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Five Things to Know in World Business Today

These translations are done via Google Translate
December 20, 2017 by Lorcan Roche Kelly


Tax reform passes Senate vote, Europe says Uber is a taxi company, and Spain is back on the risk map. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Deal (almost) done

In the early hours of the morning the Senate voted 51-48 to pass the Republican tax overhaul plan. Following a very last minute revision to comply with Senate chamber rules, the bill will go back to the House for another vote this morning before it’s sent to President Donald Trump to sign. GOP lawmakers turning their attention to preventing a government shutdown before Friday’s funding cut-off will have little time to celebrate the legislative victory.

Uber is in the cab business

The European Union’s highest court ruled this morning that Uber Technologies Inc. should be regulated as a transport company. The decision, which cannot be appealed, is likely to set a benchmark for how firms in the gig economy will be dealt with in Europe. For Uber, the ruling is a setback, though not an unexpected one, with the company already seeking to get licensed to operate as a cab company in London after it was briefly banned from operating there earlier this year.

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There’s a regional election in Catalonia tomorrow where secessionist parties are seen unlikely to win a majority in the Barcelona assembly. A victory for federalist parties would raise market hopes for a recovery in the country’s stocks which have underperformed their European peers this year. The bond market may not get such a ready boost from the outcome as tomorrow is also the day the ECB suspends asset purchases for the year. Spain may also be about to throw a spanner in Brexit negotiations as the country wants clarity from the U.K. on the future of Gibraltar before it entertains second-round talks.

Markets not doing much

Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.1 percent, while Japan’s Topix index added 0.3 percent higher for its highest close since 1991. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.1 percent lower at 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time in thin trading ahead of the holiday break. S&P 500 futures added 0.3 percent, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.455 percent and gold remained range bound.

Oil future

Forecasts for 2018 are coming thick and fast, and the oil market is certainly getting its fair share. A survey of analysts conducted by Bloomberg showed a median estimate for Brent at $60 a barrel next year, and West Texas Intermediate at $55. Most agree on one thing: the deciding factor for the price of oil is once again U.S. shale production. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has one of the most bullish forecasts for the commodity, predicting that OPEC will be able to exit from its production cuts earlier than expected. In the market this morning, a barrel of WTI for February deliver was trading at $57.75 as data was said to show U.S. inventories falling more than expected.

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