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Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih (L) speaks to journalists as he attends the 175th OPEC Conference of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria on December 06, 2018.

JOE KLAMAR | AFP | Getty Images

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih (L) speaks to journalists as he attends the 175th OPEC Conference of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria on December 06, 2018.

OPEC and its allies are poised to debate the terms of price-boosting supply cuts on Friday, after the influential oil cartel failed to reach a consensus over production policy for the first time in almost five years.

The 15-member organization will hold talks with allied oil-producing nations at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria on Friday. It comes after deep divisions in the energy alliance were laid bare at a closely-watched meeting on Thursday, with the group unable to agree on the terms of crude output cuts.

International benchmark Brent crude slipped below $60 a barrel Friday morning, as a lack of guidance from the Middle East-dominated group rattled energy markets.

The cartel has agreed how many barrels it would aim to remove from the market in principle, two unnamed sources told Reuters Thursday. But, de facto OPEC leader Saudi Arabia was forced to delay making a final decision on how deeply it would cut production until after it meets with non-OPEC heavyweight Russia.

The meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC members comes at a time when the oil market is near the bottom of its worst price plunge since the 2008 financial crisis.

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Huawei founder says growth ‘may slow, but only slightly’ after US restrictions

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Huawei Founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei

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Huawei Technologies’ founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei said on Saturday the growth of the Chinese tech giant “may slow, but only slightly” due to recent U.S. restrictions.

In remarks to the Japanese press and reported by Nikkei Asian Review, Ren reiterated that the Chinese telecom equipment maker has not violated any law.

“It is expected that Huawei’s growth may slow, but only slightly,” Ren told Japanese media in his first official comments after the U.S. restrictions, adding that the company’s annual revenue growth may undershoot 20%.

On Thursday, Washington put Huawei, one of China’s biggest and most successful companies, on a trade blacklist that could make it extremely difficult for Huawei to do business with U.S. companies, a decision slammed by China, which said it will take steps to protect its companies.

The developments surrounding Huawei come at a time of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing and amid concerns from the United States that Huawei’s smartphones and network equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans, allegations the company has repeatedly denied.

A similar U.S. ban on China’s ZTE Corp had almost crippled business for the smaller Huawei rival early last year before the curb was lifted.

The U.S. Commerce Department said on Friday it may soon scale back restrictions on Huawei.

Ren said the company was prepared for such a step and that Huawei would be “fine” even if U.S. smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm and other American suppliers would not sell chips to the company.

Huawei’s chip arm HiSilicon said on Friday it has long been prepared for the scenario that it could be banned from purchasing U.S. chips and technology, and is able to ensure steady supply of most products.

The Huawei founder said that the company will not be taking instructions from the U.S. government.

“We will not change our management at the request of the U.S. or accept monitoring, as ZTE has done,” he said.

In January, U.S. prosecutors unsealed an indictment accusing the Chinese company of engaging in bank fraud to obtain embargoed U.S. goods and services in Iran and to move money out of the country via the international banking system.

Ren’s daughter, Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada in December in connection with the indictment. Meng, who was released on bail, remains in Vancouver and is fighting extradition. She has maintained her innocence.

Ren has previously said his daughter’s arrest was politically motivated.

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Austria chancellor calls for snap election after far-right leader resigns

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Sebastian Kurz, Austrian Foreign Minister and leader of the conservative Austrian Peo

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Conservative Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz pulled the plug Saturday on his coalition with the far-right Freedom Party, after the party’s leader quit as vice chancellor over video showing him discussing state contracts in return for favors from a woman posing as a Russian oligarch’s niece.

“Enough is enough,” Kurz said in a statement to the media, listing several lesser scandals involving the Freedom Party that did not cause their coalition to collapse. He said he would propose to Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen that a snap election be held as soon as possible.

The Freedom Party, one of a number of anti-immigrant nationalist parties to have scored electoral success in Europe in recent years, has been the junior partner in Kurz’s coalition for 18 months.

