China plans to set a lower economic growth target of 6-6.5 percent in 2019 compared with last year’s target of “around” 6.5 percent, policy sources told Reuters, as Beijing gears up to cope with higher U.S. tariffs and weakening domestic demand.he proposed target, to be unveiled at the annual parliamentary session in March, was endorsed by top leaders at the annual closed-door Central Economic Work Conference in mid-December.

The Chinese government in Tibet said it will boost numbers and cut waiting times for foreign tourists visiting the highly restricted region, amid renewed pressure from the United States for greater access for U.S. officials and journalists.



Big British banks have been criticized by lawmakers for pressing ahead with plans for a new complaints service for small firms wronged by lenders, which they argue is too soft.UK Finance, a City of London trade body, is setting up and funding the new service which be capable of resolving disputes and paying awards of up to 600,000 pounds ($765,600).This initiative follows a decade of campaigning by small businesses which have complained they were mistreated by their banks in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.



The dollar fell versus its major peers on Friday, as investors grew increasingly confident that the U.S. Federal Reserve may hit the pause button on monetary tightening this year.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Thursday stressed again that the U.S. central bank can be patient in approving any further rate increases as officials gauge whether the U.S. economy will slow this year, as some in financial markets worry, or continue motoring ahead as the Fed itself expects.Foreign central banks’ holdings of U.S. Treasuries at the Federal Reserve rose, rebounding from a near 17-month low.

U.S. officials expect China’s top trade negotiator may visit Washington this month, signaling that higher-level discussions are likely to follow this week’s talks with mid-level officials in Beijing as the world’s two largest economies try to hammer out a deal to end a tit-for-tat tariff war.


  • IRAN

Iran will see its crude exports severely curtailed for a third month in January as it is struggling to find new buyers amid fresh U.S. sanctions even though its traditional customers secured waivers.Iran’s crude exports in November plummeted to below 1 million barrels per day, from regular sales of 2.5 million bpd before sanctions were imposed in May, and taking them back to where they stood during the previous round of sanctions in 2012-2016.Buyers said plunging exports in November, which will severely hit the Islamic Republic’s budget revenues, were caused by a total lack of clarity of what volumes they were allowed to purchase under the new U.S. sanctions.



Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke about the USMCA deal in a televised question-and-answer session with an audience in Regina in the western province of Saskatchewan late-Thursday. We have already been working with members of Congress, with governors, with business interests who are being affected negatively by these tariffs to put pressure on the President that in the process of ratification, they (the United States) should remove those steel and aluminum tariffs.


  • ASIA

Asian stocks inched up to five-week highs on Friday, after Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated the Federal Reserve will be patient about raising interest rates and news that trade talks between Washington and Beijing are moving to higher levels.As the Fed’s dovish stance kept a lid on the dollar, China’s yuan rose to its highest levels in more than five months and was on course for its biggest weekly gains since the 2005 revaluation in onshore trade.MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.2 percent to the highest levels since Dec. 6, while Japan’s benchmark Nikkei advanced 0.7 percent. Shanghai Composite Index initially rose 0.8 percent, but that was pared to just 0.1 percent.



Australian dollar climbed to its highest level since December 14 this morning after Australia’s retail sales for November came in above forecast. Sales rose 0.4% m/m, up from 0.3% growth in October and beating economists’ estimates of a 0.3% gain. November’s expansion was the fastest in five months. The Australian Bureau of Statistics noted outperformance by the household goods and clothing categories, both of which were impacted by strong promotional activities, including Black Friday.



Japan's government said on Friday it will amend the calculation of workers' compensation in the nation's gross domestic product and probably revise its draft budget after it understated wages data for more than a decade due to faulty polling methods.The revisions are not expected to change the pace of economic growth. All the same, it is an embarrassment for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, because his government has enacted several policies to eliminate the risk of deflation by encouraging wages to rise.


  • GOLD

Gold prices climbed on Friday as the dollar fell back on expectations the U.S. central bank may pause interest rates hikes if the U.S. economy slows this year, while investors awaited news on progress in the Sino-U.S. trade talks.Spot gold rose 0.4 percent to $1,290.84 per ounce as at 0310 GMT, heading for a fourth straight weekly gain.

The yellow metal is up 0.4 percent so far this week.U.S. gold futures were up 0.3 percent at $1,290.8 per ounce.The weaker dollar and a more dovish Fed are the two most alluring factors for gold.


  • OIL

Oil slipped on Friday amid concerns over the outlook for the global economy, but output cuts agreed by major exporters underpinned crude prices and kept markets on track for a strong weekly climb.International Brent crude futures were at $61.55 per barrel at 0333 GMT, down 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close.U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures dropped 7 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $52.52 per barrel.Traders said the declines came on lingering concerns over the health of the global economy.Despite Friday’s price falls, Brent and WTI are set for weekly gains of more than 7 and 8 percent respectively.



Bitcoin and other major digital coin prices tumbled on Friday in Asia, reporting double-digit 24-hour losses in a sudden market meltdown. The crypto market cap dropped to US$122 billion, losing around US$17 billion, or 13%. Bitcoin plummeted 12% to $3,576.4, losing its grip on the US$4,000 level that it had kept during the first week of this year. Meanwhile, Ethereum lost 18.9% to $125.20, XRP dropped 17.1% to $0.32244, and  Litecoin lost?19.7% to $32.321.