10 things you need to know in markets today

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

American International Group (AIG) is in early talks to sell Lloyd’s of London’s insurance operations to Canada Pension Fund (CPPIB), the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. If the deal comes through, it could fetch the insurance conglomerate hundreds of millions of dollars in proceeds, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Oil is crashing. Brent is down 1.16% to $49.38 and US crude is down 1.37% to $47.44 at the time of writing (6.30 a.m. BST/1.30 a.m. ET). Prices are falling after an unexpected build in US crude stocks and amid fears that Chinese crude demand could falter as Beijing clamps down on alleged tax evasion in the oil industry.

Mortgage approval numbers are coming. The British Bankers Association (BBA) will announce the number of UK mortgages approved in July at 9.30 a.m. BST (4.30 a.m. ET), giving another signal of how the UK property market has fared post-Brexit vote. Economists are expecting a fall from 40,100 in June to 38,500.

Asian markets are mixed. China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite is down 0.04% at the time of writing (6.30 a.m. BST/1.30 a.m. ET), while Japan’s Nikkei is up 0.60%, and the Hong Kong Hang Seng is down 0.76%. US stock markets were quiet overnight.

Investors took £5.7 billion ($7.5 billion) out of UK-based stock market funds last month in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, according to latest market figures. The Guardian reports that concerns over the referendum result prompted investors to withdraw £5.7 billion from UK equity funds and a further £470 million ($619.5 million) from property funds in July, according to figures from data company Morningstar.

Four of the world’s biggest banks have teamed up to develop a new form of digital cash that they believe will become an industry standard to clear and settle financial trades over blockchain, the technology underpinning bitcoin. The Financial Times reports that UBS pioneered the “utility settlement coin” and has now joined forces with Deutsche Bank, Santander and BNY Mellon — as well as the broker ICAP — to pitch the idea to central banks, aiming for its first commercial launch by early 2018.

The CEO of one of Australia’s biggest foreign exchange companies says the peer-to-peer technology pioneered by fintech startups like TransferWise is “an incomplete model” that only works in “fair weather.”OFX Group CEO Richard Kimber told BI: “The major challenge with the business model in peer-to-peer is inherently it assumes you’ve got an equal amount of buyers and sellers is any given currency.”

Iron ore, dubbed by Citigroup as one of the hot commodities of 2016, looks set to cool off. Prices may soon sag as supply rises and steel demand fades, the bank said according to Bloomberg, adding to a chorus of forecasters who are calling time on an unexpected rally.

The Tesla Model X and Model S are getting longer ranges and an improved Ludicrous mode thanks to a new battery option, Tesla announced on Tuesday. CEO Elon Musk said Tesla will offer a new 100-kilowatt-hour battery option for the Model S and Model X cars that have new “Ludicrous” modes. The new battery option will extend the range of the Model S to 315 miles per charge, making it the first electric car on the market to exceed 300 miles of range.

Australian carrier Qantas Wednesday posted record annual profits and announced its first payout to shareholders in seven years, staging a turnaround after axing jobs and selling aircraft in an aggressive restructuring. Qantas’ results were also boosted by the sharp fall in global oil prices and a less competitive domestic market that has given the firm a stable base of earnings.

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