May 10, 2019, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
As promised, President Donald Trump boosted tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25% overnight as the White House seeks to extract trade concessions in the current round of talks in Washington. Observers of those negotiations, which continue today, said that they are not hopeful of any meaningful breakthrough. One industry group is warning that the higher tariffs could cost 400,000 manufacturing jobs while also putting further pressure on American farmers. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said there’s a 30% chance that $300 billion of Chinese goods not yet targeted could have duties imposed on them.
Authorities in Beijing promised to retaliate. The first step was to bolster the local stock market, where the tariff escalation was met with a strong rally. The Shanghai Composite Index ended the session 3.1% higher after buying by state funds. Other options open to the country include a devaluation of the yuan, halting purchases of U.S. soybeans, and the nuclear option: Dumping Treasuries.
Away from trade concerns, the big market story today is the pricing of Uber Technologies Inc. shares towards the bottom of the marketed range. The company raised $8.1 billion selling 180 million shares at $45 each. While market conditions certainly played a part in the price, the company was also said to have prioritized investors it thinks are in for the long haul in an effort to avoid a Lyft Inc.-style volatility. Despite the valuation, the IPO still makes the list of the 10 largest in U.S. history.
Markets (very) mixed
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.2% as the rally in Chinese equities helped stabilize the regional gauge. Japan’s Topix index closed 0.1% percent lower in a session that saw more than 600 companies report earnings. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.7% higher at 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time with banks among the biggest gainers. S&P 500 futures point to another day of losses in U.S. markets, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.453 percent and gold was higher.
Both core and headline U.S. inflation are expected to have picked up to 2.1% in April as Jerome Powell looks for evidence to back his assertion that too-low price growth will prove transitory when the data is published at 8:30 a.m. Elsewhere, the USDA releases the WASDE report at 12:00 p.m., the Baker Hughes rig count is at 1:00 p.m., and the April budget report is at 2:00 p.m. Fed Governor Lael Brainard, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic and New York Fed President John Williams all speak today.