Asian Markets Closing Report

Search This Blog

Translate

Search Tool




Nov 18, 2019

EU - FX Report: Euro sees sigh of relief as dollar weakens on US-China trade deal hopes

3-4 minutos - Source: CNBC




GP: Chinese Yuan, Hong Kong Dollar and U.S. Dollar Banknotes 190807
Hong Kong one-hundred dollar banknotes and U.S. one-hundred dollar banknotes are arranged for a photograph in Hong Kong on April 15, 2019.
Paul Yeung | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The euro enjoyed a small respite on Monday, jumping to an 11-day high versus the U.S. dollar, on expectations that Washington and Beijing can soon sign off on a deal to end a trade war that has been a drag on global economic growth.
Faint optimism for a breakthrough was supported by a report on Sunday from Chinese state news wire Xinhua, which said the two sides had “constructive talks” over the weekend.
The export-oriented European economy has suffered from the 16 month long trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies. The tariff war has taken a toll on the world’s manufacturing.
Investors injected $3 billion of inflows into European equities over the past two weeks, ending a record run of 85 weeks of persistent outflows, EPFR data showed last week.
“Market participants remain optimistic that a partial U.S.-China trade deal will be signed soon and have welcomed tentative signs of economic improvement outside of the U.S., especially in the euro zone, both of which are eroding the relative appeal of the U.S. dollar,” said Lee Hardman, currency analyst at MUFG.
The euro was last up 0.1% at $1.1068, its highest since Nov. 7, and the index which tracks the greenback against six major currencies was down 0.1% at 97.90.
The offshore Chinese yuan, however, remained below 7 per dollar, last falling 0.1% to 7.0142. The yuan is the most sensitive currency to the trade dispute.
“USD/CNY above 7.0 suggests that the market is not yet convinced a solution is near,” said Marshall Gittler, chief strategist at FX analysis firm ACLS Global.
The liveliest mover, however, was the pound, creeping up 0.3% against the dollar to $1.2945 and against the euro to 85.41 pence. It has surged to a 17-day high versus the dollar and a six-month high versus the common currency.
Sterling was boosted by expectations that the Conservative Party could win a majority in the Dec. 12 election, as well as by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying that all Tory candidates in the election have pledged to back his Brexit deal. This could open the door to getting the Brexit deal agreement passed through parliament.
Johnson’s Conservatives have a 14 point lead over the opposition Labour Party, a poll published by Good Morning Britain showed on Monday.
“Anyone firmly believing in a Tory victory can expect further potential in sterling,” said Commerzbank analysts in a note to clients, though they added that “the FX market is still quite skeptical” towards a Tory win.

Bonds | Treasury Yields Report: Treasury yields fall as investors remain on edge about US-China trade

Yun Li, Spriha Srivastava



Chinese officials were troubled by Trump’s comment that there was no agreement on phasing out tariffs, a government source told CNBC. China has pushed for a removal of the additional duties imposed on each other’s products in different phases, as part of the deal.
However, Trump said a week ago he has not agreed to scrap tariffs on Chinese goods, conflicting the signal from China and dampening hopes about a coming resolution to a jarring trade conflict.
Chinese state media said the two sides had “constructive” trade talks on Saturday, noting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talked with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He about the core issues for a phase one trade agreement.
Meanwhile, Chinese officials have surprised markets with the announcement of a cut to a key interest rate for the first time since 2015. The move has sparked speculation of further stimulus measures in China.
Trump and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who have been at odds over the direction of monetary policy, met Monday to discuss a variety of economic issues, according to a statement from the central bank.
On the auction front, the Treasury is set to auction a three-month and a six-month bill on Monday.

CNBC’s Silvia Amaro contributed to this report.

Energy | Oil | Oil Price Report: Oil falls more than 1% as trade uncertainty, oversupply concerns weigh

