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While you were sleeping: Trade tariff and nuclear tensions ease, for now

Wednesday 7th March 2018

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Wall Street fluctuated as investors tried to gauge whether US President Donald Trump can be talked out of plans to impose stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and avoid a wave of retaliatory measures from trading partners. 

Meanwhile, investors welcomed reports of North Korea’s willingness to talk to the US about giving up its nuclear weapons as well as what was considered the measured response it drew from Trump. 

In 1.28pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.5 percent. In 1.13pm trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.3 percent. 

“What’s got us all in a tizzy is clearly the tariffs,” Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial, told Bloomberg. “Every hour, we have a different voice come out and voice some displeasure or back it up. And the bottom line is the market really doesn’t like uncertainty.”

The Dow rose as gains in shares of Intel and those of Caterpillar, each recently up 2.5 percent, outweighed declines in shares of Walmart and those of UnitedHealth Group, down 1 percent and 0.9 percent respectively recently.

“When geopolitical environment is improving, there’s very much a risk-on sentiment,” Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index in London, told Reuters. 

“I would not say that trade war fears are completely erased,” Cincotta added. “There are doubts that Trump will actually manage to push the trade tariffs through.”

Shares of Canada’s Canopy Growth jumped after Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that the world's largest cannabis producer by market value is among bidders for closely held Spanish firm Alcaliber.

Canopy, based in Smiths Falls, Ontario, is competing against UK health-care investor GHO Capital and Spanish investment firm Alantra Partners, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private, according to Bloomberg. 

The producer of morphine and thebaine may be valued at about 200 million euros (US$246 million) to 275 million euros in a deal, they said, Bloomberg reported. 

While talks continue and Alcaliber may attract more suitors, Canopy is seen as the most likely acquirer, the people said. Final bids are due in coming days, and a buyer could emerge by early April, they said, according to Bloomberg.

Canopy's shares rose as much as 6.7 percent to C$34.55 in Toronto.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the day with a 0.1 percent increase from the previous close. France’s CAC40 Index gained 0.1 percent, Germany’s DAX Index added 0.2 percent, while the UK’s FTSE 100 index rose 0.4 percent.

Shares of Tesco closed 3.4 percent higher in London as industry data from Kantar Worldpanel showed it and Morrisons posted the fastest growth among Britain's four largest supermarkets over the last three months.

While sales of Tesco and Morrisons each rose at an annual 2.7 percent rate over the 12 weeks ended February 25, those of Sainsbury’s grew at a 1.1 percent rate, it said. 

“Tesco continues to perform well— more positive news following approval of its Booker acquisition last week,"Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said in a statement. "Meanwhile, there are no signs of a let up in the shift away from discounted products for Sainsbury’s: only 34.5 percent of sales at Sainsbury’s were on promotion during the past 12 weeks, in stark comparison to 41.9 percent for the rest of the big four." 

Shares of J Sainsbury ended 3.2 percent weaker. 


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