Europe Needs At Least 500 Billion Euros For Recovery

Europe will need at least another 500 billion euros from European Union institutions to finance its economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic, on top of the agreed half-a-trillion package, the head of the euro zone bailout fund said.

In an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera paper, published on Sunday, European Stability Mechanism Managing Director Klaus Regling said the easiest way to organize such funds would be via the European Commission and the EU budget.

“I would say that for the second phase we need at least another 500 billion euros from the European institutions, but it could be more,” Regling told the paper.



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“For that, we need to discuss new instruments with an open mind, but also use the existing institutions, because it is easier, including in particular the Commission and the EU budget. Rethinking European funds can go a long way in keeping the European Union together,” Regling said.

European Union finance ministers agreed on April 9th on safety nets for sovereigns, companies and individuals worth in total 540 billion euros.

They also agreed that the euro zone, which the IMF predicts will plunge into a 7.5% recession this year because of the pandemic, will need money to recover, but they had different ideas on how much is needed and how to raise it.

EU leaders are to discuss that at a videconference on April 23. The idea around which a compromise may emerge is likely to involve the European Commission borrowing on the market against the security of the long-term EU budget and leveraging the money to achieve a bigger effect.



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European Central Bank Headquarters And Frankfurt's Financial District Ahead Of Comprehensive Bank Assessment



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Brussels Briefing – Europe Braces For New Fiscal Battles


♦ Brussels Briefing ♦


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The EU’s fiscal rules are widely disliked given their impenetrable and convoluted nature — yet it is difficult to avoid setting off political landmines somewhere in the union when any change to them is mooted.

In early February, the commission will tread delicately back into the debate with an overdue report on the so-called six-pack and two-pack legislative packages, which overhauled the fiscal rules during the euro crisis.

Officials don’t expect the report to set china rattling in embassy parlours when it is released in Brussels on February 5; it is being couched as a retrospective look at the operation of the rules in recent years, rather than an opportunity to table reform proposals.

But a public consultation on possible future changes is also being planned — and the commissioner in charge of EU economic policy, Paolo Gentiloni, has been making no secret of his desire to shake the regime up. Meetings of finance ministers in Brussels early this week could provide early hints of the new battles ahead.

Mr Gentiloni has described the Stability and Growth Pact, which governs the fiscal regime, as out of date and in need of a serious overhaul, given the current low growth and inflation era. On the Italian social democrat’s reform wishlist will be changes making the rules more symmetrical — allowing for countries to be pushed to boost their economies via fiscal policy in downturns, rather than just reining in deficits and debt.

This, however, would be anathema to fiscally conservative states in northern Europe. Mr Gentiloni also has to contend with Valdis Dombrovskis, the commission executive vice-president who oversees economic and financial matters — and who is stricter on fiscal policy.

Reform-minded officials will therefore also need to find less politically incendiary changes to the rulebook.

One idea is to give countries extra scope to borrow to fund green investment. The potential reform — achievable through tweaks to internal commission rules — has already run up against opposition from conservative northern European states. Mr Gentiloni is hoping the urgency of the green agenda could improve its chances.

The commission will also look at ways to simplify the rules. One option, for example, might be to place a greater emphasis on concrete measures such as public expenditure, and less on difficult-to-measure concepts such as the structural deficit.

The structural deficit is impenetrable to the public, and the cause of frequent squabbles among economists — not to mention member states. It also draws on data that can be subject to major subsequent revisions. The advisory European Fiscal Board suggested an alternative framework last September.

Any attempt to simplify the rules will also be seized upon by the duelling camps, however. Some will want to use any reform opportunity to loosen the regime. Others will wish to use the greater clarity to make the deficit rules even tighter.

Insecure and gig economy work is driving the rise of new forms of employee organisation, especially among migrant and young workers. The structures are developing to meet demand from workplaces with few protections — and in the process, they are leaving established unions struggling to protect their turf.

Libya pledge… Russia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and other foreign powers have promised to end all interference in the armed conflict in Libya, as part of a German-brokered effort to halt rising violence and chaos in the north African country and prepare the ground for a UN-sponsored peace process. The promise was contained in a document agreed by world leaders at a conference in Berlin on Sunday. However, there were already signs of fresh military escalation in the civil war-wracked state.

