News

06  February – 10 February

06 February

It was not the grand spectacle typical of the launch of a multimillion-dollar plant. But in Monterrey, Mexico’s northern industrial capital, it was significant that American metal-stamping company Trans-Matic held an event in the Donald Trump era.

Donald Trump’s plans to boost the US growth rate may be getting plenty of attention — but it is the eurozone economy that is quietly exceeding expectations. Figures for business sentiment, growth rates and unemployment for the single currency area have all provided positive surprises during the start of this year, as business confidence proves resilient despite Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

India’s radical experiment in demonetisation is providing an opportunity for international insurance groups to reach a new customer base that has long proved elusive.

Ajinomoto, the Japanese seasonings group with an appetite for new international markets, is directing the third stage of its $2bn global acquisition campaign at Europe.

07 February

Japan’s government is pushing companies and investors to hand over details of their US investment plans so Shinzo Abe can deliver a “tweetable” figure to Donald Trump when they meet this week.

China’s foreign exchange reserves dipped below $3tn in January for the first time in five years but the decline was the lowest in seven months as tighter capital controls and a stronger renminbi discouraged outflows.

Gap shares were back in vogue on Monday after the retailer behind Old Navy and Banana Republic lifted its outlook for fourth quarter earnings above Wall Street’s estimates.

Toshiba has received bids from South Korea’s SK Hynix, Taiwan’s Foxconn, private equity fund Silver Lake and at least three other groups for a minority stake in its profitable memory chip business, according to people close to the negotiations.

08 February

Leading US China experts have endorsed Donald Trump’s tough approach to trade with Beijing, contending that an increasingly unbalanced economic relationship requires a change in Washington’s policy.

Weak shopping mall traffic continues to wreak havoc on major US retailers, with Michael Kors the latest to cut its sales and profit forecasts as it struggles to battle dwindling consumer visits to US suburban centres.

Twitter is taking more steps to combat abuse as it tries to ensure users are not driven away from the messaging platform by suffering insults or seeing hateful comments about others.

The “bad bank” established in the wake of Ireland’s property crash has now recouped 95 per cent of the money it spent bailing out Ireland’s banks, in the latest sign of the country’s transformation into the eurozone’s strongest economies.

09 February

Mexican consumer prices rose a higher-than-expected 1.7 per cent in January, putting inflation at 4.72 per cent on an annual basis and setting the stage for a rate hike by the central bank later in the day.

First the wall, then the peso – Mexican cement and building materials maker Cemex has enjoyed a boon lately on the back of the fallout from Donald Trump’s presidency.

Uber has proposed temporary financial help for struggling minicab drivers in France — a response from the ride-hailing company to continuous spats over pricing and employee rights with its drivers that culminated in hundreds of them striking before Christmas.

Retro sneakers have helped put a spring in the step at Puma, with shares in the German sportswear company rising almost 3 per cent after it reported a 7 per cent increase in sales for 2016.

10 February

India’s industrial production dropped by 0.4 per cent in the final month of 2016 compared to the same period the year before, confounding expectations of a 1.2 per cent rise in output.

Mexico’s central bank increased its key lending rate on Thursday as expected by 50 basis points to 6.25 per cent after January inflation jumped to an 18-year high, fuelled by a sharp rise in gasoline prices.

When Cary Parton pulled a back muscle playing golf four years ago, he hardly gave it a second thought. But after several fruitless trips to a chiropractor, a series of X-rays led to a grim discovery: Mr Parton was suffering from advanced lung cancer that had spread to his bones and organs. The tumour in his liver was the size of a fist.

Fresh off a year in which it was the best performing stock on the S&P 500, chipmaker Nvidia on Thursday said it notched a new record for full-year revenue in 2016. Nevertheless, the company’s shares traded lower after hours as it projected a small drop in sales for the upcoming quarter.

 

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30  January – 03 February

30 January

The Japanese yen climbed by almost 1 per cent against the US dollar on Monday amid a global flight for safety. The haven currency was up by 0.94 per cent in mid-morning trading in New York to 114 yen per buck. The Swiss franc, which had been down by as much as 0.5 per cent earlier in the day, shed its losses and was up by 0.1 per cent to 0.999 francs per dollar.

Japan should make greater use of fiscal stimulus to boost the economy, one of the masterminds of Abenomics has said, highlighting a shift in thinking among prime minister Shinzo Abe’s top advisers on the economy.

BP is to study the potentially disruptive impact of 3D printing on oil markets if the rise of small-scale digital manufacturing reduces the need to ship goods around the world.

Microsoft is in the market with a new corporate bond, just six months after it sold $20bn of debt to fund its acquisition of LinkedIn.

