Evening Briefing Europe:
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Stimulus is finally heading for the sunset. The European Central Bank today left its benchmark interest rates unchanged but announced a long-awaited change in the “quantitative easing” program of asset purchases, which will be halved to €30 billion per month starting in January, 2018. ECB president Mario Draghi said the shift reflects confidence in a broad-based economic rebound and the gradual return of inflation. The euro fell on the widely expected news. — Andy Reinhardt
Will he or won’t he? Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont spent the day teasing out different scenarios as his region contemplates its next steps. Facing a crucial 48 hours, he promised an afternoon speech, then canceled it. Hints emerged that he would call for new elections instead of independence, but then rebellion broke out in his own ranks over a retreat from secession. Finally, Puigdemont said he won’t call for new elections after all, leaving unanswered the question of what happens tomorrow.
Oil prospects. In an interview with Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Thursday that he backs extending OPEC’s oil production cuts beyond March 2018. The 32-year-old heir to the throne is the country’s dominant political force, so his backing makes it all but certain the cartel and its allies will decide to continue the cuts at a meeting next month. That could boost oil prices, improving the fortunes of the global energy industry. Oil erased losses on the prince’s comments.
Sagging banks. Deutsche Bank and Barclays both reported declines in trading revenue that were worse than analysts had expected. They did worse than U.S. rivals — a sign that Europe’s big banks are slipping behind. A drop was anticipated, but the poor showing adds to the challenges faced by Deutsche CEO John Cryan and Barclays chief Jes Staley. It’s not clear, though, that they alone are to blame.
Plan B for Brexit. The European Union is starting internal preparations for the possibility of Brexit negotiations failing to reach a breakthrough in December. At the same time, it will also begin planning for the possibility of a more positive outcome. That wasn’t the only challenge facing Prime Minister Theresa May: a group of ministers from her own Conservative Party say they are “deadly serious” about mounting a revolt against the government if Parliament doesn’t get a binding vote on the final Brexit deal.
Old money. The richest royal in Europe keeps getting richer. Prince Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein is monarch to only 38,000 people, but with a net worth of $4.4 billion, he’s one of the 500 richest people in the world. The prince controls a fortune that originated during the Crusades and is rooted in LGT Group, a private bank that caters to the ultra-rich worldwide. LGT’s value jumped this year, making the prince $1.7 billion richer. Queen Elizabeth II, by contrast, has a personal fortune of about $380 million.
Cars of the future. If this week’s Tokyo Motor Show is anything to go by, the automotive future will be overwhelmingly electric, extremely intelligent, and very sleek. The show features the hottest concept cars and high-tech innovations, including a self-balancing motorbike and car with a mobile meeting room. Here’s a look at the futuristic cars on show.
Compiled by Andy Reinhardt and Leila Taha
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.