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Donald Trump, who is still recovering from coronavirus, is planning to organise rallies this weekend in Florida and Pennsylvania as he scrambles to reduce the poll lead held by his Democratic rival Joe Biden.

In an interview with Fox News on Thursday night the US president said: “I think I’m going to try doing a rally on Saturday night if we can, if we have enough time to put it together.

“But we want to do a rally in Florida, probably in Florida on Saturday night, might come back and do one in Pennsylvania, on the following night.”

Asked by Fox News’ presenter Sean Hannity whether he had yet to test negative for coronavirus — or whether he had been tested at all since his positive test last week — the president did not directly respond. He said he was likely to be tested on Friday.

The comments came after Sean Conley, the White House doctor, said Saturday would be day 10 since the president’s virus diagnosis.

Dr Conley said he anticipated that Mr Trump could enjoy a “safe return to public engagements at that time”. But his conclusion contradicted a previous remark from last weekend when he said that he would know only by Monday whether Mr Trump had fully recovered.

In an interview earlier on Thursday Mr Trump ruled out appearing in the second US presidential debate planned for next week after organisers said it would be held virtually owing to his diagnosis.

The Biden campaign said the former vice-president would appear as scheduled next Thursday to “take questions from voters directly”.

“I’m sticking with the dates, I’m showing up,” Mr Biden said. (FT, Fox News, Guardian)

Line chart showing how Trump and Biden are doing in the US national polls

With under four weeks to the election, Mr Trump trails Mr Biden by an average of 9.2 points, according to the latest polls.

Coronavirus digest

Resurgent infection rates are eroding faith in a “herd immunity” strategy. Follow our live coverage.

Chart showing that on average, places that were hit hardest in the spring are suffering the most in the autumn

In the news

Renminbi jumps by most in more than 4 years China’s currency jumped by the most since February 2016, emboldened by the possibility of a Biden victory in next month’s US election and an administration that will be more friendly towards Beijing. The Golden Week national holiday has provided a boost for China’s economic recovery. (FT)

13 charged in plot to kidnap Michigan governor Militia group Wolverine Watchmen held weapons training sessions, tested an explosive device and surveilled the properties of Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer in a pre-election plot that included storming the state capital, the FBI and state authorities said. (FT, Detroit Free Press)

IBM spin-off, MS merger IBM has revealed plans to shed a core part of its services business into a freestanding company, unwinding a strategy that saved it from financial disaster in the early 1990s. Morgan Stanley has agreed to a $7bn deal for Eaton Vance to create one of the world’s largest asset managers. (FT)

Former Republican official charged over 1MDB Elliott Broidy, former Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman, has been charged for failing to register as a foreign agent for Jho Low, the Malaysian financier accused of looting billions from 1MDB. Separately, the US imposed sanctions against 18 Iranian banks. (FT)

‘Another Syria in Caucasus’ Armenia’s president has warned that Turkey’s involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict risked creating “another Syria in the Caucasus”. In an interview with the FT, Armen Sarkissian called on Russia, the US and Nato to restrain Ankara, which he called “the bully of the region”. (FT)

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan map 

Arm inquiry call Peter Mandelson, former business secretary, has called for competition authorities in the UK, China and Europe to investigate the $40bn takeover of Arm Holdings by US group Nvidia, warning in a letter to the FT that Arm could become “collateral damage” in a microchip market battle. (FT)

WTO leadership race A woman will for the first time be director-general of the World Trade Organization after the race narrowed to Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee. There’s an impending row over Covid-19 vaccine patents in the WTO, Alan Beattie writes in Trade Secrets — sign up here. (FT)

Either South Korean Yoo Myung-hee, left, or Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, right, will become the first woman to lead the World Trade Organization © AFP via Getty Images

Nobel Peace Prize The UN’s World Food Programme has won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The UN’s largest agency was praised for its efforts in combating hunger, and stopping its use in war and conflict, in a strong endorsement of multilateralism. (FT)

How long did Donald Trump stay in hospital after he was diagnosed with coronavirus: 36 hours, 3 days or a week? Take our quiz.

