CFTC’s Quintenz to Leave Swaps Regulator by End of October; Bitcoin’s ‘Most Volatile Day’ Prompts Exchanges to Make Changes

Apr 29, 2020

First Read

Hits & Takes
By JLN Staff

FTSE Russell and Cboe today announced an extension of their relationship for another 10 years, one that started back in 1992 and has blossomed into an enviable match. Both firms are known for their innovation and successful product development.

Waqas Samad, the CEO of FTSE Russell, told JLN that “at every level” FTSE Russell and Cboe have a great working relationship, from the executive suite and Executive Chairman Ed Tilly to the front lines and the business development staff.

The FTSE Russell products represent tools for investment and hedging the broad US domestic economy, including the Russell Style Indices and new ESG related products. The ecosystem from ESG products is building and building, Samad said, though the current pandemic has slowed its progress. But it will be back, he said.

The Covid-19 outbreak has shown the operational resilience of FTSE Russell and its ability to produce its index, something the firm has spent a lot of effort on over the last couple of years. It has also given FTSE Russell the opportunity to show their research bonafides as they have produced research explaining the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and its indices.

FTSE Russell 2000 option products’ trade value is about $5 billion per day, or $2 trillion a year, something the firm hopes to continue to grow and develop under their new deal extension with the Cboe. New products are coming down the pipeline, and I would expect to see them announced in the coming months.

CFTC Commission Brian Quintenz yesterday stated he would not seek an additional five-year term after having served the last 2 ½ years at the commission. Quintenz was the commissioner in charge of the Technology Advisory Committee, of which I am a member. I thank the commissioner for his service and wish him the best. I appreciated his giving me the opportunity to continue to serve on the CFTC TAC. He will stay in his role until the earlier of a successor being confirmed or October 31, 2020.

We published a correction yesterday about a claim in our story about Striker from Quantitative Brokers that it was the “first” such electronic algo execution algorithm offering for futures option. RVassets has been offering such a technology solution since 2014, though not as an agency broker like QB. Thus, QB’s offering is “new,” not the first. Here is our correction and more about the opportunity for such services in the COVID-19 outbreak environment.

Samuel Agini is now a sports business reporter at the Financial Times. Previously, he was a trading and technology correspondent for Financial News and a reporter with Dow Jones. ~JJL

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Reminder: The CME Group is offering its “Trade Against a Pro Challenge” with Anthony Crudele starting Sunday, May 3 at 5:00 p.m. CT and ending Friday, May 8 at 12:00 noon CT. The top three finishers will earn cash prizes. You can go here to register.~SR

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Statement of Commissioner Brian D. Quintenz on the End of His Term and Future Plans
CFTC
I am deeply honored to have served as a Commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission over the last two and half years, as well as to have been a part of an administration that has assembled one of the best financial regulatory teams across the federal government. My five-year statutory term as a Commissioner expires this month. With its expiration, I have had an opportunity to reflect on my journey. It has been a privilege to serve my country in this role, easily the most rewarding experience of my professional career. However, after thoughtful consideration and much discussion with my family, I have decided not to seek re-nomination to another five-year term as a Commissioner. With five years having passed since I was first selected for this role, it is time for me to pursue new challenges and opportunities.
/bit.ly/2SdifUH

*****Breaking up the band at the CFTC opens the opportunity for the GOP to promote diversity with their nomination of a successor. Will they grab the opportunity, or pick another bro?~JJL

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Bands, CQG offer access to Chinese markets
Luke Jeffs – FOW
European and US traders have a new way of accessing the vast onshore Chinese markets, by using US tech firm CQG and Hong Kong broker Bands Financial.
Bands, an approved Overseas Intermediary of the Dalian Commodity Exchange, the Shanghai International Energy Exchange and the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange, has reached an agreement with CQG so its clients can trade in China.
/bit.ly/2y7kphJ

***** Getting the Band together with CQG and making music in China.~JJL

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Gary Cohn: Coronavirus is speeding up the disappearance of cash; Pandemic boosts shift towards digital wallets and currencies
Gary Cohn – FT
Many parts of our lives will change after Covid-19, including the places we go, the people we see, how we travel and how we pay for it all. For the past five weeks I have not touched a single coin or banknote, instead relying exclusively on electronic payments systems and credit cards that only I touch.
/on.ft.com/2WbqotI

*****I have not used currency for a transaction in months.~JJL

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State employment offices are undergoing hiring sprees to process the influx of unemployment claims
Elisabeth Buchwald – MarketWatch
Unemployment benefits aren’t the only thing people are applying for at state employment offices.
Due to the influx of applications of more than 26 million Americans who are out of work from the pandemic, employment offices are ramping up hiring to help reduce wait times so that more people can receive unemployment benefits.
/on.mktw.net/2Yghyxv

****Help, we need help.~JJL

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Why I withdrew Propllr’s app for $150k in PPP loans
Josh Inglis – Founder of Propllr
I don’t know if it’s a trend or not (saw this yesterday), but I decided on Friday night to withdraw Propllr’s application for a forgivable PPP loan (estimated around $150,000). Here’s the note I sent the team about it – you know, the people whose paychecks would have been protected (slightly edited for clarity).
/bit.ly/2YkMX1V

******A brave stand by Josh Inglis.~JJL

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Tuesday’s Top Three
Our top story Tuesday was the Wall Street Journal’s The Secret Group of Scientists and Billionaires Pushing a Manhattan Project for Covid-19. (The most remarkable sentence in the article is: “No one involved with the group stands to gain financially.”) Second was JLN’s video interview, ChartIQ’s Julie Armstrong on the Challenges of the COVID-19 Outbreak. Third was Bloomberg’s Wall Street Quants Are Turning Their Skills to the Virus Fight.

