1. German worker union wins rights to 28-hour week
German labour union IG Metall has negotiated a pact where its worker-members can opt for a 28-hour week for up to two years, for a lower salary, before returning to the standard 35-hour week. The pact covers 900,000 workers in the metals and electrical industries in a region where several top German industrial groups are based. IG Metall agreements are also seen as industry benchmarks in Germany, and similar pacts could be introduced in other sectors also. According to the International Labour Organization, of the 87 countries for which it compiled data for 2016, the mean working hours per week per employed person varied from 32 hours (Netherlands) to 50 hours (Qatar). Data for India was not available.
2. Four of seven national parties miss IT returns filing date
The combined income declared by five of the seven national political parties (excluding BJP and Congress) for 2016-17 was Rs300 crore, according to a report released by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had the highest income, of Rs174 crore. Of the seven parties, four missed the due date of filing, which was 30 October 2017. As of 7 February, the BJP and the Congress were yet to file their returns.
3. Foodtech sizzles with $100 million raise by Swiggy
The spread in the Indian foodtech space is set to get bigger, and more competitive. Food delivery leader Swiggy has raised $100 million, mostly from South African media company Naspers, in its biggest-ever funding round. This comes on the heels of a December of foodtech deals that saw Alibaba invest $200 million in Zomato, Ola buy Foodpanda for $32 million and a promise to invest more, and Swiggy buying cloud kitchen 48East. Since April 2015, Swiggy has had raised $255 million.
4. Paris Saint-Germain, the wage leader in France and Europe
French newspaper L’Equipe reported that 12 of the 13 best-paid players in the tier-I football league in France were from Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Neymar, with €3.07 million a month, led the list, earning twice as much as the second-best paid player, teammate Edinson Cavani. PSG’s hegemony illustrates the deep chasm between clubs in the same league across Europe and the French top league in particular, where PSG paid 5.7 times the French league average—more than any other top league.
5. M.S. Dhoni completes 400 scalps in ODIs
When he stumped Aiden Markram during the third one-day international between India and South Africa, Indian wicket-keeper and former captain M.S. Dhoni completed 400 dismissals in one-day internationals. Dhoni is only the fourth wicket-keeper, and the first Indian, to cross 400 dismissals in ODIs. Among the four, Dhoni has the lowest average dismissals per innings, of 1.29. But he leads all keepers in stumpings (106 dismissals), which is partly a reflection of how India uses spin bowlers much more than most teams.
6. Bitcoin dips below $6,000 mark
For the first time since November, the price of Bitcoin dipped below the $6,000 mark. In yet another week of volatile trading, regulatory ring-fencing and doomsday prediction, Bitcoin closed on 8 February at $7,739—down 60% from the high of $19,087 it hit on 17 December.
Earlier this week, Steve Strongin, head of Goldman Sachs global investment research, said in a note that cryptocurrencies did not have “intrinsic value" and that it is “unlikely" whether the digital currencies of today are likely to survive in the long run.
7. World share markets have a skittish week
Share markets across the world remained fragile, alternatively suffering big losses and recouping some gains. Overall, at the end of Thursday, most markets were in the red for the week. The Nikkei in Japan declined 8.4%, the Dow Jones in the US fell 6.5% and the BSE Sensex in India, which endured a losing streak of seven days, shed 1.9%. In a CBS interview, Janet Yellen, the outgoing chairman of the US central bank, said this about stocks and real estate: “Well, I don’t want to say too high. But I do want to say high."
8. Amazon posts record $3 billion profit in 2017
Amazon closed 2017 with a record net profit of $3 billion, a 25% growth over 2016, on a 31% increase in revenues. Of this, $1.9 billion came in the fourth quarter, which included a provisional tax benefit of $0.78 billion due to the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The profit figure underscores the financial strength Amazon has in order to absorb losses to win new markets, as it is currently trying to do outside the US, including in India. In 2017, 30% of its revenues came from international markets, where it also lost $3 billion.
9. Twitter delivers first-ever quarterly profit
Higher ad sales helped Twitter deliver its first quarterly profit and an unexpected return to revenue growth in the fourth quarter of 2017. While overall user growth trailed expectations, Twitter recorded a 12% increase in number of daily active users. Twitter was founded in 2006 and went public in 2013 at $26 a share. On Thursday, the day it declared its results, the Twitter stock closed 12% higher at $30, after hitting a high of $35 during trading.
10. India’s central bank holds interest rates for now
India’s central bank held the repo rate—a key interest rate at which it lends to commercial banks—at 6%, as expected. It’s been six months now since the rate has been at this level, which is also its lowest since November 2010. With inflation on the rise, share markets in turmoil and the US signalling higher interest rates, there wasn’t an expectation, unlike the last few times, that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the RBI would cut rates. Of the six MPC members, five voted in favour of holding rates, while one voted for a 0.25 percentage point increase.
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