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The UK investigation into October’s “flash crash” in sterling has focused heavily on the Japanese trading operations of Citigroup. The value of the pound fell 9 per cent in just 40 seconds and bankers and officials involved in the inquiry say that Citi’s Tokyo desk may have played a key role by firing off repeated sell orders that exacerbated the pound’s fall.
Investigators do not believe the traders were responsible for the currency’s slide, however, and the company said in a statement that it “managed the situation appropriately and our systems and controls functioned throughout the period”.
The Bank for International Settlements, which monitors global money flows, is working on its own detailed report on the crash, with input from the Bank of England, which is due to be released in January.(FT)
In the news
Syrian army takes Aleppo’s old city After 22 days of assault by Russian-backed Syrian regime forces, opposition fighters have pulled back from their last positions in Aleppo’s historic old city. Tens of thousands of civilians remain in rebel-held areas and rebels have called for an immediate ceasefire to work out an evacuation plan. The warring parties have yet to respond. (BBC, Reuters)
China bails out 1MDB Malaysia’s troubled state investment fund is preparing to make a repayment, with Chinese assistance, to Abu Dhabi’s state-owned International Petroleum Investment Company, as it seeks to settle a dispute in which the Emirati fund is claiming about $6.5bn. (FT)
China’s forex reserves drop China’s foreign exchange reserves fell nearly $70bn last month as the country’s central bank battled to defend the renminbi from greater depreciation on the back of accelerating capital outflows. The EU Chamber of Commerce in Beijing said several European companies have been unable to remit dividends abroad following the introduction of “disruptive” new exchange controls designed to stop downward pressure on the renminbi. (Separately, here is an in-depth look at the pros and cons of a renminbi devaluation.) (FT)
Trump claims SoftBank pledge The president-elect has tweeted that a $50bn investment by Japan’s SoftBank in the US — which will allegedly create 50,000 jobs — was due to his election victory. The full story is that SoftBank had already been plotting a $100bn fund for investing in technology groups globally. Donald Trump’s warm reception for SoftBank’s founder Masayoshi Son in New York also gives fresh impetus to the possibility that his Japanese group, which owns a controlling stake in Sprint, might try again to reach a deal to buy T-Mobile US. (FT, CNBC)
Ready for more? The US Supreme Court has thrown out a $399m patent damages award against Samsung to Apple, in a unanimous verdict in favour of the South Korean electronics group. But the five-year-old case between the two smartphone market leaders could now continue for much longer. (FT)
Pakistan’s first women taxi drivers Careem, a cab-hailing company rivalling Uber in the Middle East and Pakistan, has introduced women taxi drivers to Pakistan. Women make up only 22 per cent of the workforce in the deeply conservative country and so far only seven women have signed up but the company says it is open to more applications. (Reuters)
It’s a big day for
HSBC, JPMorgan and Crédit Agricole Brussels will hit the three banks with multimillion-euro fines for rigging the Euribor interest rate benchmark, closing a five-year cartel probe into a scandal that shook the financial world. (FT)
Ghana Ghanaians are voting in presidential elections, with President John Mahama running for a second and final term. (Reuters)
UK MPs The British parliament will vote on the government’s timetable for beginning formal talks on the UK’s exit from the EU by the end of March. The vote comes after prime minister Theresa May bowed to pressure to reveal her Brexit plans before triggering the Article 50 exit clause next year. (BBC, FT)
Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s WeekAhead.
Food for thought
Echoes of Galileo The populist retreat from reason, and growing role of religion in politics, is reminiscent of the 17th century, when Galileo was attacked by the church over his conviction that the earth went round the sun. (FT)
Taiwan calling Was the US president-elect’s phone call with the leader of Taiwan a show of ignorance, crazy or something in-between? It turns out the call was brokered by the law firm of former Senator Bob Dole, which was paid $20,000 a month by Taipei to advance its interests in Washington. China’s muted response may have been influenced by Henry Kissinger, who met Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing last week. (FT, BuzzFeed, NAR)
Perils for eurozone Events are testing the region again as divergence in the performance of members of the economy pose a new challenge to the bloc. “What the eurozone needs most is a shift away from the politics of austerity,” writes the FT’s Martin Wolf. (FT)
The business of rewiring brains The failure of a person between 18 and 30 to launch from childhood on to the shores of something recognisably, functionally adult. Sound familiar? Enter Yellowbrick. Inside the pre-eminent facility dedicated to addressing the various demons that prevent “emerging adults” from growing up and whether it is as successful as it claims to be. (Fusion)
Nefertari’s legs After countless studies over more than a century, the mystery of a pair of mummified legs found in the tomb of Nefertari, Ramses II’s favourite wife, appears to have been solved. DNA tests and CAT scans show they belong to the long-dead queen herself. Her mummified body was ripped apart by ancient tomb robbers ransacking her tomb for treasure. Luckily they left the wall paintings, which are some of the finest to survive the centuries. (WaPo)
Video of the day
Future energy in Scottish mountains The FT’s Mure Dickie visits a pumped-storage hydroelectric site in Scotland to see how it can act like a battery for renewable energy. (FT)