May’s Got Her Brexit Breakthrough, Yet Problems Loom Ahead
The U.K. and the European Union struck a deal to unlock divorce negotiations, opening the way for talks on what businesses are keenest to nail down — the nature of the post-Brexit future. The deal, made before dawn on Friday after rushed talks through the night, clears the path to the start of trade talks between the U.K. and its biggest commercial partner. The EU was quick to put down a marker of where it thinks those talks are headed and it’s far short of what May wants. The agreements outlined on Friday, including a 45 billion-euro ($53 billion) divorce bill and vague promises on the sensitive issue of the Irish border, will come back onto the table if trade talks turn sour. EU officials were already warning that the second phase will be harder than the first, and time is running short before Brexit day in March 2019. While the EU made some concessions, the U.K. did most of the running to win the prize it’s been seeking since March — the right to start discussing relations between the two when Britain parts ways with the bloc after 40 years.
U.S. job growth strong in November, wages rebound
U.S. job growth increased at a strong clip in November and wages rebounded, painting a portrait of a healthy economy that analysts say does not require the kind of fiscal stimulus that President Donald Trump is proposing. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 228,000 jobs last month amid broad gains in hiring as the distortions from the recent hurricanes faded, Labor Department data showed on Friday. Data for October was revised to show the economy adding 244,000 jobs instead of the previously reported 261,000. Employment gains in October were boosted by the return to work of thousands of employees who had been temporarily dislocated by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. November’s report was the first clean reading since the storms, which also impacted September’s employment data. Average hourly earnings rose five cents or 0.2 percent in November after dipping 0.1 percent the prior month. That lifted the annual increase in wages to 2.5 percent from 2.3 percent in October. Workers also put in more hours last month. The average workweek rose to 34.5 hours from 34.4 hours in October.
China exports growth hits eight-month high, imports defy pollution curbs
China’s exports and imports unexpectedly accelerated last month in an encouraging sign for the world’s second-biggest economy, though analysts expect growth to continue cooling amid a government crackdown on financial risks and polluting factories. As global demand has surprised with its strength, consumers have lapped up Chinese goods at a rapid rate this year, giving the economy a boost and providing policy makers room to tighten rules to curb high-risk lending. Exports in November rose 12.3 percent year-on-year, the fastest pace in eight months, led by strong sales of electronics and high-tech goods, while commodity purchases helped lift imports. The number beat analysts’ forecast of a 5.0 percent increase and compared with 6.9 percent growth in October. Imports grew 17.7 percent year-on-year in November, the General Administration of Customs said on Friday, also well above expectations of 11.3 percent growth and rising at the fastest pace since September. The numbers may help to ease concerns of slowing momentum in Asia’s economic powerhouse, which had surprised markets with robust growth of nearly 6.9 percent in the first nine months of this year, thanks to a government-led infrastructure spending spree and unexpected strength in exports.