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Good morning. Security has moved to the center of the U.K. election campaign, Germany’s coalition government is on the brink and investors are digesting mixed signals on the impact of the trade war. Here’s what’s moving markets.
The focus of the U.K. election campaign has taken a swing towards law and order following the attack at London Bridge on Friday, and the Conservatives are planning a major review of both defense and foreign policy if they win. The Labour Party has gained ground, narrowing the gap with the Tories in four of five opinion polls, one of which suggested the country is headed for a hung parliament. The campaign will be disrupted again this week as the U.K. welcomes NATO allies to the latest summit of the defense alliance, where U.S. President Donald Trump won’t be the only wild card attending.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government was thrown into doubt after her coalition partners, the Social Democrats, elected new leaders over the weekend who have threatened to pull out of the ruling pact. Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken, two critics of the government, won the poll, beating Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. In his victory speech, Walter-Borjans insisted he would rather improve the current coalition rather than take it down, but it creates a significant headache for Merkel to keep the government together and an extra political risk for European investors to take into account.
Some slightly better news emerged for China at the weekend, with its factory activity gauge unexpectedly jumping in November thanks to government support and a more stable global outlook. Yet another closely watched bellwether for global trade, South Korean exports, dropped more than expected. That will put even more focus on European and U.S. manufacturing data due on Monday. China’s central bank, meanwhile, says it intends to retain a prudent policy approach as it predicts a prolonged downturn in the global economy, saying it is in a “mid- and long-distance race’’ and will stick to conventional methods as long as possible.
Black Friday online sales in the U.S. hit a record level, yet again underscoring a shift among consumers to eschew heading to bricks-and-mortar stores to get their bargains and instead sitting and clicking from home. It bodes well too for Cyber Monday, the online cousin of Black Friday, given this is when the offers are most concentrated to online stores. Over the coming days, it will be worth watching for signals from Europe’s biggest retailers how they fared across what is now a global shopping bonanza. On the down side, retail sales from a protest-hit Hong Kong are due on Monday and could impact luxury goods stocks exposed to the city.
Stocks in Asia were higher and U.S. Treasuries tumbled as investors took heart from the better-than-expected China data, which added to a feeling that the global economy is turning a corner. Local reports also suggested China wants a tariff rollback in the first phase of a trade deal with the U.S., keeping eyes trained on any further headlines about progress in talks between the two. Oil prices are higher going into the new week, bolstered by Iraq signaling that OPEC and its allies will consider deeper production cuts when they meet this week.
What We’ve Been Reading
This is what’s caught our eye over the past 24 hours.
It’ll be tough to top 2019 for stocks. The cure for an economy hooked on debt may be more debt. Chefs pick the best cities for great restaurants. A community rallies around London’s oldest food market. The cherry blossom scandal in Japan is starting to bite. Gulf states are backpedaling on Iran. The rise and rise of Big Toothbrush.
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