Javid’s joust
UK Chancellor Sajid Javid’s pledge to diverge from EU rules after Brexit has sparked warnings from bloc officials and diplomats of an economically damaging split at the end of this year. As one official put it: “The main conclusion for the real economy is: prepare for the worst. Anything agreed will be a bonus.” (FT)

Borrell broadside
Foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has used an interview with Der Spiegel to renew his critique of how the EU makes foreign policy. He revives the idea of abandoning the principle of unanimity in decision-making. (Der Spiegel)

Air battle
Poland’s new finance minister wants US home rental site Airbnb to pay tax on the revenues it earns in the central European country, in the latest intervention by a senior European politician in the debate on how to tax digital companies. (FT)

Alpine austerity
As the World Economic Forum prepares to kick off its 50th annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos on Tuesday, the FT reports on the elite gathering’s efforts to appear more environmentally-friendly. Among other things, it is encouraging participants to take trains instead of private jets, and is providing shoe grips to cajole attendees to “walk the snowy promenade between meetings rather than take cars”.

The effort to be sustainable extends to advising caterers not to serve luxuries such as foie gras and caviar, and one day of the meeting has been set aside for “vegetarian menus and the discovery of alternative protein sources”. This year’s events — including the launch of an initiative to plant 1tn trees in the next decade — will take place in rooms decorated with seaweed-based paint and carpets made from “end-of life fishing nets”. The scores of companies hosting their own events have been asked to consider offering local wines and “mountain herbal infusions” instead of imported drinks.

Brussels diary
It’s a busy day on Monday with meetings of both foreign ministers, where the Sahel and Libya crises will loom large, and of euro area finance and economy ministers.




♦ Plus500 CFD Review ♦


Plus500 is an international financial firm providing online trading services in contracts for difference (CFDs), across more than 2,000 securities and multiple asset classes. The company is headquartered in Israel and has subsidiaries in UK, Cyprus, Australia, Singapore and Bulgaria.

Plus500 is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and the Israel Securities Authority (ISA). It is listed on the London Stock Exchange with the ticker “PLUS” and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.


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Plus500 is a streamlined broker that focuses on trading in a wide range of financial markets with relatively low spreads and no commissions but without offering many extra services. Plus500 has been in the forex and CFD business since 2008. They are registered in the U.K. and licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The company offers access to a comprehensive product line including forex, stock indexes, equities, commoditiescryptocurrencies, ETFs and options. Plus500 is the first broker to introduce a bitcoin CFD in 2013. The company does not charge commissions on any of its trades.

All costs are contained within the spread for each of more than 2,000 trading instruments offered on Plus500’s WebTrader platformPlus500 Ltd. (PLUS.L) is a publicly traded company on the AIM section of the London Stock Exchange since 2013 with a £1.73 billion ($2.25 billion) market capitalization and clients in more than 50 countries around the world. Plus500 offers access to more than 2,000 trading instruments.


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Trust … the company is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), CySEC, ASIC, FSCA, FMA, MAS, and the ISA, which provides good accountability and visibility. The company is required to take steps to ensure client funds are not comingled with corporate funds – ensuring that client money and assets are protected in the unlikely event that Plus500 becomes insolvent – by holding those funds in segregated accounts at regulated banks.

If Plus500 defaults, any shortfall of funds of up to £50,000 may be compensated for under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). If the custodian bank holding client funds goes into liquidation, any shortfall of funds of up to £85,000 may be compensated for under the FSCS.


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Plus500 also offers Negative Balance Protection, ensuring that clients cannot lose more than they have put into their account. Guaranteed stop losses can be used on some instruments depending on market conditions but they are subject to a wider spread.

The company does not charge commissions on any of its trades. All costs are contained within the spread for each of more than 2,000 trading instruments offered on Plus500’s WebTrader platform. Large volume traders do not get a trading discount at Plus500 and the spread is the same whether you trade one lot or 1,000 lots.


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There are no charges for normal withdrawals or terminating an account. However, inactivity fees kick in after an account has been idle for three months. Beginning traders can open an account with as little as £100.

Traders can qualify for a “professional” account, which offers a higher level of maximum leverage, but the costs are the same. Investors with a professional account may increase their maximum leverage ten-fold, from 1:30 to 1:300.Spreads at Plus500 were some of the lowest in the market.

