Mar 19, 2019, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Crude held near the highest level this year after OPEC and its partners committed to continue production cuts until at least June. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate for April delivery was trading at $59.30 at 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time. There’s a lot going on in the metals market today, with Norsk Hydro ASA, one of the world’s biggest aluminum producers, suffering production outages after a cyber attack affected operations across the U.S. and Europe. Vale SA is facing continued backlash from Brazilian authorities after January’s deadly accident with the government ordering the closure of one mine and the freezing of 1 billion reais ($264 million) of funds. Palladium hit a record high of $1,600 an ounce as shortage concerns mount.
Britain has been plunged into “crisis,” declared Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay. That was after controversial House of Commons speaker and Theresa May’s Brexit nemesis John Bercow demanded substantial changes to her deal before considering it for a new vote. The government is now set to seek a long extension to the U.K.’s EU membership at Thursday’s leaders summit in Brussels. The pound is mostly taking all of this in its stride, with one analyst suggesting it could strengthen to $1.45 once a deal is made.
Things are relatively quiet on the trade front, but there are signs of progress. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue described negotiations as “dynamic,” saying China could triple its 2017 purchases of U.S. farm goods in the next five years. Perdue also confirmed that there would have to be an agriculture deal as part of any trade deal with the EU.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.1 percent while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.2 percent lower as retailers dragged the gauge lower in a quiet session. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.5 percent higher at 5:50 a.m. as miners and energy producers rose. S&P 500 futures pointed to a gain at the open and the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.596 percent as investors awaited tomorrow’s Federal Reserve decision. Gold also rose.
U.S. January factory orders are expected to show a 0.3 percent increase when the data is released at 10 a.m. At the same, the final reading of that month’s durable goods orders is published. The Fed meeting begins in Washington, with tomorrow’s decision coming with an updated summary of economic projections. Also in Washington today, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will meet with President Donald Trump at the White House. FedEx reports earnings later.