10 things you need to know in markets today

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

Chinese stocks are tanking. The benchmark Shanghai Composite is down 5.65% at the time of writing (6.35 a.m. GMT/1.35 a.m. ET) and the Hong Kong Hang Seng is down 1.41%. Elsewhere, Japan’s Nikkei closed up 1.41%.

Oil continues to slide. At the time of writing (6.35 a.m. GMT/1.35 a.m. ET), the price of Brent is down 0.64% at $34.19 (£24.55) and US crude is 0.62% lower at $31.95 (£22.94).

Japan’s Sharp on Thursday agreed to a takeover by Taiwan’s Foxconn, a source familiar with the matter said, in what would be the largest acquisition by a foreign company in Japan’s insular technology sector. The Taiwanese firm, known formally as Hon Hai Precision Industry, has offered to invest 659 billion yen (£4.2 billion, $5.9 billion) in Sharp, sources have previously said. Foxconn is known for assembling iPhones, Kindles, and PlayStations.

Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev reported fourth-quarter earnings that missed analysts’ estimates and said the Brazilian and Chinese markets will be challenging this year. Bloomberg reports that adjusted operating income rose 6.6% on an organic basis to $4.31 billion (£3.1 billion). Analysts expected a 9.2% gain, according to the consensus. The company is in the process of acquiring SABMiller for more than $100 billion (£71 billion).

UK GDP numbers are coming. The latest measures of fourth-quarter GDP growth will be released at 9.30 a.m. GMT (4.30 a.m. ET) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Economists are expecting quarter-on-quarter growth to remain unchanged at 0.5%, giving an annualised growth rate of 1.9%.

Shell is closing its US shale business and said on Wednesday that the unit’s director and US head Marvin Odum would leave. The Anglo-Dutch company said its shale resources unit would become part of the upstream business led by Andy Brown. Its Athabasca Oil Sands Project and Scotford Upgrader in Canada would fall under the downstream unit, headed by John Abbott.

Some of the best-known hedge fund managers in the world gathered for a private investment conference at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on Tuesday to discuss their market views. No one predicted a massive stock market rally. No one predicted a further decline. No one was trying to be super provocative, either. Everyone seemed relatively safe.

France is seeking €1.6 billion (£1.2 billion, $1.76 billion) in back taxes from Google, a source at the finance ministry said on Wednesday. “As far as our country is concerned, back taxes concerning this company amount to €1.6 billion,” the official, who declined to be named, said. A spokeswoman for Google France declined to comment. An unsourced 2012 media report mentioned a claim for €1 billion by French authorities, which Google denied at the time.

HP, which houses former Hewlett-Packard’s legacy hardware business, reported a 12% drop in quarterly revenue, as it struggles with weak demand for PCs and printers. The company’s earnings from continuing operations fell to $650 million (£466.8 million) from $770 million (£552 million) a year earlier. Revenue fell to $12.25 billion (£8.8 billion) from $13.86 billion (£9.9 billion).

UK fintech, or financial technology, startups and businesses raised almost $1 billion in funding last year, according to industry body Innovate Finance.Innovate Finance said on Wednesday that the UK attracted $901 million (£647.5 million) in investment, the third highest investment total globally after the US and China. The UK had the second highest number of fintech funding deals in 2015 after the US.

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