Good morning. Europe is set to open in the green after the US said it will remove China from its currency manipulator list in a sign of goodwill. The phase one trade deal between the two countries is expected to be signed in the White House on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the pound held below $1.30 as the likelihood of the Bank of England cutting interest rates increased after figures showed the UK economy contracted in November.
5 things to start your day
1) Boeing is offering huge discounts, bulk-buy deals and maintenance packages to airlines as it fights to hold onto 737 Max orders after the aircraft was grounded following two crashes. Airlines rarely pay the full price for new aircraft, but experts say the crisis at Boeing in the wake of the safety scandal has driven price cutting to new levels.
2) Rewards are high but so are the risks as investors hunt for returns: So-called ‘leveraged loans’ – advances to already-highly borrowed companies – have grown into a $3.4 trillion market from virtually nothing in the past decade. It’s a ‘0-60mph’ problem in the words of one official.
3) The hi-fi entrepreneur Julian Richer has called for “evil” zero-hours contracts to be banned. Speaking at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) headquarters in London, Mr Richer, 60, who handed control of Richer Sounds to his staff last year, said he felt like a “ham sandwich at a bar mitzvah” as the voice of business in the room, but added: “If we can’t give working people basic security, we should be ashamed.”
4) Former Africa minister Mark Simmonds faces embarrassment after a company he joined last week warned it may have been scammed over a non-existent $184m (£157m) loan. Mr Simmonds has launched an urgent investigation into the deal, in which oil explorer Lekoil appears to have been tricked into thinking it had secured cash from the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) for a project in offshore Nigeria.
5) AstraZeneca is braced for a $100m (£77m) hit after it was forced to axe a fish oil tablet which was found to be ineffective at treating a condition linked to heart disease. The FTSE 100 listed drugs firm said it will halt trials, which were at their most advanced and expensive stage, on the drug. Called Epanova, it was valued at $533m in previous accounts.
What happened overnight
Asian stocks, US and European futures traded mixed Tuesday after a three-day rally in the run-up to Washington and Beijing signing a long-awaited trade deal. The yuan held near its strongest since July.
Stocks pared earlier gains as data showed China’s trade with the US slumped last year, as the trade war hit relations between the two biggest economies. Shares outperformed in Sydney and Seoul, saw modest gains in Tokyo and slipped in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
US futures were little changed, while European contracts nudged higher. A rally in technology shares Monday sent the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Index to record highs.
Equities had risen early in the Asian session after the US lifted the currency-manipulator label from China. Treasury yields edged higher, while the yen fell past 110 per dollar.
The Trump administration lifted its designation of China as a currency manipulator, saying the nation has made “enforceable commitments” not to devalue the yuan and has agreed to publish exchange-rate information. The document listed no major U.S. trading partner among the 20 economies it monitors for potential manipulation.
Coming up today
In December, Boohoo Group said it expected its full-year results to be “comfortably in line” with previous forecasts that include chunky revenue growth. Investors will be hoping today’s figures mark further solid progress for the online fashion retailer, which has produced update after update of strong growth in the past year.
Interim results: Games Workshop
Full-year: Watkin Jones
Trading statement: Boohoo, DFS Furniture, McBride, PageGroup, Taylor Wimpey
Economics: CPI Inflation, weekly earnings (US)