Forex & Commo Market News

May 26 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil extended falls after tumbling in the previous session when OPEC and allied producers extended output cuts but disappointed investors betting on longer or larger supply curbs.
- Gold prices held steady after dipping slightly earlier in the session as Asian stocks eased following an extension of output curbs by OPEC and other producing nations that left investors hoping for bigger cuts disappointed.
- London London Metal Exchange copper hovered near its highest in three weeks, supported by supply concerns after news of further disruption at Indonesia's Grasberg, one of world's biggest copper mines.
- Chicago soybean futures dropped to a more than six-week low and were poised for a third weekly fall as a deep fall in crude oil prices and plentiful world supplies put pressure on the oilseed.
- Sterling fell after a poll showed a narrowing lead for British Prime Minister Theresa May over her opposition ahead of elections next month, while weakness in oil prices dragged on commodity-linked currencies.
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina says it's seeking a 22.9% average rate increase on its 2018 Affordable Care Act plans. The biggest driver in the hike is uncertainty surrounding the federal payments that help reduce health-care costs for low-income ACA enrollees, the insurer says. If those payments were guaranteed, the requested rate increase would be only 8.8%, according to the company. Indeed, Brian Tajlili, a Blue Cross executive, says the ACA marketplace in North Carolina is stabilizing, with new enrollees in his company's plans appearing healthier. Blue Cross would need a "legally binding" commitment that federal payments are coming next year, likely meaning an appropriation passed by Congress, to be confident that the money was coming, he said.
- The Vice President's office will be an advocate for changing Dodd-Frank's provisions for handling financial firm failures, Mark Calabria, the vice president's chief economist, makes clear. He says the provisions, which are under review by the administration, amount to a bailout. "If you find yourself insolvent," he said to financial firms, "I would really suggest you go find yourself a good bankruptcy lawyer and not an army of Washington lobbyists, because I won't be returning your," phone call.
- Banks' hopes of changing the debit-card swipe fee rule just faded. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas) decides to remove the repeal of the Durbin amendment from the Financial Choice Act, according to a House Financial Services committee spokeswoman, after a whip count in which Republicans weighed the act's chances of getting through the House with or without repeal. The amendment capped the fees merchants pay large card issuers when consumers shop with their debit cards and has remained a controversial issue between banks and merchants since then. Hensarling acknowledges Durbin repeal is contentious among Republicans in an emailed statement. He thinks "it belongs in the Financial Choice Act" but "we won't let this one provision hinder passage of an important priority bill that will end bank bailouts and help renew healthy economic growth for all Americans." But Molly Wilkinson, executive director of the Electronic Payments Coalition, calls the amendment "a crony handout that has generated unearned billions for the Big Box retailers."
- Colombian officials sought to quell the massive protests in the Pacific city of Buenaventura, which have halted several hundred thousand tons of cargo in the country's largest Pacific port this week. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos sent a special commission to meet with community leaders of the port city, where residents are demanding better services since many of them lack basics like running water and sewage systems. So far the protests have halted some 25,000 containers and 229,000 tons of cargo. They have also blocked roads and prevented perishable goods like coffee beans from arriving to port. The government expressed optimism it would be able to reach an agreement by Thursday.
- According to the minutes of the May 2-3 FOMC meeting, several officials "expressed concerns that a possible easing of regulatory standards could increase risks to financial stability." The comments come amid the Trump administration's plans to scale back the Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law put in place in the wake of the financial crisis. At the most recent FOMC meeting, policy makers also noted that real estate values were elevated in some sectors of the commercial real estate market, and that "a sharp decline in such valuations could pose risks to financial stability, and that potential reforms in the housing finance sector could have implications for such valuations."
- USDA's Sonny Perdue is in the hot seat again over the administration's commitment to rural development. Addressing the agriculture secretary a day after President Trump unveiled a budget proposal eliminating the agency's rural development program, House appropriators on both sides of the aisle expressed concern over losing funding for rural housing, clean drinking water and small business development. "Many of us feel the president made a lot of promises to farms and rural Americans and that the budget is a betrayal of that," says Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. Perdue tries to reassure Congress--again--over his own commitment to rural America, calling his recent move to do away with USDA's undersecretary for rural development "essentially a nomenclature issue."
- US steel executives argue their sales of commercial-grade steel have been so weakened by cut-rate imports that their ability to supply steel for military programs and homeland security infrastructure is being undermined. "Commercial viability is a prerequisite for national security," Tom Gibson, president of American Iron and Steel Institute, says at a Commerce Department hearing. The Trump Administration is considering broad-based duties on foreign steel on national security grounds, though the defense industry accounts for about 3% of US steel demand.
- House appropriators wade into thorny debates over food stamps as USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue appears before them after the Trump administration proposed slashing $193B from the SNAP program over a decade. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro calls the proposed cuts "cruel and inhumane," and questions whether Perdue's previous statements about having no proposed changes to SNAP himself still hold true. Perdue says they do, but says SNAP is something Congress will "deal with and have a legislative stamp on." The secretary also says the key to eradicating hunger is "turning the economy around with good job dignity."
- Some 21,000 people gathered in front of Brazil's congress in the early afternoon, police say, an indication demonstrations against President Temer today could be among the largest in recent years in the capital. The protest is organized by labor unions and other groups. They want Congress to vote down labor and pension reform Temer sponsors as a way, he says, to rekindle a moribund economy. But since the president became the target of a corruption investigation last week, calls for his ousting have increased. The demonstrators want him out and new elections to be called as soon as possible. Temer has vowed not to resign and his allies in Congress are promising to move economic reform for a vote later this year.
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Martin Gruenberg pushes back on efforts by congressional Republicans to repeal the Orderly Liquidation Authority, a bank resolution mechanism for systemically important financial institutions that is part of the Dodd-Frank Act. "If we didn't have that authority, there would be potentially broader consequences" in the event of a large firm failure, he says at a press conference. Trump issued an executive order last month to review OLA, and its repeal was included in the administration's FY18 budget proposal that was released this week.
- In the wake of President Trump's proposal to sell down America's emergency oil stockpile, some argue that the hoard of crude known as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is outdated and point to its dilapidated infrastructure, which weighs on efficiency and will be costly to repair or upgrade. The SPR currently contains roughly 688M barrels of oil held in 60 underground caverns located at four sites along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. It is run by a vast network that includes 5,435 valves and 172.5 miles of offsite crude pipeline owned by the Energy Department, as well as other pipelines for things like brine disposal. Many of those assets, officials have said, are beyond their design life.
- The Trump administration aims to decide by the end of next month whether to go forward with sweeping protection of the American steel industry against imports in the name of "national security," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says--a much faster timetable than required by law. Trump announced April 20 his administration was dusting off a little-used 1962 trade law to consider whether to apply new protections on US-made steel if a formal investigation shows imports pose a national security threat. The law requires a conclusion within 270 days, which would push a conclusion to January. But Ross says at a public hearing on the probe that "we have no intention of taking 270 days. Our hope would be to complete the report by the end of June."

May 25 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil prices rose by one percent ahead of an OPEC meeting that is expected to extend output cuts into 2018, adding at least nine months to an initial six-month cut in the first half of this year.Gold held steady to keep most of its gains from the previous session, with the dollar slipping after minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy meeting downplayed the chance of more aggressive interest rate hikes.
- Copper was trading flat, steadying a day after dropping on concerns that slowing economic growth in China could hit demand from the world's top metals consumer.
- Chicago wheat futures rose for a second straight session with short-covering by funds and concerns over excessive moisture in the U.S. grain growing areas underpinning the market.
- According to the minutes of the May 2-3 FOMC meeting, several officials "expressed concerns that a possible easing of regulatory standards could increase risks to financial stability." The comments come amid the Trump administration's plans to scale back the Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law put in place in the wake of the financial crisis. At the most recent FOMC meeting, policy makers also noted that real estate values were elevated in some sectors of the commercial real estate market, and that "a sharp decline in such valuations could pose risks to financial stability, and that potential reforms in the housing finance sector could have implications for such valuations."
- USDA's Sonny Perdue is in the hot seat again over the administration's commitment to rural development. Addressing the agriculture secretary a day after President Trump unveiled a budget proposal eliminating the agency's rural development program, House appropriators on both sides of the aisle expressed concern over losing funding for rural housing, clean drinking water and small business development. "Many of us feel the president made a lot of promises to farms and rural Americans and that the budget is a betrayal of that," says Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. Perdue tries to reassure Congress--again--over his own commitment to rural America, calling his recent move to do away with USDA's undersecretary for rural development "essentially a nomenclature issue."
- US steel executives argue their sales of commercial-grade steel have been so weakened by cut-rate imports that their ability to supply steel for military programs and homeland security infrastructure is being undermined. "Commercial viability is a prerequisite for national security," Tom Gibson, president of American Iron and Steel Institute, says at a Commerce Department hearing. The Trump Administration is considering broad-based duties on foreign steel on national security grounds, though the defense industry accounts for about 3% of US steel demand.
- House appropriators wade into thorny debates over food stamps as USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue appears before them after the Trump administration proposed slashing $193B from the SNAP program over a decade. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro calls the proposed cuts "cruel and inhumane," and questions whether Perdue's previous statements about having no proposed changes to SNAP himself still hold true. Perdue says they do, but says SNAP is something Congress will "deal with and have a legislative stamp on." The secretary also says the key to eradicating hunger is "turning the economy around with good job dignity."
- Some 21,000 people gathered in front of Brazil's congress in the early afternoon, police say, an indication demonstrations against President Temer today could be among the largest in recent years in the capital. The protest is organized by labor unions and other groups. They want Congress to vote down labor and pension reform Temer sponsors as a way, he says, to rekindle a moribund economy. But since the president became the target of a corruption investigation last week, calls for his ousting have increased. The demonstrators want him out and new elections to be called as soon as possible. Temer has vowed not to resign and his allies in Congress are promising to move economic reform for a vote later this year.
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Martin Gruenberg pushes back on efforts by congressional Republicans to repeal the Orderly Liquidation Authority, a bank resolution mechanism for systemically important financial institutions that is part of the Dodd-Frank Act. "If we didn't have that authority, there would be potentially broader consequences" in the event of a large firm failure, he says at a press conference. Trump issued an executive order last month to review OLA, and its repeal was included in the administration's FY18 budget proposal that was released this week.
- In the wake of President Trump's proposal to sell down America's emergency oil stockpile, some argue that the hoard of crude known as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is outdated and point to its dilapidated infrastructure, which weighs on efficiency and will be costly to repair or upgrade. The SPR currently contains roughly 688M barrels of oil held in 60 underground caverns located at four sites along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. It is run by a vast network that includes 5,435 valves and 172.5 miles of offsite crude pipeline owned by the Energy Department, as well as other pipelines for things like brine disposal. Many of those assets, officials have said, are beyond their design life.
- The Trump administration aims to decide by the end of next month whether to go forward with sweeping protection of the American steel industry against imports in the name of "national security," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says--a much faster timetable than required by law. Trump announced April 20 his administration was dusting off a little-used 1962 trade law to consider whether to apply new protections on US-made steel if a formal investigation shows imports pose a national security threat. The law requires a conclusion within 270 days, which would push a conclusion to January. But Ross says at a public hearing on the probe that "we have no intention of taking 270 days. Our hope would be to complete the report by the end of June."
- USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue faces skeptical lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee, who worry about the Trump administration's proposed deep cuts to the agency's budget, including for farm, nutrition, and rural development programs. "You can't squeeze blood from a turnip and the budget submitted yesterday attempts to do just that," said Congressman Sanford Bishop (D., Ga.), noting Perdue had previously pledged to support rural America. "We both know this budget does the exact opposite of that." Perdue tells committee members they shared "similar priorities," and vowed to make the agency's final budget "go as far and be as beneficial to American citizens as possible."
- Opposition continues to grow louder against a Republican proposal to repeal "Orderly Liquidation Authority," the authority in Dodd-Frank for the government to take over a failing financial firm. Large banks have spoken out against it, and on Tuesday about 120 academics signed a letter decrying the repeal as a "grave mistake". Rep. Jeb Hensarling's "Financial CHOICE Act" bill, set for a vote in the house sometime this summer, repeals the authority. He calls it a taxpayer bailout.
- The federal stockpile of crude known as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve doesn't often get much attention. But the Trump administration's proposal to sell 270 million barrels of oil from the SPR over the next decade has brought out a lot of opinions. Analysts at Bernstein have come out on the side of keeping the crude. Selling down the stockpile, they said, leaves the risk of a 4 million barrel per day disruption within the next decade "at a coin toss." The sales could also lead to more price volatility upon their completion, Bernstein analysts said. They ultimately predict rational minds will prevail.
- Trump administration proposals can spark controversy, and plans to keep slashing the government's Strategic Petroleum Reserves are no exception. Critics pilloried the proposal as short-sighted, even if a doubling of US oil production might suggest giant, emergency stockpiles aren't needed anymore. But JBC Energy suggest the debate is a tempest in a teapot. The plan's volume targets seem to be set in terms of money raised from the sales, it says, with targets rising gradually over 10 years. "Taking our 2018 Brent price forecast of $52.72/bbl, this would mean next year's sales would be roughly 25,000 bpd...so this would actually imply a reduction in SPR sales from current levels" of 75k bpd.

May 24 - Top banks' Q1 commodity revenue slides 29 pct to 11-year low 

Commodities-related revenue at the 12 biggest investment banks fell 29 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2017 to its lowest in more than a decade, mainly due to weakness in the energy sector, a consultancy said on Wednesday.Revenue from commodity trading, selling derivatives to investors and other activities in the sector fell to $800,000 million in the first three months of the year, financial industry analytics firm Coalition said in a report. Click here to read full stories.

May 24 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil prices were stable, supported by confidence that an OPEC-led output cut aimed at tightening supply would be extended to all of 2017 and the first quarter of next year.
- Gold held steady, after slipping in the previous session, as investors awaited cues on the U.S. Federal Reserve's rate hike stance from the minutes of its last meeting.
- London copper edged lower after credit ratings agency Moody's downgraded China due to its massive debt, with muted trade expected ahead of minutes of a Federal Reserve meeting later in the session.
- Chicago soybean futures slid for a second session while corn edged up after closing lower the previous day, with easing concerns over planting delays in the U.S. grain belt adding pressure to grains markets.
- The dollar held firm, having rebounded from 6-1/2-month lows against its major peers helped by a rise in U.S. Treasury yields, while the yuan eased after Moody's cut its sovereign rating on China due to concerns over the country's soaring debt.

- The Trump administration has set an aggressive timetable to complete renegotiations of Nafta, eyeing completion by end of December. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland tells reporters on a conference call Canada's negotiators won't be rushed. "We will take the time it needs to take," she says. History shows it can take years before trade pacts are finalized, as was the case for the EU-Canada trade pact. Even the predecessor to Nafta, the US-Canada free-trade deal, took over a year from start to finish. From Canada's perspective, talks need to proceed "with great care and great attention to detail," Freeland says, "with the principle that we do no harm."
- Trump's budget proposal includes a provision for future revenues in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but opening the area for development isn't a sure thing. "Congress has to approve so nothing here is etched in stone," Tudor Pickering says. Still, environmental groups are worried. The budget item means Trump's administration has "declared war on one of the last pristine, untouched wild landscapes in America" and is "prioritizing the oil lobby," says Lydia Weiss, director of government relations at the Wilderness Society.
- Trump unveils a largely status-quo 2018 budget proposal for NASA, with one glaring exception. The $19.1B spending plan trims nearly $60M from commercial cargo and crew transportation, a move that prompted strong blowback from proponents of those programs. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation, the primary trade association for that segment of the industry, contends that congressional approval of such a cut could have significant programmatic and symbolic consequences. The group worries it could reduce safety studies of proposed commercial crew taxis, or potentially shift a future cargo mission to an Orion deep-space capsule.
- USD recovered overnight supported by the Trump administration's budget. Trump's blueprint for fiscal year 2018 proposes spending cuts of US$3.6T and aims to balance the budget by 2027. The USD rallied and US 10-year Treasury yields rose by roughly 5bps to 2.29% because Trump's budget proposal includes an infrastructure plan to support US$1T in private/public infrastructure investment. According to the budget blueprint, the infrastructure plan will be met with a combination of new Federal funding and incentivized non-Federal funding. If approved by Congress, this massive infrastructure spending plan is pro-growth and may force the Fed to increase the pace of interest rate hikes which in turn would bode well for the USD, says CBA.
- Brazilian senator Paulo Bauer, a staunch ally of President Temer's, says there's still hope the embattled leader will remain in power through the end of his term, which ends Dec. 31, 2018, even after Temer was put under investigation for corruption last weak. He denies wrongdoing. Bauer said most lawmakers still want to pass economic reform, and only reluctantly acknowledged it's getting hard to move up an agenda associated with the struggling president. "It's been a contretemps," he says.
- Ecuador's President-elect Lenin Moreno names his cabinet, which includes some business executives--a change from the cabinets of outgoing President Rafael Correa. Carlos Perez, an executive at Halliburton, will become the hydrocarbons minister and real estate businessman Pablo Campana will be the trade minister. The finance minister will be Carlos Alberto de la Torre, an economist at Catholic University. Moreno's cabinet has a number of holdovers from
Correa's administration, including Cesar Navas as interior minister and Maria Fernanda Espinosa as foreign relations minister. Moreno takes office on Wednesday.
- The Pentagon's request of $434M in its 2018 budget towards developing replacement jets for Air Force One, represents a drop--though officials didn't quantify it--from the original expectation. The request reflects cost reduction efforts by Boeing, the prime contractor, which was lambasted by now-President Trump last December about the price of the planes. Air Force officials say there's been no change in the content of the aircraft, though the revised budget estimate does reflect recently-agreed changes in requirements.
- Trump's proposed FY18 budget contains about $608M for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which produces closely watched reports on US economic activity including the monthly jobs report. That's little changed from the current year, and Labor Department officials said this afternoon no BLS programs or surveys are expected to be cut.
- Amazon will continue to engage in politics when an issue impacts the company, CEO Jeff Bezos says. "It's very important that Amazon in my opinion not oppose or favor any president or elected official, that's not our job," he says. He points to the immigration ban, which affected a large number of his employees. When it's time, "we'll engage with the president, we'll engage with congress ... and we'll engage with the courts," he says. Bezos has had one
of the more publicly fraught relationships with President Donald Trump, in part due to his ownership of the Washington Post, and AMZN being one of the first companies to participate in a court case opposing Trump's original executive order on immigration.
- Trump budget proposes to boost the solvency requirements for states' unemployment-insurance funds. Nearly eight years after the recession ended, fewer than half of states have sufficient reserves to weather a single year of recession, budget documents said. When states run out of unemployment insurance funds, as was common in the recession, they typically borrow from the federal government. The budget proposes to impose a penalty on states that don't have 6 months of necessary reserves. Currently such penalties, called credit reductions, only occur when states borrow. Better solvency of unemployment funds would save the federal government $12.9B over ten years, the budget estimated. It's possible stiffer requirements could encourage states to offer less generous benefits.
- US defense stocks reverse early losses to reach modest session highs -- up around 0.5% - in the wake of the formal roll-out of a 2018 Pentagon budget request. Much of it is unlikely to survive in its current form because of Congressional changes and the need for compensating non-military spending cuts. For example, it calls for 70 F-35 combat jets -- in line with what the Obama administration sought -- but Congress has in recent years boosted the request, a lift for main contractors Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and United Technologies.
What's really missing is the five-year outlook for spending, which the Pentagon has yet to formulate, something particularly important for long-life programs like the Columbia submarine being developed by General Dynamics.
- "There's no sugarcoating what we will face," USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue tells USDA staff in a video message after the Trump administration unveiled a budget proposal that would slash the agency's budget by around 21%, alongside reductions in Farm Bill program funding. "Such budgetary restrictions could possibly mean a reduction in staff," Perdue warns the USDA's roughly 100,000 employees, saying any reductions would initially come through "normal
attrition, early retirements, and other least-disruptive means." Perdue says Trump is following through on campaign pledges to realign government spending, and advises USDA rank and file that "when you get in a bind, don't whine."

May 23 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)

- Oil prices fell after U.S. President Donald Trump proposed the sale of half the country's strategic oil reserves, even as producer club OPEC and its allies cut output to tighten the market.
- Gold was steady with investors staying on the sidelines following an explosion in the English city of Manchester that left at least 19 people dead and over 50 injured.
- London copper held near its highest in three weeks as the dollar fell, with focus shifting to an upcoming monthly breakdown of China trade data.
- Chicago corn futures ticked lower as the market took a breather after climbing to a three-week high in the last session on concerns over wet weather delaying U.S. planting.
- The pound slipped against the yen after a suspected terrorist attack at a concert in Britain's city of Manchester, while the euro hovered near a six-month high against the dollar after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the currency was "too weak."

- A forensic expert hired by the lawyers of Brazil's President Michel Temer says recordings prosecutors are using as evidence of corruption can't be taken as authentic. Ricardo Molina says the recordings contain "more than 50" points at which there could have been some sort of illegal editing, but stopped short of labeling the tape adulterated. He says, however, that it has enough problems, including too much noise, to be discarded as evidence. The recordings are at the core of recent graft accusations fueling calls for Temer's ousting. Temer's defense declined to comment how exactly they will use Molina's findings.
- Food-industry officials and advocates are bracing for the Trump administration to unveil a proposal Tuesday to cut food-stamp program spending by $193B over a decade. "The program still plays an important role in providing a safety net to those in need, including families with children, the elderly, and disabled," says Greg Ferrara of the National Grocers Association, which represents more than 1,300 independent grocers. The SNAP cuts would represent a 29% reduction in funding from levels estimated in January by the Congressional Budget Office. The US spent nearly $71B on SNAP last year.
- Banks surveyed by Banamex raise their growth forecast for Mexico this year to 1.9% from 1.8%, according to the median estimate of 24 banks surveyed. Despite President Donald Trump's protectionist rhetoric, Mexico's economy has shown a remarkable resilience in 1Q, as manufacturing exports benefited from a weak peso and domestic consumption was steady. In the January-March period, Mexico expanded at an annualized rate of 2.8%, higher than expected, the national statistics agency says. Banks are almost unanimous--19 out of 24--in expecting the Bank of Mexico will raise interest rates again in June, after six consecutive hikes.
- Visa CEO Al Kelly says at a conference that he met with House Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling about a month ago to discuss the efforts to repeal the Durbin amendment, which in 2011 placed price caps on the fees merchants pay large card issuers when consumers shop with their debit cards. The repeal is included in Hensarling's Financial Choice Act. Kelly said "it's more likely than not that the repeal comes out of the bill" but suggested the company is reviewing the upside on the off chance that Durbin gets repealed. "We've kind of been playing it out and doing our own game theory on it," he said. "Every member of the House is being pressured big time by every community bank in their district to repeal, and they're being inundated by merchants in their district to have Durbin stand."
- Mark Zuckerberg might look like he's on a politician's listening tour, but the Facebook CEO says he isn't running for public office. Zuckerberg and his wife are traveling throughout the US this year, meeting small-town mayors, community activists and entrepreneurs--and sparking debate about his intentions. Sunday, Zuckerberg attempted to end that speculation: "Some of you have asked if this challenge means I'm running for public office. I'm not." Instead, he says, he's trying to gain a "broader perspective" to build products for FB's nearly 2B monthly users and inform his work at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The denial may not work since being coy is a textbook political move.
- Brazil's economy would suffer more if embattled President Michel Temer is impeached, than if he resigns, writes Alfredo Coutino, Director at Moody's Analytics in a note. "The worst case scenario for the country would be that of an impeachment, mainly because the length of the process would increase uncertainty and volatility for markets and the economy," he writes. Given that the impeachment last year of Temer's predecessor Dilma Rousseff took eight months, Temer's impeachment would likely only be concluded next year. "The country would be put [under] tremendous stress."
- A new paper published today by the NBER finds that the nationalistic rhetoric of the Donald Trump presidential campaign had a clear impact coarsening the nation's political dialogue. The paper's authors write "we identify the causal effect of Donald Trump's rise in political popularity on individuals' willingness to publicly express xenophobic views." They found that "increases in participants' perceptions of Trump's popularity... eliminate the wedge between private and public behavior," and emboldened study participants to give public voice to otherwise controversial or ugly ideas.
- More US cities and states are reducing their reliance on cash bail, rejecting the longstanding notion that money should determine whether arrested individuals are locked up until trial. The movement is upending a cornerstone of the American criminal-justice system and threatening to deal the most severe blow to the multibillion-dollar bail-bonds industry since it began in the late 1800s. New Jersey began a statewide bail system that essentially eliminates cash bail, compelling judges to detain or release defendants before trial based on their risk to public safety. Voters in New Mexico passed a similar amendment to the state constitution late last year. In California and Texas, lawmakers have introduced bills that would significantly change their bail systems. And starting July 1, judges in Maryland will have to consider alternatives to cash bail for nonviolent defendants.
- One concern from President Trump's pledge to boost the US energy industry by reducing regulations so oil production can surge is that it would anger rival producers like Saudi Arabia. But Phil Flynn at Price Futures says Trump's weekend energy deals in the kingdom proved the opposite. "Instead of a production war, Trump's pro-energy agenda has warmed the Saudis' heart. The state oil major, Saudi Aramco, signed contracts with a dozen US energy firms including Schlumberger, Halliburton," and others to develop local production, Flynn says. Such agreement could help balance his efforts on US soil that focus more on jobs. "Put one in the win column for all."
- Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann urges a return to more normal monetary-policy conditions, but only when the time is right. "It's decisive that the central bank tightens the reins on monetary policy at the right time, when it is necessary with a view to price stability," he says according to a copy of his speech, which will be delivered in Bochum, Germany. "We cannot put off policy normalization out of consideration of finances of some states or because of possible losses of individual market participants." He says, however, that currently, there was no dispute that an expansive monetary policy was appropriate.
- A new study by PwC commissioned by the National Association of Realtors says comprehensive tax reform could have wide-reaching consequences for the housing market. Homeowners with incomes between $50,000 and $200,000 could see an average annual tax increase of $815, while nonhomeowners would see a reduction of $516. Home prices nationwide would fall 10% in the short term, the study says. Republicans aren't proposing to eliminate the mortgage-interest deduction, but to double the standard deduction and eliminate deductions for state and local taxes, which mean that many moderate-income households will be less likely to itemize.
- Nordic markets close little-changed with Sweden's OMXS30 index ending the day flat, and the pan-Nordic OMXN40 index and Oslo's oil-heavy OBX index less than 0.1% higher. "European stocks logged modest gains aided in part by a merger deal in the chemicals industry," Saxo Bank says. "Relative calm on the US political front helped as well, after troubles there last week weighed on regional benchmarks." Also on the radar later in the European session was the start of a meeting between eurozone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund, with investors watching whether they can agree to provide debt relief to Greece after the country agreed to new austerity measures, it added.

May 22 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil prices rose, supported by reports that an OPEC-led supply cut may not only be extended into next year but might also be deepened to tighten the market and prop up prices.
- Gold prices edged lower as Asian stocks gained, although political worries surrounding U.S. President Donald Trump are expected to keep supporting appetite for the metal as a so-called safe-haven asset.
- Shanghai zinc and nickel surged on the back of a sustained crackdown in China's polluting steel industry, which fuelled worries about steel supply and lifted the prices of its raw materials.
- Chicago corn futures rose for a second straight session, climbing to their highest since May 10, while soybeans gained more ground with cold and wet weather expected to delay planting in parts of the U.S. Midwest.
- Canadian bond-prices edge down aided by solid economic data and a broader move to riskier assets following the large flight-to-quality trade earlier in the week. Canadian retail sales rose 0.7% in March, beating the consensus forecast of 0.3%. Investors also tried to move past a series of damaging reports related to President Trump following his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey last week. The yield on the Canadian 10-year bond is 1.474% vs. 1.446% Thursday, while the two-year yield is 0.684% vs. 0.674%.
- Hedge funds and other speculative investors had rebuilt some bullish dollar positions before this week's political turmoil sent the US currency tumbling. Investors were holding a net $14.3B in bullish dollar positions as of Tuesday, compared to $11.8B the week earlier, CFTC data show. On Wednesday, the dollar plunged on reports Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to back off an investigation into Russian ties. Bullish bets on the dollar had swelled above $28B after Trump's election. Investors now fear the political upheaval will derail administration policies seen as pro-growth and expected to support the dollar.
- Canada PM Justin Trudeau says Ottawa is "making it clearly known" to Trump administration its displeasure over Commerce Department probe of alleged subsidies and unfair discounts of passenger jets at Montreal's Bombardier. In response to the probe, which could lead to tariffs on Bombardier's CSeries aircraft, Canada says it will review defense deals with Boeing, chief among them a plan to acquire up to 18 of company's F/A-18 Super Hornet jets. "We will always be resolute and firm in how we stand up for Canadian interests," he tells reporters in suburban Vancouver. He described Commerce's decision to launch a probe into Bombardier following the BA complaint as an "unfortunate" threat, and isn't contributing to stronger US-Canada ties. Trudeau says CSeries production is benefiting US producers of aerospace components used in CSeries manufacturing.
- The National Association for Fixed Annuities is continuing "its full-court press" on President Donald Trump's administration to further delay the fiduciary rule, and is indifferent to what method the administration uses, it says. NAFA is talking with members of Congress and coordinating with industry trade groups, and more than 2,200 of its members have written to the White House urging Trump to stop the rule from taking effect, it said. A lawsuit brought by the trade association to challenge the rule is on appeal, and it's urging the Labor Department to consider invoking a provision of the Administrative Procedure Act which allows the delay of any administrative action that's being challenged in court, it said.
- Shares of Pilgrim's Pride decline as S&P puts the US poultry processor's credit rating on watch with negative implications amid heightened corruption concerns in Brazil. Here's the connection: Brazilian media reported Brazilian President Michel Temer was taped encouraging Joesley Batista, chairman of Brazilian meat company JBS, to bribe a potential witness to a corruption scheme. JBS is the majority owner of PPC. S&P, which has placed JBS's own credit ratings on a similar watch, says PPC's access to financing could be weakened by "reputational risks." PPC down 0.4% while the Dow zooms higher.
- President Trump has garnered much public support for his infrastructure-spending promise "to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels." Regular people see it as a plain-and-simple, fair way to spend taxpayer money on things the general population needs, while creating good-paying, government jobs in the process. But comments from Carlyle Group President Glenn Youngkin suggest Trump's infrastructure plans may have more to do with PPPs, or public-private partnerships. "It's a new way to think about infrastructure," the executive tells CNBC, using the example of his firm's winning bid to invest $180M in 23 fancy, roadside service plazas in Connecticut, because the old, roadside gas stations "were scary."
- It will soon be cheaper to buy insurance against defaults by European investment-grade companies than comparable US firms as political risk reverses, German bank LBBW writes in a note. Fears of surging populism in Europe dropped further after centrist Emmanuel Macron won the French presidential election and now the market's focus is on the Trump administration's woes. Both the iTraxx Europe and the CDX index of North American credit default swaps trade at a spread of around 63 bps currently, according to Tradeweb. But LBBW expects the European CDS tracker to end up trading tighter due to elevated political uncertainty in the US.
- Investors poured $90B into the US equity funds tracked by EPFR Global between the second week of November and the third week of March as enthusiasm for a Donald Trump presidency grew, but those flows reversed late in the first quarter as a string of missteps by Trump and his administration sapped investor faith in Trump's reflationary promises, the fund tracker says. Investors pulled $8.9B from US equity funds in the week ending May 17 amid the political fallout from Trump's abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey, marking the seventh time in the past nine weeks that investors have pulled money from the funds, EPFR Global says.
- Political risks surrounding the Trump administration keep German government-bond yields within the range that has persisted since November, but once investor focus turns back to the economy, yields could break through the upper end of the range, RBC Capital Markets says. Bund yields have fluctuated between 0.15% and 0.5% ever since Trump won the US presidential election. But the European recovery is getting stronger, justifying a less accommodative stance by the European Central Bank and giving investors fewer reasons to hold on to haven assets, like bunds.
- Bank of Nova Scotia economist Derek Holt suggests Canadian economic growth could hit close to 5% annualized in 1Q. The call comes after reviewing retail-sales data for March, which suggested sales volume surged 1.2% in month. That means volumes rose 8% annualized in 1Q. "In all humility I'm amazed at the strength of the consumer, not least of which because it is occurring despite falling inflation-adjusted wages," he says. Were it not for weak inflation,
trade-policy uncertainty in Washington, and worries about whether debt-laden consumers can keep up the pace, rate "hawks would be having a field day," Holt adds. Even with strong data, Scotiabank expects BoC to remain on hold until mid-2018.
- Economists at Goldman Sachs believe President Donald Trump's myriad problems mean the $1.75 trillion tax cut they expected will likely be smaller and hit $1 trillion instead. The firm expects some sort of tax cut to still happen, despite Mr. Trump's scandals, simply as a matter of Republicans' "political self-preservation" and desire to have a least one policy victory going into the 2018 election.
- Former US Rep. Anthony Weiner, whose history of exchanging sexually explicit messages ended his political career, is expected to plead guilty today to a single count of transferring obscene material to a minor, according to people familiar with the matter. Weiner, a New York Democrat, turned himself in this morning to federal authorities and will enter a plea in Manhattan federal court around 11:00 AM, a person familiar with the matter said. The charge has no mandatory minimum prison sentence, but carries a sentence of up to 10 years. It is unclear whether he will be added to the sex offender registry, the person familiar said.

May 20 - CYBER ATTACK .WNCRY ( continued )
- as you may already know, our servers have been attacked by WannaCRY last Friday, May 12th ( as some 300,000 PCs worldwide )
- despite our best efforts, the serveur hosting all our swap calculators cannot be cleaned, and therefore will be discarded. We already bought a new one, from OVH Private Cloud. Full installation and setting-up and tests might take a week.
- ALL physical Cash Energy & Freight calculator including Oil Products / Natgas / LPG / Power / Emissions / Coal / Tanker and Dry Bulk prices/rates were restored on dedicated PCs, enabling us to update on demand ( 3 to 4 times a day )
- ALL physical Cash Agri / Softs / Metals pages have not been affected therefore running as usual.
- once again we apology for all inconvenience.

May 19 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil futures rose to the highest in nearly a month on growing optimism that big producing countries will extend output cuts to curb a persistent glut in crude, with key benchmarks heading for a second week of gains.
- Gold prices edged up and were on track for their biggest weekly gain since mid-April as the dollar eased and Asian stocks weakened amid ongoing political turbulence in the United States.
- London copper was set for a slightly higher close as dollar weakness cushioned prices, but the outlook was tainted by investors in China cutting exposure to metals which has hurt demand.
- Chicago soybeans were on track for their biggest weekly decline since late March, with a steep fall in Brazil's currency encouraging farmers there to boost sales of this year's record crop.
- The White House's inability to-date to proceed on tax reform has investors worried since it's the key policy that's "really priced in" to markets, says Kyoya Okazawa, head of global markets for BNP Paribas in Japan. Although market fundamentals haven't changed, politics has started to play a bigger role--almost as much as economic policy. "We used to say markets is policy-driven, but it is a politically driven market now." This week's developments in the US, as well as Brazil, threaten reforms those countries. "Compared to fundamentals like economic policy, politics is more difficult to predict," he adds, noting tail risk is Trump being unable to implement corporate-tax cuts.
- Brazil's most recent scandal--President Temer allegedly caught on tape condoning bribery--didn't surprise Council of the Americas' Brian Winter. "It was always possible that [the graft probe] Car Wash would end with the collapse of the entire political establishment," he said, moments before Temer took to the airwaves to deny the allegations and vow not to resign. Winter adds that Temer's economic reform, which markets cherish, is at risk. "It was always the danger of Brazil's political establishment relying on Temer to push the reform," he said, and that the now increased likelihood Temer is ousted bodes well for the left wing. "The great irony is [former President] Lula emerges from all of this stronger."
- Executives are bracing for changes to their workplaces due to immigration reform. Some 63% of 1,229 C-suite executives, human resources professionals and in-house counsel polled in February and March by law firm Littler Mendelson report they expect immigration reform to affect their workplaces. Some 40% said the same in a 2016 poll. A majority of participants in the survey also says they're increasing their use of contingent workers. Over a third say they've done so to adjust staffing levels based on projects, contracts and seasonal hiring; 30% cited having trouble finding qualified full-time candidates. One out of 10 say their business model is based on using contingent workers.
- Iran's presidential election is tomorrow, just six days before OPEC's meeting to decide on extending production cuts, and Stratas Advisors warns of several potential ramifications if hardliner Raisi wins. "In a nutshell...Rouhani [the incumbent moderate] could lose re-election, complicating prospects for an OPEC-cut extension and increasing tensions between the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia vs. Iran." Stratas adds that a Raisi win would make foreign investors wary of long-term investments just when Iran really needs such investments since its aging oil fields are seeing a drop in recovery rates.
- Bank of Canada should keep its main interest rate unchanged at 0.50% at its May 24 policy decision, and hold it there over the next 6 months, according to the monetary-policy council at Toronto think tank CD Howe Institute. The think tank says Trump's "erratic behavior" dominated discussion among council voting members, who are economists from private-sector firms and academia. The political storm in Washington raises prospect that US economic and tax policy changes could lose momentum. The threat of trade protectionism also hovers, it adds. Members also said new housing measures in Ontario would reduce pressure on BoC to raise rates to restrain housing exuberance.
- Early signs suggest the nascent turnaround in user growth that Twitter posted in 1Q is not on track to continue in 2Q. Aegis Capital's Victor Anthony expects the number of TWTR's monthly users to decline 2%-3% in May from April. TWTR's CFO and COO Anthony Noto said on the earnings call in April that TWTR benefited from users following more political news.
- Many farm groups are cautiously optimistic as the Trump administration notifies Congress that it will reopen Nafta, which they constantly note has hugely boosted US food exports. But the National Farmers Union is gunning for an overhaul. "Nafta installed, and has since cemented, a set of trade parameters that have benefited corporate America and damaged rural American communities and economies," says Roger Johnson, the group's president. NFU says Nafta introduced rules, such as an arbitration procedure enabling foreign companies to sue governments in international tribunals, that have given big companies too much power when dealing with US crops and meat.
- Some investors say they are not freaking out on this week's political drama. "This is just a distraction and noise," says Eric Souza, senior portfolio manager at SVB Asset Management. The political news this week hasn't changed the growth picture, nor would it stop the Fed from normalizing interest rates as soon as June, he says. "For sure we are monitoring the developments," he says. But "I don't think anyone dramatically changes their investment strategy. It just generated a little bit of volatility in the markets." He expects the Fed to raise rates in June and September--matching the Fed's projections of three rate hikes this year.
- The economic-policy agenda pushed by Brazil's President Temer suffers its first concrete setback in the wake of fresh corruption allegations involving the nation's leader. Newspaper O Globo has reported prosecutors got hold of recordings in which Temer condones the payment of bribes to public officials, something he denies. The reports haven't been confirmed, but the country's simmering political turmoil came to a fast boil. As a result, Sen. Ricardo Ferraco, who is handling a labor reform approved after intense debate in the Lower House, says he is halting the process until the dust settles. Temer is expected to address the nation later today.
- The 7.375% 2027 bond of Petroleo Brasileiro, or Petrobras, is among the most heavily traded corporate bonds in Europe today as Brazil is engulfed in a political scandal. Trading volume on the US dollar-denominated bond amounts to $92.7M Thursday afternoon, based on data by Trax, a MarketAxess subsidiary. Bid yields on the majority state-owned firm's bonds are rising sharply to 6.8% from 6.02%, having touched intraday highs of 7.3%, according to Tradeweb. A Brazilian newspaper reported Wednesday President Michel Temer encouraged a top businessman to buy the silence of a jailed former congressional leader. Temer's office denied the report.
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tells lawmakers he could support an ongoing role for the mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as long as any explicit guarantee of the companies is "paid for" with fees and "would hopefully never be hit." Though that position reflects a consensus view among the housing industry on the need for a continued government role in backstopping the companies, it is at odds with conservative Republicans like House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas), who have repeatedly called for liquidating Fannie and Freddie and oppose a government role in the mortgage market.
- Wondering whether the Trump administration's political scandals are distracting from policy debates on Capitol Hill? The top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee warn Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "honesty is critical," and brought up reports that President Donald Trump urged then-FBI Director James Comey to back off an investigation of a top aide. Sen Sherrod Brown (D, Ohio) noted that lawmakers felt compelled earlier this week to ask several candidates for positions at Treasury whether they would put the law and Constitution over loyalty to the president. "You can't lead if we don't believe you," he said.

May 18 - CYBER ATTACK .WNCRY continue
- we are displeased to announce to our customers that our servers have been contaminated with WNCRY, following last week Cyber attack everybody heard about.
- despite our best efforts, the serveur hosting all our swap calculators cannot be cleaned, and therefore will be discarded. We shall have to buy a new one, this time from OVH Private Cloud. Full installation and setting-up and test might take a week.
- physical Cash Energy calculator including oil products / Natgas / LPG / Power / Emissions and Coal prices has been restored in a separate PC, updating 3 to 4 times a day.
- physical Cash Freight calculator including Tanker and Dry Bulk rates has been restored also in a separate PC, updating once per day.
- physical Cash Agri / Softs / Metals pages are safe and do run today as usual.
- once again we apology for all inconvenience, the less to say ? that WannaCRY has really made us cry !

