10 things you need to know in markets today

An employee works on Ford Mondeo vehicles on the production line during assembly at Ford plant in Almussafes on February 5, 2015 in Valencia, Spain.

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An employee works on Ford Mondeo vehicles on the production line during assembly at Ford plant in Almussafes on February 5, 2015 in Valencia, Spain.
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David Ramos/Getty

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

1. U.S. economic growth was a bit stronger than initially thought in the second quarter, notching its best performance in nearly four years, as businesses boosted spending on software and imports declined. Gross domestic product increased at a 4.2% annualized rate, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday in its second estimate of growth for the April-June quarter. That was slightly up from the 4.1% pace of expansion it reported in July and was the fastest rate since the third quarter of 2014.

2. British car production fell 11% year-on-year in July, hit by model changes, seasonal adjustments and preparations for tougher new emissions standards, an industry body said on Thursday.Output stood at 121,051 units last month, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said, with demand at home slumping 35% compared with a drop in exports of 4.2%.

3. Asian stocks rose on Thursday as Wall Street hit record highs in the hope that the current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations will lead to a further easing of global trade tensions.MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan nudged up 0.1%.

4. Australia’s TPG Telecom agreed a merger with Vodafone Group’s Australian business on Wednesday, easing competition in the cut-throat sector and buying scale to take on bigger rivals Telstra Corp and Optus. It combines Australia’s third- and fourth-largest telecom firms into a larger third player holding TPG’s fiber network and Vodafone’s mobile system, sending shares on both sides of the deal soaring.

5. U.S. President Donald Trump has signed proclamations permitting targeted relief from steel and aluminum tariffs from some countries, the U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday. Trump, who put in place tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in March, signed proclamations allowing relief from the quotas on steel from South Korea, Brazil and Argentina and on aluminum from Argentina, the department said in a statement.

6. Panasonic is to move its European headquarters from London to Amsterdam in October to avoid potential tax issues linked to Brexit, the Nikkei Asian Review said on Thursday. Moving the regional headquarters to continental Europe will also help Panasonic avoid any barriers to the flow of people and goods, Laurent Abadie, chief executive officer of Panasonic Europe, told Nikkei.

7. A U.S. judge has dismissed an antitrust lawsuit by investors that accused nine big banks of rigging the roughly $9 trillion government agency bond market from 2005 to 2015. In a decision made public on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan said the investors failed to show they were injured by conducting any specific transactions in U.S. dollar-denominated supranational, sub-sovereign and agency bonds that were tainted by the alleged collusion.

8. Chipmaker Micron Technology said Wednesday it plans to spend $3 billion over the next 12 years to expand a plant in Virginia about 40 miles (64 km) west of Washington, D.C. Chief Executive Sanjay Mehrotra told Reuters in an interview the expansion aims to meet increasing demand for chips in automobiles, which are gaining more computer power for features such as collision avoidance systems or lane departure warning systems.

9. Salesforce.com reported a 27% jump in quarterly revenue on Wednesday, as customers looking to rein in costs boosted demand for its flagship Sales Cloud business.Net income rose to $299 million, or 39 cents per share, in the second quarter ended July 31, versus $46 million, or 6 cents per share, a year

10. German drugmakers have been asked by the government to examine their supply chains for any vulnerability that could cause shortages of essential drugs in the event that Britain leaves the European Union without a Brexit deal. More than 2,600 drugs have some stage of manufacture in Britain and 45 million patient packs are supplied from the UK to other European countries each month, while another 37 million flow in the opposite direction, industry figures show.