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China-U.S. tensions rise on Huawei probe, Brexit gridlock continues, and shutdown hits day 27. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.
U.S. authorities may soon indict Chinese technology giant Huawei Technologies Co. for allegedly stealing trade secrets from American partner companies like T-Mobile US Inc., according to people familiar with the matter. The increasingly aggressive stance against the company comes amid growing concerns that Beijing could be using its products for spying, something Huawei executives have denied. Investors see the probe in the wider context of poor relations between the world’s two largest economies, and shares in Asia traded lower overnight after reports of the investigation broke.
With her Brexit deal defeated but a vote of no-confidence overcome, British Prime Minister Theresa May is in much the same position as she was at the start of the week. Today she is in talks with some of her opponents to try to find a position on exiting the European Union that would command majority support in Parliament. With just 10 weeks left to the exit date, HSBC Holdings Plc is now saying that they are more upbeat on sterling as the impasse suggests there may be no Brexit at all. Others are not taking the risk and are voting with their feet.
The House passed another bill yesterday to remedy the partial government shutdown, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying it won’t vote on a bill unless Trump supports it. The real-economy effects of the standoff are mounting. The number of government contractors going unpaid is seen as large enough to impact growth this quarter. Federal employees are citing financial hardship as a reason for not reporting to work, with some tapping retirement accounts to make ends meet.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index was broadly unchanged, with Japan’s Topix index closing 0.4 percent higher as corporate results boosted equities. In Hong Kong, there was something of a flash crash as a wave of selling saw some stocks drop as much as 75 percent in a matter of minutes. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.2 percent lower at 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time with banks leading the losses following a warning from Societe Generale SA. S&P 500 futures pointed to a drop at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.716 percent and gold was flat.
Morgan Stanley this morning rounds off the big-bank earnings season, with American Express Co. and Netflix Inc. also due to announce results. Initial jobless claims data and the Philadelphia Fed business outlook are due at 8:30 a.m. Today’s scheduled housing starts and building permits numbers have fallen victim to the shutdown. Fed Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles is due to speak at 10:45 a.m.
What we've been reading
This is what's caught our eye over the last 24 hours.
- Forget the trade war. China is already in crisis.
- A March Fed pause wouldn’t mark the end of tightening, Lockhart says.
- The U.S. and China are making Davos a mess for everyone else.
- Jamaica’s central bank turns to reggae videos to promote inflation target.
- Greenwich home prices and sales fall.
- “Patron saint” of the investing business: Remembering Jack Bogle.
- Global warming is helping to wipe out coffee in the wild.
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