Stocks down…UK blocks Facebook’s Giphy purchase
TOKYO (AP) – World markets and U.S. futures have fallen as investors cautiously weigh how much damage the new omicron coronavirus variant may unleash on the global economy. Shares fell in Frankfurt, London and Paris after sinking in most Asian markets. Sydney and Shanghai were marginally higher. Analysts say a serious economic downturn likely can be averted because many people have been vaccinated, but a return to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity, especially in tourism, has been dramatically delayed. It remains unclear how effective existing vaccines might be against the omicron variant. Markets have a few mileposts this week that could swing prices, chief among them Friday’s U.S. jobs report.
BRUSSELS (AP) – Official figures show that consumer prices across the 19 countries that use the euro currency are rising at a record rate. The European Union’s statistics agency says that the eurozone’s annual inflation rate hit 4.9% in November, largely as a result of a huge spike in energy costs. That’s the highest since records began in 1997 and up from 4.1% the previous month. Like others around the world, the eurozone, which is made up of 19 economies including France and Germany, is enduring big price hikes as a result of the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and blockages in supply chains.
BEIJING (AP) – A survey shows China’s manufacturing activity rebounded in November as orders improved and power shortages eased. An industry group and the national statistics agency say a monthly purchasing managers’ index rose to 50.1 from October’s 49.2 on a 100-point scale. The index spent the previous two months below 50, which shows activity decreasing. A measure of production rose 3.6 points to 52, indicating activity was recovering from power rationing imposed in major manufacturing areas in September to meet official energy efficiency targets.
LONDON (AP) – British airline easyJet says it’s already seeing some impact on demand from the new omicron variant of the coronavirus in the days since it was first identified. The airline has revealed another full-year loss in excess of 1 billion pound. It says it’s seen signs that demand is softening but that it’s “too soon to say” what impact the new variant will have on the industry. The company says there are signs winter bookings have started to weaken and some travelers are delaying trips to early next year, with city destinations especially affected. Because of the uncertainty about the new variant, countries are tightening up travel restrictions.
LONDON (AP) – The United Kingdom’s antitrust watchdog has blocked Facebook’s acquisition of GIF-sharing platform Giphy and ordered the social network to reverse the deal. It says the deal hurts social media users and advertisers by stifling competition for animated images. The Competition and Markets Authority says the deal would let Facebook “increase its already significant market power” by denying or limiting other platforms’ access to Giphy GIFs and drive traffic to Facebook owned sites. It’s reportedly the first time the watchdog has sought to unwind a tech deal.