10 things you need to know before European markets open

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China’s exports fell less than expected. China’s December exports fell 1.4% from a year earlier, while imports slid 7.6%, both much less than economists had expected but still likely consigning the economy to its weakest annual growth in 25 years.

BP is slashing jobs. The company said that it will axe more than 4,000 jobs worldwide over the next two years in response to collapsing oil prices. It will “reduce BP upstream staff globally from 24,000 to somewhere below 20,000 by year-end 2017.”

Oil got an absolute hammering. The price of a WTI crude oil fell to as low as $29.96 per barrel. This is the first time the price crossed below $30 since December 2003, as OPEC member Nigeria called for an emergency meeting to address collapsing prices that have ravaged revenues.

McDonald’s faces a European competition action. Three Italian consumer groups lodged a far-ranging anti-trust complaint with EU regulators against US fast food giant McDonald’s, urging Brussels to investigate the company’s franchise system which they say harms consumers.

California rejected VW’s fix for diesel emissions. The California Air Resources Board said it had rejected Volkswagen AG’s plan to fix 2.0 litre diesel cars with software that allow them to emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution.

It’s getting harder to hire in the US. Job openings rose in November and employers appeared to have trouble finding qualified workers, a trend that could trigger a pick-up in wage growth this year. Job openings, a measure of labour demand, increased 82,000 to a seasonally adjusted 5.43 million.

BlackRock shuffled its management. The company reshuffled the managers of some of its most important investment units, including its stock and bond picking businesses by combining its two stock picking business into one unit that reports directly to BlackRock President Rob Kapito.

Christine Lagarde warned the US on more rate hikes. Further interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve should be gradual or they risk hurting already fragile emerging economies, where many companies borrow in dollars, the head of the International Monetary Fund said.

Greece is selling a big stake in a major port to China. Greece’s privatization fund says China’s Cosco Group is the only bidder for a majority stake in the port of Piraeus, which is the debt-mired country’s biggest.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned NATO not to provoke Russia. “I very much hope that such events do not grow into large military conflicts. But if Russia’s interests and security are threatened, Russia will resist. Everyone needs to know that,” he told German newspaper Bild.

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