Europe

Uncertainty will hobble UK business investment and depress consumer spending in 2019, stunting long-term growth even if Britain manages to avoid a disorderly Brexit, according to a poll of more than 80 leading economists, the Financial Times reported. The best the UK can expect over the year is uninspiring growth remaining at its current level of about 1.5 per cent, even if the economy eventually enjoys a modest rebound on the back of a deal with the EU, the FT’s annual survey on the UK’s economic outlook suggests.

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Greece’s Public Power Corp (PPC) will continue to supply debt-laden Larco, Europe’s biggest nickel producer, with electricity until next month, extending a previous deadline which expires later on Monday, Reuters reported. Larco, which is 55 percent owned by the Greek state, owes about 280 million euros ($319 million) in unpaid electricity bills to state-controlled power utility PPC, also a minority shareholder in the company.

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January 1 marks the 20th anniversary of the euro’s launch as an electronic currency. It is good that Europe’s leaders are passing this milestone in a more guarded, less self-congratulatory spirit than was the case in the build-up to the 10th anniversary, the Financial Times reported in a commentary. In 2008 the European Commission published a report that described the euro as “a potent symbol of our growing political unity” and “a pole of stability for the global economy”. The report was barely off the printing presses before the western world’s financial system was in meltdown.

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The U.K.’s top law-enforcement body is examining allegations that an employee leaked information to a suspect in exchange for money, undermining a probe into a suspected network of European insider traders, the Wall Street Journal reported. The internal corruption unit of the National Crime Agency, the U.K.’s equivalent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is assessing whether a government translator who had access to wiretap recordings tipped off the target of an insider-trading investigation.

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Russian aluminum company Rusal said today that it has appointed independent non-executive director Jean-Pierre Thomas as its new chairman as part of an agreed restructuring in exchange for the lifting of U.S. sanctions, Reuters reported. The previous chairman, Matthias Warnig, stepped down earlier this week after six years at the world’s largest aluminum producer outside China. His resignation was a condition of the deal.Jean-Pierre Thomas was elected by the board as chairman with effect from Jan. 1, Rusal said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse.

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Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said yesterday that rising protectionism and trade wars and the unpredictability of the U.S. administration have greatly contributed to global oil price volatility over the past two years, Reuters reported. Oil prices have been volatile, falling by more than a third this quarter, partly due to rising oil production in the U.S. “All these uncertainties, which are now on the market: how China will behave, how India will behave... trade wars and unpredictability on the part of the U.S. administration...

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Perrigo rebounded yesterday as the deadline to appeal a $1.86 billion Irish tax bill approached. News of that bill sent Perrigo stock tumbling nearly 30 percent last week, Investor's Business Daily reported. On the stock market today, Perrigo stock jumped 11.5 percent to 40.70 in higher-than-average volume. The pharmaceutical company has until Friday to appeal the tax bill.
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Eurostar Diamond Traders has entered restructuring proceedings in Belgium, having amassed substantial debts, according to the company’s court-appointed administrator, Rapaport News reported. The Antwerp-based diamond manufacturer owes more than $500 million to creditors across its global operations, Alain Van den Cloot, one of the administrators, estimated in an email to Rapaport News. Two Antwerp courts designated Van den Cloot and a second attorney, Nathalie Vermeersch, as provisional administrators for Eurostar’s Belgian business last month.

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Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA took pains to reassure investors about the solidity of its cash position and plans to sell aircraft and cut costs as disruptions in the debt-laden budget carrier’s long-haul flights add to difficulties during the traditionally slow winter season, Bloomberg News reported. “To meet the competitive environment in a period with seasonally lower demand in Europe, the company has made several changes to its route portfolio as well as adjusted its capacity,” Norwegian said on Monday.
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For the past 20 years, the border has existed on paper alone: Britain and the Republic of Ireland are both members of the European Union and its common marketplace. So people, goods and livestock can come and go as they please, traversing the mostly invisible line without tariffs or bureaucratic hindrance. But Britain’s looming exit from the European bloc, known widely as Brexit, threatens to make the old border real again — a factor that has long collided with any prospect of a smooth divorce, according to a New York Times analysis.

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