Asian stock markets closed lower, while European shares were mixed early on Wednesday, after the U.S. Senate rejected a bill to force the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Here are five things that matter for markets now:
- A bill to force the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline failed in the Senate, just short of the 60 votes needed for its passage. The tally was 59 to 41 on TransCanada Corp's (TRP) $8 billion project; all 45 Republicans supported the bill. If it had passed, President Barack Obama, who had said it would oppose the pipeline if it significantly increased greenhouse gas emissions, would have had to veto it.
- Officials at France's biggest bank BNP Paribas are targeted in a preliminary investigation into alleged insider trading, the Wall Street Journal reports. Investigators are trying to determine how much senior BNP Paribas directors and top executives knew about the bank's exposure to litigation risks in the U.S. when they sold shares last year. In a separate development, Goldman Sachs (GS) has fired a currency trader who joined in 2012 and had worked for HSBC (HSBC) at the time of the currency market manipulation scandal, the paper reports.
- China's top economic body has warned that the country faces increased downward pressure next year, as it pushes forward with reforms while trying to maintain economic growth stable. The country's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said its head issued the warning during an internal meeting.
- Tensions between authorities and protesters in Hong Kong have flared up again. A small number of protesters broke into the city's legislative in the early hours on Wednesday, and police stopped others from breaking in.
- China and Russia pledged to strengthen military cooperation and hold joint military exercises to counter-act U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific region, the FT reports. Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu said during a visit to Beijing that the two sides expressed concerns at the U.S. attempts to reinforce its military and political influence in the region. The statement comes amid increased fears of what many analysts have called a new Cold War, in which Russia attempts to gain influence in the neighboring states and beyond.