U.S. crude oil prices top $90 a barrel for the first time since November 2022


The European Central Bank on Thursday announced a 10th consecutive hike in its main interest rate, as the fight against inflation took precedence over a weakening economy.

The unprecedented series of rate rises has now hauled the central bank’s deposit facility from -0.5% in June 2022 to a record 4%. A key reason for the hike appeared to be upward revisions in newly published staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area, which see inflation averaging at 5.6% this year, 3.2% next year, and 2.1% in 2025.

While the ECB has firmly signaled its next moves in previous meetings, economists and analysts were divided over whether the doves or hawks in Frankfurt would win out in September.

Money markets indicated a roughly 63% chance of a hike through Thursday morning, up from a more even split in recent days.

Oil market reports suggesting tighter supply and higher prices through the rest of the year and beyond have fueled inflation fears; while a Reuters article on Wednesday suggesting the ECB now expects eurozone inflation to remain above 3% in 2024 appeared to increase market bets on a rate hike. The report came from a source ahead of the release of its quarterly projection Thursday.

Headline consumer price inflation in the bloc was 5.3% in August, the same level as core inflation, which strips out food and energy costs.

ECB President Christine Lagarde said in a speech last month in Jackson Hole that the fight against inflation was “not yet won.” However, some had believed the central bank would delay further hikes until October given worsening economic indicators, particularly in Germany.

Europe’s biggest economy has shown continued deterioration, with business sentiment plummeting and services now declining along with manufacturing.

Germany is forecast to be the only major European economy to contract this year — though the wider picture is also downbeat, with euro zone business activity declining in August to its lowest level since November 2020.

 Artificial intelligence leader OpenAI is opening an office in Dublin, the Microsoft (MSFT.O)-backed company said Thursday.

It is the company's third office. Its headquarters are in San Francisco and it announced it was opening a London office in June.

The Dublin office is starting small, with nine open jobs across different teams, though OpenAI chief strategy officer Jason Kwon said the company intends to open more roles in the near future.

The Dublin office will not be the company's European headquarters and there will not be an executive running the office, at least not yet, Kwon said.

"We like to grow deliberately and not too rapidly because we want to make sure that the culture of the company is established first in new offices before we scale up," Kwon told Reuters.

OpenAI is one of many U.S. tech companies to set up shop in Dublin. In addition to access to a talent pool already familiar with the culture of companies like Meta (META.O) and Google (GOOGL.O), Ireland is a good place to engage with Europe from a regulatory and business development standpoint, Kwon said.

Tax implications did not play a role in the decision, as OpenAI is not profitable, Kwon said.

OpenAI's ChatGPT is the second fastest-growing app in history, after Meta's Threads app. It has created both excitement and alarm, bringing OpenAI into conflict with regulators, particularly in Europe, where the company's mass data-collecting has drawn criticism from privacy watchdogs.

Elon Musk’s X Corp. has agreed to try to settle claims by thousands of former Twitter employees who say they were cheated of severance pay when the billionaire laid them off after acquiring the social media platform last year, according to a memo by a lawyer for the workers seen by Bloomberg News.

“After 10 months of pressing them in every direction we have succeeded in getting Twitter to the table,” attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan wrote in the memo to her clients, which was obtained from a former Twitter employee who declined to be identified disclosing confidential information. “Twitter wants to mediate with us in a global attempt to settle all claims we have filed.”

The company formerly known as Twitter has been accused in multiple suits of numerous labor and workplace violations, including failing to pay severance to thousands of workers fired late last year after Musk’s $44 billion acquisition. Almost 2,000 former Twitter employees have resorted to fighting their claims in arbitration as the company has demanded, but Liss-Riordan has complained in court filings that Twitter hasn’t shown up.

X is complying with a court order to mediate, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing private information.

The private negotiations with a mediator are set for Dec. 1 and Dec. 2, according to Liss-Riordan’s memo.

“We are very proud to be representing nearly 2,000 former Twitter employees, in individual arbitrations as well as more than a dozen class action lawsuits in court,” Liss-Riordan said in a statement Wednesday night. “We are working hard to recover what they are owed.”

She declined to elaborate or comment specifically on the scheduled mediation.

X Corp. spokespeople didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, sent after regular business hours.

 Tesla (TSLA.O) has combined a series of innovations to make a technological breakthrough that could transform the way it makes electric vehicles and help Elon Musk achieve his aim of halving production costs, five people familiar with the move said.

The company pioneered the use of huge presses with 6,000 to 9,000 tons of clamping pressure to mold the front and rear structures of its Model Y in a "gigacasting" process that slashed production costs and left rivals scrambling to catch up.

In a bid to extend its lead, Tesla is closing in on an innovation that would allow it to die cast nearly all the complex underbody of an EV in one piece, rather than about 400 parts in a conventional car, the people said.

The know-how is core to Tesla's "unboxed" manufacturing strategy unveiled by Chief Executive Musk in March, a linchpin of his plan to churn out tens of millions of cheaper EVs in the coming decade, and still make a profit, the sources said.

