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Trump's GOP Ultimatum Forces Health Care Act Vote

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U.S. lawmakers are set to vote on health care, euro-area PMIs accelerate, and oil's had a bad run. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

House to vote

The GOP's embattled health-care bill is set to be voted on later today, with Republican leaders uncertain they have the numbers for it to pass. Investors are watching the progress closely as the bill is being viewed as a test of President Donald Trump's ability to push through promised pro-growth policies. The S&P 500 finished 0.1 percent lower yesterday after it became clear the vote would be delayed. 

Strong euro-area PMIs

IHS Markit's Purchasing Managers’ Index for the euro area rose to 56.7 in March, the highest level in almost six years, and well ahead of economist expectations for 55.8. Hiring picked up in both manufacturing and services, while inflationary pressures increased. In Germany, the composite PMI rose to 57 for the month, while there was also good news for the French economy where a similar gauge jumped to 57.6. The data provider publishes PMI numbers for the U.S. at 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time.

Oil's bad month

Crude is set for its third weekly drop this month ahead of a meeting in Kuwait this weekend, at which OPEC and its production-cutting allies will assess the effectiveness of their actions to date. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate for May delivery was up 34 cents at $48.04 by 5:32 a.m. One place the oil drop hasn't shown up lately is in the value of the ruble, which is normally very closely correlated with the price of crude.

Markets mixed

Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.3 percent, while Japan's Topix index gained 0.9 percent. Shares in China Huishan Dairy Holdings Co., a target of short-seller Muddy Waters Capital LLC, plunged 85 percent — wiping out $4.1 billion in market value. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.3 percent lower at 5:42 a.m., while U.S. stock futures were climbing. 

Iron ore slump

The rally in iron-ore prices in China has been turned on its head, with the most active futures contract in Dalian dropping 19 percent this week — the most on record — and rebar prices slumping in Shanghai. Fresh property curbs in China are helping drive the losses. One Hong Kong-based strategist has warned that the country's rising stockpile of commodities means the economy is due a cyclical downturn that would have negative repercussions for bond yields across the world. 

What we've been reading 

This is what's caught our eye over the last 24 hours.

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