U.S. economic growth braked more sharply than initially thought in the fourth quarter amid a slow pace of stock accumulation by businesses and a wider trade deficit, but the underlying fundamentals remained solid. Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent annual pace, revised down from the 2.6 percent pace estimated last month, the Commerce Department said on Friday. With consumer spending accelerating at its quickest pace since the first quarter of 2006 and sturdy gains in other measures of domestic demand, the slowdown in growth is likely to be temporary. Growth in consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, was revised down by one-tenth of a percentage point to a 4.2 percent pace in the fourth quarter, still the fastest since the first quarter of 2006.
South Africa captain AB de Villiers hammered the second-fastest century in World Cup history as he led his side to a crushing 257-run victory over the West Indies at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday. De Villiers finished on an unbeaten 162 off just 66 balls as South Africa raced to the second-highest World Cup total of 408 for five, behind only the 413 for for five made by India against Bermuda, a non-Test nation, in Trinidad in 2007. The Proteas' skipper's innings was also the fastest 150 in ODIs and de Villiers now has the fastest fifty, hundred and 150 in ODI cricket -- all coming against the West Indies.
German lawmakers approved Greece's hard-won bailout extension Friday in a move the finance minister called "not easy" but necessary, removing the last hurdle to keep crucial international aid flowing to Athens. Despite scepticism in Europe's top economy, the four-month reprieve for Greece won overwhelming backing as expected in the lower house of parliament where Chancellor Angela Merkel's left-right coalition commands a crushing majority. Germany's deeply pro-European Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had vigorously urged MPs to approve the breathing space for debt-wracked Greece, stressing Athens must also live up to its promises.