While Tesla has said its unboxed model involves producing large sub-assemblies of a car at the same time and then snapping them together, the size and make-up of the modular blocks is still the subject of speculation.

Terry Woychowski, president of U.S. engineering company Caresoft Global, said if Tesla managed to gigacast most of the underbody of an EV, it would further disrupt the way cars are designed and manufactured.

"It is an enabler on steroids. It has a huge implication for the industry, but it's a very challenging task," said Woychowski, who worked for U.S. automaker GM (GM.N) for more than three decades. "Castings are very hard to do, especially the bigger and the more complicated."

Two of the sources said Tesla's previously unreported new design and manufacturing techniques meant the company could develop a car from the ground up in 18 to 24 months, while most rivals can currently take anywhere from three to four years.

The five people said a single large frame - combining the front and rear sections with the middle underbody where the battery is housed - could be used in Tesla's small EV which it aims to launch with a price tag of $25,000 by the middle of the decade.

Tesla was expected to make a decision on whether to die cast the platform in one piece as soon as this month, three of the sources said, though even if they do press ahead the end product could change during the design validation process.

Neither Tesla nor Musk responded to questions from Reuters for this story.


The breakthrough Tesla has made centers on how the giant molds for such a large part are designed and tested for mass production, and how casts can incorporate hollow subframes with internal ribs to cut weight and boost crashworthiness.

In both cases the innovations, developed by design and casting specialists in Britain, Germany, Japan, and the United States, involve 3D printing and industrial sand, the five people said. All spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

So far, automakers have shied away from casting ever-bigger structures because of the "gigacast dilemma": creating molds to make parts of 1.5 meters squared or more boosts efficiency but is expensive and comes with myriad risks.

Once a large metal test mold has been made, machining tweaks during the design process could cost $100,000 a go, or redoing the mold altogether might come to $1.5 million, according to one casting specialist. Another said the whole design process for a large metal mold would typically cost about $4 million.

That has been deemed prohibitive by automakers - especially as a design might need half a dozen tweaks or more to achieve a perfect die from the perspective of noise and vibration, fit and finish, ergonomics and crashworthiness, the sources said.

But Musk's vision from the start was to find a way to cast the underbody in one piece, despite the risks, the sources said.

To overcome the obstacles, Tesla turned to firms that make test molds out of industrial sand with 3D printers. Using a digital design file, printers known as binder jets deposit a liquid binding agent onto a thin layer of sand and gradually build a mold, layer by layer, that can die-cast molten alloys.

According to one source, the cost of the design validation process with sand casting, even with multiple versions, is minimal - just 3% of doing the same with a metal prototype.

That means Tesla can tweak prototypes as many times as needed, reprinting a new one in a matter of hours using machines from companies such as Desktop Metal (DM.N) and its unit ExOne.

The design validation cycle using sand casting only takes two to three months, two of the sources said, compared with anywhere from six months to a year for metal mold prototypes.


The subframes in a car underbody are typically hollow to save weight and improve crashworthiness. At the moment, they are made by stamping and welding multiple parts together leaving a void in the middle.

To cast subframes with hollows as part of one gigacasting, Tesla plans to place solid sand cores printed by the binder jets within the overall mold. Once the part has been cast, the sand is removed to leave the voids.

But despite that greater flexibility achieved in both the design process and the complexity of the large frames, there was still one more major hurdle to clear.

The aluminium alloys used to produce the castings behaved differently in sand and metal molds and often failed to meet Tesla's criteria for crashworthiness and other attributes.

The casting specialists overcame that by formulating special alloys, fine-tuning the molten alloy cooling process, and also coming up with an after-production heat treatment, three of the sources said. Once Tesla is happy with the prototype mold, it can then invest in a final metal one for mass production.

The sources said Tesla's upcoming small car has given it a perfect opportunity to cast an EV platform in one piece, mainly because its underbody is simpler,

The kind of small cars Tesla is developing – one for personal use and the other a robotaxi – don't have a big "overhang" at the front and the back, as there is not much of a hood or rear trunk.

"It's like a boat in a way, a battery tray with small wings attached to both ends. That would make sense to do in one piece," one person said.

The sources said, however, that Tesla still had to make a call on what kind of gigapress to use if it decided to cast the underbody in one piece - and that choice would also dictate how complex the car frame would be.

To punch out such large body parts fast, the people said Tesla would need new bigger gigapresses with massive clamping power of 16,000 tons or more, which would come with a hefty price tag and might need larger factory buildings.

Three of the five sources said one problem with presses using high clamping power, however, was that they cannot house the 3D-printed sand cores needed to make hollow subframes.

The people said Tesla could solve these obstacles by using a different type of press into which molten alloy can be injected slowly - a method that tends to produce higher-quality castings and can accommodate the sand cores.

But the process takes longer.

"Tesla could still choose high-pressure for productivity, or they could choose slow alloy injection for quality and versatility," one of the people said. "It's still a coin toss at this point."

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post