May 18 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil prices dipped, weighed down by plentiful supply despite ongoing efforts led by OPEC to tighten the market by cutting production.
- Gold prices held steady after touching an over two week high, buoyed by political turmoil in the United States and tempered expectations for an aggressive string of U.S. interest rate hikes.
- London copper fell after political uncertainty in the United States hit hopes that President Donald Trump would be able to boost infrastructure spending.
- The dollar wallowed near six-month lows against a basket of major currencies as the U.S. political crisis appeared to deepen, and likely to delay any efforts by President Donald Trump to carry out his economic stimulus plans.
- Chicago soybeans slid 1 percent, down a second session as pressure from a weaker Brazilian real is likely to prompt farmers to sell their freshly harvested record crop.
- Frankfurt stocks are expected to open flat Thursday, amid mounting questions over the political and economic agenda of U.S. President Donald Trump. Lang & Schwarz expects the DAX opening at 12629, essentially unchanged from 12631.61. Merck KGaA's 1Q earnings, out this morning, are likely to get investor attention as the company beat estimates but the guidance remained too cautious, according to some market watchers. Shareholders will also follow Deutsche Bank's annual general meeting, starting 0800 GMT.
- Political turbulence in Washington D.C, is good reason for investors to seek the safety of German bonds, pushing yields lower, but this doesn't hide the fact that bund valuations look expensive at yields below 0.4%, Commerzbank strategists say. After all, the "crucial" European Central Bank monetary policy meeting is three weeks away. Analysts expect the ECB to give at least hints of a hawkish turn later this year. Yields on 10-year German government bonds are trading at 0.38% Thursday morning, based on Tradeweb data.
- South Korean stocks have mostly shrugged off North Korean provocations of late. But this time is different, Hong Kong-based Citi Research analyst Johanna Chua tells clients. She argues a more-unpredictable North Korea on the brink of major technical breakthroughs in its nuclear and missile program, combined with uncertainties in the White House, create a potent situation. "Financial markets need to care." Chua advises clients to prepare for the possibility of a crisis, which she said would trigger a steep stock drop and a rush into the yen, at least in the short-term. "Risks are higher now than in past episodes," she adds. "There are clear risks to supply chains and to global confidence, as well as implications for capital flows that could upset market equilibria."
- More declines are on top for Asian stocks Wednesday after U.S. equities logged their biggest drop overnight since last summer following weakness in Asia yesterday. Stoking the selling has been increasing concerns about the White House's ability to get its policies in place, which for investors has been focused in areas like taxes and infrastructure. Rate-sensitive financial and yen-sensitive exporter stocks are especially vulnerable to the changing tide. Nikkei futures opened down 255 points at 19515 on SGX.
- Australian shares are bracing for a wave of selling as investors increasingly question President Donald Trump's ability to carry out his economic agenda. Futures point to a drop of 62 points at the bell for the ASX 200, building on Wednesday's 64.5 drop to 5786. Wall Street cracked overnight, with the Dow industrials losing 1.8% as fresh troubles roil the White House and stir investor unease. Locally, the spotlight will be on the major banks, which carry a big weight in the market and have been under pressure the last few weeks. Fairfax Media will also draw attention after attracting a second private-equity takeover offer.
- It's been a period of risk-off emanating from the US and the Twittersphere going into overdrive over speculation around whether President Trump pressured James Comey--then FBI Director--to drop his investigation into Mike Flynn, former National Security Adviser, with Russia in the mix, NAB says. This news isn't going to go away, with the Democrats agitating for copies of memos. This all comes on the heels of the sharp dive in the US Economic Surprise Index, last week's further softness in US inflation, and now politics intervening to add more noise into a market already wondering whether the US economy is slowing or not, NAB adds.
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will tell the Senate Banking Committee Thursday his department's forthcoming report on financial regulation will include relief for small lenders, according to a copy of the testimony viewed by WSJ. "Our initial report will contain recommendations to provide relief for community banks and make regulations more efficient, effective and appropriately tailored," the testimony says. Mnuchin is set to report to the White House on financial regulatory matters in early June.
- Apple lost $27B in market value today as shares fell 3.4%, reducing its market cap below the $800B threshold for the first time since May 11. Shares of Apple had risen 34% since the start of the year before today's market sell off. One of the big driver's of Apple's gains has been the promise of tax reform under the Trump administration and the potential for a one-time tax holiday that would allow AAPL to repatriate nearly $250B in cash held overseas. But potential for tax reform has been thrown in doubt by recent turmoil in Washington, D.C.
- USD has fallen sharply overnight as impeachment concerns lifted against US President Donald Trump. The SP500 fell 1.8%, and US 10-year Treasury yields declined 11 basis points to 2.22%. There was a similar, albeit not as large reaction across European markets. The yen strengthens the most against the USD, with USD/JPY down 1.5% overnight, and some 2.5% since early Wednesday. CBA says market participants figure that there is virtually no chance of any US company tax cuts getting through Congress while Trump is defending the allegations of obstruction of justice.
- EUR/USD has reached its highest level since the day of the US presidential election, blasting up to around 1.1150. The big move in EUR over the past month (+5%) has been driven initially by the market-friendly French presidential election result, followed by growing expectations of the ECB changing its policy guidance and now Trump's political woes have complicated the outlook for ECB policy. The governing committee will no doubt be factoring in EUR strength when it considers the inflation outlook and policy guidance next month.
- With no top tier data to focus on this week, it was inevitable that US President Donald Trump would regain the spotlight, BNZ says. And so it is, with the revelations of Trump allegedly asking FBI Director James Comey to drop a probe of his former national-security advisor--an impeachable offence, according to some. This follows the recent firing of Comey and reports of Trump passing on secret intelligence to Russia. "All this adds further distraction to Trump's pro-growth policy agenda, which has yet to, and may never, get off the ground," BNZ adds.
- Canadian bonds rise strongly amid investor concerns about the Trump administration that spilled over into Canada's financial markets. Canada's two-year bonds were yielding at 0.660% from 0.699% on Tuesday, according to electronic trading platform CanDeal. The 10-year bond was yielding at 1.457% from 1.570%. Canada's bond market actually shrugged off a disappointing manufacturing sales report early Wednesday as investors flooded into safe-haven investments. Canada's bond market should continued to be influenced by US activity in the absence of any major domestic drivers on Thursday.

May 17 - CYBER ATTACK .WNCRY continue
- we are displeased to announce to our customers that our servers have been contaminated with WNCRY, following last week Cyber attack.
- despite our best efforts, all our calculators were not fully cleaned this morning, and consequently ALL our SWAP pages are being discontinued until further notice ( and hopefully not more than a further day )
- physical Cash Energy calculator ( including oil products cash prices ) have been stopped too.
- physical Cash Agri / Soft / Metals pages are safe and shld run as usual today.
- we are making our best efforts to restore cleaned version on all our servers, hopefully before End of this Day.

May 17 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil prices fell after data showed an increase in U.S. crude inventories, stoking concerns that markets remain oversupplied despite efforts by top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia to extend output cuts.
- Gold hit a two-week high as Asian stocks slipped and the dollar fell amid political uncertainty after a source said U.S. President Donald Trump asked the FBI to end a probe into his former security adviser.
- London copper traded flat, stymied by expectations of slowing growth in the economy of top metals consumer China.
- Chicago wheat futures edged lower, falling for three out of four sessions as storms in the United States caused little damage and global supplies remain ample.
- USD fell across the board in US trading to near a six-month low, retracing almost all of its post-Trump election gains. CBA says growing doubts about the Trump administration's ability to pass an aggressive fiscal stimulus package through the US Congress anytime soon undermined USD. US Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell warned overnight that any tax reform plan will have to be revenue neutral. In its current form, the Trump administration's tax reform package is not revenue neutral. Second-tier US economic data released overnight was mixed and weighed on the USD and US 10-year Treasury yields.
- The Canadian dollar extended gains the US dollar following a broad retreat away from the greenback as investors mulled reports that President Trump may have disclosed classified information to Russian diplomats. USD is now trading around C$1.3586 from C$1.3633 late Monday, according to CQG. It was another quiet day for the loonie, which reacted alongside its major FX peers amid new headlines that threaten the US's growth agenda. Scotiabank said the Canadian dollar's influence to external drivers is "likely to remain dominant in the absence of domestic releases, with limited near-term risk ahead of Wednesday's manufacturing sales". Economists expect Canada to show a 1.2% monthly gain in April factory sales on Wednesday, rebounding from a 0.2% decline in the prior month.
- Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman lose all of their earlier gains in afternoon trading in the wake of a report that the 2018 Pentagon budget proposal due next week won't boost the number of F-35 combat jets procured beyond the 70 envisaged by the Obama administration. Other defense stocks including marine specialists General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls swoon in late trade, even though Bloomberg reported the request will include an extra destroyer.
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economic policy chief Gary Cohn are heading to Capitol Hill on Wednesday for a bipartisan meeting with members of the Senate Finance Committee, Senate aides say. The meeting is expected to focus on tax policy. So far, the administration's ideas for lower tax rates for individuals and corporations have gotten little, if any, Democratic support.
- Argentina's slow economic recovery hasn't wooed heaps of investors, but that's not preventing President Mauricio Macri from enjoying better approval ratings on his home turf in the capital city, where a new poll says 55.4% of the population views him favorably. That's good news for Macri as he leads his "Let's Change" coalition into a mid-term election this October. Investors have long described the election as "critical" to Macri's future, but members of his coalition say it's not going to be that big of a deal. "We're a minority movement now and we will be after the election," says one member of Congress. "But we've got momentum one our side."
- The CAC-40 closes 0.2% lower at 5406. Electricite de France SA, however, ends up 7.1% after conservative lawmaker Edouard Philippe--a former Areva employee--is appointed Prime Minister. Wednesday, investors will watch out for the EU construction data at 0900 GMT and Japan's preliminary GDP 1Q numbers at 2350 GMT.
- A JPMorgan shareholder asked Chief James Dimon to step down from President Donald Trump's business advisory council at the bank's annual shareholder meeting. Dimon responded "no" and the shareholder, an New Jersey-based educator, said "great, we'll keep fighting back." The shareholder was one of several who spoke out during the meeting to protest JPM's financing of private criminal centers and jails, some of which are holding immigrants throughout the country. Dimon later said the bank has supported free and fair trade with Mexico, supports Hispanic groups and LGBT rights, and will "look into" the prisons that shareholders raised questions about. Dimon also reiterated that he's on Trump's business advisory council because "he's president of the United States; he's the pilot flying the airplane."
- A convergence of state and federal legislation could ease restrictions on carrying concealed firearms nationwide, a long-sought goal of gun-rights activists that their opponents say would threaten public safety. More states are giving their residents the right to carry a concealed handgun without permission from authorities--including two this year, bringing the total to 12--while Congress is considering legislation to make that right portable across state lines.
- JPMorgan Chief James Dimon reiterates the need for business and government to come together on public policy issues such as education, infrastructure and corporate tax reform, among others. Dimon, speaking JPM's annual shareholder meeting, also says that, during and since the financial crisis, there has been "thoughtful regulation." While Dimon reiterates that the bank isn't "looking to throw out the entirety of Dodd-Frank," it would like to "open up the rulebook," and "rework regulations that don't work well or aren't necessary."
- 3M Chairman and CEO Inge Thulin says pro-growth changes to US tax and trade policies may not come quickly--and that may be OK. Asked after a Council on Foreign Relations event in New York whether he was satisfied with the pace of changes out of Washington, Thulin says, "I understand it will take time, but I hope it will come rather sooner than later. But let's make sure that we do it in the right away."  Changing policies too quickly could come with its own perils, Thulin says, "I'd rather work with agility than speed, because [with] speed something can go very fast but you go off the road."
- 3M CEO Inge Thulin says he supports a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, even while the St Paul, Minn.-based manufacturing giant is a net beneficiary of the pact. Each year MMM saves $55M as a result of Nafta, which is generally "working well," Thulin says during an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "If it can be even better, why not?" said Thulin, who called renegotiation "the right thing to do."  Thulin is among US corporate executives advising the White House on manufacturing, trade and other policy matters.  Thulin said President Donald Trump is "pro-growth," adding: "He is very engaged and he's listening."
- Membership of Agence France Locale, or AFL, is growing at a slower pace than originally planned and Societe Generale attributes it to the uncertainty surrounding this year's elections. State agency AFL provides loans to its members, local authorities, and raises funding in the capital markets. Its latest issue was a EUR500 million June 2024 bond priced at 25 bps over French government bonds. French local authorities have to apply for membership and contribute to AFL's capital to become eligible for loans. AFL loans are cheaper compared to the loans local authorities can get on their own. Centrist Emmanuel Macron has won the presidential elections, but France's parliamentary vote is scheduled for June.

May 16 - Alert CYBER ATTACK .WNCRY
- we are displeased to announce to our customers that our servers have been contaminated with WNCRY, following last week Cyber attack
- consequently ALL our swap calculators (and pages) are discontinued until further notice.
- physical Cash Energy calculator ( including oil products cash prices ) still working fine, but service will be interrupted for malware cleaning this afternoon.
- we are making our best efforts to restore cleaned version on all our servers, hopefully before End of the Day.

May 16 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil prices rose, extending gains after a joint announcement by top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia to push for an extension of supply cuts until the end of March 2018.  
- Gold prices rose for a fourth day as the dollar eased on signs of slower economic activity in the United States that dented expectations of an aggressive string of interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
- London copper fell as worries about China's slowing economic growth and tighter capital markets in the world's top metals consumer triggered a wave of risk-off selling in metals.
- Chicago wheat slid for a third consecutive session to its weakest since April 25, with easing concerns about crop-damage from a snowstorm in the United States and plentiful global supplies weighing on the market.
- President Donald Trump's nominee for US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, was sworn in Monday by Vice President Mike Pence, helping pave the way for the administration to begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Lighthizer was confirmed in the Senate last week and is expected to consult with key lawmakers and committees in coming days before the administration formally notifies Congress of its intent to renegotiate Nafta. The notification letter is required to be sent to Congress at least 90 days before formal talks on a trade agreement that's eligible for "fast track" consideration on Capitol Hill, with no amendments. At the ceremony, Pence said Lighthizer will help make the US prosperous again, while Lighthizer touted the prospects for Trump's presidency.
- The latest troubles afflicting NASA's deep-space Orion capsule and associated launch system could be precisely what White House officials need to push through bold changes in agency priorities. Career NASA officials hoped to find a way to accelerate the first Orion flight carrying a crew, but the Trump administration nixed the idea partly because it was projected to cost nearly $1B extra, according to industry officials familiar with the details. Now, NASA managers are waiting for a new agency chief and deputy to be nominated--perhaps as early as the end of May--who could persuade lawmakers to support dramatically different strategies to send astronauts toward the moon and eventually Mars.
- Whether and how the Trump administration delivers on its promise to boost the country's growth rate could influence the pace by which the Fed drains easy money from the financial system. If growth advances due to productivity gains, policy makers could keep interest rates lower for longer because productivity growth holds down inflation. If growth rises because it boosts demand without drawing in new workers or raising their productivity, the Fed could feel pressure to raise interest rates to prevent stronger inflation. "I've certainly urged Congress and the administration to consider policies that would boost productivity growth and raise the economy's so-called speed limit, or potential to grow," Yellen said at a March press conference.
- Because the US workforce is growing more slowly than it used to, economists say the Trump administration will need to see a big bounce in the productivity of US workers to get annual growth in gross domestic product up to 3% from its recent annual rate of 2%. The problem: Productivity growth has been moving in the wrong direction in recent years. Workers' output per hour in the nonfarm business sector has been increasing only 0.7% a year since 2010. "It's a mistake to say anything is impossible. If you flip a coin 10 times, you can't say it won't come up heads eight times, but eight would be a very odd forecast," Lawrence Summers, the Harvard economist who served as President Bill Clinton's Treasury secretary, tells WSJ. "The same is true of 3% growth. It's possible, but it should not be anyone's guess."
- White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney tells WSJ the economy is capable of growing faster even without allowing for more immigration--which has driven the net increase in the labor force in recent years--because the Trump administration believes there are millions of workers in their prime working years who aren't working but would like to do so. "If you created economic opportunity and jobs that they want, they would come back," Mulvaney says. "So I'm not worried about the tightness of the labor supply."
- Trump's economic advisers say that their tax-cut plans will pay for themselves by pushing the US economy's growth rate to 3% annually. To get there, economists say Trump will need to overcome two big challenges: a slower-growing labor force and slower growth in the productivity of those workers. When the US economy had consistent 3% growth in the 1980s, the population of workers between ages 25 and 54 expanded at a brisk 2.2% annual rate. Over the past decade, this population has grown at just 0.1% annually.
- Canada should wind down its main energy-and-pipeline regulator, National Energy Board, and split the board's current responsibilities in two new agencies, according to a government-commissioned report. Among the 46 recommendations from report's authors is to create a Canadian version of the EIA, and split pipeline oversight to a new commission. Report said consultations with Canadians indicate there's "crisis of confidence" in NEB's ability to balance need to secure shipment of energy to new markets and protect the environment. Government said it would take next few months to review report's advice and determine how to proceed. The report is part of Liberal government's efforts to ensure thorough environmental review of pipeline and energy projects.
- Monthly oil data Tuesday from IEA will draw more onlookers than usual since it will be OPEC's last look at industrialized nations' oil inventory levels before it meets May 25 to decide on extending production cuts. A month ago the IEA pegged OECD inventories at 3.06B barrels, just a bit less than 3.07B when the reduction deal was announced late November, and about 300M above the five-year average OPEC has been hoping to achieve. If inventories were to tick higher Tuesday, OPEC may consider not only extending the deal, but also deepening the cuts. Or OPEC may grow more frustrated with rising US oil production.
- In case you missed it last Friday, a US appellate court said it won't rule for at least 60 days on whether MetLife should be put back under federal oversight. Now the question is whether the Trump Administration will drop the government's appeal of a previous district court decision removing federal oversight of the company. That would effectively give MET a win.
- The possibility of Republicans and Democrats compromising on financial regulatory relief legislation will get dimmer unless the White House can stop creating political controversies, Cowen  analyst Jaret Seiberg says in a note to clients. The concept of a compromise "is premised on both sides looking for a political win. That was never a guarantee. It is even hard to see after the events of the last several days," he says.
- Turkish markets will watch President Erdogan's meeting with U.S. President Trump on Tuesday, which is crucial for geopolitical developments in the upcoming period, says QNB Finansbank. It notes that last week the Trump administration authorized the U.S. defense ministry to provide heavy weaponry to the Syrian Kurds, in spite of Turkey's strong opposition. USD/TRY is last down 0.3% at 3.5618.

May 15 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil prices jumped after the energy ministers of top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia jointly said that an OPEC-led crude production cut would be extended from the middle of this year until March 2018.
- Gold prices inched up as weaker-than-expected economic data from the U.S. and a missile test by North Korea over the weekend pressured the dollar.
- London Metal Exchange copper was treading water, not far from its lowest for the year, after more evidence that China's economy encountered a soft patch in April.
- Chicago wheat prices slid for a second session, pressured by abundant global supply.
- NASA's acting administrator belatedly pours cold water on President Trump's vague assertions that the US should aim to send astronauts to Mars by the middle of the next decade. In April, when the President first publicly discussed his view of manned Mars missions, he said "we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term," which would end at the beginning of 2025. Robert Lightfoot, the acting NASA Administrator, has now responded by unequivocally dismissing that notion and indicating NASA's leadership didn't take the suggested timeline seriously. Lightfoot also notes that the Trump administration continues to back NASA's plans, in place since President Obama's tenure, of humans landing on Mars no sooner than the mid-2030's.
-  Twitter executives seem to be trying to seize on the bump in activity TWTR has seen related to President Trump's use of the micromessaging service. On Friday, President Trump tweeted that it might be best to cancel future press briefings and hand out written responses instead, for the sake of accuracy. Twitter CFO and COO Anthony Noto responded, suggesting that such questions could be submitted and answered via Twitter. But this risks angering media professionals, who are also big users of Twitter.
- Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman exercised 212,000 stock options that were set to expire next winter for a profit of about $13 a share, or abut $2.7M before taxes, according to a regulatory filing. That brings his total profits to $11M from selling holdings since the presidential election set MS shares afire. He still has half of the 2018 options, which were granted in 2011.
- Hedge funds and other speculative investors cut bullish bets on the dollar to $11.8B in the week through Tuesday, the lowest level since early October, CFTC data shows. Bets on a stronger dollar had swelled above $28B in December on optimism about the Trump administration's economic plans. But investors have grown cautious since the start of the year amid uncertainty over the Fed's interest-rate outlook and the administration's ability to push through its agenda. Also in the week ended May 9, investors turned bullish on the euro for the first time since 2014 and pared bets against the British pound.
- Hedge funds and other speculative investors have turned bullish on the euro for the first time since May 2014, CFTC data shows. Investors held a net $3.1B in bets on a stronger euro as of Tuesday, compared to $226M in bets against the euro in the prior week. Euro investors were relieved by the outcome of this month's French election, which saw the defeat of anti-euro candidate Marine Le Pen and eased concerns about the future of the currency. Some investors also expect the European Central Bank to begin reining in quantitative easing soon, which would likely support the euro. The common currency is up 4% this year against the dollar.
- Comments from President Donald Trump in The Economist about need for "massive" Nafta changes is going to keep downward pressure on C$ and keep Bank of Canada in an "extremely cautious" mode, BMO chief economist Doug Porter writes. The C$ currently trades near a 15-month low compared to USD, in part due to US trade policy uncertainty. Porter says Trump's focus on the trade deficits with its Nafta partners appears misplaced, explaining trade deficit with Canada accounts for about 7 hours of US economic output, which is running above $19 trillion on annual basis. "Until we are fully convinced that this stance is just bluster, the C$ will be on the defensive," and BoC Gov Stephen Poloz will be in no hurry to alter rate policy, Porter writes.
- Venezuela's political opposition is ramping up its lobbying efforts to convince world financial markets to block President Maduro's government from acquiring new financing. In a public letter to investors this week, National Assembly chief Julio Borges urged banks to refuse loans that use bonds as collateral and also bar the administration from selling the gold that makes up the majority of the central bank's remaining $10B in reserves. Last year the opposition warned investors that any deals signed with the government that were not approved by the president's rivals in congress would be illegal. Now the opposition is making more of a moral plea. "This government is on its way out," Borges writes.
- Trump's tendency to launch "undisciplined rants" on social media should be a wakeup call to Canadian lawmakers and businesses they can no longer take a business-as-usual approach in dealing with the US, Ottawa-based Earnscliffe Strategy Group tells clients. In weekly newsletter, the government-relations firm says Canada has much at stake from Trump's declining approval rating, which could decline further amid the fallout from firing James Comey as FBI director. "His desperation for wins as opposed to results is causing allies to fear they will become targets of his uninformed improvisation," Earnscliffe says. The firm cites Trump's interview with the Economist, in which he talked about the need for "massive" rewrite of Nafta and Canada's $15B trade deficit. That trade deficit is closer to $11B,
and is the lowest among America's top 14 trading partners, Earnscliffe says.
- Shipping traffic to Venezuela's two largest ports has fallen by more than half since 2014, according to figures from the ship-tracking service MarineTraffic. The numbers reflect the dramatic reduction in imports by Venezuela as the country undergoes a severe economic contraction that has generated widespread food and medicine shortages. Short on dollars, President Maduro's government has prioritized hefty debt payments while curtailing imports. But economists say the government may not have much room to cut further. A recent poll by three Venezuelan universities found most adults reported losing an average of 19 pounds in 2016.
- The Trump administration's agreement with China aimed at boosting exports to the world's second-biggest economy is reason for optimism, according to Helen Zhu, head of China equities at BlackRock. The 10-point plan released this week by the White House includes measures aimed at making it easier for agricultural, energy and financial services-related exports to enter China. "It's an early indication that the dialogue is going constructively," between the leaders of the US and China, she says during a panel discussion, adding there now appears to be less potential for a trade war between the two countries. While much of what was laid out in the plan was broad, she says, the agreement represents a positive step after tough talk on trade between the two leaders in the early days of Trump's presidency. "We can be less worried about counterproductive trade walls put up," Kate Moore, chief equity strategist at BlackRock, says.
- Investors are demonstrating newfound optimism for international stocks, pumping money into European and emerging-market stock funds and pulling it from the long-favored domestic ones. The French presidential vote for centrist Emmanuel Macron over far-right Marine Le Pen triggered a record $6.1B into European funds in the week ended Wednesday, according to BofAML. Meanwhile $2.4B has moved out of US stock funds over the past two weeks. EM funds have seen inflows for eight weeks in a row.
- G7 colleagues pressed US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for details on the Trump administration's tax plans at a confab Friday in Bari, Italy, anxious that Washington's fiscal policies could reverberate through the global economy. Mnuchin told them President Trump is still eyeing approval of his tax package this year, a senior Treasury official said. So far, many delegations are expressing relief about Trump's outlined proposal. Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan says he's "not worried" about US tax policy. "What they are considering now is a lot less worrying," another Italian official says.

May 12 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (Dow Jones)
- Oil prices were stable as traders expected OPEC-led production cuts to extend beyond the middle of this year, and as U.S. crude inventories fell to their lowest levels since February.
- Gold prices rose for a second straight session as political uncertainty in the United States following the sacking of FBI chief James Comey pressured the dollar and equities fell.
- Copper was flat in Asia as equities headed for a strong end to the week and the short-covering that pulled the contract higher overnight failed to re-emerge.
- Chicago soybean futures were on track for their biggest weekly decline since late March with bumper global supplies weighing on the market.
- Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson offers this advice to Washington on healthcare: "step back and ask the bigger questions." Tyson, speaking at the WSJ Future of Healthcare event in New York, lists the questions he considered most pressing. "Who is going to assume the risk of the cost of care for the American people?" Tyson says before posing a second question. "What do we need to put in place to incent and to drive the delivery of care reform?" Kaiser Permanente operates ACA exchange health plans in California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia and Washington.
- European satellite-launch provider Arianespace is stepping up its activities--including two planned blastoffs in less than a month--to compensate for delays previously caused by five weeks of public protests that blockaded its French Guiana launch facility. Company officials said that despite the disruption, Arianespace still expects to complete a dozen missions this year as planned. The company also expects the new government under incoming French President Emmanuel Macron to support, and possibly beef up funding for, work on a new generation of boosters intended to compete with lower-cost US rivals.
- Trump told the Economist magazine in an interview he'd like to get the US-Mexico trade deficit to zero at some point as part of a renegotiation of Nafta. The magazine had pressed the US president on how he would define a "fair renegotiation" of the 1994 trade deal. The US Trade Representative estimated the US trade deficit in goods with Mexico at $63.2B last year, and this month, statistics indicated that the gap is widening, primarily because of weakness in the Mexican currency. In the interview, Trump focused intensely on the deficit with Mexico, saying it was "a real deficit" that is directly attributable to Nafta. "Everything in Nafta is bad," Trump said.
- On the job about two weeks, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue unveils a reorganization of the USDA designed to make the sprawling agency run more efficiently, while adding some new functions. He creates an undersecretary for trade, responding to a Congressional directive from the 2014 Farm Bill, and places several US-centric sub-agencies under a domestically focused undersecretary for farm production and conservation. Perdue's plan doesn't involve trimming the USDA's roughly 100K staff, or change its planned spending.
- More changes are afoot at the nation's top regulator of federally chartered banks: Paul Nash, senior deputy comptroller and chief of staff at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, is stepping down May 26. Nash was the chief of staff to former Comptroller Thomas Curry, but Curry was replaced by the Trump administration last week.
- Top US food regulators are sanguine about food safety under the Trump administration to date. Alfred Almanza, head of USDA's food-safety division, is pleased as punch over the selection of Sonny Perdue, a former veterinarian, as USDA Secretary. "I believe food safety is going to be one of the best worlds to be in these next four years," he told the audience at a national food-safety conference. Stephen Ostroff, FDA's acting commissioner, says there will likely be budgetary constraints, hiring challenges and new approaches to regulations. "But in the food safety arena, I think we have a pretty good story to tell," he says. "We haven't heard anything to suggest that doesn't resonate with the administration."
- Supply of euro corporate bonds continues Thursday, even after General Electric "floods" the market, as BayernLB puts it, with EUR8 billion of debt. And it's also yet another day featuring so-called reverse Yankees, euro bonds from U.S. corporates, as Paccar is offering a EUR500 million three-year bond. Investment firm JAB Holdings is also in the market with a dual-tranche offering of seven and 11-year debt, marketed at 100 bps and 130 bps above mid-swaps, respectively. Supply has been picking up after the French elections, following several weeks of muted activity.

May 11 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil prices rose, and Brent was firmly back over $50 per barrel, as a fall in U.S. crude inventories and a more severe than expected cut in Saudi supplies to Asia tightened the market.
- Gold edged up to hold just above an eight-week low hit earlier this week, with the U.S. dollar declining against the yen.
- Shanghai metals futures traded lower as investors turned to equities and oil, where a U.S.-led rally was spilling into Asian markets.
- Chicago soybean futures slid for a second session under pressure from a key U.S. government report forecasting higher supplies.
- National Bank Financial says there's a nearly 50% chance Bank of Canada pushes up its timetable to begin raising its main interest rate to 4Q. At present, firm's current call is for a rate increase in 1Q of 2018. The firm says much will depend on what comes of President Trump's efforts to renegotiate Nafta and how effective White House is in pushing forward its tax-code overhaul. NBF has emerged as one of the most bullish forecasters in Canada.
- The ouster of James Comey as FBI director was sudden, ending his term with more than six years remaining. For the FBI, a tenure cut short has been more the rule than the exception since the end of J. Edgar Hoover's reign in the early 1970s. FBI directors are ostensibly appointed by the president to a fixed 10-year term. But they can be removed by the president for any reason. Since 1973, only one FBI director has stayed for a full term. There's a
complex relationship between FBI head and president. The director reports to the attorney general, a cabinet member, but the FBI also needs and often pushes for independence to pursue investigations that might be at odds with the administration.
- SEC Chairman Jay Clayton highlighted his interest in easing the ability of smaller companies to raise cash, in his first public remarks since he was sworn into office last week. "One of my priorities is for the Commission to focus on facilitating capital-raising opportunities for all companies, including and importantly, small and medium-sized businesses," the top US markets cop said in prepared remarks before an SEC advisory committee. The remarks signal what could become the theme of his tenure at the SEC. Clayton, who succeeds Mary Jo White, said at his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this year that scaling back such regulations could prod more startups and smaller companies to go public.
- Morgan Stanley lowers the odds of a US recession over the next 12 months to 25% from 30% previously, citing "an upswing in investment on the back of stronger global growth and prospects for incremental regulatory ease." Some analysts have noted the US economy is in the late stages of the business cycle, which makes it more likely it will fall into a recession in the next couple of years. But a boost in global economic growth, as well as prospects of a US tax cut package--even while likely to be delayed--have lessened the risk of a downturn, MS says.
- Treasurys rallied overnight after a two-session pullback, as investors took advantage of higher yields and reacted to President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey. The concern, as has been the case before, is that the Trump administration could get distracted from what investors want most: tax cuts and fiscal stimulus more broadly. Yields still have bounced off of overnight lows and could get some extra support from new data showing higher-than-expected import costs, which could be a sign of wider inflation. The 10-year yield was recently 2.383%, compared with 2.369% earlier in the morning and 2.405% Tuesday.
- Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son said his first priority in M&A talks is T-Mobile, though he wants to keep his options open. "The real important part ... [is] to look for the real first synergy, is really about looking into T-Mobile," Son said on an earnings call with analysts. "T-Mobile would be, in an orthodox manner, would be the first priority. And I would like to be very sincere in trying to start negotiation." Son said he believes the new administration will be more open to consolidation than Obama was. "I would like to explore a variety of possibilities regarding the industry consolidation going forward," he said.
- USD/TRY trades at 3.6086, down 0.3% on the day, after the pair earlier rose above 3.62 following the U.S. decision to arm Syrian Kurds, says QNB Finansbank. It notes that Turkey has strongly objected to a co-operation between the U.S. and SDF, which includes the Kurdish militia YPG, in Raqqa as the latter is seen as an extension of PKK. "In this context, yesterday's announcement is likely to draw backlashes from Ankara. The relation between the two countries might strain, which would translate into pressure on TRY denominated assets," says QNB Finansbank.
- Aussie banks came out swinging against the federal government's revenue grab with a levy on the liabilities that would hit the five largest lenders. Anna Bligh, CEO of the Australian Bankers' Association, criticizes the impost as a tax on the economy and a direct attack on jobs and growth, not just the banks. "It is naive and misguided and has already sent the wrong signals to global financial markets about the strength and stability of our banking sector," she says. And PM Malcolm Turnbull's response: "That's nonsense," he says in a TV interview.
- William Hinman, a former partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in Palo Alto, is named as the director of the Securities and Exchange Commission's division of Corporation Finance. The division oversees the periodic disclosures filed by public companies and will likely assume a higher profile under the SEC's new chairman, Jay Clayton. Clayton has called for scaling back regulatory requirements faced by public companies in an effort to boost the number of listed US firms. Hinman has worked on a number of big stock offerings during his legal career including the IPOs of Google, Facebook, and Alibaba. The WSJ reported on April 25 that Hinman was likely to take the role.
- The new Comptroller of the Currency takes a deregulatory tone on his first week on the job, telling a group of employees "now is a good time to take stock of the rules implemented and actions taken" after the financial crisis, seeking to eliminate a regulatory burden "that does not make sense." The remarks from Keith Noreika, who is serving as acting chief regulator of US national banks, suggest he will look for ways to loosen rules while waiting for the president to nominate a new comptroller.
- An index tracking news coverage of the global economy had its biggest monthly fall in more than a year during April, dropping to 59.1 compared with a 61.3 reading in March, according to Absolute Strategy Research, which compiles the ASR/WSJ index. Of the sub-indices that make up the main index, ASR says the inflation component was "arguably the most striking," and is likely bad news for inflation bulls. "There have only been 4 occasions in the series' 27-year history where the month-on-month fall was greater," ASR says. The research provider adds that following the election of President Trump, its policy uncertainty index has returned to Global Financial Crisis levels where "uncertainty around politics appears to take precedence over economic uncertainty."

May 10 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil futures rose in Asian trading after Reuters reported Saudi Arabia would cut supplies to the region as OPEC battles against rising U.S. output that is threatening to derail its attempts to end a sustained global glut in crude.
- Gold edged up from an eight-week low hit the session before, with the dollar slipping after U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly dismissed FBI Director James Comey.
- Copper edged up following a dip in London Metal Exchange stockpiles, although concerns over rising supply and disappointing Chinese import data continued to drag.
- U.S. soybeans were on track for their second consecutive session of gains, buoyed by a weaker dollar, though traders largely remained on the sidelines ahead of a widely watched U.S. government report.
- William Hinman, a former partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in Palo Alto, is named as the director of the Securities and Exchange Commission's division of Corporation Finance. The division oversees the periodic disclosures filed by public companies and will likely assume a higher profile under the SEC's new chairman, Jay Clayton. Clayton has called for scaling back regulatory requirements faced by public companies in an effort to boost
the number of listed US firms. Hinman has worked on a number of big stock offerings during his legal career including the IPOs of Google, Facebook, and Alibaba. The WSJ reported on April 25 that Hinman was likely to take the role.
- The new Comptroller of the Currency takes a deregulatory tone on his first week on the job, telling a group of employees "now is a good time to take stock of the rules implemented and actions taken" after the financial crisis, seeking to eliminate a regulatory burden "that does not make sense." The remarks from Keith Noreika, who is serving as acting chief regulator of US national banks, suggest he will look for ways to loosen rules while waiting for the president to nominate a new comptroller.
- An index tracking news coverage of the global economy had its biggest monthly fall in more than a year during April, dropping to 59.1 compared with a 61.3 reading in March, according to Absolute Strategy Research, which compiles the ASR/WSJ index. Of the sub-indices that make up the main index, ASR says the inflation component was "arguably the most striking," and is likely bad news for inflation bulls. "There have only been 4 occasions in the series' 27-year history where the month-on-month fall was greater," ASR says. The research provider adds that following the election of President Trump, its policy uncertainty index has returned to Global Financial Crisis levels where "uncertainty around politics appears to take precedence over economic uncertainty."
- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's decision to call a vote for a special assembly with powers to redraft the constitution could end up speeding up the collapse of his government, rather than delaying it, said Francisco Rodriguez, chief economist at New York-based brokerage Torino Capital. Although Maduro controls the electoral council and the courts, he could be overestimating his ability to win the vote, given his collapsing popularity, Rodriguez
says. "The fact that the government is scheduling an election of any type, and particularly one in which it is making aprominent commitment to direct and secret voting, suggests that completely bypassing electoral institutions is not in its choice set," he says.
- The US Commerce Department this morning announced John Thompson, director of the Census Bureau since August 2013, will retire on June 30. "As I pursue opportunities in the private sector, please be assured that I will continue to be supportive of the Administration's priority to have a complete and accurate 2020 Census," Thompson said. President Donald Trump must now nominate a new director to lead the agency into the next decennial census; the job is subject to Senate confirmation.
- Sturm, Ruger (RGR) tops its pre-election level for the first time after forecast-beating earnings and upbeat commentary from new CEO Chris Killoy, who says at its annual meeting that reports of the firearm industry's death have been exaggerated. Killoy says RGR hasn't seen any dip in valuations for potential M&A, preferring to build adjacencies such as silencers in-house, which has also freed up cash for buybacks and dividends. RGR recently up 13% at
$64.85, off its session high. Rival gunmaker American Outdoor up almost 7%, but still 20% below its pre-election level.
- The District of Columbia's insurance regulator is the latest to reveal proposed rates for Affordable Care Act plans for next year, and they follow a pattern similar to others. CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield seeks a sharp increase of 39.6% for its HMO plans, and 19.7% for PPO plans. Kaiser Permanente, as it did in Virginia and Maryland, looks for a lower boost: 13% on average. CareFirst had previously said that its average requested increase across all
its ACA plans in the District was 29%. CareFirst has said it needed the increases because of the Trump administration's expected lack of enforcement of the ACA's coverage mandate, as well as previous underpricing and an increasingly sick and high-cost pool of enrollees.
- Sanofi's promise to limit its drug price increases in the U.S. follows a trend of self-policing in the pharmaceutical industry amid intense political scrutiny of the high cost of medicines. The French drug maker on Tuesday said it would not raise its prices above healthcare inflation in the U.S., which in 2017 would limit increases to 5.4%. It added that in 2016, its list prices increased 4% on average and that net prices- those after rebates and other concessions fell 2.1%. Sanofi's move follows similar pledges by Novo Nordisk and Allergan in recent months.
- Issuance of euro-denominated corporate bonds is picking up again, with a series of companies like WPP, Kellogg, ABB and Hella raising new debt Tuesday. Supply had remained dormant for several weeks, with market participants blaming the French presidential election, front-loaded funding earlier in the year ahead of political risk events in Europe and the 1Q earnings season. The lack of issuance gave technical support to euro corporate bond prices,
as the European Central Bank kept buying paper during this period. Some analysts now fear that a rebound in supply could hurt secondary market prices.
- Following a tepid reaction by French and US markets to Sunday's presidential election, Japan stocks are pulling back some after yesterday's pop. "It was an overreaction," says Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at brokerage Monex Securities in Tokyo. Macron's victory was largely priced in after the first round of voting 2 weeks ago. "That's why today's stock market is calmer--on the lower side." The Nikkei is down 0.1%.

May 09 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil prices gave up earlier gains, as concerns over slowing demand and a relentless rise in U.S. crude output undermined the impact of hopes that OPEC-led production cuts could be extended.
- Gold prices inched up, but remained near seven-week lows hit in the previous session as safe-haven demand ebbed in the wake of France's presidential election.
- London copper inched up after sharp overnight losses on fresh signs of a slowdown in Chinese demand.Chicago wheat futures slid with the market still under pressure a day after deep losses were sparked by improved weather conditions for the U.S. winter crop.
- The euro pulled back from recent six-month highs, but remained well-supported as fading worries over political populism and signs of improving economic conditions in Europe bolstered investor confidence.
- The FTSE 100 index closes marginally higher, up 0.05% at 7300.86, as investors react to centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron's victory over far-right opponent Marine Le Pen in the French presidential elections with a buy-the-rumor, sell-the-fact attitude. UK stocks outperform other European indexes, however, which trade mostly lower. A rise in oil prices helps oil and utility stocks rise, while Centrica gains 1.9% after the company said it would report 2017 results in line with previous guidance. Retailers also trade broadly higher, with Chris Beauchamp, Chief Market Analyst at IG, citing buyers ahead of a BRC retail sales survey due overnight, "on hopes that the recent weakness in consumer shopping habits may be reversed."
- A win by the New Democrat Party in Canada's British Columbia province could spell trouble for Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, according to Tudor Pickering Holt. The NDP has been a vocal opponent of the pipeline, promising to make an effort to stop it if the party wins the election. However, pipelines in Canada are regulated federally, and with the expansion project already approved, it is an open question what the party could do to stop it. The party could also revisit the question of natural gas export projects and pipelines, another signal that an NDP victory could have negative implications for energy, Tudor Pickering says.
- The Fed needs to stick to its apolitical knitting, says Cleveland chief Loretta Mester, expressing concerns about some recent suggestions the FOMC should adopt more rules-based policy prescriptions. Rules are good for interpreting data. "I do have some concerns that some of the proposals to change the Fed may make us more vulnerable to these political pressures," Mester says at event in Chicago. "We need to stick to our knitting."
- Futures point to US stocks opening slightly lower after pro-European Union centrist Emmanuel Macron claimed victory in the weekend's French presidential elections. While fears that Macron would lose the election had put pressure on stocks, especially in Europe, global stocks are largely trading lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 down 0.3%, France's CAC 40 down 1% and S&P 500 futures down 0.1%. "The result removes one more piece of uncertainty which had worried global investors which should be positive for the global equity markets," says Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at EverBank. "But investors had expected this outcome, so market reaction will be muted as we open up trading this morning."

