July 17, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
President Donald Trump’s post-meeting press conference with Russian leader Vladimir Putin has provoked the most intense backlash from congressional members of the Republican party since his term began. “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is leaving Congress in January. In the U.K., Prime Minister Theresa May saw her parliamentary majority cut to just 3 votes after amendments to a key piece of customs legislation tabled by euroskeptic Tory-party members narrowly passed. It is becoming increasingly unclear she will retain sufficient support in parliament to win a vote on a final Brexit deal.
At 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time this morning Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will answer questions from the Senate Banking Committee in Washington in the first of two days of testimony to Congress. Powell is expected to reiterate that the economy is in a “good place” while signaling there is no need to increase the expected pace of Fed tightening in 2018. Analysts will be watching for any comments on the yield curve, and his tolerance for an inflation overshoot.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is due to announce earnings before the bell, with consensus for adjusted EPS of $4.66. The big news that may accompany the release may not come from the bank’s profit and loss account; expectations are building that the well-flagged appointment of David Solomon as CEO will be announced alongside earnings. Johnson & Johnson and UnitedHealth Group also report today.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed, while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.9 percent higher after its first trading session of the week. In Europe the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.1 percent higher at 5:45 a.m. as investors digested earnings data while waiting for Powell’s testimony. S&P 500 futures pointed to a small loss at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.866 percent, and gold was higher.
Crude’s recent bad run continued this morning, with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate for August delivery trading at $67.94 by 5:45 a.m. That contract plunged by 4.2 percent in trading yesterday. Goldman Sachs warned in a note to clients that U.S. political decisions are helping make volatility the new normal in oil markets. Taking a longer-term view, the International Energy Agency’s latest report published this morning said that while the world will run on electricity in the future, it will not mean the end of the oil and gas industry as those products will move from providing power directly to providing power for electricity generation.