10 things you need to know before European markets open

Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.

The biggest beer merger of the century could be wrapped up soon. Anheuser-Busch InBev, which has agreed to buy rival brewer SABMiller, plans to contact potential bidders for SABMiller’s Grolsch and Peroni beers on Friday and wrap up deals in less than three months, sources close to the process told Reuters.

The Argentine peso is falling apart. The US dollar shot up by more than 4% against the Argentine peso on Thursday, a day after the new pro-business government scrapped its leftist predecessors’ foreign exchange restrictions.

The IMF chief faces trial. A French court has ordered Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, to face trial over her role in a pay-out of some €400 million ($434 million) to businessman Bernard Tapie.

US unemployment is falling. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week fell from a five-month high, suggesting further Federal Reserve interest rate hikes next year. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 271,000 for the week ended Dec.12

VW is reshuffling its managers. Volkswagen said engineer Ulrich Eichhorn would become its research and development chief under a reshuffle of senior managers. His predecessor, Ulrich Hackenberg, had left the company more than two months after he was suspended during the firm’s diesel emissions scandal.

The central bank of Japan surprised the markets. BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has surprised markets in Asia today with the announcement of the expansion of the bank’s quantitative easing program to include exchange traded funds.

Putin had tough words for Turkey. Russian President Vladimir Putin fired off an angry tirade against Turkey, ruling out any reconciliation with its leaders and accusing Ankara of shooting down a Russian warplane to impress the United States. “We find it difficult if not impossible to come to an agreement with the current leadership of Turkey,” he said.

Boeing won a massive order from a Chinese airline. China Southern Airlines has ordered 110 planes from Boeing worth approximately $10 billion at list prices, the airline said.

The German economy got some bad news. German business confidence fell slightly in December, the Ifo economic institute said. The Ifo institute’s closely-watched business climate index slipped to 108.7 points in December from 109.0 points in November, a fractionally steeper drop than analysts had been expecting.

WhatsApp got blocked in Brazil. A Brazilian court has ordered cellular service providers nationwide to block the popular WhatsApp smartphone application for two days until midnight Saturday, in a move roundly denounced by parent company Facebook.

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