France Wants Joint Banking-Union Proposals With Germany in March

France and Germany aim to put forward joint proposals in March for completing Europe’s union on bank regulation and capital markets, as well as a common corporate tax base, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Thursday.

The idea would then be to expand the agreement to all euro-area states by June, he added.

“The Franco-German couple must be the motor but the project is open to others,” Le Maire said at a press conference with German counterpart Peter Altmaier. “It’s a timetable that can be counted in weeks. The day there will be a Franco-German position on these three subjects will inspire others.”


Aramco CEO Says the Oil Giant Is Ready for IPO

Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is ready for its initial public offering in the second half, with the government yet to decide where to list the shares, Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser said.

The kingdom will decide where the stock will be traded, not the company, Nasser said Thursday at Aramco headquarters in Dhahran, in eastern Saudi Arabia. One option being considered is selling the shares locally and then overseas, he said. There is no short list of possible exchanges and talks are ongoing to decide on bank roles, he said.

Amin NasserPhotographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg
“We are ready and prepared for the IPO in the second half of the year,” Nasser said. “We can list at home and abroad at the same time but it’s not our decision. We are waiting for the government to tell us where to list so that we prepare for the venue.”


New President Plans Zimbabwe Revival by Restoring Economy, Democracy

Zimbabwe’s new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has a plan to revive one of the world’s worst-performing economies and ends its isolation: pay compensation to white farmers whose land was confiscated, sell bonds to rebuild infrastructure and hold internationally acceptable elections.

It’s a tall order for a man who served more than half a century at the side of former President Robert Mugabe and was a key figure in a government that oversaw an economy that halved in size since 2000 and the collapse of the agricultural industry. Yet, Mnangagwa, a 75-year-old former spy chief, remains optimistic he can win lender support and tap international capital markets.

“Can we not do it? We think we should do it,” he said of a potential bond sale in an interview Thursday in Harare, the capital. He wore a gray suit in an office decorated with photographs of himself as a young man and a crocodile-themed mug, a reference to his nickname earned during the liberation war against white-minority ruled Rhodesia. “We really need a substantial investment in the productive economy.”


As Trump Shreds Global Trade Deals, Xi Basks in ‘Davos Man’ Role

If one needed a reminder of how surreal the globalization debate has become in recent years, look no further than the talking salons of Davos.

Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, whose countries account for about 40 percent of the global economy, are offering competing visions for the future of global trade, capital flows and economic integration in this age of widening income inequality and populist angst.

In an historic role reversal, it’s the leader of the Chinese Communist Party who has emerged as a defender of the Davos consensus, last year using his speech in the Swiss ski resort to defend globalization. And it’s an American president -- the main event this year -- insisting his country’s economic interests take precedence over gauzy visions of a more inter-connected world.


Hackers Have Walked Off With About 14% of Big Digital Currencies

Digital currencies and the software developed to track them have become attractive targets for cybercriminals while also creating a lucrative new market for computer-security firms.

In less than a decade, hackers have stolen $1.2 billion worth of Bitcoin and rival currency Ether, according to Lex Sokolin, global director of fintech strategy at Autonomous Research LLP. Given the currencies’ explosive surge at the end of 2017, the cost in today’s money is much higher.

“It looks like crypto hacking is a $200 million annual revenue industry,” Sokolin said. Hackers have compromised more than 14 percent of the Bitcoin and Ether supply, he said.


Markets

DOW JONES INDUS. AVG
26,017.80 -97.84 -0.37%
S&P 500 INDEX
2,798.03 -4.53 -0.16%
NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX
7,296.05 -2.23 -0.03%
FTSE 100 INDEX
7,700.96 -24.47 -0.32%
DAX INDEX
13,281.40 +97.47 +0.74%
CAC 40 INDEX
5,494.83 +0.84 +0.02%
IBEX 35 INDEX
10,432.70 -41.90 -0.40%
NIKKEI 225
23,835.90 +72.50 +0.31%
HANG SENG INDEX
32,142.20 +20.22 +0.06%

Currencies

EUR-USD
1.2235 -0.0003 -0.02%
USD-JPY
111.0800 -0.0300 -0.03%
GBP-USD
1.3891 -0.0003 -0.02%
AUD-USD
0.8003 +0.0002 +0.02%
USD-CAD
1.2429 +0.0011 +0.09%
USD-CHF
0.9594 +0.0005 +0.05%
EUR-GBP
0.8808 0.0000 0.00%
USD-HKD
7.8205 +0.0035 +0.04%
EUR-CHF
1.1738 +0.0004 +0.03%

Bitcoin Storms Back From Dip Below $10,000 in White-Knuckle Ride

Bitcoin’s wild start to 2018 turned breakneck on Wednesday, with the largest cryptocurrency plunging below $10,000 for the first time in six weeks before staging a rally to trade virtually unchanged.

The gyrations took the digital token across a trading range of more than $2,600 over 18 hours. Its tumble to a low of $9,186 pushed a monthlong rout past 50 percent and raised the specter that last year’s 1,400 percent rally was giving way to what many considered an inevitable bursting of the bubble.

Bitcoin rebounded $1,600 in the next four hours to trade at $10,780 as of 3:44 p.m. in New York, according to consolidated pricing data collated by Bloomberg.


Uber's Mideast Rival Careem Holds IPO Talks With Banks

Careem Networks FZ, which competes with Uber Technologies Inc. in the Middle East, is in early talks with banks about a potential initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Dubai-based ride-hailing company started preliminary discussions as it prepares to hire financial advisers, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The firm could be valued at about $1.5 billion, with a share sale likely by early 2019, one of the people said. Banks haven’t been appointed and the company may decide not to pursue the listing, the people said.

While an IPO is a“natural milestone” for a fast-growing business like Careem, the company is currently focused on expanding its operations to more markets, Chief Executive Officer Mudassir Sheikha said in an emailed response to questions.


OPEC-Russia Oil Deal Faces a New Danger: Too Much Winning

When OPEC and Russia meet this weekend to review their strategy for clearing a global oil glut, they’ll face an unusual problem: it could be working just a bit too well.

As their output cuts, coupled with robust global demand, tighten the market, crude prices have soared to a three-year high near $70 a barrel. That’s prompted warnings -- from Iran’s oil minister to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. -- of a fresh surge in U.S. production, wrecking all of OPEC’s hard work.

“The big concern is prices -- are they worried about prices going too high too quickly?” said Mike Wittner, head of oil-market research at Societe Generale SA in New York. “There are many reasons they’d be concerned, but top of the list is: how will U.S. production respond?”


