Auto Industry, Energy, Transportation: Factors To Watch on September 20 image

WORLD OIL PRICES
U.S. crude eased on Thursday to trade under $92 a barrel, dropping for a fourth day on worries over the global economy and bulging U.S. oil inventories, while Saudi Arabia reassured consumers it would act to moderate prices.

Here are news stories, press reports and events to watch which may affect the auto industry, transportation and energy markets on Thursday.

Czech Republic
EU RULING: The EU Commission gave approval for 100 million euros in state aid granted to state-owned Czech Airlines, in parallel with a restructuring programme which the regulator said had a reasonable prospect of getting the airline back on track.

Germany
LUFTHANSA
Lufthansa will merge its European and German domestic routes under a new low-cost brand from next year, hoping to improve profits and fend off growing competition from low-cost carriers.
AIR BERLIN
Air Berlin said on Wednesday it was confident of improved results in the third quarter and announced a restructuring of its executive board.
VW
Volkswagen says it has sold more Passat midsize cars this year than any other year. The German automaker sold 77,524 Passats as of Wednesday, beating the car’s old record of 77,523, set in 2001.
Belgium
Unions are more optimistic about the future of Ford’s plant in Genk, Belgium, after receiving assurances the new Mondeo model will be built there.

Italy
FIAT
The government will meet Fiat’s unions next week.
Fitch said late on Wednesday it has confirmed Fiat’s long-term rating at BB and its short-term assessment at B, with a negative outlook.

UK
UNITED UTILITIES – The company says trading is in line with expectations and it is confident of delivering its 2010-15 regulatory outperformance targets.
CENTRICA – UK media reports market speculation that Russia’s Gazprom could be interested in making a bid for the British utility.

France
PSA PEUGEOT CITROEN
The French car maker said it is in exclusive talks with JSC Russian Railways to sell a 75 percent stake in its Gefco logistics division for 800 million euros.

African Markets

EAST AFRICA ENERGY
Bad timing may defeat East Africa’s plan to become a major liquefied natural gas exporter if plants are delayed and the region is overtaken by a global gas glut.