China’s manufacturing activity surprisingly expanded at the fastest rate in approximately 19 month, according to a key manufacturing index released on the 31st of December. A sub-index for new orders showed that the world’s second economy was on track to recovery, boosting optimism in markets.
With only a few hours left until New Year’s Eve, France might to be in a Champagne mood as sales of its world-known sparkling wine are decreasing in Europe amid the European debt crisis. Yet the Champagne industry reposes hope in the U.S., Japan and other markets where it saw a growing interest in the sexiest wine in the world.
2012 Christmas was marked by growing economic concerns of Britons. Uncertain economic conditions affected U.K. customers’ shopping spree during this holiday season. According to a survey conducted by consumer’s association Which?, nearly half of U.K. customers drastically cut back on 2012 Christmas spending and made credit purchases.
New research, which was conducted by the Scotch Whisky Association, shows that Scotch whisky enters its “second golden era” as it generates over £4 billion per year. The undeniable position of Scotch whisky in the Scotland’s economy is mainly driven by overseas investment.
Even though the U.K. saw house prices drop for a sixth month in December, it has still true jewels which cannot be described as cheap and average at all. Lloyds TSB issued its annual list of most expensive streets in the U.K. Not surprisingly, London has once again outperformed other cities in the competition as all from the top ten are located in the capital of the U.K. According to the survey, residences located in Egerton Crescent, Kensington and Chelsea, London, are the costliest with the average house being valued at over £8 million
On the 28th of December, government data showed that Japan’s industrial output decreased as much as 1.7 percent in November, indicating the weakness of the world’s third economy. Even though some indicators were promising, the new government of Shinzo Abe will have to face many challenges to bolster the Japan’s economy which is still struggling amid the Japanese-Chinese territorial dispute.
Is the centuries-old publishing business going to disappear for good? Probably not… But the latest survey shows that certainly a new era of e-book dominance has begun. And all this is because of fascination with digital tablets which are a main driver of a fundamental change in how Americans and also other nations read books. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, e-book reading is growing at unexpectedly fast rate.
Clariant AG, which is one of the world’s largest specialty chemicals companies, informed that it would sell textile chemicals, paper specialties and emulsions businesses to U.S. private equity firm SK Capital for as much as $550 million. The sale of its three businesses is aimed at improving Clariant AG’s profitability.
Toyota Motor Corp., the Japan’s biggest carmaker, is to pay as much as $1.1 billion to settle a U.S. class action lawsuit based on alleged acceleration issues in its cars. In addition, the company informed that it would reclaim the world’s No. 1 carmaker title in 2012.
The Chancellor George Osborne declared additional financial backing to work out commercial uses for the “super-material” graphene. £21.5 investment funds will be granted to some of U.K. universities as they presented the most promising projects for development of the Nobel Prize-winning material.
U.K. customers are ready to hunt as Boxing Day starts. According to estimates, U.K. customers will spend between £2.4 billion and £2.9 billion. The biggest shopping day of the year is expected to also set the record for online shopping. Certainly retailers will welcome shoppers with open arms as this year an increasing number of them is struggling due to tough economic conditions.
Despite huge lines recorded on Black Friday, the United States saw that Americans were not so keen on opening their wallets during the 2012 holiday shopping season. Cautiousness of American customers resulted in the worst holiday shopping season since 2008 when the country entered a “deep recession.” Analysts note that U.S. holiday sales were affected by bad weather and rising uncertainty about economy including concerns over so-called fiscal cliff.
While the world is becoming more computer-dependent, children are not anymore interested in traditional toys. Little ones are just drawn to tablet computers. And this holiday season most children’s Christmas gifts letters are controlled by mobile devices such as iPads and Kindles. The growing popularity of tablets is expected to be the final nail in the toymakers’ coffin.
With the hours before Christmas, many customers decide to enter doors of retailers is search for last minute Christmas gifts. Each holiday shopping season sees the same picture, namely, people being in rush to do their holiday shopping in the last moment. And even though some shoppers promised themselves that they would not do it, they still make their last minute purchases as they did not have enough time before. The last minute shopping will be even done on Christmas Eve; that is the price of the fast modern world. But do not worry as many retailers’ doors will be opened on the 24th of December.
Many U.K. retailers are at risk of closure in 2013 as they are operating in tough economic conditions. According to an analysis, approximately 13,700 so-called “zombie” businesses are devastated by financial distress, with roughly 140 retailers in a “critical condition.” Especially bookstores, chemists and alcohol shops are among those which are in the worst situation.
Norway’s Statoil ASA informed that it decided to invest over $7 billion, or about £4.3 billion, in the North Sea Mariner oil field. The decision, which was announced on the 21st of December, is expected to lift the UK offshore industry after a decade of decline.
The U.K. and Chancellor George Osborne were certainly unpleasantly surprised by official data released on the 21st of December as the figures showed that the UK economy grew less in the third quarter than previously estimated. A survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicated that the U.K. borrowing also increased in November. In addition, it is likely that the U.K. economy will decrease in the final quarter of the year.
On the 21st of December, BAE Systems PLC informed that it has agreed a deal to supply 20 aircrafts to Oman. A deal worth £2.5 billion, or over $4 billion, is expected to protect thousands of jobs in the United Kingdom.
The U.S. economy grew approximately 3.1 percent in the third quarter, according to data released by the Commerce Department. The rate of the U.S. economic growth in the period exceeded analysts’ estimates. Despite the surprising result, analysts believe that the final quarter of the year will report weaker result due to the looming fiscal cliff.