Wanda Starts Selling Global Projects Amid Cash Crunch Threat

Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, faced with a quarter of his $2 billion in Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co.’s overseas debt coming due in March, is selling off the majority of his global hotel and development projects.

So far, three out of five global Wanda projects under development -- in London, Sydney and on Australia’s Gold Coast -- have been agreed to be sold or are nearing sale. That would leave just a hotel, office and apartment complex in Chicago and another in Beverly Hills, California.

Previously such a repayment, of $510 million worth of bank loans by March 31, would have been a piece of cake for the once-acquisitive tycoon, whose Dalian Wanda Group Co. has gobbled up billions of dollars worth of assets including AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. since 2013. Although the commercial property unit has a lower debt-to-cash ratio than some other comparable developers, most of its money is trapped within mainland China, blocked by the country’s exchange controls.


Trump Calls Apple’s Overseas Cash Return ‘Huge Win’ for U.S.

President Donald Trump said in a tweet Wednesday that Apple Inc.’s decision to bring hundreds of billions of overseas dollars back to the U.S. is a “huge win for American workers and the USA!”

“I promised that my policies would allow companies like Apple to bring massive amounts of money back to the United States,” Trump said in the tweet. Great to see Apple follow through as a result of TAX CUTS.”

The iPhone makers announced Wednesday that it would make the move, paying about $38 billion in taxes on the money and spending tens of billions on domestic jobs, manufacturing and data centers in the coming years. Apple also told employees that it’s issuing stock-based bonuses worth $2,500 each following the new U.S. tax law, according to people familiar with the matter.


Markets

DOW JONES INDUS. AVG
26,115.70 +322.79 +1.25%
S&P 500 INDEX
2,802.56 +26.14 +0.94%
NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX
7,298.28 +74.60 +1.03%
FTSE 100 INDEX
7,725.43 -30.50 -0.39%
DAX INDEX
13,184.00 -62.37 -0.47%
CAC 40 INDEX
5,493.99 -19.83 -0.36%
IBEX 35 INDEX
10,474.60 -45.80 -0.44%
NIKKEI 225
23,978.60 +110.27 +0.46%
HANG SENG INDEX
32,080.70 +97.27 +0.30%

Currencies

EUR-USD
1.2189 +0.0003 +0.02%
USD-JPY
111.3300 +0.0400 +0.04%
GBP-USD
1.3815 -0.0016 -0.12%
AUD-USD
0.7961 -0.0009 -0.11%
USD-CAD
1.2449 +0.0011 +0.09%
USD-CHF
0.9648 -0.0011 -0.11%
EUR-GBP
0.8823 +0.0011 +0.13%
USD-HKD
7.8200 +0.0018 +0.02%
EUR-CHF
1.1759 -0.0007 -0.06%

Bitcoin Fall Extends to 25% as Fears of Crypto Crackdown Linger

January’s cryptocurrency selloff got fresh impetus on Tuesday when Bitcoin slumped as much as 25 percent, as the prospect of regulatory crackdowns appeared to spread.

While the largest digital coin was down 25 percent at $10,338 as of 4:37 p.m. in New York, it was still at the lowest level since early December, according to composite pricing on Bloomberg. As Bitcoin halted its two-day rally, rival cryptocurrencies also tumbled. Ripple sank as much as 40 percent and Ethereum dropped 26 percent.

Speculators across the globe are struggling to determine when or how market watchdogs may rein in an industry that’s decentralized and derives much of its value from anonymous ownership. Many assertions that digital coins represent a bubble have triggered double-digit selloffs over the past year, only to be followed by rebounds.


U.S. Slashes Aid to Palestinians Through UN to $60 Million

The U.S. has told the United Nations agency that aids Palestinians that it will contribute only about half of a $125 million payment to the body, while demanding a “fundamental reexamination” of the social-service agency’s mission and funding before deciding whether to pay the rest.

“It is time other countries, some of them quite wealthy, step in and do their part to advance regional security and stability,” the State Department said in a statement Tuesday, saying the money is enough to keep the agency from running out of funds while the remaining $65 million is withheld “for future consideration.”

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees ensures salaries for teachers and health-care workers in Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza. President Donald Trump has denounced the aid amid tensions over his decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Palestinian leaders have said the U.S. decision disqualifies it from serving as a mediator in long-stymied peace talks.


Saudi Arabia Plans Up to $7 Billion of Renewable Energy Projects This Year

Saudi Arabia expects to start up to $7 billion of renewable energy projects this year, with solar plants leading the way.

Tenders will be issued this year for eight projects totaling 4.125 gigawatts of capacity, Turki Mohammed Al Shehri, head of the kingdom’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office, said Tuesday in an interview in Abu Dhabi. The cost will be $5 billion to $7 billion, he said.

Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern oil producers are looking to renewables to feed growing domestic consumption that’s soaking up crude they’d rather export to generate income. The kingdom wants to have 9.5 gigawatts of solar and wind capacity installed by 2023. Developers have been cutting their bids for solar power to record lows in recent years.


Big Business Is Scrambling to Conform With China’s World View

Multinational businesses keen for a slice of the world’s fastest-growing consumer market are finding they have to increasingly conform to China’s world view if they want to stay in Beijing’s good graces.

Companies from Marriott International Inc. to Qantas Airways Ltd. are scrambling to fall in line with China’s stance on the treatment of territorial disputes, or risk missing the biggest market opportunity some of them have ever known. In the past week, they have been checking the wording on websites and other material for references -- some of which have been in public view for years -- that might cause offense, while also offering apologies and acknowledgement of China’s sovereignty.

The state can quickly and easily punish defiant companies, said Stuart Orr, a professor at Deakin University’s faculty of business and law in Melbourne who has studied China for more than a decade. “I’m not aware of any industries that are so critical to China that China would feel the need to accommodate them,” Orr said. “I don’t think these companies really have a lot of leverage.”


Hong Kong Way Ahead of Singapore, Topping Asia Expat Rental List

Hong Kong retained its title as Asia’s most expensive rental city for expatriates, while Singapore fell further down the ranking due to a slower economy and fewer relocations, according to consultancy firm ECA International.

Hong Kong sat atop the list with an average price of $10,461 per month for an unfurnished, three-bedroom apartment in expatriate neighborhoods, according to results from ECA’s September 2017 accommodation survey. Tokyo held onto the No. 2 spot. Singapore slipped one spot to eighth.

“This is due to a slowing of economic growth and a net reduction in inbound assignments, exacerbating the surplus of higher-end properties on the market that would normally attract expatriates,” Lee Quane, a regional director for Asia with ECA, said in a Tuesday release on Singapore’s cost decline. “This oversupply has reduced average rent levels in Singapore for the past three years.”


