March 1, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
The S&P 500 Index’s dispiriting close to February, after it slid 2.4 percent on Tuesday and Wednesday, continues to set the tone for global markets. Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.7 percent, while Japan’s Topix index closed 1.6 percent lower as the strengthening dollar and concerns over the pace of U.S. rate increases hit equities. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 1.0 percent lower at 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time with all industry sectors trading in the red. S&P 500 futures were indicating further losses at the open.
President Donald Trump is set to announce steep tariffs on steel and aluminum later today, according to people familiar with the matter. The president has told aides he’s seeking import duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from all countries, which would be even harsher than those recommended by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. With trade in metal cited as a national security risk, the president can impose the measures without a vote by Congress. Asian steel stocks declined on the news.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will start his testimony to the Senate Banking Committee at 10:00 a.m. this morning. Following his market-moving performance on Tuesday, investors will keep a close eye on today’s proceedings for any further hints on rate policy. The 10-year Treasury yield was trading at 2.841 percent ahead of the meeting.
The U.K. cannot expect a frictionless trade agreement with the European Union once it moves outside the single market, EU President Donald Tusk warned in a speech to business leaders. The intervention comes a day after Brussels produced its template for the U.K.’s exit from the bloc, and the day before a key speech from Prime Minister Theresa May on her vision for the post-Brexit relationship. May was quick to reject the EU draft document yesterday, saying she would never accept the proposal, which risked putting a border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
At 8:30 a.m., personal income, spending and the PCE deflator are published, meaning Powell will have that data to hand when he addresses the Senate later. Weekly initial jobless claims are out at the same time. Today is manufacturing PMI day, and following something of a mixed bag from Europe earlier, U.S. numbers are due at 9:45 a.m., with construction spending and ISM manufacturing at 10:00 a.m. Also expected are vehicle sales data for February, with total annualized sales projected to be 17.2 million, up slightly from the previous month.