Forex & Commo Market News

Apr 19 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)

- A decision by the World Trade Organization that China's tariff-rate quotas on American wheat, corn, and rice violates WTO rules is being praised by US officials as a huge victory for US farmers, eventually allowing them better access to the Chinese market. The decision is in response to an August 2017 request by the US for a committee to consider this issue. "Making sure our trading partners play by the rules is vital to providing our farmers the opportunity to export high-quality, American-grown products to the world," Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says. "We will use every tool available to gain meaningful market access opportunities for US grains and other agricultural products."
- Online grocery shopping is an option now for food stamp recipients in New York, compliments of a USDA-backed pilot program. During the two-year test program, Amazon, Walmart and ShopRite will offer online purchasing to food stamp recipients in New York City or upstate New York, with additional retailers and states also expected to join the program, according to USDA. Recipients will be able to use their benefits to purchase certain food items, USDA says, but not to pay service of delivery fees. The pilot, authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, comes as USDA takes fire from dozens of lawmakers opposing a USDA-proposed rule that seeks to limits states' ability to exempt certain adults from work requirements in exchange for food stamps.
- Canada says it would issue a decision about proceeding with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion by June 18, or around the time the country's parliament disbands for the summer and political parties gear up for an election campaign in the fall. Canada's Liberal government bought the pipeline project from Kinder Morgan last year as the project's future was in jeopardy because of political uncertainty. However, construction on the project was halted after an appeals court annulled regulatory approval.
- The risk of material drug-price reductions under "Medicare for All" is extremely low, Citi says after pharma shares tanked on both sides of the Atlantic on the back of the Democrats' proposal. An anticipated measure from the Health & Human Services Department next January aimed at reducing co-pays also strengthens the probability of another term for President Trump, further reducing material risk to pricing, Citi says. Splits in the Democratic Party compound this. The bank recommends using the current weakness to build long-term positions in major pharma players, rating AZN, Sanofi and Novartis in the EU. It prefers Merck in the U.S., it says.Health-related stocks were among the biggest laggards in Europe and the U.S. on Wednesday.

Apr 18 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices dropped as the impact of plentiful U.S. production offset a surprise decline in U.S. inventories, leaving international benchmark Brent retreating from a five-month high touched in the previous session.
- Gold fell to its lowest since end-December as indications that the global economy might not be as pain-stricken as previously feared prompted investors to take risks ahead of a slew of economic data. 
- Shanghai aluminium prices breached the psychological 14,000 yuan ($2,093.61) a tonne barrier for the first time in four and a half months overnight and extended gains on an improved outlook in top consumer China.
- U.S. soybean futures edged up to ease from a 2019-low touched the day before, but gains were checked by expectations of ample South American supply and fears swine fever outbreaks in China could hit demand for oilseeds there.
- The euro was steady after evidence of strength in China improved the outlook for the global economy, with the market looking next to European indicators to provide the currency with a further boost.

- Trade tensions have resumed the position of top 'tail risk'--an unlikely risk that is nonetheless on investors' radar--among fund managers in April, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch's monthly survey. Investors cited trade tensions for the 10th time in 11 months in April as the top 'tail risk'. In March, a slowdown in China was investors' main concern, BAML says. The next biggest 'tail risk' for investors in April is monetary policy impotence, BAML says.
- Ford says the Lincoln Corsair small crossover SUV will be the luxury brand's first vehicle built in China, avoiding the 25% import tariff on cars. Lincoln has been growing fast in China by importing cars from the US. But last year, it suffered when China temporarily increased the import duty on US-built vehicles to 40% from 25%. Lincoln chief Joy Falotico tells WSJ on the sidelines of the New York auto show that Corsair production will begin later this year. Local manufacturing also will lower material costs and shield Lincoln from foreign-exchange fluctuations, she says. Ford is struggling to reverse heavy losses in China, which totaled around $1.5B last year. Ford is up 1.5% to $9.50.
- Healthcare stocks continue to trade lower, as the S&P 500 is led downward by UnitedHealth, down 3.8%, Anthem, 5.4% lower, and Cigna, off 3.2%. Raymond James says while UnitedHealth beat expectations and raised its 2019 EPS range yesterday, the stock wasn't immune to a sector-wide selloff analysts believe was caused by political rhetoric surrounding Medicare for All at an event hosted by Bernie Sanders. Raymond James maintains its buy rating and lowers its price target to $265 to reflect "the ongoing overhang of the healthcare reform debate and Medicare for All proposals," the firm says.
- The healthcare stock is reacting negatively to the prospect that Medicare for All may be becoming mainstream, analysts say. In the middle of UnitedHealth's earnings call Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted that the "profit-driven health care system is hurting patients. We must pass Medicare for All and end the greed of insurance companies." The fear is some versions of Medicare for All are getting traction and that fear is moving from health insurers to service providers, Wells Fargo analyst Peter Costa tells WSJ. UNH closed 4% lower, competitor Anthem fell 6.8% and Cigna declined 7.8%.

Apr 17 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose for a second day on signs of strong demand from refineries in China, the world's second-largest crude user, amid tightening supply as producers curtail output and as oil inventories in the United States fell unexpectedly.
- Gold prices stayed below the key $1,280 level, near a four-month trough, as better-than-expected economic readings from China lifted Asian shares and sharpened risk appetite, denting the metal's safe-haven appeal.
- Copper and other base metals in London rose after China released data that showed its economy grew at a steady pace in the first quarter.
- Chicago wheat futures edged up, supported as investors looked for bargains after the market dropped to a one-month low in the last session on pressure from expectations of bumper production across the northern hemisphere.
- The Australian dollar shot to a two-month peak after data showed steady Chinese economic growth in the first quarter, helping Australia's currency shake off earlier losses.

- On its earnings call, UnitedHealth, which is typically circumspect in its political commentary, details opposition to "Medicare for All" and other universal-coverage policy ideas that have helped ding stock prices in the managed-care sector. CEO David Wichmann warns "wholesale disruption of American health care being discussed in some of these proposals would surely jeopardize the relationship people have with their doctors, destabilize the nation's health system, and limit the ability of clinicians to practice medicine at their best." Instead, he defends the current role of insurers and suggests universal coverage can happen through existing government and private approaches.
- Canada says it would appeal part of a ruling from the World Trade Organization issued last week dealing with the country's longstanding row with the US over softwood lumber. The WTO's panel ruled partly in favor of Canada, that the US didn't follow rules in calculating antidumping duties. Canada, though, is appealing a portion of the ruling in which the WTO sided with the US on the use of "zeroing" to calculate antidumping tariffs. Zeroing is a methodological approach that critics contend artificially inflates dumping margins. USTR Robert Lighthizer applauded the recent softwood ruling for "having the courage" to say that zeroing doesn't prohibit WTO rules.

Apr 16 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices edged down after a Russian minister said the nation and OPEC may boost crude output to fight the United States for market share, checking a recent rally driven by tighter global production.
- Gold prices slipped for a fourth straight session as recent upbeat economic data and signs that Washington and Beijing were making headway in a nearly year-long tariff skirmish boosted risk sentiment.
- Most industrial metals were trading in a tight range, as investors were cautious ahead of China's economic growth data to be released later this week.
- Chicago wheat futures slid for a second session, with prices under pressure from expectations of bumper production in Russia and the United States.
- The dollar edged up against a basket of its key rivals with investors erring on the side of caution as they looked for more concrete signs of stabilisation in the global economy.

- The confidence in the U.S. dollar may be undermined by U.S. President Donald Trump, says MUFG. As central bankers and economists around the world gathered in Washington, Trump once again criticized the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates last year. Trump tweeted adding that quantitative tightening "was a killer" and that GDP would have grown at 4% rather than 3%. "If growth in the U.S. slows further he [Trump] is likely to escalate his interference in Fed policy, and undermine confidence in the dollar," MUFG says. "The likelihood is that the political interference is going to intensify," MUFG adds. The dollar trades slightly lower with EUR/USD up 0.1% at 1.1317.
- The possibility of restrictions to European car imports into the U.S. carries the risk of further underperformance in the bonds of European auto companies against other cyclical industries such as construction, Commerzbank's Marco Stoeckle says. Not only that, it suggests "non-negligible" systematic implications. As trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing could be drawing to a close, Stoeckle says the focus of Donald Trump's
trade discussions could shift to the country's commercial relationship with Europe. This could see the fear of U.S. tariffs on imported EU cars take centre stage. iBoxx EUR corporate eligible senior debt by car makers trades at a asset swap spread of slightly over 90 basis points, wider than the equivalent bonds from construction firms and nonfinancial BBB-rated companies.

Apr 15 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)

- Oil prices edged lower after international benchmark Brent hit a fresh five-month high in the previous session, but concerns over global supplies kept prices well supported.
- Gold prices fell to a more than one-week low, as stronger-than-expected data from China and a robust start to the U.S. earnings season soothed concerns about global economic slowdown, denting the appeal of bullion. 
- Copper prices rose, after data from China showed higher unwrought copper imports in March, while declining inventories, concerns over a supply deficit and hopes of a resolution to the U.S.-China trade row also lent support.
- U.S. corn futures edged higher, extending gains into a second straight session, as recent adverse weather conditions threatened delay in planting schedule.
- The yen hovered near its lowest level this year as more signs of stabilisation in the Chinese economy and an upbeat start to the U.S. earnings season prompted investors to abandon the safe-haven currency to seek higher returns elsewhere.

Apr 12 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices were firm, supported by ongoing supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and by U.S. sanctions on petroleum exporters Iran and Venezuela.
- Gold prices steadied, having posted their biggest daily decline in two weeks in the previous session after robust U.S. economic data lifted the dollar.
- London copper rebounded from two days of declines on a weaker U.S. dollar, while nickel contracts in both London and Shanghai fell despite analyst warnings of supply shortages.
- Chicago soybean and corn futures slid with both markets set for weekly declines, under pressure from disappointing U.S. weekly exports and ample global supplies.

- A tweak to USDA's data collection boosts the number of agricultural producers as the agency captures more women involved in running America's farms. USDA revised its regular 5-year probe into farm demographics and economics to better capture all people involved in decision-making on farms, making changes that bumped up the total number of American producers by 7% between 2012 and 2017. Most newly-identified producers are female, the USDA said, highlighting a 27% increase in female producers. The bump comes a month after the Trump administration in its draft budget proposed slashing USDA's funding by 15%, and as many in the agricultural industry worry about attracting younger generations back to farms during a trying financial period.
- President Barack Obama's top economic adviser isn't concerned about a rule change that would lift a restriction on President Trump -- and personnel in his administration -- from talking, or tweeting, about the jobs report moments after it's released. "The rule is outmoded in an era of massive amounts of internet and Twitter commentary the moment data is released," Jason Furman, President Obama's top economic adviser, said in an email to The Wall Street Journal. Furman said he's "not particularly worried that political officials will do too much to skew the interpretation of the data given that their views are always appropriately discounted."
- President Trump may no longer be encumbered from Tweeting (or talking) about major economic data the moment it's released, if a proposed regulatory change is made. The Office of Management and Budget released a proposal Thursday asking about eliminating a decades old precedent that barred the administration from commenting on the jobs report and other economic data for an hour after its release. In 2017, then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer took some heat for tweeting about the jobs report just 22 minutes after it was made public.
- Fed Up, a left leaning group that's long pressed the Fed to hold off on rate rises, is very against Herman Cain as a central bank governor. President Trump "has once again announced his intention to nominate an ideologue with a lengthy track record of bad economic projections to the country's most important economic policy making institution," the group said in a press release. "We cannot fill the Fed's Board of Governors with individuals whose political ideology and loyalties put them at odds with the crucial role of the Federal Reserve in achieving full employment," Fed
Up said.
- As Trump signed a pair of executive orders to overhaul some environmental permitting rules and limit shareholder resolutions on climate and environmental risks, he singled out the Constitution pipeline. That's 1 of several major transmission lines delayed for years by reviews delegated to states, and Trump said New York and others are abusing their authority in order to slow the boom in US oil-and-gas production. "To fully realize this economic potential, however, the United States needs infrastructure capable of safely and efficiently transporting these plentiful resources to end users," one of the 2 new orders says.
- A new paper from the Atlanta Fed helps confirm the notion that 2017's Republican-authored tax cuts, which have contributed to exploding deficits, brought partisan benefits. The paper explores how states that saw new limits on the ability to deduct state and local taxes fared. High local tax states tend to vote Democratic, and the paper finds evidence these states didn't fare as well under the new tax system. Republican leaning states got a 1.6% increase in lifetime spending due to the tax law, while Democrat-leaning states got a 1.3% bump. In the wealthiest 10% of households, Republican leaning households got a 2% increase, compared to 1.2% in Democrat-leaning states, the paper said.

Apr 11 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices fell, pressured as U.S. crude stockpiles surged to their highest levels in almost 17 months amid record production and as economic concerns cast doubt over growth in demand for fuel.
- Gold edged lower, but was trading close to a two-week peak scaled in the last session as dovish U.S. and European central banks fanned concerns on economic slowdown and kept global bond yields and the dollar under pressure.
- London copper declined, as rising supply and risks of a global economic slowdown that could crimp metal demand cancelled out further progress in the trade talks between the United States and China, the world's biggest copper user.
- Chicago corn futures climbed for a second session as storms delayed planting in parts of the U.S. Midwest, although plentiful world supplies kept a lid on the market.

- As Trump signed a pair of executive orders to overhaul some environmental permitting rules and limit shareholder resolutions on climate and environmental risks, he singled out the Constitution pipeline. That's 1 of several major transmission lines delayed for years by reviews delegated to states, and Trump said New York and others are abusing their authority in order to slow the boom in US oil-and-gas production. "To fully realize this economic potential, however, the United States needs infrastructure capable of safely and efficiently transporting these plentiful resources to end users," one of the 2 new orders says.
- A new paper from the Atlanta Fed helps confirm the notion that 2017's Republican-authored tax cuts, which have contributed to exploding deficits, brought partisan benefits. The paper explores how states that saw new limits on the ability to deduct state and local taxes fared. High local tax states tend to vote Democratic, and the paper finds evidence these states didn't fare as well under the new tax system. Republican leaning states got a 1.6% increase in lifetime spending due to the tax law, while Democrat-leaning states got a 1.3% bump. In the wealthiest 10% of households, Republican leaning households got a 2% increase, compared to 1.2% in Democrat-leaning states, the paper said.
- Evercore ISI downgrades AmerisourceBergen to an in-line rating from outperform as the drug distributor grapples with slowing sales and profit growth at retail pharmacies, including its biggest customer Walgreens. Meanwhile, uncertainty looms around Amerisource's liability in ongoing opioid litigation and as it sees less benefit from high drug prices as the Trump administration prepares to crack down on rebates. "The near-term risks to terminal value are too great and in turn we await a period of clarity - may take a while," Evercore ISI says. Amerisource falls 5.5% while competitors Cardinal Health and McKesson both decline more than 1%.
- According to Donald Trump and others, the U.S. and China have made substantial progress in trade negotiations and analysts have said that a deal may be reached in the coming weeks. But "while the U.S. and China head towards a trade deal, it is unlikely to last for long as neither parties agree on their place within the global architecture," says Sebastien Galy, strategist at Nordea Investment. "Both see themselves as dominant." Any military conflict between the U.S. and China "would be very limited" and so "that leaves most of the conflict and cooperation to be decided by a series of temporary accords," he says.
- Nordic markets are tipped to open just lower Wednesday with IG calling the OMXS30 down 0.1% at around 1615. The risk market took a breather yesterday as equities were lower and bond yields declined, notes Danske Bank. Asian markets are also lower but mostly catching up with the decline in the U.S. and Europe, it adds. "Markets faced some headwinds from a new downbeat IMF outlook...the news of U.S. tariffs on $11 billion of EU goods, on Monday night, also weighed on risk sentiment." The ECB meeting, U.S. inflation, FOMC minutes and the EU meeting are due today. OMXS30 closed at 1616.56, OMXN40 at 1577.92 and OBX at 809.01.

Apr 10 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices moved little, supported by supply cuts by producer group OPEC and U.S. sanctions against oil exporters Iran and Venezuela, but pressured by expectations that an economic slowdown could soon dent fuel consumption.
- Gold prices inched down as the dollar firmed, but the metal remained near a two-week peak hit in the previous session as equities slipped on concerns over global growth and trade tensions between the United States and Europe.
- Copper eased from a one-week high hit the day before, pressured after the International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecast and as the United States threatened to slap tariffs on hundreds of European goods.
- Chicago wheat futures fell for a fifth consecutive session, its worst losing streak since February, after a U.S. government report raised its estimate for world wheat inventories.
- The safe-haven yen remained in demand as investor caution prevailed due to fresh U.S.-Europe trade tensions and the International Monetary Fund's downgrade of its global economic outlook.

- Nordic markets are tipped to open just lower Wednesday with IG calling the OMXS30 down 0.1% at around 1615. The risk market took a breather yesterday as equities were lower and bond yields declined, notes Danske Bank. Asian markets are also lower but mostly catching up with the decline in the U.S. and Europe, it adds. "Markets faced some headwinds from a new downbeat IMF outlook...the news of U.S. tariffs on $11 billion of EU goods, on Monday night, also weighed on risk sentiment." The ECB meeting, U.S. inflation, FOMC minutes and the EU meeting are due today. OMXS30 closed at 1616.56, OMXN40 at 1577.92 and OBX at 809.01.
- The S&P breaks an eight-session winning streak as investors fret over the latest round of trade threats between the US and EU, while the IMF again cuts its world-wide economic growth forecast. DJIA slides 0.7% to 26150, the S&P falls 0.6% to 2878 and the Nasdaq declines 0.6% to 7909. Trade-sensitive Boeing and Caterpillar fall 1.5% and 2.5%, respectively. Utilities finish higher as investors seek defensive plays. Food and beverage companies are also a bright spot, with Monster Beverage up 3.1% and Campbell Soup 2.5% higher.
- World Trade Organization issued a split decision in ruling on complaint from Canada regarding US tariffs on its softwood lumber. A panel of WTO adjudicators upheld part of Canada's complaint, regarding antidumping duties the US slapped on softwood-lumber products, dealing with how the tariffs were calculated. However, the panel dismissed other complaints from Canada about the US methodology in calculating duties. The parties have up to 60 days to appeal. The complaint was filed in 2017, or soon after the Trump administration imposed a 20% of Canadian softwood lumber, used mostly in home construction. The tariffs have remained in place, and were not part of US-Canada talks toward a revamped Nafta. The US-Canada lumber dispute dates back decades.
- Anthony Roth, chief investment officer at Wilmington Trust, says the slowdown in the world economy forecast by the International Monetary Fund is not a major source of concern. "We're seeing a soft landing in global growth. That's in line with what we're seeing from the IMF, which has cut its forecasts to the low 3 percents. That's not a big deal in our opinion and is to be expected," Roth says, adding that "green shoots" in China's economy are a cause for optimism. The IMF today cut its forecast for global growth this year to 3.3% from 3.5% in January. Roth says Wilmington is overweight equities, the US and emerging markets but underweight Europe and Japan, where he sees significant economic and political strains.
- Major indexes are trading lower after the Trump administration released a list of some $11B worth of European goods it's considering placing tariffs on. The Dow falls 0.7%, the S&P 500 loses 0.5% and the Nasdaq declines 0.3%. "Both sides would be hurt by an escalating trade war, but again, the US has the edge with the stronger economy," says Arlan Suderman of INTL FCStone. "Europe's economy continues to struggle, and it can ill-afford any more stresses."
- Positive on how the U.S.-China trade talks will pan out? Investors could well use Apple as a proxy, says Dan Ives from U.S. investment bank Wedbush. Some 350 million iPhones could be upgraded in the next 12-18 months, he says, some 60 million-70 million of them in China. That's "why investors are so hypersensitive to any news on the U.S./China topic as it relates to Apple--especially with Huawei CFO backlash and demand doldrums a major worry in the region, as seen with the December earnings debacle." Wedbush has been bullish on Apple, whose shares have rebounded 27% to start the year outpacing the broader market.
- The U.S. on Monday announced an $11 billion list of tariffs it wants to impose on European goods and services in the long-running battle over subsidies to Airbus -- Europe has a counter-case against U.S. subsidies to Boeing. Citigroup says in a note "these tit-for-tat reactions are unlikely to materially change the market share (or profitability) for either party, though Airbus may end up selling a few less planes to the U.S. and a few more into Europe." Airbus shares down 1.8%.

Apr 09 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose to fresh 5-month highs as markets tightened amid OPEC-led supply cuts, U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, and escalating violence in Libya.
- Gold prices rose, hovering close to a more than one-week high touched in the previous session, as the dollar eased on weak U.S. economic data.
- Zinc prices fell on concerns that metal smelters may raise supply amid a surge in treatment charges while copper and other base metals climbed after the dollar declined.
- Chicago wheat prices slid 1 percent, dropping to their lowest since April 2 amid the improved condition of the U.S. winter crop and abundant world supplies.

- The price of gold is up 0.55% at $1,297.27 a troy ounce, although it remains close to its lowest level so far in 2019 after President Trump's criticism of Federal Reserve interest-rate policy in recent days. As well as calling for rate cuts, the president also advocated for quantitative easing, both of which would boost the U.S. dollar at gold's expense. Gold and the dollar tend to move in opposite directions. Elsewhere, China's central bank bought more gold--11.2 tons--for the fourth straight month in March, after not having done so for two years. Investors will be looking out for further White House remarks and any developments on trade and Brexit.

- Major indexes are trading lower after the Trump administration released a list of some $11B worth of European goods it's considering placing tariffs on. The Dow falls 0.7%, the S&P 500 loses 0.5% and the Nasdaq declines 0.3%. "Both sides would be hurt by an escalating trade war, but again, the US has the edge with the stronger economy," says Arlan Suderman of INTL FCStone. "Europe's economy continues to struggle, and it can ill-afford any more stresses."
- Positive on how the U.S.-China trade talks will pan out? Investors could well use Apple as a proxy, says Dan Ives from U.S. investment bank Wedbush. Some 350 million iPhones could be upgraded in the next 12-18 months, he says, some 60 million-70 million of them in China. That's "why investors are so hypersensitive to any news on the U.S./China topic as it relates to Apple--especially with Huawei CFO backlash and demand doldrums a major worry in the region, as seen with the December earnings debacle." Wedbush has been bullish on Apple, whose shares have rebounded 27% to start the year outpacing the broader market.
- The U.S. on Monday announced an $11 billion list of tariffs it wants to impose on European goods and services in the long-running battle over subsidies to Airbus -- Europe has a counter-case against U.S. subsidies to Boeing. Citigroup says in a note "these tit-for-tat reactions are unlikely to materially change the market share (or profitability) for either party, though Airbus may end up selling a few less planes to the U.S. and a few more into Europe." Airbus shares down 1.8%.
- A "free lunch" mentality has taken over both the right and left wings when it comes to fiscal-policy thinking, Bank of America's Ethan Harris says. "On the left, [modern monetary theory] is a recipe for runaway inflation," Harris says. "On the right, tax cuts have not come close to being revenue neutral" and have led to a huge increase in deficits. With the debate moving on from any sense of budget sustainability, it's now "harder to address the rising budget deficit and raises the risk of overheating."

Apr 08 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)

- Oil prices rose to their highest level since November 2018, driven upwards by OPEC's ongoing supply cuts, U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, and strong U.S. jobs data.
- Gold prices rose to a one-week peak as the dollar edged lower, while investors awaited minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's March meeting later this week.
- London copper prices rose as much as 1 percent, snapping two days of declines as investors hoped for more stimulus measures in top metals consumer China and a key copper conference was set to begin in Chile.
- Chicago wheat futures slid for a third consecutive session with prices under pressure from improved outlook for the U.S. winter crop and ample world supplies.

Apr 05 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices fell, with Brent slipping away from the $70 mark reached the previous day, pulled down by worries about progress in the U.S.-China trade talks.
- Gold slipped, but was trading above the 10-week low touched in the previous session, as the dollar rose against the yen on signs of progress in the U.S.-China trade dispute and strong U.S. economic data.
- Most London industrial metals rose, supported by news that the United States and China are edging closer to a trade deal after months of dispute.
- Chicago soybean futures edged lower but the market is poised for its biggest weekly gain since early January on expectations of a U.S.-China trade deal.

- If President Trump does nominate right-wing activist Stephen Moore and pizza executive and gold-standard enthusiast Herman Cain to the Fed, they could be around for quite some time. Of the two open Fed governor slots, one expires on Jan. 31, 2024, and the other expires on Jan. 31, 2030, the Fed says. Should either man make it to the Fed and stick it out, they could be exerting influence over monetary policy for years to come. If that happened, it would mark a change, as most Fed governors in recent years have tended to serve only a fraction of their terms. Regional Fed presidents have generally served for much longer tenures, and many have left only when faced with mandatory retirement.
- National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow says the Trump administration "will continue the process of auctioning off spectrum and letting the private companies run with it," an endorsement of "free market" policies that implicitly rebukes some Republican operatives' calls to allocate wireless airwaves differently. Kudlow's speech to a friendly crowd at wireless trade group CTIA's 5G summit in Washington will likely please the top cellphone carriers, which are always hungry for more licenses and are used to paying Uncle Sam to get them.
- While many investors are negative on international and emerging markets as trade disputes and growth concerns persist, David Kelly of JPM Asset Management says those areas will become more attractive in the case of a US-China trade resolution. Kelly says manufacturing stocks and emerging markets equities stand to substantially benefit from a deal with China as well as easing tensions between the two countries. "The growing expectation is that an agreement will be signed between the two," Kelly says. US stocks are trading mixed, with the Dow gaining 0.4% while the S&P 500 edges lower.
- The Trump administration is likely to finalize new rules for vehicle emissions in the "spring or early summer," EPA leader Andrew Wheeler says at the Washington Auto Show. The Trump administration has been planning to rollback higher vehicle efficiency mandates and eliminate California's power to set its own rules, moves California leaders have vowed they will sue to stop. Wheeler says he hopes to avoid years of uncertainty and, if there is a lawsuit, that it goes to court quickly. "Our goal, however, is still a 50-state solution," he says. "And I hope that when we come out with our final regulation, California takes a look at it, they see the underlying assumptions that we've made, they see the progress that we're making, and they realize that this is the best regulation for the country as a whole, and that they don't sue us."
- While speaking to reporters at the White House, President Donald Trump outlines how his administration now plans to deal with illegal immigration at the southern border. Trump says he will allow Mexico a "one year warning" to help with US concerns on illegal immigration, and if Mexico does not cooperate with the US, he will shut down the US-Mexican border and place tariffs on automobiles produced there. Such an approach would severely hurt the US pork industry because Mexico is America's biggest customer. Hogs are up 3.2%.
- President Trump has repeatedly lambasted the Fed for pursuing monetary policy tightening. So that's why a report from Axios he's getting ready to nominate former pizza executive Herman Cain to the Fed is hard to understand. Cain, who once served on the board of the Kansas City Fed, stands far from what Trump professes to want out of monetary policy. He wrote in a 2012 WSJ op-ed, amid a presidential campaign scuttled over sexual harassment accusations, that "the dollar should be defined...as a fixed quantity of gold." Gold-standard advocacy is about as hawkish as one can get and it also lies well outside of anything mainstream economists and current Fed officials think would be prudent. It remains to be seen if Cain would be willing to reverse his prior views in the way Stephen Moore, another possible Fed contender, has.
- President Trump's distaste for the Fed is unabated. In a tweet Thursday morning he said central bank policy actions have been "unnecessary and destructive" for the economy. At some level, the persistence of Trump's anger has faded into background noise for at least some central bankers. In remarks Wednesday evening, Minneapolis Fed leader Neel Kashkari said Trump can say whatever he wants about the Fed and its policy decisions. "My colleagues and I don't pay attention," to the president's views, Kashkari says.
- Farm groups are raising alarm over President Trump's threats to close the US-Mexico border, warning of calamity for agricultural producers already suffering from floods, trade conflicts and low prices. Closing the southern border would be "disastrous," according to The National Farmers Union, which said such a move would block exports to the nation's top trading partner by volume. Mexico bought nearly 38M tons of agricultural goods last year totaling $19B, according to USDA data. "While our members support border security, they are increasingly anxious about what 'closing the border' might mean for their farms and ranches," said American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall. Farmers also worry a border closing would bar seasonal workers from jobs tending and harvesting this year's crops, exacerbating problems for the beleaguered agricultural sector.
- Cigna's plan to offer a way to cap patients' out-of-pocket costs for insulin gets only tepid support from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), who's conducting an investigation into the insulin prices. "Why couldn't this have been done years ago?" Grassley asks in a press release after Wednesday's close, adding it shouldn't take Congressional scrutiny to give consumers a fair price. He also notes he sent detailed inquiries on Tuesday to Cigna, CVS and UnitedHealth about the companies' financial relationships with insulin makers.

Apr 04 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices were mixed, with Brent edging higher towards the psychologically important $70 level after easing in the previous session on data showing a surprise build in U.S. inventories.
- Gold gained, supported by an easing dollar as investors awaited progress on the ongoing Sino-U.S. trade negotiations after reports showed that both sides were nearing a deal.
- Zinc headed gains in most industrial metals on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE), as investors eyed ongoing trade talks between the world's top two economies.
- Chicago corn futures rose for a second session with prices supported by floods threatening to delay plantings in parts of the U.S. Midwest. 
- The yen eased and the euro held firm to the dollar as hopes of a trade deal between the United States and China lifted risk appetite globally, while the sterling gained after the UK parliament approved legislation to seek a Brexit delay.

- Cigna's plan to offer a way to cap patients' out-of-pocket costs for insulin gets only tepid support from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), who's conducting an investigation into the insulin prices. "Why couldn't this have been done years ago?" Grassley asks in a press release after Wednesday's close, adding it shouldn't take Congressional scrutiny to give consumers a fair price. He also notes he sent detailed inquiries on Tuesday to Cigna, CVS and UnitedHealth about the companies' financial relationships with insulin makers.
- As US-China negotiations continue, Stuart Kaiser of UBS tells WSJ tariffs and trade have taken a back seat to economic growth concerns in recent weeks. "In general we've seen the continuation of the easing of trade tensions," Kaiser says. "Lately markets have been more focused on economic growth than on trade headlines." In the case of growth rebounding in 2Q, Kaiser adds that US small-cap equities are attractive areas for investors that also show lower implied volatility.
- Canada Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the best approach toward ratifying USMCA -- and one that Canada is prepared to follow -- is for all the trade pact's partners to move in a coordinated way. "That is the approach will be taking," said Freeland, when asked at media event about when Liberal government would introduce legislation to ratify and implement the trade deal. Last week, Freeland also tied Canadian ratification to the removal of US tariffs on Canadian-made steel and aluminum. Talks on a North American pact were finalized last fall, but none of the parties have ratified the deal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week the House won't consider a USMCA vote until after Mexico passes and puts in place labor law reforms.
- A report from Moody's says any government-led reforms which reduced the footprint of US government sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be credit negative for the companies. "If the market role of the GSEs is materially revised or diminished in the next several years, such a development could substantially change the competitive dynamics of housing finance," according to Moody's Senior Vice President Warren Kornfeld. Moody's says a recent presidential memorandum on federal housing finance reforms increased the possibility measures could be implemented without legislation, but added that the large number of stakeholders and uncertain impact means any changes over the next year or two will likely be modest.
- Agriculture futures on the CBOT are mostly higher with May wheat futures up 0.8% and corn futures up 0.5% despite President Donald Trump's reiterated threat to close the US-Mexican border if an immigration deal with Congress is not reached. "Congress must get together and immediately eliminate the loopholes at the border! If no action, (the) border, or large sections of (the) border, will close. This is a National Emergency!" implored Trump in a tweet this morning. Traders are banking on reports that Trump has backed off of these threats in private, but if he follows through it is expected to be very bearish for commodities overall.
- The Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the US signed into law last year by President Donald Trump have had little to no effect on curbing China's dominance of the world aluminum market via government subsidized production, according to Jean-Marc Germain, chief executive of aluminum producer Constellium NV. "Unfortunately, the tariffs have done nothing to stop China's market-distorting activities," says Germain, adding that the tariff did nothing to stop the Chinese government from providing subsidies allowing its aluminum production to grow 6% in 2018, even without being able to sell to US buyers. The Aluminum Association, of which Germain is a member, says that it hopes Trump addresses this issue with China during continuing negotiations for a trade deal this week.
- Bourses in Europe should open in the green Wednesday, supported by optimism over China, London Capital Group says. "Asian markets advanced to fresh seven-month highs overnight and European bourses look set to open higher amid further signs of recovery in China," it says. Renewed optimism over trade talks between China and the U.S. should also help, it adds.
- Risk assets have climbed the past half-hour as the FT reports that the US and China have gotten closer to a trade deal as talks are set to resume Wednesday in DC. The yen, which was rising as Japanese stock trading started, quickly reversed and is now lower on the day; the dollar is near Y111.50 versus a low of Y111.20. That's helped kickstart the country's equities, with the Nikkei up 0.8% and at session highs. Korea's Kospi has gone from flat to a 0.5% gain itself. S&P 500 futures have also moved to session highs, currently up 0.2%. Treasury yields have also climbed, currently at 2.50% versus 2.478% in late New York trading.

