Good morning! Here’s what you need to know in markets on Monday.
The British pound has been hammered in early Asian trade on Monday, dropping to its lowest level against the US dollar since the “flash crash” of early October last year. Sterling is down 1.18% against the dollar to $1.2031 at the time of writing (6.12 a.m. GMT/1.12 a.m. ET). The move followed a series of newspaper reports over the weekend that suggested Theresa May will likely push for a “hard Brexit” in a highly anticipated speech to be delivered on this week.
Asian stock markets are falling. Japan’s Nikkei closed down 0.97% on Monday, the Hong Kong Hang Seng is down 0.95% at the time of writing (6.23 a.m. GMT/1.23 a.m. ET), and China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite index is down 0.84%.
Italian eyewear maker Luxottica and French corrective eye lens maker Essilor have agreed on a €50 billion (£44.1 billion, $53.16 billion) merger, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The deal would make Luxottica’s founder, Leonardo Del Vecchio, the largest single shareholder in the combined company with about a 30% stake, the FT said.
Britain could change its economic rules to regain competitiveness if it were to leave the European Union without an agreement on market access, Chancellor Phillip Hammond said in a German newspaper interview published on Sunday. In a thinly veiled threat that Britain could use its corporate tax as a form of leverage in Brexit negotiations, Hammond told Welt am Sonntag he hoped Britain would remain a European-style economy with corresponding tax and regulation systems.
US President-elect Donald Trump said Brexit will turn out to be a “great thing” and says he wants stocks of nuclear weapons should be reduced very substantially as part of any deal with Russia, The Times newspaper reported. Trump said he would work very hard to get a trade deal with the United Kingdom “done quickly and done properly.”
BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, wants the UK’s biggest companies to rethink how much they pay their top execs, according to a letter that was first leaked to The Financial Times (FT). In the letter, written by the head of BlackRock’s investment stewardship team in Europe, Amra Balic, Blackrock states that pay increases for top executives should reflect those given to the broader workforce.
Britain is one of the worst advanced countries for employment opportunities, pay, living standards, and social inclusion, according to a new report. The finding comes from the World Economic Forum, which released a major report entitled “WEF Inclusive Growth and Development Report” on Sunday evening, ahead of its Davos conference this week.
President-elect Donald Trump has warned BMW that the United States will impose a border tax of 35% on cars that the German carmaker plans to build at a new plant in Mexico and export to the US market. Trump was speaking in an interview with German newspaper Bild, which on Sunday released excerpts of his comments translated into German.
The City is gearing up for its largest stock market float in five years with the £11 billion ($13.2 billion) listing of warehouse giant Logicor. The Daily Mail reports that the commercial landlord, which owns 600 premises across Europe, is reportedly considering an initial public offering in the first six months of the year in a major boost for Britain.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney is speaking at the London School of Economics this evening. The governor is giving a lecture on “Policy Issues Affecting the Bank of England” at 6.30 p.m. GMT (1.30 p.m. ET), followed by an on-the-record Q&A session with Amartya Sen, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University.