Markets

DOW JONES INDUS. AVG
25,792.90 -10.33 -0.04%
S&P 500 INDEX
2,776.42 -9.82 -0.35%
NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX
7,223.69 -37.37 -0.51%
FTSE 100 INDEX
7,755.93 -13.21 -0.17%
DAX INDEX
13,246.30 +45.82 +0.35%
CAC 40 INDEX
5,513.82 +4.13 +0.07%
IBEX 35 INDEX
10,520.40 +53.20 +0.51%
NIKKEI 225
23,842.70 -109.08 -0.46%
HANG SENG INDEX
31,668.10 -236.63 -0.74%

Currencies

EUR-USD
1.2296 +0.0036 +0.29%
USD-JPY
110.4000 -0.0500 -0.05%
GBP-USD
1.3819 +0.0027 +0.20%
AUD-USD
0.7990 +0.0029 +0.36%
USD-CAD
1.2420 -0.0015 -0.12%
USD-CHF
0.9592 -0.0003 -0.03%
EUR-GBP
0.8897 +0.0008 +0.09%
USD-HKD
7.8236 +0.0007 +0.01%
EUR-CHF
1.1793 +0.0030 +0.25%

Oil Trades Near Three-Year High as Hedge Funds Increase Bullish Bets

Oil traded near the highest close in three years as hedge funds increased their bullish bets on crude to the highest in more than a decade.

Futures added 0.6 percent in New York after advancing 4.7 percent last week. Money managers boosted their net-long positions in West Texas Intermediate to the highest level in data going back to 2006, according to figures from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Friday. Brent crude in London closed above $70 a barrel for the first time in three years on Monday.

Oil is extending a two-year rebound as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies trim production to drain a global glut. Citigroup Inc., Societe Generale SA, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. predict the coalition may begin winding down supply curbs from the middle of the year, before their scheduled conclusion in December, as the market rebalances.


Banks Increasingly Think OPEC Will End Supply Cuts as Oil Hits $70

As oil rallies to a three-year high near $70 a barrel, the view that OPEC and its partners will end their supply cuts early is spreading.

Citigroup Inc., Societe Generale SA, and JMorgan Chase & Co. predict the coalition of oil producers may begin winding down their intervention from the middle of the year, before its scheduled conclusion in December. The producers are nearing their goal of clearing an inventory glut, and rising prices risk encouraging rival supply.

Crude has climbed as output curbs by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia successfully whittle away a surplus that had weighed on global markets for more than three years. The agreement will be reviewed at their next formal meeting in June. “There could be an agreement over the summer on ramping production back up,” Ed Morse, head of commodities research at Citigroup in New York, said by phone.


A Missing Sheikh and ‘Intercepted’ Planes Escalate Feud

Mysterious goings-on allegedly involving the forcible detention of a Qatari royal and intercepted Bahrain-bound planes have escalated the feud straining ties among Gulf Arab monarchies.

Two commercial jets were intercepted on their regular flight paths to Bahrain’s capital, Manama, the United Arab Emirates’ official news agency WAM reported on Monday. No such thing ever happened, Qatar said.

A day earlier, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al-Thani, a descendant of Qatar’s founder, accused the U.A.E. of holding him against his will. Not true, the U.A.E. said. It also denied Qatar’s allegation last week that a U.A.E. war jet violated its airspace in December.


Brain Power Pays Off With Japan’s Intellectual Property Exports

Intellectual property is generating soaring revenue for Japan, jumping by 74 percent over the past five years to a record in 2017, according to the latest government data. Developing and protecting it is a key element of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s long-term growth strategy, which calls for greater investment in innovation to create wealth as the nation’s workforce ages and shrinks.

Intellectual property, which applies to intangible assets including brands, copyright, patents and industrial designs, covers everything from Japanese cultural icons like Super Mario and Hello Kitty to robotics advances by Fanuc Corp.

While Japan doesn’t break down its IP exports by sector, automakers and high-tech manufacturers are earning revenue in the sector, according to Yuki Masujima of Bloomberg Economics. He expects IP-related services in areas like robotics and medical care to generate a lot more growth for Japanese firms.


U.S. Treasury’s List of Putin 'Oligarchs' Jolts Russia's Elite Class

The U.S. Treasury Department is finishing its first official list of “oligarchs” close to President Vladimir Putin’s government, setting off a flurry of moves by wealthy Russians to shield their fortunes and reputations.

Some people who think they’re likely to land on the list have stress-tested the potential impact on their investments, two people with knowledge of the matter said. Others are liquidating holdings, according to their U.S. advisers.

Russian businessmen have approached former Treasury and State Department officials with experience in sanctions for help staying off the list, said Dan Fried, who previously worked at the State Department and said he turned down such offers. Some Russians sent proxies to Washington in an attempt to avoid lobbying disclosures, according to one person that was contacted.


Markets

DOW JONES INDUS. AVG
25,803.20 +228.46 +0.89%
S&P 500 INDEX
2,786.24 +18.68 +0.67%
NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX
7,261.06 +49.29 +0.68%
FTSE 100 INDEX
7,769.14 -9.50 -0.12%
DAX INDEX
13,200.50 -44.52 -0.34%
CAC 40 INDEX
5,509.69 -7.37 -0.13%
IBEX 35 INDEX
10,467.20 +4.80 +0.05%
NIKKEI 225
23,788.10 +73.23 +0.31%
HANG SENG INDEX
31,467.20 +128.32 +0.41%

Currencies

EUR-USD
1.2264 0.0000 0.00%
USD-JPY
110.8100 +0.2700 +0.24%
GBP-USD
1.3797 +0.0005 +0.04%
AUD-USD
0.7958 -0.0007 -0.09%
USD-CAD
1.2433 +0.0004 +0.03%
USD-CHF
0.9633 +0.0002 +0.02%
EUR-GBP
0.8890 -0.0004 -0.04%
USD-HKD
7.8243 +0.0008 +0.01%
EUR-CHF
1.1814 +0.0004 +0.03%

Fiat CEO Sees Room to Double Profit by 2022

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, one of the longest-serving bosses in the auto industry, said the company can double profit within five years by exploiting the potential of the Jeep brand.

With the offroad nameplate in position to grab as much as 20 percent of the global SUV market and coffers padded by lower U.S. taxes, it will be his successor who carries out the strategy. Marchionne was steadfast in his commitment to retire from Fiat in early 2019 after 15 years, succeeded by one of his lieutenants, he said in an exclusive sit-down interview in Detroit ahead of the North American International Auto Show.

