Good morning! Here’s what you need to know on Wednesday.
Britain braces for the final day of general election campaigning on Wednesday, after a turbulent few weeks which have shifted the political ground and been marred by terror attacks. “Give me your backing to lead Britain, give me the authority to speak for Britain, strengthen my hand as I fight for Britain,” Prime Minister Theresa May urged voters on Tuesday in Stoke-on-Trent, the city that registered the highest vote for leaving the European Union.
President Donald Trump’s statements backing the diplomatic isolation of Qatar by several Gulf nations seem to depart from his own State Department’s stance on the issue. In a series of tweets, Trump appeared to take credit for the Saudi-led move. He visited Saudi Arabia last month and met with some Gulf leaders. “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” Trump tweeted. “Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!”
In a meeting Tuesday with Republican leaders, Trump reportedly suggested putting solar panels on the proposed US-Mexico border wall, and letting the generated electricity from the panels cover some of the costs. Citing three people with direct knowledge of the talks on Tuesday, Axios reported Trump wanted the wall to be 40 to 50 feet tall, and covered with solar panels.
Gold edged lower on Wednesday, although still holding near its highest in seven months, supported by a weaker dollar ahead of key political and economic events that are expected to stoke bullion’s safe-haven appeal. A national election in the UK, a European Central Bank policy meeting and former U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director James Comey’s Senate testimony are all occurring on Thursday.
While the upcoming political risk events are helping gold, global equities are subdued in anticipation. On Wednesday, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged 0.2% lower, retreating further from a two-year high hit on Monday. The Nikkei also dropped 0.2%, falling to 19,931.43 points by midmorning in Asian trade..
South Africa slumped into its first recession since 2009. The economy shrank by an annualized 0.7% in the first quarter after contracting by 0.3% in the prior. That was below economists’ expectations of 1.0% quarter-over-quarter annualized growth, according to the Bloomberg estimate. Perhaps most notably, these figures predate the sacking of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. In other words, the data released Tuesday doesn’t include any potentially negative economic effects from the domestic political drama.
HSBC could be set to face a new lawsuit over claims its traders manipulated foreign exchange markets for their own profit at the expense of their clients. According to a report in the Financial Times on Wednesday, UK based currency investment firm ECU “filed an application to London’s commercial court asking for HSBC to be required to hand over records relating to three large foreign exchange orders it executed in 2006.”
Goldman Sachs boost rates for savers in bid to attract deposits. Goldman Sachs Bank USA, the Wall Street bank’s consumer arm, plans on Wednesday to raise the rate it offers customers on deposits to 1.2 per cent, slightly higher than rivals Synchrony Bank, CIT Bank and New York Community Bank’s My Banking Direct.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled last week that the 2011 Russian parliamentary elections were “unfair” and “compromised,” World Affairs Journal reported. “The seven-judge panel (that included a judge from Russia) unanimously ruled that there has been a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to free elections,” World Affairs said.
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to praise the infrastructure of China and suggest the US is falling behind in its maintenance of roads, bridges, and airports. “Arrived in China, as always impressed by condition of airport, roads, cell service, etc. US needs to invest in infrastructure to keep up!” Blankfein tweeted.