Business Briefs – December 30, 2015

How to Spend $5 Trillion: A Record-Breaking Year in Deals

NEW YORK (AP) – Companies around the world spent a record $5.04 trillion on acquisitions in 2015, according to Dealogic, as slow worldwide economic growth and low interest rates pushed companies to combine forces.

Dealogic, a financial data provider, says the value of global deals soared 37 percent in 2015. The highest price tag came in November, when Pfizer and Allergan announced the biggest pharmaceutical deal in history.

Low interest rates since the Great Recession have made it cheaper for companies to borrow money to pay for acquisitions, and because the global economy only grew slowly this year, companies decided it made more sense to buy their competitors instead of trying to boost their sales on their own.

Why You Should Consider Freezing Your Credit Reports

NEW YORK (AP) – Freeze your credit reports before you get burned.

That’s the message that comes from security experts, consumer advocates and some state Attorneys General. They say more people should consider a credit freeze as a way to block identity thieves from opening new credit cards and other accounts in your name. They recommend a freeze even if your identity hasn’t been stolen.

There are some downsides to a credit freeze to consider — it blocks you from opening new lines of credit, so if you plan to take out a mortgage or apply for a new credit card you’ll need to remember to unfreeze it each time, which may involve a fee.

Russia’s Ruble Hits Lowest Level in a Year

MOSCOW (AP) – The Russian ruble has hit its lowest level in a year against the dollar as the country’s economy is battered by a decline in the price of its oil exports.

The ruble dropped 1.3 percent in early morning trading on Wednesday to 73.2 rubles per dollar, its weakest level in about 12 months. The national currency lost 40 percent of its value last year and is now 20 percent down compared to a year ago.

The Russian economy has been suffering from the effects of Western economic sanctions and oil prices, the backbone of the country’s economy, which are currently hovering around 11-year lows.