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  • Santa rally fuelled by better Japanese outlook – business live

    Asian stock markets rise after Bank of Japan presents more upbeat view on economy

    In Russia, the rouble has strengthened 3.4% this morning, going below 60 against the dollar for the first time in days. Russia’s finance minister Anton Siluanov confirmed his ministry had been selling foreign currency. He also said the rouble would definitely firm early next year.

    Meanwhile, the Russian central bank announced that it did not intervene in the markets on Wednesday. It has spent more than $80bn defending the rouble this year.

    China has revised the size of its economy by $308.8bn – adding the equivalent of Malaysia’s economic output. This makes the debt of the world’s second-largest economy look smaller by comparison.

    China’s GDP was 58.8 trillion yuan in 2013, according to the results of a nationwide economic census. That’s 3.4% larger than before. Malaysia’s GDP was $312bn last year.

    The FTSE has opened nearly 50 points higher at 6512.11, a 0.7% rise.

    As mentioned earlier, German consumers are also more confident about their economy.

    The monthly survey by the GfK market research group shows consumer confidence rising to 9 points for January from 8.7 points in December. This is the highest reading since December 2006 when it hit 9.1 points.

    Consumers assume the economic weakness in Germany is only temporary and the domestic economy will return to the growth path in the next few months.

    The Bank of Japan held off announcing fresh measures (after unveiling a big expansion of its asset-buying programme in October) and offered a more upbeat outlook, raising hopes the third-largest economy could pull out of recession soon. Japan slipped into recession in the last quarter.

    Wrapping up a two-day meeting, the central bank said:

    Japan’s economy has continued to recover moderately as a trend ... (while) overseas economies -- mainly advanced economies - have been recovering, albeit with a lacklustre performance still seen in part. In this situation, exports have shown signs of picking up.

    Business sentiment has generally stayed at a favourable level, although some cautiousness has been observed.

    Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the financial markets, the world economy, the eurozone and business.

    The Santa rally is here. The Bank of Japan has struck a more optimistic view of the economy which bodes well for global growth, fuelling a rally in Asian stocks. Japan’s Nikkei gained 2.4% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 1.3%, following big gains on Wall Street yesterday. The Dow Jones scored a 400 point gain as concerns over a Fed interest rate hike and lower oil prices eased.

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  • Women could get combat roles in British army by 2016
    Government review gives green light for women to serve in infantry and armoured units

    Women could be allowed to serve in British army infantry and armoured units for the first time pending further research, the Ministry of Defence has announced.

    A government-commissioned review, which began earlier this year, has recommended close combat roles are opened to women.

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  • Derek Llambias appointed chief executive officer of Rangers
    • Llambias joined Rangers board in November
    • David Somers reverts to non-executive chairman
    • Rangers and Ashley accused of breaching SFA rules
    • McCoist to take charge of Rangers v Livingston

    Derek Llambias has been appointed as the chief executive officer of Rangers.

    Llambias joined the club’s board as a non-executive member on 2 November, having previously been the managing director at Newcastle under Mike Ashley, who has an 8.9% share in the Ibrox club.

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  • Gingerbread trees with clementine and ginger syrup icing – recipe
    These sticky treats will wow kids and adults alike, and the extra effort with the icing really pays off

    Biscuit-baking is in full force at this time of year. I’ve been making a veritable forest of these gingerbread trees – they are more exciting than shop-bought biscuits and cost considerably less.

    For optimum sticky gingerbread, be sure not to roll the dough too thin and keep an eye on the cooking time – too little and you’ll end up with raw gingerbread, too long and you’ll lose the bread in the gingerbread. The chopped stem ginger adds to the flavour and stickiness.

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  • Snow babies – cutest animals in the snow – in pictures

    Camilla de la Bedoyere shares some stunning pictures and amazing facts about cute baby animals in the snow!

    You can find out more in Camilla’s book Snow Babies

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  • Hellman’s owner Unilever cracks over egg-free Just Mayo lawsuit
    Anglo-Dutch firm drops legal claim that rival’s use of ‘mayo’ amounted to false advertising as mayonnaise must contain egg

    The owners of Hellman’s mayonnaise have dropped a lawsuit claiming another company should stop selling a product under the name Just Mayo because it does not contain eggs.

    The Unilever company originally filed suit against Hampton Creek, a small California company, on the basis that the name Just Mayo amounted to false advertising because being egg-free meant it could not be defined as mayonnaise.

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