10 things you need to know in markets today

Bob diamondGettyFormer Barclays Chief Executive Bob Diamond

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

1. President Donald Trump welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday for a White House meeting that could help determine the future of the transatlantic alliance and shape the working relationship between two of the world’s most powerful leaders. The new U.S. president and the long-serving stateswoman, whose country is Europe’s largest economy, will discuss funding for NATO and relations with Russia in their first meeting since Trump took office in January.

2. Bob Diamond was last night set to make a City comeback as his private equity firm prepared to mount a takeover of one of London’s most famous stockbrokers, reports the Times. Atlas Merchant Capital, the buyout company founded by the former Barclays chief, was in talks to buy Panmure Gordon as part of a deal that would see the private equity investor link up with the broker’s Qatari backers.

3. The Bank of England confirmed on Thursday that its base interest rate, as well as its quantitative easing programme, will remain unchanged after the March meeting of its Monetary Policy Committee. At 12.00 p.m. GMT (8.00 a.m. ET) Britain’s central bank held rates at 0.25% and maintained its ceiling for bond buying at £435 billion.

4. The Federal Reserve’s return to higher interest rates could lend a hand to beleaguered counterparts in Japan and Europe and signal the end of a long cycle of monetary stimulus across Asia, as central banks from Beijing to Ankara to London reacted on Thursday to the U.S. policy change, reports Reuters. In a surprise, the Bank of England said one of its policymakers voted this week to raise borrowing costs and some others felt it would not take much for them to follow suit, signalling growing pressure to tighten even while rates were kept low at 0.25 per cent.

5. An £11.7 billion bid for Sky launched by 21st Century Fox is to be investigated by regulators, after ministers said that it raised public interest questions over media plurality and broadcasting standards, reports the Times. Karen Bradley, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, told MPs yesterday that she was seeking advice from Ofcom, the media watchdog, and the Competition and Markets Authority on the implications of the deal.

6. Barrick Gold Corp, the world’s biggest gold producer, is exploring options for its Lagunas Norte mine in Peru, including the sale of part or all of the asset, three people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Barrick, which is working with Toronto Dominion Bank, may prefer to hold 50 per cent of Lagunas Norte, but it was unclear if the company wanted to keep control of the open-pit mine as operator, the people added.

7. British intelligence officials angrily slapped down claims that President Donald Trump had been under surveillance by GCHQ during his election campaign, after they were repeated by the White House, reports the Financial Times. ;The UK’s usually tight-lipped electronic intelligence agency broke with its convention of not formally commenting on intelligence matters after Sean Spicer, Mr Trump’s press secretary, repeated the claims of a Fox News analyst that Barack Obama, the former president, had used GCHQ to do his dirty work.

8. Trump’s first budget outline, calling for a security-heavy realignment of federal spending, drew resistance on Thursday from his fellow Republicans in the U.S. Congress as many balked at proposed deep cuts to diplomatic and foreign aid programs, reports Reuters.

9. Japan’s Nikkei share average edged down on Friday morning, as the yen held steady against the dollar after the U.S. Federal Reserve signalled fewer interest rate hikes than some investors had expected. The Nikkei shed 0.3 per cent to 19,523.27 in mid-morning trade, with the index heading to a weekly loss for the first time in three weeks ahead of the three-day weekend. The Nikkei has fallen 0.4 per cent so far this week. Markets are closed on Monday for a national holiday.

10. London copper was steady on Friday, remaining on course to mark its biggest weekly advance since mid-February on a weaker dollar and ongoing mine supply concerns. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was little changed at $US5,902 a tonne by 0238 GMT, after a 0.7-per cent gain from the previous session. Prices on Thursday reached $US5,948.50, the strongest since March 6 and were set for gains of around 3 per cent for the week.

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