10 things you need to know in markets today

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

1. Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations and said he broke the law “at the direction” of a 2016 presidential candidate, widely believed to be President Donald Trump.S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures are both down around 0.3% at the time of writing (7.25 a.m. BST/2.25 a.m. ET), with analysts pointing to the Cohen testimony as the driver.

2. Facebook says it removed 652 pages and accounts on its services that were linked to Iran, as well as numerous Russia-linked accounts involved in inauthentic behaviour. The Iran and Russia campaigns were distinct but used similar tactics, Facebook said.

3. US stocks on Tuesday rose to record highs for the first time since January 26. Led by tech and utilities companies, the benchmark S&P 500 index surpassed its previous intra-day record of 2,872.87. It traded up 0.6% to 2,872.93 at 1:10 p.m. ET.

4. Asian stocks were flat in early trade on Wednesday after Wall Street ended higher and as low-level trade talks between the US and China due this week boosted hopes of easing trade tensions. Japan’s Nikkei closed up 0.58%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng is up 0.26% at the time of writing (7.23 a.m. BST/2.23 a.m. ET) and China’s Shanghai Composite is down 0.76%.

5. Bitcoin prices jumped by as much as 7% almost instantly at around 9 p.m. EST. The move coincided directly with a scheduled shutdown of trading platform BitMEX for maintenance purposes. Insiders say the shutdown led to wild trading opportunities.

6. After three years of searching, Uber has filled a key executive role necessary to move forward with its plans to hold an initial public offering in 2019. Nelson Chai has joined Uber as its CFO, the company announced Tuesday.

7. Morgan Stanley dropped coverage of Tesla on Tuesday, becoming the second bank to restrict the stock. Shares surged as much as 5% following the news.

8. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has moved to an overweight on the industrials and healthcare sectors. The bank’s equity strategists don’t see the bull market in stocks ending soon, mainly because earnings growth is still strong.

9. Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, says clients have asked him if companies stockpiling of goods in case of a “no deal” Brexit could actually give a short-term boost to the economy. Tombs is unconvinced and outlines four reasons why company stockpiles are unlikely to help UK growth.

10. UBS completely disassembled a Tesla Model 3 to compare it to the Chevy Bolt and BMW i3. The car’s electronics are an easy winner thanks to their simplicity – but the bank worries such centralization could cause headaches down the road.

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