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Saudi Aramco profits crash 73% as coronavirus sinks oil market – RT



The world’s biggest oil exporter, Saudi Aramco, has reported massive losses for the second quarter, with its net profit nosediving 73.4 percent, as the Covid-19 outbreak crippled global demand for crude.

The oil giant’s net profit plunged to 24.6 billion riyals ($6.6 billion) for the three months to June 30, from 92.6 billion riyals ($24.7 billion) in the same period of 2019, according to a regulatory filing published at the Tadawul exchange where its stock trades. For the whole first half of the year, Saudi Aramco said its net income plunged to 87.1 billion riyals ($23.2 billion) down 50 percent from 175.9 billion riyals ($46.9 billion) one a year ago.

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“Strong headwinds from reduced demand and lower oil prices are reflected in our second quarter results,” CEO Amin Nasser said, adding that the company is trying to adapt to the unprecedented conditions created by the pandemic. “We are seeing a partial recovery in the energy market as countries around the world take steps to ease restrictions and reboot their economies.”

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Apple is now even BIGGER than Saudi oil behemoth Aramco

The financial results, which were even worse than analysts predicted, however, did not sink the company’s stock. After the company presented the report on Sunday, its shares were up slightly by 0.15 percent. Notably, the company’s shares fell much less this year than those of its overseas peers. While Saudi Aramco stock slipped around six percent, those of Exxon Mobil were down 38 percent, while Shell declined by half.

Most energy companies have taken a painful blow from the coronavirus pandemic as lockdowns to contain the spread of the deadly virus limited travel and halted production, crushing demand for crude and sending oil prices into a tailspin. In April, US crude futures entered into negative territory for the first time in history.

While crude prices have already bounced from April lows thanks to output cuts agreed on by OPEC+ producers, they are still down around 30 percent from a year earlier.

Saudi Aramco went public last year, with its IPO becoming the largest in history. The oil giant has long held the position of world’s most valuable company – until last week, when it was dethroned by US tech giant Apple.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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Tesla's "battery day" Could Be Bad News For Cobalt Miners –



Tesla currently uses the nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathode chemistry, which has a low cobalt content of about 5%, for their cars produced outside China.

The company also embraces the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) to identify red flags such as child labour in their cobalt sourcing.

A reportedly signed deal between Tesla and Glencore (LON: GLEN) in June has cast doubts on the company’s statement that it’s close to eliminating cobalt from its batteries altogether.

The contract would involve supplies of 6,000 tonnes of cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo for Tesla’s new Shanghai factory.  

There are rumours about a wider cell design, which would bring down the cost of making batteries. That would be a critical development, given that they are the main cause of EVs’ hefty price tag.

Musk, 49, said earlier this year that the event would “blow your mind” and has been adding to the hype over the weekend by tweeting the upcoming announcement “it’s big” and “insane”, with “many exciting things to be unveiled.”

Analysts at Citigroup said that with Tesla having roughly 30% of the pure battery electric vehicle (BEV) market this year, its innovations in battery performance and chemistry have “significant implications for EV metal demand” and so Battery Day “could impact sentiment towards battery metals demand.”

Related: What’s Next For Gold?

Goldman Sachs believes the focus on Tuesday will be on “production capacity expansion, battery cost and new technology trends.”

Even if Tesla is not ready to transition to an entirely new type of battery, updates in the chemistry of its existing cells could also offer extra longevity, with high hopes the coveted “million-mile battery” will be unveiled.

Volkswagen’s own battery day earlier this month predicted 300 gigawatt-hours of batteries will be needed in 2025.

Over the last three years, Tesla has mass-manufactured batteries for its cars and energy storage products at its Gigafactory in Nevada with its partner Panasonic.

It has also begun sourcing cells from Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) and LG, and making battery packs for the made-in-China (MIC) version of its Model 3 sedans. 

Not so near-future news

Most of Tesla’s announcements have related to finding ways drive down production costs, increase the lifetime and charging speed of their batteries, and make sure the metals used in the making of its EVs are ethically sourced.

The carmaker events often cause short-term stock volatility, but what Musk shows at these presentations doesn’t always result in a working product within the announced timeline. 

In October 2016, the South African-born billionaire showed off different styles of roof tiles with solar cells that weren’t actually functional. The event helped Tesla score shareholder approval for a $2.6 billion acquisition of debt-saddled SolarCity.

So far, the carmaker has not produced or installed solar glass roof tiles in a significant volume.

A year later, Tesla unveiled its new Roadster vehicle prototype, “the fastest production car ever made”, which should have been available this year. Last May, however, Musk listed several other tasks Tesla would need to achieve first, suggesting it may not arrive until after next year.

Tesla’s “Autonomy Day”, held in April 2019, was all about self-driving cars or “robotaxis” being available in the second quarter of 2020. They have yet to pass all safety tests needed before beginning mass production. “All the things I said we would do them, we did it,” Musk said at the event. “Only criticism— and it’s a fair one — is sometimes I’m not on time. But I get it done and the Tesla team gets it done.”


