National / International News

Weak demand for oil is sign of weak global economy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-10-14 11:04

Oil prices have been on a downward swing for the past few months and now there is an expectation among industry forecasters that demand for oil will slow soon.

The International Energy Agency says oil demand growth is at its lowest in five years, with demand expected to grow by 700,000 barrels a day. That’s 200,000 fewer than it previously expected.

Antoine Halff is the chief oil analyst for the agency: “The main driver really has been the economy," says Halff. “The economic recovery continues to be slower than expected.”

The agency lowered its forecasts in large part because the International Monetary Fund recently lowered its forecast for GDP growth worldwide.  

“And now China, which for the last 10 to 15 years was the main engine of economic growth, has been slowing dramatically as well,” says Halff.

Slower growth in Asia and in developing nations around the world is a big factor in oil demand. Last year, for the first time, the demand for oil in developing countries exceeded that of developed nations.

Growth in those developing nations is slowing, a worrying sign for oil producers, says IHS oil analyst Jamie Webster. “It’s also a worrying sign for the economy and for oil markets because that is really considered to be the home for demand growth long term.”

Despite the drop in global demand, so far at least, oil production has not declined. As a result, analyst Steven Kopits expects gas prices to drop in the U.S. which could spur demand.

“The caveat on that is that the miles per gallon for our automobiles has increased quite a bit," he says. "For new cars over the last seven years, or so it’s up 20 percent.”

Renewable energy sources don’t make up a big enough share to cut into demand for oil. But gains in efficiency, and the rise of the electric car, Kopits says, could be game changers.

VIDEO: Behind-the-scenes look at Lion King

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 11:02
As Disney's Lion King musical celebrates 15 years, take a behind-the-scenes look at the production.

Hague and Brown in devolution clash

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 10:52
William Hague and Gordon Brown clash in the Commons over calls for "English votes for English laws" as MPs debate the next steps for UK devolution.

VIDEO: 'Goldilocks' burglar found in house

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 10:09
A couple from Lancashire return from their holiday to discover a burglar fast asleep in their bed.

Leaders call for funding agreement

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 10:07
The four party leaders in the Welsh assembly call for an agreement on UK funding for Wales by January.

Wigan's Flower banned for six months

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 10:02
Wigan's Ben Flower is given a six-month ban - the longest in Super League history - for punching St Helens' Lance Hohaia.

Malala pleads for Nigerian captives

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 09:59
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai calls on Nigeria to intensify efforts to free 219 schoolgirls held by Islamist militants six months ago.

Boost for 'next generation' biofuels

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 09:50
Italy will become the first country in Europe to legally require "advanced biofuels" in cars and trucks, the BBC has learned.

The BuzzFeed wizard who changed media as we know it

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-10-14 09:37

Dao Nguyen got a big promotion Tuesday. She's now BuzzFeed's publisher, a title that means something a whole lot different than it used to in the media world. But that media world is a whole lot different too, in no small part because of Nguyen.

As BuzzFeed's head of growth and data, Nguyen is credited with orchestrating the by-the-numbers approach that has made the site explode to more than 150 million users a month and changed the way we consume media. Before a listicle gets posted or a headline goes viral, it's gone through BuzzFeed's testing system, orchestrated by Nguyen.

"Data should not dictate your strategy," Nguyen says, "But you should understand what data tells you and also what its limits are." 

Nguyen and her team have used that data to figure out how and why we share content, and it's led to some surprising discoveries.

"Women share at a much higher rate than men, and when I talk about that now at a conference or with other people I say women share more than men online as it is in life. But men click at the same rate as women," Nguyen says. "So women will start the conversation and men will participate. If you think about it in the context of just regular human people, it isn't that surprising."

Nguyen says she spends her days deep in sprea sheets and data, but her team thinks about people all the time. "That's our competitive advantage." 

She now has a seat at BuzzFeed's leadership table, and Nguyen is pretty confident in the company's future. 

"I think that BuzzFeed has a great opportunity to become the pre-eminent media for the social age." 

Bianchi's situation is 'challenging'

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 08:50
Jules Bianchi's family and his Marussia team say his situation remains "challenging" in the latest update on his severe head injuries.

