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Oil holds near year-long highs as COVID lockdowns seen easing

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Oil holds near year-long highs as COVID lockdowns seen easing 1

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices were steady on Tuesday, trading close to more than year-long highs on signs that global coronavirus restrictions were being eased although concerns about the pace of a U.S. economic recovery kept gains in check.

Brent crude was up 7 cents, or 0.1%, at $65.31 a barrel by 1505 GMT, close to its highest levels since January 2020. U.S. crude fell 14 cents, or 0.2%, to $61.56 a barrel.

Both contracts rose more than $1 earlier before retreating.

“Vaccine news is helping oil, as the likely removal of mobility restrictions over the coming months on the back of vaccine rollouts should further boost the oil demand and price recovery,” UBS oil analyst Giovanni Staunovo said.

But, tempering the upbeat mood, the chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, said the U.S. economic recovery remained “uneven and far from complete” and it would be “some time” before the central bank considered changing policies it had adopted to help the country back to full employment.

Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said the recent oil price rise was buoyed by upbeat price forecasts from U.S. brokers.

Goldman Sachs expects Brent prices to reach $70 per barrel in the second quarter from the $60 it predicted previously, and $75 in the third quarter from $65 forecast earlier.

Morgan Stanley, which expects Brent to reach $70 in the third quarter, said new COVID-19 cases were falling while “mobility statistics are bottoming out and are starting to improve”.

Bank of America said Brent prices could temporarily spike to $70 per barrel in the second quarter.

In the United States, traffic at the Houston ship channel was slowly returning to normal after last week’s winter storm, although production was not expected to fully restart soon.

Some U.S. shale producers forecast lower oil output in the first quarter.

Stockpiles of U.S. crude oil and refined products likely declined last week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday, due to the disruption in Texas.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London, additional reporting by Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore; Editing by David Evans and Edmund Blair)

 

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Tesla shares in the red for 2021 as bitcoin selloff weighs

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Tesla shares in the red for 2021 as bitcoin selloff weighs 2

By Julien Ponthus

LONDON (Reuters) – Shares in Tesla were set to plunge into the red for the year on Tuesday, hit by a broad selloff of high-flying technology stocks and the fall of bitcoin, in which the electric carmaker recently invested $1.5 billion.

At 1121 GMT, Tesla was down over 6% in U.S. premarket deals after a 8.5% drop during the previous session.

The firm led by Elon Musk has had a stellar ride since 2020, which it began at about $85 per share, before reaching the $900 mark on Jan. 25.

Currently trading at about $673 in pre-market transactions, the stock has lost 25% from its peak, which is above the 20% level which technically defines a bear market.

Bitcoin has also swung into a bear market, falling from a peak of $58,354 on Feb. 21 to a low of $45,000 earlier on Tuesday.

A Germany-based trader said he was “taking chips off the table” on Tesla as its $1.5 billion investment in the cryptocurrency could “backfire now”.

Among the factors contributing to the rise of the stocks is surging retail and institutional demand for “environmental, social, and governance” (ESG) friendly investments.

“There is a lot of reasons – purely from a sustainability angle – to hold Tesla, it is part of that transformation towards a more sustainable business model,” Valentijn van Nieuwenhuijzen, chief investment officer at asset manager NN IP told Reuters on Friday.

He added however that Elon Musk’s decision to invest in bitcoin could weigh on Tesla’s ESG rating.

The billionaire has been criticised for lauding bitcoin prior to Tesla’s purchase of the cryptocurrency.

His role in encouraging a retail frenzy in the shares of U.S. video game chain GameStop and driving up the price of the meme-based digital currency dogecoin have also come under fire while being acclaimed by a large fan base.

Analysts at Barclays noted that there had been a drop of conversations about the electric car makers in the Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum, which could explain some of the loss of appetite for the stock.

“With only 2-3 total submissions on each of the past several days, we remain below the trend in attention that has come along with big returns jumps in the past”, the analysts said in a note.

Other analysts have also cautioned against investing in the stock which remains one of the most expensive on the S&P 500 index at 163 times its 12-month forward earnings.

While investing in bets against the company’s stock have backfired spectacularly in the past, short interest in Tesla shares still stood at 5.5%, according to Refinitiv data.

(Reporting by Julien Ponthus, Thyagaraju Adinarayan and Karin Strohecker; editing by David Evans)

 

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What finding Alice has taught us about the pitfalls of no will

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What finding Alice has taught us about the pitfalls of no will 3

ITV’s latest television drama Finding Alice has been a necessary diversion during these endless winter weeks of lockdown, but it has also provided a useful warning about the far-reaching consequences of a person’s sudden death, particularly when a will has not been put in place.

Following the story of Alice, played by Keeley Hawes, who finds herself in difficulty when her partner of 20-years Harry dies suddenly, the drama brings into sharp focus issues around inheritance tax, intestacy rules and rights for unmarried couples.

Lawyers are hoping the circumstances depicted on the programme will act as a wake-up call to the 50% of UK adults who do not have a will.

Carol Cummins, Private Wealth Team Leader, with national firm Clarke Willmott LLP, said: “Finding Alice is a really useful case study in what not to do if you wish to ensure your family is taken care of following your death.

“Harry and Alice were unmarried and Harry had not made a will which means he died intestate. As a result of this, Alice will inherit nothing as of right, except any assets they might have owned in joint names. In fact, the couple’s daughter, Charlotte, along with a secret son George are entitled to their father’s estate under the intestacy rules. Any assets they do receive are potentially liable to inheritance tax.

