- Asian stocks mixed & are set for 4th week of losses
- FAA expects to approve Boeing’s 737 MAX return to service
- USD hampered by expectations of impending Interest Rates hike
- Facebook plans to launch new cryptocurrency in 2020
Asian stocks were mixed in morning trade on Friday and are set for a third week of losses as traders digest the latest headlines on the Sino-US trade war. China’s Shanghai Composite edged up 0.2% by 10:30 PM ET (02:30 GMT), while the Shenzhen Component slipped 0.4%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.2%.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 0.7%. Core consumer prices, an inflation gauge closely watched, rose 0.9% in April from a year earlier, in line with expectations and accelerating slightly from March’s 0.8% gain, government data showed on Friday. Meanwhile, South Korea’s KOSPI declined by 0.9% and Australia’s ASX 200 fell 0.7%.
Oil prices jumped more than 1% on Friday amid OPEC supply cuts and Middle East tensions, but still did not fully recoup losses earlier in the week on economic slowdown jitters and swelling inventories - their steepest drops since the start of the year. Brent Crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $68.50 per barrel at 02:31 GMT, up 74 cents, or 1.1%, from their last close. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Crude futures were up 63 cents, or 1.1%, at $58.54 per barrel.
President Donald Trump said on Thursday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not understand the US-Mexico-Canada trade deal and had told the US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, she wanted two weeks to get to know the agreement. "Pelosi does not understand the bill, she doesn't understand it ... so she's got to get up to snuff, learn the bill," Trump said at a White House event. "She's a mess. Look, let's face it, she doesn't understand it," Trump said. Pelosi, responding to Trump's remarks, tweeted: "When the 'extremely stable genius' starts acting more presidential, I’ll be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade and other issues."
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expects to approve Boeing Co's 737 MAX jet to return to service as soon as late June, representatives of the US air regulator informed members of the United Nations' aviation agency in a private briefing on Thursday, sources told Reuters. The target, if achieved, means US airlines would likely not have to greatly extend costly cancellations of 737 MAX jets they have already put in place for the peak summer flying season, but the FAA representatives warned that there was no firm timetable to get the planes back in the air.
An inflation gauge closely watched by the Bank of Japan accelerated at its fastest pace in almost three years as some retailers passed on rising costs to households, a positive sign for the central bank as it seeks to stoke consumer prices. But the big part of the increase came from a spike in package tour fees ahead of Japan's 10-day holiday in May, casting doubt over the long-term sustainability of the improvement as escalating trade tensions weigh on the outlook for the export-reliant economy. Core consumer prices rose 0.9% in April from a year earlier, matching a median market forecast and accelerating slightly from the previous month's 0.8% gain, government data showed on Friday.
Sales of new US single-family homes fell from near an 11.5-year high in April as prices rebounded and manufacturing activity hit its lowest level in almost a decade in May, suggesting a sharp slowdown in economic growth was underway. But other data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week. Labour market strength should support the economy, which is cooling as last year's massive stimulus from the Trump administration's tax cuts and spending increases fades.
China's commerce ministry said on Friday that more efforts should be made to achieve the goal of stabilizing trade while improving its quality, adding that the trade environment is growing more uncertain and challenging. The domestic economy still faces downward pressure and some structural issues remain to be resolved, the ministry said in a statement summarizing the foreign trade trends for this year. The statement made no mention of the United States or China's trade disputes with it.
In Forex, the US Dollar held steady on Friday, having come off two-year highs on lower US yields in the previous session amid fears that a trade war with China will hurt the US economy more than previously thought. The Greenback was not helped by rising expectations for an interest rate cut by the US Federal Reserve later this year to help boost the world's biggest economy. Against a basket of key rival currencies, the USD was largely unchanged at 97.906, having fallen from a two-year high of 98.371 overnight. The index is still up 1.8% for the year.
The Bank of Canada is done raising interest rates until at least the end of next year, with a serious risk of a cut by then as policymakers become more wary of slowing growth and global trade tensions, a Reuters poll showed on Friday. The central bank, which last raised its overnight rate in October, abandoned its tightening bias last month, putting it more in line with peers like the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank. All 40 economists in the latest poll taken May 21-23 said Governor Stephen Poloz and fellow policymakers would hold rates at 1.75% at the May 29 meeting.
Facebook is reportedly planning to launch its own cryptocurrency next year. Nicknamed internally as “GlobalCoin”, the token will act as a digital payments system in around a dozen countries by the first quarter of 2020. The BBC reports that Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has already met the Bank of England’s (BoE) governor Mark Carney to discuss the risks involved in launch a digital currency. The company has also asked for advice from the US Treasury.
According to the report, Facebook wants the currency to provide a secure and affordable way for users to make payments. It is also said to be in talks with online sellers to persuade them to accept the tokens in return for lower transaction fees.