The disruption in Hong Kong this week has taken things to a new level — and fears are growing as to what may come next. Protesters paralyzed the city on Wednesday for a third straight day, disrupting subway lines and blocking roads. Tear gas swirled through the Central financial district and the government ordered schools from kindergarten to college to shut on Thursday, the first time it’s done so during the unrest. The prolonged turmoil marks a shift in intensity in the protests, which have mostly been confined to the weekends. That has raised fresh worries about an economy already in recession, with the Hang Seng Index losing 1.8% for its lowest close in three weeks. Hong Kong officials and Chinese state media warned of consequences if violence continued, after key officials held a meeting at Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s residence last night.
Asian stock futures were mixed ahead of a slew of Chinese economic data as investors remained on edge about whether Beijing and Washington will be able to agree on a partial trade deal, and havens from gold to Treasuries rose. Futures were flat in Tokyo and slipped in Hong Kong, while contracts in Australia edged up. The 10-year Treasury yield fell the most in more than a week. Elsewhere, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a record as Disney surged following the debut of its streaming service, and West Texas crude rose to $57 a barrel. In South Korea, markets will open an hour later than usual on Thursday due to the national college exam.
Climate activism has taken a new turn. Mark McVeigh, a 24-year-old environmental scientist from Australia, is suing his A$57 billion ($39 billion) pension fund for not adequately disclosing or assessing the impact of climate change on its investments. The Federal Court battle is shaping up to be a unique test case: Are pension funds in breach of their fiduciary duties by failing to mitigate the financial ravages of a warmer planet? Australia’s pension industry — home to the world’s fourth-largest retirement-savings pool at A$2.9 trillion — is certainly watching the case closely.
President Donald Trump said he’ll discuss a trade deal with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a White House meeting on Wednesday. The deal could expand trade between the two countries, from about $20 billion to as much as $100 billion, Trump said. He also called Erdogan — a pariah in much of Washington after his military offensive into Kurdish-held territory in Syria last month — a “good friend.” The sudden trade curveball comes after Trump threatened sanctions against Turkey last month following its incursion into Syria. U.S. lawmakers in both parties had urged Trump not to host the Turkish leader at the White House following the offensive, which targeted American Kurdish allies who helped to defeat Islamic State.
Australia’s bonds have fallen far enough in recent weeks after pricing in positive U.S.-China trade news — but now they may be poised to rally as global and domestic economic growth slows, UBS Group AG says. They estimate that benchmark 10-year yields may drop to a record 0.5% next year. That’s based off a premise that the U.S. and China fail to resolve their trade dispute and existing tariffs stay in place. What’s more, even though there are signs global manufacturing is stabilizing, there’s no indication purchasing managers indexes are bouncing back. “This is a good opportunity to go long again. The fundamentals in the global economy haven’t really changed in the last four weeks,” said Giulia Specchia, Australia and New Zealand rates strategist at UBS in Sydney.
What We’ve Been Reading
This is what’s caught our eye over the past 24 hours.
- Some of the most direct evidence yet has been heard in the Trump impeachment inquiry.
- KKR might just pull off the biggest LBO in history.
- China’s genetics giant wants everyone to live to at least 99.
- Philippine interest rates is being seen as steady.
- WeWork’s quarterly loss doubled to $1.3 billion after its IPO faltered.
- Open source code will survive the apocalypse in an arctic cave.
- Here are some ingenious trip hacks from a Guinness World Record holder for travel.