Mexico, U.S. ‘getting close’ on finalizing USMCA: Mexican official By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Flags are pictured during the fifth round of NAFTA talks involving the United States, Mexico and Canada, in Mexico City

(Reuters) – Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America said on Saturday that negotiators were making progress on revisions to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal.

Mexico approved USMCA this year, but U.S. ratification has been held up by Democratic lawmakers, who have voiced concerns over the enforcement of labor and environmental provisions.

“We’re getting close, I’m confident,” the minister, Jesus Seade, told reporters outside the U.S. Trade Representative’s office in Washington. He said he would likely return on Monday to continue talks.

On Friday evening, Jesus had said that many issues still needed to be resolved.

One point of contention is over steel, after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer made a last-minute demand for a revised definition of what would constitute North American steel under automotive rules of origin.

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BOJ to consider offering bleaker view on output as trade war bites: sources By Reuters



By Leika Kihara

TOKYO (Reuters) – The Bank of Japan will consider offering a bleaker assessment on factory output than in October at its rate review this month, sources said, underscoring its concern over the broadening fallout from the U.S.-China trade war and slowing global demand.

A downgrade in the BOJ’s view on output – a key driver of growth – will cast doubt on its argument that Japan’s economy will sustain a moderate expansion as robust domestic demand make up for weak exports.

Factory output contracted in October in the biggest slump in nearly two years and manufacturers expect output to drop again in November, government data showed.

While the government blamed the weakness mostly on temporary shutdowns of factories due to the typhoon, analysts warned that weakening demand for cars and other big-ticket items after a sales tax hike in October was taking a toll.

“October output was quite weak. The key worry is the impact of sluggish auto demand,” one source with direct knowledge of the matter said, a view echoed by two other sources.

In its current assessment made in October, the BOJ says factory output is moving sideways. The nine-member board may offer a slightly bleaker view, such as that output is weakening, when it meets for a rate review on Dec. 18-19, the sources said.

Many analysts expect the BOJ to keep monetary policy steady this month, after Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he saw no need to ramp up stimulus now with the economy sustaining a recovery.

Given its limited policy tool-kit, the BOJ is hoping the government’s fiscal spending package will ease the hit to growth from the global slowdown and the sales tax hike.

But a recent string of weak data is likely to keep the central bank under pressure to deploy additional monetary support to prevent another recession.

Retail sales plunged at their fastest pace since early 2015 in October, dashing policymakers’ hopes that the impact from the October tax hike will be moderate.

The BOJ will scrutinize upcoming data, such as its quarterly “tankan” business sentiment survey, to decide whether it needs to cut its overall assessment of the economy, the sources said.

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Trump calls for World Bank to stop loaning to China By Reuters



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday called for the World Bank to stop loaning money to China, one day after the institution adopted a lending plan to Beijing over Washington’s objections.

The World Bank on Thursday adopted a plan to aid China with $1 billion to $1.5 billion in low-interest loans annually through June 2025. The plan calls for lending to “gradually decline” from the previous five-year average of $1.8 billion.

“Why is the World Bank loaning money to China? Can this be possible? China has plenty of money, and if they don’t, they create it. STOP!” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

Spokespeople for the White House and the World Bank did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The World Bank loaned China $1.3 billion in the fiscal 2019 year, which ended on June 30, a decrease from around $2.4 billion in fiscal 2017.

But the fall in the World Bank’s loans to China is not swift enough for the Trump administration, which has argued that Beijing is too wealthy for international aid.

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Trump will make final call on China tariffs, likes direction of talks: Kudlow By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow speaks to the media at the White House in Washington

By Doina Chiacu and David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Friday that a Dec. 15 deadline is still in place to impose a new round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese consumer goods, but President Donald Trump likes where trade talks with China are going.

With about a week to go before the deadline amid “intense” negotiations, Kudlow said Trump would make the final decision on the import tariffs, which would hit Chinese-made cellphones, laptop computers, toys and clothing.

“There’s no arbitrary deadline here … but that fact remains December 15 is a very important date with respect to a no-go or go-on tariffs,” Kudlow, the director of White House’s National Economic Council, told CNBC. “It’s going to be totally up to POTUS (the U.S. president). But December 15th is an important date.”

China earlier on Friday said it will waive import tariffs for some soybeans and pork shipments from the United States, contributing to a more positive tone in financial market sentiment about the talks.

Kudlow, speaking to reporters at the White House, described the waivers as “good mood music” for the negotiations between the world’s two largest economies.

Washington and Beijing are trying to reach agreement on a ‘phase one’ trade deal that would cool a 17-month trade war that has roiled financial markets, disrupted supply chains and weighed on global economic growth.

China has demanded that some of the existing U.S. tariffs imposed on about $375 billion worth of its exports be removed, in addition to cancellation of the Dec. 15 tariffs on some $156 billion of its remaining exports to the United States.

