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Musk cites sending people to moon, Mars as top SpaceX priorities

Elon Musk has told SpaceX employees to focus on the mission to send people to the moon and Mars as their top priority following the company’s success in sending astronauts into orbit last month. Musk called on employees to accelerate the pace of the company’s Starship rocket program “dramatically and immediately,” CNBC reported, citing a company-wide e-mail. “Please consider the top SpaceX priority (apart from anything that could reduce Dragon return risk) to be Starship,” Musk wrote. Starship is aimed to be fully reusable and function more like a commercial airplane, carrying as many as 100 people at a time. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket sent two astronauts to the International Space Station, the first time humans have been sent into orbit in a commercially developed craft. SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Musk’s e-mail. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



China’s exports and imports fall as tensions take a toll

China’s exports and imports both fell in May as the coronavirus and trade tensions with the United States weighed on demand at home and abroad. Exports fell 3.3 percent, compared to a year earlier, to $206.8 billion; imports dropped 16.7 percent to $143.9 billion, the Chinese customs agency said Sunday. The plunge in imports drove the country’s trade surplus up sharply to $62.9 billion. The surplus with the United States reached $27.9 billion and climbed $18.2 billion with the European Union. The fall in exports came after a surprise 3.5 percent rise the previous month. Analysts were expecting the decline, attributing April’s rise to orders placed before virus restrictions hit overseas economies, and were predicting that American and European customers would also cancel other orders. Chinese exports to the United States totaled $37.2 billion, about the same as the $35.5 billion in exports to the EU. However, its imports from the EU were $17.3 billion, nearly twice the $9.3 billion from the United States. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Maine adds to slaughtering capacity to ease meat bottleneck

Maine regulators are attempting to address a meat processing bottleneck in the food supply chain by adding three new processors to the state’s food system. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry said it authorized 90-day grants of inspection to custom slaughter operations in Crystal, Etna, and Alexander. The facilities in Crystal and Alexander will be the first inspected livestock slaughterhouses in Aroostook and Washington counties, the department said. Agriculture commissioner Amanda Beal said the change “eases the process and allows more locally raised meat to reach Maine people.” She said it would relieve extended wait times, which have been a problem for the meat industry recently. The change took effect on June 1. The facilities will be restricted to in-state sales and must meet typical safety standards. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Saudis make biggest oil price hike in 20 years after OPEC+ cuts

Saudi Arabia made some of the biggest price increases for crude in at least two decades, doubling down on its strategy to bolster the oil market after OPEC+ producers extended historic output cuts. The steepest jump will hit July exports to Asia, state producer Saudi Aramco’s largest regional market, according to a pricing list seen by Bloomberg. Overall, the increases erase almost all of the discounts the kingdom made during its brief price war with Russia. The sharp increases show that Arabia is using all tools at its disposal to turn around the oil market after prices plunged into negative territory in April. As the price-setter in the Middle East, it may see other producers follow its lead on prices. Tighter supplies of crude are helping to repair a market battered by the coronavirus. Unprecedented output cuts led by the Saudis and Russians boosted prices in May, and OPEC+ decided Saturday to extend those limits through July. Brent crude, down 36 percent this year, has clawed back some of its losses and ended trading on Friday at more than $40 a barrel. But the profits oil refiners make from processing crude into fuel are struggling to keep up with the rising market, and the sharp Saudi price hikes are likely to exacerbate that. — BLOOMBERG NEWS