This week: U.S.-China trade debate heats up, UK-Europe also face trade focus and Russian manufacturers develop Tesla competitor.
Rita Coolidge was looking for a sweet distraction for a moment or two back in 1983, when she crooned All Time High, the theme to James Bond’s thirteenth cinematic outing. More than 35 years later, we find investors and Bond aficionados in the same position.
Many fans of Ian Fleming’s iconic super-spy were disappointed this week by British actor Idris Elba, star of The Wire and Luther, apparently ruling himself out of becoming the next 007 and director Danny Boyle leaving the franchise due to “creative differences.”
Investors searching for a distraction from U.S. political scandal, worsening trade disputes and the spectre of a “no-deal” Brexit found a quantum of solace in a stellar performance from U.S. equity markets.
Wall Street reached its own all-time high, and the S&P 500 Index broke the record for the longest-ever market rally on Wednesday, having gone 3,453 days without falling by 20% or more. The index was up 0.24% for the week to close on Thursday.
Nobody does it better…
…than the U.S. when it comes to manufacturing, at least according to President Donald Trump. His trade clash with China intensified this week, with 25% import levies being charged on a further $16 billion of Chinese goods from Thursday. Beijing’s rejoinder was to impose tariffs at the same level on the same value of American products.
Trade was also in focus in the UK and Europe, as a warning from Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, about the implications of the UK leaving the European Union (EU) without a trade deal highlighted divisions in the Conservative Party.
Dominic Raab, who rejoices in the job title of “Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union,” had earlier attempted to quell UK businesses’ concerns by issuing detailed documents about how consumers and companies should protect themselves in the event of a no-deal Brexit. But Hammond said in a letter to the leader of the treasury select committee that a hard Brexit could cause the UK to have to borrow an extra £80 billion over the next 10 years. The FTSE 100 Index had gained 0.06% at Thursday’ s close.
From Russia with love…
…comes a new vehicle which, according to its makers, will be able to compete with Tesla’s electric cars. The CV-1 has a retro appearance, but apparently contains several “complex systems” and cutting-edge technology. The car, which is being manufactured by Kalashnikov, a company better-known for its assault rifles, was unveiled in Moscow on Thursday.
In other transportation-themed news, budget airline Ryanair was said to have reached a deal with its Ireland-based pilots, ending strikes which saw hundreds of flights canceled. Ryanair has faced a series of industrial actions this summer, with staff protesting about base transfers and annual leave. Its shares climbed 2.6% over the week.
A couple of passengers travelling through Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey have been left with red faces, after their apparently hazardous hand-luggage contents caused security staff to react with alarm. Their bags contained bottle openers, designed to be given to members of a wedding party.
While such gifts sound almost disarmingly harmless, the pair seem to have overlooked one key fact: the bottle-openers were designed to look like hand grenades, with tuxedos painted on the sides. They were not missed by the airport’s scanner operators, who must treat anything that looks like explosives as the real thing, resulting in the bomb disposal squad being called in to get rid of the offending items. Unsurprisingly, the airport’s advice is not to travel with novelty items that look like weapons.
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