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Canada's housing market moderately vulnerable, CMHC says in first quarterly report since COVID-19 began –



Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says there was some evidence of overvaluation in Canada’s housing market this spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Crown corporation says in cities such as Victoria, Moncton and Halifax, there was a widening gap between the selling price of houses and the price economists would expect, based on population growth, disposable income, mortgage rates and employment.

That data comes from the agency’s housing market assessment, which gives the housing market a grade based on whether homebuilding and rising prices could ultimately affect the stability of the economy.

CMHC says there was a “moderate degree of vulnerability” in the housing market as of the end of June, the same grade the market received in February.

The preliminary report shows the slowdown during the height of COVID-19 lockdown measures, but doesn’t include the record-setting home sales in July and August — nor does the data reflect the ending of government income supports and mortgage payment deferrals.

CMHC economist Bob Dugan says that — despite giving the housing market a steady grade this summer — CMHC still expects a severe decline in home sales and in new construction to come as the economy recovers from the pandemic.

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Sentinel teacher mulling WorkSafe claim over COVID-19 exposure – North Shore News



A teacher at Sentinel Secondary in West Vancouver is considering filing a WorkSafe claim after contracting COVID-19 – most likely from a student – reportedly without being warned that she was potentially a close contact by health authorities.

Over half a dozen students from Sentinel and that teacher are now in isolation after a Grade 12 student in their class tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

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According to West Vancouver Teachers Association president Renee Willock, the teacher was not told to self-isolate by health authorities doing contact tracing on the student – only students sitting closest to that person were told to stay home.

But two days later, the teacher started to develop symptoms and has since tested positive for the virus, said Willock.

Willock said the situation has left teachers concerned that there hasn’t been enough transparency and notification around COVID-19 exposures in schools.

That only some students in the classroom were told to stay home isn’t how teachers thought the cohort system would work, said Willock.

“It’s difficult because the protocols have been changing almost daily,” she said.

If the teacher decides to file a claim, it would likely be the first claim connected to COVID-19 in schools as a workplace issue, said Willock.

A Grade 12 student at the school who spoke to the North Shore News Monday said some of his friends who are in that class and still attending school with a substitute teacher are wondering why they haven’t been told to self-isolate.

“None of the other students in that class have necessarily been told why it’s ok for them to stay in,” he said, noting the physical constraints of the classroom mean students don’t have large spaces between them.

“They’ve heard nothing.”

Teachers and parents were first made aware of the COVID-19 exposure when Principal Michael Finch sent an email notice on the weekend, stating, “We have been made aware that a member of our school community has tested positive for COVID-19.”

Since then, however, there have been few details provided by either the West Vancouver School District or Vancouver Coastal Health.

That’s left teachers stressed and confused, said Willock.

Willock said it’s also concerning that the school has not been listed on Vancouver Coastal Health’s web page of school exposures.

“I know this is inaccurate,” said Willock.

Nine students at Collingwood School, a private school in West Vancouver, are also self-isolating this week after being exposed to a student with the virus at the school last week.

“This is a standard measure that is taken to ensure that there is no ongoing transmission in the school and does not mean that they are sick,” wrote Head of School Lisa Evans in a letter to parents.

Collingwood was also not on a school exposure list from Vancouver Coastal Health – which had not listed any schools in the region on Monday – including Mulgrave private school in West Vancouver where a group of Grade 9 students and their teachers spent 14 days in

Isolation earlier this month after a student in the group tested positive for COVID-19.

In contrast, the Fraser Health Authority listed 14 schools in the Surrey School District with COVID-19 exposures on Monday.

According to information posted on the website, an “exposure” is defined as when a single person with a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 attended school during their infectious period.

Henry said Monday that all school exposures were supposed to be posted.

Henry also told reporters that even if they are in the same classroom as someone who has tested positive for the virus, most students won’t be considered close contacts. “If you’re sitting at a desk and you’re not close to them, you’ve not had close contact with them,” she said.

“And unless we start to see transmission within the classroom, it would be very unlikely that an entire classroom would have to self isolate.”

Henry said when people have been potentially exposed to the virus at school “I absolutely am sure that my colleagues and VCH are following up with the individuals who were exposed.”

In some cases, a teacher or student may have become infected with the virus through family or other social contacts but haven’t been in the school during their infectious period, said Henry.

Vancouver Coastal Health did not respond to several requests for comment on the school exposures at Sentinel and Collingwood.

She said so far most of the school exposures have been adults in the school setting.

This week health authorities also changed the list of symptoms that would require children to stay home from school, taking several of those – like a runny nose – off the list. That’s because a runny nose by itself is much less likely to be a symptom of COVID-19, especially among children, said Henry. A fever or cough – by themselves or in combination with other symptoms are much more likely to be a symptom of the virus.




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