Farmers Compensated for Oil Works in Wassit

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Oil Ministry has announced that it has paid compensation of more than 3 million Iraqi dinars ($2.6 million) to farmers whose lands were damaged their lands because of oil projects in Wassit province.

The amounts relate to the years from 2012 to early 2015, and were paid to 618 farmers.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

(Compensation image via Shutterstock)

Protest Over Media Prizes

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Rewarding Journalists For Bias? Iraqi Media Protest Over MPs’ Unfair Prize Giving

Recently the Iraqi Parliament decided to give out awards to journalists in the press corps in Baghdad. For the first time they gave out awards to five of the around 70 accredited journalists working the government beat.

However almost immediately the awards created an uproar, with a number of dissatisfied journalists holding a sit-in in Parliament’s press centre for more than an hour. Basically, they complained, the awards had been made as a result of each organisation’s sectarian allegiances rather than any journalistic merit.

Critics say that the media organizations that were honoured were only given prizes because of who owned them or what they stood for.

The prize winners were Iraqiyah, the TV channel that is part of the Shiite-Muslim-led Iraqi government’s public broadcaster, the Iraqi Media Network, Rudaw, the Iraqi Kurdish media organisation owned by the region’s ruling Barzani family, Al Sharqiya, the TV channel owned by Iraqi media tycoon Saad al-Bazzaz which is generally acknowledged as the voice of Sunni Muslim opinion in the country, and the Afaq TV channel, which is owned by the mainly Shiite Muslim Dawa political party and known to be closely affiliated to one of its leading members, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

There’s a long history of bias in the Iraqi media – although all kinds of media institutions flourished after 2003, many of them were funded by, or wholly owned by, political parties or owners with a political, sectarian or ethnic axe to grind.

UN Funds and Stock Running Out in Ramadi

UN agencies are rushing humanitarian assistance to people fleeing Ramadi for the second time in a month.

Close to 25,000 people have fled Ramadi following ISIL attacks and fierce fighting in the city. Most of the displaced are fleeing towards Baghdad, with many trying to enter through security checkpoints.

In response to urgent requests from Iraqi authorities, the World Food Programme has distributed thousands of immediate response rations, sufficient for three days, and will be distributing food in Amiriyat Al Falluja, Al Khalidiya, Al Habbaniyah and Al Khalidiya, where IDPs are concentrating for safety.

UNICEF, and its partners the Norwegian Refugee Council and the International Organization for Migration are distributing thousands of emergency kits with drinking water, hygiene items and other essential supplies.

The World Health Organization has sent mobile health teams and ambulances to areas where the displaced are fleeing.

UNHCR is working to help assess and equip reception areas and temporary camps and UNICEF is providing mobile latrines, showers and hygiene items to IDP camps.

Within the past month, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations have provided life-assistance to more than 130,000 people who fled Ramadi following ISIL attacks in April. Tens of thousands of kits and rations have been distributed to more than 35 locations across Anbar Governorate.

Iraqis use Social Media to Pressure Govt

By Wassim Bassem for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Social networking sites in Iraq are turning into a real pressure tool on government decision-making centers. This became obvious April 28 when activists and bloggers started a media campaign on Facebook against the Iraqi government for failing to save the soldiers stationed at the Nazim al-Tharthar dam located 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Baghdad.

The Iraqi soldiers were attacked by the Islamic State (IS). Media reports said that about 150 were killed in the attack and that soldiers had been besieged for 16 days.

The Iraqi government, represented by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, denied the news circulating on social media that the dam fell into the hands of IS, and that the soldiers were trapped there.

Social networking sites have a significant impact on the politics in Iraq, which is proven by two important events: the Iraqi government’s decision in early June 2014 to censure social media in all parts of the country, including Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, following the escalating security tension, and when Khaled al-Mafraji, the member of parliament for the Coalition of National Forces, a Sunni bloc, accused the State of Law Coalition April 30 on social networking sites and in the media of a systematic campaign against Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi.

On April 26, activists and citizens used Facebook to call for demonstrations to oust Obaidi and try him for the Nazim al-Tharthar massacre. Iraqi member of parliament Aliya Nassif said in an April 25 press statement that 50 soldiers were killed during the Nazim al-Tharthar incident after IS members trapped them on the site.

Gold prices gain in Asia on easy global monetary policy views

Investing.com –

Investing.com – Gold prices inched up in Asia Friday on sentiment of continued easy monetary policy globally.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for June delivery rose 0.13% to $1,205.70 a troy ounce.

Silver for July delivery rose 0.01% to $17.133 a troy ounce. Copper for July delivery fell 0.09% to $2.848 a pound.

The Bank of Japan announces its monetary policy after its two-day board meeting around 1230 Tokyo time (0330 GMT) with expectations of standing pat.

Later in the day, BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda holds a news conference at 1530 (0630 GMT) to explain the board’s decision.

Overnight, gold futures fell mildly on Thursday amid downbeat economic data in the U.S. , Europe and China, as metal traders digested Wednesday’s release of the Federal Reserve’s April meeting, which provided further indications of a delayed interest rate hike.

