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Oil prices fell on Friday, pulled down by OPEC’s decision to delay a final decision on output cuts, awaiting support from non-OPEC heavyweight Russia.

International Brent crude oil futures fell below $60 per barrel early in the session, trading at $59.50 per barrel at 0144 GMT, down 56 cents, or 0.9 percent from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $51.24 per barrel, down 25 cents, or 0.5 percent.

The declines came after crude slumped by almost 3 percent the previous day, with the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) ending a meeting at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday without announcing a decision to cut crude supply, instead preparing to debate the matter on Friday.

“OPEC has decided to meet Friday again…(as) Russia remains the sticking point,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.

Analysts still expect some form of supply reduction to be decided.

“We are beginning to witness the outline of the next iteration of production cuts, with OPEC conforming to cut its own production by around 1 million barrels per day, with the cartel lobbying non-OPEC members to contribute more,” Japanese bank MUFG said in a note.

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Italy nightclub stampede: Six people killed

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Six people, including five young teenagers, were crushed to death in the early hours of Saturday following a stampede at a packed nightclub near Ancona on Italy’s Adriatic coast, officials said.

The deaths occurred when a walkway leading out of the Lanterna Azzurra nightclub in the town of Corinaldo collapsed, causing dozens of people to fall into a trench below.

Three girls, two boys and a mother who had accompanied her child to the event died in the crush. Police said the teenagers were aged between 14 and 16, while the dead woman was 39.

More than 100 other people were injured, 13 of them seriously, officials said.

The local fire brigade said someone might have sprayed a substance like pepper spray into the crowd, triggering a panicked rush to the emergency exits.

Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who also serves as interior minister, said early indications suggested there were many more people than permitted inside the club, where popular Italian rapper Sfera Ebbasta had been due to perform.

“People cannot die like this,” Salvini said in a statement. “We will find those responsible for these six broken lives, those who out of malice, stupidity or greed have turned a party night into a tragedy,” he added.

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China’s November export, import growth shrinks, showing weak demand 

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U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday sounded an optimistic note about trade negotiations with China as his top economic advisers downplayed friction from the arrest of Meng Wanzhou.

“China talks are going very well,” Trump said on Twitter, without providing any details. In a note, analysts at Haitong Securities in Shanghai said “Growth in shipments of Chinese goods on U.S. 200 billion tariff list has started to pull back, indicating that frontloading effects may be starting to recede.”

“Now with U.S. and China agreeing not to escalate trade tensions any longer, China will start purchasing U.S. agricultural goods, which may narrow China-U.S. trade surplus in the future,” they said. China’s November trade surplus with the United States was a record $35.55 billion. The October surplus was $31.78 billion. But China’s imports from the U.S. in November fell 25 percent from a year earlier, while the annual decline in October was only 1.8 percent.

For trade with all countries, China’s surplus was $44.74 billion for November, compared with forecasts of $34 billion and October’s surplus of $34.02 billion.

On Thursday, the U.S. reported that its global trade deficit in October jumped to a 10-year high, and that the deficit with China surged 7.1 percent to a record $43.1 billion.

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Germany CDU election: The ‘mini’ Merkel win

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On Friday, delegates from the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in Hamburg elected Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, known as ‘AKK’, as the new leader of the party, replacing Chancellor Angela Merkel. The leadership race showcased the divide inside the party between more conservative circles and those who wanted continuity.

AKK, as she is widely called, stands for continuity and she will safeguard the legacy of Angela Merkel, while opposing candidate Friedrich Merz, who garnered 48 percent of the votes, would have been a fresh wind calling for a more conservative profile of the party. Until the end, the outcome was too close to call.

The election of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer comes as a big relief to Merkel, who clearly seemed to be pleased by the outcome. She is a close ally of hers and her election might enable her to stay on as chancellor for the remaining time of her term, until 2021, without facing strong infighting from her own party.

Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer’s rise through the rank to the top of Germany’s biggest party puts her in pole position to succeed Merkel as chancellor. As she only entered the national political stage in February when she became the CDU’s secretary general, she might need the coming years until new elections will come about, to raise her profile. While she rejects being called a “mini-Merkel”, she has a very similar sober appearance and non-emotional approach when speaking in public.

Her election will most likely not trigger new elections next year, as the SPD, the Social Democratic Party that is in a coalition government with the CDU and its sister Bavarian party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), will be happy to work together with her.

Friedrich Merz, the “law and order” and more conservative candidate, would have been a bitter pill to swallow for the SPD. But one should not forget when talking about the risk of new elections that the SPD, given their current low ratings, will avoid those at all costs as the outcome might marginalize them even further.

So what’s the biggest takeaway from the change on leadership at the CDU? The big political earthquake was prevented with AKK as new party leader and the name of the game is “continuity” and not “a fresh start”. Whether this will be the recipe to attract voters back from the populist, far-right Alternative for Germany party (the AfD) is not clear, as AKK will not move the party to a more conservative corner.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow

@CNBCopinion

on Twitter.



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