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Trump's Message Contradicts Staff on FBI's Comey

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Trump's Washington woes wear on, there's risk-off in China, and it's another big weekend for Angela Merkel. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Trump v. FBI

President Donald Trump did little to quell the controversy over the sacking of FBI director James Comey when he said in an interview with NBC News that he would have fired him no matter the recommendation of the Justice Department. Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that Comey "enjoyed broad support in the FBI and still does to this day,” contradicting White House claims that the sacked director had lost the confidence of the organization. Separately, the president has been ordered to turn over a memo drafted under the guidance of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani that allegedly served as an outline to make the president’s travel ban look like it wasn’t aimed at Muslims.

China stock, bond weakness 

Five hundred and sixty billion dollars has been erased from the value of Chinese stocks since early April, while the country's 10-year government bonds are set to extend their longest run of weekly declines since 2013 -- even if global markets don't seem to be paying much attention. The Chinese government is also set to host almost 30 world leaders this weekend at the first Belt and Road Forum, the country's soft-power globalization program backed by hundreds of billions of dollars for infrastructure projects.

German GDP, elections

German economic growth accelerated to 0.6 percent in the first quarter of the year, helped by a surge in investment. The increase serves as confirmation of the European Central Bank's assessment that the region's recovery is a “firming, broad-based upswing.” This weekend sees a critical test of Chancellor Angela Merkel's support ahead of September's federal election. Citizens in North Rhine-Westphalia, the country's most populous region, are going to the polls. 

Markets remain quiet

Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.3 percent, while Japan's Topix Index closed 0.4 percent lower after disappointing corporate earnings. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was unchanged at 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time with the index set to end the week flat. S&P 500 futures dropped 0.2 percent.

Coming up...

At 8:30 a.m. U.S. retail-sales data for April are released, with expectations for a 0.6 percent increase in the headline number. At the same time April CPI is published, with core CPI expected to remain at 2.0 percent. Today is also a big day for Federal Reserve speakers, with voting member Chicago Fed President Charles Evans due to speak in Dublin at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time, with a live interview broadcast on Bloomberg TV at 10:30 a.m. At 12:30 p.m. Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker, also a voting member, is due to speak. 

What we've been reading 

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

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