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With Big Oil’s Future in Doubt, New BP Boss Sets His Vision

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(Bloomberg) — As BP Plc’s new chief delivers his vision to transform the company on Wednesday, investors and activists want to know just how much appetite he has to take on the existential crisis facing the oil industry.Bernard Looney’s big challenge will be to navigate BP through an energy transition with the world falling out of love with oil, and louder demands from investors to pivot toward clean energy. When climate protesters forced the company to shut its London headquarters last week, the 49-year-old Irishman promised them he would address their concerns.BP is already taking some modest steps to address climate change, including investment in renewables and selling some of its most carbon-intensive assets. But it remains an oil major through and through, still very much the company that tapped the first fields in Iran early in the last century and drilled wildcat wells on the Alaskan frontier more than 60 years ago.Undertaking a truly radical move — such as Repsol SA’s pledge to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 — would be a historic, and controversial shift for the oil industry. It might satisfy the company’s activist investors, but could displease the many shareholders that still demand hefty dividends.“The challenge will be how to solve decarbonizing its portfolio while at the same time sustaining growth if this means divesting high-carbon assets that also generate material cash flow,” said Christyan Malek, head of European oil research at JPMorgan Chase & Co.BP has been here before. In the early 2000s, the company rebranded itself as “Beyond Petroleum,” but big investments in solar power largely failed. In one of his last interviews before leaving office, Looney’s predecessor Bob Dudley warned against Big Oil moving too fast on new technologies to counter climate change, because their failure could lead to financial ruin.Open-Neck ShirtsLooney is embracing a different style to Dudley. He’s often seen in jeans and open-necked shirts with his sleeves rolled up. He recently joined Instagram, where he talks about climate change.“All of the anxiety and frustration of the world at the pace of change is a big deal. I want you to know we are listening,” Looney said in a Instagram post this week. He will on Wednesday set out “the role we aspire to play in the world,” BP said on its Twitter account.Read More: BP’s New CEO Needs to Steer Company Through World Wary of OilThat’s allowed expectations to build, and investors and analysts see Looney announcing a sharp turn toward cleaner operations and fuels when he starts speaking at 2:30 p.m. in London.Activist shareholders will be scrutinizing his every word. Top of their agenda will be how Looney plans to deal with so-called Scope 3 emissions, which tackles greenhouse gases from the fuels BP sells. Dudley opposed the idea of setting a target for customers’ pollution. But with Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA and Repsol taking responsibility for Scope 3, BP is under pressure to follow suit.“BP has been on the wrong side of this issue and we would encourage bold leadership from the new CEO to embrace not only Scope 3 emission targets but a net-zero goal,” said Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement for the Church of England Pensions Board.Big ShiftTargeting Scope 3 emissions would be a big shift for an industry that produces the bulk of the world’s planet-warming emissions. BP and other companies will one day face a hard reckoning — either shift all their energy production to renewables, invent commercially viable technology to store the carbon they emit, or stick with fossil fuels and accept that one day the company will fade away.Increasing pressure from investors and society may not leave them with much choice. Climate change was among the most debated subjects in this year’s Davos, and last month, BlackRock Inc. added its significant weight to a $41 trillion investor-group that’s pressing the biggest emitters to change their ways. BP’s shares, which have fallen about 13% over the past year, added 0.6% on Wednesday.Click here to read a QuickTake defining the issues around carbon scopesSeveral oil companies have already set targets for Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gases, which come directly from pumping and refining hydrocarbons. Yet these account for less than 10% of total emissions from the life cycle of oil and gas.Boldest MoveRepsol has made the boldest move yet, promising net-zero emissions in 2050 by diverting investment into wind and solar power. Shell plans to halve its “net carbon footprint” by that year, and will tie the target to executive pay. Norway’s Equinor ASA set a goal for customer emissions for the first time last week.Tackling emissions is a balancing act, Equinor’s Chief Financial Officer Lars Christian Bacher said in an interview on Tuesday. “You can never be responsible as a producer for the way people drive their cars,” he said. “But we have a role to play to decarbonize the world.”Looney is taking over the storied oil company at a critical time for BP, and the oil industry. Dudley’s greatest challenge in his 10-year tenure was the survival of the company itself following the Gulf of Mexico accident that caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Looney’s would be to ensure the company thrives in a rapidly changing world.“Being part of the energy transition is going to be the great adventure” for Looney, Dudley said in a Bloomberg television interview last month.(Updates with time of presentation in ninth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Hurst in London at lhurst3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James Herron at jherron9@bloomberg.net, Rakteem KatakeyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



