China's currency falls; Novartis deal; Oil prices slip

1. China's currency: The yuan hit its lowest level against the US dollar since January 2017...

Posted: Oct 18, 2018 9:58 AM
Updated: Oct 18, 2018 9:58 AM

1. China's currency: The yuan hit its lowest level against the US dollar since January 2017 in early trading in Asia, after the Trump administration decided not to label China a currency manipulator.

The decision by the United States comes in spite of the yuan's recent depreciation and the escalating trade war between the world's two biggest economies.

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President Donald Trump promised to designate China currency manipulator during the 2016 campaign.

In the past six months, the yuan has dropped more than 9% against the dollar. And there are signs that the currency may fall further to 7 yuan per dollar — a level not seen since the 2008 financial crisis.

2. Novartis cancer deal: Novartis (NVS) is buying American cancer drug maker Endocyte (ECYT) for $2.1 billion, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant announced Thursday.

Endocyte is developing targeted radio therapies, focusing on prostate cancer. Shares in Novartis rose by 1.5% after the announcement.

Novartis said last month it would cut approximately 2,000 jobs in the next four years to save around $1 billion.

3. Brexit stalemate: Europe is stepping up preparations for a messy Brexit after yet another meeting between the European Union and the United Kingdom ended in a stalemate.

European leaders on Wednesday dropped plans for a special November summit to complete a Brexit deal because of a lack of progress in the negotiations.

British Prime Minister Theresa May offered "nothing new" in a presentation to EU leaders at a critical meeting on Wednesday, according to the head of the European Parliament.

4. Global market overview: US stock futures were pointing lower early on Thursday.

European markets were up, while equities in Asia ended the session mostly lower.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed 0.4% lower on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq finished flat.

US oil futures dropped 0.3% to $69.55 per barrel early on Thursday, after plunging 3% on Wednesday after a report from the Energy Information Administration showed an increase in US inventories of crude.

5. Companies and economics: Blackstone (BX) and Philip Morris International (PM) plan to release earnings before the open Thursday. American Express (AXP), E*TRADE (ETFC) and PayPal (PYPL) will follow after the close.

Shares in Air France KLM (AFLYY) shot up more than 6% on Thursday, after French media reported that management and unions are nearing a deal on pay. The airline has struggled with strikes in the past year and shares in the company have dropped by 37% since January.

6. Coming this week:
Thursday — American Express (AXP), Blackstone (BX), Bank of New York (BK), E*TRADE (ETFC) and PayPal (PYPL) earnings
Friday — Procter & Gamble (PG), VF Corp (VFC) and State Street (STT) earnings

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