FirstFT: Biden authorises release of oil from US strategic stockpile

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President Joe Biden has announced the release of oil from the US’s strategic stockpile in an attempt to drive down petrol prices and snuff out a crude market rally that the White House has said poses a threat to the global economic recovery.

The White House yesterday said that the president was authorising the release of 50m barrels of oil — about 2.5 days worth of US oil consumption — “over the coming months”, in a move co-ordinated with China, India, Japan, South Korea and the UK.

Line chart of West Texas Intermediate ($/barrel) showing US oil prices have climbed as the world emerges from the pandemic

But an effort to drive down oil prices that have doubled in the past year appeared to backfire, as international crude benchmark Brent rose more than 2 per cent on the news, to trade at about $81.40 a barrel on Tuesday morning in London.

Biden linked the release to efforts to beat back sharply rising inflation, saying Americans were “feeling the impact of elevated gas prices at the pump and in their home heating bills, and American businesses are, too, because oil supply has not kept up with demand as the global economy emerges from the pandemic”.

Do you agree with Biden’s decision? Tell me what you think at [email protected]. Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. — Emily

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2. Apple files suit against Israeli spyware group NSO Apple is suing NSO Group, the Israeli military-grade spyware manufacturer that created surveillance software used to target the phones of journalists, political dissidents and human rights activists, to block it from using its products.

3. China blocks access to shipping location data China has blocked public access to shipping location data, citing national security concerns, in another sign of its determination to control sources of sensitive information. See the difference for yourself here.

© China shipping location data

4. Hong Kong sentences third person convicted under security law Student activist Tony Chung, 20, was handed a sentence of 3 years and 7 months in jail yesterday after prosecutors accused him of pushing for the city’s independence on social media and by organising street booths, with some events dating back to 2016 before the security law came into effect.

5. China intensifies crackdown on celebrity culture and fans The Cyberspace Administration of China released a new set of rules to regulate celebrities, their advertising and fan groups, as part of President Xi Jinping’s drive to reform social values in the country.

Coronavirus digest

Inflation in Singapore rose to the highest level in nearly three years in October, driven by rising services and food prices.

In a rare instance of public opposition, three top Chinese health scholars have challenged state monitoring of phone location data to identify close contacts.

Thousands in England have scheduled Covid-19 booster shots in a “bookings boom” as those aged 40 to 49-years-old became eligible to receive a third jab.

Millions of employees are wielding newfound leverage in the post-pandemic labour market to gain better pay and benefits. This is the second part of an FT series analysing how Covid-19 changed the way millions think about work.

Line chart of Monthly number of resignations, in thousands, seasonally adjusted showing More US workers are quitting their jobs

The day ahead

New Zealand rate decision The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is expected to raise interest rates today to cool a hot economy and runaway housing market, in a decision that will be closely watched by central banks around the world.

US economic data Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes will be published along with the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation — the personal consumption expenditures price index — for October.

What else we’re reading

Chinese parents find new ways to give their children an edge Beijing’s crackdown on tutoring has not stopped families wanting the best for their kids. “The market will find a way around restrictions when there is strong demand and willing supply for a certain product or service,” said one foreign investor.

Do you agree support Beijing’s crackdown on tutoring? Tell us what you think in our latest poll.

© Beijing’s crackdown on tutoring poll

Dancing on the edge of climate disaster How are we to assess the outcome of COP26 in Glasgow? It would be reasonable to conclude that it was both triumph and disaster — triumph, in that some notable steps forward have been taken, and disaster, in that they fall far short of what is needed, writes Martin Wolf.

How Tesla gained influence over the markets The carmaker’s role in the ebb and flow of the stock market, otherwise called the “Tesla-financial complex”, is greater than its $1.1tn valuation implies. Robin Wigglesworth looks at the web of dependent investment vehicles, corporate emulators and an enormous associated derivatives market behind its influence.

© Chart showing Tesla’s influence

Brexit is a slow bleed for the City of London Since Brexit got done, Covid-19 has put off the industry’s adjustment to what might prove a more lasting equilibrium. But that is now changing, writes Helen Thomas as the drip, drip, drip continues.

Making social media less ‘viral’ We are constantly contending with online rumours that spread like the plague, writes Madhumita Murgia. Can we interrupt these waves of hyper-transmission, just as we do the spread of viruses?

Food & drink

A growing number of restaurants around the world are putting live performance at the heart of their offering. People are desperate to go out and have fun. But the trend goes back further than a post-pandemic appetite for a party. Here are some locations to check out.

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