31 January

Shares in Rite Aid tumbled on Monday on increasing doubts about whether regulators will approve Walgreens Boots Alliance’s proposed takeover of its smaller rival.

At this month’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Sunil Bharti Mittal — chairman of Bharti Airtel, India’s largest mobile operator by sales — reflected on the possibility of a merger between his two biggest competitors, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.

India’s economy is expected to grow 6.75-7.5 per cent in the coming year as it recovers from the disruption caused by the ban on most banknotes, a senior government adviser said on Tuesday.

Spanish consumer prices rose at their fastest rate in more than four years in January, as higher energy prices drove the inflation rate to 3 per cent for the first time since December 2012.

01 February

Narendra Modi’s government said it would cut taxes for poorer Indians and small companies and invest nearly $60bn in infrastructure, as it seeks to revive demand and widen the tax net after the shock of November’s cash ban.

US stock-index futures were in the black on Wednesday on the heels of the longest losing streak since November for the S&P 500, with investors awaiting a Federal Reserve statement and a batch of economic data.

Mercedes-Benz plans to run a network of self-driving cars that can be booked through Uber’s app, in the latest step in the evolution of autonomous technology in the auto sector.

Royal Dutch Shell’s trading division will continue to market the crude oil and gas produced by the UK North Sea assets it sold on Tuesday, retaining access to crucial barrels in one of the world’s most influential energy markets.

02 February

Activity in the UK’s construction sector grew slower than expected in January, according to a closely-watched business survey of the sector. The Markit/CIPS survey of UK construction firms hit 52.2 last month, down from expectations of 53.8 and ending a four-month run of rising PMIs after December’s figure hit 54.2. Construction accounts for around 8 per cent of UK GDP, with any PMI number above 50 indicating growth in the sector.

In 1971, European finance ministers told John Connally, then US Treasury secretary, that American monetary policy was creating problems for Europe because it was exporting inflation. Connally replied: “The dollar is our currency, but it’s your problem.”

The global resurgence of the iPhone combined with the recall of the Galaxy Note 7 pushed Apple ahead of rival Samsung in smartphone sales for the fourth quarter, researchers say, even as the US group struggles to fend off domestic rivals in China.

Facebook revenue and earnings soared in the fourth quarter despite concerns sales could slow as it hits the limit on how many advertisements it puts in the newsfeed. The world’s largest social network reported non-gaap earnings of $1.41, compared with the average analyst estimate of $1.31 per share. Net income was $3.5bn in the three months until December and $10.2bn for the full year 2016.

03 February

The Trump administration is putting a bilateral trade deal with Japan high on its economic agenda with a visit to the US next week by Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, set to include discussions about how best to pursue such a pact.

Russia’s central bank left key interest rates at 10 per cent, saying that the country was on track to meet a target of lowering inflation to 4 per cent by the end of 2017.

Reckitt Benckiser, the UK-based maker of Nurofen painkillers and Durex condoms, is in advanced talks to acquire Mead Johnson in a deal that could value the US baby milk group at about $16.7bn.

In their latest earnings, Apple and Facebook blew past expectations, as digital advertising continued its headlong growth and their mobile digital ecosystems gathered strength. Along with Google, Amazon and Microsoft, their stock prices are at or near all-time highs.

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23  January – 27 January

23 January

Accelerated Chinese economic growth reflects the country’s fixation on “short-term” targets, fueled by high levels of government spending, loose monetary policy and rising debt levels, one of the world’s largest rating agencies has said.

Business from the US has driven a long boom in the Philippines’ flagship outsourcing industry, but potential political threats to ambitious growth plans now loom in both countries.

Like many revolutions, the one in retail appears to have come full circle: Alibaba, having spearheaded online shopping in China, is buying physical stores.

Private investment in infrastructure assets soared last year as fierce competition for roads, airports, ports and power plants pushed prices higher.

24 January

The South African Reserve bank has kept its benchmark interest rates on hold as expected in January, but warned that rising inflation is “a cause for concern”.

About 25 African, European and South American countries are set to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank this year, reinforcing Beijing’s determination to push a global agenda even as US president Donald Trump rails against the ills of economic globalisation.

Myanmar’s economy looked like it was enjoying a brisk tailwind after progress in democratisation led the US to lift its sanctions last year, but the boost appears to be waning.

The five-page research note on emerging market equities released by JPMorgan was unremarkable in many respects, just another lone voice in the daily cacophony of international markets.

25 January

The head of Libya’s National Oil Corporation has called on the central bank to free up more money for the energy sector to help boost production as he tries to rally investment from international oil companies for the struggling north African country.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis is bumping up its dividend by 2 per cent and lining up a $5bn share buyback after what it calls a “solid performance” in 2016.