Marchionne has transformed Fiat from a near-bankrupt European manufacturer into a global carmaker with the 2014 merger with Chrysler, giving the group brands including Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Maserati. While small compared with giants like Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp., Marchionne has given Fiat a new lease on life by streamlining expenses and shifting from unfashionable sedans to higher margin sport utility vehicles. His growth strategy is focused on a global expansion of Jeep.


Saudi Wealth Fund Is Said to Weigh Bank Loans for Investments

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which aims to become a $2 trillion investment giant, is considering borrowing from banks for the first time as it seeks investments in the kingdom and abroad, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Public Investment Fund, or PIF, has held talks with local and international banks and could raise about $5 billion this year, some of the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. No final decisions on timing or size have been made and the PIF may instead turn to government financing, the people said. A spokesman for the PIF declined to comment.

The fund is willing to borrow as it seeks to diversify the kingdom’s oil-dependent economy and boost returns from investments, Managing Director Yasir Al-Rumayyan said in a Bloomberg Television interview in October. Saudi Arabia is stepping up efforts to turn the PIF into a global giant by giving it ownership of state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco, which is preparing for what could be the world’s biggest initial public offering.


Saudi Binladin Shareholders May Have Settled With Government

Some shareholders of Saudi Arabia’s biggest construction company may have transferred stock to the kingdom to “settle outstanding dues,” but the company remains private, Saudi Binladin Group said in a statement on Saturday.

Bakr Binladin, a scion of the closely-held firm and the half-brother of al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden, has been swept up in a corruption crackdown with other billionaires and princes since November. Some of the detained men have been freed after paying settlements. Saudi authorities have said that they expect to collect as much as $100 billion.

Details of the Binladin settlement weren’t disclosed. The company had revenue of $3 billion in 2016, according to Orbis, a database of company information published by Bureau van Dijk. It had struggled to pay workers that year after slumping oil prices depleted the coffers of the Saudi government, its main client.


Surging Power Bills Spark Rush for Household Solar in Australia

Australia, one of the world’s biggest users of rooftop solar panels, likely added the most new capacity on record last year as electricity users sought to ease escalating power bills.

A preliminary estimate by Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator of 1.05 gigawatts installed last year would be a record for the country, the government body said in an emailed statement Friday. While subsidies and generous feed-in tariffs helped boost growth earlier this decade, last year’s gains were driven by users seeking to sidestep a surge in the cost of electricity and a push by vendors into the commercial sector, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

We are on track to have had the biggest year yet for installed small-scale solar capacity” in 2017, according to the regulator statement. “What we have seen is that homeowners and businesses continue to embrace solar panel systems, which is driving increased levels of capacity across Australia.”


China's Growth Data to Set Tone for Emerging Markets This Week

If the resilience of emerging markets to rising interest rates is all about the growth outlook, then data from China this week will be key. The country, the world’s biggest emerging market, releases gross domestic product statistics on Thursday.

Less than a week after Angola abandoned its dollar peg, another African nation -- Morocco --is due to make good on a promise it made several years ago to relax its currency regime.

And policy makers in South Korea, South Africa, Turkey and Indonesia are due to hold policy meetings, though none are forecast to change rates.


Markets

DOW JONES INDUS. AVG
25,803.20 +228.46 +0.89%
S&P 500 INDEX
2,786.24 +18.68 +0.67%
NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX
7,261.06 +49.29 +0.68%
FTSE 100 INDEX
7,778.64 +15.70 +0.20%
DAX INDEX
13,245.00 +42.13 +0.32%
CAC 40 INDEX
5,517.06 +28.51 +0.52%
IBEX 35 INDEX
10,462.40 +27.20 +0.26%
NIKKEI 225
23,728.90 +75.07 +0.32%
HANG SENG INDEX
31,669.10 +256.51 +0.82%

Currencies

EUR-USD
1.2199 -0.0003 -0.02%
USD-JPY
110.7300 -0.3300 -0.30%
GBP-USD
1.3742 +0.0014 +0.10%
AUD-USD
0.7933 +0.0016 +0.20%
USD-CAD
1.2456 -0.0003 -0.02%
USD-CHF
0.9672 -0.0001 -0.01%
EUR-GBP
0.8876 -0.0012 -0.14%
USD-HKD
7.8234 +0.0010 +0.01%
EUR-CHF
1.1799 0.0000 0.00%

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley Step Up Pre-Brexit Frankfurt Hires

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley are on a hiring drive in Frankfurt as global investment banks race to establish new headquarters inside the European Union in time for Brexit.

The biggest Wall Street firms have recently started advertising for scores of staff ranging from risk managers to compliance officers and information-technology specialists, according to internet listings. They need their offices to be up and running by April 2019, headhunters and people familiar with their firm’s hiring plans said.

Banks want to fill as many positions as they can locally to limit the disruption caused by relocating London-based employees and their families, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the plans aren’t public. With only about 14 months to go until Britain formally departs the EU, banks have reached what one executive called the point of no return, and have decided they need to trigger their contingency plans.


Budding Israel-India Romance Tested by Modi's Balancing Act

Before setting off for New Delhi this weekend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received an unwelcome reminder of the maneuvering Indian counterpart Narendra Modi must perform as their countries deepen ties.

In early January, Israel confirmed that India called off a $500 million missile deal. In December, New Delhi backed a United Nations resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s new Israel-friendly policy on Jerusalem.

While Israel is charging headlong into warmer ties with New Delhi, India is engaged in a balancing act, in deference to its historical support for the Palestinians and alliances with Israeli rivals, including Iran.


Oil Reaches $70 a Barrel for First Time in Three Years

Oil topped $70 a barrel in London for the first time in three years as production cuts by OPEC and rising demand whittle away a global surplus.

Brent crude futures, used in the pricing of more than half the world’s oil, rose as much as 1.2 percent to the highest since Dec. 4, 2014. Prices rallied after the longest stretch of declines in U.S. inventories during winter in a decade.


Oil’s rally shows that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies are succeeding in clearing the glut triggered by the growth of U.S. shale oil. Prices have also been supported by concerns that supply disruptions could stem from rising political tensions in OPEC members Iran and Venezuela.


Bitcoin Set for Worst Weekly Slide Since 2015 as Scrutiny Rises

Bitcoin slumped again on Friday, leaving the largest cryptocurrency heading for its worst weekly performance in three years as regulators around the world step up scrutiny out of concerns ranging from investor losses to strains on power systems.

Bitcoin was trading at $13,019 as of 8:24 a.m. Hong Kong time, putting it on track for a 22 percent slide this week, the deepest since January 2015, according to Bloomberg composite pricing. The token is down about 33 percent from its mid-December peak, which came just after the introduction of futures trading on regulated exchanges in Chicago.

