Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day
Jerome Powell, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, speaks during a news conference following a Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day

(Bloomberg) --

The Federal Reserve leaves interest rates on hold, China's yuan traders are unfazed by the impending Dec. 15 tariffs, and prices are looking cheaper than ever in the world’s most expensive real estate market. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

It looks like the Federal Reserve is set on sticking to the sidelines during an election year — it left interest rates unchanged and signaled it would keep them on hold through 2020 as long as the economic outlook doesn’t change. “The committee judges that the current stance of monetary policy is appropriate to support sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the committee’s symmetric 2% objective,’’ the Federal Open Market Committee said in its statement Wednesday. The Treasury 10-year yields fell below 1.8%, the dollar declined and U.S. stocks edged higher as investors digested the news and comments during a post-meeting press conference by Chairman Jerome Powell, in which he said, “Both the economy and monetary policy right now are in a good place.”

Asian stocks are set for a mixed start after the Federal Reserve signaled it would stand pat on U.S. interest rates throughout 2020 amid a solid economy. U.S. stocks rose with Treasuries and the dollar fell, while futures were modestly higher in Japan, flat in Hong Kong and lower in Australia. The S&P 500 Index halted a two-day slide as the central bank’s decision fueled bets that the bar for an increase in rates remains high and the 10-year treasury yield fell below 1.8%. Focus now turns to trade ahead of a Sunday deadline for the imposition of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods. The pound rebounded from earlier losses even as a key poll suggested the race narrowing between the two major parties ahead of Thursday’s U.K. election. Meanwhile,  Saudi Aramco shares surged by the 10% daily limit after the oil producer’s initial public offering.

China's yuan traders are undaunted by Sunday’s looming start of fresh U.S. tariffs even as investors elsewhere are piling into protection. As President Donald Trump’s Dec. 15 deadline for more duties on Chinese imports draws closer, one-week risk reversals — a measure of demand for bearish yuan bets relative to bullish calls in the options market — have been at their lowest since July. And while volatility gauges for the currency have jumped in the past week, they remain well below levels reached in August, when the yuan weakened through 7 per dollar for the first time since 2008 amid trade worries. Yuan traders may have good reason to remain bullish: Chinese officials are expecting President Donald Trump to delay the tariff increases, Bloomberg reported yesterday. Meanwhile, JPMorgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon says  he expects to see a phase-one trade deal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s poll gamble just got a $199 million vote of confidence. ETF investors in the largest fund targeting U.K. small caps are sending bullish signals on the nation’s economic path ahead of an expected election victory for Johnson this week. More than 151 million pounds ($199 million) has flowed into BlackRock’s iShares MSCI UK Small Cap UCITS ETF in the past three weeks, setting it on course for a record December and assets in the 343 million-pound product have swelled by more than half this month. The bumper inflows are seen as a sign of confidence that a Tory government would benefit U.K. business through fiscal stimulus and a deal on Brexit. That’s even as a key opinion poll shows a narrowing lead for the Conservative Party in Thursday’s vote.

Months of protests and a struggling local economy have hammered Hong Kong’s property stocks, but analysts are starting to see a silver lining in valuations. A measure of developer shares in the world’s most expensive real estate market has tumbled 23% from a high in April. That slide has them trading at 11 times estimated earnings for the next 12 months — near a record low hit in October — and brokerages are already finding reasons for optimism. On Tuesday, Daiwa Capital Markets reiterated its buy rating on Swire Properties’s shares, saying their 33% slide from June to November had more to do with fund flows than with the firm’s fundamentals. Meanwhile, Citigroup said in October that steps the Hong Kong government announced to help first-time home buyers could drive an earlier-than-expected recovery in housing prices. Last month, home prices in the city actually rose in consecutive weeks, according to a widely followed index compiled by Centaline Property Agency Ltd. And the fundamentals of the city’s property companies are proving resilient. The gross margins of developers climbed to 45% in the third quarter, the highest in Bloomberg-compiled data going back to 2016.

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