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Headlines
• Germany blocks use of AstraZeneca vaccine for the over 65s
• Sales at Apple up 21% in Q4
• US economy shrinks 3.5%
• UK car production falls 29.3% YoY
• Global debt reached 98% of global GDP, IMF

World news

• The number of new cars built in the UK last year was 920,928 vehicles, a 29.3% fall on 2019, the lowest total since 1984.

• The Fiscal Monitor projected global government gross debt as a share of GDP would reach 99.5% in 2021, compared to 83.5% for 2019. For G20 countries, gross debt is set to reach 109% in 2021, while debt in advanced economies is set to reach 124.9%.

• The IMF projected 2021 fiscal deficits at 8.5% for the world, 9.4% for G20 countries, and 8.8% for advanced economies.

• Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine appeared to lose only slight effectiveness against an engineered virus with three key mutations from the new coronavirus variant found in South Africa.

• The artistic swimming Olympics qualification event, due to be held in Tokyo in March, has been postponed until May.

• German authorities have blocked the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on people aged over 65. A statement by the Standing Vaccine Commission at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s main public health agency, said in a draft recommendation there were “insufficient data currently available to ascertain how effective the vaccination is above 65 years”.

• Germany is likely to face a shortage of coronavirus vaccines until at least April, the country’s health minister has warned.

• Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has denied a health ministry statement indicating that first vaccinations would have to be paused because of a lack of vaccines.

• Hospitals in parts of the Lisbon area of Portugal are struggling to cope with the influx of patients. More than 6,600 Covid patients are being treated in Portuguese hospitals and German army doctors have arrived in the capital to help.

• The US economy shrank by 3.5% last year; however, growth slowed in the last three months of the year. Output increased at an annual rate of 4% in the last three months of 2020.



Company news

Retail

Paperchase – has been bought out of administration in a deal rescuing up to 90 of its 127 stores and retaining approximately 1,000 of its 1,500 employees.



Technology

Apple – Sales in the last three months of 2020 hit more than $111bn, up 21% from the prior year. Sales in the firm’s greater China region, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, jumped 57%. In Europe, sales roles 17%, and they rose 11% in the Americas.