Italy’s political turmoil sends shockwaves through global markets, as concerns around a bigger European crisis swirl. And Trump ratchets up trade pressure on China, while preparing to welcome a top North Korean envoy to the U.S. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.
Italy Turmoil Rocks Global Markets
It looks like the debt crisis days of 2012 all over again for investors, as Italian, Portuguese and Greek bond yields surged and billionaire George Soros warned of an “existential threat” to the European Union. The trigger was the prospect of anti-EU, nationalist parties in Italy turning a repeat election into a de facto referendum on Italy’s membership of the euro. Italian assets sank across the board Tuesday, with the risk premium on 10-year bonds over German benchmarks rising to the highest in almost five years. U.S. stocks tumbled the most in more than a month. Treasuries surged, while activity in options on eurodollar futures shows traders are starting to unwind bets that the Fed will hike four times in 2018. The dollar climbed as the euro plunged to its lowest since July 2017. Stock volatility soared and investors sought haven assets from the yen to the Swiss franc.
China-U.S. Trade Tensions Escalate
President Donald Trump said he’s moving ahead with plans to impose tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports and curb investment in sensitive technology, ratcheting up pressure on Beijing days before the next round of trade negotiations. In a statement Tuesday, the White House said a final list of targeted imports will be released by June 15 and the tariffs will be imposed “shortly thereafter.” The administration also said new restrictions on Chinese investment and enhanced export controls will be announced by June 30 and then implemented shortly after. China’s commerce ministry responded hours later with a statement, saying it was surprised by the U.S. announcement and remains confident the country can protect its interests.
Kim’s Right-Hand Man Heads to Washington
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has dispatched one of his top aides to New York for talks ahead of his planned summit with Donald Trump next month, the U.S. president said on Twitter. "Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more," Trump said in a Twitter posting that misspelled the envoy’s name. "Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York. Solid response to my letter, thank you!" Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s former spy chief, would become the highest-ranking official from the isolated nation to visit the U.S. since 2000. Also, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to go to Washington for a meeting with Trump June 7, five days ahead of the scheduled summit, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Turkey on Inflation Watch
Turkey is prepared to raise interest rates again if inflation accelerates, according to two money managers who met with Turkey’s central bank Governor Murat Cetinkaya and Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek in London Tuesday. Further tightening will depend on May inflation data to be released on June 4 and the nation won’t introduce capital controls, the people cited the officials as saying. The lira strengthened most among emerging-market currencies Tuesday. The meetings come as part of a charm offensive by Turkish officials, after the nation’s double-digit inflation and twin deficits put the lira at the center of an emerging-market selloff, setting it on course for its worst month in about a decade.
EU Considers Tough Warning on Brexit
The European Union is weighing a much stronger warning on the risk of Brexit talks collapsing without a deal if the U.K. fails to lay out its position in more detail next month, said a person familiar with the matter. The bloc has made clear Britain needs to show a more detailed view of how it intends to keep the Irish border open by the time EU leaders gather at the end of June -- as yet, Prime Minister Theresa May hasn’t produced the firm, written proposals the EU regards as necessary to move negotiations forward. Though the bloc will stop short of threatening to halt negotiations, it may issue a warning that a transition period after Brexit is in jeopardy and that the EU is boosting preparations for the U.K. crashing out without a deal, the person said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are ongoing.
What we’ve been reading
This is what caught our eye over the last 24 hours.
- Here’s who got it right at last year’s Sohn Investment Conference in Hong Kong.
- China’s HNA dumps another real-estate holding.
- India wants to use social media to boost nationalism.
- Tencent is no longer a sure bet.
- Is there a doctor on board? Airlines hope not.
- Bloomberg View: Blame the populists for Italy’s problems.
- The leader of the MH370 search hopes to resume the hunt again.
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