May 14, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will travel to the U.S. on Tuesday for trade talks with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as the standoff between the two countries appeared to ease over the weekend. Yesterday, President Donald Trump called for China’s ZTE Corp., which had been hit by sanctions, to be allowed to “get back into business, fast” in a tweet that showed a major reversal of recent policy. The seven-year ban on purchases of crucial technology had left ZTE on the brink of collapse. Chinese regulators have restarted their review of Qualcomm Inc.’s application to acquire NXP Semiconductors NV after Trump’s tweet, according to people familiar with the matter.
Paying Paul, not robbing Peter
Italy’s populist Five Star Movement and League have all-but agreed a program for government that will see the proposed introduction of a flat tax as low as 15 percent, a guaranteed income for the poor and a lowering of the retirement age. For now, the market reaction to the proposals has been rather muted as analysts see a large gulf between the parties’ proposals and their ability to get new laws passed. There is also a chance negotiations could still fail as both sides seek a neutral role for the prime minister.
United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei said that OPEC has enough spare capacity to make up any supply constraints as the U.S. re-imposes sanctions on Iran. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate for June delivery was trading at $70.62 by 5:40 a.m. Eastern Time as the recent run-up in crude paused. More broadly on Iran, National Security Adviser John Bolton warned yesterday that European countries and companies that continue to do business with the Islamic Republic could also face U.S. sanctions.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.5 percent, while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.6 percent higher as company buybacks lifted stocks there. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.1 percent lower at 5:40 a.m. with oil stocks slipping and Nokia dropping after Trump’s ZTE move. S&P 500 futures pointed to a small gain at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.986 percent and gold was flat.
The new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem will be inaugurated today, as one of Trump’s most contentious foreign policy decisions is fulfilled. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, are among the U.S. delegation. The move comes amid increasing regional tensions as Iran and Israel trade rocket fire as part of their (and everyone else’s) Syrian proxy war.