Producer prices in Spain rose at their fastest rate in four years in December, as rising energy prices put further upward pressure on inflation in the eurozone.

Turkey’s lira didn’t know if it was coming or going in the wake of yesterday’s interest rates decision where the central bank kept its benchmark rate unchanged but tightened up on its overnight lending rate. The currency has slipped another 1.6 per cent today as markets seem unconvinced of policymakers’ commitment to protect the exchange range after a bracing start to the year.

26 January

Sales of newly-built US homes fell sharply in December, missing Wall Street estimates, on the heels of three-straight months of gains.

Economic growth in the Philippines surged in 2016, making it among the world’s fastest-growing countries last year as strong domestic demand helped it shrug off political risks at home and abroad.

Shares of Mattel – which makes toys like Barbie and Hot Wheels – fell almost 10 per cent in after-hours trading on Wednesday after it said a slowdown in the US toy category and the weight of a strong dollar sent worldwide sales down 8 per cent over the past quarter.

AT&T posted slightly weaker-than-forecast revenues in the fourth quarter, as it battles for share in a cutthroat consumer mobile market.

27 January

Turkey’s currency is more than 1 per cent weaker against the dollar this morning and has now dropped for four consecutive days after the country’s central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged, choosing instead to tweak another lending rate in January.

China’s foreign exchange regulator has spelt out measures to encourage companies to keep their money at home or bring it back from overseas, in the latest steps designed to shore up the renminbi and staunch capital outflows.

Ant Financial, the digital payments arm of Chinese ecommerce group Alibaba, has underlined its global ambitions with the purchase of the US-listed money transfer service MoneyGram International.

Like Macavity, TS Eliot’s mystery cat, growth is proving elusive for Unilever, the world’s fourth-largest consumer goods company by sales. Paul Polman, chief executive, on Thursday warned of “challenging” conditions in the first half of this year after a sluggish 2016, rattling investors in the maker of Dove soap and Hellmann’s spreads, who marked the shares down 5 per cent.

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16  January – 20 January

16 January

Toyota has invested in 15 technology start-ups worldwide through a $310m fund it launched 14 months ago, marking a break from its typically conservative investment stance in an attempt to ride the new wave of connected vehicles and robotics.

Seldom have such small chips carried such a heavy load. China’s fledgling semiconductor industry, after a messy birth, now finds itself in the crosshairs of conflicting political goals in Beijing and Washington.

A Donald Trump presidency and better growth in China are set to boost the global economy this year and next, although any move by the incoming US president to deliver on his protectionist campaign rhetoric would put that brighter outlook at risk, the International Monetary Fund said on Monday.

The wide, freshly tarmacked roads leading to Gandhinagar, the purpose-built state capital of Gujarat, are adorned with 10-foot posters bearing the figure of Narendra Modi.

17 January

Responsive leadership — the theme of this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos — is absolutely crucial for corporate success. Similarly economies also need to be able to respond to a changing world.

The parent company of the Daily Mail has pulled out of talks to create a new joint advertising sales operation for the struggling UK national newspaper industry, dealing a major blow to Fleet Street’s efforts to combat structural decline.

Saudi Arabia will “within weeks” start issuing tenders for a big solar and wind power programme that envisages investment worth $30bn-$50bn by 2030, the country’s oil minister said on Monday.

A senior member of Donald Trump’s team insisted that the president-elect was committed to globalisation, open trade and Nato, despite recent comments that unsettled America’s allies.

18 January

Ever since the global financial crisis, as central banks have contorted balance sheets in ever more elaborate ways to push cash into sputtering economies, the cry has gone out from economists for fiscal stimulus to do its part. Traditionally conservative institutions — the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the European Commission — at times joined in the clamour for higher spending and lower taxes.

India’s central bank and its new governor are facing criticism over their role in the recall of 86 per cent of the country’s currency, with a growing chorus casting doubt over the independence and competence of one of the country’s most important institutions.

General Motors and Hyundai announced large investments in the US on Tuesday as carmakers scrambled to tout their plans for spending and job creation ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday.

Cairn Energy is to start its third drilling programme in Senegal, kicking off what the UK independent oil and gas explorer expects to be an “eventful” 12 months.

19 January

The Bank for International Settlements, which provides advice to the world’s central banks, has been accused of putting pressure on research staff to back its controversial warnings about the dangers of historically low interest rates.

Look out of the window as you fly into Singapore and hundreds of ships will be visible below. Situated near the Malacca Straits, this comes as no surprise and vividly illustrates the importance of shipping — and by extension trade — to Asia.

