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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US stocks post fifth straight day of gains

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US stocks posted a fifth consecutive session of advances amid more corporate earnings and a potentially market-moving State of the Union Address from President Donald Trump

The S&P 500 rose 0.47%, or 12.83 points, as of market close. The Dow advanced 0.68%, or 172.15 points, while the Nasdaq  rose 0.74%, or 54.55 points.

Tech company earnings have continued to be a central focus for investors, with a host of Silicon Valley leaders now having reported quarterly results. The latest being Google parent company Alphabet, whose fourth-quarter results released after-the-bell on Monday beat Wall Street’s expectations on the top and bottom lines.

Investors remained skittish over the rising costs and the specter of digital advertising competition from other internet giants like Amazon, sending shares falling during early trading. JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth in a note emphasised concerns of higher spending and shrinking margins. He also added: “our revenue estimates are generally increasing 2-3% going forward and our operating income is coming down by 3%, which could keep shares range-bound in the near-term.”

Some analysts did state that the pressure on share prices could well be short-lived.

 “While shares may trade lower near-term on renewed margin concerns, we believe that significant opportunities remain in cloud, digital video, hardware/devices, and core search, which justify data center and headcount investments,” Baird analyst Colin Sebastian wrote in a note Monday.

After market close, companies including Snap and Disney will report quarterly results.

Trump, who is scheduled to deliver his State of the Union Address may reference drug pricing reform, infrastructure spending and US-China trade policy, according to speculation.Trump has previously suggested there was a “good chance” he would declare a national emergency to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and circumvent Democratic lawmakers, whom have blocked funding for the barrier.

Ahead of the address, Trump met with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the White House Monday night. The meeting comes following months of Trump publicly lambasting Powell and the central bank over its path of interest rate hikes, and underscores the administration’s emphasis on the state of the economy prior to the State of the Union Address.

An official release following the meeting read: “He did not discuss his expectations for monetary policy, except the stress that the path of policy will depend entirely on incoming economic information and what the means for the outlook.”

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