Plus500 also offers access to options trading on many markets. These are very similar to plain call and put options traded on exchanges, but they are not standardized which means that the option premium can be customized for your risk tolerance and strategy objectives.


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Plus500 Deposits and Withdrawals

Plus500 Deposits and Withdrawals… This Answers the Following Questions: What is the minimum deposit for Plus500? What payment methods are accepted by Plus500? Does Plus500 accept PayPal? How to withdraw money from Plus500? How much can you withdraw from Plus500?… Read More ›

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Plus500 is an international financial firm providing online trading services in contracts for difference (CFDs), across more than 2,000 securities and multiple asset classes. The company is headquartered in Israel and has subsidiaries in UK, Cyprus, Australia, Singapore and Bulgaria.

Plus500 is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and the Israel Securities Authority (ISA). It is listed on the London Stock Exchange with the ticker “PLUS” and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.




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History: Plus500 Headquarters in Haifa, Israel. The company was founded in 2008 by six alumni of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology: Gal Haber, Alon Gonen, Elad Ben-Izhak, Shlomi Weizmann, Omer Elazari and Shimon Sofer), with an initial investment of $400,000 contributed by Gonen.

The initial platform was based on a Windows OS. In 2010, Plus500 launched a web based version of its online trading platform, allowing Mac and Linux users to trade online. In 2011, they launched their first app for iPad and iPhone users. In 2012, Plus500 introduced its Android-based trading platform for Android smartphones and tablets.

In 2014, the company launched its Windows app. In 2016, the Israeli operating subsidiary of company, Plus500IL Ltd was one of a small number of companies to be granted a Trading Arena Licence by the Israeli Security Authority (ISA). In that same year, Plus500 released an app for Apple Watch to trade and view account details directly from Apple’s wearable.

In early December 2017, Plus500SG Pte Ltd, the Singapore subsidiary of Plus500, was granted a Capital Markets Services license by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for dealing in securities and leveraged foreign exchange trading.

In June 2018, Plus500 launched its Economic Calendar, covering major financial events and indicators from all over the world, which are provided by Dow Jones & Company, a subsidiary of News Corp. Plus500’s calendar includes a list of the most highly-affected instruments for each economic event.

In July 2018, shares of Plus500 were listed in the main market of the London Stock Exchange.

Operations… Plus500 trading apps are supported in 32 languages, including English, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, French, Finnish, Danish, Swedish, Estonian, Russian, Romanian, Hebrew, Arabic, and Traditional and Simplified Chinese.[18] It has been reported that 40% of the transactions were made by either Smartphones or tablets.[2]

In December 2017, European and UK announced details of planned restrictions on the spreadbetting and CFD sectors. Plus500 CEO Asaf Elimelech said “the board believes the proposals are unlikely to have a material adverse effect on the group’s business, thanks to its highly flexible business model”.




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Best Stock Trading Platform In Europe {2020}


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StockMarketNews.Todaywhat is the best stock trading platform in Europe for 2020? ….  How To Choose The Best Online Broker in Europe { 2020 } …


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To evaluate brokers, you should look at the following factors:

>>> Commissions
>>> Account Minimum
>>> Account Fees
>>> Your Trading Style and Tech Needs
>>> Promotions

Look at commissions on the investments you’ll use most… Brokers generally offer a similar menu of investment options: individual stocks, options, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and bonds. Some will also offer access to futures trading and forex (currency) trading.



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The investments offered by the broker will dictate two things: whether your investment needs will be satisfied, and how much you’ll pay in commissions. Pay careful attention to the commissions associated with your preferred investments:

Individual stocks: You’ll typically pay a per-trade commission of $4 to $7. Some brokerages also offer per-share pricing.

Options: Options trades often incur the stock trade commission plus a per-contract fee, which usually runs $0.15 to $1.50. Some brokers charge only a commission or only a contract fee.

Mutual funds: Some brokers charge a fee to purchase mutual funds. You can limit mutual fund transaction costs or avoid them completely by selecting a broker that offers no-transaction-fee mutual funds. (Mutual funds also carry internal fees called expense ratios. These are charged not by the broker, but by the fund itself.)

ETFs: ETFs trade like a stock and are purchased for a share price, so they are often subject to the broker’s stock trade commission. But many brokers also offer a list of commission-free ETFs. If you plan to invest in ETFs, you should look for one of these brokers.

