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European bourses are holding recent losses after Japanese stocks plunged and yields on the country’s benchmark bonds turned negative as the global “risk-off” rout hit Asia.

Investor fretting, focused on the banking sector, has caused a dash for traditional havens, helping gold hold eight-month highs at $1,190 an ounce and boosting the yen.

The yield on the benchmark, newly issued 10-year Japanese government bond entered uncharted territory, dipping to minus 0.035%. The decline below zero followed the Bank of Japan’s decision last month to set a negative interest rate on deposits it holds for commercial banks. (FT, NAR)

In the news

Aleppo on the brink The encirclement of Aleppo, once Syria’s largest city, is almost complete. Syrian army units loyal to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, supported by intensified Russian air strikes, have now cut off Aleppo’s main supply route from the Turkish border. Only one road out of the city is still open. But this road is itself being shelled. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has expressed outrage over the Russian strikes, which have triggered a fresh flow of civilians towards the Turkish border. (Economist, FT)

Plan to curb aircraft emissions A UN panel has issued the first-ever standards for carbon dioxide emissions for aircraft worldwide. The rules, aimed mainly at large commercial aircraft, will apply to new designs as of 2020 and to new deliveries of all such aircraft from 2023. Air travel, which has largely operated free from strict emissions regulations, currently accounts for 3 per cent of global carbon emissions, but that percentage could grow as the flying population soars. (WaPo, Time)

President Bloomberg? Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media owner and former New York mayor, has stated for the first time that he is considering a run for US president — a move that would dramatically reshape the 2016 race for the White House. (FT)

Google’s $200m man The tech company has awarded chief executive Sundar Pichai a restricted stock package worth $199m, a figure that topped the pay of any other US business leader last year. (FT)

China’s zombie commodities A record-breaking stockpile of farm commodities has been languishing in China’s warehouses for years, declining in value. Officials are afraid to let the crops out, fearing the havoc they could cause if released. (NAR)

It’s a big day for

New Hampshire The northeastern US state is poised to hold the second contest for nominating presidential candidates, with the Democrats struggling to highlight the strong economy amid gloomy assessments from Republicans. (FT)

Jacob Zuma South Africa’s top court is hearing a challenge on whether the president should repay about $23m of state funds used to renovate his rural home. A 2014 report by an independent watchdog said Jacob Zuma had “benefited unduly” from the upgrades. He has offered to pay some of it back but the case, brought by opposition parties, is going ahead regardless. (BBC)

Food for thought

US immigration: workers wanted Republican presidential candidates may be trying to outdo each other about how they would kick 11m undocumented immigrants out of the country, yet some sectors do not suffer from too many Mexican workers but too few. (FT)

Hanergy and China’s corporate debt spiral For a few short months, Chinese entrepreneur Li Hejun became the richest man in China. FT reporters tell the story of the dramatic rise of his solar energy company, and what it says about levels of corporate debt in one of the world’s biggest economies. (FT Podcast)

Rubio misfires — again Marco Rubio repeated the same line within a span of 30 seconds during a New Hampshire rally on Monday, just days after his rivals needled him as too scripted. To watch the Republican hopeful up close is to see a man torn between two identities, one adventurous and charismatic, the other self-conscious and risk-averse. He has recently favoured the latter identity, and paid a price.(The Hill, New Yorker)

The brain’s ‘music room’ Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have devised a radical approach to brain imaging that has identified neural pathways that react almost exclusively to the sound of music — any music. When a musical passage is played, a distinct set of neurons inside a furrow of a listener’s auditory cortex will fire in response, the scientists found. Other sounds, by contrast — a dog barking, a car skidding, a toilet flushing — leave the musical circuits unmoved. (NYT)

Video of the day

Of banks and bears John Authers analyses how banks in the US and western Europe have fallen into a bear market. (FT)

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