3minutos - Source: CNBC




GP: oil barrels 191118
An employee holds a control panel as barrels are filled with lubricant oil in Torzhok, Russia, on March 21, 2014.
Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Oil prices fell more than 1% on Monday, erasing last week’s gains and tumbling alongside U.S. stocks on uncertainty over a trade deal between the United States and China.
Brent crude futures fell 95 cents, or 1.5%, to settle at $62.35. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 67 cents, or 1.2%, to settle at $57.05.
Wall Street’s three main stock indexes also fell from last week’s record highs following a report that stoked concerns a U.S.-China trade deal might not get through, which pushed oil prices lower, analysts said.
“Crude has become highly reactive to whichever way the wind is blowing in the (U.S.-China) trade talks. When it falters, prices get punished,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC in New York. “This headwind of slack demand growth keeps holding us back.”
The 16-month trade war between the world’s two biggest economies has slowed global growth, prompting analysts to lower forecasts for oil demand growth and raising concerns that a supply glut could develop in 2020.
China and the United States had “constructive talks” on trade in a high-level call on Saturday, state media Xinhua reported on Sunday, but it gave few other details.
On Monday, CNBC quoted a Chinese government source saying the mood in Beijing about a trade deal was pessimistic due to U.S. President Donald Trumps reluctance to roll back on tariffs.
“The souring trade situation has put a halt to the rally,” said Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York, adding crude prices had risen earlier in the session but faded when New York markets opened.
Expectations of lower seasonal demand for gasoline in the United States also weighed on oil prices, said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.
Concerns about plentiful crude supplies in 2020 weighed on the market, which expects OPEC to extend production cuts in early December to help avoid a new global glut.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said last week it expected demand for its oil to fall in 2020, supporting a view that there is a case for the group and other producers like Russia - collectively known as OPEC+ - to maintain limits on production.
OPEC+ is due to discuss output policy at a meeting on Dec. 5-6 in Vienna. Their existing production deal runs until March.

Commodities | Gold | Gold Price Report: Gold erases losses as US-China trade hopes ebb

2-3 minutos - Source: CNBC




GP: Gold Bars And Coins 181129
Canadian maple leafs sit on the faces of one ounce gold coins in London, the United Kingdom, on July 15, 2014.
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Gold firmed on Monday, erasing losses from earlier in the session as fresh doubts over a U.S.-China trade deal pushed Wall Street into the red.
Spot gold was up 0.29% at $1,471.4 per ounce as of, reversing course from earlier when prices fell to as low as $1,455.82 on optimism that constructive trade talks had taken place between the world’s two largest economies over the weekend. U.S. gold futures settled up 0.22% to $1471.9 per ounce.
However, a report that Beijing was not as optimistic, owing to U.S. President Donald Trump’s reluctance to roll back tariffs, threw cold water over market cheer and on world shares that were near record levels.
“I am surprised how robustly the market reacts (to news on the trade talks). This isn’t the first time we have had this news, but the market keeps responding,” said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategies at TD Securities, adding that the report on pessimism from Beijing has triggered a rebound in gold prices. “It looks like gold is seeking a move towards $1,480, which is the 100-day moving average.”
The 16-month long Sino-U.S. tariff war has fanned recessionary fears, but recent optimism over a phase one deal has driven a rally in equity markets.
Gold is generally considered to be an attractive investment during times of political or economic uncertainty. Market participants now await minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting, due on Wednesday, for clues about the future interest rate trajectory.
Gold is highly sensitive to interest rates, as lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding the non-yielding bullion. Investors also kept a close eye on developments in Hong Kong, with police on Monday trapping hundreds of protesters inside a major university and demonstrators rampaging through a tourist district, after almost two straight days of standoffs.
Among other metals, silver gained 0.3% to $17 an ounce and palladium rose 1.4% to $1,728.02 an ounce. Platinum rose 0.4% to $892.55, extending gains for a fourth straight session.

Market Insider | Biggest Moves Premarket: Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: Fitbit, Xerox, Ford, Five Below, TripAdvisor & more

Fred Imbert 



Check out the companies making headlines in the premarket Monday:

