Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our twitter page for regular posts of important headlines. Click on the links for full stories.
Opinion articles of the week:
What would a Brexit mean for UK environmental law and policy? Click here for the debate.
The number of prisoners is on the rise according to statistics released this week but Minister for Justice Michael Gove must find £600m worth of savings in prison expenditure by 2019. How can he balance the books? Click here for the discussion.
Global oil markets have changed drastically, click here for the implications for the global economy if it transpires that this is not merely a temporary change but a long term structural change.
1. SYRIAN AIRSTRIKE VOTE
The UK has launched air strikes targeting so-called Islamic State in Syria, after MPs voted overwhelmingly for action. The government motion specifically authorises air strikes “exclusively” against IS in Syria – but not deploying British troops on the ground. For everything you need to know about the decision click here.
Click here for a short video explaining how the war in Syria began and how the world’s major powers got involved.
2. OPEC MAINTAINS OIL PRODUCTION
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to maintain production at 31.5 million barrels per day at its meeting in Vienna on Friday. The 13 member oil cartel remained divided over its production ceiling however, and failed to reach an agreement on this. (Business Insider)
Crude oil fell below $40 a barrel in response to the decision. Goldman Sachs analysts believe that oil prices could fall by another 50%. They believe this approach from OPEC could send oil prices even lower as markets may still fail to clear oversupply. Click here for more.
3. ECB DECISION
The European Central Bank announced the extension of its quantitative-easing program which will now continue through to March 2017. The ECB also reduced the deposit rate by 10 basis points, or 0.10 percentage point, to minus 0.3 percent. (Bloomberg)
Some analysts believe that this quantitative easing may cause irreparable economic damage. Click here for more.
4. BANK STRESS TESTS
The big seven lenders passed their stress tests, though it was a narrow squeak for Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Standard Chartered were both flagged for “capital inadequacies” in the test, with the Bank of England saying that neither of the lenders would have had enough reserves to withstand the stress test scenario in which Chinese growth slowed to 1.7 per cent, oil prices fell to a low of $38 per barrel, volatility in financial markets spiked and the dollar appreciated against a wide range of currencies. (City A.M.)
Despite this, governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney made it clear that none of these banks will have to raise more capital as a result of the tests. (The Guardian)
5. CHINA-SOUTH AFRICA DEALS
China and South Africa have signed deals and loans valued at $6.5bn (£4.3bn), with the focus on building infrastructure in the African giant. The deals were announced during a four-day visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to increase trade and investment between the two countries. China has given a series of loans to African countries for development. The countries, in turn, provide oil and other key commodities to the world’s second largest economy. (BBC News)
6. SHELL GETS AUSTRALIAN APPROVAL FOR ACQUISITION
Oil major Shell has received the final nod from an Australian regulator for its proposed $70bn (£47bn) acquisition of BG group, meaning China is now the last regulatory hurdle it has left to clear (City A.M)
7. VOLKSWAGEN SALES FALL
Sales of Volkswagen cars fell 20% in the UK last month following the diesel emissions scandal.
In September, it emerged that some Volkswagen diesel cars had been fitted with software that could tell when emissions tests were being conducted and alter the way the engine was running to make the cars look more environmentally friendly. (BBC News)
8. SAMSUNG APPLE PATENT DISPUTE
Samsung has agreed to pay Apple $548m (£362m) as part of a deal to settle a long-running patent dispute. The dispute began in 2011 when Apple said Samsung was using some of its patented technologies without permission. The payment does not mean the end of the row as, next year, a US court will decide if Apple deserves more damages. The payment is part of a bigger $1bn damages award that Apple was granted in 2012 by a jury that considered the case. That total was reduced on appeal to $930m. (BBC News)
9. JD WETHERSPOON CYBER HACK
Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has said that the personal details of more than 650,000 customers may have been stolen in a cyber-attack, and a small portion of this included credit card data. For the majority of customers no financial data was stolen, and no passwords were obtained. However, the last four digits of around 100 customers’ credit card numbers were taken. Investors shrugged off the breach, and Wetherspoon shares in the company were up 2.3 per cent. (City A.M)
10. PFIZER RESEARCH SITE CLOSURE
Drug maker Pfizer has today announced that it is closing one of its research sites in Cambridge. The decision to shut the Neusentis facility at Granta Park, which is part of the company’s wider plans to reduce its investment in pain research, puts up to 120 jobs on the line. (City A.M)