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  • Barcelona terror attack and unraveling Trump administration knock FTSE 100

    European equities plunge into the red as the terror attack in Barcelona and the political quagmire in Washington weigh on investor sentiment British Airways-owner IAG and easyJet retreat on the FTSE 100 as tourism stocks are hit by events in Spain Pound nudges up against the dollar; trading at $1.2892 11:11AM Rail fares set to be capped between London and Exeter First Group already ran services to Exeter from London Paddington when it won the Waterloo contract Rail fares for passengers travelling between London and Exeter will be capped in line with other similar services after an investigation by the UK’s competition watchdog. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had raised concerns when First Group won the contract to run trains between London Waterloo and Exeter because it also operated the only other service from the Devon city to the capital’s Paddington station, under the Great Western Railway brand. The Waterloo line, run under the South West Trains monkier, had been operated by Stagecoach for two decades but the company lost the franchise to its UK rival, which put in a joint bid with Hong Kong’s MTR. The CMA subsequently raised the prospect that with First Group in control of both services, either prices would rise or service standards would fall. Read Bradley Gerrard's full report here 10:54AM Markets reaction: The recent attitude to risk has been very volatile  Investors have scurried back to safe havens once again The usual suspects are benefiting from investors scurrying back to safe haven assets as risk appetite on the markets wanes following the attack in Barcelona and the latest escalation involving the Trump administration in Washington.  Gold prices enjoying a 1.6pc rise in the last two days and the Japanese yen advancing strongly against all the major currencies have been the most notable safe haven beneficiaries from the switch to risk-off mode. The VIX index, a measure of expected future volatility also known as the fear index, has rocketed 30pc in the last two days since the attack on Las Ramblas. Here are IG market analyst Joshua Mahony's thoughts on recent market jitters: "The market’s attitude to risk has been highly volatile over the past fortnight, with the shift towards treasuries, gold, and the yen highlighting the anxiety evident of late. "Much of this seems to centre on Donald Trump’s erratic leadership, with the US going from crisis to crisis. Last week was North Korea, this week Charlottesville. As much as traders hope to plan ahead, there is no telling what crisis Trump will create from one week to the next." 10:40AM Only four stocks remain in positive territory on FTSE 100 S&P Global Ratings said that geopolitical risks on the Korean peninsular will not escalate over the next two years As global sell-offs go, this is probably at the duller end to tell the truth. Four stocks remain resolute in positive territory with packaging firm Mondi rising on a broker upgrade and Randgold Resources advancing as gold prices bounce on the global risk-off. The remaining blue-chip stocks have all dropped into the red but none are hemorrhaging losses. British Airways-owner IAG and easyJet have pared some of their early losses but both are still around 2pc down for the session. Looking back to last week's wobble on the markets and S&P Global Ratings has reaffirmed its 'AA/A-1+' rating for South Korea despite the recent rise in tensions with its neighbours to the north. Here's a snippet of the report: "The stable outlook on Korea reflects our expectation that geopolitical risks  in the Korean peninsula will not escalate over the next two years beyond what  we have seen since the leadership change in the Democratic People's Republic  of Korea in 2011. Beyond the outlook horizon, Korea's  economic performance could revert to the mean of other developed economies as  the country's wealth levels rise further, its labor force ages, and growth in  China moderates." 10:09AM Tide turning on the markets over Donald Trump Apple chief executive Tim Cook (far left) was very critical of Mr Trump's response to events in Charlottesville The markets have largely turned a blind eye to the Republican infighting, constantly rotating line-up at the White House and late night tweet storms but confidence finally appears to be ebbing.  The US business community had largely been kept on-side and stocks rallied to multiple all-time highs but, with Mr Trump axing three business councils, including one on his key infrastructure plans, doubts are emerging that the president has the political capital to enact his plans. Moral, brave and correct, well put comments @tglocer on Merck CEO's decision to reach for the ejector button on Trump's business council— Ed Williams (@EdWilliamsUK) August 18, 2017 Reports that the president's chief economic advisor Gary Cohn quit yesterday have later been denied but the quagmire hasn't improved confidence in the administration, Rebecca O'Keeffe, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said this on falling confidence: "Far from being a force for change, seven months into his presidency there has been no noticeable policy success and US politics is more divided than ever. "Dissolving his infrastructure council before it even began highlights just how volatile the situation is and the question for investors is changing from what support Trump may deliver to markets to what risk he brings." 9:59AM Trump abandons Advisory Council on Infrastructure; doubts rise over spending plans Mr Trump disbanded the councils as business leaders started to quit In addition to events in Spain, investor sentiment has been weakened this morning by US president Donald Trump abandoning plans for an Advisory Council on Infrastructure just a day after pulling the plug on two other business councils as criticism mounted over his response to violence in Charlottesville. Mr Trump had made his $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan a keystone policy in his presidential campaign but the markets now doubt whether it will ever come to fruition. Only Trump would end the Infrastructure Council during Infrastructure Week. I for one can't wait until President's Day.