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Lead Stories

Cboe Global Markets and FTSE Russell Extend Licensing Agreement Through 2030
Cboe Global Markets,Inc.
10-year extension of Cboe’s U.S. exclusivity to offer trading in options on FTSE Russell Indices; Continues Cboe’s successful FTSE Russell-based options franchise, and provides opportunity to potentially expand product suite; Agreement is extension to successful index collaboration that originated in 2015
Cboe Global Markets, Inc. (Cboe: CBOE), one of the world’s largest exchange holding companies, today announced it has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with FTSE Russell that extends Cboe’s rights to develop and list index options products based on FTSE Russell global indices through 2030. The extended partnership enables Cboe to continue its successful FTSE Russell-based options franchise and provides opportunity for Cboe to further expand its product suite and create additional trading opportunities for investors.
/bit.ly/3bNxZWj

CFTC’s Quintenz to Leave Swaps Regulator by End of October
Benjamin Bain – Bloomberg
Republican commissioner pushed for revamping post-crisis rules; He took hard-line stance in clash with EU over clearinghouses
Brian Quintenz, the longest-serving member of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is planning to leave the agency by the end of October. Since joining the CFTC in August 2017, Quintenz has pushed for revamping post-crisis regulations that were criticized as overly broad and burdensome, aligning him with President Donald Trump’s de-regulatory mantra. The 43-year-old Republican also sponsors a CFTC committee that gets advice from industry executives on how technology is affecting markets.
/bloom.bg/2W8e25V

Bitcoin’s ‘Most Volatile Day’ Prompts Exchanges to Make Changes
Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
Thousands of trader positions were liquidated, Huobi says; Daily volume on some derivative exchanges fell as much as 60%
The crypto industry won’t soon forget when the widening coronavirus pandemic sent digital currencies tumbling along with most other asset classes worldwide. Market heavyweight Bitcoin dropped 37.5% on March 12, recording its third-worst 24-hour performance ever — and the largest decline since the coin entered the mainstream conscience in 2017, according to researcher Coin Metrics. On Huobi, one of the largest digital exchanges, more than 10,000 leveraged users’ positions got liquidated, according to the company.
/bloom.bg/2YfWabR

Bank of China Weighs Absorbing Part of $1 Billion Client Losses
Bloomberg News
Bank of China Ltd., facing a public outcry and regulatory scrutiny over the collapse of a product linked to U.S. crude oil futures, is discussing shouldering part of $1 billion in losses suffered by retail clients, according to people familiar with the matter.
/bloom.bg/2zB4Zmc

Oil Traders Not Sure They Like Oil; Also Ebitda, D&O insurance, seating charts and art.
Matt Levine – Bloomberg
It will be a little weird if the price of oil goes negative next month. I mean, it could happen; it happened this month. The last trade of the NYMEX June West Texas Intermediate crude oil future will be on May 19; anyone long June futures after that will have to take delivery of a bunch of oil in June in Cushing, Oklahoma, where there is not a lot of space to store oil. The last trade of the May WTI futures was on April 21, and on April 20, as financial traders with long positions scrambled to get out of the contract, the price fell to negative $37.63 per barrel. Then on April 21 it was fine again, and the contract finished at $10.01. Even on April 20, most trades in the May futures happened at positive prices. But toward the end of the day, panic—or something—set in, and for a short period people were paying to get rid of their oil futures.
/bloom.bg/3cVMzLo

A Chinese Bank’s Billion-Dollar Oil Slick; Big losses on an oil-backed Chinese investment product once again show how financial complexity, moral hazard and yield-starved Chinese retail investors make for a volatile mix
Nathaniel Taplin – WSJ
Treasure hunting is a perilous undertaking—particularly when the gold is black. Bank of China, BACHY 1.40% one of China’s largest banks, has found itself in the crosshairs of domestic netizens in recent days thanks to a retail investment product named Crude Oil Treasure. The oil-linked product has, according to Chinese media outlet Caixin, left investors sitting on losses of about 9 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) after an expiring U.S. oil-futures contract plummeted into negative territory on April 20. Retail investors found themselves not only without their principal but also on the hook for millions more of additional liabilities as the product, which requires 100% margin, plumbed heretofore untested depths. The bank initially took a tough line on repayment, but on Monday state media reported that it wouldn’t, at least for now, be pursuing unfortunate customers who owed it additional money.
/on.wsj.com/3cZ1WCW

Coronavirus Turmoil, Free Trades Draw Newbies Into Stock Market; Individual investors try to seize on this year’s erratic stock swings
Alexander Osipovich and Caitlin McCabe – WSJ
Online brokerages are seeing record spikes in new accounts and trading activity, with individual investors wading into the market to try to seize on this year’s erratic stock swings. Enticed by an industrywide move last year to zero-commission trading—and with more time on their hands as many work from home—individual investors have flocked to platforms such as TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. and E*Trade Financial Corp.
/on.wsj.com/3cVRPi6

Unseen risks of commodity trade finance; The Hin Leong collapse has exposed deeper issues in financing raw materials trades
Baldev Bhinder – FT
“Where did it all go wrong?” It’s a question some of the world’s biggest trade finance banks will be asking themselves after the collapse of Hin Leong Trading. Coming on top of the crisis at Agritrade International, the sector has about $5bn of exposure to two ailing commodity traders, both based in Singapore.
/on.ft.com/2Yhxn7q

Why the oil market is even weaker than you think; Producers’ realised prices are lower than they appear, while traders are braced for more turmoil
David Sheppard – FT
Benchmark oil prices are close to record lows, but the rates you see on screens are not telling the whole story. With the coronavirus pandemic expected to cut oil demand by as much as one-third in April and May, and with storage tanks around the world fast filling up, crude prices in the physical market have fallen even faster.
/on.ft.com/2Sjvwef

Managing Money for the Wealthy Really Pays Off; The Swiss banking giant UBS appears to be in a slightly less worrying position than some of its European peers.
Elisa Martinuzzi – Bloomberg
Sergio Ermotti is under no illusion. The chief executive officer of UBS Group AG said on Tuesday that the range of possible economic outcomes from the coronavirus crisis is too wide for any meaningful judgment about the future. Yet managing money for the wealthy may well be a winning strategy for bankers during the worst slump in decades. The Swiss bank is doing pretty well out of it, reporting a big jump in first-quarter profit.
/bloom.bg/2WaenVG

Nasdaq deploys R3 Corda platform for digital assets; Nasdaq has entered into a long-term partnership with blockchain vendor R3 to support institutional grade services for digital assets.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
US exchange operator Nasdaq has entered into a long-term collaboration agreement with blockchain technology specialist R3 to implement its flagship platform for digital assets. As part of the deal, the markets technology division at Nasdaq will use R3’s Corda Enterprise platform to support institutional grade, full lifecycle services for digital assets marketplaces.
/bit.ly/3cZ2YPk

