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Photo: Karol Serewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Royal Dutch Shell and Total this morning announced plans to sharply cut spending and freeze share buyback plans.

Why it matters: The moves signal how cratering demand from COVID-19 and the collapse in prices are upending the outlooks for companies large and small.

Driving the news: Shell is cutting planned capital spending this year to $20 billion or lower, compared to the pre-crisis estimate of $25 billion.

  • It also plans to cut operating costs by $3 billion to $4 billion over the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, Total said oil at $30 per barrel means a roughly $3 billion hit to capital spending, which means a new target of under $15 billion this year.

  • The France-based multinational also said it can save $800 million in operating costs compared to 2019.
  • They're just the latest in a string of oil companies — including ExxonMobil and a number of independent U.S. shale producers — to unveil deep cuts of late.

Go deeper: Coronavirus could lead to a wave of defaults for oil companies

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

A health care worker during the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial by the Pfizer and BioNTech in Ankara, Turkey, in October. Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it's approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.

2 hours ago - World

NYT: Biden won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.

Trump threatens to veto Defense spending bill over social media shield

Photo: Erin Schaff - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Tuesday a threat to veto a must-pass end-of-year $740 billion bill defense-spending authorization bill unless Congress repeals a federal law that protects social media sites from legal liability.

Why it matters: Trump's attempt to get Congress to end the tech industry protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the latest escalation in his war on tech giants over what he and some other Republicans perceive as bias against conservatives.

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