Global business

Complicating the outlook for interest rates, new figures showed that U.S. unemployment is now roughly at the Federal Reserve's estimate of its "natural rate," which stands at 5 to 5.2 percent. If unemployment falls much further, the Fed's models predict that wage growth and inflation will accelerate.

Puerto Rico presented a five-year plan to restructure its $72 billion debt. As well as proposing cuts to public spending under the auspices of an independent board, the plan asks creditors to accept a "consensual compromise" that will force them to take a haircut on the bonds they hold, including on general-obligation bonds that hitherto were considered safer bets.

Standard & Poor's cut Brazil's credit rating to "junk" status. The economy has plunged into recession in part because commodity and energy companies have curtailed investment in response to weaker commodity prices. The downgrade is another headache for the government, which is also trying to tackle rising prices and high unemployment.

Oil prices pared back some of their recent gains when Russia scotched speculation that it would coordinate with OPEC to lower oil production and ease a worldwide glut that has caused the price of oil to plummet.

Tesco, Britain's biggest supermarket retailer, also took action to pay down its net debt, which stood at $13 billion in its latest fiscal year. It is selling its operations in South Korea to a private-equity consortium led by MBK Partners, which, at $6.1 billion is South Korea's biggest private-equity deal.

Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong's richest man, carried out another big restructuring of his empire by merging two companies in a $12 billion transaction. The deal frees up a mountain of cash for Li to make acquisitions as part of his pivot toward Europe.

Jeff Smisek resigned as the boss of United Airlines as a federal investigation began into whether the carrier had reinstated flights on a loss-making route to curry favor with New Jersey's port authority, in exchange for improvements to Newark's airport.

Political economy

With strong support from Germany and France, and opposition from east European governments, the European Commission proposed a mandatory quota system that distributes refugees among the E.U.'s member states. An initial intake will number 160,000 though the figure is expected to rise.

The National Front, a far-right party in France, was charged with defrauding the state over expense claims for elections in 2012. Its leader, Marine Le Pen, has been riding high in the polls for months after attacking her opponents over corruption claims.

Queen Elizabeth II's reign reached its 23,226th day, surpassing the record set by Queen Victoria as Britain's longest-serving monarch. Prince Charles already holds the record, at age 66, for oldest heir to the throne.