- Investors in buoyant mood despite trade tariffs;
- Sterling slips as May is humiliated in Salzburg;
- Euro edges lower on weaker PMIs.
Investors continue to brush off the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China, along with negative Brexit developments in Salzburg, with stocks in Europe trading higher to end the week.
Another winning day would cap a very good week for stock markets, with the Dow and S&P 500 both trading in record territory – the first time for the former since January – and those in Europe and Asia very much taking new US and Chinese tariffs in their stride. This may be a case of the tariffs already being priced in or being a little softer than was expected, but the important thing is it’s far from the end and investors may not be so buoyant if Donald Trump responds quickly and aggressively as he’s suggested he will.
The pound is paring its gains on Friday after the EU rejected Theresa May’s Chequers proposal, casting doubt on a compromise being found despite the UK being only months from leaving the block. Clearly traders don’t view this as too significant a setback or I would expect the drop off in the currency to be much larger and the rejection hardly comes as a surprise given that officials have publicly criticised the proposal in the past.
That said, reports do suggest that EU officials have taken a harder line against May following her insistence that it’s Chequers or no deal. Clearly they believe this is a bluff and haven’t taken to kindly to such a stance so late in the day. May now faces a tough challenge in returning to the UK ahead of the Conservative party conference no closer to a deal than she was before, leaving her with a massive target on her back as certain colleagues look to position themselves as a better alternative.
The euro is also paring earlier gains after PMIs for September painted a slightly gloomier picture, particularly for the manufacturing sector where trade conflicts, Brexit and falling global demand contributed to a decline in optimism. Manufacturers are clearly a little nervous about the number of risks for the sector and the volatility and difficulties in emerging markets right now will not be giving them much reason for optimism.
The euro area has been experiencing something of a slowdown for much of the year but this hasn’t deterred the ECB which still plans to end its bond buying program in December and consider a rate hike in the second half of next year. The latter plans may be shelved though if the economic situation doesn’t improve, something policy makers hope will naturally follow an easing of trade tensions and resolution on Brexit. Right now though this feels a long way away.