Worldwide stocks start year on a high

Asian stocks hit new heights on Wednesday, according to MSCI'S index of global markets. (Reuters)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Worldwide stocks start year on a high

LONDON: Worldwide stocks hit new highs on Wednesday as European markets continued a strong start to the year, suggesting 2018 will be another year of synchronized growth for global markets — led by a robust European economy.
MSCI’s index of global stocks, MIWD — which tracks shares across 47 countries, had jumped to its biggest one-day gain in more than two weeks on Tuesday, after having its best 12 months since 2009 in 2017.
The pan-European stock index sat 0.2 percent higher following considerable gains for their Asian and US counterparts overnight as manufacturing surveys pointed to a strong start for the European economy.
The single currency euro was holding steady near the four-month high of $1.2081 hit on Tuesday.
“Investors have woken up in the new year and looked forward to another firm year for global growth with very muted downside risk,” said Investec economist Philip Shaw. But he urged caution about getting too excited given we are only in the first two trading days of the new year.
“The converse is the sell-off in bond markets: the idea that inflation pressures may be firmer than expected and central banks could take a slightly more aggressive approach than previously thought,” Shaw added.
ECB rate-setter Ewald Nowotny told the German media that the European Central Bank (ECB) may end its stimulus program this year if the euro zone economy continues to grow strongly.
Earlier in the session, Asian stocks struck a range of new peaks: a record high for stocks in the Philippines, a 24-year top for Thailand and a decade-high for Hong Kong. MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, MIAP, rose 0.4 percent, having jumped 1.4 percent on Tuesday in its best performance since last March.
This came after Wall Street started the new year as it ended the old, scoring another set of record closing peaks. The Dow .DJI rose 0.42 percent, while the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.83 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 1.5 percent. The gains in riskier assets came as industry surveys from India to Germany to Canada showed quickening activity.
“The breadth of the recovery is extraordinary,” said Deutsche Bank macro strategist Alan Ruskin, noting that of 31 countries covered, only three failed to show growth while all the largest manufacturing sectors improved.
Oil prices surged again, inching toward two-and-a-half year highs hit on Tuesday as strong demand and ongoing efforts led by OPEC and Russia to curb production tightened the market. Brent crude futures LCOc1 was up 0.6 percent at $67 a barrel, while US crude futures CLc1 shot up 0.8 percent to $60.87 a barrel.


Apple Watch, FitBit could feel cost of US tariffs

Updated 20 July 2018
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Apple Watch, FitBit could feel cost of US tariffs

SAN FRANCISCO: The latest round of US tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods could hit the Apple Watch, health trackers, streaming music speakers and other accessories assembled in China, government rulings on tariffs show.
The rulings name Apple Inc’s watch, several Fitbit Inc. activity trackers and connected speakers from Sonos Inc. While consumer technology’s biggest sellers such as mobile phones and laptops so far have faced little danger of import duties, the rulings show that gadget makers are unlikely to be spared altogether and may have to consider price hikes on products that millions of consumers use every day.
The devices have all been determined by US Customs and Border Patrol officials to fall under an obscure subheading of data transmission machines in the sprawling list of US tariff codes. And that particular subheading is included in the more than 6,000 such codes in President Donald Trump’s most recent round of proposed tariffs released earlier this month.
That $200 billion list of tariffs is in a public comment period. But if the list goes into effect this fall, the products from Apple, Fitbit and Sonos could face a 10 percent tariff.
The specific products listed in customs rulings are the original Apple Watch; Fitbit’s Charge, Charge HR and Surge models; and Sonos’s Play:3, Play:5 and SUB speakers.
All three companies declined to comment on the proposed tariff list. But in its filing earlier this month to become a publicly traded company, Sonos said that “the imposition of tariffs and other trade barriers, as well as retaliatory trade measures, could require us to raise the prices of our products and harm our sales.”
The New York Times has reported that Trump told Apple CEO Tim Cook during a meeting in May that the US government would not levy tariffs on iPhones assembled in China, citing a person familiar with the meeting.
“The way the president has been using his trade authority, you have direct examples of him using his authority to target specific products and companies,” said Sage Chandler, vice president for international trade policy at the Consumer Technology Association.
The toll from tariffs on the gadget world’s smaller product lines could be significant. Sonos and Fitbit do not break out individual product sales, but collectively they had $2.6 billion in revenue last year. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi estimates that the Apple Watch alone will bring in $9.9 billion in sales this year, though that estimate includes sales outside the United States that the tariff would not touch.
It is possible that the products from Apple, Fitbit and Sonos no longer fall under tariff codes in the $200 billion list, trade experts said. The codes applied to specific products are only public knowledge because their makers asked regulators to rule on their proper classification. And some of the products have been replaced by newer models that could be classified differently.
But if companies have products whose tariff codes are on the list, they have three options, experts said: Advocate to get the code dropped from the list during the public comment period, apply for an exclusion once tariffs go into effect, or try to have their products classified under a different code not on the list.
The last option could prove difficult due to the thousands of codes covered, said one former US trade official.