Ford Motor — The carmaker unveiled the Mustang Mach-E, Ford’s first all-electric SUV that starts at about $44,000. The Mach-E’s pricing, performance, and range are expected to be comparable with the Model Y, an upcoming SUV from Tesla.
Splunk — Shares of the data software company rose about 3% before the bell on the back of a Morgan Stanley upgrade to “overweight” from “equal weight.” The analyst said Splunk’s shift to a recurring sales model potentially reveals a “durable” annual recurring revenue of at least 25%.
Five Below — An analyst at J.P. Morgan added the discount store company to his “focus list,” citing potential upside to Wall Street’s consensus estimate around Five Below’s same-store sales.
Fitbit — Several Fitbit users told CNBC they were searching for an alternative to the company’s fitness trackers after Alphabet’s Google announced its purchase of the company earlier this month. The users said they’re getting rid of their Fitbit trackers because they don’t trust the search giant.
Workday — An analyst at Morgan Stanley downgraded Workday’s stock to “equal weight” from “overweight,” noting that slowing momentum in the human capital management segment and “a more difficult spending environment lead us to trim our near-term forecasts.” Shares fell nearly 2%.
HP Inc., Xerox — HP Inc.’s board unanimously rejected an acquisition bid from Xerox, saying the offer would undervalue the company. The board also said it considered the “highly conditional and uncertain nature of the proposal, including the potential impact of outsized debt levels on the combined company’s stock.” Xerox shares dipped 2.4% in the premarket, while HP Inc. slid 0.9%.
TripAdvisor — TripAdvisor shares gained 1.1% in the premarket after an analyst at Cowen upgraded the stock to “market perform” from “outperform.” The analyst pointed to a potential recovery in TripAdvisor’s online search metrics moving forward after a “major SEO shortfall.”
Dunkin’ Brands — Dunkin’ Brands banned the use of its “double cup” in New England in an effort to move away from foam to paper coffee cups. The company added its foam cups will be eliminated globally in 2020.
CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

US Market | Latest Futures Indicator: S&P 500 futures turn negative on trade deal pessimism

Fred Imbert, Silvia Amaro



U.S. stock index futures pointed to new record highs on Monday after Chinese state media said recent trade talks between China and the U.S. were positive.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 75 points at around 7:05 a.m., indicating a gain of 53 points at the open. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures also indicated a higher open.
At this rate, the Dow would build on Friday’s record close above 28,000.
“The stock market has shown remarkable resiliency,” Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth, said in a note. “What is more remarkable is that the issues that the market has been dealing with since the start of the year haven’t dissipated but have been grown or become more complicated.”
Pavlik pointed out that the U.S.-China trade conflict, which began last year, remains an overhang for the market while corporate earnings have not improved and economic news has “weakened.”
However, Chinese state media said over the weekend China and the U.S. has “constructive” trade talks, noting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talked with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He about the core issues for a phase one trade agreement.
“More than in previous rounds, we see momentum toward reaching at least a limited trade deal, and certainly a mini-deal would remove some of the negative sentiment overhang for the real economy and markets,” said Patrik Schowitz, global multi-asset strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
“We have upgraded our outlook on equities as an asset class,” he added. “Emerging market equities are now our most favored region alongside U.S. large cap equities.”
The so-called phase one deal was announced last month and is expected to be signed sometime this month. The optimism around that agreement, coupled with easier monetary policy from the Federal Reserve, helped spark the stock market’s rally to record highs.
Over the past month, the Dow and S&P 500 are both up more than 4%. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, is up 5.6% in that time through Friday’s close.
On the data front, there will be business leaders survey figures out at 8:30 a.m. ET, the National Association of Home Builders survey is due at 10 a.m.
Reuters contributed to this report.

Business | DealBook: TikTok’s Chief Is on a Mission to Prove It’s Not a Menace

8-10 minutos - Source: NYT

 Like almost everybody who runs a big tech company these days, Alex Zhu, the head of the of-the-moment video app TikTok, is worried about an image problem.

