China Lifts Inflation Controls; Awful Year for India Rupee; 30-year Mortgage Rates Hit Record Low; First Recorded Decline in Online Holiday Shopping; UBS Offloads Bank of China Stake
- With inflation easing, China has lifted temporary inflation controls on key commodities such as liquefied petroleum gas, power-station coal, grains and cooking oil. Ten months ago, China was facing inflation at a 12-year high, Bloomberg reported. Now it’s slowed to the weakest pace in nearly two years.
- India’s rupee slid 19.2% in 2008, its worst annual performance since 1991, and the second-worst among the 10 most-active Asian currencies excluding Japan. “It has been ecstasy to agony for the rupee this year,” K.V. Mallik, treasurer at state-owned UCO Bank, told Bloomberg. “The outlook isn’t any better as it appears far from certain as to when the financial markets will stabilize. I expect the rupee to be under pressure in the next few months.”
- Rates on 30-year mortgages fell to 5.1% this week, down from the previous record of 5.14% set last week, Freddie Mac reported. Mortgage rates have plunged by about 1.3 percentage points since late October.
- Online holiday sales fell 3% from last year, marking the first decline in online spending since comScore Inc started tracking online sales in 2001, Reuters reported. Online spending totaled $25.5 billion between Nov. 1 and Dec. 23.
- UBS AG (UBS) the Swiss banking giant struggling to rebuild its balance sheet after taking $49 billion in losses form writedowns, has sold its stake in Bank of China, Reuters reported. UBS said it offloaded about 3.4 billion Bank of China H-shares through a discounted placing for at a profit of “a few hundred million dollars.” The bank had paid $500 million for a 1.6% stake in Bank of China in 2005.