The day ahead

Hurricane Delta The National Hurricane Center warned on Friday that Hurricane Delta was forecast to make landfall along the northern US Gulf Coast later Friday. Hurricane warnings are in effect from the extreme upper Texas coast to parts of Louisiana. (The Weather Channel)

Brexit talks UK chief negotiator David Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier are due to meet for talks in London today as a deal deadline looms. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said he wants an agreement before an EU summit next week. Hints of a compromise have emerged this week. (FT)

Cypriot elections Northern Cyprus has reopened part of a beachfront resort abandoned following the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974. The internationally-recognised government of the divided Mediterranean island swiftly condemned the decision as a “pre-election stunt” and said it would lodge protests with the UN Security Council and EU. Elections take place in the breakaway enclave on Sunday. (Reuters)

What else we’re reading

Investing for the US election Donald Trump’s infection has raised market volatility. How will the election — and a possibly contested result — affect your money? These are times that test investors’ souls, Rob Armstrong writes. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. (FT)

Line chart of S&P 500, Oct 2000 to Jan 2001 showing The stock market fell in 2000 when the election result was uncertain

Why the US no longer looks to Europe America’s commitment to Europe is often cast as eternal. But the continent was never its sole or even main geopolitical draw, Janan Ganesh writes. A transatlantic rift began long before Donald Trump — and it would be beyond a President Biden to reverse it. (FT)

The relentless rise of Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani’s camera-shy persona belies the power of his $80bn fortune. He has remade Reliance Industries, his father’s lucrative if unglamorous petrochemical group, into a sprawling conglomerate — and amassed political clout by entwining his ambitions with India’s digital future. (FT)

‘He wants to be Netflix, Alibaba, everything’ — how Mukesh Ambani set his sights on creating a global tech giant © Reuters

Who’s got it right on lockdowns? There is an honest argument against lockdowns: while the disease is dangerous, the cure is worse. The zero-Covid position argues for eliminating Covid-19 altogether. Unsurprisingly, neither is wholly right, Tim Harford writes. Economist Emily Oster’s pandemic parenting guide focuses on the data. (FT, Bloomberg)

Can Amazon conquer luxury? The ecommerce giant’s long-awaited foray into the luxury sector was greeted with a collective shrug last month. But it comes at an opportune moment: the pandemic has accelerated online shopping as a sales slump has sent brands in pursuit of new customers. (FT)

Luxury industry market dynamics

Even the kids are into Spacs University of Pennsylvania students have created a “Penn Spac” club to celebrate these new equity vehicles. For the students, this is probably a smart move. For everyone else, it is a worrying sign of froth, Gillian Tett warns. (FT)

The best hikes in Hong Kong The breadth and beauty of the territory’s trails are the greatest surprises about life in the Asian financial centre. And during the pandemic, the outdoors has been a wonderful release. Asia deputy news editor Ravi Mattu has a few suggestions. (FT)

The MacLehose trail features proper wilderness and solitude, jungles and sandy beaches, as well as peaks to scale if you choose © Alamy

Your Money: how to plan, allocate and invest in turbulent times. Join the FT and London Wall Partners LLP on Tuesday October 13 for a webinar exploring the best asset allocation strategies. Register for free here.

Podcast of the day

Culture Call returns The arts podcast from the Financial Times is back for a third season. Kicking off this series is an interview with the prolific film-maker, writer, musician, and actor Miranda July. She has just released her third feature film, Kajillionaire, an exploration of loneliness and love that feels especially prescient now. (FT)

Thank you for reading. Send your recommendations and feedback to firstft@ft.com



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Copper hits record high with demand expected to rise sharply

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Copper prices hit a record high on Friday in the latest leg of a broad rally across commodity markets sparked by the reopening of major economies and booming demand for minerals needed for the green energy transition.

Copper, used in everything from electric vehicles to washing machines, rose as much as 1.2 per cent to $10,232 a tonne, surpassing its previous peak set in 2011 at the height of a previous commodities boom.

