And four other things you need to know now.
- Oil giant Shell (RDS-A; RDS-B) agreed to buy U.K. smaller rival BG Group in a deal worth 47 billion pounds ($70 billion). As part of the recommended deal Shell would pay a mix of cash and shares that would value each BG share at around 1,350 pence ($20), a premium of around 52% to the 90-day trading average.
- European stocks hit a 15-year high after the announcement, with stocks in other oil and gas companies in the Europe STOXX 600 index jumping by 5.5% Wednesday morning on hopes that more deals follow.
- French media giant Vivendi is pondering buying U.K. pay TV group Sky, Reuters reports quoting sources. Sky has a market value of 17.6 billion pounds ($26 billion) but could cost Vivendi as much as 28 billion pounds including debt, the sources said.
- Shop prices in the U.K. fell at their fastest rate since 2006, data from the British Retail Consortium showed. Retail prices in March were 2.1% lower than a year earlier, after having fallen by 1.7% in February.
- The IMF has warned that a long period of stagnation could be on the cards for the world's top economies, which in turn will make it more difficult for them to ease their debt burden.