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FirstFT: Opec+ sticks with oil supply increase after US overture

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Saudi Arabia has agreed to keep increasing monthly crude oil production following a charm offensive by Biden administration officials that included an effort to reframe the relationship between the US and the kingdom.

The decision by Saudi Arabia, Opec’s de facto leader, comes after a high-level US delegation held meetings in the kingdom this week, said officials briefed on the talks.

The outreach signals a shift in Washington’s approach to relations with the kingdom, with a focus on economics and energy. The Biden administration’s move to court Riyadh comes as the price of petrol at American fuel pumps has soared.

Joe Biden entered the White House promising to reassess Washington’s relations with Riyadh as he condemned Saudi Arabia over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and other human rights abuses. The administration also made it clear that, unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, Biden would deal with King Salman, not Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the ageing monarch’s son and the kingdom’s day-to-day leader.

Have a good weekend. Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia and here’s the rest of today’s news — Emily

1. Grab opens on Nasdaq after world’s biggest Spac deal Shares in the Singapore-based super app whipsawed in their Nasdaq debut yesterday after it concluded a record $40bn merger deal with a blank cheque company.

2. US defence chief raises alarm about China’s hypersonic weapon test Lloyd Austin said Beijing’s development and test of a hypersonic weapon had increased tensions in the Indo-Pacific region and underscored why China was the top challenge for the American military.

3. Outgoing US Fed official warns of Covid stimulus precedent The emergency lending facilities rolled out by the Federal Reserve at the start of the pandemic threaten to set a dangerous precedent that will put pressure on the central bank to fund all manner of government projects — including even the “colonisation of Mars”, said Randy Quarles, who is stepping down as a Fed governor this month.

4. Scholz eyes Nagel to run Germany’s Bundesbank Joachim Nagel, a top executive at the Bank for International Settlements, has moved into pole position to head Germany’s central bank in one of the first major appointments by the country’s incoming coalition government, to be led by incoming chancellor Olaf Scholz, says a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

5. Credit Suisse chair pledges to overhaul bankers’ pay The bank’s chair, António Horta-Osório, has vowed to overhaul pay policy after a succession of crises enraged investors and sent its share price tumbling. The group will aim to engineer a cultural shift that makes employees more accountable for decisions taken on managing risk.

Coronavirus digest

  • Global stock markets experienced volatile trading as investors and governments scrambled to respond to the Omicron coronavirus variant.

  • Joe Biden announced free rapid tests would be available in the US to help curb spread of the Omicron variant, a day after the nation’s first case was confirmed.

  • The Omicron variant has been linked to a substantial rise in coronavirus reinfections in South Africa compared with previous waves.

  • The UK will purchase an additional 114m doses of vaccine for use over the next two years, including modified jabs for tackling future variants.

  • Multi-manager hedge funds, which trade a wide range of assets and strategies, are driving traders’ pay sky-high after thriving during the coronavirus crisis.

The day ahead

Turkey inflation figures Annual inflation is expected to cross the 20 per cent threshold to hit 20.7 per cent, according to a Reuters poll. That would represent its highest rate since November 2018, when the country was reeling from a currency crisis.

US Congressional budget deadline As US lawmakers yesterday scrambled to avert a government shutdown, Republicans threatened to torpedo a funding deal in protest of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates.

What else we’re reading

The FT’s 25 most influential women of 2021 The FT this year asked some of the most prominent women in the world to submit their entries for the most influential women of 2021 including Jane Fraser, Christine Lagarde, Elizabeth Warren and Billie Jean King.

Graphic of influential women
Across continents, industries and issues, all of these remarkable women have shaped this tumultuous year © Freya Betts

China’s fight against financial fraud Tens of thousands of citizens are falling victim to financial fraud, a crime that has become a fact of life in the world’s second-largest economy, which boasts a fast-growing middle-to-high income population. Now a nationwide anti-fraud education campaign aims to combat the scammers. But is it effective?

Petrol prices bruise car drivers in US gig economy Drivers for ride-hailing and delivery apps and analysts covering the sector say that on top of changes in payment algorithms, the 59 per cent rise in the cost of petrol over the past 12 months has sent chills through the industry.

Erdogan tightens grip on Turkey’s economy Finance minister Lutfi Elvan’s resignation came as little surprise after weeks of rumours he was on the way out. But analysts said his replacement by an Erdogan loyalist with close links to the president’s son-in-law underlined the extent to which control of the country’s $795bn economy was now in the hands of one man.

FT/McKinsey book of the year Nicole Perlroth’s sobering investigation into the cyber weapons arms race, This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends, was last night named Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year for 2021. “Cyber security isn’t featuring highly enough on CEOs’ agenda,” said FT editor Roula Khalaf, who chaired the judges. “I hope this award will prompt them to read this book and pay attention.”

Travel

The pandemic has led to the cancellation of the Germany’s 500-year-old Rothenburg Christmas market for the second year in a row. But the town’s residents are determined to keep the festive spirit alive.

Rothenburg, Germany
© Matthew Cook

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