There was positive news for the UK government as a Brexit deal was finally agreed upon with Europe. However, this was offset shortly afterwards by MPs voting against the proposed timetable. Later, the EU agreed to grant the UK a Brexit extension until January 31, 2020, removing the risk of an imminent no-deal departure, and creating the political space for Westminster to decide on the timing of a general election.
UK public borrowing shot up by a fifth in the first six months of the financial year. The UK public sector had to borrow £9.4bn in September to cover its spending. That was £600m more than in the same month in 2018.
Beijing and Washington continued to talk up the prospect of an interim deal. Comments were made that a planned hike in US trade tariffs on Chinese exports that was set to kick-in mid-December may be shelved, while China made further positive commitments about agricultural purchases.
Mario Draghi wrapped up his final monetary policy meeting at the European Central Bank by leaving interest rates unchanged and sticking to the existing package of monetary loosening measures he announced last month. Draghi remains concerned that the Eurozone faces protracted weakness going into 2020.
The Hong Kong government withdrew the controversial extradition bill that sparked months of protests and violence. The bill allowed extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China. However, protests are expected to continue.
Finally, the number of wealthy Chinese people has overtaken the number of rich Americans for the first time, according to a report by Credit Suisse. The bank’s annual wealth survey found there were 100 million Chinese people among the world’s top 10 per cent per cent of richest people, compared with 99 million in the US.
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