Aug 21, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Wrong way Powell
President Donald Trump lamented to wealthy donors at a Hamptons fundraiser that Jerome Powell raised rates instead of being the cheap-money Fed chairman he’d sought, according to three people present at Friday’s event. In an interview with Reuters, Trump doubled down on the comments saying that he “should be given some help by the Fed.” The dollar weakened following the publication of the comments, with the euro trading above $1.1500 for the first time in almost two weeks this morning.
The Fed chairman wasn’t the only one to be on the receiving end of Trump’s criticism. He also accused China and the European Union of currency manipulation, going a step further than the Treasury Department which stopped short of naming names in its most recent report published in April. Low-level trade talks between the U.S. and China are expected to resume this week, while warnings over the outcome of the trade dispute continue to come from industry leaders.
Economists forecast that the U.S. economy is set to grow this year at the fastest pace since 2005, with a second-half expansion of 3 percent or more. Despite lagging wages, consumer confidence remains strong as personal finances are in good health, with a savings rate at an average 6.7 percent. The positive outlook for the rest of the year comes with some caveats, chief among them the possible fallout from trade tariffs and how much Fed policy will cool growth. Concerns about the housing market were also raised as the lack of affordable accommodation could become a drag.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.4 percent while Japan’s Topic index closed 0.4 percent lower as telecommunications stocks were hit after a government spokesman said mobile service providers have room to cut customer bills by 40 percent. In Europe the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.3 percent higher at 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time in a broad-based rebound. S&P 500 futures pointed to a gain at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.837 percent and gold was up.
Very little on the slate again today. The S&P 500 Index is closing in on an all-time high, ending yesterday’s session 15 points below a record level. For stock market watchers, there is something interesting happening in the options market where investors are seeking protection from both an extreme rally or crash in U.S. stocks. The Treasury is scheduled to sell $70 billion of 4-week bills at 11:30 a.m., and Trump speaks in West Virginia later.