May 09 - Trump's Warrior For Trade Fights On (WSJ)
- The White House's most hawkish trade adviser, Peter Navarro, says the administration is still pushing to win concessions from trading partners even though the president has notably softened his positions on China and Mexico.
- President Donald Trump no longer talks of imposing steep tariffs on Chinese imports, as he did during the campaign, and he dropped his pledge to name Beijing a currency manipulator. He also recently discarded a proposal that Mr. Navarro helped shape to pull the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
- Mr. Trump's decision last month to kill the National Trade Council, created shortly after the election and led by Mr. Navarro, raised questions about how much influence economic "nationalists" still had over policies. Mr. Navarro's views have clashed with those of Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs Inc. president who is director of the National Economic Council. Mr. Cohn, of the administration's "globalist" contingent, has been a moderating force on trade issues, White House staffers and lobbyists say. "I don't worry about getting outmaneuvered," Mr. Navarro said in an interview. "I just worry about getting things done."
- Lindsay Walters, White House deputy press secretary, said all members of Mr. Trump's team are "working first and foremost for hardworking Americans by pursuing policies that will create jobs, boost wages, and grow our economy."
- At the start of the administration, Mr. Navarro loomed large in economic policy making. The University of California, Irvine, economist had helped shape the Trump campaign's trade threats. The NTC was initially viewed as being on a par with the White House's powerful National Security Council and NEC. In January, The Economist magazine said he was about to become " one of the world's most powerful economists."
- Mr. Cohn quickly staffed up the NEC, hiring two trade experts, and won the portfolio for infrastructure spending.
- Mr. Trump replaced the NTC on April 29 with the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, which continues to be housed in Mr. Navarro's spartan office across an alley from the White House and has two staffers -- Mr. Navarro and his deputy. Its agenda includes helping companies handle trade disputes, figuring out "Buy American" provisions and making sure the military has a strong industrial base. This is a more limited role than the NTC was expected to play. "Navarro has been marginalized," said University of Maryland economist Peter Morici, who has long pushed for a more aggressive trade policy. The White House reshuffling "acknowledges that the NEC has won" the fight over the trade agenda, resulting in a less confrontational approach.
- Mr. Navarro disputes Mr. Morici's conclusion, saying his clout is intact. Mr. Navarro, 67 years old, said he has started to meet one-on-one with Mr. Trump once a week for about 15 minutes. He said he advises Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and will also counsel Robert Lighthizer if Mr. Lighthizer is confirmed, as expected, as U.S. Trade Representative. "I know my role in the process, which is to help them behind the scenes wherever and whenever I can," he said. A spokeswoman for the USTR declined to comment. A Commerce spokesman said: "Many members of the White House senior staff have been giving us input on trade topics."
- President Trump took Mr. Navarro with him on a trip to Harrisburg, Penn., to mark the 100th day of his administration. There, he called Mr. Navarro "one of the greats trying to protect our jobs" and gave Mr. Navarro a pen he used to sign the order creating the new trade office. Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a steel-industry group, said Mr. Trump's actions indicate Mr. Navarro won't be bumped out of the White House, as some administration officials and trade lobbyists speculated. The administration has launched a number of studies focusing on trade barriers, the trade deficit and excess capacity in the aluminum and steel industries, Mr. Navarro said. Trade analysts say the studies could be used to lay the groundwork to impose protective tariffs. "While we have big trade deficits with many countries, each country requires a different strategy to reduce that deficit," Mr. Navarro said.
- But the administration has also backed off more extreme measures, cheering business officials who worried that Mr.Trump, aided by Mr. Navarro, would ignite a trade war. The shift in stance has disappointed trade hawks who want the U.S. to put trade objectives ahead of foreign-policy goals. "There is an ongoing tension within the administration between the campaign rhetoric and the reality of a very deeply interconnected global economy," said Josh Bolten, currently president of the Business Roundtable and a former White House chief of staff under President George W. Bush. "It's an open question as to which of those will prevail."
- Mr. Navarro came to prominence by urging confrontational policies toward China in books such as "Death by China." These days, he counsels patience. It would be counterproductive to call out a "prideful China" publicly during negotiations, he said. "The best time to judge this administration's China policy is going to be a year or two from now to see what has
actually happened," Mr. Navarro said. As to Mr. Trump's threat to leave Nafta, which was withdrawn the same day it became public, Mr. Navarro said he is satisfied by how it was received by Mexico and Canada. "It is now well understood that the president is serious about either getting a new and fair deal or getting out of Nafta," which is helping to move along negotiations on a revised trade pact, Mr. Navarro said.

May 08 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil prices rose as Saudi Arabia's energy minister said an OPEC-led production cut scheduled to end in June would likely be extended to cover all of 2017, although a relentless increase in U.S. drilling capped gains.
- Gold edged up on bargain-hunting after dipping to a seven-week low earlier in the session and as the euro strengthened after pro-EU candidate Emmanuel Macron won the French presidential election.
- Chicago soybean futures slid for a third consecutive session as wet weather delays U.S. corn planting, opening the possibility of more farmland being used to sow the oilseed crop.
- The euro pulled away from highs hit early in the Asian session as investors took profits from its gains after centrist Emmanuel Macron's victory over the far-right Marine Le Pen in France's presidential election.
- Brexit, protectionism? German companies are currently unimpressed by a possible fallout from the U.K.'s decision to leave the European Union and rise in protectionism under President Donald Trump, according to a survey published Monday. The poll of nearly 2,700 German companies conducted by IW economic institute in March and April showed that nearly half of the enterprises see their output growing this year and 40% want to hire new staff. IW also raises its German economic outlook to 1.5% compared with 1% predicted previously for 2017, adding that the slowdown from 2016's 1.9% growth is a result of fewer working days this year. It also predicted the economy to grow by 1.75% in 2018.
- Macron's victory gives markets a "much-deserved breather" from European politics, says Bill Street, head of investments for EMEA at State Street Global Advisors. But he contends the next notable leg higher is liable to not come absent accelerated ECB policy normalization unless Macron gets a working parliament and builds a partnership with Germany to launch meaningful reform. "That would deliver a substantial boost to markets by year-end" as such a scenario "is currently not priced in."
- The French election result sends a "loud signal" to investors that political risks in France and across Europe are receding--which is "undoubtedly" supportive of European equities and the euro, says Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital. But he adds that political risk in Europe is rather like a balloon: Squeeze one place and it pops up somewhere else. The next big political risk comes from Italy, says Wilson, while Greece remains an "open sore" on the eurozone. Meanwhile, he notes investors will look for what reforms Macron can enact to "supercharge" France's "sclerotic" economy, saying there's a lot of doubt on that front.
- The euro has given up the initial gains following Macron's win in France. He beat Le Pen, who ran on a plan to pull the country out of the euro but was seen as having scant chance of victory. But memories of the Brexit vote and the US presidential election made some participants wary of another possible surprise. The euro got as high as Y124.83 and $1.1040 but is now around Y123.85 and $1.0985, espectively. It stood late Friday in New York at Y124 and $1.10.

May 05 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil prices fell by as much as a further 3 percent, after prices had crashed to five-month lows in the previous session, as concerns about  global oversupply wiped out all of the price gains since OPEC's move to cut output.
- Gold inched up as the euro rose against the dollar, but was on track for its biggest weekly fall since November on receding political risks  in France and expectations of a U.S. rate rise as early as June.
- London copper edged higher after a second session of losses, but remained vulnerable to further sell downs amid concerns about rising  inventories and weakening consumption.
- Chicago wheat futures edged higher as the market took a breather following last session's deep losses, which were triggered by a crop tour forecasting above-average yields despite last weekend's snowstorm.
- German finance takes a skeptical view of Donald Trump, with little expectation of good news from his presidency, a survey by Frankfurt's finance groups shows. The survey by the Center for Financial Studies shows Mr. Trump's comments on protectionism and deregulation have rattled German financiers. "This uncertainty alone is damaging to global growth," CFS Managing Director Volker Bruehl says. German bankers are also worried financial deregulation will put U.S. banks at an advantage over more tightly-regulated German competitors.
- The two trade-groups representing prescription-drug companies react cautiously to the American Health Care Act's narrow passage in the House, a sign of the legislation's less-than-certain prospects in the Senate as well as the industry's fragile position in Washington. Both the Pharmaceutical and Research Manufacturers of America and Biotechnology Industry Organization say their priority was making sure patients "have access to the medicines they need," while the biotech group also reiterates that it never took a position on the health-overhaul that the AHCA seeks to repeal.
- Bank of Canada Gov. Stephen Poloz heard firsthand from Mexicans how much they are counting on Canada to stick with Mexico when Nafta renegotiations begin in earnest. "It's important you stay together with us and do the trilateral thing," says a man in attendance at his Mexico City speech. "You have to be our wingman. Don't leave the formation." Poloz once again used an opportunity at the podium to warn on the perils of protectionism, and how uncertainty over US trade policy is holding back growth. He cited the example of North America's integrated auto-parts makers as a sector that has thrived under Nafta. All together, Poloz says Canadian auto-parts producers employ roughly 167,000 workers in Canada, US and Mexico. "It is hard to imagine how interfering with open trade or implementing other protectionist policies would benefit these people."
- After a speech in Mexico City warning once again about risk posed by US protectionism to growth, Bank of Canada Gov. Stephen Poloz gets peppered with questions from the audience about another hot-button Canadian issue--real estate. He reiterates comments from previous weeks: that one-year house price gains in Toronto of 30% are fueled by speculative behavior and not sustainable; series of policies introduced in recent weeks and months will hopefully cool activity; and growth in household debt from mortgage borrowing remains a top financial-stability concern. Meanwhile, he was also pressed on the fate of Home Capital Group, a mortgage lender facing an exodus of deposits over allegations firm's executives didn't properly disclose extent of a mortgage-fraud problem back in 2014. He says he would "never comment" about individual lenders.
- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos finally cinched a meeting with Trump, set for May 18, during which the two heads of state will discuss efforts to combat narcotrafficking, the deteriorating political situation in Venezuela, and Colombia's peace process with Marxist rebels. The announcement comes a month after President Santos's main critic and leader of the country's opposition, former President Alvaro Uribe, managed to meet with Trump first--an embarrassment for Santos, the sitting president. In that meeting, Uribe blasted the peace deal and direction of the country. Now, it is up to Santos to defend his agenda.
- A group representing mostly non-profit providers of mental-health and substance-abuse treatment expressed "outrage" at the House's passage of the GOP health bill, saying it "puts the lives of those who rely on Medicaid for lifesaving addiction and mental health care in jeopardy." The National Council for Behavioral Health, based in Washington, DC, said the bill eliminates $880B from Medicaid funding over the next ten years. Medicaid, it notes, is "one of the most important payers of addiction and mental health services in the US, and states' most critical tool to tackle the opioid epidemic." The council has spent several months lobbying Republican senators in states hit hard by addiction against legislative changes that would undermine treatment coverage.
- The pharmaceutical industry's top lobbying group in the US takes a neutral tone in response to  House passage of the GOP health bill. "Ensuring patients have access to the medicines they need is our top priority. As Congress considers reforms to our health care system, we look forward to continuing to work with them to enhance the competitive market, ensure patients have access to affordable health care and foster the continued development of new innovative medicines," the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America says in an emailed statement.
- Big food companies are applauding $3M in funding tucked into the pending federal budget bill that will promote products with ingredients using genetically-modified crops as safe for public consumption. The funding "will help counter the misinformation about agricultural biotechnology in social media and the public domain," the Grocery Manufacturers Association says in a statement. Pushback over GMOs have been a headache for the food industry, with companies trying to delay labeling provisions passed during the past administration.
- Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd says he'd welcome political action on the issue of repatriating corporate cash from foreign countries, a move many tech companies also seek. At the end of the last quarter, ORCL held $52.2B overseas, money Hurd says had been taxed by the countries in which it was made. "We want that ability not to pay taxes for our earnings twice," Hurd says during a meeting with journalists at ORCL headquarters. He believes the US would benefit from that cash being reinvested domestically. "The opportunity to bring it back and invest it in this country is a big opportunity," Hurd says.
- Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd says the giant software company welcomes trained immigrants to its workforce. In a meeting with journalists at ORCL headquarters, Hurd says he doesn't want "the company to become political." While co-CEO Safra Catz served on President Trump's transition committee, Hurd notes that ORCL was not involved in politics during the election. He says it makes no sense to welcome immigrants to American universities, but then turn away those US educated workers when they want a job. "We've been very supportive of hiring trained, immigrant labor," Hurd says. "We need talented people."
- AARP, the group representing 38m Americans aged 50 and over, sharply criticizes House passage of the GOP health care bill and promises to continue campaigning against it. "AARP will continue to oppose this bill as it moves to the Senate because it includes an age tax on older Americans, eliminates critical protections for those with pre-existing conditions, puts coverage at risk for millions, cuts the life of Medicare, erodes seniors' ability to live independently, and gives sweetheart deals to big drug and insurance companies while doing nothing to lower the cost of prescriptions," the group says in a statement. It adds it will use email, social media and other communications to inform its members 'how their elected Representative voted."
- The American Medical Association, which represents more than 200,000 doctors, slams the House's passage of the American Health Care Act. "The bill passed by the House today will result in millions of Americans losing access to quality, affordable health insurance and those with pre-existing health conditions face the possibility of going back to the time when insurers could charge them premiums that made access to coverage out of the question," the group says in a statement. It adds, however, that "action is needed to improve the current health care insurance system," and it urges the Senate and White House to seek "bipartisan solutions."

May 04 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Crude oil lost ground, falling for a third out of four sessions and trading near its lowest since late March after data showed a lower than expected decline in U.S. inventories.
- Gold inched up, but the yellow metal held near a six-week low hit in the previous session as the dollar remained firm on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve may raise interest rates as early as June.
- London copper fell after a big build-up in exchange stocks and as traders priced in two U.S. interest rate rises expected this year that could curb interest in dollar-denominated metals.
- Chicago corn futures were unchanged, holding on to last session's gains as recent wet weather across key growing regions raised fears that some farmers may need to re-plant recently seeded crops.
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is scheduled to testify before the Senate Banking Committee on May 18 to deliver a "domestic and international policy update," the panel says. It will be Mnuchin's first visit to Capitol Hill since his January confirmation hearing, which was before the Senate Finance Committee. On May 16, Senate Banking will also consider a handful of Treasury nominations: Sigal Mandelker, the nominee to be under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes; Marshall Billingslea, to be assistant secretary for terrorist financing; and Heath Tarbert, to be assistant secretary for international markets and development.
- Delphi Automotive's move to spin off its engine-parts operations is designed to unlock value, but the move may expose the auto supplier to increased trade-policy risk, its CEO says. The advanced electronics business, which accounts for about three-quarters of Delphi's current market cap, would be hurt more by the higher US tariffs on imports Trump has championed than the engine-parts supplying business, CEO Kevin Clark tells WSJ. The engine-parts business is highly automated and would easier to relocate than the electronics business, which includes labor-intensive wire harnesses mostly imported to the US from Mexico, Clark says. "A border tax would not be good for this industry," the CEO says, adding it would be "virtually impossible" to shift wire harness operations to the US without substantially increasing supply chain costs.
- Trump's election win may have put a damper on Tinder swiping in 1Q. In North America, Match Group dating properties saw muted activity starting in November and continuing through February, in what is typically one of the strongest seasons for online dating. Activity started to pick back up again in March and April, CEO of Tinder and its parent MTCH Greg Blatt says on his company's earnings call. "The best thing we can point to was that it was sort of a--the postelection was weird, and there was a lot of weirdness," Blatt says.
- Puerto Rico's request to enter a court-supervised bankruptcy-like process puts an end to attempts to work out a compromise, but it will still likely be years before bondholders know how much they'll get, says Matt Fabian, a partner with Municipal Market Analytics. The move to a court-supervised process "means bondholders will get to a solution sooner but it's still going to be a long road," Fabian says. Unlike in a US bankruptcy court, investors can sue over almost any decision by the board, and could dispute the payout the court allocates them, as well as whether the process was conducted correctly. "You name it, they could file on it and they probably will," Fabian says.
- In the IPO paperwork filed by ShotSpotter are a pair of potential federal measures that the gunfire-detection company says could harm its business. The company warns that the push to cut federal funding to so-called "sanctuary cities" would leave some cities--ShotSpotter's primary customers--with less money to buy its systems. Separately, it said a bill to make it easier for people to buy and sell silencers could make its technology less reliable.
- The New York Times adds 348K new subscribers in its 1Q, which it says was the best quarter for subscriber growth in its history. The newspaper company says total digital-only subscriptions rose 62% to 2.2M at the end of its 1Q. Still, the company expects growth in paid digital-only subscriptions to its news products to slow in 2Q than the prior two quarters. NYT, like others in the industry, has been working to offset declines in print circulation revenue with digital subscriptions. NYT said in February it saw a significant increase in the number of digital-only subscriptions following the 2016 presidential election, in which it often drew the ire of Donald Trump for its reporting and editorial positions. Shares are up 9.8% to $15.70.
- All the water-cooler talk about politics is affecting the workplace even more than before the 2016 election, according to a new survey released by the American Psychological Association. Among the 1,300 full and part-time workers surveyed in recent months, 26% said political chatter at work made them feel more stressed and tense, compared with 17% of those polled in September. More than half of respondents said they had discussed politics at work since the November election. For 40% of workers, it had caused at least one negative outcome--such as lower productivity or poorer work quality. About one in six said they had experienced strained relationships at work since the election because of political discussions with co-workers.
- Earnings expectations are picking up. The US posted the biggest improvement in its revision ratio--which measures the ratio of upward and downward earnings estimates by analysts--of all regions in April, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Analysts have also gotten more optimistic about multinational firms after ramping up expectations for more domestically-focused companies immediately after the election. "This likely reflects the improving trend in global growth and increasing skepticism with regard to domestic stimulus and tax reform," BofA says.
- Voters in New Mexico's capital city rejected a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks in a special election Tuesday, handing a win to the beverage industry after losses last year in Pennsylvania, Colorado, California and Illinois. Santa Fe's proposed tax to fund early childhood education would have applied to sugar-sweetened beverages including soda, iced tea and sports drinks. Outside groups spent more than $3M on the election, according to the Associated Press. They included the American Beverage Association, an industry group that fought the tax, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who supported it.
- The Trump team will "shortly" name someone to the job of Federal Reserve vice chair in charge of bank oversight, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says, adding that the administration is not necessarily going to pair it with nominees for two other Fed vacancies. Officials have said the appointment is coming soon before: "Let's get them filled as soon as we can." One candidate under consideration is former Treasury official and private equity executive Randal Quarles.
- The dollar firms ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve policy decision later in the day. Rabobank says markets will look for "clues about the timing of the next [interest-rate] hike and on how and when the Fed will shrink its balance sheet." EUR/USD down 0.15% at $1.0911, GBP/USD down 0.1% at $1.2925. Both the euro and sterling, however, remain within sight of key levels of $1.10 and $1.30, respectively. Weakness in U.S. ADP payrolls data on Wednesday, or a less hawkish tone from the Fed could help push them towards those markers. On the other hand, a TV debate later between French presidential candidates could pose risks to the euro if far-right candidate Marine Le Pen does well enough to diminish the prospects of her centrist rival and favorite in the polls, Emmanuel Macron. USD/JPY up 0.2% at 112.21.

May 03 - DJ Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Crude oil prices bounced back as a decline in U.S. inventories underpinned the market, although a dip in compliance with OPEC efforts to reduce output and near record supplies capped gains.
- Gold prices were near a three-week low hit in the previous session as investors sought higher returns from riskier assets and the dollar firmed as markets waited for cues that the United States may raise interest rates.
- London copper dropped from a three-week high hit the session before as the dollar ticked higher on expectations the Federal Reserve will signal a June rate rise later in the session.
- Chicago wheat futures slid for a second day, retreating further from a two-month high reached in the last session as abundant global supplies weighed on prices.

- Apple's cash pile rising to $256.8B in the most recent quarter. The total, most of which is held overseas, has soared on the back of the sale of more than 1B iPhones since 2007. Investors have been watching it closely to see what AAPL will do with it if the Trump administration moves forward with tax reform that offers a repatriation holiday. During an interview, Tim Cook declined to address tax reform. Investor Brian Fox, senior vice president at Boston-based Standard Life Investments, which counts AAPL among the $350B in assets it manages, said he would like to see some of that money used for M&A that boosts AAPL's services business.
- American Airlines (AAL) SVP Kerry Philipovitch grabs a lawmaker's softball at the DC airline hearing around regulatory changes she'd like to see. She flags changing carriers' ties with the big global distribution systems that still handle a big chunk of airline bookings made by travel agents. Timely, as AAL remains embroiled in a lawsuit with Sabre, one of the big GDS operators, over a six-year old contact. SABR reported 1Q profits Tuesday. Analysts reckon airlines would like to cut most ties with the GDS operators and just deal directly with all customers.
- Big question still hanging from lawmakers grilling airline executives is what they actually want to see changed? Rep Grace Napolitano (D, Ca) focuses on airlines' efforts at self-regulation, eliciting United CEO Oscar Munoz to pledge "a constant stream" of new initiatives to improve customer service. Alaska, Southwest and American chime in with comments on how customer service is constantly reviewed, with executive and staff pay tied to outcomes. Given dark threats of "one-size-fits-all" actions by Congress if airlines don't step up, hearing doesn't provide specific guidance beyond making things "better." Airline stocks off session highs, but all except Allegiant in positive territory.
- Greek stocks trade higher as the Greek government reaches a deal with the country's international creditors, keeping its bailout program going and paving the way for debt talks. The Athens General Stocks Index gained 3.1% to 733.93. On the banking sector, National Bank of Greece gained 5.9%, Piraeus Bank traded 11% higher, Eurobank Ergasias was up 13% and Alpha Bank gained 6.2%.
- Rep. Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.) weighs into airlines at congressional hearing, questioning the level of competition and taking an extra dig at United (UAL), which he flies on to and from San Diego. Executives are a bit hesitant in defending industry structure, especially market share at their dominant hubs. Remember, of course, that almost all of the industry consolidation in recent years has been waved through.
- Shareholder advocates and an accounting-industry group are pushing back against a provision of the proposed Financial Choice Act they say would weaken protections for investors. The bill, which the House Financial Services Committee is marking up Tuesday, would exempt many more companies from an existing Sarbanes-Oxley rule requiring companies to have auditors weigh in on their "internal controls," their policies and procedures designed to prevent financial error or fraud. Opponents of the requirement think it's too burdensome for smaller companies, but in a letter to the committee Monday, the Center for Audit Quality, the Council for Institutional Investors and the CFA Institute argued auditor inspections help reassure investors that companies' financial statements are accurate, and thus helps those companies raise money in capital markets. Softening the rule, they said, "could have the unintended consequence of eroding investor confidence and the quality of public company financial reporting."
- Foreign investors bought a net $20.6B in emerging-market assets in April, a slowdown from inflows of about $30B in both February and March, IIF data shows. Investors have poured into emerging-market currencies, stocks and bonds this year, as worries over higher US interest rates diminished and growth in developing economies picked up. Last month, appetite for riskier assets was dented by the French election and escalating geopolitical tensions with North Korea. Still, flows into EM assets have been positive for five straight months. Developing Asian economies received roughly 80% of April's inflows, IIF data shows. Foreign investors bought a net $13.8B in debt and only $6.8B in equities.
- Martin Marietta Materials shares jump as the company expresses optimism about a "busy 2017" particularly in residential construction and infrastructure work. MLM says it's ramping up its labor force, increasing production and performing maintenance in anticipation of additional projects funded by the FAST Act, an Obama-era transportation-spending law, and state and local initiatives. While disagreement among Congress and the Trump administration poses a risk to its outlook, CEO Ward Nye says MLM's outlook doesn't "include any benefit that may accrue to us from the enactment of what could be record federal infrastructure spending that both Congress and the president have each said is a high priority." Trump's plan to inject $1T into overhauling American infrastructure has yet to materialize. MLM says 1Q net sales, which exclude freight and delivery revenue, rose 8% to $792M, while EPS fell 2c to 67c. MLM gains 9% to $242.95.
- House lawmakers grilling airline executives move on from overbooking to the vexed issue of ticket change fees, a big revenue earner for carriers. Executives from United and American avoid a direct answer when asked how much it costs an airline to change a booking. While carriers don't disclose the financial benefits of overbooking, they do provide data on fees from change fees, which can run into hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Airline stocks continue to rise in morning trade, led by a 4% rise at Delta following its upbeat April traffic report.
- Mexico and Canada are critical markets for US farm products ranging from soybean meal to corn syrup, and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is "deeply involved" in trade discussions on both the US and Mexico side as jockeying around Nafta ratchets up, according to the grain conglomerate's top executive. "We don't believe both countries are going into a trade war," CEO Juan Luciano says. "We think there's going to be a negotiation." ADM is "helping with data and our opinion" in both the US and Mexico, he says. ADM falls 7.7% to $42.24.
- Dismal gasoline demand is casting a shadow over oil prices even as many analysts expect OPEC to extend production cuts at the May meeting. 1Q gasoline demand declined, impacting earnings at filling stations at the beginning of 2017. This could influence the oil market even more than OPEC's plans for production if the decline continues, Commerzbank says. Another potentially bearish sign for gasoline emerged this week as analysts noted President Trump's comments he would consider raising taxes on gasoline. "If the demand outlook in the US were to deteriorate, we believe that this would weigh significantly more heavily on oil prices in the longer term than for example any failure of OPEC to agree on production cuts," Commerzbank says.
- Pfizer (PFE) CEO Ian Read says political uncertainty in the US and Europe may be deterring big dealmaking in big pharma. Read lists on an earnings call a variety of developments contributing to uncertainty in the industry, including the shape of tax reform and a health-care overhaul in the US and elections in France and the United Kingdom. Read says he expects the pharmaceutical industry to consolidate over time, but "the current market needs to stabilize to be an advantageous market for big deals."

Apr 29 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Capital Economics doesn't see the US's move to slap a 20% tariff on Canadian softwood lumber imports as a serious threat to Canada's economic outlook. Canada's softwood lumber production is estimated to make up just 0.2% of the country's GDP, far too small to be a significant threat to its economy, CapEcon says. The duties are also unlikely to affect domestic lumber production, unless the dispute will drag on for several years. While the bigger threat remains the renegotiation of Nafta, that also might also prove to be nothing more than political theater, CapEcon concludes.
- Mexico's 0.6% growth in 1Q GDP from 4Q confirms pessimistic business and consumer confidence surveys were overstating weakness in the economy, Capital Economics says. Despite lingering risks over Nafta, the firm raises its forecast for 2017 to 2.2% from 1.8%. Preliminary GDP was up 2.7% from 1Q16 (or 2.5% adjusted for a positive calendar effect), above expectations. "Barring a big surprise in the incoming data for March, we don't expect big changes in the final estimate," Capital Econmics adds.
- Newly sworn-in Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta says his goal is to get Americans the skills they need to find jobs. At his swearing in he says jobs are available, but often require skills that many workers don't have. Supporting Americans ability to find good, safe jobs is a priority for President Donald Trump, he says. The apparent support for job training could run counter to the White House budget that seeks to cut federal funding for such programs. Acosta, the first Latino in the president's cabinet, acknowledged his Cuban heritage. He noted it was "amazing" for the son of refugees to take a seat in the presidential cabinet.
- This week's brief market panic sparked by news that President Trump was planning to pull out of Nafta should be seen as a premonitory symptom, notes Mexico's former Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda. The incident shows that the recent appreciation of the Mexican currency backed by optimism over a Nafta renegotiation has weak fundamentals. Trump's unpredictable moves will continue to fuel uncertainty over the future of Nafta and bilateral relations. Trump's "proclivity for 180-degree turns, whether due to a radical absence of convictions, or as a negotiating tactic, will continue," he notes.
- Trump's address to the National Rifle Association on Friday, the first by a sitting president since Ronald Reagan, represents a major victory for the organization and a symbol of its pull with the new administration. Trump's speech at the organization's annual meeting in Atlanta comes amid a buildup of legal power on both sides of the gun debate, and just weeks after the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch, the first of many pro-gun judicial nominees activists hope Trump will tap to serve on the federal courts. Emboldened by the 5-4 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, Second Amendment lawyers said they planned to file more lawsuits challenging gun regulation. Meanwhile, on the other side of the debate, gun-control groups that have historically helped defend gun regulations are now searching for suitable targets to sue.
- February's pause in Canadian economic growth should come as no surprise after averaging 0.5% in the three months to January, according to BMO Capital. "The prior pace was unsustainable and some payback is reasonable," the investment bank says, noting the year-over-year gain of 2.5% is the best in two years. Firm points out two factors now threatening to weigh on growth expectations: a cooldown in real estate, after Ontario authorities brought in measures to curb escalating house-price gains in Toronto; and distress about the direction of US trade policy under President Trump. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz delivers remarks in Mexico next week, and Bank of Nova Scotia says "one might reasonably suspect that NAFTA risks will figure prominently in his address."
- President Trump has been a mixed blessing for the gun industry, with pledges on gun rights tempered by his election sending shares in listed makers American Outdoor Brands (AOBC) and Sturm, Ruger (RGR) into freefall on the prospect of lower sales. So Trump's Friday appearance at the NRA annual meeting -- the industry's premier consumer-focused trade show -- will be keenly watched. Industry executives split between whether the elevated sales during the Obama are the new normal, or a blip. Both stocks finally moved into positive YTD territory in mid-April, and are narrowly higher in a flat market early Friday.
- US government spending weighed on the economy in 1Q. The sometimes volatile measure was dragged down by defense spending declining at a 4% pace. Defense is one measure the Commerce Department has struggled to smooth out with seasonal adjustments, so a quick reversal may be in order. Perhaps more troubling, state and local spending fell at a significant 1.6% pace.
- US business investment has been a missing ingredient through much of the expansion. In the first quarter, nonresidential fixed investment advanced a healthy 9.4%. Spending on mining exploration, shafts and wells soared 449%, a record gain and a reflection of stabilizing commodity prices. Economists are hoping the pace of overall investment continues to lift the economy alongside corporate tax cuts and infrastructure spending promised by the Trump administration.
- Arthur Lau, head of Asia ex-Japan fixed income at PineBridge Investments in Hong Kong, warns against changing portfolio positions based on comments from President Donald Trump. Reuters is reporting that the president has threatened to terminate the free trade deal with South Korea. "You don't want to trade on noise," he says, pointing to how Trump's comments start on an aggressive note and often moderate later. That was the case with his U-turn on the North American Free Trade Agreement this week. Lau has bought Korean corporate bonds this year, reducing his underweight position on the country. "Honestly, when we cut the underweight in Korea, it was not about Trump. We were thinking about Korean macroeconomic data...exports are very good," he adds.
- Maybe Trump comments don't have quite the market punch they used to. The president telling Reuters he will renegotiate or terminate a US free-trade pact with South Korea because of a deep trade deficit with Seoul only budget the won slightly. It barely moved outside of its usual daily average and was recently down 0.3% on the session versus the dollar. Jeffrey Halley, a senior market strategist at Oanda, says markets understand that Trump's controversial comments aren't necessarily policy, adding the trade gambit is akin to "coming out with something controversial, find something in the middle and then mollify it." Meanwhile, Korean stocks eased slightly and are barely in the red for the session.
- The Korean won fell to fresh session lows against the dollar after Trump told Reuters he will renegotiate or terminate a "horrible" trade deal with South Korea and make the ally pay for the $1 billion anti-missile Thaad system. Below KRW1,130 earlier in Asian trading, the dollar got toward KRW1,134 and is now back around KRW1,132, up 0.1% on the session. Korean stocks, meanwhile, have given up modest morning gains to sit essentially unchanged from Thursday's closing levels.

Apr 28 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil prices rose but were still on track for a second straight weekly loss on concerns that an OPEC-led production cut has failed to significantly tighten an oversupplied market.
- Gold was little changed and poised for the biggest weekly fall in seven weeks as investors sought out higher returns than those from holding the non-interest bearing yellow metal by buying into riskier assets.
- Copper tracked modestly higher with traders saying some investors were active buying on price dips, but warning at the same time that broader industry sentiment pointed to a weaker outlook.
- Chicago wheat futures were on track to end the week with the biggest gain since early February, with prices underpinned by concerns over freezing temperatures threatening the U.S. winter crop.
- The dollar edged up in Asian trading but was on track for a losing month against a basket of currencies, while the euro shed some of its monthly gains after the European Central Bank maintained its easing bias.
- Trump's tax proposals are unlikely to pass Congress in their present form, says CBA. The plan will face opposition from Republican fiscal conservatives and Democrats. The Joint Committee on Taxation said in a letter to House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan that a corporate tax rate of 20%--5 percentage points higher than Trump's proposal--would create deficits in the long run if the tax cuts were implemented for only three years. Arguments that the tax cuts will pay for themselves through higher rates of economic growth are unlikely to find support, CBA adds. Legislators also assume that companies will use repatriated earnings to invest in the US, despite already being cash rich. Corporates will more likely use repatriated earnings for share buybacks and enhanced dividends, CBA adds.
- The US dollar continues to languish after the Trump administration unveiled a small, one-page outline of its tax plans, CBA says. The Trump administration's tax proposal is roughly in line with Trump's campaign promises, including a cut in the corporate income tax to 15%. CBA said it doesn't expect any material effect on the USD or US yields until there are more specific details on the tax package. This won't be forthcoming in the immediate future. The continued delay in releasing the details of the tax package isn't helping business investment: durable goods orders for March disappointed again. CBA expects US 1Q GDP to be weak.
- President Trump's tax plan may cause America to become a nation of renters, says Stephen Breitstone, partner at Meltzer, Lippe. A reason: doubling the standard deduction may result in fewer people using the mortgage-interest deduction (which you may get when you itemize your tax return). Eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes may also crimp home buying especially in high-tax states such as New York and California, he says.
- Moody's affirms Mexico's A3 credit rating but keeps the outlook negative, saying while financial risks at state oil company Pemex have decreased and progress has been made on fiscal consolidation, external risks such as trade relations with the US remain. Moody's expects only moderate changes to Nafta, but the negative outlook "captures the possibility that negotiations go awry and that a scenario different from Moody's baseline, in which growth falls still further and debt ratios do not stabilize by 2018, materializes." On the other hand, the firm would consider putting the outlook back to stable if the outcome of trade talks has little effect on Mexico, or if reforms start generating more economic growth. S&P and Fitch also have negative outlooks for Mexico, but rate the sovereign an equivalent notch lower at BBB+.
- While Trump's election boosted confidence among small firms that his presidency would result in a better business climate, a majority of small and midsize businesses now believe his administration isn't doing enough to help them, according to a survey of a 1,000 business owners. Conducted by Wakefield Research for TriNet, a provider of human resource services, the poll finds while 51% say they voted for Trump, 92% say he hasn't helped them enough, particularly on health care and simplifying regulations. Three quarters of the business owners say they thought he had prioritized the interests of big business over theirs, according to the survey. The survey was conducted in April but before the White House presented its corporate tax-reform proposal this week.
- Canadian bonds were mostly flat with the back end underperforming the rest of the curve following the likelihood that Nafta wouldn't be immediately terminated. Canada's two-year bonds were unchanged at 0.736%, according to electronic trading platform CanDeal. The 10-year bond was yielding at 1.575% from 1.573%. Canadian fixed income was down early on Thursday after President Trump announced late Wednesday night that he will not direct the US to terminate NAFTA. Bonds eased back toward positive territory amid concerns about Canada's non-bank mortgage lenders and upward oil prices. Markets will focus on GDP figures released Friday with Canadian bond yields expected to go modestly higher on the back of the data.
- The Canadian dollar was little changed, erasing all gains made after investors reacted warmly to the loonie following media reports that renegotiations of a Nafta deal would be tempered. The USD is now trading around C$1.3626 from C$1.3618 late Wednesday, according to CQG. The greenback traded as low as C$1.3530 during the overnight session after President Trump said he wouldn't terminate Nafta and would look toward a fairer solution that would involve Canada and Mexico at the negotiating table. Looking ahead, the loonie is expected to react after the release of February GDP figures early Friday. A report above the 0.1% gain consensus should lead to further consolidation in USD/CAD, said TD Securities.
- The Mexican peso recovered some of the previous day's losses after the Trump administration dropped the idea of pulling out of Nafta, seeking rather a successful renegotiation with Canada and Mexico. The peso was quoted in Mexico City at 19.0350 to the US dollar, compared with 19.1715 Wednesday. The IPC stock index closed down 0.3% at 49,441 points. Cemex shares rose 0.9% after the company reported a big jump in 1Q net profit, while broadcaster Televisa shares fell 4.7% on a 7.8% drop in 1Q ad revenue, which contributed to a revenue slowdown and decline in
operating profit in the quarter.
- Ontario government politicians are taking the day to trumpet its first balanced budget in a decade. While the province's deficit was up as much as C$19B during the height of the global recession, the ruling Liberal Party has etched away at reducing that shortfall over the past several years. Thanks to a consistent economic engine that outpaced G7 countries with 2.6% GDP last year, incoming taxes were up a whopping C$19.8B more than previously forecast in the last fiscal year. That outperformance comes from higher personal income taxes, while taxes generated through the sales of an overheated housing market also was a strong contributor.
- For years, Ontario has been lambasted for its mounting debt load, recently highlighted by S&P's move to downgrade the province's credit rating down a notch amid a sputtering economy. The province's net debt is projected to be C$301.9B in its current fiscal year, down C$6.4 billion from the last fiscal forecast. "Debt is being managed. The first step to managing your debt is balance," said Finance Minister Charles Sousa. Low interest rates and strong demand for Ontario provincial bonds is expected to help drive the province's long-term borrowing program to C$96.5B over the next three years, up from previous projections of C$78.5B. Interest on debt payments is also expected to be sharply lower over the next two fiscal years.
- Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa says that the ability for the government to balance its budget will give it the "flexibility" to help manage any impact felt from changes to US trade policy. Sousa told reporters that 28 US states rely on Ontario, Canada's most populous province, as its first or second-biggest marketplace, and that the province will continue to support free trade policies. The budget document, however, does note that uncertainty on US economic policy, as well as potential restrictions on global trade, could diminish productivity and dampen business sentiment.
- Facebook describes in a report a concerted "Information Operation" by unknown actors to push false narratives on the social network in late 2016. This politically motivated disinformation campaign was different from the social network's "fake news" problem, which tended to be financially motivated. The reach of this information operation was small, too, accounting for "less than one-tenth of a percent of the total reach of civic content on Facebook," the company says. The remarkable thing here, however, isn't that FB is quantifying this phenomenon, but that it is talking about it at all. Other companies--Twitter, most notably--also have a disinformation problem. But FB is the only one that's made such a detailed public statement about it, a sign that it hopes to put an end to this misuse.

Apr 27 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Singapore shares are flat after 5 straight sessions of gains, amid profit taking and subdued cues from Wall Street after the the Trump administration outlined its tax plan that lacked details. The Straits Times Index is up 0.03% at 3,174.80. Some real estate stocks are trading lower, with City Developments down 1.3%, while Frasers Commercial Trust is 2.2% lower. Ascendas REIT is down 0.4%, while UOB is down 0.2%. Singapore's third biggest bank will report its 1Q earnings before market hours Friday.
- Softness in US equities may carry through to Japan shares Thursday, after markets slipped following Trump's tax announcement, which some investors felt did not outline adequately how the administration planned on working through legislative hurdles. Investors will be closely watching a BOJ monetary policy announcement later in the day. Although no major changes are expected, analysts warn any tweaks to its bond-buying outline could cause short-term yen strengthening. Nikkei futures opened down 85 points. The Nikkei ended up 1.1% at 19289.43.
- Financial adviser Bob Phillips is telling clients the overall effect of Trump's tax plan should be income tax reductions or transfer payments for the vast majority of people who pay federal income tax. There's currently is no way of knowing how people from high income-tax states like New York or California will fare with the elimination of the deduction for state income taxes, the Indianapolis adviser says. The loss of that deduction could offset the benefits of lower rates. In turn, he's telling clients to sit back--he's relatively sure the final product will look much different than the proposals once the horse trading is done.
- The proposed Trump tax cuts would be a boon for hedge funds, who typically pay much higher rates on their annual management-fee income, says Mike Laveman, co-chairman of the New York tax practice at EisnerAmper. "I'm trying not to tell my wife about the huge tax break we are about to get," Laveman says, referring to the benefits for private partnerships like accounting firms, too. One unexpected cost, though, could come if the cuts do away with hedge funds' ability to deduct the interest levied on leverage, he says.
- More farm groups raise alarms over reports that the Trump administration is mulling a withdrawal from NAFTA, which many crop and livestock producers say has underpinned years of growth in exports. "Closing that door would be a terrible blow to the US wheat industry and its Mexican customers," says the National Association of Wheat Growers, noting that Mexico buys more than 10% of all US wheat sold overseas. Ron Moore, an Illinois soybean farmer and president of the American Soybean Association, calls exiting NAFTA "a terrible idea" that would only heap further economic difficulties on already-struggling farmers.
- Mexico's peso fell to its weakest level in over a month on reports the Trump administration is considering a threat to pull out of Nafta. The peso was quoted in Mexico City at 19.1715 to the US dollar, versus 18.8870 Tuesday. The rate briefly reached 19.2990 intraday. "So far the news has been seen as an effort to put pressure on trade partners (Mexico and Canada)... but the order opens the door for the US to actually leave the trilateral agreement," says Banco Base. The IPC stock index fell 0.5% to 49,565 points. America Movil shares gained 3.4% after a strong 1Q earnings report.
- Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) introduces the Regulatory Accountability Act with support from two moderate Senate Democrats, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The bill, which requires cost-benefit analysis and extra scrutiny of major regulations, is worth watching because it might have a better chance at passing the Senate than, say, bills gutting the 2010 Dodd-Frank law.
- Farmers wielded influence in the election of Donald Trump, and now they aim to use that influence to defend agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada, which the National Corn Growers Association says would be imperiled if the Trump administration were to pull out of NAFTA--as some press reports Wednesday suggested is in the works. "Withdrawing from NAFTA would be disastrous for American agriculture," says NCGA President Wesley Spurlock. "This decision will cost America's farmers and ranchers markets that we will never recover."
 - Canadian bonds rise as fixed-income investors reacted warmly to news that the US is considering withdrawing from Nafta through an executive order from Trump. Canada's two-year bonds were yielding at 0.738% from 0.758% on Tuesday, according to CanDeal. The 10-year bond was yielding 1.477% from 1.519%. Canadian fixed income outperformed modestly following a move to safe havens amid a soft retail-sales report and the growing likelihood Nafta will be renegotiated days after a tariff was announced on Canadian lumber producers. Markets will continue to focus on US developments for guidance ahead of GDP figures released Friday.
- Railroad companies are some of the most eager proponents of Trump's tax plan--unsurprising, because their corporate tax rates would plunge significantly. The Association of American Railroads says major freight railroads pay on average a 33.5% federal tax rate, and 37% overall when including state taxes. The trade group says lower tax would lead to more investments in the network that moves goods around the country. "To spur economic growth and unleash innovation, we need a simpler, fairer tax code that works for American businesses," AAR CEO Edward Hamberger says.
- Per a Trump executive order, national monuments created under the Antiquities Act since the start of 1996 that are greater than 100,000 acres will be subject to review. But the measure is likely to be challenged and may have little immediate impact, although conservation groups worry it could eventually open protected federal lands to exploitation of natural resources. "If any of these areas has the protections removed from them, people will be moving as quickly as they can to take out the oil, gas, minerals, fish--whatever else," said Peter Shelley, senior counsel at the Conservation Law Foundation.
- Universal Health Services CEO Alan Miller told analysts earlier today he didn't expect a vote soon on the American Health Care Act, the House Republicans' proposal to dismantle  Obamacare. An AHCA vote was scrapped in March after conservative and moderate Republicans balked. "I don't think they'll even get to a vote because they learned that it doesn't make sense to bring it up to a vote if you don't have the votes," Miller said. But hours later there was a new twist as holdout conservative Republicans threw support behind the AHCA, with the House Freedom Caucus saying, "While the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare, we are prepared to support it to keep our promise to the American people."
- Oil prices dipped, weighed down by a general sentiment of globally bloated markets, though traders said that prices seemed to have found support around current levels.
- Gold prices edged down on ebbing geo-political worries but scepticism over U.S. President Donald Trump's proposed tax reform curbed further losses.
- London copper drifted as markets were underwhelmed by the Trump administration's proposed tax cuts and as focus shifted to China manufacturing, where growth is expected to slow in April.
- Chicago corn futures edged higher as the market took a breather following deep decline in the last session on concerns over exports to Mexico should the United States withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement.
- The dollar held gains against the yen after U.S. President Donald Trump's tax plan offered no fresh surprises, slowing the greenback's rally, while the market awaited the European Central Bank's upcoming monetary policy decision.

