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European shares have opened stronger on Friday before the release of US monthly employment figures. That follows a generally upbeat session in Asia. Similarly LCG pricing points to a higher start on Wall Street. The British pound is hovering at 2-year highs against the euro while the dollar is near its weekly lows. Gold is treading water near a one-month high while oil is little changed at the start of the 2nd day of the OPEC meeting.
China waives pork tariffs (while US tell porkies)
It’s not the first time this point has been made by any stretch but... The comments made by President Trump and his team about the state of trade negotiations with China are really stretching the limits of credibility. Luckily some real proof that a trade deal could be imminent came by China waiving tariffs on some US soybeans and pork imports. You might say China waiving tariffs on pork back up the US porkies. Digging a bit deeper into the supply and demand for these products in China things might not be quite as rosy as they seem. A swine flu out break in China means it suited Beijing to offer the waivers to the US imports to address the drastic reduction in pork supply. Still, it keeps up appearances for a phase one deal.
Rising scepticism about their ability to judge the current state of affairs on trade has pushed traders to look for other clues about the next market direction. And this week those clues have come in the form of generally soft data out of the US and Europe.
Non-farm Payrolls preview
The standout disappointment this week was the November ADP unemployment report. It came in at half the average expectation with the smallest monthly job growth since May. The correlation between ADP and NFP is not well defined but were NFP to come in soft too- a marked deterioration in the US labour market would be upon us. That could easily renew talk of a US recession next year with a typical market reaction of lower treasury yields, a weaker dollar and a pullback in equities. The return of General Motors worker from on strike should give the NFP numbers a favourable skew over ADP, perhaps reducing the risk of a repeat of Wednesday’s disappointment.
Passenger safety issues at Uber
We do not think ride-hailing apps are going anywhere but the industry needs to evolve to make sure journeys are safe for passengers. This latest report on sexual assault involving Uber drivers and passengers is a real shocker. Female passengers especially might well look at this report and think twice about using an Uber.
The share price fell yesterday but investors have been prepped about the release of this report since before the IPO. The silver lining is that the report is a welcome move toward transparency for Uber. What the share price does from here depends on how Uber use this information to improve passenger safety. What we would like to see is a firmer process for hiring drivers- and probably some kind of vetting process for passengers too. This problem will not be exclusive to Uber and needs to be tackled at an industry level. Collaboration between ride sharing apps– including sharing background check information is necessary. The risk to not addressing the problems this report raises is not only to passenger safety -but also to these apps user growth.