Dow nears record highs on hopes of NAFTA deal
US futures are lower ahead of the open on Thursday, with indices paring gains that have seen the S&P 500 hit record highs and the Dow come within touching distance of doing the same.
Positive developments on NAFTA have aided the climb, with this being one of a number of trade battles that US President Donald Trump has engaged in since his election victory. With officials talking up the potential for a resolution by the end of the week, this would be an important and timely victory for Trump, ahead of the mid-term elections in November. Clearly China is his main target in the war on trade deficits but this could be enough for him to convince voters that the more hard-line approach is working.
US consumer and inflation data in focus
With talks progressing well, attention will now briefly turn back to the US economy with the release of income, spending and inflation data from the world’s largest economy. The US consumer has been a key driver of continued growth in the US economy and the latest spending figures are expected to confirm this, with 0.4% growth expected in July, along with income growth of 0.3% which will also be welcomed.
Inflation is expected to rise slightly to 2% in July, in line with the Federal Reserve’s target which will only encourage it to continue down the path of regular rate hike despite the ongoing criticism from the White House.
Sterling takes breather after Barnier offers hope
The pound is paring gains but continues to trade around four week highs against the dollar, with the currency having been buoyed on Wednesday by comments from Michel Barnier who claimed to be open to the idea of a bespoke Brexit deal for the UK, something the EU had appeared averse to previously. The apparent softening in the language, combined with French President Emmanuel Macron’s desire to maintain close ties, come at a time when a no deal Brexit was looking increasingly likely.
The latest comments suggest there is a strong desire within the EU to find a solution and avoid a no deal Brexit which is understandably good for the UK and the pound. Sterling had come under pressure in recent months as the prospect of no deal became more of a possibility but this is hopefully the first step towards it not becoming a reality. We’ve seen a small relief rally but we’ll need to see many more positive steps before traders get carried away.
For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.