Market movers today

Today is relatively quiet in terms of market moving events, with the main one being US Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speech tonight. While the Fed is very explicitly patient in raising rates, we will monitor any insights it might give on how it plans the balance sheet reduction.

In Scandi, the next focal point is the Riksbank meeting tomorrow.

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Selected market news

Stocks and bond yields rose overnight on news that US lawmakers had reached an agreement ‘in principle’ to avert another government shutdown. However, the deal came under fire from some conservatives and still needs to be passed in Congress and signed by Donald Trump.

White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News yesterday that it ‘absolutely’ looked like a deal to end the trade war was close and that Trump ‘wants to meet with Xi Jinping very soon’. In another sign that Trump is eager to close a deal, she said that ‘this president wants a deal’. Chinese stocks rose further overnight and are now trading at the highest level since October.

More US-China trade talks were initiated yesterday in Beijing at a lower level before high level talks resume on Thursday and Friday. With regard to the question on whether the 1 March ceasefire deadline would be extended, US trade negotiator David Malpass answered ‘no’. However, our view is still that if more time is needed to finalise a detailed trade document, the deadline will be extended.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May seeks more time to negotiate the Brexit deal with the EU. On Tuesday, she is set to address lawmakers in parliament to update on the progress of talks with the EU before a debate on the deal on Thursday.

The US small business optimism index was released overnight. It has been at elevated levels for a long time but in January it dropped sharply from 104.4 in December to 101.2. It is the lowest level since November 2016, when Donald Trump was elected US President, and is further testament that US businesses have faced headwinds from the trade war and probably also the US government shutdown, which is hurting sub-contractors to the government.

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