To him — and to millions of TikTok’s users — the app is a haven for creativity, earnest self-expression and silly dance videos. In almost no time, TikTok has emerged as the refreshing weirdo upstart of the American social media landscape, reconfiguring the culture in its joyful, strange wake.
But to some people in the United States government, TikTok is a menace. And one big reason is the nationality of its owner, a seven-year-old Chinese social media company called ByteDance. The fear is that TikTok is exposing America’s youth to Communist Party indoctrination and smuggling their data to Beijing’s servers.
The desire to fix this perception gap is what brought Mr. Zhu last week to a WeWork in Manhattan, where a handful of his colleagues are based. Mr. Zhu, a trim 40-year-old who speaks fluent if lightly accented English, helped found Musical.ly, a Shanghai-based lip-syncing app that ByteDance acquired in 2017 and folded into TikTok.
In an interview — his first since taking the reins at TikTok this year — Mr. Zhu denied, in unambiguous terms, several key accusations.
No, TikTok does not censor videos that displease China, he said. And no, it does not share user data with China, or even with its Beijing-based parent company. All data on TikTok users worldwide is stored in Virginia, he said, with a backup server in Singapore.
But China is a murky place for companies. Even if TikTok’s policies are clear on paper, what if Chinese authorities decided they didn’t like them and pressured ByteDance? What if China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, personally asked Mr. Zhu to take down a video or hand over user data?
“I would turn him down,” Mr. Zhu said, after barely a moment’s thought.
Washington at this moment is suspicious of Chinese tech companies to a degree that can feel like paranoia. The Trump administration’s biggest target has been Huawei, the giant supplier of smartphones and telecommunications equipment. But it has also tried kneecapping Chinese producers of microchips, surveillance gear and supercomputers.
That a lip-syncing app now finds itself in the same position shows the extent to which any Chinese advancement is seen in Washington as harmful to American interests. Over the past year, TikTok’s app has been downloaded more than 750 million times — more than Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, according to the research firm Sensor Tower.
The weapon being wielded against TikTok is the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The secretive federal panel, known as CFIUS, is looking into ByteDance’s purchase of Musical.ly.
Earlier this year, the committee forced a different Chinese company to relinquish control over the dating app Grindr, which it had bought in 2016. The concern was also that Beijing might gain access to personal information.
Mr. Zhu said TikTok user data was segregated from the rest of ByteDance, and was not even used to help improve ByteDance’s artificial intelligence and other technologies.
“The data of TikTok is only being used by TikTok for TikTok users,” he said.
It is unclear how such assurances will be received in Washington.
“If Instagram or Facebook wanted to be sold to a Chinese firm in some way, I would 100 percent see the same issues at hand,” said Clark Fonda, a former congressional chief of staff and an author of a 2018 law that expanded CFIUS’s powers. “It’s about the underlying distrust of the Chinese government and what, theoretically, they could do with this data.”
In this tense time, Mr. Zhu is an unlikely peacemaker. With his long salt-and-pepper hair and light mustache and goatee, he looks more like a poet than a tech founder. He seems to relish a little artsy oddness. On his LinkedIn profile, he describes himself as a “designtrepreneur” and gives his work location as “Mars.”
“In the past, my personal focus was always design and user experience,” Mr. Zhu said. He spent a lot of time thinking about the colors of buttons.
Now as TikTok’s boss, he reports to ByteDance’s 36-year-old founder, Zhang Yiming. Mr. Zhu said dealing with TikTok’s sudden crisis had been “very interesting,” if nothing else.
“I am quite optimistic,” he said.
Mr. Zhu grew up in the landlocked Chinese province of Anhui. After studying civil engineering at Zhejiang University in eastern China, he worked in the United States at SAP, the German software company.
As he tells it, the idea for Musical.ly came to him as an epiphany. On a train once from San Francisco to Mountain View, Calif., he noticed the teenagers around him listening to music, taking selfies and passing their phones around. Why not combine all that into a single app?
Musical.ly debuted in 2014. It quickly attracted tens of millions of monthly users, and Mr. Zhu moved to Shanghai.
Image
Credit...Alexander Harris for The New York Times
He went to great lengths to learn about the young — sometimes very young — Americans flocking to his platform. He registered fake Musical.ly accounts so he could comment on videos and understand their creators, he said in 2016.
Around the same time, ByteDance was storming phone screens in China with a news aggregator called Jinri Toutiao. In 2016, the company released a video app for China named Douyin; TikTok followed soon after. The platforms are similar but separate — TikTok is unavailable in mainland China and vice versa.
In late 2017, Musical.ly agreed to be taken over by ByteDance. Last year, the Musical.ly app was merged into TikTok.
Mr. Zhu stayed to help with the transition. He then took a few months off last year to rest, go clubbing in Shanghai and listen to jazz. He rejoined TikTok early this year, not long after ByteDance raised funding at a valuation of around $75 billion, making it one of the planet’s most richly valued start-ups.
TikTok surely owes some of its success to the sunny, fun-for-its-own-sake vibe it has cultivated. But that has led to suspicions that TikTok suppresses material, such as clips of the Hong Kong protests, that could be a buzzkill. The company says it previously penalized content that “promoted conflict.”
Now “we don’t take any action on any politically sensitive content as long as it goes along with our community guidelines,” said Vanessa Pappas, general manager for TikTok in the United States. Those cover things like hate speech, harassment and misleading information.
Mr. Zhu said TikTok, which makes money by selling ads, was still drawing up its content policies.
“Today, we are lucky,” he said, “because users perceive TikTok as a platform for memes, for lip-syncing, for dancing, for fashion, for animals — but not so much for political discussion.”
He acknowledged this could change. “For political content that still aligns with this creative and joyful experience, I don’t see why we should control it,” he said.
The deeper concern is that ByteDance’s vast business in China could give Beijing leverage over the company, and over TikTok. In its brief existence, ByteDance has had plenty of run-ins with Chinese authorities. This month, regulators hauled up company executives after finding search results from ByteDance’s search engine that supposedly defamed a revolutionary hero.
There are other steps ByteDance could take to try to convince Washington of TikTok’s independence, such as reorganizing TikTok as a separate company with a new board of directors.
Mr. Zhu said the company wouldn’t rule out such possibilities. But there had been no discussion about selling off TikTok’s American business, he said.
Harry Clark, a CFIUS specialist at the law firm Orrick, said that was probably what the committee would end up demanding. CFIUS might have entertained other options had the companies applied for a review before doing the deal, Mr. Clark said. Now, he said, Washington’s concerns about China and data protection are deepening.
“Three years ago, I doubt any CFIUS expert would have said it’s crucial that you go to CFIUS here,” Mr. Clark said. “Now, most would.”
Wang Yiwei contributed research.

