Amazon is headed for Alibaba’s backyard
|Trump tempers North Korean summit cancelation concerns. Amazon takes its battle with Alibaba onto the Chinese e-commerce giant’s home turf. And U.S.-China trade talks get going. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.
Trump-Kim Summit Still a Go, for Now
President Donald Trump said North Korea hasn’t directly raised concerns about his proposed summit with its leader Kim Jong Un, after the country threatened through its state-run news agency to pull out of the meeting. “We haven’t been notified at all,” Trump said Wednesday during a meeting with Uzbekistan’s president at the White House, in response to questions from reporters about whether the summit would go on. “We’ll have to see.” North Korea’s vice foreign minister and a top disarmament negotiator, Kim Kye Gwan, said Wednesday that Kim’s regime felt “repugnance” toward National Security Adviser John Bolton and rejected a “Libya model” in which the country quickly surrenders its nuclear weapons. Still, the regime risks empowering the most hawkish members of the Trump administration with its threats.
Amazon on the Offensive
Amazon.com is bringing its competition with Alibaba right to the Chinese e-commerce giant’s backyard. In the coming weeks, Amazon will host an event in the city of Hangzhou — Alibaba’s hometown — to connect online merchants with 400 Chinese manufacturers keen to sell electronics, car parts, home goods and more directly to American and European consumers. Amazon experts will provide insights into buying trends so merchants can stock up for the 2018 holiday season, according to an invitation reviewed by Bloomberg. The gathering is part of Amazon’s effort to evolve from an e-commerce platform into a global logistics operation. The idea is to help Amazon merchants connect directly with manufacturers in China, a region largely out of the company’s reach.
The Latest on U.S.-China Trade Talks
China’s top economic envoy, Vice Premier Liu He, will meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and deputy director of the National Economic Council Everett Eissenstat in Washington Thursday, two administration officials said. Notably absent from the U.S. delegation is White House trade adviser Peter Navarro. The administration officials said Navarro wasn’t a team player when the U.S. sent a delegation led by Mnuchin earlier this month to Beijing to meet with Liu. Navarro’s exclusion from the meeting marks another downturn in his White House career, where he was isolated by other senior officials before the president promoted him earlier this year to his top rank of aides.
Tencent Blows Away Estimates
Tencent defied fears that outsized spending would hamper profitability, delivering record quarterly net income that reassured investors bracing for a big hit to margins from spending on everything from video to old-school retail. While worried investors had sold off more than $90 billion of stock since January, Tencent posted a 61 percent jump in net income to 23.3 billion yuan ($3.7 billion) in the March quarter, outstripping estimates by almost a third. That’s partly thanks to a one-time gain of almost 7.6 billion yuan from its investments in areas like video and news. China’s largest social network and gaming company opened its wallet to sustain growth as PC gaming slows, investing in cloud computing, entertainment and physical retail to compete with the likes of Alibaba.
The economic data calendar includes Australia’s jobs report, Japanese machine orders, Singapore export data and Malaysian GDP. Indonesia’s central bank policy decision will be in focus after the rupiah tumbled to a 31-month low amid a global pummeling of emerging-market currencies that was spurred by surging U.S. bond yields; Bank Indonesia is expected to raise its benchmark by a quarter point to 4.5 percent, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Asian stocks look set to advance after solid American economic data buoyed U.S. shares and sent Treasury yields closer toward 3.1 percent.
What we’ve been reading
This is what’s caught our eye over the last 24 hours.
And finally, here’s what David’s interested in this morning
I re-watched the first three “Rambo” films recently. If you’re seeing any of these for the first time, there will be times when you genuinely doubt Rambo makes it through alive. How can this one man in a makeshift poncho armed only with a fancy steak knife and a bow and arrow literally take on an entire army battalion? And then you realize it’s Sylvester Stallone — and if you’ve seen enough of Sly’s movies, you know deep in your heart he’ll be the last one standing. An absolute mess. But standing. This is pretty representative of Indonesia with its rate decision today. Sixteen of 29 analysts expect a hike; 13 see the central bank holding. It’s close and a big chunk of the market doesn’t know where rates will be by the end of the day.
The silver lining, though, is it wasn’t until very recently that we started talking about the need for a hike. Arguably, the case for a hike is strengthened by the current external environment, rather than domestic economics. A super storm of emerging-market risk aversion, the stronger dollar, terror attacks and a surprise trade deficit have flipped the narrative completely. So it does genuinely look daunting until you realize this is Indonesia. Stocks, bonds and the currency look like an absolute mess. But things will be fine in the end, with economists pointing to still-decent fundamentals.