10 things you need to know before European markets open

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

1. Five people, including a police officer, have died and 40 were injured in what is being treated as a terror attack in London, on Wednesday afternoon. A lone assailant mowed down dozens of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in a 4X4 car, before killing a police officer with a knife in the grounds of Parliament just after 2.30 p.m. GMT. He was shot dead by police.

2. The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator stressed the need for early agreements on citizens’ rights, money and borders. Michel Barnier said a scenario of the deadline of March 2019 passing with no deal was not one the EU was entertaining.

3. Catalonia’s regional parliament approved a 2017 budget that includes funding for an independence referendum. The move poses a serious challenge to Spain’s central government in Madrid, which argues an independence referendum would be illegal and against the constitution — a stance supported by the judiciary.

4. Societe Generale plans to spend an extra €250 million ($US270 million) this year on its French retail banking business, its deputy CEO said. It is investing to bolster online and mobile banking while cutting back-office centres after closing 92 bank branches last year.

5. Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing said he would vote for the candidate who is willing to cooperate with Chinese authorities in the city’s upcoming leadership vote. Li, 88, was speaking after his flagship CK Hutchison Holdings posted a net profit of $US4.25 billion for 2016 despite global economic and political uncertainty.

6. Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem faced mounting calls to resign as a row escalated over his “racist” comments that southern European countries blew their money on “drinks and women.” Portugal’s prime minister and former Italian premier Matteo Renzi led pressure on Netherlands finance minister Dijsselbloem, already reeling from last week’s election setback in his homeland.

7. US securities regulators moved on Wednesday to modernise regulations that require stock and bond trades to settle within three business days. It’s a step the industry has urged the government to take for years.

8. The European Commission will veto a proposed combination between Deutsche Boerse and the London Stock Exchange shortly, according to Reuters. The move would scupper plans to create Europe’s biggest exchange.

9. Turkey’s action against Russian wheat, maize and sunflower oil suppliers is hindering restoration of ties between the two countries, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said. Turkish buyers have put purchases of these products from Russia on hold, despite denials from Ankara that it has effectively banned imports from Moscow, according to Reuters.

10. Centrist Emmanuel Macron is projected to win the first round of France’s presidential election next month, a Harris Interactive poll showed on Thursday. Macron was seen winning 26% of the vote in the April 23 first round followed by Marine Le Pen on 25%.

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