December 29, 2017 / 12:00 PM / a year ago

Friday Morning Briefing

Goldman Sachs estimates $5 billion will be wiped from its fourth-quarter earnings due to the U.S. tax overhaul, SoftBank succeeds in its tender offer for Uber shares and a Reuters special report explores Yemen’s health crisis.

Runners and riders participate in the Christmas Ballyheigue beach horse races in the County Kerry village of Ballyheigue, Ireland, December 27, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Yemen

A cholera epidemic in Yemen, one of the worst ever recorded, is likely to surge again around March, giving global health experts a few months to get vaccines in to the war-torn country to try to limit the next wave of cases.

After three years of warfare, cholera and hunger, Yemen faces a new battle. In the past four months, doctors across the country have recorded at least 380 cases of diphtheria, a bacterial disease that last appeared here in 1992. Read the special report. 

Commentary: The Trump administration is deluding itself if it believes Iran is the sole cause of Yemen's troubles, writes Daniel R. DePetris. "The United States may not be an active combatant in Yemen’s war, but it is not a bystander either." If Washington is serious about promoting a peace process, says DePetris, one of its actions should be suspending all defense sales to the Saudi-led coalition that could be used in an offensive capacity in Yemen. 

United States

Investigators in New York City searched for the cause of a blaze that ripped through an apartment building in the borough of the Bronx, killing 12 people including an infant, in the city’s deadliest fire in at least a quarter of a century. 

An arctic blast sent most of the U.S. Northeast and Midwest into a deep freeze that set record lows in several spots on Thursday as forecasters warned the frigid temperatures could last through the New Year holiday. 

California adults not content to ring in the New Year with the traditional fizz of champagne can look forward to celebrating with the buzz of marijuana, purchased for the first time from state-licensed retailers of recreational pot. 

The New York Police Department is providing officers with specialized training to stop any suicide bombers at Sunday’s New Year’s Eve celebration, when up to 2 million people will flood the streets of Times Square, officials said. 

People are seen through balloons as they make their way at the seaside promenade of the northern port city of Thessaloniki, Greece December 27, 2017. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

Business

Markets were ending 2017 in a party mood after a year in which a concerted pick-up in global growth boosted corporate profits and commodity prices, while benign inflation kept central banks from snatching away the monetary punch bowl. 

Mergers and acquisitions had another strong year in 2017, reaching their third highest annual level since the 2008 financial crisis, as CEOs were emboldened by buoyant markets to pursue transformative deals, even when their targets resisted. 

Hong Kong bankers are eyeing a slew of blockbuster IPOs from Chinese technology firms with a total market capitalization of some $500 billion over the next two years, in a sharp contrast to 2017 - the city’s worst year for raising equity in a decade. 

A consortium led by SoftBank will buy a large number of shares of Uber in a deal that values the ride-services firm at $48 billion, Uber said in a victory for new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi. 

Goldman Sachs said the tax legislation will result in a decrease of about $5 billion in its fourth-quarter earnings

Facing lawsuits and consumer outrage after it said it slowed older iPhones with flagging batteries, Apple is slashing prices for battery replacements and will change its software to show users whether their phone battery is good. 

Breakingviews: Apple and Saudi Arabia test out their comfort zones 

Fintech

Hackers have stolen millions, lawmakers are pushing for new taxes and regulations, and a leading financial official has called them a “Ponzi scheme”. But that hasn’t cooled a frenzy for bitcoin and other virtual currencies that is gripping young investors in South Korea. 

India’s finance ministry cautioned investors about the risks of trading in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, saying digital currency investments are like “Ponzi schemes.” Cryptocurrencies are not legal tender and have no regulatory permission or protection in the country, the finance ministry said in a statement, but stopped short of announcing an outright ban or imposing any curbs.

World

Family members of two Reuters reporters detained in Myanmar said the pair had told them they were arrested almost immediately after being handed some documents by policemen they had gone to meet. 

Gunmen killed at least nine people including three police in an attack on a Coptic Christian church south of Cairo, medical and security sources said. 

China denied reports it has been illicitly selling oil products to North Korea, after U.S. President Donald Trump said he was not happy that China had allowed oil to reach the isolated nation. 

Reuters TV: Perspectives

A war with Islamists in the Philippines 

Europe’s cloud of discontent to grow in 2018 

A devastating hurricane season

In pictures: Reuters’ most Instagrammed 

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