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Business Maverick

December 13: Five things to know to start the day

An aerial view of the XCMG Construction Machinery in Hengrui Medicine drug production line in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, 23 May 2019, issued 29 June 2019. (PHOTO: EPA-EFE/ALEKSANDAR PLAVEVSKI)

Trump signs off on a phase one U.S.-China trade deal, Boris Johnson looks set to win a majority in the U.K. election and the House considers two articles of impeachment against the American president. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Done Deal

President Donald Trump signed off on a so-called phase-one trade deal with China, averting the Dec. 15 introduction of a new wave of U.S. tariffs on about $160 billion of consumer goods from the Asian nation, according to people familiar with the matter. The deal presented to Trump by trade advisers Thursday included a promise by the Chinese to buy more U.S. agricultural goods, according to the people. Officials also discussed possible reductions of existing duties on Chinese products, they said. The terms have been agreed but the legal text has not yet been finalized, the people said. A White House spokesperson declined to comment.

Markets Up

Asian stocks are set to gain after trade deal optimism pushed American equities to records. The S&P 500 rallied after Bloomberg’s report that U.S. officials had reached a deal in principle. A breakthrough on trade would remove a major overhang for equity investors just a day after the Federal Reserve signaled it is no rush to raise interest rates as the economy shows steady improvement. The yuan jumped and yen retreated. In Europe, the central bank said it would maintain bond buying and keep rates low until it gets near its inflation goal. The pound surged after a U.K. exit poll forecast a majority for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.

UK Votes

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on course to win a decisive victory in the U.K.’s general election, according to the official exit poll. A win would vindicate his gamble on an early vote and put the country on track to leave the European Union next month. The main opposition Labour Party is projected to secure 191 seats. While some Tory hard-liners will want Johnson to cut ties with the EU entirely, his large majority will give him more power to get his own way, especially if he needs extra time to negotiate with the bloc. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn staked everything on a radical plan to hike taxes for the rich and nationalize swathes of industry, but is now likely to face intense pressure to quit if the forecast is confirmed by the results. See the results with our interactive map.

Impeachment Vote

In the U.S., the House Judiciary Committee is likely to vote on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump as early as Thursday. The hearing began with the reading of the two charges against the president ⁠— abuse of power and obstructions of Congress ⁠— and quickly turned to Republican complaints about the impeachment process. There are “absolutely no factual underpinnings” for impeaching the president, Doug Collins, the panel’s ranking Republican, said in the hearing. “This is just a travesty and a sham from day one.” A simple majority vote by the House, where Democrats hold 235 of the 435 seats, on any article of impeachment will send it to the Senate for consideration. Here’s an explainer on the impeachment process.

China’s Housing Crisis

Even China can’t fix its affordable housing crisis. When Beijing introduced price caps for almost two-thirds of apartments in late 2016 as part of a program to provide homes for millions of middle-class citizens to buy, an array of cheap condominiums began springing up on the city’s outskirts. Three years on, the cramped, poor-quality units that are far from anywhere lie mostly empty. It’s an awkward reality confronting authorities in the nation’s sprawling capital, which introduced the stringent housing curbs to quash prices that had shot up almost 30% in the 12 months through September 2016. Few policy makers globally are armed with the tools to make such granular decisions, making Beijing’s problems all the more awkward.

What We’ve Been Reading

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


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