WAGE GROWTH IN THE UK OUTPACES INFLATION
UK wage growth slowed from the 2.8% rate seen in the three months to November.That still outpaced the rise in household prices, but the gap between them narrowed, figures show. Annual inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) reached 1.8% last month, up from a rate of 1.6% in December. UK unemployment fell by 7,000 to 1.6 million people, and the rate is now at its lowest in over a decade, but wage growth remains subdued by historical standards. Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, agreed: “With inflation forecast to hit 2.8% early next year, a deceleration in pay growth could see real wages fall at some stage.” However, Mr Brettell added that the UK jobs market had remained resilient, despite warnings it would be hit by the Brexit vote. “Continued moderate growth in employment has led to a new high in the total employment rate, while the rate for women has reached 70% for the first time on record,” said ONS senior statistician David Freeman. “Overall, the labour market appears to be edging towards full capacity,” he added.
EU PARLIAMENT APPROVED FREE TADE DEAL WITH CANADA
EU lawmakers backed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) by 408-254 votes despite protesters tried to block access to the European Parliament ahead of the vote. What does CETA bring? In numbers, 98% of tariffs between the EU and Canada would be eliminated, and €500 million is an amount that EU exporters would save in duties annually. However, parts of the deal such as tariff reduction, will come into force eight years after negotiations began. But other, more controversial aspects of the deal, such as the investor court system, will require ratification by EU member states which could take years. CETA’S future was put in temporary doubt last October, when after seven years of talks the small Belgian region of Wallonia vetoed the deal until an addendum was added addressing concerns over the rights of farmers and governments. The result was celebrated by backers of the deal, including Jyrki Katainen, European Commission vice-president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness. But opponents – such as Guido Tallman, a campaigner for the UK group Global Justice UK – pointed out that its full implementation would require ratification by dozens of regional and national parliaments.
FACEBOOK ABOUT TO RELEASE A TV APP
Facebook is to roll out an app that lets users watch the platform’s video content on television. The announcement is in line with Facebook’s increasing focus on video which could allow it to eventually compete with YouTube and traditional television channels for advertising revenue. Users with Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV and Samsung’s Smart TVs will be able to watch Facebook’s user-generated videos directly on their televisions. The only screen Facebook doesn’t dominate right now is the biggest one in your home. The company’s decision to launch these TV apps, which we have been expecting for some time now, is the first significant step the company has made to build its challenge to the likes of Netflix and Hulu. To do that it will need to offer programmes that are of a far higher quality than what is on Facebook right now. That will require big investment in getting top talent to make Facebook-only video. The company has recently been paying creators for exclusive premium video content, and is heavily promoting the Facebook Live feature that allows users to live stream events. Facebook says the standalone app will be released “soon”.