Thu, Dec 06, 2018 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

AUSTRALIA

Spending drop stalls growth

Economic growth stalled in the third-quarter of the year with consumer spending running out of steam as house prices fell further, official data showed yesterday. The economy grew a meager 0.3 percent between July and September, the slowest rate in two years and far below market expectations. The Australian dollar — buoyed by 27-years of straight growth — slid against the US dollar on the news. JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy said the data came with “ominous” signs from consumers. “The consumer has outperformed relative to fundamentals for the past almost two years,” he said. “Now a combination of weak wages, slowing housing, limited wealth effect and high debt are really starting to culminate in a pretty ominous backdrop for household spending.”

AUSTRALIA

Encryption bill likely to pass

Police and intelligence agencies look set to be given the power to access encrypted messages on platforms such as WhatsApp, as the nation becomes the latest to face down privacy concerns in the name of public safety. Amid protests from companies such as Facebook Inc and Google, the government and main opposition on Tuesday struck a deal that should see the legislation passed this week. Under the proposed powers, technology companies could be forced to help decrypt communications on popular messaging apps, or even build new functionality to help police access data. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the legislation is needed to help foil terrorist attacks and organized crime. Critics say it is flawed and could undermine security across the Internet, jeopardizing activities from online voting to market trading and data storage.

EUROZONE

Growth pace floundering

The euro area is showing no signs of a meaningful economic rebound, with Italy on the verge of recession after the populist government picked a fight with European authorities over spending plans. IHS Markit’s purchasing manager’s index for manufacturing and services in the 19-nation bloc fell last month to 52.7 from 53.1 in October. While the reading exceeded an earlier estimate, it was the worst since September 2016 and suggests only a marginal pickup in the pace of growth to 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter, the report said. “The region remains stuck in a soft-patch,” IHS Markit economist Chris Williamson said. “The survey responses highlighted intensifying headwinds of Brexit and trade-war worries, a struggling autos sector and rising uncertainty regarding the economic and political outlook.” The slowdown is starting to affect the labor market. Employment expanded at its weakest pace in nearly two years last month, with Germany, France and Ireland faring particularly poorly.

SHIPPING

Maersk to go carbon-neutral

Maersk, the world’s biggest container shipper, aims to be carbon neutral by 2050, in a challenge to the rest of the world’s fossil fuel-dependent fleet. The Danish company yesterday said it aims to have carbon-neutral vessels commercially viable by 2030 by using energy sources such as biofuels and would cut its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. The shipping industry, which carries about 80 percent of global trade, accounts for 2.2 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, the UN’s International Maritime Organization says.

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