Good morning. Against all the odds a tiny but highly radioactive capsule that was lost in nearly a 900-mile stretch of Western Australia has been found after almost a week-long search. The potentially deadly substance cylinder was believed to have fallen off a truck travelling between a desert mine site and the city of Perth.
Rate hikes galore
This week central banks in the UK, US and Eurozone raised base interest rates to the highest level since just before the financial crisis 15 years ago. The US Federal Reserve raised rates by 0.25% on Wednesday, followed by 0.5% increases by the Bank of England and the European Central Bank yesterday. This pace marks a slowdown from last year’s aggressive hikes, as inflation cools and unemployment levels remain low.
While raising rates to 4%, the Bank of England also delivered a more optimistic outlook on the UK economy, forecasting that a recession may be shorter and less severe than previously predicted. This means the UK is expected to return to growth next spring.
Historic energy profits
Yesterday oil giant Shell reported profits of $40bn in 2022, the highest in the company’s 115-year history. The blowout earnings during a cost-of-living crisis, driven by soaring energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sparked widespread outrage from politicians, unions and climate campaigners. It comes the day after Exxon Mobil posted annual profits of $56bn making it the most profitable year of any Western oil company ever. The astronomical earnings in the sector have made it a political target with the UK and EU levying windfall taxes on energy companies, although there are calls for this to be raised.
Year of efficiency
This week Facebook’s parent company Meta reported better-than-expected earnings thanks to cost-cutting measures, though it revealed it’s still struggling with declining ad revenue. CEO Mark Zuckerberg struck a new tone with investors dubbing 2023 the ‘year of efficiency’. He pledged that the social media giant will be leaner, more efficient and more decisive, with a big focus on artificial intelligence. Meta, whose shares have gained 27% so far this year, is on the rebound after 2022 was the worst year for its stock in history.
Royal notes ditched
Yesterday Australian authorities announced that the country’s currency would no longer feature the British monarchy on its $5 bill, the only remaining banknote with the emblem of a king or queen. Australia's central bank said it would feature an Indigenous design rather than an image of King Charles III although the king is still expected to appear on coins. Queen Elizabeth's death last year has reignited debate in Australia about its future as a constitutional monarchy. Voters narrowly chose to maintain the British monarch as its head of state in a 1999 referendum.
Early release: Netflix has mistakenly launched a set of guidelines for cracking down on password sharing to global users.
Going global: JD Sports has outlined ambitious growth plans to open up to 350 shops globally each year.
Not delivering: About 115,000 postal workers at Royal Mail are to stage a 24-hour strike on 16 February in their continuing dispute with management over pay and conditions.
Heading East: Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have announced they will return to China for the first time in three years following Beijing’s reopening.
Low tech: Apple, Amazon and Alphabet, tech giants with a combined market value of almost $5tr, posted disappointing results that show demand is weakening for electronics, e-commerce and digital advertising.
Number Of The Day
The number of users ChatGPT, the popular artificial intelligence chatbot, has reached in less than two months after launching, according to analysts.