Apr 26 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Bank of Canada will take note of the new US tariff on Canadian softwood lumber, which is likely to reinforce its cautious view of the economy and keep the central bank on the sidelines for the foreseeable future, Bank of America Merrill Lynch says. The investment bank thinks the countervailing tariffs along with the Trump administration's comments on Nafta "increases uncertainty regarding trade policies for the North America region, which will likely delay investment." BoC has highlighted tepid business investment as a concern, and reason to focus increasingly on downside risks. BofA Merrill Lynch adds that the "active" trade policy from the White House now puts downside risks on its call for 2.3% growth in 2017.
- A federal judge in San Francisco rules that Trump's executive order threatening to pull funding from sanctuary jurisdictions is unconstitutional, siding with two Northern California communities. In an order granting a request for a preliminary injunction by San Francisco and Santa Clara County, US District Judge William Orrick says the jurisdictions successfully proved they are likely to face immediate, irreparable harm absent court action. Judge Orrick says the executive order likely violates the constitutional separation of powers, as well as the Fifth Amendment right to due process and Tenth Amendment prohibition on commandeering local jurisdictions to carry out federal law.
- President Trump is expected to highlight plans to cut the corporate tax rate to 15% on Wednesday. Trump is expected to emphasize that tax reduction should take primacy over deficit concerns. But this may make it more difficult to get a fiscal package through Congress because most Republicans are staunchly against widening budget deficits, says CBA. Meanwhile, Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, warned "a complete proposal won't be ready until June." CBA said that until an agreement is reached on an aggressive US fiscal stimulus package, the USD will struggle to recover.
- The IPC index of leading issues closed up 0.8% at 49,808 points, setting intraday and closing highs. America Movil shares closed up 1.2% ahead of the company's 1Q results, while cement maker Cemex shares rose 2.9%. Cemex plans to report Thursday. The peso weakened against the US dollar and was quoted in Mexico City at 18.8870 versus 18.7320 Monday. Concerns about protectionism by the Trump administration reemerged as the US Commerce Department moved to place a preliminary 20% duty on imports of Canadian lumber, which it considers to be unfairly subsidized.
- The Canadian dollar fell to its lowest level in a year following the White House announcement of steep tariffs on Canadian lumber. The USD is now trading around C$1.3567 from C$1.3498 late Monday, according to CQG. The greenback traded as high as C$1.3627 before settling below the C$1.35 level. The loonie sank late Monday evening and carried on its descent throughout the day. While CIBC says it's unlikely the lumber spat will cascade into a larger trade war, the move above the C$1.36 mark is likely to spur a move to the C$1.38 and C$1.40 area. "There's a political risk premium built into USD/CAD that wasn't there to an extent beforehand that's partly predicated on the view that NAFTA negotiations will not go smoothly."
- News that President Trump is proposing foreign aid cuts is especially worrying for Colombia, a longtime US ally which has received billions in US money in the hemisphere's fight against narco-trafficking. Colombia is also facing an expensive implementation of its newly-minted peace deal with Marxist guerrillas, a deal that aims to end 50 years of civil conflict and is expected to cost billions over a decade in re-training former fighters, developing the impoverished countryside and compensating those who lost land and loved ones in the conflict. But President Trump has proposed slashing economic aid by 21.1%, to $105M. Still, Colombia fares better than others: The Trump proposal completely ends aid to countries like Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua.
- Fund firms, wealth advisors and brokerage firms are in wait-and-see mode on the Labor Department's retirement-savings rule, T. Rowe Price Group's Chief William Stromberg tells WSJ. "We've made the investment, we've trained our people, we've adjusted our disclosures. We're ready to go," he says. The Labor Department has pushed back the implementation of the so-called Fiduciary Rule by 60 days to June 9, but its future remains uncertain. The industry, Stromberg added, is waiting for more information from policymakers so that they can appropriately change pricing, policies and business models.
- Valero Energy thinks the EPA could tweak ethanol regulations within the next six months "if they really push it." The regulations, designed to boost the amount of ethanol blended into US gasoline, require refiners to either blend ethanol with gasoline or buy credits, called RINs, and have cost independent refiners millions of dollars. VLO and others have lobbied the EPA to move the point in the fuel supply chain at which the credits are created, which would take the onus off refiners. During VLO's earnings call, Senior Vice President Jason Fraser says VLO believes the leadership at the EPA installed by the Trump Administration is favorable to their position. "With the new team at the EPA we're really hopeful," he says.
- Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat, in response to shareholder calls for reviewing plans to break-up the bank, said that "we do not agree there is any benefit" to a return to a stricter Glass-Steagall separation of investment and commercial banking. Some in the Trump administration have suggested an undefined kind of return of Glass-Steagall. Corbat said that "many academics and politicians have said that if Glass-Steagall had existed, it would not have changed the trajectory or path of the financial crisis. It's not a quick cure to financial safety and soundness." Corbat also rejected a call to sell off pieces of the bank, such as Citi Banamex, saying that "if we brought that capital back, we would just have to sit on it."
- Gains in European stocks following the first round of French elections are more than just a relief rally, according to Didier Saint-Georges, member of the investment committee at Carmignac. Monday's gains largely reflected an unwinding of protection set up ahead of the vote, but there remains some pent up demand for European cyclicals and European banks in particular, he says. "As long as there's no perception of big political risk, the economy matters a lot more," he says, noting Europe is far less advanced in the economic cycle than the U.S. and likely to draw further inflows.
- The Canadian dollar plunged to its lowest level in more than a year after the US announced tariffs on Canadian lumber exports late Monday. TD Securities analysts say the loonie's nearly 1% selloff vs. the dollar since the announcement is "overblown." Though trade tensions may rise in the months ahead, "we do not think we are in the early stages of a trade war," TD says. The bank notes lumber exports account for just 3% of Canada's overall exports, meaning the tariffs are "likely to have a limited spillover into the broader economy." One dollar recently bought C$1.3594.
- Centene CEO Michael Neidorff says the company is considering expanding its footprint in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. "We are evaluating other markets to expand in, yes" he says in answer to a question. Peppered with repeated questions from analysts about the business, he offers soothing answers. Maricopa County in Arizona, a big urban area where Centene is the only exchange plan, is looking like other parts of the business, he says. He reiterates that he thinks that federal payments that help insurers reduce costs for low-income exchange enrollees will not go away, but says if they did it would "eliminate the affordability" of the products.
- Oil prices resumed their downward trend as data showed a rise in U.S. crude inventories and record supplies in the rest of the world cast doubt on OPEC's ability to cut supplies and tighten the market.
- Gold fell to a two-week low as investor appetite for riskier assets surged on renewed optimism over the U.S. economy and as political uncertainty in France receded, softening demand for safe-haven assets.
- London copper held near its highest in a week as the U.S. dollar lost ground against the euro in the wake of the French election, making commodities more affordable for buyers paying with other currencies.
- U.S. corn rose for a third straight session to hover near a three-week high as forecasts for rain stoked fears that farmers will switch to soybeans.

Apr 25 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Southeast Asia's export engine is unlikely to falter in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's push for a review of trade deficits, Malaysia's RHB Research says. Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam are among the 16 nations with which the U.S. runs a deficit, cumulatively accounting for $89 billion or around 12% of the total deficit of more than $700 billion, the firm says. But they have virtually no history of trade abuse, it adds, and only Malaysia and Vietnam meet even one of three U.S. criteria for being designated a "currency manipulator."
- The US dollar hits a 2017 high versus its Canadian peer as the Trump administration moves to impose a 20% tariff on Canadian lumber. The decision, which is preliminary, would impose the tariff retroactively on Canadian softwood lumber that is typically used in home construction. It also marks an escalation in tensions with Canada, which is America's second-largest two-way trading partner. The greenback notches a 0.4% gain in Asian trading versus the loonie, which itself would be the biggest gain since Wednesday. The dollar is on track to notch its best level since Dec. 29 versus the loonie since Dec. 29.
- A long-running concern in some corners of the Farm Belt is that the US is being outspent by other crop-producing countries when it comes to agricultural research, and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue's confirmation to head the USDA prompts the Fertilizer Institute to call for continued funding for crop nutrient research. Chris Jahn, who heads the fertilizer trade body, says the industry has ponied up nearly $5M to support research into a framework that helps farmers reduce fertilizer waste and runoff, but says "significant information gaps" remain in the research, and "the need for competitive grant funds from USDA is still great." The Trump administration, in its preliminary budget proposal, outlined a 21% reduction in the USDA's discretionary spending.
- The USD/JPY will likely struggle to go upside after confirming resistance above the Y110-level yesterday, positioning the pair (now at 109.79) in a 109.30-110.10 range during Asia trade today, Mizuho Securities chief FX strategist Kengo Suzuki says. Investors are cautiously awaiting if any actions from North Korea on Tuesday's 85th anniversary of its army, which potentially prompts investors to seek perceived safety of the Japanese currency. "We don't know if any actions," Suzuki says. But a missile launch and nuclear test are unlikely this time, as the US and China are ready and waiting for Pyongyang's possible action. Investors may gradually shift their eyes to Trump's tax proposal and the BOJ, ECB policy meetings among other events.
- Newly confirmed USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue tells senators at his confirmation hearing last month that he had learned to do "more with less" when he dealt with declining revenues in Georgia as that state's governor. As Sen.Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) voted to confirm Perdue in a full Senate vote, she says the USDA's main challenge may be doing the same with less--under Trump's proposed budget, the agency's discretionary funding would be cut by one-fifth, which Stabenow says would imperil maintenance for rural water infrastructure, eliminate support for rural businesses, and cut funding for hunger programs aimed at seniors and children. Around 800K jobs have been created via USDA rural business programs, Stabenow estimates.
- The benchmark IPC index closed up 0.9% at 49,413 points as the 1Q earnings season enters its busiest week. Santander predicts strong sales and profit growth for Mexican companies, despite a tough year-earlier comparison. "First-quarter net profit should benefit from exchange gains derived from the strong appreciation of the peso in the quarter," the bank says. The peso strengthens against the US dollar as French election results favored risk appetite, and was quoted in Mexico City at 18.7320 versus 18.8365 Friday.
- Corporate political spending is becoming easier to track, thanks to a search tool being launched this week by the Center for Political Accountability. The group already publishes an annual ranking of political spending disclosure practices by large public firms. The new searchable database aggregates data from individual firms'disclosures, including contributions to candidates, state party organizations, so-called 527 groups and trade associations. At least 100 large firms prohibited some kinds of spending in 2015, while more than 300 offer no
information on payments to "dark money" groups; 172 reported giving to candidates, parties or political committees.
- Canadian bonds were down amid a global sell-off in fixed-income following the weekend's French presidential election results. Canada's two-year bonds yield 0.738% from 0.717% on Friday, according to electronic trading platform CanDeal. The 10-year bond yields 1.482% from 1.466%. The Canadian bond market moving alongside its global peers in a broad "risk-on" session after Emmanuel Macron led French presidential voting ahead of a runoff vote next month. Overall, Canadian government notes outperform US Treasurys across the curve. Wednesday's retail sales and Friday's monthly GDP for February are likely to be the main domestic drivers for the bond market this week.
- Investors are breathing easier after the first-round of French presidential election results because it assures there won't be a final election between two candidates who want France to exit the eurozone and because polls have consistently shown centrist Emmanuel Macron will handily beat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, says David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial. The election's outcome isn't a foregone conclusion, but it now appears France is far more likely to pursue stronger ties to the eurozone and the European Union, he says. With "the most immediate threat to risk appetites," and to economic recovery in the eurozone and beyond out of the way, "markets can focus more intently on fundamental developments," Joy says.
- Thomas Donohue, head of the US Chamber of Commerce, urges US trade negotiators to move quickly to "amend" and not end NAFTA, the US free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. President Trump has repeatedly called for the treaty's renegotiation or repeal. Speaking to business leaders in Mexico City, Donohue says uncertainty about US terms of trade would "suppress" economic growth in the US and Mexico and cause a political backlash that would hurt trade ties. Mexico has presidential elections in 2018, while US voters go to the polls to elect legislators in midterm elections the same year. Donohue called for "a swift renegotiation" of the treaty in order to prevent political and economic damage.
- Belgian stocks soar to their highest level in over two years following the French presidential election, with the Bel-20 closing up 3.1% at 3887.87. Eighteen of the 20 stocks on the Bel-20 closed higher, with banks performing strongly. ING Groep was 6% higher at EUR15.07, KBC Groupe rose 5.2% to EUR65.28, while Engie was up 5% at EUR13.43. Monday's worst performer was Galapagos, which closed down 2.4% at EUR79.40.
- Aluminium has bucked the recent selloff in industrial metals ahead of a Chinese clampdown on pollution expected to lead to the closure of some aluminum smelters later this year. The metal is up 0.6% at $1,947 a metric ton in London. Fears Chinese demand is waning and the global reflation 'Trump Trade' is fading have recently dragged on metals. But aluminum has risen 3.6% in the past three months, and is up almost 15% in London year to date. In late February, China issued directives aimed at tackling smog created by burning coal. Smelters in China's Henan, Shandong and Shanxi provinces are due to close during winter. This would remove 6% of global capacity in those months, according to ETF Securities. Aluminum producer shares have risen with the metal. Aluminum Corp. of China (2600.HK) is up 23% year-to-date, and Russia's United Co. Rusal (0486.HK) is up 17%, as is Alcoa (AA).
- Oil prices inched up but markets remain under pressure following six consecutive sessions of declines as traders lose confidence that pledged output cuts by major producers will rein in oversupply in a world awash with fuel.
- Gold prices eased slightly, dropping for a second day, as investor sentiment remains skewed toward riskier assets in the wake of the French election results on Sunday, though geopolitical concerns are still supporting safe-haven demand.
- Copper eased in Asia, coming under pressure from investors looking to book gains after a surprise overnight lift in the London contract following a market-friedly French presidential vote.  
- Chicago soybeans lost ground with the market falling from last session's three-week high as rapid U.S. planting weighed on the market.
- The euro steadied, pausing after a rally sparked by the first-round results of the French presidential election, while the Canadian dollar fell after the U.S. slapped duties on Canadian softwood lumber.

Apr 24 - European Markets Leap on French Election Results (Dow Jones)
European stocks and the euro jumped Monday as results from the first round of French presidential elections eased investors' concerns about the future of the eurozone.
- The Stoxx Europe 600 climbed 1.8% in the early minutes of trading, led by the banking sector, while France's CAC 40 index surged 3.9%. The euro was up 1.1% at $1.0839 after touching a five-month high on Sunday as preliminary results were released.
- Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron won the first round of the vote in France, beating out leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon and conservative François Fillon to face off against National Front leader Marine Le Pen in the second round on May 7. "The market is ready to bet Macron will be the next president of France, " said Jordan Rochester, strategist at Nomura, pointing to supportive polls and endorsements from defeated candidates that make him likely to outperform Ms.Le Pen, who campaigned to take France out of the euro.
- Bank shares, which had been seen as vulnerable in the event of a victory for Ms. Le Pen, jumped across Europe on Monday. Shares of BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole were up close to 8%, while Italian lender UniCredit added 8.5% and the wider European banking sector was up 4%.
- "With Macron heavily favored in head-to-head polling against Le Pen, it seems most likely that the negative market scenarios--priced in over recent weeks--will recede between now and the runoff," said Timothy Graf, head of macro strategy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at State Street Global Markets.
- The gap between 10-year French and German government bonds narrowed sharply to as low as 42 basis points from 66 on Friday, according to Reuters, close to its lowest since late 2016. That gap had widened in recent months as investors braced for the possibility that France could be taken out of the euro.
- The gap between German and Italian spreads also narrowed to 184 basis points Monday as investors had worried an upset in France could hurt fragile economies in the eurozone in the event of a euro breakup.
- "We have added confidence in the polls," said Patrick O'Donnell, government bond portfolio manager at Aberdeen Asset Management. "There's still two weeks between now and the second round, but broadly I think the market will move on and start thinking about the next thing in Europe: Italy," he said.
- Earlier, the rally in global finance markets lost steam in Asian trading as worries over potential government action to reduce market risk sent Chinese stocks lower. The Shanghai Composite Index was down 1.4%. "There are no signs that regulators are going to ease the intensity of their campaign, so I think we are in for a period of downward correction, " said Zhang Gang, senior analyst at Central China Securities Co.  Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.5% while Australia's S&P ASX 200 added 0.3%.
- A pullback in the yen boosted Japanese stocks, however, with the Nikkei Stock Average gaining 1.4%. The dollar was last up 1.1% against the yen, while the euro was up 2.1% against the Japanese currency, though observers attributed some of the common currency's jump to a lack of liquidity.
- Other risk-sensitive assets also notched sizable moves. Gold futures fell 1.3% to $1,272 a troy ounce while 10-year Treasury yields jumped to 2.310% from Friday's 2.234%. Yields move inversely to prices.
- Brent crude oil futures, which slid Friday to cap a 7% decline for the week, rose 0.7% to $52.30 a barrel. Commodities also benefited from a weaker U.S. dollar. The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of 16 currencies, was down 0.2%. Oil prices recovered ground following last week's big losses, driven by expectations that OPEC will extend a pledge to cut output to cover all of 2017, although a relentless rise in U.S. drilling capped gains.
- Gold hits its lowest in nearly two weeks after centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron won the first round of French presidential election, boosting stocks and sparking a sell-off in the safe-haven bullion.
- Shanghai copper futures opened higher but quickly went into negative territory as investors cut bets that Chinese demand was getting stronger and that global tensions were easing.
- Chicago soybean futures climbed for a second straight session to a three-week high with a weaker dollar and short-covering by investors driving the market higher.
- The euro pared gains after scaling a five-month high against the dollar after the centrist candidate won the first round of the French presidential election, reducing the risk of an anti-establishment shock in the final round.

Apr 24 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Risks appear to be building around the dollar, which is at 5-month lows in early Asian trading. That now includes the prospect of an extension to a stopgap government-spending measure in DC getting held up by Trump's desire to get funding for a border wall with Mexico. Current spending authorization lapses on Saturday, raising the risk of a government shutdown. Meanwhile, another push by the administration for a fresh vote on Obamacare repeal "complicates things," Saxo Bank analysts say during a conference call with clients. Not to be forgotten is Friday's initial read on 1Q GDP, which could show yet-another soft start-of-year result. The WSJ Dollar Index remains down 0.3%.
- Whether the USD/JPY pair can keep its upside momentum depends largely on geopolitical risks over North Korea and President Donald Trump's tax reform proposal, says IG Securities senior FX strategist Junichi Ishikawa in a morning note. Geopolitical tensions are set to increase ahead of Tuesday's 85th anniversary of North Korea's army. More importantly, if Trump's tax proposal disappoints investors, the USD/JPY may fall to 108. On the flip side, if the Trump proposal successfully brings US yields and stocks higher, the USD/JPY may break above 112 to head toward 115.
- Investors are now going to quickly shift from France to Trump and the potential of a tax-reform plan this week. "This is supporting risk-on sentiment," says Masashi Murata, currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in Tokyo, adding some of that could spill over into Japanese equities. But that doesn't necessarily mean big gains loom for dollar-yen. "The 110-range is just kind of a first reaction," says Murata. With conflicting reports of when Trump is expected to unveil--let along be able to deliver--a new tax code, most investors "would like to take a moment." The dollar has now edged back below Y110 after getting to Y110.64 earlier.
- USD can trade a bit softer this week. The Trump administration is expected to introduce its tax reform plan on Wednesday, says CBA. This will be an opportunity to compare Trump's plan with the House Republican tax-reform plan and gauge how quickly the administration can manage to deliver an aggressive fiscal stimulus package through Congress. But US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin warned last week that a final deal before August was "highly aggressive to not realistic at this point." Until an agreement is reached on an aggressive US fiscal stimulus package the USD will struggle to head higher, CBA adds.
- US President Donald Trump President has said he will unveil tax proposals on Wednesday. This reportedly left his own Treasury officials speechless, says Ray Attrill, global head of currency strategy at NAB. "It would seem though that we will get no more than a broad outline of tax plans this week," he adds. Of note is that administration officials are saying that at this stage at least, these will not include plans for a so-called border-adjustment tax. This is important because without the revenue assumed to accrue from this (potentially more than US$1 trillion) Trump won't be able to present plans for tax cuts that are revenue or deficit neutral, he adds.

Apr 21 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Dollar-yen's decline may have a lot of room left, with Daiwa chief FX analyst Yuji Kameoka saying the greenback could fall to Y100 by year's end amid a litany of reasons to buy the yen. They include risk-off sentiment, US protectionism and potential BoJ tightening). Fears about a US economic slowdown, which sends stocks and bond yields lower, could help intensify Trump protectionism, says Kameoka, which could then pressure the BoJ to ease up on QE. The dollar is around Y109.25.
- BlueScope Steel jumps after US peers did overnight. Trump plans to revive a decades-old, rarely used law to explore imposing new barriers on steel imports. BlueScope owns an Ohio mill, which generated 1/3 of the company's F1H underlying pretax earnings before interest and taxes. US steelmakers have been concerned about Chinese steel exports for years and their impact on the US firms' competitiveness. BlueScope is up 3.9%, putting the year's jump at 28%.
- One of JPMorgan's longest serving directors James Crown purchased nearly $1M of the bank's stock, according to a securities filing. Crown, the bank's largest individual shareholder, purchased another 11,500 shares valued at around $85.50 each. JPM's stock had been on a tear since the presidential election but has recently plateaued, along with the sector, as expectations around regulatory loosening and broad growth have yet to be realized.
- Policy decisions in the US--such as the 2005 Renewable Fuel Standard, which led to roughly one-third of the US corn crop to be used in fuel production--encouraged competitor countries to step up their farming, academics say. The price run-up in corn and other crops, driven partly by rising ethanol production, "created a huge incentive" for countries in Eastern Europe and South America to boost crop yields and produce more grain and animal feed, says Michael Langemeier, an agricultural economics professor at Purdue University.
- National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn says the Trump administration was keenly focused on the personnel side of financial regulation, telling an audience at the International Institute of Finance Washington Policy Summit that regulatory discretion can lead to widely different outcomes depending on who's in office. He used the example of bank stress tests in Europe and the US: in Europe, he says, a bank might pass a stress test with barely any Tier 1 capital, while a US bank with 10% Tier 1 capital might struggle to pass a Fed stress test. "That's why personnel is important," he says.
- Foreign steelmakers criticized the Trump administration's move to investigate steel imports on national security grounds and potentially impose tariffs down the road. The US investigation "will be very bad for the US economy, very bad for steel-consuming industries--such as construction and manufacturing, which depend on a reliable supply of steel imports--and bad for foreign steel producers such as the Japanese industry," said Tadaaki Yamaguchi, chairman of the Japan Steel Information Center, the US voice of the Japanese industry. "There are far more American jobs at stake in the steel-consuming sector than there are in domestic steel production, and this action will put many American jobs at risk."
- Financial stocks jump 1.5% in the S&P 500 after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says tax reform is a "sweeping, significant, top priority," for President Trump. Hopes for tax cuts, which many investors think could boost corporate earnings, had helped bank stocks surge in the months after the election. The KBW Index is up 1.8%, with Goldman Sachs up 1.9%, Wells Fargo up 2.2% and Bank of America up 1.8%. "The Mnuchin comments are just the icing on the cake for today," said R.J. Grant, director of equity trading at KBW, who said generally solid bank earnings have also supported the group in recent sessions.
- Major indexes rise to session highs after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says whether or not the administration is able to push though a health-care overhaul, "we're going to get tax reform done." Mnuchin delivered his comments at the Institute of International Finance Washington Policy Summit, where he also said he expected bipartisan support for raising the debt ceiling. DJIA up 225 points, or 1.1%, to 20627, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite gain 1%.
- California Governor Jerry Brown says his state will continue to work with other states and Canadian provinces to fight climate change, despite attempts by the Trump administration to roll back greenhouse gas emissions regulations. "We are resisting, we are pioneering an intelligent path forward and we have a long way to go," he says, speaking at a carbon conference in San Francisco. "We got to go against the flow and channel the flow, because the flow is now leading us to catastrophe." California aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The state also has a 50% renewable power mandate for utilities.
- Canada PM Justin Trudeau skirted questions on whether Toronto housing market is in precarious bubble territory. At event hosted by Bloomberg, he described Toronto market as dealing with pressures "that needed to be alleviated." Earlier Thursday, Ontario unveiled policies to curb Toronto housing, led by 15% tax on foreign buyers. Trudeau said one of the biggest problems in dealing with frothy real-estate, in Vancouver and Toronto, is "dearth of data" in Canada on foreign ownership of residential properties. For now, he said his government's housing focus was on ensuring "people in Toronto and across the country can afford their homes." That entails spending billions, as Liberal government has pledged, to increase the stock of rental units and affordable housing across country, he added.
- London shares rebound, with the FTSE 100 ending up 0.06% at 7118.54, as markets grow more confident that French elections this weekend won't produce a nasty shock. "Stocks are on the rebound this afternoon, with the FTSE managing to creep back into positive territory after a testing two-days," IG says. The French presidential election is seen as "unlikely to cause an upset," the firm says, with far-right candidate Marine Le Pen expected to top the vote in this weekend's first round vote, but seen as unlikely to win in the second. St James's Place is the biggest riser, up 1.9%, while Ashtead is the biggest decliner, down 2.7%.
- In his first comments since President Donald Trump singled out Canada's dairy regime for criticism, Canada PM Justin Trudeau said he wasn't going to overreact and would "lay out the facts" to the White House on agriculture. "Let's not pretend we are in a global free market when it comes to agriculture. Every country protects for good reasons its agricultural industries," Trudeau said at Toronto event hosted by Bloomberg. He noted the US is running a trade surplus with Canada on dairy, "so Canada is not the challenge here." He said Canada's supply-management system -- where prices for dairy are set based on production costs, and foreign competition is hit with tariffs -- works "very well" for the country, and was willing to talk about improvements with US once Nafta discussions commence.
- Oil traded steady, though it was set for its biggest weekly drop in about a month over doubts that an OPEC-led production cut will restore balance to a market that has been dogged by oversupply for more than two years.
- Gold held steady with tensions surrounding upcoming French elections underpinning the safe-haven demand, but the yellow metal was on track for its first weekly drop in six.
- Zinc led an across-the board rise in Shanghai base metals futures on the back of robust gains in overnight London trading and buoyant equity markets.
- Chicago wheat was little changed after dropping to a four-month low earlier in the session, pressured by plentiful global supplies and an improved weather outlook for the winter crop in the United States.
- The euro held steady below a three-week high against the dollar, as investors awaited this weekend's first round of voting in France's presidential election.

Apr 20 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Drug price critics relaunch a failed bid for the US government to knock down the price of a cancer drug, hoping for a receptive ear in Washington. Two nonprofits send a letter to the Health and Human Services and Defense Departments, asking them to exercise so-called "march-in rights" allowing the introduction of lower-cost versions of prostate-cancer drug Xtandi, co-marketed by Astellas and Pfizer and costing about $130,000 per patient annually. A 1980 law allows the government to order a drug patent be licensed to other companies if research underpinning the drug received federal funding and the drug isn't available to the public on reasonable terms. Last year, the Obama administration rejected the groups' petition on grounds the drug is broadly available.
- Today's Fed beige book contains several ground-level reports on US immigration policy. The Minneapolis Fed says "firms catering to tourists in the Black Hills region reported difficulty finding labor, especially seasonal immigrant labor they have traditionally used." And in the San Francisco Fed's district, "hotel stays were lower than expected due to changes in immigration policy and increased scrutiny of foreign arrivals." One contact in the Boston Fed district "noted that hostile immigration policy could further tighten labor markets for skilled and unskilled labor."
- Investors who bought gold ahead of the British referendum last year are again stocking up on the precious metal, broker Pure Gold says. Purchases more than doubled Tuesday after London Prime Minister Theresa May called for a snap election, igniting fears of further political unpredictability and increasing demand for safe-haven assets in the UK. Two-thirds of those buyers also purchased gold ahead of the Brexit vote. Gold prices have risen this month on political risks including the upcoming French election and tensions between the US and North Korea. "We've had many clients removing exposure to equities as they fear the worst-case scenario between North Korea and US," Pure Gold CEO Josh Saul says.
- The rally in bank stocks since Trump's election has been partly based on the idea that his administration will deregulate banking. US Bancorp CFO Terry Dolan tells WSJ "we've been cautioning people to say 'don't expect massive changes in the short term.'" Dolan says he'd like to see changes like more coordination between the various banking regulators. "It doesn't need to be some major rehaul in Dodd-Frank."
- If the Trump administration can win compromises to move its stimulus spending, deregulation and tax plans forward, stocks may continue to rally, says Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors' US SPDR business. But if Washington gridlock persists or worsens, continued sluggish economic growth, rising inequality and greater debt are likely, he says. Without clear signals from Washington, the best option is likely State Street Global Advisors' "New Abnormal investment playbook"--seeking income opportunities beyond traditional sources, ensuring the yield is worth the risk, considering investments in real assets to make portfolios more resilient to any growing inflation risk and looking to mitigate headwinds from "episodic volatility" with allocations to gold and lower-risk multifactor smart-beta strategies, he says.
- The 10-year Treasury yield has tumbled about 40bps from its 2017 peak in March, yet some bond bears are not calling it quits. Blake Gwinn, US rates strategist at NatWest, says he still expects the yield--2.218% recently--to rise to 2.9% at the end of this year. While some US data have flagged the downside risk on growth, Gwinn believes it is a temporary soft patch. The data "are not bad enough to knock the Fed off," he says, sticking to the call of three more hikes this year. One risk for that higher yield call, he says, is for both far right and far left candidates to enter into a second round in the French presidential elections.
- Investors find stocks have gotten too expensive. A net 83% of investors polled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch in its April fund manager survey said US stocks are overvalued. Stocks elsewhere don't look much cheaper: 32% say global equities are overvalued, the highest rate in nearly 17 years. "Investors are showing love for Europe and scrambling out of US equities, as the majority find US stocks overvalued and perceive a risk of delayed US tax reform," said Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist. Hopes for tax cuts from the Trump administration helped major indexes surge after Election Day, but some investors and analysts have warned that stocks trading near highs despite increasingly unclear prospects for a tax reform package are vulnerable to a pullback.
- Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman sounded a bullish note on potential regulatory and political changes that could help his business. As the Trump administration takes aim at parts of Dodd-Frank and eyes tax reform, Gorman highlighted both. "It's hard to imagine the regulatory burden increasing at this point and some of the policy proposals being floated make good common sense," he said on the firm's 1Q earnings call. All good until Glass-Steagall makes a return.
- Toyota Motor has found an ally in Vice President Mike Pence, the former governor of Indiana, where Toyota has a factory. Pence met Toyota President Akio Toyoda shortly before the inauguration of Donald Trump in January, and the two renewed their ties in a small group meeting Wednesday at Tokyo's Hotel Okura. "It went well," said Toyoda afterwards. Among other achievements: Pence praised Toyota in a speech at the hotel for its investments in the US, while avoiding mention of a planned Toyota factory in Mexico.
- US Vice President Mike Pence used his speech to business leaders in Tokyo on Wednesday to stress upbeat numbers such as the 839,000 US workers employed by Japanese-owned businesses and Japan's $411 billion in direct investment in the US. Just as interesting was his choice to stay silent on another number: $69 billion. That's the US trade deficit in goods with Japan. The vice president could easily have used the figure to press Tokyo for concessions in areas like agricultural tariffs, and his decision not to do so suggests the Trump administration is putting priority on security cooperation with allies like Japan.
- Market participants can come up with a number of factors, including political risks in Europe and tension in Korea, to justify recent U.S. Treasury gains. However, the fact that long-dated yields drop faster than shorter-dated counterparts, a phenomenon known as bull flattening, is instead a sign that investors are "massively leaving the reflation trade," KBC analysts say in a note. After all, safety flows often target the shorter end of the curve, KBC adds. The "reflation trade" refers to selling Treasurys, betting on rising yields, on the back of rising inflation expectations due to U.S. President Donald Trump's economic plans.
- Oil prices regained some ground after steep losses the previous day, with a slight drop in U.S. crude inventories stoking hopes that a global supply overhang might slowly retreat.
- Gold prices held firm after falling as much as 1 percent the previous day, with tensions surrounding North Korea and the upcoming French presidential election driving safe-haven demand amid a firmer dollar.
- London copper rose but was mired near its lowest for the year after China's refined production surged in March, underlining ample stocks in the world's biggest metals consumer.
- U.S. grains futures were largely steady although wheat hovered near a 2-1/2-week low, pressured by plentiful global supply that could curb demand for U.S. cargoes.
- The dollar caught its breath in Asian trading, holding above lows hit earlier this week as investors awaited this weekend's first round of voting in France's presidential election.

Apr 19 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Trump's expected choice for vice chair of supervision at the Federal Reserve, Randal Quarles, could be an advocate against a continued future for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Cowen analyst Jaret Seiberg says. He points out Quarles was a critic of the enterprises during his time in the Bush administration. "The best case scenario is that Quarles is neutral with a real risk that he advocates on housing finance issues in a way that is negative for the future of Fannie and Freddie," Seiberg writes.
- Morgan Stanley sees less risk to Mexican companies going forward from changes to US-Mexico trade relations and sees a bright future for firms that do business in pesos, according to Mexico analyst Nikolaj Lippmann. The peso has recently traded at around 18.5 to the dollar, a level of strength not seen since before the US election, which sent the Mexican currency into a tailspin. MS' stock picks include construction supplies maker Cemex, retailer Wal-Mart de Mexico, real-estate developer GICSA and infrastructure operator PINFRA, all companies that the investment bank says have exposure to the Mexican domestic economy and the peso. Despite these bright spots, the bank sees "no upside for the MEXBOL," or the Mexican stock market, mainly do to uncertainty leading up to 2018's presidential elections.
- US lawmakers are appealing to the Trump administration to help Wisconsin and New York dairy farmers who recently lost access to Canadian markets. NAFTA had allowed tariff-free trade to Canada for ultra-filtered milk, a product in cheese. Ontario farmers are pushing down their prices in protests, prompting US farmers to lose long-standing contracts that have prompted millions in dollars in losses. A bipartisan group of lawmakers are seeking help from federal officials in the complex trade issue.
- CAC-40 closes down 1.6% at 4990.25 amid political uncertainty around France's presidential elections. Carrefour ends down 4.2% after French peer Casino posts disappointing quarterly sales. On Wednesday, investors will keep an eye on the MBA US Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey at 1100 GMT.
- The Bel-20 closes 1.2% lower at 3745.95, hit by a Europe-wide selloff after UK's Prime Minister Theresa May called snap polls, stoking further political uncertainty hitherto driven by elections in France and Germany. French energy firm Engie leads the losses with a 2.7% drop, followed by a 2.3% decline in the shares of steel-wire coating company Bekaert and a 2.2% slump in Belgian manufacturer Ontex's stock. There were no companies in the black.
- Goldman Sachs is abandoning its calls for dollar strength against the euro, British pound and Chinese yuan. Goldman cites accelerating growth around the world, the Fed's cautious approach to raising rates, and the Trump administration's comments indicating it would prefer a weaker dollar. Goldman says President Trump could weaken the dollar through "appointments to the Federal Reserve Board and through aspects of trade and fiscal policy." Goldman had introduced the bullish dollar calls on Nov 17, after the US election sent the dollar soaring on hopes that Trump's stimulus and tax reform bets would bolster the US economy. The WSJ Dollar Index has fallen 3% this year as those plans have hit political roadblocks, while US economic data has been mixed.
- Tax reform efforts are on hold while Congress waits for the White House to take a position on some key provisions, Johnson & Johnson CFO Dominic Caruso says during an earnings call. Caruso says the outlines of reform are clear: lowering tax rates, moving to a territorial system and encouraging innovation and production in the US. On the last point, however, Congress is waiting for direction on the particulars from the White House. "While everyone is waiting for that, things have stalled," Caruso says.
- UnitedHealth limits its remarks on Republican efforts to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, with CEO Stephen J. Hemsley suggesting that media accounts of the debate have been accurate. But the big insurer advocates strongly for a repeal of the ACA's health-insurer tax, which is suspended for 2017 but slated to return next year. The CEO suggests UNH would like to see "more flexible state-based markets," implying a more limited federal overlay of standards on plan design and pricing for individual and small-business plans. He says greater freedom for insurers in underwriting is part of that flexibility--meaning that insurers could have more ability to tie prices to the likely health costs of enrollees.
- Bank of America's wealth unit gained $29.2B of new fee-paying assets in the 1Q thanks in part to retirement savers moving their traditional commission-based IRAs into accounts that charge an annual fee, the bank said. In its effort to comply with the now-delayed fiduciary rule, the bank has forced most of its retirement-saving clients who pay commissions to decide whether to move their IRAs to a fee-based model or to its online brokerage platform, Merrill Edge. Conversations between brokers and their clients have been ongoing since the fall, even after the Labor Department decided to push the rule back 60 days earlier this month.
- On the same day that Vice President Mike Pence started an economic dialogue with Japan's finance minister, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was holding his own trade talks with Japan's trade and industry minister, Hiroshige Seko, in a separate building a few blocks away. Japanese officials said they didn't know why Ross chose to make an unannounced visit to Tokyo at the same time as the vice president, but it did allow the ambitious Seko, a confidant of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a chance to keep his hand in economic policy making even though he didn't get to attend the Pence dialogue.
- Equity markets aren't fully pricing in a surprise outcome in Sunday's first round of French elections, contends Kay Van-Petersen, global macro strategist at Saxo. Risk-off trades are being seen in the yen, gold, silver and 10-year Treasurys, but he says that hasn't been the case in stocks. Meanwhile, he sees euro-dollar falling 10% if Le Pen and Melenchon reach the final round. But a Fillon/Macron matchup would send the pair "to the moon."
- Japan's main message ahead of a series of economic talks with the US is that it's different from tension-filled trade discussions between Washington and Beijing. "This is about cooperation, not about tension," Finance Minister Taro Aso says of the US-Japan dialogue. DC has agreed to launch the talks upon Tokyo's request this time; prior bilateral discussions which were initiated by the US in response to trade tension with Japan, he notes. But with the agenda not set yet, it's not clear whether the dialogue will take shape as expected by Tokyo.
- Oil prices dipped as bloated U.S. supplies weighed on markets while a fall in Saudi crude exports was offset by rising production in the country.
- Gold slipped as the dollar recovered a bit from a three-week low hit in the previous session, but geopolitical concerns about North Korea and nervousness ahead of the French presidential election lent support to the safe-haven asset.
- London copper held close to its weakest since January, on concerns China's base metals demand could temper in the coming quarter as Beijing acts on runaway property prices, and following a wobble in steel.
- U.S. corn futures slipped to their lowest in one and a half weeks amid expectations of dry weather in the country's corn belt that will allow farmers to speed up seeding.

