10 things you need to know in markets today

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

1. Labour has called for the prime minister’s husband Philip May to answer “serious” questions about his role at a company linked to the Paradise Papers tax avoidance scandal. Leaked emails seen by Private Eye suggest that investment advisors Capital Group, where Mr May is a relationship manager, used offshore law firm Appleby to arrange investments in tax havens.

2. Bitcoin demand is ramping up to end the week, with the world’s biggest cryptocurrency pushing through $US8,000 on major trading exchanges. The latest bitcoin surge comes amid further regulatory developments in the cryptocurrency market. Overnight, the CEO of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) said it would introduce measures to curb volatility once bitcoin futures are up and running.

3. Comcast and Verizon have approached 21st Century Fox to buy at least part of the company, CNBC and The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The news comes about a week after CNBC reported that Disney was recently in talks to buy most of 21st Century Fox. It signals that the three companies may engage in a bidding war for the $US54-billion owner of the Fox News Channel.

4. The pound remains the most overvalued of all the world’s major currencies on a long-term basis, according to analysis from staff at Swiss banking giant UBS released earlier this month. UBS’ 2018 Markets Outlook, part of its annual Global Macro Strategy note — a monster of over 300 pages in total — argues that when stripping out political concerns around Brexit, the pound remains overvalued by as much as 19% thanks to the UK’s substantial current account deficit.

5. Mergers-and-acquisitions transactions worth over $US10 billion are surging back after a largely dormant first half of the year, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters. Wall Street bankers say an improving global economy and confidence in the regulatory environment are playing a role. The looming threat of supercorporations like Amazon has many large companies evaluating whether they can be an endgame winner — and whether they need to strike a deal to get there.

6. It is “incredibly unlikely” that Britain will not be able to negotiate a deal with the European Union on its departure from the bloc, Brexit Secretary David Davis said on Thursday. Davis told a business conference in Berlin he hoped the European Commission would be able by Christmas to proceed to the next stage of Brexit negotiations – on future ties between Britain and the EU.

7. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein on Thursday hinted at support for a second Brexit referendum in a 264-character tweet. “Here in UK, lots of hand-wringing from CEOs over #Brexit. Better sense of the tough and risky road ahead. Reluctant to say, but many wish for a confirming vote on a decision so monumental and irreversible. So much at stake, why not make sure consensus still there?” — Blankfein tweeted.

8. The US and China now disagree on how to deal with North Korea. China said the best option is a “freeze-for-freeze” of action by North Korea and the US, but Trump said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping “agreed we would not accept” that option.

9. Satellite images taken this month of a North Korean naval shipyard indicate Pyongyang is pursuing an “aggressive schedule” to build its first operational ballistic missile submarine, a U.S. institute reported on Thursday. Washington-based 38 North, a North Korea monitoring project, cited images taken on Nov. 5 showing activity at North Korea’s Sinpo South Shipyard.

10. Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has been spotted for the first time since military action began. Pictures show Mugabe smiling and shaking hands with the military chief who seized power this week, but no further details have been released.

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