Nov 15, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
British Prime Minister Theresa May is coming under increasing pressure over the Brexit deal her cabinet agreed to yesterday as ministers start to resign this morning. Of the three to announce they are stepping down – at the time of writing – the loss of Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has been the biggest blow, with his decision to quit knocking 1 percent off the value of sterling. The currency came under further selling pressure after data showed that retail sales fell 0.5 percent in October, well below expectations for a 0.2 percent increase.
Chinese officials have outlined a series of concessions they are willing to make to the U.S. ahead of meeting between the two countries’ leaders at the G-20 in Argentina. While the commitments fall short of the major structural reforms demanded by the White House, talks are said to be constructive. Larry Kudlow, the head of President Donald Trump’s National Economic Council said yesterday that China and the U.S. are in touch “at all levels” over trade. Stocks in Asia rose on the improving mood-music, while the yuan strengthened.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy is strong, while warning that there may be some headwinds next year. With latest data showing that inflation in the economy remains muted, Powell said nothing to change market expectations for another hike in December. In Washington, Michelle Bowman, a Trump administration nominee to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, cleared an important procedural hurdle on her path to joining the central bank by year’s end.
Overnight the MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.7 percent while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.1 percent lower with banks falling as lending remained in the doldrums. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.5 percent lower at 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time as concerns over a hard-Brexit returned to markets. S&P 500 futures were flat, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 3.103 percent and gold was unchanged.
At 8:30 a.m. U.S. retail sales for October (consensus for a 0.5 percent increase), weekly initial jobless claims, Empire Manufacturing and the Philadelphia Fed business outlook are all published. Bloomberg consumer confidence is due at 9:45 a.m. Fed Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles begins his semi-annual testimony to the Senate at 10:00 a.m. In earnings today Walmart Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. are due to report.