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Danger of selloff in U.S. stocks grows, South Africa cut to junk, and Trump's health-care bill is not dead yet. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.
Yesterday's disappointing U.S. auto sales numbers risk ending a period of calm in markets that has seen the CBOE Volatility Index fall to its lowest quarterly average since 2006. While stocks finished Monday's session only slightly lower, the fortunes of the wider market have historically been tied to those of the big automakers. The collapse in car demand is also likely to put pressure on President Donald Trump's factory jobs policy.
South Africa junked
S&P Ratings downgraded South Africa's credit rating to junk yesterday following President Jacob Zuma's decision to fire his finance minister last week. The loss of investment grade status for the first time in 17 years saw a sell-off in the rand, which was trading at 13.8272 to the U.S. dollar by 5:32 a.m. Eastern Time. Should either of the two remaining rating agencies that still have the country at investment grade reduce their designations to junk, it would increase the pressure on the economy and the president, as it could lead to forced selling of bonds.
Health care reborn
President Donald Trump's White House is pushing House Republicans to sign on to a new version of the recently abandoned health-care bill. While GOP lawmakers see little room on the calendar to hold another vote this month as a two-week recess begins Friday, some close to Trump think it could happen as early as this week. One Trump policy that has been implemented is a crack down on the H-1B visas which channels thousands of skilled overseas workers to companies across the technology industry.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.3 percent, while Japan's Topix index dropped 0.8 percent as the yen climbed against the dollar, adding to pressure on automakers. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.1 percent lower at 5:45 a.m. while London's FTSE 100 showed small gains as the pound slid. U.S. futures were also weaker.
Hard or soft?
Eco-data, that is. This week should provide investors with some answers as to whether the U.S. economic boom in survey-based "soft" data is going to be reflected in the "hard" numbers. With auto sales already disappointing, survey data that has been bullish for the economy could face further scorn should Friday's jobs figures not reflect the glowing outlook. At 10:00 a.m. this morning factory orders data will be released with final February durable goods numbers due at the same time.
What we've been reading
This is what's caught our eye over the last 24 hours.
- Uncovering the secret history of Wall Street's largest oil trade.
- Wage stagnation in the U.S. may not be as bad as you think.
- Hedge fund bulls breathe new life into the world's hottest currency.
- The student debt overhang is pushing down U.S. rates, Dudley says.
- Wells Fargo told to rehire whistle-blower, pay $4.5 million.
- Israeli soldiers got caught by a social media honey trap.
- Sure, Atlanta can fix its freeway — or build a ramp to jump it.