Bonds: You can purchase bond mutual funds and ETFs at no charge by using no-transaction-fee mutual funds and commission-free ETFs. Brokers may charge a fee to purchase individual bonds, with a minimum and maximum charge.

Pay attention to account minimums… You can find highly ranked brokers with no account minimum. But some brokers do require a minimum initial investment, and it can skew toward $500 or more. Many mutual funds also require similar minimum investments, which means even if you’re able to open a brokerage account with a small amount of money, it could be a struggle to actually invest it.

Watch out for account fees… You may not be able to avoid account fees completely, but you can certainly minimize them. Most brokers will charge a fee for transferring out funds or closing your account. If you’re transferring to another broker, that new company may offer to reimburse your transfer fees, at least up to a limit.

Most other fees can be sidestepped by simply choosing a broker that doesn’t charge them, or by opting out of services that cost extra. Common fees to watch out for include annual fees, inactivity fees, trading platform subscriptions and extra charges for research or data.

Consider your trading style and tech needs… If you’re a beginner investor, you probably won’t need extras, like an advanced trading platform. But you may want an education and a little hand-holding. This could include videos and tutorials on the broker’s website, or in-person seminars at branches. Many brokers offer these services free to account holders.

Active traders, on the other hand, will want to look for a brokerage that supports that kind of frequency. That includes weighing a broker’s trading platforms, analysis tools, research and data offerings in addition to commissions — including discounts for high-volume traders — and fees.

Plenty of high-quality online brokers offer free demo access to trading platforms.

Take advantage of promotions… Online brokers, like many companies, frequently entice new customers with deals, offering a number of commission-free trades or a cash bonus on certain deposit amounts.

It isn’t wise to choose a broker solely on its promotional offer — a high commission over the long term could easily wipe out any initial bonus or savings — but if you’re stuck between two options, a promotion may sway you one way or the other.


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◊ Best Stock Trading Platform In Europe {2020} : Plus500 Review ◊


Plus500 is a streamlined broker that focuses on trading in a wide range of financial markets with relatively low spreads and no commissions but without offering many extra services. Plus500 has been in the forex and CFD business since 2008. They are registered in the U.K. and licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The company offers access to a comprehensive product line including forex, stock indexes, equities, commodities, cryptocurrencies, ETFs and options. Plus500 is the first broker to introduce a bitcoin CFD in 2013. The company does not charge commissions on any of its trades.

All costs are contained within the spread for each of more than 2,000 trading instruments offered on Plus500’s WebTrader platform. Plus500 Ltd. (PLUS.L) is a publicly traded company on the AIM section of the London Stock Exchange since 2013 with a £1.73 billion ($2.25 billion) market capitalization and clients in more than 50 countries around the world. Plus500 offers access to more than 2,000 trading instruments.


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Trust … The company is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), CySEC, ASIC, FSCA, FMA, MAS, and the ISA, which provides good accountability and visibility. The company is required to take steps to ensure client funds are not comingled with corporate funds – ensuring that client money and assets are protected in the unlikely event that Plus500 becomes insolvent – by holding those funds in segregated accounts at regulated banks.

If Plus500 defaults, any shortfall of funds of up to £50,000 may be compensated for under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). If the custodian bank holding client funds goes into liquidation, any shortfall of funds of up to £85,000 may be compensated for under the FSCS.

Plus500 also offers Negative Balance Protection, ensuring that clients cannot lose more than they have put into their account. Guaranteed stop losses can be used on some instruments depending on market conditions but they are subject to a wider spread.

The company does not charge commissions on any of its trades. All costs are contained within the spread for each of more than 2,000 trading instruments offered on Plus500’s WebTrader platform. Large volume traders do not get a trading discount at Plus500 and the spread is the same whether you trade one lot or 1,000 lots.

There are no charges for normal withdrawals or terminating an account. However, inactivity fees kick in after an account has been idle for three months. Beginning traders can open an account with as little as £100.

Traders can qualify for a “professional” account, which offers a higher level of maximum leverage, but the costs are the same. Investors with a professional account may increase their maximum leverage ten-fold, from 1:30 to 1:300.

Plus500 also offers access to options trading on many markets. These are very similar to plain call and put options traded on exchanges, but they are not standardized which means that the option premium can be customized for your risk tolerance and strategy objectives.