The price has more than doubled from its pandemic lows in March last year due to voracious demand from China, the biggest consumer of the metal, and also investors looking to bet on a big uptick in the global economy and protect their portfolios against potential for rising inflation.

Government stimulus packages and the shift towards electrification to meet the goals of the Paris agreement on climate change are expected to fuel further demand for the metal, which analysts and industry executives believe could hit $15,000 a tonne by 2025.

“Capacity utilisation rates of our customers are the highest in a decade and that’s before stimulus money both in Europe and the US has started to flow,” said Kostas Bintas, head of copper trading at Trafigura, one of the world’s biggest independent commodity traders. “That will be significant.”

The US and Europe were becoming significant factors in the consumption of copper for the first time in decades, he added. “Before, it’s effectively been a China-only story. That is changing fast.”

Concerns about the long-term supply of copper due to lack of investment by large miners has also pushed up prices. There are only a few large projects in a development, while most of the world’s easily produced copper has already been mined.

“The current pipeline of projects likely to start producing in the next few years represents only 2.3 per cent of forecast mine supply,” said Daniel Haynes, analyst at banking group ANZ. “This is well down on previous cycles, including 2010-13 when it reached 12 per cent.”

The upward march of other raw materials is showing no signs of abating. Steelmaking ingredient iron ore traded above $200 a tonne for the first time as China returned to work after the Labour Day holidays in early May. 

In spite of production cuts in Tangshan and Handan, two key steelmaking cities in China, analysts expect output to remain solid over the next couple of quarters. 

“Recent production cuts in Tangshan have boosted demand for higher-quality ore and prompted mills to build iron ore inventories as their margins are on the rise with steel supply being restricted,” said Erik Hedborg, a principal analyst at CRU Group.

“Iron ore producers are enjoying exceptionally high margins as around two-thirds of seaborne supply only require prices of $50 a tonne to break even.”

Elsewhere, tin on Thursday rose above $30,000 a tonne for the first time in a decade before easing. Tin is used to make solder — the substance that binds circuit boards and wiring — and is benefiting from strong demand from the electronics industry, which has been lifted by growing numbers of stay-at-home workers.

US wood prices continued to race higher ahead of the peak in the US homebuilding season in the summer with lumber futures rising to a record high above $1,600 per 1,000 board feet length, up from $330 this time last year.

Agricultural commodities also continued to rally as a result of a particularly dry season in Brazil, concerns about drought in the US and Chinese demand. Strong increases in food prices have started to affect global consumers. Corn rose to a more than eight-year high of $7.68 this week, while coffee has risen almost 10 per cent since the start of month, hitting a four-year high of $1.54 a pound this week.



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Wall Street stocks waver as investors await US jobs data

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Wall Street stock markets wavered, with tech losses dragging down some indices, but remained close to record highs ahead of US jobs data on Friday that could pile pressure on the Federal Reserve to rethink its ultra-supportive monetary policies.

The S&P 500 was up 0.2 per cent in the afternoon in New York, hovering slightly below its all-time high achieved late last month. The peak was reached following a long rally supported by the Fed and other central banks unleashing trillions of dollars into financial markets in pandemic emergency spending programmes.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite, however, which is stacked with growth companies sensitive to changing interest rate expectations, was down 0.5 per cent by the afternoon in New York, the fifth straight losing session for the index.

The divergence of the two indices followed patterns from earlier this year, when investors sold out of growth companies over fears of rising rates and poured into more cyclical plays. That trade has been more muted recently but could be coming back, said Nick Frelinghuysen, a portfolio manager at Chilton Trust.

“It’s been a bit more ambiguous . . . in terms of what regime is leading this market higher, is it quality and growth or is it value and cyclicals?” Frelinghuysen said. “We’re in a little bit of a wait-and-see mode right now.”

The 10-year Treasury yield, which rose rapidly earlier this year amid inflation fears, declined 0.05 percentage points to 1.56 per cent on Thursday.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 closed down 0.2 per cent, hovering just below its record high reached in mid-April.