Tim Martin, chairman of the JD Wetherspoon pub chain, is a man of many talents: builder, sales rep, trained barrister, and Brexit campaigner. To this list may now be added: meteorologist. Because on Wednesday, while reporting a 3 per cent rise in like-for-like sales, he showed a keen appreciation of the difference between weather forecasting and economic forecasting — alongside a staunch defence of BBC weather presenter and hurricane pooh-pooher Michael Fish.

Shares in Toshiba staged their biggest one-day nosedive in more than four decades on Thursday as concerns over huge writedowns on the company’s nuclear business prompted fears of a full-blown crisis at Japan’s industrial conglomerate.

20 January

Annual UK retail sales growth unexpectedly slumped in December, suffering the worst monthly decline in spending in more than five and a half years.

Indonesia’s anti-graft agency has placed two people under investigation for suspected corruption in the purchase of aircraft and engines from Airbus and Rolls-Royce, in the widening fallout from the UK’s four-year investigation into the blue-chip jet turbine maker.

IBM topped estimates for revenues and earnings in the fourth quarter but its sales drop extended to a 19th straight quarter.

China’s economy avoided a hard landing in 2016 thanks to robust monetary and fiscal stimulus, but policymakers are now bracing for headwinds as a possible trade war looms under the US presidency of Donald Trump.

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09  January – 13 January

09 January

India’s small service companies cut a third of their jobs and lost half of their revenues in the month after demonetisation, according to a report, giving an early sense of the economic upheaval caused by the government’s radical move.

The British pound has slid to its lowest level against the dollar since last October after Prime Minister Theresa May said in a weekend interview that there was no prospect of Britain keeping “bits of” EU membership. Her comments were the first on Brexit this year and renew fears of many that the UK could be heading for a hard Brexit in which control of immigration ranked higher than maintaining access to Europe’s single market.

China and Taiwan led a record foreign acquisition spree in Japan last year, as traditional barriers to larger-scale inbound dealmaking fell and Asia increased its dominance as the world’s biggest buyer.

Commodity stocks fell in Australia after the government said high iron ore prices seen in 2016 driven by Chinese demand were not expected to last.

10 January

The British pound slid in value for a second day over lack of clarity over Brexit. The currency dropped to a three-month low on Tuesday — a day after it plunged 1.3 per cent against the dollar and the euro. Traders blamed the weakness on uncertainty over Prime Minister Theresa May’s post-Brexit plans. Mrs May has rounded on the media for inflaming fears Britain will crash out of the EU without a deal to stay in Europe’s common market. But some members of her own party say that she should reveal more about her position.

Chinese regulators have taken steps to ensure bitcoin is not used to facilitate capital flight, even as investors in the cryptocurrency say they doubt it is being used to transfer large amounts of cash out of China.

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, is spearheading a HK$19.8bn ($2.6bn) deal to privatise a leading department store operator in China in which it took a stake in 2014.

Oil prices slid towards $55 a barrel on Monday as fears mounted that funds betting on a price rally have started to pare back positions, with traders waiting for more evidence that Opec supply cuts will be substantial enough to balance the market.

11 January

Record numbers of Chinese travellers visited South Korea last year, with the pull of food and shopping trumping politics even after Beijing’s warnings that tourism would be hit by fallout from Seoul’s decision to install a US ballistic missile shield.

Chinese investors spent four times as much on acquisitions in the EU last year as European companies did in China, according to new figures that will inflame an already heated debate about growing imbalances between the world’s two largest markets.

Asian consumers have a huge appetite for it. Private equity funds find it irresistible. And billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates is investigating how it can help feed the world’s poor. Australian beef has never been so popular or in such demand.

Chipotle extended its 2017 share price rally on Tuesday as glimmers of hope emerged that the US burrito chain may finally be placing its food safety crisis behind it.

12 January

Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar is perched on the world’s energy jugular. Sea lanes nearby carry most of China’s oil imports; any disruption could choke the world’s second-largest economy.

US President Barack Obama has fired a parting shot at Beijing with his administration launching a challenge to one of the competitive pillars of the Chinese economy just a week before leaving office.

The NBA has said team franchises can continue to increase in value as the US league expects to score multibillion-dollar global digital rights deals, even as viewers drift away from watching sport on television.

Merck & Co shares rose 5.4 per cent on Wednesday, after it got a welcome boost from US regulators in its battle to lead the way on a next-generation group of cancer drugs.

13 January

South Korea’s central bank has held interest rates steady in January, in line with economists’ expectations.

Indonesia has relaxed a controversial ban on the export of unprocessed minerals in a policy flip-flop that highlights the financial pressures and unpredictable investment climate in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

Demand for PCs fell for the fifth year in a row in 2016, as computer makers struggled in an increasingly mobile, connected world.

