A regulator in China criticized Alibaba for allowing fake goods to be sold on its websites. Alibaba's response broke with the usual tradition in China of kowtowing to the state, when it said the report contained "selective omissions and malicious actions."
Russia's sovereign credit was downgraded to junk by a big rating agency for the first time in a decade. Standard & Poor's said there was a "heightened risk" that Russia's economy would deteriorate because of the adverse effects of sanctions and lower revenue from cheaper oil prices. It forecast that GDP would grow on average by 0.5 percent a year in 2015-18, from an average 2.4 percent in the previous four years. Russia's finance minister complained that this was an "over- pessimistic" assessment.
At its latest meeting, the Federal Reserve suggested it would keep interest rates near zero until at least June. It also noted inflation expectations had fallen substantially in financial markets.
As Britain's political parties geared up their campaigns with 100 days to go until the general election, data showed the economy had expanded by 2.6 percent in 2014, the fastest pace since 2007. It slowed slightly in the fourth quarter, as construction contracted and manufacturing leveled off.
The price of iron ore dropped sharply again, falling to $62.70 a ton, a five-and-a-half-year low. The main reason is weak demand in China, the world's biggest producer of steel. Its steelmakers have boosted exports to try to offset lower domestic consumption.
Meanwhile, Shanghai became the first big city in China to abandon its GDP growth target. Many regional officials have risen up the ranks in the past for pushing rapid development, but with the national economy slowing the focus now is on "structural optimization" and "quality and efficiency," according to Shanghai's mayor. The city's economy grew by 7 percent last year.
Dubai airport claimed it overtook Heathrow to become the world's busiest international hub last year, with 70.5 million international passengers passing through its terminals. That beat Heathrow, which recently said 68.1 million international passengers had arrived at the airport in 2014. Extensive repairs to Dubai's runways over the summer had been expected to prevent the Emirati airport from soaring above its London rival.
An election in Greece was won by Syriza, a far-left populist party led by Alexis Tsipras, who was sworn in as prime minister. Tsipras, who is fiercely against both austerity and economic reforms, formed a coalition government with a small far-right anti-austerity party and appointed a number of radical leftists to his Cabinet. Greek markets sank on fears that the country might be pushed out of the euro. Creditors of Greece, led by Germany, insisted they would not offer the new Greek government any debt relief or other concessions.
Fierce fighting resumed in eastern Ukraine, with rebel forces shelling the port city of Mariupol and continuing to lay siege to areas around Donetsk airport. Russia's Vladimir Putin declared the Ukrainian army was a "foreign legion" for NATO.
Around 300 survivors from Auschwitz attended a ceremony at the former Nazi concentration camp in Poland to mark the 70th anniversary of its liberation.
Chinese media reported China is planning to stage a large military parade in September to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. It would be the first such show under the leadership of Xi Jinping, and a rare event. Previous ones have been held on China's National Day, usually 10 years apart. The last was in 2009. The parade would be seen as a gesture aimed at Japan; China accuses its politicians of whitewashing the war.
Dozens of police were killed in fighting with Islamist rebels in the southern province of Maguindanao in the Philippines. Several rebels were also reportedly killed when police, searching for terror suspects, entered a village held by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. It was the bloodiest clash since the government and the rebels agreed last year to end decades of fighting.
President Obama became the first American president to attend India's Republic Day parade. He watched the military spectacle in Delhi seated next to the prime minister, Narendra Modi went out of his way to display friendship, referring to him as "Barack."
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died. He was 90. He is succeeded by King Salman, his half brother. Dignitaries and world leaders traveled to the kingdom to pay their respects, including Obama. But in Britain, human-rights groups criticized the government for ordering flags to be flown at half-staff on government buildings.