Apr 03 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose for a fourth day, with support from OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions overshadowing an industry report showing an unexpected rise in U.S. inventories last week.
- Gold prices were steady as a weaker dollar offset pressure on the metal, which recovered from a four-week low in the previous session, while a rally in equities to multi-month highs capped bullion's safe-haven demand.
- Most London base metals advanced, after a senior U.S. official expressed optimism about progress in the scheduled trade talks with China this week, while positive China data also lent support.
- Chicago soybean futures gained for a third consecutive session, triggered by expectations of progress in trade talks between Washington and Beijing.
- The yen slipped and the Australian dollar rose as concerns over the U.S.-China tariff war receded further following a Financial Times report that the two sides have resolved most of the issues standing in the way of a trade deal.

- Fitch says it expects the US to raise the debt limit, despite difficulty with policy consensus. "The longest recorded federal government shutdown, at 35 days, ended with congressional agreement to fund the government through September 2019. President Trump's declaration of a national emergency in support of his bid for more resources for border security highlighted the difficulty in achieving policy consensus between the executive and both houses of Congress," Fitch says in affirming the US at 'AAA.' However, Fitch says it expects the debt limit to be raised before the so-called x date, when the Congressional Budget Office estimates the Treasury would exhaust its scope for extraordinary measures to finance itself without breaching the limit.
- June lean hog futures on the CME finish up 3.4% at 91.5 cents per pound, with the contract making up ground lost last week when expected Chinese pork buying did not materialize as strongly as anticipated. However, movement on the contract may be soon stymied again, with President Trump telling reporters in a press conference this afternoon that he would be willing to close the US-Mexican border if an immigration deal cannot be reached by Congress. Trump also acknowledged that such a closure would have a negative effect on the US economy. For pork, a border closure would deprive the US of its biggest customer. Through late March, 88,500 metric tons of US pork have been exported to Mexico this year. Meanwhile, cattle futures closed up 0.2%, at $1.19650 per pound.
- President Trump's threat to close the border with Mexico may threaten natural gas exports. "Potentially at risk from such a shutdown, in our view, is US natural gas exports to Mexico. According to the EIA, US exports of natural gas via pipeline hit 149B cubic feet in January 2019, up 23% from January 2017, and up almost 3x since January 2014," says Stewart Glickman at CFRA Research. "That amounts to almost 5 mcf/d of current pipeline exports. Factor in US LNG exports to Mexico as well (an extra 0.5 mcf/d), the combined 5.5 mcf/d totals a little more than 6% of US natural gas production, and could weigh on spot prices for producers."
- A USDA study concludes greenhouse-gas emissions from corn-based ethanol are 39% lower than those from regular gasoline. In addition, emissions from ethanol refined at natural gas-powered refineries are 43% lower than gasoline, the USDA says. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the study supports the Trump Administration's push to make E15 gasoline--which includes higher ethanol content--available to consumers year-round. "I appreciate EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler moving expeditiously to finalize the E-15 rule before the start of summer driving season," Perdue says. May corn futures on the CBOT are trading down 0.1%. If the rule change leads to higher ethanol demand, then it should be bullish for corn traders.
- While today's uptick in hog futures, currently up 2.6%, appears partly due to belief that the Chinese will still buy more US pork in reaction to African swine fever's damage to Chinese pork herds, it also may be partly due to traders doubting that President Trump will follow through with his threats to close the US-Mexican border. "There was more concern in yesterday's session over a potential closure of the border as Mexico is our largest pork customer, but it looks like traders are viewing that threat as less likely to materialize today," says independent analyst Dan Norcini. Trump has claimed on his Twitter feed there is a national emergency at the US-Mexican border, necessitating a border closure. "The wild card is Trump," Norcini says.

Apr 02 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose to fresh 2019 highs, supported by firm Chinese economic data that eased demand concerns, the possibility of more sanctions on Iran and further Venezuelan supply disruptions.
- Gold prices slipped to a more than three-week low as waning global economic slowdown concerns dented the precious metal's safe-haven appeal and lifted equities to multi-month highs.
- Copper fell for a second session on signs a protest at a Peruvian mine may end, easing supply concerns, and as the U.S. dollar rose. Other London metals markets fell except for nickel.
- Chicago corn futures rose for a second straight session, with planting delays in several key U.S. growing areas underpinning prices, although ample global supplies kept a lid on the market.

- A possible introduction of U.S. sanctions on Russia through the Chemical and Biological Weapons Act would be "much less damaging" to the Russian ruble than if the U.S. introduces sanctions under new version of the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, introduced mid-February, according to Nomura's EM forex strategist Henrik Gullberg. The DASKAA bill "is much wider" and targets Russian banks, the country's cyber sector, new sovereign debt and individuals deemed to "facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin," as well as proposing strict measures on Russia's oil and gas sector. However, the new bill "is likely to be slow moving."
- Despite evidence that the severity of African swine fever in China has only increased in the past month, lean hog futures on the CME fell 8.8% last week. One possible reason for the futures' weakness can be traced to President Trump's increasing calls to shut down the US-Mexican border, which would make US pork producers unable to sell to its biggest customer. "Our detention areas are maxed out & we will take no more illegals," Trump said in a tweet Saturday. "Next step is to close the border!" For US livestock traders, Trump's call for a closed border is a bridge too far. "For a solid year the administration has been picking a fight with our large pork customers, Mexico and China. Enough," says Dennis Smith of Archer Financials.
- The Russian ruble is likely to weaken in the coming six months, says ING, which sees USD/RUB trading at 67 into late summer. On Monday, USD/RUB rose to a three-week high of 66.02, adding to losses on the back of reports that the U.S. may introduce a second tranche of sanctions on Russia in response to last year's chemical poisoning of the Skripals in the U.K. These sanctions would be introduced under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Act and could focus more on broader trade links and U.S. bank financing to the Russian government. USD/RUB has since pared gains and is last down 0.3% at 65.54.

Apr 01 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose, adding to gains in the first quarter when the major benchmarks posted their biggest increases in nearly a decade, as concerns about supplies outweigh fears of a slowing global economy.
- Gold prices inched up as the dollar backed off three-week highs, but gains in the metal were limited as equities rose on signs of progress in the Sino-U.S. trade talks and upbeat Chinese economic data. 
- Nickel rose, leading gains in the overall base metals markets, after data showed that stimulus measures in China, the world's biggest nickel consumer, are boosting the economy and as U.S. China trade talks are making progress.
- U.S. corn edged higher after suffering its biggest one-day drop in nearly three years in the previous session on pressure from plentiful supplies.
- A surprise improvement in Chinese factory activity supported the yuan and Australian dollar, and provided a broader boost to investors' risk appetite, giving the dollar a lift against the safe-haven yen.

- All three major stock indexes are trading higher as the S&P 500 is poised to finish the quarter with its best gains since 2009. The Dow gains 0.5%, the S&P 500 gains 0.5% and the Nasdaq gains 0.7%, with tech stocks leading the way. Advanced Micro Devices adds 1.8%, Micron Technology gains 5% and Intel rises 1.2%. Meanwhile, trade talks between the US and China are ongoing as market participants weigh uncertainty over tariffs and Brexit.
- Oil prices tick up Friday morning, shrugging off the latest tweet from President Trump calling for OPEC to raise production in order to keep a lid on prices. Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, was trading up 0.3% at $68.05 a barrel on London's Intercontinental Exchange early morning. West Texas Intermediate futures, the U.S. oil standard, were up 0.61% at $59.66 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. "Very important that OPEC increase the flow of Oil. World Markets are fragile, price of OIL getting too high. Thank you!" Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday afternoon, initially sending prices south. But Warren Patterson, head of commodity strategy at ING Bank, said he expects OPEC and its production allies "will largely ignore these calls from the U.S. president and will remain committed to returning the market to balance."
- Oil futures are higher in Asian trading after finishing little changed in Thursday's global selling as the market is about to end its best quarter since early this decade in surging more than 25%. Of course, that's after the worst quarter in years in 4Q and crude remains more than 20% below last year's high. Crude fell in European trading Thursday before rebounding in U.S. action amid Trump's latest tweet to OPEC members to pump more. After the huge down then up the past two quarters, chances are 2Q is going to be much-more sanguine. May WTI is up 0.4% at $59.51 and June Brent is 0.3% higher at $67.31.
- News President Trump plans to name right-wing activist Stephen Moore to become a Fed governor has drawn nearly universal criticism from both left-leaning and conservative economists. Some have made the case, however, that however problematic Moore's views and relationship to facts might be, he would be just one of many Fed officials. In a Twitter thread, William Luther, a professor at Florida Atlantic University and an associate of the libertarian Cato Institute, warns Moore would have more power than many think. He notes the key parameters of the Fed's rate-control regime is actually set by the Board of Governors. There are two more governor vacancies to fill, and if they're like Moore, it could have a real effect on interest-rate policy, Luther tweets.
- Oil prices continued to edge down Thursday afternoon in the wake of another tweet from President Trump calling on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to boost production in order to keep a ceiling on crude prices. "Very important that OPEC increase the flow of Oil. World Markets are fragile, price of OIL getting too high. Thank you!" Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down 1.1% at $66.50 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate was down 1% at $58.81 a barrel. Oil prices have risen by more than 20% since the start of the year on the back of OPEC-led production curbs.

Mar 29 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)

- Oil prices rose on the back of ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, putting crude markets on track for their biggest quarterly rise since 2009.
- Gold steadied, but was headed for its worst month since August 2018 predominantly on stronger dollar and equities, while palladium bounced back after three straight sessions of sharp selloffs.
- Most base metals advanced, with London copper heading for its first quarterly gain since the end of 2017, as hopes of progress in U.S.-China trade talks and low inventories in some metals lent support.
- U.S. soybean futures edged higher but the oilseed was poised to record its biggest monthly fall in seven months, as fears of a prolonged trade war between Washington and Beijing pressured prices

- Oil prices continued to edge down Thursday afternoon in the wake of another tweet from President Trump calling on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to boost production in order to keep a ceiling on crude prices. "Very important that OPEC increase the flow of Oil. World Markets are fragile, price of OIL getting too high. Thank you!" Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down 1.1% at $66.50 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate was down 1% at $58.81 a barrel. Oil prices have risen by more than 20% since the start of the year on the back of OPEC-led production curbs.
- WSJ reports China is offering foreign technology firms better access to the country's fast-growing cloud-computing market, but some analysts are reticent to believe China will follow through on trade promises. "The markets met the news with a yawn," Arlan Suderman of INTL FCStone says. "I don't expect (China) to live up to promises made, for that is their track record, but they want a deal to change the narrative." The US and China begin their next round of trade negotiations today in Beijing. The Dow gains 0.3%, the S&P 500 rises 0.4% and the Nasdaq adds 0.4%.
- The current impasse in the Brexit resolution is likely to play a part in the current downward movements in government bond yields, says David Page, senior economist at AXA Investment Managers. "Given the prominence attached to Brexit in the latest [U.S.] FOMC press conference, we suspect that uncertainty over the Brexit process is contributing to demand for safehaven assets," he says. Although he notes that U.K. gilt yields have dropped by more than 20 basis points to below 1.00% in the last week, this is an underperformance compared to the 24 basis-point drop in U.S. Treasury yields to 2.36%, while German 10-year Bund yields have fallen by almost 20 basis points to -0.09%. Yields fall as bond prices rise.
- Centene CEO Michael Neidorff downplays worries about the future of the Affordable Care Act and some Democrats' plans for universal government health care. He tells WSJ regarding the ACA "they've been trying to do something to it ever since Trump got in ... they may make modifications to it, but it's not going to go away." He points to the enormous cost of providing government health coverage for all Americans: "I don't think Medicare for all is going to happen. I think it's political fodder." Centene is down 7% to $51.03.

Mar 28 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices fell, extending losses into a second straight session, after widely watched data showed a surprising increase in U.S. stocks.
- Palladium prices fell to a more than five-week low, a day after posting their steepest decline in over two years, as concerns about the global economy and a buoyant dollar prompted investors to take profits.
- London copper prices held steady as investors awaited news from U.S.-China trade talks restarting in Beijing, while supply issues offset fears of a recession in the United States.
- U.S. soybeans held steady to linger near a three-month low as the market awaited signs of progress in trade talks between Washington and Beijing.
- The dollar edged up as many of its peers weakened after more central banks shifted to dovish policy stances amid a deteriorating global economic outlook.

- Centene CEO Michael Neidorff downplays worries about the future of the Affordable Care Act and some Democrats' plans for universal government health care. He tells WSJ regarding the ACA "they've been trying to do something to it ever since Trump got in ... they may make modifications to it, but it's not going to go away." He points to the enormous cost of providing government health coverage for all Americans: "I don't think Medicare for all is going to happen. I think it's political fodder." Centene is down 7% to $51.03.
- McDonald's says it will stop fighting legislative efforts to boost minimum wages, according to a letter it sent to the National Restaurant Association, but any future increases to minimum pay will hit franchisees and not the company itself. The reason: 95% of McDonald's restaurants in the US were franchised as of the end of last year. One question is how franchisees will view the policy shift, given existing tensions between the corporate office and operators over remodels and delivery. McDonald's says the average starting wage at company-run stores is about $10 a hour.
- The 10-year Treasury yield dropped sharply overnight, and RBC Capital Markets says such a move looks to be linked to a call for an immediate 50 basis point rate cut from President Trump's latest nominee for the Federal Reserve Stephen Moore in a New York Times interview. This contrasts with statements from FOMC members favoring a patient approach, the bank says. The 10-year Treasury yield recovered some losses during overnight trading and it is quoted last at 2.384%, according to Tradeweb.
- Jon Hill of BMO Capital Markets says that January's trade deficit is not as extreme as the US has seen at other moments during the current expansionary period. "The weakness in imports is notable given the comparative stability in the USD over the period," Hill says. "(But) that being said, January also corresponded to the record duration government shutdown, to say nothing of weather factors, which could add transitory nuance." The trade deficit in goods and services shrank 15% from December to a seasonally adjusted $51.15B in January, while US exports to China dropped to an 8-year low.

Mar 27 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)

- Oil prices crept up, extending the previous session's rise, but gains were kept in check amid growing fears over the impact of a global economic slowdown on demand.
- Gold steadied, after declining the most in nearly two weeks in the previous session, as U.S. recession fears triggered by a sharp decline in U.S. Treasury yields and weak data weighed on the share markets.
- Most base metals gained ground, with Shanghai zinc touching a more than one-year high, as investors focused on tight inventories and the resumption of U.S.-China trade talks.
- U.S. wheat futures fell, though signs of improved demand for North American supplies and potential planting delays provided a floor to losses.
- The dollar edged higher and antipodean currencies beat a hasty retreat after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand surprised the markets by opening the door to future monetary policy easing.

- The US trade deficit decreased by 14.6% in January, driven by rising exports and falling imports, the Commerce Department report shows. The narrowing of the deficit comes after it widened throughout 2018. Exports growth in January was propelled by a rise in soybean exports and an increase in car exports. Imports of goods including civilian aircraft and oil declined in the first month of the year. More widely, economists expect some of the factors that fueled a widening deficit last year to moderate in 2019. That includes an agreement by China at the beginning of the year to purchase more American soybeans, a key export.
- The US exported $7.1B in goods to China in January, matching the lowest level since September 2010, the Commerce Department reported. Exports to Hong Kong, at $2.1B, were the weakest since May 2010. A decline in exports to China runs against an overall increase in US exports to other countries in January. President Trump has imposed tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of goods that the U.S. imports from other countries, particularly China. Wednesday's report suggests that Chinese retaliatory tariffs on American goods are minimizing US exports and challenging efforts to narrow the trade gap.
- House Democrats pushed a net-neutrality bill through a subcommittee on partisan lines, but the legislation faces a bleak future in the Senate, amid disagreements over the government's proper role in policing internet traffic. Net neutrality rules generally require all internet traffic to be treated equally by cable and wireless firms, without blocking or throttling. The Obama-era FCC adopted a relatively tough version of net-neutrality rules. Those were later rolled back by the Trump-era FCC and replaced with a regulatory regime that liberal critics regard as porous. The Democratic version adopted today reinstates the Obama-era rules and could trigger pushback from cable and wireless firms on the grounds government overreach could lead to federal rate regulation, a charge Democrats reject.
- Managed-care companies fall after the Justice Department says a Texas district court's December decision that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional should be affirmed. SVBLeerink says Molina and Centene are the most exposed to the decision, and WellCare too, although less so. Big 5 diversified MCOs are largely insulated though, the firm says. SVBLeerink thinks the case could end up before the Supreme Court, and thinks the court would walk back the Texas decision. Also, the DOJ's action may increase the likelihood House Democrats will push for legislative fixes to the ACA, the firm says. WellCare and Centene fall about 3% while Molina stumbles 7%.

Mar 26 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)

- Oil prices edged up, lifted by supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, but signs of a sharp economic slowdown and potentially even a recession kept markets from rising further.
- Gold eased, after hitting one-month high in the previous session, as a slight recovery in share markets and U.S. Treasury yields reduced some of the precious metal's safe-haven appeal.
- London copper prices drifted in Asian trade as fears of a recession in the United States were offset by a supply disruption at a key copper mine in Peru.
- U.S. wheat futures rose more than 0.5 percent to hit a one-month high as adverse weather in a major producing region stoked fears about potential planting delays.
- The dollar rebounded modestly against the yen as Treasury yields pulled back from 15-month lows as investors reassessed the risks of a sharper downturn in the global economy.

- Representatives from the US and China are meeting in Beijing this week to continue trade negotiations, and Wells Fargo Investment Institute analysts say a positive resolution to the dispute is already priced into markets. "Assuming that there will be a deal between the US and China in the coming months, we believe that equity markets could move higher on a 'strong' agreement that includes both enforcement and unwinding of tariffs," they say, rather than on a weak deal in which the US offers too many concessions or if trade talks disintegrated like they did last year.
- Jaguar Land Rover would be the European automaker that would suffer the most if the U.S. decided to implement a 25% tax on auto imports from Europe into the country. JLR stands to lose over 100% of its 2019 Ebitda should the U.S. do so, says Anna Stegert at S&P Global Ratings in a webcast. Ebitda levels from fellow car makers Volvo Cars, Daimler, BMW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Volkswagen would also come under pressure in such a scenario. Her colleague Marion Amiot adds that these companies would likely be unable to pass on the cost to customers, leaving them with the option to need to partially relocate production to the U.S. or closer to this market.
- U.S. President Donald Trump's duration of presidency "is of diminished importance for the U.S. dollar," says Adam Cole, chief currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets. Following the release of the Muller report last week, which didn't find Trump or his campaign conspiring with Russia during the 2016 elections, the probability of Trump failing to make the end of his term collapsed, says Cole. But the dollar hasn't reacted, with EUR/USD trading just above 1.13, roughly where it has traded since late last year. "This matters less for the dollar than it did in the early part of his presidency, when uncertainty on whether dollar-positive tax reform would be enacted was the main conduit to markets generally and dollar particularly," Cole says.

Mar 25 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices dropped by almost 1 percent, with concerns recession could be looming outweighing supply disruptions from OPEC's production cutbacks and from U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.
- Gold rose as investors' appetite for riskier assets faded on concerns about a potential U.S. recession and decelerating global growth, increasing appeal for the bullion alongside yen and bonds.
- Most base metals fell, with Shanghai copper heading for its biggest drop since August, as investors worried about the prospect of a recession in the United States, the world's biggest economy.
- U.S. corn futures edged up, extending gains into a fourth session as strong Chinese demand and concerns about North American production pushed prices towards a three-week high.
- The yen gained against its peers, touching a six-week peak versus the dollar, as fears in markets of a global economic slowdown fuelled demand for the Japanese currency.

- While economic worries have dominated investor sentiment on both sides of this weekend, there's at least one thing which the market can set aside: Mueller concluded Trump and his campaign didn't conspire or coordinate with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, said AG Barr in a letter to Congress. "With Trump exonerated, attention will return to the U.S.-China trade discussions yet again," says AxiTrader chief market analyst James Hughes. The latest round of talks happen later this week. Also on the docket in the coming days is a revision to 4Q GDP data out of the U.S. as well as February personal income and spending.

Mar 22 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)

- Oil hovered slightly below 2019 peaks, propped up by ongoing supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and by U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.
- Gold was steady below a three-week peak hit the day before, pressured by rising stock markets but remaining on track for a third straight weekly gain after the U.S. Federal Reserve said there would be no further interest rate hikes this year. 
- Base metals on the London Metal Exchange were steady after solid U.S. data helped calm worries over the outlook for the global economy, although a strong U.S. dollar put some downward pressure on prices.
- U.S. corn futures rose to a near one-month high as flash flooding in a major North American producing region stoked fears of plating delays, with the grain poised for a 1.5 percent weekly gain.

Mar 21 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices reached their highest so far for 2019 as global markets tightened amid supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and U.S. government sanctions against Iran and Venezuela.
- Gold climbed to a three-week peak as the U.S. Federal Reserve ruled out chances of any interest rate hike this year, while a surprise cut in U.S. growth forecast added to concerns on global economic slowdown.
- London copper and most other base metals rose, backed by a softer dollar after the U.S. Federal Reserve abandoned plans for a further rate rise this year, and by a lack of near-term supply.
- Chicago wheat futures slid as the market took a breather after climbing to a three-week high in the last session when prices were underpinned by concerns over planting delays in the U.S. Plains amid recent adverse weather.

- Energy CEO have the most pro-Republican tilt of any industry, according to a Harvard Law School-sponsored study, as 88.7% of energy CEOs favor Republican candidates, based on campaign donations and policy activism, while only 4.9% favor Democrats. The next two industries with the highest level of Republican support among CEOs are manufacturing and chemicals, composed of 72.4% and 64.1% Republicans, respectively, with only 10.9% and 12.1% Democrats, respectively. Overall, Republican CEOs are about three times more numerous than Democratic CEOs, the study finds.
- The White House didn't give many aviation industry leaders any advance notice about the timing of the announcement that former Delta Air exec Steve Dickson will be nominated as the permanent FAA chief. Some of his biggest backers found out as the press release went out. But within hours, many of the same officials were handicapping that acting FAA chief Daniel Elwell likely wouldn't go back to his previously confirmed job as deputy administrator for long. Part of the reason, these officials said, is that it would be hard for Elwell to deal with such a demotion. Also, an arcane provision in the legislation that established the FAA bars both top agency officials from having military backgrounds. Dickson and Elwell are Air Force Academy graduates.
- Canada will offer more money for farmers affected by trade deals that have opened the country's protected dairy, poultry and egg sectors to more imports. In its 2019 budget plan, the government says it will provide up to C$3.65B in new funding to bolster those farmers' incomes and preserve the value of their production quotas, which are used to control domestic supply. The funding is meant to address the effect of Canada's recent trade deals with Europe and Pacific Rim countries only. The money doesn't address the upshot of the revised North American free trade agreement. That deal, which was reached last fall but has yet to be ratified, saw Canada accede to US demands for further concessions in its dairy market.
- Canada's 2019 budget plan includes new money to deal with an increase in the number of asylum seekers entering the country from the US. Canada is proposing C$1.18B over five years and C$55M per year on an ongoing basis to speed up the processing of asylum claims and deportations for those who aren't accepted. The money will also go toward law enforcement at the border with the US. Canada has seen an increase in the number of people who have walked across the border from the US -- primarily entering via an unofficial border crossing in upstate New York -- in recent years, contributing to an existing backlog in handling asylum claims.

Mar 20 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices edged up, supported by ongoing supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, although gains were limited by concerns over economic growth.
- Gold prices dipped, after posting gains in the previous three sessions, as the dollar gained ground ahead of an interest rate decision by the U.S. Federal later in the day.
- Most industrial metals on the London Metal Exchange eased, as investors were cautious ahead of the result of the U.S. Federal Reserve rate meeting later in the day.
- Chicago soybean futures slid for a third consecutive session on pressure from abundant world supplies, with a bumper South American crop hitting the market.

- The share of US workers' compensation coming from bonuses rose after Congress passed new tax laws in 2017. Many corporations announced bonuses tied to the law. Those gains appear to be fading. The share of private-sector worker compensation that came from nonproduction bonuses fell to 2.1% in 4Q, the Labor Department says, the lowest quarterly share since 3Q 2014. The share of compensation from bonuses the three previous quarter was 2.8%, the highest level on nonseasonally adjusted records back to 2004. The declining share suggests that some of the income boost from the tax law was temporary. If that's the case, consumers could be challenged to keep spending at levels necessary to support the 3% economic growth rate recorded last year. The data from the employer costs for employee compensation report, however, is notoriously fickle.
- Replacing the Boeing 747 jets that fly as Air Force One is now estimated to cost $5.3B -- far higher than previously disclosed. But the Air Force maintains it's still kept $1.4B in savings from a deal negotiated between President Trump and the aerospace giant. The new estimate, contained in Air Force budget documents, calculates the cost through 2025 and includes new hangar and maintenance facilities. The extras are outside the $3.9B fixed-price deal for Boeing to supply and convert two 747-8 passenger jets left unwanted by the Russian airline that ordered them.
- The Trump administration isn't giving up on attempts to overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program after similar proposals suffered broad defeat last year. Budget documents released by the White House propose stricter work requirements for able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 65, echoing a controversial plan floated by House Republicans in their farm bill last year that ultimately was scrapped in order for Congress to pass the legislation. A much-criticized plan to shift some food-stamp dollars from benefit cards to a food-box-delivery program also makes a reappearance in the president's FY2020 budget documents, despite earlier rejection by Congress. Overall, the budget would slash the nation's food-stamp program by nearly $220B over a decade.
- Some farm subsidies are unjustifiable, according to White House budget documents that point to stabilizing farm incomes while proposing billions of dollars in cuts. Similar to proposals floated a year ago, the Trump administration's budget calls for abolishing commodity subsidies and other payments to farmers with adjusted gross incomes over $500K, as well as reducing crop-insurance premium subsidies. "It is hard to justify to taxpayers why the Government should provide assistance to farmers with incomes over half a million dollars," the Trump administration says in a document released Monday, which details farm safety-net cuts totaling $46B over a decade. The administration says farm income is steadying, though federal officials project income this year still will be nearly 50% below its 2013 peak.

Mar 19 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)

- Oil prices were near 2019 highs, supported by supply cuts led by producer club OPEC. U.S. sanctions against oil producers Iran and Venezuela are also boosting prices, although traders said the market may be capped by rising U.S. output.
- Palladium surged to a record as the risk of a ban on some Russian exports added to supply concerns for the autocatalyst metal, while gold rose on expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will stay dovish at its meeting this week.
- Copper and aluminium prices ticked up, supported by China's announcement to cut tax for manufacturers from next month to boost growth in the world's second-largest economy.
- Chicago wheat futures rose, gaining for three out of four sessions on support from short-covering, although lacklustre demand for U.S. supplies kept a lid on the market.
- The dollar was on the defensive, weighed by growing expectations the Federal Reserve would adopt a more accommodative policy outlook this week and concerns about slower U.S. economic growth.

Mar 18 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices dipped amid concerns that an economic downturn may dent fuel consumption, but crude markets remain broadly supported by supply cuts led by producer group OPEC and U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela.
- Gold prices slipped, as gains in the equity markets dented the appeal of the precious metal ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting this week.
- London copper prices rose for a second day, as concerns over supply tightness outweighed weak U.S. manufacturing data and a jump in London Metal Exchange inventories.
- Chicago wheat futures slid, falling for the first time in three sessions as abundant world supplies weighed on the market which was underpinned last week by short-covering.
- The dollar licked its wounds after soft U.S. data increased bets the Federal Reserve will cut rates later this year while the pound hovered near nine-months high on hopes for a delay in Britain's exit from the European Union.

- The introduction of taxes for foreign homebuyers in two Canadian regions contributed to a significant but temporary drop in residents' house-price expectations, Bank of Canada research finds. A staff paper published by the BoC says the west-coast city of Vancouver and the Toronto region in Ontario both experienced outsized declines in housing resales after foreign-buyer taxes were introduced in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Using data from the Canadian Survey of Consumer Expectations, researchers find house-price expectations in the two regions fell sharply after the taxes came into effect and played a "material, albeit temporary" role in market dynamics. Housing markets across Canada have slowed over the past year in the face of higher interest rates, tougher mortgage-qualification rules and regional foreign-buyer taxes.
- Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) says he isn't a fan of the US government using lawsuits to fight collusion among state-run oil producers. A bipartisan group of US senators is pushing legislation that would do that--the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, or Nopec--a threat that has spooked OPEC and some of its allies. Speaking to reporters in Houston at CERAWeek, Cornyn says he isn't familiar with the specific bill, but is generally concerned about retaliation from other countries if the US pursues the type of antitrust lawsuits the bill envisions. "It's better to try to resolve our differences without litigation if possible," he adds. The US oil industry has "gotten so efficient here I think we don't need to worry so much about OPEC. We just need to produce more of that energy here at a lower price that's more attractive to the consumer."
- Exxon-controlled Imperial Oil continues taking a hard line against the Alberta government's oil-output cut by announcing it's slowing down development of its Aspen oil sands project. The slowdown comes after Imperial halted oil shipments by rail last month in response to Canadian oil prices that had become too expensive to ship to US refineries by train. "The company remains concerned about the unintended consequences of the government's decision to manipulate prices, including the negative impact on rail economics," Imperial says. The company says the Aspen slowdown could delay the project by a year.

Mar 15 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices were stable, propped up by production cuts led by OPEC and as U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Iran likely created a slight deficit in global supply in the first quarter of 2019.
- Gold rose, recovering from the previous session's sharp fall, as the dollar dipped and mounting concerns about a slowdown in global economic growth buoyed demand for the safe-haven metal.
- London zinc briefly rose by 2 percent and Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) spreads went wild after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said a planned cut in value-added tax (VAT) would take effect from April 1.
- Chicago wheat futures ticked lower, giving up some of last session's gains, but the market is set for its biggest weekly gain in more than three months on short-covering.
 
- US defense stocks broadly lower in afternoon trade following a succession of Pentagon briefings that included procurement plans which fell short of analyst expectations. While the total purchasing and research request is about 4% higher for fiscal 2020, the procurement line of $143B falls some $6B short of expectations. Analysts also concerned about lack of detail about purchasing plans after 2020. Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon all around session lows with declines of around 1%.

Mar 14 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Brent crude oil prices rose to their highest since mid-November last year, pushed up by OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Iran.
- Gold fell as the dollar regained some ground and uncertainty over Brexit eased, but the metal held close to a two-week high hit in the previous session as tepid U.S. inflation data cemented expectations that the Federal Reserve would hold rates.
- London zinc and most other base metals traded lower, after comments from U.S. President Donald Trump chilled optimism over an imminent China trade deal and Chinese industrial output growth fell to a 17-year low.
- Chicago wheat futures rose and were set to gain for two out of three sessions amid expectations of short-covering by funds, but abundant world supplies kept a lid on prices.

