10 things you need to know in markets today

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Ueslei Marcelino/Brazil

Good morning! Here’s what you need to know in markets on Wednesday.

1. The U.S. Senate voted on Tuesday to confirm Richard Clarida as vice chair of the Federal Reserve, one of the most powerful positions at the central bank. Clarida, a managing director at fund manager Pimco and an economics professor at Columbia University, was nominated by President Donald Trump in April.

2. Thomson Reuters will buy back $9 billion worth of its common stock using the proceeds of the sale of the majority of its Financial and Risk business to Blackstone, the news and data firm said in a statement on Tuesday. The company also said it and Blackstone agreed to close the sale on October 1.

3. The U.S. goods trade deficit widened sharply in July as exports of agricultural products tumbled, suggesting trade will likely be a drag on economic growth in the third quarter. The Commerce Department said on Tuesday the goods trade gap surged 6.3% to $72.2 billion last month.

4. House prices in London’s overvalued market will fall this year and next, a Reuters poll of analysts and experts predicted, and will tumble if Britain fails to reach a deal ahead of its departure from the European Union. The quarterly poll of around 30 housing market specialists, taken in the past week, said house prices in the capital – where foreign investors have previously fuelled skyrocketing prices – will fall 1.6% this year and 0.1% next.

5. EU antitrust regulators have approved Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) 3.4 billion euro ($3.9 billion) acquisition of Merck’s consumer health unit, saying on Tuesday that they had no competition concerns. The takeover would add vitamin brands such as Seven Seas to a P&G portfolio that includes Pampers diapers and Gillette razors while boosting its presence in Latin America and Asian markets.

6. Current U.S. sanctions on Iran are unlikely to stop Iranian oil exports completely, a long-time adviser at Saudi Arabia’s Energy Ministry said on Tuesday, adding Iran would be unable to close the Straits of Hormuz and Bab al-Mandab even partially. Speaking at an oil conference in the Norwegian city of Stavanger, Ibrahim al-Muhanna said Iran would be the first to lose out on a move to block those major shipping routes and that any such action would trigger further sanctions on Iran.

7. Sotera Health, a private-equity owned company that operates facilities that sterilize medical products and food, is exploring a potential sale worth as much as $5 billion including debt, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday. The company’s owners, Warburg Pincus and GTCR, are working with investment banks to assist them in the sales process, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is private.

8. Japanese trading house Itochu Corp is to invest less than 1 billion yen ($9.05 million) in Singulato Motors, a Chinese smart, connected electric vehicle startup – a deal that might lead to further partnerships with Japanese automakers and suppliers, two people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.The two sources said that although Itochu’s stake will be small, the deal should create opportunities for Singulato, in which Intel Corp also already has a small stake.

9. Aspen Insurance Holdings said on Tuesday certain funds affiliated to alternative investment manager Apollo Global Management will take the insurer private in an all-cash transaction valued at $2.6 billion.Apollo Funds will pay $42.75 per share, representing a 6.6% premium to Aspen stock’s closing price on Monday, the companies said.

10. Emergent BioSolutions said on Tuesday it would buy privately held Adapt Pharma for up to $735 million to acquire its drug Narcan, the only needle-free emergency treatment approved to treat opioid overdose.The deal comprises an upfront cash-and-stock payment of $635 million and up to $100 million in cash dependent on sales-based milestones through 2022, Emergent said.