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Russia halts gas to Poland, Bulgaria, demands payment in rubles – Arab News

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WARSAW, SOFIA, KYIV: Russia halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland on Wednesday for rejecting its demand for payment in roubles, taking direct aim at European economies in its toughest retaliation so far against international sanctions over the war in Ukraine.
The step was denounced by European leaders as “blackmail,” and comes as European countries have joined the US in ramping up arms shipments to help Ukraine fend off a new Russian assault in the east.
Moscow says the gas cut-off is to enforce its demand for payment in rubles, needed to shield its economy from sanctions. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia was a reliable energy supplier and denied it was engaging in blackmail.
Gazprom, the Russian gas export monopoly, said in a statement it had “completely suspended gas supplies to Bulgargaz and PGNiG due to absence of payments in rubles,” referring to the Polish and Bulgarian gas companies.
Polish President Andrzej Duda said the move violated “basic legal principles.”
“Appropriate legal steps will be taken and there will be appropriate compensation from Gazprom for violations of the provisions of the contract.”
Bulgarian Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov said: “It is clear that at the moment the natural gas is being used more as a political and economic weapon in the current war.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree last month ordering Gazprom to cut off buyers from “unfriendly” countries that fail to pay in rubles. The EU says contracts call for payment in euros.
“The announcement by Gazprom that it is unilaterally stopping delivery of gas to customers in Europe is yet another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “This is unjustified and unacceptable.”
 
Gazprom’s announcement is another attempt by Russia to blackmail us with gas.
We are prepared for this scenario. We are mapping out our coordinated EU response.
Europeans can trust that we stand united and in solidarity with the Member States impacted.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) April 27, 2022
 
