1. Billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros launched a blistering and multi-pronged attack on Facebook and Google. He said the tech giants’ size and “monopolistic behaviour” has made them a “menace” to society, damaging democracy, and encouraging “addiction” akin to gambling companies.
2. The Bank of England said it was experiencing intermittent technology problems that are indirectly affecting its ability to process transactions for wholesale counterparties. “We have implemented workarounds to enable the Bank to operate as normal, including completing wholesale transactions in as timely a way as possible,” the BOE said.
3. US President Donald Trump said he ultimately wants the dollar to be strong, contradicting comments made by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin one day earlier. “The dollar is going to get stronger and stronger and ultimately I want to see a strong dollar,” Trump said in an interview with CNBC, adding that Mnuchin’s comments had been misinterpreted.
4. The Catalan parliament will vote to choose a new regional leader on Jan. 30.The only candidate for president of the northeastern Spanish region is sacked former leader Carles Puigdemont who is in self-imposed exile in Brussels after spearheading a drive for secession from Spain.
5. The EU is willing to be flexible on the duration of a Brexit transition period, EU diplomats said as Britain prepares to detail its hopes for what happens after it leaves the bloc in March 2019. They will consider letting London sign trade deals with other countries around the world before 2021, and to launch new EU-British partnerships in areas like security and defence before waiting for the transition period to end.
6. Scientists moved ahead by half a minute the symbolic Doomsday Clock, saying the world was at its closest to annihilation since the height of the Cold War. It was the second occasion the timepiece was moved forward since the 2016 election of US president Donald Trump.
7. Trading software provider Trading Technologies teamed up with crypto-currency exchange operator Coinbase to give institutional traders direct market access to bitcoin from March.The partnership means that large trading firms will have both bitcoin spot prices and bitcoin futures on the same screen, positioning them to potentially reap more profits trading the spread between the two financial products.
8. The office of Austrian far-right leader and vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache was broken into this week and shortly after bugging devices were discovered. The break-in occurred on Wednesday night while Strache, whose Freedom Party entered the governing coalition after elections in October, was out for dinner.
9. Britain is tightening controls on firms hoping to carry out hydraulic fracking, adding a financial health check to the application process. Substantial amounts of shale gas are estimated to be trapped in underground rocks and the British government wants to exploit them to help offset declining North Sea oil and gas output, create jobs and boost economic growth.
10. One of the most powerful men on Wall Street doesn’t see an exchange-traded fund linked to bitcoin in the cards for the near term.Tom Farley, the president of the New York Stock Exchange, told Bloomberg Thursday that it would take some time for regulators to approve such a fund.
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