10 things you need to know before European markets open

PutinREUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/KremlinRussian President Vladimir Putin is meeting Greek PM Alexis Tsipras today, and lifting a food import ban may be on the table.

Good morning! Here are 10 things you need to know in markets today.

Shell is in talks to buy the £30.6 billion ($US46 billion) British gas company BG Group. According to The Wall Street Journal, Royal Dutch Shell is in talks to acquire British gas producer BG Group, which has a market value of $US46 billion. Shell’s market cap is over $US190 billion. According to headlines from Bloomberg on Tuesday night, BG Group confirmed to Bloomberg News that it is in talks to be acquired by Shell.

Germany says Greek demands for Nazi-era reparations are dumb. Germany snubbed Greece’s call for more than 278 billion euros ($US306 billion) in war payments Tuesday, calling it “dumb” to mix World War II claims with Athens’ negotiations for more aid. Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said calls for reparations for the brutal four-year Nazi occupation of Greece only hampered progress on efforts to financially shore up Athens.

Eurozone retail sales are coming. March’s retail sales figures will be released at 10 a.m. London time (5 a.m. ET), and will offer a signal as to how strong the current recovery is — so far, consumers have been leading the rebound, and analysts expect a 2.8% rise in sales year-on-year, down 0.2% from February.

Greek protesters torched cars and rioted. A small group of black-clad anti-establishment protesters clashed with riot police in central Athens on Tuesday, hurling petrol bombs and burning cars after a march against high-security prisons.

Saudi Arabia reported record oil production levels. Crude prices dropped on Wednesday after Saudi Arabia reported record production of 10.3 million barrels per day in March, a figure the country’s oil minister said was unlikely to fall by much. Brent crude is currently down 0.99% to $US58.29 per barrel.

US consumer credit jumped to a record high in February. Consumers increased their borrowing to a record high in February, driven by a large jump in auto and student loans. The Federal Reserve reported Tuesday that consumer borrowing expanded $US15.5 billion in February following a $US10.8 billion gain in January. The February increase pushed borrowing to a fresh record of $US3.34 trillion.

Russia may lift its food import ban on Hungary, Cyprus and Greece. The Russian government could consider removing Greece, Hungary and Cyprus from its ban on most Western food imports, Russian Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov was quoted as saying on Tuesday. Russia’s ban, which should run until early August, was imposed in retaliation to Western sanctions on Russia over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis.

China says Iran has joined its new development bank as a founding member. Iran has been accepted as a founding member of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported late on Tuesday.

Asian markets are solidly up. Japan’s Nikkei is 0.75% higher, China’s Shanghai Composite is 0.79% higher and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has boomed, up 2.96%.

A US private equity firm just agreed $US1 billion (£921.9 billion) in investment for Mexican energy infrastructure. Mexico’s state oil company Pemex and US private equity firm First Reserve announced an agreement Tuesday to invest $US1 billion in energy infrastructure and maritime transport projects.

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