Stock markets have retreated again over worries of further US interest rate rises after the Federal Reserve defied Donald Trump to increase rates for the fourth time this year.

The EU has confirmed it is “actively investigating” a potential breach of its diplomatic communications network, following reports that secret cables had been stolen by hackers.

The Bank of England has welcomed a “crucial and positive” move by the EU to help keep a key part of the financial system functioning in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit.

A handful of banks will be forced to write multimillion pound cheques to buy shares in the construction giant Kier Group after some of its biggest investors snubbed the chance to take part in a £250m fundraising.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is to merge its consumer healthcare unit with that of rival Pfizer, to create a new market leader with almost £10bn in annual sales.

 

Santander has been fined more than £30m for “serious failings” in processing the accounts of dead customers, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) says.

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Asian markets drop on renewed worries over US-China trade talks

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After the reopening from holiday, the Nikkei was down, and the Hang Seng slipped

Asian markets tumbled on Friday after President Donald Trump said he doesn’t plan to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping before a tariffs truce ends in March.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSI, -0.59% ), reopening after a Lunar New Year break, gave up 0.8%. The Kospi (SEU, -1.13%) in South Korea declined 1.2% and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 (XJO, -0.50%) was down 0.4%.

Tencent (0700, -1.09%) fell in Hong Kong trading, as did CNOOC (0883, -2.88%) and CSPC Pharmaceutical (1093, -2.54%), while AAC (2018, +1.81%) , Sunny Optical (2382, +2.18%) and AIA Group (1299, +1.59%) gained. Samsung (005930, -3.14%) slid in Korea, while Australian energy stocks, such as Santos (STO, -4.59%) , Woodside Petroleum (WPL, -2.45%)   and Beach Energy(BPT, -8.84%)  tumbled.

Stocks fell in Indonesia (JAKIDX, -0.17%) and Singapore (STI, -0.18%)   but rose in Malaysia (FBMKLCI, -0.46%). Markets in China and Taiwan remained closed.

Trump did not dismiss the possibility of meeting Xi in the next month. But he did shake his head and said no when reporters asked if the meeting would take place before March 2. That marked the end of a 90-day tariffs truce mooted after Trump and Xi met in December.

Unless American and Chinese negotiators come to a new agreement, the U.S. is expected to raise import taxes from 10% to 25% for $200bn in Chinese goods. The trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies, which has cooled in recent months, has weighed on the outlook of businesses and the global economy.

“The worries surround the uncertainties of a resolution to the likelihood of further tariffs in this on-again, off-again confidence with regards to a deal,” Jingyi Pan of IG stated in a market commentary.

US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and trade representative Robert Lighthizer will lead a delegation to Beijing next week for the next round of trade talks. Officials have reported little progress on contentious issues but remain hopeful that a deal will be struck.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index (NIK, -1.64%) was 1.6% lower. On Friday, Japanese electronics and entertainment company Sony  (6758, +5.05%) announced its first 100 billion yen ($911.2 million) share buyback for 2.36% of its Tokyo-listed stock. Its shares were up by 5%early trading. Meanwhile, Nikon (7731, -11.78%) plunged and auto makers such as Toyota (7203, -1.90%) and Honda (7267, -2.15%) slipped.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower Thursday following a sell-off by technology companies, health care stocks and banks. Twitter (TWTR, -9.84%) plunged almost 10% after issuing a weak forecast. The broad S&P 500 index (SPX, -0.94%) shed 0.9% to 2,706.05. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA, -0.87%) was 0.9% lower at 25,169.53 and the Nasdaq composite (COMP, -1.18%) slid 1.2% to 7,288.35.

U.S. crude (CLH9, -0.87%) lost 29 cents to $52.35 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped $1.37 to settle at $52.64 per barrel in New York. Brent crude (LCOJ9, -0.75%) , used to price international oils, retreated 23 cents to $61.40 per barrel. It fell $1.06 to close at $61.63 per barrel in London.

The dollar (USDJPY, -0.03%)  weakened to 109.76 yen from 109.82 yen late Thursday.

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