- Energy Secretary Rick Perry is looking at FERC to solve what he says is the biggest challenge for US energy, a lack of capacity to get output to buyers. FERC oversees interstate pipelines, wholesale electricity markets and gas export terminals, but has only four of five commissioner seats filled after the death of former chairman Kevin McIntyre. That is hamstringing an effort to approve new projects, and the lack of those projects, especially pipelines, is the biggest roadblock to maximizing energy reserves, Perry says at CERAWeek by IHS Markit. "I'm looking at one of the solutions right here in the audience," Perry says, pointing at recently-appointed Commissioner Bernard McNamee in the front of the audience, then calling him out by name. "Permits!" Perry then shouts at him as the audience laughs.
- William Beach, who previously worked as an economist for Senate Republicans, wins confirmation to lead the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agency that compiles the monthly jobs report and other economic data. The vote puts an economist nominated by President Trump in charge of an agency the president criticized as a candidate. On several occasions when running for office, Trump called the agency's data "phony" and said the official jobless rate well understated actual unemployment. But since taking office, Trump has touted BLS reports, including today when he tweeted "Unemployment numbers among BEST EVER" It isn't usual for BLS commissioners, the only political appointee in the agency, to have partisan ties. Beach replaces acting commissioner William Wiatrowski, who has worked at the agency for
more than 30 years.
- Boeing shares slide after President Trump says the FAA will ground all 737 Max 8 and Max 9 flights. Shares are down 2.2% to $367.29, a session low. Boeing shares have shed 13% this week as a number of countries have grounded flights, citing concerns about an Ethiopian Airlines crash involving a Boeing plane.
- The Commodity Futures Trading Commission will propose a rule governing ownership limits in futures markets in the next few months, Chairman J Christopher Giancarlo says at an industry conference in Florida. Giancarlo says the long-delayed Dodd-Frank Act-mandated rule would be proposed before he left the commission, which is likely to happen in the next few months. His likely successor, Heath Tarbert, had his confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday. Giancarlo said any proposal would be mindful of "bona fide hedging" techniques used by firms to balance risks. The last CFTC position limits proposal, under the Obama administration, would have restricted a firm from owning more than the equivalent of 25% of a commodity's estimated "deliverable supply" in a given month, but it never went into effect.
- An State Department official tells energy industry leaders to expect that the Trump administration's foreign policy won't destabilize oil markets in 2019. Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, says the administration is still committed to keeping supply healthy enough to avoid sending prices sharply higher. "I think you can expect that we are going to continue to successfully balance this," Hook says at CERAWeek by IHS Markit. He is working closely with his colleagues who are overseeing Venezuelan sanctions that also target oil exports with the goal of managing sanctions against both countries at the same time without overpressuring markets, he says.
- The upcoming European parliamentary elections in May are likely to result in a strong performance by populist parties, Marco Meijer, senior European interest rates strategist at BNP Paribas says in a webinar. Populists may get "as much as 30%," he says. Given the political risks, which add to economic softness, it is "no surprise that central banks turn dovish," Meijer says. He refers to the fact that global central banks have recently turned more cautious with their plans to increase interest rates. In the recent move, the European Central Bank last week tweaked its forward guidance on interest rates, pushing out the timing of the first possible interest rate increase beyond 2019. BNP Paribas is "quite bullish" on shorter-dated US Treasuries, anticipating yields will fall.
- Sterling is recovering from its falls the previous day when U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's revised Brexit withdrawal agreement was firmly rejected in parliament. UniCredit says there is scope for GBP to rise further if lawmakers on Wednesday reject leaving the European Union without a deal in another vote due later in the day. "If the risk of a no-deal Brexit is definitively dismissed sterling can still recover some ground, as the U.K. parliament will probably then approve the extension of Article 50 in a third vote on Thursday," it says. GBP/USD is last up 0.5% at 1.3140, while EUR/GBP falls 0.5% to 0.8588.

Mar 13 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)

- Oil prices rose, pushed up by ongoing supply cuts from producer cartel OPEC and U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela.
- Gold scaled a near two-week peak, after reclaiming the key $1,300 level in the previous session, as investors opted for the safe-haven metal after British lawmakers rejected an amended exit deal, while a weaker dollar lent further support.
- London zinc prices hit their highest in more than eight months, as investors worried about ultra-tight stocks of the metal used to galvanise steel.
- Chicago wheat futures slid as the market took a breather after the previous session's biggest one-day gain in seven months which was triggered by fund buying and technicals.

US President Donald Trump on Monday proposed a new budget for the USDA, slashing it by 15% for next year, calling its subsidy programmes on crop insurance “overly generous” and angering farmers and industry alike. Tabled by the White House Office of Management and Budget, the 2020 proposal seeks to cut $3.6 billion from the USDA budget to $20.8 billion.

“The Budget… proposes that USDA responsibly and efficiently use taxpayer resources by making targeted reforms to duplicative programs and overly generous subsidy programs."

Specifically, the budget seeks to reduce expenditure on the crop insurance programmes by cutting the average premium from 62% to 48% and limit eligibility to smaller farms with income of $500,000 or less. It also seeks to cap underwriting margins at 12%.

“President Trump’s budget is fiscally conservative and lays out a vision for an accountable federal government that cuts spending. With our national debt soaring to over $22 trillion, we can no longer kick the can down the road. The time to act is now and USDA will actively do its part in reducing federal spending,” said Sonny Perdue, agriculture secretary.

However, the proposal has drawn ire from industry and democrats with the House Agricultural Committee Chairman Collin Peterson saying the proposal adds to $26 billion in cuts to crop insurance already. Senate Agriculture Committee member Debbie Stabenow, also a Democrat, said the 15% cut comes on top of a $267 billion cut to farm bill programs.

"The steep cuts to the USDA would jeopardize the department's ability to implement the farm bill at a time when farmers are struggling with economic instability and trade uncertainty," Stabenow said.

The announcement comes as President Trump’s administration is in the middle of doling out $12 billion worth of aid to farmers who have been hit by the US trade war with China, with soybean producers the biggest individual recipients by far. It is also the second time President Trump has targeted crop insurers, who condemned the budget proposal immediately and urged Congress to reject it.

 

Mar 12 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose, lifted by healthy demand and output cuts led by producer group OPEC, although the gains were capped by the ongoing surge in U.S. supply while analysts warned of risks to the global economy.
- Gold rose as the dollar weakened against the pound after the European Commission accepted amendments to the UK's Brexit deal, although gains were limited as the agreement also buoyed sentiment for riskier assets.
- London base metals gained ground, with copper rising by the most in a week, as a softer dollar and improving investor sentiment after changes to a Brexit deal lent support to prices.
- Chicago wheat futures edged higher but the market was trading not far from last session's 14-month low as abundant world supplies and fund-selling kept a lid on prices.

- If UK PM Theresa May's draft Brexit withdrawal deal passes through the House of Commons on Tuesday, "that will be the Eureka moment and GBP/USD will be trading around 1.38 by tomorrow," Jordan Rochester, currency analyst at Nomura, says. The pound has risen as the probability of the deal passing has climbed to about 30%, with the GBP/USD last up 0.4% at 1.3204. "I'm not banging the table that this is that moment though, given it is a long ladder that will be needed for all 118 Tories to climb down. But anything is possible in politics," Rochester says. He remains short on EUR/GBP though, he says. If the deal isn't passed, "it would lead to an Article 50 extension vote on Thursday and sterling would remain supported beyond that." The EUR/GBP falls by 0.2% to 0.8537.
- Markets have priced in that Tuesday's meaningful vote on the U.K.'s draft Brexit withdrawal deal "will either pass, or fail by a small enough margin to keep the deal alive," RBC says. The pound has risen substantially since Monday following a press conference by U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at which they announced a revised Brexit deal that May said contained three important changes. Sterling rises 0.6% against the dollar to 1.3226, while the EUR/GBP is down 0.4% at 0.8518. "U.K. bookmakers have marked up the probability of tonight's bill passing through the [House of] Commons to 30% from 10% late yesterday, which is probably a fair reflection of what is priced into sterling," RBC says.
- Two Senate leaders say they are trying to calm conversation and confound critics in Washington in order to succeed in efforts to address climate change. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R, Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D., W.V.) say the conversation around energy and climate change have become overwhelmed with political messaging and accusations. "Let's try to dial down some of the rhetoric out there. Let's try to get us to a place where we can have civil dialogue," Murkowski says on the first day of CERAWeek by IHS Markit, an industry conference in Houston. The two leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a committee hearing on climate change as one of their first actions and collaborated on a recent op-ed supporting action to slow climate change. They did that in part to surprise critics who predicted they would ignore climate issues and try to overcome disagreements over basic facts that have gridlocked Congress, Manchin says. "We're fighting ghosts, basically. You can't come to a concerted effort" because lawmakers disagree on facts, he adds.
- India's oil and natural gas secretary, MM Kutty, says his country is moving toward ending altogether its imports of oil from Venezuela to meet US sanctions aimed at removing embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Speaking at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference in Houston, the petroleum secretary says while India imports a huge amount of its oil and gas, it "doesn't have to rely on any one specific country to meet its requirements." He says government-owned Indian companies are already down to "extremely minimal" Venezuelan oil purchases, and says the state is in advanced discussions with private companies in India to get them to also stop importing Venezuelan crude.
- EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the agency is changing its tack by no longer targeting entire industries, and instead is focusing on fixing specific environmental problems such as bad water quality. "The Trump administration is proving that burdensome regulations from Washington are not necesssary to drive environmental progress," Wheeler says at Houston's CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference. He adds coal use is still rising worldwide due to China, India and others, and rather than punishing coal output in the US the EPA should encourage the sector to employ innovation and clean technology.
- USDA confirmed this morning that 926,000 metric tons of US soybeans have been sold to China for delivery in the 2018/19 marketing year. This confirmation comes after China said that it would purchase 10M metric tons of soybeans from the US. The purchase does not cover the Chinese expectations, and traders are becoming weary of not knowing anything concrete amount about the trade deal. "The soybean market needs new positive news," says Tomm Pfitzenmaier of Summit Commodity Brokerage. The market didn't get it needed shot of positivity last week, with soybean futures on the CBOT.

Mar 11 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)

- Oil prices rose, lifted by comments from Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih that an end to OPEC-led supply cuts was unlikely before June and a report showing a fall U.S. drilling activity.
- Gold traded in a tight range, hovering below a more than one-week peak hit last week, as the dollar firmed and poor U.S. jobs data increased concerns about a slowdown in global economic growth.
- Zinc prices rose, driven by dwindling London Metal Exchange inventories as well as a pledge from China's central bank to increase loans and lower borrowing costs after a sharp drop in bank lending in February.
- Chicago soybean futures rose after dropping to their lowest since mid-January in the previous session, with the market supported by China's purchases of U.S. cargoes.

Mar 08 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)

- Oil prices dropped as clouds gathered over the global economy after the European Central Bank (ECB) warned overnight of continued weakness and fresh data showed Chinese exports and imports slumped last month.
- Gold edged up as investors worried about a sharp slowdown in global growth after the European Central Bank (ECB) slashed growth outlook and weak Chinese data, but a rally in dollar kept bullion on track for its second weekly decline.
- London copper prices lost ground for a third consecutive session with the market set for a weekly fall, as rising inventories and a drop in the premium for directly available metal signalled easing supply squeeze.
- U.S. wheat futures rebounded from a 14-month low touched in the previous session, though the grain was poised to finish the week down 4 percent as North American supplies struggle to attract international demand.

- USDA adjusts its export outlooks, maintaining soybean exports at 1.875B bushels, lowering wheat exports to 2.073B bushels, and corn exports down to 2.375B bushels. Traders were keeping a keen watch for soybean numbers in particular, amid interest as to whether or not China had yet followed through with their promises to buy more US agricultural goods as a sign of good faith for an eventual overarching trade deal. This morning, the USDA reported 664,000 metric tons of soybeans for delivery during the 2018/19 marketing year were sold to China, confirming rumors circulating around the market since yesterday.
- A Canadian court on Friday rejected an application by SNC-Lavalin Group for judicial review of federal prosecutors' decision not to offer the company a chance to negotiate an out-of-court settlement to deal with bribery and fraud charges. The issue is now at the center of a political crisis in Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his senior aides have in recent weeks faced allegations that they tried to interfere with the prosecutors' original decision. A judge from Canada's Federal Court said it does not have jurisdiction to hear the request. "The law is clear that prosecutorial discretion is not subject to judicial review, except for abuse of process," the court decision said.
- Doubts about the inevitability of a US-China trade deal are growing for grains traders. "The trade is growing fearful that President Trump will 'walk away' from the Chinese just like he did with North Korea," says Tomm Pfitzenmaier of Summit Commodity Brokerage. According to a Wall Street Journal story, the US envoy to Beijing says that neither side feels like an agreement is imminent, and no date has been set for a meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi. Traders are waiting for today's WASDE report to try and figure out what the USDA thinks of the likelihood of a deal, based on their export and carryout outlooks for soybeans.
- Lombard Odier Investment Managers expects sustained downward pressure on European government bond yields and, coupled with the Federal Reserve's dovish pivot, the search-for-yield environment is likely to take hold once again in global riskier asset markets, says Salman Ahmed, chief investment strategist. The European Central Bank's meeting on Thursday led to a stronger-than-expected dovish shift from the central bank, albeit one that was in line with Lombard Odier's expectations, says Ahmed says. Overall, given the rise of populism sweeping across Europe currently, Lombard Odier is of the view that "it is a political imperative for the ECB to reduce the likelihood of a recession," Ahmed says.

Mar 07 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)

- Oil edged up amid ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against exporters Venezuela and Iran, but price gains were capped by record U.S. crude output and rising commercial fuel inventories.
- Gold prices steadied as dollar traded near its more than two-week high, while lacklustre appetite for riskier assets offered some support to the safe-haven metal ahead of European Central Bank's (ECB) policy meeting due later in the day.
- Shanghai aluminium fell for the third straight day to a near three-week low due to rising inventories and concerns that a supply glut may outstrip demand in top consumer China.
- U.S. wheat futures steadied after falling nearly 14 percent over the past three weeks, but remained under pressure as weak demand for North American stocks kept prices near an 11-month low.

- The U.S. Senate's banking committee has advanced nominees to fill vacancies at the U.S. Export-Import Bank to the full chamber for approval. A favorable vote would allow ExIm to resume its proper work, including what Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg says is $40 billion in a backlog of deals--many for planes. But that is only one hurdle ExIm faces. Mr. Muilenburg says that in September, the export credit agency comes up for reauthorization, which could stir new political battles about the institution.
- Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg sees U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators making progress in their talks. Boeing is caught in the middle, with China a major market for its planes. "It's important we have a productive trade relationship," the Boeing boss says at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce forum. That said, he also signals there is "still some hard work to do" before the two sides can strike a trade deal. Boeing 1.25% lower in a bear market.
- The recent government shutdown harmed firms in about half the Federal Reserve's districts, according to the central bank's latest "beige book" report. Philadelphia coffee shops that serve government workers saw weaker growth as a result of the shutdown, as did a hotel in Asheville, NC, and tourism-related businesses in Washington, DC.

Mar 06 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices slipped as bullish output forecasts by two big U.S. producers and a build in weekly U.S. crude stockpiles outweighed ongoing OPEC-led production cuts.
- Gold prices inched up, after recovering from a more than five-week low in the previous session, supported by a pause in global equities' rally, while a firmer dollar curbed gains.
- Shanghai nickel prices rose sharply as low inventory levels and recovering demand kept the metal used to make stainless steel buoyant.
- U.S. soybeans edged higher, though gains were checked due to fears that an eagerly awaited trade deal between Washington and Beijing would fail to materialise.

- The US planning to scrap preferential trade rights to India which are accorded to some developing countries won't hit much, says Nomura. It notes the program allowed some $5.7 billion of Indian goods to enter the US duty-free. The step follows some recent Indian trade steps seen as protectionist by some, and the investment bank doesn't expect retaliatory measures by New Delhi. The US accounts for 15% of India's exports. Nomura thinks the countries will reach a compromise after India's upcoming election.
- House Democrats will start figuring out what to do about tax breaks that lapsed at the end of 2017. Senators want to revive the breaks, which include incentives for biodiesel producers and short-line railroads. House members have been more circumspect and may seek to tie these provisions to other priorities. A Ways and Means subcommittee will hold a hearing March 12.
- The U.S. should not deliver Lockheed Martin F-35 combat jets to Turkey if Ankara goes ahead with introducing into service the advanced Russian S-400 air defense system, says the head of U.S. military forces in Europe, U.S. Army Gen. Mike Scaparrotti. Turkey has balked at cancelling the deal for the Russian system despite heavy U.S. pressure. If that doesn't change, Gen. Scaporrotti tells the Senate Armed Services Committee "my best military advice would be that we don't then follow through with the F-35."
- As Chinese interest in the EB-5 cash-for-visa program drops, US real-estate developers in search of cheap debt increasingly find it in Vietnam. One reason why interest from China has cooled is long wait times. The US has an annual cap on the number of EB-5 visas that can be issued to citizens of any one country, and the estimated wait time for Chinese applicants is now more than 14 years. The risk is that Vietnamese investors could run into the same issue: their estimated wait is already up to 7.2 years, up from mere months a few years ago.
- Whether the US and China can get to the finish line regarding a trade deal remains unclear to USDA chief economist Robert Johansson. A few days ago, he forecasted that American farm exports would drop $1.9 billion this FY as talks dragged on. He told WSJ at a conference in Australia today that while negotiators are optimistic, US farmers are "notably worried" about falling incomes and lower commodity prices.  The Trump administration has budgeted $12 billion to assist farmers impacted by the dispute. Johansson says if the tariffs are removed, it would collectively boost farm incomes above $80 billion the next few years.

Mar 05 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices fell as China cut its 2019 economic growth target, dimming the outlook for fuel demand, although OPEC-led efforts to cut output still offered some support.
- Gold prices were steady, trading near five-week lows touched in the previous session, as a firmer dollar and optimism over a likely U.S.-China trade deal dented safe-haven appeal of the precious metal.
- Shanghai base metals fell, with nickel retreating from a near five-month high, as the U.S. dollar strengthened and the outlook for demand remained uncertain as China cut its economic growth target but pledged more stimulus measures.
- U.S. soybeans rose for a third consecutive session, as an expected trade agreement between Washington and Beijing stoked hopes of increased demand for North American oilseeds.

- Whether the US and China can get to the finish line regarding a trade deal remains unclear to USDA chief economist Robert Johansson. A few days ago, he forecasted that American farm exports would drop $1.9 billion this FY as talks dragged on. He told WSJ at a conference in Australia today that while negotiators are optimistic, US farmers are "notably worried" about falling incomes and lower commodity prices.  The Trump administration has budgeted $12 billion to assist farmers impacted by the dispute. Johansson says if the tariffs are removed, it would collectively boost farm incomes above $80 billion the next few years.
- A U.S.-China trade deal halting additional tariffs would remove a major overhang on tech stocks like Apple, says Wedbush as it reiterates its outperform rating on the smartphone maker. The biggest trepidation among tech investors heading into 2019 was whether the dreaded 25% stepped-up tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods including tech products would be green-lighted if talks between the pair broke down with no resolution, Wedbush analysts say. "To this point, both countries appear close and in the "final stages" to agreeing a trade agreement that importantly would focus on long-standing intellectual-property issues that have blockaded U.S. technology companies from penetrating the China market for decades," they say.
- Keller Group's U.S. presence could benefit from President Trump's interest in the country's aging infrastructure, says Liberum. The president has stated that infrastructure could be one of the few areas of partnership between Democrats and Republicans, with both parties calling for improvements. "Infrastructure is not growing, but could benefit if Trump follows through on his midterm comments," the brokerage says. Liberum maintains its target price of 980 pence and has a buy rating on the stock.Shares up 13% at 629 pence.
- A fresh wave of optimism stemming from the Wall Street Journal's story this weekend that the US and China are finalizing a trade deal could serve to push US hog futures back up. "I contend (China) will soon need huge amounts of pork so pork they will buy," says Dennis Smith of Archer Financials. "Why not start now with tariffs coming off and US pork sitting at ten year low prices. I'm expecting a rally today but I guess I'll have to see it to believe it." The April contract closed at 56.4 cents per pound on Friday, which is down 15.1% since the start of the year.
- US agricultural futures are expected to see an uptick to begin trading today, amid news that broke over the weekend that both sides of the US-China trade talks expecting a finalized deal by the end of the month. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, both sides expect a deal to be reached in a summit March 27, while Chinese President Xi Jinping is traveling abroad. For grains markets, this is expected to open the door for a frenzy of export selling. "This means that US ag goods could flow back into China without duty for the 1st time since June," says AgResource. "The return of private Chinese demand to the US ag market places a floor under CBOT prices at Friday's low."
- US oil prices rise above $56/bbl early in NY, recouping some of last week's 2.5% decline that was fueled mainly by a tweet from President Trump who said prices were "getting too high." US data last week was very bullish, with domestic inventories of crude oil sliding by 8.6M bbls week-on-week, and a Baker Hughes rig-count report showed a big, 10-rig drop in active oil rigs in the US. But analysts say a sustained rally becomes more difficult if Trump's going to keep pressuring OPEC to relax on production cuts any time WTI prices approach $60/bbl. The Nymex oil contract for April delivery was recently 0.9% higher at $56.28/bbl.
- The Stoxx Europe 600 gains 0.4%, or 1.34 points, to 375.58 as market hopes for an end to the U.S.-China trade row rise. The prospect of a quick end to the nearly year-long impasse is boosting European markets, says Fiona Cincotta at City Index. "U.S. futures are also indicating a higher open as the U.S. and China nudge closer to defining a new trade deal that could see most of the current import restrictions removed and almost all import tariffs removed." Shares in Nordea Bank Abp fell 3.7% Monday after Finnish state broadcaster Yle said it would air a program containing allegations of money laundering at the bank.

Mar 04 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose, buoyed by output cuts by producer club OPEC and reports that the United States and China are close to a deal to end a bitter tariff row that has slowed global economic growth.
- Gold prices inched up, after falling below the critical $1,300 level to their lowest since Jan. 25 in the previous session, as the dollar softened on prospects of a trade deal between China and the United States.
- China's nickel futures rose more than 2 percent to a near five-month high as the metal used to make stainless steel tracked the ferrous complex higher.
- U.S. soybean futures rose 0.5 percent as Beijing and Washington moved closer to solving their trade dispute, stoking expectations of a rise in demand for North American beans.

- The move by Venezuela's opposition to take control of US-based refiner Citgo and end its relationship with Venezuela state-run oil company PdVSA opens up a web of legal uncertainties. One question is whether opposition-controlled Citgo may eventually be able to start importing Venezuelan crude oil again despite US sanctions that currently prohibit this, which could in turn start reviving Venezuelan crude production. Robbie Fraser at Schneider Electric says for now one should expect Venezuelan oil output to keep dropping, but adds "the prospect of some form of oil export deal between the Venezuelan opposition administration of Juan Guaido and the US leaves some limited potential for mitigating losses in the months ahead."
- Former Fed Vice Chairman Fischer offered strongly laudatory remarks about Powell tonight ahead of a speech by the central bank chief. Fischer said Powell has navigated 3 key challenges--slowing growth, a destabilized global trading system and "ongoing political pressure" on the Fed--very well. Under Powell, "the Fed has come through an extremely difficult period with its independence intact," Fischer added while not invoking Trump's name--the likely source of the cited political pressure. Fischer left the Fed in 2017.
- A key US senator says recent Chinese soybean purchases don't come close to fixing the problems global trade disputes have caused for farmers. During a congressional hearing in which USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue heralded recent commitments by China to buy 20M tons of US-grown soybeans, Sen Michael Bennet (D, Colo) says farmers won't accept as a measure of success "modest purchases" of goods farmers would have already sold were it not for trade fights. Perdue reiterates his cautious optimism over US-China trade negotiations, meanwhile advising farmers to do what they've always done: look at the markets and plant the crops they think will reap the most profit, or in many cases "lose the least."

Mar 01 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices climbed as markets tightened amid output cuts by producer club OPEC, but surging U.S. supply and concerns of global economic slowdown kept a lid on further gains.
- Gold prices hit a two-week low as the dollar recouped losses on stronger-than-expected U.S. economic data, while mounting concerns over a slowdown in global growth offered support to the safe-haven metal.
- Copper edged lower, after a private survey showed factory activity in top metals consumer China remained in contraction territory for a third straight month.
- Chicago wheat edged up but remained on track for its biggest weekly loss in half-a-year, trading near its lowest in 11 months as abundant global supply weighed on prices.

- The Stoxx Europe 600 falls 0.34%, or 1.3 points, to 371.28 as investors express disappointment at Donald Trump's failure to reach a deal with North Korea and weak manufacturing data from China. The DAX falls 0.04% and the CAC 40 rises 0.04% after all major Asian indices fall apart from China's Shenzhen A-Share, which rose 0.35%. The Chinese manufacturing report was 49.2, the weakest since early 2016. Still, Wall Street is expected to open only 0.1% lower. "It appears the Dow Jones is prepared to take various global hostilities--specifically the abrupt, unsuccessful end to the U.S.-North Korea summit and the India-Pakistan situation--in its stride," says Connor Campbell at Spreadex.
- The FTSE 100 Index drops 0.8% to 7049.51 as political uncertainty dampened the mood and some corporate results disappointed investors. An abrupt and inconclusive ending to the meeting between Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un and fresh doubts about progress in U.S.-China trade talks unsettled markets, says David Madden at CMC Markets. Shares in RSA Insurance drop 4.3% as 2018 underlying profit fell after large losses hit its London market business. British American Tobacco's stock declines 2.8% after it reported a sharp drop in 2018 pretax profit. Still, shares in Rentokil Initial rise 4.4% after the pest-control and hygiene company posted higher adjusted earnings.
- Listed gun maker stocks rise after the House of representatives backs tightened background checks that include private and show sales. However, Sturm, Ruger and American Outdoor Brands remain off their recent highs. Both rely on new products for around 30% of sales, and these high-margin products are less likely to change hands outside of the licensed dealers covered by existing legislation. For producers, the main issue remains elevated discounting, even if much of the inventory backlog built over the past two years has been dissipated. American Outdoor ends up 2.2%, with Sturm, Ruger gaining 0.5%.
- During an hourslong hearing of the House agricultural committee, Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.) pushes USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue for research to justify a controversial proposal to impose stricter work requirements on millions of Americans receiving federal nutrition assistance. The rule, proposed by USDA in December, would limit states' ability to exempt certain adults from requirements to work in exchange for food stamps. "Is there research to prove that taking someone's SNAP benefits away will help them get a job?" asks McGovern, suggesting lawmakers would take legal action to protect hungry Americans.
- Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue says that in discussions with representatives with Canada and Mexico to discuss the USMCA trade agreement, the topic of removing the Section 232 tariffs on aluminum and steel is one of the top negotiation points. According to Perdue, who is testifying to the House Agricultural Committee this morning, the Trump Administration is moving towards replacing the 25% tariff on steel and 10% on aluminum with quotas described by Perdue as "reasonable." Perdue also reiterated his support of removing metal tariffs in order to secure the ratification of the USMCA. "The removal of the tariffs is in the interest of all," Perdue says.

Feb 28 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices fell amid weakening factory output in China and Japan and record U.S. crude output, although markets remained relatively well supported by supply cuts led by producer club OPEC.
- Gold prices held near two-week lows touched in the previous session, as the dollar recouped losses after cautious comments from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer dented investors' hopes for a closure to the tariff war with China.
- Copper prices moved lower as ultra-tight stocks were overshadowed by a contraction in China manufacturing and a U.S. warning that it was too early to predict the outcome of trade talks with Beijing.
- U.S. soybean prices inched up, but gains were muted as traders worried that an eagerly awaited trade deal between Washington and Beijing remains elusive.

- Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue says that in discussions with representatives with Canada and Mexico to discuss the USMCA trade agreement, the topic of removing the Section 232 tariffs on aluminum and steel is one of the top negotiation points. According to Perdue, who is testifying to the House Agricultural Committee this morning, the Trump Administration is moving towards replacing the 25% tariff on steel and 10% on aluminum with quotas described by Perdue as "reasonable." Perdue also reiterated his support of removing metal tariffs in order to secure the ratification of the USMCA. "The removal of the tariffs is in the interest of all," Perdue says.
- Workers watching the testimony of Michael Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer, could cost employers nearly $4B, according to outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas. The firm, which based its estimates on the average hourly wage and the number of workers who use the Internet at work and are interested in politics, said one hour spent on following the hearing could cost employers more than $1.91B, while two hours could bring the tally to about $3.83B.
- Testimony of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in front of the House Committee on Agriculture, as well as USTR Robert Lighthizer to the House Ways and Means Committee, is expected to move agricultural futures on the CBOT, as well as other commodities in general. "Lighthizer is unlikely to be completely candid on US/China trade progress with talks ongoing," says AgResource. "Key for today's CBOT price action is whether Lighthizer offers additional details on rumors that China has pledged to secure an additional $30 billion of US ag goods annually on top of the pre-trade war levels?" Testimony of both men will begin at 10am ET.
- Oil prices started the day up in London trading Wednesday, as Saudi Arabia reaffirmed its commitment to the latest OPEC-led production-cut agreement. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih--the de facto leader of the oil-cartel--said major producers need to continue to moderate crude oil output through the second half of 2019. Mr. Falih's comments came after President Trump said in a tweet earlier in the week that oil prices were too high and called on OPEC to ramp up supply. The tweet, which is in line with previous criticism of the cartel's production curbs, sent prices lower at the start of the week. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was trading up 0.80% at $65.88 a barrel in early morning trade on London's Intercontinental Exchange.

Feb 27 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose after a report of declining U.S. crude inventories and as producer club OPEC seemed to stick to its supply cuts despite pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump.
- Gold held steady as the dollar traded near three-week lows, after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated that the central bank will be patient in hiking interest rates, while palladium hovered near the psychological level of $1,550.
- Copper slipped as the dollar recovered from a three-month low after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he is in "no rush to make a judgment" about further changes to interest rates.
- U.S. wheat futures edged higher, rebounding from a 10-month low touched in the previous session, though gains were checked amid concerns over international demand for North American supplies.

