Good morning! Here’s what you need to know in markets on Wednesday.
Lloyds is planning to establish a subsidiary in Germany or the Netherlands if the UK leaves the EU without retaining access to its single market, according to two people briefed on the matter. The Financial Times reports that the London-based bank, which focuses most of its business on the UK, is the only British high street lender without a subsidiary in another EU country.
BP will pay A$1.785 billion (£1 billion, $1.3 billion) for Woolworths’ network of Australian gas stations in a deal that will cement the London-based oil company as one of the nation’s biggest fuel providers. Bloomberg reports that the British energy company will acquire 527 fuel outlets that are currently supplied by rival Caltex Australia, as well as 16 development sites, according to a statement Wednesday from Sydney-based supermarket owner Woolworths.
Shares in chips-to-construction group Toshiba tumbled 20% on Wednesday, hitting the Tokyo exchange’s daily downward limit after the company said it could face a multi-billion dollar charge on a US nuclear power business bought last year. Addressing reporters late on Tuesday, Reuters reports that Toshiba executives declined to provide further details on the hit, adding the sum would be finalised by mid-February.
South Korea’s antitrust regulator fined Qualcomm 1.03 trillion won (£694.7 million, $854 million) for what it called unfair business practices in patent licensing and modem chip sales, a decision the US firm said it will challenge in court. The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said on Wednesday Qualcomm abused its dominant market position and forced handset makers to pay royalties for an unnecessarily broad set of patents as part of sales of its modem chips. The fine is the largest ever levied in South Korea.
The Italian government is likely to put in about €6.5 billion (£5.5 billion, $6.8 billion) to rescue the country’s third-biggest lender, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, more than initially expected, sources close to the matter said on Tuesday. The higher cost of the state rescue is due to the fact that the European Central Bank has revised the bank’s capital shortfall to €8.8 billion from a previous estimate of €5 billion.
Home ownership rates in the UK could be a lot lower than official government figures suggest, according to new research from living standards think tank The Resolution Foundation. Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggests family home ownership in the UK has fallen to 64% in the past decade (from levels of more than 70% in the mid-2000s), but The Resolution Foundation believes only around 51% of families in the UK own their own homes.
UK mortgage approval numbers are coming. The British Bankers’ Association (BBA) will release stats for November at 9.30 a.m. GMT (4.30 a.m. ET). Approvals are forecast to rise to 41,600, up from 40,851 in October.
US home prices have hit their highest levels since the financial crisis, according to the October reading of the S&P/Case-Shiller index. The national home-price index rose by 5.6% on an annualized basis in October, up from 5.4% in the prior month.
Stocks did virtually nothing as skeleton crews returned after the Christmas holiday. All of the major US indices managed to scrape into the green, but still finished little changed, although the Nasdaq closed at an all-time high. Japan’s Nikkei closed down 0.01%, China’s Shanghai Composite is down 0.31% at the time of writing (6.30 a.m. GMT/1.30 a.m. ET), and the Hong Kong Hang Seng is up 0.34%.
The CEO of Danish fintech company Tradeshift tells Business Insider his business is trying to do for trade finance what Google did for advertising. Santander, HSBC, American Express, and China’s biggest online loan marketplace have all invested in the 6-year-old company.
The “Netflix for dresses” startup, Rent The Runway, has proven it can make a profit — an achievement rewarded with a $60 million (£48.8 million) investment from Fidelity meant to accelerate its growth, the company told Recode’s Jason Del Rey. According to Recode’s report, the company finally achieved profitability on an EBITDA basis on its $100 million (£81.3 million) revenue run rate this year.
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