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World Business

Oil

Obama's Cuba move won't spark energy bonanza

Reason to celebrate: A man waves a Cuban flag while celebrating the restoration of diplomatic relations after a half-century of Cold War acrimony between the island nation and the US.

Jennifer A. Dlouhy 1:25pm US President Barack Obama's decision to normalise relations between the United States and Cuba may lead to more commercial opportunities for Americans within the island nation. But don't expect US oil producers to move swiftly to take advantage of them

Mal Maiden

Vladimir Putin cornered: which way does he jump?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has watched the decline of the rouble as international sanctions bite the Russian economy and oil prices fall.

MALCOLM MAIDEN Russia's government and President Vladimir Putin are in a tightening vice.

Russia

Rouble rumbled: Russia's economic reality shirtfronts Vladimir Putin

Under pressure: Russian President Vladimir Putin

MARK MULLIGAN Vladimir Putin may have stared down Tony Abbott and his "shirtfronting" threat at last month’s G20 summit in Brisbane, but the tough-talking Russian President is currently wrestling a mounting economic crisis that will really test his famed resilience.

Crisis

Pressure mounts on Russia as rouble's slump continues

People walk past a sign advertising currency exchange rates in Moscow.

Andrew E Kramer The rouble's value continued to slide on Tuesday despite the Russian central bank's extraordinary effort to defend it, inducing further panic in the nation's financial industry.

Russia

Russia lifts interest rates to 17% as rouble tumbles

Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia's central bank raised its benchmark interest rate the most since the nation's 1998 default, making the announcement in the middle of the night in Moscow as policy makers seek to douse investor panic and stem a rouble rout.

Tariffs

IT free trade deal collapses

WTO

Jonathan Weisman, Paul Mozur Geneva talks on technology trade collapsed in acrimony, a sign that China is still unwilling to open its markets to competition where it is most vulnerable.

Comments

Trade

Crunch time for WTO's trillion-dollar IT free trade deal

WTO

A trillion dollar deal at the World Trade Organisation to reduce tariffs in the vast information technology sector may not come off.

Comments

Wall Street

US stocks bounce back from 3-day slump after strong data

US markets reacted positively to employment data.

US stocks bounced back on Thursday, with the S&P 500 surging more than 1 per cent.

Lower oil prices likely to speed up Fed rate hikes

Lower oil prices increase the chance the Fed will tighten more aggressively.

STEPHEN CAUCHI Lower oil prices will not - as many believe - spark a sell-off in US government bonds as money from oil exporters that's been parked in Treasuries stops flowing, according to London-based research consultancy Capital Economics.

EPL

Edward Glazer puts 3 million Manchester United shares up for sale

Manchester United won't receive any of the proceeds of Edward Glazer's share selloff.

Edward Glazer has put three million shares in Manchester United up for sale six months after his father Malcolm's death, and stands to recoup in the region of $US45 million.

UN

Poor countries need $US500b to deal with climate change says UN

The cost of dealing with climate change is growing for poorer countries.

Developing countries may need as much as $US250-$US500 billion per year by mid-century to deal with the fallout from climate change, a UN report has warned.

US

Hiring surge as US gains most jobs in three years

November saw the US economy add the most jobs in three years.

Victoria Stilwell A November hiring surge ranging from factories to offices and retailers powered the US economy to create the largest number of jobs in almost three years.

World economy

Grandmaster Flash’s inflation rap outdated in lowflation world

Simon Kennedy and Rich Miller Three decades ago, Ronald Reagan called surging prices "as violent as a mugger," while Grandmaster Flash rapped about "double-digit inflation" making him "wonder how I keep from going under."      

Aviation

Casino-like fuel hedges to hurt airlines in oil plunge

Jet fuel is the biggest expense for most airlines, accounting in some cases for as much as 50 per cent of total costs.

Kyunghee Park Investors from Sydney to Mumbai cheered the plunge in crude-oil prices, sending Asian airline shares to their highest level in three years. But several carriers could end up losing money - with Qantas seen as one of the few likely winners.

Travel

Richard Branson's Virgin empire to offer cruises on the high seas

Ship ahoy: Richard Branson takes to the high seas.

David Gelles Richard Branson's empire of Virgin companies already includes airlines, health clubs and private space shuttles. Now add cruise ships to that list.

Europe

Italy and Spain brace for olive oil drought

An olive oil crisis in Italy and Spain may prove a boon to Greece's industry.

Rudy Ruitenberg A fruit fly infestation in Italy and a weak harvest from Spain mean global production of olive oil in the season to September 2015 will be the lowest in 15 years, the International Olive Council says.