US Market | Last Update of Futures Indicator: Dow set to continue record run above 28,000 after report of 'constructive' US-China trade talks

Fred Imbert, Silvia Amaro





U.S. stock index futures pointed to new record highs on Monday after Chinese state media said recent trade talks between China and the U.S. were positive.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 75 points at around 7:05 a.m., indicating a gain of 53 points at the open. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures also indicated a higher open.
At this rate, the Dow would build on Friday’s record close above 28,000.
“The stock market has shown remarkable resiliency,” Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth, said in a note. “What is more remarkable is that the issues that the market has been dealing with since the start of the year haven’t dissipated but have been grown or become more complicated.”
Pavlik pointed out that the U.S.-China trade conflict, which began last year, remains an overhang for the market while corporate earnings have not improved and economic news has “weakened.”
However, Chinese state media said over the weekend China and the U.S. has “constructive” trade talks, noting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talked with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He about the core issues for a phase one trade agreement.
“More than in previous rounds, we see momentum toward reaching at least a limited trade deal, and certainly a mini-deal would remove some of the negative sentiment overhang for the real economy and markets,” said Patrik Schowitz, global multi-asset strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
“We have upgraded our outlook on equities as an asset class,” he added. “Emerging market equities are now our most favored region alongside U.S. large cap equities.”
The so-called phase one deal was announced last month and is expected to be signed sometime this month. The optimism around that agreement, coupled with easier monetary policy from the Federal Reserve, helped spark the stock market’s rally to record highs.
Over the past month, the Dow and S&P 500 are both up more than 4%. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, is up 5.6% in that time through Friday’s close.
On the data front, there will be business leaders survey figures out at 8:30 a.m. ET, the National Association of Home Builders survey is due at 10 a.m.
Reuters contributed to this report.

Health News: Novartis shifts Shanghai's focus from research to early development

2minutos - Source: Reuters



FILE PHOTO: Swiss drugmaker Novartis' logo is seen at the company's plant in the northern Swiss town of Stein, Switzerland October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
ZURICH (Reuters) - Novartis is halting early-stage research in Shanghai and shifting the site’s focus to commercial development three years after the Swiss drugmaker christened the new $1 billion campus as its Chinese drug discovery hub.
About 150 of some 1,300 Shanghai staffers will lose their research jobs, while Novartis plans to add 340 new positions over the next four years to develop up-and-coming drug prospects.
The changes, first reported by website Fierce Biotech, were confirmed by Novartis. The publication cited Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research head Jay Bradner, who said Shanghai’s role in coming up with new molecules would now be replaced by developing drug prospects in the fast-growing Chinese market.
Bradner said research operations at the company’s Swiss headquarters, near Boston, and in California would continue.
The suburban Shanghai campus was finished in 2016, when former Chief Executive Joe Jimenez hailed its role in honing in on diseases common in China.
Jimenez has since been replaced by CEO Vas Narasimhman, while Bradner, who arrived in 2016, is reshaping research including moving tropical disease activities from Singapore to California and ending U.S. work on antibacterials and antivirals.
Novartis is among western companies benefiting from faster approvals and uptake of medicines in China.
Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