In the U.S., new jobless claims inched up last week by 10,000 to 274,000, after the figure remained in the 260,000 range over the previous three weeks. Still, the four-week average fell by 5,500 too 266,250, moving lower for the fourth straight week. By comparison, the four-week average peaked above 285,000 in mid-April. Continuing claims, meanwhile, declined by 12,000 to 2.21 million for the week ending May 9, nearing a 15-year low.

When the Federal Open Market Committee released the minutes from its April meeting on Wednesday, the majority of its members did not support a June interest rate, according to the minutes.

The Fed reiterated that it will take a “data-driven” approach to its when it is reasonably confident it has seen significant improvements in the economy. The Fed blamed weak first quarter GDP growth on “largely transitory factors” such as severe winter weather and a West Coast port slowdown that dented exports. Historically, economic growth has been comparatively weak in the first quarter in recent years, the FOMC added.

Investors await the release of Friday’s Consumer Price Index for more hints on the Fed’s next move.

In April, the FOMC said consumer price inflation continued to fall below its long-term targeted goal of 2%. Medium-term forecasts for inflation, which the Fed generally defines as the next two years, projected to “move closer but remained” below the FOMC’s 2% goal. Economists expect the CPI to increase modestly for April on a monthly basis by 0.1%.

Gold, which is not attached to dividends or interest rates, struggles to compete with high yield bearing assets in periods of rising rates.

In Latvia, Greece prime minister Alexis Tsipras arrived for the latest round of talks with the nation’s euro zone creditors. An extension to the Greek bailout, which expires next month is expected to be discussed at the summit in Riga, The Guardian reported.

On Thursday, the Chinese HSBC-Markit manufacturing PMI index for May increased slightly to 49.1, below forecasts of 49.3. A reading below 50 signals contraction in the sector.

The reading also provided indications that deflationary pressures are increasing, fueling speculation of the possibility for additional stimulus measures by the People’s Bank of China.

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German GDP 0.3% vs. 0.3% forecast

Investing.com – Germany’s gross domestic product rose in the last quarter, official data showed on Friday.

In a report, Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland said that German GDP rose to a seasonally adjusted 0.3%, from 0.3% in the preceding quarter.

Analysts had expected German GDP to rise 0.3% in the last quarterInvesting.com
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Forex

Investing.com –

Investing.com – The U.S. dollar declined against the yen on Friday, after the Bank of Japan left its monetary policy unchanged and as the previous session’s U.S. data continued to dampen demand for the greenback.

USD/JPY hit 120.67 during late Asian trade, the pair’s lowest since May 20; the pair subsequently consolidated at 120.69, shedding 0.29%.

The pair was likely to find support at 119.80, the low of May 19 and resistance at 121.48, the high of May 20.

At its monthly policy meeting, the BoJ kept its monetary policy on hold and signaled growing confidence in the strength of the economy.

“Private consumption has been resilient against the background of steady improvement in the employment and income situation,” the BoJ said.

In April, the central bank had said that”recovery in some areas has been sluggish”.

Meanwhile, the dollar remained under pressure after a string of downbeat U.S. economic reports on Thursday fuelled fresh uncertainty over the strength of the recovery.

The U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending May 16 rose more than expected by 10,000 to 274,000 from the previous week’s total of 264,000.

Separately, the National Association of Realtors said that existing home sales fell unexpectedly by 3.3% in April to 5.04 million units from the previous month’s revised total of 5.21 million units.

In addition, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that its manufacturing index declined to 6.7 this month from a reading of 7.5 in April, confounding expectations for a rise to 8.0.

The yen was lower against the euro, with EUR/JPY adding 0.18% to 134.72.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release a report on consumer inflation.

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Oil futures drop, U.S. inflation data on tap

Investing.com –

Investing.com – Crude oil futures dropped on Friday, as the previous session’s downbeat U.S. data sparked concerns over the strength of the economy and markets awaited the release of U.S. inflation data later in the day.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for July delivery hit $60.20 during European early afternoon hours, down 53 cents, or 0.90%. A day earlier, Nymex oil prices rallied $1.74, or 2.95%, to end at $60.72.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending May 16 rose more than expected by 10,000 to 274,000 from the previous week’s total of 264,000.

Separately, the National Association of Realtors said that existing home sales fell unexpectedly by 3.3% in April to 5.04 million units from the previous month’s revised total of 5.21 million units.

In addition, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that its manufacturing index declined to 6.7 this month from a reading of 7.5 in April, confounding expectations for a rise to 8.0.

Investors were now looking ahead to U.S. inflation data and a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen due later in the day for fresh indications on how the economy is performing.

U.S. oil futures have been well-supported in recent weeks as an ongoing collapse in rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. added to expectations that shale oil production has peaked and may start falling in the coming months.

According to industry research group Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI), the number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. fell by 8 last week to 660, the 23rd straight week of declines and the lowest level since September 2010.

Oil traders have been paying close attention to the shrinking rig count in recent months for signs it will eventually reduce the glut of crude flowing into the market.

But market analysts also warned that the recent rally in the oil market could prompt some producers to dial up their output if prices hold above more than $60 a barrel.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for July delivery lost 69 cents, or 1.04%, to trade at $65.85 a barrel. On Thursday, London-traded Brent futures advanced $1.51 cents, or 2.32%, to settle at $66.54.

The spread between the Brent and the WTI crude contracts stood at $5.65 a barrel.

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