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People Are Rushing to Buy 100-Ounce Bars of Gold

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People Are Rushing to Buy 100-Ounce Bars of Gold(Bloomberg) — There are few corners of the global financial market that have been upended as spectacularly, or as oddly, by the coronavirus pandemic as gold trading.Not only are prices swinging in an erratic fashion — surging one moment and crashing the next — that is undermining the metal’s vaunted status as a haven in times of crisis, but unprecedented logistical disruptions have also kicked off a frantic hunt for actual bars of gold.At the center of it all are a small band of traders who for years had cashed in on what had always been a sure-fire bet: shorting gold in the futures market. Usually, they’d ride the trade out till the end of the contract when they’d have a couple of options to get out without marking much, if any, loss.But the virus, and the global economic collapse that it’s sparking, have created such extreme price distortions that those easy-exit options disappeared on them. Which means that they suddenly faced the threat of having to deliver actual gold bars to the buyers of the contract upon maturity.It’s at this point that things get really bad for the short-sellers.To make good on maturing contracts, they’d have to move actual gold from various locations. But with the virus shutting down air travel across the globe, procuring a flight to transport the metal became nearly impossible.If they somehow managed to get a flight, there was another major problem. Futures contracts in New York are based on 100-ounce bullion bars. The gold that’s rushed in from abroad is almost always a different size.The short-seller needs to pay a refiner to re-melt the gold and re-pour it into the required bar shape in order for it to be delivered to the contract buyer. But once again, the virus intervenes: Several refiners, including three of the world’s biggest in Switzerland, have shut down operations.Signs of distress picked up on Friday, March 20, when the cost to swap New York futures and spot physical gold in London — the world’s biggest market — rose to about $2. Typically, this trade cost almost nothing. After the close of the next session on Monday, that premium had jumped further to $6.75.When traders in Asia entered Tuesday morning, there weren’t many sellers or offers, and suddenly they were scrambling to buy whatever gold they could get their hands on. By the time London came in, most of the market was squeezed and nobody wanted to sell.“I realized it was going to be an extremely volatile day,” Tai Wong, the head of metals derivatives trading at BMO Capital Markets in New York, said of Tuesday. “We watched this panic develop literally over the course of 12 hours. Having seen enough market dislocations, you recognize that the frenzy wasn’t likely to last, but at the same time you also don’t know how long it would extend.”By the time the panic finally subsided Tuesday night, major investors and decades-old veterans were reeling. At the peak of the carnage, potential total losses were estimated at as much as $1 billion, according to market participants. That’s even though the people involved in the trade represented less than 4% of total open interest — or the amount of outstanding contracts.Traders in need of physical metal went as far as to cold-call holders of gold bars in hopes that they’re in possession of exchange-approved metal. Some investors paid massive fees to have the remaining operating refineries to mint new gold bars, according to people with knowledge of the matter.The spread between April and June futures contracts on Tuesday jumped to $20 an ounce, meaning it cost that much more to buy metal for April than it did for two months later. That signaled more near-term demand for bullion and the need to soon have physical supply in hand.By the end of the week, though, the situation had flipped. The June contract cost almost $30 more than the April contract, suggesting that traders appetite for physical gold has subsided for now.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



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What to watch on Disney+ while social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic

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Subscribe to Fortune’Outbreak newsletter for a daily roundup of stories on the coronavirus and its impact on global business.

