World News in Brief: January 7

Chinese authorities have released a circular to further optimize medical insurance policies to ease the financial burden of COVID-19 patients.
Norway replaced Russia as Germany's biggest gas supplier in 2022, accounting for 33 percent of its total gas imports, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) said on Friday.
Norway replaced Russia as Germany's biggest gas supplier in 2022, accounting for 33 percent of its total gas imports, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) said on Friday.

* The US House of Representatives elected Congressman Kevin McCarthy as speaker early Saturday morning after a historic deadlock that kept the lower chamber from being fully functional days after the new Congress convened.

* Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday he would travel to Papua New Guinea this week in a bid to boost bilateral ties and aid "friendship" in the Pacific region.

* Russia's defence ministry said on Saturday its forces in Ukraine would maintain a ceasefire it unilaterally declared in honour of Orthodox Christmas until midnight, despite Ukraine rejecting the truce offer.

* South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), has resolved to change some of its policies to grow the economy at a faster pace and create jobs, the party's Secretary General Fikile Mbalula said Friday.

* Palestine on Friday rejected and condemned the Israeli retaliatory sanctions imposed on the Palestinians.

* US and Mexican immigration officials are set to meet in El Paso Saturday, the day before US President Joe Biden's first visit to the border since taking office, Mexico's immigration institute said Friday.

* Brazil’s new President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Friday it was possible for the country to develop responsibly, as he sought to calm market jitters about the potential for rampant social spending under his watch.

* Pushed by higher energy and fertilizer prices stemming from the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, global food prices were 14.3 percent higher in 2022 than a year earlier, the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Friday.

* Reduced working hours and more flexible working time arrangements, such as those used during the COVID-19 crisis, can bring benefits for economies, businesses and workers, such as greater productivity and improved work-life balance, a new report released by the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Friday found.

* Wall Street's major averages rallied on Friday as investors reacted positively to the December US jobs report.

* Canada's employment rose by 104,000 in December and the unemployment rate declined to 5 percent, Statistics Canada said Friday.

* Indian authorities have moved nearly 200 people from their homes in the Himalayan town of Joshimath, an official said on Saturday, after hundreds of buildings in the area popular with pilgrims and tourists developed cracks due to shifting soil.

* The Marapi volcano in Indonesia's West Sumatra province erupted for about 45 seconds on Saturday, throwing ash up to 300 meters above its peak, according to the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation.

* Residents in the central and southern Philippines are bracing for more rain that can trigger flooding and landslides in these areas this weekend, the state weather bureau warned on Saturday.