Trump has demanded that China commit to specific minimum purchases of U.S. agricultural products, among other concessions on intellectual property rights, currency and access to China’s financial services markets.

“We’ve all learned that if he is not satisfied with these talks … then he would not hesitate to increase tariffs,” Kudlow told Bloomberg Television.

Kudlow said the two sides have talked almost daily, but there are currently no plans for in-person talks or a signing ceremony between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“None of those decisions have been made … let’s get a deal first and then we’ll figure out how, when and where they’ll do the signing.”

Trump struck an upbeat tone on Thursday even after Chinese officials reiterated their stance that existing tariffs must come off as part of an interim deal to de-escalate the U.S.-China trade war.

Financial markets have been bouncing up and down for weeks on shifts in rhetoric about the trade negotiations. On Friday, the mood was positive, helped by a strong jobs report and the more positive tone from Trump.

At midday, the major U.S. stock indexes were all up around 1%, nearing the record highs they touched last week.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

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China to waive tariffs on some U.S. soybeans, pork in goodwill gesture By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pork vendors at a market in Beijing

By Dominique Patton and Yawen Chen

BEIJING (Reuters) – In a positive gesture, China said on Friday that it will waive import tariffs for some soybeans and pork shipments from the United States, as the two sides try to thrash out a broader agreement to defuse their protracted trade war.

The tariff waivers were based on applications by individual firms for U.S. soybeans and pork imports, the finance ministry said in a statement, citing a decision by the country’s cabinet. It did not specify the quantities involved.

China had imposed the levies in response to tariffs launched by Washington over allegations that China steals and forces the transfer of American intellectual property to Chinese firms, known as Section 301. That includes tariffs of 25% on both U.S. soybeans and pork in July 2018 and a further 10% on pork and 5% on soybeans in September this year.

The waiver comes amid negotiations between the United States and China to conclude a ‘phase one’ or interim deal to de-escalate a 17-month trade war that has roiled financial markets, disrupted supply chains and weighed on global economic growth.

A deal had initially been expected last month, but the two sides are said to be still seeking agreement on major issues such as which tariffs to roll back and the size of U.S. farm purchases China is willing to make.

Though President Donald Trump struck an upbeat tone on progress in talks on Thursday, a new round of U.S. tariffs covering about $156 billion of Chinese imports is set to kick in just over a week away on Dec. 15.

China’s tariff waivers on key U.S. agricultural products is a sign of its commitment to the deal, said an industry source who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

“The goal (of this move) is to expand purchases and reassure the United States,” said a Chinese source who advises Beijing on the trade talks.

“It should be interpreted as a positive signal. Despite the many political difficulties the two sides face, economic and trade cooperation and moves to stop the escalation of the trade war are in the interest of both parties.”

Since late 2018, Washington has similarly exempted some Chinese goods from U.S. tariffs, even as the tone of the trade talks waxed and waned.

At end-October, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) began accepting tariff exclusion requests for Chinese goods subject to additional taxes in effect since Sept. 1.

Prior to that, 14 batches of exclusions for Chinese products had been granted between December 2018 and mid-October this year.

Washington imposed additional tariffs on about $125 billion worth of Chinese goods on Sept. 1, on top of 25% tariffs levied on an earlier $250 billion list of industrial and consumer goods.

U.S. SOYBEANS

Beijing’s levies on U.S. soybeans initially brought its purchases of the U.S.’ most valuable farm export to a virtual halt, although it has offered waivers to buyers in recent months.

(GRAPHIC: U.S. soybeans and pork product exports to China vs rest of world – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/7/7711/7693/USSoyPorkExpChinaRoW.png)

The Chinese government never made the details of these waivers public, however, as well as how to implement such waivers.

Those waivers are said to have expired, although new exemptions may come too late, said an analyst.

“December arrivals are already pretty high and then we’re getting into the Brazil crop,” said Darin Friedrichs, senior Asia commodity analyst at INTL FC Stone.

“There’s limited space to buy new U.S. soybeans at this point.”

Exemptions for pork are likely to be in higher demand, with less than two months until China’s Lunar New Year holiday, the country’s peak consumption period.

China has been scouring the world for more meat to fill a big shortage of protein after an outbreak of African swine fever devastated its massive hog herd, cutting supplies of pork.

U.S. pork exports to China and Hong Kong are already up 47% in volume terms from January to September, even with high duties in place.

A second adviser to the Chinese government said exemptions on the products suited Beijing, as they helped meet market demand for such goods while reducing the trade surplus with the United States.

“We might as well buy soybeans from the U.S. rather than from Brazil. Brazil is actually selling us what was purchased from the United States and they even hiked the prices up before selling to us. In that case, we’d better just buy from the United States,” she said.



