Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Monday, March 4

 

 

1. U.S., China Nearing Trade Deal

With little data on the economic calendar, markets will likely focus more heavily on trade-related headlines following reports the U.S. and China were close to striking a deal to end a bitter year-long trade dispute.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could seal a formal trade deal at a summit around March 27, given progress in talks between the two countries, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The two countries appear close to a deal that would roll back U.S. tariffs on at least $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, while Beijing makes pledges on structural economic changes and eliminates retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.

 

 

 

2. Trump Complains About Stronger Dollar

President Donald Trump renewed criticism of the Federal Reserve and said the U.S. central bank's tight monetary policy was contributing to a strong dollar and hurting the United States' competitiveness.

"We have a gentleman that likes a very strong dollar at the Fed," Trump said at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland, on Saturday. "I want a strong dollar, but I want a dollar that's great for our country not a dollar that is so strong that it is prohibitive for us to be dealing with other nations."

Trump has repeatedly criticized the Fed and its chairman, Jerome Powell, whom he appointed, for raising interest rates.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, was little changed at 96.46, after hitting its highest in around a week at 96.52 earlier.

 

 

 

3. U.S. Futures Point to Higher Open

U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open at the start of the trading week, thanks to reports of progress on U.S.-China trade talks.

At 5:35AM ET (10:35 GMT), the blue-chip Dow futures were up 74 points, or about 0.3%, the S&P 500 futures rose 6 points, or around 0.25%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a gain of 30 points, or roughly 0.4%.

In earnings, Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) is the only major company due to publish its latest quarterly figures.

Elsewhere, European stocks were mostly higher, with the pan-regional STOXX 600 index hovering around levels not seen since the beginning of October.

Earlier, markets in Asia started off a new trading week on a robust note, with Chinese stocks rallying to their best level since June 2018.

 

 

 

4. Oil Prices Gain on Signs of Slowing U.S. Output

In commodities, oil prices edged higher after data showed U.S. energy firms last week cut the number of drilling rigs to the lowest in almost nine months, suggesting early signs of moderating domestic production growth.

Crude futures were also generally supported by hopes that the U.S. and China would soon resolve their trade disputes, which have dragged on global economic growth.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 55 cents, or around 1%, to $56.34 per barrel, while international Brent crude oil futures were at $65.83 per barrel, up 76 cents, or about 1.2%.

 

 

 

 

5. Less Than A Month to Go Until Brexit

With less than a month to go until Britain is due to leave the European Union, the odds of a delay to the March 29 deadline are shortening.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar reportedly told colleagues in his cabinet that a delay to June was “very likely,” according to Ireland’s Sunday Independent who cited an unnamed minister. A motion in the U.K. parliament, due to be debated next week, also opens the door for an essentially technical delay of a couple of months, but it's still not clear whether the EU would agree to that, as ministers in France, Spain and Germany have all pushed back against the idea.

In the meantime, British Prime Minister Theresa May will set out plans for a £1.6 billion fund ($2.1 billion) to help boost economic growth in Brexit-supporting communities.

May, whose exit deal with Brussels was rejected by a large majority of lawmakers in January, has promised parliament will get to vote on a revised deal by March 12.

Sterling was at $1.3230, inching toward its near eight-month high of $1.3351 hit last week, on easing fears of a no-deal Brexit.

 

 

March 19, 2019
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