Trump says no hurry to sign China deal as trade war escalates

A general view of Kwai Tsing Container Terminals for transporting shipping containers in Hong Kong, China July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

By Susan Heavey and Yawen Chen

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he was in no hurry to sign a trade deal with China as Washington imposed a new set of tariffs on Chinese goods and negotiators entered a second day of last-ditch talks to try to salvage an agreement.

The United States early on Friday increased its tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25% from 10%, rattling financial markets already worried the 10-month trade war between the world’s two largest economies could spiral out of control.

The move, which is expected to lead China to retaliate, went into effect just hours after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He ended a first day of talks in Washington without a deal.

They resumed negotiations on Friday morning.

In a series of morning tweets, Trump defended the tariff hike and said he was in “absolutely no rush” to finalize a deal, adding that the U.S. economy would gain more from the levies than any agreement.

“Tariffs will bring in FAR MORE wealth to our country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind,” Trump said in one of the tweets.

Despite Trump’s insistence that China will absorb the cost of the tariffs, U.S. businesses will pay them and likely pass them on to consumers.

Global equities sagged after his comments. MSCI’s All-Country World Index, which tracks stocks across 47 countries, was down 0.8% in London. U.S. stock indexes, which have fallen sharply this week, opened lower again

Trump, who has adopted protectionist policies as part of his “America First” agenda and railed against China for trade practices he labels unfair, said the trade talks, originally due to last two days, could drag on beyond this week.

“We will continue to negotiate with China in the hopes that they do not again try to redo deal!” said Trump, who has accused Beijing of reneging on commitments it made during months of negotiations.

Following the U.S. tariff hike, China’s Commerce Ministry said it would take countermeasures but did not elaborate.

The ministry said it “hopes the United States can meet China halfway, make joint efforts, and resolve the issue through cooperation and consultation.”

‘RUSSIAN ROULETTE’

Under the latest U.S. action, U.S. Customs and Border Protection imposed a 25% duty on more than 5,700 categories of products leaving China after 12:01 a.m. EDT (0401 GMT) on Friday.

Seaborne cargoes shipped from China before midnight were not subject to the new tax as long as they arrived in the United States prior to June 1. Those cargoes will be charged the original 10% rate.

“This delay might create an unofficial window during which the U.S. and China can continue to negotiate,” investment bank Goldman Sachs wrote in a note, adding that it was a “somewhat positive sign” that talks were continuing.

Trump gave U.S. importers less than five days notice about his decision to increase the rate on $200 billion worth of goods, which now matches the rate on a prior $50 billion category of Chinese machinery and technology goods.

He has also threatened to impose new tariffs on another $325 billion in Chinese imports.

Investors worry that an escalating trade war could further damage a slowing global economy. The higher tariffs could reduce U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.3% and China’s by 0.8% in 2020, consultancy Oxford Economics said.

“There is no greater threat to world growth,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday.

Many business groups have opposed the tariffs, saying they will be disastrous for companies and lead to higher prices for consumers across a range of products.

Gary Shapiro, chief executive of the Consumer Technology Association, said the tariffs would be paid by American consumers and businesses, not China, as Trump has claimed.

“Our industry supports more than 18 million U.S. jobs, but raising tariffs will be disastrous,” Shapiro said in a statement.

It may take three or four months for American shoppers to feel the pinch but retailers will have little choice but to raise prices to cover the rising cost of imports before too long, economists and industry consultants say.

Mats Harborn, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said: “European companies are watching aghast as the U.S. and China play Russian roulette with the world economy.”

RETALIATE HOW?

The biggest Chinese sector affected by the latest tariff increase is a $20 billion-plus category of internet modems, routers and other data transmission devices, followed by about $12 billion worth of printed circuit boards used in a vast array of U.S.-made products.

Furniture, lighting products, auto parts, vacuum cleaners and building materials also are high on the list of products subject to increased duties.

Just hours after the U.S. move, which will add pressure on an already slowing Chinese economy, China’s central bank said it was fully able to cope with any external uncertainty.

On Monday, the People’s Bank of China cut the amount of reserves that some small and medium-sized banks need to hold, freeing up funds for lending to cash-strapped businesses.

