Feb 11, 2019, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Talks go nowhere
With the clock ticking to avoid another partial government shutdown, talks over the weekend seeking an accord on border security broke down without agreement. President Donald Trump is due to go to El Paso, Texas, later today for a rally backing the construction of a wall as parties in Congress remain at loggerheads over immigration issues. While lawmakers could try to punt the standoff with another temporary funding deal, the president may resist signing such a bill, according to White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Should there be no resolution, nine federal departments and related agencies would shut down again after Friday.
Talks to restart
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will join Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Beijing for high-level trade talks this week, with Lighthizer recently warning that time is running short to make a deal ahead of the March 1 imposition of further tariffs on China. Trump said he wouldn’t meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping before the deadline runs out, but the president may be willing to delay the imposition of the tariffs if sufficient progress is made this week.
Gross domestic product for the U.K. increased a smaller-than-forecast 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, with December seeing activity shrinking by 0.4 percent. Economists are predicting a more than 30 percent chance of the country falling into a recession in the next 12 months, according to a Bloomberg survey. While the news will not be welcomed by British Prime Minister Theresa May, she seems likely to be too busy trying avoid plunging out of the EU without a deal to give it much attention. Over the weekend, May sent a conciliatory letter to opposition Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn as she tries to buy more time for negotiations ahead of the March 29 exit date.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Ex-Japan Index gained 0.2 percent, with China’s markets among the best performers in the region as investors return from the Lunar New Year break. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.9 percent higher at 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time in a broad-based rally, with all industry sectors making gains. S&P 500 futures pointed to an advance at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.646 percent, and gold dropped.
Oil bears are back
After almost disappearing from the market at the start of the year, crude short sellers seem to have perfectly timed their re-emergence, with bets on falling oil prices increasing 28 percent just as the commodity’s new-year rally ran out of steam. There was more good news for them today, with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate for March delivery slipping again to trade at $52.30 by 5:50 a.m., while a similar Brent contract dropped under $62.