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Five things you need to know on Wednesday

Congress Republicans worry about spending, May faces Brexit revolt, and risk-off takes hold. 

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

Balancing the books

After weeks negotiating a tax overhaul that will add $1 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade, a faction of conservative Republicans is raising warnings over spending as attention in Washington turns to avoiding a government shutdown. With September legislation that suspended the debt limit set to expire on Friday, a plan is in place for a two-week extension. That moves the deadline forward to December 22, with a lot of work left to do between now and then to avoid a disruption to Washington’s work. 

Brexit revolt

British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a revolt in her cabinet over plans to keep UK regulations aligned with European Union rules after Brexit. May has been backed into a corner by the Irish border issue, and apparent leanings towards a so-called ‘soft Brexit’ have drawn the ire of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who campaigned for Brexit. Adding to pressure on the prime minister, a poll published this morning showed that most Brits still want Brexit, while also expecting it to end badly. 

Risk-off 

Global equity markets are falling while bonds rise with investors looking to lock in profits for the year as the global risk backdrop worsens. Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index was 1.3% lower, with Japan’s Topix index closing down 1.4% while stocks in Hong Kong fell the most in 13 months. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.9% lower at 5:50am Eastern Time as the region’s indexes followed the Asian lead. S&P 500 futures dropped 0.2%, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.342% and gold was slightly higher. 

Jerusalem

President Donald Trump is expected to formally declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and direct the State Department to start the process of moving the US embassy there in an announcement scheduled for 1pm today. The plan to move the embassy, which would probably take years to complete, has been condemned by leaders in the region, with US allies in Europe warning that the move would inflame tensions in the Middle East. Some investors see this latest diplomatic standoff as a catalyst for today’s market moves. 

Oil 

A barrel of West Texas Intermediate for January delivery slipped to $57.18 by 5:50am as US gasoline inventories data showed the first rise in four weeks. After last week’s Opec meeting, demand is seen as the biggest driver of the oil price over the coming year. The threat from shale also seems to be waning somewhat as major producers in that space switch to generating cash returns rather than increasing investment. All signs are pointing to crude prices remaining stuck in a narrow range in the short term. 

© 2017 Bloomberg

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