Jun 5, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed court papers late yesterday accusing Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, of attempting to tamper with witnesses ahead of his Sept. 17 trial. Manafort is charged with money laundering and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. This latest twist in the Russia investigation comes as President Donald Trump continues to insist he has the power to pardon himself, a point White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters is moot anyway, as “the president hasn’t done anything wrong and therefore wouldn’t need one.”
Tuesday meeting next Monday
The time has been set for Trump’s meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in Singapore, with discussions due to begin at 9:00 a.m. local time, which is 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday June 11. While both sides remain quite far apart on the issue of denuclearization, that the meeting is happening at all can be viewed as a foreign-policy success for the White House. Should a deal be reached, trade and growth in the region should get a major boost.
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte faces his first confidence vote in the country’s Senate today, which should be a rubber-stamp exercise as the populist coalition he heads has a majority in both houses. Investors, who suffered a turbulent time as negotiations to form the coalition went down the wire, will be interested in how Conte outlines the administration’s policy goals. The right-wing League and anti-establishment Five Star movement are far apart on some fundamental issues like tax and social programs. Italian benchmark bond yields gained seven basis points this morning ahead of the speech.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained less than 0.1 percent while Japan’s Topix index closed broadly unchanged as investors await the outcome of this week’s G-7 leaders summit and the Singapore talks. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.4 percent higher at 5:45 a.m., led by European tech shares tracking yesterday’s Nasdaq gains. S&P 500 futures pointed to a higher open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.928 percent and gold was slightly higher.
Get on with it
The U.K. service sector grew more than forecast in May, with IHS Markit saying its Purchasing Managers Index rose for a second month to 54 from 52.8. The rising numbers came with a health warning as Markit said Brexit worries continue to hold back investment, with confidence across the service sector dropping for the third time in four months. U.K. businesses told British Prime Minister Theresa May to get on with taking key decisions on the country’s exit from the European Union as time is running out for the private sector to make contingency plans. Services and composite PMI figures for the U.S. will be released at 9:45 a.m., with ISM non-manufacturing data for May at 10:00 a.m.