Sun, Feb 18, 2018 - Page 5 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

IMF

Lagarde examines US tax cut

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said on Friday the US President Donald Trump administration’s US$1.5 trillion tax cut could prompt other nations to follow suit, fueling a “race to the bottom” that risks hemming in public spending. The effects of the package passed by Congress in December last year are likely to include increased consumption and “hopefully the payment of higher wages,” Lagarde said on a panel at the Munich Security Conference in Germany. It also will fuel inflation, she said.

REAL ESTATE

US housing starts up 9.7%

Groundbreakings on new US homes jumped 9.7 percent last month to the highest level since October 2016, welcome news for a housing market struggling with a shortage of homes for sale. The US Commerce Department said on Friday housing starts came in at an annual pace of 1.33 million last month, up from 1.21 million the previous month and 1.24 million a year earlier. Meanwhile, building permits, an indicator of future construction, rose 7.4 percent last month, it said.

SOVEREIGN DEBT

Fitch upgrades Greece

Fitch Ratings on Friday upgraded Greece’s sovereign debt grade, citing budget surpluses, greater political stability and the growing economy. The agency raised the debt rating one notch to “B” from “B-,” leaving the country in the “highly speculative” category, but with a positive outlook. The decision followed a similar move last month by S&P Global Ratings, which said the economy’s improving fiscal situation was coinciding with growing employment.

RETAIL

UK consumers cautious

UK retail sales barely grew last month, more evidence consumers are reluctant to splash out amid a squeeze from rising prices. Sales increased 0.1 percent from the previous month, far below the 0.5 percent gain forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey. From a year earlier, sales rose 1.6 percent, the weakest for a January in four years, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday. One of the bright spots was sales of sporting equipment, reflecting the traditional New Year enthusiasm for workouts and a pickup in gym membership. Food sales fell 0.4 percent on the month.

JAPAN

Kuroda tapped for new term

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda was nominated on Friday to serve a second five-year term as the head of the central bank. The proposal on Friday to a parliamentary committee was expected to gain approval before Kuroda’s term expires at the end of March. The challenge for Kuroda, many in Japan believe, will be in finding ways to ease out of the Bank of Japan’s current stimulus regime without disrupting markets given its outsized holdings of Japanese government bonds.

STOCKS

MSCI warns on India move

A move by Indian exchanges to stop all licensing deals with their foreign counterparts is anti-competitive and could jeopardize the country’s standing in indices tracked by global funds worth trillions of dollars, MSCI Inc said. “If the changes are put into effect, the result will be disruptive and harmful to international institutional investors in Indian equities,” MSCI said in a statement on Thursday. It said it is monitoring the situation and warned India’s market classification could change unless the “restrictive measures” are removed.

MASS MEDIA

Delrahim rejects speculation

The head of the US Justice Department’s antitrust division, who is suing to block AT&T Inc’s proposed takeover of Time Warner Inc, said on Friday he did not discuss the proposed merger with US President Donald Trump, whose criticism of the entertainment company’s CNN has sparked speculation that he influenced the decision to seek to block the deal. US antitrust chief Makan Delrahim denied further comments on the case to reporters after speaking at a conference in Paris.

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