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Trump delivers an early Christmas present by delaying tariffs on some Chinese products. Hong Kong protesters clash with police at the airport as China troops mass on the border. And CBS and Viacom finally script a happy ending to their tortured courtship. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.
U.S. President Donald Trump took a step back in his trade war with Beijing, bowing to pressure from U.S. businesses concerned over the economic fallout of the ongoing spat with China. The U.S. said it would delay until mid-December a 10% tariff on a variety of Chinese consumer products such as cell phones, laptops, video games and children’s toys, leavening the impact on holiday-shopping consumers. However, other goods, including agricultural products, antiques, clothes, kitchenware and footwear, will remain on the list to be hit on Sept. 1. The announcement came as Vice Premier Liu He talked with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin by phone. They’re planning more calls in two weeks. But don’t look for the tariff delay to fix the trade war problem just yet.
Air travel to and from Hong Kong was disrupted again Tuesday, after hundreds of black-shirted protesters returned to the airport, sparking clashes with riot police. In the glare of the massed media, demonstrators beat up a man they claimed was an undercover mainland China police officer and a reporter from the Chinese state media newspaper Global Times. The Airport Authority canceled all evening departures and obtained a court injunction against the demonstrators, who had largely dispersed by Wednesday morning. In a tweet President Trump said China's forces were massing near the border with the city, and the U.S. administration urged Beijing to respect local rights. This is Xi Jinping’s dilemma: send in the troops now or wait out the protests?
Asian stocks were primed to rally after the Trump administration de-escalated its trade war with China, providing relief to risk assets that had been under pressure earlier in the week. Treasuries retreated. Japanese futures were more than 2% higher after the S&P 500 saw its biggest intraday gain in more than two months. Elsewhere, oil jumped the most since early January as the trade deadlock between the world’s biggest economies showed signs of easing.
The fallout from Argentina’s election continues. The nation's bonds are now the second-riskiest sovereign debt in the world—behind only crisis-torn Venezuela. Morgan Stanley warned that the peso, down 18% in two days, may have quite a bit more to go as traders clean out positions and inflation expectations deteriorate. The dramatic decline has wreaked havoc on some of the largest U.S. money managers but has been a boon for bitcoin, which is up about 50% against the Argentine peso in the last week alone. Another bright spot: The Merval stock index clawed back some of its 40% loss from Monday.
Married at Last
CBS and Viacom finally announced a tie-up after round-the-clock negotiations since the weekend, capping years of failed merger attempts and board infighting. The $11.7 billion all-stock deal unites the most-watched U.S. broadcast network with the owner of the Paramount movie studio and cable channels including MTV and Nickelodeon. Shari Redstone, whose family investment vehicle controls both companies, will be its chair. Finally she has an empire of her own.
What we’ve been reading
This is what’s caught our eye over the last 24 hours.
- Facebook paid contractors to transcribe users’ audio chats
- China’s online army shows foreign brands who’s in charge
- The unlikely renaissance of the point-and-shoot camera
- Tesla becomes the most profitable short bet in the U.S.
- Let China build the longest undersea rail tunnel
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexandria Arnold at firstname.lastname@example.org, Alex Millson
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