IMF Meetings Wrap Up
Global finance chiefs ended talks in Washington mixing concern toward the current state of the world economy with confidence that it will soon rebound. The shift away from tighter monetary policy by central banks, recent stimulus in China and easing trade tensions were hailed as reasons to hope the slowdown will prove short-lived although nobody forecast a renewed boom. With stocks already rallying on optimism about the outlook, officials at the International Monetary Fund’s spring meetings said growth is set to “firm up.” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde nevertheless warned the world is at a “delicate moment,” and at risk of “self-inflicted wounds.”
Stunning ComebackTiger Woods, 43, won the Masters on Sunday, capturing his fifth green jacket and 15th major title — his first in more than a decade — in one of the most stunning turnarounds in sports history. It was the first major title since 2008 for Woods, once golf’s most dominant figure until a high-profile sex scandal, divorce and multiple injuries led to a very public fall from grace. He shot a round of 70 to end the tournament at 13-under par, one shot ahead of three players including Dustin Johnson.
Market OpenAsian equity futures are pointing to a higher open after U.S. stocks closed out another winning week on Friday. The S&P 500 gained, punching through the key 2,900 level for the first time in six months on solid bank earnings and a big deal in the energy sector. The 10-year Treasury yield pushed to the highest level in nearly a month, while the dollar and gold were both lower. Meanwhile, China’s economy will draw the eyes of investors this week amid hope that its expansion has stabilized. Data due Wednesday is set to show the world’s number two economy slowed in the first quarter to an annual pace of 6.3 percent and monthly readings of retail sales, investment and industrial output will be scrutinized for signs of renewed health. On Thursday, Korea’s central bank is forecast to keep rates steady, while a jobs report in Australia will be closely watched ahead of a May 18 election. In the U.S., the main event is the Fed’s Beige Book, which will provide an insight into how healthy central bankers feel the economy is. U.S.-Japan trade talks also get under way in Washington.
Indonesian ElectionIndonesian President Joko Widodo, bidding for a second five-year term to run the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, arrived in Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca days before the election on Wednesday. Widodo, known as Jokowi, met with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh on Sunday and is also scheduled to call on Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Campaigning for the presidential and legislative elections set for April 17 ended on Saturday and almost 193 million voters are expected to cast their ballots. Jokowi, who has faced questions in the past about his religious credentials, made a dash to Mecca just days before the 2014 elections which he won narrowly. The incumbent is pitted against former general Prabowo Subianto in a rematch of the 2014 election.
Draghi and the Fed’s IndependenceEuropean Central Bank President Mario Draghi took the rare step of weighing in on the hot debate over whether President Donald Trump is undermining the independence of the Federal Reserve. Speaking to reporters at the IMF meetings in Washington, Draghi said on Saturday he was “certainly worried about central bank independence” and especially “in the most important jurisdiction in the world.” Meanwhile, Trump laid the boot into the Fed once again, claiming the stock market would be “5000 to 10,000” points higher had it not been for the actions of the U.S. central bank.