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Good morning. The U.S. and China are set to sign their trade deal, more big U.S. banks are coming out with earnings and Lebanon is roiling again. Here’s what’s moving markets.
While the U.S. and China are set to sign the first phase of their trade deal today in Washington, it’s looking like tensions between the two will remain high. Existing tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods coming into the U.S. are likely to stay in place until after the American presidential election in November, and any move to reduce them will hinge on Beijing’s compliance with the terms of the phase-one accord, people familiar with the matter said. The two sides have an understanding that no sooner than 10 months after today’s signing, the U.S. will review progress and potentially consider additional cuts on tariffs affecting $360 billion of imports from China, the people said. The news is weighing on stocks in Asia this morning. If you’ve lost the plot, refresh your memory with our handy QuickTake explainer.
U.S. bank earnings roll on with Bank of America Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. reporting today. The market loved yesterday’s results from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc., pushing both stocks higher after the banks reported huge quarters in fixed-income trading. Further good news today should be supportive of Europe’s long-struggling banking stocks. The Stoxx Europe 600 Banks Index has lost more than a third of its value in the past decade, during one of the longest-running bull markets ever, so the sector can use all the help it can get.
Lebanon is back in the news, and not just because of Carlos Ghosn. Lebanese protesters spilled back into the streets on Tuesday after a brief letup, blocking major highways as they denounced the lack of a functioning government at a time of deepening financial and economic crisis. Rudderless since Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in late October as moves to raise fees and taxes triggered massive anti-government protests, the country is gradually succumbing to its worst economic malaise in decades. Lenders have tightened restrictions on dollar withdrawals and transfers abroad since protests erupted against the government’s decision to raise fees and taxes. It’s one more thing for investors to worry about in a troubled corner of the world.
The impeachment of Donald Trump hasn’t been a market-moving event so far, but investors are about to get another dose of headlines about the process. The House of Representatives probably will vote today to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, setting in motion a rarely seen spectacle in one of the world’s most stable democracies: a trial of a sitting president, one that’s likely to begin next week. The math hasn’t changed—Republicans still have enough votes to acquit Trump—but Democrats will try to call witnesses such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton, raising the prospect of at the least embarrassing testimony for Trump. Look for this to dominate the news in coming days.
European stock-index futures are pointing to a modestly lower open. The company-news calendar remains light in Europe, with Chr. Hansen A/S, the Danish maker of food ingredients and natural colors, reporting earnings and U.K. homebuilder Persimmon Plc giving a trading update. The economic agenda is full, with German gross domestic product, U.K. inflation, industrial production and trade balance for the euro area and, in the afternoon, the U.S. producer price index for December. For what it’s worth, policy makers at the European Central Bank say the euro-area economy is starting to regain its footing.
What We’ve Been Reading
This is what’s caught our eye over the past 24 hours.
- Climate change is killing Alpine skiing as we know it.
- War policy dominates Democratic debate after Trump’s Iran strike.
- James Murdoch slams family’s news outlets for Australian fire coverage.
- How the world’s fastest-growing economy plunged into stagflation.
- Health scares slow the rollout of 5G cell towers in Europe.
- Fitness app Strava has become a religion.
- Meet Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer, who says #MeToo is “dangerous.”
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