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Good morning. There may be progress on the tariff front, Saudi Arabia is said to be tapping billionaires and Spain heads to the polls. Here’s what’s moving markets.
A sign of progress of the trade front. The U.S. and China both said that a phase-one agreement would feature pledges to roll back tariffs on each other’s goods in stages. Such a move would pave the way for a de-escalation in the trade war that’s hung over the world economy. Still, nothing’s certain, including where to sign any deal, with Iowa and Alaska having been ruled out. Separately, a “fully informed” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said European Union carmakers can breathe a sign of relief, pledging the U.S. won’t impose tariffs on the region’s cars next week as threatened.
Saudi Arabia is negotiating with its wealthiest citizens for commitments to buy stock in the Aramco initial public offering, people with knowledge of the matter said. The Olayan family, which owns a major stake in Swiss bank Credit Suisse, is considering buying several hundred million U.S. dollars worth of Aramco shares while Prince Alaweed Bin Talal has also held talks about a “significant amount,” the people said.
Facebook has taken its stance on political advertisements across the pond: the social media giant defended its policy of not fact-checking political advertising in the U.K. general election, saying it isn’t a matter for a private company to police political speech. In other campaign news, both major parties are rolling out spending plans, with Sajid Javid saying a conservative government would borrow about 20 billion pounds extra a year to invest in infrastructure. Labour, on the other hand, pledged 250 billion pounds of investment in that sector over 10 years, and another 150 billion pounds on education, housing and health care in the next five.
It may feel like a lot of voting in the U.K. of late, but Spain is set to hold its fourth general election in as many years on Sunday. Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is hoping the electorate will help him end a political stalemate that has left the country without a majority government since 2015. Those hopes may have been hit on bad news this week on unemployment and the economic outlook after the EC cuts its 2019 growth forecast for the country. Also looming over this election: long-dead dictator Francisco Franco. The exhumation of his remains last month from a mausoleum to a low-key site has become fodder for some nostalgic for the traditions of the Franco years. And there’s always the Catalonia question.
Amid LVMH's battle for Tiffany bling, Cartier-owner Richemont reported operating profit that fell short of estimates and said sales in Hong Kong dropped because of the protests. Later we’ll get German export figures and French industrial production. In the meanwhile, Asian stocks are mixed and U.S. equity futures edged lower as the risk-on move that’s permeated global financial markets this week showed signs of abating.
What We’ve Been Reading
This is what’s caught our eye over the past 24 hours.
The latest addictive banker hobby: lifestyle farming. The life of a Google contract worker. More heat waves for the U.K. Thanks, global warming German banking giant moves trades from London. Surviving the retail apocalypse. Trade optimism and the market’s demons. Here are the countries Lagarde thinks can spend more.
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