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UK inflation rose to 1.2% in November, up from 0.9% in October, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index. The November figure was the highest rate since October 2014, when it stood at 1.3%.
Increases in the prices of clothing, fuel and hotel and restaurant charges were behind the slightly higher than expected rise. Those increases were partly offset by falls in air fares and food and non-alcoholic drinks. The Bank of England expects inflation to continue to rise during 2017 to 2.7% and remain above the 2% target until 2020.
UK unemployment falls again
UK unemployment fell by 16,000 to 1.62 million in the three months to October, according to the Office for National Statistics. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.8% in the period, remaining at 111-year low. Average weekly earnings excluding bonuses rose by 2.6% in the year to October – slightly higher than the previous month. In total, there were 31.76 million people in work, which was “slightly down on the record set recently”, said ONS senior statistician David Freeman. The UK continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the European Union.
US raises key interest rate by 0.25% on strengthening economy
The US Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate by 0.25%, only the second increase in a decade. The central bank voted unanimously to raise the key rate to a range of 0.5% to 0.75%, citing a stronger economic growth and rising employment. But the central bank said it expected the economy to need only “gradual” increases in the short term.
The Fed also published its economic forecasts for the next three years. These suggest that the Federal Funds rate may rise to 1.4% next year; 2.1% in 2018; and 2.9% in 2019. GDP growth will rise to 2.1% next year and stay there, more or less, during those years. The unemployment rate will fall to 4.5% over the 2017-2019 period, the Fed forecast. And inflation will rise to 1.9% next year and hover at that level for the next two years.
The US government has proposed a rule which would require all new light vehicles in the US to be able to “talk” to each other to avoid crashes, within as little as five years. The move comes at a time when the federal government is trying to work out a framework of rules to regulate technology that does everything from helping humans drive cars, to technology that fully automates the driving process and removes devices such as steering wheels and gas pedals altogether. US government officials say mandating that cars should be able to “talk” to each other could prevent or mitigate the effects of as many as 80% of crashes that do not involve a driver impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Google spins out and rebrands driverless car unit as Waymo
Google’s self-driving car unit is rebranding as Waymo, as it spins out of its experimental X lab to become a standalone unit inside the Alphabet holding company. Waymo has ambitions to apply its self-driving technology to car-sharing, trucking, logistics and public transport, as well as personal-use vehicles built and sold in partnership with existing vehicle makers. The company hopes to tackle the huge “waste” in underutilised vehicles and time spent commuting, as well as reducing the 1.2m fatalities on the world’s roads every year. When the self-driving car project began eight years ago, Google was seen as an outlier, but now it is facing growing competition from both traditional carmakers and tech companies, including Uber and Apple.
The Financial Times
General Motors has delivered its first Chevrolet Bolt electric cars to three customers in Fremont, California, home to rival electric automaker Tesla’s assembly plant. This allows the Detroit automaker to claim first place in the race to deliver an electric car that can run for more than 200 miles on a charge and has a starting price below $40,000. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has promised its entry in this new segment, the Model 3, will go into production in July. Some analysts, though, expect the Model 3 will miss that target. The Chevrolet Bolt is specifically designed to be a battery-electric vehicle and could form the basis of other electric vehicles, company officials have said.
Southeast Asian ride-hailing service Grab said it had secured an investment from Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co as part of a deal to collaborate on its motorbike-hailing service, in the latest auto industry tie-up of its type. Grab said Honda had agreed to invest an undisclosed amount in the firm, and the two companies would form a partnership to develop the ride-sharing technology and related driver education programmes. Automakers such as Volkswagen, Toyota Motor Corp and General Motors also have tie-ups with ride-sharing firms to hedge against a shift in the vehicle market away from private ownership.