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Europe Embraces China… European Leaders Have Received And Courted The Chinese President With A Fanfare Offered To Few Other Foreign Guests


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The leaders of France, Germany and the European Union’s executive sought to present Chinese President Xi Jinping with a united front at talks in Paris on Tuesday, pressing him for more reciprocity on trade amid wariness about China’s rising power. But with Europe eager for Chinese business, Mr. Xi’s visit was seen in Beijing as a success.

The Chinese leader’s six-day trip to Europe, which ended Tuesday, has exposed differences within and between EU countries about how much to open up to China’s ambitious global investment plans, and how to limit its growing influence in the region.

But Mr. Xi’s tour to Rome, Sicily, Paris and the Riviera has also highlighted Europe’s eagerness to secure lucrative deals. European leaders and dignitaries have received and courted the Chinese president with a fanfare offered to few other foreign guests.


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That has allowed China to portray the European visit as a triumph, glossing over the EU’s criticisms and internal debates. Last weekend, Mr. Xi won Italy’s signature in support of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, delivering a symbolic boost for the ambitious global infrastructure plan when it is facing criticism in the U.S., Europe and parts of Asia, including for luring participating countries into debt.

Chinese state media gushed over the diplomatic stagecraft accorded to Mr. Xi, including the Italian and French jet fighters that escorted the Chinese presidential plane as it approached Rome and Paris, respectively. On social media, state broadcaster China Central Television described Mr. Xi’s reception at the Arc de Triomphe as France’s most pomp-filled welcome since the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 2014.

The diplomatic ceremony suggests that China’s efforts to secure goodwill from key European powers has paid off, said Wang Yiwei, a professor of international studies at Beijing’s Renmin University. “They understand that China values being ‘given face’ and so put on a good show for the Chinese,” he said.

Mr. Xi’s courting of Europe also “counteracts U.S. efforts to rally allies against China,” said Mr. Wang. “European countries are a priority for China to win over” to head off Washington-led pressure against Beijing, he said.

Also on Tuesday, however, the European Commission produced new plans to shore up the security of Europe’s next-generation 5G telecom networks. The proposals come amid U.S. pressure to restrict China’s Huawei Technologies Co. from supplying EU countries with 5G equipment because of concerns about cyberattacks and the provision of data to Chinese authorities.


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Ford Motor Co. said it will cut thousands of jobs, weed out slow-selling variants and potentially close entire factories in Europe


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⇑⇓ Stock Market News ⇑⇓


Ford Motor Co. said it will cut thousands of jobs, weed out slow-selling variants and potentially close entire factories in Europe, as the carmakers’s global cost-cutting drive targets a region that has been a drag on earnings for years.

The manufacturer, which employs some 54,000 workers across the region mainly in Germany, the U.K. and Spain, will also review its joint venture in Russia, part of a host of measures that Steven Armstrong, Ford’s head of Europe, called a “step-change in the performance of the business.” He didn’t specify the number of possible job cuts and said that plant closures are an option to streamline the operations.

“There’ll be significant impact across the region,” Armstrong said. “This isn’t a one or two year issue. We have had periods of profitability but not on the level it should be.”

Ford last year kicked off a company-wide $11 billion restructuring after both Europe and Asia swung to losses and as costs to invest in electric and self-driving vehicles mount. Like many other carmakers, Ford warned it wouldn’t meet its targets for 2018, and Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett jettisoned a goal to reach an 8 percent profit margin by 2020.

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As the global car market shows first signs of a slowdown after years of growth, Ford has overhauled its global operations, exiting the sedan business in America to focus on bigger vehicles and shifting its Chinese business to more local production. Europe has been particularly tough for the company because of the key market in the U.K., where the chaos surrounding Brexit has thrown up an additional challenge for the company.

The overhaul marks another sign of pressure on traditional automakers as they grapple with fundamental technology changes, tougher environmental regulations and trade tensions. Tata Motors Ltd.’s Jaguar Land Rover, formerly part of Ford, plans to cut 4,500 jobs in response to a sales slowdown.

Ford was among U.S. carmakers that fell short of expectations when the industry presented sales for last year, adding to concern that a slowdown may occur in 2019. China, which has fueled the industry’s growth, disclosed on Wednesday that auto sales fell for the first time in more than two decades.



