Around the World

News from around the globe impacting your world.

Oil Prices Soar. Oil price in London trading soared to fresh two and half year highs driven by fresh fighting in Libya and uncertainty in Nigeria. North Sea Brent crude was up 0.8 percent settling at 123.17 US dollars a barrel. In New York, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the US benchmark, was up 1 percent at 111.28 US dollars. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last night issued a warning that the widening gap between demand and supply could push prices even higher. IMF adviser Thomas Helbling said: "The recent trend increase in oil prices suggests that the global oil market has entered a period of increased scarcity."

European Central Bank Raises Key Interest Rate. For the first time since the financial crisis of 2008, the European Central Bank raised interest rates by a quarter point to 1.25 percent on Thursday. Preliminary figures suggest that the inflation rate within the euro zone has already reached 2.6 percent, 0.6 percent higher than the declared ECB goal of 2 percent or less. Thursday's step is also aimed at reining in speculation fuelled by supplies of cheap money. Market analysts are predicting the increase will be the first in a series and that interest rates could reach 1.75 percent by the end of the year. More from Der Spiegel.

China's Energy Policy Threads a Fine Line in the Middle East. Peter Lee of the Asia Times looks at China's initiatives in the wake of Arab unrest. Lee notes that "China has no credibility as a democratic reformer or clout as a military power in the Middle East; it seems to be trying to carve out a role for itself as a regional facilitator, one with good relations with all the key players, from Egypt to Israel to Saudi Arabia to Iran." With US-Saudi relations are now strained, China believes that it may have an opening to become a bigger player in Mid-East geopolitics however Beijing may find it increasingly difficult to placate Tehran, its biggest Mid-East energy supplier, as it moves to court Riyadh.

US Expels Ecuadorian Ambassador. The United States is expelling Ecuador's Ambassador in retaliation for the Andean nation's decision to declare US Ambassador Heather Hodges a persona non grata after remarks she made about police corruption were made public by Wikileaks. In addition, the US has cancelled upcoming talks scheduled for June between Washington and Quito. More from the Financial Times.

Korean Producer Price Growth at 28 Month High. Korea's Producer prices rose at the fastest pace in 28 months, putting greater pressure on the Bank of Korea (BOK) to raise interest rates. The producer price index increased 7.3 percent in March from a year earlier, up from a 6.6 percent rise in February, representing the sharpest gain since the 7.8-percent elevation in November 2008, according to the central bank Friday. The BOK is struggling to contain consumer prices that have been rising significantly faster than the government's 3 percent target. The full story in the Korea Times.

Cuban Dissidents Reach Madrid. Thirty-seven former political prisoners and 208 of their relatives landed at Madrid's Barajas airport on Friday. These latest arrivals are the last of a group of political prisoners whose release was negotiated last year among the Cuban and Spanish governments and the Cuban Catholic Church. All told, 115 political prisoners have been released by Cuba and exiled to Spain. The latest group includes Cuban dissident Orlando Fundora, who was arrested in 2003 among a well-known group of 75 dissidents. More from CNN International.

Tags: Energy Issues, Peak Oil, Global Financial Markets (all tags)

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