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Morning Market Roundup: Oil Exports Halted, 17.1M Unemployed in EU, Pinnacle's Bankruptcy


Here’s what’s important in the financial world this morning:

Oil: Iraq's self-ruled Kurdish region has halted oil exports over a payment row with the central government in Baghdad, causing further deterioration in relations between the two administrations.

In a statement issued late Sunday, the region's Ministry of Natural Resources said Baghdad failed to send any money since May, even though it had been exporting 50,000 barrels per day. They said only two payments of $514 million have been made with the last made in May 2011.

"After consultation with the producing companies, the Ministry has reluctantly decided to halt exports until further notice," the statement said. "There have been no payments for 10 months, nor any indication from federal authorities that payments are forthcoming."

It added that oil exports will be resumed once payment issue is resolved, adding that the production will be diverted to the local market for processing and refining to generate an alternate source of cash flow for the producing companies.

EU: The number of people looking for work in the 17 countries that use the euro hit its highest level since the currency was introduced back in 1999, official figures showed Monday, adding to fears that the region is in recession.

Eurostat, the European Union's statistics office, said unemployment in the eurozone rose to 10.8 percent in February from 10.7 percent the previous month. The number of unemployed totaled 17.1 million, nearly 1.5 million higher than the same month a year ago. Of the 17 countries in the eurozone, seven countries had unemployment rates of above 10 per cent.

Airlines: Pinnacle Airlines Corp., a regional carrier that flies under contract for Delta, United, Continental and US Airways, has filed for bankruptcy protection to deal with its mounting debt.

The Memphis, Tenn.-based airline said late Sunday its current business model isn't sustainable. In its filing Sunday, it lists $1.42 billion in debt and $1.54 billion in assets. It ended the third quarter - the most recent quarter for which financial results are available - with just $81.8 million in cash and cash equivalents.

The airline lost $8.8 million in the first nine months of this year in contrast to a profit of $17 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenue improved in that time, but costs accelerated at a faster pace. Traffic in the first two months of the year was virtually flat while the carrier dramatically scaled back its number of available seats. After a review, the company's board decided that reorganization under Chapter 11 was its best option.

U.S. Stocks: Stock futures are slipping after the latest manufacturing report out of China which suggests that one of the world's biggest economies may be slowing.

The Dow Jones industrial average is down 25 points to 13,117. The Standard & Poor's 500 index down 2 points to 1,401.2. The Nasdaq composite is down 4.75 points at 2,746.

While the Chinese report showed that its purchasing managers' index gained momentum for the fourth straight month, an HSBC report shows that, adjusted for seasonal factors, China's PMI is slipping. The HSBC data is more reflective of China's export sector and it shows the lowest average reading in three years during the first quarter.

The U.S. will release data later Monday on its own manufacturing sector, as well as a report on construction spending.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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