10 things you need to know in markets today

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

Crude oil is slipping in early trading on Friday. Both major benchmarks are in the red, following the announcement of record crude stocks. Brent crude has slipped to around $33.94, a fall of 1%. West Texas Intermediate’s losses are a little smaller. At 6:20 a.m. GMT (1:20 a.m. ET) it had fallen 0.7% to $32.70 per barrel.

Asian shares slipped from near three-week highs hit earlier this month on Friday, as a rally in oil prices paused and investors remained cautious about the outlook of the global economy.

A Chinese insurance company is planning one of the country’s biggest ever IPOs. Reuters reports that i
nternet insurer Zhong An Online Property and Casualty Insurance plans an initial public offering worth as much as $2 billion in 2016, listing on the Chinese mainland. The news was first reported by IFR on Friday, which cited people close to the deal.

A JP Morgan executive has pointed out five key disconnects between economic and market sentiment right now. JP Morgan Asset Management’s chief global strategist David Kelly told Business Insider that there is an interesting disconnect between economic and market sentiment. He said that “historically bear markets have tended to arrive hand-in-hand with economic recessions,” but right now this isn’t the case.

The People’s Bank of China has increased its reserve requirement ratio (RRR) — the amount of cash that banks must hold — for some banks which have been lending excessively. Business Insider Australia reports that the action was taken after Chinese banks handed out a mammoth 2.51 trillion yuan ($US390 billion) worth of new loans in January. No further details on the increase are available yet.

Renegotiation talks about the UK’s position within the European Union continued through the night on Friday. “For now I can only say that we have made some progress but a lot needs to be done,” EU president Donald Tusk said overnight. British prime minister David Cameron is trying to secure a deal that he thinks will keep Britain in the EU at next year’s planned referendum on membership.

Sovereign wealth funds are pulling large amounts of money out of stocks across the globe. According to Victoria Barbary, a director of the Investec Investment Institute, sovereign wealth funds in countries like Kuwait and the UAE are pulling out of the markets because they are being called upon to fund government spending plans in the face of low oil prices.

HSBC is about to introduce voice recognition and touch security services in the UK. The BBC reports that the bank is implementing “the largest planned rollout of voice biometric security technology in the UK”. The service is expected to be available to around 15 million UK customers. Frances McDonagh HSBC’s UK head of retail banking and wealth management said: “The launch of voice and touch ID makes it even quicker and easier for customers to access their bank account, using the most secure form of password technology – the body.”

Google’s former “business founder” just bought nearly $2 million worth of Twitter shares. According to a regulatory filing, Omid Kordestani, who left Google to join Twitter as executive chairman in October, just bought around 12,000 shares in the company.

Italy’s strained banks are using wheels of Parmesan cheese to back loans. Since the financial crisis, Italian banks have cut lending drastically, leaving small firms to find other ways to pay the bills. A dairy cooperative near Bologna has come up with a novel solution to its funding needs, bonds backed by wheels of cheese.

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