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10 things you need to know before European markets open

Ben Moshinsky
Theresa May

Jonas Ekstromer/ TT News Agency/via REUTERS

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

1. The leader of Italy's main opposition party said he was keeping the option of a referendum on the euro open. Luigi Di Maio, the man widely tipped to be the candidate for prime minister of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, said he wanted to negotiate concessions on EU governance.

 2. A poll has found that 51% of Britons would now keep European Union membership while 41% want to leave the bloc, a near reversal of last year's referendum result. The BMG poll of 1,400 people for The Independent came as Britain moves into a second phase of negotiations on exiting the EU, which will focus on trade.

3. Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday she would not be derailed from leaving the European Union, laying the groundwork for difficult meetings this week in which she will try to unite a divided cabinet behind her vision for post-Brexit Britain. May was applauded by European Union leaders in Brussels on Friday after securing an agreement to move previously-deadlocked talks forward onto the topic of interim and long-term trading arrangements.

4. Brazilian prosecutors have asked that all the vice presidents of Caixa Economica Federal be replaced for what officials suspect are "irregularities" at the state bank. Federal prosecutors said Rocha Loures, a former adviser to President Michel Temer, sought out Caixa Chief Executive Gilberto Occhi and then Antonio Carlos Ferreira, a Caixa vice president, to discuss the interests of Rodrimar, a company that operates Brazil's largest port.

5. Metlife failed to pay pensions to potentially tens of thousands of people and will have to strengthen its reserves because of the costs of finding and repaying them, the New York insurer said. Metlife said that it believed the group missing out on the payments represented less than 5% of about 600,000 people who receive benefits from the company via its retirement business. 

6. French aerospace and defense technology group Thales has agreed to buy chipmaker Gemalto at a price of €51 euros per share, with the aim of creating a "world leader in digital security." The cost represents a 57% premium over Gemalto's closing price as of Dec. 8, the statement said.

7. Vietnam is set to auction an up to $5 billion stake in top brewer Sabeco on Monday, with Thai Beverage the only potential bidder to have expressed interest in a majority stake. The keenly anticipated sale of the state-owned maker of Bia Saigon gained momentum in recent months after being hampered for years by political resistance, fickle policy-making and complications over valuations.

8. Bitcoin investors expect futures volumes to perk up when CME Group, the world's largest derivatives exchange operator, launches its own contract. The second US bitcoin futures launch is seen as another step towards big institutional investors warming up to a volatile asset that had until recently been accessible only via largely unregulated markets.

9. At least one Chinese Air Force Yun-8 transport plane conducted a long-haul flight near Taiwan on Sunday, amid tensions between the two rivals. Taiwan dispatched its aircraft and ships to "monitor and deal with" the Yun8, which returned to its base after flying through the Bashi Channel and Miyako waterway.

10. Star Wars: The Last Jedi debuted with a massive $450 million in global ticket sales over the weekend. The total includes $220 million in the United States and Canada, the second largest domestic opening of all time behind 2015 movie "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

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