World shares higher…China wants US lifting of Xinjiang ban
UNDATED (AP) – Shares have gained in world markets as traders wait to see details of President-elect Joe Biden’s plan for helping the economy recover from the coronavirus crisis. In early trading in Europe, Germany’s DAX picked up 0.4% and the CAC 40 in Paris rose 0.3%. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.5%. In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index closed 0.9% higher. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.9%, South Korea’s Kospi jumped 0.7% and the Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.9%. On Wall Street, Dow and S&P futures are higher.
BEIJING (AP) – China is demanding that Washington drop a ban on cotton and tomato imports from its Muslim northwest over complaints they are produced by forced labor, which a spokesman dismisses as the “lie of the century.” The ban adds to a flurry of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration against Chinese officials, companies and goods over human rights, security and other complaints. Its commercial impact is unclear, but Beijing is sensitive to criticism about the Xinjiang region, where more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been confined in detention camps. Beijing denies mistreating them and says it is trying to promote development and stamp out radicalism.
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – The German economy shrank by 5% in the pandemic year 2020. That brought to an end a decade of growth as lockdowns wiped out much business and consumer activity. The state statistics agency painted a dreary picture. Industry and services suffered severe downturns. Only construction saw a small uptick. Services activity involving sporting and cultural events were also hammered. The pandemic downturn was still smaller than that experienced during 2009 when the economy shrank by 5.7%. The numbers also suggest consumers could be ready to unleash a strong recovery when the pandemic finally eases.
HONG KONG (AP) – A Hong Kong internet service provider says it has blocked access to a pro-democracy website to comply with the city’s national security law. In an emailed statement, Hong Kong Broadband Network says it has disabled access to HKChronicles, a pro-democracy website which compiled information on “yellow” shops that supported the pro-democracy movement and released personal information and pictures of police and pro-Beijing supporters as part of a doxxing effort. The chief editor of the site said in a post last week that users in Hong Kong reported the site as inaccessible and accused telecoms companies such as SmarTone, China Mobile Hong Kong, PCCW and Hong Kong Broadband Network of blocking the website.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – Low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle says it will now focus on European destinations and close its long-haul operation as it struggles with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The airline says it will cut the size of its fleet, reduce debt and raise capital. The company had asked Norway’s government for help last year but its request was turned down. The government had said that the airline had been struggling financially even before the pandemic and that aid should be targeted first at healthy businesses.