What to Watch: Battle for Spanish stock exchange, Aramco IPO, house listings

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
The Spanish stock exchange in Madrid, which two operators are bidding for. Photo: AP Photo/Paul White

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

Operators launch bidding war for Spanish stock exchange

Pan-European stock market operator Euronext and Switzerland's SIX sparked a bidding war for Spain’s BME on Monday, with both trying to snap up one of Europe’s last standalone stock exchanges.

SIX has offered to buy BME €34 per share, implying a total equity value of around €2.8bn, while Euronext did not disclose an offer price.

Euronext is small player compared to European rivals LSE and Deutsche Bourse but has gradually built up scale in equities, operating exchanges including Norway, Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland.

SIX is focused on Switzerland and buying BME would give it a base inside the European Union. That may help Switzerland regain access to EU equity markets, after Brussels blocked EU-based investors from trading on Swiss exchanges from July this year as a row escalated over a stalled bilateral treaty.

Saudi Aramco seeks $1.7 trillion IPO valuation

Bankers working on the stock market listing of state oil giant Saudi Aramco have set an official share price range, valuing the company at as much as $1.7tn (£1.3tn) at the top end of the target.

Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil giant, confirmed in a document on Sunday that it will seek to sell shares at a price between 30 Saudi Arabian riyal (£6.18) and 32 Saudi Arabian riyal (£6.59).

The range values the company at between $1.6tn and $1.7tn, which would make it the world’s most valuable listed business. That crown is currently held by Apple (AAPL), which is worth $1.1tn.

Saudi Aramco hopes to raise $25bn selling 1.5% of its stock, which will be listed for trade on Tadawul, the Saudi Stock Exchange. At the top end of forecasts, it would also be the world’s biggest IPO.

New UK house listing drops to lowest level in decade

The number of UK properties coming up for sale last month dropped to its lowest in a decade, as Brexit, the election and sluggish price growth deter sales.

The average number of new listings in October was 13.5% lower than a year ago, falling to 24,539 properties, according to figures from property site Rightmove.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove’s director and housing market analyst, said it was “actually a good time to sell,” with less competition from other sellers and buyer demand virtually unchanged.

“In a strange Brexit-induced paradox, thousands of potential sellers are holding back compared to this time a year ago, though the number of buyers agreeing purchases is virtually the same,” he said.

Construction of office buildings in London hits five-year low

The pace of construction of office buildings in London slumped to a five-year low in the last six months, while the number of new building starts fell by almost 50%.

Around 12 million sq ft of office space is currently under construction, the lowest since 2014 and 10% less than six months ago, according to the London Office Crane Survey by consulting firm Deloitte.

Just four office schemes — totalling 200,000 sq ft — began their construction phase in the last six months in the City of London financial district.

That compares to the 1.2 million sq ft of office space that began construction in the Square Mile in the previous six months.

Overall, new building starts in London fell by 49%, with only 24 schemes beginning in the past six months. Some 37 schemes got underway in the previous six months.

European stocks mixed

European stocks were mixed on Monday, with the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) up 0.12%. Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) was down by 0.17%, while France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) is down by 0.26%.

The pound was trading 0.46% higher against the dollar (GBPUSD=X) at around $1.296. It climbed by around 0.4% against the euro (GBPEUR=X) to around €1.17.

What to expect in the US

Futures are pointing to a higher open for US stocks.

S&P 500 futures (ES=F) are up 0.17%. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F) are up 0.25% and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) are also up 0.25%.