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The oil price has languished below $45 a barrel for the first time this year. Brent crude was trading at $44.73 a barrel on Thursday, leaving it further in a bear market, which is typically when there is a decline of more than 20 per cent from the most recent high. The price slide comes as US shale output is rising and could affect Opec’s ability to balance supplies. Most traders believe the price will remain low until US shale drillers are forced to slow their expansion or Opec agrees to make bigger supply cuts.

The drop has affected Europe’s stock markets, which fell for a third straight day on Thursday. It also dragged down the price of cocoa, coffee and sugar. (FT)

In the news

Online ‘speculation’ costs Dalian Wanda $1bn
Dalian Wanda, one of China’s largest property developers, blamed online rumours after its stock and bonds sold off sharply on Thursday, fuelled by jitters over the recent detention of some of China’s most politically-connected billionaires. (FT)

South Korea in ‘emergency mode’
Seoul is scrambling to head off a threatened cyber attack on the nation’s biggest banks after a hacker group known as the Armada Collective on Wednesday said it would hit the country’s seven main lenders with distributed denial-of-service — or DDoS — attacks if they failed to pay a ransom in virtual currency bitcoin. The threat has echoes of the WannaCry cyber attack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world last month. (FT)

More Uber upheaval 
Bill Gurley, one of the earliest investors in the transportation company, left Uber’s board late on Wednesday, just a day after company founder and chief executive Travis Kalanick stepped down. (FT, NYT, Bloomberg)

Zuma faces new challenge
A court in South Africa has ruled that the country’s parliament can hold a vote of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma by secret ballot. (Reuters)

Isis blows up historic Mosul Mosque
Isis militants have blown up the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, Iraq. The mosque, which had a 150ft leaning minaret, was an important symbol for the jihadi group: it is where its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a caliphate in 2014. The jihadi group’s news agency accused American aircraft of destroying the mosque, a claim denied by the US-led coalition. (BBC, Reuters)

Diageo to pay $1bn for Clooney’s tequila brand
UK-based drinks group Diageo is to pay up to $1bn for an upmarket tequila brand launched by George Clooney and two friends four years ago. The deal underscores the revival of tequila and mescal as trendy spirits. Mr Clooney’s Casamigos brand sold 120,000 cases in 2016, mainly in the US. (FT)

The day ahead

EU summit
EU leaders meet three days after Brexit talks began in Brussels. Michel Barnier, the chief EU negotiator, is likely to provide them with an update. The heads of the 27 states are also expected to unite behind plans to deepen defence co-operation, an idea long resisted by London. They will also reassert their support for the Paris climate deal as some leaders warm to the idea of a bloc-wide single finance minister, though divisions remain over trade. (FT)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.

What we’re reading

Persuading the holiday refuseniks
Insecurity, anxiety, missed sales targets: there are many reasons why people fail to take their holiday entitlement. But time off is important for mental and physical health and for companies. Emma Jacobs looks at ways of getting reluctant employees to take a break. (FT)

From feudalism to crony capitalism in North Korea
Kim Jong Un’s reforms have led to higher wages and private enterprise — making it harder to pressure the state with sanctions. Meanwhile, the US is trying to turn the screw on Pyongyang, even as Donald Trump’s itchy Twitter fingers undermine their efforts. (FT)

A tale of two nations
What a difference a year makes. When Britain voted to leave the EU, it was a vibrant country with an optimistic outlook, while across the channel, France seemed to be drifting and young Parisians were leaving for London in record numbers, writes the FT’s Philip Stephens. Now the mood has changed; the UK has lost its compass and France has a new sense of purpose. (FT)

Inside the CIA’s brutal interrogations
A lawsuit filed on behalf of former prisoners against military contractor psychologists reveals new details of the US intelligence agency’s torture of suspects in the wake of 9/11. (NYT)

Playing games in Tallinn
In a five-star hotel in the Estonian capital, a military exercise is taking place that could be crucial to the defence of Europe and the US: welcome to Locked Shields, the world’s “most advanced international technical live-fire cyber defence exercise”. (Al Jazeera)

Video of the day

Saudi succession change
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has promoted his favoured son, Mohammed bin Salman, to crown prince in a shake-up of the established succession order that clears the young royal’s path to the throne. (FT)

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