World Markets Live - February 20 - CNBC Live Events
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CNBC Live Events

World Markets Live - February 20

We’ll be updating you throughout the day with essential breaking news, data alerts, earnings reports and all the major market movements.

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  • Good morning, and welcome to World Markets Live. We'll begin full coverage from 0600 GMT. For now, here are the opening calls for Europe.
     
    FTSE   7306   +18
    CAC   4875    +18
    DAX  11783  +47 
    MIB  19070  +110
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  • These are the top headlines this morning.
     
    • Donald Trump removes green card holders from his immigration order. But reports suggest the travel ban still applies to the same Muslim countries, as Iraq's Prime Minsiter tells CNBC they should not be on the list. 
    • President Trump holds interviews with 4 prospective candidates for the role of National Security Adviser as he scrambles to fill one of the most important positions in his administration. 
    • A $143 billion flop. Kraft drops its bid for Unilever after the Anglo-Dutch rival says it sees no financial or strategic merit for shareholders.
    • Uber under fire amid a sexual harassment scandal. CEO Travis Kalanick calls for an urgent investigation into claims the company's HR department tried to play down harassment of a former engineer. 
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  • U.S. markets finished higher at the end of last week. Today is President's Day in the U.S., so the stocks and bond markets will remain closed.
     
     
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  • President Trump has interviewed new candidates over the weekend to replace General Mike Flynn as National Security Adviser.
     
    The President is also working on a new executive order to reinstate the travel ban. 
     
     
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  • This is how Asian markets have performed. Disappointing Japanese export data for January kept the Nikkei flat.
     
     
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  • CNBC's Steve Sedgwick reflects on President Trump's comments during a rally where he made a reference to a terrorist attack in Sweden, which caused confusion.
     
    There’s lots of conversations on Fox News about rapes, there’s lots of conversations about terrorist incidents and nothing has happened particularly, certainly on the latter point, terrorism, to justify this kind of news.
     
    That brings us back to fake news. Now as journalists, are we allowed to report that the president has been talking about this incident in Sweden, bearing in mind it is fake news?
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  • Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir shares his view on the U.S. president.

    I believe Donald Trump is a friend to everybody potentially. I have no basis to question his motives, I believe that he wants to do what he thinks is best for America and this is what every leader should do for his country. 
     
     
     
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  • Kraft Heinz has walked away from its $143 billion bid for Unilever. The companies announced the 'amicable' decision in a joint press release yesterday, after Unilever rejected the U.S. food giant's approach on Friday - saying it saw "no merit, either financial or strategic" in Kraft's offer. 
     
    A Kraft Heinz spokesperson said it had hoped to negotiate on a "friendly basis", but decided to drop the bid when Unilever made it clear it "did not wish to pursue a transaction"
     
     
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  • Shares in Unilever jumped significantly on Friday following confirmation of the Kraft merger bid. Now the deal has been dropped, the share price reaction will be one to watch at the market open.
     
     
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  • Haider al-Abadi, Iraq's Prime Minister, tells CNBC what he thinks of Donald Trump’s travel ban.

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  • President Donald Trump caused confusion on Saturday with his comments about terror in Sweden. At a rally he said "We've got to keep our country safe. You look at what's happening in Germany, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden." It was initially unclear which incident the U.S. President was referring to. 
     
    Trump later explained that he was referencing an interview with a film-maker, who had made a documentary about immigration and crime in Sweden, which aired on Friday.
     
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  • The American President's comments reignited the debate over what constitutes fake news. Speaking to CNBC over the weekend, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg warned citizens not to believe everything they read on social media.

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  • Pressure is building on French conservative candidate Francois Fillon to drop out of the presidential race.
     
    According to an Ifop poll, 65 percent of respondents wanted Fillon to withdraw his candidacy. Fillon said on Friday he would stay in the race no matter what, after previously saying that he would step down if he were put under formal investigation over the fake jobs scandal.
     
     
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  • Authorities in Malaysia have held their first news conference since the mysterious death of the North Korean leader's half brother, Kim Jong Nam. NBC's Janice Mackey Frayer has more.

    by luke.graham

    Meanwhile, China has halted all imports of North Korean coal, as it steps up efforts to implement UN sanctions against the country.
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  • In Germany, a new poll has put the Social Democrats, led by Martin Schulz, ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats for the first time since 2006.

    Meanwhile, Chancellor Merkel met U.S. Vice President Pence on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in what aides described as a "very friendly" meeting. 

    In separate addresses prior to their meeting, Pence insisted that the US remained committed to NATO and vowed to "hold Russia accountable". 

    While Merkel said that her government would do "everything possible" to meet a NATO target for defence spending of 2 percent of GDP by 2024.

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  • Uber is under fire after a former employee made allegations of sexual harassment and gender bias against the firm. Former engineer Susan Fowler published an account of her time at the company detailing numerous incidents of management acting inappropriately.

    Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has published a response to Fowler's post. He has ordered an urgent investigation into the claims, saying what she described was 'abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for'.

    Click here to read the full story.

    Uber CEO Travis Kalanick 
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  • Top designers from across the world have gathered in London for the 65th edition of the London Fashion Week. 

    Brexit was a cause for concern among some of the designers at the show, according to CNBC's Tania Bryer.

    She spoke to fashion designer Anya Hindmarch about the issue.

    by luke.graham

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  • CNBC's Tania Bryer also spoke to Kate Phelan, creative director at Topshop, about the impact of Brexit.

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  • Finland January CPI rose 0.8 percent year-on-year, according to Statistics Finland.
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  • Bovis Homes announces a final dividend of 30 pence per share.
     
    The company earned full year pretax profits of £154.7 million, and revenue rose 11 percent to £1.055 billion.
     
    The company said 2016 had been "a difficult year for the group following a period of ambitious growth."
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  • Germany's producer prices index rose 0.7 percent month-on-month in January, versus a previous reading of 0.4 percent in December, according to the Statistics Office. This beat forecasts of 0.3 percent.
     
    Year-on-year producer prices increased by 2.4 percent in January, versus 1 percent growth in December.
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  • Turkish consumer confidence fell to 65.7 points for February, compared to 66.9 points in January, according to the Statistics Institute.
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  • The dollar index is weaker today, down 5 basis points.
     
    Against major currencies, the dollar is lower against the euro and sterling, and flat against the Swiss franc. However, the U.S. currency has made gains against the Japanese yen.
     
     
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  • The secretary general of NATO has supported demands from the U.S. for European and Canadian members to increase their contribution towards the North Atlantic defence alliance. CNBC's Hadley Gamble spoke to him at the weekend.

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  • ESM head Klaus Regling says in Bild newspaper Greece will probably need less than the originally agreed 86 bln euros in third bailout, Reuters reports.
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  • CVC is expected to announce headline profits after tax of around $17 million for the half year to December 31, 2016.
     
    The company is expected to announce a dividend of 5 cents per share.
     
    The company has announced the appointment of John Read as chairman with effect from February 20.
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  • Shares in Softbank have risen sharply after Reuters reported the Japanese conglomerate is ready to give up control of Sprint to T-Mobile.
     
    Shares in Deutsche Telekom are also seen higher in pre-market trading on the story.
     
    Softbank shares are up more than 3 percent. Over 30 days, the shares are up 4.01 percent.
     
     
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  • German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has denied reports that quoted him as saying Greece should leave the Eurozone if it fails to carry out economic reforms.
     
    Speaking to a German TV network, Schaeuble said that Greece is on the right path and that he exepcts the IMF to take part in a third bailout.
     
     
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  • Daniel Lacalle, CIO of Tressis Gestion, agrees that if the ECB decides to taper QE and hike rates, this would take the momentum out of any earnings driven rally.
     
    If the earnings season and the strength of the earnings overtakes the risk of tapering, yes, but we have to think on one side, the ECB is caught between a rock and a hard place.
     
    On one side, it cannot reduce the pace of purchases, because the governments would not be able to sustain an increase in yields because of the deficits and debt that they have. On the other side, it cannot raise rates aggressively because Europe, and particularly banks, still have a tremendous amount of problems in terms of debt and non-performing loans.
     
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  • Bovis Homes posted a 3 percent drop in full-year pretax profit, missing expectations.

    The company said it expects home completion levels be 10 to 15 percent lower this year.

    CNBC's Gemma Acton shares her view on how the U.K. government is tackling the housing crisis:
     
    We had the housing white paper which came out February 7th. There were moves in the right direction in so far as the philosophy has changed.
     
    Its moving away from the idea that home ownership should be for all, and trying to improve the range of options in terms of different types of tenures, improving the emphasis on rental and the options available.
     
     
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  • Confusion continues to surround the third bailout of Greece.

    Media reports have suggested that the IMF will now join forces with Greece's other creditors to provide cash.

    The fund is reluctant to commit to a new deal, claiming that  Greece's debts are so huge that it is unable to stay on top of the repayments. 

    On Friday, any softening of the IMF position was denied by a spokesman.  

    Euro zone finance ministers head to Brussels today in an attempt to break the standstill on Greece's debt crisis.

    Yields on Greek debt have continued to edge up.


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  • Unilever shares are called sharply lower, following news that Kraft Heinz has given up on a merger deal.
     
    Kraft Heinz has walked away from its $143-billion bid for Unilever. The companies announced the 'amicable' decision in a joint press release yesterday, after Unilever rejected the U.S. food giant's approach on Friday - saying it saw "no merit, either financial or strategic" in Kraft's offer. 

