Good morning. Discussion on the final day of the World Economic Forum in Davos is set to turn to the global economic outlook, which is sure to touch on the debate around interest rates.
ECB President Christine Lagarde, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda will feature, among others.
Speaking of interest rates, investors will keep a close eye on flash UK manufacturing and services figures this morning as speculation grows that the Bank of England could cut interest rates next week.
Services are expected to come in at 51, while the manufacturing reading is tipped to be 48.9. Any score below 50 signals contraction.
5 highlights from Davos yesterday
1) Millionaires accused of hypocrisy over Davos demands for higher tax: Former Unilever boss Paul Polman, Innocent Smoothies co-founder Richard Reed and US real estate developer Jeff Gural were among signatories of a letter calling for higher taxation of the wealthy to reduce inequality. But all of them have previously sought specific tax breaks for their businesses.
2) Sajid Javid launches charm offensive on British businesses at Davos: The Chancellor struck a conciliatory tone in an address to blue chip chief executives at the Swiss resort. He also pledged to invest heavily in infrastructure and crack down on Whitehall waste.
3) Data privacy is a ‘human right’ says Microsoft’s Satya Nadella: Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Microsoft chief executive made the case for transparent data privacy laws which put internet users first.
4) EU dashes hopes for Boris bounce, but faces its own slow crisis: Christian Sewing, chief executive of Deutsche Bank, said the passage of the Withdrawal Agreement is not enough to unlock the pent-up investment in Britain. Market players are still waiting on the sidelines to see where the talks are going.
5) The trailblazing ‘fossil sinners’ out to prove Greta Thunberg wrong: Occidental Petroleum has a compelling riposte to Greta Thunberg’s signature rebuke in Davos, that “nothing is being done” about climate change.
What happened overnight
Stocks in Asia struggled for traction as investors mulled the situation arising from the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Oil steadied after its recent slide.
US equity futures were steady, while shares closed little changed in Tokyo and Sydney, and ticked higher in Hong Kong.
As officials in China widened their travel ban beyond the epicenter of the outbreak, the World Health Organization stopped short of calling the virus a global health emergency, saying it remains a local crisis. The yuan edged up and the yen held Thursday’s rise.
Japan’s Topix index was flat at the close, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.2pc.
Markets in mainland China and South Korea are shut, and Hong Kong closed early, for lunar new year holidays.
While investors remain cautious with global stocks trading close to all-time highs, corporate earnings are topping expectations and slew of data this month has validated forecasts for a recovery in the global economy.
Still, traders remain cognisant of the chance the virus develops into a more devastating pandemic like the SARS illness that emerged in China 17 years ago.
Coming up today
Pub chain Marston’s likely had a strong start to the year after shrugging off poor weather during October, say Peel Hunt analysts, but improved conditions during the holiday period may be offset by an upcoming rise in the national living wage, which will add to cost pressures for the company. Marston’s is no longer in expansion mode, so improving like-for-like sales at current sites is likely to become its most closely-watched measure.
Economics: Manufacturing and services activity (UK, eurozone, US)