Oct 24, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Picking a side
The continuing fallout from the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul is putting the Trump administration in a difficult position as two of the country’s key regional allies engage in a tense face-off over the affair. For now, President Donald Trump said he is happy to leave the response to the killing up to Congress, calling it “one of the worst” cover-ups in history and a “total fiasco.” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is expected to speak later today at an investment summit in Riyadh. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains critical of the Saudi regime while trying not to overplay his hand.
Warnings of $100 crude are rapidly fading from memory as oil continues to tumble on international markets. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate for December delivery was trading at $66.38 by 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time, almost 14 percent below the high reached earlier this month, while a similar Brent contract was at $75.64. A risk-off mood in the wider market, plus comments from Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih saying that OPEC and its allies are in “ produce as much you can mode” have put pressure on prices.
There were disappointing readings from European purchasing managers indexes this morning amid mounting concern about global trade. The composite euro-area PMI from IHS Markit dropped to 52.7 in October from 54.1 in September, while Germany’s dropped to 52.7 from 55.0 last month. A similar gauge for France rose slightly to 54.3, but a separate gauge for confidence among the country’s manufacturers dropped to the weakest level since November 2016. Markit PMI data for the U.S. is due at 9:45 a.m.
Overnight the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.2 percent, China’s Shanghai Composite Index pared early session gains to advance 0.3 percent and Japan’s Topix index closed 0.1 percent higher. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.5 percent higher by 5:45 a.m. as results boosted the retail sector in the region. S&P 500 futures pointed to another loss at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 3.136 percent and gold held its recent gains.
Tesla Inc. has pulled its third-quarter earnings release forward to today, increasing expectations of a bullish report when it publishes after the bell. Microsoft Corp. and Ford Motor Co. also report earnings today. Its a busy day for central bank watchers, with the Bank of Canada expected to hike rates when the decision is announced at 10:00 a.m. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester and Fed Governor Lael Brainard all speak today, while the Beige Book is due at 2:00 p.m.