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Five Things World Business Will be Talking About Today

 July 21, 2017


Mueller widens probe, post-Brexit transition plan wins cabinet support, and banks profit like it’s 2007. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Mueller probe

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has expanded his probe into possible ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia to include a broad range of transactions involving the president’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the investigation. The president’s interview with the New York Times Wednesday stirred speculation that he may consider firing Mueller for investigating his business dealings, though Trump lacks the direct authority to do so. Should the president try, it could set off a chain of events that strip the upper ranks of the Justice Department.

No cliff?

The U.K. will accept the free movement of EU citizens for up to four years after Brexit as part of a transitional deal to ease the country’s exit from the European Union, according to British press reports. The news comes after a meeting between the prime minister and British businesses in which companies stepped up pressure on Theresa May to avoid a so-called hard Brexit. Citizen rights have become a major stumbling block in negotiations with Brussels as the issue is a red line for both sides.

Party like it’s 2007

The top 10 U.S. banks posted $30 billion in net review in the second quarter, just a few hundred million short of the record profit set in 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “It shows that the legislation we passed in no way retarded the ability of the banks to make money,” said Barney Frank, the former congressman whose name is on the 2010 law tightening industry oversight. The picture is less rosy for some European banks, with Credit Suisse Group AG’s once-mighty equity unit losing a third of its market share since 2015, and Deutsche Bank AG busy making preparations for a hard Brexit.

Markets slip

Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.2 percent, while Japan’s Topix index also dropped 0.2 percent as the yen strengthened against the dollar under pressure from the expanding Mueller probe. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.2 percent lower at 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time as the strong euro weighed on exporters. S&P 500 futures showed a small gain.

Between a rock and a hard place

A barrel of West Texas Intermediate for September delivery was trading at $47.10 by 5:51 a.m. as the commodity headed for a weekly gain before OPEC and its allies meet in St. Petersburg in the coming days. There is little expectation that the producers who agreed to cut output will act more aggressively to reduce the global supply glut at that meeting. Mike Wittner, head of oil market research at Societe Generale SA in New York, says they are “between a rock and a hard place,” as further cuts support the oil price, which leads to increased U.S. shale production.

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