US Market | Futures Indicator Update: Dow futures point to higher open, building on Friday's record close

Silvia Amaro



U.S. stock index futures were higher Monday morning.
Around 6 a.m. ET, Dow futures indicated a positive open of more than 40 points. Futures on the S&P and Nasdaq were also pointing to a higher open.
Market players remain focused on U.S.-China trade talks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 28,000 for the first time ever on Friday after White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said China and the U.S. were getting close to reaching a trade deal.
On Saturday, Chinese state media said the two sides had “constructive talks” on trade that included Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“More than in previous rounds, we see momentum toward reaching at least a limited trade deal, and certainly a mini-deal would remove some of the negative sentiment overhang for the real economy and markets,” said Patrik Schowitz, global multi-asset strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
“We have upgraded our outlook on equities as an asset class,” he added. “Emerging market equities are now our most favored region alongside U.S. large cap equities.”
Furthermore, investors are also monitoring developments in Hong Kong as civil unrest continues.
Meanwhile, Chinese officials have surprised markets with the announcement of a cut to its key interest rates for the first time since 2015. The move has sparked speculation of further stimulus measures in China.
On the data front, there will be business leaders survey figures out at 8:30 a.m. ET, the National Association of Home Builders survey is due at 10 a.m.
There are no major earnings to note.
Reuters contributed to this report.

