Five fascinating business facts – Part 47
The US extended its multiyear run of uninterrupted jobs growth in November as employers took on more workers than expected, cementing expectations for another rise in interest rates next week. Non-farm payrolls rose 228,000, according to the Labor Department, comfortably above the median forecast of 195,000 from a survey of economists by Bloomberg. Unemployment held at 4.1 per cent, equal to the lowest figure since the early 2000s, while average hourly earnings rose 2.5 per cent on the year. The wage numbers were weaker than expected, further adding to signs of subdued inflationary pressures in the US economy.
Chancellor Philip Hammond’s big idea to revive Britain’s economic performance is to try to boost the country’s weak productivity growth. Most western countries have experienced a productivity slowdown since the financial crisis, but the UK has experienced the sharpest deceleration among G7 nations. In November last year, Mr Hammond pledged to reinvest today for the economy of tomorrow, and announced the formation of a £23bn national productivity investment fund to try to improve workers efficiency. At the Budget this month, Mr Hammond increased the fund’s size to £31bn.
General Electric’s new chief executive took his second big step in radically overhauling the company by cutting 12,000 jobs in its struggling power equipment business, dialling back a signature initiative of his predecessor Jeff Immelt. The lay-offs, which account for about 4 per cent of GE’s total workforce of 295,000 at the end of last year, will come mostly outside the US and hit particularly hard in Europe, where Mr Immelt spent $10bn on an ill-fated acquisition of the energy business of Alstom. The GE Power division, which includes Alstom’s power and grid businesses, makes turbines and other equipment for gas and coal-fired power plants that have been hit since the 2015 deal by the rise of renewable energy.
Less than a month after being fired as head of Angola’s state-owned oil company, Isabel dos Santos says she is studying new deals. Dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman and daughter of the country’s former leader, said two major Angolan banks she has links to are preparing to sell shares as part of plans to strengthen their operations at home and abroad and the 44 year old has an estimated wealth of $2.5 billion.
Switzerland’s Vontobel Holding AG and Falcon Private Bank, both of which offer their clients ways to speculate on bitcoin, say the cryptocurrency’s best days are ahead of it.
The imminent launch of bitcoin futures will trigger a flurry of new product launches in the digital currency that are likely to push the price even higher, according to the private banks. Cboe Global Markets Inc. debuts the first bitcoin-futures product on Sunday, while CME Group Inc., the world’s largest exchange owner, will start offering a similar product by the end of the year. Clients’ views are polarized between those that see the new products as bitcoin’s route into the mainstream of financial markets, and those who believe it’s a bubble waiting to burst, said Heiko Geiger, executive director at Vontobel in Frankfurt. Bitcoin touched a record high of more than $17,000 on Friday, having surged about 1,500 percent this year.
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