10 things you need to know before European markets open

Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.

1. The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its benchmark interest rate, as was widely expected. The central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee voted after a two-day meeting to increase the federal funds rate by 25 basis points, to a range of 1.25% to 1.50%.

2. MPs will have a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal following a rebellion by backbench Conservative MPs on Wednesday evening, in a major defeat for Theresa May’s government.An amendment was tabled to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill by Conservative MP Dominic Grieve which sought to give Parliament the power to either approve or vote down any Brexit deal reached between British and EU negotiators before exit day in March 2019.

3. Japan’s army of retail investors, have emerged as a major force in bitcoin’s spectacular rally. They now account for an estimated 30-50% of trading in the cryptocurrency as it spikes to record highs.

4. Britain cannot renege on commitments made during Brexit talks, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator told the European Parliament.EU leaders are expected this week to judge that “sufficient progress” has been made on the rights of citizens, the Brexit divorce bill and the Irish border to allow negotiations to move to the next phase.

5. Czech President Milos Zeman has sworn in a new minority government led by a populist billionaire after his centrist movement won landslide parliamentary elections.Andrej Babis’ ANO (YES) movement won 78 seats in the 200-seat lower house of Parliament in October.

6. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz said his government was determined to confront corruption with “justice and decisiveness.”In a televised speech to the country’s consultative Shura council, Salman also said Saudi Arabia will work to enable the private sector to become a partner in development.

7. Palo Alto-based Robinhood, a zero-commission stock broker, announced on Wednesday that it would start offering free options trading to its more than 3 million users. An option allows an investor to buy or sell an asset or security – say a stock or a currency – at a certain price at a specified date in the future. Options allow investors to bet on the price of an asset in the future, or to hedge their bets elsewhere against an unexpected price swing.

8. Ripple, a cryptocurrency designed for banks and global money transfers, has more than doubled in price since Monday, overtaking Litecoin as the fourth-largest cryptocurrency. It now has a market cap of $US18.64 billion.

9. The mysterious volatility trader known as “50 Cent” has lost $US197 million in 2017 betting on a spike in the VIX, which would accompany a stock market shock.50 Cent is starting to slow down, deploying roughly 20% of the contracts he had outstanding over the summer.

10. Just days after crossing the $US17,000 mark, bitcoin briefly slumped below $US16,000 per coin on Wednesday. The spike in volatility triggered a two minute halt to bitcoin futures trading on Cboe Global Markets’ exchange, which launched bitcoin futures on Sunday, according to John Spallanzani at GFI Group.

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