April 3, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
The worst start to the second quarter for U.S. stocks since the Great Depression is weighing on global indexes. While Asian stocks were spared the worst from yesterday’s tech-led selloff — the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped less than 0.1 percent — the risk-off mode was stronger in Europe, in the first session after the Easter holiday. The Stoxx 600 Index was trading 0.9 percent lower at 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time in a broad-based selloff. S&P 500 futures pointed to a gain at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.753 percent, and gold was lower.
The White House is pushing for a preliminary Nafta deal ahead of next week’s summit in Peru, according to three people familiar with the talks. Both the Mexican peso and the Canadian dollar trimmed losses on reports of the discussions. While a broad outline of a trading pact is expected — with key details to be fleshed out in due course — it would come as a reprieve for global markets, which have been whipsawed on fears that President Donald Trump is bent on sparking a trade war.
The end of the first quarter saw a flurry of M&A deals, and the start of the second is showing no slowdown in momentum. Walt Disney Co. is offering to buy Sky News from 21st Century Fox Inc. as the latter continues to seek U.K. regulatory approval for its 11.7 billion-pound ($16.5 billion) bid for broadcaster Sky Plc. CBS Corp. is planning a below-market value bid for Viacom Inc. according to a person with knowledge of the matter, with the initial offer arriving in the coming days. U.S.-based Harbour Energy Ltd., meanwhile, made a A$13.5 billion ($10.3 billion) offer for Australia’s third-largest energy producer, Santos Ltd. In other corporate news, music-streaming company Spotify is making its trading debut today.
Moves to replace the much-maligned Libor as a benchmark interest rate, referencing trillions of dollars of financial contracts around the world, will start to bear fruit this morning when the New York Federal Reserve begins publishing the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or SOFR at 8 a.m. A Broad General Collateral Rate (BGCR) and Tri-Party General Collateral Rate (TGCR) will also be published, according to a statement on the bank’s website. The NY Fed’s Alternative Reference Rates Committee has recommended the SOFR as the alternative to the London interbank offered rate for use in U.S. dollar financial contracts.
European economic data this morning was dominated by manufacturing PMI figures that showed growth in the euro area at the slowest pace in eight months due to capacity constraints, while U.K. manufacturing PMI came in higher than expected at 55.1 for March. In the U.S., autosales data for March are expected to show total vehicle sales slowing moderately to an annualized 16.9 million. At 9:30 a.m., Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari is due to speak at a regional economic forum, while Fed Governor Lael Brainard discusses financial stability at 4:30 p.m.