Facebook data; Central banks in focus; SoftBank soars

1. Facebook data: Germany’s anti-trust office has ruled that Facebook is abusing its dominant position in social media by combining data from other sources such as Instagram, WhatsApp and third party websites to build a unique profile of each user.

In future, Facebook will have to seek German users’ explicit consent to collect and combine such data. “Facebook is to develop proposals for solutions to this effect,” the Bundeskartellamt said in a statement.

Facebook said it disagreed with the conclusions of the investigation and intended to appeal.

“Using information across services helps to make them better and protect people’s safety,” the company said in a statement.

2. Central banks in focus: India’s central bank cut interest rates Thursday for the first time in six months.

The move by the Reserve Bank of India was unexpected — two-thirds of economists polled by Reuters had predicted the bank would keep rates unchanged.

The bank cited a drop in inflation, lower oil prices and a global economic slowdown as factors behind its decision.

With just 50 days to go until Brexit is due to happen, the Bank of England will announce a rate decision and release its assessment of the UK economy at 7 a.m. ET. Governor Mark Carney will hold a press conference at 7:30 a.m.

More worrying economic news came from the eurozone on Thursday. The European Commission slashed its forecast for growth in the eurozone this year to 1.3% from 1.9%.

At the same time, latest data from Germany revealed the country’s industrial production declined in December, increasing fears that the biggest economy in Europe might have slipped into recession.

“Three weeks ago, the Federal Statistics Office said that they thought Q4 GDP was ‘a small plus’, but that may now have to be revised to ‘a small minus’,” said

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