What to Watch: Hopes of US-China breakthrough, Just Eat takeover, Uber London troubles

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Trade talk optimism boosted stocks. Photo: Da qing - Imaginechina/Sipa USA

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

Hopes of US-China trade breakthrough boost stocks

Shares have ticked upwards across the world as market optimism grew once more of a breakthrough in US-China trade talks.

The Chinese newspaper Global Times reported the country was “very close” to an initial trade agreement, after the Chinese government said it had accepted US demands.

"China being prepared to look at intellectual property is obviously the catalyst for a nice move higher, or a return to the highs earlier this month," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

China’s Shanghai Composite index (000001.SS) was up 0.7%, and the Nikkei was up 0.8%. Traders also reacted positively to the decisive vote for pro-democracy campaigners and a lack of significant violence over the weekend in Hong Kong’s local elections, with the Hang Seng Index (^HSI) up 1.5%.

Meanwhile in the US, stocks also looked set to rise with Dow Jones futures (YM=F) and S&P 500 futures (ES=F) up 0.3% and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) up 0.4%.

In Europe, the FTSE (FTSE) was up 0.6% in mid-morning trading in London, the French CAC 40 (^FCHI) and the Euro Stoxx 50 (^STOXX50E) were up 0.5 and the German DAX (^GDAXI) was 0.4% higher.

Uber denied licence to continue operating in London

Uber (UBER) has been refused a new licence to continue to operate in London for putting “safety at risk,” after thousands of users took uninsured trips with individuals pretending to be authorised drivers.

Uber vowed to appeal the decision by transport chiefs, calling it “extraordinary and wrong”, and saying it had recently audited every single London driver.

But Transport for London (TfL) said Uber had allowed passengers to take at least 14,000 uninsured trips in cars driven by people who had uploaded their own photos to actual drivers’ accounts.

It said Uber’s systems had been “easily manipulated,” with all such trips uninsured. Some drivers also lacked a minicab licence, and one had even previously had their licence revoked.

The company has three weeks to appeal against TfL’s decision that it is not “fit and proper” to operate, and can keep services running throughout the appeal process.

Just Eat hits back at hostile Prosus takeover bid

UK meals delivery firm Just Eat (JE.L) has advised shareholders not to accept a 710 pence-a-share cash offer from Prosus.

Prosus is a unit of South African technology investment firm Naspers. Prosus has a valuation of more than €100bn (£85.6bn, $110.2bn), largely thanks to stakes in technology companies such as Tencent.

Just Eat said in a statement that the proposal — a hostile all-cash offer — was inferior to a deal it had made with Takeaway.com.

Just Eat is one of the many online takeaway delivery companies that face stiff competition from the likes of Deliveroo and Uber Eats. In May this year, Amazon announced a £575m ($740m) investment in Deliveroo, but that deal has been put on hold pending an inquiry by the competition watchdog.

In July, Just Eat said that it had agreed to merge with Takeaway.com, creating an £9bn company with roughly 360m global takeaway orders, to make it the largest food delivery player outside China.

LVMH agrees to buy luxury jeweller Tiffany for $16bn

Luxury goods giant LVMH (MC.PA) has agreed to buy one of the world’s most iconic jewellers for $16.2bn (£12.6bn).

LVMH, which owns 75 prestigious brands including Christian Dior and Givenchy and has 4,590 stores worldwide, confirmed in a statement that it has agreed to buy Tiffany for $135 (£105) per share in cash.

Bernard Arnault, France’s richest man and owner of LVMH, said in a statement: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to welcome Tiffany, a company with an unparalleled heritage and unique position in the global jewelry world, to the LVMH family.”

German business mood lifts after it avoids recession

Business sentiment among German executives perked up in November, according to the latest Business Climate Index from the Institute for Economic Research (Ifo).

Based on a survey of some 9,000 managers, the economic think tank’s monthly barometer rose by 0.3 to 95.0 points this month from October, as business leaders feel the outlook for the coming six months is getting better.

"The German economy is resilient," Ifo president Clemens Fuest said on Monday.

Europe’s largest economy narrowly avoided falling into a technical recession in the last quarter, posting GDP growth of 0.1% quarter-on-quarter last week, driven by robust private and public domestic consumption.

However, Carsten Brzeski, chief economist of ING Germany warned that today’s Ifo index is still not back at its July level. “It is part of Germany’s new economic modesty to appreciate a tiny increase in the Ifo index. Better than another disappointment,” Brezski said in a note.