Premier Oil failed to publish the full terms of a refinancing deal in a trading statement on Thursday but insisted it would be agreed within weeks.

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02  January – 06 January

02 January

China has moved closer to dismantling a 2,000-year-old government monopoly on table salt by allowing producers to set prices and sell directly to the market.

Chinese residents hoping to cash out of the renminbi will face a great wall of paperwork on Tuesday in a test of confidence for the currency as the annual quota for individuals’ foreign exchange purchases resets.

When you book an Airbnb room in London, around a third of the $100 saving you make over the price of an average hotel room is due to tax advantages that favour Airbnb’s business model, according to research by the Financial Times.

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas attracts thousands of exhibitors and attendees searching for the next big thing, with this year set to feature a cornucopia of technological innovation from connected fridges to drones, smartwatches and virtual reality headsets.

03 January

Financial historians looking back at 2016 will comment on what did not happen. Politically if not economically it was a wild year and yet most global markets responded with either steady indifference or easy optimism.

The Indonesian government lashed out at JPMorgan Chase on Tuesday, saying it had severed all ties between the country’s finance ministry and the US bank over a downgrade to its equity rating.

SpaceX plans to resume launching rockets next week, after completing an investigation into a spectacular launch pad explosion that destroyed a rocket and a satellite in September.

Britvic, the UK soft drinks group, is set to buy Brazilian juice business Bela Ischia in its latest attempt to expand in the world’s largest concentrates market.

04 January

Foreign companies are continuing to flock to Ireland despite the twin shocks of Brexit and a €13bn adverse tax ruling against technology giant Apple last year.

Ford has scrapped its plan to build a $1.6bn plant in Mexico, aiming instead to invest $700m in a Michigan factory where it will build a new suite of electric and hybrid vehicles. The move came hours after Donald Trump tweeted that General Motors should build its cars domestically or pay a stiff import tax. On the same day the president-elect announced that Robert Lighthizer, a vocal advocate of protectionism, was his choice to be US trade representative.

Hillhouse Capital, one of China’s most prominent funds, is investing $250m in California-based Magento as it bets it can help the ecommerce software company expand in Asia.

The British competition watchdog has given MasterCard a week to respond to its concerns over the £700m acquisition of payment technology company Vocalink before the start of an in-depth investigation into the deal.

05 January

Bank of Cyprus, one of the biggest casualties of the eurozone debt crisis, is free to offer a dividend again after repaying its “monstrous” emergency funding almost a year ahead of schedule.

The US private sector added fewer jobs in December than Wall Street analysts had predicted, pointing to signs that the pace of job growth has slowed as the labour market nears full employment.

Apple has removed the New York Times app from its app store in China at the request of mainland authorities, furthering a clampdown on foreign media outlets that has worsened since President Xi Jinping came to power.

Macy’s warned on Wednesday that it could lay off as many as 10,100 US workers following downbeat holiday sales and lowered its full-year earnings outlook, sending its shares down more than 10 per cent in extended trading.

06 January

India’s real economic growth rate is set to slow this financial year, according to official estimates, though not as far as economists had predicted.

US wage growth accelerated last month to the quickest pace since 2009, underscoring rising inflationary pressure as President Barack Obama prepares to hand over the White House to Donald Trump.

Glencore, the miner and commodity trader, could take full control of a large African copper asset it jointly owns with billionaire Israeli-mining entrepreneur Dan Gertler.

SoundCloud, the German music streaming company, has warned it may run out of cash this year, after incurring a €51m loss in 2015, with the directors and auditors saying it may not be possible to continue as a going concern.

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26  December – 30 December

26 December

HSBC is apparently getting close to identifying the chairman it wants as a replacement for Douglas Flint, who plans to retire in 2017. Is it possible that the lender will become a rarity among big global banks and choose a woman for the role?

Over the past year, technology and sharing economy start-ups have continued their disruption of traditional industries — from Uber and other ride hailers’ shake-up of the taxi market to Airbnb’s myriad alternatives to conventional hotel stays.

Look down to the very bottom on the Bloomberg list of estimates for US economic growth next year and you will find John Dunham. The Brooklyn-based economist stands alone in a survey that includes 89 of his peers in projecting a fall in American output next year.

Last week Dear Evan Hansen became the seventh new Broadway show of 2016 to pull in more than $1m at the box office in a single week, at the end of a year in which New York’s theatre takings have so far been roughly flat at $1.34bn.

27 December

President Mauricio Macri has appointed a fiscal hawk as treasury minister as part of his first major cabinet reshuffle in an effort to reinvigorate Argentina’s tepid economic growth.

