Mar 27, 2019, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
A great deal
President Donald Trump’s top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are due to resume trade talks in Beijing tomorrow, with China’s Vice Premier Liu He expected in the U.S. the following week as efforts to reach an accord are stepped up. While Trump told Republican lawmakers that he won’t settle for anything less than an “excellent deal,” analysts are suggesting that something closer to an extended truce is the more likely outcome. A meeting between the leaders of both countries, which was originally scheduled for the end of this month, remains on ice.
Today Parliament in the U.K. will vote on rival plans to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. The range of options runs from a much softer Brexit to a second referendum, with Speaker John Bercow deciding this morning which proposals to put to a vote. The move comes ahead of the EU’s Friday deadline for an agreed way forward, and just as some hardline Brexit MPs are starting to come around to the idea of voting for May’s original agreement. The pound is trading in a range ahead of the votes as investors still lack clarity on which outcome is likely.
Stephen Moore, President Trump’s possible nominee for the Federal Reserve, seems set to ruffle some feathers should he be appointed to the central bank. In an interview with the New York Times he said the Fed should immediately reverse course and cut rates by half a percentage point, a position that contrasts with comments made by sitting board members in recent days. ECB President Mario Draghi, speaking at an event in Frankfurt this morning, said his bank is ready to soften the impact of negative rates if they are found to harm the transmission of monetary policy. He also emphasized that an accommodative stance is still needed, adding that growth in the euro area would eventually gain speed.
Overnight the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.2 percent while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.5 percent lower as more than half of the companies in the gauge traded ex-dividend. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was broadly unchanged at 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time as investors rotated out of defensive stocks following the recent outperformance of that sector. S&P futures pointed to little change at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.3667 percent and gold was slightly higher.
Just as the U.S. is becoming a major oil exporting nation, it’s starting to run into some unusual problems. In recent months two refiners from South Korea – the top buyer of U.S. seaborne supply – have rejected cargoes of crude they say have become infected with metals and chemical compounds known as oxygenates which make refining difficult. The oil picks up the impurities from the network of pipes that deliver crude from inland Texas and North Dakota fields. In markets, oil remains on track for its best first quarter since 2009, with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate for May delivery trading at $59.70 this morning.