Fed Cut Cometh
Jerome Powell telegraphed his intention to lower borrowing costs as soon as this month, telling the House that risks from the trade war with China overshadow the healthy labor market. Asked if June’s stronger-than-expected jobs report had changed the central bank’s thinking, the chairman said: “A straight answer to your question is, no.” The Fed chief said also Donald Trump lacks the authority to fire him. When asked if he would leave if the president told him to, he said: “Of course I would not do that. My answer would be no.”
Asian equity futures are mostly higher after U.S. stocks hit all-time highs on Powell’s dovish comments. The S&P 500 briefly rose above 3,000 for the first time. Treasuries were mixed, with 10-year yields dropping then recovering to hold at about 2.06%. The dollar lost ground against almost every major currency, and gold jumped more than 1%.
Fishermen are on the front lines of Asia’s most complex territorial dispute: the South China Sea. Six claimants, as well as outside powers like the U.S., have an interest in protecting a waterway that carries more than $3 trillion in trade each year. China’s Coast Guard stepped up patrols in contested areas a few years back, with fishermen from countries like Vietnam and the Philippines reporting encounters with Chinese officials warning them off fishing in certain areas – sometimes with the aid of electric prods.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore said it’s just seen the first-ever local criminal convictions for front-running prosecuted as an insider-trading offense. Leong Chee Wai, E. Seck Peng Simon and Toh Chew Leong received prison sentences of as long as 36 months. The seven-year scheme had yielded profits of S$8.1 million ($6 million), the regulator said.
Nearing a Record
Australia’s stock market could soon reach a new all-time high, with the S&P/ASX 200 just short of its record from 2007. The nation’s benchmark has surged 18% this year, adding about $210 billion in value despite a sluggish economy and a housing slump. Still, analysts are divided on where Aussie stocks will go. Citigroup and Morgan Stanley are cheering the surge, while Goldman Sachs looks elsewhere for gains.