Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Top 5 Things to Know in the Market on Wednesday

© Reuters.  © Reuters. -- China reacted angrily to the Senate's passing of a bill tying trade preferences to observation of Hong Kong's rights, pushing Asian and European stock markets lower overnight. There are earnings updates due early from Lowe's and Target (NYSE:TGT), while Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) has priced the world's biggest stock offering so far this year. Here's what you need to know in financial markets on Wednesday, 20th November.

1. China reacts badly to Senate vote

Beijing reacted angrily to the Senate’s vote to approve a bill that would allow the U.S. to curtail China’s trade preferences if it failed to respect Hong Kong’s political autonomy. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman called it “interference” in China’s internal affairs and said it was “doomed to fail.”

The vote came only a day after Beijing threatened to overturn a ruling by Hong Kong’s highest court that quashed the authorities’ efforts to ban the wearing of masks at protests, a threat that was broadly seen as a new level of mainland intrusion into Hong Kong’s political affairs.

The Senate had previously held back from voting on the bill, afraid of complicating the administration’s trade talks with China. President Donald Trump still has to sign it into law.

2. Stocks to open lower under Chinese influence

U.S. stock markets are set to extend Tuesday’s losses when they open later as the deterioration in relations between Washington and Beijing threatens to disrupt détente on trade.

By 6 AM ET (1100 GMT), Dow futures were down 105 points or 0.4%, while S&P 500 Futures were down 0.3%. Nasdaq 100 futures were down by 0.5%.

Overnight, the news had shaken both Asian and European markets, with the main Shanghai and Hong Kong indices both falling 0.8%, despite the Chinese central bank shaving its one-year and five-year loan prime rates (LPR) by another 5 basis points each. The move was largely expected. Selling may have been amplified by the need to accommodate the year’s biggest share offering (to date) into portfolios. Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) priced its offering in Hong Kong, selling 500 million shares and raising some $12.9 billion.

European markets also fell, with trade-sensitive German DAX losing 0.9% and the U.K. FTSE 100 falling 1.2%

3. Sondland and others to testify in impeachment hearings

President Trump, meanwhile, has other concerns. Four more witnesses are scheduled to testify before the House on Tuesday, including Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, who admitted in testimony behind closed doors that he told a Ukrainian official that military aid to Ukraine would be conditional on Kyiv announcing an investigation into a company where Joe Biden’s son Hunter served as a director.

Sondland will testify in the morning, while Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defence for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian affairs, and David Hale, under-secretary of state for political affairs, will testify in the afternoon.

On Tuesday, National Security Council expert on Ukraine Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman had testified that he thought it “improper” for the president to request a politically-motivated investigation in return for the aid, saying it undermined U.S. policy toward the country, which has been partly occupied by Russian-backed rebels since 2014

4. Retailers to report; Fed minutes also due

After mixed results from Home Depot (NYSE:HD), TJX (NYSE:TJX) and Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN) on Tuesday, it’s the turn of Target (NYSE:TGT) and Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) to report – both due before the opening.

At 2 PM, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its last policy meeting, where two members of the Federal Open Markets Committee voted against the decision to cut the target range for fed funds by 25 basis points. However, given that Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has already testified in Congress since those meetings, the minutes are likely to be of historic interest only.

5. Oil steadies ahead of government inventory data

The U.S. government will release its weekly report on U.S. oil supplies at 10:30 AM ET (1530 GMT), after two days of heavy falls for crude futures on fears for the global demand outlook.

Figures released on Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute showed a 5.95 million-barrel increase in U.S. crude stocks last week, well above the 1.5 million-barrel increase expected.

By 6 AM ET, U.S. crude had stabilized at around $55.22 a barrel, up 0.3% on the day, having dipped as low as $54.86 overnight. Brent was up 0.5% at $61.20 a barrel.

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