James Green, a senior adviser at McLarty Associates who until August was the top USTR official at the embassy in Beijing, said he expected China would increase non-tariff barriers on U.S. firms, such as delaying regulatory approvals.

“I think the Chinese, in the end, will want to keep negotiations going. The question is: ‘where do they go for retaliation?'” he said.

Even without the trade war, China-U.S. relations have continued to deteriorate, with an uptick in tensions over the South China Sea, Taiwan, human rights and China’s plan to re-create the old Silk Road, called the Belt and Road Initiative.

(Reporting by David Lawder in Washington, and Yawen Chen, Michael Martina, Ryan Woo, Ben Blanchard and Kevin Yao in Beijing, and Xihao Jiang in Shanghai; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Kim Coghill and Bill Trott)

Dramatic stock market rally runs out of steam

A screen displays the Dow Jones Industrial Average after the close of trading on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

By Trevor Hunnicutt

(Reuters) – A dramatic global stock rally faded on Thursday after a fall in Chinese industrial profits offered a reminder of the pressures on the world economy.

Still, an index of world stocks stayed off near two-year lows hit earlier this week before Wednesday’s 1,000 point-plus surge on the U.S. Dow Jones index, which was attributed to the strongest holiday sales in years.

“Yesterday was a blowout day for U.S. equity markets which triggered optimism that this could be a key reversal day but the upward momentum has not really followed through,” said Lee Hardman, an analyst at MUFG in London.

“One reason is that maybe the sharp move higher was driven by year-end rebalancing, which exaggerated the scale of the rebound, and now we have reverted to the trend which has been in place most of this month.”

That trend is toward weaker stocks, U.S. dollar and oil prices along with stronger demand for safe-haven government bonds, gold and Japanese yen.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.95 percent and U.S. crude fell 2.01 percent to $45.29 per barrel after each staged big rallies the day prior. [O/R]

Markets in mainland China, as well as Hong Kong, closed weaker after data showed earnings at China’s industrial firms dropped in November for the first time in nearly three years.

A Reuters report added to the gloom around the world’s second-biggest economy, saying the White House was considering barring U.S. firms from buying telecoms equipment from China’s Huawei and ZTE.

That and an ongoing partial U.S. government shutdown overshadowed positive noises from the U.S. government on trade talks with Beijing, its efforts to temper the White House’s recent broadsides against the Federal Reserve and a report showing the number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits fell marginally last week in a sign of labor market strength.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 394.04 points, or 1.72 percent, to 22,484.41, the S&P 500 lost 42.07 points, or 1.70 percent, to 2,425.63 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 134.06 points, or 2.05 percent, to 6,420.29. [.N]

“So far, we don’t see a shift in fundamentals. Trade tensions between the U.S. and China remain the biggest unknown factor for 2019,” said Hussein Sayed, a strategist at online brokerage FXTM.

There were also renewed concerns in Italy, where troubled lender Banca Carige was denied a cash call by its largest shareholder, pushing its shares down 12.5 percent.

The concerns over a faltering global economy and signs of an oil glut pressured crude prices a day after their 8 percent rally. U.S. Treasury prices also reversed direction after falling sharply on Wednesday, with the 10-year note last rising 15/32 in price to yield 2.7452 percent. [US/]

Another safe-haven, gold, was up 0.6 percent to $1,274.52 an ounce, remaining just below a six-month peak hit earlier this week. [GOL/]

Investors also bought yen, strengthening that currency 0.56 percent against the greenback at 110.74 per dollar. Against a basket of trading partners’ currencies, the dollar was down 0.35 percent. [FRX/]

“We have started to see the yen regain its place as the safe haven of choice,” MUFG’s Hardman said.

(Additional reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan and Sujata Rao in London; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

World stocks reach new peak in world full of surprises

Traders work in front of the German share price index, DAX board, at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, August 4, 2017.

By John Geddie

LONDON (Reuters) – World stocks breached record highs on Monday as better-than-expected company earnings and economic data from the United States stole the focus from rising geopolitical tension over North Korea’s nuclear program.

The U.S. dollar  dipped slightly but held on to most of Friday’s gains – its biggest daily rise this year – made after data showed the United States created more jobs than forecast last month.

For those watching second quarter corporate results in recent weeks, there have been many such surprises. Of the nearly 1000 companies in the MSCI world index that have reported, 67 percent have beaten expectations, according to Reuters data.