SEC abandons key plank of proposal to curb proxy advisers; US regulator rethinks plan to force advisory firms to submit voting recommendations to companies
Patrick Temple-West – FT
The US stock market regulator has abandoned a key plank of its proposal to limit the power of shareholder advisory firms over corporate decision making, handing a win to Daniel Loeb, Paul Singer and other hedge fund activists who have fought to stop the new rules.
/on.ft.com/3f4xIQw

French markets regulator calls for tightening of short-selling regime; AMF wants to lower disclosure threshold for shareholders and include wider range of instruments for short sellers
David Keohane and Philip Stafford – FT
France’s markets regulator is pushing to improve disclosure around short-sellers and activists targeting French companies, as the country grapples with a growing number of activist campaigns at some of its best-known businesses.
/on.ft.com/2YcU24J

WFE academic research finds short selling ban is disruptive to markets; Banning short selling only serves to reduce liquidity, hamper price discovery and exacerbate market volatility, the WFE has warned.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
The widespread bans on short selling in recent weeks due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is massively disruptive to markets, a new report from the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) has warned. Outlining what academic research says about the restrictions on short selling, the WFE said that the evidence ‘almost unanimously’ points towards the bans being disruptive for the orderly functioning of markets.
/bit.ly/2SgBfl4

Buy-side rejects changes to dark trading and SIs under MiFID II review; Initial responses to the MiFID II review consultation reveal that asset managers are keen for a consolidated tape before any major changes to the rules are implemented.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Asset managers have largely rejected huge changes to dark trading and systematic internalisers (SIs) under the MiFID II review, instead urging the EU regulator to establish a consolidated tape.
/bit.ly/2VYYzoq

Pandemic is turbocharging tech’s appeal for investors; Businesses faring best have flexible staffing and easy-to-use digital offerings
Ulrike Hoffmann-Burchardi – FT
Rapid advances in technology in the past have been brought about by innovations such as the birth of the microprocessor or the advent of the internet. But this upheaval is different. Tech this time is being propelled by a shock to the physical world — a shift that will profoundly change the way we consume, interact and invest.
/on.ft.com/3cWv9yg

France Moves to Stop Foreign Investors Preying on Weakened Firms
William Horobin – Bloomberg
Le Maire lowers threshold for reviewing planned investments; Biotech companies will also get more protection: Le Maire
France will tighten restrictions on foreign investment after the government said the coronavirus outbreak has left key assets vulnerable to takeovers. The French government already bolstered its powers at the start of the year by tightening a mechanism to review and potentially block non-European investors from acquiring stakes in strategic companies. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Wednesday he will cut the threshold for scrutiny to 10% from 25% and add thousands of biotechnology companies to the protected lists.
/bloom.bg/2y7Nk5a

Infrastructure Amidst Market Volatility – Part 1: A Strange and Uneasy Time
Larry Tabb – InterSystems.com
It’s certainly a strange and uneasy time. Not only did COVID-19 force countries into lockdown, but also the combination of poor planning, uncertainly, economic shuttering, and trillions of U.S. dollars in global stimulus has markets roiling. Just in the United States, the intraday Cboe Volatility Index (VIX) — a leading indicator of market volatility – has peaked at almost record highs (85.4). This surpassed the peak level of 80.74 in the global financial crisis of November 2008. We’ve seen waves of buying and selling as peak share volumes on US equities exchanges hit 19.4 billion shares, which is only comparable to the height of the 2008 global financial crisis. However, if you look at the value of U.S. equities traded, it far eclipsed that of the financial crisis, as almost $1 trillion in value turned over — a staggering 89.6% increase over the highest value traded during the height of the global financial crisis (see Exhibits 1 and 2).
/bit.ly/2Wf7D98

What Bankers Are Really Worried About; Regulation isn’t the only impediment to lending during a crisis. The banks are possibly even more worried about looking weak to their investors.
Ferdinando Giugliano – Bloomberg
Europe’s banks have often complained about too much regulation hampering their ability to lend. The Covid-19 epidemic shows that when times are bad the real constraint lies elsewhere: in the financial markets.
/bloom.bg/2YfphMl

Miscellaneous

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Is Far Higher Than Reported, C.D.C. Data Suggests
Josh Katz, Denise Lu and Margot Sanger-Katz – NY Times
Note: The 2020 lines in the charts are provisional data through April 11.
Total deaths in seven states that have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic are nearly 50 percent higher than normal for the five weeks from March 8 through April 11, according to new death statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is 9,000 more deaths than were reported as of April 11 in official counts of deaths from the coronavirus.
/nyti.ms/3cZCD3C

Coronavirus Complicates Deutsche Bank’s Road to Recovery; German lender warns that the sharp slowdown in the global economy will present challenges
Patricia Kowsmann – WSJ
It looked like Deutsche Bank AG DB 2.39% was finally going to have a good year. Then the coronavirus came, forcing it to set aside money for loan losses, disrupting targets and clouding the bank’s outlook. The uncertainty is an unwelcome development for the German lender, which for years has struggled to make money and clean up a massive portfolio of complex and risky bets that it is set aside to wind down or sell. An overhaul of its business-focused around cost-cutting and making its investment-banking unit leaner was starting to bear fruit.
/on.wsj.com/3f1fM9E

Starbucks sees US reopening, but not business as usual; Coffee chain lays down plans for 90% of its domestic market cafés to be open by early June
Alistair Gray – FT
Starbucks has laid down plans to have 90 per cent of its company-operated outlets in the US up and running by early June but cautioned it would be far from a return to business as usual for the country’s biggest coffee chain.
/on.ft.com/2Si7LDs

U.K. Reports 586 More Coronavirus Deaths, Up From 360 Yesterday
Charles Capel and Joe Mayes – Bloomberg
Government says 43,453 new tests were carried out on Monday; Britain now has more confirmed cases of the virus than Germany
A further 586 people are reported to have died from the coronavirus in U.K. hospitals, the government said. That’s an increase on the 360 deaths reported Monday, but U.K. death numbers are usually artificially low after a weekend.
/bloom.bg/2ShR6Qe