World

Britain slaps 'Google tax' on multinationals

Investors are concerned that Google's golden goose - its search engine - is showing signs of age.

The British government has slapped a new tax rate on multinational companies that seek to avoid paying their fair share to Treasury coffers.

Cheaper beans set to dominate world market as Asians thirst for instant coffee

A man in Hanoi holds up robusta beans, used for instant coffee. Demand for the beans is set to overtake demand for the more expensive and aromatic arabica beans popular with Western coffee drinkers.

Demand for instant coffee from Asia, where a rising middle class associates he drink with social status, is expected to push up worldwide of cheap robusta beans above those of the more expensive arabica by the end of the decade, worrying farmers in Latin America and East Africa.

Tech

Seeking safe bets in cyber-security startups

Hackers make for a soaring business: Last year, venture capitalists pumped some $2 billion into data security start-ups.

David Gelles The hackers appear to be winning. Any consumers, companies or entrepreneurs who have been paying attention to the news are thinking long and hard about cybersecurity. And so are Silicon Valley's sharpest investors.

World

Russia forecasts a recession in 2015

President Vladimir Putin announced on Monday that he would scrap plans for the South Stream gas pipeline after the project fell victim to Russia's increasingly strained relationship with the West.

Andrew E. Kramer After months of insisting that Russia can weather sanctions and plunging oil prices, Moscow for the first time is acknowledging that the economy could fall into a recession next year.

US

Cyber ring stole corporate secrets to try and rig Wall Street, says cybersecurity firm FireEye

Security researchers say they have uncovered a cyber espionage ring focused on stealing corporate secrets for the purpose of gaming the stock market, in an operation that has compromised sensitive data about dozens of publicly held companies.

Media

Vox Media valued at $US380m after $US46.5 million investment

Vox Media publishes Vox.com and a range of other websites.

Leslie Kaufman Vox Media, a US publisher with a fast-growing portfolio of online lifestyle and news brands, is set to announce that it has just closed a $US46.5 million round of financing from General Atlantic, a New York investment firm.

Markets

Swiss voters reject gold, immigration proposals, salvaging EU ties

The measure would have compelled the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to boost its gold reserves to 20 per cent of its assets from around 8 per cent currently, and banned it from ever selling the metal,

Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected proposals on Sunday to boost gold reserves and impose strict new curbs on immigration, averting a potential nightmare for policymakers struggling with a popular backlash against the country's open borders.

World

Australian Silk Road accused Peter Nash faces life in jail

Former Queensland prison employee Peter Nash is locked up in a New York jail accused of conspiring to sell large quantities of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine through the black-market internet bazaar, Silk Road.

Resources

How the US fracked OPEC: Oil enters new era

Lasting change: The OPEC has thrown in the towel, leaving it to the market itself to control supply, analysts say.

OPEC's decision to cede no ground to rival producers underscored the price war in the crude market and the challenge to US shale drillers.

Investments

Why Boston's $29 billion man avoids China

Not quite golfing buddies yet: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and China's President Xi Jingping.

William Pesek Waiting for peace to break out: Dan Fuss, a battle-tested maverick of debt markets, avoids North Asia despite Chinese President Xi Jingping's recent charm offensive.

Retail

First came food trucks, now fashion trucks are on the rise

Food trucks have spread around the world. Are mobile boutiques next?

Tamara Best Mobile businesses have been on the rise in the US and elsewhere as aspiring entrepreneurs sought ways to run businesses for less money in a jittery economy.

Housing

Thousands of Americans can now buy back the homes they lost to foreclosure

Millions of homeowners saw the equity in their homes get wiped out, as the US housing market unraveled, and they could not sell or refinance their way out of trouble.

Dina ElBoghdady Thousands of people in the US who lost their homes to foreclosure are now eligible to buy back those properties at current market value if their loans were backed by the mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

World

Germany set to introduce gender quota for leading companies

Among the 30 largest companies on Germany's blue-chip DAX index, women occupied only 7 per cent of executive board seats and barely 25 per cent of supervisory board seats by the end of June, according to the DIW economic think-tank.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition parties agreed to a draft law that would force Germany's leading listed companies to allocate 30 per cent of the seats on non-executive boards to women from 2016 onward.

Russia

In Moscow, backpackers, not bankers, claim the corner office

Moscow City had been envisioned as a shiny testament to Russia's growing international influence, its answer to Manhattan and the City of London .

Andrew Kramer in the conference room, two men lounge about playing video games on an Xbox, and in place of cubicles, there are bunk beds: High Level Hostel is on the 43rd floor of a multimillion-dollar glass-and-steel office tower in Moscow's financial district - dirty socks and all.

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