A sample of crude oil sits in a glass flask in a laboratory in an oilfield in Russia. (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

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China says no trade talks under tariff threat, Brent hits highest since 2014 and Theresa May faces more Brexit challenges. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Trade block

Chinese authorities said that President Donald Trump’s threats of further tariffs on the country’s exports to the U.S. are blocking any chance for negotiations between the two sides. The comments came shortly after the imposition of duties on $200 billion of Chinese products, which came into effect at 12:00 p.m. Beijing time today. In a sign that it is looking for other ways to influence the dispute, China is taking the fight over trade directly to the U.S. heartland, paying for an advertising supplement in Iowa’s largest newspaper to highlight what it calls “the fruit of a president’s folly.” 

Oil surge

A barrel of Brent crude traded at $80.93 this morning, the highest level since November 2014, after OPEC and its partners signaled less urgency to boost output at a meeting in Algiers yesterday. The move comes despite a call from Trump to increase supply in order to cap rising oil prices. Major energy trading houses are predicting OPEC will continue to hold the upper hand with forecasts for $100 crude becoming more common. 

Brexit challenge

British Prime Minister Theresa May is under attack from several fronts over her Brexit plan. Members of her own party launched an alternative plan for leaving the European Union which would involve ditching her Chequers deal for a cleaner break with the bloc. The main opposition Labour Party are holding their annual conference where members will decide on whether to back a second referendum on the issue. There were also reports over the weekend of a possible snap election in November. Relations with the EU side, meanwhile, continue to be strained

Markets slip

Overnight the MSCI Asia ex-Japan Index fell 1.1 percent as trade relations between China and the U.S. showed no signs of improvement. Markets in Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan were closed for a holiday. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.3 percent lower at 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time as trade concerns weighed again. S&P 500 futures pointed to a lower open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 3.083 percent and gold was lower. 

Courting trouble

A new sexual misconduct allegation has emerged against Brett Kavanaugh, putting further pressure on his nomination to the Supreme Court ahead of a hearing planned for Thursday on an allegation by Christine Blasey Ford. Kavanaugh denies Ford’s claim that he assaulted her at a high school party three decades ago. To add to the nominee’s difficulties, lawyer Michael Avenatti said on Twitter that he represents another woman with “credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh.” 

What we've been reading

This is what's caught our eye over the weekend.

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