German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks to the media during a press conference on the current situation in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. Topics include the decisions taken by the federal and state governments to combat the Corona pandemic, the Chancellor's upcoming virtual consultations with the heads of state and government of the European Union (EU), and relations with the United States following the inauguration of the new president. (Michael Kappeler/Pool via AP)
BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that she isn't abandoning a German-Russian gas pipeline project that faces U.S. sanctions, although it's likely to be an irritant in generally improved relations with the new administration.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would bring Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea, faces bipartisan opposition in the United States.
Washington has said that the project would make Europe more dependent on Russian gas and hurt European energy security. The Kremlin has responded by accusing the U.S. government of trying to promote sales of its own liquefied natural gas.
Nord Stream 2 is owned by Russian state company Gazprom, with investment from several European companies. The pipeline construction was suspended in December 2019 when a Swiss firm pulled its vessels out of the project amid threats of U.S. sanctions, forcing Gazprom to try to complete it with its own resources.
Earlier this week, before President Joe Biden took office, Germany’s Economy Ministry said it had been informed of U.S. sanctions against the Russian pipe-laying ship Fortuna and its owner.
Merkel has consistently stood by the project. She acknowledged Thursday that she said last summer the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who was treated in Germany after being exposed to a nerve agent, “could play a role.” Navalny was arrested immediately after returning to Russia on Sunday.
But “I am saying today that ... my basic attitude has not yet changed in such a way that I would say that the project shouldn't happen,” Merkel added.
“We will of course speak with the new American administration,” she said. “But we must also talk about what economic relationships with Russia in the gas sector are acceptable and what aren't. And it's not as if there were absolutely no trade relations between the United States of America and Russia in the oil sector, for example.”
She reiterated Germany's objections to “extraterritorial sanctions.”
In general, Merkel said that “there is simply a much broader political overlap with President Biden” than with predecessor Donald Trump. But she said there will still be differences.
Gazprom says that 6% of the pipeline, or about 150 kilometers (93 miles), remains to be completed and insisted that it intends to complete the project soon — though it has acknowledged there's a risk the project could be suspended or canceled.
7 Stocks That Could Provide a Year-End Rally
It’s rough in the markets right now. Underlying the volatility is uncertainty. The VIX Index (INDEXCBOE: VIX) otherwise known as the Fear Index is unofficial, but an eerily accurate predictor of market sentiment. And the VIX is up 30% in the last month.
Is this uncertainty due to concerns over additional lockdown measures? Is it about the lack of additional coronavirus stimulus? Is the market reacting to a surge in jobless claims? Or is this just the somewhat normal volatility that comes in an election year that promises to be like none in American history.
The answer is all of the above and then some. But does that mean you should stay out of equities? I don’t think so. Where are you going to go? The Fed has promised interest rates are going nowhere fast. And that bit of news is weighing down the bond market.
So stocks it is. But although growth-seeking investors may be tempted to look at the tech sector to see what’s on sale today, I suggest taking a more targeted approach. Rather than looking at a single sector, try to look at solid performers in different sectors that may be ready to surge over the last three months.
The pandemic brought the entire market down. But once investors took a breath they found bargains. And if you had the courage to put your money to work in those stocks, you’ve been rewarded.
Times like these call for the same type of courage. And that’s why we’ve put together this special presentation with seven stocks that look ready to surprise investors with nice end-of-year gains.
View the "7 Stocks That Could Provide a Year-End Rally".