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Reaching a trade-war truce

Reaching a trade-war truce


U.S. and China reach a truce on trade, which may buoy Asian markets; Tesla to sell a $78,000 model as shareholders urged to split chairman’s role from Musk; and FOMC minutes to be released as yield curve remains in focus.  Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.

Trade Truce

The Trump administration won’t impose tariffs on Chinese products for now, after the two nations made progress on trade issues during two days of talks, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.  President Donald Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on as much as $150 billion in Chinese imports to punish Beijing for allegedly violating American intellectual property and unfair trade practices. China vowed to retaliate with tariffs on everything from soybeans to airplanes.  Mnuchin’s comments came after the two nations on Saturday released a joint statement in which China proposed to “significantly increase purchases” of U.S. goods.

Tesla’s $78,000 Model

Elon Musk’s Model 3, once touted as Tesla’s $35,000 car for the masses, can now set a buyer back almost $80,000. Musk unveiled specifications for a faster and more powerful version of the Model 3 in a series of tweets over the weekend. It will cost $78,000, more than double the $35,000 base-model starting price discussed into the run-up before the electric car’s deliveries started last year. Meanwhile, Tesla shareholders are being urged to support a proposal to split the role of chairman and chief executive officer — jobs now held by Musk.

Coming Up…

Japan trade data and Thailand GDP kick off the economic calendar.  The U.S. Federal Reserve’s take on inflation and the yield curve will be the focus of the May FOMC meeting minutes amid the burgeoning question of whether the 30+-year bull market in bonds is really, truly, finally kaput. As the week grinds on we will also get a slew of flash PMIs for Europe and the U.S., as well as CPI data for Malaysia and Singapore, a Bank of Korea rates decision and Australian construction work done.

Stocks to Gain

Asian stocks may rally at the open after S&P 500 futures jumped as a trade war between the U.S. and China appeared to have been averted for now. U.S. indexes closed lower Friday. Ten-year Treasury yields dropped under 3.1 percent amid mixed trade signals between the U.S. and China. Dollar bulls were rewarded with a fifth week of gains, though the kiwi bucked the trend. Brent crude held below $80 and gold halted a slide.

China’s Wealth Gap

While residents in Shanghai and Beijing are almost as well off as those in Switzerland by some income measures, parts of the country live more like they were in Guatemala. The economic might of the mainland’s 31 provincial-level territories ranges from rust-belt areas in the northeast to farming areas in the central plains to Silicon Valley wannabes sprouting up in support of companies such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Huawei Technologies Co.  At the high end are the municipalities of Shanghai and Beijing. Gross domestic product per-capita adjusted for purchasing power — one measure of average incomes — were slightly more than $53,000 last year.  At that level, in fact, those districts would rank among the top 10 of all countries with populations of at least 3 million people, according to Bloomberg analysis of data sourced from the International Monetary Fund and China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

What we’ve been reading

This is what caught our eye over the last 24 hours.

And finally, here’s what David’s interested in this morning

I trust everyone had a good restful and/or eventful weekend. I just wanted to flag trade data from several places this Monday. Normally, trade numbers would just be big local market stories. But today’s set offer a greater macro consequence. First, there’s a lot of data today. Second, no offense meant to the others, but these are THE Asian countries you want to pay attention to when gauging external demand.

First out of the gates will be Japan’s figures, about ten minutes before the cash market opens. Exports and imports are both expected to have picked up in April. Next up is South Korea, which comes out with the same metrics but for the first 20 days of May (after a shockingly low figure for April). Taiwan has export orders. The forecast there is year-on-year growth of about 7 percent and the initial guidance from the government sees May shipments higher by about 8 to 10.5 percent. Thailand’s set to release everything on that front (including GDP) as early as today. Thai exports are projected to show acceleration to +12.7 percent. Those four export-driven economies are about as solid a lineup as any economist could wish for in this regard. And with the type of higher value-added goods (capital goods, electronics, semiconductors, autos) that constitute this group’s outbound shipments, watch for clues as to whether the soft patch advanced economies went through in the first quarter was indeed temporary.


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