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Macron wins, China’s whopping deleveraging bill, and Gulf stocks tank. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.
Macron Beats Le Pen
Centrist Emmanuel Macron has won the French presidential runoff, projected to capture roughly 65 percent of the vote to far-right candidate Marine Le Pen's 35 percent, suggesting the populist electoral wave seen over the past year has hit a roadblock. The victor, who pledged to fight against "deepening divisions" in French society, must now deal with double-digit unemployment in one of Europe's biggest economies. The euro gained only marginally against most other currencies as the results poured in. This election wasn’t the only one that suggests populism may have hit an intermediate peak: Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats also won a state vote in northern Germany, besting the incumbent Social Democratic candidate.
That’s how much value Chinese stocks and bonds have lost since mid-April amid the government’s renewed efforts to crack down on financial leverage. JPMorgan Asset Management suggested that China’s leaders will only recalibrate their policies in the event that stocks retreat another 10 percent or the yuan “cracks under pressure.” The latter looks unlikely, however, with signs that capital controls continue to be effective. Foreign exchange reserves rose by more than expected to $3.03 trillion in April, their third consecutive advance.
Bloodbath in Gulf Stocks
Gulf stocks were taken to the woodshed after Brent crude broke below $50 per barrel last week and couldn’t make it back above that threshold on Friday. All major equity indexes in the oil-heavy region declined on Sunday, with the Kuwait Stock Exchange Index tumbling 2.8 percent. U.S. shale drillers’ renaissance is seen as offsetting OPEC’s production curbs. One incrementally positive sign for black gold: Iran’s oil minister said the nation will go along with whatever decision OPEC makes at its May 25 meeting in Vienna, adding that all signs point to a “renewal of the deal” to cap output. However, there’s also a big bet in markets that West Texas Intermediate falls below $39 per barrel by mid-July.
All-Time Highs for U.S. Stocks
The S&P 500 Index posted its first record close since March 1 to end last week amid a bounce-back in beleaguered commodity stocks. April’s non-farm payroll reports released on Friday showed jobs growth of 211,000, surpassing the consensus estimate, while the unemployment rate fell to 4.4 percent, the lowest since May 2007. Over the weekend, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. posted quarterly profits that fell short of analysts’ estimates amid disappointing results in its insurance businesses.
Indian Bank Shakeups
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced the appointment of seven new chief executive officers for the nation’s state-controlled banks, which account for the lion’s share of loans. The government also empowered the Reserve Bank of India to help resolve issues with non-performing loans at the nation’s lenders, a key prerequisite for reviving credit growth. This enhancement of authority for the RBI may give Governor Urjit Patel the necessary tools to finish the mission started by Raghuram Rajan, his predecessor. Recently, a top government adviser said there would be no need to set up a bad bank to absorb toxic assets.
What we’ve been reading
This is what caught our eye over the past day.
Sweden's anti-Trump fiscal policy delivers economic miracle.
FX traders are losing faith in the greenback.
Buffett says he blew it on Google.
- How Iran is getting out ahead of potential U.S. economic sanctions.
The Godfather of passive investing says markets would fail in a world without active.
Senate Republicans embrace some parts of Obamacare in health-care bill rewrite.
Your winner of the 2017 Kentucky Derby defied the naysayers.
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