10 things you need to know before European markets open

European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici presents the EU executive's winter economic forecasts during a news conference at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 4, 2016.

REUTERS/Yves Herman

European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici presents the EU executive’s winter economic forecasts during a news conference at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 4, 2016.

Good morning! Here’s what you need to know. 

1. Italy’s regions of Lombardy and Veneto will hold referendums in October to try to obtain greater autonomy from the central government. The result of the ballots will not be binding but a victory could strengthen the League and raise the profile of the popular governor of Veneto, Luca Zaia, widely seen as a potential leader of Italy’s center-right.

2. Prime Minister Theresa May will meet the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Wednesday in London. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, and the de facto leader of the EU, will also be present at the meeting.

3. European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said he hoped a deal between international lenders and Greece to happen by the end of May. Euro zone finance ministers reached a political agreement with Athens two weeks ago and teams of technical experts were to iron out the details as soon as possible.

4. US President Donald Trump’s administration is shifting its stance on Russia and now sees Moscow as a competitor, Britain’s defense minister said. “The American defense secretary and the American secretary of state are under no illusions of how we have to deal with Russia now as a competitor,” Fallon told reporters.

5. NATO member Romania plans to buy Patriot missiles from U.S. company Raytheon to help protect its airspace. The plan will be a key part of the European Union country’s plan to modernize its military, benefiting from a gradual increase in annual spending.

6. A failed bidder for Portugal’s third-largest lender Novo Banco has asked its lawyers to block the 1 billion euro ($1.08 billion) sale to US fund Lone Star and told the central bank it should relaunch the bidding. London-based Aethel Partners complained to the Bank of Portugal this week saying the central bank had not properly considered its bid when it awarded Novo Banco to Lone Star last month.

7. Pernod Ricard’s third quarter sales beat forecasts, but the French spirits group cautioned that a ban on alcohol sales near Indian highways would slow growth in its second-largest market. Pernod, the world’s second-biggest spirits group after Britain’s Diageo, said it saw improving Chinese demand for its Martell cognac.

8. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble issued a plea to the United States to remain engaged in the global economy and not to try to score gains at the expense of other countries. “All of us have benefited greatly” from global integration he said.

9. The EU could re-evaluate its position on the disputed Falkland Islands after Britain leaves the bloc, Argentina’s foreign minister said. “When Brexit takes place, the EU could evaluate a decision on how to proceed and how to stand on these issues and there may be a change,” Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra said in Brussels.

10. The president of the European Parliament said Britain would be welcomed back if there was a shock change in government in this year’s snap election. “If the UK, after the election, wants to withdraw [article 50], then the procedure is very clear,” he said in an interview with the Guardian. “If the UK wanted to stay, everybody would be in favour. I would be very happy.”

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