Group of Seven leaders on Saturday managed to project a united front in fighting protectionism as they closed a two-day annual meeting here. But the meeting also highlighted a divide between the U.S. and the four European countries in the group.
In the joint communique released after the meeting, the leaders reiterated their commitment “to fight protectionism.” This wording was initially opposed by the U.S. But the “to fight protectionism” phrase is followed by a comma, and the rest of the sentence goes on to say, “while standing firm against all unfair trade practices.”
It is believed the wording was added at the behest of the U.S.
their “strong commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement.”
The communique also notes North Korea’s “new levels of threat of a grave nature to international peace and stability.”
In a separate statement, the leaders condemned Monday’s suicide bombing in Manchester and called for reinforcing anti-terrorist measures, including the involvement of internet service providers in counter-terrorism operations.
Investors will keep a close eye on US politics next week as US President Donald Trump’s first foreign trip coincides with a growing White House scandal at home.
Here’s what to watch in the coming days.
Donald Trump kicks off his first overseas visit since becoming US president by travelling to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz this weekend. Mr Trump is set to agree to a $10bn weapons sale to Saudi Arabia as the US seeks to boost business and diplomatic ties with Riyadh.
The nine-day tour will also see Mr Trump visit Israel and continue on to Rome before heading to a Nato summit in Brussels. The meeting comes as the president’s attempts to give Nato a more formal role in the anti-Isis coalition has faced resistance from France and Germany. Mr Trump will also attend a G-7 meeting in Sicily.
The overseas trip comes with Mr Trump under siege at home following revelations that he pressed James Comey, the FBI director who was abruptly dismissed last week, to drop a probe into the Trump administration’s ties with Russia. Mr Comey has been invited to testify before Congress on Wednesday.
Further complicating matters, new Russia claims were published just after Mr Trump departed Washington on Friday, casting more clouds over the trip even as it got underway.
After yesterday’s violent gap up in stocks across the globe in response to the “expected” outcome from the French election, today the risk on sentiment has continued if to a lesser extent, with stocks in Europe, Asia all rising while S&P futures point to a higher open. Yen, gold decline, while the euro traded as high as 1.09 this morning before fading some gains; oil is up modestly.
While today’s surge may have been more muted, world stocks hit a new record high on Tuesday, with investors still cheering Macron’s victory in the first round of the French presidential election, supported by speculation about U.S. tax reform and the overnight report that Trump has conceded on the border wall, eliminating a government shutdown as a potential risk. As shown below, the MSCI All World Index has jumped to a new all time high, boosted by strong Asian markets.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.6%, hovering near its highest level since June 2015 hit earlier in the session, on its fourth straight day of gains. Japan’s Nikkei rose more than 1 percent to a three-week high aided by a weaker yen. South Korea’s also advanced 0.7 percent to its highest level since April 2015. China equities climbed from a three-month low on speculation that a selloff over concerns of a regulatory crackdown were overdone. Australia and New Zealand were closed for Anzac Day.
European stocks hovered near a 20-month high, with the Dax flirting with all time highs. The Stoxx Europe 600 index edged 0.2% higher after jumpin 2.1% on Monday to the highest since August 2015, with property and technology shares helping to underpin a global rally. French shares pulled back 0.1 percent, having risen 4.1 percent on Monday in their biggest daily gain since August 2012. Futures on the S&P 500 added 0.1 percent. The index climbed 1.1% Monday to within 1% of its all-time closing high.
These gains helped push MSCI’s world stocks index to a fresh all-time high after chalking up its biggest rise since shortly after Britain’s vote last June to leave the European Union.
With ‘Never-Trump’-ers still convinced he is Hitler and ‘Trump’-ers questioning their reality at his recent flip-floppery, many in the country are asking why should we support this President (even as his approval ratings rise with each warmongering threat). Well there is a simple – and perhaps greedy – reason… the world’s debt and equity markets have gained over $8 trillion since his election and a loss of faith now may leave some big holes.
The value of world equity market capitalization and debt values reached a new record high today of $118 trillion.
This is a more than $8 trillion rise since Donald Trump was elected President and unleashed animal spirits around the world. For someone who has yet to actually put any reforms, stimulus, cuts, laws, into practice – not bad going!
The gains are all concentrated in the ever-hopeful global equity markets…
“I like a low interest rate policy, I must be honest with you,” Donald Trump told the Wall St Journal yesterday. His comments have further fired up already strong US government bonds, with the effects spilling over into European debt this morning. Like their US counterparts, German 10-year bond prices are now around their strongest point of the year.
Mr Trump’s new comments are not the only weight on global bond yields. Among other things, geopolitical nerves and the failure of his healthcare plans have also imposed a longer-term weight.
Still, 10-year Bund yields have sunk by 0.02 percentage points so far today to 0.175 per cent. (Yields fall when prices rise.) That’s the strongest level for Bunds since late December.
US yields, which exert a strong gravitational pull on other core markets, now stand at 2.32 per cent, the lowest since mid-November.
The primary goal of Chinese President Xi Jinping in the first face-to-face meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, was to seek a new beginning for his “major powers” initiative. But he got off to a rather rocky start; the summit was overshadowed by a series of unexpected events.
