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Five things you need to know on Wednesday

UK unemployment at a multi-decade low fails to lift wages, the IEA sees strong oil-demand growth, and the EU president delivers his State of the Union speech. 

Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Good news, bad news

Unemployment in the UK dropped to 4.3% in the three months to the end of July, the lowest rate in 42 years. Wages, however, again failed to keep pace with inflation, growing a lower-than-expected 2.1% — well below consumer prices which are rising at close to a 3% pace. The pound, which had been higher during the session, gave up all its gains to trade at $1.3268 after the data was released as investors adjusted their view on how hawkish the Bank of England will be at tomorrow’s meeting. 

Oil demand

The International Energy Agency said in its monthly report published this morning that global oil demand will climb by the most since 2015 this year. On the supply side, Opec and its allies are discussing extending by more than three months the oil production cuts that are due to expire in March 2018. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate for October delivery was trading 51 cents higher at $48.74 by 5:40am Eastern Time. 

State of the EU

This morning European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gave his annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament in which he outlined a bullish outlook for the bloc, saying “the wind is back in Europe’s sails.” The wide-ranging speech made little mention of Brexit but did propose free-trade talks with Australia and New Zealand. Separately, negotiations on Brexit were postponed for a week in order to give both sides a chance to make real progress when talks now resume on September 25. 

Markets quiet

After US equities closed at record highs for the second session in a row yesterday, the rally in global stocks is slowing down a bit today. Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.2%, while Japan’s Topix index climbed 0.6% as the yen remained weak against the dollar. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.2% lower at 5:40am, while S&P 500 futures slipped 0.1%. 10-year Treasury yields were largely unchanged at 2.160%, and gold was slightly higher. Still to come today — producer price inflation data for August’s due to be released at 8:30am, with expectations for an increase of 0.3% on the month. 

Tech woes

Shares in Apple closed 0.4% lower after the company launched a suite of new products yesterday, with the much-anticipated iPhone X grabbing all the headlines. Suppliers in Asia were hit much harder and the new top of the range phone underwhelmed, with Hong Kong-listed Cowell e Holdings– a maker of iPhone cameras — tumbling as much as 6.6%. Elsewhere in the tech world, Jamie Dimon had some very harsh words for lovers of bitcoin, calling the cryptocurrency a fraud and saying he would sack anyone that traded it for being “stupid.”

© 2017 Bloomberg 

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