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Aon Plc considers $24 billion bid for rival Willis Tower Watson Plc - EMEA Brief 6 Mar

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  • Trading in Asia was mixed as investors wait for more clarity on the US-China trade deal. The top performer was Shanghai Composite which was up 0.7% while Japan’s Topix was down 0.2%. 
  • Gold prices edged lower as the greenback gained from stronger than expected economic data. Spot contracts hit $1287.34 at 5:00 am GMT, having been almost flat on the day, as can be seen on the IG Web Platform. What is the short- and mid-term fate of the gold bullion, as investors seem to be rushing to equities while the global economy slows down?
  • Oil slipped after a report by the American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday showed that crude inventories increased by 7.29 million barrels last week, largely more than the expected 388,000 barrels. West Texas Intermediate was trading at $56.30, having dropped 0.82%, as of 5:30am GMT. Increased supply might be a concern to traders if the world economy were to slow down and the demand for crude weaken.
  • The dollar rallied for the fifth consecutive day while US equities dropped, lacking motor for growth. Absence of progress on the US-China trade deal seem to be a major worry for investors more than better-than-expected job reports. The Dollar Index Spot was up 0.05% at 9643.4 as of 6am GMT. 
  • Aon Plc was said to be considering an all-share bid for rival insurance broker Willis Towers Watson Plc, which could result in the industry’s largest ever merger. Willis Towers jumped 8.6% on the news, reaching $24 billion in market cap. According to a report from Deloitte, deals among insurance brokers accounted for approximately 16% of the total insurance deals in 2018. M&A activity in a particular sector provides for enhanced volatility due to price adjustments while steering the investments flowing into the industry.

Asian overnight: A mixed session saw Japanese stocks fall back, while the Australian ASX 200 led the way higher despite a disappointing fall in Australian GDP (0.2% from 0.3%). With new stimulus measures in China, coupled with hopes of a US-China trade breakthrough, there is good reason for the Chinese gains. However, we have also seen a risk-off move, with North Korea restoring part of one missile site in response to Kim Jong-Un’s failed meeting with Trump.

UK, US and Europe: Looking ahead, today sees an almost non-existent European session when it comes to economic events. However, the day will be busy for traders of European equities as many major corporate earnings are to be released. Noticeable stocks to watch might be UK food delivery platform operator Just Eat Plc, UK asset manager Legal & General Group Plc and German chip-maker Dialog Semiconductor Plc.

Meanwhile, the pound has continued its decline, with Brexit talks in Brussels failing to find any progress after another three hours of negotiations yesterday. Markets will also be focused on the US and Canada amid ADP, payrolls, the Bank of Canada rate decision, and trade data from both countries.

Economic calendar - key events and forecast (times in GMT)

Econ Cal 6 Mar.PNG

Source: Daily FX Economic Calendar

1.15pm – US ADP payroll report (February): forecast to see 190K jobs created , from 213K last month. Markets to watch: US indices, USD crosses

1.30pm – US trade balance (December): deficit expected to widen to $54 billion. Markets to watch: US indices, USD crosses

3pm – Canada Ivey PMI (February) & BoC rate decision: previous PMI reading 54.7, no change in central bank policy expected. Markets to watch: CAD crosses

3.30pm – US EIA inventories (w/e 1 March): stockpiles to fall by 2.8 million barrels. Markets to watch: Brent, WTI

Corporate News, Upgrades and Downgrades

  • Legal & General reported that assets under management passed £1 trillion, while pre-tax profit was up 2% to £2.23 billion for 2018. 
  • PageGroup saw pre-tax profit rise 20% for the year, to £142.3 million, as a good overseas performance helped offset weakness in the UK. 
  • Paddy Power said that pre-tax profit fell to £219 million, down 11%, while revenue was up 9% to £1.87 billion. The firm will rebrand itself to Flutter Entertainment,. 

Atlantia Upgraded to Outperform at MainFirst
Tullow Upgraded to Overweight at Barclay

.Nordea Downgraded to Reduce at AlphaValue
Genel Downgraded to Sector Perform at RBC
Burberry Downgraded to Sell at Goldman
Intertek Downgraded to Underweight at Barclay

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