Good morning! Here’s what you need to know in markets on Monday.
1. US pharmacy group CVS Health is buying health insurance provider Aetna in a deal worth $69 billion, the companies announced on Sunday. The deal creates a new type of company that includes a health insurer, a retail pharmacy, and a company that negotiates prescription drug prices with drugmakers called a pharmacy benefits manager. It’s the biggest merger to happen in the US in 2017.
2. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro looked to the world of digital currency to circumvent U.S.-led financial sanctions, announcing on Sunday the launch of the “petro” backed by oil reserves to shore up a collapsed economy. The petro, he said, would help Venezuela “advance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade.”
3. Brexit ranks a lowly sixth in a new survey of UK consumer concerns, according to a new Deloittesurvey.Across all respondents, 53% said they were concerned about Brexit, less than the figure concerned about the state of the NHS (85%), the environment (64%), and funding for retirement (54%).
4. It is not yet clear if Britain and the European Union will be able to agree on written assurances to avoid a hard Northern Ireland border in time for a Monday deadline, Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney said on Sunday. “The hope is that those [Monday] meetings will result in a momentum that can be carried in to the leaders’ summit the week after … and can allow this Brexit negotiation process to open up to phase two of discussions,” Coveney told RTE radio.
5. The British Treasury is set to announce plans to regulate the use of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, according to a report from the Daily Telegraph newspaper. The new plans “will force traders in so-called crypto-currencies to disclose their identities and report suspicious activity,” according to the report.
6. Facebook opens its new London office on Monday and said it would add 800 more jobs in the capital next year, underlining its commitment to Britain as the country prepares for Brexit. The social network said more than half of the people working at the site in central London will focus on engineering, making it Facebook’s biggest engineering hub outside the United States.
7. The negative impact of so-called “Brexit uncertainty” on the UK economy since the vote to leave last summer has been “surprisingly small,” according to a new analysis from bankers at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “We do not think Brexit uncertainty has had a particularly large effect on consumption and investment,” a team led by Gilles Moec said.
8. Japan’s Nikkei share average fell on Monday with weakness in large-cap stocks such as Fanuc and SoftBank taking a toll, while tech shares also lost ground, offsetting gains in retail stocks which rose on strong monthly sales. The Nikkei dropped 0.5 percent to 22,707.16. The broader Topix slipped 0.5 percent to 1,786.87.
9. MI6,the secret intelligence service, has reclassified Russia as a “tier one” threat, alongside Islamic terrorism, after years of regarding the nation as a second-rung security issue. Russia has at least 700,000 security and intelligence personnel on its payrolls, while Britain has only about 16,000 equivalent people in its special security services.
10. US President Trump is scheduled to visit Britain on February 26 and 27, according to prime minister Theresa May’s diary, The Times reports. “The trip has been in the diary for at least 10 days, according to those familiar with the plans,” the paper said.