These two factors helped nudge the flagship share index above a peak breached late last month, setting a new all-time high of 480.09 on Monday.

The Dow Jones, which recorded its eighth consecutive record high on Friday, was set to open up slightly on Monday.

“Global equities remain the preferred asset class for investors and this can be clearly seen in the new highs hit by world indices today,” said Edward Park, investment director at Brooks Macdonald.

“Whilst the headline beat in non-farm payrolls was the primary positive for the market … equity prices are supported by a strong earnings season and relatively low event risk over the next few months.”

Aside from a slight weakening in the Korean won, there was little financial market reaction to the news over the weekend that the U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea aimed at pressuring Pyongyang to end its nuclear program.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, agreed in a telephone call on Monday to apply maximum pressure and sanctions on North Korea, while China expressed hope that North and South Korea could resume contact soon.

Yields on U.S. and German government bonds – seen as a safe haven in times of stress – held above one-month lows hit at the tail end of last week.

 

ASIAN GAINS

A strong rise in U.S. and Asian stocks propelled the world index to a new high, with the strength of the euro providing a bit of a headache for European markets.

Earlier in Asian trading, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.5 percent while Japan’s Nikkei added 0.5 percent.

Chinese blue chips were bolstered by data showing the country’s foreign exchange reserves rose twice as much as expected in July.

A dramatic reduction in capital outflows – which are seen as one of China’s biggest risks – has helped boost confidence in the world’s second largest economy ahead of a key political leadership reshuffle in coming months.

The euro zone’s main stock index edged lower, however, as the single currency headed back towards 20-month high, a trend which appears to be denting profitability in certain sectors.

Of the MSCI Europe companies having reported, 61 percent have either met or beat expectations. But focusing on industrial firms – of which many depend on exports, and are sensitive to a stronger euro – the beat ratio is just 37 percent.

“The euro is likely to have an impact in the third quarter, with a 10 percent appreciation of the euro lowering earnings per share by around 5 percent,” said Valentin Bissat, senior strategist at Mirabaud Asset Management.

DOLLAR DOUBTS

The upbeat U.S. jobs data offers policymakers some assurance that inflation will gradually rise to the central bank’s 2 percent target, and likely clear the way for a plan to start shrinking its massive bond portfolio later this year.

But market pricing shows investors are still about evenly divided over whether the Fed will also opt to raise rates again in December.

For some analysts, Monday’s pull back in the dollar backs some views in markets that Friday’s rally may not have legs.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global peers, inched back 0.2 percent to 93.361. It rallied 0.76 percent on Friday, its biggest one-day gain this year.

The dollar slipped 0.2 percent against the euro to $1.1796 per euro, after surging 0.8 percent on Friday.

“The most logical view here is the moves on Friday were clearly just a sizeable covering of USD shorts, from what was one of the biggest net short positions held against the USD for many years,” Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in Melbourne, wrote in a note.

For the dollar rally to gain momentum, the market needs to change its interest rate pricing, Weston added.

In commodities, oil prices slid back from nine-week highs hit on Aug. 4 as worries lingered over high production from OPEC and the United States.

Global benchmark Brent crude futures were down 60 cents, or 1.14 percent, at $51.82 a barrel. They traded as low as $51.56 a barrel earlier in the day.

Gold  steadied as the dollar surrendered some of its gains, but remained under pressure. The precious metal was marginally lower at $1,257.41 an ounce, extending Friday’s 0.8 percent loss.

 

(Reporting by John Geddie in London and Nichola Saminather in Singapore Additional reporting by Helen Reid in London; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

 

Dollar inches higher as investors look to Fed decision this week

Arrangement of various world currencies including Chinese Yuan, US Dollar, Euro, British Pound,

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar edged higher from two-week lows on Monday, recovering after Friday’s bout of profit-taking following a robust U.S. jobs report, as investors looked to this week’s Federal Reserve’s policy meeting in which it is expected to raise rates by a quarter percentage point.

“We remain bullish on the dollar, but as Friday’s events suggested, a lot of good news is already priced into the dollar at current levels,” said Shaun Osborne, chief FX strategist, at Scotiabank in Toronto.

