May 16, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Kim Jong Unimpressed
North Korea has expressed disappointment with U.S. goals for the June 12 summit in Singapore, describing demands that the country surrender its nuclear weapons as “one-sided.” The comments came after the regime abruptly canceled talks with South Korea, citing military exercises. Markets in Seoul seem to have taken the apparent setback in stride, with the KOSPI index closing higher as investors view the comments as a negotiating tactic ahead of the landmark meeting.
Supply and demand
The International Energy Agency cut forecasts for global oil demand this year, saying that the highest prices in three years will reduce consumption. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate for June delivery weakened slightly this morning, trading at $71.03 by 5:40 a.m. Eastern Time following a surprise gain in U.S. crude inventories. Also weighing on prices is European attempts to salvage the Iran nuclear deal, as officials promise to deliver within weeks practical solutions to dilemmas for companies posed by the U.S. abandonment of the accord.
Italian debt slumped in early trading following a report that the populist parties in negotiations to form the country’s next government would seek a 250 billion euro ($296 billion) debt write-off from the European Central Bank. The yield on benchmark 10-year notes climbed to as high as 2.04 percent before easing somewhat. The leader of the anti-migrant League Matteo Salvini said that negotiations with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement have entered the final stretch with the sticky problem of who will be country’s next prime minister remaining unresolved.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell less than 0.1 percent, while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.3 percent lower as North Korean backsliding over the Trump summit spurred haven demand for the yen. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.1 percent lower at 5:40 a.m., with equity markets in Italy by far the worst performers. S&P 500 futures pointed to a slightly lower open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 3.061 percent and gold was flat.
Bad day, good day
Turkey’s lira slid this morning, dropping to another new low of 4.501 to the dollar, before recouping losses. Investors are voting with their feet on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans for the economy and the central bank’s autonomy. The problems in Turkey are reflected in broader emerging market concerns, with 23 of the 24 EM currencies tracked by Bloomberg falling against the dollar yesterday. The one outperformer was Argentina’s peso, which rose 3.9 percent following moves from the central bank to defend the currency. A successful rolling of $30 billion of short-term notes known as Lebacs after markets closed gave some investors hope that the battered currency has seen the worst for now.