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s main stock market opened higher on Thursday, as investor sentiment was buoyed by strong quarterly earnings results.
TASI the main index advanced 0.5 percent to 13,717, while the parallel market Nomu slipped 0.05 percent to 23,622 at 10:12 a.m. Riyadh time.
Oil giant Aramco, which is the heaviest weight on TASI, gained 0.7 percent, and the Kingdom’s biggest lender Saudi National Bank was up 1.6 percent.
The Saudi Steel Pipe Co. topped the gainers after it swung into first-quarter profit, while Qassim Cement Co. led the fallers, down 2.2 percent.
Shares of the Saudi Arabian Mining Co., known as Ma’aden, climbed 1.8 percent after posting a 185 percent profit surge due to higher commodity prices.
Bawan Co. shares surged 2.7 percent after it disclosed improved earnings results for the first quarter of 2022, with profit rising 21 percent from a year earlier.
In energy trading, Brent crude fell to $104.66 a barrel and US benchmark West Texas Intermediate traded at $101.55 a barrel as of 10:09 a.m. Saudi time. 
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s main stock market closed higher on Wednesday to lead the GCC, as investor sentiment was buoyed by strong earnings results.
TASI the main index advanced 1 percent to 13,643, and the parallel market Nomu slipped 0.1 percent to 23,634.
Dubai recorded the second-highest gains among GCC members as it added 0.6 percent.
Abu Dhabi, Oman, and Kuwait’s bourses edged lower, while Qatar and Bahrain’s dropped over 1 percent each.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, Egypt’s EGX30 inched 0.3 percent higher.
In energy trading, Brent crude fell to $104.28 a barrel and US benchmark West Texas Intermediate traded at $101.09 a barrel as of 9:44 a.m. Saudi time.
Stock news
Saudi Arabian Mining Co., known as Ma’aden, saw its profits surge by 185 percent to SR2.17 billion ($580 million) last quarter
Bupa Arabia’s profits before Zakat retreated by 21 percent in the first quarter to SR138 million
Advanced Petrochemical Co. announced a slight drop in quarterly profit to SR164 million
United Electronics Co.’s profits advanced 20 percent to reach SR97 million during the first quarter of 2022
Saudi Steel Pipe Co. said it will not distribute dividends for 2021 due to accumulated losses, even as the company turned into SR15 million profit last quarter
Bawan Co. disclosed improved earnings results for the first quarter of 2022, with profit rising 21 percent to SR50 million from a year earlier
Nayifat Finance Co. recorded a 14.5 percent drop in quarterly profit to SR50 million
Qassim Cement Co.’s profits declined by 75 percent during the first quarter to reach SR25 million
Northern Region Cement Co. announced a 27 percent drop in profit to SR23 million in the first quarter of 2022
Al Moammar Information Systems Co. secured a Shariah-compliant loan worth SR150 million to finance projects and issuance of letters of credit and guarantee
Saudi-listed Electrical Industries Co.’s profits soared by 75 percent to SR12 million last quarter
Calendar
May 11, 2022
Start of Arabian Food & Dairy Factories Co.’s IPO book-building
May 15, 2022
Saudi Aramco will disclose its financial results for the first quarter of 2022
End of Arabian Food & Dairy Factories Co.’s IPO book-building
May 22, 2022
Start of Amwaj International Co.’s IPO book-building
May 25, 2022
End of Amwaj International Co.’s IPO book-building
RIYADH: The net profit of Advanced Petrochemical Co. went down by 4 percent in the first quarter from a year ago to reach SR164 million ($43 million), according to a bourse filing. 
In the statement, the petrochemicals maker revealed that the decrease in net profit was due to an increase in propane and outsourced propylene prices by 40 percent and 27 percent respectively.
Despite the decrease in net profit, the company’s sales volume increased by 35 percent from the same period in the previous year. 
The company’s net profit, however, surged 3.79 percent compared to the previous quarter. 
Its total shareholders’ equity now stands at SR3,872 million, up 15.8 percent from the same period last year. 
RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded higher on Thursday, up 2.31 percent to $39,323 as of 09.15 a.m. Riyadh time.
Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $2,880, up 1.08 percent, according to data from Coindesk.
Cuba approves cryptocurrency services
The Cuban central bank issued regulations on Tuesday for virtual asset service providers, after giving a nod last year to the personal use of cryptocurrencies, a move some experts said could help the Communist-run Caribbean island skirt stiff US sanctions.
Cryptocurrencies, which allow financial operations to be carried out anonymously in a decentralized manner, have been used in the past to get around capital controls, as well as to make payments and transfers more efficient.
The bank authorization, published Tuesday in the government’s official gazette, requires those wishing to use cryptocurrencies to obtain a license.
The bank said it would consider the legality, socioeconomic interest and project characteristics of any request before granting a license, which would be valid initially for one year.
The roll-out of mobile Internet three years ago has opened the way for cryptocurrency transactions in Cuba, and enthusiasts on the island are growing in number as the currencies help overcome obstacles created by US sanctions.
Central African Republic adopts Bitcoin as an official currency
Central African Republic has adopted Bitcoin as an official currency, the presidency said on Wednesday, becoming the first country in Africa and only the second in the world to do so.
Despite rich reserves of gold and diamonds, Central African Republic is one of the world’s poorest and least-developed countries and has been gripped by rebel violence for years.
A bill governing the use of cryptocurrency was adopted unanimously by parliament last week, said a statement signed by Obed Namsio, chief of staff of president Faustin-Archange Touadera.
“The president supports this bill because it will improve the conditions of Central African citizens,” Namsio told Reuters, without elaborating.
In the statement, he called it “a decisive step toward opening up new opportunities for our country.”
Central African Republic is one of six nations that use the Central African CFA franc, a regional currency governed by the Bank of Central African States. 
(With inputs from Reuters) 
RIYADH: Gold prices fell to a 10-week low on Thursday, as an elevated US dollar hurt demand for greenback-priced bullion, while an impending Federal Reserve interest rate hike also dented the metal’s appeal as an inflation hedge.
Spot gold was down 0.5 percent at $1,877.18 per ounce, as of 0519 GMT, its lowest since Feb. 16. US gold futures slipped 0.6 percent to $1,877.70.
Silver down
Spot silver dropped 0.8 percent to $23.09 per ounce. 
Platinum eased 0.6 percent to $912.22, while palladium gained 1.5 percent to $2,234.98.
Chicago soyoil futures retreat
Chicago soyoil futures retreated on Thursday after rallying to a record high in the previous session following the Indonesian ban on palm oil exports.
July soyoil futures on the Chicago Board of Trade settled down 0.22 cents at 84.5 cents per lb.

CBOT soybean also edged down, while corn and wheat prices climbed higher as adverse weather continued to threaten harvest of the grains.
The most-active corn contract on CBOT added 0.52 percent to 8.16-1/2 a bushel, while wheat climbed 0.25 percent to $10.94 a bushel.

Soybean futures fell 0.16 percent to $16.9 a bushel.
LME copper dips
London copper prices slipped on Thursday as growing worries over demand due to continued COVID-19 restrictions in top metals consumer China and a stronger US dollar weighed on sentiment.

Benchmark three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.7 percent at $9,790 a ton, as of 0520 GMT.

The most-active May copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 0.2 percent to $11,110.10 by noon break.
(With inputs from Reuters) 

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