Italy's referendum; Senate hearing on Time Warner-AT&T merger, India's rate decision

The media merger of the decade
The media merger of the decade

1. Italy's referendum: The euro fell against the dollar and investors braced for a bumpy ride on Monday as Italy appeared headed for a period of political and financial turmoil.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced early Monday that he would resign after his program of constitutional reform was rejected by Italian voters by a clear majority in a referendum.

The prospect of instability in the eurozone's third biggest economy saw the euro drop about 1% against the dollar to around $1.05 in Asia trade. U.S. stock futures were also moving lower.

Renzi's defeat, and the period of political uncertainty that is now likely to follow, troubles investors for several reasons.

The most immediate concern is a potential banking crisis -- and the risk of contagion around Europe. Some of Italy's banks are drowning in bad debt -- a legacy of years of economic stagnation -- and urgently need to raise new funds.

2. Senate hearing on AT&T-Time Warner deal: The CEOs of AT&T (T) and Time Warner (TWX) will defend their $85 billion mega-merger before a senate antitrust subcommittee on Wednesday.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes say the deal, which was announced in October, is a natural path forward for the two companies.

President-elect Donald Trump said during his campaign that he would fight the deal, calling it "too much concentration of power in the hands of too few." Time Warner owns CNN, HBO, TNT and other major TV networks and websites.

3. Starbucks investor day: Starbucks is hosting an event for investors on Wednesday, less than a week after Howard Schultz announced plans to step down as CEO next year. While the New York event was created before Schultz's announcement, his departure will likely dominate the day's conversation.

On April 3, Starbucks' Chief Operating Officer Kevin Johnson will replace Schultz as CEO. But Schultz isn't leaving the company, nor has he revealed plans to head to Washington, as many have speculated. Instead, he'll become Starbucks' executive chairman, allowing him to focus on innovation and the company's social impact.

Schultz joined Starbucks (SBUX) in 1982 as director of retail operations and stepped down as CEO in April 2000 to lead the company's global strategy. He returned as CEO in 2008. Today, Starbucks has more than 24,000 retail stores in 70 countries.

4. India's rate decision: India's Central Bank will meet Wednesday to review interest rates for the first time since the country's shocking decision to scrap its two largest rupee notes.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discontinued the 500 and 1,000 rupees on Nov. 8 in an effort to combat corruption and money laundering. The decision caused about 86% of India's bank notes to become worthless overnight and has drained millions of dollars worth of cash from the economy.

Close to 90% of transactions in India take place in cash, making the sudden cash crunch especially critical. The Indian government has given people until Dec. 30 to exchange their old notes for newly-issued ones.

5. Coming this week:

Monday - Markets react to Italy's referendum; U.K. Supreme Court begins Brexit hearings; Victoria's Secret (LB) Fashion Show

Wednesday - Senate hearing on AT&T-Time Warner merger; GSA weighs in on Trump's hotel lease; Starbucks Investor Day; India's rate decision

Thursday - European Central Bank's monetary policy meeting

Friday - Government spending measure expires

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