Apr 18 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Randal Quarles, a former Treasury Department official, is expected to be nominated as the Federal Reserve's vice chairman for bank supervision, The Wall Street Journal reported late Sunday. The former Bush administration official would be expected to lighten the regulatory burden on banks. Quarles now runs the Cynosure Group, a Salt Lake City-based private equity firm. Quarles would replace Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo, who stepped down in April. The position requires Senate confirmation.
- If Quarles is approved, there would still be two more Fed vacancies Trump could fill. Cumberland Advisers' David Kotok thinks Trump could appoint as many as six of the seven governors of the Federal Reserve in the next year. That creates uncertainty for investors, He writes Monday. The problem at the Fed is really about WHO is going to make the policy and WHAT policy will be handed off to the new Fed. Here is where looking ahead gets difficult for market agents like Cumberland and our clients.
- Fed Chair Janet Yellen's term ends in early 2018, but Trump indicated last week in an apparent reversal of earlier plans, that he may ask her to serve another term.
- Former Colombian right-wing president Alvaro Uribe, a staunch critic of current President Juan Manuel Santos, was able to get Trump's attention with accusations Colombia's peace process with Marxist guerrillas has set Colombia on the path toward a communist state. In an affront to President Santos, Uribe was able to meet with Trump in Florida last week and presented a letter to the US government outlining concerns about the peace process. President Santos's administration has rejected Uribe's criticisms, saying the peace deal with the Marxist guerrillas--which ends 50 years of civil conflict that has claimed more than 220,000 lives--is the best path forward to a stable country and economic growth. Colombia has long been a US ally, and it isn't clear yet what effect Uribe's meeting with Trump will have on US support for the peace process.
- Boeing identifies Silk Way Airlines as the buyer of 10 of its 737 Max jets already on order, just days after Trump said he'd back a restart of a US Ex-Im Bank that's been shuttered to aircraft-sized deals for close to two years. BA already rents cargo jets to Silk Way, reflecting the tough sell the Azerbaijan-based carrier has raising pure commercial finance, and making the Max jets a potential candidate for Ex-Im guarantees if the bank gets back into the aircraft game.
- The yen will likely strengthen as geopolitical concerns over North Korea increase, but then weaken in case of an emergency in the Korean peninsula, says FPG Securities chief executive Koji Fukaya in a note. As tensions mount, investors are likely to opt to reduce riskier asset positions and computers programs may respond to the headlines to cause buying of the yen as safe haven. But investors could also sell the yen, as they avoid buying assets of neighboring counties (just as the crisis in Greece sent the euro into a tailspin), if a brush-fire war breaks out there. "This problem will unlikely lead to a global financial crisis," which had caused a higher yen in 2008, says Fukaya, adding that excessive falloff in the USD/JPY looks unlikely as long as the U.S. economy remains strong.
- Oil prices fell in thin trade after the Easter holiday break shut many markets for as long as four days and as a U.S. government report indicated rising production.
- Gold held steady supported by geopolitical tensions over North Korea and after falling from a five-month high in the previous session on a firmer dollar.
- Shanghai aluminium turned positive after an initial retreat on signs of robust demand and output cuts in China.
- Chicago soybean futures lost more ground with prices pressured by lower U.S. crushing in March and dry weather over the weekend aiding Argentina's soybean crop.

Apr 17 - The Turkish lira gained more than 2% against the US dollar (Dow Jones)
The Turkish lira gained more than 2% against the US dollar after Turkey approved constitutional amendments to change the parliamentary system into a presidential one. According to unofficial results by state-run Anadolu Agency, a yes vote led by a tight margin, 51.4% to 48.6%. A "'Yes' result will be perceived as the outcome whose implications are more foreseeable, at least in the short run. In this respect, we expect to see a relief rally in TRY denominated assets," says QNB Finansbank. The USD/TRY is now at 3.66 after the pair hit a low as 3.6439.

Apr 17 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Fitch is tracking possible further expansion of Medicaid after House Republicans' failed attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Under the ACA, states can choose to open Medicaid to more people. Not all have done so. Some holdouts, such as North Carolina and Maine, could change course, Fitch says in a report. But recent expansion efforts failed in Kansas and Virginia. "Past experience suggests that more states will eventually opt to expand," the rating agency says, citing the gradual adoption of Medicaid after its creation in the 1960s. Hospitals benefit from fewer unpaid medical bills as Medicaid expands, Fitch says.
- Researchers are developing robots that can take the place of farm labor in light of concerns over higher labor costs and less available immigrant labor in years ahead. Georgia Tech Research is working on robotics technology that will be able to tell when fruit is ripe--a key factor that has long forced farmers to continuing using people to pick fruit. The new technology uses infrared sensors to detect how much sugar is inside the fruit. Another project in the works is commercializing a new robot that can de-bone chicken, a job that is often done by immigrants, but has high turnover given the nature of how dirty and repetitive it is.
- The final version of the Trump administration's regulation aimed at stabilizing health-insurance marketplaces may not make a huge difference as insurers decide whether to stick with the exchanges, analysts say. "We doubt it changes whether plans will exit or not, particularly given the continued uncertainty around" cost-sharing subsidy payments, says Wolfe Research. Piper Jaffray adds the rule might make Molina "slightly more likely" to stay, or the company may "take a hybrid approach by exiting unprofitable counties instead of exiting the exchanges all together."
- The end of the FCC's airwaves auction also marks the end of the "quiet period," which prevented merger talks between participants as a safeguard against bidding collusion. That prohibition lifts at the end of the day April 27. There is much pent up demand, as many believe the Trump administration will be more lenient on consolidation. Analysts view T-Mobile as potentially a good partner for either Sprint or a cable company, such as Comcast or Charter.
- The Canadian dollar slid 0.6% against the US dollar today, holding onto a small weekly gain amid a volatile stretch of trading. The Canadian dollar had been supported this week by higher oil prices, Wednesday's Bank of Canada policy meeting and comments from President Trump that sent the greenback reeling. The loonie reversed some of those gains Thursday as investors squared up positioning ahead of the Easter holiday weekend. One US dollar recently bought C$1.33.
- There have been hopes from some quarters in Europe that the US might use its bully pulpit to change the long impasse one way or the other in the Greek debt crisis between the EU, Athens and the IMF. But perhaps its all in vain because Greece isn't likely on the top of President Trump's priority list. In the meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin seems to be taking the middle-of-the-road position his predecessor took: "We're looking for the Europeans to help Greece resolve its economic problems," a senior Treasury official says. The secretary "thinks the IMF can play a supporting role," he adds, "We'll look at any potential future agreement with an open mind."
- US stocks end a holiday-shortened week on a down note with losses steepening after word this afternoon that the US military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on an ISIS tunnel complex in Afghanistan. DJIA off 138 points to 20453, the S&P 500 down 16 to 2329 and the Nasdaq falling 31 to 5805. Wells Fargo finishes down 3.3% after a flat 1Q profit on lower mortgage-banking revenue and rising costs. JPMorgan  and Citigroup also close lower despite better-than-expected quarterly results. Investors will have a long weekend as US markets are closed Friday in observance of Good Friday.
- Crude oil fell in quiet trading, after the three-day Easter break, on signs the United States is continuing to add output, undermining OPEC efforts to support prices, and as the market digested North Korea's failed missile launch on Sunday.
- Gold hit a five-month high as the dollar weakened with investors taking refuge in safe-haven assets in the wake of rising geopolitical tensions over North Korea.
- Shanghai aluminium soared to nearly a four-year high after fresh capacity cuts in top producer China, while the country's robust  first-quarter growth underpinned its demand outlook for most metals.
- Chicago soybean futures climbed to their highest in more than two weeks, rising for a third consecutive session as forecasts of heavy  rains in parts of the U.S. Midwest are expected to delay fieldwork.

Apr 14 - Currency Trading: Yuan Surges After Trump China Shift (WSJ)
     China's central bank guided the yuan to its biggest one-day advance against the dollar in nearly three months on Thursday after U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned overnight a campaign pledge to name China a currency manipulator and said the dollar was too strong.
     The yuan's move came as the dollar continued to slide against major currencies like the Japanese yen in Asian trading following its drop in U.S. hours after Mr. Trump, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, signaled an end to the so-called "strong dollar" policy that previous U.S. administrations of both parties have stuck to for many years.
     "It just throws FX markets in a tizzy all over again," said Eddie Cheung, Asia FX strategist at Standard Chartered in Hong Kong. "This scenario seems to be a bit more positive for EM," he said, referring to emerging markets.
     China's central bank fixed the midpoint for trading in the dollar-yuan pair at 6.8651, representing a 0.4% gain in the yuan from the previous day. It was the yuan's biggest one-day jump since Jan. 18, putting it at the strongest level against the dollar since Feb. 17. The yuan doesn't float freely like the dollar or yen; instead, the People's Bank of China allows the yuan to trade 2% above and below a level it picks each day, which is known as the fix.
     In recent action, the yuan strengthened 0.2% against the dollar, with one dollar buying 6.8780 yuan, compared with Wednesday's onshore close of 6.8922 yuan, according to Wind Info.
     Mr. Trump's decision not to label China a currency manipulator is in part a reflection of recent market trends. During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump frequently claimed that China had deliberately devalued its currency to gain an advantage in global trade, by making its exports relatively cheap.
     However, many economists say that while that may have been true in prior years, recently Beijing has been intervening more to prevent the yuan from sliding too far, too fast. This year, the yuan has gained 1% against the U.S. dollar.
     At the start of 2017, market participants were bracing for a steep decline in the yuan driven by hefty capital outflows, slowing Chinese growth and potentially higher U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods. And it looked that way in the first few trading days of 2017, as the dollar rose to near 7 yuan, a level it hasn't hit since 2008. Since then, China's has successfully cracked down on outflows, with foreign-exchange reserves rising for two straight months through March, while the economy has steadied and the trade relationship between China and the U.S. is looking less tense.
     Irene Cheung, a senior strategist for Asia at ANZ, said recent daily fixes in China have been biased toward yuan strength. While a weaker currency is generally good for a country's economy, as it makes exports more competitive, Ms. Cheung said the Chinese authorities need to strike a balance between the desire for trade competitiveness with this year's economic recovery and the relationship with the U.S.
     Mr. Trump said Wednesday he offered Chinese President Xi Jinping more favorable trade terms in exchange for China's help in confronting North Korea.
     "There are more reasons for [Beijing] to keep the currency more stable compared to 2016 and 2015 when they allowed the currency to weaken," Ms. Cheung said.
     Several currencies, especially those in emerging markets such as China, have rallied against the dollar this year as investors have pared the bets on a stronger U.S. currency that amassed in the weeks after President Trump won the U.S. election in November. The so-called Trump trade -- the idea that Mr. Trump's promises for tax cuts and infrastructure spending would ignite U.S. growth and push the Federal Reserve to raise rates faster -- has fallen out
of favor in recent weeks.
     While Mr. Trump's latest remarks may help ease currency concerns in Beijing, they could pose a headache for countries like Japan that have been fighting to boost inflation for years. On Wednesday, Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said a weaker yen would help the bank reach its 2% inflation target more quickly. But the yen on Thursday continued strengthening against the dollar, as high as Yen108.73 or up 0.9% from around Yen109.73, when Wednesday's stock trading in Asia ended.

Apr 13 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- As the new U.S. administration seems to struggle implementing its legislative agenda, the expected protectionist measures by President Donald Trump are now less of a concern for Mexican corporates, Citi strategists say in a note. And from a fundamental standpoint, Mexican private sector corporates are not highly leveraged, the strategists add. European investors also have reason to keep an eye on Mexico, as a series of firms like telecom America Movil, building materials maker Cemex and energy group Pemex have outstanding bonds in euros.
- New Zealand's NZ-50 index closes down 0.2% at 7240.27 on Thursday in the last day of a shortened trading week, as "global uncertainty and an Easter week slowdown affects volumes," Says Chris Smith, managing director of CMC Markets in Auckland. There were modest losses for index heavyweights across the board, while in the region, Trump's dollar comment sent Asian-Pacific stocks lower. The NZ market will be closed for Easter on Friday and Monday.
- Nomura chief FX strategist Yunosuke Ikeda sees signs the market is overreacting to Trump's remarks in favor of a weaker dollar and low interest rates. Amid increasing worries about geopolitics and with Easter looming, many investors seem to be fleeing riskier assets for the safety of Treasurys--if only temporarily. If investors unwind their risk-hedging positions next week, "the market may remit spontaneously."
- Amid parsing Trump's interview with WSJ, investors are especially seeking his views on Yellen and his about-turn on interest rates. "I do like a low-interest-rate policy, I must be honest with you." Trump had been critical of the Fed's easy policy. Masashi Murata, currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman, says, "The suggestions about Yellen is what's being watched," adding it may be ultimately what real-money investors use a gauge for investments abroad. Yellen has repeatedly said of late that policy is on a path toward normalization.
- USD/JPY (109.05) will likely test downside during Asia trade following President Donald Trump's comments that the USD is "is getting too strong," positioning the pair in a 108.70-109.50 range, says Hideo Watanabe, manager of forex products group at Aozora Bank. Already facing downside pressure from geopolitical tensions, the comments were yet another blow to USD/JPY, sending the pair to 108.92 earlier in Asia, its lowest level since Nov. 17. "What we are seeing is a weaker dollar," says Watanabe, adding that USD/JPY looks poised to test its 200-day moving average of 108.75.
- AUD/USD had been soft, nearing the weakest levels since mid-January until Trump's jawboned the U.S. dollar overnight, saying it was too high, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. AUD is now back over US40.7500 and has further upside in Asia while Trump's comments are digested, says CBA. AUD may also be supported by the March labor force report at 0030 GMT. CBA predicts a 25,000 increase in employment after the 6,400 decrease in February (consensus: +20,000). AUD/USD now trades at US$0.7532 compared with US$0.7476 in late New York.
- USD has decreased materially across the board because of comments by President Trump in the Wall Street Journal. Trump said "our dollar is getting too strong, and partially that's my fault because people have confidence in me." Trump also said "I do like a low interest-rate policy." CBA says it expects the Fed to ignore Trump and keep increasing the Fed-funds rate. CBA also expects the USD to unwind the fall by the end of the week.
- Canadian bond prices climbed Wednesday afternoon along with US Treasurys after President Trump told WSJ the US dollar "is getting too strong," and indicated he would prefer low interest rates. Earlier in the day, prices on shorter-term Canadian bonds had edged lower after the Bank of Canada kept its main interest rate unchanged and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said that a rate cut "was not on the table," when officials met in recent days. Though the central bank's decision was widely expected, the comments reflected some improvement in the Canadian economy. The yield on the 10-year Canadian bond is 1.512% vs. 1.547% Tuesday, according to CQG. The 2-year yield is 0.722% vs. 0.734%.
- The Canadian dollar rose 0.6% against the US dollar Wednesday, as investors digested the Bank of Canada's latest policy decision and comments from US President Donald Trump. The loonie initially strengthened after the Bank of Canada kept its main interest rate unchanged. It's rally was supercharged later in the day after President Trump said the US dollar was "too strong," sending the greenback sharply lower across most peers. One U.S. dollar recently bought C$1.32.
- Treasury yields have tumbled further after President Donald Trump's comments to WSJ that the US dollar "is getting too strong," and that he favors low-interest rates. Trump also leaves open the possibility of renominating Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, who has taken a cautious approach to tightening monetary policy. The 10-year drops to 2.243% after the bond market exits active trading vs. 2.294% at its 3 p.m. settlement.
- Mexico's peso reached its strongest level of the year after President Trump tells WSJ that the dollar is "getting too strong," prompting declines in the U.S. currency. The peso was quoted in Mexico City at 18.5825 to the dollar, versus 18.7740 Tuesday. The IPC stock index retreated from a record high and closed down 1.4% at 48,956 points on modest volume ahead of the long Easter holiday weekend. Mexican markets will be closed Thursday and Friday.
- "So much for the thesis that Trump is going to appoint hawks to the Fed board," says Krishna Guha, analyst at Evercore and former head of communications at the New York Fed. Trump left open the possibility of renominating Chairwoman Janet Yellen and said he likes low-interest rate policy in an interview with the WSJ. "With three Fed board vacancies at his disposal and potentially two more next year, the president's comments on rates have more than the usual importance," he says in a client note, adding "Trump is likely to favor pragmatic figures, and draw more from markets and the business community than from academia."
- Crude oil futures slid for a second session, moving away from a one-month high touched briefly in the last session as rising U.S.production stoked worries about global oversupply.
- Gold rose to a five-month peak amid rising tensions over U.S. relations with Russia and North Korea, with prices also buoyed as the U.S. dollar slid after President Donald Trump reportedly said the currency was too strong.
- London copper rose from its lowest in three months after upbeat China trade data for March, and as traders closed positions ahead of the long Easter holiday weekend .
- Chicago soybean and corn futures rose for a second session as investors covered short positions and rains delayed fieldwork in parts of the U.S. grain belt.

Apr 12 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- The yuan strengthens 0.1% against the dollar in offshore trading after an outside Trump adviser tells Bloomberg News the US likely won't name China a currency manipulator. Trump repeatedly criticized China for keeping its currency undervalued to gain a trade advantage over the US throughout the campaign. Investors have been waiting for the Treasury Department's currency report, due out this month, to see if Trump would follow through on pledges to name China a currency manipulator. Analysts have noted China doesn't fit all of the criteria: instead of pushing down its currency, the Chinese central bank has been burning through FX reserves to boost the value of the yuan in recent years.
- A strong flight to safety in Tuesday's session sends the 10-year Treasury yield to settle at 2.298%, the lowest close since Nov. 17. The bond market is deepening a rebound from a recent selloff. A month ago, the yield was above 2.6%. The sharp turnaround reflects skepticism over the Trump agenda, and now geopolitical jitters add to demand. Kevin Giddis, head of fixed income at Raymond James, says "all of the hopes and dreams of tax reform, economic growth, and deregulation would be thrown out the window if the US was drawn into any kind of military action with either Russia or North Korea." The hard part for the market, he says, "is trying to determine how much of this is sabre rattling and how much is a real possibility."
- Trump "did exactly the right thing" reopening a review of emissions standards requiring auto makers to sell vehicles averaging 54.5 mpg, or 40 mpg in real-world driving, by 2025, says Mitch Bainwol, head of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. The Obama administration locked in targets a week before Trump's inauguration. Bainwol says the industry will meet the Obama targets but the question remains "when it will happen." He says a review must scrutinize whether "the slope is consistent with consumer demand." Low gas prices are sending consumers to fuel-thirsty trucks and SUVs.
- Asked to do word association on President Donald Trump, John Bozzella, head of a Washington lobbying group representing foreign auto makers with US operations, says, "disruptive." Mitch Bainwol, head of another Washington group representing a dozen car makers, says, "autos." He notes that Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania catapulted Trump to the White House. All are areas with high concentrations of auto workers, car factories and blue-collar manufacturing employees.
- President Donald Trump can't hide behind presidential immunity to avoid a defamation lawsuit filed against him before he took office, attorneys for a woman suing him argued in court papers filed Monday. Former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos sued Trump for defamation in January over comments he made during his campaign saying she lied about a decade-old interaction between the two. Trump's lawyers argued in a recent filing in New York state court that the US Constitution shields presidents from facing such lawsuits. Zervos's legal team disagrees, arguing that precedent shows Trump must face the suit. "No person is above the law in this country, including the President of the United States," Zervos's brief states.
- The Mexican retail association Antad says same-store sales rose 3.1% in March, a slowdown compared to the 5.7% increase registered in March 2016. Total sales including stores opened in the last 12 months are up 6%, well below the 9% in the year-ago period. Household consumption has been dented in recent months due to the jump in gasoline prices ordered by the government in early January and the uncertainty over President Trump's protectionist policies. Antad expects same-store sales to grow 4.2% this year versus 6.3% in 2016 amid higher inflation and slower economic growth. Antad members operate close to 52K stores.
- Shares of large banks pare losses after Trump calls the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act "horrendous" and says his administration is exploring a revamp or elimination of the legislation. The KBW Nasdaq Bank Index is down 0.8% versus down as much as 1.5% earlier in the session. Bank shares surged after Trump's election as investors bet looser regulations would benefit financial lenders.
- Mike Jackson, CEO for AutoNation, the nation's largest dealership chain, says he didn't vote for Trump. "Even though I agree with him on many policies...I didn't feel he had the appropriate temperament to be President of the United States," Jackson says at a New York event. "And I think so far, I might have a point there." Jackson gives Trump high marks for tackling the government's "onerous regulatory environment" and his appointment of a Supreme Court justice, but he likened his behavior at times to that of a child. Jackson didn't say who he supported in the November presidential election, if anyone at all.
- Trump once again blasts the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law, but he includes a subtle acknowledgment that his administration might have to keep some of its policies. "We are doing a major elimination of the horrendous Dodd-Frank regulations. Keeping some obviously, but getting rid of many," he says at a meeting with CEOs at the White House. Which regulations will he keep? Look out for a report on financial rules from the Treasury Department, due June 3.
- Investors are rushing into assets seen as safe amid geopolitical tensions. Gold is up 1.6%, while the Japanese yen has rallied 1% against the dollar. Both are at their highest levels since November. Analysts say a number of political developments are spooking investors, including fears over a potential North Korea nuclear test and mounting US-Russia tensions over Syria.
- Options on a key gold ETF don't reflect the myriad macro uncertainties that lie ahead, according to Bank of America. Gold can be a "powerful hedge for political risk events," Bank of America says, pointing to a cocktail of geopolitical tensions such as those from Syria, North Korea, the French elections, or a potential US government shutdown. Calls, or bullish options, on GLD are an attractive safe-haven hedge, as option costs are near one-year lows, according to the firm.
- Investors retreat from risky assets, triggering further reversal in so-called Trump trades. Shares of financial and industrial companies, among the best performers between Election Day and the end of 2016, fall 1% and 0.5% respectively in the S&P 500. Government bonds, which sold off as investors bet on faster growth under the Trump administration, strengthen, with the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note falling to 2.309% from 2.361% Monday. Some analysts blame low-volume trading ahead of the holidays, as well as concerns over geopolitical developments in Russia, Syria and North Korea, for the risk-off sentiment. S&P 500 recently down 0.7%.
- Oil prices rose, putting crude futures on track for their longest streak of gains since August 2016, as Saudi Arabia was reported to be lobbying OPEC and other producers to extend a production cut beyond the first half of 2017.
- Gold climbed to a 5-month high after gaining nearly 2 percent the session before, with investors shifting to safe-haven assets on rising tensions over U.S. relations with Russia and North Korea.
- London copper amid heightening geopolitical tensions with North Korea, but held above two-week lows hit in the previous session on hopes demand will heat up during the second quarter.
- Chicago soybeans rose on short-covering, pulling away from a one-year low hit in the previous session after the U.S. government raised its estimates for global supplies.
- The yen hit five-month highs against the dollar, euro and sterling, as simmering geopolitical tensions checked risk appetite and put the safe-haven Japanese currency in favour.

Apr 11 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Wall Street's "fear gauge," or VIX, is up over 7% today, with stocks rising slightly. The volatility gauge is based on options prices on the S&P 500 index, and tends to rise when stocks fall. It's another example of equities' resilience despite geopolitical uncertainty entering the forefront. French elections loom ahead on April 23 and the US struck Syria last week. Futures on the CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, have risen for expiration dates through November later this year, FactSet data show, indicating heightened anxiety several months out.
- An exchange-traded fund tracking European equities saw heavy options activity today as the French election looms closer. The Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF saw around 10 times the usual options volume today, the overwhelming majority of which were puts, or bearish contracts, Trade Alert data show. The $11B fund tracks companies across the continent. The ratio of bearish to bullish options jumps to 233.49, well above the 22-day moving average of 0.58. "The bearish interest today is likely a hedge ahead of 4/23 French elections," Trade Alert's Fred Ruffy says.
- Besides uncertainty over the French elections, traders say tensions over North Korea add to demand for haven assets. The buying sends 10-year yield to session low. Some traders point to chatter on Twitter--unconfirmed--that China is reported to have deployed 150,000 troops to its border with North Korea in anticipation of preemptive strike on North Korea by US. The yield is 2.35% vs 2.375% Friday. A $24B sale of 3-year notes is due at 1pm ET.

- Ongoing and ever-shifting discussions about US tax policy changes are acting as an overhang and are frustrating, says John Whelen, finance chief of oil and gas pipeline maker Enbridge. "There's no real clarity at this point," Whelen says. The company has raised capital in many countries, and is "trying to retain flexibility" in its capital structure, so it can adapt if reform involves the elimination or reduction of interest-rate deductibility, as has been speculated, he says. "But its much, much too early to start to overreact," he adds. The Calgary-based company closed its $28B deal with Houston-based Spectra Energy in February.
- CAC-40 ends down 0.5% at 5107.45 as investors remain cautious ahead of uncertain French elections. France's presidential elections are becoming a four-way contest as far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon surges to catch conservative candidate Francois Fillon. French bank shares close lower with Societe Generale ending 1.4% off, and Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas both 1.5% lower. Tuesday, investors will watch out for US Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index at 1255 GMT.
- Europe is the dog that wags the tail of the bond market. Strategists at Goldman Sachs argue that based on their models, Europe has actually been behind the fall in global yields, including those on Treasurys. They argue that for higher yields in US to be sustained, European yields--especially German bund yields--need to jump. The 10-year bund yield has tumbled to near 0.2% from near 0.5% a month ago, which contributed to the decline of the 10-year Treasury yield over the past few weeks. One factor sending bund yields lower is French election risk, which has been driving money out of France's bond market and into haven places like bunds and Treasurys. Goldman recommends investors go short French bonds relative to bunds and Treasurys in a report Monday.
- Proposing the most specific launch plans yet for its most powerful rocket, called the Space Launch System, NASA has sketched out missions to the vicinity of the moon and beyond stretching through the 2030s. The plan, dependent on congressional and White House support, ends years of debate about how the rocket will be used. It envisions at least four early trips to transport portions of what is projected to be a mini-space station in the vicinity of the moon that's intended to be a jumping-off point for manned planetary exploration. By 2027, agency projects cargo launches to supply what they call this "deep space gateway." Two years later, a beefed up version of the rocket is projected to blast four astronauts on a year-long mission to test propulsion and spacecraft life-support systems.
- Geopolitical risk continues pushing oil prices higher, even as some see this as artificial lift since chances of supply disruptions seem remote. Austin-based Drilling info says markets will eventually shift focus back to fundamentals. With OPEC and IEA reports due later this week "the market will get an update on current fundamental balance and compliance levels," it says. "In the longer term, for sustained higher prices, the OPEC cuts will need to be extended with continued compliance, and demand growth will need to reach the IEA's 1.34M bpd expectation. Without these events occurring concurrently, there is little chance of the high inventories normalizing to pre-price crash levels."
- The risk of armed conflict in the Korean Peninsula is rising following the US strike on Syria, a possibility that can't be ignored by investors, says Tommy Xie, an economist at OCBC. US President Donald Trump's decision to inform Chinese President Xi Jinping about the strike probably served as a test to press China on North Korean issues, Xie says. "Clearly, the Syrian strike shows that the option for military intervention on (the) Korean Peninsula is open," he says in a note. The US Navy has cancelled planned port calls in Australia for the USS Carl Vinson and is instead sending the aircraft carrier towards the Korean Peninsula, military officials say.
- Solid U.S. unemployment data and constructive talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have acted to support the U.S. dollar because it reduced the risk of a trade war, says CBA. Both presidents agreed to a new 100-day plan for trade talks that will boost U.S. exports and reduce the United States' trade deficit with China. CBA expects the USD to edge modestly higher this week on encouraging U.S. economic activity. Leading indicators point to a pick-up in retail sales and core CPI inflation likely quickened further above 2% in March, CBA adds. On the speaker front, comments from FOMC Chair Janet Yellen will be of interest Tuesday.- Crude oil eased from a five-week high as rising U.S. shale oil production offset concerns over geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and output cuts being made to support prices.
- Gold edged up as rising political tensions over North Korea and the Middle East buoyed safe-haven demand for the metal.
- London copper was steady  after dropping the day before, but concerns about oversupply continued to drag as the world's top two copper mines look to recover from disruptions.
- U.S. corn edged up to a one-week high as delays in plantings provided some support, though a widely watched U.S. forecast was likely to drive the market's direction.
- The dollar fell against the yen in Asian trading, as concerns over tensions with North Korea and Syria weighed on U.S. Treasury yields and offset expectations of U.S. interest rate hikes.

Apr 10 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- The risk of armed conflict in the Korean Peninsula is rising following the US strike on Syria, a possibility that can't be ignored by investors, says Tommy Xie, an economist at OCBC. US President Donald Trump's decision to inform Chinese President Xi Jinping about the strike probably served as a test to press China on North Korean issues, Xie says. "Clearly, the Syrian strike shows that the option for military intervention on (the) Korean Peninsula is open," he says in a note. The US Navy has cancelled planned port calls in Australia for the USS Carl Vinson and is instead sending the aircraft carrier towards the Korean Peninsula, military officials say.
- Solid U.S. unemployment data and constructive talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have acted to support the U.S. dollar because it reduced the risk of a trade war, says CBA. Both presidents agreed to a new 100-day plan for trade talks that will boost U.S. exports and reduce the United States' trade deficit with China. CBA expects the USD to edge modestly higher this week on encouraging U.S. economic
activity. Leading indicators point to a pick-up in retail sales and core CPI inflation likely quickened further above 2% in March, CBA adds. On the speaker front, comments from FOMC Chair Janet Yellen will be of interest Tuesday.
- Twitter withdrew a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security that alleged the agency unlawfully demanded account records to unmask a critic of the Trump administration. Government officials informed the company's lawyers on Friday that the department had rescinded its March 14 administrative summons, which sought information associated with the account @ALT_USCIS, Twitter's lawyers said in a filing in federal district court in San Francisco. The lawsuit had asked a federal judge to declare the summons in violation of federal law and the First Amendment, arguing that permitting Customs and Border Protection to "pierce the pseudonym of the @ALT_USCIS" would have a chilling effect on speech.
- Republicans' stalled repeal of the Affordable Care Act and drug prices rank among the top issues for fixed-income healthcare investors, Fitch Ratings says. Healthcare is highly regulated, so "the political landscape matters greatly for healthcare companies," Fitch said. Despite the uncertainty since November's election, Fitch said, the rating agency's outlook for the sector remains stable. The escalating cost of healthcare is central to the US political debate over the ACA and drug prices, Fitch said. "Resolving these issues will ultimately require striking a balance between an individual's access to healthcare and its affordability," Fitch said.
- White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said on Bloomberg TV Friday that the Trump Administration will be announcing its nominations to the Federal Reserve "in the very near future." There are three Fed vacancies to fill at the moment, out of seven members on the Fed's governing board. Team Trump has said similar things before, without nominees materializing. Cohn brought up the matter himself during the interview, saying that getting nominees in place "will help us with some of the deregulation of the banks."
- The US missile strike in Syria has little immediate effect on world oil supply, but it does raise questions, RBC analyst Helima Croft says. There would be a greater risk if fighting spills into neighboring states with much larger oil production, but that is a low-likelihood scenario for now, she says. It does raise the possibilities of a rift between Russia and a trade bloc led by Saudi Arabia that could scuttle an ongoing agreement to cut oil output, and growing support for more hardline leadership in Iran that might risk the agreements that have allowed Iranian oil back on the market, Croft says. "If the US airstrikes prove to be a one-time event and are not followed up by any serious effort to oust the Syrian leader, neither of these scenarios may materialize and the oil implications will remain negligible," she adds. WTI gains 1% to $52.23.
- The FTSE 100 index closes up 0.58% at 7345.37, outperforming European indexes as internationally focused stocks benefit from the pound falling to its lowest in more than two weeks against the dollar. Randgold tops gainers, up 4.3%, tracking a rise in gold prices after news of the US launching cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase prompted demand for safe-haven assets. Retailers rise, while engineering stocks and oil companies are broadly higher as GBP/USD drops as low as $1.2382 after earlier weak UK industrial output data and as below-forecast US jobs data fails to dent expectations for further US rate increases. A truck attack in Stockholm weighs on airline stocks, with easyJet down 1.6% and International Consolidated Airlines down 0.4%.
- Germany's DAX finishes with a 0.1% loss at 12,225, having eased from an earlier hiccup as the market swallows slower-than-forecast US jobs growth, and investors exercise caution following the US missile attack on a Syrian airbase. Deutsche Bank closes lower after completing its EUR8B capital increase. The bank said 98.9% of the subscription rights were exercised at the previously announced price of EUR11.65 a share. Small-cap Biotest ends up 5.2% after a Chinese investor confirmed its takeover offer that values the pharmaceuticals company at EUR1.3B including debt.
- Greek stocks trade higher, as the Greek government and its international creditors agreed on the key points to resolve its longstanding bailout review. Eurozone finance ministers gathering in Malta approved the return of bailout inspectors in Athens to settle details and draft the final agreement. The Athens General Stocks Index trades 1.5% higher at 681 points. Among banking stocks, National Bank of Greece gained 3.3%, Eurobank Ergasias traded 4.5% higher, Alpha Bank was 6% up and Piraeus Bank gained 4.1%.
- Raytheon off earlier highs but still up around 1.3% in very heavy trade after US missile strikes on Syria. The 59 RTN Tomahawks used in Syria are the largest deployment since strikes against Libya in 2011, and the company in December received a $304M Pentagon contract for 214 of the cruise missiles for the US and the UK. RTN has also developed an anti-ship version of the missile.
- The US missile strike in Syria and weaker-than-expected US jobs data sends investors into safe havens. Gold rises 1.2% at $1,268.30 a troy ounce, touching its highest point since November earlier in the session. Newmont Mining gains 1.4%, moving into the top-10 gainers of the S&P 500. Gold miners Agnico-Eagle Mines and Barrick Gold also gain more than 1% on the Toronto Stock Exchange, putting them atop mining stocks. Miners like
Anglo American that focus on other commodities fall, and exploration and production companies are largely neutral despite gains in other metals and oil futures.
- In addition to Latin American governments, the US State Department congratulated Ecuador's Lenin Moreno on winning Sunday's presidential election. It adds, however, that "we do note the concerns about the electoral process and expect that they will be fully considered and resolved in a legal and transparent manner." Rival candidate Guillermo Lasso is calling for a recount after allegations of fraud. Moreno's Alianza Pais party has accepted a recount, according to local media reports.
- Lumber futures surge immediately after the opening bell to the day's upper trading limit, tripping an exchange circuit breaker to block any further gains. CME May lumber futures rise $10 to $399.60 per 1,000 board feet. Analysts say the catalyst was a decision by some Canadian producers to raise quotes on the cash market for May by 30% in anticipation of duties widely expected to be imposed on Canadian imports by the US later this month. Already at the highest point since March 2013, prices are just shy of their highest level in over a decade. Trading is "chaotic," says industry newsletter Random Lengths, which says cash market prices for 2x4 Western SPF rose $31 over the week to $392. Some mills were reportedly quoting over $400 for May delivery.
- The stock market is likely to extend a recent streak of sideways trading following a disappointing jobs report. "Any momentum in the markets has now been sucked out," writes Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at EverBank, who pointed to this morning's payrolls miss and the US airstrike in Syria as factors likely to slow the appetite for stocks. "We will need to see strong earnings numbers in order to propel equities on their next leg up." Upbeat economic data had helped buoy stocks in recent weeks despite many investors expressing disappointment at the prospect of hoped-for policies like tax cuts and fiscal stimulus taking longer than expected to be implemented.
- Oil prices rose, supported by strong demand and uncertainty over the conflict in Syria, although another run-up in U.S. drilling activity kept a lid on gains.
- Gold inched down on a stronger dollar, moving away from a 5-month high hit in the previous session, although geopolitical tensions continued to buoy safe-haven demand for the precious metal.
- London copper eased as rising geopolitical tensions blunted appetite for risk and lifted the dollar, but prices were underpinned by tightening supply.
- Chicago corn slid for a third consecutive session, dragged down by expectations of further increases in South American production.

Apr 07 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- The US air strike on Syria could amplify market concerns about the difficulty in predicting the Trump administration's reaction to events, says Mike Lillard, chief investment officer of PGIM Fixed Income. He sees Treasury yields falling temporarily--they've dropped during Asian trading to 2.31% from 2.34% late Thursday in the US--while emerging debt and higher-yielding bonds may temporarily underperform as the safe-haven yen appreciates. The dollar is down 0.4% at Y110.39.
- Given the massive size of the supply overhang in the market, the ongoing US air strike on Syria will likely not trigger any significant supply disruptions, says a crude trader in Singapore. "The glut is very huge and unless the tension expands to other parts of the region, transportation of crude supply will largely be untouched," she says. "But we are definitely watching the situation closely," she adds. Nymex May WTI is now up 2.3% at $52.86/barrel while June Brent rises 2.1% to $56.02.
- Potential diplomatic blowback from Russia and other Syrian allies following US military strikes against Syria is adding to the desire of investors to seek out safe havens, like gold. "This geopolitical uncertainty has caused financial markets to go into risk-off [mode], causing a sudden spike in gold prices," says Jonathan Chan, an investment analyst at Phillip Futures. London spot gold is trading at a 5-month high, last up 1.3% at $1,267.50 per ounce.
- The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury hit its lowest intraday level since Nov. 30 on Friday, after the US military launched a series of strikes against a Syrian air base. The yield was last at 2.289%, compared with 2.343% late Thursday in the US, according to Thomson Reuters. Other government bond yields around the region are moving lower as investors flock to haven assets, with the sharpest move in Australia's 10-year government bond, down 0.05 percentage point to 2.53%, its lowest intraday level since Nov. 10. The yield on Japan's government bonds with a similar maturity fell 0.01 percentage point to 0.053%, its lowest intraday level since Feb. 28.
- The dollar gains 0.7% against the Korean won, with the USD/KRW pair at 1138.40, its highest level since Mar. 15, after the US launches a series of strikes against a Syrian airbase on Friday. The strikes come as US President Donald Trump hosts his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and hours before the start of a full day of meetings. "Amongst other things Trump is sending a message to the Chinese with regards to his willingness to act against North Korea," says Jeffrey Halley, senior market strategist at Oanda in Singapore. The US has previously said it is open to all military options with regards to dealing with North Korea, a veiled threat against China to exercise its influence over leader Kim Jong-un. Against the yen, Halley tips the dollar to fetch Y110 in the short term. The USD/JPY is down 0.4% at 110.35 yen, on safe-haven buying.
- The White House will name Derek Kan, general manager for Lyft in Southern California to be undersecretary for policy at the Department of Transportation. Mr. Kan has served on the Amtrak board of directors since 2015 and is a former aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. Mr. Kan has also served as a consultant at Bain & Co., and previously worked at the Office of Management and Budget.
- No one likes uncertainty. Yet globally, it remains still very much prevalent, says Citi Research. "We think positioning is certainly cleaner now, but investors we speak to are patiently seeking actual signs of delivery, before re-engaging in the Trump/broader reflation trade," it adds. Economic fundamentals may determine the direction of markets for now, it says.
- It can be anyone's guess what the outcome will be when President Trump and President Xi hold meetings according to Thinkmarkets. "Remember the awkward press conference between Angela Merkel and Trump," it says. When it comes to Trump's stance towards China, he has made it clear that it is time for a change and the US is no longer going to accept bad deals. "It is arduous to contemplate a scenario that can produce a headline which can sooth the relationship between the two countries," it says. "Our base case scenario is that both leaders may pretend and show they have constructive discussion on a number of matters, but in reality, the differences may have drifted further."
- A California appeals court has upheld the state's cap-and-trade program in a lawsuit filed by the state Chamber of Commerce and other business groups that aimed to block the program. The groups argued the program's expense for businesses amount to a tax. The court affirmed a lower court ruling that found the cap-and-trade program, which requires polluters to cut their carbon dioxide emissions annually or buy pollution permits, is lawful and not a tax. The program is part of the state's 2006 climate law.
- No signs Boeing will profit from any order announcements during President Xi's US visit, though easy pickings given much of the 300-plane deal commitment rolled out during his 2015 visit has yet to publicly materialize. Orders aside, the scale of the planned BA finishing center near Shanghai in terms of Chinese job creation has yet to materialize.
- The benchmark IPC index closed down 0.4% at 49,012 points, while the Mexican peso gained some ground against the US dollar, as oil prices moved higher. America Movil fell 0.4%, while bread-maker Bimbo closed down 1.5%. The peso has stabilized in recent sessions after a continued rally during February and March, as investors are already discounting the possibility of a renegotiation of Nafta that benefits both the US and Mexico. The peso closed in Mexico City at 18.7750 to the dollar vs 18.7960 late Wednesday.
- Canada PM Justin Trudeau's top envoy in Washington is of the view the proposed border-adjustment tax, as championed by some senior GOP lawmakers, won't see the light of day. "I don't think it's going to happen, because it would be worse for them than it would be for anyone else," Canada's US Ambassador David MacNaughton tells reporters in Ottawa as he attended cabinet meetings on trade. "Americans don't normally do things that will punish their own economy." MacNaughton has helped lead Canada's lobbying effort in Washington as the Trump White House looks to fulfill a promise to renegotiate Nafta. He says it's unclear when talks will begin in earnest. "I keep being assured it's imminent, but imminent seems to be dragging on."
- Oil prices surged more than 2 percent to a one-month high after the United States launched dozens of cruise missiles at an airbase in Syria, later dropping back as there seemed no immediate threat to supplies.
- Gold rose more than 1 percent to a 5-month high as investors sought safe-haven assets after the United States launched cruise missiles on a Syrian air base, potentially escalating tensions with Syrian allies Russia and Iran.
- London copper prices firmed as the U.S. dollar fell after the United States launched cruise missiles against an air base in Syria.
- Chicago soybean futures lost more ground with the market poised for a fifth week of fall, its longest losing streak in 30 months as rising global supplies anchor the market.

