Britain said on Thursday it would respond strongly to the EU’s decision to initiate legal action against it and six other countries for failing to police emissions test cheating by carmakers after the Volkswagen scandal. “We are surprised by this extraordinary step by the Commission as we have had legislation in place since 2009 to tackle this issue and made this clear to them earlier this year,” a spokesman at the Department for Transport said. “The UK will be responding in the strongest terms.” (Reuters)
Egypt’s headline inflation surged to an eight-year high of 19.4 percent in November, propelled by a steep currency depreciation since the central bank floated the pound and hiked fuel prices last month. Annual urban consumer price inflation, the most closely watched measure, jumped from 13.6 percent in October to reach its highest level since November 2008, the official CAPMAS statistics agency said. Core inflation, which strips out volatile items like fruit and vegetables, also hit an eight-year-high, surging to 20.7 percent in November from 15.7 percent in October. (Reuters)
Gas export revenues of Russia’s top gas producer Gazprom plunged 30.5 percent in January-October of 2016 year-on-year to $24.44 billion, from $35.2 billion in 10 months of 2015, according to documents released by the Federal Customs Service on Thursday. Gazprom increased its gas exports 5 percent in the reporting period of this year to 158.1 billion cubic meters versus 150.5 bcm last year. Russia’s natural gas exports to non-CIS countries totaled 131.7 bcm in January-October of 2016 versus 117.9 bcm year-on-year. Exports to CIS countries amounted to 26.4 bcm versus 32.6 bcm last year, TASS reported.
Italian banking shares surged again on Thursday bringing their three-day gains to 20 percent and putting them on track for the best week since at least 2009. Italy’s beleaguered banks extended their post-referendum recovery after the European Central Bank extended its asset purchases stoking a region-wide banking sector rally. The Italian banking index was last up more than 5 percent higher, with Banco Popolare di Milano and Banco Popolare up more than 7 and the top performing stocks on the STOXX 600 is afternoon trading. (Reuters)
The European Central Bank unexpectedly reduced its asset buys on Thursday but reserved the right to increase purchases once again, a decision that may be seen as a concession to conservative eurozone members such as Germany. The ECB will reduce its asset buys to €60 billion from next April from the current €80 billion, maintaining the buys until the end of the year. Markets had expected the purchases to stay at 80 billion but only for 6 more months. The euro jumped to a three-week high after the announcement. (Reuters)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Thursday that the country’s currency, the pound, was not valued fairly against the dollar but the exchange rate would reach equilibrium after a few months. Egypt abandoned its peg of 8.8 Egyptian pounds to the US dollar on November 3, floating the currency in a bold move that has since seen it roughly halve in value. The depreciation has helped push headline inflation to an eight-year high. “This dollar issue will not last like this for long… The Egyptian pound, its real price is not 17 or 18,” Sisi said in a televised speech. (Reuters)
Japan’s economy grew at a slower pace than earlier estimated in the July to September quarter, expanding at an annual pace of 1.3 percent. The figure released Thursday downgraded a preliminary estimate of 2.2 percent annual growth in the last quarter. Quarterly growth was 0.3 percent, down from the earlier reported 0.5 percent. The downgrade reflects a 0.4 percent drop in business investment from the previous quarter. Originally it was reported as flat. Exports grew 1.6 percent, below the 2.0 percent earlier figure. The country remains far from the 2 percent inflation target set by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Bank of Japan. (AP)