In Brief – N.5 – January 25, 2015

A demonstration against terrorism – #JesuisCharlie – has set a new record of crowds in France with 3.8 million people and 50 heads of state and chiefs of government, according to official sources.

Islamic State – “Daech” – approved a $2 billion budget for 2015 up from $1.75 billion in 2014, allegedly said its religious leader Abu Saad al Ansari to news site Al-Araby al Jadeed. Intelligence sources confirmed, without providing figures, that IS has large and “unusual” financial means.

While speculation continues about a rapprochement between the USA and Iran, the latter’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that “friendly relations” between Iran and Russia “demands actualization of potential capacities to accelerate reaching a final agreement in the (nuclear) talks.”

Both the US government and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have raised their forecast of world oil demand, up 1 million barrel per day in 2015 and up 1.03 billion barrel per year in 2016 respectively.

It’s getting tough on the markets: negative indicators about global economic growth have sent the stock markets lower with at least 4 consecutive decreases in Wall Street’s indexes. S&P500 has come under its 120-day moving average.

US retailing company Target announced it will shut down all operations in Canada and seek protection from creditors. With $5.4 billion of pre-tax loss, Target will close 133 stores that employ 17,600 employees.

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim has become the New York Times’ largest shareholder. According to Forbes, Slim, a business tycoon with a telecom empire that expands to 18 Latin American countries, paid $101.1 million to exercise warrants to acquire nearly 16 million shares of the company’s Class A stock at a price of over $6.36 a share, the company said, increasing his stake from 7 % to 16.8 %.

+1.5 percent economic growth in Germany in 2014. On the whole, the German economy turned out to be stable on an annual average in 2014. The price-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) was by 1.5% higher than in the previous year and was above the average of the last ten years of 1.2%, said an official report.

UN announced the end of Ebola outbreak in Mali. “I declare this day the end of the epidemic of the Ebola virus in Mali,” said Mali’s Health Minister Ousmane Kone.

Nigeria lowered the price of gasoline at the pump. Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister, Dieziani Alison-Madueke, reduced the price due to the drop in global oil prices, said Ohi Alegbe, a spokesman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

3.2% increase in global sales of car manufacturer Renault. “In 2014, Renault sales rose 3.2% to 2.7 million units and accounted for 10% of market share in Europe. The Group has taken a new step forward in its medium-term plan, Renault Drive the Change,” declared Jérôme Stoll, a member of the Executive Committee, Chief Performance Officer and Executive Vice-President Sales and Marketing.

EBRD economists expect Russian GDP to shrink by close to five per cent (4.8%) in 2015, a major downward revision from September 2014’s forecast of a contraction of 0.2 per cent.  The price of oil has piled pressure on an already fragile Russia, according to the EBRD’s latest Regional Economic Prospects.

A research paper published by Oxfam, shows that the richest 1 percent have seen their share of global wealth increase from 44 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014 and at this rate will be more than 50 percent in 2016.

Unemployment on the rise over next 5 years as inequality persists, wrote the ILO in its 2015 Trends report for World Employment and Social Outlook. “Sluggish jobs recovery and social instability are the result of greater inequality,” it reads.

Ahead of ECB’s QE and gaining 13.5 points in January 2015, the ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment for Germany now stands at 48.4 points (long-term average is 24.5 points). The index has increased for the third consecutive time reaching the highest reading since February 2014.

No change at the Bank of Japan (BoJ) which will continue money market operations so that the monetary base will increase at an annual pace of about 80 trillion yen. With a view to encouraging a decline in interest rates across the entire yield curve, the Bank will conduct purchases in a flexible manner in accordance with financial market conditions.

In the EU28, announced Eurostat, just under half (48.9%) of enterprises of 10 employees or more reported innovation activity during the period 2010-2012. The proportion of innovative enterprises in the EU28 dropped in 2010-2012 compared with both 2006-2008 (51.5% innovative enterprises).

“(Ukrainian) President Petro Poroshenko informed IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde that the Ukrainian authorities have requested a multi-year arrangement with the Fund, supported by the Extended Fund Facility, to replace the existing Stand-By Arrangement. “Discussions are ongoing on official financing support from Ukraine’s international partners,” said Lagarde.