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Oil plunges to lowest level since Jan.

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The price of U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate slid roughly 5% to trade at $79 per barrel, reaching its lowest point since January amid mounting recession fears.

Meanwhile, the price of international benchmark Brent crude fell below $87 per barrel, also on track for its lowest close since January.

Both WTI and Brent crude were in technically oversold territory, posting a fourth straight week of declines on Friday and marking the worst losing streak since last December.

Widespread recession fears have been weighing on energy prices but also slammed the stock market recently, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average falling back into bear market territory on Friday. Both major indexes also set a new low point for the year amid the broad selloff.

Contributing to oil’s decline was also continued strength in the U.S. Dollar, which is considered a safe-haven asset. The ICE U.S. Dollar Index, which tracks the Dollar against a basket of other currencies, rose nearly 1% and reached its highest level since 2002.

With the Federal Reserve raising interest rates by 75 basis points for a third consecutive policy meeting in a row on Wednesday, central banks around the world have been doing the same by announcing rate hikes. Global economic growth concerns have “hit panic mode given a chorus of central bank commitments to fight inflation,” says Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda.

“Central banks are poised to remain aggressive with rate hikes and that will weaken both economic activity and the short-term crude demand outlook,” he describes, adding, “the dollar rally is about to enter another level that could keep the pressure on commodities.”

The S&P 500 energy sector fell more than 6% on Friday for its worst day since May, adding to losses in recent weeks. Still, the sector has far outperformed the benchmark S&P 500 index this year (down 23%), rising over 20% thanks to a surge in oil prices earlier this year.

But some investors may now be looking to cash out as oil prices have fallen back down to earth. “Not only are there worries about consumption given rising recession risks, but this is a pretty crowded space with a lot of nervous longs sitting on healthy year-to-date gains that they’re eager to lock in,” says Vital Knowledge founder Adam Crisafulli.

(Excerpts : Forbes)

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Dialog, Axiata Group & Bharti Airtel to merge operations in SL

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Dialog Axiata PLC, Axiata Group Berhad, and Bharti Airtel Limited have signed an agreement to merge their operations in Sri Lanka.

Dialog will acquire Airtel Lanka, with Bharti Airtel receiving ordinary voting shares in Dialog as part of the deal.

The deal has been approved by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL).
The statement issued in this regard is as follows :

Dialog Axiata PLC (“Dialog”), Axiata Group Berhad (“Axiata”) and Bharti Airtel Limited (“Bharti Airtel”) (collectively “the Parties”), signed a Definitive Agreement to combine their operations in Sri Lanka. Under this agreement, Dialog will acquire 100% of the issued shares in Airtel Lanka, in consideration of which Dialog will issue to Bharti Airtel, ordinary voting shares which will amount to 10.355% of the total issued shares of Dialog by way of a share swap. The transaction is subject to the approval of Dialog’s shareholders and is pending the completion of specific conditions outlined in the Share Sale Agreement, including clearance from the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and completion of other applicable legal, corporate and regulatory compliance procedures.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) has granted its approval for the proposed merger, underscoring its vision to advance the adoption of telecommunications services across Sri Lanka.

This consolidation will enable the merged entity to garner economies of scale and reduce duplication of infrastructure, achieve synergies in technology and capital expenditure leading to enhanced high speed broadband connectivity, voice and value added services, cost savings and operational efficiencies.

Vivek Sood, Group CEO and Managing Director of Axiata Group Berhad said, “The merger between Dialog and Airtel Lanka is aligned to Axiata’s strategy of market consolidation and resilience. The merger will create value for the shareholders of Dialog Axiata PLC and Axiata Group through achievable synergies. We have the utmost respect for Airtel Lanka and its employees and look forward to working together as we integrate the two companies.”

Commenting, Dr Hans Wijayasuriya, CEO Telecommunications Business and Group Executive Director of Axiata, added “This merger brings together the strengths of two leading telco groups and bodes well for the Growth and Sustainability of Sri Lanka’s flagship Telecom Sector. We look forward to the new frontiers in Customer Experience and innovation the company will deliver to Sri Lankan Consumers and Enterprises.”

Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO Bharti Airtel Limited Said, “We are happy to merge our Sri Lanka operations with Dialog. Given the scale and unique propositions they offer, we are certain that our customers will continue to enjoy cutting edge services on a seamless network.”

“It is a privilege to welcome the team at Airtel Lanka to the Dialog family and together we take a significant step forward in our commitment to delivering superior telecommunications services in Sri Lanka”, remarked Supun Weerasinghe, Director/Group Chief Executive of Dialog Axiata PLC.

“The integration of Dialog and Airtel Lanka operations will unlock new opportunities for innovation and growth, and this will lead to benefit consumers.” Ashish Chandra, Chief Executive Officer, Bharti Airtel Lanka (Private) Limited.

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WhatsApp makes it easier to find chats

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WhatsApp is making it easier to find chats by introducing new features, US technology news website ‘The Verge’ has reported. 

Meta is launching new filters that will appear at the top of your chat list: All (the default view), Unread (just messages marked as unread), and Groups (group chats and Community subgroups), it notes.

The filters start rolling out from Tuesday (16) and will become available to all WhatsApp users “in the coming weeks.”

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Indigo launches Mumbai-Colombo direct flights

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Indigo has expanded its connectivity to Sri Lanka adding Mumbai-Colombo direct flights from today (12), Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) (Pvt) Limited said.

Accordingly, Indigo will operate flights three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

At present, Indigo operates to three destinations in India from Colombo (Chennai twice daily, Bengaluru once daily and Hyderabad six days per week). With this new route expansion, this will increase to four destinations, and it will contribute immensely to the development of travel, trade and tourism between Sri Lanka and India. 

With the new addition, Indigo will operate 30 weekly flights to Colombo from four main cities in India.

“AASL recently had successful negotiations with Indigo to commence flight operations between Jaffna and Chennai, India. Accordingly, Indigo will commence direct flight operations between Jaffna and Chennai from June 1, 2024 onwards with daily flight operations. This connectivity will boost travel and trade in the Northern Province, strengthening the cultural and religious bonds between the two nations”, Eng. Athula Galketiya, Chairman of Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) (Pvt) Limited (AASL) said.

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