Here are some of the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and around the world.
Oil climbs highest level in over a year
Oil prices climbed to their highest level in over a year on Monday, boosted by economic recovery hopes and new tensions in the Middle East as a Saudi-led coalition said it had intercepted an explosive-laden drone fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
Brent crude (BZ=F) is currently 3.76% higher at $63.14 per barrel, while US crude is over $60 per barrel, their highest levels since January 2020.
Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: "Hopes of increased demand in the coming months along with controlled supply has been positive for an oil price which has risen by 22% in the year to date, and which has seen a further small spike following some concerns around fresh tensions in the Middle East."
Prices have also been driven by a weaker dollar, commitment by major global producers to restrain the supply of crude, and rising demand across the world, particularly in Asia - China is the world’s second-largest oil user.
Earlier this month, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies (OPEC+) announced “high compliance” among member states with agreements to limit supply to force up prices.
A committee of member countries’ representatives held a virtual meeting on Wednesday, and gave no signals of a looming let-up in the cartel’s supply cuts.
An OPEC statement said countries had held down production by a total of 2.1 billion barrels since April 2020, when the market suffered an historic collapse and futures prices even briefly turned negative.
European markets opened solidly higher on Monday, with the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) shrugging off pressure from a stronger pound, rising to its highest level in two and a half-weeks.
Mining companies and energy producers are leading the rally in London, although travel and hospitality stocks are also stronger.
“Brighter sentiment has, for the moment, reached UK shores,” said Richard Hunter at Interactive Investor.
“The government appears on track to meet its vaccination milestone, which is hoped to be a precursor to the lifting of restrictions and therefore the ability of the economy to begin growth under its own steam. The initially positive reaction to the news leaves the FTSE 100 ahead by 2.9% in the year to date.”
Over the weekend the UK government announced that its vaccine rollout met its target of 15 million people, in the top four priority groups, receiving their first jab by 15 February.
The vaccine is now being expanded to over-65s and the clinically vulnerable.
As part of the vaccines delivery plan, the government hopes that all adults can be vaccinated by the autumn.
Rolls-Royce recruits new CFO
Shares in Rolls-Royce (RR.L) popped higher on Monday after it announced the appointment of Panos Kakoullis as its new chief financial officer.
He will replace Stephen Daintith, who is leaving the company to join online grocer Ocado (OCDO.L).
Kakoullis will take up his new role on 3 May, with Daintith set to leave in March. Ben Fidler, currently Rolls’ deputy CFO, will act as interim finance chief in the meantime.
Chief executive Warren East said: "[Kakoullis] delivered significant transformational change at Deloitte, streamlining and simplifying the business and we look forward to benefitting from his expertise and experience as we deliver on our fundamental reorganisation and secure a sustainable and prosperous future for Rolls-Royce."
Shares rose almost 4% on the back of the news.
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