By Lorcan Roche Kelly
President Donald Trump said that China called and asked to restart trade talks. His statement came after China’s top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, said they were willing to solve the trade problem “through consultation and cooperation with a calm attitude.” The market reaction to Trump’s comments this morning was positive after an Asian trading session that had seen heavy selling in the wake of the president’s tweeted announcement on Friday of further tariffs on China.
Brexit, Brazil and Iran
The Group of Seven leaders are holding their final day of talks in Biarritz, France today. There was drama at what is usually a carefully choreographed event yesterday when Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif arrived in the town at the invitation of France’s President Emmanuel Macron. There has been progress on some trade issues on the sidelines of the event, with the U.S. and Japan agreeing a new deal in principle, and France and the U.S. drafting an agreement on internet taxes. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson received backing from Trump at the event, but little in the way of fresh Brexit commitments from his European counterparts. Macron’s promise to make the Amazon forest fires a priority at the summit seems to have been over-shadowed by other events.
There was more bad news for Europe’s largest economy this morning when the key Ifo business climate index fell to 94.3 in August, the weakest in almost seven years. With inflation in the euro-area expected to hold at 1% in the month, investors are looking to the ECB to provide more stimulus at its next policy meeting on September 12. One place where stimulus is less likely to come from at the moment is Germany’s Finance Ministry, with no sign of extra spending yet despite all of the country’s yield curve now in negative territory.
Overnight the MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 1.4%, while Japan’s Topix index closed 1.6% lower, hitting the lowest level since January as the gauge closed before Trump’s comments on China’s call. In Europe, stocks rebounded from a sharp loss at the open to trade 0.2% higher by 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time. U.K. markets are closed for a holiday. S&P 500 futures rallied more than 1% and gold held on to its gains.
With all the trade talk and tweets this year’s Jackson Hole event has been somewhat overshadowed. Which is probably just as well as Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe said in the closing session of the event that central bankers have limited scope to save the global economy from political risks. As usual at such gatherings, there were calls for fiscal policy to do what monetary policy cannot.