Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day

Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day

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Trade war “on hold,” Italian populists pick a prime minister, and strong dollar’s days may be numbered. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Detente 

“We’re putting the
trade war on hold
,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday after the U.S. and China issued a joint statement following talks in Washington. While the de-escalation of rhetoric between the two sides is a welcome development, analysts are warning that the lack of details in the plan, which would see China
increase imports of U.S. goods and services
, will likely see tensions return. In the short term, with
tariffs on hold
, agricultural commodities are set to be the biggest winners. 

Italy leadership

The leadership of Italy’s populist coalition is set to name their choice for prime minister, with newspapers in the country reporting that 
Giuseppe Conte
, a 53-year old law professor with no political experience, is the leading candidate. Among the (
many
) things concerning markets about the new administration is the plan to issue “
mini-BOTs
,” which would have some of the features of a parallel currency, leading to concerns about the country’s already pressured debt profile. Italian 10-year yields were trading at 2.258 percent by 5:45 a.m., a 170 basis-point spread over the similar German security. 

Dollar strength – for now

The recent rally in the dollar
continued this morning
 as tensions with China eased. With the pound and the euro hitting new year-to-date lows against the greenback, investor attention is turning to how much longer the appreciation can continue. Analysts point out that valuations are becoming stretched, and rising U.S. yields coupled with the country’s worsening twin deficits mean the currency is now
vulnerable to a selloff
. Legg Mason Inc.’s Richard Lawrence said that President Donald Trump’s administration is unlikely to stop the currency from weakening.

Markets mixed

Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.2 percent, while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.1 percent lower with banks and insurers the biggest losers. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.4 percent higher by 5:45 a.m. as an earlier selloff in Italian stocks eased. German equity markets were closed for a holiday. S&P 500 futures pointed to a
gain at the open
, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 3.073 percent and gold was lower. 

Coming up…

Central bank speakers dominate the economic agenda today, with Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic due at 12:15 p.m., Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker at 2:05 p.m. and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari at 5:30 p.m. The minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve policy meeting are due to be released on Wednesday. Speaking of central banks, the race to succeed Mario Draghi as president of the European Central Bank is starting to heat up, with Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann and outgoing Finnish Governor Erkki Liikanen 
both commenting on the issue
over the weekend. 

What we’ve been reading

This is what’s caught our eye over the weekend.