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  • Miserly wages growth as confidence slips
    Business
    Australian Associated Press

    Miserly wages growth as confidence slips

    Wages growth had only a modest pick-up in the first three months of 2021, as last week's big spending budget failed to sustain the recent strength of consumer confidence.The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the wage price index for the March quarter - a key gauge used by the Reserve Bank and Treasury to measure wages growth - rose 0.

  • Asia Stocks Track U.S. Lower on Inflation Concerns: Markets Wrap
    Business
    Bloomberg

    Asia Stocks Track U.S. Lower on Inflation Concerns: Markets Wrap

    (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks tracked U.S. declines Wednesday as concern about faster inflation shadows the economic recovery from the pandemic. A dollar gauge ticked up from near the lowest level this year.Australia underperformed, with the benchmark on track for its worst day in almost three months. Shares also fell in Japan and China after key U.S. equity benchmarks closed lower and large technology stocks like Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. erased gains. AT&T Inc. plunged after the company said it plans to spin off its media operations. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures were in the red.A slide in crude on the possibility of more supply from Iran hurt energy stocks. Treasury yields were steady. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies extended a retreat after China warned digital tokens can’t be used as a form of payment. Markets are closed Wednesday in Hong Kong and South Korea for holidays.Stocks have been volatile after touching a record in early May, whipsawed by concerns about accelerating inflation amid elevated commodity prices, as well as a Covid-19 resurgence in some countries. Federal Reserve officials have repeatedly indicated that they see recent price pressures as transitory and intend to keep policy accommodative for some time to come. Traders are awaiting the latest Fed minutes for the clues about the outlook.“The market has been trying to process a very unusual economic environment and a confluence of factors that it has not faced for a long time,” said David Donabedian, chief investment officer of CIBC Private Wealth Management. “I personally would say that the stock market has absorbed it all extremely well because there’s still a high conviction view on earnings being strong.”In Bank of America Corp.’s latest fund manager survey, inflation topped the list of the biggest tail risks, followed by a bond market taper tantrum and asset bubbles. Covid-19 was in fourth place.Here are some key events this week:The Fed publishes minutes from its April meeting Wednesday, which may provide clues to officials’ views on the recovery and how they define “transitory” when it comes to inflationEIA crude oil inventory report WednesdaySt. Louis Fed President James Bullard and Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic to speak at separate events WednesdayIMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and ECB President Christine Lagarde speak at the Vienna Economic Dialogue ThursdayEuro-area finance ministers and central bank chiefs hold an informal meeting. A larger group of EU finance ministers and central bank chiefs will meet May 22These are some of the main moves in markets:StocksS&P 500 futures dipped 0.3% as of 11:33 a.m. in Tokyo. The S&P 500 fell 0.9%Nasdaq 100 futures shed 0.3%. The Nasdaq 100 fell 0.7%Japan’s Topix index retreated 0.7%Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.8%China’s Shanghai Composite index lost 0.5%Euro Stoxx 50 futures fell 0.9%CurrenciesThe yen was at 108.96 per dollarThe offshore yuan traded at 6.4310 per dollarThe Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.1%The euro was at $1.2223BondsThe yield on 10-year Treasuries was at 1.64%Australia’s 10-year bond yield dipped to 1.77%CommoditiesWest Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.2% to $64.70 a barrelGold was at $1,866.86 an ounceMore stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

  • U.K.’s Johnson Pushes to Get Australia Trade Deal Completed
    News
    Bloomberg

    U.K.’s Johnson Pushes to Get Australia Trade Deal Completed

    (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pushing to get a trade deal with Australia over the line, amid warnings from farmers that cheaper imports could put them out of business.Johnson is preparing to offer Australia tariff-free access to U.K. food markets as talks continue within the government over the deal, The Times newspaper reported Wednesday.That is despite concerns from Britain’s National Farmers’ Union that many farms would face ruin if they have to compete with zero-tariff imports of beef and lamb. Johnson’s office declined to comment on the report, saying negotiations were ongoing.Britain and Australia agreed the bulk of a free-trade agreement in April and have signaled they want to conclude the pact by the G-7 summit in June.Any agreement will “include protection for the agriculture industry and won’t undercut U.K. farmers,” Johnson’s spokesman Max Blain told reporters Tuesday.Read More: U.K., Australia Seal Most of Trade Deal in Boost for Johnson (1)National Farmers’ Union President Minette Batters said in a statement that the government “must recognize that opening up zero tariff trade on all imports of products such as beef and lamb means British farming, working to its current high standards, will struggle to compete.”“Will it watch family farms go out of business when they are unable to compete?” she added.Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News there was a “balance to be struck between your commercial interests and your desire to open up new markets.”Post-Brexit TargetA trade deal with Australia is one of the government’s key post-Brexit targets, alongside ongoing negotiations with the U.S. and New Zealand. A deal between the U.K. and Australia is expected to boost Britain’s GDP by 0.02% over 15 years, according to a British government assessment.Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan on Wednesday said the nations were making “good progress” in their FTA negotiations.“We are now meeting every week in a sprint to have an in-principle agreement by the end of June,” Tehan said in an emailed statement sent in response to a request for comment. He declined to comment on the details of the negotiations.Eustice said his department is considering ways to protect sensitive sectors during the negotiations, such as having tariff-rate quotas on certain goods. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is said to favor a zero-tariff, zero-quota deal similar to Britain’s accord with the EU, according to a report in the Financial Times.The Department for International Trade said in a statement that a deal would be a step toward joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, an 11-country pact including Singapore, Malaysia and Japan, which would “allow U.K. farmers even greater access to growing consumer markets in Asia.”Separately, the U.K. government said it will soon start talks to improve upon the roll-over post-Brexit trade deals it signed with Canada and Mexico.(Updates with Australian trade minister’s comments in 10th, 11th paragraphs)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.