Apr 06 - Trade Tensions Loom Over Trump-Xi Summit (WSJ Dow Jones)
As President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping meet this week for what White House officials are calling an introductory summit, there is one issue where the U.S. leader's position will need no introduction: trade.
   Mr. Trump won the White House in part with an angry denunciation of other countries' economic "cheating," using China as Exhibit A. Last week, he predicted a "very difficult" meeting with Mr. Xi, citing "massive trade deficits and job losses."
   Even with North Korea and other Asian security concerns front and center, disagreements over trade between the  world's two largest economies may well be the topic that brings the most tension to the gathering at Mr. Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida on Thursday and Friday. White House officials aren't raising expectations for any kind of grand deal. The visit will set the tone for a complex relationship, one Mr. Trump aims to redefine by combating what he and his trade advisers see as the dumping of products in the U.S. at below fair value and Beijing's broad policies of subsidizing industries from metals production to aviation at the expense of American competitors.
   Some business leaders said they would like Mr. Trump to convey his concerns about China's business climate -- including limits on investment and fights over technology and intellectual property -- so that the countries can work together over the long term on resolving the issues rather than merely blocking each other's exports. "While we don't yet know the strategy of the Trump administration, we do agree with its desire for significant changes to Chinese policies that will result in a more-market-based and level playing field for American companies," said Jeremie Waterman, the China director at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest U.S. business lobby.
   A senior White House official told reporters on Tuesday that Mr. Trump intends to work in a constructive manner to reduce trade and investment barriers in China. The topics haven't been decided on in advance, so the two leaders are set to bring up whatever is on their minds, with the aim of starting a framework for addressing disagreements rather than setting policy on tariffs or other areas, the official said.
   Progress with China has slowed recently, and the Trump administration wants to make the relationship more "fair, balanced and based on the principle of reciprocity," the official said. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that the meeting is happening quite early in Mr. Trump's term. His pick for U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, hasn't been confirmed by the Senate, and the Trump team hasn't brought key officials on board to develop a detailed strategy for challenging China's trade practices.
   Moreover, members of his trade team hold disparate views on the issue. Some are closer to the traditional free-trade approach and others are pushing a harder line against Beijing to lower the trade deficit in goods with China, which stood at $347 billion in 2016. China's ambassador has courted Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, part of the former group, in an effort to lower tensions.
   Some diplomats and experts on Beijing said Mr. Xi may seek to further calm the waters by offering to limit certain Chinese exports, announcing deals for Beijing's state-run companies to buy big-ticket American exports, or arranging to make large Chinese investments in the U.S. "I bet you dollars to doughnuts that Xi is coming bearing a specific gift like that that Trump will tweet," said Max Baucus, the U.S. ambassador to Beijing at the end of Barack Obama's presidency and a longtime Democratic senator overseeing trade issues. But lawmakers and some business lobbyists in Washington are increasingly complaining that limited deals with Beijing aren't solving the economic and business disputes between the two countries.
   Senate Democrats on Wednesday called on Mr. Trump to confront China on economic issues and 39 senators wrote to Mr. Trump asking him to address barriers that are keeping American beef out of China, despite Beijing's lifting of its beef ban. Mr. Obama went to considerable effort to strike a major climate deal with Mr. Xi but Beijing was able to gain commercial advantage from that deal through massive state-driven investment in solar and wind technology, Mr. Baucus said.
   Some top officials in the Trump administration said China hasn't abided by previous trade commitments, so they are planning to press ahead with plans to bring major unilateral trade-enforcement cases that could hit Chinese industries with big tariffs. "Eventually the Trump administration will use a series of carrots and -- mostly -- sticks to try to get China to
modify its economic policies, and I think China will respond in kind," said CSIS's Mr. Kennedy.
   Launching trade-enforcement cases under U.S. law could bring retaliation against American products directly from China or through the World Trade Organization, trade lawyers said. The Obama administration mostly avoided unilateral trade-enforcement actions under U.S. law, instead favoring a series of WTO cases against Beijing that often take years to produce a result for a given industry.
   Given Mr. Trump's style and his recent meetings with world leaders, former officials and trade experts see a risk that the new president could make a public remark or Twitter post that strains the relationship. Starting off on the wrong foot could have repercussions both in trade and the security sphere. On the other hand, Mr. Trump's experience in complicated business negotiations could be an asset, said Ed Mermelstein, a longtime Manhattan real estate lawyer who has worked with Mr. Trump. "If you've ever done a major real estate transaction in New York, there's no other way of describing it than war," Mr. Mermelstein said, adding that "there's often a peace treaty signed at the end."
- Oil prices fell as record U.S. crude inventories underscored that markets remain bloated, although traders said there were signs that other regions were gradually tightening.
- Gold prices held firm on the back of a weaker dollar as appetite for risky assets like equities waned ahead of a potentially tense meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart.
- London copper held gains ahead of a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping, supported by Chinese demand at the start of the seasonally strongest quarter for industrial metals.
- Chicago soybean futures were little changed with the market holding on to last session's gains as rains delay the harvest in key producer Argentina.

Apr 05 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- The uncertainty regarding the policies of US President Donald Trump will likely mean that gold prices will trade in a range of $1,200-$1,300/oz this year, Stephen Letwin, president of IAMGOLD, a miner, tells The Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of Mines and Money conference in Hong Kong. Gold is typically favoured as a store of value by investors. "Trump represents volatility and that is good for gold." Gold producers were struggling when prices had dropped to around $1,050/oz in December 2015 but now the industry is in far better shape, says Letwin. However, he said that his company believes a far smarter bet than relying on gold's market price is to continually focus on mining costs. IAMGOLD cut its overall cost to around $1,200/oz in 2016 and aims to bring it down further to $1,000-$1,100/oz over the next three years.
- Markets in China and the US are likely to be focused on political drivers for the rest of the week, due to the absence of major economic releases and in light of Chinese President Xi Jinping's first meeting with his US counterpart, Donald Trump. "The Trump-Xi meeting is expected to be of particular importance for both Chinese and US equity indices as this may well be the first real event which sets the tone for US-China relations on trade and security," says Phillip Futures. The Shanghai Composite Index is last up 1.1%, while S&P futures are currently down 0.1%.
- Expected deregulatory measures from the Trump administration won't necessitate a change in Australia's approach to its financial industry "one iota," says the country's top banking regulator. Prudential Regulation Authority Chairman Wayne Byres says the US starts with a regulatory system that on a number of dimensions is one of the strongest in existence, and the likely areas for change (such as the Volcker rule) are initiatives above and beyond internationally agreed minimum standards. He adds in a speech as there's risk of a broader move away from international cooperation and coordination in financial regulation, that would make it more important that Australia's standards are as strong as could be.
- The Labor Department's proposed 60 day delay of a new retirement-savings rule is set to take effect Friday, kicking out the applicability date to June 9. But the ultimate fate of the rule may be unknown until next year, the DOL suggests. The fiduciary rule's economic-impact review ordered by Trump will go on through the end of the year, the DOL says, after which "some or all" of it "may be revised or rescinded, including the provisions scheduled to become applicable on June 9, 2017." The DOL, which had reopened the comment period to solicit feedback from consumers and the financial industry, said it "continues to receive a very high volume of comment and petition letters" and that commenters opposed a delay by 12 to 1.
- Fed regulatory guru Daniel Tarullo says there's merit in banks' argument the Volcker rule has been "too complicated" in practice, saying there are too many regulators involved and, under the current system, it is too difficult for them to subjectively assess whether bankers are following the speculative trading ban. "We just need to recognize this fact and try something else," he says in a speech, adding that the rule "may be having a deleterious effect on market making, particularly for some less liquid" assets. Cue the applause from bankers waiting for the Trump administration to revisit the rule.
- International law firm and lobbying shop Squire Patton Boggs is getting cozy with one of Trump's most trusted advisers. The firm said this week that it's formed an alliance with Michael D. Cohen, a personal lawyer to Trump who has served as his fixer for many years and credits himself as the originator of the real-estate mogul's decision to run for president. It isn't clear what Squire Patton Boggs stands to gain from the relationship, and a firm spokesman said Tuesday leadership wasn't doing interviews. The firm's chief executive, Mark Ruehlmann, says in a statement the alliance will come into play as "clients worldwide increasingly confront challenges and look to seize business opportunities that intersect with governments worldwide."
- AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said workers are ready to support President Donald Trump's policies, if they help improve wages and strengthen workers protections. In a speech Tuesday, the head of the nation's largest labor federation said voters last years were "were crying out for new economic rules." Trumka, a prominent backer of Democrat Hillary Clinton, indicated unions wouldn't oppose Trump at every turn. He applauded efforts to scrap free trade deals and calls for increased infrastructure spending. But Trumka warns that if the "Wall Street wing" of White House officials push for what he views as anti-worker policies, unions will be a vocal opponent. The union president pointed to the opposition to the Republican healthcare proposal as an example. President Trump will be "judged on what he does, not what he says."
- JPMorgan Chief Jamie Dimon opens up about President Donald Trump and his administration during a Yahoo Finance video interview today, following publication of his annual shareholder letter. Dimon says "there's some truth to," President Trump's points about Dodd Frank, such as asking businesses if they can get a loan. Dimon also says he joined President Trump's policy advisory group because he wants to help the US, which includes helping whoever is president, even if he doesn't necessarily agree with everything Trump says or all his policies. Dimon says he is very confident about Trump picks Rex Tillerson, Steven Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross and Gary Cohn. "These are top professionals; they know a lot of these issues and want to go about fixing them."
- Trump nominates Allen & Overy partner Heath Tarbert to serve as Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development in the Treasury Department. Tarbert is a fairly well known financial-services attorney who has worked on regulatory and antimoney-laundering issues, and served on Trump's transition team. He also served as counsel to the Senate Banking Committee and in the office of President George W. Bush. His new position requires confirmation by the Senate.
- Pentagon clarifies that while requirements for the new presidential helicopter being built by Lockheed Martin haven't changed, one capability has been removed. The converted S-92 choppers more used to ferrying oil workers around won't have the ability to dump fuel, says the military program chief, a change made before Trump--who already has a Sikorsky chopper of his own--took office. First flight of the test aircraft due in the summer, with deliveries in the fall of 2020.
- It appears Colombians don't want much change in their next round of presidential elections. German Vargas Lleras, a center-right politician who served as vice president for two terms under current President Juan Manuel Santos, is the favored candidate, according to a poll released today by Pulso Pais. Of the people polled, 12.4% said they would choose Vargas Lleras, a lawyer and former senator who enjoys strong support along Colombia's populous Caribbean coast, as the country's next president. His favorability climbed 2.6% percentage points since the prior poll in February. Behind Vargas Lleras is mathematician and former Medellin mayor Sergio Fajardo, who received 8.2% of support in the poll, followed by 8.1% of support for left-leaning Minister of Labor Clara Lopez.
- Bank of America's CEO Brian Moynihan, speaking at a Washington Post event, says that credit and debit card volumes were up in 1Q, as was the fee pool in BAC's investment bank. Echoing other CEOs since the election, he says business customers are more optimistic but that business lending "isn't going to grow a lot unless the economy grows faster." There has been a marked slowdown in lending broadly and business lending in particular since the election, according to Federal Reserve data.
- Oil climbed to a near one-month high on signs of a gradual tightening in global oil inventories and on concerns about a supply outage at a field in the United Kingdom's North Sea that feeds into an international benchmark price.  
- Gold prices held firm near a one-month high hit in the prior session, as appetite for riskier assets eased ahead of a meeting between leaders of the United States and China.
- London copper rallied as China returned from a two-day break to buy up metals following brighter global manufacturing reports, while zinc and nickel tracked a rally in steel.  
- Chicago soybean prices rose, pulling away from a six-month low that was touched the session before as expectations of a record Brazilian crop and higher U.S. planting dragged.
- The dollar lost its grip on earlier gains against the yen on Wednesday, remaining under pressure after North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the sea ahead of a summit between U.S. and Chinese leaders.

Apr 04 - China's Currency Takes a Twist Ahead of Trump-Xi Meeting (Dow Jones)
-  As China's leader prepares to head to the U.S. this week, there's a new twist in the persistent argument that China is keeping its currency artificially low against the dollar. The yuan has recently been rising.
-  The gains have been small -- the yuan is up 1% against the dollar so far this year -- but began shortly before Donald Trump was inaugurated as president. The rise could complicate a central criticism that Mr. Trump has leveled against China: that it is manipulating its currency downward at the expense of the U.S. to help bolster exports and itseconomy.

   Mr. Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are due to meet Thursday.
-  China for years had been criticized by other countries for its heavy-handed efforts to keep the yuan undervalued, even while it made moves to open its markets to free trading. Then came a period of appreciation which led to the government to suddenly devalue the currency in August 2015, causing a global market selloff. Since Mr. Trump took office, Chinese authorities have relied on capital controls and a broadly weakening dollar to keep the yuan in a narrow range against the U.S. currency.
-  China achieved the recent calm with relatively mild nudges. In late 2015 and early 2016, the People's Bank of China heavily intervened in the foreign-exchange market by selling its dollar reserves to support the yuan. This year the authorities resorted to a combination of measures, including heightened capital controls and increases of domestic interest rates, analysts and investors say.
-  The yuan's decline against major trading partners other than the U.S. suggests an effort to maintain global trade advantages while reducing political friction with the U.S., China's second-largest partner in goods trading behind the European Union, analysts said.
-  The yuan has fallen more than 2% against a basket of China's major trading partners, which include the U.S., the EU and numerous Asian countries including Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, according to data published by the EU.
-  Letting the yuan strengthen against the dollar while weakening against other currencies helps China "achieve the objective of export competitiveness and reflation in the economy while at the same time avoiding that negative spillover effect," said Roland Mieth, emerging-markets portfolio manager for Pacific Investment Management Co. in Singapore.

   China's currency practices have long been a source of tension between the two biggest economies.
-  Throughout his campaign for the presidency, Mr. Trump and his surrogates repeatedly accused China of manipulating the yuan in a way that boosted the U.S. trade deficit and destroyed U.S. jobs. Global investors feared new U.S tariffs. But the administration's tone on trade has been more conciliatory in recent weeks. Last month, U.S. officials signaled they would accept only modest changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Mr. Trump previously blasted as "the worst trade deal" ever.
-  Accordingly, financial markets have been buoyed by wagers that Mr. Trump won't follow through on tough talk that only a few months ago sparked fears of a global trade war. "The relative stability or even mild strength against the dollar certainly provides for a less contentious backdrop for the Trump-Xi meeting coming up later this week," said Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University professor and a former head of the International Monetary Fund's China division.
-  In mid-April, the Treasury Department is set to release its semiannual report on foreign-exchange policies of the U.S.'s major trading partners, and China is on its monitoring list, which tracks countries that run large trade surpluses with the U.S.
-  Many economists and investors say that China doesn't meet the Treasury's criteria to be named a currency manipulator because its current-account surplus has shrunk and it has been burning through its reserves to prop up the currency, rather than letting it fall. China's currency was undervalued until 2013, some analysts say, but its recent economic and trade weakness has led the currency to a more overvalued position.
An index of the yuan against a broad group of currencies published by a branch of China's central bank is at its lowest since the basket was introduced more than a year ago, as China pledged to decouple the yuan from the dollar and let it move on market forces.
-  The White House is exploring a new tactic to discourage China from undervaluing its currency to boost exports by designating the practice of currency manipulation as an unfair subsidy. By keeping the yuan from falling further against the dollar, the Chinese want Mr. Trump to "know that they're willing to play ball on currency and trade issues so that the bilateral economic relationship can be maintained," Mr.Prasad said.
China's exchange rate is a major concern in the U.S., while issues such as excess capacity in the global economy are "multilateral issues" that matter more to other countries, former Treasury secretary Jacob Lew said last week at a panel in New York held by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, a nonprofit organization.
-  Among its major trading partners, China runs a trade deficit with Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, suggesting that China imports more goods from these economies than what they buy from China. China runs a surplus against the EU, Vietnam and Singapore, but to a lesser extent than its surplus with the U.S.
-  For much of 2017, the yuan's value against the dollar has been higher in offshore markets, where it trades more freely, than in domestic markets, suggesting that broader market expectations of yuan depreciation have receded for now. "It's politically induced stability," said Claire Dissaux, head of global economics and strategy at Millennium Global Investments Ltd., a London-based currency investment firm.
-  However, over the long run, economists say the Chinese currency is still under pressure to weaken against the dollar, as China's current-account surplus continues to narrow along with its slowing economy. Chinese households and companies are still eager to find ways to swap their yuan-denominated savings into overseas assets. Ms. Dissaux said: "Capital controls are never sustainable."

Apr 04 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Money managers rush in and out of bullish gold trades at a pace unseen since the final weeks before the US presidential election. Their open positions on rising gold prices swing by more than 17,000 a week--in both directions--since late February, ending a four-month period in which that was rare, CFTC data show. Their net-long position grew by 50% in one week ending March 28 to its second-highest point in four months. "Growing political discord in the US and Europe bring speculators back into safe-haven assets," says ING. Gold futures for June delivery rise 0.3% to $1,255 an ounce Monday, pushing back toward one-month highs.
- Not only has the so-called Trump Trade fizzed, groups of stocks poised to benefit most from infrastructure and deregulation have fallen into corrections, meaning they are down more than 10% from recent highs. Stock baskets custom made by JPMorgan tied to infrastructure and deregulation are down 12% and 14% from their recent tops, having initially seen big bumps following the election. Those stocks that are poised to benefit most from tax reform are off 6% from their recent highs.
- Massive short covering has been a main factor pushing down Treasury bond yields during 1Q as investors pulled back on the Trump trades. Net wagers betting on higher bond yields via Treasury futures contracts were $54.2B for the week that ended March 28, according to TD Securities. It was the lowest since November 22. The net shorts had reached $100.7B in early January, the highest since 2008. After this big retreat, analysts say it would be hard for the 10-year yield to fall a lot from here. Some say this may present an opportunity for those looking for a fresh entrance on short bets.
- Investors need to stay cautious about downside risk for the dollar at around Y108 this quarter amid uncertainty about US trade and currency policy, says Osamu Takashima, chief FX strategist at Citigroup Global Markets Japan. Trump issued executive orders amid alleged unfair trade practices, and many see China being the main target ahead of Xi's visit this week. But Takashima says given US-Japan high-level economic dialogue expected to start later this month, the latest orders were placed with an eye on bilateral trade issues there. The dollar is around Y111.25.

- Oil prices rose slightly due to a weaker dollar, though a rebound in Libyan production put pressure on the market and rising U.S. drilling signalled the potential for increased supply and capped price gains.
- Gold prices hit one-week highs, buoyed by a weaker dollar on tepid economic data from the United States and as investors turned to safe-haven assets on worries over geopolitical tensions.
- London copper was little changed near its lowest in a week as Chinese markets were out on holiday for a second day, draining the market of liquidity and direction.
- Chicago corn edged up, with the market trading close to its highest in more than three weeks on support from a U.S. government forecast of lower plantings this year.

Apr 04 - Cyclone Debbie to Prove Headwind for Aussie GDP (Dow Jones)
Cyclone Debbie last week, will reduce this quarter's Australia GDP but increase inflation, predicts ANZ. It sees the worst-case GDP impact being 0.3 percentage point, though the bank anticipates it likely being less. ANZ also thinks the CPI impact will be less than what was seen following big storms in 2006 and 2011 because the main crops that appear to be impacted can be imported--unlike bananas. The bank says coal exports could fall as much as 13% this quarter, and inventories are likely to provide some offset to that.

Apr 03 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Investors need to stay cautious about downside risk for the dollar at around Y108 this quarter amid uncertainty about US trade and currency policy, says Osamu Takashima, chief FX strategist at Citigroup Global Markets Japan. Trump issued executive orders amid alleged unfair trade practices, and many see China being the main target ahead of Xi's visit this week. But Takashima says given US-Japan high-level economic dialogue expected to start later this month, the latest orders were placed with an eye on bilateral trade issues there. The dollar is around Y111.25.
- Hedge funds and other speculative investors cut bets on a stronger dollar to $16.2B in the week through Tuesday, CFTC data shows. Bullish dollar bets surged as high as $26B at the start of 2017 as investors hoped the Trump administration's policy proposals would boost US growth and inflation, supporting the dollar-- but that trade has faltered recently amid uncertainty over the administration's ability to push through its agenda. In the week ending March 28, investors cut bets against the euro and Japanese yen while adding to bullish bets on the Australian dollar. Bets against the beleaguered British pound edged lower but remain near all-time highs.
- Healthcare REITs gained around 3.5% in the past week after the Republican Party pulled its healthcare bill. There had been investor jitters over healthcare REITs such as Ventas, Welltower, Omega Healthcare and HCP since the election in November as Trump made a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act during the campaign. Since the start of 2017 however, healthcare REITs have posted 7.1% total returns, according to the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts. "There was particular concern around the senior housing and skilled-nursing subsectors, which face heightened reimbursement challenges and regulatory scrutiny. Now, ObamaCare policies remaining in place offer stability to these healthcare REITs, and last week's performance suggests that it offered solace to investors as well," Trepp analyst Karina Estrella says.
- Exchange-traded funds continued to rake in money through March at a blistering pace, sending assets to a record high of $2.8T, according to Morningstar. US ETFs took in at least $40B in March, and the figure may rise when monthly tabulations are complete. ETFs have seen elevated flows since the surprise election victory of President Trump in November. Investors have poured $131.5B into US ETFs so far this year, the fastest 1Q in the industry's 24-year history, according to BlackRock.
- A federal judge granted final approval Friday to a $25M settlement in a fraud case against President Donald Trump's onetime real estate seminars, clearing the way for former students to get back most of the money they spent on the courses. The deal, brokered in November, settled two private class actions and allegations lodged by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, all claiming Trump University courses under-delivered on promises to teach students the secrets of Mr. Trump's real estate success. The settlement is expected to reimburse around 4,000 students for an estimated 90% of the money they paid to the for-profit school. The courses cost between roughly $1,500 and $35,000 apiece.
- The U.S. has plenty of coal so President Donald Trump's move to open federal lands for coal mining won't make a big difference, say analysts. The coal industry has experienced a drop-off in production because cheap natural gas has undercut the hard fossil fuel. American coal miners still have plenty of the stuff to dig up if the need arises, say analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research. "U.S. coal miners are not short on spare coal capacity let alone reserves to develop new capacity," they say. "Therefore lifting the ban on coal mining licenses on federal land is unlikely to cause a material increase in coal production in the U.S."
- Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted warns against U.S. import duties. "We employ 13,000 staff in the U.S. and are growing. All this would be threatened if we had to raise prices because of a possible tax and demand would sink," Mr. Rorsted tells weekly magazine Wirtschaftswoche in an interview. Even with import duties, there won't be mass production of sneakers in the U.S. because "the factories simply aren't there" for that to happen. Adidas's planned new speed factory in Atlanta will produce 500,000 shoes annually, but Adidas plans to grow global sales by 11%-13% annually, equivalent to 40 million shoes. "We would have to open 80 speed factories to satisfy the expansion plans. This won't
work," Mr. Rorsted says.
- If the US decreases its donations to global organizations such as the World Bank that give out loans to emerging economies, it would greatly stunt the development of LNG use in many Southeast Asian countries, says a Hong Kong-based gas trader. "If the Trump administration carries out its campaign [and] promises to cut donations to major intergovernmental organizations, it will mean less money to help emerging economies fund new projects like LNG terminals," he says, saying Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka would be most vulnerable. Such a development may push these countries closer to China for financial support.
- The April 20 FCC meeting will deliver more deregulation for big telecommunications firms, according to the agenda. "We need to reduce the cost of broadband deployment, and we need to eliminate unnecessary rules that slow down or deter deployment," Chairman Ajit Pai says in a blog post. Specific agenda items include measures to speed construction of new wired networks and accelerate retirement of old copper lines; streamline deployment of the small cells that will be needed for 5G wireless; boost subsidized deployment in hard-to-serve rural areas; and update the antiquated FCC rules for business-data services. Big carriers were predictably thrilled. But some competitors were unhappy. "This is crony capitalism that favors broadband giants, is anti-business and kicks consumers," says Chip Pickering, CEO of trade group Incompas.
- Event recruiters say they are already making calls to lure business back to North Carolina after lawmakers repeal a controversial bathroom bill. The Greensboro Coliseum Complex says it is contacting everyone who canceled events because of House Bill 2, from the National Collegiate Athletic Association to Cirque du Soleil. The Greensboro area has lost millions in tourist dollars, according to the convention and visitors' bureau, including $14.5M from the NCAA's decision to move this month's men's basketball early round tournament games from Greensboro to Greenville, SC.
- Oil futures dipped as a higher U.S. rig count indicated rising shale output and stoked worries about global oversupply, while a stronger dollar also pressured prices.
- Gold prices held firm after marking their best quarter in a year, supported by uninspiring economic data from the United States and dovish remarks from a Federal Reserve official on Friday.
- London copper held steady on the first day of the second quarter amid encouraging trade signals out of Asia, although the world's top user China was out for a long weekend, draining the market of direction.
- Chicago corn jumped to a two-week high and wheat gained for a second day, with prices underpinned by U.S. government forecasts of lower plantings of both crops.

Mar 31 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Event recruiters say they are already making calls to lure business back to North Carolina after lawmakers repeal a controversial bathroom bill. The Greensboro Coliseum Complex says it is contacting everyone who canceled events because of House Bill 2, from the National Collegiate Athletic Association to Cirque du Soleil. The Greensboro area has lost millions in tourist dollars, according to the convention and visitors' bureau, including $14.5M from the NCAA's decision to move this month's men's basketball early round tournament games from Greensboro to Greenville, SC.
- Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will face his most tough Republican critics in Congress on April 5, when he appears at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee. This is his first appearance at the panel's semi-annual meeting to discuss the CFPB's operations since the Trump administration took power. Republican lawmakers have since escalated their attack on the consumer bureau, and Jeb Hensarling, the Texas Republican who heads the committee, is currently working on a bill that is expected to include a raft of radical steps to weaken the consumer watchdog, including the removal of Cordray from his job.
- On Feb. 3, Trump asked his Treasury secretary to conduct a broad review of financial sector rules and report back by early June. Now the financial industry is starting to provide its wish list. The American Bankers Association sent a white paper to Treasury Thursday outlining specific changes it desires to bank liquidity rules. More papers will be coming from the ABA on housing finance and bank capital--and you can bet other industry groups are working on similar documents. The question now is what the Trump Administration actually puts on its Agenda.
- Politics dominated a luncheon at Manhattan's Yale Club, where the business community got the chance to question General Electric chief Jeff Immelt. The CEO forcefully asserted that the US-China relationship is his biggest concern going forward in the political realm. "Geopolitically and economically, it's the most important. It's only going to get more important." He also said he thinks bilateral trade deals with nations are going to be more prevalent going forward now that TPP, an Obama-era trade deal, has died. That is generally in-line with the Trump administration, which has said it wishes to notch bilateral deals with nations like the UK. On Trump's anti-trade stances, Immelt said despite the campaign rhetoric he thinks "President Trump is too smart to give up" on trade.
- Platinum's tumble could keep going thanks to Trump's environmental policies, ING Bank warns. Trump's move to roll back climate-change policy and other EPA regulations could lead to softer emissions controls for vehicles, ING says. That's a big source of demand for platinum, which goes into catalytic converters to filter emissions. Platinum prices have been falling for years and are on another leg down. Futures trade down 7.7% this month at a time when the precious metals group is down just 5.9%. Platinum falls 0.08% at $955.50/oz.
- GE CEO Immelt, speaking to a crowd of business professionals in Manhattan, says the Trump administration opens the door for plenty of opportunities domestically for GE, with the potential for an overhaul of the tax code, new infrastructure spending and rolling back some regulations. "That is awesome." However, Immelt says "we're on our own" internationally given the administration's rhetoric regarding globalization and trade, pointing to the scrapping of TPP. "We've got to risk-manage geopolitics."
- A new Standard & Poor's analysis finds limited budget and credit risks for sanctuary cities from Trump's January executive order threatening to cut federal funds to cities that don't fully cooperate with immigration authorities. "Not only does the federal government appear to be restricted in the types of cuts it can make, but also in the amount of funding it can withhold," S&P says. The ratings firm sees greater potential credit risk for local governments if states cut funding to sanctuary cities, or if federal cuts to state government eventually affect cities and counties.
- The State Department is seeking public comment on the best way to break the link between armed groups and the minerals trade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and nearby countries. US companies are required to disclose their financial filings whether tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold in their supply chains come from the region. The State Department joins the SEC, which on Jan. 31 announced it would reconsider the implementation of this 'conflict minerals' rule, which companies and Republicans say is burdensome. The two reviews offer no immediate relief for companies, however, as the rule remains in effect.
- Analysts get more bullish on Medicare Advantage business ahead of next week's final 2018 rates and amid continued positive signals from Republicans about the future of the program. Leerink likes Humana and UnitedHealth, writing that "Medicare Advantage [is] seen as poised for deregulation and privatization...with positive catalysts on April 3 for 2018 rate, and rate relief for 2019." Others note a recent letter to the Medicare agency from Senate Republicans including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The letter endorsed several items on the industry's wish list for the 2018 rates and some broader policy recommendations as well.
- A draft showing the Trump administration will seek only modest changes to Nafta could help the Mexican peso as it suggests a swifter renegotiation than a complete overhaul would imply, removing lingering uncertainty about the outcome of trade talks, says Banorte currency strategist Juan Carlos Alderete. The peso is stronger against the US dollar, quoted in Mexico City at 18.6615 vs. 18.6985 Wednesday. Supporting the currency are expectations the Bank of Mexico will raise rates by 25bp to 6.5% in its 1500 ET decision, and the central bank's transfer of some $17B to the treasury that support public finances, he says.
- Senate agriculture committee's vote to advance USDA secretary nominee Sonny Perdue to a full Senate vote wasn't unanimous. Sen Kirsten Gillibrand (D, NY) said that while Perdue is a dedicated public servant, his moves as Georgia's governor to tighten access to food programs for the poor concerned her: "On his watch, many families in his state did not have access to the assistance they needed." She also pointed to food-safety failures in Georgia.  USDA oversees the $71B Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps, and some poverty groups have worried that Perdue could restrict access nationally if confirmed to lead the USDA.
- Analysts have shaved earnings expectations over the next 12 months by 150 basis points since the beginning of the year. If they continue to cut estimates at rates similar to previous years, the S&P 500 forward earnings rate is likely to come out closer to 6% versus the 11.7% projected on January 1. "We believe estimates could break the trend of moving lower this year if tax reform and/or deregulation policy make their way through Congress, but we believe corporate management teams will refrain from providing guidance including any of those benefits until policies have been passed and details are known," said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA Research.
- Oil prices eased as traders took profits following three days of straight gains on the expectation that an OPEC-led crude supply cut that was initially supposed to only last for the first half of the year would be extended.
- Gold prices edged lower and were headed for a weekly decline as positive U.S. economic data buoyed the dollar, but uncertainty over upcoming elections in Europe and Britain's exit from the European Union capped losses.
- London copper slipped but was set to finish a second quarter higher lifted by kinks in mine supply, while a ramp-up in China's factory activity and fresh investor buys are expected to drive prices higher in the April quarter.
- Soybeans were poised for a fourth week of decline, with prices hitting their lowest in five months as expectations of ample world supplies this year dragged on the market.

Mar 30 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
The Mexican peso hits the highest level in nearly 10 months against the yen. The peso also recouped almost all the losses against the dollar since the election in November. Daisaku Ueno, chief foreign exchange strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley, says Donald Trump's recent stumbles in introducing policy changes suggest that not everything he says will be implemented. "Excessive concerns are easing," he says. Trump pledged to build walls on the border and renegotiate trade agreements. Ueno says a recent recovery in crude oil prices is also helping Mexico, a major oil producer. The MXN/JPY earlier rises to 5.9514, the highest since June 1. The USD/MXN is at 18.7364.
- Foreigners sold a net Y754 billion ($6.8 billion) of Japanese stocks last week, the most since September, finance-ministry data show. Global stocks pulled back last week amid worries about Trump getting policy proposals through Congress, with the Nikkei logging a 2.1% drop on the 22nd, its biggest drop in 5 1/2 months. Last week's outflows fully erased remaining post-election inflows.
- When the House on Tuesday rejected rules that would have protected users' internet privacy, one could assume that would be good news for the companies that amass user data to sell ads, like Facebook and Alphabet's Google. But, in fact, GOOGL and FB opposed the outcome because the rule lawmakers rejected only applied to internet providers, such as AT&T and Comcast and Verizon. Those companies are increasingly moving into GOOGL's and FB's turf in online advertising, and GOOGL and FB were hoping the rule would hinder those rivals' ability to collect data on users like they can. Now internet providers will have similar, if not greater data-collection abilities as GOOGL and FB, boosting their efforts to compete in selling digital ad space.
- Every corner of the energy industry is trying to wrap its head around Trump's executive order reversing Obama's clean energy regulations, even cobalt miners. Cobalt's been an increasingly hot commodity this year as investors bet on it and other ingredients needed to make batteries for electric cars. Trent Mell, CEO of Toronto-based cobalt mining company First Cobalt, tells WSJ that things are going well when it comes to the clean energy sector use of cobalt and lithium for re-chargeable batteries, "so I think we're beyond the point of no return," he says, noting battery packs now cost a third of what they did eight years ago. "The rollback [by Trump] won't provide any new incentive to deviate from the path we're already on."
- Trump's move to roll back climate-change policy shouldn't have a big effect on offshore wind-energy generation, says Samuel Leupold, executive vice president of wind power at Dong Energy. Speaking at the FT Commodities Global Summit, he says if projects need subsidies it will be decided by individual states rather than at a national level. "Trump signed an infrastructure bill which explicitly lists offshore as one of the technologies which will benefit going forward from a lighter permitting scheme so maybe there's even some upsides."
- With less than two weeks before the fiduciary rule's applicability date has been set to kick in, the Labor Department has sent its final rule for a 60-day delay to the OMB. The DOL proposed the delay earlier this month, after Trump ordered a reevaluation of the regulation meant to protect retirement savers from conflicted advice. But the DOL has had to go through comments from the public and the financial industry as part of the process. In the event April 10 comes before the OMB approves the final delay, the DOL and the IRS have said it would effectively delay the rule by non-enforcement. "We have to follow federal law when it comes to the process and there are several steps," a DOL spokeswoman said recently.
- Trump's move to roll back climate-change policy may slow down the global move to low carbon energy, Gazprom Marketing & Trading CEO Vitaly Vasiliev says. "Decarbonisation is an unstoppable movement," he says, but adding "this definitely will slow it down." The move could extend the life of some aging coal-fired power plants, which Vasiliev says would drive global coal prices higher, making gas more economical in Europe. Speaking at the FT Commodities Global Summit, he says, "Fundamentally I don't think it will change the direction the world is going."
- Rep Kevin Brady (R, Texas) is looking at business groups' ideas for changing the border adjustment feature of House Republicans' tax plan, he says in an interview. Brady declines to elaborate on any possible changes but says he hasn't seen a valid concern that can't be addressed. Brady, whose proposal has drawn Senate criticism, said he is still trying to avoid exemptions and carveouts for certain businesses. Tax-policy changes are likely to be the key factor driving volatility in the municipal market, particularly relative to taxable investment -grade issues, says US Bank Wealth Management. It continues to be wary of municipal debt, it says. Investors remain attuned to the potential change in tax policy under the Trump administration and the reduced demand for municipal securities that may result, it says.
- Vacancies, nominations and other last-minute White House personnel moves are reshaping the lineup of the National Transportation Safety Board's top officials. Expiring terms for three board members and the vagaries of how one of them can serve as acting chairman threatened to leave the agency without a formal head. But days from such chaos, current member Robert Sumwalt has been renominated for another five-year term, and designated to serve as vice chairman for the first two of those years. As a result, under the NTSB's arcane legal charter, Sumwalt can step in to the acting chairman post until Trump nominates and the Senate confirms a permanent NTSB chairman. On top of all that, two other vacancies need to be filled on the ordinarily five-member board.
- Gluskin Sheff's chief economist David Rosenberg says a speech delivered this week by Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz should be on the Trump administration's reading list. Poloz's speech was "a sermon on the benefits of freer trade and immigration," Rosenberg said in his daily note. In the speech, Poloz said fears about the negative impact from liberalized trade "are misplaced. Protectionism does not promote growth and its costs are steep." At a press conference after his remarks, Poloz said advances in technology and automation are largely responsible for job losses in manufacturing, as opposed to liberalized trade.
- Federal prosecutors on Tuesday unveiled charges against an executive at a state-owned Turkish bank and accused him of participating in a long-running conspiracy to violate US sanctions against Iran, broadening a high-profile case that has already escalated tensions between the US and Turkey. Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a deputy general manager at Halkbank, one of the largest state-owned banks in Turkey, was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport Monday, law-enforcement officials said. The Manhattan US attorney's office charged Atilla, a 47-year-old Turkish citizen and resident, with conspiracies to violate US sanctions and commit bank fraud. Atilla's arrest is part of the continuing investigation into Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader who was arrested in Florida a year ago and charged with alleged sanctions violations by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.
- Oil prices edged up, extending two days of increases as supply disruptions in Libya lifted the market, although bloated U.S. crude inventories curbed gains.
- Gold prices fell as the dollar strengthened, but uncertainty surrounding the impact of Britain's departure from the European Union and the upcoming French elections offered some support.
- London copper slipped in low-volume trade as the dollar held gains on brighter economic signals from the United States and traders waited for further U.S. and China economic cues for direction.
- Chicago soybeans slid for a second session, falling to a five-month low as expectations of higher U.S. plantings and a record Brazilian crop weighed on the market.

Mar 29 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- London spot gold fell marginally in Asia trade on Wednesday, but remains close to a one-month high reached earlier this week. The uncertainty over whether Trump will be able to push ahead with his policy plans continue to support the yellow metal. "That political uncertainty is likely to continue to support gold prices in the short term," says ANZ Bank. Spot gold is trading $2.97 lower at $1,248.18/oz.
- Investors need to become mindful that economic recovery in industrialized nations led by China is providing financial-market catalysts, says SMBC Nikko chief rate strategist Chotaro Morita. "It's clearly excessive to say every price move is tied to Trump." Morita adds, "Although the US political climate is clearly is in a direction toward impasse...the global market will show only a moderate reaction for some time to come."
- Japanese stocks are likely to rise as strong U.S. consumer confidence and home-price data alleviate uncertainty over President Donald Trump's policy outlook. Many market participants have attributed the post-election stock rally not only to the prospects of U.S. fiscal stimulus but also to cyclical improvement in the global economy. The semiconductor sector has been benefiting, in particular, thanks to Internet of Things demand. The dollar's recovery against the yen is likely also positive for Japanese stocks. Nikkei futures ended the overnight session at 19190, or 0.8% higher than Tuesday's day-time close. Nikkei ended up 1.1% on Tuesday at 19202.87.
- Employees are feeling more optimistic about the economy and their job prospects, but many are wary of Trump, according to research and advisory company CEB. Just under 30% of male workers in the US believe that Trump's policies will positively affect compensation, benefits and career opportunities, while 19% of women say the same, according to the CEB survey of 2,290 US employees. Employees in sectors such as manufacturing, oil and gas and financial services are expecting the biggest boost from the president's policies, while workers at nonprofits and media and education organizations are bracing for the worst.
- An overnight recovery in the US dollar could be short-lived, Commonwealth Bank of Australia says. The USD/EUR climbed to 0.9250 from levels around 0.9200, while the USD/JPY rose above 111, driven by the US Conference Board's measure of consumer confidence rising in March to its highest level in 16 years. "In our view, the USD remains vulnerable to more downside in the coming weeks because the Trump administration will face obstacles agreeing on a meaningful fiscal stimulus package with Republicans," CBA says. "Trump favors plain vanilla corporate tax cuts while Republicans want to switch the corporate income tax base to a border adjustment tax (which we consider very disruptive)."
- Regeneron and Sanofi spent months negotiating with pharmacy benefit managers over the price of its new eczema drug Dupixent, but will it be enough? Companies say net revenue will be around $30,000 annually, after giving discounts and co-pay coupons that reduce the list price of $37,000. Credit Suisse says consensus estimates were that they'd set the net price around $25,000 annually to get PBMs like Express Scripts and CVS to cover the drug. BMO Capital Markets worried the price is high enough to slow the drug's sales launch and lead to "aggressive restrictions" by PBMs.
- US grocers are seeing some promise in expanding into new rural markets by selling food through vans, at libraries and through community centers, the Food Marketing Institute says during Congressional testimony on the $71B food-stamp program. Vans delivering food purchased in areas lacking traditional grocery stores are showing particular promise, according to the trade group. The House Agriculture Committee is holding hearings on food stamps in its lead up to reauthorizing nutrition programs covered by the farm bill. The bill expires next year.
- Businesses around the US that serve immigrants are reporting sales down since President Trump took office, according to Javier Palomarez, president of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Trump has called for increasing deportations of illegal immigrants and tightening the US-Mexico border with a wall. Some small businesses in metro Atlanta that serve Hispanic immigrants report sales off by as much as half compared to the same time last year. Businesses that serve immigrants in Chicago and Southern California report declines as well.
- Shares of energy companies climb after Trump signs an executive order rolling back Obama's climate-change rules. "My administration is putting an end to the war on coal," Trump says in remarks ahead of the official signing at the EPA. Energy stocks in the S&P 500 rise 1.3%, extending gains from earlier in the session. Chevron (CVX) adds 1.1% and Exxon (XOM) adds 0.7%.
- The chances of an all-out trade war between China and the US are still low, according to a report by Rabobank's food and agribusiness analysts, but soybeans are among the commodities at greatest risk if relations countries sour. Rabobank sees only a "limited possibility" that US moves to raise tariffs on imported Chinese goods would prompt Beijing to boycott US supplies, given China's strong reliance on oilseed imports. But if the US did lose its top soybean buyer, domestic prices for the crop would likely fall in the short-term, as Chinese buyers ramped up purchases from South America. Farmers in countries like Brazil would look to expand acreage, with South America potentially importing US soybeans while exporting their own crop.
- As the Trump administration pursues an overhaul of US trade policy, Cargill CEO David MacLennan says the stakes are high for the agricultural conglomerate. More than half of Cargill's $107B in annual sales are generated outside US borders, he says, and the majority of its 150,000 employees work outside the US. "Our business model depends on open borders and healthy trade relationships," says MacLennan, after giving a speech in Switzerland touting the benefits of free trade. So far Cargill's not reevaluating investments or assets in response to moves like the US exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, MacLennan says, and he hopes to discuss trade with Trump personally in the next several months.
- The Pentagon is rejiggering the leadership of a second program that attracted the ire of President Trump. Lt Gen Chris Bogdan retiring from the Air Force in the spring having overseen the Lockheed Martin F-35 combat jet program since 2012. He'll be replaced by his deputy, Navy Rear Adm Mat Winter, just as the Pentagon prepares to reveal the findings of a review that could see some Boeing F/A-18 jets substitute F-35s destined for the Navy. The BA-led Air Force One replacement program also receiving a new chief.
- Oil prices extended gains from the previous session, lifted by supply disruptions in Libya and expectations that an OPEC-led output reduction will be extended into the second half of the year.