Disney+ is rolling out in Europe just as the coronavirus has caused nations to urge citizens to stay indoors. But it has already spent months racking up subscribers in the United States, thanks to a jam-packed catalog spanning Pixar classics, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, National Geographic documentaries, ’90s animated cartoons, and much more.

With so many options to stream, families surfing Disney+ might find themselves understandably overwhelmed. Fortune’s here to help, breaking down the major services’ offerings into a few distinct recommendations based on whatever mood our current global crisis might have you in (all of which are completely valid). And if nothing in the Mouse’s new House strikes your fancy, here are our Netflix and Amazon Prime guides, for your continued perusing pleasure.

For a badly needed laugh:

Heath Ledger in the 1999 teen movie “10 Things I Hate About You.”
Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

10 Things I Hate About You A romantic-comedy classic you might be surprised to discover on Disney+, this ’90s touchstone featured one of the best non-clown-related performances by the late, great Heath Ledger, as the bad boy tricked into dating a smart-mouthed classmate (Julia Stiles), so that her sister (Larisa Oleynik) can get around their father’s strict dating rules and make out with the new kid (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Twenty years later, it’s remarkable how smart and fresh its script still feels, piled high as it is with quotable one-liners and endlessly clever turns of phrase.

Meet the Robinsons A whiz-bang animated outing that heads to some surprisingly dark places—as well as a wondrously bright future of flying cars, cookie-baking grandmas, and musical gangster frogs—this 2007 effort came at a time when Disney’s animated output was seen to be running low on imagination, after a few high-profile misses. But even if that hadn’t been the case, this thoroughly hilarious and heartwarming story, not to mention its bedeviled bowler hats, would have been met with open arms.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit Pioneering and peculiar, this Robert Zemeckis–directed classic from 1988 renewed public interest in animation technology while crafting a delightfully skewed noir playground in which its mixture of animated cartoon characters and real actors could trade barbs and blows. Surprisingly, its off-kilter look holds up today; there’s something sneakily surreal yet effortless about its balancing of cartoon antics and the 1940s Hollywood sleuthing that brings private eye Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) into Toontown’s heart of unlikely darkness.

Additional picks

The Emperor’s New Groove
Newsies
Home Alone
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Holes

For the whole family:

Nala and Simba in the original animated “The Lion King.”

Inside Out Pixar’s most towering achievement, this 2015 animated insta-classic takes audiences inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, introducing us to the five basic emotions responsible for informing and influencing behaviors in her everyday life. Those would be Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). Cubicle colleagues in the office of Riley’s brain, all five hover around a control console, eager to help their little human navigate the turbulence of a destabilizing move. More than just a brilliantly imagined tale and a beautifully animated family adventure, Inside Out invents a radically visual language for emotions, gently teaching it in terms children grappling with their many feelings will understand. The doors that open to deeper dialogue between children and the adults around them cannot be undervalued. Inside Out is at once an important public service and a work of true filmmaking wizardry all at once.

Sky High Too many missed this 2005 superhero comedy, but it demands revisiting in the age of the Marvel industrial complex. Refreshingly light on its feet and unironically enamored of comic-book sagas, the Mike Mitchell–directed movie split the difference between high-school comedies (especially Mean Girls and The Breakfast Club) and the save-the-world stakes found in most caped-crusader concoctions. As a result, its breezy, in-on-the-joke tone feels like more of a revelation now than it did then, amid the ongoing glut of too-big-to-fail blockbusters. And its characters—from Steven Strait’s adorably broody Warren Peace to Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s shifty upperclassman Gwen Grayson—are as memorably sub-Hughesian as ever.

