Nikkei

Oil prices remain near a three-month high before the year’s end, largely thanks to a yet to be signed Sino-US Phase-1 trade deal.

US retaliates

But the energy markets are now wary of brewing tensions between the US and Iran in Iraq as the former conducted airstrikes against a Shia militia group backed by the latter.

“We will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after the US airstrike that killed 19 Kataib Hizbullah (KH) members in western Iraq and eastern Syria. The US assault was in response to a KH rocket attack on a coalition base in Kirkuk where a civilian American contractor was killed.

Iran’s foreign ministry accused Washington of support for terrorism through the attack, adding it must bear the consequences.

Elsewhere in Iraq, protesters forced the country’s southern Nassiriya oilfield to be shut down. Iraq’s oil ministry said the halt to output at the oilfield would not affect exports as it will use productıons from Basra to compensate.

NK doubles down on threat

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un urged “positive and offensive measures” to boost his regime’s security ahead of a year-end deadline he set for the US to come up with concessions in denuclearization talks.

State media KCNA wired on Monday that Kim convened over the weekend top Workers’ Party officials to talk on policy amid rising tensions with Washington. Kim proposed action in foreign affairs, the munitions industry, and armed forces.

China sales

Retail sales in China are expected to have increased by 8% in 2019 to 41.1 trillion yuan ($5.88 trillion), the country’s official Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday.

Citing a commerce ministry official, Xinhua reminded that retail sales saw a 9% rise in 2018.

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