July 13, 2018 / 7:34 AM / 5 months ago

Daily Briefing: Hurricane Trump blows through the UK

LONDON (Reuters) - With friends like Donald Trump, Theresa May might be forgiven for thinking who needs enemies, although she’s not short in that department, either.

U.S. President Donald Trump leads British Prime Minister Theresa May by the hand as they climb the steps to the entrance of Blenheim Palace, near Oxford, July 12, 2018

Her troublesome guest has been lavishing praise on Boris Johnson, the man who stormed out of her cabinet over Brexit. He's publicly flayed her handling of EU divorce negotiations. He said her proposals had probably killed off hope of a UK-US trade deal. So much for the "special relationship’.

Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to gather in London to voice their objections to Trump’s visit, though May is not expected to be among them. She’s giving Trump lunch at Chequers, her official country residence, followed by a joint news conference. Fasten your seat belts.

Who knows what Queen Elizabeth makes of it all? She’s due to have tea with the U.S. president at Windsor Castle later on Friday. Will she be the only person on Trump’s European tour to escape a tongue-lashing? Trump later travels to Scotland, where he owns two golf courses, before heading to Helsinki for his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

MARKETS

Friday 13th or not, another bumper U.S. earnings season and news of above-forecast Chinese exports last month have been enough to keep most stock markets rising into the weekend.

The S&P500 hit four-month highs on Wall Street overnight as the big U.S. banks, such as JPMorgan, get second-quarter corporate reporting underway, with aggregate annual profit growth expected at more than 20 percent for the second quarter. 

Chinese June trade numbers, meantime, proved something of a double-edged sword. While better-than-expected export growth of 11.3 percent year-on-year and a whopping $41 billion monthly surplus flatter the overall economic picture in China and around the world, the highest bilateral trade surplus with the United States on record may just inflame the trade war just kicked off by Washington.

So while most major Asia bourses followed Wall Street’s lead and pushed higher again overnight, Shanghai lagged and ended marginally in the red.

China’s yuan also eased again and is on course for its fifth straight week of losses. Tokyo and Seoul’s benchmark bourses were more than 1 percent higher, the Hang Seng trailed but ended about 0.3 percent in positive territory.

European stocks are also set for more modest gains of about 0.3 percent, with the stark contrast in annual Q2 earnings growth with the United States back in view. Euro zone corporate profit growth in the year through Q2 is expected at just 3.5 percent.

The broader market mood on the trade row was more positive, however, not least due to the absence so far of retaliatory measures from Beijing to Washington’s plan to impose another 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods in September.

Those hopes were given some mild encouragement from U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, who said the U.S. trade delegation was willing to negotiate if China was serious about structural reforms of its trade and business practices.

Mnuchin’s boss, President Donald Trump, seems not to be in a conciliatory or even diplomatic mood right now, though. After lambasting Germany and its energy policy and defence spending at the NATO summit during the week, he threw a similar curve ball at his British host UK PM Theresa May overnight by overtly criticising her hard-fought new Brexit plan.

The issue is politically hyper-sensitive for the UK PM after a series of resignations within her own cabinet over the issue and complaints from the financial world over its provisions for post-Brexit financial services. Sterling was weaker against a broadly stronger dollar and also against the euro first thing Friday as the Trump visit goes on amid expectation of widespread public protests.

Elsewhere, the U.S. earnings and Chinese trade picture did little to buoy U.S. Treasury yields and the slow grind lower of the 2-10 year yield curve continues apace, flattening to 25 basis points on Friday – more than half levels just two months ago. Euro/dollar was lower but held well above $1.16.

Oil prices remained weak after sliding this week on the prospect of renewed Libyan oil supplies. Brent crude is hovering around $74.

— A look at the day ahead from EMEA Head of Desk Jon Boyle and EMEA markets editor Mike Dolan. The views expressed are their own —

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