The Lion King (1994) Sure, I’m highlighting this one in part as an opportunity to sucker-punch last year’s abysmal live-action remake. Is that petty? Absolutely. But there’s nothing like a soulless cash-grab from the more modern, mega-corporate Disney to remind everyone what a dream factory its animation studio once was. This emotionally potent, exquisitely drawn masterpiece still plays like Shakespeare in the Serengeti. Its songs remain the classics they always were, heartwarming and soul-stirring. And through its traditionally hand-drawn approach to realizing its world, The Lion King brings a measure of expressive, ecstatic humanity to its animal kingdom.

Additional picks

Black Panther
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Flight of the Navigator
Togo
Frozen II
A Wrinkle in Time

To find your next binge-watch:

“The Child” and Pedro Pascal as the title character in “The Mandalorian,” which follows the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic.
Courtesy of Disney+

The Mandalorian The flagship series for Disney+, this surprisingly rich, impressively mounted Star Wars spinoff is a space western on the level that television hasn’t seen since Firefly went off the air. Its masked protagonist offers that perfect shade of Clint Eastwood cool, and its outer-reaches setting grants him an appropriately lawless sandbox to play in, complete with sea slugs and saloon shootouts. But let’s be real: The biggest draw of The Mandalorian (at least out of the gate, in the eight episodes currently available) is the presence of The Child, more commonly known as pop-cultural sensation “Baby Yoda,” particularly precious cargo the titular bounty hunter is tasked with protecting against a legion of former comrades in arms.

Gravity Falls A true mystery box of a kids’ series, Gravity Falls arrived now eight years ago on Disney Channel with little introduction. And across its 40 episodes—initially about the misadventures of 12-year-old twins shipped off to live with their eccentric great-uncle in a haunted Oregon outpost—it gradually revealed itself to be a much richer, smarter, more narratively purposeful tale of hidden worlds and fractured families than anyone could have guessed.

X-Men: The Animated Series Yes, the animation’s somewhat dated, but this ’90s cartoon laid the groundwork for many a serialized small-screen series to come with its uncommonly ambitious storytelling and nuanced treatment of the titular super-team. From season one’s epic saga surrounding the deadly Sentinels program to season two’s deepening of the dynamic between Wolverine and Rogue, X-Men: The Animated Series was one of the first comic-book shows to balance complex story lines with a fully fleshed-out, emotional approach to its characters. And its later-season staging of the Dark Phoenix saga, through which Jean Grey’s cosmic powers began to consume her, stands as the best telling of that arc to date, despite two separate efforts to dramatize it on the big screen.

Additional picks

The Simpsons
DuckTales
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Ultimate Spider-Man
The Imagineering Story

Coming attractions:

Narrated by Natalie Portman, Disneynature’s “Dolphin Reef” tells the story of Echo, a young Pacific bottlenose dolphin who seems far more interested in exploring the coral reef and its intriguing inhabitants than learning to survive in it.
Courtesy of Disney+

Onward (April 3) Pixar’s latest opened mere weeks before the spread of the coronavirus led major theater chains across the country to close their doors. Set in a suburban fantasy world where elves and centaurs drive decal-decked vans and slack their way through high school, it may be a slighter entry from the studio that brought you Up and The Incredibles. But even middle-shelf Pixar still has magic to spare.

Dolphin Reef (April 3) Natalie Portman narrates this stunning Disneynature documentary about Echo, a young Pacific bottlenose dolphin filled with curiosity about the coral reef his pod calls home. Exploring his surroundings and bumping up against all manner of sea critters, Echo gradually learns his place in the delicately balanced ecosystem of the reef.

National Treasure (April 30) Nicolas Cage heads up a ragtag team of self-described “treasure protectors” in this 2004 adventure gem, in which the epically named Benjamin Gates (Cage) leads the FBI on a merry chase through American history after, yes, stealing the Declaration of Independence (but only because the bad guys were already going to, see!). One of the more endearingly odd highlights of Cage’s filmography, made at the unlikely peak of his time as a Hollywood leading man, it has aged like fine wine and buried riches. (And if you can’t wait till the end of April, it’s on Netflix until it shifts to Disney+).

