U.S. suspends tariffs on these U.K. goods and eases Airbus— Boeing trade tensions
Topic of the day
The U.S. will temporarily suspend retaliatory tariffs on goods imported from the U.K., in a major easing of trade tensions from a long-running dispute over subsidies to aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus. Announced on Thursday, the U.S. and U.K. will suspend tariffs for four months "to ease the burden on industry and take a bold, joint step towards resolving the longest running disputes at the World Trade Organization," the two countries said in a joint statement. The suspension of U.S. tariffs on U.K. goods, including whisky, will come into force on Mar. 8. The U.S. decision matches the U.K.'s unilateral move to cease applying retaliatory tariffs in January, which was a bid to de-escalate the conflict. Also read:The EU Has a Bold New Trans-Atlantic Agenda. Here's How Boeing, Airbus, and Tech Fit In. The new trans-Atlantic agreement represents a major win for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has sought to bolster ties with the U.S. under President Joe Biden. The U.K. seeks a wider trade agreement with the U.S. as it pushes further into the post-Brexit era outside of the European Union trading bloc.
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The SMI continued to decline Thursday, falling 0.2 percent to 10,750 points, though traders said the market had stabilised given the ongoing high bond yields. Traders expected bond markets to feature in US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s speech Thursday evening, as some asset managers recently sold bonds in anticipation of an early Fed interest-rate hike, expecting the US stimulus package to overheat the market. Investors were reticent before Friday’s US labour market figures for February. Wednesday’s ADP job market report was disappointing, but Thursday’s new jobless claim figures met expectations. Heavyweight Novartis weighed on sentiment, falling 3.2 percent or CHF 2.58, but it was trading CHF 3.00 ex-dividend. Roche gained 1.7 percent and Nestle 1.6 percent. Kühne + Nagel extended gains, rising 3.3 percent after Wednesday’s well received 2020 figures. Tech stocks AMS crashed 4.4 percent and Logitech 6.2 percent on weak US sector leads in reaction to rising bond yields.
European stocks mostly fall as ongoing concerns about bond yields offset gains in oil shares on the back of rising crude prices. The Stoxx Europe 600 and the FTSE 100 drop 0.4% apiece and the DAX falls 0.2%, while the CAC-40 edges just 0.04% higher. Still, the price of a barrel of Brent crude jumps nearly 5% to $67.15, boosting the likes of BP, Eni, Repsol, Royal Dutch Shell and Total. Allianz SE said Thursday that it has agreed to buy Aviva PLC's Italian property-and-casualty branch, Aviva Italia SpA, for 330 million euros ($398.1 million). The deal will allow Allianz to consolidate its position as the third-biggest player in the Italian property-and-casualty market, the German insurer said. In acquiring the business, Allianz will get almost 500 agents. Allianz expects to complete the deal in the second half of 2021. Aviva Italia has gross written premiums of around EUR400 million, with a portfolio equally distributed between motor and non-motor business segments, Allianz said. Suez SA said Thursday that it has won two water-treatment contracts in Brazil and Russia. In Brazil, the French waste-and-water-management company has been awarded a contract worth millions of euros to provide its seawater sulphate-removal technology to MODEC Offshore Production Systems, a subsidiary of Japan's MODEC Inc. MODEC will use the technology to reduce seawater sulphate levels at a new floating production, storage and offloading vessel it is building on behalf of Norway's Equinor ASA, Suez said. The contract is for the project management, procurement and supervision, as well as the technology, the company said.
A dayslong selloff in the stock market intensified and Treasury yields jumped Thursday as the latest comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell did little to assuage fears about the recent rise in yields. At The Wall Street Journal Jobs Summit, Mr. Powell emphasized the economy is far from reaching full employment. He stopped short of indicating that the Fed would buy more long-term Treasurys each month as an effort to contain yields, which some investors thought was possible. Stocks turned lower after his comments, with losses accelerating in the afternoon. The S&P 500 declined 51.25 points, or 1.3%, to 3768.47, the third consecutive session of declines. The Nasdaq Composite fell 274.28 points, or 2.1%, to 12723.47 and teetered on the edge of a correction-a drop of 10% from its recent high. The tech-heavy gauge recorded its biggest three-day percentage decline since September and has now given up its gains for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 345.95 points, or 1.1%, to 30924.14. The declines were particularly steep among tech darlings and favorites of momentum investors. Tesla fell $31.76, or 4.9%, to $621.44, while ARK Innovation ETF dropped $6.68, or 5.3%, to $118.43. The losses were broad, with nine out of 11 of the S&P 500's sectors falling. Okta Inc. shares were down 6,2% at the closing. The identity management company after the market close Wednesday said it agreed to acquire Auth0, an identity platform for application teams, in a stock transaction valued at about $6.5 billion. Okta also reported fourth-quarter total revenue of $234.7 million, up from $167.3 million a year earlier and above FactSet consensus for $222.5 million. Adjusted earnings per share came to six cents, versus FactSet consensus for a loss of one cent. Okta offered guidance, but said the financial outlook doesn't include any potential impact from the proposed acquisition of Auth0.
The selloff in U.S. government bonds gained steam on Friday, as traders continued to react to Jerome Powell's comments. During Mr. Powell's interview, the 10-year yield jumped from 1.50% to 1.53%, not a big move, but part of a trend toward higher market borrowing costs that could create economic headwinds depending on how long it goes on. The yield on the 10-year note was at 1.579% recently, having settled at 1.547% on Thursday.
Asian markets followed suit on Friday, although the Nikkei and Hang Seng managed to trim their sharp early-session losses.
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