Experimental feature

Listen to this article

Experimental feature

Sign up to receive FirstFT by email here

First the dinner, now the bill. The EU has raised its opening demand for Britain’s Brexit payment to an upfront gross payment of up to €100bn, according to a Financial Times analysis of new stricter demands driven by France and Germany. The revised price tag reflects the hardening position of EU member states, which have abandoned earlier worries about political risk to help plug a whole in the EU budget related to Brexit. The British pound dropped 0.2 per cent against the dollar on the news.

To the alarm of the EU side, Theresa May rejected the notion of an exit bill at the now infamous frosty dinner with Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president. Europe’s lead negotiator, Michel Barnier, told journalists on Wednesday that the bloc was not punishing the UK for leaving the EU, and only wanted to “settle the accounts”. But as he unveiled the commission’s negotiating mandate, he warned the talks would be both painful and lengthy. For her part, Mrs May has already promised to be a “ bloody difficult woman” in the negotiations. (FT, EU)

In the news

Deutsche’s new largest shareholder Chinese conglomerate HNA Group has increased its stake in the German lender to almost 10 per cent, making it Deutsche’s top shareholder. HNA has been on a buying spree, striking deals worth $40bn in the past 28 months, even as Chinese mergers and acquisitions dropped to a three-year low in the first quarter of 2017. (Bloomberg, FT)

Syria peace call Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump spoke for only the second time since Mr Trump took office in January to discuss ways of bringing peace to Syria. The White House said the two leaders discussed the creation of safe zones in Syria. The US will be sending a representative to a new round of Russian-organised talks about a Syrian ceasefire in the Kazakh capital — the first time Washington will have a meaningful presence at the current round of Syrian negotiations. (Reuters)

Apple defends its Watch Apple did not include sales of its controversial Watch in its earnings report on Tuesday, although it did reveal revenue from “wearable products” that included the Watch, which has divided consumers, investors and tech pundits. It did, however, reveal that iPhone unit sales fell 1 per cent in the previous quarter to 50.8m units, just short of Wall Street’s estimates, as the company increased its capital returns to shareholders by $50bn. Apple’s basic earnings per share rose 10 per cent to $2.11, beating analysts’ forecasts for the quarter. (FT)

Abe unveils new constitution Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled on Wednesday a plan to seek the first-ever change to Japan’s postwar constitution. He wants to include an explicit reference to the country’s defence forces and envisions the revision going into force in 2020. (NAR)

Arab youth looks to Moscow Russia has replaced the US as the Arabs’ most valuable ally, according to a survey of young people in the Arab world. The annual Arab Youth Survey showed a 12-point rise in the number of respondents identifying Russia as their most trusted ally — up to 21 per cent from just 9 per cent in 2016. (FT)

It’s a big day for

The Fed The US Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting ends on Wednesday. The central bank is widely expected to keep benchmark interest rates on hold. (FT)

The Palestinians Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, is in Washington to meet Donald Trump for the first time. The US president has quietly dropped his campaign promises to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and instead declared that he was prioritising Israeli-Palestinian peace. (Jazeera, Foreign Policy)

US crude A fresh round of inventories data from the government is due out. It is expected to show another increase in petrol stocks; however, crude stocks are expected to shrink. On Tuesday, oil slid almost 3 per cent in afternoon trading, hitting its lowest since late March. (FT)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.

Food for thought

Macron vs Le Pen The second round in France’s presidential election is looming, with Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron each promising to break with the country’s political past. The FT looks at where the candidates stand on six top issues. (FT)

Arbitration on trial The judicial branch of the world economy — which is essential to its operation, as international regulations and their enforcement have become ever more important to global trade — is under attack. The US and the UK in particular are objecting to what they see as over-reach. (FT)

UK tabloids key to understanding Brexit Their circulations may be falling and their reputations besmirched by phone hacking, but Brexit Britain’s raucous tabloid newspapers wield inordinate power over the country’s politicians and are key to support for leaving the EU. (NYT)

Lessons from an ancient Roman bar tab The chance discovery of hundreds of Roman tablets on a construction site across the river from the FT’s London headquarters has yielded a wealth of information about the British capital’s past as a centre of business and commerce. The hoard includes bar bills, IOUs and invoices from the two decades following Rome’s 43AD conquest of Britain. (New Yorker)

Where oil rigs go to die For the first time since the earliest manufacture of seaborne drilling platforms 50 or 60 years ago, decisions are being made about how and where to get rid of them in number. The story of how one drilling platform crashed on to a remote Scottish island shows how risky the business of getting rid of them is. (Guardian)

Video of the day

Thug nation: Venezuela’s broken revolution Once touted as a beacon of revolutionary socialism, today there are fears that Venezuela is on the cusp of becoming a failed state. Andres Schipani and Ben Marino report on the spiralling violence and economic, social and political crisis facing the oil-rich nation. (FT) 

Get alerts on World when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

Follow the topics in this article