November 7, 2018 / 8:33 AM / 13 days ago

Daily Briefing: Europe and markets ponder U.S. midterm mixed bag

LONDON (Reuters) - European capitals will be picking through what the U.S. midterm congressional elections mean for them today, as Donald Trump's Republicans consolidated their hold on the Senate but Democrats won control of the House of Representatives.

Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz speaks during his election night party in Houston, Texas, November 6, 2018

The results are a setback of sorts for Trump after a campaign that was a referendum on his leadership, but it is far from clear that his foreign policy stance will be checked as a result.

Indeed there may be fears that the greater resistance he will now face on domestic policy, together with a higher level of scrutiny on everything from his tax returns to allegations of his 2016 campaign links to Russia, could make him yet more pugilistic on international issues.

Since they must still work with a Republican-controlled Senate to pass any bills, the Democratic majority’s greatest influence will be oversight, the ability to call hearings and, if necessary, subpoena witnesses, as they lead committees such as Foreign Affairs as well as Armed Services and Intelligence.

A Democratic-led House will also push to punish Russia for interference in U.S. elections and activities including its aggression in Ukraine and involvement in the Syrian civil war.

But on other issues, they will be more constrained: Democrats were infuriated by Trump's withdrawal from the international nuclear deal with Iran but there is little they can do to change the policy as long as Republicans occupy the White House. In the meantime, the euro rose on the result and European blue chips are pegged higher.

Is Theresa May's Brexit gameplan finally becoming clearer? The BBC is reporting that she has scheduled a speech on Nov. 19 that will declare she has delivered on the referendum with a deal which brings the country back together.

This timeline would certainly fit with the Nov. 21 date by which Brexit Minister Dominic Raab told a parliamentary committee he should be in a position to brief them on a finalised deal; it would also give May a couple of weeks to ensure maximum presentational impact to dissuade hard Brexiters from a rebellion.

Nonetheless, Downing Street has dismissed the report that cites a document entitled “Brexit Communications Grid Summary”, insisting the “childish” language used in the document “should be enough to make clear it doesn’t represent the government’s thinking.”

MARKETS AT 0755 GMT

No huge surprises for world markets from the U.S. midterm elections. Pollsters proved to be largely correct about the outcome, with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives but not the Senate and likely to frustrate at least some of President’s Trump’s agenda over the next two years.

The biggest mover was a rally in U.S. Treasury bonds in a week of heavy new debt supply, with speculation about yet another fiscal boost much reduced with the new ‘gridlock’ setting in Congress. Ten-year yields fell to 3.17 percent from a high of 3.25 percent at one point overnight.

Expectations that a Democrat-run Congress will balk at another major tax cut programme, whatever its stance on an infrastructure spending plan, will also ease pressure on the Federal Reserve to keep tightening beyond next year. The 2-10-year Treasury yield curve, a measure of future growth expectations, flattened slightly to less than 27 basis points.

The dollar slipped back against the major currencies as a result, falling against the euro, yen and sterling and its DXY index was down to its lowest in two weeks.

What the outcome means for Trump’s trade protectionist push is less clear and most feel it will not shift policy much there - partly because the White House has tariff-setting powers independent of Congress and partly because there are many trade hawks in the Democrat ranks also.

For emerging market currencies, the picture was split, with the dollar’s retreat playing out against India’s rupee and Indonesia’s rupee - though the greenback gained against China’s yuan and South Korea’s won. Possibly explaining differing fallout from the trade war and Fed/bond implications.

Chinese, Japanese and other major Asian stock markets were in the red, though with losses of less than 1 percent. The combination of all of the above has left U.S. equity markets a bit flat. The S&P500 closed higher on Tuesday ahead of the results, but futures markets are little changed overnight – marginally in the black. European equity markets opened higher.

— A look at the day ahead from European Economics and Politics Editor Mark John and EMEA markets editor Mike Dolan. The views expressed are their own —

0 : 0
  • narrow-browser-and-phone
  • medium-browser-and-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser
  • wide-browser-and-larger
  • medium-browser-and-landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser-and-larger
  • above-phone
  • portrait-tablet-and-above
  • above-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet-and-above
  • landscape-tablet-and-medium-wide-browser
  • portrait-tablet-and-below
  • landscape-tablet-and-below