Armstrong said on a call that the future of the European operations lies in crossover vehicles and SUVs, and that sedans and compact vans are in decline. He cautioned that whatever action the company takes might have to be significantly more dramatic should a no-deal Brexit occur at the end of March.

Ford’s debt has been trading like it’s speculative grade, and Moody’s Investors Service cut the carmaker’s credit rating to one step above junk in August. The stock traded below $8 late last year for the first time since November 2009, the year its Detroit peers General Motors and Chrysler went bankrupt. Analysts have speculated Ford’s generous dividend may be at risk.

Volkswagen AG, which is in talks with Ford about a deeper alliance, said Thursday its namesake brand will redouble its focus on returns amid another year of “enormous challenges,” foreshadowing more belt-tightening. Audi, VW’s biggest profit center, likewise noted more struggles ahead, reporting a 3.5 percent drop in sales last year.

Ford shares, which have slumped 33 percent over the past 12 months, rose 0.9 percent to $8.80 in pre-market trading.

Ford will seek to reduce European staff through voluntary measures as far as possible, the Dearborn, Michigan-based manufacturer said in a statement. The review also includes “rescaling the footprint of the business” with Ford reviewing the efficiency of its plants, Armstrong said.

Ford has already said it will cease production at a transmission plant in Bordeaux, France, and has started labor talks at the Saarlouis factory in Germany to end production of the C-MAX compact van. A review of the Ford Sollers joint venture in Russia is expected to conclude in the second quarter, it said.



Ford’s European business, which relies on models like the recently revamped Fiesta and Focus hatchbacks, reported a $245 million loss during the third quarter, widening from $192 million a year earlier. Similar to America, Ford will swing to a lineup of crossovers and SUVs, and drop several derivatives to streamline its offering, Armstrong said.

Over the long term, Ford is targeting earnings before interest and taxes of 6 percent of sales in Europe. This year, performance will already be “significantly better” than 2018, Armstrong said.

Ford, whose business in Europe includes a “solidly profitable” commercial-vehicle unit, said it will establish three separate groups for passenger cars, its vans business and imports like the iconic Mustang.


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“We are continuing to invest in the business, especially in electrified cars,” said Armstrong. “We will still have a comprehensive lineup of cars in future with primarily SUVs and crossovers.”

Europe is fast-becoming a natural gas battleground for Russia and the US


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With 28 countries and a combined population of around 512 million people, the European Union is something of a prized market — and political battleground — for the world’s largest energy exporters, particularly when it comes to natural gas.

Russia has long been the dominant source and supplier of natural gas to Europe’s mass market but the U.S. is looking to challenge Russia by stepping up its imports of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) — gas which is super-cooled to liquid form — making it easier and safer to store and transport.

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Europe certainly appears keen to wean itself off Russian gas, and all the geopolitical implications that reliance entails, while making overtures to the U.S. Last July, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and President Donald Trump agreed to strengthen U.S.-EU strategic cooperation with respect to energy and the EU said it would import more LNG from the U.S. “to diversify and render its energy supply more secure.”

Twenty-four percent of U.S. LNG went to the EU in October 2018, a month which saw the largest volume ever of EU-U.S. trade in LNG of almost 0.6 billion cubic meters. In the whole of 2017, only 10 percent of U.S. LNG exports went to the EU. The Commission, the EU’s executive arm, expects U.S. gas exports to the region could double by 2022 and has vaunted the construction of LNG terminals across Europe.



“The fact is that U.S. LNG, if priced competitively, can play and increasing role in EU gas supply, enhancing diversification and EU energy security,” the EU said in a document detailing the state of EU-U.S. LNG trade in late November.

US vs Russian gas. The U.S. became a net natural gas exporter in 2017 for the first time in almost 60 years, according to the country’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). It saw exports of its LNG rise 58 percent through the first half of 2018, compared with the same period in 2017. In fact, while U.S. LNG exports have continued to grow in 2018, U.S. natural gas pipeline import and export volumes have either remained relatively flat or declined from 2017 levels, the EIA noted.

U.S. exporters looking to Europe have a big obstacle in the region, however, and that’s Russia. Russia remains the largest supplier of natural gas to the EU in 2018, according to the Commission’s latest data on EU imports of energy products in October. The other main suppliers are Norway and, at a lower level, Algeria and Qatar.

