Welcome to your morning markets update, delivered every weekday before the Nigeria open.
Good morning. Equity markets continued to slump in the U.S. and Asia after Europe’s biggest drop since December, Boris Johnson will put his new Brexit plan to the test and Donald Trump lashed out in a press conference at the White House. Here’s what’s moving markets.
Worst Day of Year
European stocks sank the most since early December on Wednesday as global risks -- including worrying manufacturing data, a lack of progress on Brexit, U.S. impeachment concerns and Hong Kong protests (to name but a few) -- gave traders plenty of reasons to sell. In the U.K., the FTSE 100 blue-chip index had its biggest decline since early 2016, sliding 3.2% to surpass the closing loss the day after the EU referendum (although not the intraday 8.7% slump). Overnight, shares fell about 2% in Tokyo and Sydney, while U.S. futures edged higher after the S&P 500 fell about 3% in two days.
Testing the Waters
Boris Johnson will test his new Brexit plan on Thursday in the U.K. Parliament, optimistic he’s got enough support from hard-line euroskeptics to finally get a deal over the line. He’ll present the plan to his cabinet, then either he or Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay will then take questions on it in Parliament. His proposal centers around ditching the contentious “backstop” arrangement for the Irish border in May’s deal and replacing it with a regulatory border in the Irish Sea, effectively splitting Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K. Still confused about the backstop? Watch this.
The Second Trade War
The prospect of a trade war between the U.S. and European Union has thus far played second fiddle to the tensions between Washington and Beijing. There was a twist Wednesday, however, as the World Trade Organization gave U.S. President Donald Trump the go-ahead to impose tariffs on as much as $7.5 billion worth of European exports annually in retaliation for illegal government aid to Airbus SE – the largest award in the largest in WTO history. The price of Scotch, French wine, cheese and other European exports is about to go up in the U.S.
U.S. President Donald Trump used a joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto to lash out at Democrats and the news media, as he was questioned about the impeachment inquiry that threatens his presidency. A defiant Trump accused Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of engaging in treason and blasting reporters for their coverage of the fast-developing inquiry. Presidential hopeful, Joe Biden, also a target of Trump’s rant, responded: “You’re not going to destroy me,” he said. From a markets perspective, the Donald Trump stock market hasn’t budged for almost two years.
A couple of European Central Bank rate-setters will speak at a conference in Madrid, and also be joined by Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans. On the data front, we’ll U.S. durable goods and factory orders data after a miserable manufacturing update from earlier in the week, as well as the latest U.K. services purchasing managers index. Swedish fast-fashion giant H&M and British designer Ted Baker Plc are the earnings highlights. In the U.S., Tesla fell after hours as quarterly deliveries disappointed.
What We’ve Been Reading
This is what’s caught our eye over the past 24 hours.
And finally, here's what Cormac Mullen is interested in this morning
With disappointing economic data coming thick and fast -- Wednesday's was U.S. private payrolls -- recession chatter is on the rise again. That has strategists dusting off their playbooks on how investors can best navigate the increase in risk. For Wells Fargo Investment Institute's Scott Wren, taking some money off the table in stocks and reallocating it to the likes of cash or bonds makes sense after the big run up in equities this year. Given the MSCI AC World Index is still sitting on a double digit gain -- just -- it's hard to argue against taking some profits if you have some. For Citi's Jeremy Hale and team, betting on a steeper U.S. yield curve is the best way to trade any 2020 recession. While the bank doesn’t expect a marked slowdown next year, a thought exercise by the strategists recommends a two-year, 10-year Treasury curve steepener trade -- via the swaps market -- for investors who expect a U.S. recession beginning in May. They estimate the spread between the two maturities could rise by around 180 basis points by late 2020, from 12 basis points Wednesday. And for those who do see an economic slump in the near-term, Citi has an important point to keep in mind: it will probably be six months before the economics community will actually have called a recession if the past is a guide.