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Recessions and depressions

Enticing low rates, but impact could be limited

Tempting low mortgage rates could bring re-fi wave, home buying; but maybe only so far
Marcy Gordon, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - With mortgage rates sliding for a fifth straight week, the possibility of locking in a rate below 4 per cent is tempting for consumers and could unleash a wave of refinancing. It may even convince some Americans to buy their first home.

Yet there are limits to how far the wave can extend. Millions of homeowners already re-financed in 2013, when the average 30-year mortgage rate stayed below 4 per cent until mid-year. And the overall housing market remains hampered by tight mortgage credit, rising home prices and stagnating incomes.

China economy grows at slowest pace in 5 years

China's economic growth falls to 7.3 per cent in 3Q, lowest in 5 years
Ian Mader, The Associated Press

BEIJING, China - China's economic growth waned to a five-year low of 7.3 per cent last quarter, raising concerns of a spillover effect on the global economy but falling roughly in line with Chinese leaders' plans for a controlled slowdown.

Retail sales weaken in Dec. but cap a record year

Retail sales inch up to end record year; holiday-season layoffs boost unemployment claims
Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - America's retailers enjoyed a record 2011 and their first $400 billion sales months ever. But the final month of the year was a dud.

Sales eked out a 0.1 per cent increase in December, to a seasonally adjusted $400.6 billion.

It was the second straight month that sales topped $400 billion. Revised government data showed that sales in November also surpassed that level.

Skyscraper boom may herald downturn

Pride cometh before a fall: Skyscraper boom may herald economic downturn
Erika Kinetz, The Associated Press

MUMBAI, India - A skyscraper building boom in China and India may be a sign of an impending economic correction in two of Asia's largest economies, according to a new report by Barclays Capital.

Barclays has mapped an "unhealthy correlation" between construction of the world's tallest buildings and impending financial crises over the last 140 years.

Today, China is home to half of the world's skyscrapers — defined as buildings over 240 metres tall — currently under construction.

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