Will the US Fed announce The Big Unwind this evening? Stock market trading was marked by small skirmishes today at best as investors await the judgement of Janet Yellen, Fed chair, on US monetary policy direction.
Most markets are expecting Yellen to make a move on balance sheet normalisation – tightening the cheap money supply. A move is priced in already, to some degree. The odds on a rate rise appear to be reducing though the Fed may surprise.
Inflation readings remain low – too low, probably, to sustain a rate jump (core US inflation rate was +1.7% in the last 12 months, below the Fed’s +2.0% target). Spending and wage growth remain under pressure.
The corporate world is also preparing for a rash of third quarter numbers. Plus there's the on-going economic damage from hurricanes Irma and Harvey. A lot to absorb, all in. But the Fed will want to smooth the path as much as possible. Whatever happens, the news will propel the dollar.
The pound was up +0.39% at $1.3559 at 4pm helped by more sprightly retail sales numbers this morning from the Office of National Statistics while the euro was down -0.05% at $1.1984. The FTSE 100's best performer today was Babcock, up almost +6% while drinks operator Diageo slumped almost -3%.
- UK FTSE 100 7,266.92 -0.11%
- Dow 22,378 +0.04%
- S&P 500 2,507.27 +0.02%
- Nasdaq 6,459.76 -0.02%
- Nikkei 225 20,310.46 +0.05%
- DAX 12,556.36 -0.04%
- CAC 40 5,238.48 +0.02%
- Gold 1,361.40 +0.44%
- Oil WTI 50.21 +1.48%
Google to snap up HTC?
The main company news today was the suspension of shares of Taiwanese mobile player HTC. It’s thought Google is set to pounce on the smartphone operator which once commanded close to 10% of the smartphone market.
That near 10% share has plummeted as the two titans, Apple and Samsung, slug it out from just about every corner of the world. (HTC’s share of the market is now thought to be less than 1%.) But Google has had some previous form here with Motorola, which it offloaded onto China’s Lenovo in 2014.
“HTC was one of the most innovative companies,” Francisco Jeronimo, research director for International Data Corporation, told the Guardian, “and honestly it still is.”
But despite having a good product he added, “if you don’t know how to sell it, to work with the channels of retailers and networks, then you won’t succeed.”
Toshiba agrees memory chip deal, finally
Meanwhile Toshiba has finally managed to sell its memory chip operation to Bain Capital in a deal thought to be worth $18bn though its consortium also includes Dell, Apple and other tech giants. Toshiba has been struggling to sell its chip business in order to right itself from the rising costs of its nuclear reactor arm Westinghouse.
Nuclear safety regulations (and costs) were increased following the Fukushima disaster and Westinghouse was hit hard. Toshiba also was under pressure from poor deals made on other nuclear power projects.
Breaking news: Ryanair says more than 300,000 customers have received emails advising on flight changes and offering other flights and refunds.