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Oil resumes advance

Oil resumed gains as investors weighed the implications of a massive container ship still stuck in the Suez Canal after a volatile few days that saw prices swing wildly around $60 a barrel.

Futures in New York climbed 1.8% on Friday after dropping 4.3% in the previous session. The blockage has led to rising shipping rates and gridlock of vessels waiting to pass through the vital artery, with efforts to dislodge the Ever Given expected to take until at least Wednesday. Delays freeing the vessel is forcing ship-owners and traders to consider a costly alternative route around Africa.

Oil is still set for a third weekly drop, the longest run of losses since April, on a bearish outlook for near-term demand. U.S. virus cases are rising again and some European countries renewed lockdowns in a setback for the recovery.

The impact on the oil market from the blockage is likely to be muted, however, with crude flows from the Middle East to Europe declining due to a long-term realignment of trade. While plenty of oil is shipped from the North Sea to Asia, it’s usually carried on tankers that are too large to pass through the canal. There are also ample oil-product supplies across the region, with inventories at the major hub of Singapore holding near the five-year average.

Vaccine apathy drops as turnout rises in Lagos

Despite working at the largest tertiary healthcare facility in Nigeria’s economic capital, Lagos, John still held a tight grip on his reservations about taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

His primary concern like most was developing side effects from the Oxford-University-developed AstraZeneca vaccine. But he threw that behind him a week after interacting with colleagues who had been vaccinated and staying fit.

Thousands of Lagos residents like John are increasingly opening up to vaccination, with some motivated by the incentive of international travel access. Those vaccinated could escape restriction hitches likely to be imposed for entrants in some countries.

Five local government areas in Lagos State – Eti-Osa, Ikeja, Lagos Mainland, Alimosho, and Kosofe topped the state’s vaccination chart as 4,770 people in Eti-Osa received jabs, the highest turnout as of March 19.

In Ikeja, 4,262 have been vaccinated, 4,191 in Lagos Mainland, 3,818 in Alimosho, and 3,513 in Kosofe.

Eti-Osa, a highbrow vicinity leading the immunity race, happens to be the spot that accounts for the highest community infection rate of 27 percent in the state as of January.

The laggards are Ibeju-Lekki with 852 people vaccinated, Badagry 1,073, Agege 1,086, Amuwo Odofin 1,230, and Apapa, 1,289.

Read Also: Vaccine apathy drops as turnout rises in Lagos

Suez ship stays stuck as losses pile

The massive container ship stuck in the Suez Canal is showing no signs of budging and forcing other carriers and vessels to consider epic voyages around Africa. Two liquefied natural gas tankers bound for Asian markets appear to have changed course in the mid-Atlantic, while shipping giants A.P. Moller-Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd are considering sending vessels along the same route. Machinery producer Caterpillar is facing shipment delays and the blockage is also curbing shipments of robusta coffee — the type used to make Nescafe. Shipping rates remain elevated having soared due to pandemic disruption.

The 400-metres long Ever Given has been stuck in the canal since Tuesday and efforts are underway to free the vessel although the process may take weeks amid bad weather. The epic traffic jam is costing the world billions of dollars.

The suspension of traffic through the narrow channel linking Europe and Asia has deepened problems for shipping lines that were already facing disruption and delays in supplying retail goods to consumers.

Costly addiction

The Group General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, on Thursday said the Federal Government subsidises petrol with about N120bn ($263.25m) monthly. That works out to N4 billion daily.

Kyari said while the actual cost of importation and handling charges amounts to N234 per litre the government had been selling at N162 per litre, therefore, bearing the difference.

Kyari spoke at the weekly ministerial briefing at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said the NNPC could no longer afford to bear the cost, saying Nigerians would have to pay the actual cost sooner or later.

He argued that market forces must be allowed to determine the pump price of petrol in the country.

Nigeria has made several attempts to do away with its expensive petrol subsidy practice but push back from labour unions who decry higher petrol costs have scuttled those efforts.

Takeaways from Biden’s first White House news conference

Joe Biden’s first news conference since entering the White House touched on issues including China, whom he promised to outspend on innovation and infrastructure but declined to say whether he would keep tariffs in place on the majority of Chinese imports. The U.S. president also said he’s open to diplomacy with North Korea, but warned that recent missile tests could prompt a response. On the pandemic, Biden set a goal of administering 200 million vaccine doses by the end of April, doubling his target for his first 100 days in office, just as U.S. infections are rising again. The 78-year-old also said he plans to run for re-election in 2024, and joked that he misses his predecessor, Donald Trump.

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