April 11, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Just as risks fade that a global trade war will break out, concerns rise over a possible U.S. strike on Syria. President Donald Trump praised Xi Jinping’s “kind words” following the Chinese leader’s reaffirmed pledge to continue to open the country’s banking and manufacturing sectors in a speech yesterday. Relief at the rapprochement was short-lived, with markets turning their attention to the possibility of renewed U.S. intervention into Syria. Trump has canceled a trip to South America and is rallying allies as preparations intensify for a response to a suspected chemical attack in Syria.
Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is back in front of Congress today after a successful first day of testimony in which he defended the company against questions on whether it sells user data, and if it is a monopoly. He also confirmed Facebook is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 election. Investors were clearly impressed with the performance as the company’s stock ended yesterday’s session 4.5 percent higher. Zuckerberg’s testimony resumes at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time today.
Fed minutes, inflation
At 8:30 a.m., U.S. inflation data for March are published, with expectations for the headline rate to increase to 2.4 percent, with core inflation rising to 2.1 percent from February’s 1.8 percent. Fed watchers will also closely read today’s FOMC minutes from the March 20-21 meeting, due at 2:00 p.m. There will be interest in any views expressed on the trade dispute between the U.S. and China, and if there is a change of style apparent in Jerome Powell’s first meeting in charge.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed, while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.4 percent lower with retailers leading the losses. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.2 percent lower by 5:45 a.m. in a relatively subdued session so far. S&P 500 futures pointed to a lower open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.799 percent and gold was higher.
Russia’s ruble extended its three-day slump in trading this morning as foreign investors cut their holdings amid the uncertainty caused by the latest round of U.S. sanctions. For traders who see a reprise of the post-Crimea annexation selloff in 2014, the drop in Russian assets is starting to look like a buying opportunity. Investors who bought in the immediate aftermath of that conflict were rewarded with some of the biggest returns in emerging markets a year later.