What a 1902 Coal Strike Tells Us About Essential Workers Today; Thousands of miners showed Americans the dangerous, low-paid nature of crucial labor. It helped forge a new kind of social contract—could it happen again?
Susan Berfield – Bloomberg
In the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in America, the country has come to redefine essential work and to appreciate that essential often means vulnerable. We’ve watched the people who pack online orders, stock grocery stores, and deliver takeout assume unprecedented risk, often for low pay in unsafe working conditions. Some who’ve protested have been silenced; some who’ve carried on have been infected.
/bloom.bg/2SiqQFC

Nuveen Expects Rush of Social Bond Issues to Tackle Pandemic
David Caleb Mutua – Bloomberg
Recent deals looked attractive, says Stephen Liberatore; Pharmaceutical, manufacturing sectors among potential issuers
Nuveen expects record issuance of bonds to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. Pharmaceutical companies and personal protective equipment manufacturers will likely be among active borrowers, said Stephen Liberatore, head of the responsible fixed-income strategy team for the $1 trillion money manager.
/bloom.bg/2W87BzD

Trump’s Bleach Statements Echo Claims by ‘Miracle Cure’ Quacks
Andrew Jacobs – The New York Times
President Donald Trump’s public statements about using disinfectants to potentially treat the coronavirus have put him in the company of pseudoscientists and purveyors of phony elixirs who promote and sell industrial bleach as a “miracle cure” for autism, malaria and a long list of medical conditions.
/yhoo.it/2W2eUIY

GM strategy shift shows how ‘liquidity is king’ during COVID-19 crisis
Michelle Sierra – Reuters
General Motors Co’s (GM) decision to refinance short-terms loan maturities only, rather than a larger US$16.5bn credit facility, shows how much the market for lending to high-rated companies has changed in just a few weeks since the coronavirus outbreak took a turn for the worse in the US.
/reut.rs/2YfwwUA

Coronavirus crisis lays bare the risks of financial leverage, again; This time it is capital markets, rather than banks, that have to reform
Martin Wolf – FT
Crises reveal fragility. This one is no exception. Among other things, coronavirus has revealed fragilities in the financial system. This is unsurprising. As before, reliance on high leverage as a magical route to elevated profits has led to private profits and public bailouts. The state, in the form of central banks and governments, has come to the rescue of finance on a gigantic scale. It had to do so. But we must learn from this event. Last time, it was the banks. This time we must look at capital markets, too.
/on.ft.com/2SkQvxn

Nuveen Expects Rush of Social Bond Issues to Tackle Pandemic
David Caleb Mutua – Bloomberg
Recent deals looked attractive, says Stephen Liberatore; Pharmaceutical, manufacturing sectors among potential issuers
Nuveen expects record issuance of bonds to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. Pharmaceutical companies and personal protective equipment manufacturers will likely be among active borrowers, said Stephen Liberatore, head of the responsible fixed-income strategy team for the $1 trillion money manager.
/bloom.bg/2W87BzD

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Intercontinental Exchange to Hold Virtual 2020 Annual Meeting of Stockholders
Press Release
Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of data and listings services, announced today that, due to the public health impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and to prioritize the health and well-being of its employees, stockholders and community, ICE’s 2020 Annual Meeting of Stockholders (“Annual Meeting”) has been changed from an in-person meeting to a virtual format only. The original date and time of the Annual Meeting, as well as the items of business to be addressed at the Annual Meeting, remain unchanged. Stockholders, however, will not be able to attend the Annual Meeting in person.
/bit.ly/3aJ5VBN

Intercontinental Exchange Launches ICE Select for Consolidated Access to ICE Bonds Liquidity and Protocols
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc.
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of data and listings services, today announced the launch of ICE Select, an application which provides connectivity to the entire ICE Fixed Income ecosystem, including the ICE Bonds execution platforms and ICE Data Services evaluated pricing and analytics. ICE Select has also been integrated with leading order management systems, enabling further integration into important trade desk workflow. Customers will also have access to liquidity and execution protocols from ICE Bonds via the ICE ETF Hub later this year.
/bit.ly/2KLqEuc

BME’S Shareholders´Meeting approves all Board proposals
BME Bolsas y Mercados Españoles
The Chairman and the CEO of BME stress the role of the stock markets in exceptional circumstances such as the current ones; BME to distribute a final gross dividend of 0.42 euro per share on 8 May; The net result obtained by the Company in the first quarter of 2020 reached EUR34 million, 7.7% year on year
BME’s General Shareholders’ Meeting, which was held today in Madrid remotely due to the Coronavirus crisis, approved the annual accounts for 2019 as well as all other agenda items, and reached a 39.8% of attendance.
/bit.ly/35n5X1q

BME reports a net profit of EUR34 million in the first quarter, up 7.7% year-on-year
BME Bolsas y Mercados Españoles
Net income in the first quarter reached EUR80.1 million, up 12% year-on-year;Return on Equity (ROE) grows 4.1 points year on year and stands at 34.4%; The markets and systems managed by BME have operated with absolute normality during the Covid-19 health crisis; The Board of Directors of BME unanimously issued a favourable opinion concerning the takeover bid launched by SIX Group
The net result obtained by BME in the first quarter of 2020 reached EUR34 million, 7.7% more than that obtained in the same period of the previous year. Net revenue for the quarter amounted to EUR80.1 million, increasing 12% year-on-year. EBITDA for the period was of EUR47 million, 9.2% more than in the first quarter of 2019.
/bit.ly/2KLfw0E

SGX and CITIC Securities seal wide-ranging agreement to collaborate across FICC, REITs and capital raising
SGX
Singapore Exchange Limited (SGX) and CITIC Securities Company Limited (CITIC Securities) yesterday signed a wide-ranging strategic cooperation agreement to collaborate across multiple areas, including fixed income, currencies and commodities (FICC), real estate investment trusts (REITs), as well as equity, debt capital markets and more.
/bit.ly/2KLVR0h

