Apr 1, 2019, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Liu in Washington
Following last week’s talks in Beijing the continuing high-level negotiations between the U.S. and China move to Washington this week, with Vice Premier Liu He due in the capital this morning. Ahead of his arrival, the Chinese government announced an extension to the suspension of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. autos and the opoid fentanyl in a list of controlled substances, moves which should help towards a positive atmosphere at the talks. There is little sign yet of reciprocity from the Trump administration, and a plan to supply fighter jets to Taiwan is likely to strain relations with Beijing.
There were signs of stabilization in the Chinese economy, with the official manufacturing purchasing managers index rising to 50.5 in March, a return to growth after February’s disappointing data. Across the region PMIs showed sentiment stabilized in the month, with rises in both Japan and South Korea. It was a different story in the euro area, with already disappointing German data revised lower to 44.1 while a jump in U.K. manufacturing PMI was almost entirely driven by stockpiling. U.S. final March PMI is due at 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time, with ISM manufacturing at 10:00 a.m.
It’s a day ending in a y, so U.K. lawmakers are having another go at finding a Brexit plan that can command a majority in Parliament. Today’s plan is not another run at Prime Minister Theresa May’s thrice-rejected withdrawal agreement, but rather a second attempt at finding a solution which may include a customs union or single market access. While there was no majority for any option when a similar vote was held last week, if one does gain enough votes today, May does not have to abide by the decision. Elsewhere in Europe, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suffered a setback in regional elections which saw his party defeated in some major cites. The lira dropped more than 2 percent in morning trading.
Overnight the MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 1.0 percent, with Japan’s Topix index closing 1.5 percent higher amid optimism over China’s growth prospects. Stocks in Hong Kong entered a bull market. The improving investor sentiment spread to Europe where the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.9 percent higher at 5:45 a.m. with miners and energy companies among the best performers. S&P 500 futures pointed to a bounce at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.440 percent and gold was flat.
A slightly improved 0.3 percent growth for the month is expected when February retail sales numbers are released at 8:30 a.m. Core sales, removing autos and gas spending, is also forecast to rise 0.3 percent. Construction spending is published at 10:00 a.m. At 3:10 p.m Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz gives an address in which he should find it easier to defend the bank’s stance following last weeks positive GDP surprise. Results in the latest Brexit votes are expected from around 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time.