“Yields are high enough and spreads are wide enough to keep the dollar broadly supported against its major currency peers for the moment, but additional gains will likely hinge on the messaging from the Fed at the FOMC.”

The Federal Open Market Committee will hold a two-day monetary policy meeting, which starts on Tuesday. Fed funds futures on Monday have priced in a nearly 90-percent chance the Fed will hike rates on Wednesday.

Sterling, which has been one of the worst performers against the dollar over the last two weeks, rose half a percent after the devolved Scottish government demanded the right to hold a new referendum on independence.

In late morning trading, the dollar was slightly higher  against a basket of currencies at 101.31 and was marginally up against the euro. The single European currency was last at $1.0664.

The dollar index earlier fell to a two-week low of 101.01.

Friday’s solid jobs number cemented the case for a rise in U.S. interest rates this week that will long predate any rise in European equivalents.

Britain is expected to formally lodge its request to leave the European Union, but was given another curve ball from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a new referendum on independence.

But Sturgeon’s timeframe for the referendum, which at the earliest could happen by the end of next year when Brexit negotiations are expected to be concluded, partially eased concerns about the issue adding to more political risk over the next 12 months.

Sterling, as a result, held gains against the dollar rising 0.5 percent to $1.2229.

Against the yen, the dollar slipped 0.1 percent to 114.68 yen.

Scotiabank, in a research note, said there is speculation on the potential for changes at the Bank of Japan, including a possible shift to 10-year government bond yield target range from the current zero level. This is considered positive for the yen.

(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Additional reporting by Patrick Graham in London; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

China’s choices narrowing as it burns through FX reserves to support yuan

100 yuan and 100 dollars

By Nichola Saminather

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – As China’s foreign exchange reserves threaten to tumble below the critical $3 trillion mark, the biggest fear for investors is not whether Beijing can continue to defend the yuan but whether it will set off a vicious cycle of more outflows and currency depreciation.

Data this week is expected to show China’s forex reserves precariously perched just above $3 trillion at end-December, the lowest level since February 2011, according to a Reuters poll.

While the world’s second-largest economy still has the largest stash of forex reserves by far, it has been churning through them rapidly since August 2015, when it stunned global investors by devaluing the yuan <CNY=CFXS> and moving to what it promised would be a slightly freer and more transparent currency regime.

Since then, authorities have repeatedly intervened to support the yuan when it weakened too sharply, burning through half a trillion dollars of reserves and prompting them to sell some of their massive holdings of U.S. government bonds.

They also have put a tightening regulatory chokehold on individuals and businesses who want to move money out of the country, while denying they were imposing new capital controls.

Concerns over the speed with which China is depleting its ammunition are swirling, with some analysts estimating it needs to retain a minimum of $2.6 trillion to $2.8 trillion under the International Monetary Fund’s adequacy measures.

“There has been quite a bit of anxiety and speculation because the way many people in China talk about it is ‘will the government defend the 7-per-dollar level or the 3 trillion dollars’,” said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics in Hong Kong.

China stepped into both its onshore and offshore yuan markets this week to shore up the yuan as it neared the 7 level, sparking speculation that it wants to regain a firm grip ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has threatened to brand Beijing a currency manipulator.

But if forex reserves continue to be depleted at a fast pace and capital flight continues, some strategists believe China’s leaders may have little choice but to sanction another big “one-off” devaluation.

That could set off competitive currency devaluations by other struggling emerging economies, even as the world braces for greater trade protectionism under Trump.

MORE CONTROLS

To slow the yuan’s decline without depleting reserves at an ever faster pace, analysts and economists expect authorities to turn to even tighter regulatory measures, including more scrutiny of outbound investments, overseas lending and export revenues, and closing loopholes in existing capital controls.

But as fast as authorities jump to control one exit ramp, others may open up unless Beijing can reverse the market’s mind-set that the yuan is on a one-way depreciation path.

“It doesn’t matter if there’s actually enough reserves or not,” said Joey Chew, Asia foreign exchange strategist at HSBC, who believes China doesn’t need a buffer of more than $2 trillion.

“If people think there won’t be enough they’ll try to get out and it becomes a self-fulfilling mechanism.

“The authorities are already aware that trying to run down reserves will be counterproductive, which is why they’re relying on regulatory controls,” she added.