Chinese technology group Tencent has bought a stake in a German-owned mapping company in an attempt to win market share from Baidu and Alibaba, as the three gear up to compete for driverless cars’ navigation systems.

Like festive shoppers scrambling for last-minute stocking fillers, two of Europe’s biggest oil groups spent the days before Christmas on a $6bn spending spree.

Royal Bank of Scotland is considering plans to restructure the maximum amount its chief executive Ross McEwan and other senior executives can earn under their long-term pay awards as well as forcing them to hold more shares in the part-nationalised lender.

28 December

Mexico’s government has announced the biggest increases in petrol prices in almost two decades in a move that risks a backlash against its efforts to liberalise the country’s energy market.

Like cats in popular folk wisdom, globalisation appears to have many lives. The integration of markets in goods, services and capital that accelerated in the 1990s with the fall of communism and the rise of China has been written off many times, notably during the global financial crisis. Yet it has survived.

Italy is planning to inject around €6.5bn into Monte dei Paschi di Siena, officials said on Tuesday, after the European Central Bank estimated that the country’s third-largest bank had a larger capital shortfall than was thought.

BP has made its biggest downstream acquisition since 2001, spending almost $1.3bn on 527 fuel stations in Australia, in the latest of a string of deals announced by the oil group before the end of the year.

29 December

Optimism among the UK’s largest businesses reached an 18-month high at the end of 2016, as concerns about the short-term effects of the Brexit vote and worries about the global economy receded.

Japan plans to duck new UN rules on accounting for public pension liabilities while recognising pension assets in a way that will obscure the size of its huge public debt.

On October 17, every employee at Dentsu — Japan’s biggest advertising agency and arguably the country’s most influential company — received the same, catastrophic-sounding message from the company’s president, Tadashi Ishii.

The London insurance market, the largest in the world, is predicting a surge in companies and individuals taking out policies against cyber attacks in 2017 after a 50 per cent rise this year.

30 December

The euro is on course to hit parity with the dollar for the first time in more than 14 years, helping the eurozone maintain its recovery by making exports more competitive, according to a Financial Times poll of economists.

In 2016, the economy became even more intertwined than usual with politics. British voters decided that a prolonged period of uncertainty over Brexit should follow the financial crisis of 2007-09 and weak recovery. But political upheavals were not restricted to the UK. This reality must shape any assessment of the economy in 2017.

US mortgage lenders are heading for the quietest year for refinancings since 2000 as rising interest rates are expected to turn some borrowers off the deals, hitting what has been an important source of revenue for the industry.

The chief executive of AstraZeneca has warned that protracted negotiations between drugmakers and the NHS are denying UK patients access to life-saving treatments, including the latest generation of cancer therapies already available in the US and other parts of Europe.

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19  December – 23 December

19 December

The head of the International Monetary Fund has welcomed the Ukrainian government’s decision to nationalise its biggest bank, marking the intervention as an “important step” in securing financial stability in the war-ravaged economy.

Ireland has outlined the grounds for its appeal against the European Commission’s demand that it claw back €13bn of state aid from Apple, accusing Brussels of interfering with national sovereignty. The Irish finance ministry said the EU’s executive arm had misunderstood both Irish law and the relevant facts of the case, and also that the commission had exceeded its powers.

US industrial group Praxair and Germany’s Linde are set to announce preliminary terms of their $65bn merger as early as Wednesday in a deal that will create the world’s largest supplier of industrial gas, four people familiar with the talks said.

A US drugmaker has put a price tag of more than $800 on a pinworm treatment — 200 times more expensive than the equivalent medicine on British pharmacy shelves, in the latest example of “price gouging” in the world’s largest healthcare market.

20 December

The Bank of Japan has kept monetary policy steady at its final meeting for the year and remained upbeat about the economic outlook.

Nigeria was fortunate in the first half of this decade. Gross domestic product increased from $412bn in 2011 to $568bn in 2015 and GDP per capita more than doubled from about $1,500 to $3,100. This is made all the more impressive by the fact that the population increased by about 10 per cent in the same period.

Do not let your stock price go down. This plain admonition comes from a lawyer involved in longstanding litigation at Zynga, the once high-flying mobile game maker known for its viral hit, FarmVille.
Volkswagen Canada has agreed to pay up to C$2.1bn ($1.6bn) to buy back or fix more than 100,000 cars equipped with test-cheating software — making Canada the second most expensive country after the US for VW’s global diesel scandal.

21 December

Keep on keeping on. A measure of consumer confidence in the eurozone gained further momentum in December, jumping 1.1 points to its highest level since April 2015 at -5.1.

