April 17, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Authorities in China said they will remove ownership caps on the auto industry, reversing a two-decade old policy that will pave the way for foreign control of more than 50 percent of its manufacturers. Shares in German carmakers jumped on the news. Electric-car developer Tesla Inc. is positioned to benefit most with relaxation on foreign stakes in electric vehicles set for this year. While China is opening with one hand, it’s closing the other, as the country also announced a temporary anti-dumping tariff on U.S. sorghum imports, increasing fears that soybean will be targeted next following the U.S. move to ban phone-maker ZTE from buying American technology.
Under-fire British Prime Minister Theresa May got some good economic news this morning when data showed that wage increases in the country are running at the fastest pace in almost three years, and unemployment fell to 4.2 percent in the three months through February. With inflation at 2.9 percent, and expected to fall further, the report reinforces expectations of a rate rise from the Bank of England at its meeting next month. The British pound touched its highest level since 2016’s Brexit vote in trading earlier this morning and was at $1.4325 by 5:40 a.m. Eastern Time.
Yesterday’s legal arguments in a New York courtroom produced a setback for President Donald Trump as a federal judge rejected his initial request to keep prosecutors from immediately reviewing evidence seized in raids on the president’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood will be presented with proposed names for a “special master” to conduct a review of the evidence by both the government and Cohen team today. Most of the headlines from yesterday’s court session were generated by the revelation that one of Cohen’s three recent clients is Fox News host and long-time Trump supporter Sean Hannity.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.3 percent, while Japan’s Topix index ended 0.4 percent lower as the yen remained strong against the dollar ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Donald Trump. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.4 percent higher, with the region’s automakers among the biggest gainers following China’s announcement on opening its market. S&P 500 futures pointed to a gain at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.840 percent and gold was lower.
Bank earnings remain in focus today as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is due to report before the bell, with trading revenue likely to be the main focus of investor interest. Yesterday’s record-profit announced by Bank of America Corp. was not enough to give the bank’s stock a sustained bounce, perhaps pointing to overly high expectations from bulls during this earnings season.