By Lorcan Roche Kelly
U.S. recession fears rise, Boris Johnson’s big day, and Hong Kong economy hit hard by protests. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.
Yesterday’s data from the Institute for Supply Management showing its factory index slipped to the lowest since June 2009 has renewed fears that America may be headed for a recession. Adding to those woes are global manufacturing numbers that show the sector has shrunk for the fifth month in a row. The question for economists now is where the stall speed for U.S. growth lies, with some suggesting the economy could expand as little as 1% without dropping into recession. President Donald Trump was quick to put the blame on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell after the ISM data was released, while economists cited trade war uncertainty as the main reason for the slowdown.
Ready for his closeup
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will address his Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester, England, and present what his office calls a “fair and reasonable compromise” to the EU. Details of the proposal have already been reported by the Telegraph newspaper, with Ireland’s foreign minister describing them as “concerning.” Those comments do not bode well for the prime minister’s goal of sealing an exit deal with the European Union by Oct. 11 . If a deal isn’t forthcoming, Johnson will be obliged to ask for an extension beyond the Oct. 31 exit date, something he has repeatedly vowed not to do.
Unrest in Hong Kong is hitting the tourist market, with the knock-on effect for the city’s economy laid bare in retail sales figures showing a 23% year-on-year plunge, the largest on record. With the protests becoming increasingly violent, pressure is mounting on the international community to support the pro-democracy demonstrators. In the U.S., there was a stark contrast between Donald Trump’s tweet congratulating his Chinese counterpart on the People’s Republic’s 70th anniversary and comments from leading Republicans about the Communist Party regime.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.7% while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.4% lower as fears over global growth hit equities in the region. The picture in Europe is even worse, with the Stoxx 600 Index down 1.4% by 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time with every sector trading lower for the session. S&P 500 futures pointed to more losses at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 1.625% and gold was making back some ground.
Today’s ADP employment report at 8:15 a.m. may give some guidance on where Friday’s payrolls numbers will come in. With investors worried about the economic outlook again, there will be extra interest in New York Fed President John Williams’s speech today. Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin and Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Patrick Harker are also scheduled to speak.