Good morning! Here’s what you need to know in markets on Tuesday.
1. European Union leaders will warn Britain it cannot assume its big financial services industry will be included in any free trade deal after Brexit, diplomats said on Monday after fixing negotiating terms in a draft document. Reuters reports that Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, who will open negotiations with the EU in June assuming she wins a snap election she called last week, singled out banking and other financial services among her priorities for a future trade deal with the bloc after Brexit.
2. The United States will impose preliminary anti-subsidy duties averaging 20% on imports of Canadian softwood lumber, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Monday, escalating a long-running trade dispute between the two neighbours. The move, which affects some $US5.66 billion (£4.4 billion) worth of imports of the construction material, sets a tense tone as the two countries and Mexico prepare to renegotiate the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.
3. US paint maker PPG Industries raised its proposed offer for Akzo Nobel by about 8% to €26.9 billion (£23 billion) on Monday, increasing the pressure on its Dutch rival to enter into talks. PPG said its proposal was a “final” invitation to Akzo to enter negotiations and included a break fee in case the deal was rejected by regulators – attempting to address a concern that Akzo raised when it rejected two previous proposals from PPG.
4. Acquisitive German healthcare conglomerate Fresenius revved up its deals pace by acquiring US generic drugmaker Akorn for $US4.75 billion (£3.7 billion), and in a separate deal, the biosimilars unit of German peer Merck. In a transaction that has the backing of Akorn’s management, Fresenius will pay $US34 (£26.56) per share and take on Akorn’s net debt of about $US450 million (£351.50 million) for a total price tag of $US4.75 billion (£3.71 billion), Fresenius said in a statement late on Monday.
5. US and Asian stocks took off overnight after the first round of the French presidential election. The Dow, S&P 500, and the Nasdaq all closed over 1% higher. Japan’s Nikkei is 0.90% higher at the time of writing (6.25 a.m. BST/1.25 a.m. ET), the Hong Kong Hang Seng is up 1.04%, and China’s Shanghai Composite is up 0.36%.
6. Britain’s largest architectural firm, Foster + Partners, plans to lay off nearly 100 people and blamed the uncertainty around construction projects caused by last summer’s Brexit vote. The company, whose London projects have included the Millennium Bridge, the Great Hall redevelopment at the British Museum and the Gherkin tower, said the cuts would mainly affect staff at its headquarters in Battersea, south-west London, the Guardian reports.
7. Financial services contribute 11.5% of total UK tax receipts, employ 7.3% of the UK’s working population, and run an annual trade surplus of around £72 billion — greater than all other exporting industries combined. The figures come from a new report from financial services lobby group called TheCityUK, released on Tuesday.
8. London delivery startup Doddle is closing most of its high street stores after burning through tens of millions of pounds in investment funding. The company is laying off more than 100 people as it pivots its business model.
9. Over half of Britain’s small businesses are concerned about being able to grow their business and access workers with the right skills after Brexit, according to a new survey from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The policy group’s latest report, titled “A skillful exit: What small firms want from Brexit,” found that 59% were worried about accessing workers with the right skills, and 54% were concerned about growing their business once Britain leaves the EU.
10. A South African insurance technology company supported by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is launching a life insurance product for diabetics in the UK. AllLife has partnered with Royal London, the UK’s largest mutual insurer, to offer a new product to diabetics previously regarded as “uninsurable” because of their condition.
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