AP morning Business Brief – Nov. 22

OECD forecast: High rates, inflation to slow world growth

Hobbled by high interest rates, punishing inflation and Russia’s war against Ukraine, the world economy is expected to eke out only modest growth this year and to expand even more tepidly in 2023. That’s the sobering forecast issued Tuesday by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In the OECD’s estimation, the world economy will grow just 3.1% this year, down sharply from a robust 5.9% in 2021. Next year, the OECD predicts, would be even worse: The international economy will expand only 2.2%. In its latest forecast, the organization predicts that the U.S. Federal Reserve’s aggressive drive to tame inflation with higher interest rates will grind the U.S. economy to a near-halt.

China anti-virus curbs spur fears of global economic impact

BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese government says more than 253,000 coronavirus cases have been found in the past three weeks and the daily average is rising. That adds to pressure on officials who are trying to reduce economic damage by easing controls that confine millions of people to their homes. The ruling Communist Party is promising to reduce disruptions from its “zero-COVID” strategy by making controls more flexible. But the latest wave of outbreaks is challenging that. Major cities including Beijing have closed off populous districts, shut stores and offices and ordered factories to isolate their workforces from outside contact. China’s infection numbers are relatively low, but the ruling party is trying to isolate every case.

‘Stock up on blankets’: Ukrainians brace for horrific winter

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — One of Ukraine’s energy chiefs says rolling blackouts across Ukraine could continue through March. That warning comes as Ukrainians brace for an extremely grim winter after weeks of relentless Russian strikes against its power grid. One energy official on Tuesday described the power grid damage as “colossal.” Ukrainians are being told to stock up on warm clothes, blankets and anything that might help, evacuate the worst areas and even possibly leave the country. Russia has been pummeling Ukraine’s power grid and other infrastructure from the air for weeks. That onslaught has caused widespread blackouts and deprived millions of Ukrainians of electricity, heat and water.

Catalonia limits water use as Spain prays for rain

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona and large swathes of Spain’s northeast are going under water restrictions as an extended drought devastates crops and puts the pinch on human activities in the Mediterranean country. The regional government of Catalonia will reduce the use of water for agriculture and industry. Domestic use will not be limited, but using drinking water to wash cars or fill swimming pools will be prohibited. The measures starting Friday will cover 6.7 million people. Barcelona will become the second major Spanish city after Seville to limit water use. Climate scientists have identified the Mediterranean as one of the world’s regions that will suffer the most from higher temperatures due to climate change.

US stocks rise, remain unsteady ahead of Thanksgiving

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose on Wall Street, but trading remained unsteady ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. The S&P 500 rose 0.6% Tuesday at midday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq also rose. Financial and technology companies gained ground. Energy stocks rose along with oil prices. Treasury yields slipped. Best Buy was sharply higher after the Minneapolis-based consumer electronics chain did better than analysts expected and said a decline in sales for the year will not be as bad as it had projected earlier. European and Asian markets were higher.

Bulgaria to let Russian oil refinery export despite EU ban

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria will allow a Black Sea refinery owned by a Russian oil company to keep operating and exporting oil products to the European Union until the end of 2024 despite warnings by Brussels that it is against the bloc’s sanctions. Government estimates say the deal between Bulgaria and Russian-owned Lukoil will give an additional 350 million-euro boost to Bulgaria’s budget. The deal also benefits Lukoil, allowing its Bulgarian facility to partially avoid an upcoming EU embargo on most Russian oil products. Bulgaria received an exemption from the sanctions until the end of 2024. The Balkan country’s sole refinery is the main source of gasoline and diesel fuel sold on the Bulgarian market, but half of the production is for export.

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