6 Most Important Things in Business Today

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Holiday spending rose more than expected, according to one major research group. The Wall Street Journal reported:

Fueled by high consumer confidence and a robust job market, U.S. retail sales in the holiday period rose at their best pace since 2011, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks both online and in-store spending.

Sales, excluding automobiles, rose 4.9% from Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve, compared with a 3.7% gain in the same period last year, according to the Mastercard Inc. unit, which tracks all forms of payment. E-commerce continued to drive the gains, rising 18.1%.

“Star Wars: Last Jedi” had another huge box office weekend. According to The Wall Street Journal:

As expected, Walt Disney Co.’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” continued to rule over returns, collecting an estimated $100.7 million over the four-day weekend in the U.S. and Canada. The latest blockbuster installment in the Luke Skywalker saga has collected $397.3 million in 11 days of release and is already the third-highest-grossing movie of the year at the domestic box office. “Last Jedi” has grossed more than $775 million world-wide so far.

Bitcoin traders have run into problems in Israel. According to the Financial Times:

Israeli regulator becomes latest to crack down on bitcoin

Cryptocurrency groups barred from Tel Aviv exchange as international warnings mount

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone X sales may be worse than many analysts believe. According to Bloomberg:

Analysts have lowered iPhone X shipment projections for the first quarter of next year, citing signs of lackluster demand at the end of the holiday shopping season.

Sinolink Securities Co. analyst Zhang Bin said in a report Monday that handset shipments in the period may be as low as 35 million, or 10 million less than he previously estimated. “After the first wave of demand has been fulfilled, the market now worries that the high price of the iPhone X may weaken demand in the first quarter,” Zhang wrote.

JL Warren Capital LLC said shipments will drop to 25 million units in the first quarter of 2018 from 30 million units in the fourth quarter, citing reduced orders at some Apple suppliers. The drop reflects “weak demand because of the iPhone X’s high price point and a lack of interesting innovations,” the New York-based research firm said in note to clients Friday.

The size of the Chinese economy could pass that of the United States in less than two decades, according to new research. Bloomberg reports:

In 2032, three of the four largest economies will be Asian — China, India and Japan — and, by that time, China will also have overtaken the U.S. to hold the No. 1 spot. India’s advance won’t stop there, according to the CEBR, which sees it taking the top place in the second half of the century.

Also by 2032, South Korea and Indonesia will have entered the top 10, supplanting the Group of Seven nations of Italy and Canada.

A collapse of bitcoin prices could harm the stock market. According to CNBC:

If the cryptocurrency boom goes bust, Wells Fargo Securities believes stocks could easily get dragged into the chaos.

Christopher Harvey, the firm’s head of equity strategy, is paying close attention to the unprecedented activity in what could be one of the most epic bubbles of all time.

“There is a significant amount of froth in the crypto markets. We do think that if that froth comes out, it will start to spillover,” he warned recently on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.”