- European bourses are set for a quiet open, David Madden of CMC Markets UK says. "It was a mixed day in Europe yesterday," Mr. Madden says. "The major equity markets were offside for the first half of the session, as the feelgood factor from the Trump tariff deferral faded," he adds.
- The Congressional Budget Office said Congress will have until the end of September or early October to raise the federal borrowing limit before the government may begin to miss payments to bondholders, federal retirees and other beneficiaries. The limit is suspended through Friday, then the Treasury Department will rely on extraordinary measures to keep paying the government's bills on time. But the Treasury "will probably run out of cash at the end of the fiscal year or early in the next one," unless Congress suspends or increases the borrowing limit, CBO said. That means the true debt limit deadline, or X date, will likely coincide with the deadline for funding the government and avoiding another government shutdown, potentially complicating those negotiations.
- Sen Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, where many drugmakers are located, asked the pharmaceutical executives during a hearing whether their companies lowered the price of their drugs as a result of the tax overhaul that went into effect in January 2018. None of the companies said the tax overhaul directly led to the companies decreasing drug prices. Several said they used the tax benefits on other things, such as investing in research and development. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that prices went down in 2018, which was likely a reference to the company's average net price of Pfizer's portfolio of drugs.
- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's monetary policy testimony "breaks no new ground," Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities, says in a note to clients. The chairman's laundry list of crosscurrents, or downside risks, that he first detailed in January, have helped to stay the Fed's hands, Stanley says. The economist adds that "thankfully, Powell says nothing about where the neutral funds rate might be (he's caused enough market consternation on that topic over the past 6 months!)".
- Days before the Bureau of Economic Analysis is set to release key December data that were delayed by the partial government shutdown, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell provided the central bank's estimates in a Senate hearing. US gross domestic product, he said, likely expanded "a little less than 3%" in 2018. The personal consumption expenditures price index, meanwhile likely rose 1.7% in the 12 months through December, falling short of the Fed's 2% inflation target due to recent declines in energy prices. The BEA is scheduled to report fourth-quarter and full-year GDP on Thursday and December personal income and expenditures Friday.
- Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated many of his recent statements on the economy and monetary policy in his prepared remarks to the Senate Banking Committee. The economy, he said, is healthy and has a favorable outlook, albeit policy makers have seen "some cross-currents and conflicting signals," Mr. Powell said. "Going forward, our policy decisions will continue to be data dependent and will take into account new information as economic conditions and the outlook evolve," he added.
- Opening statements from the top Republican and Democratic senators on the Senate Banking Committee provide a sense of where lawmakers will focus their questions to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at Tuesday's hearing. Sen. Mike Crapo (R, Idaho), the committee's chairman, noted his concern with the size of the Fed's $4 trillion balance sheet, which the Fed has signaled it is likely to stop shrinking later this year. Crapo wants more clarity around why the central bank may stop the run down earlier than anticipated. The panel's top Democrat, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, used his opening statement to chide the Trump administration and the Fed for moving to ease regulations on banks. Brown says the Fed "rushed to the aid of the biggest banks" after the 2008 financial crisis but "did not devote even a fraction of that firepower to helping the rest of America."
- Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's written testimony emphasizes the Fed will continue to be data-dependent in making its future decisions, and said that current conditions are healthy and the outlook is favorable. He acknowledged, however, that he has seen cross currents and conflicting signals in recent months.
- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell demurs when asked if the White House has ever communicated with him about the direction of interest rates. Powell says that's a broad question, then, after a long pause, adds he didn't think it would be appropriate to comment on his conversations with other government officials. Of course President Trump has publicly tweeted about the Fed and rates many times, urging them late last year to hold off on further increases. Powell also dined with the president at the White House residence earlier this month, and meets regularly with other administration officials.
- Fed Chairman Jerome Powell says there's no easy explanation for the decline in the US labor share of income in recent decades, but that globalization likely played a role. He notes the steepest decline in labor share took place between 2000 and 2010, coinciding with China's 2001 entry to the World Trade Organization. Recent wage-growth numbers around 3%--roughly equal to the sum of inflation and productivity growth--are likely enough to stabilize workers' slice of the US economic pie. "The problem is there were 10 years that didn't happen," Powell says.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren says the Federal Reserve's process for approving bank mergers "appears to be a rubber stamp," as the agency is set to review a deal to merge BB&T and SunTrust, which could create the sixth-largest US retail bank. Since 2006, the Fed hasn't said no to any merger application, Warren told Fed Chairman Jerome Powell as he testified before the Senate Banking Committee. "This time, you're going to be listening to comments from the public?" she said, adding the merger if approved could put "yet another too-big-to-fail bank on our hands." Powell said the Fed would "conduct a very fair and open transparent process."
- Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said that estimates of the amount of reserves in the banking system necessary to achieve the Fed's objectives have gone up substantially over the course of the last year. Public estimates of around $1T, plus a buffer, are "a reasonable starting point, an estimate of where we might wind up," Powell told the Senate Banking Committee during his semiannual monetary policy testimony. He reiterated that the demand for reserves will be "very substantially higher than it was before the crisis and will not go back to those levels."
- "Fed Chair Jerome Powell reiterated the FOMC's 'patient' mantra in his semi-annual testimony to Congress, underlining that the Fed is unlikely to raise interest rates any time soon," says Andrew Hunter of Capital Economics, adding Powell also emphasized the Fed's dependency on data in determining future policy moves. Hunter says the Fed is unlikely to raise interest rates again this cycle and that rate cuts are likely by early 2020 if economic growth continues to slow.
- In response to a claim by Sen Mike Rounds (R., SD) that Social Security deficits are going to bankrupt the country, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell urged Congress to address soaring healthcare costs. "The thing that drives our fiscal unsustainability is just healthcare delivery," Powell said, noting that the U.S. spends 17% of GDP on healthcare versus 10% by other developed countries, for "pretty average" outcomes. "It's not that the benefits themselves are too generous, it's that we deliver them in highly inefficient ways," he said. "If I were in your seats - and I'm not - I would think that's a good place to look" for fiscal savings.
- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says he would consult with other governors on whether to join a fellow regulator's proposal to modify the implementation of poor-lending laws. "We are unified in our commitment to the mission," of the Community Reinvestment Act, says Powell before the Senate Banking Committee. Some of the changes proposed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency last August would reduce the geographic focus of the rules, which Fed Governor Lael Brainard, an Obama nominee, has said she wants to keep.
- Fed Chairman Jerome Powell says decades-long declines in both real interest rates and inflation mean that monetary policy faces higher odds of hitting the zero lower bound in future downturns. At that point, the central bank's preferred tool for regulating the economy--interest rates--would be hampered. For that reason, Powell says, "we owe it to the public" to study alternative ways to meet the Fed's stable-price mandate, including flexible inflation targeting. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) urges "great, great caution on this," citing concerns about high inflation.
- Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said "it would be a very big deal" if the US failed to pay all of its bills in full and on time in the event Congress fails to raise the federal borrowing limit. The limit is set to be reinstated on Saturday at $22 trillion, but the Treasury Department will use extraordinary measures to conserve enough cash to keep making payments. Those measures are expected to last at least through the summer, the Bipartisan Policy Center has estimated. Powell told lawmakers a default on US debt is "beyond even considering," and said the government should always pay its bills on time.
- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the Fed is "working hard to try to address," concerns banks have raised about proposed changes to the Volcker Rule, which bans banks from making risky bets with their own money. One of the changes would expand the types of assets that would be presumed as proprietary trading, banks have said in comments responding to the proposal, which was issued by the Fed and four other federal financial regulators last May.
- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the agency would evaluate the proposed merger of BB&T and SunTrust "carefully, fairly and thoroughly and with a lot of transparency." The Fed will have to approve the deal, which would be the largest US bank merger since the financial crisis. "We have a process that we go through in evaluating any merger," said Powell, adding he was expecting to receive the merger application in the next few weeks.
- It's a sign of the times that Fed officials are now facing down marijuana questions. Not about their usage, of course. Instead, it's the issue of how legal marijuana companies gain access to banks. They can't now because on a federal level marijuana is still illegal, which forces these firms to deal in all cash. Sen. Bob Menendez, speaking with Fed Chairman Powell, flags the security risk of these operations due to the cash, and asks if the Fed has any information about clearing this up. Powell doesn't and says "it would be great to have clarity" on the matter. Some at the Fed have warned that as legalization expands, it could create some sort of separate banking system to deal with these companies outside of Fed regulation.
- Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the reinvigorated US domestic oil industry could help guard against potential energy-supply shocks from abroad. He noted that the high inflation of the 1970s was driven in part by soaring oil prices due to overseas supply constraints. "What we have in the economy now is an effective shock absorber," he said of the tight-oil boom, noting that the energy sector is also fueling job growth and broader activity in parts of the country.
- Venezuela's ratcheted-up political crisis and US sanctions fueled a rally in global oil prices earlier this month, but the issue is fading some from radar as markets try to figure out what comes next. The US last month recognized Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president and began aggressive sanctions to choke off Venezuela's crude exports and force President Nicolas Maduro from power. That's left US refiners to buy non-Venezuelan crude, and Venezuela to send more oil to India and China. Meanwhile, street protests haven't dislodged Maduro's grip on power. "The most likely scenario is an attritional political battle ahead," Teneo's Nicholas Watson says. "A prolonged crisis is a challenge for all parties."
- Responding to a senator's question about what keeps him awake at night during a hearing on drug pricing and industry practices, Merck CEO Ken Frazier responded that he is worried about the elimination of a "predictable market" that allows for capital to be invested -- and risked -- to develop drugs. (Recent research from Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that just 14% of drugs in clinical trials eventually reach approval by US regulators.) Frazier said he is concerned that when issues in drug-pricing leads the public to think there needs to be "outrageous solutions" -- perhaps a reference to government price-controls -- the future development of drugs could be jeopardized.
- Opinion polls indicate Canada's Liberal government under pressure from political controversy surrounding the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin Group. The Nanos Research weekly-tracking poll indicate a tightening in the gap between the Liberals and opposition Conservatives, putting both parties in a statistical tie with support in the mid-30% range. Meanwhile, polling from Angus Reid Institute suggests the opposition Conservatives enjoy 38% support versus 31% backing for PM Trudeau-led Liberals. Further, Angus Reid said 66% of survey respondents suggest "there is a deeper scandal" to be uncovered from the SNC affair. The controversy focuses on allegations that Trudeau's aides tried to persuade the former justice minister to reverse course in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin on bribery-and-fraud charges.

Feb 26 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil inched down to extend losses of more than 3 percent from the previous session, easing after U.S. President Donald Trump called on OPEC to rein in its efforts to boost prices.
- Palladium hit a record high, surging above $1,550 as a threatened strike by South African mineworkers added to supply risk concerns in an already tight market, while gold prices edged up on a subdued dollar.
- London copper edged lower as investors awaited their next cue, after a rally driven by signs of dwindling stocks and progress in U.S.-China trade talks had seen prices rise for eight of the past nine sessions.
- Chicago wheat slid for a second session to its lowest in 10 months as the market is being weighed down by abundant global supplies.
- The pound jumped to a near four-week peak against the dollar on reports of a delayed Brexit deadline, and the safe-haven yen moved off the weakest seen this year as a drop in U.S. equity futures checked investors' risk appetite.

- S&P Global Ratings says a closer look raises questions about New Jersey's revenue strength. The state's January revenue report shows general fund cumulative growth faster than fiscal 2019 budgetary benchmarks. But S&P says gross income tax--which is dedicated to property tax relief and not part of the general fund--had big drops in December and January. NJ also got $282M of one-time tax amnesty revenue for a program that concluded Jan 15. All major tax revenue, including income tax, increased 3.0% fiscal year-to-date through January, or 1.3% without the one-time revenue, compared with budgeted fiscal 2019 growth of 7.5%, the ratings agency says. While state monthly revenue reports are typically volatile, continued revenue growth below budget targets could point to longer economic and revenue pressure, S&P says.
- Former Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen, passed over by President Trump for another term as central-bank leader, has some choice words for the president in an interview with radio program Marketplace. She says of Trump: "I doubt that he would even be able to say that the Fed's goals are maximum employment and price stability, which is the goals that Congress have assigned to the Fed." Yellen adds, "He's made comments about the Fed having an exchange-rate objective in order to support his trade plans, or possibly targeting the US balance of trade. And, you know, I think comments like that shows a lack of understanding of the impact of the Fed on the economy and appropriate policy goals."
- The Dow rises 0.7%, while the S&P 500 gains 0.6% and the Nasdaq adds 0.8%, after President Trump said he would delay an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods slated to take place later this week. General Electric leads the S&P after the company said it would sell its biotechnology business to Danaher for $21B in cash. General Electric shares are up 8.3% and Danaher shares are up 8%.
- Morgan Stanley equity strategists say while the trade dispute between the US and China appears to be de-escalating, the economic relationship between the two countries may be impaired for good. "It's hard for us to see that genie getting put completely back in the bottle," they say, which would likely result in slower growth for China and higher costs for companies in the US and ultimately weigh on earnings growth. President Trump said he would delay a planned increase in tariffs on Chinese goods that was set to take effect at the end of the week.
- American depositary receipts in Chinese companies get a double dose of positive news after comments from President Trump and President Xi Jinping. Trump's Sunday announcement of delaying the implementation of increasing tariffs to 25% on a range of Chinese imports gave investors hope that an end to the trade detente could emerge from an economic summit between leaders of each nation. Meanwhile, analysts say recent remarks from Xi have helped assuage some concerns about economic growth in China. Amid a broader rise in US financial markets, ADRs in Alibaba rise 3%, while ADRs in JD.com and Vipshop rise 1.8% and 4.9%, respectively.
- Canaccord says activity in interest-rate swap spreads are signaling another surge in corporate borrowing for buybacks, similar to what was seen in the two years following the 2015-2016 stock-market correction. "While swap spreads are again acting in the same fashion for the same reason, investors (or perhaps, more accurately, Wall Street buyback desks) are not waiting," the firm says. "They have once again elevated buyback names into a leadership position coming out of this winter's correction." In recent weeks, a number of politicians criticized buybacks and Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders proposed legislation that would limit share buybacks earlier this month.
- News Friday that Chinese buyers plan to secure an additional 10M metric tons of US soybeans, combined with President Trump's announcement via Twitter that increases of tariffs on Chinese goods would be delayed from their March 1 date, has filled the US agricultural market with a new wave of optimism. It's unclear yet though how much this optimism will translate into higher grains futures prices on the CBOT. "If beans go higher on trade optimism, corn is likely to keep pace on a relative basis," says Doug Bergman of RCM Alternatives. Analysts speculate that if Trump announces a summit with Chinese President Xi in Florida, then a deal will likely be signed there.
- US benchmark crude oil prices drop by nearly $2/bbl after President Trump sends an early-morning tweet urging lower oil prices. "Oil prices getting too high. OPEC, please relax and take it easy. World cannot take a price hike - fragile!" says Trump's tweet. WTI was 0.2% higher on the day near a three-month high of $57.43/bbl just before the tweet was published, and is now 2.5% lower at $55.84. Phil Flynn at Price Futures in Chicago, suggested OPEC won't heed the US leader's advice. "If he thinks OPEC is going to help him out, forget about it."
- Longtime Democrat Warren Buffett says on CNBC he would support Michael Bloomberg if he announced a presidential run. Buffett campaigned for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Of Bloomberg, Buffett says, "I think he knows how to run things. ... He understands people, he understands the market system and he understands the problems of people" who don't benefit from the market system. Buffett also says that it would be a mistake for Howard Schultz to run as an independent candidate, because he would take votes away from a Democratic candidate. "I hope no third-party candidate runs," he says.
- U.S. President Donald Trump tweeting that he plans a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida if both sides make further headway in trade negotiations "provide the strongest signal yet that President Trump wants to sign a trade deal with China," says MUFG. This "would significantly reduce the risk of a further escalation in global trade tensions," MUFG says. USD/CNY fell to a seven-month low of 6.6890 on the back of this. Mr. Trump said he was postponing the March 1 deadline of increasing tariffs on $200 billion Chinese imports after "substantial" progress in talks. He said progress had been made on structural issues including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture, services and currency.
- Any memorandum of understanding signed between the U.S. and China regarding their bilateral trade dispute could grind European investment-grade corporate bond spreads tighter, Commerzbank's Cem Keltek says, bolstering the recovery of IG credit in Europe. Even the extension of the previous March 1 deadline, when the U.S. had said it would increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25% from 10% if no agreement was reached, "could do the trick," he says.

Feb 25 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics ( WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices dipped, dragged down by plentiful supply as U.S. exports soar and compete with traditional producers from the Middle East in key markets such as Asia.
- Gold prices edged up as the dollar fell against the yuan after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would delay an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods, while palladium surged to a record high.
- London copper prices raced past $6,500 a tonne for the first time since July, after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would delay an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods, while tin touched a 10-month peak after an accident-hit Chinese miner stopped production.
- Chicago soybeans climbed nearly 1 percent to their highest in nearly two weeks as expectations of a trade agreement between Washington and Beijing underpinned the market.

- Market sentiment toward the U.S.-China trade negotiations has been lifted by reports that President Trump will meet with trade envoy and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Washington later in the day, MUFG says. "The market seems to be taking this as a sign that the negotiations have progressed sufficiently to warrant a meeting between these two leaders," MUFG says. The dollar is higher by 0.2% at 110.88 against the safe-haven Japanese yen, while most emerging-market currencies are rallying and Chinese equities have "found some support." Focus is centered on next Friday--the March 1 deadline for the two sides to reach a deal before the U.S. increases tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports.
- A Bloomberg report Wednesday that the US wants China to keep the yuan stable--coming up as part of the country's trade talks--has helped boost the Chinese currency the past 2 days. But what stable might mean remains to be seen, notes Nomura. In any event, "any such clause, whether against USD or a basket of currencies, would do much more harm than good" to both countries' economies, the investment bank adds. "Surely, China should not weaponize its currency during trade conflicts. But requiring a 'stable' yuan deviates too much from pushing China for structural reforms."
- A Democratic member of FERC's board allied with two Republican Trump appointees to end a stalemate over permitting Venture Global LNG's Calcasieu Pass gas-export facility in Louisiana. Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur made the vote 3-1. Though asking for more disclosure and analysis on the impacts from climate change, she also wrote that in FERC's limited oversight the project's known impacts don't make it inconsistent with the public interest. It isn't certain  LaFleur will strike a similar deal on future projects, but administration officials are characterizing today's vote as a turning point. Manpower shortages and internal debate over the impact of greenhouse-gas emissions from natural-gas-export terminals have blocked permit approvals for months, undermining a pillar of Trump's energy and foreign policy.
- Canada's top public servant told lawmakers Thursday he met with the former justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, on Dec. 19 to discuss the context surrounding a decision to press on with a prosecution of SNC-Lavalin Group. "Part of my conversation," he said, "was conveying context that there were a lot of people worried about what would happen," if SNC-Lavalin was found guilty on bribery-and-fraud charges, originally filed in 2015. "The consequences--not for her, the consequences for the workers, the communities and suppliers." Later, he told reporters the consequences he mentioned in testimony referred to SNC-Lavalin warnings about pursuing different options, perhaps a sale, to protect shareholders in the event of an unsuccessful defense against bribe-and-fraud charges.
- Canada's chief bureaucrat--one of the country's most powerful officials--spoke to lawmakers about the political controversy focused on SNC-Lavalin Group's efforts to secure an out-of-court settlement over bribery-and-fraud charges. Michael Wernick said at a parliamentary justice committee there was never any "inappropriate pressure" on the former justice minister to drop a criminal prosecution against the Montreal-based engineering and construction company. Despite a massive lobbying effort by SNC-Lavalin, he said, the company didn't get the out-of-court settlement it wanted. "If it is a movie, it is a flop," he said of SNC-Lavalin's lobbying efforts. The uproar over allegations that aides of Canada PM Trudeau tried to interfere in a prosecution prompted the resignation of a cabinet minister and Trudeau's chief aide and close friend.
- The White House says it is ending negotiations with California regulators over vehicle-efficiency rules. In a statement, the Trump administration blames the California Air Resources Board for the impasse and says it plans to finalize rules for cars and trucks later this year. The administration's proposal from last summer would end the state's ability to set its own fuel-efficiency standards and eliminate sharp increases in national fuel-economy mandates that had been approved under President Obama. The Trump administration had been trying to finalize its rules by the end of March. "Despite the Administration's best efforts to reach a common-sense solution, it is time to acknowledge that CARB has failed to put forward a productive alternative," the release says, giving no further details. California leaders are expected to respond later this afternoon.
- Sturm, Ruger CEO Chris Killoy says he expected an uptick in firearms demand after the midterm elections. It didn't happen. A Democrat-controlled House may have made noises regarding stricter gun controls, which in the past has been a trigger for higher firearms and ammo sales, but that didn't trigger more demand. Killoy says on an investor call that competition remains intense, with the promotions that have dinged margins continuing. Shares down more than $4 after 4Q earnings miss, with American Outdoor Brands off more than 1%.
- A finalized USMCA deal between the US, Canada, and Mexico will likely go through Congress and be finished by this summer, US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said during the USDA's Agricultural Outlook Forum this morning. Perdue--joined by Canadian Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay and Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Victor Villalobos Arambula--did note that the timeline for the deal's finalization was subject to change, based on the politics between President Trump and the US Congress.

Feb 22 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices hovered close to 2019 highs, bolstered by OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, but were prevented from rising further by slowing growth in the global economy.
- Gold was trading below the previous session's 10-month peak as the dollar inched up after minutes from the last U.S. Federal Reserve meeting rekindled expectations of another rate hike this year.
- London copper prices edged lower, retreating from a seven-month peak hit in the previous session.
- Chicago wheat futures edged higher as the market took a breather after falling nearly 8 percent over the past four sessions, triggered by a lack of demand for U.S. supplies.

- Canada's chief bureaucrat--one of the country's most powerful officials--spoke to lawmakers about the political controversy focused on SNC-Lavalin Group's efforts to secure an out-of-court settlement over bribery-and-fraud charges. Michael Wernick said at a parliamentary justice committee there was never any "inappropriate pressure" on the former justice minister to drop a criminal prosecution against the Montreal-based engineering and construction company. Despite a massive lobbying effort by SNC-Lavalin, he said, the company didn't get the out-of-court settlement it wanted. "If it is a movie, it is a flop," he said of SNC-Lavalin's lobbying efforts. The uproar over allegations that aides of Canada PM Trudeau tried to interfere in a prosecution prompted the resignation of a cabinet minister and Trudeau's chief aide and close friend.
- The White House says it is ending negotiations with California regulators over vehicle-efficiency rules. In a statement, the Trump administration blames the California Air Resources Board for the impasse and says it plans to finalize rules for cars and trucks later this year. The administration's proposal from last summer would end the state's ability to set its own fuel-efficiency standards and eliminate sharp increases in national fuel-economy mandates that had been approved under President Obama. The Trump administration had been trying to finalize its rules by the end of March. "Despite the Administration's best efforts to reach a common-sense solution, it is time to acknowledge that CARB has failed to put forward a productive alternative," the release says, giving no further details. California leaders are expected to respond later this afternoon.
- Sturm, Ruger CEO Chris Killoy says he expected an uptick in firearms demand after the midterm elections. It didn't happen. A Democrat-controlled House may have made noises regarding stricter gun controls, which in the past has been a trigger for higher firearms and ammo sales, but that didn't trigger more demand. Killoy says on an investor call that competition remains intense, with the promotions that have dinged margins continuing. Shares down more than $4 after 4Q earnings miss, with American Outdoor Brands off more than 1%.
- A finalized USMCA deal between the US, Canada, and Mexico will likely go through Congress and be finished by this summer, US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said during the USDA's Agricultural Outlook Forum this morning. Perdue--joined by Canadian Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay and Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Victor Villalobos Arambula--did note that the timeline for the deal's finalization was subject to change, based on the politics between President Trump and the US Congress.

Feb 21 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices hovered close to 2019 highs, bolstered by OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, but were prevented from rising further by slowing growth in the global economy.
- Gold was trading below the previous session's 10-month peak as the dollar inched up after minutes from the last U.S. Federal Reserve meeting rekindled expectations of another rate hike this year.
- London copper prices edged lower, retreating from a seven-month peak hit in the previous session.
- Chicago wheat futures edged higher as the market took a breather after falling nearly 8 percent over the past four sessions, triggered by a lack of demand for U.S. supplies.

- Stunted demand for hog products along with increased pork production is factoring into the big fall of pork futures today. According to USDA data, last week the estimated national pork cutout value was down 17% from the same time last year, at $64.07 per hundredweight. This while US pork production was 534M pounds, 7.1% higher than a year ago. Complicating issues are the existing tariffs on US pork. "Beyond the year-over-year price pressure on hogs caused by increased supply, new tariffs have exacerbated the situation," Steiner Consulting says. "Regarding the retaliatory tariff by Mexico against US pork items, to remain competitive with Canada and Brazil, US prices dropped for ham and related items." April pork futures on the CME are currently down 4.7%.
- The trade spat between the U.S. and China is hurting market sentiment more than it is hurting actual global trade, says Lina Fransson, fixed income strategist at SEB. The recent zero tariffs trade agreement between Europe and Japan is likely to offset the tariffs the U.S. has imposed on China and vice versa, Ms. Fransson says. Foreign exchange markets, as well as equity markets, have swung up and down on U.S.-China disputes as they became more acute. However, investors expect both parties to reach an agreement eventually and daily news headlines on U.S.-China trade negotiations aren't impacting currencies anymore.
- Airline stocks are falling in premarket trading after Southwest disclosed that it took a greater than expected hit from the government shutdown at the start of the year. Southwest shares are trading down 4.5% after the carrier said the shutdown cost it $60M, compared to the $10M to $15M it previously expected. American Airlines, which has not put a dollar value on the impact of the shutdown, is off 1.6%. Delta is down 1.2% and United Continental down 1.5%.
- US corn futures will likely react to comments made by President Trump yesterday after the market's close, in which he said that China would be buying "a lot more than anyone thought possible." Grains traders and analysts have been optimistic that a US-China trade deal would include increased levels of both corn and soybean exports to China. However, the March 1 deadline is quickly approaching for a deal to be reached, and so far there is no sign that a deal will be reached by then. US and Chinese representatives will begin meeting in Washington DC today to discuss a deal. March corn futures fell by 1.5% to end the day yesterday.
- The FTSE 100 edges up 0.13% to 7188.24 after annual results from Lloyds Banking Group and a fall in sterling amid political chaos in the U.K. Shares in Lloyds are among the biggest top-flight risers, up 2.8% after the U.K.-focused bank set out plans for a major share buyback and fast-tracked cost-cutting targets, though it missed profit expectations. Sainsbury's is the biggest faller, down 14% after regulators said the grocer's proposed merger with Walmart Inc-owned rival Asda would substantially reduce competition. The pound drops 0.17% against the dollar to $1.3040 after a Labour lawmaker defected to the newly formed Independent Group and rumors swirled about potential defections to the IG from the Tories.
- Canada remains optimistic about the fate of USMCA in Congress. Concern has mounted that the new Nafta could be complicated by efforts by Democrats to insert provisions in the pact that ensures Mexico lives up to promises on environmental protection and labor rights. "I think the enforcement mechanisms can be addressed in side letters," David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador to US, says at an Ottawa event hosted by Canadian Global Affairs Institute. He adds that when the revised North American trade deal "comes up for an up or down vote, Congress will pass it." The biggest issue, he says, is when Congress holds a vote on USMCA "because there is so much else going on" in Washington, led by the uproar over President Trump's emergency declaration on a US-Mexico wall.
- Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó says several European governments have agreed to provide humanitarian donations amid a political showdown with President Nicolás Maduro over aid. Italy, Spain, Germany and the UK will donate more than $18M, while France agreed to send 70 tons of food and medicine, he says. Backed by the US, Guaidó plans to use aid to create a rift between the military and Maduro by pressuring border officials to disobey his orders and allow donations into Venezuela. They believe that would be key to removing Maduro from power. But if the aid blocked during a push to deliver it this Saturday, analysts say that would also further hurt Maduro's image for denying donations to poor Venezuelans.

Feb 20 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices slipped away from 2019 highs, with surging U.S. supply and slowing economic growth tempering upward pressure from supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and from Washington's sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.
- Palladium prices broke above $1,500 for the first time due to a prolonged supply deficit, while gold rose to a fresh 10-month high as the dollar struggled before the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting minutes.
- London copper prices rose for a sixth consecutive session, striking a fresh two-month high on hopes of a trade deal between China and the United States.
- Chicago wheat rose, underpinned by bargain-buying after falling for the last three sessions to its lowest since late October on concerns over weak demand for U.S. supplies.

- Walmart benefited from the government shutdown, with comparable food sales helped by the decision from federal officials to release February food-stamp program funds early, a decision that was meant to ensure recipients didn't miss out on benefits had the shutdown dragged on. The retailer flags its overall grocery business as a strong performer in its quarter that ended in January, citing gains due to private brands, lower prices and ecommerce initiatives. Comparable domestic grocery sales rose by the mid-single digits in the quarter. Walmart shares rise 3.2% premarket.
- The resumption of talks between US and Chinese delegates in Washington this week all but assure that the grains markets will be closely watching any international trade news. The talks follow a round held in Beijing last week, which did not yield any new results. For both corn and soybeans, this marks another week that traders will be hesitant to quickly offload supplies. "Another round of talks is scheduled in Washington this week and traders just do not want to be caught short should there be an announcement of a US/China Ag package that could include corn," says Tomm Pfitzenmaier of Summit Commodity Brokerage.
- RBC raises the potential of oil-supply disruption out of Nigeria as Africa's largest producer at the last minute delayed elections for a week. That could mar voter turnout and lead to charges of irregularities, the investment bank says, possibly fueling violence similar to that seen previously. Attacks on energy infrastructure might result in daily production falling up to 1 million barrels/day as a time fellow OPEC members are adhering to new output caps. April Brent is down 0.4% at $66.22, reversing Monday's gain.

Feb 19 - DJ Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (AgriCensus)
- Brent crude oil prices eased away from 2019 highs on caution that economic growth may dent fuel demand this year, although supply cuts led by producer cartel OPEC still meant markets were relatively tight.
- Gold prices hovered near 10-month highs as optimism around U.S.-China trade discussions dimmed the dollar's appeal, while palladium struck a record high on supply concerns.
- Shanghai aluminium prices fell, after Malaysia said it would not extend a moratorium on mining bauxite when it expires on March 31, potentially reducing costs in the aluminium supply chain for top producer China.
- Chicago soybean futures rose for a second session as optimism about a trade deal between Washington and Beijing underpinned the market.

- Fears that the U.S. will impose tariffs on European car imports is keeping auto makers' corporate bond spreads wider than the broader trend in European credit, says Commerzbank's Marco Stoeckle. The German bank remains underweight the sector as the introduction of tariffs would likely have "dire consequences" for European car makers, with Germany bearing the brunt. Citing a recent study from the Ifo Institute for Economic Research in Germany, Mr Stoeckle says a 25% duty would slash car exports to the U.S. by half in the long-run, subtracting EUR18.4 billion from German exports and reducing the value-added of the German car industry by 5%.
- The FTSE 100 is expected to open 6 points higher at 7242, according to London Capital Group, as optimism that trade talks between the U.S. and China will result in a deal lifts sentiment toward equities and riskier assets. "High level officials including U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer and China's vice premier will attend the talks, boosting confidence that progress will be made," says Jasper Lawler, analyst at LCG. Companies in focus include miner Anglo American and consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser after both reported earnings. Trade could be muted though as U.S. markets are closed for the President's day holiday.

Feb 18 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices hit their highest levels since November last year, lifted by OPEC-led supply cuts, U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, and hopes that the Afro-American trade dispute may soon end.
- Gold prices rose to their strongest level in more than two weeks as the dollar weakened on hopes the United States and China are nearing a trade deal, while palladium hit a record high.
- Shanghai base metals rose, buoyed by optimism over the demand outlook, after Chinese lending increased and Sino-U.S. trade talks continued.
- U.S. wheat futures fell to multimonth lows on Friday, despite broad strength in commodity and equity markets as grain traders monitored bearish technical signals as well as falling prices in the global cash wheat market.

- The safe-haven Japanese yen "is the night's top performer," says RBC. The dollar falls by 0.2% against the yen to 110.28 as U.S.-China trade talks make little progress. Adding further uncertainty, President Trump could declare a national emergency to get full funding for his Mexico border wall. President Trump is at the same time due to sign the spending bill, which included just a fraction of what he asked for to be spent for the wall. The signing of the spending bill would avoid another U.S. government shutdown.
- Nordic markets are tipped to edge lower Friday with IG calling the OMXS30 down 0.5% at around 1555. "Asian equities are trading in the 'red' this morning after a sour U.S. session hit by the retail sales miss, stories that the U.S. and China remain far apart in trade negotiations and Chinese PPI figures falling short of expectations," says Danske Bank. Danske expects markets to stay alert to news from Beijing, as high-level trade talks continue. "Also, we believe focus will remain on the risk of a new partial U.S. government shutdown." Still, at this stage, it seems President Donald Trump will sign the spending bill Congress has passed, avoiding another shutdown. OMXS30 closed at 1562.36, OMXN40 at 1528.71 and OBX at 777.86.
- TransCanada expects the Nebraska state supreme court to reach a decision on the state's controversial approval of the Keystone XL pipeline expansion by the end of March, says CEO Russ Girling. Opponents have said the pipeline's route through the state was wrongfully approved. Meantime, the company has received approval from 80% of the state's affected landowners for construction easements through their territory, Girling says. TransCanada is coordinating with the US justice department to appeal other blocks to the pipeline, including one in Montana, and won't start construction until all approvals are granted. Shippers have so far claimed all the space available on the pipeline, he adds, in a call with analysts.
- Amazon's decision to scrap its planed HQ2 in New York could boost Nashville's economy, SunTrust says. Analysts think Amazon will redirect to Nashville some of the roughly 25,000 jobs it was planning to bring to the Big Apple. That should be good for banks like Pinnacle Financial, FB Financial, First Horizon and Regions Financial, SunTrust says.
- DA Davidson analysts think Amazon's decision to cancel its plans to open a headquarters in New York City amid criticism from politicians could be a bluff rather than a final decision, as a way to bring the government back to the table. "We have a difficult time believing the company would have invested so much time and energy in selecting a second city for a new headquarters (in this case announcing two/three - Northern Virginia, New York City, and Nashville) only to throw in the towel on the first significant blowback," analysts say. "We will continue to monitor the situation as, in our view, the company may not, in fact, be pulling the plug on New York City."
- The news that Amazon is ditching plans for a major office in New York will likely disappoint New York-centric real estate investors and developers, who expected the deal would further cement the city's status as a tech hub. Earlier this week, Vornado Realty Trust CEO Steven Roth told analysts on a conference call that if "the political climate in New York blows this deal, it would be the stupidest damn thing I've ever seen. And that's what I think." He said on the call he was fairly confident Amazon would open the office, despite the recent pushback on the deal.
- Shares of real estate company JBG Smith Properties are rising after Amazon said it's abandoning its plans to build a new headquarters in New York City amid backlash from local politicians and it will continue to add jobs at its other headquarters location in Northern Virginia. Back in November, JBG Smith Properties agreed to lease 500K square feet to Amazon in Arlington and sell property that offers up to 4.1M square feet of development rights. JBG Smith shares, which were trading lower prior to the announcement, are up 0.9% to $40.33.
- Most miners are in positive territory after upbeat Chinese trade data bolstered metal prices. Chilean copper miner Antofagasta is the sector's top riser, up 0.7%, as the price of copper gains 0.9% and other base-metal prices also climb. Chinese exports jumped 9.1% versus an expected decline of 3.2%, while imports fell 1.5%, better than expectations of a 10% drop. "Copper climbs for the second day as China's export-import data highlights surprise gains and President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a delay to the deadline to secure a trade deal," analysts at commodity equity brokerage S.P. Angel note.

Feb 15 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Brent crude oil prices hit 2019 highs above $65 per barrel, spurred by OPEC-led supply cuts and a partial shutdown of Saudi Arabia's biggest offshore oil field.
- Gold traded in a tight $3 range as concerns over an economic slowdown supported prices for the safe-haven metal and a firm dollar kept a lid on gains.
- London copper prices slipped after China's factory-gate price growth missed expectations and as investors awaited the outcome of Sino-U.S. trade talks in Beijing.
- Chicago soybean futures ticked higher, although the market was set for a third week of decline with pressure on prices from China cancelling U.S. soybean cargoes.

