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The EU delays Brexit, China’s Xi goes to Italy and U.S. stocks lurched higher as investors fully digested a dovish surprise from the Fed. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.
EU Delays Brexit
The EU has maneuvered to stop a chaotic no-deal Brexit happening next week, handing the U.K. an unconditional two-week extension of the Brexit day deadline. The cliff-edge that investors were dreading has been postponed — but a new one looms on April 12 when the U.K. will have to decide on the way forward. May is told European leaders in Brussels that she still thinks she can get her deal passed. But her European counterparts have lost faith in her just when she needed them most.
Trump Aides Backs F-16 Sales to Taiwan
The Trump administration has given tacit approval to Taiwan’s request to buy more than 60 F-16 fighter jets, according to people familiar with the matter, a policy reversal likely to provoke China’s ire amid the trade dispute between Washington and Beijing. President Donald Trump’s advisers encouraged Taiwan to submit a formal request for the jets, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., which it did this month, according to the people, who asked not be identified discussing internal discussions. Any such request would need to be converted into a formal proposal by the Defense and State Departments, and then Congress would have 30 days to decide whether to block the sale.
U.S. Stocks Close at Five-Month High
Asia shares looked set for a rally after U.S. equities surged, as investors reacted to a dovish move by policy makers in the world’s largest economy. The dollar rebounded after a four-day skid, while government bonds stabilized. West Texas crude and gold declined. The S&P 500 Index staged a broad-based advance Thursday that saw tech shares climbing alongside the real estate and consumer sectors. Financials sat out the rally as the yield on 10-year Treasuries came off the lowest level in more than a year after sharp declines Wednesday. Financials sat out the rally as the yield on 10-year Treasuries came off the lowest level in more than a year after sharp declines Wednesday.
Xi’s Roman Holiday
On Saturday, Italy will become the first Group of Seven nation to sign up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s signing of the memorandum will be the centerpiece of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Europe, while his visit to Rome will also include a gala dinner with President Sergio Mattarella and a meeting with business leaders, according to Italian officials. Italy’s China fans see the deal as a big opportunity to bring much-needed investment to the country’s stagnant economy. But the project has plenty of critics too: European allies see a threat to sovereignty, the U.S. is flagging the risks of Beijing’s growing influence, and half of the Italian government is so uncomfortable that their leader, Matteo Salvini, is leaving town for the day.
Another Facebook Flaw
The passwords of hundreds of millions of Facebook users were stored in a format that was visible to the company’s employees, the social media giant disclosed Thursday. It says the issue — discovered during a security review in January — has now been fixed. Most of the accounts affected were using Facebook Lite, a version of the app designed for emerging markets. The company said it hasn’t found evidence any employees abused this access, but as the company continues to grapple with the fallout of several major security issues from last year, the revelation is another smudge on an already spotty data-security record.
What we’ve been reading:
This is what caught our eye over the last 24 hours.
- Australia’s property stocks are ignoring the country’s housing slump.
- Paul Singer unnerves Korea’s billionaires whether he wins or loses.
- The U.S. Navy wants to shrink its aircraft carrier fleet.
- Li Ka-shing’s son stumbles in the year since his father’s retirement.
- Indonesia is interviewing the off-duty pilot aboard the Lion Air flight.
- Tesla suits claim ex-employees stole secrets, left for rivals.
- Tasting 114-year-old wine with the Rothschilds at Chateau Lafite.
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