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Stocks gain...Disaster price tags...Brexit meeting

October 20, 2017

HONG KONG (AP) — World stock markets pushed higher today on investor optimism over the global outlook despite uncertainties over the outcome of political events in China and Japan and speculation over President Donald Trump’s choice for the next Fed chief. Futures point to opening gains on Wall Street. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell but remains above $51 a barrel. The dollar gained against the yen and the euro.

GENEVA (AP) — Swiss Re, one of the world’s biggest reinsurers, estimates that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, plus two recent earthquakes in Mexico will cost the industry about $95 billion. The Zurich-based company, which as a reinsurer provides backup policies to companies that write primary insurance policies, says the claims process is ongoing and estimates could evolve. Swiss Re expects its own payouts linked to the natural disasters will be about $3.6 billion, including $175 million for the Mexico earthquakes alone.

BRUSSELS (AP) — Ireland’s leader is praising British Prime Minister Theresa May for a constructive attitude on Brexit talks but says “we’re a long way” from getting to the next step. May met today with European Council President Donald Tusk and is meeting with other EU leaders. She will then leave and the remaining 27 leaders will discuss their plans ahead without Britain.

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — German automaker Daimler says net profit fell 16 percent in the third quarter as a voluntary recall to improve diesel emissions hurt earnings at its Mercedes-Benz luxury car brand. Net profit fell to 2.3 billion euros ($2.7 billion) from 2.7 billion euros in the same quarter a year earlier despite a 6 percent increase in sales revenue to 40.8 billion euros. The Stuttgart-based company said Friday that earnings at the Mercedes-Benz division, a pillar of the company’s earnings, were hit by a charge of 223 million euros to pay for an engine control software update on existing vehicles.

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s last remaining stock market floor traders are taking their final orders as the exchange prepares to shut its trading hall, joining other world exchanges in going fully automated. The bourse’s operator, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, says it will close the trading hall by the end of the month and turn the space into a showcase for the city’s financial markets. Hong Kong’s stock exchange, Asia’s third biggest by volume, follows other global peers like Tokyo, Singapore and London that have eliminated their trading floors.

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