By ETimes

CURRENCIES

The dollar fell further on Thursday to two-month lows after U.S. inflation proved weaker than feared in December, prompting investors to cut crowded long positions in the currency. The British pound extended gains, touching its strongest level since the end of October, supported by expectations that the Bank of England will be raising interest rates as early as next month to tame inflation and as fears about the adverse impact of the Omicron variant on the economy eased. The Australian dollar hit an 8-week on Thursday, extending gains from the previous session as the greenback retreated after US inflation data came in line with expectations.

COMMODITIES


Gold pared earlier losses to trade around $1,822 an ounce on Thursday, little changed from a one-week high of $1,827/oz reached in the previous session and after three consecutive days of gains as investors digest US data. Oil prices edged lower Thursday after disappointing U.S. unemployment data, but remained near two-month highs, helped by expectations that global supply will remain tight as the economic recovery continues.

EQUITIES


Wall Street edged higher on Thursday, after US producer inflation slowed in December, with gasoline costs dropping sharply compared to November, and adding to further evidence the Fed will not need to raise rates at a faster pace than early announced. The FTSE 100 was little changed around near 2-year highs on Thursday, in line with its European peers, as investors continued to assess the outlook for monetary stimulus and inflationary risks, after digesting the highest inflation rate in the US in nearly four decades. The Shanghai Composite fell on Thursday, as mainland stocks struggled to build on the previous session’s gains amid recurring concerns over China’s Covid situation.

GLOBAL NEWS IN BRIEF

AMERICA

Delta loses $408 million; 8,000 employees contract Covid over the last four weeks

Delta Air Lines lost $408 million in the final quarter of 2021, dragged down by a Covid-19 surge that rocked the airline in December, and the carrier predicted Thursday that it will suffer one more quarterly loss before travel perks up in spring and summer. CEO Ed Bastian said 8,000 employees have contracted Covid-19 over the last four weeks. Sick workers and winter storms have led to more than 2,200 cancelled flights since Dec. 24 – nbcnews

Ford’s market cap tops $100 billion for first time ever

Ford Motor’s market value topped $100 billion for the first time ever as the automaker’s stock hit a new 52-week high in Thursday morning trading. Ford’s shares jumped by as much as 4.6% to $25.59, hitting another 20-plus-year high. Its market value was about $102 billion as of 11:10 a.m. Thursday. The gains have been fueled by Fords’ plans to increase production of electric vehicles, including the Mustang Mach-E crossover and an upcoming electric version of its best-selling F-150 pickup that’s due out this spring. The efforts are part of a Ford+ turnaround plan led by CEO Jim Farley, who took over the helm in October 2020 – cnbc

Record 14 mln Americans sign up for healthcare since enrollment start – govt

A record 14.1 million Americans have signed up for health insurance since the start of the 2022 open enrollment period in November, the U.S. health department said on Thursday – Reuters

ASIA

China’s Cinda Scraps $944m Investment In Ant Finance Unit

China Cinda Asset Management is scrapping plans to buy a 20% stake in the consumer finance arm of Ant Group, worth 6 billion yuan ($943.83 million). The investment would have increased Cinda’s interest in Chongqing Ant Consumer Finance Co Ltd to 24%, making the asset manager its second-biggest investor. Cinda already owns a 4% stake in the Ant unit through a subsidiary – asiafinancial

Covid has dealt a big blow to Asean but the region’s economic outlook is bright

ASEAN economies may have been dealt harder blows by Covid-19 than the rest of Asia, and the Sino-US relationship remains worrisome, but analysts say the outlook for the growth-driven region is bright and its stocks, relatively cheap – ASEAN BUSINESS
Japan weighs cracking door open to foreign student

Japan is considering allowing in international students on a limited basis, Nikkei has learned, as the country continues its entry ban on foreigners amid a surge of omicron infections. The main proposal relaxes the near-total ban on foreign arrivals, but only for government-sponsored students who cannot graduate or progress in their education without earning credits in Japan. This likely would apply to just a few hundred people – NIKKEI Asia

EUROPE

Boris Johnson’s leadership on a knife-edge amid calls for him to resign over lockdown ‘parties’

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership is on a knife-edge as a scandal over “parties” held at Downing Street and allegedly in various other government departments during Covid-19 lockdowns in the U.K. has prompted calls for his resignation.

Erdogan blames Turkey’s currency woes on ‘foreign financial tools’ as central bank reserves fall

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to bring down his country’s soaring inflation, which hit 36% in December, as the country’s central bank gears up for another rate-setting meeting next week. Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Erdogan said he was protecting the country’s economy from attacks by “foreign financial tools that can disrupt the financial system,” according to a translation by Reuters – CNBC

Spain’s tourist sector seen reaching 88% of pre-pandemic size in 2022

Spain’s huge tourism sector will come close to reaching its pre-pandemic size in 2022, an industry association said, although the surge in the Omicron variant and supply issues will prevent a full recovery this year – Reuters

MIDDLE EAST

2021: Dubai records highest value of real estate sales transactions in 12 years

In 2021, Dubai recorded the highest value of real estate sales transactions in 12 years, with Dhs151.07bn worth of properties sold throughout last year. The total number of real estate sales transactions that took place last year – – equalling 61,241 – were also the highest since 2013, according to Property Finder. In 2021, 59.6 per cent of all transactions were for secondary/ready properties and 40.4 per cent were for off-plan properties. In terms of the volume of sales transactions, the off-plan market transacted 24,761 properties worth a total of Dhs45.5bn and the secondary market transacted 36,480 properties worth a total of Dhs105.56bn – Gulf Business

Israeli prime minister makes historic UAE visit, stressing ‘new reality’ for region

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett touched down in the United Arab Emirates Monday in a historic visit, marking the first time an Israeli leader has publicly met the UAE’s de-facto ruler, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Bennett took the opportunity to emphasize what he saw and, indeed, what regional analysts describe as a new reality for the Middle East: “In my opinion, this is what the peace and the new reality this region is witnessing, and we are working together to ensure a better future for our children,” he told UAE state news agency WAM – CNBC

‘No money left’: Lebanese telcos close to meltdown as cable thieves thrive

Lebanon’s telecom duopoly, once cash cows for the state, used to allocate most of their spending on wages, rent and infrastructure – Reuters

AFRICA

Nigeria lifts ban on Twitter after 7 months

Nigeria’s government reversed its ban on Twitter effective at midnight on Wednesday evening. More than 200 million people could reconnect to the social networking site seven months after authorities had blocked it. “The Federal Government of Nigeria directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari… has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12am tonight,” said a tweet from the director-general of the country’s National Information Technology Development Agency Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi – DW

Kenya Power in the spotlight after nationwide blackout

The hashtag #KPLC has been trending on Twitter this week as Kenyans share memes and gifs about the country’s worst national blackout for years. While some tried to find some light-hearted moments in the midst of darkness, others fumed at the inefficiency of the state-run Kenya Power Lighting Company. It was the third nationwide blackout in the past four years and raised questions over KPLC’s ability to provide a stable power supply. In a statement, the company said four pylons supporting the power line, which connects the capital, Nairobi, to a hydroelectric dam in the central region, collapsed. It said vandalism had weakened the structures – BBC

Nobel panel: Abiy has ‘special responsibility’ to end Tigray war

The panel that awards the Nobel Peace Prize said Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, who won the honour in 2019, bears a “special responsibility” to end the ongoing bloodshed in the Tigray region. “As prime minister and winner of the Peace Prize, Abiy Ahmed has a special responsibility to end the conflict and contribute to peace,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of The Norwegian Nobel Committee, said on Thursday – Aljazeera

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