Investing.com - Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Thursday, October 19:
1. Trump and Yellen to sit down over Fed chair future
U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to have an interview later on Thursday with current Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen in what will likely be his last interview before making a decision over who will continue at the helm of the U.S. central bank when Yellen’s term expires in February 2018.
Yellen herself could be reappointed as Trump has included her in the list of five possible candidates.
The other four prospects are Stanford University economist John Taylor, current Fed governor Jerome Powell, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and former Fed governor Kevin Warsh.
Speculation has run rampant over which of the candidates has the best chance with odds for Taylor gaining ground after reports that he made a favorable impression on the President.
In a recent Reuters’ survey of economists, Powell received a narrow majority as experts pointed to him as the best bet for continuity at the Fed.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that Trump would make his decision in the “coming days” and the President is widely expected to formalize the announcement before heading to Asia on November 3.
2. Spain to strip Catalonia of autonomous status
Political turmoil in Europe continued on Thursday with the focus on the latest developments in Spain as the country’s government announced it would move ahead in the process to strip Catalonia of its autonomy and return to direct rule of the region.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont faced an early morning deadline to clarify to the Spanish government whether he had declared the region’s independence after the results of a recent referendum in the country.
Puigdemont appeared to avoid the official request earlier on Thursday, threatening to call a vote in the Catalan Parliament over an official declaration of independence if Madrid didn’t agree to formal talks.
In response, Spanish President Mariano Rajoy convened a special session of his cabinet on Saturday in order to move forward with plans to invoke Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution which would strip Catalonia of its autonomy and establish direct rule over the region.
3. Global stocks head lower on Black Monday anniversary
Global stocks traded mostly lower on Thursday as optimism on Wall Street’s previous close at record highs fizzled while traders reacted to earnings reports and showed caution over political developments in Spain.
Also on traders’ minds, and perhaps spurring a cautious stance, were memories of the stock market crash on October 19, 1987, known as Black Monday, even though most experts believe that modern technology and changes to trading have largely removed the possibility of the event that wiped more than 20% off the Dow in just one day.
European stocks were down across the board on Thursday as investors digested some disappointing earnings reports and took risk off the table while tensions between Spain and its Catalan region showed no sign of abating.
Earlier, Asian equities were mixed on Thursday as regional data sets offered some support with China GDP meeting expectations and investors awaiting more clarity on China's political winds from the 19th Party Congress. Japan’s Nikkei closed with gains of 0.50%, while China’s Shanghai Composite ended about 0.3% lower.
U.S. futures pointed to profit-taking on Thursday after the Dow closed a day earlier above 23,000 points for the first time ever. At 6:05AM ET (10:05GMT), the blue-chip Dow futures fell by 80 points, or 0.35%, S&P 500 futures lost 10 points, or 0.38%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures traded down 34 points, or 0.56%.
4. U.S. set to trade earnings amid risk-off sentiment
Earnings reports would likely rule trading on Thursday with American Express (NYSE:AXP) showing losses of 1% in pre-market trade despite releasing better-than-expected results after the prior day’s close. Investors appeared concern over the fact that its CEO Kenneth Chenault would step down after 16 years at the helm.
Among reports due on Thursday, traders will keep an eye on earnings from Dow components Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and The Travelers Companies (NYSE:TRV), while results from the likes of Blackstone (NYSE:BX) or Philip Morris (NYSE:PM) will also be in focus.
5. China’s GDP weakens as expected
Chinese economic growth in the third quarter slipped to 6.8%, from the prior 6.9%, according to data released on Thursday.
Experts suggested that the slight downturn was due to government's efforts to rein in property market and debt risks tempered activity in the world's second-largest economy.
While the numbers met economist forecasts, they raise questions about more optimistic expectations flagged by the country's central bank governor this week. People's Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan announced on Sunday that gross domestic product could grow 7% in the second half of this year.
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