Tuesday, May 9, 2017

German exports at record high; Apple valued at $800bn; First luxury mall in socialist Cuba

1 German exports at record high (Xinhua) German exports reached a record high in March, the Federal Statistical Office reported. After calendar and seasonal adjustment, exports totaled 105.4 billion euros (114 billion dollars), up 0.4 percent compared with February, while imports rose by 2.4 percent to 85.8 billion euros.

The foreign trade balance recorded a surplus of 19.6 billion euros. German exports surged 10.8 percent and imports jumped 14.7 percent in March year-on-year. Both exports and imports reached record heights.

European Union remains the largest importer of ‘Made in Germany’ goods in the reported month. German foreign trade imbalance draws wide criticism, as other countries accuse the EU largest economy has done little to boost domestic demand.

2 Apple shares at new high (The Guardian) With US markets moving higher, Apple has hit another peak, adding 1% to more than $154 a share and valuing the iPhone company at more than $800bn.

The company has crossed that barrier despite falling iPhone sales, which has been put down to consumers waiting for the next model to be launched later this year. And analysts at US broker Drexel Hamilton believe the company’s shares could climb even further, putting a target value on the business of $1trn.

3 First luxury mall in socialist Cuba (San Francisco Chronicle) In the heart of the capital of a nation founded on ideals of social equality, the business arm of the Cuban military has transformed a century-old shopping arcade into a temple to conspicuous capitalism.

With the first Cuban branches of L'Occitane, Mont Blanc and Lacoste, the Manzana de Gomez mall has become a sociocultural phenomenon since its opening a few weeks ago, with Cubans wandering wide-eyed through its polished-stone passages.

Older Cubans are stunned at the sight of goods worth more than a lifetime's state salary. Teenagers and young adults pose for Facebook photos in front of store windows, throwing victory signs in echoes of the images sent by relatives in Miami, who pose grinning alongside 50-inch TV sets and luxury convertibles.

The Cuban armed forces' business arm has become the nation's biggest retailer, importer and hotelier since Gen. Raul Castro became president in 2008. A few blocks away, working-class Cubans live in decaying apartments on streets clogged by uncollected trash. With state incomes devastated by long-term stagnation and inflation, there's barely money for food, let alone home repairs or indulgences.

With its economy in recession and longstanding oil aid from Venezuela in doubt, the Cuban government appears torn between the need for market-based reforms and the fear of social inequality that would spawn popular dissatisfaction and calls for political change.

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