Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

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Here are today’s top stories for Europe.

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Carles Puigdemont is now in exile, but the Catalan leader’s willing to come back to Spain if he believes he can get a fair trial. Puigdemont fled to Belgium after Spain seized control of Catalonia’s government. Vowing to press the region’s case for independence in Brussels, Puigdemont said his government was forced to declare independence to prevent a “highly aggressive and unprecedented offensive” by Spain. “The republic cannot be built on violence,” he told reporters. — Siraj Datoo

Bitcoin’s surging. Again. The cryptocurrency hit another milestone Tuesday when it jumped above $6,400. The move came after the world’s biggest exchange operator announced plans to introduce bitcoin futures, which could help professional traders and investors finally get serious about the digital currency. CME Group wants to introduce the contracts by the end of the year. Elsewhere in markets, there’s something scary going onjust look at these charts.

£350 million. That’s the number the pro-Brexit campaign said the U.K. sent weekly to the European Union. But new data suggests that the U.K. contribution was actually about half that, coming in at around £180 million ($283 million) a week. That figure includes a £5 billion rebate and £4.4 billion in public-sector credits.

Out with the old. Sweden’s biggest companies are replacing top executives at a record pace. So far this year, 27 percent of the 30 companies on Stockholm’s OMXS30 index have changed CEOs or said the top manager will step down. The trend has been a few years in the making: Since 2015, no less than 73 percent of firms have changed CEO. A desire for fresh blood after the financial crisis and a move towards executives well versed in digitization are among the reasons for the high turnover rates.

Inside Tesla’s Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada.
Photographer: Troy Harvey

Demand jolt. Commodities giants Glencore and Trafigura are competitors, but there’s one thing they agree on: The nickel market will be transformed by the rise of electric cars. Nickel sulphate is a key ingredient in the lithium-ion batteries that power the vehicles, and forecasters predict a big boost in demand. That’s good news for the nickel industry, since a bloated inventory has seen subdued nickel prices lately. All eyes will be on electric cars on Wednesday, with Tesla earnings expected after the market closes. 

Political risk. Economic confidence in the euro area is at the highest level this month since January 2001. More than €2 trillion (£2.3 trillion) in bond purchases by the European Central Bank have helped the bloc’s fragile recovery. But it’s not in the clear just yet. Political risks still threaten to undermine stability. Germany’s coalition government, Brexit, Emmanuel Macron’s waning popularity, looming elections in Italy and the crackdown in Catalonia all have the potential to upend the order. 

Hermes Birkin bags at the Maroquinerie de la Tardoire, a Hermes workshop specialized in products made with calfskin.

In the bag. Hermes wasn’t just insulated from a slowdown in luxury consumption the past few years; It’s actually seen a surge in demand. In an attempt to reduce waiting lists for its signature $10,000 Birkin handbag and other products, Paris-based Hermes will open two new leather-goods production sites in France over the next two years. The new sites will employ about 250 workers each, just as French unemployment has dropped 1 percentage point since 2015 to about 9.5 percent. 

Compiled by Leila Taha and Siraj Datoo

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