California asks Trump administration to release money to fight homelessness By Reuters


California asks Trump administration to release money to fight homelessness

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – In the latest skirmish over California’s homeless crisis, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, asked President Donald Trump on Thursday to stop withholding federal housing vouchers that could benefit 50,000 homeless people.

Newsom told Trump he could “immediately order” the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue federal housing vouchers, a program to assist low-income families, the elderly and the disabled find affordable homes in the private market.

“With a single stroke of your pen, you can make a major, positive impact on homelessness right away,” the Democratic governor said in a statement issued by his office. 

An estimated 130,000 people are homeless in California on any given day, more than any other state, HUD says.

Trump has pummeled California officials for months about the state’s growing homeless problem. On a visit to San Francisco and Los Angeles in September, the Republican president said people living on the street were hurting the “prestige” of those cities and sympathized with homeowners whose property values or quality of life could be hit by homelessness.

The issue is just one front in a battle between the Trump administration and the leaders of the most-populous U.S. state. They have also locked horns over auto emissions, high-speed rail funding, building a U.S.-Mexico border wall and immigration regulations.

Newsom on Wednesday allocated $650 million directly to counties and cities to address homelessness across the state, saying he was frustrated with the federal government’s slow process in allowing him to release the state funds.

The money has been held up waiting for HUD to certify an annual “point-in-time” count of homeless people on a single morning in January. The count is used to determine funding allocations.

HUD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But on a visit to Los Angeles in September, HUD Secretary Ben Carson rejected requests from California for more money to fight homelessness, saying the Trump administration was already doing its part and that “state and local policies have played a major role in the current crisis” in California.

Earlier this week, Newsom hired an official that Trump had fired amid a dispute over White House proposals to deal with homelessness in California. Matthew Doherty, who had served as director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness during the Obama and Trump administrations, will now advise Newsom on the issue.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Trump threatens trade action to spur NATO contributions By Reuters



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday the United States may take action on trade with countries that are not contributing enough to NATO.

Trump, fresh from a trip to London for a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has been pushing member countries to contribute their share to the organization.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Fed Will Tune Out Election and Hold Rates Steady in 2020: Survey By Bloomberg


© Reuters. Fed Will Tune Out Election and Hold Rates Steady in 2020: Survey

(Bloomberg) — Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify (NYSE:) or Pocket Cast.

Federal Reserve officials won’t allow the 2020 presidential election to sway their monetary policy decisions and will keep interest rates on hold for the next two years, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

In a Dec. 2-4 poll of 29 economists, respondents abandoned their previous forecast — from October — for a rate cut in 2020. Their median responses show they now expect the target range for the federal funds rate to stay put at 1.5%-1.75% through the end of 2021.

A majority also rejected the notion that the looming election will have any influence on policy.

“The Fed is on hold for the foreseeable future, but would cut rates if warranted,” Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James Financial Inc., said in his response comments. “Despite a high level of noise, the Fed will remain above the political fray.”

Fed policy makers have lowered rates three times this year. Chairman Jerome Powell signaled a pause after the most recent move, in October, and said rates would be on hold until officials saw a “material reassessment” in their economic outlook.

More than 90% of respondents agreed with the Fed’s recent appraisal that their 2019 rate cuts had helped support economic growth in the U.S. and that monetary policy was now “in a good place.”

Economists also saw a decreased chance of recession in 2020. Asked to assign a probability to the likelihood that the Fed’s benchmark interest rate will drop to zero next year, the median response was 20%, down from 30% in October.

Despite that optimism, respondents overwhelmingly indicated that risks to growth and inflation remained tilted to the downside. They also continued to point to international trade disputes as the single biggest threat to the U.S. economy in 2020, followed by slowing global growth.

Several Fed officials have said they are watching closely for any indication that trade uncertainties, which have already dampened business investment in the U.S., might cause hiring to slow significantly.

“The most important variability will be payroll employment, which I currently anticipate will be below consensus and Federal Reserve expectations,” said Hugh Johnson, of Hugh Johnson Advisors LLC.

The U.S. Labor Department is set to release its November employment report on Friday. In a separate Bloomberg survey, economists have predicted the report will show 185,000 new jobs were created in the month. Over the last three months, gains have averaged 176,000.

Economists said in the latest poll that policy makers would be forced to alter their outlook if payrolls dropped below 100,000 for a few months.

Two thirds of the respondents also predicted the Fed would eventually establish a standing repo facility, a permanent program aimed at reducing volatility in overnight interest rates by injecting liquidity into the market for repurchase agreements. The Fed has been conducting ad hoc lending into that market since September.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Australia retail sales stagnate, exports skid in bleak start to fourth-quarter By Reuters



By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian retailers had it tough in October as skittish consumers chose to hoard any windfall from lower interest rates and tax rebates, likely heralding another quarter of disappointment for the economy.

