Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day

Alyssa McDonald and Alex Millson
Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day

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Trump impeachment inquiry launched, China’s startup boom fades and WeWork’s controversial CEO steps down. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today. 

Impeachment Inquiry

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the U.S. House is opening a formal impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump following revelations that he pushed Ukraine’s government to investigate Joe Biden, now the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. Trump is seeking to defuse the ballooning controversy by releasing the transcript of a July phone call with the Ukrainian president. As Pelosi made the announcement, the president dismissed the move as “Witch Hunt garbage.” Here’s a deeper dive into why impeachment is being discussed again now. 

Markets Rattled

The U.S. impeachment push adds to a raft of concerns weighing on global markets. Stocks in Asia looked set to fall after U.S. equities dropped and Treasuries rose on political turmoil in Washington. The S&P 500 fell the most in a month, while the 10-year Treasury yield hit a two-week low, the dollar fell to session lows and the yen strengthened. Trump’s speech at the United Nations Tuesday ratcheted up tensions between the U.S. and China, while underwhelming economic indicators are adding to worries. Elsewhere, oil fell on signs Saudi Arabia is making progress in restoring lost output and sterling strengthened as the U.K. Parliament prepared to reconvene following a Supreme Court ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend it was unlawful.

Still Cautious

For all the efforts to make China’s bonds more accessible to foreigners this year, some global funds are reluctant to own them, thanks to concerns over liquidity, capital controls and hedging. While overseas investors own just a fraction of the world’s second largest bond market, their opinion may soon hold a little more weight as FTSE Russell is expected to include the bonds in its flagship index. Meanwhile China recently scrapped investment limits for foreigners as it seeks to encourage more investment in capital markets and increase the yuan’s global use. However, the opacity of the Chinese system has left investors reluctant to fully allocate to that market, according to Paresh Upadhyaya, a portfolio manager at Amundi Pioneer Asset Management. “It’s also not as easy as it is to go buy JGBs or bunds or Treasuries,” he said.

Out of WeWork

Adam Neumann, the charismatic and controversial entrepreneur who led WeWork to become one of the world’s most valuable startups, stepped down as chief executive officer in a move designed to salvage the company’s IPO plans. Earlier this year some bankers were privately touting a valuation as high as $65 billion, but WeWork’s plans to go public stalled last week after expectations dropped to $15 billion or less. “While our business has never been stronger, in recent weeks, the scrutiny directed toward me has become a significant distraction,” Neumann said in a statement Tuesday. Debt financing worth $6 billion is riding on a successful stock offering before the end of the year. Otherwise the deeply unprofitable company will need to find another source of capital. 

Fewer Unicorns

It’s the latest sign that China’s remarkable startup boom is petering out: Even the hottest startups are having trouble raising cash. SenseTime — the world’s highest-valued artificial intelligence startup — Full Truck Alliance and Royole (the company behind the world’s first foldable phone) have all postponed or pulled back on fundraising this year after venture capital pools dried up. Over the past decade, China’s tech industry has driven one of the fastest and largest creations of wealth the world has ever seen, birthing global leaders from Alibaba to TikTok parent ByteDance. But U.S.-China trade curbs have soured investors on the world’s No. 2 economy, suppressing deal flow. Just seven Chinese unicorns had been born in 2019 as of June, versus 30 in all of 2018.

What We’ve Been Reading

This is what’s caught our eye over the past 24 hours.

Vietnam buckles under Trump’s pressure to cut its trade surplus.  Boris Johnson urged to resign after suspension of Parliament is ruled unlawful. A Hong Kong property tycoon says the rich need to help.  The world’s wealthiest families are stockpiling cash. Fear of retirement poverty drives Japan to private pensions. China’s tech firms are reinventing health care with the doctor app. The $100 tube of toothpaste is here.  Don’t chuck your driver’s license just yet.

To contact the authors of this story: Alyssa McDonald in Sydney at amcdonald61@bloomberg.netAlex Millson in Hong Kong at amillson@bloomberg.net

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