Showing the extent of much of the EU’s reliance on Russian gas, the Commission noted that 11 member states (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland) imported more than 75 percent of total national imports of natural gas from Russia in 2018, largely due to their proximity to the country.

Gas from Russia is supplied to the continent by state-owned gas company Gazprom via pipelines, giving it an advantage in terms of cheaper transportation costs and established infrastructure and supply. It has a number of major pipelines in operation, or under construction, with European energy and infrastructure companies.

As well as the Nord Stream pipeline and its expanded version, Nord Stream 2, linking Russia to Europe via the Baltic Sea (the expanded pipeline is seen as a way to bypass transit countries like Ukraine), Gazprom and partner companies in Poland, Belarus and Germany oversee the 2,000 kilometer Yamal-Europe pipeline that sends gas from one of its production centers in Torzhok (via Belarus and Poland) to Germany. The company is also constructing the TurkStream pipeline for gas exports from Russia across the Black Sea to Turkey and south eastern Europe.

Geopolitics. Pipeline projects have prompted criticism in Europe and in the U.S., with Trump accusing Germany (the largest foreign buyer of Russian gas) of being “captive” to Russia. His former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said earlier in 2018 that Nord Stream 2 undermined Europe’s energy security.

Despite its reliance on Russia for gas, the EU’s relationship with the country is a rocky one. Relations deteriorated when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in early 2014 and supported a pro-Russian uprising in east Ukraine, after which the U.S. and EU placed sanctions on Moscow.

Penalties were placed on Russian oil companies (including Gazprom and its oil arm Neft) in 2014 that sought to hinder these companies exploration and production of energy. The U.S. warned in November it could still seek to thwart the Nord Stream 2 project with further sanctions (essentially fines) on companies involved in the project.

Five EU companies are involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 and the EU has expressed concern over such sanctions. Given Russia’s established and growing infrastructure in Europe, commodity strategists like RBC Capital Markets’ Christopher Louney said the geopolitical dimension to the U.S. promotion, and European adoption, of LNG is hard to ignore.



“There is definitely a geopolitical nature to it (the competition for European LNG customers),” Louney told CNBC Monday. “The geopolitical nature of the U.S. gaining market share in European gas is highlighted by Trump’s opposition to Nord Steam 2 (I’d note that there is also some more critical debate happening in Germany itself now).”

While there are other reasons to increase imports from the U.S. right now, including having a diversity of supply source and pricing, “it’s hard to argue against geopolitics being at play here as well,” he said. Louney believes there’s a long way to go before Russia’s natural gas dominance is challenged, however.

“Europe taking U.S. LNG and U.S. LNG challenging Russian pipeline supplies for dominance are two very different things,” he noted. “Europe has already taken U.S.-sourced LNG over the past two years with just a couple of export terminals in operation (i.e. U.K., Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Portugal etc.).”

“With more U.S. export facilities coming online, the number of takers and volume taken can both increase, but there is a long way to go to compete (with Russia) for pre-eminence,” he said. “That said, Europe’s imports will likely grow leaving room for the U.S. to send additional volumes given the growth of exports here in the U.S.”

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More News On Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). President Vladimir Putin opened Russia’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) on Tuesday, saying it bolsters the country’s energy security.

The Marshal Vasilevskiy FSRU has been set up in Kaliningrad, wedged between European Union members Poland and Lithuania, by Russian energy giant Gazprom (MM:GAZP) to bypass pipeline gas deliveries via Lithuania in case transit is disrupted.

Moscow’s decision to set up the FSRU was in part to reduce gas transit risks to Kaliningrad, home to a Baltic Fleet base, as the EU steps up efforts to reduce its dependency on Russia, a Kremlin-published transcript of Putin’s speech said.



“In recent years we have paid much attention to energy supplies, to the energy of the region as a whole, including in connection with EU plans to remove the Baltic states from Russia’s energy ring,” Putin said.

“This is their (EU countries’) business. Additional tax payers’ money will be invested into that.” Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller told the Interfax news agency that supplies to Kaliningrad from Lithuania had been completely halted on Tuesday and replaced with natural gas from the FSRU.


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The FSRU, the first of its kind in Russia which arrived from Singapore last month with a cargo on board to commission the LNG import facility, can provide Kaliningrad with 2.7 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year, Gazprom has said. LNG is delivered by tankers, meaning it can be supplied to many markets.