Good morning! Here are the 10 things you need to know in markets on Monday.
Global stock markets are diving again, led by China. Asia has opened lower on Monday morning, with Japan’s Nikkei down 0.39% at time of writing (6.25 a.m. GMT/1.25 a.m. ET), Hong Kong’s Hang Seng down 2.08%, and China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite is down 3.30%.
Surprising markets for the second consecutive session, the People’s Bank of China announced a stronger than expected yuan fixing for Monday, setting the USD/CNY rate at 6.5626. The number was below Friday’s fixing of 6.5636 and the final traded price of 6.5938 seen on Friday evening. A lower number indicates that the yuan has strengthened against the US dollar.
Oil is diving again. UK Brent is down 1.4% at $33.08 (£22.76) at 6.50 a.m. GMT (1.50 a.m. ET), while US crude is down 2.28% at $32.41 (£22.30).
Japanese beverage maker Asahi is planning a £2.4 billion ($3.5 billion) bid for popular European beer brands Grolsch and Peroni, the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Shimbu newspaper has reported. The Telegraph reports that Grolsch and Peroni are being off-loaded by Anheuser-Busch InBev, as part of its mammoth takeover of FTSE-100 brewer SAB Miller, dubbed “Megabrew”.
Sainsbury’s faces an uphill struggle to take over Argos and Homebase after several shareholders demanded more than £1.6 billion ($2.33 billion) for the high street empire. The Sunday Times reports that Old Mutual Global Investors, a top 10 shareholder in Argos and Homebase-owner Home Retail Group, and another big investor speaking to the paper anonymously both believe a deal will only be done above the 200p a share offer level. Sainsbury’s is believed to have made an offer around the current 136p share price.
Asda has predicted another year of “intense pressure” for the struggling supermarket sector as the global economy remains “turbulent.” The BBC reports that Asda boss Andy Clarke says he will sink another £500 million ($726.5 million) into the price war with his rivals, as part of “radical action to win back our customers.”
Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group, owned by the country’s richest man, said revenue surged nearly 20% in 2015, despite worsening economic conditions in its home market. Wanda, founded by Wang Jianlin, has its origins in commercial property but is diversifying into areas ranging from entertainment to e-commerce.
Heathrow has handed its owners £2.1 billion ($3 billion) in dividends over the past four years — but paid only £24 million ($34.8 million) corporation tax in almost a decade. The Sunday Times reports that the airport was saddled with big debts after the Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial led a £16 billion ($23.2 billion) takeover of BAA, Heathrow’s owner, in 2006. Interest payments on the £12.5 billion ($18.1 billion) of loans can be set against profits, leaving almost no corporation tax to be paid.
Saudi Arabia should use its massive foreign exchange reserves to defend the riyal, amid fears the world is descending into a new phase of global currency wars, the World Bank has said. The Telegraph reports that kingdom’s shaky currency peg with the dollar has come under record pressure this week as the price of oil has plummeted to near 12-year lows at $32-a-barrel.
Volkswagen chief executive Matthias Mueller has apologised for cheating diesel car emissions tests on his first official US visit since the scandal broke in September. “We know we deeply disappointed our customers, the responsible government bodies, and the general public here in America,” the head of the German carmaker said at a media reception on the eve of the Detroit auto show.
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