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Business Maverick

November 20: Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day

A man carrying a kite in the shape of the Chinese national flag walks along the Bund while buildings of Pudong's Lujiazui financial district stand across the Huangpu River as the sun rises in Shanghai, China, on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

The US Senate passes a bill aimed at backing Hong Kong protesters, Washington and Beijing are discussing tariff rollbacks, and the EU is poised to send a warning to China over 5G. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about. 

Deal Closer?

The near-deal between the U.S. and China that fell apart six months ago is now being used as the benchmark to decide how much tariffs should be rolled back in the initial phase of a broader trade agreement, people familiar with the talks said. The two sides, who are locked in tough — perhaps final — negotiations on a phase-one pact, are discussing linking the size of tariff rollbacks to the preliminary terms set in that failed May deal, according to the people, two of whom said the White House is still debating the precise percentage internally. The Chinese have demanded that all tariffs imposed after May be removed immediately and then tariffs imposed before that be lifted gradually, according to one of the people.

More Protests

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday aimed at  supporting protesters in Hong Kong and warning China against a violent suppression of the demonstrations, a challenge to Beijing as trade negotiations continue. The Senate measure would require annual reviews of Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law to assess the extent to which China has chipped away the city’s autonomy. Protesters are calling for demonstrations to continue in Hong Kong on Wednesday, with some suggesting blocking roads and disrupting rail services, according to a social media post. Hospitals were overwhelmed with injured protesters who were evacuated from a university campus after a standoff with police that’s transfixed the city. Schools were due to reopen Wednesday following days of chaos in the financial hub. But as the city’s unrest worsens, even its homegrown bankers are considering moving away.

Elite Club

Reliance Industries, run by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, has eclipsed BP to break into an elite club of energy supermajors. The Indian conglomerate’s market capitalization was about $133 billion, overtaking the British energy giant’s $132 billion value at the close of trading on Tuesday. Reliance’s shares have increased at three times the pace of India’s benchmark index this year after its billionaire owner in August announced plans to cut the company’s net debt to zero in 18 months through measures including a stake sale in the oil-to-chemicals business to Saudi Aramco.Elite Club

5G Warning to China

The European Union is poised to say potential 5G suppliers will be evaluated based on their home country’s laws, a stance that could exclude Chinese businesses from some lucrative contracts for the advanced telecommunications networks. “Factors, such as the legal and policy framework to which suppliers may be subject to in third countries, should be considered,” according to a draft of a joint statement obtained by Bloomberg and planned for release next month. The document is due to be approved on an informal basis this week by government envoys with formal sign off by ministers due in December, and the wording is subject to changes. The EU statement outlines the bloc’s position following a risk assessment that described a nightmare scenario where hackers or hostile states could take control of everything from electricity grids to police communications. It warned against reliance on suppliers from countries with non-democratic systems of government.

Markets Steady

Equity markets across the Asia Pacific region looked set for a cautious start, with stock futures edging lower in Japan, Hong Kong and Australia. U.S. equity gauges were mixed as investors weighed disappointing reports from retailers with new developments in the American-China trade saga. Ten-year Treasury yields dipped below 1.8%, while oil tumbled. The dollar fluctuated against its major peers after President Donald Trump said he “protested” U.S. interest rates that he considers too high in a meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at the White House. The Fed said Powell’s remarks were “consistent” with his recent public comments.

What we’ve been reading

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


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