Mar 11, 2019, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signaled that there is no clear time limit to the current pause on interest-rates hikes in a wide-ranging interview on CBS News’ “60 minutes” yesterday. While he said the outlook for the U.S. economy is favorable, he highlighted risks to global growth from China, Europe and Brexit. The central bank will be watching January’s retail sales data at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time this morning for signs the U.S. consumer is bouncing back from a surprisingly weak end to 2018.
The crash of a Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia over the weekend which killed all 157 people on board is rattling confidence in the U.S. manufacturer’s best-selling jet. The tragedy bears unmistakable similarities with the Oct. 29 disaster of a Lion Air 737 Max in Indonesia, prompting questions over whether a design issue is to blame. China has ordered the grounding of all flights by the aircraft type in the wake of the accident. Boeing shares were more than 10 percent lower in pre-market trading.
A barrel of West Texas Intermediate for April delivery was gaining ground to trade at $56.50 by 5:40 a.m. as Saudi Arabia is set to extend deeper-than-agreed cuts into next month. An official familiar with the policy said the country will supply its clients with significantly less oil than they requested. The cuts are part of a wider OPEC+ agreement that aims to prevent supply gluts — even as the group’s ability to set prices runs up against rising U.S. shale production.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.5 percent, while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.6 percent higher as stocks in the region recovered some of last week’s selloff. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.2 percent higher at 5:40 a.m. with banks gaining ground on possible renewed changes of a Deutsche Bank AG and Commerzbank AG merger. S&P 500 futures pointed to a slight gain at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.645 percent and gold was lower.
The U.K. government is looking for last-minute concessions from the European Union to keep Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement alive when Parliament votes this week. Cabinet ministers are trying to win more pro-Brexit MPs over to the deal with warnings that a defeat could lead to no Brexit at all. The British pound extended last week’s losses this morning, trading below $1.30, the lowest level in three weeks.