CME Group Inc. Reports First-Quarter 2020 Financial Results
CME Group
CME Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CME) today reported financial results for the first quarter of 2020. The company reported revenue of $1.5 billion and operating income of $960 million for the first quarter of 2020. Net income was $766 million and diluted earnings per share were $2.14. On an adjusted basis, net income was $836 million and diluted earnings per share were $2.33. Financial results presented on an adjusted basis for the first quarter of 2020 and 2019 exclude certain items, which are detailed in the reconciliation of non-GAAP results.
/bit.ly/2YsgV4n

Exchange Updates Guidance Materials for Biotech Companies
HKEX
The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the Exchange), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX), today (Wednesday) published new guidance materials for pre-revenue Biotech Companies, providing prospective issuers and the market with more clarity on the requirements for listing and required disclosures.
/bit.ly/2YiYcYG

HKEX Senior Appointments
HKEX
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) is today (Wednesday) pleased to announce a number of new senior appointments: Stephanie Lau, currently Senior Vice President, Listed Issuer Regulation, has been appointed Managing Director, Co-Head of IPO Vetting. Together with Lin Shi, Ms Lau will have oversight of all HKEX issuer listing applications. Ms Lau qualified as a lawyer in Hong Kong, as well as in England and Wales, and has 20 years of experience in corporate finance and listing related matters. Ms Lau will report to Bonnie Y Chan, Head of Listing.
/bit.ly/2zH0p65

Money market futures/options and ETF futures/options: Change of the partition ID and/or multicast addresses with effect from 13 July 2020
Eurex
Eurex Exchange are planning to make configuration changes for a total of 40 products to optimise performance and consolidate the access to the respective market data. For the affected products, Eurex Exchange will either re-assign the partition IDs or the multicast addresses for the dissemination of market data via EOBI. The following products with their current partition IDs are affected by the changes:
/bit.ly/2WbV7qz

Cboe Global Markets and FTSE Russell Extend Licensing Agreement Through 2030
PR Newswire (press release)
Cboe Global Markets, Inc. (Cboe: CBOE), one of the world’s largest exchange holding companies, today announced it has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with FTSE Russell that extends Cboe’s rights to develop and list index options products based on FTSE Russell global indices through 2030. The extended partnership enables Cboe to continue its successful FTSE Russell-based options franchise and provides opportunity for Cboe to further expand its product suite and create additional trading opportunities for investors.
/prn.to/3eZaQSx

Fintech

Refinitiv’s data-race struggle highlights LSE challenge; Business being bought from Blackstone-led consortium has lost ground to Bloomberg
Philip Stafford – FT
Refinitiv is struggling to close the gap on Bloomberg in the $32bn financial-data industry, underlining the challenge that London Stock Exchange Group will inherit with its planned purchase of the information provider.
/on.ft.com/3cZ2R66

PwC and Baymarkets Form Post-Trade Alliance
Julia Bahr – Finance Magnates
Oslo-headquartered provider of FinTech solutions, Baymarkets, today announced a joint business relationship with PwC Switzerland, Switzerland’s audit and advisory company, to deliver global post-trade and clearing solutions. Baymarkets was founded in 2007 and specialises in OTC and clearing, multi-asset and MiFIDII solutions.
/bit.ly/2SyUzdJ

Slow Hong Kong Handouts Prompts Fintech Firm to Offer Them First
Gregor Stuart Hunter – Bloomberg
WeLab says it plans to lend HK$10,000 interest-free, zero cost; Hurdles have delayed government from paying Hong Kongers
WeLab Ltd., the fintech firm behind one of Hong Kong’s newest online banks, said it will provide the city’s HK$10,000-a-head ($1,290) handouts in advance for people who don’t want to wait for the government to come around to making its payments.
/bloom.bg/2zGUf5X

Cryptocurrencies

Nasdaq Is Using R3’s Corda for Managing Digital Assets
Nathan DiCamillo – Coindesk
The Nasdaq stock exchange has partnered with R3 to offer a platform for digital asset marketplaces on the Corda blockchain, the companies announced Wednesday. Capital markets participants can now use Corda to support the issuance, trading, settlement and custody of digital assets, said Johan Toll, Nasdaq’s head of digital assets. The ledger technology is integrated with the Nasdaq Financial Framework, which also connects to several other capital markets services, including matching engines, surveillance, data discovery and reporting services.
/bit.ly/2zEiMZf

11 Lawmakers Urge US Treasury to Consider Blockchain for COVID-19 Relief
Nikhilesh De – Coindesk
Eleven members of Congress are calling on the U.S. Treasury Department to look at new technologies, including blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT), to help streamline how cash and supplies are distributed under a federal law trying to boost the economy during the COVID-19 crisis.
/bit.ly/3f3TELB

Circuit Breakers Could Be Coming to Crypto – But Will they Be Effective?
Rachel McIntosh – Finance Magnates
As the bones of the economic structures that our societies rely on have been laid bare, the fragility of the global economic ecosystem has been revealed. This is particularly true for novel markets that don’t have ‘circuit breakers’ and other protections in place that many traditional markets do: in particular, cryptocurrency.
/bit.ly/3cXBwBj

Stacking Sats? Small Bitcoin Holders on the Rise, Data Suggests
Zack Voell – Coindesk
New data support the assertion that small bitcoin investors are multiplying rapidly. And anecdotal evidence suggests that much of the growth is taking place in the U.S. The number of network addresses holding at least 0.1 BTC has continued to hit new all-time highs, climbing to 3,010,784 on Monday, according to data from Glassnode. At the time of publication, 0.1 BTC is worth $770. These addresses began to increase exponentially around mid-February, coinciding with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s suggestion to lawmakers that the central bank lacked sufficient firepower to fight the next recession.
/bit.ly/2xfE4eS

Bitmain is said to have made over $300 million in revenue this year so far, AI business ‘grew rapidly’
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Bitcoin miner maker Bitmain is said to have made over $300 million in revenue in the first four months of 2020. Local media outlet Wu Blockchain reported the news on Wednesday, saying that Bitmain announced its revenue internally ahead of China’s Labour Day holiday on May 1. Bitmain’s artificial intelligence (AI) business has also grown sharply, per the report.
/bit.ly/3cXBFER

