China’s bubble tea brands look to create a stir overseas

At a crossroads in downtown Shanghai, the market for bubble tea is crowded. Opposite one of ChaPanda’s 8,000 domestic stores, rival tea specialist Heytea vies for customers. Next door, another establishment is under construction. “Teenage students, white-collar workers in their thirties, they’re drinking it every few days,” said a worker at ChaPanda. “They can’t go without it.” Best known for the variety invented in 1980s Taiwan that includes tapioca balls or “bubbles”, flavoured milk tea beverages have proved a hit worldwide. Now mainland Chinese companies, buoyed by a recent domestic…

FirstFT: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to step down next month

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter. Good morning. Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will step down next month after nearly 20 years in power, handing over to his deputy in what will be only the third leadership transition in the Asian financial hub’s modern history. Lawrence Wong, deputy prime minister and finance minister, will become Singapore’s leader on May 15 after being named heir apparent in 2022 as part of the ruling People’s Action party’s…

US stocks drop as traders weigh risks of wider war in Middle East

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter. US stocks slid and equity-market volatility hit a six-month peak following Iran’s military strike on Israel, as markets assessed the risk of the conflict escalating into a full-blown war that could curb energy supplies from the region. Traders had been anxiously watching to see how markets would react after the Islamic republic on Saturday launched its first strike on Israel from its own territory. Tehran sent drones and missiles towards…

Oil prices drop as traders assess risks of wider war in Middle East

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter. Oil prices weakened and US stocks dropped sharply on Monday following Iran’s military strike on Israel, as markets assessed the risk of the conflict escalating into a full-blown war that could curb energy supplies from the region. Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, settled down 0.4 per cent at $90.10 per barrel, slightly trimming earlier losses. West Texas Intermediate, the US marker, fell 0.3 per cent to $85.41 per barrel.…

US and Europe seek to dissuade Israel from striking back against Iran

The US and its European allies stepped up efforts to dissuade Israel from striking back against Iran on Monday, as Israel’s military chief vowed to respond to Tehran’s unprecedented attack on the country’s territory. US secretary of state Antony Blinken and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak both said western countries were preparing sanctions on Tehran as they sought to prevent escalation into a full-blown Middle East war. Blinken said Washington was “co-ordinating a diplomatic response to seek to prevent escalation” in the wake of Saturday night’s barrage of more than…

BNP Paribas gets green light for fully owned Chinese securities venture

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter. BNP Paribas has won approval to set up a fully owned securities brokerage in China, the first regulatory green light of its type for months as the eurozone’s biggest bank makes a fresh bid to expand in the country’s financial markets.  China’s Securities Regulatory Commission said in a statement that BNP Paribas’ securities business had been approved in Shanghai with registered capital of Rmb1.1bn ($150m). Its business would include brokerage,…

Israel’s war cabinet meets as western leaders urge restraint over Iranian attack

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter. Western leaders increased pressure on Israel on Monday to exercise restraint following Iran’s drone and missile attack, as Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet reconvened to discuss how it will respond. French President Emmanuel Macron said the international community should do “everything we can to avoid flare-ups” and “try to convince Israel that we shouldn’t respond by escalating, but rather by isolating Iran”. The British foreign secretary, Lord David Cameron, said the…

Singapore’s prime minister to step down after 20 years

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter. Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will step down next month after nearly 20 years in power, handing over to his deputy in what will be only the third leadership transition in the Asian financial hub’s modern history. Lawrence Wong, deputy prime minister and finance minister, will become Singapore’s leader on May 15 after being named heir apparent in 2022 as part of the ruling People’s Action party’s long-standing succession plan.…

Oil and equity markets shrug off fears of wider war after Iranian strike on Israel

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter. Oil and equity markets were muted on Monday following Iran’s military strike on Israel as traders shrugged off fears the conflict could escalate into a full-blown war and curb supplies from the region. Brent crude, the international benchmark, dropped 1 per cent to $89.52 per barrel on Monday morning. West Texas Intermediate, the US marker, fell 1.2 per cent to $84.63 per barrel. The subdued reaction suggested markets were betting…

Biden urges restraint from Israel after Iran’s drone and missile attack

US President Joe Biden has urged Israel to show restraint after Iran’s drone and missile attack, as Washington seeks to reduce the risk of a full-blown regional war. France and the UK also called on Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to avoid escalating the crisis, with President Emmanuel Macron warning of the risk of “a conflagration in the region”. Israel’s war cabinet met on Sunday to consider the Jewish state’s response to Iran’s attack, but had not yet made a decision on what action it would take, an Israeli government insider said.…