Yoghurt troubles continue to sour sales and profits at General Mills. The food giant saw its shares slide 3.5 per cent on Tuesday after it announced quarterly earnings that missed Wall Street’s estimates, as demand for its Yoplait yoghurt slumped.

Producer prices in the eurozone’s second largest economy remained in deflation in November but showed encouraging signs of an inflationary uptick on the back of rising energy costs.

Nike posted better-than-expected profits and sales thanks in part to strong overseas businesses in western Europe, China and emerging markets despite battling headwinds from a strong US dollar.

22 December

Pigging out. Import prices faced by German manufacturers have surged to their highest level since 2012, helped up by a bumper rise in pork prices, in another encouraging signs of growing inflationary momentum in Europe’s largest economy.

Consumer spending growth narrowly missed expectations in November as income gains unexpectedly stalled, highlighting the US economy’s still patchy nature.

Dong Energy, the world’s biggest operator of offshore wind farms, has raised its profit guidance after agreeing to sell half of a UK project to Australian investment bank Macquarie in a deal worth £1.6bn.

Aer Lingus and Ryanair face a combined bill of at least €16m after the European Court of Justice on Wednesday ruled that they had benefited from illegal state aid.

23 December

German consumers are feeling upbeat heading into the new year, reporting rising income expectations, indicating a pick-up in economic growth in Europe’s largest economy.

The Swiss economy is likely to stick on its current trajectory, judging from the latest reading of the KOF economic barometer.

Unite, the UK’s biggest trade union, called off threatened Christmas strike action by its members for the second time this week, suspending a planned walkout by some British Airways cabin crew amid new proposals from management.

Vitol and its private equity partner Helios Investment Partners are to take full control of an African petrol station joint venture in a deal that values the business at $1.25bn*.

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12  December – 16 December

12 December

Italy’s beleaguered economy will struggle to achieve growth above 1 per cent over the next two years in the aftermath of renewed political and financial instability, according to a major rating agency.

Eurozone sovereign bond yields are surging to their highest levels since the start of the year as the Federal Reserve gets ready to raise interest rates for the second time in a decade later this week.

The Shenzhen Stock Exchange’s benchmark index fell as much as 2.6 per cent on Monday as foreign investor participation in a much-vaunted stock market link-up with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange remained muted.

Investors sank their teeth into Chipotle on Monday, sending shares of the fast-casual burrito chain up more than 3 per cent after it announced it will return to having just one chief executive following the departure of co-chief executive Monty Moran.

13 December

Prudential Financial has been dragged into the Wells Fargo sham accounts scandal as it suspends a distribution deal with the bank amid allegations executives at the US insurer covered up fraudulent sales of its policies.

Fund managers have given a cool reception to Ofcom’s plans to force change on BT, with top City investors meeting the regulator and expressing frustration at the disruption it has caused in the telecoms market.

Demand for oil will outstrip supply in the next six months as long as Opec and countries outside the cartel can implement a deal signed at the weekend to lower output, according to one of the world’s leading energy forecasters.

Spain’s annual inflation rate stayed steady at three-year highs in November, the statistics office confirmed.

14 December

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday will hold its final rate-setting meeting before Donald Trump is due to enter the Oval Office. A quarter-point increase in the federal funds rate target range to 0.5-0.75 per cent has already been priced in by the markets, so the focus will be firmly on what happens to policy in 2017 and beyond.

US companies in the lower rungs of investment grade are facing long-term borrowing costs of almost 5 per cent, a sharp reversal of a six-decade low touched just monthsa ago, as the sell-off in sovereign bonds ripples out in the corporate debt market.
“America is not a country, it is a world,” remarked Oscar Wilde in an interview with the Cleveland Leader about his time in the US. Since Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, Wall Street’s record run has outpaced global equities, not least in Europe.

Insurer and asset manager Old Mutual will sell 13m shares as it ploughs on with a complete break-up of the group. Old Mutual announced the offering of its ordinary shares as well as the repurchase of 6m shares through its US asset management arm on Tuesday.

15 December

The Bank of Korea has left interest rates unchanged in December, as expected. Rates were held at 1.25 per cent, the level reached by June’s sole cut of 2016.

Subprime borrowers are set to feel the pinch as US banks nudge interest charges up in response to the Federal Reserve’s rate rise, threatening to sour more credit card loans and some other types of debt.

Google, Facebook and other online advertising businesses face strict new privacy rules from Brussels on the ways they can track people online.

US companies in the lower rungs of investment grade are facing long-term borrowing costs of almost 5 per cent, a sharp reversal of a six-decade low touched just monthsa ago, as the sell-off in sovereign bonds ripples out in the corporate debt market.

16 December

The Obama administration has added to the growing series of trade battles with China even before Donald Trump takes office, launching a World Trade Organisation challenge to Chinese restrictions on grain imports.

