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Trump warns China on trade, while U.S. stocks suffer their worst month since January 2016 and China’s factory data falter. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.
Trump’s Trade Message
President Donald Trump is warning that the U.S. will use “all available tools” to prevent China’s state-driven economic model from undermining global competition, the latest warning to Beijing as America readies a host of trade actions. China hasn’t lived up to the promises of economic reforms it made when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, and actually appears to be moving further away from “market principles” in recent years, according to the president’s annual report to Congress on his trade-policy agenda. China’s “statist” policies are causing a “dramatic misallocation” of global resources that is leaving all countries poorer than they should be, said the report.
U.S. Stocks’ Worst Month in Two Years
U.S. stocks suffered their worst monthly decline since January 2016 as markets continued to digest Tuesday's testimony of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Treasuries and the U.S. dollar rose, while oil dropped. The S&P 500 Index slumped more than 1 percent, ending February with a decline of 3.9 percent in one of the wildest months in years. Trading was heavier than normal Wednesday, with shares swinging between gains and losses for much of the session before plunging into the close.
China’s Factory Slowdown
While many of China’s factory workers were off the job enjoying this month’s Lunar New Year, signs emerged that demand from their global customers may be beginning to cool. The manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 50.3 in February from 51.3 the prior month, the biggest slump in five years and below the 51.1 estimate in Bloomberg’s survey. New export orders declined for second month, while the services PMI slipped to 54.4 from 55.3, the statistics bureau said Wednesday. Levels over 50 indicate improvement.
Economic Growth in India
India sees its economy growing faster than estimated, providing some relief to the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of national polls next year. Gross domestic product will grow 6.6 percent in the year through March 2018, the Statistics Ministry said in a statement in New Delhi on Wednesday, increasing its Jan. 5 estimate of 6.5 percent. That also beats the 6.5 percent consensus estimate in a Bloomberg survey but is slower than the 7.1 percent expansion in the previous year.
Elevated volatility is shaping up as a key legacy from February's market turmoil, fueled by fears of inflation and the willingness of the Fed to take the punch bowl away in order to head off any major acceleration in CPI growth. More market swings may be waiting in the wings for March with China's national legislative meetings kicking off this weekend. Italian and Russian elections are also coming, and a Fed rate hike is expected toward the end of the month. Thursday will feature data on Japanese capital spending and company profits, Korean trade and a slew of PMIs.
What we’ve been reading
This is what caught our eye over the last 24 hours.
- China approves list of nominees to fill top government positions.
- A $40 billion manager sees emerging markets as a haven.
- China plans curbs on $1 trillion in money-market funds.
- The Afghan president offers talks to the Taliban.
- Bitcoin reaches a major scaling milestone.
- Noble Group just posted a $4.9 billion loss.
- A collapse in India's bond market drives its biggest bank away.
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