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Talk about trade talks

The U.S. and China are making an effort to restart trade talks, and the optimism boosted stocks. Apple reported earnings that beat expectations, providing some relief to battered tech stocks. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.

U.S., China to Revamp Trade Talks

The U.S. and China are trying to restart talks aimed at averting a full-blown trade war between the world’s two largest economies, two people familiar with the effort said. Representatives of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He are having private conversations as they look for ways to reengage in negotiations, according to the people familiar. They cautioned that a specific timetable, the issues to be discussed and the format for talks aren’t finalized, but added there was agreement among the principals that more discussions need to take place.

Trade Optimism, Tech Rebound

Nasdaq futures climbed after Apple Inc. results topped estimates, sending the iPhone maker’s shares higher by more than 3 percent in after-hours trading. Earlier Tuesday, U.S. stocks rallied as optimism over trade lifted industrial shares. The S&P 500 halted a three-day slide, and FAANG stocks gained. Japanese bond yields fell the most since November  and then yen weakened after the BOJ signaled interest rates will stay low for an “extended period of time.” The dollar strengthened against most G-10 peers. Oil sank, and metals mostly rallied. Asian equities were set to climb on Wednesday morning.

Apple’s Rosy Outlook Boosts Shares

Apple forecast sales that beat analysts’ estimates, suggesting consumers continue to snap up the company’s iPhones, digital services and wearable devices like AirPods and the Apple Watch. The technology giant expects fiscal fourth-quarter revenue to be between $60 billion and $62 billion. Analysts were looking for $59.4 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The sales forecast may be seen as an indication the company’s expecting to include sales of the next-generation iPhones in the fiscal fourth quarter. Apple is preparing a major new iPhone launch with three models. Shares rose about 3.5 percent in extended trading on Tuesday. The stock closed at $190.29 in New York and has gained 12 percent this year, moving Apple closer to becoming the first U.S.-based company with a market value of $1 trillion.

China’s Politburo Shifts Focus to Growth

China’s Politburo signaled Tuesday that policy makers will focus more on supporting economic growth amid risks from a campaign to reduce debt and the trade standoff with the U.S. The communique, which followed a meeting of the country’s 25 most senior leaders led by President Xi Jinping, said the nation’s campaign to reduce leverage will continue at a measured pace while improving economic policies to make them more forward-looking, flexible and effective in the second half of 2018. The external environment has “significantly changed” and the nation should roll out targeted measures to solve the key problem, according to state news agency Xinhua’s report of the meeting.

Coming Up…

Asia’s traders will spend the morning picking through Apple earnings and GDP reports from the euro area, Canada and Mexico. New Zealand employment and Aussie housing prices are on tap, as well as a slew of manufacturing PMI reports, including China’s Caixin reading. Urjit Patel will take the spotlight from Haruhiko Kuroda, with investors expecting a 25-basis-point rate hike from the RBI.

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

There are generally two schools of thought on investing in Japan. One is that returns should naturally be low because the economy’s structural makeup keeps growth flat and stops inflation from running away. The other view is that if growth and ultimately returns will shift higher because the Bank of Japan’s training wheels will be on long enough for the caterpillar to become a butterfly. LGT Capital’s Mikio Kumada favors the latter, with a caveat. He’s always held the view that monetary policy is too tight for an inflation target of 2 percent. The bank hasn’t fully demonstrated to markets that it’s serious about that target.

As evidence, Mikio points to yen forwards, telling us markets expect the currency to appreciate considerably still. I had a look: 12-month forwards are at 107, 5-year forwards are about 94 and 10-year forwards are at 79. And this sharp decline in the forward curve is proof Japan’s long-term inflation expectations remain well below the developed-market norm of 2 percent. Until that shifts up, Japanese equities may appear too far inflated from intrinsic value. While the scale of the central bank’s money printing has been unlike anything we’ve ever seen, it hasn’t been enough to shift the economy’s direction. But if, like Mikio, you believe that more easing is needed, then Japanese equities are removed from fundamentals ahead because they are too cheap.

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