- DA Davidson analysts think Amazon's decision to cancel its plans to open a headquarters in New York City amid criticism from politicians could be a bluff rather than a final decision, as a way to bring the government back to the table. "We have a difficult time believing the company would have invested so much time and energy in selecting a second city for a new headquarters (in this case announcing two/three - Northern Virginia, New York City, and Nashville) only to throw in the towel on the first significant blowback," analysts say. "We will continue to monitor the situation as, in our view, the company may not, in fact, be pulling the plug on New York City." Amazon shares are down 0.6% to $1630.15.
- The news that Amazon is ditching plans for a major office in New York will likely disappoint New York-centric real estate investors and developers, who expected the deal would further cement the city's status as a tech hub. Earlier this week, Vornado Realty Trust CEO Steven Roth told analysts on a conference call that if "the political climate in New York blows this deal, it would be the stupidest damn thing I've ever seen. And that's what I think." He said on the call he was fairly confident Amazon would open the office, despite the recent push back on the deal.
- DC-area defense and tech companies ask whether Amazon might accelerate its hiring plans in the region after dumping a planned regional headquarters in New York. Recruitment specialist Glassdoor lists 186 job openings by Amazon in the DC region, including four directly related to Pentagon work and more tied to cybersecurity and data analytics. Defense-company executives have been split on the effect of Amazon's expansion to as many as 25K workers, with some fearing a tougher labor market while others argue it could attract a broader talent pool.
- Amazon cancels plans to build a major campus in Queens despite it polling well in New York state. High-profile opposition from some politicians, including US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and state Sen Mike Gianaris, contrasted with strong support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who offered up to $3B in tax incentives to Amazon. Cuomo and DeBlasio said the campus would diversify the economy and generate $27B in revenue over 25 years. WSJ reported Tuesday the Siena Research Institute found 56% of voters statewide supported the project, while 36% were opposed. City residents favored the project 58%-35%, while the least enthusiastic group across racial, political, economic, age and regional divisions were upstate voters--who were split 46%-46%. The poll, taken Feb. 4-7, included 778 registered New York state voters and had a margin of error of +/- 4.3%.
- The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board fund will continue to invest "steadily and prudently" in China, although it is "alive to any potential emerging risks," CEO Mark Machin tells WSJ. Despite tensions stemming from China-US trade negotiations and the Chinese government's anger over Canada's extradition arrest of a senior Huawei executive on behalf of the United States, Machin says there are investment opportunities in the Asian country for "patient long term investors." CPPIB is Canada's largest pension fund with C$368.5B of net assets, of which about 8% are invested in China.
- Most miners are in positive territory after upbeat Chinese trade data bolstered metal prices. Chilean copper miner Antofagasta is the sector's top riser, up 0.7%, as the price of copper gains 0.9% and other base-metal prices also climb. Chinese exports jumped 9.1% versus an expected decline of 3.2%, while imports fell 1.5%, better than expectations of a 10% drop. "Copper climbs for the second day as China's export-import data highlights surprise gains and President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a delay to the deadline to secure a trade deal," analysts at commodity equity brokerage S.P. Angel note.
- Nordic markets are seen opening slightly higher Thursday with IG calling the OMXS30 up 0.3% at around 1563. "U.S. equities ended yesterday in green on the back of not least Trump further opening the door for an extension of the trade truce with China if the parties were close to a "real deal"," says Danske Bank. Meanwhile, comments from Senator Marco Rubio that he intends to submit a bill to tax corporate buybacks limited the equity rally, Danske adds. "This morning most Asian equity indices are trading flat in a fairly eventless session as markets await news from Beijing on trade talks." OMXS30 closed at 1558.58, OMXN40 at 1527.30 and OBX at 777.86.
- Airbus, now out with 2019 guidance, is poised to once more end the year behind rival Boeing. Airbus says it will hand over 880 to 890 planes this year after delivering 800 in 2018. Boeing shares have taken off in recent weeks after the company promised to build as many as 905 airliners this year, an industry record, up from the 806 high it set last year. Airbus also promises EUR4 billion in free cash flow before mergers and acquisitions and customer financing last year. Boeing has promised as much as $17.5 billion operating cashflow in 2019.
- Cisco says it dodged significant fallout from the trade fight between the US and China as it posted strong F2Q growth in sales of its networking gear even as it raised prices to deal with the spat. The Trump administration's 10% tariffs on Chinese-produced goods went into effect in late September, and hit a collection of switches and routers, some of which Cisco makes in China and imports to the US. "We have navigated them incredibly well and I think the results would tell you that they didn't have much of an impact," Cisco chief executive Chuck Robbins tells WSJ. The White House has threatened to boost tariffs further March 1 to 25% if the two countries don't resolve their differences. Robbins believes the US and China are making progress, and that the deadline could be pushed out if they are close to an agreement. "I remain optimistic, probably more optimistic today than I was 30 days ago," he says.
- Despite a recent push from politicians to rein in buybacks, Cisco's board of directors has approved a $15B increase to the authorization of its stock-repurchase program, bringing the total remaining authorized amount to $24B. The company also boosts its quarterly dividend by 2c to 35c. "Our increased dividend and share repurchase authorization show confidence in the strength of our ongoing cash flows and reinforce our commitment to returning capital to our shareholders," Cisco's CFO Kelly Kramer says. Earlier today, Senator Marco Rubio joined a long list of politicians in criticizing buybacks, saying on Twitter the tax code "discourages (the) best aspect of (the) free market by giving buybacks a deferral advantage over dividends or investment," and that he will soon file a bill to eliminate that
advantage.
- Attempts to revive and extend expired tax breaks have reached a "dead end for now," said Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley (R., Iowa.) The breaks include tax credits for biodiesel and for short-line railroads that lapsed at the end of 2017. Grassley said the Senate can't act until it gets a House bill, because tax bills must start in the House.

Feb 14 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose buoyed by hopes that potential progress in the latest Sino-U.S. tariff talks would improve the global economic outlook, and as China's trade figures including crude imports beat forecasts.
- Gold prices edged higher as soft U.S. inflation data raised expectations that the Federal Reserve will pause rate hikes this year, while investors were looking for developments in trade talks between Washington and Beijing.
- London copper prices moved higher for a second session after better-than-expected trade data from top copper consumer China, while investors awaited the outcome of high-level Sino-U.S. trade talks in Beijing.
- Chicago soybean futures slid for a second straight session although easing trade tensions between Washington and Beijing kept a floor under the market.
- The dollar held near three-month highs versus the euro supported by sustained strength in core U.S. inflation and weaker-than-expected data out of Europe.

- Cisco says it dodged significant fallout from the trade fight between the US and China as it posted strong F2Q growth in sales of its networking gear even as it raised prices to deal with the spat. The Trump administration's 10% tariffs on Chinese-produced goods went into effect in late September, and hit a collection of switches and routers, some of which Cisco makes in China and imports to the US. "We have navigated them incredibly well and I think the results would tell you that they didn't have much of an impact," Cisco chief executive Chuck Robbins tells WSJ. The White House has threatened to boost tariffs further March 1 to 25% if the two countries don't resolve their differences. Robbins believes the US and China are making progress, and that the deadline could be pushed out if they are close to an agreement. "I remain optimistic, probably more optimistic today than I was 30 days ago," he says.
- Despite a recent push from politicians to rein in buybacks, Cisco's board of directors has approved a $15B increase to the authorization of its stock-repurchase program, bringing the total remaining authorized amount to $24B. The company also boosts its quarterly dividend by 2c to 35c. "Our increased dividend and share repurchase authorization show confidence in the strength of our ongoing cash flows and reinforce our commitment to returning capital to our shareholders," Cisco's CFO Kelly Kramer says. Earlier today, Senator Marco Rubio joined a long list of politicians in criticizing buybacks, saying on Twitter the tax code "discourages (the) best aspect of (the) free market by giving buybacks a deferral advantage over dividends or investment," and that he will soon file a bill to eliminate that
advantage.
- Attempts to revive and extend expired tax breaks have reached a "dead end for now," said Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley (R., Iowa.) The breaks include tax credits for biodiesel and for short-line railroads that lapsed at the end of 2017. Grassley said the Senate can't act until it gets a House bill, because tax bills must start in the House.
- European shares close higher, with the STOXX Europe 600 index ending up 0.6% at 364.97, as the prospect of a breakthrough in U.S.-China trade talks lifts risk appetite, boosting equities globally. Spanish stocks underperformed, however, after lawmakers blocked the Socialists' 2019 budget bill, raising the chances that Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's leadership will be challenged by snap elections. Spain's Ibex 35 index ends flat as a result, while Germany's DAX rises 0.4% and France's CAC 40 closes up 0.4%. U.K. stocks outperform, benefiting from a weaker pound and gains for miners, with the FTSE 100 index ending up 0.8%, while Italy's FTSE MIB closes up 0.9%. Dutch lender ABN Amro is the biggest pan-European faller after it said fourth-quarter net profit plunged 42% as it booked impairment charges.
- The Dow is up 0.4% as stocks are supported by optimism about ongoing trade negotiations between the US and China, as well as reports that President Trump will likely sign a border-security deal that would keep the government open. The S&P 500 rises 0.3%, led by gains in the energy group. Of the 11 sectors, all but utilities are trading higher. After beating earnings and revenue expectations, Hilton Worldwide is leading the index, with shares up 6.3%.
- Nordic markets are set to open slightly higher Wednesday with IG calling the OMXS30 up 0.5% at around 1557. Stock markets continued to rally overnight in Asia, driven by rising optimism that the U.S. and China will strike a trade deal fairly soon and that it will drive a recovery in the global economy, says Danske Bank. "U.S. President Donald Trump indicated he could let the ceasefire deadline of Mar. 1 slide a little if a real trade deal with China was close," says Danske Bank. "He also said he expects to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to close the deal at some point." Trump also played down the risk of another government shutdown, Danske adds. OMXS30 closed at 1549.41, OMXN40 at 1514.55 and OBX at 784.03.

Feb 13 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose as producer club OPEC said it had cut supply deeply in January and as U.S. sanctions hit Venezuela's oil exports.
- Gold firmed slightly as investors held onto the safe-haven metal while seeking more clarity on Sino-U.S. trade talks, and as volatility in the dollar provided further support.
- London copper prices rose heading for their first session of gain in five, after U.S. President Donald Trump said he could see the deadline for a trade agreement with top metals consumer China being pushed back.
- U.S. soybean futures inched back towards a five-day high hit the day before, buoyed by hopes of deal to end a trade dispute between Washington and Beijing.

- US stocks open higher after top lawmakers reach an agreement in principle to fund border security that could prevent another partial government shutdown. The S&P 500 is up 0.9% and the Dow is up 1% as investors also wait to see whether the US and China will make progress in trade negotiations this week. "Trade talks with China are ramping up again, but with little to no news coming out (of) Beijing to assess the progress at this point," says Arlan Suderman of INTL FCStone, adding that volatility could increase as March 1, the deadline for both a deal between the US and China and the debt ceiling increase, approaches.
- The Chinese copper market needs to generate more scrap domestically in order to fulfill its copper needs -- some 250,000 metric tons worth, according to Colin Hamilton with BMO Global Commodities Research. This need for copper comes from China's increasing bans on imported foreign scrap, while Chinese copper demand continues to grow at a projected 3%, or 425,000 tons. "Over the years, various parts of the copper value chain have contributed to providing for Chinese growth, and the key debate at this time each year is what will have to step up," says Hamilton. "This year is no different." The copper 3-month contract on the London Metal Exchange is currently trading at $6,115.50 per ton, off nearly 3% from a year-high of $6,289.50 hit last week.
- Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino calls US-led efforts to deliver humanitarian aid a show while reiterating the military leadership's support for embattled President Nicolas Maduro. Padrino said on state television that calls to allow aid into the country are an attempt to undermine the administration. He makes the comments at a military base where he told soldiers to sign a pledge opposing sanctions and foreign meddling in Venezuela. "What we are doing here is to show our complete rejection against the empire," he says of the US. Maduro's support from military leadership has been key to his ability to remain in power amid an economic and political crisis.
- The Trump administration's appetite for tariffs has added uncertainty to an already vexing inflation environment. Contrary to the president's claims China is paying these tariffs, these taxes fall on firms within US borders and they're either passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices or they eat up profit margins. Inflation has been low but some at the Fed have long worried tariffs would give way to opportunistic price hikes, potentially goosing inflation levels. Nomura chief US economist Lewis Alexander says right now he sees tariffs adding about 16 basis points onto the overall level of CPI. "If the Trump administration increases the tariff rate on $200 billion of Chinese goods imports in March, we expect additional inflationary pressure of about 12 basis points on US consumer prices," he adds.
- S&P Global Ratings says it sees evidence of a substantial pre-Brexit inventories surge by companies selling into and out of the UK. "The ongoing risk of a no-deal Brexit poses significant risks to cross-border logistics chains and companies have triggered contingency plans in response. This implies upward pressures on working capital, which could have an adverse impact on free cash flow and debt reduction plans," S&P senior director Gareth Williams says. Lack of certainty around the course of Brexit and what it might mean for cross-border trade and logistics has triggered a short-term surge in inventories, warehouse relocations and supply chain adjustment, S&P says. Costs are mostly modest in relation to total cash flow, the ratings agency says, but higher working capital requirements imply greater credit risk at a time when European economic growth is under pressure.
- Grains futures on the CBOT have started the week trading lower, as the market has shifted its attentions from the milquetoast WASDE report released by the USDA Friday to the outcome from a new round of trade talks between the US and China that start today--as well as the potential for another US government shutdown starting this Friday. March soybean futures are down 0.8%, while wheat has fallen 0.7% and corn futures are off 0.5%. Unless big news hits the market today, traders will continue to trade off of the disappointing WASDE, according to analysts.

Feb 12 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSD DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose amid OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, although analysts expect surging U.S. production and concerns over economic growth to keep markets in check.
- Gold prices held steady as investors kept a cautious stance ahead of a fresh round of Sino-U.S trade talks, while a firmer dollar capped gains for the bullion, which was drawing support from global economic slowdown worries.
- London zinc lost more ground, falling for a third consecutive session to its lowest in more than two weeks on concerns over U.S.-China trade dispute and slowing global economic growth.
- U.S. soybean futures gained, rebounding from a three-week low touched in the previous session, as concerns over dry weather curbing yields in top exporter Brazil supported the market.

- S&P Global Ratings says it sees evidence of a substantial pre-Brexit inventories surge by companies selling into and out of the UK. "The ongoing risk of a no-deal Brexit poses significant risks to cross-border logistics chains and companies have triggered contingency plans in response. This implies upward pressures on working capital, which could have an adverse impact on free cash flow and debt reduction plans," S&P senior director Gareth Williams says. Lack of certainty around the course of Brexit and what it might mean for cross-border trade and logistics has triggered a short-term surge in inventories, warehouse relocations and supply chain adjustment, S&P says. Costs are mostly modest in relation to total cash flow, the ratings agency says, but higher working capital requirements imply greater credit risk at a time when European economic growth is under pressure.
- Grains futures on the CBOT have started the week trading lower, as the market has shifted its attentions from the milquetoast WASDE report released by the USDA Friday to the outcome from a new round of trade talks between the US and China that start today--as well as the potential for another US government shutdown starting this Friday. March soybean futures are down 0.8%, while wheat has fallen 0.7% and corn futures are off 0.5%. Unless big news hits the market today, traders will continue to trade off of the disappointing WASDE, according to analysts.
- Media companies that own local television stations may have much to look forward to as the next election cycle starts to heat up. Meredith, which owns 17 stations, reports $66M in political-spot advertising in its fiscal 2Q, a period that ended in December--up from a mere $2.1M a year earlier. Spending related to "competitive elections on the federal, state and local levels," the company says, was particularly robust in the Phoenix, Las Vegas, St. Louis and Kansas City markets.

Feb 11 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices fell by around 1 percent as drilling activity in the United States, the world's largest oil producer, picked up and financial markets were pulled down by trade concerns.
- Gold prices eased as uncertainties around U.S-China trade tensions made the dollar buoyant, taking sheen off the metal's safe-haven appeal even as investors were worried about a slowdown in global economic growth.
- Shanghai zinc fell more than 3 percent, the first trading session after a week-long national holiday, tracking a drop in London prices in the previous session.
- Chicago wheat futures slid for a third session in four as ample global supplies weighed on the market, although lower plantings in the United States kept a floor under the market.

- London stocks rise 0.2%, or 13.27 points, to 7106.85 as traders stay cautious after downbeat sessions in the U.S. and Asia. "After yesterday's big declines, it's been a subdued start for markets in Europe this morning as investors take stock with respect to the next moves in the U.S.-China trade talks," says Michael Hewson at CMC Markets. "The news that President Trump and Xi [Jinping] won't be meeting before the March 1 deadline for an increase in tariffs, has raised concerns." Energy utility SSE pares early losses to rise 0.2% after forecasting lower-than-expected fiscal 2019 adjusted earnings per share.
- The dollar's higher trading on Friday could be attributed to President Trump's announcement that he won't meet with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to discuss trade relations before March 1, when U.S. tariffs increase on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports. "This has renewed speculation that the U.S. and China will not be able to complete a new trade deal that would prevent U.S. tariffs from increasing on March 2, and has driven a risk-off move," MUFG says. The dollar benefits from acting as a safe-haven in a risk-off environment.
- Senate Finance Committee Republicans offered a quick rejection Thursday after President Trump mused aloud to reporters about changes to the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions that was part of the 2017 tax law. The committee "won't be revisiting" that issue, said Michael Zona, spokesman for Chairman Charles Grassley (R, Iowa). Many Democrats want to repeal the cap, though the benefits of that would go overwhelmingly to high-income households.
- Indications from the Trump Administration that a trade deal with China may not be complete by March 1 has grains futures on the CBOT down today. March wheat futures are currently down 2.4%, while soybeans futures are down 1.1% and corn futures are down 0.9%. US National Economics Council director Larry Kudlow said during an interview on Fox Business that the two sides have "miles to go" before a deal is reached. "It now looks less likely that we will see a trade deal with China before tariffs get ratcheted up to 25% from the current 10% on March 2nd, although Kudlow's comments may also be a negotiating ploy to pressure China," says Arlan Suderman of INTL FCStone.
- Philadelphia's city council votes 9-5 against a bill that would have banned certain gifts from drugmakers to doctors, and would have required pharmaceutical sales representatives to register with city government. Councilman Bill Greenlee, a Democrat, introduced the bill last year as a tool to fight the opioid-addiction crisis, blaming drugmakers for influencing doctors to overprescribe them. Industry groups including PhRMA and BIO lobbied against the measure, saying it would impose onerous requirements and stifle companies' interactions with doctors. Councilwoman Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez, who voted against the measure, said city government should do more itself to combat the opioid crisis before regulating companies.
- The Dow is down 1.3% and the S&P 500 is down 1.4% as investors continue to weigh trade tensions between the US and China. Earlier, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in an interview with Fox Business Network that the two countries were still far from striking a deal. Meanwhile, CNBC reported that a meeting between President Trump and China's Xi is "highly unlikely" before their March 1 deadline.

Feb 08 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil markets fell, pulled down by worries over a global economic slowdown, although OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against Venezuela provided crude with some support.
- Gold held steady on worries that a prolonged Sino-U.S. trade war could worsen global economic slowdown, but a strong dollar put bullion on track for its first weekly loss in three.
- London copper prices ticked lower for a second session as concerns over world economic growth and Washington-Beijing trade tensions weighed on the market.
- Chicago soybean futures were little changed with the market set for a second consecutive weekly loss on concerns over a prolonged Washington-Beijing trade war and slowing global economic growth.

- Philadelphia's city council votes 9-5 against a bill that would have banned certain gifts from drugmakers to doctors, and would have required pharmaceutical sales representatives to register with city government. Councilman Bill Greenlee, a Democrat, introduced the bill last year as a tool to fight the opioid-addiction crisis, blaming drugmakers for influencing doctors to overprescribe them. Industry groups including PhRMA and BIO lobbied against the measure, saying it would impose onerous requirements and stifle companies' interactions with doctors. Councilwoman Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez, who voted against the measure, said city government should do more itself to combat the opioid crisis before regulating companies.
- The Dow is down 1.3% and the S&P 500 is down 1.4% as investors continue to weigh trade tensions between the US and China. Earlier, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in an interview with Fox Business Network that the two countries were still far from striking a deal. Meanwhile, CNBC reported that a meeting between President Trump and China's Xi is "highly unlikely" before their March 1 deadline.
- US jobless claims fall to 234K from 253K a week earlier, compared to expectations of 225K, but BMO Capital Markets senior economist Jennifer Lee says the weekly figures should be taken with a grain of salt. "The weekly numbers are so incredibly volatile...I think we should be wary given the noise coming from the government shutdown," she says, adding that the broader trend is that the labor market remains quite strong. "Regardless of the volatility in financial markets, for the all-important consumer it's about how strong the job market is," Lee says.
- A gauge of layoffs across the U.S. known as jobless claims fell by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 last week, the first full work week since the partial government shutdown ended, according to new data from the Labor Department. A measure of the number of federal employees that applied for unemployment benefits fell in the week ended Jan 26 but remained higher than normal; federal worker data is reported with a one-week lag. Overall jobless claims rose sharply during the last week of the shutdown, signaling federal contractors, which would be included in the headline number, could have applied for benefits in larger numbers.
- Today's Bank of England meeting is set to have increased significance following the dovish path recently set out by various central banks globally, including the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Reserve Bank of Australia, says Mohammed Kazmi, portfolio manager at UBP. The BOE is expected to emulate peers and signal dovish bias given the deteriorating global growth backdrop since the last meeting, as well as looming Brexit risks in the run-up to the end-March deadline. Mr. Kazmi also expects the BOE to deliver a cautious economic outlook in light of the recent weakness in domestic data including the Purchasing Managers' Index as uncertainty continues to weigh on the economy.

Feb 07 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices slipped after U.S. crude inventories rose and the country's production held at record levels, but OPEC-led supply cuts and Washington's sanctions against Venezuela supported markets.
- Gold fell to a more than one-week low, pressured by a stronger dollar, but worries over slowing global economic growth and the spectre of another U.S. government shutdown kept the safe-haven metal above the key $1,300 level.
- The Australian dollar languished near a two-week low on rising bets that interest rates would most likely come down this year amid heightened growth risks at home and abroad.
- London nickel fell, extending its pullback from a more than four-month peak reached the day before on supply concerns, while copper retreated after a three-day rise amid a stronger dollar.
- U.S. soybean futures edged lower, retreating for the first time in five sessions, as concerns about lower yields of South American crops eased on good rain forecast.

- Today's Bank of England meeting is set to have increased significance following the dovish path recently set out by various central banks globally, including the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Reserve Bank of Australia, says Mohammed Kazmi, portfolio manager at UBP. The BOE is expected to emulate peers and signal dovish bias given the deteriorating global growth backdrop since the last meeting, as well as looming Brexit risks in the run-up to the end-March deadline. Mr. Kazmi also expects the BOE to deliver a cautious economic outlook in light of the recent weakness in domestic data including the Purchasing Managers' Index as uncertainty continues to weigh on the economy.
- Count Nvidia and Qualcomm, down 32% and 21% respectively over the past 12 months, among the potential winners of the US push to invest in next-generation technologies like 5G wireless and artificial intelligence, two key areas of competition with China. For Qualcomm, it would be the second assist in as many years from the White House after President Trump last year blocked Broadcom's hostile bid for Qualcomm on national-security grounds. The US had singled out China and 5G technology as concerns. Broadcom, now based in the US, could itself benefit from the renewed domestic push for 5G. Look for Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, and MaxLinear among others that stand to gain. Nvidia closed up 2%, Qualcomm gained 0.7%, Broadcom added 2.3%, Texas Instruments gained 4.1%, Analog Devices rose 2.1%; and MaxLinear closed 11% higher.
- The Trump administration's proposal to change Medicare Part D's rebate rules is "a very good move," Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan tells WSJ in an interview. Novartis is still evaluating the 123-page proposal, but for now the company doesn't expect it will cut its list prices in response since there would no longer be a real distinction between list and net prices. "Our expectation is that any rebates we have today would now flow through to the patient," via reduced out-of-pocket costs, Narasimhan said. "In effect, that means our current list prices fall to our current net prices in these plans." He adds that if the Medicare rebate rule is adopted, it won't necessarily change how private insurance plans handle rebates absent other government action, he said. Rather, "I think we would end up with two separate worlds," he said.
- GM says higher commodity costs--partly stemming from the effect of US tariffs on steel and aluminum--hit its bottom line by more than $1B last year. The company expects costs of another $1B in 2019, though executives says it's difficult to forecast. "It's a pretty volatile environment," GM CFO Dhivya Suryadevara tells analysts. Spot prices for steel and aluminum have eased some, she says, but prices for other raw materials, like palladium, have increased. GM's operating profit for the year fell 8%, to $11.8B. Suryadevara says moves in spot prices for those commodities tend to hit GM's bottom line after a roughly three-month lag. GM gains 1.5% to $39.88.
- The grains complex is showing little movement to begin trading, with neither last night's State of the Union speech by President Trump or this morning's news of a soybean sale to China doing much to propel the market. According to analysts, Trump's speech did little to persuade or inform anyone--and the USDA announcements of soybean export sales were expected by the market after the declaration that the Chinese would buy 5M more metric tons of soybeans from US growers for storage in state reserves last week. As a result, traders see little reason to act ahead of any surprises that come out of the WASDE report. Wheat futures are up 0.3%, soybeans are down 0.1%, and corn futures are down 0.4%.

Feb 06 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices edged higher for the first time in three sessions, although concerns over the outlook for the global economy capped gains.
- Gold prices held firm after U.S. President Donald Trump in his State of the Union speech vowed to build a border wall and gave little clarity over the ongoing trade discussions with China, with the bullion's gains offset by a firmer dollar. 
- London copper rose for a third straight session as trade tensions between Washington and Beijing ease, although concerns over slowing factory activity in China limited gains.
- Chicago soybean futures ticked lower with pressure from South American harvest gathering pace, although losses were limited by top importer China buying U.S. cargoes.

- As drugmakers face rising political pressure for price increases, they're increasingly saying they don't realize much benefit from list-price hikes. Instead, drugmakers say their average US net prices are flat or declining because they pay bigger rebates to middlemen including pharmacy-benefit managers. In the past, drugmakers cited need to fund R&D to justify pricing. Companies including J&J, Pfizer, Novartis and Allergan raised list prices on many drugs in January but say their average net pricing is flat or down. JPMorgan says in note this week: "Net pricing is expected to be negative for most companies in 2019," due to lower price hikes, higher rebates and an increase in drugmakers' share of funding of Medicare's prescription benefit. New products and volume growth should offset the price pressure, firm says.
- The ISM non-manufacturing index fell to 56.7 in January from 58.0 in December, suggesting the partial government shutdown weighed on growth last month. "This is a six month low for the series, but still well in expansion territory," says Jon Hill of BMO Capital Market, adding that effects of the government shutdown on results are "particularly salient going into the State of the Union tonight, with any potential read through into the probability the federal government shuts down again in less than two weeks."
- Coming off "extremely small" US soybean exports to China in the fourth quarter, Archer Daniels Midland CEO Juan Luciano says he believes trade issues between the two countries to improve enough this year to return US-to-China soybean shipments closer to normal. "We are expecting the trade dispute in China to resolve during the year,"  Luciano says on ADM's 4Q earnings call. The US and China may continue discussing other trade-related issues, but when it comes to soybeans, "we're still counting on sizable exports from the US in Q4," he says.
- Oil markets were quick to attribute recent moves in the price of oil to a crisis in Venezuela as the US government makes its most aggressive move yet to take down the Socialist government that's held power in the oil-rich nation ever since Hugo Chavez won the presidency 20 years ago. But a quick resolution may not happen, and JBC Energy says investors should look beyond the Venezuela story. "While Venezuela is taking headlines left, right, and center, we should not forget about developments elsewhere in the world, with data available for December continuing to show a mixed picture from a demand-side perspective," JBC says, noting important developments in Brazil and Asia.

Feb 05 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- U.S. oil prices inched up, buoyed by expectations of tightening global supply due to U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and production cuts led by OPEC.
- Gold inched up in thin trading as investors made purchases after prices touched nearly one-week lows in the previous session, but improved appetite for riskier assets capped bullion's gains.
- The dollar held on to recent gains against its major peers, supported by a recovery in investors' risk appetite, which gave an overnight boost to U.S. yields.
- London zinc rose to its highest since early July amid concerns over shortages due to falling stocks and delays to new capacity in top producer China.
- Chicago soybean futures were little changed after closing marginally higher in the last session amid Chinese buying, but ample global supplies kept a lid on the market.

- The dollar could react to U.S. President Donald Trump's State of the Union address, which is due late on Tuesday in Washington, says Commerzbank, adding: "the market is desperate for new momentum." Focus is likely to be on any indications on how U.S.-China trade negotiations are going, it says. Any positive developments could be positive for the dollar. The dollar is slightly higher at 1.1423 per euro. The ISM non-manufacturing report will also be watched at 1500 GMT. The headline composite indicator is expected to edge down to 57 in January, according to economists polled by WSJ, slightly lower than 57.6 in December.
- Venezuela's already battered economy will enter into an even bigger crisis if the turmoil isn't resolved soon. The country is already struggling with food and medicine shortages, as well as rampant crime and hyperinflation. Now, fuel supplies could dry up within a week following US sanctions on the state oil company, according to oil workers and diplomats. That includes diesel that is largely used for national power generation. "This is fast turning into a war economy," said Evanán Romero, a former deputy energy minister.
- US sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company PdVSA appear to be already having an impact, with production well below one million barrels a day, according to oil union officials and people closely tracking the operations of the firm. That would be a more 10% drop from December. J Alexander Blackman, an executive at US energy company Standard Delta LLC, says sharp declines are "not out of the question largely due to the challenges of sustaining production and the geopolitical impact of redirecting the flow of crude and other products."
- President Trump's State of the Union speech, scheduled to be given in front of a joint session of Congress tomorrow night, is expected to spark upward movement in grains prices if the President talks more about the status of a US-China trade deal before March 1. "We expect more air time will be given to a positive US/China trade deal potential in Tuesday's State of the Union Address," says AgResource. "This will underpin CBOT breaks." Trump spoke some on a deal during an interview with CBS aired Sunday, intimating that the two sides were getting closer to a resolution. "We have a good chance to make a deal," Trump said.

Feb 04 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices were stable, largely maintaining gains from the previous session as OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against Venezuela provided the market with support.
- Gold prices slipped as risk aversion waned amid some signs of progress in U.S.-China trade talks, while a firm dollar kept bullion under pressure.
- London copper prices slid, easing for a second session amid pressure from concerns over slowing factory activity in the world's biggest industrial metals consumer China.
- Chicago soybean futures eased after climbing to their highest in more than seven months in the last session, but were still supported by Chinese purchases of U.S. beans in the wake of Sino-U.S. trade talks.

- The partial government shutdown contributed to the increase in the January unemployment rate, the Labor Department says. The agency highlighted that the number of unemployed on temporary layoff climbed by 175,000, largely attributable to federal government worker layoffs. The unemployment rate is a household survey measure; employment and earnings, measured using the establishment survey, did not show any "discernible impacts" from the shutdown, the Labor Department says.
- Livestock futures finish trading lower, with lean-hog futures down 3.2% to 60.225 cents per pound and live cattle futures down 1.4% to $1.26300. The extreme cold weather in the Midwest has slowed down consumer demand for meat in the short term. Longer term, traders have doubts that the US-China trade deal can be finalized before the March 1 deadline passes, or that the demand from China for US pork will be as strong as previously believed.
- A Bloomberg report saying pizza magnate and failed presidential candidate Herman Cain is under consideration for a Fed governor slot is curious. Cain's views on monetary policy are very out of step with President Trump and his post-election conversion to a love of easy money and a disdain for rate rises. Cain was once chairman of the Kansas City Fed's board of directors, overseeing one of the Fed's most hawkish regional bank branches. Cain also attacked the Fed and extolled the virtues of "sound money" in a 2012 WSJ op-ed, even going so far as to endorse a return to the gold standard. These aren't the views of a man who thinks the Fed has been erring with rate rises.
- USDA unveils a list of dozens of organizations set to receive funding for trade promotion activities as part of the government's effort to blunt the impact of ongoing trade disputes. The biggest winner of the 57 chosen organizations is the American Soybean Association, slated to receive nearly $22M to identify and access new export markets. The US Meat Export Federation and US Grains Council follow behind, receiving close to $18M and $14M, respectively. The announcement fulfills a promise by USDA to award $200M to help increase agricultural exports at a time when foreign tariffs on goods from soybeans to pork to cheese continue to roil agricultural markets, pressuring prices and incomes for farmers.
- Lean hog futures on the CME are down 2% in trading as doubts about the Chinese appetite for pork are spreading among traders. "There's more questions than answers right now," says Mike Zuzolo of Global Commodity Analytics--adding trader sentiment is that Chinese demand for pork is starting to slip, which is significant because Chinese demand is what the industry is relying on, as domestic demand alone isn't enough to support the industry. Hog futures' performance also ties into growing doubts the Trump administration can reach a trade deal with China by March 1, thusly introducing tariffs on goods including US pork.
- Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will be traveling to New Orleans to deliver a speech at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association Convention tomorrow, according to the USDA. Perdue will also be visiting the Port of New Orleans as part of the trip. This is the latest in the Trump Administration's outreach to US agricultural professionals, coming approximately 2.5 weeks after Trump himself addressed farmers at the American Farm Bureau convention. So far in trading today, live cattle futures are up 1%, while hog futures are down 2%.
- Valero Energy, the second-largest American importer of Venezuelan crude last year, is no longer purchasing oil from the country due to US sanctions, the refiner says. The company previously relied on Venezuela for about 20% of the heavier, more sulfurous crude it ran at its refineries, said Gary Simmons, a senior vice president. He added that the company has put alternatives in place and is looking to maximize its intake of lighter, less sulfurous crude, which makes up most of the oil the US produces. However, Valero still has "some holes to fill in our supply plan," Simmons said
- US CEO Dave Burritt says he's confident the Trump Administration won't abandon the tariff on imported steel any time soon. President Trump has come under increasing pressure from US manufacturers paying more for steel and key trading partners now selling less steel in the US to roll back the 25% duty. But Burritt told analysts "We don't see the administration blinking on any of this. We have a high degree of confidence that the tariff won't be pulled back." While the 10-month-old duty has driven down steel imports and allowed domestic steel companies to raise their prices, demand for steel has weakened in recent months.