Additional picks:

David Lynch’s The Straight Story (April 3)
Running Wild With Bear Grylls, Season Five (April 10)
America’s Funniest Home Videos, Seasons 12–19, 23 (April 24)
John Carter (May 2)

More must-read stories from Fortune:

What to watch on Amazon Prime while social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic
What to watch on Netflix while social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic
—For Jesse Eisenberg, WWII biopic Resistance and sci-fi nightmare Vivarium both hit close to home
—Sobriety is the new black: How musicians are upending the usual narrative surrounding addiction
MusiCares’s COVID-19 Relief Fund gets all-star help for donations, concerts
Follow Fortune on Flipboard to stay up-to-date on the latest news and analysis.



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BSP may pump more money into system amid outbreak

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THE Philippine central bank is expected to pump more money into the financial system as low lending rates fail to stimulate an economy that has been put into a standstill by a novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Quantitative easing measures, through bond purchases and other tools by central banks are faster to implement and have immediate positive effects on the economy and financial markets,” said Michael L. Ricafort, chief economist at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.

They are unlike stimulus measures that may require more time through legislation, he said in an e-mailed reply to questions.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) earlier went on a buying spree of three-month government securities worth $300-billion from the Bureau of the Treasury under a repurchase agreement payable in six months.

Both quantitative easing measures and policies are needed at a time of a pandemic, according to Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc.

“With the magnitude of an impact such as a pandemic, all monetary and fiscal means should be on deck, and nothing should be left unused,” he said.

Quantitative easing would also help boost lending, apart from the liquidity boost and rate cuts enforced by the central bank, said Robert Dan J. Roces, chief economist at Security Bank Corp.

“The additional reserves would kick-start lending, causing broad money growth to expand, and eventually lead to an increase in real economic activity,” he said in an e-mail.

STRONGER MEASURES
Meanwhile, BSP needs to come up with a bigger and stronger scope of response to ensure the economy is better cushioned from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, analysts said.

The economic effects of the pandemic could be worse than the 2008 global financial crisis, UnionBank’s Economic Research Unit said in a report, adding that the government needs to boost its response.

“By mere optics, the current crop of policies may have to be augmented further and a more targeted policy support is very much needed,” it said in an e-mailed note.

The share of exports, imports and tourist arrivals in the gross domestic product (GDP) last year rose to 59.3% (from 52.9%), 68.7% (from 50.1%), and 12.7% (from 5.9%), respectively from 2007, the bank said, citing government data.

On the other hand, the share of consumption and remittances in the economy fell to 68.4% (from 71.6%) and 8.5% (from 9.7%), respectively. In absolute amount, consumption almost doubled to P6.7 trillion last year from 2007, while remittances more than doubled to P30.1 billion

“Apart from the trade’s bigger part of the economy, tourism has more than doubled in terms of GDP contribution,” according to the report.

“Aggregate consumption, the biggest contributor to GDP, and remittance inflows have continuously supported economic growth for more than a decade,” it added.

“An estimated deeper impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the bigger real macroeconomy, compared with the economic losses caused by the global financial crisis warrants wider and more encompassing policies,” it added.

The month-long lockdown in Luzon, which contributes 70% to GDP, is expected to slow the economy. Tourism, trade and remittances are also expected to suffer because of the outbreak.

Economic managers have estimated losses of P428.7 billion to P1.355 trillion in gross value added or about 2.1% to 6.6% of GDP. The government had targeted growth of 6.5-7.5% this year.

“If we are going to take their initial assessments seriously, then the response to this pandemic should be stronger and the scope bigger,” according to the report.

The central bank cut policy rates by 50 basis points this month and will buy P300 billion worth of securities from the Treasury bureau to help fund government initiatives related to the outbreak.

On Thursday, it remitted in advance P20 billion in dividends to the National Government to help it deal with the health crisis. — Luz Wendy T. Noble



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