LONDON (Reuters) - Classified documents that the heads of four U.S. intelligence agencies presented last week to President-elect Donald Trump include lurid assertions that Russian intelligence operatives have compromising information about him, it emerged overnight. These come on top of the details contained in the unclassified intelligence report on Russia’s alleged “influence campaign” in the West made public last Friday and which was considered by many to be short on hard evidence. The latest documents, which were first revealed by CNN, come with a public health warning: one U.S. source said the assertions made in them are unsubstantiated by evidence and contain certain inaccuracies. A Trump tweet has rejected them outright as “fake news”.
Italy’s constitutional court is due to review a request by the country’s largest trade union for a referendum on the so-called jobs act - a cornerstone of former prime minister Matteo Renzi’s reform programme that made it easier to hire and fire workers in the private sector. If the court gives a green light to the vote, it could prove a devastating blow to Renzi’s legacy and underscore the difficulty of carrying out meaningful reform in Italy. The court will also rule on the admissibility of a referendum on both paying workers by a contested vouchers system and providing safeguards to ensure that sub-contracting companies pay contributions to their employees. If the court allows the referendum to go ahead, a vote could take place in the summer. There is no guarantee it would pass, but the “No” vote of the Dec. 4 referendum on constitutional reform suggests Renzi might struggle.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney faces a question-and-answer session in parliament on the Bank’s latest financial stability report, published in December. The report said Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election has increased the threats to the world economy from higher interest rates and less trade. It also pointed to potential dangers from rapid Chinese credit growth or a disorganised Brexit. Carney and other members of the Financial Policy Committee will be speaking to parliament’s Treasury Committee.
While world markets wait for US President-elect Trump to set out his policy stall in more detail with a pre-inauguration press conference around 1600 London time, the likely controversial nature of the Trump presidency was underlined by unverified reports from US intelligence agencies that Russian intelligence has damaging and compromising details about him. True or not, it shows his time in the White House could be a far more volatile and unpredictable ride than the last eight years.
Zooming in on his economic plans, markets have assumed the sunny side up of tax cuts and spending increases while selectively reacting to his threats to world trade – most obviously Mexico, where the peso has plummeted again to new record lows as Mexico’s central bank admitted to spending more than $2 billion trying to support it.
But more broadly, the Trump reflation trade has stalled a bit ahead of the press conference and next week’s inauguration. Wall St stocks continue to stalk record highs, but the Dow again failed to take out the 20,000 milestone overnight.
Despite survey evidence showing a huge surge in US small business confidence last month, the other macro markets have also cooled off so far this year. With the exception of the peso, Turkey’s plummeting lira (which is now almost in freefall as it loses another 2 percent to new records early Wednesday) and so some extent sterling, the dollar has been on the back foot elsewhere and US Treasury yields have slipped back below 2.4 pct this week.
Brent oil remains subdued below $54 despite reports of bigger Saudi output cuts and even Russian production drops. On the other side of the coin, helped by easier Treasury yields and the dollar, emerging Asia equities have returned to pre-election levels despite Trump’s trade rhetoric. In short, it appears markets have squared up a little while awaiting meat on the bones of campaign promises. With eyes on UK retailers, European stock futures are expected to open slightly lower. Apart from Trump, markets will eye the 10-year bund auction, BoE chief Mark Carney in parliament and a likely Brazil interest rate cut.
Upcoming events/data/ themes for market reports on Wednesday:
Europe corporate events - Sainsbury, Saga, Taylor Wimpey trading updates; Tullow Oil, Pagegroup, Fenner update; Peugeot full-year sales; Airbus annual news conference
Germany sells 10-year bunds
UK Nov industry/manufacturing output, trade data
Spain Nov industrial output
Italy’s constitutional court to vote on Jobs Act referendum
Turkey Nov current account
World Economic Forum global risks report
German interior ministry presents asylum numbers for 2016
Polish parliament to hold first session since opposition protests began before Xmas
EU Commission chief Juncker and Maltese PM Muscat hold news conference
BoE chief Carney speaks in parliament on financial risks
US President-elect Trump holds key policy press conference ahead of next week’s inauguration
Brazil central bank policy decision
Mexico Nov industrial output
Canada Dec housing starts
Argentina Dec inflation
US Treasury sells 10-year notes