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Five Things to Know in World Business Today


By Laura Curtis

China eases up on tariffs, banks count down to ECB, and some surprise M&A action. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Fish food

China is seeking to ease the impact of the trade war by exempting certain U.S. goods from  the 25% tariffs put in place last year, although the move won’t help corn, soybean and pork producers, who are all left off the list. The world’s second-biggest economy’s tariff retaliation strategy is focused heavily on curbing trade of agricultural and manufactured goods produced in U.S. states key to President Donald Trump’s re-election chances. The exemptions, which apply to products ranging from pharmaceuticals and fish food to pesticides and lubricant oil, will be effective from Sept. 17 to Sept. 16 2020, just weeks before the presidential election. And with more American tariff increases on the way, China remains unlikely to pare back its response. Meanwhile, the Asian nation is finally allowing soy meal imports from Argentina after two decades of talks.

Banks brace

The European Central Bank looks set to announce a range of stimulus measures Thursday, with markets waiting anxiously for details of a plan that could include both lower interest rates and fresh bond purchases. Unfortunately, the strategy of lowering borrowing costs for companies and households with increasingly negative interest rates is putting a serious dent in the banking industry’s profitability. The ECB’s current deposit rate is minus 0.4%, and that has become a charge, according to Deutsche Bank, which tallies the cost at hundreds of millions of euros this year.

Data-driven

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. made a surprise offer for London Stock Exchange Group Plc, valuing one of Europe’s largest exchanges at 29.6 billion pounds ($36.6 billion). “Bringing HKEX and LSEG together will redefine global capital markets for decades to come,” HKEX Chief Executive Charles Li said in a statement Wednesday. The LSE board called the unsolicited offer a “highly conditional proposal.” The bid comes after LSE agreed to snap up data-provider Refinitiv in a $27 billion blockbuster deal just weeks ago, betting on a future dominated by data as the three-century-old exchange seeks to extend its global reach.

Markets

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index posted broad gains overnight, rising 0.9% even as stocks in Shanghai declined. Japan’s Topix index jumped 1.7%. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.6% higher by 5:59 a.m. Eastern Time, with financial services, autos and miners among the best performers. S&P 500 futures pointed to a steady open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 1.714% and gold traded higher.

Tech trouble

Giants of the gig economy may have to reclassify independent contractors as employees under a new law passed in California’s Senate – and pay their armies of drivers a minimum wage and overtime as a result. But the fight’s far from over: Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., and DoorDash Inc. have committed $90 million to bankroll an initiative to undo the law should Governor Gavin Newsom sign the bill. Meanwhile, a team of Federal Trade Commission investigators has begun interviewing small businesses that sell products on Amazon.com Inc. to determine whether the e-commerce giant is using its market power to hurt competition.



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