State of the States: How were Australia’s state and territory economies positioned before COVID-19?
20 May 20, 12.50pm (AEST). The ASX 200 is a touch lower at lunch, with the index down just 0.17 per cent to 5,550 as the market has bounced off intraday lows. PREVIOUS REPORT
20 May 20. Retail trade fell by a record 17.9 per cent in April after rising a record 8.5 per cent increase in March.
18 May 20. The Government protected some workers from ‘losing’ jobs through the JobKeeper and JobSeeker.
15 May 20. While China is gradually emerging from the economic downturn, April’s economic data was decidedly mixed.
18 May 20. The national average price of unleaded petrol rose by 8.2 cents last week – the biggest increase in 13 weeks to 111.3 cents a litre.
19 May 20. The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence rating rose by 2.2 per cent to 92.3 points. Sentiment has lifted for seven straight weeks.
14 May 20. Employment fell by 594,300 in April – the biggest monthly decline in jobs on record. The unemployment rate rose from 5.2 per cent to 6.2 per cent.
13 May 20. Annual wage growth fell from 2.22 per cent in the December quarter to 2.13 per cent in the March quarter.
15 May 20. An eclectic mix of data is expected over the coming week including readings on the job market and consumer spending. Ovearseas, testimony by the US Federal Reserve chair headlines but a quieter week is in prospect for ‘top shelf’ economic data in the US.
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Government publishes ‘approach’ to EU trade deal
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A minister has accused the EU of holding up post-Brexit trade talks with its “ideological approach” as the UK publishes legal texts for negotiations.
Michael Gove said the third round of talks with the bloc – which ended on Friday – were “constructive”.
But he said there were “significant differences of principle”, and it “remained difficult to reach a mutually beneficial agreement”.
The EU’s chief negotiator has warned the UK’s demands are “not realistic”.
Speaking on Friday, Michel Barnier said he was “still determined but not optimistic” about agreeing a deal.
The UK left the EU on 31 January, entering an 11-month transition period, where the country continues to follow a number of the bloc’s rules while negotiating a trade deal.
The government has repeatedly ruled out extending the transition period, and has said it will go onto trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation rules comes 2021 if no agreement has been reached.
But critics have said this could damage the UK economy.
On Tuesday, the government published 13 documents “setting out our approach to our future relationship with the European Union”, including its outline of a free trade agreement – which “draws on previous EU agreements” with the likes of Canada, Japan and South Korea.
It has also proposed a separate agreement on fisheries, on law enforcement, and in technical areas covering aviation, energy and civil nuclear cooperation.
It said its approach was based on “friendly cooperation between sovereign equals” and “represents our clear and unwavering view that the UK will always have control of its own laws, political life and rules.”
But Mr Barnier has said the EU is not prepared to “copy and paste” aspects of existing agreements with other countries or do sector-by-sector deals “rooted in past precedents”.
In a letter to Mr Barnier on Tuesday, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost said the UK’s proposals were similar to agreements the EU had reached with other countries and that it was “perplexing” the EU was “insisting on additional, unbalanced, and unprecedented provisions in a range of areas, as a precondition for agreement between us”.
“Overall, we find it hard to see what makes the UK, uniquely among your trading partners, so unworthy of being offered the kind of well-precedented arrangements commonplace in modern FTAs [free trade agreements].
“Your text contains novel and unbalanced proposals which would bind this country to EU law or standards.”
He adds: “It does not have to be like this.
“I remain convinced that it would be very straightforward for us to agree a modern and high-quality FTA and other separate agreements, like those you have agreed with other close partners around the world, and that we could do so quickly.”
The sense of urgency around these negotiations, which have had to take place in the midst of the pandemic, is increasing.
The UK has now published its draft legal text of a future free trade agreement with the EU – the European Commission published its version two months ago.
The differences between the two sides are well known and both will have to give some ground if progress is to be made before a summit to review the negotiations takes place next month.
The government has also published a new tariff schedule for countries with which it doesn’t have a free trade deal, to take effect at the end of the post-Brexit transition period.
A variety of imported products – from garden shears to dishwashers to mirrors – will be cheaper after 1 January. The government says tariffs will be scrapped altogether on £30bn of imports.
But if no deal is done with the EU, then the price of cars and food imported from Europe will suddenly become considerably more expensive.
Answering an urgent question from Labour on last week’s discussions with the EU, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Mr Gove said there remained differences between the two sides – notably on fisheries and the so-called “level-playing field” rules.
A level-playing field is a term for a set of common rules and standards that prevent businesses in one country undercutting their rivals and gaining a competitive advantage over those operating in other countries.
Mr Gove told MPs: “The EU essentially wants us to obey the rules of their club, even though we are no longer members, and they want the same access to our fishing grounds as they currently have, while restricting our access to their markets.
“It remains difficult to reach a mutually beneficial agreement while the EU maintains such an ideological approach.”
But the minister said he believed with “flexibility” from the bloc, an agreement could be reached before the deadline.
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The SNP’s Pete Wishart accused the government of “wilfully piling on a second hammer blow to an economy already shattered by Covid in its obsessive pursuit of its hard Brexit agenda”.
He added: “This government is doing nothing but playing political games with the future of millions of people by pursuing this anti-EU agenda at all costs.”
