Good morning! Here’s what you need to know on Friday.
Alphabet’s stock sank in after hours trading on Thursday after the Google-parent company missed Wall Street’s earnings target. Google’s mobile search and video ads boosted revenue in the fourth quarter, but increased spending in hardware and other new businesses, as well as a larger-than-expected tax rate, weighted on the bottom line.
Microsoft beat Wall Street expectations for both earnings per share and revenues on Thursday. The star of the show was Microsoft’s cloud computing business, which continued to post strong gains even as its traditional Windows and Office businesses show signs of struggle. Microsoft reported earnings per share of $0.84 on an adjusted basis, versus $0.79 expected, and revenues of $25.8 billion.
Pre-tax profits at Swiss bank UBS rose 47% to 1.1 billion Swiss francs in the last three months of 2016 compared with the same period 12 months earlier, the bank announced on Friday. “Although macroeconomic uncertainty, geopolitical tensions and divisive politics continue to affect client sentiment and transaction volumes, we have begun to observe improved investor confidence,” a UBS release said, according to the Financial Times.
Barclays has chosen Dublin, capital of the Republic of Ireland, as its headquarters within the European Union post-Brexit, according to a report by Bloomberg. The report said Britain’s banking giant is aiming to make its Dublin outfit its European HQ so it would not lose access to the Single Market, regardless of how the government’s negotiations turn out with EU officials.
The UK government on Thursday published its “Brexit bill,” which paves the way for Britain’s exit from the European Union. The bill, if passed, would give Prime Minister Theresa May the authorisation to trigger Article 50, starting the two-year negotiation period for Britain to leave the 28-nation bloc. Titled the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017, contains just two clauses.
The German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned that the European Union “could fall apart” if populist parties got into power in the Netherlands or France. During his last annual economic outlook before switching to foreign affairs, Gabriel issued a stark warning against the recent wave of support for populist parties. “The French presidential elections this spring are bitter fateful elections for Europe,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump are expected to hold their first phone call this Saturday, the TASS news agency cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying. The Kremlin has previously said it has no information for now about when the two men might have their first meeting.
Hong Kong’s securities regulator said brokers in the city had suffered cyber attacks and warned of possible further incidents across the industry. In a circular to licensed firms late on Thursday, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said it had been informed by the Hong Kong police that brokers had encountered so-called “distributed denial of service” (DDoS) attacks targeting their websites and received blackmails from criminals.
Britain’s economy grew faster than expected in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to a preliminary GDP release from the Office for National Statistics on Thursday. According to the ONS’ data, GDP grew by 0.6% in the quarter, in line the consensus forecast of economists who saw growth increasing by 0.5%.
Spanish government officials want to start negotiating a trade deal with the UK to take effect after Brexit, going against the official position of key negotiators in Brussels. In an interview with the Financial Times, Spain’s foreign minister Alfonso Dastis said that he believes starting trade talks before the full terms of Brexit are agreed would be beneficial to all involved in Britain’s divorce from the EU.