Overseas Headlines – January 4, 2021

United States:

U.K. Mortgage Approvals Surge to 13-Year High During Lockdown

“U.K. mortgage approvals reached the highest since 2007 in November as housing continued to boom in spite of a broader economic downturn.nThe housing market is surging largely because of a tax cut on house purchases that is worth as much as 15,000 pounds ($20,000) to buyers. That’s pushed prices higher in a nation where demand has outstripped supply for decades, while measures to control the pandemic have also led to a change in working habits, boosting interest in larger properties and those outside of city centers.”



Germany Leads European Manufacturing to Best Month Since 2018

“Euro-area manufacturing grew at the fastest pace in more than 2 1/2 years in December, bringing some positive news at the end of an horrific 2020 for the region’s economy. Final readings of IHS Markit’s monthly surveys showed growth led by Germany, where activity expanded the most in almost three years, with all other countries covered also reporting an improvement on November. The euro-area index came in at 55.2, up from 53.8 though slightly lower than an earlier preliminary reading.”



Hong Kong’s Retail Slump Began Easing Before New Virus Wave

“Hong Kong’s retail environment showed further signs of improvement in November, although the recovery may have been short-lived as the city was hit with a fresh wave of virus infections and imposed new restrictions late in the month. The provisional value of total retail sales in November 2020 was HK$28.7 billion ($3.7 billion), down by 4% compared with the same month in 2019. That was better than the median forecast of -7.4% in a Bloomberg survey of economists and an improvement from a revised -8.7% in October. Sales by volume fell 4.7%, according to the government statement.”




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