Live updates: Woodside CEO O’Neill says energy market hinges on China and Europe

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Woodside CEO O’Neill says energy market hinges on China and Europe

Nic Fildes in Sydney

Australia’s largest oil and gas company has said that Chinese stimulus measures and a potential rebound in European economic activity will define whether 2023 will be another bumper year for the global energy market. 

Woodside Energy, which completed a merger with BHP’s oil and gas operations last year, produced 157.7mn barrels of oil equivalent for the year — including a record 50.6mn output in the fourth quarter — which was higher than expected by analysts.

Revenue increased by almost 80 per cent to $5.2bn from $2.9bn a year earlier. However, that was 12 per cent lower than the third quarter as trading levels dropped and gas prices eased.

Meg O’Neill, chief executive of Woodside, said that “the jury was still out” on whether demand in 2023 would match the level of activity in 2022 as the industry awaits signals from Europe and China over how demand would pan out. 

She said that European inventories for gas would be a key driver for global demand as would a rebound in economic activity. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered a soaring liquefied natural gas price in 2022 which saw energy providers in the region switch to coal from gas and some industries, such as fertiliser plants, shut down. 

O’Neill said that she was encouraged by comments from BHP that China could be a stabilising factor in the global market in 2023. “If the Chinese government wants to stimulate the economy then that would be positive for the energy sector,” she said.

What to watch in Asia today

George Russell in Hong Kong

A woman wades through a waterlogged road during heavy rains in Chennai India says its first sovereign green bonds are intended to fund environmentally friendly infrastructure © Idrees Mohammed/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Bond markets: India begins issuance of its first sovereign green bonds intended to mobilise resources for environmentally friendly infrastructure. The Rs80bn ($980mn) debut will be issued through a uniform price auction with 5 per cent of the bonds allocated to retail investors, according to the Reserve Bank of India.

Corporate earnings: India’s Tata Motors and Bajaj Auto, as well as Singapore-domiciled technology company Flex, report third-quarter data. South Korea’s Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors and Posco announce fourth-quarter results.

Economic data: Australia issues fourth-quarter and December consumer price index figures, while Singapore announces December CPI data.

Financial markets: Some stock exchanges in the region are still closed for the third day of the lunar new year celebrations, such as those in China (including Hong Kong), Taiwan and Vietnam.

Raytheon and Lockheed Martin top 4th-quarter forecasts

Steff Chávez in Chicago

Profits at US aerospace and defence contractor Raytheon soared as it sold more jet engines, parts and after-market services to airlines in 2022 amid high air travel demand worldwide.

The results followed robust sales of fighter jets, helicopters and missiles, including the type of rockets being sent to the Ukrainian army, helping revenues at Lockheed Martin, which beat Wall Street expectations in the fourth quarter.

Operating profit at Raytheon’s jet engine division Pratt & Whitney increased by 127 per cent to $306mn from the same period in the previous year on higher commercial after-market sales. Revenue at Pratt & Whitney rose by 10 per cent to $5.65bn, driven by a 37 per cent increase in commercial original equipment components.

Lockheed reported revenue of $19bn for the final quarter of last year, up more than 7 per cent from $17.7bn during the same period of 2021. Earnings per share fell to $7.40 from $7.47 as the company took $129mn in charges, mostly $100mn in its helicopter business for severance costs and asset impairment.

While sales of Raytheon’s missiles increased by 6 per cent to $4.1bn in the quarter, profits fell 23 per cent owing to inefficiencies and a charge from a divestiture. Raytheon’s missiles include the Stinger and Javelin, the latter of which is co-produced with Lockheed Martin and played a crucial role at the start of the war in Ukraine.

Lockheed’s quarterly sales boost was driven by $275mn in net sales of the group’s marquee F-35 fighter jet programme and $260mn for various integrated warfare systems and sensors.

Also adding to the top line was $115mn for tactical and strike missiles, including the guided multiple launch rocket systems that Ukrainian troops have been firing out of high mobility artillery rocket system (Himars) to beat back Russian forces.

Rupert Murdoch calls off proposed merger of Fox and News Corp

Anna Nicolaou in New York

Rupert Murdoch and son Lachlan Murdoch Rupert Murdoch and son Lachlan Murdoch said ‘a combination is not optimal for the shareholders of Fox and News Corp at this time’ © Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Rupert Murdoch has called off the proposal to combine Fox and News Corp after his attempt to bring together the two halves of his media empire faced stiff resistance from shareholders.

Murdoch’s companies announced on Tuesday that the “special committees” established to explore merger terms would be disbanded with immediate effect on the grounds the merger proposal did not serve the interest of shareholders of Fox and News Corp “at this time”.

“In withdrawing the proposal, [Rupert] Murdoch indicated that he and Lachlan K. Murdoch have determined that a combination is not optimal for the shareholders of Fox and News Corp at this time,” the statement said.

Read more about the scrapped merger.

Classified documents found at Mike Pence’s private residence

Lauren Fedor in Washington

Former US vice-president Mike Pence turned over a “small number” of documents with classified markings to the Department of Justice last week, according to his lawyer, as federal authorities continue to probe how sensitive government files ended up at the private residences of Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Greg Jacob, a partner at O’Melveny & Myers and a Trump administration alumnus, sent a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration dated January 18 requesting its assistance in the “collecting and transferring” of a “small number of documents bearing classified markings” from Pence’s Indiana home.

Jacob said in the letter, obtained by the Financial Times, that the documents were “inadvertently boxed and transported to the personal home of the former vice-president at the end of the last administration”.

The disclosures from Pence, who is widely expected to announce a run for the White House in 2024, add to growing scrutiny of the handling of classified information by current and former presidents, vice-presidents and other senior politicians in Washington.

Earlier this month, classified documents from Biden’s time as vice-president were found at the Penn Biden Center, a think-tank in Washington, as well as his home in Wilmington, Delaware. At the weekend, Bob Bauer, Biden’s personal attorney, said the DoJ had found a fresh batch of documents at Biden’s Wilmington residence.

Read more about the classified documents.

US sues Google over alleged ‘dominance’ of digital advertising

Stefania Palma in Washington

US assistant attorney general Jonathan Kanter, centre, joins attorney general Merrick Garland and associate attorney general Vanita Gupta to announce the suit against Google US assistant attorney general Jonathan Kanter, centre, joins attorney general Merrick Garland and associate attorney general Vanita Gupta to announce the suit against Google © Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The US Department of Justice has sued Google for allegedly exercising monopolistic control of the digital advertising market, in the latest legal broadside against the group as Washington seeks to crack down on the dominance of Big Tech.

A complaint filed on Tuesday by the DoJ and a group of US states in a Virginia federal court accuses Google of using “anti-competitive, exclusionary, and unlawful means to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies”.

The complaint said that “industry behemoth” Google has harmed competition in the ad tech sector “by engaging in a systematic campaign to seize control of the wide swath of high-tech tools used by publishers, advertisers, and brokers, to facilitate digital advertising”.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Authorities also accused Google of having “pervasive conflicts of interest” because it controls numerous aspects of the digital ad market, including the tech used by website publishers to sell ad space and the biggest exchange where ads are sold.

The US government has accused Google of violating the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act, one of the country’s main corporate antitrust laws. It is seeking damages and also demanding that it be forced to divest its Google Ad Manager suite.

Read more about the legal action.

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