May 23, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
President Donald Trump said there is a very substantial chance his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un scheduled for next month in Singapore “won’t work out” during an Oval Office meeting with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in. Trump also said yesterday that he is looking into softening penalties on Chinese telecommunications maker ZTE Corp. as a favor to President Xi Jinping. While Trump may be walking back some of his foreign overtures, on the domestic front he’s notched a legislative victory with Congress voting to loosen safeguards designed to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis in the 2010 Dodd-Frank reform.
Global equity markets are under pressure this morning as investors reassess geopolitical risks and digest some disappointing data. Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 0.4 percent while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.7 percent lower as the yen rallied amid haven bids. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 1.0 percent lower at 5:40 a.m. Eastern Time as the risk-off mood hit the region where investors were already cautious due to continued Italian political risks. S&P 500 futures pointed to a drop at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 3.017 percent and gold was higher.
Turkey’s lira plunged as much as 5.5 percent, moving above 4.9 to the dollar amid worries over whether the central bank would step in to support the currency. The rout began in Asia trading when the lira fell below 24 to the yen, sparking a wave of selling as margin traders there cut their losses. With elections due in Turkey next month and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying he would take more control of monetary policy should he win, pressure on the embattled currency shows no sign of easing.
Euro-area economic growth seems set to remain sluggish after IHS Markit’s composite Purchasing Managers’ Index for the region fell to an 18-month low of 54.1 in May. The euro briefly traded below $1.1700 this morning, with the British pound also hit after inflation data for the U.K. came in weaker than expected. PMI data for the U.S. will be published at 9:45 a.m. this morning.
When the minutes of the Federal Reserve meeting from the start of the month are published at 2:00 p.m. today, analysts will look closely for divisions on the board over whether the bank is willing to let inflation overshoot. The statement released at the time of the decision had a second reference to “ symmetric” policy, implying there was a willingness to look through above-target inflation as price rises had run below the 2 percent goal for so long. How investors view the minutes will factor into whether they price three or four hikes this year as a whole.