Chinese gross domestic product rose 6.4 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, beating economist estimates. The better-than-expected number was driven by March data, with retail sales growth for the month at 8.7 percent and factory output recording a surprise 8.5 percent jump. The data comes after authorities in Beijing introduced a string of economic measures to counter the headwind of the trade war. Underscoring how the government and ruling party remain active shepherds of the credit cycle, an incentive program offers cheap loans to borrowers who study President Xi Jinping’s thoughts and help promote the Communist Party.
The strong China data may be taking away one of key points of leverage for U.S. negotiators in trade talks: That Beijing is desperate for a deal to protect growth. All the same, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that “very good progress” is being made in the negotiations which he expects to continue this week. Enforcing any deal remains one of the main sticking points, with concerns being raised by comments from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that any agreement would have a two-way enforcement. Analysts say the move may give China unilateral powers to stymie trade between the nations.
Morgan Stanley and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. round off earnings season for Wall Street today. Bloomberg Intelligence suggests Morgan Stanley will see a drop in first-quarter trading revenue, with the bank’s long-term Asia strategy also a focus for investors. For BNY Mellon, cost-control measures will be in the spotlight. Elsewhere in banking news, shares in Commerzbank AG are rising again this morning as speculation over a merger with Dutch bank ING Groep NV – instead of Deutsche Bank AG – is welcomed by investors.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.2 percent while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.3 percent higher as the region’s stocks were boosted by Chinese data. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.1 percent lower at 5:35 a.m.. Eastern Time with miners weighing on the gauge as iron ore prices slip. S&P 500 futures pointed to a higher open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.607 percent and gold was lower.
At 8:30 a.m., the U.S. trade balance for February is expected to show a slight widening to minus $53.4 billion. Canadian inflation for March, due at the same time, is projected to hold at 0.7 percent. U.S. wholesale inventories data is at 10:00 a.m. Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard will speak today, with the bank’s Beige Book published at 2:00 p.m.