    A Kraft Heinz spokesperson said it had hoped to negotiate on a "friendly basis", but decided to drop the bid when Unilever made it clear it "did not wish to pursue a transaction".
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  • British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet with the CEO of the PSA Group to discuss its planned takeover of Opel and Vauxhall. Both the U.K. and Germany are concerned that the deal could result in substantial job losses. 
     
    The U.K. prime minister is expected to push for guarantees that PSA will safeguard existing plants, echoing demands already made by the German Chancellor.
     
    PSA shares are up 32 percent over 3 months. The share rose sharply on news of the takeover.
     
     
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  • Covestro has reported a higher-than-expected earnings increase for the fourth quarter, with EBITDA rising 52 percent to 390 million euro. 
     
    The plastics maker said it is targeting a single digit percentage increase in sales volumes for 2017. 
     
    We'll be speaking to Patrick Thomas, the CEO of Covestro, at 9:15 CET. 
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  • RBS is abandoning the sale of its William and Glyn operation. The bank is taking a £750 million provision on its 2016 results in an attempt to turn around the retail bank unit.
     
    The sale of roughly 300 branches was agreed as part of a government bailout in 2008.
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  • The markets in Europe opening on the front foot this morning.



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  • Strong demand in the mainland market of China is helping to push up the global performance of Basic Resources stocks.


    Household Goods and Food& Beverage struggling. That a likely follow on from the breakdown on deal talk between Kraft-Heinz and Unilever.


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  • And here is the breakdown on individual European bourses.


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  • Terrific company, questionable valuation.
     

    That's the verdict of Steve Sedgwick on Unilever. The stock has opened 7 percent lower after the weekend news that Kraft -Heinz and Unilever will not merge.

    The stock price is still higher than the Friday price.


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  • RBS is abandoning the sale of its William and Glyn operation. The bank is taking a £750 million pound provision on its 2016 results in an attempt to turn around the retail bank unit. 

    The sale of roughly 300 branches was agreed as part of a government bailout in 2008.

    Investors are, on balance, enjoying that newsflow.


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  • Neil Dwane, global strategist at Allianz Global Investors, explains how the Kraft-Unilever deal would have been financed.
     
    All these food stocks have been used as a place to hide, with people not understanding the effects of quantitative easing and zero interest rates around the world, and clearly for Unilever and obviously for Nestle, these are very underleveraged balance sheets.
     
    So I think, from an M&A perspective, if you think about you could borrow money at say 4 percent, they pay a £3 billion dividend, you gross that up, you’ve got £60-70 billion of debt finance that sitting there by not paying the dividend, which is the first thing that 3G would have cut. 
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  • Bovis Homes posted a 3 percent drop in full-year pretax profit, missing expectations, and said it expects home completion levels be 10 to 15 percent lower this year. 

    Bovis shares are down a whopping 9 percent.


    Hammerson has posted a 56 percent drop in pretax profit in 2016 due to valuation losses in its property portfolio. The real estate investment however said despite the headwinds the business is resilient and adaptable.


    Vedanta posted a sharp increase in third quarter revenue and profit due to higher commodity prices. The mining company also said that its gross debt was lower by 300 million dollars in the third quarter. 

    Shares in Softbank rose sharply after Reuters reported the Japanese conglomerate is ready to give up control of Sprint to T-Mobile. That would leave the Deutsche Telekom owned T-Mobile the sole operator of the United States' third-biggest mobile carrier
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  • Covestro has reported a higher-than-expected earnings increase for the fourth quarter, with EBITDA rising 52 percent to 390 million euros. 
     
    Patrick Thomas, CEO of Covestro, comments on the results.
     
    2016 was a record year. We were the sixth best stock performance on the Stoxx 600 and we delivered on all our guidance. So we’ve certainly had a strong start in our brief history as Covestro.
     
     Shares in the company are down 2 percent this morning. Over 30 days, they are up 2.69 percent.
     
     
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  • The start of trade this week represented by the 0.33 percent spike at the right of the chart below. That market move is likely taking its cue from the positive close to the U.S. markets on Friday.

    Stock markets in the United States are closed today due to the President's Day holiday.

    A positive bump to start the week.  

    The Stoxx 600 is a pan-Europe index representing larger, blue chip stocks. 
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  • Neil Dwane, global strategist at Allianz Global Investors, says investors need to take risk in order to achieve a return.
     
    Whether you’re a European or U.K. investor, interest rates are going to remain very low. Most of the bond market offers virtually no returns.
     
    I think, if investors are feeling that they have to be invested to earn a return, I think the equity markets of both the U.K. and Europe look quite attractive, because there’re good dividend yields out there. Even the 2 percent from Unilever is twice as good as a U.K. gilt at this moment in time.
    Dwane adds that more aggressive investors should look to emerging markets and India, but these have political and currency risks.
     
     
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