As recently as last week, authorities introduced requirements for financial institutions to report all single domestic and overseas cash transactions of more than 50,000 yuan ($7,212.72) from July onwards, down from 200,000 yuan previously.

The authorities also stepped up scrutiny on individual foreign currency purchases, although they kept the $50,000 annual individual quota in place.

“Previously, capital controls had been relatively loose and authorities had turned a blind eye to individual forex purchases because of abundant foreign exchange reserves,” said Jerry Hu, an economist at Shanghai Securities.

“But they are now strengthening supervision in order to change expectations.”

With regulators also pledging to increase scrutiny of major outbound deals, “it’s not impossible to see that we’ll see further moves in that area,” Kuijs said.

China could also encourage its domestic exporters to convert more of their earnings into yuan, HSBC’s Chew said.

Chew believes new capital controls are unlikely.

“There are a lot of controls already,” she said. “They were maybe not as strictly enforced, so they’ll focus on improving that. But the tweaks may not be enough. We still expect capital outflows and we still expect RMB depreciation.”

Dwyfor Evans, head of Asia-Pacific macro strategy at State Street Global Markets, also feared authorities may be limited in how they respond.

“Chinese officials have few policy options,” he said.

“If they allow faster depreciation, this will only spur pressures for greater outflows. And a one-off devaluation risks a repeat of the market turbulence evidenced twice in the past 18 months.”

(Additional reporting by Kevin Yao in BEIJING; Editing by Vidya Ranganathan and Kim Coghill)

EU upsets China with new steel price investigation

A worker verifies a product at a steel factory in Dalian, Liaoning province, China

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union has launched a new investigation into whether Chinese manufacturers are selling steel into Europe at unfairly low prices, angering China which says Europe’s steel problems are due to the region’s own economic weakness.

The European Commission has determined that a complaint brought by EU steel makers’ association Eurofer regarding certain corrosion resistant steel merits an investigation, the EU’s official journal said on Friday.

The Commission also said it would start another anti-dumping investigation into certain cast iron products from China and India as well as determining whether existing duties on Chinese steel seamless pipes and tubes should continue for another five years.

The EU has already imposed duties on a wide range of steel grades to counter what EU steel producers say is a flood of steel sold at a loss due to Chinese overcapacity and partly the cause of 5,000 British job losses.

A China Commerce Ministry official said Beijing attached a “high degree of attention and concern” to the case and that Europe’s steel problems were due to its own weak economic growth.

Wang Hejun, the head of the trade remedies investigation department, said in a statement on the ministry’s website that Europe should rationally analyze its steel industry’s problems.

“It should not adopt mistaken trade protectionist measures that limit fair market competition,” he said.

The EU investigation begins just days before the 15th anniversary of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization, when the country says new trade defense rules are supposed to kick in.

Until now, the EU has been able to compare Chinese prices with those of another country – in the current case Canadian prices. But, Beijing insists this should no longer be possible from Dec. 11.

If the United States, European Union, and other WTO members begin to take Chinese prices as fair market value, it will be much harder for them to challenge China’s cheap exports.

The European Commission proposed last month a new way of treating China, but its proposals still await approval from the EU’s 28 members and the European Parliament.

Aegis Europe, a group of European industry federations including Eurofer, said there was no legal requirement to change the way the EU treated China on Dec. 11 and that EU’s partners the United States and Japan would not be doing so.

G20 governments recognized in September that steel overcapacity was a serious problem. China, the source of 50 percent of the world’s steel and the largest steel consumer, has said the problem is a global one.

The EU currently has 40 anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures in place, 18 of which are on products from China. Twenty more investigations related to steel are still ongoing, including three for which provisional duties are in place.

(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels, Yawen Chen and Nicholas Heath in Beijing,; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Jane Merriman)

Dollar drops as Fed rate rise prospects reassessed

A bank employee counts U.S. dollar notes at a Kasikornbank in Bangkok, Thailand

By Anirban Nag

LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar fell against a basket of currencies on Wednesday as investors re-evaluated whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this year, which also sent the higher-yielding Australian dollar to its loftiest level since late April.

The U.S. dollar sagged against the euro and the yen after downbeat productivity data sapped some of the momentum it had gained from last week’s robust jobs report.

