24 December – 28 December

24 December

All industrial revolutions need two things: technology and finance. The US shale revolution was made possible by the advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing that allowed oil and gas to be released from previously unyielding rocks. But the industry’s financing was equally important in turning those innovations into a production boom that has shaken the world.

China has claimed that it has amassed Rmb12.5tn ($1.8tn) of state money across thousands of venture capital funds to achieve its goal of technological dominance by 2025.

Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial is in talks to buy WorldFirst, the UK-based international payments group, for about $700m.

US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said the chiefs of the country’s biggest banks had confirmed to him that they have ample liquidity as the administration attempted to calm nerves following a torrid week for financial markets.

25 December

In the run-up to Christmas, Tao Xin and his team of 200 salespeople in the eastern Chinese city of Yiwu work long hours dispatching the make-up and accessories they sell on Amazon and US ecommerce site Wish.

The US stock market index suffered sharp losses on the day before Christmas as investors reacted negatively to US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin’s highly unusual effort to reassure investors about Wall Street banks’ liquidity, with markets in Japan picking up the baton on Christmas Day.

26 December

The depressing reality about climate change is that we could solve the problem, at manageable cost, but are failing to do so. This failure is due to a mixture of blindness and self-deception. The blindness comes from those, such as US president Donald Trump, who deny the reality of climate change. The self-deception comes from those who accept the reality, but only pretend to solve it. We must do better than this — and very soon. This is no longer a scientific or technological challenge, it is far more a political and social one.

Ethical lenders that have been touted as alternatives to high-cost firms such as Wonga and BrightHouse are going out of business at the fastest rate in years, fuelling concerns that less well-off customers are in danger of losing access to credit.

China will encourage commercial banks to replenish capital by issuing perpetual bonds, offering a new tool for lenders facing pressure to improve capital ratios amid a slowing economy and tightening regulation.

If any company could be expected to remain enthusiastic about peer-to-peer lending, it might be one that registered its shares under the stock ticker “P2P”.

27 December

The US welcomed the most initial public offerings for Chinese companies since 2010 in spite of a high-profile trade war between the two countries that threatened the cross-border flow of goods and roiled financial markets in 2018.

Shanghai office worker Jin Linglan had just put a downpayment on a car when she realised her savings were gone. Like many prosperous Chinese, Ms Jin invested in financial products that promised a high rate of return. And, like many of her fellow investors, she has made the painful discovery that her money has been swallowed up by the recurring defaults in China’s shadow banking market.

All English retailers could have to charge shoppers 10p for plastic bags, the government has proposed, as part of accelerating efforts to tackle plastic waste.

28 December

Investors cannot be blamed for feeling a case of whiplash this holiday season. Bears had all but taken over Wall Street, setting US stocks up for the worst December since the Great Depression in the 1930s. December 24 delivered the largest Christmas Eve decline for both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Electric scooter sharing start-ups, including Bird and Lime, are “not sustainable” businesses, said a top executive at the world’s biggest manufacturer of the two-wheeled vehicles.

Zoomlion, China’s largest heavy machinery company, is hunting for acquisitions in Europe to boost its technological prowess and win a greater share of the global market, with the construction segment at home expected to contract next year.

Plus500 has defied a European crackdown on leveraged trading products, saying it expected to beat market estimates in 2018. The group benefited from a rush of customers speculating on its cryptocurrency derivatives as crypto fever took hold at the end of last year. It also received a boost from “significant” market volatility in recent months.