April 30, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
The perpetual will-they-won’t-they deliberations over a merger between T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. finally bore fruit over the weekend when the Deutsche Telekom AG-controlled wireless company agreed to acquire SoftBank Group Corp.’s Sprint for $26.5 billion in stock. The deal, which will reduce the number of major competitors in the U.S. from four to three, will come under heavy scrutiny from regulators. In the U.K., retailer J Sainsbury Plc said it will buy Walmart Inc.’s Asda unit in a 7.3 billion-pound ($10 billion) transaction that would create a supermarket giant to rival current market leader Tesco Plc.
Naughty or nice?
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the U.S. would extend relief from steel and aluminum tariffs to some, but not all, of the countries currently granted a reprieve that ends tomorrow. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz warned in a Bloomberg television interview that a trade war between the U.S. and the European Union over the tariffs would be “extremely negative” for both sides. So far, only South Korea has earned a permanent exclusion from the duties after the country reached a deal to revise its bilateral trade with the U.S.
Oil is headed for its second monthly gain this year as concerns over disruption of Iranian supplies and OPEC’s success in clearing a global crude surplus bolster prices. With the deadline for President Donald Trump to decide on whether to extend support for the Iran nuclear deal passing on May 12, some oil traders are unwilling to sign contracts for products from the country that would be valid after that date. French President Emmanuel Macron and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani agreed in a weekend phone call to work to protect the content of the current deal.
The MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan Index rose more than 1 percent overnight, with South Korea’s Kospi index closing at a three-month high following Friday’s summit between the leaders of both Koreas. Markets in Japan are closed for a holiday. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.1 percent higher at 5:25 a.m. Eastern Time as merger news helped stocks stay green. S&P 500 futures pointed to a higher open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.961 percent and gold was lower.
It’s a big week for the U.S. economy, with the Federal Reserve monetary policy decision due on Wednesday, and payrolls data for April due Friday. In earnings, all eyes will be Apple Inc.’s report tomorrow. Today, at 8:30 a.m., personal income, spending numbers and the March PCE deflator are released. In the euro area, first-quarter GDP is due Wednesday, with latest inflation figures published on Thursday.