10 things you need to know in markets today

Good morning! Here’s what you need to know in markets on Friday.

1. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the past year has been “the most difficult and painful year of my career,” in a revealing New York Times interview published Thursday night. “There were times when I didn’t leave the factory for three or four days – days when I didn’t go outside,” Musk said, adding: “This has really come at the expense of seeing my kids. And seeing friends.”

2. During the same interview, Musk said he has no plans to step down as either CEO or chairman of the company. Musk, who is under intense scrutiny by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and is facing lawsuits over his tweets last week about taking Tesla private, said he saw the tweet as an attempt at transparency, according to the paper.

3. Asian shares won a modest reprieve on Friday after China and the United States agreed to hold their first trade talks since June next week and as the Turkish lira extended gains from its record low earlier this week. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.2% in early trade, a day after it hit its lowest level in a year.

4. Oil prices fell on Friday, with U.S. crude heading for a seventh weekly decline amid increasing concerns about slowing global economic growth that could hit demand for petroleum products. Brent is heading for a 2% decline this week, a third consecutive weekly drop. WTI is on track for a seventh week of losses, with a fall of more than 3%.

5. The next round of US-China trade talks “may not amount to much,” according to staff at research house Capital Economics. If the two sides do meet, it would mark the first round of negotiations since talks broke down in early June. However, yesterday’s statement from China’s Ministry of Commerce said talks would be led by Vice Minister of Commerce, Wang Shouwen, not Vice Premier Liu. That was seen as an indication that the next round of talks will be a lower-level discussion.

6. Fitch, one of the “Big Three” credit ratings agencies, now believes that the manner of the UK’s exit from the European Union is now so unclear that it is impossible to forecast.In a statement on Thursday afternoon, Fitch said it is abandoning its previous base case – effectively the Brexit scenario it saw as most likely – because there is too much uncertainty to forecast with any accuracy.

7. The major trade unions representing Air France KLM staff issued a joint statement on Thursday to protest the appointment of Air Canada President and COO Benjamin Smith as Air France-KLM’s new chief executive.“Concerning the choice of new chief executive…the trade unions would like to state that it’s inconceivable that the company Air France – which has been French since 1933 – would fall into the hands of a foreign director,” the unions said in the statement.

8. Walmart skyrocketed more than 10% Thursday following the grocer’s earnings report that crushed analysts expectations, adding a cool $US11.6 billion to the founding family’s wealth.The richest family in the United States – which owns about 48% of the US’ largest grocery chain through Walton Enterprises – saw their net worth surge to $US163.2 billion.

9. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is “very carefully” watching the effects of a severe drought that has wasted vast tracts of grazing and crop land in eastern Australia, the country’s main food bowl. Australia recorded its fifth-driest July on record last month. RBA Governor Philip Lowe said the board discussed the drought at its last meeting on August 7 and even looked at rainfall maps.

10. Stiff new U.S. sanctions against Russia would only have a limited impact on its oil industry because it has drastically reduced its reliance on Western funding and foreign partnerships and is lessening its dependence on imported technology.Western sanctions imposed in 2014 over Russia’s annexation of Crimea have already made it extremely hard for many state oil firms such as Rosneft to borrow abroad or use Western technology to develop shale, offshore and Arctic deposits.

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