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Oil prices fell below $30 a barrel on Friday amid continued turmoil in Chinese markets and concerns over Iranian oil exports, with the lifting of international sanctions possible within days. Brent crude, the global benchmark, slid 3.6 percent to $29.76 a barrel in London, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the U.S. benchmark dropped 5 percent to $29.64 a barrel in New York. Brent and WTI prices were on track to close lower for a third straight week, down nearly 20 percent since the beginning of the year.

U.S. equities tumbled on Friday morning, following lower global stocks, with the Nasdaq Composite index slumping 3 percent to its lowest level since August 24, on China and oil. The S&P 500 index was down 2 percent, while the Dow Jones industrial average was down 2.2 percent. Meanwhile, yields on 10-year Treasury notes fell below under 2 percent to the lowest since October on weak retail sales.

U.S. industrial production fell by 0.4 percent (m/m) in December, contracting for the third consecutive month, led by falls in utilities and mining. Separately, retail sales also dipped unexpectedly in December, retreating by 0.1 percent (m/m), partly due to the continued decline in sales by gas stations.

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The Euro Area trade surplus widened to €23.6 billion in November 2015, compared with a €20.2 billion surplus the previous year. Exports rose by 6 percent (y/y), while imports grew more slowly at 5 percent. The result brings the surplus for the first 11 months of 2015 to €222.1 billion, substantially above the surplus of €160.7 billion recorded during the same period in 2014.

Construction in the U.K. fell by 1.1 percent (y/y) in November 2015, the largest fall since mid-2013, and more than expected. The dip was led by a 5.1 percent fall in repair and maintenance.

Europe and Central Asia

The Turkish unemployment rate increased to 10.5 percent in October 2015 from 10.3 percent in September and above market expectations of 10.3 percent. The figure marked the highest since March 2015. The labor force participation rate increased to 51.6 percent from 51.0 percent a year earlier.

Kazakhstan’s economy advanced 1.2 percent (y/y) in 2015, slowing from a 4.3 percent expansion in 2014. It was the lowest annual growth since 1998, due to drop in oil prices which led to decline in exports and devaluation of the national currency. Meantime, industrial output fell 1.6 percent, following a 0.2 percent growth in 2014.

Nicaragua’s consumer prices increased by 3.1 percent (y/y) in December, following the 2.0 percent rise in November. The largest price increases were for alcoholic beverages and tobacco, recreation and culture, and education. Prices fell only for transport services. Month-on-month, consumer prices rose 1.0 percent, as compared to a 0.4 percent increase in November.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria’s government has approved a $200 million loan from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) to develop infrastructure in Lagos state, its commercial hub. The loan was the second tranche of a total of $600 million lent by the IDA to the Nigeria government for Lagos state since 2010.

source: The Global Daily

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