May 13, 2019, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Whatever hopes existed for a breakthrough on trade between the U.S. and China were dashed over the weekend as both sides seemed to harden their positions. President Donald Trump doubled-down on his claim that Beijing “broke the deal,” while Chinese state media blamed him for the impasse and emphasized the Asian nation’s economic resilience. Optimism for a solution to the standoff in the near term is disappearing. U.S. officials are expected to announce details of their plans to impose a 25% additional tariff on all remaining imports from China later today, while the Asian nation’s response is still awaited. Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, said on Sunday that no further talks had been scheduled.
The worsening outlook for trade is hitting global equities. There was no sign of the plunge-protection team in China overnight where the Shanghai Composite Index closed 1.2% lower. The region’s MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.7%, while Japan’s Topix index closed down 0.5% as yen appreciation added to pressure on exporters. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index had declined 0.5% by 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time, while S&P 500 futures pointed to a sharp drop at the open. The 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.426% and the dollar advanced.
Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers were attacked as they approached the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important choke point for crude shipments. The precise nature of the attacks, which also targeted cargo vessels, remains unclear. The incident comes at a time when tensions in the region are rising as relations between Iran and the U.S. continue to worsen in the wake of increased sanctions and military deployments to the Gulf. Brent crude futures rose as much as 1.9% in London this morning.
Uber Technologies Inc.’s second day of trading is likely to be volatile after the company’s debut saw shares close well below the IPO price. The weak earnings reported by the company’s main rival Lyft Inc. and the wider market selloff mean that the biggest public offering of the year may continue to struggle. Elsewhere in the auto world, Nissan Motor Co. is opposing renewed efforts by Renault SA to merge because the company thinks the proposed structure will not help revive its fortunes.
This time lucky?
President Trump is developing something of a track record in not seeing his potential nominees to the board of the Federal Reserve make it through the Senate. The latest name on the list of potential picks for one of two vacancies at the central bank is conservative economist Judy Shelton, who has served as an informal adviser to the president. In other Fed news, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan are all speaking today.