The 6am London Cut

Markets: Disappointing economic data from Japan and a further decline in China’s currency had Asian equities falling out of favour on Friday. The renminbi, which is tightly guided by the Chinese central bank, has fallen as much as 0.83 per cent against the US dollar. This is the currency’s ninth day of declines. (FT’s Global Markets Overview and FastFT)

Crimea’s parliament calls for referendum on region’s future: Ukraine plunged further into crisis on Thursday after unidentified pro-Russian gunmen seized Crimea’s regional parliament, prompting legislators there to call a referendum on the autonomous peninsula’s future. The raid in Simferopol, Crimea’s capital, intensified east-west tensions over Ukraine. Fears mounted that separatists could prevail in the largely pro-Russian peninsula after a pro-western leadership assumed power in Kiev after last week’s toppling of president Viktor Yanukovich. (Financial Times)

“Ukraine’s new prime minister said on Thursday loans worth $37 billion had gone missing from state coffers during ousted President Viktor Yanukovich’s rule, and warned that unpopular measures were needed to salvage the economy. With the hryvnia currency in freefall and concerns about the low level of foreign currency reserves growing, Arseny Yatseniuk said the country urgently needed loans from the International Monetary Fund, which is visiting Kiev next week.” (Reuters)

BofA fights attempt to raise ‘hustle’ fine: Bank of America hit out at the US government’s request to more than double the penalty it is seeking from the bank in a case known as “the hustle”, where it was found liable for civil fraud over mortgages sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Financial Times)

Standard Life warns on Scots ‘Yes’ vote: Standard Life, the insurance group that employs about 5,000 people north of the border, said constitutional changes could prompt it to shift large parts of its operations away from Scotland in the most significant intervention by a big company so far. (Financial Times) Also: Oh look, another RBS risk factor (FT Alphaville)

Hundreds of institutions that tried to buy into the float of online retailer AO World have been left disappointed, after 85 per cent of the new issue was awarded to just 15 investors. Not Rothschilds though… they took home £12m in fees. (Financial Times)

Tesla Motors raised $2bn from the largest US convertible bond sale in more than two years after increasing the size of its offering due to strong investor demand. The proceeds from the sale will be put towards Tesla’s plan to build a vast new battery factory that has electrified investors and powered its shares to a record high this week. (Financial Times)

This may be nuts: Danger that valuations will touch off a wider euphoria (Financial Times)

Dan Loeb will try to force his way on to the board of Sotheby’s at the company’s next annual shareholder meeting, saying the 270-year-old auction house needs a “fundamental corporate restructuring”. After months of broadsides against strategy of a management team he said was “living a life of luxury at the expense of shareholders”, Mr Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point on Thursday launched a proxy battle for board seats. (Financial Times)

The Spanish government is selling 7.5 per cent of Bankia, in the first step towards reprivatising the nationalised lender that became a symbol of Spain’s financial crisis. In a regulatory filing released on Thursday, the three banks charged with selling the Bankia stake said they would close the bookbuilding process within a day. But a person familiar with the situation said that the bookrunners had secured enough orders to sell all of the shares within an hour of launching the operation – an indication of relatively strong appetite from investors. (Financial Times)

Men’s Wearhouse closes in on rival: The battle to control America’s discount menswear market appeared to enter its endgame on Thursday after suit retailer Jos A Bank agreed to negotiate a sale to larger rival Men’s Wearhouse. Jos A Bank said it was prepared to open its books to Men’s Wearhouse on the condition that it presented its highest offer. An offer of $63.50 a share was made on Monday, valuing Jos A Bank at $1.78bn. It was rejected on Thursday, and Men’s Wearhouse said it would consider raising it to $65 if allowed to conduct limited due diligence. (Financial Times)

Ireland’s unemployment rate fell to 12.1 per cent in the last three months of 2013. The number of people in work continued to rise, in another indication of the country’s economic turnround after its exit from an international bailout. Losses from construction bust still weigh heavily. (Financial Times)

COMMENT etc

The trick of the mistress trade (Financial Times, Silverman)

The truth is that every step towards regulatory co-ordination has been offset by a step away (Financial Times, Tett)

Ukraine: On the edge (Financial Times)

Private equity goes junior banker shopping (WSJ)

China has a staggering 4.2bn bank cards in circulation (Financial Times)

Study finds SEC staff sold shares before cases made public (Bloomberg)

Cover your webcams, GCHQ may be watching (Financial Times)

Rusal vs the LME continues (WSJ)

OVERNIGHT MARKETS

Asian markets
Nikkei 225 down -147.35 (-0.99%) at 14,776
Topix down -12.84 (-1.05%) at 1,205
Hang Seng down -19.30 (-0.08%) at 22,809
ASX 200 down -6.45 (-0.12%) at 5,405

US markets
S&P 500 up +9.13 (+0.49%) at 1,854
DJIA up +74.24 (+0.46%) at 16,273
Nasdaq up +26.87 (+0.63%) at 4,319

European markets
Eurofirst 300 down -3.29 (-0.24%) at 1,345
FTSE100 up +11.12 (+0.16%) at 6,810
CAC 40 down -0.52 (-0.01%) at 4,396
Dax down -73.40 (-0.76%) at 9,588

Currencies
€/$ 1.37 (1.37)
$/¥ 101.60 (102.08)
£/$ 1.67 (1.67)
€/£ 0.8213 (0.8213)

Commodities ($)
Brent Crude (ICE) down -0.20 at 108.76
Light Crude (Nymex) down -0.40 at 102.00
100 Oz Gold (Comex) at 1,332
Copper (Comex) at 3.23

10-year government bond yields (%)
US 2.65%
UK 2.68%
Germany 1.56%

CDS (closing levels)
Markit iTraxx SovX Western Europe +0.68bps at 51.6bp
Markit iTraxx Europe +0.03bps at 72.67bp
Markit iTraxx Xover -2.73bps at 265.74bp
Markit CDX IG -0.75bps at 63.8bp

Sources: FT, Bloomberg, Markit

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