Among the blows to cryptocurrencies this week was the South Korean justice minister’s reiteration of a proposal to ban local cryptocurrency exchanges, though the comments were later downplayed by a spokesman for the president. Meanwhile, bitcoin mining -- the process needed to facilitate transactions -- is set to become more expensive as China’s government cracks down on the industry.


China Is Winning Its War on Air Pollution, at Least in Beijing

China is seeing signs of success in its fight against smog as pollution levels slump dramatically in the capital region Beijing.

Concentrations of PM2.5 -- the tiny particles that pose the greatest health risks -- plunged 33 percent from a year earlier in the fourth quarter across Beijing, Tianjin and 26 surrounding cities, Greenpeace East Asia said in a report Thursday. Levels in the capital alone tumbled 54 percent. The drops come after government policies last year forced millions of homes and businesses to switch from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas.

The bluer skies came at a price, as the widespread switching to natural gas contributed to shortages of the fuel, leaving homes frigid and factories shut. Still, improving air quality is a win for President Xi Jinping, who pledged to unleash an “iron hand” against pollution, and anti-coal measures will likely continue, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.


Markets

DOW JONES INDUS. AVG
25,574.70 +205.60 +0.81%
S&P 500 INDEX
2,767.56 +19.33 +0.70%
NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX
7,211.78 +58.21 +0.81%
FTSE 100 INDEX
7,762.94 +14.43 +0.19%
DAX INDEX
13,202.90 -78.44 -0.59%
CAC 40 INDEX
5,488.55 -16.13 -0.29%
IBEX 35 INDEX
10,435.20 +6.90 +0.07%
NIKKEI 225
23,696.90 -13.48 -0.06%
HANG SENG INDEX
31,288.50 +168.09 +0.54%

Currencies

EUR-USD
1.2049 +0.0017 +0.14%
USD-JPY
111.2700 +0.0100 +0.01%
GBP-USD
1.3550 +0.0012 +0.09%
AUD-USD
0.7890 -0.0002 -0.03%
USD-CAD
1.2518 -0.0001 -0.01%
USD-CHF
0.9759 +0.0001 +0.01%
EUR-GBP
0.8892 +0.0005 +0.05%
USD-HKD
7.8235 +0.0005 +0.01%
EUR-CHF
1.1759 +0.0018 +0.15%

U.K.'s Hammond Tells EU to Decide What It Wants From Brexit Deal

The U.K. is growing tired of complaints that the European Union doesn’t know what Theresa May’s government wants from Brexit.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond will accuse the EU of being just as bad, hitting out at the bloc’s “relative silence” on what kind of trade terms it wants with Britain in the future.

“They say ‘it takes two to tango:’ both sides need to be clear about what they want,” Hammond will tell an economics conference in Berlin on Wednesday evening. He will say European politicians should move on from the “narrative of ‘punishment’ for leaving” and focus their minds on building a constructive new partnership with the U.K.


Saudi Bourse ‘Taking All Measures’ for Successful Aramco IPO

Saudi Arabia’s stock market is pulling out all the stops for what could be the world’s largest initial public offering.

The exchange, known as Tadawul, is prepared for Saudi Arabian Oil Co.’s share sale regardless of the structure that the company decides to use for the listing, Chief Executive Officer Khalid Al Hussan said in an interview on Wednesday.

“Tadawul will be the home exchange for Aramco, and, if there is another exchange, the decision will be coming from the issuer in due course,” Al Hussan said. The bourse is “taking all measures to ensure Aramco comes successfully to the market,” he said.


Crude Advances to Highest Since 2014 as World's Surplus Shrivels

Oil closed above $63 a barrel for the first time in over three years as crude stockpiles stowed in American tanks and terminals dwindled for an eighth straight week.

Futures rose 1 percent in New York after the U.S. government said refiners and exporters withdrew almost 5 million barrels from storage last week. While the draw was smaller than the 11.2 million barrels reported in an industry tally on Tuesday, it still was the largest for this time of year since 2014. The last time winter stockpiles shrank at this pace was a decade ago.

Even though investors were expecting a massive draw, “it was still a very sizable one,” said Rob Thummel, managing director at Tortoise Capital Advisors LLC, which handles $16 billion in energy-related assets. We’re seeing “falling inventories and rising geopolitical risk and that signals higher oil prices.”


Buffett Elevates Abel or Jain as Likely Successor With New Roles

Warren Buffett finally confirmed what many investors have already guessed about who will succeed him as chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the sprawling conglomerate he’s built over the past five decades.

In naming two senior executives -- Ajit Jain and Greg Abel -- to the company’s board and giving them each responsibility for large swaths of Berkshire’s businesses, he positioned one of the two men to probably be his replacement.

Greg Abel, left, and Ajit JainPhotographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
“It’s part of the movement toward succession,” Buffett said in an interview Wednesday on CNBC, after the promotions were announced. “They are the two key figures at Berkshire.”


Sydney Homes Aren't So Attractive to Chinese Investors This Year

Chinese demand for Australian housing is cooling as both nations’ governments tighten the screws on investment activity.

Foreigners will account for 18.1 percent of residential buyers in Sydney’s state of New South Wales by the end of March -- a 5.5 percentage point drop in just one year, according to the latest Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. and Property Council sentiment survey. The share in Victoria state - home to Melbourne - will fall 4.2 percentage points in the same period.

Sales are down thanks to stricter enforcement of Chinese capital controls and tighter access to Australian finance for foreign buyers, three-quarters of which the Reserve Bank of Australia estimates are from China. Last year, New South Wales doubled stamp duty levies for foreign investors, while Victoria has imposed a vacancy tax on unoccupied properties from this year.


Markets

DOW JONES INDUS. AVG
25,369.10 -16.67 -0.07%
S&P 500 INDEX
2,748.23 -3.06 -0.11%
NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX
7,153.57 -10.01 -0.14%
FTSE 100 INDEX
7,748.51 +17.49 +0.23%
DAX INDEX
13,281.30 -104.25 -0.78%
CAC 40 INDEX
5,504.68 -19.26 -0.35%
IBEX 35 INDEX
10,428.30 +1.80 +0.02%
NIKKEI 225
23,693.10 -95.15 -0.40%
HANG SENG INDEX
31,116.10 +42.42 +0.14%

Currencies

EUR-USD
1.1960 +0.0012 +0.10%
USD-JPY
111.6200 +0.1800 +0.16%
GBP-USD
1.3513 +0.0006 +0.04%
AUD-USD
0.7876 +0.0033 +0.42%
USD-CAD
1.2549 +0.0002 +0.02%
USD-CHF
0.9781 -0.0001 -0.01%
EUR-GBP
0.8850 +0.0004 +0.05%
USD-HKD
7.8246 +0.0021 +0.03%
EUR-CHF
1.1697 +0.0010 +0.09%

U.K. Businesses Expect More Price Rises Ahead

U.K. businesses are warning that more price increases are ahead, according to a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce. The proportion of services firms expecting to raise prices in the next three months climbed to the highest since 2008 last quarter, the lobby group said in a report Wednesday -- a percentage balance of 36 percent. Among manufacturers, that figure rose to 50 percent, from 35 percent previously.