Boerse Stuttgart’s Bitcoin Exchange Adds Stop Orders as Volatility Hedge
Paddy Baker – Coindesk
The bitcoin exchange arm of Boerse Stuttgart has added a trading tool to help customers deal with volatile market conditions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and the approaching halving event. The German exchange group said Tuesday that clients of its Boerse Stuttgart Digital Exchange (BSDEX) would now be able to use stop orders – an order to buy or sell an asset once its price has passed a pre-defined point. Launching in September, BSDEX provides regulated access for both institutional and retail investors to a bitcoin-euro trading pair.
/bit.ly/35dORmm

CipherTrace Unveils Compliance Tool for Banks Involved in Crypto
Aziz Abdel-Qader – Finance Magnates
Blockchain security and analytics provider CipherTrace has launched a new cyrpo compliance product called ‘Armada,’ which is addressed to banks and financial institutions dealing with cryptocurrencies. The Ciphertrace’s newest product follows the firm’s latest research which revealed that major US banks unknowingly process every year roughly $2 billion in crypto transactions that go undetected. The firm claims that these funds stem from money service businesses that deal with cryptocurrencies like exchanges and brokerage services.
/bit.ly/2Sm6pHY

Judge Approved Blockchain Association’s Brief in Kik Case Despite SEC Objections
Nikhilesh De – Coindesk
A U.S. District Judge allowed the Blockchain Association to file a brief in an ongoing lawsuit between the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Kik despite the regulator’s concerns the group was not a neutral observer.
/bit.ly/3cZcTnM

HTC’s blockchain phone takes over a century to mine enough crypto to pay for itself
Jon Porter – The Verge
HTC’s Exodus blockchain smartphones will soon receive their own mining app, letting them mine Monero cryptocurrency when plugged in and idle, The Block reported earlier this month. The DeMiner app, which is being developed by Midas Labs, is scheduled to launch in Q2 2020. According to Midas Labs’ Jri Lee, one of HTC’s Exodus 1S smartphones should be able to mine $0.0038 of Monero a day, which doesn’t exactly turn the phone into a moneymaking machine. In fact, Decrypt ran the numbers and found that, at that rate, you’d be in line to make just over a dollar a year ($1.387).
/bit.ly/2KOYs9L

BitMEX to Restrict Access to Japanese Traders
Arnab Shome – Finance Magnates
BitMEX, a popular crypto derivatives exchange, has decided to restrict its trading platform’s access to all Japanese residents. The exchange will block the registration of new users from the late hours of April 30, while all existing users will be blacklisted from May 1. “This will mean a user who is a Japan resident registering on the BitMEX platform for the first time will be unable to trade and any existing registered customers who are Japan residents will not be able to place orders that would open a new position or increase an existing open position,” BitMEX stated.
/bit.ly/3aMmugp

YouTube Suspends Ripple’s Tech Chief Days After XRP Scam Lawsuit Filing
Paddy Baker – Coindesk
YouTube has suspended the channel of Ripple CTO David Schwartz soon after the blockchain firm launched a lawsuit against it over XRP scams in videos. Schwartz, who also goes by the online moniker “Joel Katz”, said Wednesday morning that Youtube had suspended his channel. “Weirdly, YouTube just decided to suspend my channel (SJoelKatz) for impersonation. I wonder who they think I was impersonating,” he tweeted. CoinDesk has reached out to Schwartz for comment.
/bit.ly/2W2dNsM

Crypto data provider Skew raises $5M in fresh funding, launches trade execution platform
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Crypto derivatives data provider Skew has raised $5 million in a new round of financing. The round was led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from Digital Currency Group and other existing investors such as Firstminute Capital and Seedcamp. With the fresh capital in place, London-based Skew looks to expand its engineering team and improve its distribution strategy.
/bit.ly/3cZ1uV7

Kyber Network Activity Surges as DEX Plans Switch to Staking Model in Q2
Omkar Godbole – Coindesk
A planned upgrade that would allow token holders to earn staking income is bringing out users in droves to Kyber Network, a decentralized exchange (DEX) for cryptocurrency trading. The number of addresses with a balance in Kyber Network Crystal (KNC) – an Ethereum token that fuels operations on the DEX – reached an all-time high of 61,980 on April 27, according to blockchain intelligence firm IntoTheBlock.
/bit.ly/2zzpgZk

Politics

How Trump and His Team Covered Up the Coronavirus in Five Days; The president and senior officials manipulated Americans and played down the severity of the pandemic.
Ryan Goodman and Danielle Schulkin – NY Times
The strongest critics of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic point to its flat-footedness and the consequences of time lost. But the full account looks worse. Over the last five days of February, President Trump and senior officials did something more sinister: They engaged in a cover-up.
/nyti.ms/2y1iBad

The American Confederacy is rising again under Donald Trump; Over decades the Republican party has reconfigured itself into the party of the white and the South
Lloyd Green – FT
So much for the Republicans as the party of Abraham Lincoln. The party he made synonymous with his name has morphed into a modern iteration of the Confederate States of America, the rival nation created by the South when it seceded after his election.
/on.ft.com/2W83bJd

Many US restaurants ‘highly likely’ to return small business aid; Privately owned eateries say Paycheck Protection Program fails to meet their needs
Courtney Weaver – FT
Many privately owned restaurants are “highly likely” to repay loans they have received from the US small business rescue fund, reckoning that the rules for using the money are ill-suited to their industry, a trade group says.
/on.ft.com/2Yid5KH

Donald Trump orders meat processing plants to stay open; Fears of food shortages as coronavirus forces facilities to shut and US cases top 1m
Demetri Sevastopulo and Aime Williams and Gregory Meyer – FT
Donald Trump has issued an executive order to force meat-processing factories to remain open, as concerns mount about the US food supply chain after the closure of several big plants because of Covid-19 outbreaks.
/on.ft.com/2SjeMnx

Piketty Says Wealth Tax Can Help Reduce Debt and Inequality
Carolynn Look and Jill Ward – Bloomberg
Economist says history has examples of tackling high debt; Minouche Shafik sees higher taxes to pay for social insurance
Thomas Piketty, whose best-selling work helped put inequality at the core of economic debate, said history is full of examples on how to tackle large public debt, including measures that could also help reduce income disparities. The French economist made a big splash in 2014 with his book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” in which he outlines how modern capitalism has benefited the wealthy. He now sees discussions about reviving the world economy as an opportunity “to change the dominant ideology in terms of how you deal with inequality and how you regulate the economy.”
/bloom.bg/3cXeRFh

