The US trade deficit hit a 10-year high in December, dealing a blow to Donald Trump’s efforts to restrict imports, especially from China, with protectionist trade tariffs.
The gap between the goods US companies sell to China and Chinese imports ballooned to a record $419bn (£318bn), while the total deficit in goods with all countries jumped to $891bn. A surplus in services trade was unable to prevent the overall deficit for 2018 from rising nearly 19% in December to a decade-long high of $621bn, the commerce department said.
With US consumers continuing to demand imported phones, laptops and computer accessories, mostly from China, analysts said the trade gap was likely to widen further and forecast that the US president could now redouble his efforts to impose tariffs.
US trade gap hits 10-year high as Trump’s trade war backfires – business live Read more
Exports, which fell for a third month in a row, also weakened in response to slowing global demand and a strong dollar, which is making US-made goods less competitive on the international market.
Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at the spread-betting firm IG, said Trump’s $1tn of tax cuts and higher government spending had boosted domestic consumption and increased imports. At the same time, the high value of the dollar had discouraged foreign buyers from purchasing US-made goods, “making a mockery of the White House’s push to reduce the trade deficit”.
But he warned investors to expect the president to “up the ante” in a bid to distract attention from the deteriorating trade situation.
“The chances of a deal with China this month look a bit weaker now, while more trade conflict with Europe seems increasingly likely. The assumption now is that trade wars will intensify, and that growth will suffer as a result,” Beauchamp said.
The trade deficit has worsened despite the White House’s protectionist trade policy, which the president put in place last year, saying it would shield US manufacturers from unfair foreign competition.
Trump imposed tariffs on $250bn worth of goods imported from China, including steel, aluminium, solar panels and washing machines, provoking China to hit back with duties on $110bn worth of American products, including soybeans and other commodities.
Plans to impose tariffs on a further $200bn of Chinese imports were delayed earlier this month while talks between the two sides continued.
The US has also slapped duties on steel and aluminium made in the EU, and Trump has now threatened to end the preferential trade treatment that allows India to export $5.6bn of goods duty-free to the US.
The US received record imports from 60 countries in 2018, led by China, Mexico and Germany.
Imports of goods hit a record $2.6tn last year.
Trump said last week that his administration has a “big team of people, very talented people, over in China right now, negotiating on the China deal.
“It’s going along very well.
We’ll see what happens, but I think it’s going along very well.
They’re showing us tremendous respect,” he added.
Sign up for the US morning briefing The US treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, along with the trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer are known to be pressing for Beijing to agree cuts to subsidies for Chinese exporters and tough measures to protect American intellectual property.
Trump has also claimed that the yuan has been artificially depressed to boost Chinese exports, though most economists attribute the difficult situation for American exporters to the strong dollar.
The downbeat trade data, publication of which was delayed by the US government shutdown, now stand alongside reports of weak retail sales, construction spending, housing starts and business spending on equipment in setting the economy on a low-growth trajectory this quarter. The US economy grew 2.6% on an annualised basis in the last quarter of 2018, slowing from the third quarter’s brisk 3.4%.
Lyft IPO — What to know in markets Friday
Lyft takes centerstage on Friday. The ride-sharing company is gearing up to have the biggest tech IPO in two years, at least until rival Uber hits the market. On Thursday evening, Lyft priced its stock at $72 per share , valuing the company at over $20 billion. The stock will debut Friday morning on the…
Lyft takes centerstage on Friday.
The ride-sharing company is gearing up to have the biggest tech IPO in two years, at least until rival Uber hits the market. On Thursday evening, Lyft priced its stock at $72 per share , valuing the company at over $20 billion. The stock will debut Friday morning on the Nasdaq under the ticker LYFT.
And some Wall Street analysts have initiated coverage of the stock ahead of the highly-anticipated IPO.
DA Davidson was the first to get bulled up on Lyft. On March 19, the firm initiated Lyft as a Buy and slapped a $75 price target on the stock.
Analyst Tom White argued, “LYFT is the #2 player in U.
S. ridesharing, but has grown its market share from 22% to 39% in the past two years. LYFT has benefited from PR/management/operational stumbles at its largest competitor, but is deftly maximizing the benefits by aggressively differentiating its brand/mission around socially-conscious values and corporate responsibility. This is good PR, but also good for business.”
Then on Thursday, Wedbush initiated Lyft as Neutral with an $80 price target. “The brand loyalty of Lyft has been quite impressive as the company continues to attract drivers and riders with its brand associated with corporate responsibility and social values, an impressive formula to go after the $1.2 trillion market spent annually in the US,” analyst Dan Ives wrote in a note to clients.
Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance.
Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung .
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Hong Kong has licensed its first three digital banks — and tech giants may lose out (TCEHY, HSBC, BACHY, BABA, ACN, GS)
Mekebeb Tesfaye 0m This is an excerpt from a story delivered exclusively to Business Insider Intelligence Fintech Briefing subscribers. To receive the full story plus other insights each morning, click here . The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the territory’s de facto central bank, has granted the first set of its long-awaited digital-only banking licenses,…
Mekebeb Tesfaye 0m This is an excerpt from a story delivered exclusively to Business Insider Intelligence Fintech Briefing subscribers. To receive the full story plus other insights each morning, click here . The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the territory’s de facto central bank, has granted the first set of its long-awaited digital-only banking licenses, reports Bloomberg. Business Insider Intelligence The first batch of approvals has been given to firms that have partnered with Standard Chartered, Bank of China Hong Kong, and Chinese digital insurance firm ZhongAn, and the firms intend to begin operating within nine months. Although at least two of the joint ventures — with Standard Chartered and ZhongAn, respectively — had been expected to receive approval, the decision not to award licenses to Chinese tech giants Tencent and Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial has surprised many observers, per the Financial Times. Here’s what it means: The licenses should ignite competition by giving holders access to a hugely profitable banking market where consumers continue to be frustrated by their options.