“Then there’s the matter of the brand new ‘smart’ house the couple have just moved into. Alice, expects to inherit the property but discovers that in order to protect his assets against his many creditors, Harry gave the

house to his parents just before his death.

“This is a transfer for inheritance tax purposes and the house clearly exceeds the value of the nil rate band which can be given away without a tax bill (£325,000 currently). As the recipients of the gift, Harry’s poor parents face a large IHT liability.

“It seems that Harry did not take any advice before making the gift because a reducing term insurance policy held in trust for his parents could have provided them with the money to pay the tax bill if Harry died within seven years of the gift.

“In not taking the short amount of time it requires to write a will, Harry has negatively impacted on his partner, children and parents – the very people he would have wished to take care of.”

The programme also shows that Harry has left behind a raft of debts, many connected with his building company. This raises a whole host of issues for the administration of the estate. However, Alice will not be liable for any of Harry’s debts and nor would she be if they were married. If the business is a limited liability company, and it has incurred debts it cannot pay, Harry’s estate will not be liable for these unless Harry had given a

personal guarantee in his capacity as a shareholder.

So what advice would Carol have for Alice, if she were a client?

“Alice’s situation is certainly a complicated one and she should definitely be taking the advice of a good lawyer.

“A deed of variation within two years of Harry’s death could, if George and Charlotte agree, re-direct their entitlement to Alice (providing both children are over the age of 18), but inheritance tax would still be payable even if the estate is re-directed to Alice because Alice and Harry were not married.

“It might therefore be advisable to put some of the assets into trust for Alice and the children. This would not reduce the tax due immediately but could help to reduce the tax bill when Alice eventually dies as the assets in trust would not be part of her estate.

“All of this could have been avoided by having a will in place. Harry could have protected his parents by including a provision that his estate should pay the tax on any failed gift and the bill should not fall on his parents.

Instead, Harry’s parents are trying to sell the property to raise funds to pay the tax.

“Once Harry’s parents have paid off the tax, they intend to give the balance of the sale proceeds to Alice. They should consider their own inheritance tax position on this gift, especially as they are not young and have a daughter who may not be happy to find that her parents’ nil rate bands had all been used in a gift to Alice.”

Clarke Willmott has recently launched a new campaign to encourage people to pledge that they will make a will this year. The #GoodWill campaign asks people to take steps to safeguard their family’s future wealth.

The firm is aiming to assist people looking into making a will by developing a free, online ‘Which Will?’ tool that prompts the user to think about what is important to them when making a will and recommends

which wil best meets their needs.

Clarke Willmott is a national law firm with offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton.

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Estate planning for wealthy celebrities or UHNWIs

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Estate planning for wealthy celebrities or UHNWIs 4

By Sean Sheridan, Client Director, ZEDRA Isle of Man

Estate planning often gets pushed aside…sometimes with disastrous knock-on effects for a family. With today’s evolving regulatory environment, future planning can be challenging and often daunting.

Despite inevitable obstacles, there are ways to minimise the burden to enable even celebrities to have future generations enjoying the benefits of their wealth. In this article we explore why estate planning gets overlooked, and why it’s so important to protect prosperity and interests.

It’s easier to put off estate planning than you’d think – even for people like celebrities or UHNWIs who have earned significant wealth. For example, it’s thought that the great Diego Maradona passed away without leaving a Will or other plans for his assets, despite recent years of ill health. There were already reports of a contested estate just weeks after his funeral. Michael Jackson, Prince, James Gandolfini and Philip Seymore Hoffmann all passed away with various issues with their estates, despite having amassed fortunes.

It’s not disorganisation or a lack of desire that stops people planning their estate. In fact, often the last thing people want is to leave family or loved ones having to deal with probate and complex legal affairs at an already difficult time. Many people simply put off estate planning, thinking they will have time later…whenever that is. Alternatively, they may not comprehend how challenging it can be to untangle an intricate estate, and what legal rules there are that surround how an estate will automatically be divided amongst heirs and spouses if forced heirship laws apply. Equally, many people may not know that some loved ones may not get any assets or be looked after if provisions aren’t made in advance.

Privacy

For UHNWI a properly planned estate can also mean more privacy for family at a challenging time. Many HNWI will choose – along with advisors – a structure that will allow for maximum confidentiality and will keep the details of the estate and any beneficiaries private. Information about beneficiaries of an estate becoming public can also make them a target for press or other unwanted attention. As structures which allow for both discretion and succession planning, trusts can be very popular for this reason.

Beneficiaries

Trusts also allow for settlors to stipulate the conditions under which beneficiaries may have access to or be given money from a trust.

Trusts allow the settlor the ability to lay out one or more conditions. For example, a settlor could put aside assets in trust to support beneficiaries but not make all the assets available to them at once. This might be to support good governance or simply to protect beneficiaries from some of the hazards associated with wealth, as perceived by the settlor.

Practically, this means a settlor and their advisors might look at different conditions for a trust’s assets. For example, beneficiaries might only receive a lump sum every 10 years. Alternatively, they might get a monthly pay-out, similar to a salary. The settlor might wish that funds are paid out to beneficiaries for the sole purpose of paying for their college education or to purchase a property.

Corporate trustees like ZEDRA ensure that the settlor’s wishes are met, and the assets of the trusts are used in the way the settlor would like and as laid out in the trust deed.

Planning ahead 

Planning ahead with advisors is vital – especially for anyone with a complex assets and interests that span various geographies may be complex in terms of nature, like IP rights.

Expert advice that’s tailored around an individual’s personal situation is a must, so thinking ahead is crucial. It’s never too early to make sure you’re planning your estate and making sure loved ones or important causes will be looked after when you’re gone.

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