Regulation

Further statement from the RFRWG on the impact of Coronavirus on the timeline for firms’ LIBOR transition plans
UK FCA
Further to the joint statement made on 25 March it remains the central assumption that firms cannot rely on LIBOR being published after the end of 2021. The FCA and the Bank of England have worked with members of the Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates (RFRWG) and its sub-groups and task forces to consider how all firms’ LIBOR transition plans may be impacted by Coronavirus.
/bit.ly/2Sjev3S

SEC Awards Over $18 Million to Whistleblower
SEC
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced an award of more than $18 million to a whistleblower whose significant information prompted an examination that resulted in an important enforcement action. The whistleblower repeatedly reported the problem internally before contacting the SEC.
/bit.ly/2y28Qsi

SEC Charges Company and CEO for COVID-19 Scam
SEC
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against Praxsyn Corp. and its CEO for allegedly issuing false and misleading press releases claiming the company was able to acquire and supply large quantities of N95 or similar masks to protect wearers from the COVID-19 virus. The SEC previously issued an order on March 26 temporarily suspending trading in the securities of Praxsyn.
/bit.ly/2xYI3Nv

Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee to Discuss the SEC’s Capital Formation Proposal on May 8
SEC
The Securities and Exchange Commission today released the agenda for the Friday, May 8 meeting of its Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee, which will be hosted via video conference.
/bit.ly/2Sg7y3O

Market Structure & COVID-19: Handling Increased Volatility and Volumes
FINRA
Market volatility in recent weeks has surpassed anything else in history in terms of both the extremity and duration. Despite that, the so-called plumbing of U.S. financial markets has held up remarkably well—even with most market participants working from home.
/bit.ly/2zBq7bX

Introduction to Transparency Services Initiatives and Webpage
FINRA
In an effort to communicate technical changes to its trade reporting and quotation facilities – TRACE, ORF, and ADF (and related systems) with FINRA member firms, FINRA is introducing a new web page, on FINRA.org, where firms may review upcoming market transparency initiatives. This page will be updated on a regular basis in addition to technical notices that will continue to be posted and distributed via email to subscribing firms. FINRA encourages firms to use the new web page to keep informed on new market transparency developments and to formulate questions as necessary in relation to these activities.
/bit.ly/3cZ4BMW

COVID-19 and financial hardship: retail lenders’ obligations and ASIC’s expectations
ASIC
ASIC is closely monitoring how lenders are assisting consumers who are experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19. We remind lenders of their obligations under section 72 of the National Credit Code, whereby a lender must consider varying a consumer’s credit contract if a consumer notifies them that they are or will be unable to meet their credit obligations.
/bit.ly/2YhPnyu

ASIC enforcement update July to December 2019
ASIC
ASIC has today released its enforcement update report for the period 1 July 2019 to 31 December 2019. A copy of the report – outlining key actions taken over the past six months to enforce the law and support our enforcement objectives – can be found here.
/bit.ly/3f16eeB

ASIC responds to lenders’ request for clarification on lending during the COVID-19 pandemic
ASIC
Lenders have written to ASIC seeking guidance on a number of matters around regulation of lending during the COVID-19 pandemic. ASIC has responded to provide clarity on issues of hardship, responsible lending and communication.
/bit.ly/2Sjdgle

FCA warns banks against pressuring companies for extra fees; UK regulator’s move follows complaints and comes as businesses rush to raise funding over virus disruption
Matthew Vincent and Samuel Agini – FT
The UK’s financial watchdog has warned banks not to pressure companies seeking debt finance into paying them unnecessary fees for share issues, amid the Covid-19 economic crisis.
/on.ft.com/3cVR3BI

New York State Department Of Financial Services Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell Announces Appointment Of Richard Weber As General Counsel – Mr. Weber Brings Over 25 Years Legal Expertise To DFS
Mondovisione
Superintendent of Financial Services Linda A. Lacewell today announced that Richard Weber has been appointed General Counsel of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS).
/bit.ly/3f3EVAA

Investing and Trading

Wind power boom under threat as coronavirus hits supply chains; Projects at risk of delay or cancellation from shortages of components such as turbine blades
Harry Dempsey – FT
The global wind power boom is facing a sharp slowdown as coronavirus restrictions hit supply chains, threatening projects with delay or even cancellation.
/on.ft.com/2YbEjTs

Stranded Assets Are Now Everywhere
Emily Chasan – Bloomberg
Stranded assets used to be a niche idea. The concept that fossil fuel infrastructure wouldn’t be used is one that’s been championed over the last decade by the U.K.’s Carbon Tracker think tank. These days, financial regulators have joined in. That prophecy has certainly been on display in the oil and gas sector over the past few weeks. And everywhere else.
/bloom.bg/2WdpfBY

Institutions

HSBC restructure halt to cost $380 million in lost savings; Chief executive at HSBC Noel Quinn tells analysts that pausing thousands of job cuts will cost the bank in lost savings this year.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Plans to pause a major restructure at HSBC which includes the loss of 35,000 jobs will cost the investment bank $380 million in lost savings this year, according to its chief executive.
/bit.ly/3cV54zF

Move to streamline trading at UBS pays off as revenues surge 44%; With higher volatility and trading volumes, UBS believes it has grabbed market share in electronic trading, FX and equities.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Efforts to unify the global markets business at UBS earlier this year have seemingly paid off for the investment bank, following a surge in revenues in the first quarter. UBS undertook a restructure of its investment banking operations in January, which saw the global markets division combine its equities, foreign exchange, rates and credit trading into three verticals: execution and platform, derivatives and solutions, and financing.
/bit.ly/2SgByMK

Barclays Profit Drops as It Braces for Soured Loans; U.K. lender is the latest to set aside provisions for losses from loans
Simon Clark – WSJ
Barclays BCS 7.51% PLC said its profit fell in the first quarter as the U.K. bank set aside £2.1 billion ($2.6 billion) in provisions for losses from loans affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
/on.wsj.com/2YfnEOM

