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Stock markets suffered their worst falls since the election of Donald Trump as Wall Street worries about the prospects for the US president’s pro-business agenda triggered a rush for financial havens.
US markets led the declines, with the benchmark S&P 500 index tumbling 1.2 per cent and breaking a run of 109 trading days without a drop of 1 per cent or more.
The selling continued in Europe in early Wednesday trade. London’s FTSE 100 fell 1 per cent and Frankfurt’s Xetra Dax 30 was 0.9 per cent weaker.
The tumble came as inter-party divisions jeopardised Mr Trump’s effort to repeal Obamacare, the largest initiative so far in his presidency. In a visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Mr Trump cranked up the pressure on lawmakers, warning that “the danger of your not voting for the bill is people could lose their seats”, according to Walter Jones, a member of the House of Representatives. (FT, NYT)
In the news
Trump budget opposition grows As the US president and his advisers press for bone-deep cuts to the federal budget, Republican governors have rapidly emerged as an influential bloc of opposition. They have complained to the White House about reductions they see as harmful or arbitrary, and they plan to pressure members of Congress from their states to oppose them. (NYT)
Electronics flight ban explained First the US, then the UK and now other countries such as Canada, Italy and France are evaluating a ban on large electronic devices on flights from a number of Middle East and North African countries. Business travellers are not happy and aviation experts are divided on the effectiveness of the measures and have suggested there are economic motivations at play. The FT answers the main questions on how the ban will affect passengers. (FT, Globe&Mail, WSJ, Al Jazeera)
Setback for Baidu’s AI ambitions Andrew Ng is to leave Baidu after three years as its chief scientist, dealing a blow to the Chinese tech group’s artificial intelligence ambitions. Mr Ng’s looming departure in April comes as the search engine group has increasingly focused on AI, with chief executive Robin Li earlier this year describing the technology as Baidu’s “key strategic focus for the next decade”. (FT)
Bank rankings: who’s up, who’s down? Deutsche Bank slipped in global investment bank rankings while JPMorgan retained the crown as the world’s biggest by revenue in the global investment bank league data from industry monitor Coalition. Separately, US bank bosses have warned they have begun to firm up plans to uproot jobs from London ahead of Brexit. (FT)
Missile failure North Korea attempted to conduct a missile launch on Wednesday but the South Korean military says it failed. The US military had expected Pyongyang to launch another missile this week after it increased its surveillance over the communist country. (CNBC, WaPo)
Low blow The US is preparing to file criminal charges against financier Jho Low in the Malaysian 1MDB scandal — which could be one of the world’s largest financial frauds. (WSJ)
Akzo Nobel rebuffs PPG Dutch paint and chemicals firm Akzo Nobel said it had rejected a sweetened $24.19bn takeover proposal from rival PPG Industries, continuing the transatlantic stand-off between the two industrial giants. (WSJ)
Appetite for coal-fired power wanes The world’s hunger for new coal power plants has slumped, improving the chance of averting the most dangerous levels of global warming. In China and India, home to 86 per cent of the world’s coal-fired power stations built in the past decade, construction of new projects has been frozen at more than 100 sites, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and other groups say in a report published on Wednesday. (FT)
It’s a big day for
Jerusalem The ancient shrine revered since the Roman era as the place where Jesus was laid to rest is set to reopen to the public on Wednesday after a year-long, internationally-funded restoration. (FT)
Fighting Isis US secretary of state Rex Tillerson will host a 68-nation meeting in Washington over two days. The coalition foreign ministers will determine the next move in defeating Isis in the remaining areas it holds in Iraq and Syria. (Reuters)
Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.
Food for thought
Odd couple doomed to co-operation However contrasting the US and China appear, they do share interests and maintaining an open world economy is one, writes Martin Wolf. “It is surreal that we depend on a Chinese communist to persuade a US president of the merits of liberal global trade. Yet today’s desperate times require such desperate measures.” (FT)
The taxman and Big Marijuana Pot is legal in many US states, but federal tax rules are stifling its revenue potential and preventing the industry from moving fully out of the shadows. (FT)
Saudi oil market supremacy falters The kingdom is losing its grip on big oil markets amid a deep production cut that has reshaped trade routes and benefited rivals like Iran, Russia and the US. As it pursues a steep production cut aimed at putting a floor under oil prices, the world’s biggest crude exporter is deliberately conceding ground to American shale producers and hastening a retreat from the US as it looks instead to Asia for growth. (WSJ)
Animated gif ‘can be deadly’ A Grand Jury in Texas has accepted that an animated gif counts as a deadly weapon when it’s used with the intention of inducing an epileptic seizure. The strobing gif was sent to a journalist via Twitter. Police located the suspect by tracing his throwaway mobile number and Twitter handle back to link them to his iCloud account. (The Verge)
Video of the day
Are markets ignoring political risk? The FT’s Roger Blitz and Valentijn van Nieuwenhuijzen of NN Investment Partners explain how policy uncertainty might be high but good data are more important for markets. Markets are not ignoring political risks — they are pricing them in segments. (FT)