May 1, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Kicking the steel can
President Donald Trump delayed the imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Mexico and Canada until June 1, with the administration saying it has reached agreements-in-principle with Argentina, Australia and Brazil. EU officials responded with a statement saying that while they are willing to discuss market-access issues, they “will not negotiate under threat.” The extension decision comes ahead of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s visit to China later this week in which he hopes to hammer out a trade agreement of some form.
In an interview with Bloomberg television, Mnuchin said that the recent rise in U.S. Treasury yields is due to the administration’s success in creating economic growth, adding that the bond market “can easily handle” the large supply of debt from the government. The size of that supply can be seen in figures released by the Treasury Department that showed a first-quarter record $488 billion of net borrowing, about $47 billion more than previously estimated.
Audience of one
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented what he described as evidence Iran had engaged in more than a decade of nuclear deception in a televised address yesterday. While many analysts say there was nothing new or relevant in what Netanyahu said, the presentation is being seen as encouragement for Trump to abandon the Iran nuclear deal. Oil briefly rose above $69 dollars a barrel in the immediate wake of the television appearance on fears that Iranian supply may hang in the balance. But by 5:30 a.m. Eastern Time, West Texas Intermediate for June delivery had given up much of those gains to trade at $67.84.
With much of Asia closed for a holiday, it was a quiet session overnight. Japan’s Topix index closed 0.2 percent lower with oil exporters among the best performers. It is a similar story in Europe with London the only major financial center open for trading. The FTSE 100 Index was 0.3 percent higher at 5:30 a.m., with the gain mostly driven by the falling pound in the wake of weak PMI data. S&P 500 futures pointed to a slight drop at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.959 percent and gold was lower.
The main event of tech-earnings season comes after the bell today when Apple Inc. reports, with concerns over the performance of the iPhone X exerting a drag on the share price in recent weeks. In eco events today, 9:45 a.m. sees the publication of U.S. manufacturing PMI, with ISM at 10:00 a.m. The Federal Reserve begins its two-day meeting in Washington, and U.S. automakers report sales data for the month.