- Gold fell in the face of technical resistance and positive economic data that boosted expectations for further U.S. interest rate hikes this year, supporting the dollar and equities markets.
- London copper held steady near its highest in more than a week, buoyed by brighter data from the United States, and expectations of seasonally improving second-quarter demand.
- U.S. wheat edged higher, rebounding from a more than two-month low touched in the previous session, though forecasts of crop-friendly weather provided a ceiling to gains.

Mar 28 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- With the global economy improving, it will only be a matter of time before investors shake off the disappointment over the GOP's health-care failure, says Masayuki Kubota, chief strategist at online brokerage Rakuten Securities. The latest data suggest world trade recovery continued in 2017, with many indicators pointing to even-more-robust growth. "The markets will go up again once they retrain their focus on Trump's economic-stimulus package," says Kubota.
- Canadian bonds rose alongside US Treasurys today amid mounting uncertainty stemming from the failure of the US House to pass healthcare reform last week. Canada's two-year bonds were yielding at 0.730% from 0.751% on Friday, according to electronic trading platform CanDeal. The 10-year bond was yielding at 1.606% from 1.643%.  There was little out in Canada today to spur domestic activity as investors focused on the growing demand for global safe haven assets amid mounting skepticism about President Trump's economic policies. Overall, Canadian government notes outperformed US Treasurys beyond the two-year note.
- The NZD/USD trades in a narrow range between 0.7038-0.7068 early in Asia, but is weaker against EUR, JPY and GBP. The euro continues to find strength with improving data such as the March IFO business climate index pushing higher in Germany and against the USD which has been treading water since Trump pulled his repeal of Obamacare. Although UK PM Theresa May is expected to formally trigger Article 50 later this week, the GBP is benefiting from similar dynamics to the euro, with the NZD/GBP trading at 0.5609.
- Two hospital companies were the S&P 500's best performers today, gaining after the failure of a House Republican bill to gut the Affordable Care Act. HCA Holdings (HCA) climbed 5.2% and Universal Health Services (UHS) was up 3.4%. Some analysts had pinpointed hospitals as among the companies most at-risk if the bill were to be passed, given the potential for a drop-off in insured patients. After the bill's failure last week, Mizuho lifted its ratings on HCA and UHS to buy. The analysts wrote: "With the failure of the GOP to move the ACA repeal out of the House, our covered hospital companies have moved into a nicer, friendlier neighborhood."
- Potential changes to the US tax code could result in some real estate investment trusts choosing to terminate their REIT status and be taxed as traditional corporates, said Fitch Ratings in a report. "Lower corporate tax rates arguably reduce the appeal of the REIT tax election, particularly if companies are allowed to fully expense capital costs during the year of investment," said Fitch. This would allow REITs to replicate the tax benefits of being a REIT without having to comply with the mandatory dividend distribution requirements (90% of their earnings to shareholders), which would weaken their credit profile, added Fitch. That said, companies are unlikely to make hasty decisions based on rules that could be reversed in a subsequent administration.
- Trump signs a bill to overturn an Obama-era regulation that sought to require firms bidding on government contracts to disclose past labor-law violations. The president says overturning the rule will help boost job creation. The yet-implemented regulation would have required companies bidding on federal contracts to disclose labor-law violations they have had for the three years before placing a bid. Those violations could include failures to pay overtime wages, hiring discrimination, safety violations or a refusal to collectively bargain with workers. Business groups have criticized the rule, calling it the "blacklisting" regulation because of the risk employers face of being barred from future contracts. The rule was never implemented because a federal judge temporarily blocked it from going into effect in October. Canceling the regulation is part of the Republican-led Congress's effort to pull back some rules passed by the Obama administration through the rarely-used Congressional Review Act.
- Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, often quick to speak out against those attacking his rapidly growing airline, isn't doing so over last week's US electronics ban. The ban has drawn fire by some arguing it targets Gulf airlines. Al Baker doesn't sign on. "No, I don't think it is targeting the Gulf airlines," he says, calling it a security issue the carrier is fully complying with and won't fight. So far it doesn't seem to be affecting business, he says, though it is in the early days.
- Livestock futures fall after countries including China and Chile lifted their restrictions on Brazilian meat imports over the weekend. Slaughter and meat production numbers are above last year's levels, weighing on futures as traders prepare for more supply in the domestic market. Meatpackers slaughtered an estimated 613,000 last week, according to the USDA, considerably above expectations. CME April lean hog futures down 1.8% to 66.050c a pound while April live cattle futures fall 0.5% to $1.21450. Boxed beef prices also appear to be coming to the end of their multiweek rally, falling almost $2 to $219.63 per 100 pounds as of Monday morning.
- State revenue forecasts for the upcoming fiscal year call for faster growth than in the current fiscal year, but growth is still weak compared with historical averages, according to a new Rockefeller Institute of Government report. States have been dealing broadly with weak tax revenue due to a range of factors, including low oil prices. Rockefeller Institute says states project median 3.5% FY18 sales-tax growth and median 4.1% FY18 income-tax growth, both slight improvements from FY17. "The overall picture is of continued, but sluggish, growth in fiscal years 2017 and 2018," the report says.
- The CAC-40 closes slightly lower, -0.1% at 5017, as markets continued to give up ground because of doubts about the viability of the Trump administration's economic program. Nokia led the gainers, up 1.5%, followed by hotel group Accor, up 1.2%. Steelmaker ArcelorMittal was the deepest in the red, down 4.9%, amid declines for other steelmakers. On Tuesday, investors will note French housing starts for February at 0800 GMT ahead of US consumer confidence for March.
- The Bel-20 closes slightly lower, down 0.2% and in line with other European markets. Belgian steel companies are hardest hit, following a fall in metal prices and global pessimism over the prospects for President Trump's infrastructure initiative. Steelmaker Aperam SA is the biggest loser, down 3%, followed by steel wire maker Bekaert SA, down 1.6%. Belgian retailer Etablissementen Franz Colruyt is the biggest gainer, up 1%, followed by UCB SA, up 0.8%
- London shares close lower, with the FTSE 100 down 0.6% at 7293.50, tracking equity decline globally after Trump's healthcare reform plans failed Friday and prompting concerns about whether planned reflationary policies will succeed. IG says however that "dip buyers are starting to appear." Amid limited company and economic news, gains for sterling also hurt shares, with miners among the biggest losers. Antofagasta is down 4.7%, Glencore down 4.4% and Anglo American down 3.9%. Babcock shares lose 4.3% after news the firm's Magnox contract with the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority will be terminated at the end of August 2019. Lloyds shares lose 1.6% after a downgrade by Berenberg. Retailers gain, however, led by Next, up 2.5%. Focus this week is on the UK's expected triggering of Article 50 to start Brexit.
- Oil prices rose, supported by a weak dollar, but crude continued to be weighed down by surging U.S. production and uncertainty over whether an OPEC-led supply cut is big enough to rebalance the market.
- Gold prices held steady as investors looked to see if U.S. President Donald Trump would be able to enact promised tax cuts and infrastructure spending, with the dollar drifting from multi-month lows in the previous session.
- London copper held above more than two-week lows hit the previous session, with worries easing over President Donald Trump's ability to push through economic reform.
- U.S. soybeans rose nearly 0.5 percent to move away from their lowest in more than five months as investors looked for bargains, but plentiful global supply kept a ceiling on gains.

Mar 27 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Oil prices are facing more downward pressure as a hiccup in Donald Trump's pro-growth policy agenda has seen investors sit back to reassess the impact on commodity markets, says ANZ Research, but it adds that oil may still find some support as OPEC's compliance committee is expected to recommend extending the production cut deal to the end of the year.
- The dollar's post-election rally "was extremely large and a role of dice really," says Sean Callow at Westpac in the wake of the greenback's ongoing declines. "Markets were looking for a very-speedy resolution to the health-care issue" as a precursor to tax and infrastructure legislation. That's been thrown into question in the wake of voting being shelved for now on health care.
- As Asian traders start the week with fresh doubts about Trump administration efforts to get its initiatives enacted, "the risk is that business and consumer sentiment reverse recent gains," says Martin Whetton, a senior rates strategist at ANZ Research. "For markets, that doesn't sound like an ideal situation." Stocks are broadly lower in what looks to be a risk-off session which also sees the dollar and sovereign-debt yields falling. The Nikkei is now off 1.2% and again threatening to breach 19000. Meanwhile, commodity stocks are weighing in Australia, with BHP Billiton and Fortescue down some 3%.
- Hideyuki Ishiguro, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities, says uncertainty regarding US policy has increased in the wake of the Republicans' failure on health-care reform. As such, market participants are starting to question the Trump administration's ability to implement its policies. "It's not going to be easy, even if they move on to the next agenda such as tax cuts." The Nikkei is set to open down about 1% in minutes, with a weaker dollar also weighing on equities in Japan, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 is down 0.5% after earlier being off as much as 1% earlier.
- Oil prices fell, pulled down by rising U.S. drilling activity and by doubts whether an OPEC-led production cut initially due to end in mid-2017 would be extended.
- Gold rose over 1 percent to touch a one-month high as the dollar slid after President Donald Trump's failure to pass healthcare reform raised doubts over his ability to push through his economic agenda.
- London copper slipped for a third day as risk appetite fell after President Donald Trump's failure to push through healthcare reform fanned concerns over his ability to realise his economic agenda.
- U.S. soybeans edged lower, hovering close to a five-month low amid ample global supplies of the oilseed and strong South American production.

Mar 24 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (Dow Jones)
- The House delaying a vote on a Republican health-care plan until Friday is a "slight disappointment" to investors, says Shusuke Yamada, FX strategist with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Tokyo. Investors are expected to sit on the sidelines, although protracted delay with the bill could have wider implications on other Trump plans, including corporate-tax reform--the real focus of markets. "The sooner they get health care done, the sooner they can start working on the tax plan," says Yamada. "So further delay will make investors only more cautious and skeptical about the prospect of near-term tax reform." The dollar has rebounded on word of the Friday vote plan and Trump saying he's ready to move on if the bill fails, rising 0.4% to Y111.40.
- Sean Callow, a senior forex strategist at Westpac, expects the yen and Swiss franc to further strengthen when the market catches up with worries about whether Republicans can get a health-care bill passed. That vote, originally slated for Thursday, has been put off until Friday. For now, Callow is surprised about the upbeat mood of the markets, especially on the equities (the Nikkei is up 0.6% amid a rising dollar). "There aren't more nerves about the delays." The dollar is up 0.3% during Asian trading at around Y111.30 and 0.2% higher at CHF0.9947.
- The dollar has gotten a bid within the past hour as Asian trading ramps up Friday, with the greenback rebounding some as Trump is ready to move on from health-care reform if a vote now set for Friday doesn't succeed in the House. A Republican bill which intends to undo much of Obamacare was slated to come up Thursday, but support remained questionable. There's been market concern this week whether health care--the first major item to come up in this new legislative session--could bottle up other Trump policy plans, sending risk assets lower midweek. The WSJ Dollar Index is up 0.2% in Asian trading, with the greenback rising above Y111.30 after falling below Y111 in overnight trading.
- The EUR/USD is a tad lower now at 1.0772 (from 1.0783 later Thursday in New York), as investors cautiously await the fate of the US health-care bill. With its upside weighed down after rising on speculation about European Central Bank tapering, the EUR/USD direction "largely depends on the status of the US bill," says Toshiyuki Umekawa, senior vice president of forex division at Mizuho Bank. Republican lawmakers postponed at the last minute a vote planned for Thursday on legislation to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, designed as a replacement to Obamacare. The is first real legislative test of US President Donald Trump's administration. Any failure of the bill would throw into double Mr Trump's ability to implement other bills, particularly infrastructure spending bills and tax cuts. The EUR/USD may move in either direction depending on the headlines coming out of Washington regarding this bill, says Umekawa, who tips the pair's upside resistance at 1.0850.
- The timing of a US health-care overhaul may be increasingly uncertain, but one thing is looking likelier now: more volatility in financial markets. Republicans postponed a vote on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, after last-minute talks failed to garner majority support for the bill. The House vote was seen by investors as a test of the Trump reflation trade. "Financial market volatility is set to rise from the extreme lethargy that has been seen in the past three months," ANZ says. "That means potentially more action in equities, interest rates and currencies, as analysts and market participants attempt to ascertain the real state of play." The AUD/USD was last at 0.7630.
- Among oil folks, the most unbridled, gushing support for Trump comes from small-business operators of so-called stripper wells, who are seeing methane rules and other regulations being rolled back. "Trump has provided an overwhelming sense of relief that while we're fighting OPEC and price wars, we don't have to also fight our own administration," National Stripper Well Association government affairs chief Tim Charters tells WSJ. The group's yearly gala is today and tomorrow in Oklahoma City, and Charters says it's confident "we've turned the corner" on the oil bust amid stable prices and Trump. Stripper wells--15 bpd or less--produce 1M bpd of the US's 9M bpd.
- New Zealand PM Bill English unveils a plan to have 90% of the country's exports covered by free-trade agreements by 2030, bucking a trend toward protectionist rhetoric in countries including the US. Around 53% of NZ's goods are currently exported under free-trade deals with China, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and--most-recently--South Korea. NZ wants to style itself as a food bowl for Asian consumers. "We have fewer than five million people but produce enough food to feed nearly ten times that," English says. NZ's plan comes weeks after the US nixed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the G20 recently dropped a pledge to oppose all forms of trade protectionism. "I am often bemused by opposition to free trade," English says.
- Aviation authorities on both sides of the Atlantic are taking steps to get more in sync with regard to future technical standards designed to usher in widespread use of commercial drones. The European Defense Agency, for example, is urging the region's civilian aviation regulators to adopt standards developed by a US advisory panel. Likewise in the US, technical experts advising the Federal Aviation Administration on collision-avoidance standards are taking steps to share data and work more closely with their European counterparts. Despite such progress, industry officials fret that the Trump Administration's government-wide regulatory freeze may hamper further cross-Atlantic cooperation in many areas, including oversight of unmanned aircraft. The drone lobby isn't powerful enough, by itself, to carve out an exemption from sweeping White House directives to curtail the flow of new regulations, according to veteran lobbyists and former high-ranking American aviation regulators.
- The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, closed above 13 today for the first time after 55 sessions, breaking an unusually subdued spell for the gauge. The index--based on options prices on the S&P 500 index--is still at lows, closing at 13.12 today. Stocks fell today as the House of Representatives postponed a key healthcare vote.
- US stocks dipped into negative territory in the last half hour of trade after House Republicans postponed a planned vote on the health bill. Progress on the bill, slated to replace the Affordable Care Act, is being widely watched by investors and traders as a barometer for President Trump's ability to push through other policy changes like tax cuts and deregulation. S&P 500 down 0.2%, Nasdaq Composite off 0.2% and Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.1%.
- As the spectrum auction concludes next month, industry watchers and advisers expect telecom M&A to kick off. Parties involved in the current auction are banned from speaking to one another about deals, but once the auction ends, they are able to strike up deals. "We believe a recent shift towards unlimited data plans will create the need for more capacity and support M&A," says a report from MarketScope Advisor. The report also says that a "reshaped Republican-led Federal Communications Commission will be more supportive of mergers/acquisitions."
- While health care sucks up the most Washington oxygen, another Obama-era rule is on its way to the ash heap as Senate votes to roll back last year's FCC internet privacy rule. The joint resolution, which rescinds the last administration's rule making broadband providers ask for permission before collecting subscriber data, helps cable providers and incumbents like AT&T  and Verizon pursue a bigger slice of the online ad market. Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had already stayed the rules, but expected approval by the House and president would prevent any similar rules from going at any point in the future.
- Oil prices edged up, supported by a fall in Saudi exports to the United States, but overall markets remained under pressure on the back of a world market awash with fuel.
- Gold prices edged lower against a backdrop of a rising dollar as markets waited to see whether U.S. President Donald Trump succeeds in pushing through healthcare reforms, viewed as a potential bellwether for his ability to impose his economic and political agenda.
- London copper was set to drop 2 percent for the week, with striking union members agreeing to return to work at the world's top copper mine, in Chile.
- U.S. soybeans fell 0.5 percent to hit a four-month low as ample global stocks continued to weigh on the oilseed, which was poised to finish the week in negative territory for a third consecutive week.

Mar 23 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Asia's high yield issuers are pushing out more deals, undeterred by the Trump-induced volatility seen in recent sessions in global credit markets. Xinjiang Guanghui, a Chinese energy and property firm, is out with a $200-$300 million 3-year bond shown at a yield of 8%. Zhuhai Huafa, also a mixed-purpose firm with a focus on property, is in the market with a $100 million 3-year tap of an existing deal, indicated at 3.75%. The China/Macau hotel and property firm Emperor International is marketing a 5-year deal, with a tranche in Hong Kong dollars (shown at 4.8%) and a tranche in dollars (indicated at 5.25%). Finally, the Indonesian agri-food concern Japfa Comfeed is seeking $100 million via a 5-year bond indicated at 5.875%. roceeds will refinance a 2018 bond with a 6% coupon.
- The governors of California, Oregon and Washington have issued a joint statement voicing their opposition to a possible Trump executive order which would call for the withdrawal and rewriting of the Clean Power Plan, an Obama policy to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. "Any attacks on the Clean Power Plan would move our nation in the wrong direction and put American prosperity at risk," the trio contends. "We will assert our own 21st-century leadership and chart a different course."
- Japanese stocks may struggle to gain due to continuing skepticism over U.S. President Donald Trump's ability to push through his legislative agenda, after the Japanese stock benchmark index posted the biggest loss since Nov. 9. Despite a modest recovery in the S&P 500 and Treasury yields, the dollar remained under pressure, which tends to be negative for Japanese stocks. Nikkei futures ended Wednesday's night session at 18920, compared with the earlier day-time close at 18910. Nikkei ended down 2.1% on Wednesday at 19041.38.
- Bank of Nova Scotia warned prior to the release of Canada's 2017 budget plan there would be little to get market participants excited. The firm's call proved prescient. Little in the budget changed the overall macro picture for Canada. The bulk of the budget was dominated by small measures, with tens of millions allocated over a number of years. In many ways, this was a placeholder budget for the Liberal government, until it gets a clearer sense where the Trump administration moves on trade and tax relief, and whether senior Republicans in Congress succeed with their proposed border-adjusted tax--which would hit Canadian exports and pose a blow to the trade-dependent economy.
- Bank stocks are losing steam as the "Trump trade" starts to unwind. Five of the six biggest US banks lost ground today, and Goldman Sachs (GS) shares fell 1% to $231.07. The exact triggers aren't clear, but a flattening of the yield curve -- with 10-year Treasuries yielding less relative to shorter-term debt -- is never kind to bank stocks. Plus, congressional Republicans are struggling to find enough support within their own ranks to pass a health-care bill, raising questions about their ability to push through tax reform, financial deregulation and other things that had sent bank stocks soaring after the election. KBW Nasdaq Bank Index is off 5% this week.
- A representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank, took Starbucks to task for its promise to hire refugees, citing a study that showed brand perception levels dropped in the wake of the pledge, and criticized the company for being too political. CEO Howard Schultz said the company's stance on social issues "isn't based on politics but on principles and core beliefs" and that there is "zero evidence" of any effect to the brand or business "as a result of being compassionate."
- A big question this year is whether the equity-market euphoria and bond-market skepticism reflect the correct read on US policy risks. The equity market finally blinked Tuesday as difficult health-care negotiations continue to delay tax reform, says BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research. It's unclear for now whether that warrants a more defensive credit stance, but volatility should be higher going forward, BofA says. "We should see more days like" Tuesday, when the Dow fell 1.1%, its biggest percentage point decline since October, it says. A stock-market correction is the biggest near-term risk to high-grade spreads, and one could be triggered by a rise in US policy risks, particularly related to tax reform, it says.
- Eurozone funds have continued to register net outflows in March as political uncertainty weighed during the month but the outcome of the Dutch election and the widening gap between French presidential candidates Emmanuel Macron and National Front leader Marine Le Pen could curb outflows from the eurozone, say BBVA analysts. BBVA also says investor appetite for emerging markets and U.S. has returned. For emerging markets, the upward trend in commodity prices and the cautious tone of U.S. Fed officials in tightening process has been supportive of inflows, even though last week oil prices dropped and the Fed's hike diminished the appetite. As for the U.S., inflows remained in both equity and bond funds, BBVA says.
- The alcohol industry is lobbying to stop Utah Gov. Gary Herbert from signing a bill lowering the state's legal threshold for drunken driving to a .05 blood-alcohol level from .08. Utah would be the first state to do so. The American Beverage Institute, an industry group, has opposed similar proposals in Hawaii and Washington state as part of a broader effort to push back against what the group has described as "an unprecedented and coordinated attack on moderate drinking." The group plans to run an ad in USA Today later this week, saying, "Utah: Come for Vacation, Leave on Probation."
- Alexander Acosta, Trump's nominee for Labor Secretary, pledges to follow the White House's order in reviewing a landmark retirement-advice rule, stressing that specific standards laid out in the president's executive order determine the Labor Department's approach to the rule. Speaking at a Senate confirmation hearing, Acosta says those three criteria are: Whether the rule reduces investment options, increases litigation and financially affects retiree investors. The Labor Department has proposed to delay the implementation of the rule from April 1 to give the department time to review the Obama-era regulation. Trump's executive action directs the department to repeal or revise the regulation--known as the fiduciary rule--if any of the criteria laid out in that executive order is found, Acosta says. "So that criteria really regulates and determines the Department of Labor's approach to the fiduciary rule," he says.
- Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Lawrence Schembri highlighted how the US shift toward protectionist trade policies could raise inflationary pressures in Canada. Schembri said during a speech in Vancouver on Wednesday that "inward looking" trade policies would dampen global trade and either directly or indirectly reduce Canadian exports and business investment. "Canada, however, has resisted this protectionist tilt," he said. Schembri points to recent changes to immigration policy and a new free trade agreement with the EU as positive steps aimed at increasing growth over the medium-to-long term.
- BMI stays bullish on the Mexican peso. After the peso strengthened around 15% to the US dollar since late January, Fitch believes the negative sentiment towards the currency in the wake of Trump's triumph in the US election is overdone. "Softening rhetoric towards trade with Mexico and Nafta by Trump administration officials reaffirm our view that Mexico will surprise to the upside this year, even if a trade deal has yet to materialize," BMI says. However, the firm sees some downside risks in the near term, as trade policy uncertainty will persist until the latter part of the year and renewed tensions can't be discounted. The peso is often used as a hedge, making it subject to bouts of financial volatility. BMI maintains its end-year forecast of 19.50 to the US dollar; the peso's currently at 19.08.
- Oil prices recovered from losses chalked up the session before, but the market remained under pressure as bloated U.S. crude inventories and rising output dampen OPEC-led efforts to curb global production.  
- Gold prices held below a 3-week peak hit in the prior session, as the dollar  recovered from seven-week lows and markets looked to see if U.S. President Donald Trump could push through a healthcare bill.  
- London copper crept higher, edging away from two-week lows hit the previous session as broader investor sentiment revived, while disruptions piled up in the zinc market.  
- U.S. soybeans edged lower as forecasts for ample global supplies kept the oilseed near a three-month low.

Mar 22 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (Dow Jones)
- The USD/JPY falls to the level in late November (and briefly hit 111.43 earlier Wednesday), in yet another sign that investors are growing skeptical about a spike in the U.S. yields and dollar on expectations for US President Donald Trump's stimulus plans, says Mizuho chief market economist Daisuke Karakama in a note. Purchasing power parity suggests the USD/JPY should trade within a 95-105, and Karakama says he "can't help feeling" that the USD/JPY will head towards this range. "We are still seeing excessive yen weakness/dollar strength at this stage," he says.
- The AUD/JPY is down 1.8% over the past 24 hours (to 85.49). This reflects a sudden change in market preference for safe-haven assets such as the yen over the currencies of major commodity producing countries the Australian dollar, which are closely linked to global growth expectations. The CAD/JPY is also down 1.2% to 83.43. Skepticism has grown over US President Donald Trump's ability to implement tax cuts and infrastructure projects, which could boost US growth and bolster commodity demand. This as Trump struggles to round up support for a health-care bill in Congress, prompting questions about lawmakers' support for his other, more stimulative, programs.
- Rubber futures slump in both Shanghai and Tokyo amid the broad risk-off trade which developed overnight as aspects of the Trump Trade unwind some. But Gu Jiong, an analyst at Yutaka Shoji, notes as rubber's market is smaller than others, moves are often exacerbated. The Tocom benchmark natural rubber contract is down 4.8% at Y250.3/kilogram; Gu says support stand around Y$245.
- The Aussie dollar's broad gains the past 3 months could be threatened by doubts about the Trump trade, says Greg McKenna at AxiTrader. "If markets are going to unwind the Trumponomics positivity, the Aussie dollar's rally is over" as the currency is seen as a proxy for global growth--specifically China's. It's down across the board in Asia trading, including 0.3% against the US dollar. It's gained 8% the past 3 months against the greenback.
- A proposed border tax by the current administration would drive the price of goods up and consumer spending down, says Kohl's CEO Kevin Mansell. "At the end of the day in my mind, to tell American consumers, that they ought to pay 20% more for things like clothing and home goods, doesn't make any sense to me," he says at the Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas. "I don't think that's a good path at all." He says that any time the cost of goods go up, it reduces demand. President Donald Trump has floated the idea of a border tax for imported goods in an effort to drive more manufacturing back to the US, something retailers have said would be disastrous.
- Twitter is pushing harder on violent extremism. In 2H, TWTR suspended 376,890 accounts for promoting terrorism. This represented about 60% of all accounts suspended for this reason since Aug. 1, 2015, TWTR says in a report. TWTR relied on its internal spam-fighting tools to find about three-quarters of the accounts suspended in 2H, according to the report. Fewer than 2% were dismantled at the request of government officials.
- Skittishness about the implementation of Trump's agenda will remain the focus for markets, and likely weigh on the AUD/USD on Wednesday, ANZ says. House Republican leaders are trying to pass a health bill this week, with Trump warning the GOP that it risks losing seats in 2018 if it doesn't follow through on campaign promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act. "With risk appetite at extended levels it is likely that the AUD will continue to move lower in the near term," ANZ says. "All eyes will be on global equities for a sentiment gauge." The AUD/USD is at 0.7688 early.
- After a brief break, bond yields renew their slides again hitting fresh session lows as US stocks  extend a selloff. The 10-year yield falls to near 2.42%, the lowest since the end of February when it traded below 2.4%. With short bets remaining elevated, further short covering is likely to propel the yield lower still as the Trump trade dials back. The yield is 2.423% vs. 2.472% Monday. Dow is down more than 200 points, or about 1.1%.
- The latest Republican tweaks to their House health-overhaul bill wouldn't mean major new effects for health insurers, analysts suggest. The big question remains: what will become law in the end? The picture is still muddy, but some push the safety of companies with limited exposure to the bill's effects, such as Humana and Aetna. JPMorgan thinks "the market remains too complacent about the possibility that Republicans can pass legislation that would materially reduce funding for Medicaid/exchange subsidies." Leerink makes similar recommendations, warning that investors need to worry about companies with big Medicaid exposure, such as Molina and Centene, as well as hospital stocks.
- The FTSE 100 closes 0.7% lower at 7378.34 at the end of a broadly negative day of trading for European stocks. A combination of stronger-than-expected UK inflation figures--released at 0930 GMT--and weaker US stocks has served to drive late sell-offs in Europe. The pound has risen 1% versus the dollar during the course of the day. IG attributes the fall to a cocktail of contributors, pointing to the ongoing spat between Trump and the FBI, a lower-oil-price-driven sell-off in the mining sector, and a Merrill Lynch report highlighting banks as being among the most popular fund manager investments. Wednesday sees Kingfisher results and eurozone current account data, due at 1000 GMT.
- The Trump Administration's broad mandates to roll back regulations across the government are posing unexpected challenges for routine aviation industry sessions to develop technical standards. Notice of meetings to carry out such everyday work must be published in the Federal Register, but in many cases the White House directives have held up those required public notices. As a result, participants at the meetings have been blocked from taking official action on standards ranging from battery safety to wake-turbulence calculations. "We're in uncharted territory," says Karan Hoffman, a manager with the Federal Aviation Administration's main technical advisory organization. A senior FAA official says "I have faith" the confusion and impediments to action will be resolved by the summer. Even high-level FAA policy advisory groups have been bogged down by the regulatory turbulence.
- Today's selloff in the dollar, stocks and commodities has taken the TD Securities Trump Trade Index to its lowest level since August. The index is comprised of ten components that have been sensitive to the political fortunes of President Trump, whose promises of ramped-up fiscal spending have helped boost everything from stocks and industrial metals to the US dollar. Its decline reflects growing doubts about how quickly the White House will be able to push through pledged infrastructure spending and tax cuts, analysts at TD Securities said. Among the Trump trade components in retreat today was the US dollar, which fell to its lowest level since November 11 as measured by the WSJ Dollar Index. Copper was down nearly 2% and the S&P 500 fell 0.7%.
- Oil prices dipped as rising crude stocks in the United States underscored an ongoing global fuel supply overhang despite an OPEC-led effort to cut output.
- Gold prices rose to a three-week high as risk-averse investors dumped equities amid a weaker dollar .
- London copper prices dropped along with other commodities on growing doubts about U.S. President Donald Trump's economic agenda.
- Chicago wheat slid for a third consecutive session, trading near the previous session's six-week low as forecasts for rain improved the prospects for the U.S. winter crop.

Mar 21 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- The FTSE 100 closes 0.07% higher at 7429.81 at the end of a day that was generally slightly negative for most other European bourses. London stocks close in the green partly thanks to the downtick in the pound versus euro and dollar, which followed the news that UK Prime Minister Theresa May is to trigger article 50 on March 29. Otherwise, it's been a quiet day with few results or data releases. No companies move by 2% or more, although UK banks move lower, and a 1% slip in the price of copper stings miners. Tuesday sees a glut of UK data, with producer-price index figures and consumer-price index data among those in the release.
- Morgan Stanley initiates coverage of Berkshire Hathaway with an equal-weight rating, arguing that "Berkshire's diverse businesses with sustainable competitive advantage should drive superior growth, but this is largely priced in after a 20% post-election run." Few analysts cover BRK despite the conglomerate's massive size because the company gives no special access to analysts and pays no dividends, making it less appealing to some investors. BRK could benefit from fiscal stimulus and tax reform, Morgan Stanley says, adding that a 20% corporate tax rate could boost BRK earnings by 14%.
- Egypt has received its first two oil shipments from Saudi Arabia's state giant Aramco after deliveries were suspended for several months, the country's oil minister Tarek El-Molla says. Cairo will receive another two deliveries towards the end of the month, he says. Saudi Arabia agreed in April to provide Egypt with 700,000 tons of refined oil products a month for five years, but Aramco stopped deliveries in early October amid political tensions between the two countries.
- New York state's attorney general--to date one of Trump's most vocal antagonists--is preparing to escalate his office's litigation against the president's administration. Democrat Eric Schneiderman has hired one of the top public-corruption prosecutors under former Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara to focus specifically on issues involving the Trump administration. Howard Master, who prosecuted the Manhattan US attorney's case against longtime New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, is expected to work on both continuing and new White House-related matters for the attorney general, as well as on high-level public-corruption cases.
- Heartwood Investment Management says it remains cautious on UK assets, and expects higher inflation to weigh on real income growth there this year. Britain will notify the EU on March 29 that it will begin the process of exiting the bloc, UK Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman says. That will mark "a period of ongoing uncertainty for UK businesses and markets," says Michael Stanes, investment director at Heartwood, a subsidiary of Swedish bank Handelsbanken. But it may also bring some relief that the process is finally underway, he says.
- Markets may be "too concerned" about the possibility of protectionist U.S. policies, according to David Hussey, managing director at Manulife Asset Management. Recent communications from a senior U.S. official suggest there's no way protectionism is on the agenda, he says, noting any changes will likely be marginal. "A light version of protectionism is most likely...it won't derail the equity story," he says.
- Oil prices rose on expectations that an OPEC-led production cut to prop up the market could be extended, while strong demand would also work to slowly erode a global fuel supply overhang.
- Gold prices edged lower, failing to break a key resistance but hovered near a two-week high hit in the previous session on prospects of a less-hawkish Federal Reserve policy.
- London copper prices fell on technical selling sparked by hopes unions and miner BHP Billiton would hold further talks that could lead to the restart of output at the world's biggest copper mine.
- Chicago wheat futures edged lower, easing for a second session after forecasts for much-needed rains for the U.S. Plains winter wheat crop.
- The dollar was on the defensive in Asian trading, after Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans reinforced the perception that the U.S. central bank won't accelerate the pace of its interest rate hikes.

Mar 20 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- US lawmakers are pushing for action after a government accountability report found lapses in oversight of antibiotic use in agriculture. Senators and representatives including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wrote to the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services to ask what steps are being taken to tighten data collection, drug labeling and farm-level investigations of foodborne illnesses. The report concluded that there were lapses in the way those agencies tracked the use of medically important antibiotics in food animals. Antibiotic resistance is considered a major threat to global health, and the CDC said that two million people people a year in the US alone get sick and 23,000 die from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- Inflows to US equity fund and exchange-traded funds in the week ended March 15 accelerated to the highest weekly pace since their peak in the week ended Nov. 16 following US elections, but inflows to fixed-income funds remained muted, says BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research. In the latest week, $15.5B flowed into US equity funds, up from $8.7B in the prior week, while just $1.7B flowed into fixed-income funds, up from $1.3B in the prior week, it says. That moderate inflow was due to weaker flows into high-yield and leverage loans, which offset strong flows to high-grade and government bonds, it says.
- University of Michigan says the partisan divide in its consumer sentiment survey remains strong. Democrats had an expectations index of 55.3, signaling a deep recession, while Republicans had an index of 122.4, indicated an era of robust growth. "Optimism promotes discretionary spending, and uncertainty makes consumers more cautious spenders," Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist, said. "This combination will result in uneven spending gains over time and across products."
- Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines is looking to list on the London Stock Exchange, but the move will likely be shelved as long as the US maintains sanctions against Tehran's missile program. Most sanctions over Iran's nuclear ambitions have been lifted, but a return of Iranian companies to the market for the first time since 1979 is still difficult. IRISL, has placed a $625M order to renew its ageing fleet of container and dry bulk vessels, but it has to spend as much as two times more to obtain the needed capacity to compete as an ocean going operator. IRISL executives are looking to the Milan Exchange as an alternative, but any listing is at least 18 months away.
- The past few months of trade pickup in Singapore could help bring Singapore's 2017 exports to expansion after 4 straight years of decline, but the protectionist threat looms large, United Overseas Bank says. "We are carefully watching the negative impact from the anti-globalization rhetoric that has been fueling developed markets' sentiments," it says, focusing in on the US. The US is the second-biggest destination of goods produced in Singapore and further protectionist measures will only hurt the path of Singapore's export recovery. The comments come after Singapore's main nonoil domestic exports rise 21.5% on year in February, the strongest on-year growth rate in 5 years.
- A border adjustment tax probably won't do drivers any favors, and it may not be good for Republicans either. The border adjustment has been discussed as part of a corporate tax overhaul proposed by House Republicans. If implemented, a border adjustment tax could push oil prices up $10 to $15 a barrel, said Ethan Bellamy, an analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co. "If you get $10 higher WTI overnight, that could send gasoline prices higher and I think that's a threat to Republicans in the midterm election," he said while speaking at DUG Rockies, an oil and gas conference in Denver.
- Who in the Farm Belt wins under the Trump administration's budget proposal to trim about one-fifth of the USDA's annual budget? Stifel analysts think it could be big grain traders like Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). Stifel sees the cuts mainly targeting USDA's statistical capabilities, rather than meat plant inspections and crop research, which could reduce the flow of myriad agricultural data from Washington. And that could work in favor of companies that buy grain from farmers, who get an on-the-ground view into crop conditions and transport factors that can be hard for hedge funds and other financial speculators to match.
- House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D, Minn.) thinks President Trump just hung farmers out to dry. He's irked by the president's proposal to slash $4.7B from USDA's budget, including cutting staff at the agency's county offices, which help growers navigate a bevy of farm programs. "The good news is this budget will be ignored, as it should be," says Peterson, adding that the budget reflects a lack of understanding about the impact of USDA's programs in the Farm Belt. "I urge the Administration to spend more time in rural America to gain an understanding of how things work."
- House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway says that the Trump administration's budget could "hamper some vital work" undertaken for farmers by the USDA. "America's farmers and ranchers are struggling, and we need to be extremely careful not to exacerbate these conditions," the Texas Republican states. Conaway states that the current farm bill saved more than $100B. Discussions surrounding the 2018 farm bill are just getting underway in Washington.
- Oil prices fell, with already-bloated markets pressured by rising U.S. drilling activity and steady supplies from OPEC countries despite touted production cuts.
- Gold prices hit a two-week high as the dollar held near five-week lows reached in the previous session, finding support from the U.S. Federal Reserve's conservative guidance on the path of rate hikes this year.
- London copper slipped on jitters that Beijing would set down tougher measures to cool its housing sector, although trade was thin as markets digested the results of a meeting of G20 financial leaders.
- Chicago wheat hit its highest in a week on concerns over a lack of moisture for the U.S. winter crop.

Mar 17 - Oil prices were little changed in early Asian trade as the market looked for clues on how effectively OPEC production cuts are working to absorb a global supply overhang.
- Spot gold had edged down 0.1 percent to $1,224.90 per ounce.
- London copper was steady, remaining on course to mark its biggest weekly advance since mid-February on a weaker dollar and ongoing mine supply concerns.
- Chicago soybean futures lost ground with the market set for a second week of declines as a record Brazilian supplies hit the market and near-perfect weather in Argentina boosts supply prospects.

Mar 16 - Trump's pick to lead U.S. CFTC unveils major new policy agenda

The top U.S. derivatives regulator laid out plans on Wednesday for a sweeping overhaul of the agency that will include everything from cutting regulation to restructuring the unit that conducts surveillance for market abuses. In a wide-ranging policy speech that drew a rare standing ovation from more than 1,000 industry participants, Acting Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo, who was nominated by President Donald Trump as permanent chairman late Tuesday, said it was time for the CFTC to "reinterpret its regulatory mission" by focusing on fostering economic growth, enhancing U.S. markets, and "right-sizing" its regulatory footprint. Click here to read full stories.

