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 trade deficit with China drops for first time in 7 months

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The US goods trade deficit with China fell for the first time in seven months to $35.36 billion, according to Commerce Department data

The decrease came largely from a 6.4% drop in imports from the Asian country. Businesses rushed to get shipments through before the Trump administration’s additional 10% tariff on $200bn of Chinese products took effect that September. This ate into demand for subsequent months.

Exports to China also fell 1.5% from retaliatory tariffs and the Chinese economy’s loss of momentum. The deficit with China for the January-November period jumped 10.8% on the year to $378.95bn.

The figure already exceeds the record full-year tally for 2017 and is expected to have reached a new high in 2018. Despite US President Donald Trump’s pledge to narrow the figure, the trade war appears to have widened the gap.

Overall, the US logged a $70.48bn goods trade deficit in November, down 8.6% on the month.

The November figures were delayed a month by the partial government shutdown.

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