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Good morning. Asian equities fell after China lowered its economic growth goal, the Brexit outlook remains obscure as ever, and one of Europe’s biggest carmakers is on the hunt for acquisitions. Here’s what’s moving markets this morning.


China’s economic growth in 2019 could be the slowest in almost three decades, according to targets presented at the annual work report to the National People’s Congress overnight. The country also announced a major tax cut as policymakers seek to pull off a gradual deceleration while grappling with a debt legacy and the trade standoff with the U.S.  Stocks in Asia were mixed.

Obscure treaties

There's a week to go before U.K. lawmakers get another chance to vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans, but the signs seems ominously familiar. The U.K. says there is more work to be done on the controversial Irish backstop, forcing negotiators to reach for some obscure international treaty law as a way to get around the sticking points. A debate has been pulled on a piece of Brexit legislation too because U.K. dependencies Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are  resisting plans to force an end to secret company ownership. At least France still wants to keep sharing intelligence.

Trade losers

U.S. President Donald Trump likes to declare himself the winner in the various trade wars he’s engaged in around the world, but the evidence is growing that the U.S. economy is suffering. Increased optimism that a deal with China is nearing, however, is causing pain for gold as appetite for the safe haven abates. Deal or not, today’s new growth targets demonstrate that China's economy has been putting the brakes on – despite further intervention efforts –  and that could ultimately have implications for the euro should the stress continue to take a bite out of Europe’s economy. 

Car consolidation

PSA Groupe is on the lookout for acquisitions, and the ambitions of the Peugeot, Citroen and Opel maker could cause a significant shake-up in the auto industry. People familiar with the matter said the likes of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, General Motors Co. and Jaguar Land Rover are all considered attractive possibilities, while cautioning deals like this would be tough to do. Any M&A would come in a fast-changing landscape as Europe’s car makers invest heavily in new generations of electric and automated vehicles.

Coming Up...

As we wade through the quiet period for Brexit before another vote comes to Parliament, we’ll get some more from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney when he testifies to the economic affairs committee. Seems unlikely Brexit will be ignored. We’ll have GDP data from Italy just as concerns about its economic outlook bubble up again and we’ll get services PMIs from the euro area, Germany, Italy and the U.K.

What We’ve Been Reading

This is what’s caught our eye over the past 24 hours.

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