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Britons spent 1.1 billion pounds shopping online on "Black Friday" last week, an increase of 36 percent on the previous year, according to an estimate published by retail researcher Experian-IMRG. The sales promotion day, a concept first imported from the United States in 2010, was much more of an online event this year compared to last as shoppers opted to use websites rather than visit physical stores. Online retailer Amazon UK, John Lewis [JLPLC.UL] [JLP.UL], Britain's biggest department store chain, and Dixons Carphone, Britain's largest electrical goods and mobile phone chain, all said Friday was their biggest-ever single day's trade.
The International Monetary Fund welcomed China's yuan into its elite reserve currency basket on Monday, recognizing the ascendance of the Asian power in the global economy. The yuan, also known as the renminbi, will join the US dollar, euro, Japanese yen and British pound next year in the basket of currencies the IMF uses as an international reserve asset. The move by the IMF executive board, representing the institution's 188 member nations, solidifies China's ambition to see the yuan achieve global status as one of the world's top currencies.
Syria on Monday denied ever using chemical weapons in its four-year-old civil war, telling a global watchdog it was cooperating fully with the destruction of its toxic stockpile. Damascus's rebuttal comes amid growing accusations it is not being transparent with the world's chemical watchdog and as United Nations efforts are stepped up to track down the perpetrators of deadly chlorine gas attacks in the war-torn country last year. "We wish here to state categorically that we have never used chlorine or any other toxic chemicals during any incidents or any other operations in the Syrian Arab Republic since the beginning of the crisis and up to this very day," Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Moqdad told the annual meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).