Top European News: Irma, Brexit bill, Juncker, Norway, Apple
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London’s still got it. The city retained its crown as the world’s top financial center—extending its lead over New York and Hong Kong—in a semi-annual survey of industry professionals. But there were signs that the competition is gaining strength: Frankfurt, Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam, all set to gain banking jobs likely to leave London because of Brexit, rose on the Global Financial Centres Index, published by Z/Yen and the China Development Institute.
Norway votes. Norwegians go to the polls today to vote in parliamentary elections, and Prime Minister Erna Solberg is hoping the results will make hers the first center-right government since World War II to serve two full consecutive terms. Solberg has used the country’s oil wealth, including from its sovereign wealth fund, to shore up the economy in the wake of the drop in oil prices. The race is tight, but with the economy on the rebound, Solberg’s coalition could make history.
Could have been worse. Hurricane Irma cut a wide swath of damage as it barreled up Florida’s west coast but proved less devastating than feared. As it weakened to a tropical storm after passing Tampa, one analyst lowered the damage estimate from $200 billion to $50 billion. European reinsurers jumped in a relief rally. Still, nearly five million Floridians are without power, gasoline supplies are cut off, and agriculture faces $1 billion in destruction. Check out our photo gallery for images of Irma’s impact across the Caribbean.
Sensing victory. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s government seems set to rally enough lawmakers tonight to back a key piece of legislation designed to let her government copy EU law and enshrine it in the domestic statute. The Labour Party and some Conservatives have expressed disquiet with the law’s so-called “Henry VIII” powers, which would permit ministers to tweak statutes without the normal scrutiny by Parliament.
EU relaunch. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, will deliver the annual State of the Union speech this week in a more upbeat mood than a year ago. At that time, the 28-nation bloc was faced with the U.K.’s decision to leave, and anti-EU parties were ascendant. This time, Juncker might not even mention Brexit, highlighting a range of EU projects being pursued without Britain, such as free-trade pacts with Australia and New Zealand.
Zimbabwe’s diamonds. International NGO Global Witness alleges Zimbabwe’s government is using money from diamond exports to fund its Central Intelligence Organisation, which helps keep President Mugabe in power and is accused of human-rights abuses. The diamonds are channeled through a web of foreign companies that partner with businesses owned by the government or military. Global Witness says the earnings are funneled back off the books, helping to fund political oppression.
Big reveal. Tomorrow’s launch of three new iPhones is expected to be the most significant Apple event in years. What to expect? The world’s most valuable company will unveil upgrades to its iPhone 7 and 7 Plus called the 8 and 8 Plus and a premium model called the iPhone X that features a new design, edge-to-edge screen, inductive charging, faster processor and 3-D facial recognition to unlock the phone. Expect the iPhone X to cross the psychologically import price threshold of $1,000.
Compiled by Andy Reinhardt and Leila Taha
With assistance from Editorial Board