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After another period of downbeat news the clouds parted slightly at the end of last week, with more positive developments on the US / China trade front and on the Brexit negotiations. A first steps deal was announced by the US whereby no fresh tariffs will be introduced on Chinese imports this week. Meanwhile China has agreed to purchase more agricultural products from the US. Perhaps a little more cosmetic rather than demonstrating meaningful progress, nevertheless it was sufficient to propel US stocks higher going into the weekend.
Strange times indeed. This week’s Diary grapples with the known unknowns of trade wars and Brexit as the possibility of progress on both fronts moves markets on a minute by minute basis. Also, the shipping news from Malta in the rain.
The FTSE 100 is called to open 5 points higher at 7252. Asian stocks began the week with gains after signs of progress in U.S.-China trade negotiations, though sentiment was capped as investors voiced skepticism on the accord. Shares from Sydney to Hong Kong climbed after President Donald Trump said the two sides agreed to the outlines of a deal that could be signed as early as next month. S&P 500 futures gained after the U.S. equities gauge climbed to within 1.8% of a record on Friday. The yuan continued Friday’s advance and Treasury futures ticked up following the pickup in yields last week. Japan is shut for a holiday. The U.S. won’t increase tariffs on China as scheduled this week as part of a “phase one” trade accord. Beijing will make large agricultural purchases and take steps on intellectual property, financial services and the yuan. A Chinese statement didn’t refer to a deal, saying only that “the two sides have made substantial progress,” and mentioning neither the freeze on duties nor the farm-goods commitment.
We are only dimly aware of the technology companies that stand behind the products and services of our most familiar tech giants. The key to powering our tech-dominated lives is the humble semiconductor chip.
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