Feb 01 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices were steady, torn between hopes the United States and China could soon settle their trade disputes and new data raising fresh concerns over China's economic slowdown.
- Gold fell as investors sought riskier assets amid optimism the United States and China may reach a trade deal, although a pause in U.S. interest rate hikes kept bullion on track for a second weekly increase.
- The Australian dollar fell versus the greenback.

- Most London base metals prices dropped after a closely watched private survey showed that factory activity in China, the world's top metals consumer, shrank by the most in almost three years last month.
- Chicago soybean futures bounced back, recouping last session's losses amid heightened hopes for a trade deal between Washington and Beijing, although the oilseed was still on course to post a weekly decline.

- Lean hog futures on the CME are down 2% in trading as doubts about the Chinese appetite for pork arespreading among traders. "There's more questions than answers right now," says Mike Zuzolo of Global Commodity Analytics--adding trader sentiment is that Chinese demand for pork is starting to slip, which is significant because Chinese demand is what the industry is relying on, as domestic demand alone isn't enough to support the industry. Hog futures' performance also ties into growing doubts the Trump administration can reach a trade deal with China by March 1, thusly introducing tariffs on goods including US pork.
- Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will be traveling to New Orleans to deliver a speech at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association Convention tomorrow, according to the USDA. Perdue will also be visiting the Port of New Orleans as part of the trip. This is the latest in the Trump Administration's outreach to US agricultural professionals, coming approximately 2.5 weeks after Trump himself addressed farmers at the American Farm Bureau convention. So far in trading today, live cattle futures are up 1%, while hog futures are down 2%.
- Valero Energy, the second-largest American importer of Venezuelan crude last year, is no longer purchasing oil from the country due to US sanctions, the refiner says. The company previously relied on Venezuela for about 20% of the heavier, more sulfurous crude it ran at its refineries, said Gary Simmons, a senior vice president. He added that the company has put alternatives in place and is looking to maximize its intake of lighter, less sulfurous crude, which makes up most of the oil the US produces. However, Valero still has "some holes to fill in our supply plan," Simmons said
- US CEO Dave Burritt says he's confident the Trump Administration won't abandon the tariff on imported steel any time soon. President Trump has come under increasing pressure from US manufacturers paying more for steel and key trading partners now selling less steel in the US to roll back the 25% duty. But Burritt told analysts "We don't see the administration blinking on any of this. We have a high degree of confidence that the tariff won't be pulled back." While the 10-month-old duty has driven down steel imports and allowed domestic steel companies to raise their prices, demand for steel has weakened in recent months.
- Raytheon says Saudi Arabia accounts for some 5% of sales expectations this year, and doesn't expect calls from some US lawmakers for sanctions on arms sales to have an impact. CFO Toby O'Brien says on investor call that half of these are for defensive equipment, which retains strong legislative support. Lockheed Martin said this week that it expects to secure a multi-billion deal from the Kingdom for Thaad missile defense systems, where Raytheon is a big supplier, in the first quarter.
- The USDA released its weekly export sales totals for the week ending Dec. 20 this morning -- the first export sales data to come out of the USDA since the shutdown began last month. Exports of soybeans totaled 2.405M metric tons for the week, almost doubling analyst estimates. Corn sales totaled 1.753M tons, also beating analyst estimates. Wheat totaled 526,300 tons and soymeal totaled 427,400 tons, both within analysts' estimated ranges. Soyoil totaled 13,700 tons, below projections. The USDA will issue a report combining a months-worth of sales on Feb. 22, with the regular reporting schedule then resuming.
- Jobless claims among federal workers clocked in at 14,739 in the week ended Jan. 19, a decrease from the previous week and low compared with previous government shutdowns. Federal employees file under a separate program than regular state programs, which are captured in the headline jobless claims number. Claims among federal employees peaked at 225,000 in the wake of the 1995-96 government shutdown and near 70,000 in the 2013 shutdown. Both those shutdowns, by comparison, had more than twice as many federal employees eligible for unemployment benefits.
- "Sorting the value from the value traps" is key right now for Chinese stock investors, says Investec with the market trading below 10-year averages on book and forward-earnings bases. "Future growth looks set to be increasingly driven by consumer demand and services, led primarily by the private sector." That as while "headwinds remain in the form of trade war concerns," the investment firm thinks that "Trump's actions could even speed up reforms in globally relevant Chinese companies, making China more competitive in the process."
- Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said a second government shutdown could have a lasting economic effect largely because it could trigger a loss of confidence in the government. Last week's agreement to reopen the government left open the possibility of another shutdown in February if lawmakers are unable to strike a deal on immigration.

Jan 31 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose for a third day, pushed up by lower imports into the United States amid OPEC efforts to tighten the market, and as Venezuela struggles to keep up its crude exports after Washington imposed sanctions on the nation.
- Gold prices held near eight-month highs hit in the previous session, as the dollar weakened after the U.S. Federal Reserve paused its monetary tightening cycle, putting bullion on course for its fourth straight monthly gain.
- Most base metals rose after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would be patient with interest rate hikes, although a second straight monthly contraction in manufacturing activity in top metals consumer China capped gains.
- Chicago wheat futures rose for a second session with the market set to end the first month of 2019 in the positive territory as cold weather in the United States threatened production and supplies dwindled in the Black Sea region.

- Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said a second government shutdown could have a lasting economic effect largely because it could trigger a loss of confidence in the government. Last week's agreement to reopen the government left open the possibility of another shutdown in February if lawmakers are unable to strike a deal on immigration.
- The tariff exclusion process for the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the US is extremely backlogged, especially since none were processed during the 35-day government shutdown, according to a report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The report says exclusion requests are taking too long to process, with over half of all requests still pending a decision -- and no transparent way for companies to check the status of their claims. Additionally, allowing exclusion requests is said to cast doubt on the need for tariffs at all, with Chinese imports being the most approved by the Commerce Department. The 10% tariff on steel imports and 25% tariff on aluminum imports were ordered by President Trump last year.
- In a conference call after quarterly results were released, Alibaba addressed the issue of tightening regulations over internet businesses in China. "We have witnessed the government becoming more adept at calibrating the interplay between regulation and economic growth," said Vice Chairman Joe Tsai. Among the regulations is a new e-commerce law that places a stricter registration requirements for online merchants, a headache for some small companies that previously didn't take those steps. According to Tsai, the law has created uncertainness among merchants about what the consequences could be. But new tax relief measures targeting small businesses, which includes lower corporate tax rate for certain small companies, is likely to offset such concerns, he said.
- Market concerns have grown over fallouts on global companies from the trade battle between China and the US. Alibaba's Vice Chairman Joe Tsai made an effort to ease those fears, highlighting that the company's exposure to tangible effects of tariffs is small. "For our businesses in e-commerce, consumer services, entertainment and cloud computing, the primary growth driver is not exports but domestic consumption and corporate transformation," he said in a conference call after the company released fiscal 3Q earnings.
- A trade group representing biotech seed makers says that any US-China trade deal is "inadequate" without reforms to the way China reviews and approves genetically engineered crops. The Biotechnology Innovation Organization calls upon the Trump administration to push for change to China's agricultural regulatory system, which US seed manufacturers have long called opaque and costly. While Beijing in January approved five new biotech crops for import to the world's second-largest economy, the trade group cites Informa research estimating that delays in Chinese approval generally have cost the US $7B in foregone gross domestic product, and $4.6B in wages. Since so many US crops are exported to China, its approval is crucial before seed companies can widely release new varieties.
- Nordic markets are set to open slightly higher Wednesday with IG calling the OMXS30 up 0.2% at around 1506. "U.S. equities ended yesterday slightly lower and Asian stocks are mixed this morning ahead of the U.S.-China trade talks that will start in Washington today and tonight's Fed decision," says SEB. Apple Inc. rose almost 6% in post-trading after earnings beat expectations, while in the U.K., the House of Commons backed Theresa May's bid to return to Brussels to re-open the Brexit negotiations and revise the Irish backstop. "The future remains very uncertain but our best guess is that if the talks with the EU fail, the Commons will again reject the deal on Feb. 13." OMXS30 closed at 1502.72, OMXN40 at 1471.70 and OBX at 775.62.
- Base metals edged higher in Asian trading following overnight gains on hopes from the US-China trade talks which are to start later Wednesday. But trading sentiment remains cautious as investors await the outcome of the discussions. Three-month copper futures on the LME are up 0.3%, after notching a gain of around 1% in the previous session. Zinc and aluminum are each up 0.2%.
- With the next round of US-China trade talks set to begin later today, Citi sees a window of opportunity for a trade deal between two countries such as reducing the bilateral trade deficit, granting market access to US exports, and some commitments on intellectual property protection. However, recent developments with Huawei and US allies, as well as the upcoming decision of the Department of Commerce on potential export controls on emerging technologies, additional trade and investment restrictions are likely even if there is a preliminary US-China trade deal, the bank adds.
- Tokyo rubber prices have bounced back slightly in early trading paring Tuesday's losses. Commodity prices have broadly gained with the US-China trade talks due to begin in Washington today improving market sentiment. The Tocom six-month ribbed smoked sheets contract is currently trading up Y3.6/kg at Y180.5/kg.

Jan 30 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose as concerns about supply disruptions following U.S. sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry outweighed pressure from a darkening outlook for the global economy.
- Gold prices edged up to hit their highest since May 2018, supported by uncertainty over U.S.-China trade relations and expectations the Federal Reserve will keep rates on hold.
- The pound tried to find its footing after sliding on fresh concerns about the possibility of a "no-deal" Brexit, while the dollar eased ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy decision.
- Nickel prices rose sharply to their strongest in around three months, as the commodity used to make stainless steel tracked ferrous metals higher.
- Chicago wheat futures were little changed, trading near last session's lowest in almost two weeks as a lack of demand for U.S. supplies added pressure on the market.

- Tokyo rubber prices have bounced back slightly in early trading paring Tuesday's losses. Commodity prices have broadly gained with the US-China trade talks due to begin in Washington today improving market sentiment. The Tocom six-month ribbed smoked sheets contract is currently trading up Y3.6/kg at Y180.5/kg.
- Commerzbank says the Reserve Bank of Australia won't be raising interest rates for as long as the US and China remain embroiled in a trade dispute. The worry is that China's demand for Aussie raw materials will drop sharply in the event that the trade row rumbles on, hurting the economy. So, Commerzbank expects the RBA will be on hold until fall at least as talks continue and the effect of any agreement is known. "However, those hoping for a more cautious tone from the RBA next week could be disappointed," it says. The RBA will likely point to increased risks for the global economy, like other central banks, but the domestic economy still justifies a neutral stance. The AUD/USD is at 0.7150 early in Asian trading.
- In announcing the toughest sanctions yet against oil-rich Venezuela, the Trump administration tried to say it won't hit the pocketbooks of American consumers via higher gas prices. After all, US refiners use a relatively small amount of Venezuelan crude, and could easily replace it with oil from elsewhere. But "while that may be true in the short run, if this goes on for an extended period it will get harder and harder to replace Venezuelan heavy crude oil," says Phil Flynn at Price Futures in Chicago. Markets seem to be already betting on this, with WTI up 2.6% today at $53.35/bbl, while RBOB gasoline futures are up 2.4% at $1.38/gallon.
- Whirlpool, which says it's successfully raising prices, is up 6% after starting the day negative. Whirlpool said 4Q price increases had more than offset higher raw-material costs, many of which are linked to tariffs. Whirlpool has increased pricing across its regions. "North America was particularly positive on the pricing sides," CEO Marc Bitzer says.
- Democrats are unlikely to just accept Republicans' proposed technical corrections to the GOP's 2017 tax law, said Andrew Grossman, chief tax counsel for Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee. These provisions, many sought by businesses, could be the subject of a hearing or heavy negotiations, he said at a tax conference in Washington.
- US sanctions on Venezuela state oil company PdVSA announced Monday could damage its Houston-based subsidiary, refiner Citgo, which may benefit other refiners. "The Citgo situation presents intriguing potential upside," say analysts at Tudor Pickering. "If the profits are moved to blocked accounts, and if Citgo cannot import Venezuela barrels, then some sort of impact on operations seems like a distinct possibility." This, they say, would be welcome news for US Gulf Coast and Midwest refining markets, where utilization and gasoline inventories currently stand at or near new 5-year highs. "This could help names like MPC, PSX, PBF, and VLO."
- Beijing and Washington will likely agree to stop slapping tariffs on each other and buy more time to sort out their thorny issues, says Zhang Yansheng, a researcher with a think thank affiliated with the state planning agency. "I'm cautiously optimistic about a tariff ceasefire because neither U.S. nor China can afford additional tariffs," Zhang says at an official briefing. Current tensions surrounding Chinese technology firms, such as Huawei, represents "irrational thinking" between the two countries, he says. After all, the U.S. can't shut its door to all Chinese tech firms which are rapidly becoming stronger, he says.
- The Stoxx Europe 600 rises 0.5%, or 1.87 points, to 356.25 as traders shrug off mixed signals on U.S.-Chinese trade talks. The DAX gains 0.1% and the CAC 40 is up 0.4%. Spreadex notes trade talks between Washington and Beijing later this week come as the U.S. has hit Chinese smartphone giant Huawei with criminal charges for issues including alleged theft of technology. "Understandably this has cast doubt on the outcome of Vice Premier Liu He's trip to Washington," the spread-betting firm's Connor Campbell says. "Despite this latest twist, the European markets avoided a blanket decline as Tuesday got underway." German online fashion group Zalando is a notable pan-European faller, down 4% after reported downgrades from Wells Fargo and SocGen.

Jan 29 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices crept up after Washington imposed sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA in a step set to severely curb the OPEC member's crude exports to the United States.
- Gold prices hit a more than seven-month high as investors shun riskier assets on worries over escalation in Sino-U.S. trade tensions after the U.S. Justice Department charged China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd with fraud.
- The yen strengthened versus its peers, as investors took refuge in safe-haven assets.
- London aluminium prices rose, rebounding from a 2.8 percent plunge in the previous session, with investors' focus returning to inventories, U.S.-China trade talks and the upcoming U.S. Federal Reserve meeting.
- Chicago soybean futures lost ground, falling for a second straight session with concerns over escalating U.S.-China trade tensions and improved weather in Brazil weighing on the market.

- Closely watched US economic data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis that were scheduled for release this week and next will be delayed because of the partial government shutdown. Indicators include fourth-quarter gross domestic product, personal income and expenditures, and trade. Government officials are struggling to sort through a backlog of work resulting from the 35-day, partial shutdown. BEA added it "has not yet set new release dates for those economic reports." The bureau plans to set new release dates for other reports that were slated to come out during the shutdown.
- A group of Senate Democrats is urging US regulators to examine more closely whether financial institutions are prepared for climate-change risks. The senators sent a letter to the Federal Reserve and two other regulators urging them to follow the lead of other countries' central banks in determining if banks and other financial institutions could be hurt by falling asset and collateral prices or other climate effects. "US regulators must join their international peers in ensuring the financial system is resilient to climate-related risks," the senators write. The effort doesn't enjoy a bipartisan push, leaving it with limited leverage to compel regulators to act.
- With trade negotiations, a Federal Reserve meeting, the jobs report and key corporate earnings all lying ahead this week, JPMorgan Funds' David Kelly says investors are unlikely to make any big moves. "There's a lot of uncertainty and a lot to unpack," Kelly says, though the temporary end of the government shutdown "takes one uncertainty off the table." As the March 1 deadline approaches, Kelly says he doesn't anticipate a breakthrough in US-China trade talks this week. "I hope markets retain a sense of cynicism about this," he adds. The Dow is down 1.6%, while the S&P 500 has fallen 1.4%.
- A meeting between China's Vice Premier Liu He and US officials including US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington on Wednesday will be closely watched by the grains market to see if there's any confirmation of increased Chinese agricultural purchases. Until traders have some idea of what to expect from this weeks' talks, prices on the CBOT are expected to either remain steady or trend lower. "These talks are expected to be 'determinative' and by nearly all accounts, the two sides are close to an agreement for China to boost its buying of US goods (especially agricultural products)," says Tomm Pfitzenmaier of Summit Commodity Brokerage -- who forecasts that prices could also follow a "buy the rumor, sell the fact" pattern this week instead.
- Export sales data that was not released during the government shutdown is expected to come out this week as the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service recovers from the 35-day lapse of funding, the department says. "We're generating all of our information," says Conchita Powell, management analyst with the Export Sales Department. According to Powell, the department will send out information clarifying its schedule for releases today, but expects to have up-to-date export sales out this week. The release of the sales figures could cause significant movements in grains futures. "The largest sticker shock, in our opinion, will be the release of a month's worth of USDA FAS 24--hour announcements," says Terry Reilly of Futures International.
- Aluminum prices on the London Metal Exchange are down nearly 2% at $1,884 per metric ton, in reaction to news over the weekend that President Trump had officially removed sanctions on United Co. Rusal, as well as two other companies associated with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The sanctions had prevented US buyers from being able to procure aluminum supplies from Rusal, the second-largest aluminum producer in the world. While the removal of sanctions is not expected to change the world supply-demand outlook, aluminum prices are still expected to fall. "There is some potential for stocks which were previously held off-exchange (as the LME/CME would not accept their delivery) now becoming visible to the market," says BMO Global Commodities Research.
- United Co. Rusal shares are up 9.4% at HK$3.26 -- their highest price since the plummet that followed U.S. sanctions last April, after the U.S. Treasury Department lifted sanctions on three companies linked to Oleg Deripaska, including United Co. Rusal. London three-month aluminum futures were last down 1.02% at $1,885.50 a metric ton in midmorning trading in London. That broader aluminum price move was relatively muted, says Alastair Munro a broker at Marex Spectron in a note. Aluminum prices are also affected by an uptick in on-warrant aluminum stocks and Chinese media reports of rising aluminum-products output from China during December.
- Gains for Hong Kong-listed shares of Rusal could be limited today even with the US lifting sanctions on the aluminum heavyweight. As signs were pointing to such a move happening, the stock has jumped 22% during its current 7-day winning streak. Shares are at their best level since early April, when the sanctions were first levied. Within 2 weeks, Rusal's stock crumbled 72%. But shares have more than doubled since.

Jan 28 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices fell by 1 percent after U.S. companies added rigs for the first time this year, a signal that crude output may rise further, and China, the world's second-largest oil user, reported additional signs of an economic slowdown.
- Gold prices held steady, near a seven-month peak scaled in previous session, on hopes the U.S. Federal Reserve will keep interest rates unchanged during its two-day policy meeting later in the week.
- The dollar eased versus most of its peers as investors turned their attention to the Federal Reserve policy meeting.
- London aluminium prices fell after the United States formally lifted sanctions on Russian aluminium producer United Company Rusal.
- Chicago soybean futures slid to give up some of their gains from the last session, although concerns over adverse weather in top exporter Brazil kept a floor under the market.

- Capital Economics analysts say that President Trump is unlikely to start another government shutdown after agreeing to reopen the government for the next three weeks with temporary funding. "Under those circumstances, we still expect first-quarter GDP growth to be 2.0% annualized," they say, and the overall economic effects of the 35-day shutdown will likely be rather limited to affecting some data and possibly slightly delaying tax refunds. Given the shutdown's effects on his approval ratings and air travel, "it would be remarkable if Trump then decided to back himself into a similar corner in three weeks' time and triggered another shutdown," analysts say.
- US airline shares recover their brief drop after the ground stop at LaGuardia caused by shutdown-driven staffing issues. American, Delta and Southwest are the largest carriers at the New York airport, with American leading broader industry gains with a rise of more than 4%. One sell-sider views the development as a catalyst that could help end the political stalemate. "Our view is that it is unlikely that such a ground delay program is allowed to continue for more than a few days before a resolution," said analysts at Raymond James in a client note.
- As the government shutdown stretches into its 35th day, the grains market is beginning to question whether or not the February World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report from the USDA will arrive on time. The report is currently slated to come out on February 8 -- however, market participants say that the USDA needs anywhere from 5-10 days to build the report, making next week a key one to determine the report's fate. The January report, originally scheduled for January 11, has still not been released. "The fast approaching February WASDE report on the 8th would be a logical date/time to offer up all of the data to restart the flow of US Gov't information for the US Ag markets," says AgResource.
- The U.S. and China may reach a deal on goods but the underlying conflict over dominance in technology won't be solved, Suntory CEO Takeshi Niinami says in an interview with Bloomberg TV at Davos. The head of the Japanese brewer says despite the recent slowdown in Chinese confidence, Suntory intends to expand its footprint in China and India, where consumer power is growing. Mr. Niinami adds that Suntory avoided any direct impact from tariffs applied by the U.S. and the EU by storing European inventory, but continued trade tension will begin to affect its bottom line and the company needs to be smart about pricing.
- Hedge-fund billionaire George Soros said Chinese technology prowess is a "mortal danger facing open societies from the instruments of control that machine learning and artificial intelligence can put in the hands of repressive regimes." Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, he called on the Trump administration to not let telecom equipment makers "ZTE and Huawei off lightly, it needs to crack down on them. If these companies came to dominate the 5G market, they would present an unacceptable security risk for the rest of the world."

Jan 25 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose more than 1 percent as turmoil in Venezuela triggered concerns that its crude exports could soon be disrupted.
- Gold prices edged higher on concerns about a prolonged U.S. government shutdown at a time when global growth is already slowing, with markets also waiting on U.S.-China trade talks due next week.
- Sterling scaled an 11-week high after The Sun reported that Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party has privately decided to offer conditional backing for Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal next week.
- London copper edged higher as support from a weaker dollar saw the metal claw back the previous session's losses, although uncertainty over the progress in U.S.-China trade talks capped the upside.
- U.S. soybean futures held steady, though the oilseed is poised to record a weekly loss amid concerns over future demand for North American supplies as a trade deal between Washington and Beijing remained a distant prospect.
- Hedge-fund billionaire George Soros said Chinese technology prowess is a "mortal danger facing open societies from the instruments of control that machine learning and artificial intelligence can put in the hands of repressive regimes." Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, he called on the Trump administration to not let telecom equipment makers "ZTE and Huawei off lightly, it needs to crack down on them. If
these companies came to dominate the 5G market, they would present an unacceptable security risk for the rest of the world."
- The government shutdown could push Southwest's plans to travel to Hawaii into 2Q, chief operating officer Mike Van de Ven says. Adding service to Hawaii is Southwest's major growth initiative for the year, but the timeline has slipped. Now the Federation Aviation Administration officials who would oversee the final steps in Southwest's certification to fly long distances over water are furloughed. If the shutdown ends in a week, Van De Ven says there's a chance Hawaii flights could begin in 1Q, but otherwise they will be pushed back. In the meantime Southwest is incurring many of the costs of a start-up without the benefit of flying, CFO Tammy Romo says. Southwest is up 4.7% at $53.40.
- American Airlines CEO Doug Parker expresses worry the protracted government shutdown could lead to staffing shortages at air-traffic control towers, slowing down air travel. "You get larger separation of aircraft, so you have delayed airspace," Parker says on a call with analysts and reporters. "That's what we fear may happen." American is up 5.4% to $33.37.
- A new missile from Russia not only breaks the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with the U.S. but also lowers the bar for the use of nuclear weapons, says NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in an interview with CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "We call on Russia to come back in to verifiable, transparent compliance with that treaty, because this is really important for all of us," said Mr. Stoltenberg.
- President Trump could help bring about a reform of international institutions, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tells CNBC at the World Economic Forum at Davos. "The United States has voted, and Trump is the President (...) We have to work with him, and I think he is also an opportunity, an opportunity to make changes to some of those multilateral organizations that we hold dearly, like the WTO, but it's not functioning very well" he says. "His critique of those international organizations is sometimes very valid. Make use of that, get him on your side, so that collectively, with Trump, we can change those organizations," the Dutch Prime Minister adds.
- Grain futures are falling at the Chicago Board of Trade as traders watch for any developments surrounding US-China trade negotiations. Due to Brazil's earlier harvest this year, some analysts say that farmers are harvesting more soybeans to sell to China as tensions with the US continue. "Chinese buyers can book their supplies at a large discount to those of US origin," say analysts from MaxYield Cooperative, due to the ongoing tariffs. "This price gap has widened in favor of Brazil since positive discussions between US and China last month put pressure on basis values in that country." Soybean futures are down 0.3%, corn futures are down 0.7% and wheat futures are down 0.4%.
- As some analysts had expected, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said at the Thursday press conference that the "risks surrounding eurozone growth outlook have moved to the downside." Mr. Draghi's comments sent the euro to a three-week low of $1.1307. Against the pound, euro falls to a 10-week low of 0.8683 on a combination of Mr. Draghi's comments and hopes that the Brexit deadline will be extended beyond March 29. Mr. Draghi said incoming data has been weaker than expected and that headline inflation is likely to fall in the coming months. He did say, however, that the ECB hasn't taken any decision on introducing long-term refinancing operations. EUR/USD last down 0.3% at 1.1341.
- US jobless claims fall to 199K last week, a 49-year low, while economists polled by the WSJ were expecting 218K. "This is more evidence that the labor market is strong," said Michael Pearce of Capital Economics, adding that weekly numbers tend to bounce around a lot and are less indicative of trends than the employment report released next week. Meanwhile, claims filed by federal employees rose sharply during the third week of the US government shutdown, though Pearce says there is less incentive for employees to file as they will have to repay those funds when the government reopens.
- The number of federal employees requesting jobless insurance rose about 15,000 in the week ended Jan 12 to approximately 25,000, the Labor Department said. These employees file for benefits in a different program than normal workers, and the data are produced with a one-week delay. The number has risen in recent weeks as the partial government shutdown continues and federal employees go longer without pay.
- A gauge of layoffs across the US--known as jobless claims--fell to 199,000 last week, the lowest level since the end of 1969, according to new data from the Labor Department. Thursday's claims data suggest the US labor market is continuing to tighten despite the ongoing government shutdown that, at the moment, appears likely to continue into the coming weeks. Slowing global economic growth, a strengthening dollar and other economic uncertainties have plagued equity markets too.
- Consumer sentiment in China is being dampened by U.S.-China trade tensions and that will weigh on auto sales in the first quarter, Volkswagen AG chief executive Herbert Diess told reporters Thursday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. "The trade war between China and the US really influences the customer mood," Mr. Diess said. "The first quarter will be a difficult quarter for VW." But beyond the impact of the trade friction on consumers' willingness to buy cars, the fundamentals of the Chinese market remain strong, he said. "The demand is still there. The purchasing power is there. It's really about what's going to happen between the U.S. and China," Mr. Diess said. Since both sides would benefit from a trade deal, he is optimistic that a deal will eventually be reached, although "we are not excluding that we have a downturn (in sales) for two or three quarters."
- Cargill Inc. CEO David MacLennan said he hopes both the U.S. and China recognize that there's more to gain by working together on trade. "I'm choosing to believe we'll have a deal," Mr. MacLennan said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. While the Trump administration still has the political support of the U.S. farm belt, he said, soybean farmers are increasingly under pressure from stocks piling up because they can't be exported to China. In 2017, the Asian country bought more than half of all American soybeans exported. "We need the market to be open," Mr. MacLennan said.

Jan 24 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices declined on lingering concerns that slowing global economic growth may limit fuel demand and after a surprise build in U.S. crude inventories.
- Gold held steady, supported by a softer dollar due to concerns the prolonged U.S. government shutdown will limit economic growth even as concerns of slowing global growth grew.
- London aluminium prices slipped from near one-month highs hit in the previous session on expectations that a period of tight supply will soon come to an end.
- Chicago wheat rose for a third consecutive session, climbing to its highest in five weeks on expectations of higher demand for U.S. supplies as inventories dwindle top exporter Russia.

- While RBC predicts Venezuela's average daily oil production will fall a further 300-500,000 barrels this year, it says ongoing political turmoil--which could result in US sanctions on the country--may cause the projected output drop to rise "by several hundred thousand additional barrels." That would add to OPEC's production cut of 1.2 million barrels/day. Oil futures remain modestly lower in midday Asian trading, currently off 0.4% after 2 days of declines.
- Texas Instruments blames weaker 4Q sales on an expected cyclical slowdown and increased caution due to US-China trade tensions. "We assume that this weakness is a combination of lower local end demand as well as reduced exports," Dave Pahl, head of investor relations, says on the earnings call. Personal electronics, specifically smartphones, saw weaker-than-expected demand, Pahl says. Meanwhile, revenue from TI's communications-equipment segment rose about 20% from the year earlier, benefiting from 5G deployment.
- White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney asks federal agencies for a list of high-impact programs that would be affected if the partial government shutdown continues into March, according to a senior official in the Office of Management and Budget. The shutdown entered its 33rd day Wednesday. The official says in a statement: "Prudent management means planning and preparing for events without known end-dates."
- Workers who screen passengers and bags at US airports will continue receiving funds to cover parking or transit as the partial government shutdown that has them working without pay continues, TSA Administrator David Pekoske says on Twitter. TSA employees have been increasingly calling out of work as financial pressures mount, the agency says: TSA's absence rate has hovered at or near 7.5% Monday and Tuesday after spiking to 10% on Sunday. As the prospect of missing a second paycheck this week looms, union officials have said the cost of transit to come to work is becoming a problem, but Pekoske said the agency will be able to continue covering the benefit for the coming month.
- Oil prices are unsurprisingly jittery and remain 1.3% lower after President Trump recognizes Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido as that country's interim president, and indicates the US will press on with economic sanctions against the socialists led by Maduro. The news could certainly be bullish for oil in the near-term as it could lead to greater strife and a further drop in Venezuelan oil output. But longer-term investors are also envisioning a bearish potential to the news. If this all leads to Maduro losing power and a US-friendly president taking over, that could quickly spark a ramping up of oil production in Venezuela, a country famous for having the largest oil reserves in the world.
- Alexey Mordashov, chairman of Russian steel giant Severstal, says the company has suffered from the sanctions the U.S. has placed on Power Machines, a power equipment business in which Severstal holds a 30% stake. The company has lost suppliers and customers and has had to rewrite existing contracts, many of which were denominated in dollars. General Electric pulled out of a turbine project in Vietnam, said Mr. Mordashov, forcing the company to find a new supplier half way through the project. "We have learned how to live with the sanctions, but it's not good," he said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. He added that appeals to the U.S. Treasury to review the sanctions have gone unanswered.
- Boatmaker Marine Products is feeling the pinch of the US-China trade kerfuffle. The maker of Chaparral pleasure boats and Robalo sport-fishing boats says international sales dropped by more than 50% during 4Q, due mainly to trade tariffs enacted during 2018. The good news: international sales accounted for only 3.2% of total sales in the quarter. The bad news: corporate finance VP Jim Landers says on the earnings conference call the situation hasn't improved.
- The U.S. is a very healthy market for environmental investment despite President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris agreement, RWE Chief Executive Rolf Martin Schmitz says in an interview with CNBC at the World Economic Forum at Davos. Brexit, meanwhile, should not hurt RWE's activities in the U.K., Mr. Schmitz says, even in the case of a hard Brexit.
- The government shutdown that's upending the effort to provide officials statistics on the economy's performance appears to be taking a closely watched growth tracker off the field. The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow real-time tracker hasn't been updated since Jan 16, and it's unclear when the next update will be. Private sector efforts continue, however. Macroeconomic Advisers sees the first three months of the year at meager 1.4%, in what appears to be a continuation of a trend where the US economy starts the year off tepidly. Of course, even those estimates could be volatile given that the shutdown itself, the longer it persists, raises serious risks to continued growth.
- US government bond prices fall as investor sentiment about the prospects for trade talks between the US and China improved, analysts say. Investors largely see that both sides of what has been a thorny relationship in the past year have incentives to come to an agreement, analysts say. A decision by China's central bank to add stimulus to its economy in order to lower financing costs for small and mid-sized businesses also spurred investors to take on more risk and eschew safe assets. A solid earnings report from IBM was also seen as a positive sign amid the reduction in available economic data due to the partial government shutdown, analysts said. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.768% from 2.732% Tuesday.
- Grain prices are trading higher as traders continue to watch for updates on China negotiations and the ongoing US government shutdown. CBOT soybean contracts for March delivery are up 0.9%. March corn contracts are up 0.6% and wheat contracts are up 0.6%. "The latest has the meeting between (US-China) negotiators still on for next week, but questions remain on just how close to a deal the two sides are," Allendale analysts say, adding that traders will continue to monitor trade headlines. Meanwhile, MaxYield Cooperative analysts say that the February supply and demand report will likely not happen on schedule due to the shutdown.
- Are grains traders over the off-again, on-again nature of the negotiations between the US and China for a new trade deal? According to some analysts, the answer is yes. "It seems that everyone involved is starting to get burnt out from the rumor mill regarding China as the market gained back most of the losses after the rumors release," says Wally Cunningham of Top Third Ag Marketing. "The market seems to be taking the approach of 'I'll believe it when I see it' regarding China and Russia this year." Wheat futures finished 0.7% higher yesterday on reports of supply tightness in the Black Sea region, while corn and soybean futures both finished down on a bearish sentiment tied to slower-than-expected GDP growth in China.

