July 19, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
There is growing concern among administration officials that there might be no shaking of the public perception that President Donald Trump is too close to Russian’s Vladimir Putin. Despite criticism from House Republicans, it seems unlikely the president will backtrack further, as he remains popular with his base as shown in a poll which found 71 percent of GOP voters approve of his handling of Russia. Meanwhile, the fallout from Trump’s trade policy continues, with the European Union preparing a new list of American goods to hit with protective measures in case a mission to Washington next week fails to persuade the president not to raise car tariffs.
The Chinese yuan continued its recent weakening, with the currency slumping to 6.7988 per dollar in offshore trading, a fresh one-year low. The People’s Bank of China weakened its fixing beyond 6.7 as signs of further monetary easing add to pressure. Stocks were also hit as the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed lower for a fifth straight session. Authorities allowing the currency to slide comes as part of wider official support for the economy, with banks being encouraged to boost lending and reduce borrowing costs.
Pound falls (again)
The British pound took another data-driven hit this morning, falling under $1.30 for the first time in 10 months after retail sales growth for June came in well below expectations at minus 0.5 percent. Bets on an August rate hike from the Bank of England eased further, while still remaining well above 50 percent. The weakness in sterling comes as a Bloomberg survey of analysts showed the currency could drop as much as 8 percent against the dollar if the U.K. fails to clinch a Brexit deal with the EU.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.4 percent while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.1 percent lower as the yen halted its retreat against the dollar. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was down 0.1 percent at 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time amid mixed corporate earnings. S&P 500 futures pointed to a drop at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.891 percent and gold slipped further.
Today’s Thursday, so it’s weekly jobless claims day, with new claimants expected to rise 220,000 when the data is released at 8:30 a.m. The July Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook is due at the same time. In earnings today, Microsoft Corp., Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Blackstone Group, Philip Morris Inc., and Domino’s Pizza Inc. are all poised to report.