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Five Things to Know in World Business Today

These translations are done via Google Translate
December 18, 2017 by Lorcan Roche Kelly


Tax bill expected to pass, Wall Street bonus pool looks shallow, and (another) big week in Brexit negotiations. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Counting the votes

President Donald Trump said the U.S. economy will “start to rock” as the tax overhaul plan seems set to pass key votes this week, allowing the president to sign legislation before the holiday break. The final text of the compromise bill was published on Friday evening and it shows the corporate tax rate permanently lowered to 21 percent with across-the-board tax cuts for individuals until 2026. A late change to the bill included a provision that will provide a multi-million-dollar windfall to real estate investors. Also in Washington this week, lawmakers are working on a bill to avoid a government shutdown on Friday.

Shallow end

While 2017 may have felt like a busy year, three rate hikes, European elections and the ins and outs of Trump’s legislative agenda did little to drive market volatility. Which means that revenue at Wall Street’s biggest banks has slumped, which is bad news for the bonus pool to be shared among traders at those institutions. People familiar with the figures say the amount of money available for the packages has dropped between 5 and 10 percent from last year. Things are looking even worse for those working for European banks.

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More Brexit nailbiting

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is due to set our her vision for the post-Brexit transition period in a speech to parliament at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time today. She faces twin challenges of not saying anything that will upset EU negotiators too much, while also saying enough to unite her own cabinet. The European side is due to unveil its stance on the issue on Wednesday. Any major differences that emerge will likely weigh on sterling, which is already the worst-performing G10 currency this month.

Market rally

Global markets are rallying following the publication late on Friday of the agreed text of U.S. tax legislation. Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.8 percent, while Japan’s Topix index closed 1.4 percent higher. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.8 percent higher at 5:45 a.m., with all industry groups gaining. S&P 500 futures added 0.3 percent, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.373 percent and gold was slightly higher.

Political boost

It’s not just U.S. politics driving gains. In India, there was a volatile session in the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex Index which closed 0.4 percent higher, recovering earlier losses of as much as 2.6 percent after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party emerged victorious from an election in his home state. South Africa’s rand was at a three-month high against the dollar and bond yields fell as traders bet Cyril Ramaphosa is poised to become the next leader of the ruling African National Congress. In Chile, Billionaire Sebastian Pinera won the second round of presidential elections, with the victory by the pro-business candidate likely to see stocks in the country open higher today.

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