Jan 23 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices inched up after China said it would raise spending to stem an economic slowdown that has been weighing on financial markets.
- Gold prices stood firm, after gaining the most since Jan. 9 the day before, on higher demand for safe-haven assets over concerns of slowing global economy and uncertainties about the U.S.-China trade row.
- The safe-haven yen fell versus its peers as risk appetite marginally improved in Asian trading, though concerns over slowing global growth and U.S.-Sino trade tensions are likely to cap gains in riskier assets.
- London aluminium prices rose for a second session to trade near last session's one-month high, underpinned by signs of falling production in China.

- Chicago soybean futures rose, set to gain for four out of five sessions with prices underpinned as dry weather curbs yields in top exporter Brazil.
- Eurozone government bond yields trade slightly lower with the newest developments in the U.S.
- China trade conflict spreading caution. The fragile optimism last week over the easing of trade tension was punctured abruptly Tuesday evening on reports that the White House cancelled a planned trade meeting with Chinese officials planned for this week, says Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. Caution is justified however given upcoming events on home turf, with key PMI data and the European Central Bank's meeting due on Thursday. On the supply front, Germany will launch a new five-year government bond, or Bobl, with EUR4 billion volume at an auction. The 10-year Bund yield is trading at 0.176%, down 0.8 basis points, according to Tradeweb.
- Local USDA offices will reopen Thursday as the agency attempts to mitigate the effect of the government shutdown on farmers and ranchers. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue says the agency is temporarily recalling nearly 10,000 employees to help staff its Farm Service Agency offices nationwide, where farmers apply for a variety of loans, crop insurance and disaster assistance programs. Among the services the offices will provide are those related to trade mitigation payments offered by the government to farmers to cushion the blow of global trade spats. Perdue says the deadline to apply for government payments had been extended to Feb. 14 from the original deadline a month earlier. USDA employees will receive back pay for their work during the shutdown, Perdue says.
- White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow said he is pleased at the recent turn in the Federal Reserve's communications, in which many senior officials have signaled greater flexibility, or "patience," in weighing additional rate increases. Speaking on CNBC, Kudlow said the Trump administration didn't believe its policies to boost growth would lead to more inflation, and he defended President Trump's recent criticism of Fed rate increases. "It sounds to me like the Federal Reserve has come around more closely to that view," said Kudlow. He said the Fed sets policy independently of the White House but singled out for particular commendation Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Vice Chairman Richard Clarida.
- Travelers eager to avoid congestion at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle will have to wait a little bit longer due to the government shutdown. Alaska Airlines is pushing back its planned start from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., where it had aimed to begin offering flights next month, citing furloughed FAA officials who were critical to process of certifying that airport for commercial service. Alaska is pushing its start date back to March 4 and rerouting many of its scheduled flights through the Seattle airport. The airline cautions the start could be delayed more if the shutdown continues. United Airlines is slated to begin service at Paine Field later in March.
- Two-thirds of federal employees searching for jobs last week said the partial government shutdown has them considering employment in the private sector, according to a survey from job search site Ziprecuriter.com. More than 1,900 federal workers impacted by the shutdown and using the site were surveyed. Of those, 67% said they were considering leaving the government. Ziprecuriter reached out workers who were furloughed or working without pay. The poll found that 87% were looking for work due to the shutdown and 77% were seeking a full-time position. The guarantee of back pay for time missed, which President Trump signed Jan. 16, could act as an incentive to stay in public service.
- While the US government shutdown has made it more difficult for economists to judge how the economy is performing, recently released data have been fairly upbeat, Capital Economics says, citing December's surge in payroll employment and manufacturing output. A prolonged shutdown could "end up having a significant negative impact on first-quarter GDP," economists say, as temporary loss of income could weigh on consumption growth. However, "that wouldn't in itself be a serious concern...as most of the hit to activity would be reversed once the government reopened," economists add.
- EU data privacy laws are encouraging companies to get creative to retain access to the European market, Marietje Schaake, a lawmaker in the European Parliament, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos  on Tuesday. "Companies are now incentivized to innovate while upholding privacy laws," Ms. Schaake said. "Sometimes necessity sparks innovation, because you have to be more creative in finding solutions." Europe's rules-based approach to privacy reflects wider values in society, she said, noting this differs from approaches in China or the U.S. where the market is more prevalent. "I think we are in a global competition to see which system is dominant," she said.
- An end to the U.S. government shutdown will likely be found soon given the stakes at hand, Carlyle Group CEO David Rubenstein told CNBC at Davos. "Members of Congress and people in the administration know the shutdown is hurting the economy," Mr. Rubenstein said, adding there will be much "political backlash" if a solution isn't found soon. Congress could reopen the government by passing legislation without the U.S. President's signature while a presidential commission explores longer-term solutions, Mr. Rubenstein added. He says that the U.S. constitution allows this. "Both sides recognize this is not in the country's interest," he said. "This won't go on for months."
- Political issues are now very connected to economic issues, not unlike the late 1930s, says Bridgewater Associates Founder Ray Dalio. Speaking at the World Economic Forum, Dalio draws a parallel to a time where the printing of money and purchases of financial assets created a sense of polarity, populism and antagonism, while a rising power like China was also dealing with the conflict of an existing power. "What scares me the most longer term is that we have limitations to monetary policy, which is our most valuable tool, [...] at the same time as we have greater political and social antagonism. So the next downturn in the economy worries me the most."
- The new trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico is a good deal for all three countries, Canadian Minister of International Trade Diversification James Carr tells CNBC in an interview at the World Economic Forum at Davos. "I'm confident it will be ratified," he adds.
- VTB Bank President Andrey Kostin says he isn't interested in acquiring Russia's largest private lender, Alfa-Bank, in an interview with CNBC at Davos. Mr. Kostin says VTB doesn't have enough capital for the transaction and wouldn't be able to draw on state support. In December Alfa-Bank's owners were reported to have approached competitors about a possible sale. Mr. Kostin says he's pessimistic about the possibility of a thaw in US-Russia tensions in the next few years, but sees possible chances of a better relationship with Europe.

Jan 22 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices fell by around one percent as signs of a spreading global economic slowdown stoked concerns over future fuel demand.
- Gold prices edged lower, hovering near a three-week low touched in the previous session, as a firmer dollar made bullion more expensive for buyers using other currencies, even as concerns about a global slowdown mounted.
- Base metals prices moved lower, with benchmark London copper extending a sharp drop from the previous session, after economic growth in top metals consumer China slowed to its weakest in 28 years.
- Chicago soybean futures lost ground, falling for the first time in four sessions on concerns over a lack of Chinese demand for U.S. supplies amid a trade war with Washington and as the world's No. 2 economy slows.

- Market participants have started to buy sterling and other U.K. assets after the U.K. parliament roundly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal last week. But clients are becoming more neutral, instead of turning completely bullish on the pound, says Russell Lascala, global co-head of foreign exchange trading at Deutsche Bank, speaking late last week. Corporations had to hedge sterling versus the euro at 0.95 after Bank of England warnings EUR/GBP could rise to that level. So now, corporations are "unwinding their trade protection," he says. By way of elimination, some Brexit scenarios have become much less likely now, including a hard Brexit, he adds.
- The number of airport screeners and other TSA employees not showing up for work continues to climb as the partial government shutdown nears the one-month mark, raising concerns of staffing shortages that could cause airport waits to lengthen. TSA says 10% of its workforce was absent yesterday--the highest figure yet for a group that is still working but not being paid as long as the shutdown continues. Security wait times were generally not significantly longer than usual on Sunday, with 99.9% of passengers waiting less than 30 minutes, according to TSA. But the agency has sent reinforcements so that security is not disrupted at John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia and Newark in the New York area, O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Miami International Airport.
- The USD/CNY is likely to end 2019 at around 6.75, as the moderation in growth has been broadly priced in, says SEB Asia strategist Melody Jiang, after China logged a 6.4% growth in 4Q on year, largely in line with market expectation. With the Federal Reserve more dovish, the market is pricing in less rate increases from the US, leading to a softer USD, Jiang says. "Although we expect the US-China tensions to continue to simmer, we do not see further escalation in the tariff front, allowing a mild recovery in the yuan," she says adding that there seem to be 'limited' downside risks to the USD/CNY forecast at this point. The pair was last at 6.7890.
- Investors have been hunting for "black swans" ever since they were caught flat-footed by the events that led to the global financial crisis more than a decade ago. Fitch Solutions has highlighted some possibilities for oil this year. On the supply side, except for a breakdown in relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia, "all of them pose downside risks to supply and so upside risk to prices." As for demand, the black swans "are largely economic in nature" and would pressure prices. On the list of what Fitch Solutions considers to have the most potential of happening are Iranian oil exports falling to almost zero without U.S. sanction waivers, and a "full economic collapse" in Venezuela.

Jan 21 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Crude prices rose to their highest so far in 2019 after data showed refinery processing in China, the world's second-largest oil consumer, climbed to a record last year despite a slowing economy.
- Gold prices held steady as expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will pause its multi-year interest rate hike cycle were offset by a recovery in investor appetite for risk.
- The dollar held steady near a two-week high against a basket of currencies, as investor risk appetite held up despite the latest data showing China's 2018 economic growth slowing to a near three-decade low.
- London copper prices slid, on course to fall for the first time in five sessions, amid concerns over slowing economic growth in top industrial metals consumer China.
- U.S. corn and soybean futures rose for a third straight session on Friday in a broad commodities and equities market rally sparked by renewed optimism about U.S.-China trade talks.

- As the US government shutdown nears its fifth week, economists are weighing the potential economic damage of the ongoing closure. Deutsche Bank economists expect real GDP growth for 1Q to fall 0.2 to 0.3 percentage points if the government reopens by the end of next week, but if the shutdown lasts the entire quarter, growth could fall a full percentage point. Capital Economics economists say while the direct costs of the shutdown are relatively modest, the indirect costs could harm the economy more. "For every government department without funding, there will also be suppliers going unpaid, cancellations of contractor work and even missed rental payments on federal buildings," they say.
- Steep duties applied by China to chicken imports could actually wind up helping the US meat industry. The duties in this case are antidumping levies on Brazilian chicken, implemented by China last June. As US and Chinese trade officials discuss reopening China to US chicken exports, Mizuho analysts say China's duties on Brazilian chicken--the biggest competitor to US meat companies when it comes to poultry byproducts--set up "an easier path for US producers to regain market share" in China.
- The shutdown has spread into space. Lockheed Martin warns in a regulatory filing that furloughs threaten the launch of a commercial satellite for a Saudi Arabian customer, as well as some other SpaceX launches. Lockheed needs government approval for a giant, Russian-owned cargo jet to fly satellites from California to Florida, and cautions that the timetable for some planned military launches later this year.
- President Trump last week drew hearty applause at the Farm Bureau's annual convention, but a survey released this week shows that ongoing trade battles are eroding some of his farm-country support. A Farm Journal survey, sent out in late October, shows that 37% of farmers view Trump less favorably since trade disputes with Mexico, China and other countries got underway early last year. That's up from 35% in mid-August, shortly after the Trump administration outlined plans to pay farmers billions of dollars to soften the financial blow of tariffs imposed on US farm goods, like crops and meat. If President Trump were up for election in late October, 56% of farmers surveyed would've given him another term, versus 44% saying no, according to Farm Journal's survey.
- While investors focused on the possibility of a reduction in the U.S. and China's tit-for-tat trade tariffs, they're also eyeing the potential impact of Beijing widening its metal scrap imports ban, due to take effect July 1. Some analysts expect the edict will shrink China's copper scrap imports by 10% and its aluminum scrap imports by nearly 40%. The move represents "the government in Beijing taking another step toward combating environmental pollution in the country," Commerzbank analysts say. This latest tightening of waste restrictions is unlikely to be Beijing's last. Next week traders will also look to China's industrial production and growth figures due Monday, with concerns about a slowing Chinese economy one of the key drivers of recent market volatility.
- Copper prices rise 1.2% to $6,065 a metric ton as commodities advance on the prospect of softening trade tensions between the U.S. and China. Aluminum, zinc, and nickel prices also increased by 1% or more. The long-running trade spat between the world's two largest economies has for months distracted metals investors from market fundamentals, with economic pressure on China--which is responsible for approximately half of global metals demand--posing a greater threat to industrial metals prices than most other factors, many analysts say. "Although it doesn't appear immediately clear that there's certainty around [possible tariff reductions], I think the bigger impact is more what wouldn't happen," Capital Economics' Ross Strachan says. "So far it's been more the threat of further escalation would have had a bigger impact, and that being taken away is improving sentiment."
- US stocks finished higher for a third straight session on hopes of easing trade tensions, a conflict between the US and China that has rattled financial markets in recent months. The Dow jumped 163 points, or 0.8%, after falling more than 100 points in morning trading. Major indexes got a boost after WSJ reported US trade officials are debating ratcheting back tariffs on Chinese imports. The news was welcomed by investors. "It's too early to say whether there's some kind of concession here, or that the US will relax the tariffs, but I'm somewhat encouraged," says Jeremy Held, head of investment strategy at financial-services firm ALPS.
- Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said the private-sector labor market remains strong despite a nearly one-month long partial government shutdown. "Clearly the shutdown imposes economic harm," he said Thursday in an interview with WSJ. "When the shutdown ends, a lot of that harm will reverse itself." He pointed out that unemployment claims, other than those filed by federal workers, fell last week to near the lowest level in 49 years. "I think what that shows is the enduring strength of the private-sector labor market," he said. Jobless claims are a proxy for layoffs, and the historically low number comes at a time when the economy has added to payrolls for 99-straight months, the longest stretch of consistent job creation on record.
- US stocks jump, with the Dow rising more than 200 points on a WSJ report Washington is debating easing tariffs on Chinese imports. Sources close to the talks tell WSJ that the potential concessions come as officials seek in part to calm financial markets. S&P 500 rises 1% and Nasdaq gains 1%.
- The House, including scores of Republicans, voted overwhelmingly -- 362 to 53 -- to pass a resolution disapproving of Treasury's plan to ease sanctions on aluminum producer Rusal, the world's second largest. It is controlled by a Russian oligarch with ties to the Kremlin. Though the optics of Republicans rebuking President Trump is a notable political development, it isn't expected to slow Treasury's plans to delist. It would take a joint resolution of Congress to do that, and a parallel measure failed in the Senate yesterday.

Jan 18 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices climbed 1 percent after a report from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) showed its production fell sharply last month, easing fears about prolonged oversupply.
- Palladium held above $1,400 an ounce after surging to record levels in the previous session amid tight supplies and robust demand, while gold stood firm even as risk sentiment got a boost from hopes of progress in U.S.-China trade talks.
- The dollar was firm against the yen as growing optimism of progress in Sino-U.S. trade talks supported broader appetite for risk.
- London copper prices rose for a fourth straight session, hitting their highest level so far this year, on optimism that the United States and top metals consumer China are closer to resolving their long-running trade dispute.
- Chicago soybean futures ticked down with the market poised to finish lower for a second consecutive week on pressure from a lack of Chinese buying.

- US stocks jump, with the Dow rising more than 200 points on a WSJ report Washington is debating easing tariffs on Chinese imports. Sources close to the talks tell WSJ that the potential concessions come as officials seek in part to calm financial markets. S&P 500 rises 1% and Nasdaq gains 1%.
- The House, including scores of Republicans, voted overwhelmingly -- 362 to 53 -- to pass a resolution disapproving of Treasury's plan to ease sanctions on aluminum producer Rusal, the world's second largest. It is controlled by a Russian oligarch with ties to the Kremlin. Though the optics of Republicans rebuking President Trump is a notable political development, it isn't expected to slow Treasury's plans to delist. It would take a joint resolution of Congress to do that, and a parallel measure failed in the Senate yesterday.
- William Blair cuts F5 to market perform, saying the application-services company suffers from stagnant demand in its enterprise business. There's also uncertainty around the success of F5's upcoming cloud-native application-delivery controller offering, which perform common tasks in data centers, due to product-positioning challenges and greater competition from other cloud providers and startups Avi Networks and Nginx, the firm says. Blair had raised F5 to outperform in April when it thought conditions were better. MKM says the government shutdown is another hurdle for F5. MKM says 7%-8% of F5's sales come from the federal government, and if the shutdown lasts into February it could put communication equipment makers' guidance for March quarters at risk. F5 is down 3.5% to $156.19, but still up 12% over the last year.
- US defense stocks all gain ground after President Trump flags a planned third year of increased military spending, with the White House proposal due in early February. His remarks, unveiling a Missile Defense Review, lift Lockheed Martin by almost 2% and Northrop Grumman by nearly 3%. Contractors mostly insulated from shutdown effects, though closures at some departments have prompted furloughs at subcontractors and delays in payments and contract awards. SAIC says it has had a $10M weekly dent to sales, with payments behind by as much as $50M.
- While earnings growth remained strong at the end of last year, Capital Economics analysts say that investors are too optimistic about the outlook for 4Q earnings. "The ongoing government shutdown in the US is keeping official data releases there to a minimum, so as far as the stock market is concerned the spotlight is firmly on firms' Q4 earnings numbers out this week," analysts say. The firm expects economic growth to slow significantly in 2019 and 2020, taking a "more obvious toll" on the economy that makes double-digit EPS growth look too hopeful, analysts add. Of the S&P 500 companies to report 4Q earnings so far, 77% have reported results that beat analyst expectations, compared to historical average performance of 64% over the full quarter, according to Refinitiv data.
- A lack of progress in the government shutdown standoff between President Trump and House Democrats has grain markets worried that they will be operating without important USDA for an extended period of time. "There are still no signs that the US government will be funded in the near or even medium term," says AgResource. "The two sides seem to be getting farther apart." The shutdown is now on its 27th day, the longest shutdown in US history. During that time, the grains market has not had access to key USDA data including weekly export sales, confirmations of purchases by foreign nations, and the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, among other things.
- US jobless claims fall to 213K from 216K the prior week, compared to consensus estimates of 220K, as the labor market starts the new year strong. "(Jobless claims) appear to be stabilizing at a very low level," says Michael Pearce of Capital Economics. Meanwhile, 10,450 federal employees, who file under a separate program that reported with a one-week lag, filed for first-time benefits for the week ended Jan. 5, or the second week of the shutdown. That figure is up by about 6,000 from the prior week, but Pearce says that's a small figure considering how many are without pay during the shutdown. Federal workers granted backpay would have to repay any unemployment benefits once the shutdown ends, lessening the incentive to make those claims, Pearce adds.
- The number of federal employees filing for unemployment benefits climbed by nearly 6,000 to 10,450 in the week ended Jan 5, likely due to the government shutdown. Federal employees file under a separate program than state employees and are thus excluded from the headline jobless claims figure of 213,000 for the week ended Jan 12. On the state level, federal employees' applications for unemployment benefits were highest in California and Texas, likely due to large populations in these states. The state with the third highest number of applications was Utah, which has a large number of national parks and sizable number of IRS employees.
- A report by the U.S. commerce department, due Feb. 17, could serve as a catalyst for declines in the euro, says MUFG. The report will "indicate whether automotive imports are considered strategically important and thereby could pose a threat to U.S. national security." President Donald Trump used the national security threat card to back up his protectionist stance before and add import tariffs on Chinese products last year. "Such a finding could provide a strong case for President Trump to slap tariffs on auto imports in a blow to both Japan and the EU," which could deliver another "negative blow" to the euro, says MUFG.
- The Stoxx Europe 600 slips 0.1%, or 0.45 points, to 350.14 as tech stocks drop after reports that U.S. federal prosecutors are investigating Huawei Technologies Co. for allegedly stealing trade secrets. German semiconductor maker Siltronic declines 3.9%, while STMicroelectronics backtracks 2.5% and Infineon Technologies and ams AG are both down 2.2%. Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine slides 6.6% after cutting its guidance for the 2019 financial year due to lower-than-expected provisional earnings in the first nine months.
- The FTSE 100 Index is set to open 31 points lower at 6837 after reports that U.S. federal prosecutors are investigating Huawei Technologies Co. for allegedly stealing trade secrets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 141 points ahead on Wednesday but Chinese and Hong Kong indexes were firmly in the red. Jasper Lawler at London Capital Group notes that the U.S. investigation comes as Sino-American relations were improving. "It goes right to the heart of the unresolved intellectual property issues with China," he says. "Signs of Chinese retaliation could see stocks sink further."
- Alcoa continues to press its case that more pressure needs to be applied to curb China's aluminum industry. The company has been an outspoken opponent of US tariffs on imported aluminum to counter depressed prices, insisting that China's massive exports of semi-fabricated aluminum products are the source of weak prices globally. Alcoa maintains that the tariff is misplaced, hitting foreign aluminum producers who aren't causing the problem. "Overcapacity and overproduction inside of China--we believe that those things are having an outsized impact on prices," said CEO Roy Harvey during Alcoa's 4Q conference call. Shares are down 1.5% after-hours.

Jan 17 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices dipped as U.S. crude production quickly approached an unprecedented 12 million barrels per day (bpd) just as worries about weakening demand emerge.
- Palladium rose to a record high on lower supply and increasing demand for the metal used in auto catalysts, while a firmer dollar offset expectations of a pause in the U.S. Federal Reserve's rate-hiking cycle, keeping gold steady. 
- London copper prices rose for a third straight session China's move to inject liquidity into the financial system boosted expectations of higher demand in the world's top industrial metals consumer.
- Chicago soybean futures rose for a second session with prices supported by adverse weather in South America though concerns over a prolonged trade war between Washington and Beijing curbed gains.

- Even as more than 2,000 Federal Aviation Administration return to work without pay monitoring airline safety, other employees responsible for approving certain drone flights and overseeing organizations that train pilots for business and private aircraft remain off the job. Approvals of exemptions and waivers for unmanned aircraft operations have virtually stopped. So have the FAA's recurring approvals of instructors and simulator devices at flight schools and pilot-training companies. Even routine permits to ferry business jets around without passengers, or allow corporate planes to cross the US border, are being held up. FAA officials say all essential safety functions, including air-traffic control and airline inspections, are continuing as before with some 33,000 of 44,700 employees working.
- The Fed's Beige Book signals tightening financial conditions and falling optimism in economic activity that lays the groundwork for no rate hike in March, says Jon Hill of BMO Capital Markets. "(The Beige Book) was consistent with moderate underlying domestic growth and increasing risks appearing on the horizon," Hill says. Hill also notes that tariffs are now only one of several considerations mentioned for domestic companies now that variables like the federal government shutdown have arisen, and that a still-tight labor market could contribute to a drag on growth in the future.
- Companies across Fed districts reported seeing rising material costs, sometimes linked to higher tariffs, in the Fed's beige book. Some firms were able to pass along price increases to customers. Meanwhile, others looked for ways to cut costs or avoid price increases altogether. To offset the climbing cost of raw materials, for instance, a Maryland can manufacturer looked to increase automation in hopes of lowering employee headcount and thus labor costs. In a bid to get ahead of anticipated tariff increases, a Virginia display case manufacturer had Chinese goods shipped through West coast ports.
- In the Chicago Fed District, payments to farmers have "been disrupted" by the partial government shutdown, and lack of agricultural economic data are leaving market participants in the dark, the beige book report showed. The federal government's Market Facilitation Program, which supported farm incomes for soybean producers, has thrown such compensation into disarray, the report said. The shutdown also delayed the release of key government reports on agricultural market conditions, "leading to greater uncertainty for market participants," the report said. These two references were the beige book's sole mentions of the partial government shutdown, which began last month.
- Oxford Economics warns that the government shutdown thus far tied to President Trump's inflexible demands for funding for a border wall is a growing threat to the economy the longer it persists. "If the shutdown lasts through Q1, the drag would cumulate to 0.6ppt, bringing our GDP tracker to 1.5%," the firm told clients. "The longer the shutdown lasts, the larger the multiplier could be via disruption to essential services like food stamps and increased private sector uncertainty."
- Airbnb is offering up to $110 to federal employees who open their homes to guests or take people on adventures. The home-sharing platform announces that federal workers who host people for three nights any time between Friday and March 18 will receive the credit, which was determined to be the average income per night for US hosts. Experienced hosts are also eligible, with the amount based on the total booked value of their experience. The promotion is open to new and existing hosts. Airbnb's move comes as several other companies are looking for ways to extend assistance to federal workers during the partial government shutdown. Several banks have offered fee reversals and waivers and food companies such as Kraft Heinz have offered a bag full of Kraft products to those affected.
- Prime Minister Theresa May's failure to get the votes to move forward with the proposed Brexit plan is "a huge blow for UK businesses and their counterparts as they will likely be forced to continue to operate in an uncertain environment," says Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management. While risk assets are continuing to perform well, "the current state of paralysis not only weighs on the European economy, but (the global economy as well)," Ripley adds. Now, the immediate focus shifts to the upcoming no-confidence vote for May's government.
- There's no lack of public holidays in Japan. There will be more this year with a new emperor's reign set to start May 1, following Akihito's abdication. That should help boost consumer spending, says Nomura. Also, investors are likely soon to begin paying attention to the potential impact from Tokyo's hosting of the 2020 Summer Olympics. "We believe that markets will start to factor in some benefit of the Olympics in industry sectors such as construction, media and tourism." Local politics are also expected to buoy stocks, the investment bank says. The upper house will face voters this year, and so might the lower house "depending on the progress of peace-treaty negotiations between Japan and Russia." Nomura says the government is likely to push policies to maintain its control.
- The drive to deploy airborne digital messaging to pilots from air-traffic controllers, one of the FAA's top priority modernization projects, is being slowed by continuing agency furloughs. So-called data-link communications to airliners flying in domestic airspace are intended to phase out routine radio messages between controllers and pilots. Commands and information would be displayed on computer screens or printouts. But under the current partial government shutdown, training and testing schedules for such enhancements are being delayed. Airlines have been anticipating fuel savings and other economic benefits from the changes, which are intended to supplement digital links already used to transmit route clearances and other information prior to takeoff.

Jan 16 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices were steady as signs of a global economic slowdown were countered by OPEC-led supply cuts which helped support Brent crude futures above $60 per barrel.
- Gold edged up, supported by uncertainty around Brexit after lawmakers voted down British Prime Minister Theresa May's deal to leave the European Union, while calls grew for a pause in U.S. rate hikes.
- The pound steadied but remained on the backfoot following a volatile overnight session after British lawmakers defeated Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit divorce deal by a crushing margin.
- London copper prices advanced for a second straight session, as a weaker dollar made the base metal cheaper for holders of other currencies, and indications of more stimulus from top consumer China buoyed investor sentiment.
- U.S. soybean futures rose 0.5 percent, rebounding from a two-week low in the previous session, although gains were checked amid concerns over a prolonged trade war between Washington and Beijing.

- The drive to deploy airborne digital messaging to pilots from air-traffic controllers, one of the FAA's top priority modernization projects, is being slowed by continuing agency furloughs. So-called data-link communications to airliners flying in domestic airspace are intended to phase out routine radio messages between controllers and pilots. Commands and information would be displayed on computer screens or printouts. But under the current partial government shutdown, training and testing schedules for such enhancements are being delayed. Airlines have been anticipating fuel savings and other economic benefits from the changes, which are intended to supplement digital links already used to transmit route clearances and other information prior to takeoff.
- President Trump's top economic adviser says the partial government shutdown is affecting his staff, acknowledging that, at least on a personal level, those in the White House are feeling a pinch in the shutdown's fourth week. Kevin Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, says one long-time employee is now driving for Uber. He adds another person may turn down a job because it's unclear when they could start. "Nobody thinks that government workers are better off because of the furlough," Hassett says on a call with reporters. "It breaks my heart that that is going on." He confirms he's working but not receiving a paycheck. It's an apparent change in tone from a PBS interview posted Thursday, where he said the shutdown allowed government workers to vacation without using their leave.
- While the vote on Brexit was in many ways meaningless, the defeat--at least symbolically--was crushing for May's deal. This was nothing more than a necessary exercise that will now accelerate the process and allow other options for parliament to be explored, including a vote of no confidence in the government, says Craig Erlam, strategist at OANDA. The confidence vote looks unlikely to succeed without the support of the DUP, which continues to support the Conservative party, but again this is a necessary exercise that ticks another box and allows for a second referendum to gain momentum, he adds. It's no surprise then that the EU has not changed its position on the exit deal as a referendum or withdrawal of article 50 is clearly in its best interest.
- US Attorney General nominee Bill Barr's time as a top telecom lawyer prompts some specific questions during his confirmation hearing, including one on his approach to Chinese electronics makers Huawei and ZTE. The would-be AG is less ambivalent on that question that he is addressing other hot-button topics, telling senators "in my old Verizon days we understood the danger" and steered clear of the gear despite "economically attractive" prices. Both suppliers have faced mounting pressure from law enforcement in recent months and Huawei's CFO was arrested in Canada last month on US Justice Department charges.
- Takeda Pharmaceutical Chief Executive Christophe Weber says the US should change federal laws to improve transparency with rebates and discounts to prescriptions drugs. Doing so, he said, would fuel industry competition and ultimately help patients. "Increasing transparency could certainly be a way to improve the system," Weber said in an interview after the Japanese drugmaker officially listed in the New York Stock Exchange. He expects the topic of drug pricing to "become more important" in the 2020 election and beyond. Takeda recently completed a $62B acquisition of Shire PLC, creating one of the world's largest drugmakers with revenues north of $30B.
- Fuel prices are likely to rise next year, a rebound from a weak 2019, as new environmental rules for commercial ships raise demand for higher quality fuels, EIA says. Brent oil prices are likely to get a $2.50-a-barrel boost from new standards set by the International Maritime Organization -- an arm of the UN -- that slash the amount of sulfur in marine fuel for oceangoing ships as of Jan. 1, 2020. This estimate is from EIA's monthly Short Term Energy Outlook, released Tuesday with EIA's first analysis of the IMO rules. They were set roughly a decade ago, but now raise the chances of higher fuel prices in a presidential election year. The Trump administration has been exploring ways to ease the rollout of the new rules since last autumn, so far with little success.
- Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian says the carrier isn't seeing significant numbers of passengers missing flights due to long airport security lines during the government shutdown. "In isolated airports we're having some longer lines, but it's not a system-wide issue at all," Bastian tells analysts and reporters. Delta is helping staff checkpoints and rebooking passengers who miss flights. The bigger impact appears to be the approximately $25M in lost revenue from reduced government travel.
- Delta says it's working with the TSA to help keep lines under control at airports while TSA staff goes unpaid during the government shutdown, including providing personnel to perform nonessential tasks in the security process. Airlines and airports have helped TSA out before when it's been short staffed, providing workers to do things like instruct passengers and direct traffic so that more TSA employees can focus on security screening. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, in Delta's hometown, is one of the airports where waits have grown at times as TSA officers have been absent. The Atlanta airport has warned that travelers should leave themselves three hours to get through security during peak travel times, but airport officials said there were no delays Tuesday morning.
- The grain market outlook for futures prices on the CBOT is mixed, with many analysts in the market unimpressed with the lack of specific announcements in President Trumps' speech at the American Farm Bureau's convention in New Orleans yesterday. "President Trump defended his tough trade policies in front of thousands of farmers who have suffered during his trade war with China, disappointing others who had hoped to hear a plan for a swift resolution," says Allendale. Soybean and wheat futures fell yesterday, while corn found support under $3.80 per bushel.
- Oil prices bounce higher after a two-day decline as investors re-focus on increased oil sanctions against Iran. Reports indicate the US has decided to grant no additional waivers to countries that wanted to keep importing oil from Iran. So as the remaining temporary waivers slowly chip away, that should curb Iranian crude exports, tighten global supplies and lift oil prices. Markets will shift gears to the US later today as the EIA is due to release its monthly Short Term Energy Outlook, while trade group API reports its weekly US inventory data at 4:30 pm ET. WTI was recently 1.4% higher at $51.23/bbl.
- JPMorgan Chase CEO James Dimon said on a conference call that the ongoing shutdown of parts of the federal government "is not going to help the economy." Dimon said that while it was unclear exactly what effect the shutdown would have on the economy, he relayed one estimate that if it continued for the entire first quarter, economic growth could go to zero. Finance chief Marianne Lake said on the same conference call that the bank was hopeful that the shutdown would end as soon as possible.
- Delta flags the headwind from the government shutdown alongside Easter's move into April and forex moves, though still expects adjusted unit revenue in 1Q to be in a range of flat to up 2%, with capacity rising 4% from a year earlier. United, which reports later Tuesday, is expected by analysts to be more exposed to any shutdown impact given its hub at Washington Dulles. Shares in both carriers marked lower before the open.

