Trade truce; OPEC shrinks; Unilever bets on India

Posted at 3:25 AM, Dec 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-03 05:25:06-05

1. Markets cheer trade truce: Global markets were rallying early on Monday after the United States and China reached a truce in their trade conflict.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed at the G20 to hold off on imposing further tariffs for the time being. Trump said in a tweet Monday that China would also cut tariffs on cars made in the United States.

Kit Juckes, a strategist at Societe Generale, said that doubts about the substance of the agreement would persist, but “a truce is definitely better than an escalation of hostilities.”

US stock futures were firmly higher, indicating Wall Street could open with gains of up to 2%.

European markets advanced between 1.6% and 2.7% in early trading. Benchmark indexes in Asia rallied, with Shanghai and Hong Kong adding roughly 2.5%.

Shares in European carmakers including Volkswagen (VLKAF), BMW (BAMXF) and Daimler (DDAIF), the owner of Mercedes, surged on hopes of reduced global trade tensions.

Oil prices jumped as much as 5% thanks to the improved economic outlook, as well as signs that Russia and Saudi Arabia are willing to continue cooperating on crude production cuts.

2. OPEC defection: The small, gas-rich state of Qatar says it will leave the OPEC on January 1 after nearly 60 years of membership.

The country’s state oil company, Qatar Petroleum, made the announcement in a series of tweets.

Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, the country’s minister of state for energy affairs, was quoted in one of the tweets saying that Qatar wanted to focus on increasing its natural gas production.

For a year and a half, Qatar has been under an economic embargo by some of its neighbors including OPEC’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia. In response, Qatar increased its gas production, the mainstay of its economy, last year.

It will be the first Middle Eastern country to pull out of the cartel, which only deals with crude oil production.

Qatar’s contribution has been marginal compared to some of OPEC’s biggest producers like Saudi Arabia and Iraq. It pumps about 600,000 barrels a day of the almost 25 million barrels a day from all cartel members.

3. Unilever bets on India: Unilever is buying the health food and drinks business of GlaxoSmithKline in India, Bangladesh and 20 other mostly Asian markets.

Unilever will pay €3.3 billion ($3.7 billion) in cash and shares for the portfolio, which includes the malted milk drinks Horlicks and Boost. Both brands are popular in India.

Shares in Unilever (UL) gained around 0.5% after the announcement. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was trading 1% higher.

4. Friday markets overview: The Dow, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all closed 0.8% higher on Friday. The Nasdaq notched its best week since December 2011 and the Dow turned in its biggest weekly rally since the week of the 2016 presidential election

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5. Companies and economics: The Institute for Supply Management will release its November ISM index at 10 am ET.

UBS (UBS) became the first foreign bank to be allowed to take control of its business in China, beating Wall Street rivals in the crucial market. The Swiss bank said it had received approval from Chinese authorities to increase its stake in its securities joint venture in the country to 51% from just under 25%.

6. Coming this week:

Monday — ISM data
Tuesday — Bank of Montreal (BMO), Dollar General (DG) and Restoration Hardware (RH) earnings
WednesdayUS financial markets closed for national day of mourning in honor of former President George H.W. Bush
Thursday — OPEC meeting, Kroger (KR), Ulta (ULTA) and Broadcom (AVGO) earnings; Trial for government’s appeal of AT&T-Time Warner deal begins
Friday — US jobs report