U.K. inflation accelerated to the fastest in more than five years in November, fueled by the pound’s slide since Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

“While inflation is likely to peak in the coming months it is likely to remain stubbornly above the Bank of England’s 2 percent inflation target for a prolonged period,” said Suren Thiru, head of economics at the BCC. “The U.K. economy is set to continue on an underwhelming growth trajectory over the near term with uncertainty over the impact of Brexit coupled with high inflation and weak productivity.”


More Mega-Ships Are a Big Problem for Cargo Carriers

Container shipping companies are bracing for a challenging year -- they will have more space available for carrying goods than the amount of cargo that’s out there. Corrine Png, chief executive officer of research firm Crucial Perspective, estimates freight-carrying capacity on container ships will rise 5.9 percent this year, outstripping demand growth for the first time since 2015.

That’s largely because more than 40 huge container vessels ordered at least two years ago are ready to be delivered for service, creating an abundance of ship stowage. With some of the space expected to be left empty, container lines could be forced to charge lower fees for shipping goods, even as they try to overcome years of accumulated losses in an industry downturn that has seen at least one company collapse.


Gundlach Says S&P 500 Will Have Negative Return for 2018

Jeffrey Gundlach, the billionaire bond manager, says the S&P 500 Index will end the year with a negative return and is dubious of the long-term value of bitcoin.

“All recession indicators are flashing no recession, which means it’s priced in,” Gundlach said Tuesday during his annual “Just Markets” webcast, in which he gives his outlook for the coming year. “This is why I say S&P 500 down after a pretty decent run early in 2018.”

The money manager said he doesn’t own bitcoin. The value of digital currencies surged last year, with everyone from regulators to top bank executives taking note.


Alibaba's Jack Ma Will Consider Listing Units in Hong Kong

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma will consider floating pieces of the Chinese e-commerce titan in Hong Kong, taking advantage of regulations that will allow the listing of companies with dual-class shares.

China’s richest man welcomed the relaxation of restrictions, a factor in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s 2014 decision to list in New York in the world’s largest initial public offering -- a record that still stands. The online shopping giant has since grown into an internet empire spanning cloud services, music and video streaming with stakes in healthcare, logistics and film.

“We will consider listings in Hong Kong for Alibaba subsidiaries but we have not decided yet which one,” Ma told Bloomberg in an interview after meeting French President Emmanuel Macron, who’s spending time with business leaders in Beijing.


Asia’s Richest Banker Plans Family Office But Spurns Cryptocurrencies

The family of Uday Kotak, billionaire managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd., is setting up an office to invest in assets including private equity, stocks and real estate worldwide.

“The funds will be deployed in asset classes other than debt and cryptocurrencies,” Venkat Subramanian, who will manage the family office, said in an interview in Mumbai last week. “We will also stay clear of any investment opportunities that will bring us in direct competition with the bank.”

While Subramanian didn’t disclose a figure, Kotak has about $1.2 billion in cash and investable assets, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Most of the money was raised when he cut his stake in the bank to meet regulatory requirements.


Markets

DOW JONES INDUS. AVG
25,385.80 +102.80 +0.41%
S&P 500 INDEX
2,751.29 +3.58 +0.13%
NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX
7,163.58 +6.19 +0.09%
FTSE 100 INDEX
7,731.02 +34.51 +0.45%
DAX INDEX
13,385.60 +17.81 +0.13%
CAC 40 INDEX
5,523.94 +36.52 +0.67%
IBEX 35 INDEX
10,426.50 +28.10 +0.27%
NIKKEI 225
23,780.60 -69.41 -0.29%
HANG SENG INDEX
30,961.50 -49.88 -0.16%

Currencies

EUR-USD
1.1942 +0.0005 +0.04%
USD-JPY
112.2900 -0.3600 -0.32%
GBP-USD
1.3533 -0.0007 -0.05%
AUD-USD
0.7816 -0.0008 -0.10%
USD-CAD
1.2460 -0.0004 -0.03%
USD-CHF
0.9836 +0.0006 +0.06%
EUR-GBP
0.8824 +0.0008 +0.09%
USD-HKD
7.8214 +0.0006 +0.01%
EUR-CHF
1.1746 +0.0013 +0.11%

Aston Martin Seeks $6.8 Billion Value in Potential IPO

Aston Martin is targeting a valuation of as much as 5 billion pounds ($6.8 billion) in a potential initial public offering of the British sports car maker, according to people familiar with the matter.

The manufacturer has held preliminary talks with advisers about a valuation including debt that would put it on par with Ferrari NV, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing private deliberations. Investors’ interest in an IPO this year could be bolstered by the planned expansion into the lucrative sport-utility vehicle segment starting in 2019, the people said.

An Aston Martin share sale in London later this year would cement the iconic brand’s comeback and mark a significant test of investor appetite for English companies ahead of the U.K.’s March 2019 break with the European Union. The company, famous for its connection to movie spy James Bond, surpassed 5,000 deliveries last year for the first time since 2008, and expects to exceed its 2017 guidance of at least 180 million pounds in adjusted Ebitda on more than 840 million pounds of revenue.


There's a Big Victim From OPEC's Oil Cuts

OPEC’s strategy to end a worldwide crude glut is causing havoc for a vital link in the oil industry’s supply chain: the fleet of supertankers that shuttle fuel between continents.

The ships’ average earnings plunged last year by more than half to levels not seen since 2009 and far below what shipping analysts had been predicting. Now, the producer group’s extension of output cuts throughout 2018 is adding to the downturn.

“These cuts reduced the number of cargoes from the Middle East to Asia significantly at a time when a large amount of newly-built vessels are being delivered,” Olivier Jakob, managing director at Petromatrix GmbH in Zug, Switzerland, said in a phone interview.


Jeff Bezos Is Now Worth More Than Bill Gates Ever Was

Jeff Bezos’s net worth reached $105.1 billion Monday on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index as Amazon.com Inc. shares added to a 12-month surge that’s lifted the online shopping giant’s market value by almost 57 percent.