Jan 15 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose by more than 1 percent amid supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and Russia, although a darkening economic outlook may soon weigh on growth in fuel demand. 
- Gold prices held steady, supported by market expectations of fewer interest rate hikes in the year by the U.S. Federal Reserve, while a bounce in Chinese equities stoked interest in riskier assets.
- Most base metals rebounded as China signalled more supportive measures to stabilise a slowing economy after weak trade data disappointed investors.
- Chicago soybean futures ticked higher, recouping some of the previous session's decline on concerns over adverse weather in South America, although slowing demand in China limited the gains.
- The dollar weakened on heightened expectations the Federal Reserve will hold off on raising rates this year due to a slowdown in global growth, while sterling edged up ahead of Britain's parliamentary vote on its Brexit plan.

- SunTrust Banks, Verizon Communications and Applied Materials, a semiconductor manufacturer have challenges to shareholder proposals pending at the SEC to exclude shareholder proposals that would establish a board committee on social and environmental issues. Apple faced a similar proposal, but received SEC permission to exclude it prior to the shutdown and ahead of the company's March 1 annual meeting. If the shutdown continues even after companies need to send out proxy statements to shareholders, companies could include proposals in their proxy statements but not make them subject to a vote, saying they are waiting for a determination from the SEC.
- Publicly traded companies could have to put thorny proposals that they oppose up for shareholder votes if the government shutdown doesn't end soon. The SEC, which is closed and operating with a skeleton staff, must sign off on requests by companies to exclude these proposals from a vote at annual meetings. The SEC each winter handles a wave of requests from companies to keep unwanted initiatives off the proxy ballots every public company puts before its shareholders. Proposals can be struck from the ballot if they have been voted on before; or because they are deemed to not be economically relevant to the the company's performance; or if they don't relate to a company's core business activities, among other reasons.
- The U.K. parliament voting against Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal this evening "is priced into sterling and gilts to the extent that the government does not lose by more than around 100 votes," Societe Generale says. "A much bigger defeat, say closer to 200, would initially be negative for the pound and yields, as it would tip the scales towards Labour tabling a motion of no-confidence," SocGen says. If Mrs. May were to lose a no-confidence vote, and no new Conservative leader emerges, general elections could follow, which most analysts say would be negative for the pound. GBP/USD falls 0.2% to 1.2836, while EUR/GBP slips 0.1% to 0.8907 as the euro weakens after German GDP data.
- An experimental treatment for peanut allergy in children faces delays getting to market because of the partial US federal government shutdown. Aimmune Therapeutics said in a securities filing the US Food and Drug Administration won't begin reviewing Aimmune's application to market the drug, AR101, "as a result of the U.S. government shutdown and lapse in appropriations." The FDA will start its review when the shutdown and funding are resolved. Aimmune submitted its application Dec. 21, before the shutdown began. The drug showed promise in a study whose results were released in November. FDA Commissioner Gottlieb has tweeted that the agency only has several weeks of funding left from user fees to review new drug applications.
- During a speech at the American Farm Bureau Federation in New Orleans on Monday, President Trump noted that Argentina had opened its market to buy US pork and he praised China and President Xi, saying that "it's our fault," for the US allowing a trade deficit to grow between the two countries, promising that China will eventually drop its tariff on US pork. Additionally, Trump said that China had begun ordering US agricultural products, although he did not provide specifics on what purchases had been made. Lean hog futures closed trading on the CME Monday down 1.3%. President Trump said that as part of his administration's border reform approach he would revise rules to "make it easier" for migrant farm workers to stay in the US legally. "For the people that work the farms--it'll be easier for them to get in," says Trump. The President did not provide any specifics regarding how it would be made easier for workers to stay in the country.
- Weak US import data out of China is dragging down grains futures on the CBOT today - with March soybean futures down 0.9% and wheat futures down 1.1%. The news that China's total imports had dropped 7.6% year-over-year in December cast doubt on reports that China had purchased millions of metric tons of soybeans during the shutdown -- although grains purchases announced in December may not transact until later months. "It was another great reminder of how far behind we are on soybeans sales," says Brian Grossman of Zaner Group. "It was a hard reality check that the Brazilian harvest is a month away." Chinese buyers have reportedly favored Brazilian soybeans over US ones while the US-China trade dispute is still active.
- Credit Suisse asks if Democrats and Trump could agree on drug pricing, after a series of proposed measures to tackle the issue were presented last week. While partisanship remains high, drug pricing seems to be one of the fields where the two sides of the aisle seem to align, notes CS. If price cuts of 10-25% are considered across different programs, AstraZeneca could be most exposed, while Bayer, Johnson & Johnson and Merck KGaA the least, says the bank.
- Canada PM Trudeau unveils changes to his cabinet, after a senior minister stepped down last week. Cabinet heavyweights such as Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Finance Minister Bill Morneau stayed put, as widely expected. The only significant surprise was a change at Justice, where a former law professor at Montreal's McGill University, David Lametti, was appointed Justice Minister. Canada's justice minister could ultimately have to decide whether to approve the US extradition request for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. Meng is in Vancouver, out on bail, and next appears in court in early February. The cabinet changes come less than a year before Trudeau faces national voters in an election campaign.
- With the government shutdown now the longest on record and showing few signs of ending soon, the grain market appears resigned to continue its  focus on Brazilian data as a source of market clarity this week. "With no government export data, all the trade has to focus on is South American  weather and the dry conditions in Central Brazil continue to attract attention," says Tomm Pfitzenmaier of Summit Commodity Brokerage. In the soybean market, which abounds with rumors of Chinese purchases in the past  few weeks, traders are treading water and waiting for the end of the  shutdown or announcement of a full US-China trade deal, according to Pfitzenmaier.

Jan 14 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices fell by almost 1 percent, with Brent crude slipping below $60 per barrel, after Chinese data showed weakening imports and exports in the world's biggest trading nation and second-largest crude oil consumer.
- Gold prices rose as the dollar fell on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will not raise rates this year and as Asian stocks tumbled after lacklustre China data pointed to a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy. 
- Copper and aluminium prices in both London and Shanghai lost ground after China reported disappointing export and import data for December.
- Chicago soybean futures lost ground as imports by the world's biggest buyer China dropped for the first time since 2011, following a trade war between Washington and Beijing.

- The Federal Aviation Administration is gearing up to order more airline-safety inspectors to return to work in coming days, as the agency copes with the partial federal government shutdown. Reacting to the length of the budget impasse--and the potential it could stretch for days or weeks longer--FAA managers are making plans to recall certain safety-critical employees to work such as inspectors who monitor airline operations. Air-traffic controllers already are exempt from the shutdown, but now the FAA is studying other employees who need to work in order to ensure safety. An FAA spokesman says resources are being allocated "based on risk assessment to meet all safety critical functions" and "we continue to proactively conduct risk assessments" and recall inspectors and engineers as needed.
- The union that represents US Air Traffic Controllers is the latest government employee union suing the federal government for not paying its members who have had to work without pay during the partial government shutdown. Air traffic controllers are among the 420,000 federal workers who are deemed essential and have had to keep working through the partial government shutdown even though they aren't receiving paychecks. The government's "unlawful failure to pay" the workers "has and continues to have a devastating effect on those devoted federal employees' lives," the suit alleges. The American Federation of Government Employees has brought a similar suit.
- Transportation Security Administration workers are getting a small measure of relief: one day's pay. The agency has determined that "legally and financially" it can pay TSA agents for work they did on Dec. 22, the first day of the partial government shutdown, TSA Administrator David Pekoske says on Twitter. "We are working hard to process every TSA employee who worked that day so they can get paid early next week," Pekoske says. Aside from that, TSA officers who are deemed essential workers and have to keep working during the shutdown won't be paid until appropriations are made to the agency.
- The federal shutdown has left grocers unable to renew their food stamp licenses and unable to acquire new ones, according to the National Grocers Association. "The partial government shutdown has had serious effects on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the independent grocery industry," the trade group wrote to members. The government instructed states to load food stamp benefits to participants by Jan. 20, but currently won't put additional cash loaded on cards next month. "The government shutdown is having significant impact on your stores and the customers you serve," wrote Independent Grocers Alliance CEO John Ross to members.
- Transportation Security Administration officers will not be paid today for the first time since the partial federal government shutdown began. The agency's rate of unplanned absences has been higher this week than the same time a year ago, but relatively steady at around 5%, and wait times have remained normal at most major airports as the holiday travel rush has slowed. Still, TSA says it's "working with key stakeholders and industry partners to explore efforts to consolidate officers and operations."
- Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in to a second, six-year term Thursday, and analysts say this probably means the OPEC-member nation's struggles with oil production, exports, refining and every other part of the industry will just keep trudging along. "Oil production is likely to further decline from its current level of 1.1M bpd (even if at a slower rate since remaining production is now primarily join ventures)," says Eurasia Group's Risa Grais-Targow. "And any oil-related sanctions from the U.S. would further complicate cash-flow." Venezuela's socialist revolution is now nearly 20 years old, and while Grais-Targow says Maduro remains vulnerable, she says that for now "we see no indication of a catalyst for political change."
- Speculation on the Fed's monetary policy moves weigh on the dollar, but that's not the only thing that does: The fact that the partial U.S. government shutdown is close to setting a new longevity record, that America's deficit topped $1 trillion in the last fiscal year and that the national debt stood at $21.9 trillion as of Jan. 9 don't augur well for USD sentiment, MUFG says. The partial shutdown stretched into its third week on Friday and will become the longest in U.S. history if it continues into Saturday.
- The day's U.K. economic releases show that "Brexit has basically ground all business activity to a halt as markets await some resolution of the issue before committing any investment capital," says Boris Schlossberg, managing director of forex strategy at BK Asset Management. GDP, industrial and manufacturing production data indicated a softer U.K. economy, while Britain's trade deficit has also increased. "If U.K. politicians allow the situation to devolve to a no-deal ending the collapse in economic activity is sure to become much worse," Mr. Schlossberg says. For now, sterling is stable against the dollar as "markets await the results of next week's Parliament vote." GBP/USD is last up 0.6% at 1.2830.
- Despite apparent progress at this week's US-China trade talks, Aberdeen Standard Investment says America's "ultimate goals of reducing the bilateral trade deficit; preventing intellectual-property theft and cyberattacks; and creating a more-level playing field for US firms exporting to or wanting to operate in China will be difficult to achieve." The firm also believes that "there are significant limits to the extent that China will be willing to upend its industrial- and foreign-policy strategy, and in particular the Made in China 2025 initiative given its centrality to achieving Xi's long-term economic goals." So while tensions are liable to de-escalate near-term, likely good for investors in risk assets--especially in Asia--Aberdeen thinks "there is a high likelihood that any agreement to suspend tariffs eventually breaks down when it becomes clear that Trump's objectives cannot really be met."

Jan 11 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices were on track for solid weekly gains after financial markets were lifted by hopes the United States and China may soon resolve their trade disputes, and as OPEC-led crude output cuts started to tighten supply.
- Gold prices climbed as the dollar retreated on expectations the Federal Reserve may pause interest rate hikes if the U.S. economy slows this year, while investors awaited news on progress in the Sino-U.S. trade talks.
- London copper prices edged higher as the dollar weakened, making metals cheaper for holders of other currencies, while investors welcomed signs that talks to resolve the U.S.-China trade row were moving to the next level.
- Chicago soybean futures ticked higher but the market is poised for its first decline in three weeks on lack of further purchases by China despite it holding trade talks with the United States.

- Despite apparent progress at this week's US-China trade talks, Aberdeen Standard Investment says America's "ultimate goals of reducing the bilateral trade deficit; preventing intellectual-property theft and cyberattacks; and creating a more-level playing field for US firms exporting to or wanting to operate in China will be difficult to achieve." The firm also believes that "there are significant limits to the extent that China will be willing to upend its industrial- and foreign-policy strategy, and in particular the Made in China 2025 initiative given its centrality to achieving Xi's long-term economic goals." So while tensions are liable to de-escalate near-term, likely good for investors in risk assets--especially in Asia--Aberdeen thinks "there is a high likelihood that any agreement to suspend tariffs eventually breaks down when it becomes clear that Trump's objectives cannot really be met."
- The trade spat between the U.S. and China has yet to have much of an impact so far, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday. "I don't think tariffs on either side have had much of a visible mark," he said. Trade talks between the U.S. and China could go either way, he said. "If this process leads us to a fairer, more open, lower tariffs environment for trade that will be good," he said. If instead it leads to more protectionism, he said, "that will lead to a less productive economy here in the United States and around the world."
- Fed Chairman Jerome Powell says he doesn't see any signs from the economy suggesting that the risk of a recession is elevated in the near term. Inflation isn't high enough to force the Fed to hit the brakes on growth by raising rates. Mr. Powell said his principal worry is the global economy, noting that China's growth has been slowing amid the trade confrontation with the U.S.
- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told an audience Thursday he wasn't bothered by President Donald Trump's criticism of his performance. Mr. Powell, who was nominated by Mr. Trump, said he and his colleagues would focus on the job Congress has given them. "We don't get distracted by other things," he said. "We do not take political factors into consideration." Mr. Powell also said he hadn't received an invitation to meet with the president but hinted he wouldn't decline such an offer. "I'm not aware of any Fed chair turning down an invitation to the White House, nor do I think that would be appropriate," he said.
- US stocks are weaker, but have trimmed some of this morning's losses. The Dow is off 36 points, or 0.2%, while the S&P 500 falls 0.3% and the Nasdaq drops 0.2%. Retailers including Macy's and Kohl's reported disappointing sales results from the holiday season, reigniting investor concern. Macy's is off 18%, and Kohl's down 8%. Meanwhile, President Trump spoke to reporters Thursday morning, saying he will "maybe definitely" declare a national emergency if Democrats refuse his demand for border wall funding.
- The US Commerce Department, scheduled to release figures for November wholesale inventories at 10 am, will not publish the report this morning due to the partial government shutdown. Economists surveyed by WSJ expected wholesale inventories to log a 0.5% increase in November after a 0.8% rise in October. The shutdown has so far prevented the publication of reports including new-home sales, construction spending and international trade. Economists say the delayed publication of such data is obscuring the economic picture at a pivotal moment for the global economy.
- US weekly jobless claims fall 17K to 216K for the latest week, signaling the continuation of a strong labor market. "(The numbers) are not the lowest we've seen but they're still very low, and they're right in line with the strong job growth we saw last week," says Veronica Clark, Citi economist. Stock futures are still pointing to opening losses after four sessions of gains, with S&P 500 futures down 14 points.
- Jobless claims for federal employees increased by nearly 4,000 in the week ended December 29, likely reflecting furloughs in the wake of the government shutdown, according to Thursday's Labor Department report. This measure of federal-employee claims is separate from the headline jobless claims figure that reflects claims made under state programs. It is also released with a one-week lag. Overall claims fell by 17,000 to 216,000 in the week ended January 5, indicative of a historically tight labor market in which employers are reluctant to let workers go.
- European bourses are set to open lower in early Thursday trading, with investor sentiment dampened by reports that talks between President Trump and his Democrat counterpart Nancy Pelosi broke down in acrimony, says Michael Hewson of CMC Markets. Germany's DAX should open 43 points lower and France's CAC 40 is set to open 15 points down, says Mr. Hewson.

Jan 10 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices fell by about 1 percent on swelling U.S. supply and amid a cautious reaction to trade talks between the United States and China, the world's two largest oil consumers, that finished without concrete details to ending their dispute.
- Gold prices rose as growing expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will pause its rate tightening cycle this year and an impasse between U.S. President Donald Trump and Democrats on funding for a border wall weighed on the dollar.
- London copper prices shrugged off early losses to rise for a second session, as a weaker dollar enabled the metal to hold gains made from optimism over the latest round of U.S.-China trade talks.
- Chicago soybean futures slid, giving up some of last session's gains, although losses were limited on optimism the United States and China may be inching toward a trade deal, soothing fears of an all-out trade war.

- European bourses are set to open lower in early Thursday trading, with investor sentiment dampened by reports that talks between President Trump and his Democrat counterpart Nancy Pelosi broke down in acrimony, says Michael Hewson of CMC Markets. Germany's DAX should open 43 points lower and France's CAC 40 is set to open 15 points down, says Mr. Hewson.
- President Trump nominates Andrew Wheeler to formally take over the Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler, a former energy-industry lobbyist, has been running the agency as acting administrator for months and Trump previously said he planned to nominate him. Wheeler, 54, continues to push Trump's deregulatory agenda, which now includes crafting new rules that rollback climate-policy mandates on power plants, cars and trucks. Wheeler has already received Senate approval once, but by a narrow margin on largely partisan lines and after a delay tied in part to the EPA's management of biofuels mandates. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee scheduled a nomination hearing for Jan. 16 at 10 am.
- US stocks and Treasury yields pared advances after President Trump addressed reporters on Capitol Hill. Trump says he may have to declare a national emergency "at some point" if negotiations over the border wall don't progress. The S&P 500 rises 0.3%, giving up its gains from after the Fed minutes, while the yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note was at 2.714%, around a session low. Yields fall as bond prices rise.
- Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz was unequivocal at an Ottawa press conference: the US-China trade row is "the most important bit of uncertainty" hovering over the economy. "You are seeing this in expectations [on] the soft surveys. A lot of companies globally are quite concerned about the future of economic growth at this stage. And you see this in the stock markets," Poloz says. In its quarterly economic forecast, BOC cited the trade conflict between US and China as top risk to the inflation outlook. It said failure to obtain a resolution could hit Canadian exports and business investment hard, due to a potential breakdown in global supply chains and weakening confidence.
- The number of Transportation Security Administration workers calling out of work is inching higher as workers get closer to a payday without a check. Yesterday 5% of TSA workers were absent, compared to 4.6% on Monday and 3.9% on January 8 a year ago, according to TSA. If the agency doesn't receive appropriations by tomorrow afternoon it won't be able to make payroll for the more than 50,000 workers who screen passengers and bags at airports. Those workers are deemed essential and have had to continue working through the partial government shutdown that began in December. Still, security lines haven't spiked, with wait times at most major airports still maxing out below 30 minutes Tuesday according to TSA data.
- Roadrunner Transportation Systems says the government shutdown is delaying a $450M rights offering planned for this month because the Securities and Exchange Commission is not able to declare registration statements effective. The trucking company says it will file an amendment to its registration statement allowing it to automatically take effect 20 calendar days after filing without SEC action. The rights offering is to pay off costly rescue financing from hedge fund and major shareholder Elliott Management as well as raise cash for operations. Roadrunner says it intends to close the rights offering by March 1, 2019, and may be able to accelerate timing if the partial government shutdown is resolved before the automatic effective date.
- The US IPO market was supposed to have a big year, but the federal-government shutdown could spoil the party. "It could really put a damper on 2019," says Keith Townsend, who advises companies looking to go public as a partner at law firm King & Spalding. The DC impasse "is going to have the effect of essentially shutting down the IPO markets until the government is back to work." The shutdown has caused a partial closure of the SEC, meaning major companies working on IPOs are now in a holding pattern. While things are unlikely to impact the big unicorns like Uber and Lyft who are planning IPOs later this year, the longer it goes the more companies which may need to push back their offerings.

Jan 09 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)
- Oil prices rose more than 1 percent, extending gains from the previous session on signs that Washington and Beijing may soon resolve a trade dispute that has cast a pall over the global economy.
- Gold prices edged lower as a likely end to a long-drawn Sino-U.S. trade war boosted risk sentiment, outweighing expectations of a pause in interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve.
- Base metals moved higher, with London copper hitting a one-week high, after a report that top consumer China would try to boost spending on autos and home appliances this year, as well as signs of progress in Sino-U.S. trade talks.
- Chicago wheat futures rose for a second session, gaining nearly 1 percent on expectations of increased demand for U.S. cargoes as rival exporters in the Black Sea region run out of surplus supplies.
- Commodity-linked currencies such as the Australian dollar and the Canadian dollar rose, helped by a rise in oil prices and growing optimism that China and the United States may be inching toward a trade deal.

- General Electric will begin disclosing contributions to 501(c)(4) "social welfare" organizations and non-tax-deductible contributions to major trade associations, both of which can be spent on elections, according to a nonprofit pushing companies to improve political-spending transparency. The agreement, which expands existing GE disclosures, was reached with the Center for Political Accountability and New York's state comptroller after shareholder-engagement outfit Investor Voice submitted a proxy proposal on the subject in September. Political-spending proposals rarely win majority shareholder support, but large companies have increasingly agreed to expand disclosures amid pressure from some institutional investors.
- The three major US stock indexes are heading toward a third consecutive session of gains on trade optimism. The Dow is up 255 points, or 1.1%, to 23779. The S&P 500 gains 0.9% and the Nasdaq rises 1%. Wells Fargo Investment Institute analysts say they expect that the risks of trade-tariff escalation should stay contained so long as trade negotiations continue to be productive. "Since formal talks have only just begun, we expect this trade-related narrative to remain with the markets for some time," analysts say.
- The USDA announces it will be extending the deadline for agricultural producers to apply for payments under the Market Facilitation Program. The deadline for applications was originally set for Jan. 15, but the government shutdown has left farmers unable to apply. "We will ... extend the application deadline for a period of time equal to the number of business days FSA offices were closed, once the government shutdown ends," Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says. "Farmers who have already applied for the program and certified their 2018 production have continued to receive payments." Perdue also urges Congress to "pass an appropriations bill that President Trump will sign and end the lapse in funding."
- There's suddenly a lot more to unpack and worry about regarding Exxon's exploration and drilling activities in offshore Guyana, its biggest growth region outside the Permian. Guyana's foreign oil-friendly government recently lost a no-confidence vote, meaning likely snap elections by March, and Exxon-overseen ships were harassed by Venezuela's navy, whose government claims they were in Venezuela's--not Guyana's--waters. Christian Wagner at global risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft says higher royalties, lower cost recovery allowances, higher local content requirements and/or contractual revisions are all now at least possible, but says for the time being Exxon's enjoying a remarkable success rate "and continued activity by Exxon is good news for local contractors and suppliers, providing certainty that business will continue as usual."
- The Stoxx Europe 600 rises 0.9%, or three points, to 345.89 after traders shrugged off downbeat eurozone economic data amid optimism about U.S.-China trade tension easing. The DAX gains 0.5% and the CAC-40 is up 1.1%. "Dealers have high hopes for the U.S.-China trade talks, there were some optimistic words from President Trump and that added to the bullish move," David Madden at CMC Markets says. Tech stocks are again among the biggest pan-European risers, with Austrian sensor-maker AMS AG up nearly 11%.
- US stocks rise sharply as investors monitor developments in trade negotiations between the US and China. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 1%, to 23,759, and the S&P 500 index gains 0.7%, lead by the industrials sector as the group has been hammered by trade tariffs. WSJ reports that negotiators have narrowed differences on trade between the two countries. While the two sides are still not ready to conclude a trade deal, cabinet-level follow up talks are expected later this month.
- The global economic expansion which followed the financial crisis of 2008 hasn't ended because of natural causes, it hasn't ended because of global trade disformer Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke highlighted last week at the American Economic Association's Annual Meeting. It ended because of global trade disputes, Mr. Bernanke said. Agreeing with Mr. Bernanke, Societe Generale says that "one of the culprits of the current slowdown is the trade war and the negative feedback loop it is causing in foreign trade, corporate profits and equity valuations." Asia "leads the downturn, and this is not just evident from the contraction in manufacturing purchasing managers' surveys in South Korea and Malaysia, but more generically in the tightening of financial conditions," SocGen says. Samsung posted on Tuesday an operating profit below consensus, highlighting "the China slowdown pain."
- The US Commerce Department, scheduled to release figures for November international trade at 8:30am ET, will not publish the report this morning due to the partial government shutdown. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected the November deficit to clock in at $54.2B, down from $55.49B a month earlier. The two-week-old shutdown has so far prevented the publication of reports including new-home sales and construction spending. Lack of trade data comes as the US and China are in talks to resolve a trade fight that poses threats to the global economy.

 

Jan 09 - Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics (WSJ DJ Reuters)

- U.S. oil prices hit their highest since 2015 again as speculators bet on further price rises amid OPEC-led production cuts and a dip in American drilling activity, though some warned the rally could run out of steam.
- Gold prices inched down amid expectations for more U.S. interest rate hikes this year.
- London copper inched up in early trade as an advancing U.S. dollar lost steam, while Shanghai copper recovered from a drop in the previous session to trade marginally higher.
- Chicago wheat fell for a fourth consecutive session with prices pressured by improved weather conditions in the U.S. southern Plains although a lack of protective snow cover kept a floor under the market.
- The yen jumped after the Bank of Japan trimmed its buying of long-dated Japanese government bonds in market operations, helping to stoke speculation about a future exit from its massive stimulus policy.   
- As a result of tax reform, Visa is improving 401(k) benefits for its U.S.-based employees, according to a company spokeswoman. Visa will increase its 401(k) match beginning in February. Currently Visa contributes $2 for every $1 an employee contributes, up to 3% of base pay. Visa will raise that to 5% of base pay. The company is also "exploring other global employee benefits and investments...which [it] hope[s] to unveil in the near future," says a spokeswoman.
- Former lawmakers urged President Donald Trump to preserve Nafta, citing withdrawal from the trade agreement as the fastest way to undermine any tax benefits or regulatory relief farmers might otherwise see from his administration. As Mr. Trump addressed farmers at an annual meeting in Tennessee, former Senators Max Baucus (D., Mont.) and Richard Lugar (R., Ind.), now co-chairs of a non-profit organization advocating for free trade for farmers, warned that withdrawing from Nafta would be akin to levying a new tax on farmers. They cautioned that U.S. farmers would suffer retaliatory action if the U.S. imposes tariffs on its trading
partners and said American growers already are disadvantaged since Trump pulled the U.S. from a key Pacific trade agreement.
- President Trump used a speech to farmers to highlight benefits of the GOP's tax overhaul, tout his deregulatory agenda and sign executive orders aimed at improving broadband access across rural America. Addressing farmers at an annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Trump called the recently-passed tax cut "historic relief for farmers," saying family farms would be spared from a "deeply unfair estate tax," and told a welcoming crowd that he was "putting an end to the regulatory assault on your way of life." Signing two orders to expand internet connectivity in rural areas, he said: "You are going to have great, great broadband."
- United Natural Foods CFO Mike Zechmeister says the tax policy changes are impacting how it assesses returns on potential investments. The natural foods distributor saw a four percentage point difference in returns on a recent investment before and after the tax bill, for example. "The tax savings are real," Zechmeister tells investors gathered at the annual ICR Conference. "You could take a project that may be unattractive in the past or one you would have passed on, and it becomes a project you could go forward with."
- US auto industry stands to benefit from the recently passed tax legislation, which will likely boost earnings per share by an average of 5%-6%, Barclays estimates. The tax reforms are expected to cut nominal tax rates for most US auto manufacturers and parts suppliers, even though the reduction in actual taxes paid will be "slightly less impacted" due to widespread use of losses carried forward, Barclays says. Auto parts suppliers domiciled overseas for tax purposes, such as Adient, Aptiv and Delphi Technologies, won't gain much from lower US corporate tax rates, but also may face lower risk from another part of the tax legislation--a hike in levies targeting unremitted foreign earnings, it says.
- United Natural Foods, up more than 5% as its CFO outlines "significant" financial benefits from the tax bill. The Providence-based natural food distributor expects the taxes it pays overall to fall to around 28% in its 2019 fiscal year from 40% currently. CFO Mike Zechmeister tells investors gathered at the annual ICR Conference that the reduced corporate tax will result in around $17M in savings during its current fiscal year, and it will also benefit from a one-time boost on deferred liabilities. The company expects an aggregate rate reduction of as much as 17 percentage points this year, and 13 percentage points in 2019. "That is a meaningful increase to our free cash flow," Zechmeister says.
- Changes to the US tax code could help push Caterpillar's stock price to $200 by the end of the year, JPMorgan analyst Ann Duignan says. The recently passed federal tax law's provision allowing 100% depreciation on new and used equipment will likely prolong the replacement cycle in US construction, she says. That's in addition to a lower corporate tax rate that will boost free cash flow. "As a result of our analysis, we believe that the stock remains undervalued, despite the significant outperformance last year," she said in a note. Caterpillar stock was up about 70% in 2017. Caterpillar shares were up 2.6% to $166.13.
- USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue touted accomplishments of the Trump administration and his own agency ahead of a planned presidential address to farmers at an annual trade convention. Perdue listed what he sees as trade victories, including opening China to American beef and rice, for farmers worried about the fate of Nafta. Speaking at a meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation, he said USDA has begun rolling back burdensome regulations, targeting 27 rules that will save $56M annually, and urged farmers to flag the "silliest, most onerous rules" they think should be ditched. As for farmers' tax burden, Perdue tells the crowd that thanks to Trump's recent tax overhaul, "Help is not only on the way. It's already here."
- The parent of Alaska Airlines, like Southwest Airlines, American Airline and JetBlue Airways before it, said it plans to award $1,000 bonuses later this month to 23,000 employees, in celebration of the new federal tax bill. The corporate tax-cut windfall will reduce the tax rate to 21% from 35%, effective this year, which should save millions in tax liabilities and allow airlines to invest more in planes, products and their employees, although some of the savings may also go toward share buybacks. Alaska Air shares are down 1% to $72.97.
- Former Navy acquisition chief and acting Navy secretary Sean Stackley joins L3 Technologies, complementing the deal-hungry defense company's M&A team and continuing the run of Obama-era Pentagon officials who've popped up on corporate boards and management teams. Former defense secretary Ash Carter joined the Delta Air Lines' board while his deputy, Bob Work, is now a Raytheon director. Ex-Air Force secretary Deborah Lee James is now on the Textron board while Leidos added former Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall to its director roster, with his deputy Katharina McFarland joining Engility.
- Eli Lilly (LLY) CEO David Ricks said the U.S. tax overhaul will cause American companies to make investments based more on business factors than taxes. "On the next decision you face it really re-balances the calculus on where to build a plant or make hires," he tells the WSJ on sidelines of JP Morgan healthcare conference in San Francisco. He expects Lilly to have "more infrastructure" in the US within the next 7 years as a result of the overhaul. In September the drug maker announced plans to cut 8% of its work force including many jobs in its home state of Indiana. Ricks also sees the mix of Lilly acquisition targets shifting to more US companies than foreign firms. Though Lilly already had a lower tax rate than the former top US corporate rate due to operations abroad, he sees Lilly's total tax bill coming down.
- J.P. Morgan says the introduction of the U.S. tax reform has done very little to lift the market's downbeat view of potential U.S. growth," which is expected to be smaller compared with other countries or areas around the world. This explains why the U.S. dollar hasn't benefited much from either the introduction of the tax reform or from good economic data, it says. "The global economic activity surprise index is at a post-GFC high," J.P. Morgan says, highlighting eurozone, as well as German growth, which for the first time ever "outpaced the U.S. for four consecutive years." J.P. Morgan adds: "This lack of economic exceptionalism ... is turning out to be more of a drag on the currency."