VIDEO: European Parliament

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 08:35
The human rights subcommittee discusses the refugee situation in Iraq and Syria.

The numbers for October 14, 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-10-14 08:09

A World Bank projection pegs the total global economic cost of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa at $32.6 billion by the end of 2015. The New York Times reports that model is a "worst-case" scenario, but doesn't take into account dramatic, global spread. In contrast, the same report notes if the disease is contained in the short term, the total economic hit might be as low as $359 million.

As a nurse in Dallas is hospitalized with Ebola, the Centers for Disease Control is calling for a reassessment of treatment protocols.

Here's what we're reading - and other numbers we're watching - Tuesday.

$950 million

That's how much Disney could end up paying for Maker Studios. The YouTube network was acquired by Disney in May, and now Maker's YouTube stars are getting their own programming blocks on Disney XD and Fusion, Variety reported. The news comes less than a day after the Wall Street Journal reported on the wave of book deals being thrown to YouTube personalities.

$50,000-$75,000

The cost of digital projectors, the new movie theater standard some studios are still subsidizing. Digital distribution should theoretically be cheaper, but those costs could still be keeping major releases from small markets, the Los Angeles Times reported, and theater owners aren't happy about it. Another reason one executive gave for the delayed release of "Gone Girl" in those markets: "R-rated movies in small towns don't always go together."

25

That's how many Crumbs Bake Shop locations will open in the next 30 days, Bloomberg reported. After dramatically closing down in July, the cupcake chain just refuses to die.

AUDIO: Geldof on dealing with Peaches' death

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 08:00
Bob Geldof tells John Wilson from Front Row that singing with the Rats again helped him cope with the death of his daughter Peaches, who died earlier this year.

VIDEO: On board Royal Navy's 'Ebola ship'

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 07:41
The Royal Navy are loading Royal Fleet Auxiliary Argus with medical supplies before sailing to Sierra Leone to fight the Ebola virus this week.

Catalonia presses ahead with vote

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 07:34
The leader of Spain's Catalonia's region says a non-binding vote on independence from Spain will be held on 9 November, in defiance of Madrid.

Ebola screening begins at Heathrow

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 07:32
Passengers arriving at Heathrow airport from Ebola-affected countries have been screened by health officials for symptoms of the virus.

No fourth term, says Evo Morales

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 07:27
Bolivian leader Evo Morales says he will not run for a fourth term as president in 2020, as exit polls suggest he has been re-elected for a third time.

Google expands delivery service

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-10-14 07:00

In a bid to take a bigger bite out of Amazon’s business, this week Google is expanding its same-day delivery service.

If you didn’t know Google was in the delivery business, here's the gist: In a handful of cities — now including Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. — you can buy stuff from brick and mortar stores and receive it the same day.

The service formerly known as Google Shopping Express, and formerly free, it will now be called simply Google Express. Members can pay $10 a month for unlimited same-day and overnight delivery on items costing more than $15.

Google used to be the go-to place for product research, says Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru.

“Amazon is now the primary place where consumers go when they are looking to research almost any product,” she says. “Google wants its crown back.”

In a speech in Berlin yesterday, Google chairman Eric Schmidt acknowledged as much.

“Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo,” he said. “But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon.”

Delivery is an expensive and labor-intensive business, though, says analyst Colin Gillis with BGC Financial. Another same-day delivery service, offered by eBay, has struggled to get off the ground.

“Either you hire an army of people to get these packages and to deliver them to your customers, or you outsource it to a carrier or logistics company,” Gillis says.

Then again, Forrester’s Mulpuru says Google is such a profitable company, it can afford to experiment.

Turkish jets bomb Kurdish PKK rebels

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 04:45
Turkish warplanes bomb Kurdish rebels near the Iraqi border, in the first major air raid since the PKK declared a ceasefire in 2013.

VIDEO: Unseen Titanic images go on show

BBC - Tue, 2014-10-14 04:45
Previously unseen pictures of the ill-fated Titanic have gone on display in Belfast, the city where she was built and launched.

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