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U.S. stocks barely budged from where they started, but it was still a volatile day in markets as Fed Chairman Powell testified before Congress. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.
Powell in No Rush
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said during a grilling by U.S. senators Tuesday that “crosscurrents and conflicting signals” pushed the central bank to take a more patient approach to raising interest rates in January. Powell again said the Federal Open Market Committee would continue to rely on data, adding “we’re in no rush to make a judgement about changes in policy.’’ On the global economy, the Fed chairman said financial conditions are now less supportive of growth than they were earlier last year, adding “growth has slowed in some major foreign economies, particularly China and Europe.” Powell’s remarks showed no bias toward further interest-rate increases or cuts. U.S. stocks wobbled during his comments, but were little changed by the time the bank chief ended his testimony.
Stocks Fall Into the Close
Asia stocks look set for modest gains in the wake of a volatile session in the U.S. Stocks ended lower as investors struggled to put an optimistic spin on Powell’s testimony. The pound rallied as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May promised a vote to delay Brexit if her proposed deal fails. The S&P 500 swung between gains and losses in light volume, with increases capped at the round-number milestone of 2,800. West Texas crude finished higher after tumbling the most in four weeks on Monday following criticism from President Donald Trump that prices are too high. Treasuries advanced after a strong seven-year auction.
Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un are in Hanoi readying for their sitdown that could lead to an informal end to the Korean War. The bar is low for the talks - the two sides haven’t even agreed on the meaning of denuclearization or the ultimate purpose of the negotiations - and that’s unlikely to be resolved this week. Trump and Kim will meet Wednesday evening for a 20-minute one-on-one conversation before dining together. The White House hasn’t said where they will hold their formal summit on Thursday.
Huawei Trolls U.S.
Huawei’s rotating Chairman Guo Ping delivered what might have been his boldest defense yet to U.S. accusations that the Shenzhen-based company’s products could be used for espionage. The U.S. had “no evidence, nothing” to back those claims, Ping told a packed main auditorium at the phone industry’s biggest trade show. He even went on the offensive, pointing to a U.S. federal law that compels U.S. tech companies to provide law enforcement officials with requested data stored on servers - even if they’re located on foreign soil. “Prism, prism on the wall, who is the most trustworthy of them all?" Ping asked, drawing laughter and scattered applause. “It is a very important question and if you don’t answer that, you can go and ask Edward Snowden.”
China Economy Shows Signs of Pickup
China’s economy is showing the first signs of recovery after months of slowdown, as stock and commodity rallies lift confidence. That’s the message from a Bloomberg Economics gauge aggregating the earliest available indicators on market sentiment and business conditions. Key stocks and commodities led gains, and smaller firms became more confident. At the same time, gauges of inflation, trade and sales-manager sentiment signal that it may still be too early to say China has bottomed out. Markets were boosted by the People’s Bank of China’s monetary easing and the breathing room offered by the now extended trade truce with the U.S., according to David Qu, an economist at Bloomberg Economics in Hong Kong.
What we’ve been reading:
This is what caught our eye over the last 24 hours.
- Japan has a new guest worker program – just don’t call it a policy.
- Musk’s Twitter habit risks irking judge.
- Trump’s diplomatic travel overshadowed again.
- Merkel wants government and industry to join forces to take on Asia.
- Never drink bad airplane coffee again, and other travel hacks.
- Singapore’s headhunter wants to nab China’s workaholic job seekers.
- The BOJ could turn to even more QE if the yen jumps.
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