Feb 15, 2019, by Lorcan Roche Kelly and Cecile Gutscher
President Donald Trump is expected to sign Congress’s compromise funding bill later today, while at the same time making use of his executive powers to declare an emergency at the border to unilaterally shift about $7 billion of federal funds towards construction of his wall. Democrats in Congress have indicated their desire to challenge any such move by the president in federal court, while some Republicans expressed concern that the House and Senate was turning its power over to the White House.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took a positive view as U.S.-China trade talks drew to a close in Beijing, saying in a tweet that the meetings with China’s Vice Premier Liu He were “productive.” People familiar with the discussions seem to be less upbeat, saying China is resisting U.S. demands for further structural economic reform. Investors are becoming increasingly cautious as the round of talks looks set to wrap up without a resolution.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called a snap election to be held on April 28 after parliament failed to back his government’s budget. It will be the third election in four years, and it’s not likely to produce a clear winner this time around either, meaning a long period of post-vote negotiation is in store before a new government can be formed. Investors reacted calmly to the news, with the country’s bond yields little changed by the middle of the European morning.
Markets lose steam
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.8 percent as China’s slowing factory prices added to growth concerns in the region. Japan’s Topix index closed 0.8 percent lower. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.6 percent higher at 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time for no obvious reason. S&P 500 futures were flat, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.655 percent and gold posted a small gain.
The big number for markets to watch today is U.S. industrial production for January at 9:15 a.m., with expectations for output growth to cool to 0.1 percent from December’s 0.3 percent. Before that we get Empire manufacturing and January import/export prices at 8:30 a.m. The latest University of Michigan sentiment numbers land at 10:00 a.m. The weekly look at the health of the U.S. shale industry is at 1:00 p.m. when Baker Hughes publishes the latest rig count.