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Global markets take a step back

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Stocks fell around the world on Wednesday as investors turned more cautious over stretched valuations and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the dollar rose on its safe-haven appeal. Stocks in the United States added to losses after the Federal Reserve left its key rate near zero and made no change to its monthly bond purchases, while flagging a potential slowdown in the pace of the economic recovery. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.05%, the S&P 500 lost 2.57% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.61%.

European stocks tumbled on Wednesday as extended coronavirus lockdowns drove the German government to slash its growth forecast for 2021, while talk of further interest rate cuts by the European Central Bank hit banking stocks. After holding largely unchanged in morning trade, the pan-European STOXX 600 fell into the red and closed down 1.2% – its biggest single-day percentage fall in over five weeks.

Maltese markets meanwhile ended little changed with the MSE Equity Total Return Index slipping 0.06 percent to 8,263.684 points. Malta Properties Company Plc posted the largest gain with shares up 3.92 percent at €0.53 however those gains were offset by RS2 Software Plc which dropped 2.91 percent to €2.00.

Apple breaks record for smartphone shipments

Apple Inc’s smartphone shipments jumped 22% to record levels in the fourth quarter, making it the world’s biggest seller, while those for Huawei plunged as U.S. sanctions took effect. An expanded number of models and a new look for the iPhone 12 lineup, Apple’s first 5G-enabled devices, tapped pent up demand for upgrades, especially in China.

The data comes on the heels of Apple reporting record holiday quarter sales on Wednesday, with overall revenue crossing $100 billion for the first time. Revenue in Greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, surged 57%.As is often the case in the fourth quarter when it launches new products, Apple took the top spot from Samsung Electronics. The South Korean firm saw a 6.2% year-on-year increase to 73.9 million devices, giving it market share of 19.1%.

Source: Reuters

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