China’s economy grew 6.1% in 2019, according to GDP figures released Friday. While that’s in line with expectations, it’s also the country’s weakest growth in nearly three decades. The growth was down from 2018’s 6.6 percent. The country grew 6% in the fourth quarter. The economy faces ’downward pressure’ and ’instability sources and risk points’ abroad are increasing, the government said.
The U.S. government reported that housing starts in December ran at a 1.61 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. This was 17% higher than November and the highest level since the 2007-08 housing crisis. The level was attributed to low mortgage rates, a strong underlying market and relatively warm weather. Housing permits, an indicator of future construction declined 4% to 1.44 million.
Automaker Fiat Chrysler and Apple supplier Foxconn are planning a joint venture to build electric cars to be sold in the Chinese market, initially. The Italian-American car maker is looking to develop and manufacture new generation battery electric vehicles and engage in the ’Internet of Vehicles’ business.
Google’s owner Alphabet has become a trillion-dollar company for the first time. Alphabet becomes the fourth US firm to reach the bumper valuation with shares closing at a record high of $1,450.16 Thursday. It followed tech rivals Microsoft, Apple and Amazon over the $1 trillion mark.
As per official statistics, the number of UK pubs and bars increased for the first time in a decade during 2019. The total number rose by 315, or 0.8%, last year to 39,130. The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said it ’cautiously welcomed’ the news. Data also showed that pubs and bars are flourishing thanks to a trend of increased sale of food rather than drinks.
Payless ShoeSource has emerged from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time. As part of its comeback strategy, Payless said it plans to collaborate with high-profile individuals and brands. The company has appointed a new executive management team and will reveal its strategy to come back soon.
US retail sales increased by 0.3% in December, with households buying a range of goods, suggesting the economy maintained a moderate growth pace at the end of 2019. Every major group except auto dealers and department stores reported stronger sales. If auto receipts are set aside, retail sales rose 0.7%. For the full year, retail sales climbed 5.8%, slightly above the average for the past 30 years
NBCUniversal’s new Peacock streaming service will offer a free version, a $5-a-month version and a $10 option to remove ads to try to win customers for its belated entry into the online video wars. Peacock will debut for Comcast customers on April 15 and across the US on July 15. The company plans to expand the service to other countries over time.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has threatened to sue the British government over its £106million plan to bail out struggling airline Flybe. He argues measures that are being put in place to help Flybe should be extended to other airlines. If they are not, Ryanair intends to launch legal proceedings against the government, O’Leary said.
With the US and China signing the first phase of an agreement to end their 18-month trade war, world stocks remained near record highs. MSCI’s broadest index of world stocks was up 0.1%. The trade agreement will roll back some of the tariffs the two countries are imposing on each other.