Dec 6, 2018, by Samuel Potter
If there’s one thing Five Things learned from the HR-mandated ‘How to handle difficult conversations’ training, it’s that you should always deliver the negative stuff alongside something positive. So here’s a cute video of twin babies. Now that’s out of the way, let’s get to it: Remember the whole Tuesday meltdown in stocks? That’s far from over. Futures for the S&P 500 plunged as much as 1.9 percent in Asia, with selling pressure early in the session so intense it forced CME Group to intermittently pause trading. It’s set the tone for the day and it’s ugly out there. A couple of days ago, all manner of reasons were cited for the slump, and even analysts at the same firm still can’t agree. This move only adds to the uncertainty, with everyone now desperately weighing the bull versus bear case for equities.
Markets are sad
The turmoil that’s bedeviled markets for months showed signs of renewed momentum with contracts on the S&P 500 falling as much as 1.9 percent during the Asian session in a sudden and unexpected move that sent a shock wave across equity markets. The Stoxx Europe 600 tumbled 2.2 percent to the lowest in almost two years while the MSCI Asia Pacific Index sank 1.85 percent in its worst day in six weeks and Japan’s Topix index lost 1.8 percent. Meanwhile, a flight to safety pushed the 10-year Treasury yield down to 2.89 percent, the lowest in three months.
One trigger for the market slide in Asia: Huawei Technologies Co.’s chief financial officer was arrested in Canada over potential violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran. The arrest of Wanzhou Meng threatens to ramp up tensions between the U.S. and China just as things were looking up. She is the daughter of the founder of Huawei, a national champion at the forefront of President Xi Jinping’s efforts for the Asian nation to be self-sufficient in strategic technologies. To crib from Omar from HBO’s The Wire, China be mad, yo. With Huawei increasingly in the firing line, we’re kind of regretting buying that P20 Pro last week…
All eyes are on Vienna today, where ministers from the core OPEC group, which doesn’t include Russia, are meeting. They’re seeking a consensus on exactly who will cut production and by how much after the organization and its allies (which does include Russia) broadly agreed a six-month reduction is needed. Such a move would be in defiance of Tariff Man, aka President Donald Trump, who is pushing for producers to keep the taps open and prices down.
Today’s obligatory Federal Reserve talking head will be Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, who’ll discuss the national economic outlook at a conference in Atlanta at 12:15 p.m. Eastern time. Data-wise, watch out for U.S. trade balance numbers, Bloomberg’s consumer comfort reading, plus durable goods orders and initial jobless claims. Basically today is the hum-drum warm-up act before the American employment report for November, which lands on Friday.