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Economy

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Global shares are lower in muted trading as investors await decisions on interest rates and updates on corporate earnings reports from around the world. The Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates, expected Wednesday, will provide insight into whether the U.S. central bank will further ease its aggressive stance on fighting inflation. In a positive sign, the IMF said the global outlook has grown slightly brighter as China eases its zero-COVID policies and economies show surprising resilience in the face of high inflation, elevated interest rates and Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine. A survey showed Chinese factory activity rebounded in January, adding to signs the world’s second-largest economy might be recovering from its painful slump.

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Asian shares are mostly lower in muted trading as investors await decisions on interest rates and on earnings reports from around the world. Traders were awaiting the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates, expected on Wednesday. They are also watching for indicators on the Chinese economy, the region’s key engine for growth. Benchmarks fell in Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Stocks fell on Wall Street ahead of a week full of potentially market-moving events. The S&P 500 dropped 1.3%. Several of the biggest U.S. companies will report their earnings this week. The monthly U.S. jobs report arrives Friday.

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For all the sound and fury about raising the nation's debt limit, most economists say federal borrowing is not at a crisis point. At least, not yet. The national debt is nonetheless at the core of a dispute about how to raise the government’s legal borrowing authority. That issue could come to a head this summer if the government runs out of accounting maneuvers to keep paying its bills. The political jousting masks a tough reality: Today’s $31.4 trillion national debt does not appear to be a weight on the U.S. economy, but its path in the decades to come might put at risk national security and major programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

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Stocks closed higher on Wall Street, marking the market's third winning week in the last four. The S&P 500 rose 0.2% Friday after giving up most of an earlier gain. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.9%, and the Dow ended up about 0.1%. American Express helped lead the way. It jumped after giving a profit forecast that topped expectations. Next week could be even busier for markets. The Federal Reserve is expected to announce its latest increase to interest rates. A report on Friday showed that inflation is continuing to cool, raising hopes for a smaller increase that's less painful.

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Asian shares have advanced, boosted by a rally on Wall Street following reports suggesting the economy and corporate profits may be doing better than feared. Markets remained closed in Shanghai for the Lunar New Year holidays. In Tokyo, data showed the core consumer price index was up 4.3%, slightly higher than expected at 4.2%, and higher than the Bank of Japan’s target of 2%. On Thursday, Wall Street stocks climbed to their highest level in nearly eight weeks after the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9% annual pace in the last quarter, ending 2022 with momentum despite higher interest rates and widespread fears of a looming recession.

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The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9% annual pace from October through December, ending 2022 with momentum despite the pressure of high interest rates and widespread fears of a looming recession. Thursday’s government estimate showed that the nation’s gross domestic product — the broadest gauge of economic output — decelerated last quarter from the 3.2% annual growth rate it had posted from July through September. Most economists think the economy will slow further in the current quarter and slide into at least a mild recession by midyear. The economy got a boost last quarter from resilient consumer spending and the restocking of supplies by businesses. Federal government spending also helped lift GDP.

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The second consecutive quarter of economic growth that the government reported Thursday underscored that the nation isn’t in a recession despite high inflation and the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes. Yet the U.S. economy is hardly in the clear. The solid growth last quarter will do little to alter the widespread view of economists that a recession is likely sometime this year. For now, the economy expanded at a 2.9% annual rate in the fourth quarter, though some of the underlying figures weren’t as healthy. Consumer spending, for example, grew at a slower pace than in the previous quarter, and business investment was weak. So what is the likelihood of a recession?

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Asian stock markets are mixed amid hopes Western economies can avoid a recession despite higher interest rates to cool inflation. Hong Kong and Seoul advanced. Tokyo declined. Oil prices edged higher. Markets in China, India and Australia were closed for holidays. Wall Street ended little changed after recovering from a slump early in the day. Investors are optimistic the United States and European economies can avoid a recession despite warnings by Federal Reserve and other central bank officials that rate hikes to cool economic growth and inflation will stay in place for an extended period. Investors worry that corporate profits are set to shrink broadly because of slowing economies, higher interest rates and still-high inflation.

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Stocks are higher in Asia after gains on Wall Street as investors bet the Federal Reserve will trim its rate hikes to tamp down inflation. Tokyo, Mumbai, Bangkok and Sydney advanced. Many markets in the region were still closed for Lunar New Year holidays. On Monday, the S&P 500 rose 1.2% in a broad rally led by tech companies. The Nasdaq composite jumped 2% and the Dow added 0.8%. This week Microsoft, Tesla and Boeing are among the companies that will deliver their results for the last three months of 2022. Investors expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates next week by half the size of prior hikes.

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At the midpoint of President Joe Biden’s first term, he deserves a solid “A” for turning the economy around, getting the pandemic and inflation under control, and encouraging a rapid transition to clean energy. No president since Lyndon Johnson has as much to show for his first two years in office. Unlike Johnson, Biden managed to push key legislation with a tiny majority in the House and the thinnest possible margin in the Senate.

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