Oil prices fell on Friday after the U.S. central bank warned on the health of the global economy and bearish signs persisted that the world's biggest crude producers would keep pumping at high levels. The Federal Reserve decided against raising interest rates from historic lows on Thursday, saying uncertainty about global economic growth had forced its hand. The bearish sentiment sent European stock markets sharply lower on Friday, with London's FTSE 100 and Frankfurt's Dax down 1.4-2.8 percent. The oil market had mixed reactions to the Fed decision, with concerns about economic weakness sending commodities lower, but a fall in the U.S. currency also meant buying dollar-traded crude became cheaper. "The perception of 'ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy) forever' should provide some underlying support to the commodity complex," said Olivier Jakob, a strategist at Petromatrix, a Swiss-based consultancy. Brent crude was down 65 cents at $48.43 a barrel at 1230 GMT, after touching an intraday high of $49.75. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading down $1.30, or 2.8 percent, at $45.60 a barrel.
Acquisitions, organic growth, and favorable exchange rates all contributed to a record year for Penguin Random House in 2019, parent company Bertelsmann reported. Revenue rose 6.2% last year, to €3.64 billion, up from €3.42 billion in 2018. EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) increased 6.3% over 2018, to €561 million.
Acquisitions in the year included the Little Tiger Group in the U.K., Ediciones Salamandra in Spain, a stake in Sourcebooks, and the purchase of global publishing rights for bestselling children’s author Eric Carle.
In the U.S., which accounted for just over 56% of total PRH sales (about $2.2 billion at current exchange rates), gains were led by Where the Crawdads Sing, which Bertelsmann said sold more than four million copies across all formats, while Educated and Becoming each sold more than two million copies. In children’s books, books by Dr. Seuss sold more than 10 million copies in the year. Bertelsmann also cited audiobooks as a growth driver not only in the U.S., but in most of its markets.
In comments accompanying release of the year-end financials, Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe said the company intends to “continue to expand Penguin Random House’s businesses over the next few years, including through acquisitions.”
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