Data out on Thursday also showed the country’s trade surplus shrank by a third in October as resource exports came off the boil, a worrying turn for what has been a vital prop to growth.

Extending a spate of soft reports, retail sales were flat in October at A$27.6 billion ($18.73 billion) when analysts had looked for a 0.3% gain. Clothing, home wares and department stores all saw declines in the month.

The sector had already suffered its worst 12-month stretch since the 1991 recession as shoppers struggled with stagnant wages and sky-high debt.

The dire result was particularly telling as the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) had cut interest rates to a record low of 0.75% in early October, its third easing since June.

Neither were government giveaways providing much impetus with billions in tax rebates being saved rather than spent.

That is becoming an increasing headache for Prime Minster Scott Morrison given he won re-election in May on a pledge the economy would always be stronger under his guidance.

“The spending ‘strike’ of Q3 looks to have extended into early Q4 with still no evidence of a boost from tax refunds or rate cuts – the combined value of which will be adding around $16.6 billion to household disposable incomes over the year to June 2020,” said Westpac senior economist Matthew Hassan.

Investors are wagering policy makers will have to do a whole lot more to revive spending and futures are fully priced for a rate cut to 0.5% by April , with a real chance of a move to 0.25% by late 2020.

NOT SO MERRY XMAS

Weakness in household consumption was the main reason gross domestic production (GDP) managed only a modest 0.4% gain in the third quarter, and this quarter was looking no better.

There was anecdotal evidence that retailers fared well in November’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, yet history suggests these merely pull spending forward from Christmas.

Adelaide Timbrell, an economist at ANZ, noted the sales surge that used to come in Christmas has been on the wane.

“The growth of online retail and, in particular, heavy discounting coming into the Christmas season may be behind the weakening effect, which has seen a particular downward trend in the last 10-12 years,” she said.

“The rising intensity of competition for the Christmas Dollar, means stabilization isn’t expected in the short term.”

While retailers were struggling, Australia’s exporters have never had it so good thanks to high prices for key resources and strong Asian demand in the tourist and education sectors.

Yet even they hit a bump in October as a 5% drop in exports shrank the country’s trade surplus by a third to A$4.5 billion.

Iron ore alone dropped A$1.2 billion as prices retreated from their highs after supply disruptions in Brazil caused a spike in the first half of the year.

Gold exports fell another A$666 million, though this is a volatile component as shipments vary widely month to month.

“The first look at Australia’s external performance for Q4 suggests the era of very large trade surpluses could be behind us,” said CBA economist Belinda Allen.

“Commodity prices were lower in both October and November, and as a result there are downside risks to export values in coming months.”

($1 = 1.4736 Australian dollars)



Trump Making a Terrible Mistake on Tariffs, Brazil’s Guedes Says By Bloomberg


© Reuters. Trump Making a Terrible Mistake on Tariffs, Brazil’s Guedes Says

(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump is making “a terrible mistake” in his decision to apply tariffs to Brazilian steel exports, according to the economy minister of the Latin American country.

Paulo Guedes, speaking in a video interview to O Antagonista news website, also denied the U.S. leader’s accusation that Brazil is deliberately weakening its currency.

“It’s wrong of Trump, he’s defending protectionist policies,” Guedes said. “There’s no manipulation. Trump’s speech is political; it’s all to do with the election.”

Trump announced on Monday the reinstatement of tariffs on steel and aluminum from Brazil and Argentina on a series of Twitter posts in which he accused the two countries of cheapening their currencies to the detriment of U.S. farmers. The news came as a shock to the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro, which has worked to strengthen ties with the U.S. government since taking office. However, it is still not clear when the tariffs would take effect since there has been no follow-up from those tweets.

Read more: Trump Ties Brazil, Argentina Steel Tariffs to U.S. Farm Woes

The U.S. president’s move to erect trade barriers runs directly counter to the pro-market policies pursued by Guedes.

“All the time we are saying that we want to open up our economy,” he said. “This is true for the U.S. — we want to promote trade between the two of us. He’s making a serious mistake.”

Over the past year, Brazil has already agreed to let the U.S. use its Alcantara rocket launch site and exempt U.S. citizens from the need for travel visas. Brazil’s foreign policy has also become almost totally aligned with that of the Trump administration.

In return, the Trump administration has labeled Brazil a major non-NATO ally, but it has declined to set a timetable for the country’s application to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and it has maintained restrictions on Brazilian raw meat and sugar.

In the interview, Guedes added that the Brazilian government is going to “reassess the situation with the Americans” in the wake of Trump’s decision, but he expressed confidence in the country’s ability to find plenty of global trade partners.

“Brazil was a closed economy for 40 years,” he said. “There will be no shortage of dancing partners. Everybody wants to dance with us.”

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.