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B&E This Fortnight
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Issue Date - 02/02/2012
Fuel price protests

If the international market is any indicator, fuel prices are set to rise again in India. Trouble seems to be coming in from another African nation, this time Nigeria, that may lead to a spurt in international crude oil prices and is most certain to have a knock-on effect on domestic fuel prices of most countries. Hit by a continuing strike by major labour groups, there has been a constant worry about oil supply disruptions from Nigeria. The country is Africaís top oil producer and pumps out 2 million barrel-per-day. Already, the worry seems to be reflected in the West Texas Intermediate crude price, which rose by by 3 cents for February trade. Brent North Sea too saw a spike in its crude prices by 37 cents, reaching $110.81. The labour protests, which are the main cause behind this international worry, are in response to the Nigerian government withdrawing the popular fuel subsidy provided by it to its citizens. These protests have, of late, morphed into nationwide protests and have become an outlet for thousands to vent their grievances against what they see as a venal ruling political class and an incompetent government. While the government has not yet withdrawn itís decision, it has agreed to slash fuel prices. Following this announcement, several labour organizations withdrew their strikes and urged the public to go home but resentment continues to simmer.

Ford recalls suvs

The American multinational automaker Ford is recalling nearly half a million minivans and SUVs because of mechanical issues. The Michigan-based automaker is recalling 539,000 sport utility vehicles, including Ford Escape, Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans in two separate recalls. The first recall involves 286,000 Ford Escape SUVs manufactured during 2001-02, which have been found to have defective anti-lock brakes module. The second recall involves 253,000 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans made during the 2004 and 2005 model years, which are reported to suffer from a torque converter malfunction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said that Ford had announced a similar recall of 537,000 Ford Escapes of 2001-2004 make in 2007 in order to repair defective antilock brake system in the vehicles. The recall of the SUVs this time round follows an investigation lasting more than two years by the NHTSA into incidents of fire in some Ford Escapes. Ford says it will inform owners and replace the parts for free. In the case of the Escape, Ford says there could be a parts delay. If so, owners should park their cars outside until the parts become available. According to Daniel Pierce, the company spokesperson, replacement parts are expected to be available in the second quarter of 2012.

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