On Sunday, the SNP wrote a joint letter with the leaders of the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the SDLP, the Green Party and the Alliance Party, appealing to Mr Barnier for a two-year extension to the transition period to allow time for “detailed and defining negotiations” after the coronavirus crisis.
However, Labour has not joined the call.
Asking the question to Mr Gove in the Commons, the shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rachel Reeves, said: “It was always a tight timetable but the government has made it clear that they are sticking to it, and we need them to get it right.
“We must not have uncertainty already being experienced right now.”
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Author: Rajan Dhall, MSTA
Stocks Fall in the Final Hour of Trading After a Report Raised Questions About Moderna’s Vaccine
Just as a promising announcement about a vaccine candidate helped ignite a sensational rally on Monday, less-good news on Tuesday knocked the market from its session high in the final hour of trading. U.S. stocks closed in the red after spending the day around the break-even line.
Positive vaccine news from Moderna (MRNA) fueled Monday’s rally, giving an especially strong boost to coronavirus-sensitive stocks like airlines or hotel chains, but a report from health-care news website STAT on Tuesday afternoon highlighted some skepticism in the scientific community about the announcement. Moderna shares fell over 10%, after rising more than 20% on Monday.
European stocks were mostly in the red too, following their own large gains on Monday. The Stoxx Europe 600 index closed down 0.6%, France’s CAC 40 fell 0.9%, the German DAX rose 0.1%, and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index lost 0.8%.
“Monday’s developments illustrate that, even after around a month of rangebound trading, equities continue to have upside potential, provided investors can see clearer evidence of a path to sustained economic normality,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer of global wealth management at UBS.
Following a lackluster Monday, markets in Asia caught up with the rally on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.5%, China’s Shanghai Composite index closed up 0.8% on Monday, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1.9%.
Haven assets were mixed after selling off on Monday as investors piled into stocks. The price of gold was up 0.9%, to $1,749.30 an ounce. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell 3 basis points, or hundredths of a percentage point, to 0.711%, as the price of the securities rose. The U.S. Dollar Index (DXY)—which measures the greenback against a basket of other currencies—ticked down 0.33%.
Oil prices were higher again on Tuesday. West Texas Intermediate crude settled up 2.1%, at $32.50, after rising 8.1% Monday. Oil prices are up more than 70% so far in May.
Home Depot earned $2.08 a share in its fiscal first quarter ending April. Wall Street was looking for $2.27. It looks like a big shortfall, but higher costs, including extra pay for workers in a Covid-19 world, cost the company 60 cents a share.
Sales were a bright spot, growing 7.1% to $28.3 billion, easily topping analysts’ estimates of $27.5 billion. Shares have had a solid year, up 12.4%, but the stock fell 1.7% on Tuesday.
Walmart, on the other hand, beat analysts’ estimates despite higher costs. The company earned $1.18 a share in its fiscal first quarter, which ended in April. Wall Street was looking for $1.12.
Costs for cleaning were higher, but sales grew 8.6% to $134.6 billion, easily topping analyst estimates of $132.7 billion. Shares were up 7.4% year to date and gave up an earlier gain to fall 1.5% on Tuesday.
Both companies withdrew their full-year financial forecasts. Most firms have done the same when reporting first-quarter numbers.
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Author: Steve Goldstein, Nicholas Jasinski, and Al Root
CME Traders Prefer Cash-Settled Bitcoin Products
CME customers would rather trade cash-backed Bitcoin products at present.
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75 Total sharesChicago Mercantile Exchange’s, or CME, global head of equity index and alternative investment products, Tim McCourt, said traders prefer cash-settled Bitcoin trading over products backed by physical Bitcoin (BTC).
“So far, clients have expressed a clear preference and priority for a cash-settled product,” McCourt told Cointelegraph in an email when asked why the CME chose to go the cash-settled route for its Bitcoin futures trading product back in 2017.
The CME opened Bitcoin futures trading in 2017, based on the exchange’s own CF Bitcoin Reference Rate, or BRR, and Bitcoin Real Time Index, or RTI, released in 2016. Essentially, these two metrics show Bitcoin’s average trading price across a number of prominent exchanges at various times — an effort to give the industry clearer pricing for the asset, McCourt said.
With the cash-backed CME Bitcoin futures product, customers can trade Bitcoin’s price action without owning the asset itself, McCourt explained, adding:
Customer interest spurred the CME’s cash-settled Bitcoin futures product launch as cryptocurrencies gained overall notoriety. “There was a lot of client and crypto community interest in futures to hedge risk or get exposure to Bitcoin prices,” McCourt said.
“The introduction of CME Bitcoin futures created a forward curve so investors can better manage that price risk,” he added, referring to tactics and strategies traders and investors often use in managing their funds.
McCourt looks back on an enjoyable experience in opening the CME’s Bitcoin futures product — the first of its kind in the crypto space, aside from a similar offering launched by the Chicago Board Options Exchange, or CBOE, in 2017. CME Bitcoin futures continue seeing significant volume, averaging roughly 42,500 BTC traded per day, the CME head said.
The CME recently posted a number of records for its Bitcoin futures and options trading products, showing the public is anything but disinterested in the exchange’s products.
Author: Benjamin Pirus