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Five Things to Know in World Business Today


Feb 14, 2019, by Samuel Potter

(Bloomberg)

Scheduling more couples therapy

Five Things is shocked – shocked! – to see upbeat China export data arrive just as trade talks with the U.S. reach crunch time. Leaders in Beijing, from where the numbers originate, must be counting their lucky stars after this fortuitous turn of events, apparently caused by companies front-running the Lunar New Year break. One way or another investors shouldn’t hold their breaths for a trade breakthrough just yet – while Tariff Man said negotiations, which formally resumed today in China, are “going along very well” and that China is “showing us tremendous respect,” he’s reportedly considering an extension to the March deadline for unleashing more of his super powers.

He loves it not

There will come a time when Five Things can talk about something other than trade, the shutdown and Brexit, but it is not this day. Tomorrow at midnight the current funding deal keeping the U.S. government open will expire, and Congress plans to vote today on the spending bill that would avert another partial closure. Assuming all goes well, the legislation will ultimately head to the desk of President Donald Trump, who has hinted he’ll sign despite not being happy. Logic suggests that Trump won’t want to be held accountable for another shutdown, with the last one hitting household finances of federal workers and the effects still being felt in air safety. And voters do tend to care about stuff like having money for food and not dying in plane crashes.

Breaking up is hard to do

The Brexit circus continues. Parliament holds its latest set of votes on Theresa May’s Brexit strategy on Thursday, but it’s lost a bit of its edge because the U.K. prime minister has said lawmakers will get another say in two weeks. All the same, if May loses the non-binding vote – scheduled for after 12 p.m. Eastern time – it would effectively strip her of her mandate to renegotiate the… oh goodness. Look, it’s a complex mess and we’re all still pretending this isn’t about running down the clock to force acceptance of May’s deal or an extension. In other Brexit news, Renault is the latest major business to warn about a hard split, the whole thing is hanging over the housing market and the Bank of England is signalling looser monetary policy in the event of a no-deal. Here at Five Things global HQ (level -2, opposite Waste Handling & Recycling), we’re prepping for the vote with a Game Boy, a copy of Donkey Kong and a large pillow.

Markets just not that into anything

Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.1 percent while Japan’s Topix index closed little changed as traders googled the definition of ennui. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.4 percent higher at 6:06 a.m. Eastern Time as investors digested a slew of corporate results. S&P 500 futures pointed to a small rise at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.695 percent and gold was flat.

We heart numbers

There’s a lot to get through okay, so try to keep up: German growth data was bad but the nation dodged recession. Nestle results seemed to tick the right boxes, but otherwise in Europe earnings were a bit mixed. Coca-Cola (pre) and Nvidia (post) look like the biggies in America today. Data-wise, it’s PPI time (8:30 a.m.), initial jobless day (same), and retail sales (ditto). Bloomberg’s Consumer Comfort reading comes at 9:45 a.m., with business inventory figures 15 minutes after that. Oh, and it’s also deadline day for money managers who oversee $100 million or more of securities to file a Form 13F with the SEC. In other words, we get a glimpse at what the big boys are holding.



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