— Nunca Trump (@NeverTrumpTexan) August 18, 2017 European markets had enjoyed a strong three-day rally earlier this week, rebounding from the North Korea-inspired sell-off that gripped markets last week, but things started to turn sour yesterday. Minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting showing indecision over whether to hike interest rates again before the end of the year and Mr Trump disbanding the two business committees has damaged investor sentiment on both sides of the Atlantic. 9:30AM Heineken given green light in Punch Taverns takeover Dutch brewer Heineken offered to sell some pubs in a bid to get its takeover of Punch Taverns over the line Heineken has been given the green light for its takeover of part of Punch Taverns after offering to sell pubs in 33 areas across the UK. The competitions watchdog said it had accepted the proposals and would not launch an in-depth investigation into the deal. Heineken made its offer after the Competition and Markets Authority said in June that the takeover of part of the Punch estate could reduce competition in 33 areas across the UK. Read Sam Dean's full report here 9:22AM German PPI softens slightly  German producer price inflation has recently overshot relative to expectations, Pantheon Macro said German producer price inflation softened slightly to 2.3pc in July, slightly above expectations, figures just released show. In truth, this hasn't proved the most exciting release for the currency markets and little has changed between the pound and euro since the figures dropped. But sadly that's pretty much your lot on the economics front for today. PMI and UK GDP data next week should liven things up a bit, however. Nonetheless, here's what Claus Vistesen, chief eurozone economist at Pantheon Macro, had to say on today's figures: "Base effects suggest headline producer price inflation will fall in coming months, but only trivially. Chinese producer price inflation—a good leading indicator for the German headline—has been sticky in recent months, and signal only a gentle fall." 8:58AM Tourism sector stocks retreat on terrorism fears  Lufthansa, Ryanair and Air France KLM have also retreated in Europe The FTSE 100's sharpest fallers early on, British Airways-owner IAG and easyJet, have dived around 2.5pc apiece this morning as investors fear that the latest terror attack will knock earnings in the tourism sector. InterContinental Hotels Group has also dipped in response to the attack, falling 1.5pc, while cruise ship operator Carnival has pulled back 1.3pc. ETX Capital senior market analyst Neil Wilson explained how events in Spain will affect earnings at the airline stocks: "Airlines are already dealing with a price war and several have warned about the second half. The attacks in Spain will do nothing to help and should hit earnings, although we won’t know to what extent until the quarterly updates come in. "Falling demand is not going to help falling fares. Ryanair thinks average fares will decline by 8% in the second half. The industry is good at competing away any margin accretion by creating more capacity. Now firms will probably have to contend with lower demand in key Spanish routes." 8:32AM Agenda: Barcelona terror attacks and Trump's unraveling administration weigh on equities The attack in Barcelona has pulled down airline stocks Welcome to our lives markets coverage. Yesterday's terror attack in Barcelona and US president Donald Trump's deteriorating administration over in Washington have pulled down sentiment on European markets this morning with the FTSE 100 retreating 0.7pc early on. The attack on tourism hotspot Barcelona has weighed heavily on the two blue-chip airline stocks, easyJet and IAG, while precious metal miner Randgold Resources has risen to the top of the blue-chip leaderboard on gold's price rally. Asia stocks lower as investors de-risk. US politics, Barcelona terrorist attack, options expiry, mixed US econ data & stronger Dollar weigh.— Holger Zschaepitz (@Schuldensuehner) August 18, 2017 Overnight, the S&P 500 closed at its lowest level in over a month as the administration at the White House continued to stumble, the latest quagmire being caused by later denied reports that National Economic Council director Gary Cohn had stepped down. Markets have largely forgiven the president's shortcomings on the premise that his pro-business approach would slash red tape and see a considerable amount of stimulus injected into the economy. The latest sign that he lacks the political capital to push through his agenda is weighing on equities. Unless you're very into the German producer price index, there's not much to chew over on the economics calendar with the corporate diary looking equally bare. AGM: Grand Group Investment, System1 Group Economics: Current account (EU), PPI m/m (GER)

  • Chinese banks battle slowing loan growth, default risks loom

    BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese banks are set to see a slowdown in lending growth in the second half of the year, having exhausted most of their annual credit quota, raising the spectre of corporate defaults as financing costs climb further in the world's No.2 economy. Beijing's crackdown on riskier lending has already stretched financing costs and hurt profit margins. Analysts estimate banks have used 80 percent of their yearly credit quota over January-June, versus the usual 60 percent, amid a regulatory push to bring shadow financing activities to the main loan book.

  • What Is Trump worth to Twitter? One analyst estimates $2 billion

    Without Donald Trump, Twitter Inc. could lose almost a fifth of its value.

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