Hong Kong’s banking sector is heavily dominated by a handful of incumbents.
The four largest lenders — HSBC, Bank of China, Hang Seng Bank, and Standard Chartered — account for 66% of retail banking loans and 77% of mortgages, per Bloomberg citing Goldman Sachs. And their share of the market is lucrative: For example, two-thirds of HSBC’s global profits last year came from its retail and wealth management operations in the territory, reports Reuters. However, the new licenses are anticipated to put up to 30% or $15 billion of Hong Kong’s total banking revenues up for grabs — threatening the big four’s entrenched position. Hong Kong registers among the lowest rates of customer satisfaction for a developed economy due to a lack of banking competition. Only 59% of consumers in Hong Kong say they like their bank, compared with 62% of global consumers and the 74% who say the same in the US. Further, less than half (43%) of bank customers in Hong Kong say they have a positive experience when visiting a bank branch, compared with the 57% of global consumers who say the same; and it’s significantly less than the 74% of US customers who report having a positive experience, per an Accenture survey seen by Business Insider Intelligence. Increased competition ushered in by the new license holders should force the old guard to up their game and ultimately improve these customer satisfaction numbers.
The bigger picture: Hong Kong’s efforts to remedy financial services competition and customer satisfaction may hurt established players, but it could also further entrench the position of some.
Although Hong Kong’s big four could be the biggest losers, the likes of Standard Chartered appear to be getting ahead of the curve. The chronic dissatisfaction of the territory’s digitally savvy consumers is a boon for the newly licensed firms, giving them an opportunity to scoop up customers at pace: 68% of customers use digital channels to check their bank accounts at least once a week, per Accenture. Moreover, while the likes of Ant Financial and Tencent haven’t yet received approval, their potential entry into the market could give the old guard a run for their money. However, the fact that Standard Chartered and Bank of China are among the players to be permitted first suggests established players are already in front of the trend. Given their vast resources and existing reach, the newly approved licensing could be an opportunity to maintain the status quo. So, while the licensing is generally good news for consumers, its business impacts for established and new entrants remain to be seen.
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Here comes Lyft… (LYFT)
John Sciulli/Getty Images for Lyft Lyft , the first ride-hailing company to hit the public market, began trading Friday on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Its shares opened at $87.24, jumping 21% from the $72 where they priced Thursday evening. That brought its valuation to just over $29 billion. Lyft shares gave back some gains in…
John Sciulli/Getty Images for Lyft
Lyft , the first ride-hailing company to hit the public market, began trading Friday on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Its shares opened at $87.24, jumping 21% from the $72 where they priced Thursday evening. That brought its valuation to just over $29 billion.
Lyft shares gave back some gains in the afternoon, but the company still carries a market value of roughly $27 billion. Several Wall Street analysts are already bullish on the world’s second-largest ride-share company.
Watch Lyft trade live .
Lyft , the first ride-hailing company to launch on a US public market, began trading Friday morning under the ticker ” LYFT .” Shares jumped 21% to $87.24 apiece as they opened, bringing the valuation to just over $29 billion.
The company priced its initial public offering at $72 per share the evening prior, at the upper-end of its expected range.
But the newly minted stock’s rally was fading by midday, as shares had given up around half of their opening gains by 1 P.
Lyft was trading just above $81 a share, below where they’d opened earlier in the session.
Lyft’s offering raised about $2.69 billion, which it plans to spend on “working capital, operating expenses, and capital expenditures,” as well as acquiring or investing in businesses, according to its S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange and Commission.
While potential investors will have a chance to buy into one of the largest US-listed technology IPOs in recent years, one thing they won’t have is equal say in how the company is run.
That’s because Lyft will have a dual-class structure consisting of Class A and Class B shares. That means outside investors of the former are entitled to one vote per share while shareholders in the latter are entitled to 20 votes per share.
Investor appetite for Lyft’s publicly traded shares was strong heading into Friday’s debut despite the company providing no clear timeline for reaching profitability .
Lyft earlier this week raised its expected IPO range from between $62 and $68 a share to $70 to $72 after its offering was oversubscribed . In other words, demand for its IPO exceeded the number of shares issued.
Read more: READY FOR LYFT OFF: Lyft to IPO today at whopping $21 billion valuation
In the race to go public during what’s expected to be a banner year for high-profile IPOs — with Airbnb, Slack, and Peloton all expected to debut — Lyft is set to beat out rival Uber to the public markets.
“In our opinion while Lyft has clearly benefited from some of the negative PR issues that Uber faced in 2017/early 2018, going forward the battle for market share will be a bit more balanced,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note to clients earlier this week.
Ives initiated coverage with a “neutral” investment rating and a 12-month price target of $80.
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