The Australian government is lobbying hard for the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to include coal among its lending priorities, as the country seeks to defend its lucrative exports.

A one-two punch of a surging US dollar and rising interest rates sent the price of gold tumbling to its lowest level since February on Thursday, hurting the shares of miners and spurring hefty liquidations of exchange traded funds that track the metal.

Yahoo shares dropped 5 per cent on Thursday amid worries that the latest hacking revelations could scuttle its deal with Verizon Communications.

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05 December – 09 December

05 December

Growth in Spain’s services sector accelerated in November, according to a closely-watched survey of sector activity strattera capsule. IHS Markit’s purchasing managers’ index rose to 55.1 from October’s 54.6, its 37th consecutive month of improvements. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. Economists had predicted a reading of 55.0.

In another blow to the European establishment, Italian voters said a resounding no to prime minister Matteo Renzi’s constitutional reforms in a referendum on Sunday. As the defeat became apparent, Mr Renzi announced that he would resign. The result has plunged Italy into political crisis and raises fears of turmoil in the country’s banking system. The euro briefly dropped to its lowest since March 2015 in Asian trading but both the currency and shares in Italian banks later rallied after the initial losses.

China’s commodities traders brushed off a strengthening dollar and Twitter attacks from the US president-elect on Monday morning, driving key futures prices higher at the week’s outset.

Corporate share buybacks on Wall Street, a major source of demand for US equities since the financial crisis, are expected to set a new record thanks to a boost from the incoming Trump administration’s planned tax overhaul.

06 December

Last spring, Sime Darby, a Malaysian conglomerate, announced that it planned to sell noncore assets. It was an attempt to generate cash because much of its Rm16bn debt was coming due quite soon. Like many other companies in Southeast Asia, Sime Darby had ramped up borrowing in the expectation of better economic times that failed to materialise. Its debt swelled from Rm10bn in 2013 to Rm18bn in 2015, while net income dropped by 30 per cent, according to Bloomberg data.

Bringing skills she gained working at a bank to her grocery store in Caracas, beset by a triple-whammy of ravaging food shortages, galloping inflation and plummeting currency, Miriam Borthomier relies on a basic but time-saving algorithm: 100 notes of any denomination of Venezuela’s currency weigh 110 grams.

Stock markets have a new purpose. Once devoted to trading stocks and setting their prices, they are now the venue for buying and selling something other than shares: exchange traded funds.

A tax holiday for US companies looms under president-elect Donald Trump, with some seeing this wave of cash as the catalyst of an investment boom and faster US economic growth. However, analysts and investors caution that the likeliest result is companies putting the money into share buybacks, echoing what happened in 2004 when the last overseas tax holiday was announced.

07 December

Some of the clouds looming over the North American telecommunications and cable industry could part next year depending partially on the fate of the proposed Time Warner-AT&T mega-merger, according to Fitch Ratings.

US President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to say Japan’s SoftBank plans to invest $50bn in the US in a move that would create 50,000 new jobs.

UK house price growth slowed significantly in November after an unexpected jump the previous month, according to Halifax’s latest monthly survey.

The pound has fallen 0.6 per cent against the dollar today, marking its worst run since mid-November after a grim set of numbers on the state of UK industry were released earlier this morning.

08 December

A handful of hedge funds are emerging as big winners this year, even as the industry has struggled to assuage investor ire over high fees and mediocre performance.

Shares in Tokyo Electric Power have continued to climb in Tokyo amid reports the government would boost by more than half an interest-free loan to the nuclear power plant operator.

The Nasdaq Composite became the latest Wall Street gauge to hit an all-time high, as a rally in European stocks following the European Central Bank’s decision to scale back its quantitative easing programme helped to bolster US equity markets.

Investors have poured money into small-caps partly on hopes that Mr Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress will deliver a stronger domestic economy. What has added to their sheen is the bet they will be shielded from the stronger dollar that has been a thorn in the side of large US multinationals and their reliance on foreign revenues over the past two years. The cut in the US corporate tax that Mr Trump has promised is also expected to help as smaller companies tend to pay a higher rate than larger entities.

09 December

The IMF on Thursday said it was watching the climb in the dollar seen since last month’s US election and working through its potential impact on emerging markets.

The Czech National Bank may be close to injecting some excitement into its currency, if today’s inflation figures are anything to go by.

Oxford Sciences Innovation, which commercialises science and technology from Oxford university, has expanded its coffers to £580m in a new funding round, making it the largest private university fund in the UK.

Spotify has abandoned plans to acquire rival SoundCloud, as the music streaming company gears up for an IPO next year.

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