Business is booming.

Israel and Hamas agree hostage release deal

Stay informed with free updates

This article is an on-site version of our FirstFT newsletter. Sign up to our Asia, Europe/Africa or Americas edition to get it sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning

Israel and Hamas have agreed a deal for the staggered release of 50 civilians held hostage in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners and a four-day halt to hostilities.

The pause, which will mark the most prolonged lull in the conflict since the Palestinian militant group’s deadly October 7 attack on Israel, is set to be accompanied by an influx of humanitarian aid — including some fuel — into Gaza.

The hostages in the coastal enclave will be released in small batches, as Israel and Hamas test the durability of the deal. Their release will begin 24 hours after the deal is announced, said a senior US official, and will happen over four to five days.

Even after the release, Hamas will still hold almost 200 other hostages, including Israeli soldiers and other women and children. Read more about the agreement here.

And here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:

  • Netherlands election: Dutch voters head for the polls. An unexpected surge in support for the far-right could pave the way for veteran anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders to play a pivotal role in the formation of the next government.

  • UK-South Korea relations: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meets South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at 10 Downing Street.

  • Results: UK soft-drinks maker Britvic, software publisher Sage, German metals giant Thyssenkrupp, UK battery maker Johnson Matthey and water company Severn Trent report.

Five more top stories

1. Jeremy Hunt is set to reveal a £9bn-a-year permanent tax break for business when he delivers his Autumn Statement today. The UK chancellor is also expected to announce cuts to national insurance and more than 100 supply-side reforms as he attempts to jolt Britain’s sluggish economy back to life.

  • More on benefits: The UK plans to change criteria for the work capability assessment — which identifies people who qualify for more generous benefits and are not expected to seek work — despite charities warning of the potential for severe hardship.

2. Binance chief Changpeng Zhao has resigned and pleaded guilty to a US criminal charge of failure to protect against money laundering. The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange also agreed to pay more than $4.3bn in fines over charges related to money laundering and breaches of financial sanctions in a sweeping federal case against the crypto giant.

3. OpenAI’s directors are in talks with Sam Altman to allow him to rejoin the board, four days after their decision to sack the artificial intelligence start-up’s co-founder. A deal to unify the company by bringing back Altman would be a compromise, but a trio of directors have remained resolute in their view that his firing was justified.

4. The Home Office is looking at ways to cut legal migration to the UK and reduce the “abuse” of work visas. Proposed changes include increasing the salary thresholds for skilled worker visas and limiting the number of dependants care workers can bring with them. Since the post-Brexit visa system came into effect, employers have increasingly looked overseas to plug gaps in the workforce, helping push net migration to record levels.

5. Hedge fund short sellers have suffered $43bn of losses during the recent rally in US and European stock markets. Investors have been caught out by a “painful” rebound in “low quality” stocks this month, said Barclays’ head of European equity strategy Emmanuel Cau, as the market has grown more confident that the US Federal Reserve’s tightening cycle is finally over.

The Big Read

Judge David Jones, right, and lawyer Elizabeth Freeman
Judge David Jones, right, and lawyer Elizabeth Freeman © FT montage; Houston Chronicle/Getty Images

A ruling on bedding group Serta Simmons cemented the status of Judge David R Jones as the ultimate kingmaker in big US bankruptcy cases, with lawyers and bankers gravitating to his court. But his empire abruptly collapsed last month after a lawsuit accused the judge of concealing a longstanding romantic relationship with Elizabeth Freeman, a lawyer who frequently worked on matters assigned to Jones.

What we’re also reading and listening to

Chart of the day

The latest US inflation data has reinforced expectations that a Goldilocks-style soft landing will emerge in the year ahead. In such a scenario, it would be reasonable for investors to favour stocks and bonds over gold, writes Rebecca Patterson, former chief investment strategist at Bridgewater Associates. However, there are at least three factors that could help gold keep its lustre.

Line chart of Gold price ($ per troy oz) showing Gold rallies to multi-year highs

Take a break from the news

US poet Amanda Gorman, photographed for Pirelli’s 2024 calendar by Prince Gyasi
US poet Amanda Gorman, photographed for Pirelli’s 2024 calendar by Prince Gyasi © Alessandro Scotti

Charlene Prempeh meets Prince Gyasi, the first black photographer to shoot the all-star calendar. His catalytic moments have included a viral 2018 iPhone shoot with actress Michaela Coel, a 2019 shoot for GQ with Nigerian singer Burna Boy, a collaboration with Virgil Abloh and Off White and a 2021 cover story with Naomi Campbell for Madame Figaro.

Additional contributions from Benjamin Wilhelm, Grace Ramos, Gordon Smith and Euan Healy

Recommended newsletters for you

Working It — Everything you need to get ahead at work, in your inbox every Wednesday. Sign up here

One Must-Read — The one piece of journalism you should read today. Sign up here

Source link

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.