Overseas Headlines-October 31, 2019

October 31, 2019

United States:

U.S. Consumer Spending, Jobless Claims Signal Caution on Economy

“U.S. consumer spending trailed forecasts in September while weekly applications for unemployment benefits rose more than projected, offering a note of caution on the economy as Federal Reserve policy makers signal a pause from interest-rate cuts. Consumer outlays for goods and services, which account for about 70% of gross domestic product, increased 0.2% from the prior month after a 0.2% August advance that was larger than previously estimated, Commerce Department data showed Thursday. The report also showed income gains matched projections, while the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge matched the slowest pace since 2016. The figures suggest cooling momentum in Americans’ spending, which is key to sustaining the record-long expansion — and crucial for President Donald Trump’s re-election prospects — amid slowing payroll gains, trade tensions and weakness abroad. The data flesh out details on the economy after Wednesday’s GDP report showed consumption grew more than forecast in the third quarter as business investment saw a steeper decline. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell highlighted a strong job market, rising incomes and solid consumer confidence in his press conference Wednesday after the central bank cut interest rates for a third straight meeting and suggested it would pause. “The consumer is really driving growth” and hasn’t shown signs of being dragged down by weakness in manufacturing, exports or business investment, he said.”



Corbyn Kicks Off Election Campaign With Attack on U.K. ‘Elite’

“Jeremy Corbyn criticized what he called the U.K.’s “corrupt system” in a speech kicking off the opposition Labour Party’s campaign to defeat Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in the Dec. 12 election. “We’re going after the tax dodgers,” Corbyn said in London on Thursday. “We’re going after the dodgy landlords. We’re going after the bad bosses. We’re going after the big polluters. Because we know whose side we’re on.” He also attacked billionaires including News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and Sports Direct International Plc founder Mike Ashley, as well as hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, and reiterated Labour’s plans to nationalize rail, mail and water companies. He said a Labour government would make private schools pay their taxes in a “fair and proper way.” Labour’s core message — a pledge to stand with the “many” and not the “privileged few” — echoes themes it used in the 2017 election, when the party confounded the polls to deprive then Prime Minister Theresa May of her parliamentary majority. Trailing again, Corbyn hopes the message will propel him to office this time. “This election is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform our country, take on the vested interests holding people back and ensure that no community is left behind,” Corbyn said. “When Labour wins, the nurse wins, the pensioner wins, the student wins, the office worker wins, the engineer wins.”



China Doubts Long-Term Trade Deal Possible With Trump

“Chinese officials are casting doubts about reaching a comprehensive long-term trade deal with the U.S. even as the two sides get close to signing a “phase one” agreement. In private conversations with visitors to Beijing and other interlocutors in recent weeks, Chinese officials have warned they won’t budge on the thorniest issues, according to people familiar with the matter. They remain concerned about President Donald Trump’s impulsive nature and the risk he may back out of even the limited deal both sides say they want to sign in the coming weeks. Chinese policy makers are gathered in Beijing for a key political meeting that’s set to conclude on Thursday. In meetings ahead of that plenum some officials have relayed low expectations that future negotiations could result in anything meaningful — unless the U.S. is willing to roll back more of the tariffs. In some cases, they’ve urged American visitors to carry that very message back to Washington, the people said. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera threw up another hurdle when he announced Wednesday that the country had canceled the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit Nov. 16-17 — where Trump and China’s Xi Jinping hoped to meet — because of social unrest in the country. U.S. stocks futures and government bond yields declined. A White House spokesman said Wednesday, after the news of the cancellation, that the administration remains committed to “finalizing Phase One of the historic trade deal with China within the same time frame.” That first step, according to the Trump administration, is meant to lead to a more comprehensive agreement involving more substantial economic reforms than those contained in the proposed initial phase. But Chinese officials are skeptical, saying that would require the U.S. to withdraw tariffs in place on some $360 billion in imports from China — something many don’t see Trump being ready to do.”


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