By Lorcan Roche Kelly
China is showing that tariffs can go down, as well as up, with Beijing’s announcement that the country will halve duties on $75 billion of imports from the U.S. on Valentine’s Day. The move comes as part of the phase-one trade agreement, with Washington set to implement reductions at the same time. The announcement helped boost the rally in Asian stocks, while equities in Europe hit record highs this morning. S&P 500 futures are pointing to further gains at the open as markets seem to be shaking off coronavirus fears for now.
No end in sight
That’s even as the situation in China continues to worsen, with over 28,000 confirmed cases and 563 deaths from the outbreak, according to the latest figures from the country’s National Health Commission. Travel restrictions to and from China are increasing, with Saudi Arabia the latest to announce bans on visits to the country. Authorities in Beijing accused those imposing the restrictions of “sowing panic” and going against WHO recommendations. Businesses are also suffering, with China’s top LNG buyer declaring force majeure on contracts.
The technical discussions in Vienna between OPEC and its allies have been extended into a third day as Russia and Saudi Arabia remain split over the two oil-producing nations’ response to the demand hit from the extended shutdown in China. Traders still expect the talks to lead to a full emergency ministerial meeting that will seek to avert a surplus in global supply. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate was trading at $51.35 by 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time.
President Donald Trump will make his second address to the nation this week at noon from the White House, a speech that he said will discuss “our Country’s VICTORY on the impeachment hoax!” (emphasis his). The president will be emboldened by his acquittal yesterday in the Senate, where Mitt Romney was the only GOP senator to vote in favor of conviction. Meanwhile, in the continuing Iowa Democratic caucus count, Bernie Sanders has pulled level with Pete Buttigieg, with the final few results expected to be announced today.
There’s one last look at the health of the U.S. jobs market ahead of tomorrow’s payrolls number when weekly jobless claims are published at 8:30 a.m. Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan and Fed Governor Randal Quarles are scheduled to speak later. In earnings today Twitter Inc., Uber Technologies Inc., T-Mobile US Inc. and Yum! Brands Inc. are among the many companies announcing results.