10 things you need to know in markets today

French President Emmanuel Macron wears a fez during his tour of the Medina (old town) of the Tunisian capital Tunis, Tunisia, February 1, 2018.

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French President Emmanuel Macron wears a fez during his tour of the Medina (old town) of the Tunisian capital Tunis, Tunisia, February 1, 2018.
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REUTERS/Eric Feferberg/Pool

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

1. The UK is secretly considering whether to enter a customs union with the EU after Brexit, according to a report from the Financial Times – which could help maintain trade with Europe but damage the UK’s global deal-making and enrage Brexiteers. The government is currently looking into the possibility, three unnamed officials told the paper, which could come into effect after a two-year transition period following Brexit in March 2019.

2. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, reported a big miss in its fourth-quarter 2017 earnings report Thursday, sending the stock down as much as 6% in after-hours trading. It was down about 2% later in the evening.

3. Apple beat Wall Street expectations for both revenue and earnings per share when it announced December quarter earnings on Thursday. However, Apple’s iPhone sales were down from the same period last year.

4. Amazon’s fourth-quarter results, which it announced Thursday, topped analyst expectations. The company’s cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services, grew rapidly and again provided the bulk of Amazon’s profits.

5. Asian shares are muted following mixed signals from Wall Street. Japan’s Nikkei closed down 0.69%, while the Hong Kong Hang Seng index is up 0.26% at the time of writing (6.30 a.m. GMT/1.30 a.m. ET), and China’s Shanghai Composite is up 0.28%.

6. Honda Motor reported a 37% rise in operating profit in the third quarter and raised its full-year forecast as it expects higher auto sales in Asia and it continues to reduce costs. Japan’s third-biggest automaker posted a 284.5 billion yen ($2.59 billion, £1.8 billion) operating profit in October-December, up from 207.6 billion yen a year earlier, and exceeding a mean estimate for 281.6 billion yen taken from 11 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

7. Short-term home rental service Airbnb will not go public this year, the company said on Thursday, and it appointed its first chief operating officer as it pursues global growth and tighter management of its finances as a more mature company. “We’re working on getting ready to go public and we will make decisions about going public on our own timetable,” chief executive officer Brian Chesky said in a statement.

8. A Chinese conglomerate struggling under mounting debt has been reaching out to its own employees in search of loans that appear to be pitched as investments. HNA Group sent an email to its staff asking them to invest their money into various company initiatives, promising high returns in some cases, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

9. Construction growth numbers are coming. Markit will publish the PMI number for the UK construction sector in January at 9.30 a.m. GMT (4.30 a.m. ET). Growth is forecast to dip slightly to 52.0.

10. Foxconn, one of Apple’s main suppliers, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry said on Friday it aims to invest T$10 billion ($342 million, £239.8 million) in artificial intelligence (AI) and related spheres of industrial internet.“Our investment for R&D and technology investment absolutely won’t be weak. We hope in the next few years to invest T$10 billion in the AI application and related spheres of the industrial internet,” executive Vice President Fang-ming Lu said at a press conference.