Amazon shares have risen 6.6 percent this year, with a report showing the Seattle-based company captured 89 percent of online spending among dominant holiday retailers in the five-week period beginning the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S.

The latest jump has pushed Bezos’s fortune definitively above the high reached by Microsoft Corp.’s Bill Gates in 1999. The Amazon founder passed Gates in October with a net worth of $93.8 billion and his fortune crossed $100 billion for the first time a month later when the holiday shopping season kicked off on Black Friday.


Jack Ma's Debt Giant Grinds to Halt as China Curbs Micro-Loans

After selling billions of dollars of debt backed by consumer loans last year, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial is pausing such fundraising as the government steps up curbs on micro lending.

The company hasn’t sold any asset-backed securities since early December, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and China Securitization Analytics. That marks an abrupt shift after Ant Financial issued a record 238 billion yuan ($37 billion) in 2017 of such securities backed by consumer loans. It comes after authorities announced on Dec. 1 they were requiring micro lenders to consolidate ABS into their balance sheets.

“Without the new rules, Ant Financial’s consumer loans would balloon with no limit because it can move most loans off its balance sheet by packaging them into ABS,” said Shanghai-based Yang Junmin, an analyst at Internet finance research firm Shanghai Yingxun Technology Co. “Now they would be very cautious about selling new ABS. Ant Financial’s new consumer loans may have an obvious slowdown this year.”


Billion-Dollar Valuation Gives Australia Its Only Tech Unicorn

Canva, an Australian-based graphic design app, has raised $40 million to become the country’s only privately backed technology startup to be valued at $1 billion.

Sequoia Capital took part in the fundraising alongside existing investors Blackbird Ventures and Felicis Ventures. Co-founder Melanie Perkins said the Sydney-based company was profitable and didn’t need the money but was offered terms too good to refuse. The startup, whose apps help advertisers and companies create banners, logos and presentations, plans to double its workforce of 250 staff over the next year, she added.

“It’d be crazy not to take it,” she said. “We can grow our team as rapidly as we can and know that we’ve got the financial backing to make those decisions very easily.”


Markets

DOW JONES INDUS. AVG
25,283.00 -12.87 -0.05%
S&P 500 INDEX
2,747.71 +4.56 +0.17%
NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX
7,157.39 +20.83 +0.29%
FTSE 100 INDEX
7,696.51 -27.71 -0.36%
DAX INDEX
13,367.80 +48.14 +0.36%
CAC 40 INDEX
5,487.42 +16.67 +0.30%
IBEX 35 INDEX
10,398.40 -13.00 -0.12%
NIKKEI 225
23,813.90 +99.36 +0.42%
HANG SENG INDEX
30,954.70 +55.15 +0.18%

Currencies

EUR-USD
1.1971 +0.0004 +0.03%
USD-JPY
112.6000 -0.4900 -0.43%
GBP-USD
1.3577 +0.0009 +0.07%
AUD-USD
0.7858 +0.0016 +0.20%
USD-CAD
1.2409 -0.0012 -0.10%
USD-CHF
0.9769 -0.0003 -0.03%
EUR-GBP
0.8816 -0.0005 -0.06%
USD-HKD
7.8218 +0.0009 +0.01%
EUR-CHF
1.1693 -0.0001 -0.01%

U.K. Consumer Pullback Sees Worst Year for Spending Since 2012

U.K. consumers curbed their spending for the first time in five years in 2017 as surging inflation and falling real wages took their toll on high street retailers.

Visa’s U.K. consumer spending index slipped 0.3 percent last year from 2016. It also fell an annual 1 percent in December, the crucial Christmas shopping period for stores. It’s unlikely to recover this year, the credit card company said.

“Household purchasing power is being continually eroded,” said Annabel Fiddes, principal economist at IHS Markit. “Meanwhile, consumer confidence remains relatively muted amid uncertainties over the strength of the U.K. economy and the ongoing Brexit negotiations. It seems unlikely that expenditure will bounce back to the levels of growth seen in 2016 anytime soon.”


Steve Bannon Issues Apology as Trump Allies Flood the Airwaves

Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon issued a lengthy apology to Donald Trump and his family as several of the president’s allies spoke out against an explosive new book that raised doubts about the former real estate developer’s fitness for office.

In a statement first reported by the political website Axios and also provided to Bloomberg, Bannon, who left the White House in August, said Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. “is both a patriot and a good man.’’

Comments attributed to Bannon about Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with Russian nationals to get damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton -- that the gathering had been “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” -- appeared in Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” published on Friday.


Saudi Handouts Show Prince Bet on Citizens After Royal Crackdown

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s high-speed U-turn on state handouts suggests he’s betting on the backing of ordinary citizens rather than traditional pillars of support as he consolidates power.

It took less than a week of Saudis grousing on social media and TV for authorities to announce they’d plow billions of riyals into people’s pockets to help offset government-initiated price increases. That sidestepped a mainstay of the prince’s plan to revamp the economy in part by weaning citizens off government largesse, indicating that consistency in fiscal policy isn’t his top priority right now.

During his swift rise to power, the kingdom’s 32-year-old de facto leader has swept aside rivals, arrested senior royals and billionaires -- including 11 princes detained on Thursday -- and defied the ultra-conservative religious establishment by letting women drive. That’s left him reliant on those Saudis eager for social change but struggling with austerity measures needed to achieve his vision of turning Saudi Arabia into a global investment hub no longer reliant on oil.


SpaceX Successfully Launches Zuma Mission for U.S. Government

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. successfully launched its first mission of the new year: a classified payload for the U.S. government into low-earth orbit. The mission -- referred to as code name Zuma -- took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX landed the rocket’s first stage for reuse in a future launch, a key step in its goal to drive down the cost of access to space.

Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. was assigned to choose which company would launch the restricted payload and it selected SpaceX’s Falcon 9, calling it a cost effective option in an emailed statement before the launch.

“As a company, Northrop Grumman realizes this is a monumental responsibility and we have taken great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma,” said Lon Rains, a Northrop Grumman spokesman. He declined to comment on the nature of the payload.


China Insurer Up $101 Billion Trades Like a Technology Stock

Insurance may lack the buzz and cachet enjoyed by tech companies, yet the stock of one Chinese company in the industry has kept pace handsomely with some of the highest-flying champions of the digital revolution.

Ping An Insurance (Group) Co.’s success shows how the lines between “new” and “old” economy businesses are breaking down, forcing investors and strategists to rethink classifications and appropriate valuations. China is at the forefront of this melding of industries, thanks to its pressure on companies to move up the value chain, and a regulatory approach that gives firms a freer hand at innovating new products and services.

