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Libya conflict uplifts oil, Trump hits on Fed: Your Monday briefing

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Libyan militias pass by an oil refinery.

In an attempt to find a way out of the Brexit impasse the UK opposition Labour Party urged Prime Minister Theresa May to offer a genuine change to her EU withdrawal deal.

The Brexit saga

The opposition could have further discussions with the government this week as they pointed May has not moved “an inch” on her Brexit “red lines”. May has asked EU leaders to postpone the exit due on Friday until June 30. However, EU still insists she must first present a clear strategy to secure agreement on her thrice-rejected deal in the UK parliament.

Trump tells Fed to resume QE

US President Donald Trump said the Federal Reserve should cut interest rates and take other unconventional measures to ease pressure on an economy, claiming they slowed it down.

US employment growth rebounded from a 17-month low in March, but a moderate wage gains supported the Fed’s decision to suspend further interest rate hikes this year. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 196K jobs in March. Data for February was revised modestly up to show 33K jobs created instead of the previously reported 20K. Average hourly earnings increased by 0.1 percent, after jumping 0.4 percent last month.

Way to go in Sino-US talks

Chinese and American negotiators wrapped up their latest round of trade talks on Friday and will resume discussions this week to try to secure a deal which could be made in four weeks as Trump hinted. The two sides had made “new progress” in the talks, Chinese state media reported. However, significant work remains, the office of the US Trade Representative said.

BoJ downgrades three regions

Amid increasing overseas risk to Japan’s export and industrial output, the Bank of Japan on Monday cut its economic outlook assessment for three of the country’s nine regions, the biggest downgrade in six years. BOJ Governor Kuroda said the economy was expected to continue expanding moderately with strong domestic demand complementing for the weaknesses in exports.

The Libya conflict unfolds

Oil prices were uplifted due to a brewing military conflict in Libya. The Tripoli government vowed to counterattack against forces loyal to the rogue general Khalifa Haftar who are trying to enter the capital. Libyan militias launched air strikes against one another on Sunday, escalating a battle that has raged since Thursday. The battle began when the Libyan National Army (LNA) lead by Haftar launched a surprise offensive on Tripoli.

Libya’s energy routes

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday that demand for Saudi Aramco’s inaugural international bond, to be issued this week, is higher than $30 billion. He also said OPEC+ will hold a meeting in May, that will be key in whether to extend supply cuts.

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