users on so-called miners to record and verify crypto transactions is also flawed, according to the BIS, requiring vast and costly energy use.

It has issued a series of warnings this year after an explosive rise in cryptocurrency values attracted a wave of followers.

 

 

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