U.S. economic growth slowed sharply in the fourth quarter as weak business spending and a wider trade deficit offset the fastest pace of consumer spending since 2006. The slowdown, which follows two back-to-back quarters of very strong growth, is likely to be short-lived given the enormous tailwind from lower gasoline prices.
Kiev and pro-Kremlin insurgents on Friday discussed arranging new talks after 24 people died in a wave of east Ukrainian violence that forced Europe to extend targeted sanctions against Russia. The meeting in the Belarussian capital Minsk comes with clashes in a war that has killed 5,100 people peaking after a month-long lull that instilled hopes of peace returning to the lands on European Union's eastern frontier. Rebel leaders last week pulled out of all peace talks and announced a new offensive that was followed by a rocket assault on the strategic port of Mariupol in which 31 civilians died. Local officials and the Kiev military said 19 civilians and five Ukrainian soldiers died in the latest wave of clashes across the separatist Lugansk and Donetsk regions since Thursday afternoon.