Heinz-Christian Strache said earlier Saturday he was stepping down from his posts as vice-chancellor and Freedom Party chief over the video, but he denied breaking any laws.

The video, released a week before European parliament elections in which nationalist groups allied to Strache’s party are expected to perform well across the continent, showed Strache meeting the woman in 2017, shortly before the election that brought him into government.

Strache, whose party has a cooperation agreement with Russia’s ruling United Russia party, described the sting as a “targeted political assassination” and said it never led to any money changing hands. He insisted the only crime that took place was illegally videotaping a private dinner party.

In the footage, he appears to offer to funnel contracts towards a company in exchange for political and financial support. He discussed rules on party financing and how to work around them, although he also insisted on having to act legally.

“It was dumb, it was irresponsible and it was a mistake,” Strache told a news conference, fighting back tears as he asked his wife and others to forgive him.

“In the cold light of day, my remarks were catastrophic and exceedingly embarrassing,” he said. In an at-times rambling defense of his behavior, Strache also apologized for flirting with the woman, whom he describes as attractive in the recording.

“It was typical alcohol-fueled macho behavior in which, yes, I also wanted to impress the attractive female host and I behaved like a bragging teenager,” he said.

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Australia’s conservative government on course for ‘miracle’ election victory

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Australia’s Liberal-led conservative government was headed for a remarkable win at the national election early on Sunday after uncovering a narrow path to victory that twisted through urban fringes and rural townships.

The results upended pre-election polls which predicted a Labor victory, though it is unclear whether the Scott Morrison-led coalition can govern with an outright majority or will need to negotiate support from independents.

The final result may not be known for some time.

“I have always believed in miracles,” Morrison told cheering supporters at Sydney’s Wentworth Hotel, where the government holds its official election night function.

“Tonight is not about me or it’s not about even the Liberal party. Tonight is about every single Australian who depends on their government to put them first.”

The conservative government has won or is leading in 72 seats in its quest for a 76-seat majority, according to the Australian Electoral Commission, with just over two-thirds of votes counted.

Several seats are still too close to call and the final result is complicated by a large number of early votes that have delayed counting.

Morrison’s coalition defied expectations by holding onto a string of outer suburban seats in areas where demographics closest resemble America’s Rust Belt, blocking Labor’s path to victory.

This included a devastating result in the coal-rich state of Queensland, which backed the Pentecostal church-going prime minister by defying expectations and delivering several marginal seats to his government.

Sombre defeat

Voters on Saturday cast their ballots for Morrison’s message of support to aspirational voters and turned their back on Labor leader Bill Shorten’s reforms.

“I know that you’re all hurting and I am too,” Shorten told supporters at the party’s Melbourne election night function.

“And without wanting to hold out any false hope, while there are still millions of votes to count and important seats yet to be finalised, it is obvious that Labor will not be able to form the next government.”

Shorten said he would step down as the party’s leader.

Labor, a party with deep ties to the union movement, had promised to abolish several property and share investment tax concessions primarily aimed at the wealthy.

Both major parties suffered a decline in their primary vote, according to AEC data, which was caused in part by a well-funded campaign by Clive Palmer’s populist United Australia Party.

The election sparked several high-profile local battles, including attempts to remove Peter Dutton, a senior lawmaker who has championed Australia’s controversial policy of detaining asylum seekers in offshore centres.

Although Dutton has retained his Queensland seat, former conservative prime minister Tony Abbott lost his Sydney beaches seat of Warringah to high-profile independent Zali Steggall.

“So, of course, it’s disappointing for us here in Warringah, but what matters is what’s best for the country,” Abbott told supporters in a concession speech.

“And what’s best for the country is not so much who wins or loses Warringah, but who forms, or does not form, a government in Canberra.”

There were also 40 of 76 Senate spots contested in the election, the outcome of which will determine how difficult it will be for the next government to enact policy.

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