On Thursday night, Xi and his wife arrived at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in an already summery Florida, where daytime temperatures reach 30 C. During the dinner, the couple enjoyed listening to Trump’s granddaughters singing Chinese folk songs and reciting poems from China’s Tang dynasty.
As they were enjoying the entertainment, U.S. forces were bombing Syria. It was only toward the end of dinner that Trump told Xi about the operation.
Xi must have felt quite awkward. He might have felt completely taken in by Trump. Xi was right next to the commander in chief who had just ordered a bombing campaign in a politically sensitive region of the world, happily smiling and talking without knowing anything about the assault.
The timing of the missile attack was carefully calibrated. Just before meeting with Xi, Trump suggested the U.S. might engage in unilateral military action against North Korea, which had launched a ballistic missile days before the U.S.-China summit. The bombing of Syria — and the campaign’s timing — was apparently intended to pressure China, which is reluctant to cooperate with the U.S. in dissuading Pyongyang from pursuing missile and nuclear weapons programs.
The stage is set for the first official summit between two of the world’s most powerful leaders as China’s president Xi Jinping travels to Florida to meet his US counterpart Donald Trump next week.
Also competing for investors’ attention will be minutes from the Federal Reserve’s March 14-15 meeting, the second televised debate of the French presidential election and the release of the closely watched US jobs report.
Here is what to watch in the week ahead:
Xi, meet Trump
The leaders of the world’s first- and second-largest economies will meet at Mr Trump’s Florida retreat, Mar-a-Lago, April 6 and 7. According to the official White House release, the agenda will include “global, regional, and bilateral issues of mutual concern”.
That vague description belies the complex backdrop against which the two men will meet. Mr Trump pledged during the presidential campaign to label China a currency manipulator, and within weeks of his election prompted a formal protest from China after his phone call with Taiwan’s leader (Mr Trump has since said he will back the ‘One China’ policy to ease tensions.)
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook expressed support for globalisation and said China should continue to open its economy to foreign firms, while speaking at a forum in Beijing on Saturday.
“I think it’s important that China continues to open itself and widens the door if you will,” said Cook, speaking at the government-sponsored China Development Forum.
Cook’s comments come amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China, with protectionist rhetoric from U.S. President Donald Trump sparking concern of increased trade friction between the two countries.
“The reality is countries that are closed, that isolate themselves, it’s not good for their people,” said Cook, in a rare public speech.
Apple said on Friday it will set up two new research and development centres in Shanghai and Suzhou in China.
It has pledged to invest more than 3.5 billion yuan ($508 million) in research and development in China.
Apple has been singled out in Chinese media as a potential target for retaliation in the event of a trade war.
The Global Times warned last November if Trump triggered a trade war with China, Beijing would then target firms from Boeing to Apple in a “tit-for-tat” approach.
Update: echoing comments made by Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the top House Democrat said that the Trump budget proposal is “dead on arrival.“
Today at 7am, Trump released his “skinny budget”, his administration’s first federal budget blueprint revealing the President’s plan to dramatically reduce the size of the government. As previewed last night, the document calls for deep cuts at departments and agencies that would eliminate entire programs and slash the size of the federal workforce. It also proposes a $54 billion increase in defense spending, which the White House says will be offset by the other cuts.
“This is the ‘America First’ budget,” said White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman who made a name for himself as a spending hawk before Trump plucked him for his Cabinet, adding that “if he said it in the campaign, it’s in the budget.”
In a proposal with many losers, the Environmental Protection Agency and State Department stand out as targets for the biggest spending reductions. Funding would disappear altogether for 19 independent bodies that count on federal money for public broadcasting, the arts and regional issues from Alaska to Appalachia. Trump’s budget outline is a bare-bones plan covering just “discretionary” spending for the 2018 fiscal year starting on Oct. 1. It is the first volley in what is expected to be an intense battle over spending in coming months in Congress, which holds the federal purse strings and seldom approves presidents’ budget plans.
Trump wants to spend $54 billion more on defense, put a down payment on his border wall, and breathe life into a few other campaign promises. His initial budget outline does not incorporate his promise to pour $1 trillion into roads, bridges, airports and other infrastructure projects. The budget directs several agencies to shift resources toward fighting terrorism and cybercrime, enforcing sanctions, cracking down on illegal immigration and preventing government waste.
The White House has said the infrastructure plan is still to come.
Polls missed the last two nationalist tremors; they may miss a third
Think of François Fillon as a more polished and experienced Ted Cruz. He might have been president of France until everything came crashing down.
Fillon is a former French prime minister and admirer of Margaret Thatcher whose libertarian-influenced agenda includes a pledge to ax half a million civil service jobs. He was initially dismissed as an also-ran in the center-right Les Républicains presidential primary, up against the seasoned Nicolas Sarkozy and the moderate Alain Juppé. Instead, Fillon thrashed them both, and polls showed him an early favorite for the French presidency, backed by energized conservatives and the Catholic Right. Eschewing first-past-the-post, France holds a runoff election between its top two finishing presidential candidates if neither secures a majority, and forecasts last year showed the finalists would be Fillon and the National Front’s Marine Le Pen. It was to be a rumble on the right, and Fillon was predicted to win in a rout as French leftists and centrists clothespinned their noses and voted to block the radioactive Le Pen.