“The world has moved too much to ‘new’ and ‘old’” categorizations, says Joshua Crabb, head of Asian equities at Old Mutual Global Investors in Hong Kong. Ping An’s “phenomenal performance” reflects its emergence as a combination of a “boring old” life insurer and a “leading internet company,” he says.


Markets

DOW JONES INDUS. AVG
25,295.90 +220.74 +0.88%
S&P 500 INDEX
2,743.15 +19.16 +0.70%
NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX
7,136.56 +58.64 +0.83%
FTSE 100 INDEX
7,724.22 +28.34 +0.37%
DAX INDEX
13,319.60 +151.75 +1.15%
CAC 40 INDEX
5,470.75 +57.06 +1.05%
IBEX 35 INDEX
10,411.40 +97.00 +0.94%
NIKKEI 225
23,714.50 +208.20 +0.89%
HANG SENG INDEX
30,815.60 +0.91 0.00%

Currencies

EUR-USD
1.2032 +0.0003 +0.02%
USD-JPY
113.1800 +0.1300 +0.11%
GBP-USD
1.3565 -0.0006 -0.04%
AUD-USD
0.7851 -0.0013 -0.17%
USD-CAD
1.2397 -0.0015 -0.12%
USD-CHF
0.9753 +0.0006 +0.06%
EUR-GBP
0.8869 +0.0005 +0.06%
USD-HKD
7.8216 +0.0020 +0.03%
EUR-CHF
1.1734 +0.0008 +0.07%

Uber Co-Founder Travis Kalanick Plans Sale of 29% of Stake

Former Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick, who has long boasted that he’s never sold any shares in the company he co-founded, plans to sell about 29 percent of his stake in the ride-hailing company, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Kalanick stands to reap about $1.4 billion from the transaction with SoftBank Group Corp. and a consortium of investors who have agreed to buy equity valuing Uber at $48 billion, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations. Kalanick, who owns 10 percent of the company, had offered to sell as much as half of his stake -- the maximum board members were allowed to tender. He had to pare back the amount because of limits outlined in the agreement between Uber and the buyers, the people said.

One of the wealthiest people in the world on paper, Kalanick would become an actual billionaire for the first time as a result of the sale. Kalanick was pressured to resign last year after the company became mired in legal woes and a raft of government investigations into how it does business. He also clashed with Benchmark, one of the company’s earliest and biggest investors, which is also selling part of its stake.


Global Factory Boom Sends Commodities Prices Soaring

The strongest manufacturing activity since the aftermath of the global financial crisis is slowly draining commodities surpluses, sending prices to a 3-year high as investors pour money into everything from oil to copper. "Rarely has the outlook for a New Year been as encouraging as it is today," said Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London.

With factories around the world humming, demand for raw materials is fast increasing. The Bloomberg Commodities Spot Index, tracking the price of 22 raw materials, jumped to its highest since December 2014 on Thursday. The gauge has risen for a record 14 days in a row.

For the global economy, the pickup in commodities poses a conundrum. It could show how years of ultra-lax monetary policies have finally boosted activity and may even be enough to revive long-dormant inflationary pressures. The risk is inflation reemerges faster than central banks expect, forcing them to raise interest rates more aggressively than they now plan or investors anticipate.


Trump Seeks to Open Most U.S. Coastal Waters to New Drilling

The Trump administration is proposing to open almost all U.S. coastal waters to oil drilling, including those off California and Florida where activists have fought for decades to spare delicate ecosystems from oil spills.

The proposal released Thursday will go far beyond President Donald Trump’s April order directing the Interior Department to consider auctioning oil and gas leases in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans as well as the Gulf of Mexico.

Instead, the Interior Department is proposing 47 possible auctions of drilling rights in more than 90 percent of the U.S. outer continental shelf, including Pacific waters near California and Atlantic waters near Maine. The draft plan opens the door to selling leases in 25 of the nation’s 26 offshore planning areas, including 19 auctions of the Alaska region, seven in the Pacific region and nine in the Atlantic, including the straits of Florida.


Hong Kong Home Prices Are Unsustainable, $2.6 Billion Fund Says

Hong Kong’s home prices are at unreasonable levels that can’t be sustained, according to SC Capital Partners, a $2.6 billion real estate private equity firm.

Despite cooling measures such as stamp duties, investors have persisted with purchases that “violate” investing fundamentals, Suchad Chiaranussati, the founder of the Singapore-based SC, said in an interview.

The comments from a firm that invests in residential, office, retail and logistics properties across Asia add to a drumbeat of concern over a Hong Kong housing sector that the International Monetary Fund has described as “booming and overvalued.” The city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said last month that government measures to cool the world’s most-expensive property market hadn’t worked.


London Luxury Home at ‘Unbelievable’ Discount Shows Price Falls

“Unbelievable reduction,” says the broker’s email. An investor who agreed to purchase an apartment at the ritzy One Blackfriars project on the banks of the River Thames is offering the two-bedroom home on the 20th floor for 1.8 million pounds ($2.44 million), more than 22 percent less than they agreed to pay for it in 2013.

The seller, who’s from Asia, wants to offload the property before it’s completed, according to Christian Barr, new homes manager at MyLondonHome, who’s brokering the sale. Stamp duty is payable after a property’s construction is finished.

The good news for the seller is that there are two firm bids for more than the asking price, from English and Chinese investors, Barr said. He declined to disclose the level of the bids. The vendor wanted to sell within seven days, according to the email.


Markets

DOW JONES INDUS. AVG
25,075.10 +152.45 +0.61%
S&P 500 INDEX
2,723.99 +10.93 +0.40%
NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX
7,077.91 +12.38 +0.18%
FTSE 100 INDEX
7,695.88 +24.77 +0.32%
DAX INDEX
13,167.90 +189.68 +1.46%
CAC 40 INDEX
5,413.69 +82.41 +1.55%
IBEX 35 INDEX
10,314.40 +198.40 +1.96%
NIKKEI 225
23,542.90 +36.58 +0.16%
HANG SENG INDEX
30,816.40 +79.93 +0.26%

Currencies

EUR-USD
1.2069 +0.0001 +0.01%
USD-JPY
112.8200 +0.0700 +0.06%
GBP-USD
1.3557 +0.0006 +0.04%
AUD-USD
0.7845 -0.0019 -0.24%
USD-CAD
1.2493 +0.0006 +0.05%
USD-CHF
0.9745 +0.0003 +0.03%
EUR-GBP
0.8903 -0.0003 -0.04%
USD-HKD
7.8197 +0.0023 +0.03%
EUR-CHF
1.1762 +0.0005 +0.04%