White House seeks to muffle new talk of departures, border issue looms large in Brexit talks and there may be a problem with the Aramco IPO. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that President Donald Trump is not about to oust his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, following reports in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal that the president wanted to remove him. In a week that saw the long-rumored sacking of Rex Tillerson, and Trump saying “there would always be change” at the White House, it is perhaps unsurprising attention has moved to McMaster, whose star within the administration has been fading. The person the president may want to fire most is Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who, according to the New York Times, has subpoenaed the Trump Organization, a move the president previously said would be crossing a red line.
The gap between the U.K. and EU negotiators over the Irish border issues remains wide ahead of next week’s summit on the divorce deal, according to European diplomats. With the bloc’s remaining 27 nations agreeing on the need to make progress on the Irish border a necessary precondition for a future transition deal, there will be some tough negotiations ahead for Brexit Secretary David Davis. The latter is due to fly to Brussels on Sunday ahead of a meeting with the EU’s Michel Barnier on Monday. Meanwhile, the continued fallout from the nerve-agent attack in England has not ruffled Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who is all but assured of winning another term as president at this weekend’s election.
A problem may be emerging with the proposed world-beating listing of Saudi Arabia’s state oil company – investors may not be that interested. Among the issues raised were the $2 trillion valuation, the scale of dividends Aramco would be prepared to pay, and whether, with shale oil in ascendency, oil is even a good bet these days. Political interference is also likely a risk for investors, with Saudi Arabia cutting back its dealings with German companies following a diplomatic spat between the two nations.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 0.1 percent, while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.4 percent lower as the yen strengthened. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.1 percent higher at 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time in a subdued trading. S&P 500 futures pointed to a small gain at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.815 percent and gold was broadly unchanged.
At 8:30 a.m., U.S. February housing starts data are released, with industrial production numbers due at 9:15 a.m. and consumer sentiment at 10:00 a.m. While there is something for oil-market watchers with the Baker Hughes rig count at 1:00 p.m., there may be more interest in developments in Vienna where the Iran nuclear deal is due for a review, the first since Tillerson, who supported the accord, was sacked, and the last before Trump makes his May 12 decision on whether the U.S. will continue with the deal.