U.S. Treasury yields fell after the productivity report suggested the economy may not be growing as quickly as anticipated, prompting investors to cut long-term inflation expectations. According to CME’s Fedwatch, investors have trimmed chances of a rate rise in December 2016.

The dollar was down 0.6 percent at 101.28 yen, having gone as high as 102.66 on Monday on the strong non-farm payrolls data. The euro rose 0.5 percent to $1.1173, touching a 5-day high of $1.1184.

The dollar index dropped 0.6 percent to 95.577.

“The release of the third consecutive decline in quarterly U.S. productivity – the worst run since at least 1980 – does not bode well for the prospects for the dollar,” Morgan Stanley head of currency strategy, Hans Redeker, said.

The Australian dollar advanced to a more than three-month peak of $0.7729, buoyed this week by Australia’s relatively high yields and stronger investor appetite for risk.

“Part of the Australian dollar’s resilience is the lack of follow-through in pricing for a Fed hike in September, limiting the U.S. dollar’s gains,” analysts at Westpac said in a note. They recommended investors to buy the Australian dollar.

The U.S. dollar’s weakness also gave struggling sterling a lift. The pound was up 0.5 percent at $1.3061, recovering from $1.2956 struck on Tuesday, its lowest since July 11.

The pound took a knock on Tuesday after Bank of England policymaker Ian McCafferty said more monetary easing was likely to be needed if the UK’s economic decline worsened.

In European trade, attention briefly turned to the Norwegian crown. The crown scaled its highest against the euro in more than a month, after inflation rose more than expected in July, sapping expectations of interest rate cuts in the near term from the Norges Bank.

Data showed July core inflation rose to 3.7 percent from a year ago, beating expectations of a 3.1 percent rise. For the month, core inflation rose 0.7 percent.

The euro fell 0.8 percent to 9.2575 crowns, its lowest since July 5, and down from around 9.33 beforehand.

Earlier, Nordea Markets said the Norwegian policy rate had bottomed out at 0.50 percent and the central bank was no longer expected to cut rates in September.

(Editing by Toby Chopra)

Brexit fallout crushes financial stocks

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S. June 27, 2016.

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

(Reuters) – U.S. bank stocks led a steep decline on Wall Street on Monday as aftershocks from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union roiled global markets for a second day.

The S&amp;P financial index was down nearly 3 percent by late morning, with investors increasingly worrying about London’s future as the region’s finance capital.

JPMorgan fell 3.7 percent, while Bank of America dropped 5.4 percent. The stocks were among the biggest drags on the S&amp;P 500.

The Dow has now lost nearly 950 points since the “Brexit” vote outcome, setting it up for the worst two-day decline since August 2015.

European stocks were hammered yet again and the sterling fell more than 2 percent. The European banks index on Monday hit its lowest since July 2012.

“What I can say with certainty is uncertainty will remain,” said Tina Byles Williams, chief executive officer of FIS Group.

The selloff on Friday eroded $2.08 trillion in market capitalization globally – the biggest one-day loss ever, according to Standard Poor’s Dow Jones Indices, trumping the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy during the 2008 financial crisis.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, however, said the market impact from Brexit had been orderly so far and there were no signs of a financial crisis arising from the vote.

At 10:51 a.m. ET (1451 GMT) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 316.12 points, or 1.82 percent, at 17,084.63. The S&amp;P 500 was down 42.83 points, or 2.1 percent, at 1,994.58. The Nasdaq Composite was down 118.77 points, or 2.52 percent, at 4,589.21.

Eight of the 10 major S&amp;P sectors were lower. Utilities and telecom service were the only ones in the black.

The Brexit vote, which Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen had said would have significant repercussions on the U.S. economic outlook, is expected to scuttle the Fed’s ability to raise short-term interest rates.

Traders have virtually priced out an interest rate increase this year, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,573 to 363. On the Nasdaq, 2,372 issues fell and 342 advanced.

The S&amp;P 500 index showed 5 new 52-week highs and 24 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 10 new highs and 118 new lows.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

Brexit vote hits pound and markets, political crisis deepens

Workers walk in the rain at the Canary Wharf business district in London, Britain

By William James and Jamie McGeever

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s vote to leave the European Union sent new shockwaves through financial markets on Monday, despite efforts by the country’s leaders to end the deep political and economic uncertainty unleashed by the decision.

