10 things you need to know in markets today

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

1. Bitcoin futures went live on Cboe Global Markets, the Chicago-based exchange group, Sunday evening and the price of the red-hot coin shot up. Cboe’s future contracts, which trade under the ticker XBT, allow investors to bet on the future price of bitcoin. Bitcoin shot up over $US1,000 after investors could start purchasing contracts at 6:00 p.m. ET.

2. Blockchain, the world’s biggest provider of bitcoin wallets, saw a huge surge in new sign-ups last week as bitcoin’s price skyrocketed. Blockchain CEO Peter Smith said in an email to investors seen by Business Insider that the company “added half a million new sign-ups this week alone.”

3. Japanese stocks struggled for traction on Monday as gains in financial shares were offset by drops in real estate and construction companies. The Nikkei closed up 0.61%. Elsewhere in Asia, the Hong Kong Hang Seng is up 0.81% at the time of writing (6.20 a.m. GMT/1.20 a.m. ET) and China’s Shanghai Composite is up 0.75%.

4. Troubled international retail conglomerate Steinhoff, whose shares plunged last week after disclosing accounting problems, said on Sunday it had appointed two advisory firms ahead of a meeting with lenders on December 19. The South African company said it has appointed U.S. investment bank Moelis & Co to advise the company on talks with its lenders and has asked management consultancy AlixPartners “to assist on liquidity management and operational measures.”

5. Man Group is launching a quantitative hedge fund in China that it will market to wealthy Chinese investors as it becomes the first foreign investment company to start an onshore hedge fund in the country. The Financial Times reports that the fund, to be managed by Man’s AHL quantitative trading unit in Shanghai, will trade using computer algorithms seeking to capitalise on market swings.

6. Squeezed British consumers reined in Christmas travel plans and bought fewer new cars last month, setting the stage for the first fall in festive spending in five years, credit card company Visa said on Monday. Reuters reports that the downbeat message came alongside a cut by the British Chambers of Commerce to its economic outlook for the next two years as the business organisation sees inflation rising faster than pay.

7. London’s property market is in for another rough ride next year, according to Rightmove. Bloomberg reports that home values in the capital are likely to fall another 2% in 2018 after a 1.8% decline this year, the real estate website operator said Monday.

8. Uber will defend its right to operate in London in a court hearing on Monday after the app was deemed unfit to run a taxi service and stripped of its licence in its most important European market. Regulator Transport for London (TfL) shocked the Silicon Valley firm by rejecting its licence renewal bid in September, citing its approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers.

9. Britain’s Labour Party is considering moving some of Bank of England’s functions to Birmingham, from its current home in Threadneedle Street in the City of London, according to an interim report on the British financial system released on Sunday. Launched by the opposition Labour Party’s finance policy chief John McDonnell, the report was led by consultants GFC Economics.

10. Currency traders, as a whole, still expect the US dollar to strengthen in the period ahead. However, confidence in that view appears to be slipping. That’s the finding of the latest Commitment of Traders (CoT) report released by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) last Friday, with net long US dollar positioning in the greenback falling for a third consecutive week.

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