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Less than a week before the US presidential election, financial markets are spooked as polls tighten and the chance of a Trump victory looks less of a long shot.

The Vix index, a measure of expected US stock market volatility known as Wall Street’s “fear gauge”, neared highs last seen in the aftermath of the UK’s vote to leave the EU this summer. Asian equities took their cue from the shaky US markets on Wednesday, with major bourses in the region all shedding more than 1 per cent.

Most polls, however, still put Hillary Clinton ahead, with a new poll aggregator showing a clear lead for the Democratic candidate.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is once again the subject of claims that he used “legally dubious” methods of tax avoidance. There are also more questions about his relationship with Russia. Mrs Clinton’s campaign also redoubled its attacks on Mr Trump over his treatment of women in a bid to regain momentum. (FT, NYT, Slate)

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In the news

US banks ride high America may be on a knife-edge. But corporate executives are making big bets anyway, with a succession of large M&A deals netting huge fees for the advisers involved. “There’s an extremely strong desire among executives and boards to position their companies for the long term, that is outweighing the short-term instability linked with the current political cycle,” says Jeff Raich, of Moelis & Co, the advisory boutique. That is a big relief for Wall Street, which had been facing an unremarkable year. (FT)

Iraqi army enters Mosul Iraqi special forces battled to the outskirts of Mosul for the first time since they began an all-out assault to retake the city, seizing control of the state television headquarters in the face of fierce resistance from Isis militants. Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi has warned Isis fighters they must either “surrender or die”. (FT, BBC)

Microsoft hits out at Google Microsoft on Tuesday warned that a group of hackers linked to attacks on the Democratic National Committee had exploited a vulnerability in all Windows PCs that it would not be able to fully mend for another week. The flaw was disclosed publicly on Monday by Google, provoking a sharp rebuke from Microsoft about the dangers of revealing weaknesses like this before fixes are available. (FT)

Valeant debt gets possible cure The US drugmaker is in talks to sell its stomach-drug business to Japan’s Takeda for $10bn, which could ease some of the company’s large debt burden. Valeant bought Salix Pharmaceuticals just a year-and-a-half ago for roughly $11bn. Shares in Takeda have been suspended. (FT, WSJ)

MH370 ‘made rapid descent’ Examination of a key piece of wreckage from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has found that the aircraft was most likely in a steep dive and crashed with flaps not in a landing position, casting new doubt over theories that it was under human control. (BBC)

China’s Ant Financial goes global Two billion users worldwide within 10 years? Jack Ma is on it as his Alipay service teams with dozens of global payment partners. (NAR)

It’s a big day for

Facebook Wall Street is expecting a blowout quarter from Facebook when it reports earnings after the market closes on Wednesday. The social media giant is expected to report revenue growth of about 60 per cent year over year, meeting consensus estimates of $6.9bn, driven by advertising revenue growth. (Forbes)

The US Fed The central bank is likely to hold rates when it meets, despite data that show the US economic recovery remains on track, as it seeks to stay out of the way of next week’s presidential election. (FT)

Food for thought

When together is not better Over the past decade, the joint chief executive/chairman has become a dying breed. Globally, the number of new appointees holding the chief executive/chairman role has dropped to a record low as corporate governance best practice moves towards the idea that the two most senior roles at a listed company should be split. (FT)

Read our special report on Tomorrow’s Global Business here.

Deradicalising radicals Belgium has become a hub of terrorism in Europe and a key source for foreign fighters in the Middle East. But the country hasn’t been able to get a handle on its homegrown problem and top counterterrorism officials are warning that losses suffered by Isis on the battlefield will only accelerate the flow of returnees. The small town of Vilvoorde just outside of Brussels, however, may have figured out a way. (FT)

Inconvenient truths denied It is a remarkable fact that the question of climate change was barely addressed in the US presidential debates. This is not because it cannot matter, according to the FT’s Martin Wolf. It is not because the candidates do not disagree. It is because few wish to think about the implications of these realities. (FT)

Tech utopia or tech dystopia? The world could be heading for a period of unprecedented prosperity, or towards another global recession. Economist Carlota Perez offers her ideas on how to spread the benefits of the current technological revolution. (FT Podcast)

What’s in a name? The idea of nominative determinism — that your name determines your fate — spread because it was fun. But then social psychologists started to take the idea seriously. The theory of “ implicit egotism” is that people are unconsciously attracted by things that remind them of themselves — and, in particular, to echoes of their own names. (FT)

Fitness trackers tested, found wanting Wearable health technology has become a profitable juggernaut, but a recent study on the effectiveness of the devices in helping users lose weight confounded expectations. (FT)

Video of the day

Former CIA officer rattles Trump in Utah The FT’s Demetri Sevastopulo meets Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer and independent presidential candidate who is challenging Donald Trump in Utah. (FT)

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