Finance minister George Osborne said the British economy was strong enough to cope with the volatility caused by Thursday’s referendum, the biggest blow since World War Two to the European goal of forging greater unity.

But the pound later sank to its lowest level against the U.S. for 31 years and British shares continued the fall that began last week when Britons confounded expectations by voting to end 43 years of EU membership.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said uncertainties over the global economy had heightened and called for a “united, stable EU, and a stable, prosperous Britain”.

But with the ruling Conservatives looking for a new leader after Prime Minister David Cameron’s resignation on Friday and lawmakers from the opposition Labour party stepping up a rebellion against their leader, Britain sank deeper into political and economic turmoil.

“There’s no political leadership in the UK right when markets need the reassurance of direction,” said Luke Hickmore of Aberdeen Asset Management, expressing the view of many in the City of London financial center.

Although Cameron is staying on until October as a caretaker, he refused to start formal moves immediately to pull Britain out of the EU. This prompted many European leaders to demand quicker action by Britain, the EU’s second largest economy after Germany before the vote.

“France like Germany says Britain has voted for Brexit. It should be implemented quickly. We cannot remain in an uncertain and indefinite situation,” French finance minister Michel Sapin said on France 2 television.

Guenther Oettinger, a German member of the EU’s executive European Commission, also issued a warning.

“Every day of uncertainty prevents investors from putting their funds into Britain, and also other European markets,” he told Deutschlandfunk radio. “Cameron and his party will cause damage if they wait until October.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken a softer line, underlining the need to continue a positive trade relationship with Britain, a big market for German carmakers and other manufacturers.

But a Merkel ally, Volker Kauder, made clear the exit negotiations would not be easy.

“There will be no special treatment, there will be no gifts,” Kauder, who leads Merkel’s conservatives in parliament, told ARD television.

FINANCIAL MARKETS’ MISJUDGMENT

Financial markets misjudged the referendum, betting on the status quo despite abundant signs that the vote would be close.

When reality dawned, the reaction was brutal. Sterling fell as much as 11 percent against the dollar on Friday for its worst day in modern history, while $2.8 trillion was wiped off the value of world stocks – the biggest daily loss ever.

That trumped even the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy during the 2008 financial crisis and the Black Monday stock market crash of 1987, according to Standard &amp; Poor’s Dow Jones Indices.

Osborne tried to ease investors’ concerns in his first public comments since the referendum. He said he was working closely with the Bank of England and officials in other leading economies for the sake of stability as Britain reshapes its relationship with the EU.

“Our economy is about as strong as it could be to confront the challenge our country now faces,” he told reporters at the Treasury. “It is inevitable after Thursday’s vote that Britain’s economy is going to have to adjust to the new situation we find ourselves in.”

Boris Johnson, a leading proponent of a Brexit and likely contender to replace Prime Minister David Cameron who resigned on Friday, praised Osborne for saying “some reassuring things to the markets.”

The former London mayor said outside his home in north London that it was now clear “people’s pensions are safe, the pound is stable, markets are stable. I think that is all very good news.”

But financial markets took a different view, with sterling sliding Monday, shedding more than 3 percent against the dollar to $1.3221

The yield on British 10-year government bonds fell below one percent for the first time due to investors betting that the Brexit vote would trigger a Bank of England interest rate cut aimed at steading the economy.

Many economists have cut economic growth forecasts for Britain, with Goldman Sachs expecting a mild recession within a year.

But the risks affect economies far beyond Britain.

“Against the backdrop of globalization, it’s impossible for each country to talk about its own development discarding the world economic environment,” China’s Li told the World Economic Forum in the city of Tianjin.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed his finance minister to watch currency markets “ever more closely” and take steps if necessary.

At the weekend, the policy chief of Abe’s LDP party held open the possibility of currency intervention to weaken the yen and temper “speculative, violent moves”.

DIVIDED PARTIES

The referendum has revealed social as well as economic stresses in divided Britain. Immigration emerged as one of the main themes of the referendum campaign, with those who backed a British exit saying the EU had allowed uncontrolled numbers of migrants to arrive from eastern Europe.

Police said offensive leaflets targeting Poles had been distributed in Huntingdon, central England, and graffiti had been daubed on a Polish cultural center in central London on Sunday, three days after the vote.

