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Aug 9, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly

(Bloomberg)

Poisoning relations

The U.S. announced new sanctions on Russia in response to the March 4 nerve-agent attack in the U.K., with lawmakers seeking “crushing sanctions” under a separate bill for election interference. The ruble extended its steepest slide in almost two years and government bonds slumped this morning. The largest ETFs tracking Russian stocks saw trading volumes soar after the measures were announced.

Tesla mystery

The biggest question on Wall Street enters a third day without an answer: Where’s the “funding secured” that Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk tweeted about when he said he was thinking of taking the company private? Bloomberg reported that Musk had talks with SoftBank Group Corp. last year with a view to taking the electric-car maker private, but the meeting  failed to progress due to disagreements over ownership. People at, or close to, 15 major financial institutions and technology firms said they weren’t aware of financing being locked-in before Musk’s tweet. Shares in the company closed down 2.4 percent at $370.34 yesterday and are slipping in pre-market trading.

Plucked?

Turkey’s lira fell to a new record low of 5.449 to the dollar, taking losses for the currency this year to close to 30 percent as investors fret about the outlook for the country’s economy and worsening relations with the U.S. Today’s sell-off comes after a Turkish delegation to Washington refused to commit to releasing a detained American pastor, whose arrest was the catalyst for the imposition of U.S. sanctions on its NATO ally. The situation has deteriorated so much that bankers and traders are talking about the prospect of an International Monetary Fund rescue.

Markets mixed

Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.1 percent while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.3 percent lower as the yen strengthened. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.1 percent lower at 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time as the annual August slowdown started to take hold in the region. S&P 500 futures were flat, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.959 percent and gold was slightly higher.

Coming up…

At 8:30 a.m., weekly jobless data are expected to show 220,000 new claimants, in line with last week, amid a tight U.S. labor market. Also at 8:30 a.m., PPI for July is published, with economists forecasting a decline to 0.2 percent on the headline monthly rate. The Treasury will sell $18 billion of 30-year bonds at 1:00 p.m. and Chicago Fed President Charles Evans holds an on-record media briefing in Chicago later.



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