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Debt limit meeting, China's Micron ban, Fed speak - what's moving markets

Published 05/22/2023, 05:35 AM
© Reuters

Investing.com -- Top lawmakers in Washington prepare to meet to break an impasse in debt ceiling negotiations, with a possible default just over a week away. China bans local infrastructure operators from buying chips made by U.S. semiconductor giant Micron, while Beijing's trade practices are targeted at the G7 summit in Japan.

1. Debt ceiling meeting looms

U.S. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will meet later today as lawmakers in Washington struggle to reach a deal to raise the more than $31 trillion debt ceiling and avoid a potential damaging default.

McCarthy and the White House both confirmed that the negotiations will take place on Monday. On his way back from the G7 summit in Japan yesterday, Biden spoke with McCarthy, who has served as the de facto Republican leader in the discussions.

Both men described their Sunday conversation as positive, but worries remain that an agreement may not be struck after talks stalled over the weekend.

The Treasury Department has warned that the U.S. government could run out of money to pay its bills as soon as June 1, adding that the impact of such an occurrence could stretch into the global economy.

2. Futures muted amid debt limit talks

U.S. stock futures held largely steady on Monday ahead of the crunch meeting between Biden and McCarthy today.

At 05:02 ET (09:02 GMT), the Dow futures contract added 8 points or 0.02%, S&P 500 futures were mostly unchanged, and Nasdaq 100 futures edged up 4 points or 0.03%.

The major indices retreated to end the previous trading week after the negotiations over the borrowing limit hit an unexpected impasse. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers had previously signaled that they were inching closer to reaching an agreement.

Elsewhere, shares in U.S. regional banks came under pressure on Friday after CNN reported that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told bank executives that more mergers may be necessary to shore up the strength of the sector.

3. Fed rate path in focus

Traders will be keen to receive any clues about the Federal Reserve's interest rate plans today, with several policymakers from the U.S. central bank due to speak.

James Bullard, Thomas Barkin, Raphael Bostic and Mary Daly - all presidents of non-voting districts of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee - are set to participate in public discussions today.

Fed President Jerome Powell suggested last week that a tightening in credit conditions following turmoil in the banking sector may mean that the central bank will not need to raise borrowing costs as much as it previously anticipated to corral inflation.

Debate has already swirled around the possibility that the Fed will push pause on its long-standing rate hiking campaign next month, although Powell noted that it "could afford to look at" recent economic data before making a decision.

4. Micron slips after Chinese chip ban

Shares in Micron Technology Inc (NASDAQ:MU) dropped in premarket trading on Monday after China prohibited major local infrastructure operators from purchasing chips made by the U.S. semiconductor firm.

The move was seen as the latest escalation in tensions between Beijing and Washington over the supply of semiconductors, with both countries citing national security concerns around trade in the all-important technology.

It also came after China became a focal point of last weekend's meeting of the Group of Seven richest economies. In particular, the leaders hit out at Beijing over what they described as its "non-market" trade practices. A separate statement, which did not name China specifically, also decried the rise of "incidents of economic coercion."

China's foreign ministry in turn criticized the G7 for "suppressing other countries' development."

5. Oil volatile amid debt ceiling uncertainty

Oil prices oscillated around the flatline in choppy trading on Monday, reflecting caution among traders over the outlook for the U.S. debt limit negotiations.

At 05:02 ET, U.S. crude futures were 0.04% lower at $71.66 a barrel, while the Brent contract dipped 0.07% to $75.53 per barrel.

Both contracts gained roughly 2% last week. The move ended four straight weeks of heavy declines sparked by concerns over slowing growth in China, the world’s largest oil importer, as well as the potential economic repercussions of a U.S. default.

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