March 29, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Calm, so far
The last day of trading of the quarter for most Western stocks has gotten off to a relatively quiet start. While yesterday’s U.S. session was once again dominated by tech, there has been no repeat of the global equity weakness of recent sessions. Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed, while Japan’s Topix index closed up 0.3 percent. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.5 percent higher at 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time, with that gauge set for its worst quarter since early 2016. S&P 500 futures pointed to a gain at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.772 percent and gold was lower.
Renault, Nissan talks
Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. are in talks to merge and create a new single automaker, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Shares in Renault jumped as much as 8.3 percent, hitting the highest intraday level in more than a decade after Bloomberg News first reported the discussions. With the French government owning a 15 percent stake in Renault, any deal would likely face close political scrutiny. Elsewhere in Europe, shares in Swiss Re AG gained in early trading following a report that SoftBank Group Corp. is edging closer to buying a 25 percent stake. In the U.S., CME Group Inc. agreed to buy London-based NEX Group Plc in a deal valuing NEX at 3.9 billion pounds ($5.5 billion).
Kim Jong Un is set to become the first North Korean leader to enter the South when he meets with President Moon Jae-in on April 27 for a summit between the premiers of the two states, which are still technically at war. The finalization of the date, ahead of a proposed meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump in May, follows a flurry of diplomatic activity including a visit by the North Korean leader to Beijing earlier this week.
With the U.K. set to leave the European Union a year from today, British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a difficult and time -constrained negotiating process. Even if a deal is agreed in time, it seems that much of the detailed work might still have to be taken care of during an agreed post-Brexit transition period. Yesterday the Bank of England sought to reassure financial institutions that the transition period would ease their preparations for Brexit, a stance in contrast with European regulators who say banks should be prepared for a so-called hard Brexit.
At 8:30 a.m. weekly initial jobless claims data is published, with expectations for the number to remain broadly unchanged at 230,000. At the same time, the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation indicator — Core PCE — is released, with a small decrease to 0.2 percent for February predicted. Personal income and spending data are also due at 8:30 a.m. At 10:00 a.m. University of Michigan consumer sentiment numbers are published and, due to the holiday tomorrow, the Baker Hughes rig count comes out at 1:00 p.m. today.