- Chinese GDP came in at the weakest level in 25 years but was broadly in line with consensus expectations, sending European shares sharply higher. China's growth rate decelerated to 6.8% in the fourth quarter of the last year and to 6.9% for the full year 2015. The Shanghai Composite Index jumped by 3.25%, leading Asian stocks, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was 2% up. The main three European indices -- the FTSE 100, the DAX and the CAC-40 -- all traded more than 1% up in early morning in Europe. Some commentators say the rally might be partly due to the fact that the weak data has raised hopes of more stimulus measures from China.
- Strong demand from China helped oil prices stabilize somewhat, despite fears that Iranian oil coming to the markets could depress prices even more. Preliminary oil demand data from China showed it rose to a record 10.32 million barrels per day in 2015, up 2.5% from 2014.
- However, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that oil markets will remain oversupplied at least until late this year, because of warm winter weather in the Northern hemisphere, slowing global demand and supply from Iran.
- Core operating profit at Unilever (UL) jumped by 12% last year to 7.9 billion euros ($8.6 billion) from 2014, with revenue climbing by 10% to 53.3 billion euros. Sales in emerging markets grew 7.1%, faster than the previous year's 5.7% pace of expansion.
- Swiss food giant Nestle (NSRGY) said it agreed to a partnership with China's Alibaba (BABA) to boost sales online, offer key products and build new brands.
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