Mar 16 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Earlier dollar declines, which came after an expected U.S. interest rate increase, proved short-lived, as the currency recovered some of its losses in European trade. The Federal Reserve signalled a gradual increase in rates. Analysts said the dollar had fallen in a "buy the rumor, sell the fact" reaction. USD/JPY was last flat at 113.44, having hit a two-week low around 112.91. EUR/USD was last down 0.2% at $1.0711, having risen to a five-week peak of $1.0748. The euro also benefited from relief after the Dutch elections, where Prime Minister Mark Rutte saw off a challenge from the far-right PVV party. GBP/USD was down 0.3% at $1.2259, before a Bank of England decision at 1200 GMT. Overnight, the Bank of Japan left policy unchanged, as expected.
- Increased demand for exports from emerging markets will trump any protectionist measures against them, predicts Jim McDonald, chief investment strategist at Northern Trust. "Stronger growth out of the United States will not come at the expense of emerging-market countries."
- Asked to predict the future, German manufacturers are split over what to expect from Trump's trade policies. But nearly 30% expect they will increase production levels stateside. A survey by Germany's Ifo Institute of 2,700 companies in the German manufacturing sector--46% of which export directly to America--found 45% of those surveyed expect new customs duties. Meanwhile, 37% anticipate other new trade barriers, 36% predict increases to current ones and 28% expect no change at all. (The survey allowed companies to enter more than one response). Of the manufacturers which export directly to America, 28% said they will likely produce more in the US or expand subsidiaries there once new trade policies are in place.
- Farm and agribusiness groups project confidence after officials from 11 organizations met with administration officials, including National Economic Council Director Cohn, on trade. Trump's tough talk on NAFTA and exit from the TPP stoked nervousness among farmers who helped put the real-estate magnate in office. But today's meeting made clear that the administration aims to expand US food and agriculture exports, say the groups--which representing growers and processors of soybean, corn, wheat and other crops. They estimate 95% of the potential customer base for their products lie outside the US.
- Wall Street is anticipating a slew of deals between television station owners if the FCC in a Trump administration seeks to change regulations regarding the size and reach of local broadcasters. One such move is reinstating the so-called UHF discount which would reduce the reach of a UHF station compared to a VHF station by 50%. That would mean broadcasters such as Sinclair Broadcast Group, 21st Century Fox and Nexstar Media Group that own a large amount of UHF stations and are near the national ownership cap that prohibits a company from reaching more than 39% of TV homes, would find new wiggle room. There's debate over whether the FCC or Congress has the power to change the rule.
- Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen calls the central bank's regulatory calendar "relatively light at this point," in a press conference following an interest rate increase and policy statement. She says the Fed doesn't have a lot of time-sensitive regulations on its docket at present and "there is nothing right now that we need to get out that is a significant rule." Many rules are on hold with the new administration, but her comments could still come as a surprise to those waiting for the specifics of the Fed's large counterparty exposure rule, which the central bank is expected to be finalizing soon. The Fed has been silent on its status, having already taken a series of industry comments since proposing it last March.
- Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said that she would look at any proposals put forward by the Trump administration related to a "21st Century Glass-Steagall Act," but since the administration has not put forward any such proposal, she did not see anything "concrete to react to." She did say that postcrisis financial regulations had helped to ensure that the shadow banking system was "appropriately capitalized," and their "management was strengthened." She noted that a lack of a separation between investment and commercial banking at bank holding companies had not been a primary cause of the financial crisis.
- Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen says the Fed does not currently have any "time-sensitive" regulations that "need to get out." In response to a question about whether the Fed would abide by the requests of some congressional Republicans to refrain from issuing new rules, Yellen says that the Fed has "an obligation to write the rules that Congress dictates in laws that they pass."
- Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen says she had a brief meeting with President Trump, though she didn't offer any details about what they discussed. Speaking at a press conference following the Fed's two-day policy meeting, Yellen said she had met a couple of times with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and was introduced to President Trump. "I had a very brief meeting and appreciated that as well," she said of her interaction with Trump. Yellen said she and Mnuchin had "very good discussions" about the economy, regulatory objectives, the work of the Financial Stability Oversight Council and global economic developments.
- To comply with government ethics rules, Donald Trump's cabinet and White House appointees must sell more than $1B in assets, much of which are relatively hard-to-sell holdings such as stakes in private-equity funds. Luckily for fund-stake sellers, such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, there's never been a better time to sell second-hand private-equity investments. Once an arcane bargain bin, the market for so-called secondaries has become a hot corner for Wall Street. Investment bank Greenhill estimates there is more than $100B of uninvested cash in secondaries funds. DeVos's for-sale fund stakes, which ethics filings show are worth at least $175M, is right around the average size of secondaries deals last year, according to Greenhill. "There are 100 firms that could purchase this portfolio," says Greenhill's Stephen Sloan, who says the investments should attract wide interest when they are shopped.
- The rate increase announced by the Fed was fully expected, but doesn't necessarily signal a campaign of further hikes through 2017, says Peter Andersen, chief investment officer at Boston advisory firm Fiduciary Trust Company. The Fed will continue to be data dependent, "modeling the impact of future US economic data, but also what's going on in Europe--Brexit progress, and the elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany," Andersen says. Those elections are traditionally outside the Fed's immediate focus, but surprises in Europe could impact the U.S. economy, he says.
- Pacific Alliance, a group of four pro-trade Latin American countries, announced this week they are looking to deepen commerce with other nations by creating associated members, leading to free trade deals. And the first country that could sign a deal with the group could be New Zealand, officials say. "We think the time is right for New Zealand and the Pacific Alliance to do a trade deal," said New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay. "We are complimentary economies... New Zealand is very much a stepping stone now to Southeast Asia." The Pacific Alliance includes Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru. Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo agreed that New Zealand would be a good first choice for signing a trade deal with the group.
- President Donald Trump is asking Congress for billions of dollars in new spending for his promised border wall with Mexico and stepped up immigration enforcement, with new money requested for officers, jails, judges and lawyers.The administration's funding request will come in two parts. First, the White House is asking Congress for money for the current fiscal year -- what's known as a supplemental request. That will include $1.5 billion to design and begin building a wall with Mexico this year, officials said. It is also expected to include about the same amount for other immigration enforcement. Then, for the coming 2018 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, the administration is asking for more than $4.5 billion in new spending.
- Crude oil prices rose to extend gains from the previous session after official government data showed U.S. stockpiles had eased from record highs.
- Gold hit a one-week high after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled a cautious stance on interest rate policy this year, pushing the dollar to its lowest in a month.  
- London copper hit its highest in more than one week as the dollar dropped after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates as expected but showed no signs of speeding up its pace of tightening.
- Chicago wheat futures rose for a second session, buoyed by a weaker dollar and concerns over potentially crop-damaging cold and dry weather in the United States.
- The euro stood tall after Dutch election exit polls pointed to a comfortable win by the prime minister over his far-right rival, while the dollar wallowed at a one-month low after the Federal Reserve sounded less hawkish than anticipated on future rate rises.

Mar 15 - Trump to nominate CFTC acting head Giancarlo as permanent chairman

President Donald Trump plans to nominate J. Christopher Giancarlo to lead theCommodity Futures Trading Commission, the regulatortasked with policing the massive over-the-counter derivatives market, the White House said on Tuesday. Giancarlo, a Republican, has been acting chairman of the CFTC since Jan. 20 and was widely expected to be tapped for the permanent position of chairman. He became a CFTC commissioner in 2014.

Mar 15 - Oil prices rebounded from three-month lows after industry data showed a surprise drawdown in U.S. crude stockpiles and as Goldman Sachs put a positive spin on OPEC's compliance with output cuts.
- Gold prices edged up on uncertainty over the outcome of the Dutch elections, while markets awaited clues on the pace of U.S. interest rate hikes this year.
- London copper marked time ahead of the outcome of a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting that is expected to dictate the direction of the dollar, with dissipating concerns over mine supply dragging on prices for the metal.
- U.S. soybean prices rose for the first time in eight sessions to pull away from their lowest in nearly three months, though expectations of plentiful South American supply capped gains.

Mar 14 - Crude oil prices hovered near three-month lows in Asian trading, with investors waiting for key reports and data that may shed light on a supply overhang in the global market.
- Gold prices were steady as investors awaited the start of a two-day U.S. Federal Reserve meeting where the central bank is widely expect to raise interest rates.
- London copper edged higher on expectations of stronger demand for the metal after China, the world's biggest copper user, reported better-than-forecast industrial output data and fixed-asset investment figures.
- U.S. soybean prices dropped to a two-month low, dragged down by expectations for record South American production in a global market that is already amply supplied.
- The dollar inched up against a basket of currencies as U.S. Treasury yields extended their rise ahead of an expected interest rate rise by the Federal Reserve.

Mar 13 - Oil prices dropped to their lowest in three months despite OPEC efforts to curb crude output, dragged down as U.S. drillers kept adding rigs.
- Gold prices inched up on safe-haven demand ahead of elections in Europe, moving further away from 5-week lows touched late last week in expectation of an imminent rise in U.S. interest rates.
- London copper futures rose for a second straight session, propped up by a firmer euro and supply disruption concerns following an indefinite workers' strike at Peru's top copper miner.
- U.S. soybean prices inched away from two-month lows touched in the previous session, though gains were checked by forecasts of ample South American supply.

Mar 11 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- As the Republican health-overhaul plan threatens the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion over time, analysts at Stifel do a rundown of how many expansion members each Medicaid managed-care company currently has. The counts: Centene has around 1.1 million people, driving an estimated $4.5 billion in premiums. At Molina, it is around 673,000 lives, $2.8 billion in premiums. For WellCare, the counts are 200,000 people and around $720 million in premiums. The Republican bill would dial back federal funding for new expansion enrollees after two years.
- Analysts see a silver lining for Medicaid managed-care companies if Republicans pass their health overhaul--while Medicaid enrollment could shrink, states might increasingly turn to managed-care companies as they seek to hold costs down. The new approach would switch federal Medicaid payments, which go to states, to a per-capita sum. Analysts at J.P. Morgan say "Medicaid HMOs have 2020 enrollment risk that may be offset by longer-term market share acceleration driven by block grants." Stifel favors Centene as "a beneficiary of private sector solution trends already under way in Medicaid."
- Standard & Poor's said "it's difficult to overstate" Medicaid's importance to state budgets and House GOP plans to replace the Affordable Care Act "would result in fiscal strain that would increase over time." States would see less federal Medicaid funding under the proposal, the ratings firm said. For those eligible for Medicaid as a result of the ACA, proposed changes would leave states to find more money to keep them insured or force states to eliminate the coverage, said S&P. Hospital associations said they cannot support the ACA replacement legislation because of risk to insurance coverage.
- Craig Phillips, a former managing director of BlackRock has been named counselor to the US Treasury Secretary overseeing financial policy and regulatory reform, the Treasury Department said. That puts Phillips in a key role in the early days of the Trump administration, when other important Treasury Department posts remain unfilled. Phillips was a donor to Democrats in 2016 but also has become a key advisor to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and has experience in Washington having run a government advisory business for BlackRock.
- Fewer people will have health insurance under the House Republican blueprint to replace the Affordable Care Act, a "credit negative" for hospitals, said Moody's Investors Service. Federal Medicaid funding under the GOP proposal likely won't keep pace with the program's costs "forcing states to make changes that would likely be credit negative for hospitals, including lowering payments to hospitals and other providers, reducing coverage or benefits and reducing targeted payments to safety net hospitals," Moody's said. Consumers who get smaller subsidies to buy insurance under the Republican proposal will likely drop coverage, Moody's said.
- PHH, a mortgage lender challenging the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said in a new court filing today that the agency had "many constitutional problems" and must be shut down entirely. Ahead of a re-hearing in May of a high-profile court case, PHH responded to a request from judges to address questions including whether the CFPB's single-director structure was unconstitutional, and if so, how it should be resolved. An earlier court decision declared its independent structure unconstitutional but said it could be remedied by giving the president power to remove the agency's director at will. The US appeals court is scheduled May 24 to re-hear the case, now entangled in a bitter partisan fight over the agency's future.
- Hedge funds and other speculative investors boosted bullish bets on the dollar to $15.6B in the week through March 7, rising from $12.8B the previous week, CFTC data shows. It's the first meaningful increase in long dollar bets since the start of the year, when investors began to doubt the so-called "Trump trade" that had sent the greenback to 14-year-highs after the November election. Investors are growing optimistic on the dollar again as the Fed indicates it will raise interest rates next week. In other currencies, investors added to bets against the euro, Japanese yen and British pound. Speculators remained bullish on the Canadian dollar and Australian dollar.
- The Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association wants a meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence and other top Trump officials to discuss trade and other policies. The industry group, in a letter to Pence dated March 1, said it "strongly supports the administration's vision of strengthening manufacturing jobs throughout the US." MEMA requested a meeting with Pence "in the very near future," to confer with him on trade issues, tax reform and regulatory streamlining. The North Carolina-based lobbying group also petitioned Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross for a meeting in a separate letter co-signed by 53 parts suppliers, including Delphi Automotive Plc, Denso Corp. and Robert Bosch GmbH.
- Canada PM Justin Trudeau repeated a warning today about a border adjusted tax he gave at the CERAWeek conference last night in Houston. He told reporters, "Extra barriers or impediments to the smooth flow of goods would hurt our businesses, and limit our capacity to continue to be extraordinarly competitive as a North American entity on the world stage." Some market watchers believe Canada could get an exemption from Washington on the proposed levy on imports, once renegotiations on Nafta begin, given the close supply-chain integration between two economies.
- Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, selected by President Trump to head the administration's manufacturing council, said Trump is acting aggressively to reinvigorate manufacturing in the US. Speaking at the CERAWeek conference by IHS Markit, Liveris said the administration would take executive action next week to further that effort. He also said that managing workers displaced by automation and technology are one of the thornier issues facing the initiative. He cited private investment in re-education for displaced workers and in programs to provide alternative routes for students to a four-year degree as part of the solution. Liveris, who steered DOW to invest in operations around the world, also said globalization had left some workers behind and companies must better integrate them into the global economy.
- US annual budget deficit remained near its highest level in three years during February amid weaker growth in federal revenues. Government spending exceeded revenues by $192B in February. Broader measures show the deficit is rising as government revenues decline and long-term costs associated with an aging population rise. Over the past 12 months, the deficit stood at 3.1% as a share of the economy. A year earlier, that figure stood at 2.2% of gross domestic product. One big factor weighing on government finances is weak corporate profits tied to a sluggish global economy, a depressed energy sector, a strong dollar and other factors. Government revenues declined 1.1% in the past 12 months compared with the prior year while spending rose 3.8%.
- Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Cornyn of Texas, states that are major fossil fuel producers, say they believe human activity is having a major impact on climate change, a stance that puts them at odds with the Trump Administration. Scott Pruitt, the newly minted EPA head, said Thursday he did not believe carbon dioxide emissions are driving global warming. "I have no doubt that humans impact the climate," Cornyn said at the CERAWeek conference by IHS Markit in Houston. Murkowski, also at the conference, said climate change has had a dramatic effect in her state. But both senators said the federal government should not mandate emission reductions, but instead allow private sector innovation to address the issue.

Mar 10 - Crude prices inched up after dropping to their lowest in more than three months the session before, pressured by concerns that a global supply glut is proving stubbornly persistent.
- Gold fell below the key level of $1,200 an ounce and was on track for its worst week in four months, pressured by a stronger dollar ahead of the closely-watched U.S. non-farm payrolls report due later in the day.
- London copper steadied after six straight sessions of decline but was on track to log its steepest weekly loss since August after an influx of deliveries into exchange warehouses this week doused near-term supply concerns.
- Chicago soybean futures were poised for a weekly decline, pressured by forecasts of a record Brazilian crop.

Mar 09 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Emirates Airline President Tim Clark says the airline will go forward with a planned flight starting this month linking Athens and Newark. Some New York and New Jersey lawmakers have appealed to President Donald Trump to block the route. "We are not changing it," Mr. Clark says, adding ""we have breached no terms of the air services agreement that allows us to do that."
- Welcome back to the 1980s. Peter Navarro, director of the White House's National Trade Council, tells The Wall Street Journal in an interview that Donald Trump's administration will push Japan to buy more US-made goods to fix trade imbalances. The remark is almost certain to make waves in Tokyo's policy circle, where many have grown nervous about the possible revival of bilateral trade friction. The memories of it remain fresh in the minds of many Japanese --such as calls in the mid-1980s by Yasuhiro Nakasone, then prime minister, on consumers to each spend $100 on US goods.
- U.S. coal usage has been under pressure for years because of cheap natural gas. It's something closely watched by David Tudor, CEO of the Associated Electric Cooperative, which uses coal to generate much of the electricity it provides its members. He thinks coal will see more competition, particularly from wind turbines, and says many peers already have closed coal-fired power plants. But he also sees a possible reprieve on the horizon given the recent presidential election. "Who knows what's going to come out of the EPA or the Trump administration," Mr. Tudor said while speaking at CERAWeek, an energy conference in Houston. "Maybe we've just gotten lucky ... . Worst case, we've gained four years."
- GE Capital executive David Nason's withdrawal from the race for Federal Reserve Vice Chair in charge of bank oversight leaves big banks still in limbo over who will be their top overseer. Cowen's Jaret Seiberg says the development opened the doors for less pragmatic candidates who might crack down on big banks. KBW's Brian Gardner says Nason was probably sunk because of his ties to "Never-Trumper" former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and Team Trump could still pick a moderate. The White House says it still has "many candidates". Meanwhile, banks will keep guessing.
- A survey shows 34% of Japanese corporate executives expect U.S. President Donald Trump to have a "more positive than negative" effect following his economic stimulus proposals. According to a Nikkei survey conducted Feb. 15-March 3 covering 140 major Japanese companies, the ratio of positive responses, including a solid "positive," rose by 9.6 percentage points from the previous survey, which was conducted before Trump's inauguration. But 36% replied Trump would have a "negative" or "more negative than positive" impact on their businesses. Of a total of 71 companies with operations in Mexico, 94% said there was no change to their plans to invest there.
- With the White House embroiled in various controversies, choosing the next NASA administrator and the top deputy has slid to the back burner. But on both sides of Capitol Hill, Republican lawmakers continue to advocate that Rep James Bridenstine, a GOP member from Oklahoma, get the agency's top job. Sen Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who chairs a subcommittee with NASA oversight responsibilities, is among those recently talking up such a nomination. Praising the Oklahoma legislator as "a smart, talented and principled leader," Sen Cruz said he would bring "tremendous leadership" to the job. But even the staunchest supporters acknowledge it's hard to read what President Trump ultimately will decide.
- The federal board overseeing Puerto Rico's finances called for emergency spending cuts to correct a cash shortfall. The financial oversight board installed by Congress says that the territory could face a $190M deficit by July and had understated expenses this year by as much as $810M. Money for pensions, schools and police could run out "in a matter of months," the board said in a letter to pro-statehood Gov. Ricardo Rossello. The board urged the governor to put public employees on furlough and slash government contracts. The governor had previously declined many of the board's proposed austerity measures as he seeks to renegotiate $70B in debt.
- Stock market gains over the last few months have been driven more by economic data than any expectations for US policy under the new administration, according to Valentijn Van Nieuwenhuijzen at NN Investment Partners. Levels of activity, improvement in the labor market and inflationary trends are better than we have seen in recent years, while capex and productivity are coming back a little bit, he says. This means stocks should be resilient even if President Trump disappoints on deregulation or infrastructure spending. "We're convinced the rally we've seen in equity markets is not a Trump rally, its an economic data rally related to improved earnings momentum," he says.
- The confirmation hearing for Labor Secretary nominee Alex Acosta is set for March 15, according to the Senate committee overseeing the process. The 1:30 pm hearing will give senators a chance to quiz Acosta, a long-time federal attorney and law school dean, on his views of labor policy. Acosta is President Trump's second choice for the job. Fast-food executive Andrew Puzder dropped out amid personal controversies. The Labor post is among the last cabinet positions left unfilled. If Acosta is confirmed, his agenda is expected to be amending Obama-era regulations, such as the expansion of overtime eligibility and rules governing financial advisers.

- Oil prices climbed after sharp losses the session before, buoyed by strong compliance with touted international production cuts, although a surge in U.S. crude inventories continued to drag.
- Gold prices inched down to the lowest level in five weeks, pressured by an uptick in the dollar ahead of U.S. non-farm payrolls data on Friday.
- London copper fell after solid U.S. jobs data increased the likelihood of an interest rate hike this month and on signs that disruption at the world's biggest copper mine may soon ease.
- U.S. soybeans fell for a fourth consecutive session to hit a two-week low amid expectations of ample South American production.

Mar 08 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- The confirmation hearing for Labor Secretary nominee Alex Acosta is set for March 15, according to the Senate committee overseeing the process. The 1:30 pm hearing will give senators a chance to quiz Acosta, a long-time federal attorney and law school dean, on his views of labor policy. Acosta is President Trump's second choice for the job. Fast-food executive Andrew Puzder dropped out amid personal controversies. The Labor post is among the last cabinet positions left unfilled. If Acosta is confirmed, his agenda is expected to be amending Obama-era regulations, such as the expansion of overtime eligibility and rules governing financial advisers.
- Private-prison operator GEO Group says it will sell 6 million of its shares as it capitalizes off a share run-up in recent months. GEO shares have grown 87% from before election day through Tuesday. Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked an Obama administration directive to gradually reduce the number of contracts with for-profit prison operators, saying it would interfere with meeting the demands of the prison population. GEO is selling its shares at $41.75 per share and would raise about $250.5M. Shares fell 4% to $42.95, still well above the levels they were at before the Obama-administration directive knocked them from about $30 to below $20.
- A report out today from LinkedIn says January and February together were "the strongest consecutive months for hiring since August and September 2015." That finding caught the attention of the White House, with President Donald Trump tweeting it out this morning on his @realDonaldTrump account. "Two months doesn't make a trend, but it seems like the stronger hiring is being driven by elevated business confidence due to the new administration's promises to lower taxes and reduce regulations," LinkedIn said. "It's unclear if this trend is sustainable, or merely a temporary blip on the radar, but we're keeping an eye on it." Labor Department will release its official February jobs report on Friday morning and the ADP private payrolls data is out shortly.
- Is Donald Trump making separation of powers great again? A former top German politician said as much Tuesday night, giving America's institutions a vote of confidence and suggesting that their strength means one shouldn't be too worried about the new president. "With regard to America, I'm not as concerned as others," said Friedrich Merz, a one-time rival to Angela Merkel in her center-right CDU party. Mr. Merz now serves as Chairman of Blackrock in Germany and chairs the Atlantik-Bruecke, a non-profit organization that promotes US-German relations. "The separation of powers in America is working, the media is working," he said. He noted that the FBI had contradicted President Trump, adding that such action would be "unimaginable" in Russia or Turkey. "Separation of powers is made for people like Trump," he quipped. Mr. Merz spoke Tuesday night to a club of journalists in Frankfurt.
- Asian credit markets are seeing some selling Wednesday as traders reconsider the robustness of the Trump reflation trade. "The trend in global credit is profit taking with some concern that people have become too optimistic about the growth outlook in the US, because Trump is getting too distracted," says a bond strategist, referring to Trump allegations that former President Obama tapped Trump's phone calls. The yield on Singapore 10-year government bonds rises 5 basis points, and those for local currency China government bonds gain 1 basis point. The yield on offshore bonds for Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com tightened about 4 basis points after Moody's on Tuesday placed the issuer on review for an upgrade. Citi on Tuesday said it would include Chinese domestic bonds in some of its emerging markets indexes. This is having little impact on bonds as yet, said the strategist, as the inclusion is only expected to take about a year.
- The Singapore dollar is flat against the US dollar as the greenback gave up some of its overnight gains amid cautious trade ahead of Friday's jobs report and next week's FOMC meeting. "We expect good data print to keep USD supported, but further USD upside will require more-concrete details from Trump's fiscal-spending and tax-cut plans and further upside revision to" the dot plot, says Maybank. The greenback is at S$1.4107, versus Tuesday's close of S$1.4109.
- The leader of the nation's largest federation of labor unions used an audience on Tuesday with US President Donald Trump to push for polices aimed at improving workers' wages. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said he discussed trade, infrastructure and issues facing workers, including stagnant wages and jobs going overseas. "I also talked to the president about policies that allow Wall Street and corporations to take advantage of workers while lowering wages and stripping workers of rights," Trumka said in a statement released by the federation. The union president was a vocal supporter of Democrat Hillary Clinton last year. But Trump won one-time union strongholds of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in November's election. He has made an outreach to unions since arriving in the White House. The president hosted leaders of construction workers unions in the Oval Office during his first week on the job.

- Oil futures fell in Asian trade after industry data pointed to a potential ninth straight week of inventory builds, renewing concerns about an oversupply of oil despite output curbs by OPEC and non-OPEC members.
- Gold prices inched up, but remained near four-week lows hit in the previous session as expectations for a U.S. rate hike in March gathered momentum.
- The dollar was a touch lower, its modest advance from the previous day bogging down as investors started to take a wait-and-see attitude ahead of Friday's U.S. jobs report.
- London copper climbed as traders took profit on short positions ahead of China trade data, after large inventory flows into exchange warehouses sent prices to a five-week low.
- U.S. soybean futures edged lower, with expectations of silo-bursting Brazilian supplies keeping prices near their lowest in more than a week.

Mar 07 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Food retailers could reap the most from Trump administration tax policies among companies in the consumer-staples sectors, says CFRA Research. Kroger, Whole Foods and Sprouts all have high effective-tax rates without significant exposure to foreign markets and imports, which the president is targeting. KR's tax rate of 33% is well below Trump's proposed 15% levy on corporate profits, for example.
- A majority of business-travel managers say the Trump travel bans have heightened their awareness of threats during trips abroad. In a poll of 125 corporate travel managers by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, 55% of respondents said they travel with a greater sense of fear when they leave the US. Some 22% said employees traveling for business have reported delays or harassment crossing the US border since the initial travel ban was issued in January. On Monday, President Donald Trump signed a revised, less ambitious version of the ban that blocks new visas for people living in six Muslim-majority countries and suspends admission of refugees to the US. The ACTE poll was conducted after the revised ban.
- Canadian PM Justin Trudeau plans to dine Wednesday evening in Toronto with executives and board members of BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, according to an itinerary released by his office. No further details were made available. Trudeau and BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink met roughly a year ago when the Canadian leader was in New York. Fink also has close ties to Dominic Barton -- the McKinsey managing director and Liberal government economic adviser. Trudeau's BlackRock dinner comes as Canada set to unveil 2017 budget plan on March 22. Among the features expected in budget plan is details related to launch of a promised infrastructure bank, which requires capital from private-sector investors to get off the ground. US data indicate investors, much like BlackRock, committed $59B last year to private infrastructure funds.
- Senator Sherrod Brown (D, Ohio) and Congressman Brad Sherman (D, Calif.) reintroduced a bill aimed at allowing Wells Fargo customers who were impacted by the bank's sales practices scandal to sue, rather than being forced into arbitration. Customers typically signed contracts containing clauses requiring them to take complaints to private arbitration instead of court, which can be less favorable to individuals. Legislators pressed the bank to allow customers to sue and in December introduced legislation that would allow them to bypass arbitration. The bill was reintroduced into a new administration. It will work with a new oversight rule from the CFPB to boost protections for consumers. This bill would allow customers impacted by the WFC sales tactics to go to court even if they signed contracts that included arbitration.
- Argentina's economy will be growing by 3% in 2Q 2017 and by 4% by the time mid-term elections take place in October, says Ramiro Castineira, head of Econometrica, an economic research firm. Growth in 4Q "will depend on the results of the election," Castineira says. Such growth would likely favor President Mauricio Macri and his "Let's Change" coalition, which is seeking to expand its minority presence in Congress.
- The discussion over federal tax reform, particularly a border adjustment tax, is being watched closely by ConocoPhillips. COP CEO Ryan Lance, speaking at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, said he thinks the Trump administration will facilitate the expansion of the US oil industry, but worries about a border adjustment tax that could disproportionately affect certain sectors, like oil and gas. "You can't have haves and have nots," Lance said. "Don't make us be the ones to pay for it in terms of tax reform."
- Colombian officials are scrambling to show the world they are continuing their tough crackdown on narcotics after an embarrassing increase in the cultivation of coca - the plant that is the base for cocaine - was recorded in a recent U.S. study. On Tuesday, Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas met with US officials, including William Brownfield, assistant secretary of the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and vowed that Colombia would continue its aggressive interdiction program that he noted has cost many Colombian lives. He also asked for continued US assistance in controlling demand. "What needs to be done is to coordinate with the US so there is success in the fight against consumption," he said. Last year, according to the US report, the amount of coca being grown in Colombia grew by 42%, to 392,900.00 acres.
- European pharmaceutical stocks slipped after President Donald Trump tweeted that he was working on a "new system where there will be competition in the drug industry" that would get drug prices "way down." Trump has previously made his ambition to curb drug prices clear, but is yet to provide details on how he will do so, and pharma stocks fell less dramatically than they have done following earlier drug price-related tweets from the President. Biggest fallers are Novartis, down 1.7% and Novo Nordisk, down 1.4%.
- Gluskin Sheff's chief economist David Rosenberg isn't buying the momentum story in Canada's economy. Despite a string of better-than-anticipated indicators, Toronto-based Rosenberg tells clients there are myriad reasons why the outlook remains cloudy. Among his arguments: capital spending is tepid, as firms remain on tenterhooks about Trump administration changes to trade; private-sector demand was flat in 4Q once government spending, net exports and inventories were stripped out; and households are tapped-out and debt-constrained in an "unprecedented" way. There's absolutely nothing going on domestically in the Canadian economy "worth writing home about," he says.
- Democratic senators write to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt urging him to leave be agency's final determination in Obama administration's waning days locking in tougher vehicle-emissions standards requiring auto makers to sell cars and trucks averaging 54.5 miles a gallon by 2025. "These automobile emissions standards are economically feasible and technologically achievable for the auto industry," they write in letter, part of effort led by Sen Edward Markey (D, Mass) a longtime industry critic. Letter also signed by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York and Sen Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Letter comes as EPA moves toward putting aside final determination and reopening a review of the standards, which opponents view as a prelude to rolling them back.
- President Trump says in a Tweet he is working on a plan to bring down drug prices through competition. "There will be competition in the Drug Industry," he tweets. It is unclear what the president has in mind. Evercore ISI notes that there already is competition for many branded and generic products in formularies for Medicare's Part D drug benefit. Evercore ISI asks whether the president has in mind introducing such a formulary to Part B. "Reality is, we just don't know until something definitive is put out," Evercore says.
- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' chief executive is looking to President Trump to boost US exports to China, where foreign-made vehicles face a steep tariff. "The problem is one of establishing proper trade levels between the US and China. Cars are one piece of it," CEO Sergio Marchionne told The Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of the Geneva auto show. Marchionne said trade barriers prevent his company from exporting more premium Jeeps from the US to China. "Obviously it's choked a lot of our upper-end business in China. We should sell a lot more Grand Cherokees in China, which are built in the US," he said. Noting FCA has localized production of entry and mid-level Jeep SUVs in the Chinese market, the CEO said it was a difficult issue for one company to tackle. "We'll leave it to Mr. Trump," he said.

- Oil prices were little changed for a third session, with investors searching for direction as concern over rising U.S. shale output offsets production cuts by OPEC and non-OPEC members.
- Gold prices were little changed, hovering above a two-week low hit on Friday, amid expectations of a U.S. interest rate hike this month and ahead of key economic data due later in the week.
- The dollar steadied as investors widely expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates next week and are waiting for clues on the likely pace of hikes, including this week's U.S. job data.
- London copper edged up, but was still near one-month lows struck after heavy inflows into London Metal Exchange (LME)warehouses doused supply concerns from disruptions at major mines.
- U.S. wheat rose for a third day  as forecasts for potential unfavourable weather pushed the grain near a 18-day high.

Mar 06 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- President Trump was scheduled to meet with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai this afternoon, but White House officials were vague about the possible topics. Trump was sitting down with Pai "to discuss how to best solve the issues and concerns facing Americans every day," according to a White House official. That suggests a number of potential subjects, from rollbacks of Obama-era privacy and net neutrality restrictions to broadband infrastructure incentives and robocall blocking. Pai also is thought to be under consideration for another term on the 5-member FCC. The panel has two vacancies currently. Trump met with a number of his agency appointees on Monday.
- Senator Daniel Sullivan said he will soon introduce a bill to reform the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act, which governs the permitting process for major energy infrastructure projects. Among the reforms to the permitting system in the forthcoming legislation, the Alaskan Republican said there would be proposed changes to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which issues permits for major energy projects like natural gas pipelines. He said the bill would be comprehensive and aimed at providing certainty and defined timelines to the permitting process but provided few details about specific changes. Sullivan said he wants to eliminate the "mountain of paperwork" generated by the process and give responsibility for permits to one federal agency. He said he had discussed the bill with President Trump and wants to build broad support for it, including from labor unions.
- Senator Daniel Sullivan says he will soon introduce the Rebuild America Now Act to reform the country's regulatory and permitting system for infrastructure projects. The Alaskan Republican announced the legislation during the annual CERAweek conference in Houston. Speaking to a room full of energy executives, Sullivan said he was optimistic the US is on the cusp of a "energy industry renaissance." He said the Trump Administration wants to partner with energy companies to reform a broken permitting system. The forthcoming legislation will be aimed at streamlining and quickening the permitting process for energy infrastructure projects, Sullivan said.
- Despite President Trump's scaled-back travel order, the restaurant industry is still concerned about its economic impact. "We must balance our safety and security with the importance of the economic contributions of travel and tourism to our country as we are already seeing negative effects the previous executive order is having on our economy," Cicely Simpson, executive vice president of the National Restaurant Association, says.
- J Christopher Giancarlo, the acting CFTC chairman, just tapped a new general counsel for the top US swaps regulator: Daniel Davis of the law firm Proskauer Rose. The move is significant because it's Giancarlo's first hire from outside the agency and another signal that the acting CFTC chief is expected to become the Trump administration's full-time chief by hiring agency outsiders for top roles. Trump administration is preparing to nominate Giancarlo for the full-time role, though the timing of any announcement is unclear, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported.
- The Trump administration's potential changes in tax deductions for interest expenses may incentivize U.S. companies to repatriate cash and use it for bond buybacks amounting up to 3% of outstanding debt, Axa Investment Managers strategists say. This translates to $250 billion of buybacks, or up to a third of annual dollar investment grade corporate bond net supply. And it would provide a degree of technical support comparable to non-domestic demand for dollar investment grade bonds in 2016, the strategists add.
- Auto makers walking a fine line on emissions regulations, lobbying Trump administration for changes without undoing a "one national program" of near-uniform rules they've long coveted, people familiar with the matter say. Car executives and lobbyists have asked to reopen a midterm review of future targets for 2025. Review was closed by Obama administration a week before Trump's inauguration. But EPA officials also now taking harder look at waiver allowing California to both set its own greenhouse-gas tailpipe emissions regulations and enforce another zero-emissions vehicle program. Car makers currently wary of EPA moving to revoke California waiver amid industry lobbying efforts to win changes to federal emissions regulations to which state now adheres, the people say. California
cooperation avoids patchwork of state rules around US that industry loathes.
- Trump's trade tsar Peter Navarro, at a NABE policy conference, signals how the administration might call out China in its next currency report due out in mid April. That's been a quandary for the Treasury Department given the president has repeatedly called Beijing an FX manipulator even though the country has spent a $1 trillion to keep the yuan afloat. Navarro differentiated between the value of the exchange rate and manipulation. The administration can technically say China is manipulating given that it still controls the currency's value. He acknowledged capital outflows are putting downward pressure on the yuan, but said that was a secondary pressure. The primary pressure that should exert itself over time, he says, is the US trade deficit with China: Evidence the exchange rate should still adjust upward.
- CERAWeek added a high-ranking Trump Administration official to the massive energy conference's line up this week in Houston. Scott Pruitt, the new head of the EPA, will speak at the energy conference on Thursday. In past years federal officials like the head of the EPA and US Energy Secretary have been mainstays at the annual energy confab, but until this weekend no Trump pick had agreed to participate. Pruitt will surely be a hot ticket when he talks because the energy sector is eagerly awaiting clarification about how the EPA will implement--or scale back--regulations that effect emissions into the air and water. Many in the oil and gas space have cheered the idea of rolling back regulations, while others in the renewable power and technology side could see business negatively impacted if the EPA changes direction.
- President Donald Trump's proposal to spend $1 trillion to improve U.S. infrastructure could be the biggest mover of oil prices, if solid evidence emerges that it is likely to come to fruition, says Jonathan Chan, a commodities analyst at Phillip Futures. "But it remains to be seen what President Trump will do and can do to push through the plan," he says. Mr. Chan adds that even though the market will also be closely watching for any possible extension of OPEC's output-cut deal, traders can expect that the cost of oil will largely be influenced by fundamentals and Saudi Arabia's eagerness to push up prices before listing its state-owned energy company.
- Amid today's modest pullback in Asian trading for the dollar, "a risk-off sentiment, along with a chances of an increased frequency of Fed rate increases (which will be negative for the US economy), is driving the pressure" on the greenback, says Masahi Murata, a senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman. That as he thinks it's looking less likely that fiscal stimulus and tax cuts from Trump will come this year.

- Oil prices fell in Asian trade, wiping out some of the gains of the previous session amid worries lower growth targets in China could cut oil demand and ongoing concern over Russia's compliance with a global deal to cut oil output.
- Gold was little changed, supported by safe haven interest amid rising geopolitical tensions over North Korea and a weaker dollar.
- London copper edged, supported by protracted disruptions at the world's two biggest copper mines and a decline in the recent strength of the dollar.
- U.S. soybeans edged higher as adverse weather in Brazil slowed exports, though gains were curbed by ample global supplies.

Mar 03 - Oil markets rose as the dollar edged away from a multi-week high, but prices are being held in check by unchanged Russian output for February, a sign of its weak compliance on a global deal to cut supplies.  
- Gold edged down after falling more than one percent in the previous session, and was on track for its first weekly decline since late January on expectations of a U.S. rate hike in March.
- London copper slipped, but was set to close the week little changed as a stronger dollar overwhelmed ongoing supply disruptions and evidence of improving demand.
- Chicago soybean futures edged higher, rising for three out of four sessions, with delays in Brazilian shipments underpinning sentiment, although bumper global supplies kept a lid on the market.

Mar 02 - Crude oil fell for a third consecutive session as a record build-up in U.S. stockpiles weighed on the market, with producers boosting shale oil production.
- Gold prices slipped as the dollar firmed on hawkish comments from U.S. Federal Reserve officials that stoked expectations of a U.S. interest rate hike in March.
- London copper climb towards its highest in more than a week, buoyed by improving manufacturing reports out of Asia and the United States that brightened the outlook for demand.
- Chicago wheat rose for a third session, climbing to a two-week high on large purchases by top buyer Egypt and as dryness stressed crops in parts of the U.S. Plains.

Mar 01 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ Dow Jones)
- Despite the more even tone of President Donald Trump's address to Congress, the restaurant industry still has "serious concerns" about potential barriers to international commerce. "The restaurant industry relies on free and fair trade policies and we strongly urge the President to consider the negative impact trade barriers will have on restaurants, consumers, and our economy," said Steve Danon, a spokesman for the National Restaurant Association. The group cited data from the Food and Drug Administration that 15% of the US food supply chain is imported.

- Risk sentiment in euro corporate bonds already looks poised to weaken as important elections in Europe get closer, and the U.S. president's inability to deliver details on his tax plan may dampen it further, Commerzbank says. Markets could soon "lose patience," given that crucial details and a reliable timescale on tax reform are still missing. This could drive euro credit spreads wider in March, the German bank says.

- Donald Trump's White House is actively engaging with the business community to seek opinions on relevant policies, says BP PLC CEO Bob Dudley, fresh from a trip to Washington. "The White House is wide open for in the last eight years" Mr. Dudley says. He gave as an example a constructive discussion over investment requirements in the Gulf of Mexico that doesn't necessarily make sense at current oil prices. Mr. Dudley says officials seemed open to discussing such regulations. "I came away shocked," he says.

- Asian shares end largely mixed following US President Donald Trump's speech to Congress, with the focus turning to the Federal Reserve's next meeting in March. Trump refrained from commenting beyond his previous stance on currency manipulation and free trade, with no details on tax reform or border taxes. The S&P/ASX 200 ends 0.1% lower as a stronger dollar weighs on commodity prices. The Nikkei Stock Average however ends 1.4% higher, with the USD/JPY pair up 0.7% at 113.57 yen. A weaker yen makes the country's exports more competitive. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ends 0.2% higher with the Shanghai Composite registering similar gains after a private gauge of factory activity in China showed an expansion.

- The FTSE 100 opens higher and was last up 0.64% at 7310.2, with European bourses shifting out of Tuesday's stasis and broadly moving higher. These gains come after President Trump's overnight congressional speech which, while light on detail, appears to have provided investors with enough impetus to buy into the construction sector. The President's pledge to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure, plus strong CRH results, see builders up. CRH shares are up 2.5%. Miners also see relief from the pressure of recent days, with metals prices moving higher. Royal Mail is down 1.5% on news that regulator Ofcom is considering changing postal rules to reflect online shopping habits. London traders may react to lending, mortgage, monetary supply, and manufacturing purchasing managers index data, due at 0930 GMT.

- The FTSE 100 is called to open 20 points higher by 7283, according to London Capital Group. Other European bourses are also expected to tick higher, with President Trump's congressional address failing to spark much market reaction. The President's pledge to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure, plus CRH results, will put the construction sector in the spotlight at the open. Corporate results also come from ITV and Man Group, as well as Admiral Group - after regulation-driven volatility which rocked the stock earlier in the week. U.K. lending, mortgage, monetary supply, and U.K. manufacturing purchasing managers index data are due at 0930 GMT.

- Base metals are up slightly in late Asia trading while Trump again talked up greater infrastructure spending during his speech to Congress. "The big question that Trump did not answer is when will the spending materialize," notes Gnanasekar Thiagarajan, director of Commtrendz Research. Copper is up 0.7% at $6,015/ton and zinc gains 0.8% to $2,853.50.

- Spot-gold prices fell marginally in Wednesday Asian trading in the wake of Trump's speech. "There was nothing much in it for bullion markets," notes Gnanasekar Thiagarajan, director with Commtrendz Risk Management. "The market is not very excited because it lack[ed] specifics in terms of timeline" for things like infrastructure spending. If that comes to pass, it could boost appetite for riskier investments like equities and metals while reducing the
attraction for safe havens like gold. Spot gold is down 0.4% at $$1243.67/troy ounce.

- The Trump trade, which has triggered a drift higher in equities since Election Day, is likely to keep investors in buying mode despite concerns around the continued lack of policy clarity. "The price action of the stock market is pushing people to take risks because, for people like us, if you are underexposed then your performance will lag behind a lot and then you've got some guys like Warren Buffett criticizing you with your poor performance," says Alex Wong, director of asset management at Ample Capital.

- While investors are largely unmoved by Trump's address to Congress, they are still broadly positive despite the lack of details on his plans for infrastructure spending, tax reform and trade relations. "There's always some risk of implementation, but the market is still bullish and people are not willing to reduce their exposure too much," says Alex Wong, director of asset management at Ample Capital. "So, they just hold their positions and try to
ride the upside.

- The dollar-yen extends its lead against other crosses, with the pair up 0.7% at 113.48 yen, following market focus on the US Fed's March meeting. That's compared with the US Dollar Index's 0.4% rise. Odds of a rate increase in March rise to 62% from 31% previously, after New York Fed chief William Dudley says the case for raising rates "has become a lot more compelling." Some of the gains can also be attributed to a recovery in the greenback. The dollar saw some selling in the previous trading session, on positioning trades ahead of the speech. Meanwhile, the USD/TWD and USD/SGD pairs are each trading up 0.5%.

- Crude oil prices rose as the dollar trimmed gains and a speech by U.S. President Donald Trump offered little on plans by his administration to boost U.S. oil production.
- Gold fell as the dollar gained after comments from U.S. Federal Reserve officials raised expectations of a rate hike in March.
- London copper was marking time during a key speech by U.S. President Donald Trump, with prices supported by an upturn in manufacturing growth in top metals user China.
- Chicago corn rose for a third consecutive session while soybeans gained more ground, underpinned by expectations of higher U.S. biofuel production, although gains were capped by confusion over the government policy.