Health & Science: Trump backs off flavored vape ban he once touted

Josh Dawsey



One last thing was needed: Trump’s sign-off. But on Nov. 4, the night before a planned morning news conference, the president balked. Briefed on a flight to a Lexington, Ky., campaign rally, he refused to sign the one-page “decision memo,” saying he didn’t want to move forward with a ban he had once backed, primarily at his wife’s and daughter’s urging, because he feared it would lead to job losses, said a Trump adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal deliberations.
As he had done so many times before, Trump reversed course — this time on a plan to address a major public health problem because of worries that apoplectic vape shop owners and their customers might hurt his reelection prospects, said White House and campaign officials. He also believed job losses tied to the ban would cost him as he sought to trumpet economic growth. It was the latest example of the chaotic way policy is made — and sometimes unmade — in a White House where the ultimate decider often switches gears after making a controversial vow, whether on combating gun violence, pulling troops from Syria or promising to deliver an Obamacare replacement plan.
Officials said the blowback to Trump’s vow to ban most flavored e-cigarettes had rattled him. In an aggressive social media campaign — #IVapeIVote — advocates claimed the ban would shut down thousands of shops, eliminating jobs and sending vapers back to cigarettes. The president saw protesters at events and read critical articles. His campaign manager, Brad Parscale, privately warned the ban could hurt him in battleground states, said a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Trump was now upset with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who had taken the lead in rolling out the plan, said three officials familiar with the discussions.
“He didn’t know much about the issue and was just doing it for Melania and Ivanka,” said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share the discussions.
In recent months, the president’s wife and daughter, who had become increasingly alarmed about youth vaping, were pressing him to take action.
An HHS spokeswoman declined to comment on the vaping deliberations.
Whether or when the administration will unveil a new policy to combat underage vaping is now unclear. “President Trump and this administration are committed to responsibly protecting the health of children,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere. “At this time, we are in an ongoing rulemaking process, and I will not speculate on the final outcome.”
Late last week, more than a dozen White House officials met to try to find a way forward. “Will be meeting with representatives of the Vaping industry, together with medical professionals and individual state representatives, to come up with an acceptable solution to the Vaping and E-cigarette dilemma,” Trump tweeted last week. “Children’s health & safety, together with jobs, will be a focus!”
Given Trump’s record of zigzags, some officials cautioned the president could reverse course again. Or he might back some ban on flavored e-cigarettes that exempts vape shops. Others said the White House might pursue a different tack altogether by endorsing legislation that would raise the minimum federal age for buying tobacco products to 21 from 18, or take other steps to try to prevent teens from getting access to the products.
Some bet the anti-vaping effort is dead, though, especially because the administration could argue the youth vaping problem has been greatly eased by Juul Labs’ recent decision to stop selling its popular mint-flavored nicotine pods.
“It’s going to go the way of guns,” predicted one adviser, referring to Trump’s abandonment of efforts to combat gun violence after insisting he would take action after last summer’s mass shootings.
At least for now, vaping proponents are relieved. “It’s a great feeling in two months to go from thinking that prohibition was inevitable to actually proving that your issue has resonance with voters to such an extent that the president of the United States takes notice,” said Greg Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a pro-vaping advocacy group.
Anti-tobacco groups expressed frustration that a comprehensive e-cigarette flavor ban may be slipping away. “It appears that politics, not public health, is driving the decisions,” said Robin Koval, chief executive and president of Truth Initiative.
In March, just before stepping down, Gottlieb proposed restricting sales of most flavored e-cigarettes to adult-only stores, or ones with adult-only sections and heightened age verification. But the proposals were never finalized and by late summer, officials began getting new data that showed a second sharp increase in teen vaping. FDA and HHS officials decided an outright ban would be easier to enforce and more effective.
On Sept. 11, several officials presented their plan to ban all nontobacco e-cigarettes to Trump, who was in an expansive mood following a Republican victory in a special election for a North Carolina congressional seat. Trump announced the ban that same day, winning the praise of health groups and the ire of the vaping industry. “People think it’s an easy solution to cigarettes, but it’s turned out that it has its own difficulties,” he said then.
Over the next several weeks, the FDA worked to finalize the ban, which would order most flavored vape products off the market and allow them back only if manufacturers got agency authorization. Meanwhile, opposition continued to mount. Trump campaign manager Parscale shared polling he commissioned from pollster John McLaughlin that showed vapers could abandon the president if he followed through on the prohibition, according to a person familiar with the effort.
Conservative groups, including the influential Americans for Tax Reform led by Grover Norquist, pressed the vape shops’ case on Twitter and in op-eds.
On Halloween, aides met with Trump again. By then, they had decided to exempt menthol from the ban because new federal data showed the flavor wasn’t popular among young people and they wanted to keep menthol vapes on the market as long as menthol e-cigarettes are legal. A final briefing for Trump was planned for the following Monday, during Trump’s trip to Kentucky to campaign for Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.
On that Monday, the Office of Management and Budget cleared the vaping policy and began canceling meetings it had scheduled with interest groups to discuss the plan. The move angered vaping and conservative organizations and signaled an announcement could be imminent.
But the announcement never came. Confusion deepened in the days following when presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared to suggest that vape shops weren’t subject to FDA regulation, and Joe Grogan, the head of the Domestic Policy Council, told reporters it was “a huge waste of time” for the agency to regulate tobacco products and wondered if there was a better place to do so. Internally, aides said there was no longer a united front.
On Nov. 9, Trump’s helicopter, taking him to the Alabama-LSU football game, flew over hundreds of vaping enthusiasts organizing to protest the flavor ban gathered on the Ellipse.
Emboldened vaping advocates said if the industry beats back a federal flavor ban, it must continue to flex its muscle to address proliferating state and local prohibitions, as well as a court-ordered deadline of May 2020 when manufacturers must file applications with the FDA to continue selling e-cigarettes. Firms that don’t file could be forced off the market. The White House will meet with vaping groups this week, officials said.
“We need to reignite the issue and make the administration and the reelection team aware that the magnitude of the threat in May 2020 is just as huge and industry-crushing as the flavor ban is today,” said Conley of the vaping association.
Anti-tobacco groups aren’t backing down either. “If the federal government doesn’t take strong action, it’s clear now the states will,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “There’s a crisis that needs to be addressed.”
Yasmeen Abutaleb and Michael Scherer contributed to this report.

US Markets | Futures Indicator: futures point to higher open

Silvia Amaro



U.S. stock index futures were higher Monday morning.
At around 01:20 a.m. ET, Dow futures rose 69 points, indicating a positive open of more than 46 points. Futures on the S&P and Nasdaq were also pointing to a higher open.
Market players remain focused on U.S.-China trade talks. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke with the U.S. Treasury Secretary and Trade Representative over the phone on Saturday. According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, both sides had “constructive” talks regarding each other’s trade concerns.
Furthermore, investors are also monitoring developments in Hong Kong as civil unrest continues.
Meanwhile, Chinese officials have surprised markets with the announcement of a cut to its key interest rates for the first time since 2015. The move has sparked speculation of further stimulus measures in China.
On the data front, there will be business leaders survey figures out at 08:30 a.m. ET, the NAHB survey is due at 10:00 a.m. and TIC data is set to be released at 04:00 p.m. ET.
There are no major earnings to note.