10 things you need to know before European markets open


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

1. Growth in the UK will lag behind the rest of the Eurozone in 2018, according to new forecasts that show output weighed down by Brexit uncertainty. A report from auditors PwC predicted Eurozone growth will be above 2% in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) next year, with the Netherlands leading the way with economic growth at 2.5%. PwC predicted UK growth will reach just 1.4%.

2. Italy’s fourth-biggest bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena, rescued from the brink of collapse by a state bailout, has named a new chairwoman and board to help steer a course to recovery.Shareholders on Monday appointed Stefania Bariatti as chairwoman to replace Alessandro Falciai, who decided to leave the bank citing personal reasons.

3. Austria’s new chancellor travels to Brussels on Tuesday on his first foreign trip since being sworn in, determined to dispel concerns that his coalition with the far-right spells trouble for the European Union. Responding to a letter from European Council President Donald Tusk, 31-year-old conservative leader Sebastian Kurz tweeted back that his new government would be “clear pro-European and committed to making a positive contribution to the future development of the EU.”

4. The Republican-controlled US Congress appeared all but certain to pass sweeping tax legislation this week. As the Republicans’ self-imposed Friday voting deadline loomed, Senators Susan Collins and Mike Lee each said they had decided to back the legislation.

5. BMW said it had hit its target of selling 100,000 electric cars this year around the world. This is more than 60% up from the 62,255 electric cars BMW sold last year.

6. Despite an increase in affluence, people in China seem to be less happy today than they were in 1990. Although poor, the Chinese labour market was described as an “iron rice bowl” – a mini welfare state where families felt safe. They didn’t worry about their job security or the ability that they would have employment in the future.

7. Pfizer’s board authorised a new $US10 billion share repurchase program and raised its quarterly dividend. The share buyback is in addition to the $US6.4 billion remaining under the company’s current authorization, Pfizer said.

8. Berkshire Hathaway’s stock price touched $US300,000 for the first time on Monday, reflecting investors’ confidence in Warren Buffett’s conglomerate. Crossing the $US300,000 threshold put Berkshire’s Class A shares up 22.9% for the year, compared with a 20% gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500.

9. The real-estate startup WeWork is readying a new startup incubator, called Area 51 Paradise Ranch, that it will test at its Tribeca office space, Wired reported on Monday.WeWork declined to comment on the new incubator, and the scope of the company’s long-term ambitions for the venture is still unclear.

10. A debate in Europe over whether ride-hailing app Uber is merely a digital company or one providing transport services will be decided when the top European Union court hands down its verdict on Wednesday. While a ruling that Uber is a transport company is unlikely immediately to change the way it operates, it will give local authorities in the EU a green light to regulate the US start-up more like a traditional taxi company.

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