The hedge fund class of 2020 is more resilient than in 2008; Broader institutional ownership means investors are less likely to bolt
Laurence Fletcher – FT
Hedge funds have lost more in the coronavirus sell-off than during the nadir of the 2008 financial crisis. But the near-$3tn industry is unlikely to suffer as many blow-ups this time around.
/on.ft.com/3cVGhLK

Deutsche Bank’s Provisions Take Spotlight as Trading Rally Fades
Steven Arons – Bloomberg
Fixed-income revenue rose 13% in quarter amid trading surge; ‘The question is if the provisions are enough,’ says analyst
Deutsche Bank AG relied on a trading boost and relief from regulators to soften the blow from the coronavirus pandemic, taking a smaller hit from the virus than most of its competitors. But as the trading rally fades and the crisis worsens, some analysts are starting to wonder whether it isn’t too optimistic.
/bloom.bg/3f0Z8GZ

Credit Suisse ‘Dream’ Client Luckin Coffee Becomes Nightmare
Cathy Chan – Bloomberg
Luckin collapse exposes risk of China wealth-focused strategy; Bank stays course on wealth plan it says has led to successes
Before the accounting scandal and the stock crash and the defaulted loans, Luckin Coffee Ltd.’s billionaire founder Lu Zhengyao was an ideal customer for Credit Suisse Group AG.
/bloom.bg/2SfZKiw

Barclays $2.6 Billion Bad Loans Overshadow Trading Surge
Stefania Spezzati – Bloomberg
Staley warns of tough year as virus pandemic hits economies; Markets revenue beats Wall Street trading in first quarter A blockbuster quarter for Barclays Plc’s traders was overshadowed by a 2.1 billion pound ($2.6 billion) bad-loan charge stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. The securities division reported a 77% jump in first-quarter trading revenue on Wednesday as the virus whipsawed markets, beating the average 30% gain at U.S. peers. However, the lender set aside its biggest quarterly provision in a decade to cover defaults across the economy, and joined peers in warning of tough times ahead.
/bloom.bg/2SjG9Om

Regions

SEC Investigates Starbucks China Rival Luckin Over Accounting Scandal; Probe will be a test of the SEC’s ability to obtain information from abroad
Dave Michaels – WSJ
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Luckin Coffee Inc.’s disclosure that some of its employees cooked its books last year, according to people familiar with the matter.
/on.wsj.com/2SfxP1R

Africa’s Worst Locust Plague in Decades Threatens Millions; U.N. sounds alarm as swarms consume crops in five countries and threaten to spread further
Nicholas Bariyo – WSJ
The time-tested method of repelling locusts from crops in East Africa is to bang on a metal bucket and whistle loudly. When swarms afflict five countries and swell to the size of Moscow, more drastic measures are needed. In Kenya, police facing the country’s largest outbreak in 70 years have fired machine guns and tear gas into swarms in an effort to prevent them from consuming fields. Ethiopia is spraying pesticide from small planes to displace hovering throngs, though swarms have forced passenger jets in the region to make emergency landings.
/on.wsj.com/2W3BJMA

EU grants banks capital relief to fund EUR450bn lending boost; Commission proposals come as survey shows surge in demand for loans in first quarter
Jim Brunsden and Martin Arnold – FT
Brussels has offered banks temporary capital relief that it said could boost lending by up to EUR450bn this year, arguing the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus crisis justified a “targeted” easing of regulations introduced after the 2008 financial crash.
/on.ft.com/2WbsSIy

Meet Venezuela’s new oil minister – a wanted man with Iran links; Tareck El-Aissami has little experience — and a $10m US bounty on his head
Gideon Long in Bogotá – FT
By selecting Tareck El-Aissami as his new oil minister, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has given the enormous task of fixing the country’s most important industry to a man who has little expertise in the sector — and who is wanted in the US on drug-trafficking charges.
/on.ft.com/2YfXETt

Vietnam’s Rice Exports Ready to Flow Again as Premier Ends Curbs
Mai Ngoc Chau – Bloomberg
Shipments poised to return to normal from the start of May; Exports were suspended in March over food security fears
Vietnam will end rice export restrictions from the start of May, bringing closure to a month-long saga that sparked fears over food protectionism and caused global prices to spike.
/bloom.bg/2W3y9lC

Owner of South Africa’s Edgars Files for Bankruptcy Protection
Janice Kew – Bloomberg
Edcon Holdings Ltd., South Africa’s second-largest clothes retailer, filed for administration after losing 2 billion rand ($108 million) in sales and failing to pay suppliers as a result of the country’s strict lockdown to contain the coronavirus. Shops selling anything other than food or medicine were ordered to close almost five weeks ago, with the easing of some restrictions due to kick in from Friday. The crisis has consumed the remaining cash of the owner of the Edgars and Jet chains, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
/bloom.bg/3f08Dq0

Brexit

Doubts hang over Boris Johnson’s virus transparency pledge
Tony Barber – FT
Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, marked his return to Downing Street after recovering from coronavirus with a pledge to act with “maximum possible transparency” in sharing with the British people the government’s approach to the pandemic and its economic consequences. In principle this is a welcome promise, but it is ambiguous all the same.
/on.ft.com/3f3ErdK

EU sees new Brexit talks ‘at an impasse’, sources say
Gabriela Baczynska – Reuters
Negotiations between the European Union (EU) and ex-member Britain over new trade arrangements from next year are at an impasse due to disagreements and the coronavirus crisis, according to diplomats and officials in the bloc’s hub Brussels. Halted when the epidemic started, the EU’s tortuous Brexit talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government were renewed a week ago but have quickly hit snags, the sources said.
/reut.rs/35hGLt5

Brexit: ‘Mini embassy’ comments provocative
Stephen Walker – BBC
The government is “playing futile games” over its opposition to a European Union office in Northern Ireland, according to the Sinn Féin MP John Finucane. Cabinet Minister Michael Gove has ruled out the office after the end of the transition period. The transition period is due to last until 31 December 2020. During this time, the UK will remain in both the EU customs union and single market.
/bbc.in/35k83Pp

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