April 25, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
French President Emmanuel Macron’s pitch to save the Iran nuclear deal was met with President Donald Trump’s competing foreign policy instincts when the two leaders discussed the issue in Washington yesterday. Macron says he wants to use the current Iran deal as a building block for a new agreement which would contain the country’s involvement in regional conflict; Trump plans to announce by May 12 whether the U.S. will remain in the current deal at all. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said his country was “ready” to accelerate its nuclear program to “a much greater speed” if Trump reimposes sanctions and walks away from the agreement.
Facebook Inc. will report first-quarter earnings after the bell today, and while the company’s financial performance will be noted, investors will focus on anything in the release that shows a drop-off in users or advertiser spending following the #DeleteFacebook campaign in the wake of a breach of personal data by a third party. The company has been fighting something of a rearguard action against the outcry over its polices, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg appearing in front of Congress earlier this month. For the wider tech market, there are hopes that a strong set of numbers could help reverse the FANG selloff that began with Alphabet Inc.’s results. Twitter Inc. also reports today.
The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield remains above 3 percent this morning, trading at 3.0165 percent by 5:40 a.m. Eastern Time. Analysts are not expecting much more of a move higher from here, with more than half of those surveyed by Bloomberg expecting the yield to end the year within 25 basis points of 3 percent. There will be a test of the bond markets appetite for U.S. debt later today when the Treasury sells $35 billion of five-year notes at 1:00 p.m.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.5 percent, while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.1 percent lower amid concerns the global growth environment may be deteriorating. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was down 0.9 percent by 5:40 a.m. amid disappointing earnings and drops in commodity-linked shares. S&P 500 futures pointed to further losses at the open, and gold was lower.
Comcast Corp. formalized its 22 billion pound ($30.7 billion) bid for Sky Plc, throwing down the gauntlet to Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc. and Walt Disney Co. as they vie for Britain’s largest pay-TV broadcaster. Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s latest 46 billion-pound offer for Shire Plc is large enough for the board of the U.K.-listed pharma company to recommend it to shareholders. Shares in Takeda closed 7 percent lower, with investors seemingly unconvinced about the wisdom of the bid. It’s a very busy day in earnings, with eBay Inc., Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Visa Inc., PayPal Holdings Inc., Ford Motor Co. and Boeing Co. among the many companies due to report.