Feb 22, 2019, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Trump meets Liu He
President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet China’s top trade negotiator this afternoon during the current round of U.S.-China negotiations in an attempt to forge a preliminary agreement on trade ahead of the March 1 deadline for the imposition of new tariffs. That the meeting is going ahead at all is viewed as a good sign for progress, bolstered by China’s proposal to purchase $30 billion more in U.S. agricultural products. Still, the economic damage from the standoff is mounting, putting further pressure on both sides to come to a deal.
Talks on Brexit in Brussels have unsurprisingly made little progress, with Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief negotiator, saying that he does not rule out a possible delay to the March 29 exit date. While that might help forge a political agreement, signs are mounting that significant damage has already been inflicted to the U.K. economy as companies struggle to prepare for a messy Brexit. Currency analysts are looking through the possible lift to the pound from any deal, saying that the damage to growth already means any sterling rally may be short lived.
Ok, they are not in talks with each other over a deal, but there are still plenty of them set to make their views known today. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is set to give a speech in Italy this morning Eastern Time, with speculation mounting over the central bank’s next policy move. There is a New York Fed event today on quantitative tools for monitoring macroeconomic and financial conditions, and if that is your bag, you’re in for a treat, with Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic, Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida, and New York Fed President John Williams all due to speak. There is another event in New York on the Fed balance sheet where Fed Vice Chairman Randal Quarles, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard and San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly are among the speakers.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index edged 0.1 percent higher while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.3 percent lower as weaker global economic data rekindled fears over growth. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.4 percent higher at 5:50 a.m. with technology and materials stocks the strongest performers. S&P 500 futures pointed to a gain at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.686 percent and gold was flat.
While much of the day’s headlines will be dominated by what people are saying, there is some hard data to look out for. At 8:30 a.m., retail sales for Canada will be closely watched to see if they can help give Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz more clarity about the economic outlook. The U.S. Department of Agriculture export sales figures for the six weeks ending Feb. 14 at 8:30 a.m. should get an unusual amount of attention as they will show the volume of China’s soybean purchases. Crude investors will keep an eye on the Baker Hughes rig count at 1:00 p.m. as oil is set to post another weekly gain.