10 things you need to know in markets today

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

1. Theresa May has been given the power to trigger Article 50 — the two-year formal process by which Britain will leave the EU — after both houses of parliament voted to pass the Brexit bill unamended on Monday evening. MPs overturned two amendments to the Brexit bill that would have protected the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and ensured that parliament had a “meaningful vote” on the terms of Brexit at the end of the Article 50 negotiating process.

2. Theresa May will not trigger Article 50 and initiate Britain’s formal departure from the European Union until the final few days of March, the prime minister has indicated. May had been expected to trigger Article 50 — the two-year process by which Britain will leave the EU — as early as Tuesday afternoon, after the Brexit bill passed both Houses of Parliaments.

3. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that free trade was important for both the United States and Germany in a speech to business leaders in Munich ahead of her trip to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, Reuters reports.“The United States of America is a key trading partner for Germany and for the entire European Union,” Merkel said ahead of her visit on Tuesday.

4. Stock and currency markets had a muted reaction to Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement of plans for a second referendum on Scotland’s independence from Britain on Monday. The FTSE 100 was up 0.34% at the market close, while the pound was up 0.46% against the dollar at the same time.

5. The US Federal Reserve, which has struggled to stoke inflation since the financial crisis and up until now raised rates less frequently than it and markets expected, may be about to hit the accelerator on rate hikes, reports Reuters. On Wednesday, the U.S. central bank is almost universally expected to raise its benchmark interest rates, a move that just a few weeks ago was viewed by the markets as unlikely. And with inflation showing signs of perking up, Fed policymakers may signal there could be more than the three rate rises they have forecast for this year.

6. Toshiba once again missed its earnings deadline, sparking an 8% slide in its shares amid deepening uncertainty about the extent of the crisis at its US nuclear unit Westinghouse, reports the FT. The struggling Japanese conglomerate, listed in the Tokyo Stock Exchange, said on Tuesday that it was seeking its second extension after an internal investigation by lawyers confirmed that several senior managers at Westinghouse exerted “inappropriate pressure” over accounts related to the purchase of Stone & Webster, a US nuclear construction company, in 2015.

7. Japanese stocks barely moved on Tuesday ahead of an expected U.S. interest rate hike, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei average opened flat at 19,634.29 on Tuesday, while the broader Topix shed 0.02% to 1,577.15.

8. London copper edged higher on Tuesday on expectations of stronger demand for the metal after China, the world’s biggest copper user, reported better-than-forecast industrial output data and fixed-asset investment figures. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange climbed 0.3% to $US5,814 a tonne by 2.51 a.m. GMT, adding to the 1.1% gain during the previous session.

9. Shares in British homebuilder Bovis Homes jumped nearly 10% on Monday after it confirmed two takeover approaches from rival bidders. Shares were up 9.96% at the close, valuing the company at about £1.2 billion.

10. Simply Business, the UK’s largest business insurance broker, is being sold to US insurance giant The Travellers Companies for $US490 million (£400 million). Private equity-owned Simply Business, operational since 2005, is the UK’s leading online broker for business insurance.

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