With the US economy close to recovering losses incurred during coronavirus shutdowns, economists expect the US government to report on Friday that the nation’s employers created 1m new jobs in April. Investors will scrutinise the non-farm payrolls report for clues about possible next moves by the Fed, which has said it will continue with its $120bn a month of bond purchases until the labour market recovers.

Up to 1.5m jobs would “not be enough for the Fed to shift”, analysts at Standard Chartered said. “Between 1.5m and 2m, there is likely to be uncertainty on Fed perceptions.”

Central bankers worldwide had a strong “communications challenge” around the eventual withdrawal of emergency monetary support measures, said Roger Lee, head of UK equity strategy at Investec.

“If it is orderly, then you can expect a gentle continuation of this year’s stock market rotation” from lockdown beneficiaries such as technology shares into economically sensitive businesses such as oil producers and banks, Lee said. “If it is disorderly, it will be a case of ‘sell what you can’.”

On Thursday the Bank of England upgraded its growth forecasts for the UK economy but stopped short of following Canada in scaling back its asset purchases.

The BoE maintained the size of its quantitative easing programme at £895bn, while also keeping its main interest rate on hold at a record low of 0.1 per cent. The British central bank added that while its asset purchases “could now be slowed somewhat” after it became the dominant buyer of UK government debt last year, “this operational decision should not be interpreted as a change in the stance of monetary policy”.

Sterling slipped 0.1 per cent against the dollar to $1.389.

The dollar, as measured against a basket of trading partners’ currencies, weakened 0.4 per cent. The euro gained 0.4 per cent to $1.206.

Brent crude fell 1.1 per cent to $68.17 a barrel.



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Gensler raises concern about market influence of Citadel Securities

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Gary Gensler, new chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has expressed concern about the prominent role Citadel Securities and other big trading firms are playing in US equity markets, warning that “healthy competition” could be at risk.

In testimony released ahead of his appearance before the House financial services committee on Thursday, Gensler said he had directed his staff to look into whether policies were needed to deal with the small number of market makers that are taking a growing share of retail trading volume.

“One firm, Citadel Securities, has publicly stated that it executes about 47 per cent of all retail volume. In January, two firms executed more volume than all but one exchange, Nasdaq,” Gensler said.

“History and economics tell us that when markets are concentrated, those firms with the greatest market share tend to have the ability to profit from that concentration,” he said. “Market concentration can also lead to fragility, deter healthy competition, and limit innovation.”

Gensler is scheduled to appear at the third hearing into the explosive trading in GameStop and other so-called meme stocks in January.

Trading volumes in the US surged that month as retail investors flocked into markets, prompting brokers such as Robinhood to introduce trading restrictions that angered investors and drew the attention of lawmakers.

The market activity galvanised policymakers in Washington and investors. Lawmakers have focused much of their attention on “payment for order flow”, in which brokers such as Robinhood are paid to route orders to market makers like Citadel Securities and Virtu.

That practice has been a boon for brokers. It generated nearly $1bn for Robinhood, Charles Schwab and ETrade in the first quarter, according to Piper Sandler.

Gensler noted that other countries, including the UK and Canada, do not allow payment for order flow.

“Higher volumes of trades generate more payments for order flow,” he said. “This brings to mind a number of questions: do broker-dealers have inherent conflicts of interest? If so, are customers getting best execution in the context of that conflict?”

Gensler also said he had directed his staff to consider recommendations for greater disclosure on total return swaps, the derivatives used by the family office Archegos. The vehicle, run by the trader Bill Hwang, collapsed in March after several concentrated bets moved against the group, and banks have sustained more than $10bn of losses as a result.

Market watchdogs have expressed concerns that regulators had little or no view of the huge trades being made by Archegos.

“Whenever there are major market events, it’s a good idea to consider what risks they might have placed on the entire financial system, even when the system holds,” Gensler said.

“Issues of concentration, whether among market makers or brokers at the clearinghouse, may increase potential system-wide risks, should any single incumbent with significant size or market share fail.”



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