According to a local newspaper, the Cambridge News, the leaflets said: “Leave the EU/No more Polish vermin” in English and Polish.

The Polish embassy in London said it was shocked by the “recent incidents of xenophobic abuse directed against the Polish community and other UK residents of migrant heritage.”

With Britain now facing uncertainty over how its trade relationship with the EU will unfold, Johnson tried to calm fears by writing in the Daily Telegraph newspaper that there would be continued free trade and access to the single market.

He did not set out any details but suggested Britain would not accept free movement of workers, saying it could implement an immigration policy which suited business and industry.

However, single market rules stipulate that countries must accept the free movement of people as well as goods. Yielding on immigration would anger many Britons who voted to leave, believing this would halt a tide of workers from eastern Europe.

Johnson is expected to declare soon that he is running to lead the Conservatives, who have been divided for decades between pro- and anti-EU factions.

Divisions within the opposition are also deep. A wave of Labour lawmakers resigned from leader Jeremy Corbyn’s team on Monday, adding to the 11 senior figures who quit on Sunday.

They say Corbyn, a veteran left-winger who has strong support among ordinary party members, is not fit to lead the party and point to his low-key campaign to keep Britain in the EU.

If repeated at the next parliamentary election, due in 2020, they fear Labour faces disaster following its near wiping out in Scotland last year. Corbyn has said he is going nowhere.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Yao, Costas Pitas, Bate Felix, Andrea Shalal, Michael Holden, Guy Faulconbridge, David Milliken, Patrick Graham, Anirban Nag, Conor Humphries, Minami Funakoshi and Tetsushi Kajimoto, Writing by David Stamp, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

EU not fully prepared to deal with failing banks

EU flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels

By Francesco Guarascio

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union still has work to do to prepare for handling bank collapses in the event of a new financial crisis, EU officials said on Friday, urging member states to agree on pooling more resources to weather future storms.

Following the euro zone debt and banking crisis, EU countries have designed a banking union meant to strengthen lenders’ financial stability, but have not brought the plan to completion yet.

During the 2008-12 financial crisis euro zone countries paid billions of euros to rescue failing lenders who were exposed to risky financial products.

“There is still lots to be done to make sure that we are in the best possible position to resolve a failing bank,” EU Financial Services Commissioner Jonathan Hill said on Friday before praising the progress achieved since the last financial crisis in making the European banking system more stable.

A key new instrument to prevent banking crisis is the upfront drafting of resolution plans for the main euro zone banks, so that when a lender is on the verge of collapse it can be rescued in a short timeframe, ideally in a weekend.

The Single Resolution Board, a new EU banking body, is in charge of preparing these plans but only some of them are already available.

“We have come a long way, but we are not there yet. We do not have these plans yet for all banks, but we are getting there,” SRB member Joanne Kellermann told a conference on Friday.

The head of the economic affairs committee of the European Parliament Roberto Gualtieri urged the SRB to have resolution plans ready by the end of the year for all banks under its remit.

Kellermann said she was confident that plans will be ready for the majority of major euro zone banks, assuring that the SRB would be able to deal with possible crisis, if they emerged.

POOLING RESOURCES

As part of the banking union, euro zone states have agreed on common supervision of the bloc’s banks and have set up the Single Resolution Fund (SRF) to rescue ailing lenders, but have failed to agree on a financial backstop to support the SRF in its early years.

“We need to provide a credible long-term backstop for the single resolution mechanism,” Hill said.

In a document addressed to EU finance ministers in April, France and Italy have called for the euro zone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, to provide financial support to the SRF. The ESM has a lending capacity of 500 billion euros.

Euro zone countries are also divided on setting up a European deposit insurance scheme (EDIS), designed to be the third and last pillar of the banking union.

National deposit insurance schemes are in place in EU states to underwrite savings of up to 100,000 euros ($114,040) if domestic lenders fail, as required by EU rules.

But national schemes may prove insufficient to deal with multiple failures.

“EDIS would make banks better protected if there were larger local shocks,” Hill said.

Despite strong backing from all EU institutions and many states, the plan is not taking off because of German opposition, as Berlin fears that its wealthier deposit guarantee funds may be used to rescue savers in other countries.

(Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Ed Osmond)