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Luxury spending slump hit Chanel's 2015 profit and sales. By Pascale Denis and Toby Sterling| PARIS/AMSTERDAM PARIS/AMSTERDAM French luxury goods maker Chanel was hit hard by the luxury spending slump last year, leading to a sharp drop in profit and sales, according to figures filed with the Amsterdam exchange. Chanel International BV said operating profit in the year to Dec. 31 fell 23 percent to $1.6 billion on revenue some 17 percent lower to $6.24 billion. Controlled by secretive billionaires Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, Chanel is one of the world's biggest luxury brands alongside LVMH's (LVMH.PA) Louis Vuitton. Chanel declined to say what businesses and regions were included in the figures and refused to comment on them.

By comparison, Louis Vuitton, which also does not publish separate numbers, makes an estimated 8 billion euros in annual sales. In France, Chanel filed numbers for its cosmetics and perfume businesses that showed revenue last year reached 2.6 billion euros ($2.91 billion), down 21 percent against the previous year. Why Americans Aren't Shopping | Intelligence | BoF.

NEW YORK, United States — The US economy hasn’t looked as bright since before the dark days of the Great Recession. In April 2016, the unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent. The same month, 160,000 new jobs were created. (Less than projected and slower than in recent cycles, but still double than what is needed to keep up with population growth, according to economists.) Gas is also delightfully cheap. And while Federal interest rates rose in December 2015 — from a range of 0 percent to 0.25 percent to a range of 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent — in March 2016, the Federal Reserve announced that it would halt plans to raise rates further, due to overall weakness in the global economy, a move that would be expected to boost borrowing — and spending. But while personal income and disposable income increased by 0.4 percent in March, consumer spending inched up just 0.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Fashion retailers have certainly been feeling the squeeze. In Japan, Luxury Flourishes While Economy Flounders | Global Currents | BoF. LONDON, United Kingdom — Japan’s economy is struggling. Despite the efforts of prime minister Shinzo Abe, in 2015, Japan’s economy grew at an anaemic rate of 1 to 1.5 percent, according to data provided by the World Economic Forum. Since the global financial crisis, Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, has fallen into recession three times. In November, household spending fell for the third month in a row.

And more turbulence came in January, when Japan’s central bank shocked world markets by adopting negative interest rates, in a bid to dodge deflation by forcing more borrowing and boost Japan’s export-sensitive economy by weakening the yen. And yet, for the past few years, Japan has been a consistent champion in the global market for luxury goods. In the year ended 31 December 2015, LVMH sales in Japan jumped 13 percent, outperforming the conglomerate’s sales growth in Europe and the US, as well as the rest of Asia, where sales fell 5 percent. Britain Now World's Cheapest Luxury Market | News & Analysis | BoF. LONDON, United Kingdom — In the wake of Britain's vote to leave the EU, which pushed down the value of the pound about 10 percent against the euro, the country has become the cheapest luxury goods market in the world, helping to buoy British luxury labels, at least in the short term, according to new research by Luca Solca, the head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas.

"The Brexit vote has made the UK the cheapest market in the world for luxury goods,” Solca told BoF. “A weak British pound will boost travel inflows to the UK, helping British luxury goods players like Burberry, Mulberry and Jimmy Choo. " While luxury goods companies are not expected to raise prices in the UK in the coming months — at least until there is more clarity around exactly when and how the country might exit the EU — Britain should see a boost from tourist inflows and spending due to its weakened currency.

Fast fashion online business have made a fortune for owners of businesses like Zara — Quartz. In its first seven years of existence, Uber has irked cities, flouted regulators, and petrified whole industries. It has yet to make money but is worth a fifth more than BMW and almost a third more than General Motors, both the owners of tons of futuristic technology, tens of billions of dollars in capital equipment, and big profits. In recent deals resembling famous speculative bubbles, rich investors eager for a piece of this juggernaut have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into custom funds that provide exposure to Uber but no equity or financial disclosure.

Which is to say that investors have made a one-way, uber-bullish bet on Uber, forecasting that the company will be at the center of an utter transformation of our collective lifestyle. If not everyone is betting on it, they’re at least not betting against it. Even if you wanted to short Uber, it is generally thought impossible to do. But what if the consensus has miscalculated? There is logic to this view. Consider GM. The Hidden Gem in Tiffany’s Outlook: Access to Cheaper Diamonds | News & Analysis | BoF.

NEW YORK, United States — Tiffany & Co. is suffering from currency fluctuations and a jittery global economy, but there’s one definite bright spot for the luxury jeweller: lower diamond prices. The cost of commodities like gems and metals is declining, which will help bolster gross margins, the New York-based company said on a conference call Friday. Lower metal expenses have already driven an improvement in profitability, and the benefits from cheaper diamonds will show up in results next year, Tiffany said. The shift could add 3 percentage points to margins, bringing a multiyear tailwind to the jeweler, according to Jefferies analyst Randal Konik. That’s helping the company cope with challenges on several fronts.

Tourism spending is down, the strong U.S. dollar is crimping sales, and demand for luxury goods overseas has been sluggish. Comparable sales — a closely watched measure — fell 5 percent globally in the fourth quarter, excluding currency fluctuations.