Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day

Alyssa McDonald

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Boris Johnson loses a key Brexit vote, Trump gives China another prod over trade and Beijing softens its tone on Hong Kong protests. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Brexit Backlash

The U.K. may be on course for a snap general election after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy suffered a humiliating defeat in Parliament. Lawmakers voted 328 to 301 to take a crucial first step toward forcing Johnson to delay Brexit until Jan. 31 in an effort to stop a no-deal split. Earlier in the day, Johnson lost his ruling majority when a member of his party defected. The prime minister says delaying Brexit would undermine his negotiating hand and that he’d rather collapse the government and hold a fresh election. The pound see-sawed through the day as it became clear Johnson’s attempt to stop Parliament from giving him instructions had backfired. These are the stocks to watch if an election is called.


U.S. President Donald Trump seems to be trying to goad China into doing a trade deal before the presidential election in November 2020. On Twitter, he suggested that negotiations will become trickier if he wins a second term. “Think what happens to China when I win,” Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday. “Deal would get MUCH TOUGHER!” Trump also said that the U.S. is “doing very well in our negotiations with China,” without offering any specifics. Officials have been struggling to agree on the schedule for a planned meeting this month after Washington rejected Beijing’s request to delay tariffs that took effect over the weekend, according to people familiar with the discussions. Here’s how the trade war got to this point. 

Softer Tone

China isn’t budging on Hong Kong protesters’ demands for direct democracy, but it is at least softening its tone on the demonstrations themselves. In a wide-ranging briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese officials overseeing Hong Kong sought to make a clear distinction between violent protesters who have thrown petrol bombs in running battles with police and others who have marched peacefully through the city. They also strongly backed Chief Executive Carrie Lam, saying an emergency law could be implemented if necessary and pledging support for the economy.

Uniqlo’s Future

The 70-year-old billionaire behind clothing giant Uniqlo wants a woman to succeed him.  Being CEO of parent company Fast Retailing “is more suitable for a woman,” Tadashi Yanai said in an interview. “They are persevering, detail oriented and have an aesthetic sense.” Japan has faced scrutiny over its lack of gender diversity in top management roles; only 4.1% of women in the country hold executive titles at publicly traded firms. In the U.S., women make up about a quarter of executive ranks, according to multiple studies. One possible successor to Yanai would be Maki Akaida, who was appointed this year to run Uniqlo’s Japan operations — the company’s most profitable unit.

Australian Opportunities

Australian companies are cautious about the year ahead after 65% of the 134 companies that reported annual earnings in August missed their annual sales targets. With an economy that even Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded on Monday is “soft,” new tariffs from the U.S. taking effect on around $110 billion of Chinese imports earlier this week and Brexit looming at the end of next month, not many companies are optimistic about their future. But some sectors are still looking good for investors. “I like energy, I like healthcare, I like materials,” Dale Gillham, chief analyst at Wealth Within, told Bloomberg TV. 

What We’ve Been Reading

This is what’s caught our eye over the weekend.

U.S. stocks fall as trade talks between the U.S. and China hit another stumbling block. An island of 50,000 people in the Bahamas is 70% under water. An Australian tech billionaire backs new climate action demand on BHP.  South Korea’s most popular hotel app is looking beyond love motels. The new iPhones and Apple’s future: a preview. These are the world’s most liveable cities.

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