End of tariffs?
The week started with fresh optimism as most or all US tariffs on China are likely to be lifted as part of a new trade deal. The agreement is now in its final stages but nothing is official yet. In fact, there might be another obstacle as China has requested that the USA lift its current tariffs on USD200bn of imports, imposed by President Trump last year and that he refuses to remove until any agreement has been implemented. Traders remain positive about the situation but any development and comment will be watched closely. The USD came under pressure on Saturday when President Trump attacked Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell at the Conservative Political Action Conference for driving the US dollar stronger, at the expense of the US economy. Market expectations are still for no more interest rate hikes this year.
The UK government has launched this morning GBP1.6bn Stronger Towns Fund which is a fund designed to boost the most deprived areas post Brexit. Immediately after the announcement, Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of buying Labour MPs votes with the fund. Meanwhile, pro-Brexit Tories outlined the conditions for supporting PM May’s deal if she manages to secure new assurances on the Irish border backstop. A risk of Brexit delay or a second referendum have been key factors which persuaded many Conservatives to change their stance and support prime minister’s deal. Construction PMI index published this morning showed a first drop in eleven months to 49.5 from 50.6 in the previous month, on the back of Brexit uncertainty (below 50 indicates contraction). The pound remained stable and is still trading above 1.16 against the EUR and 1.32 against the greenback.
This week, the European Central Bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Bank of Canada will be holding their policy meetings and markets will be on standby for a possible shifts in monetary policy. US February jobs report as well as UK and US services PMIs, Australian Q4 GDP and Canadian employment figures will be other key releases for investors.
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