The world this week
American stockmarkets swiftly recovered from their drubbing on the first trading day of the year, their worst decline since October. Share indices had fallen amid the news about rapidly spreading virulent strains of COVID-19, but investors soon shrugged off those concerns. The s&p 500 gained 16% over the whole of last year, and the nasdaq—bouyed by tech firms—44%. (The big losers were energy shares, which dropped by almost 40% in 2020.) China’s stockmarkets are also on a roll. The CSI300 index of shares listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen closed this week at its highest point since the global financial crisis in 2008.
The share prices of Alibaba and Tencent fell amid reports that the Trump administration is considering delisting the Chinese digital stars from American stockmarkets. Donald Trump has issued an executive order forbidding American investors from holding shares in companies with suspected links to the Chinese armed forces. Earlier the New York Stock Exchange got itself in a muddle about delisting three Chinese telecom companies, reversing its decision to remove them. It eventually said it would strike the three from the market, after receiving a stern lecture from the Treasury.
In the twilight of his presidency, Mr Trump signed an order banning Chinese payment apps, including Alipay, from operating in America because of alleged security risks. The justification was based in part on the Indian government’s ban of 200 Chinese apps, even though that proscription is widely seen as being driven by India’s retaliation against China in a diplomatic spat.
Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority asked interested third parties for their comments on Nvidia’s $40bn takeover of Arm, a chip designer based in Cambridge. The CMA is now responsible for complex antitrust cases involving British firms following the end of Britain’s transition period to leave the EU.
Saudi Arabia said it would cut its oil output by an extra 1m barrels a day in February and March, a decision it took unilaterally to counteract Russia’s smaller increase in production. The Saudi’s surprise announcement came after the latest meeting between opec and Russia had agreed to keep output steady. Oil prices soared, pushing Brent crude to above $54 a barrel for the first time since March.